YU Alumnus Comes Full Circle

Joshua Gortler Establishes Scholarship in Geriatric Social Work at Wurzweiler

Joshua Gortler ’54YUHS, ’58YC, ’60W had a more arduous journey than most young men enroute to Yeshiva University.

Joshua Gortler

He arrived in the United States with his parents from Germany, where they had spent the previous five years living in three different Displaced Persons camps following World War II. At the start of the Holocaust, when Gortler was three years old, the Nazis occupied his shtetl (village) in Poland. With the assistance and protection of non-Jewish friends, the Gortlers managed to escape Poland and fled to Siberia and then Uzbekistan, where they stayed until the war ended. When they returned to Poland, they found a cold reception, and moved to German DP camps, awaiting resettlement in the U.S.

In 1951, sponsored by the Jewish Family Services of Phoenix, the Gortlers were brought to Arizona.

“At the time, there was little yiddishkeit there,” recalls Gortler, “so my parents decided to send me to New York so I could receive a Jewish education.”

Through the help of a rabbi, a YU graduate, at the local Conservative synagogue (there were no Orthodox synagogues in Phoenix at the time), the Gortlers were told that Yeshiva University High School, then called Talmudical Academy (TA), had agreed to educate and house their son for free. He also received a modest stipend from TA, since his parents had virtually no money.

Gortler, who knew no English when he arrived with his family in Arizona, was sent on a Greyhound bus by his parents. They had only packed a couple of sandwiches for him, not realizing the trip would be four days long. Read full article at Faces at YU

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