Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by problems? If so, I’d like to tell you about Holocaust survivor Jona Goldrich, who overcame some horrific problems.
In 1941, 13-year old Goldrich was living with his family in Poland, when the Nazis captured his town. Two weeks later, the Nazi soldiers took the town’s entire Jewish population over 60 years of age and with explosions of gun fire, shot each of them in the back of the head and then tossed their bodies into mass graves.
Soon the Nazi soldiers went house-to-house to seize Jewish families; including Goldrich’s to kill them in concentration camps. His parents were anxious to flee with their three sons to nearby Hungary. To avoid capture, they split up the travel. They hired a guide to first take Jona and his 12-year old brother and then they and Jona’s older brother were to follow.
On foot, the 90 mile journey to Hungary took five days. To stay out of sight, the boys and their guide moved through the dense forest in the dark of night and then slipped across the Hungarian border. The boys lived with cousins, but were still not safe because if they were detected, not only would they be turned over to the Nazis, so might anyone who harbored them.
They had to get out. Goldrich said, “Jewish people contributed…so that 50 children could go to Palestine. They wanted to split my brother and me up so that only one of us could go but I was very persistent and they took us both.”
His persistence saved their lives because the Nazis later killed half the Hungarian Jews and executed the boys’ parents and older brother.
The boys survived the war and then survived the war that created Israel in 1948. Three years later, Goldrich came to the U.S. to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but didn’t get in because he didn’t speak English well.
Looking for opportunity, Goldrich read about the huge growth of Los Angeles and jumped on a Greyhound bus. A day after arriving in L.A. he got a job as an auto mechanic.
Goldrich saw the massive building of tract homes and thought of a simple business he could start. He began a tiny company in which he and a few workers “cleaned up trash at new housing developments” and cleaned houses.
To grow his tiny firm, “the Bank of America loaned me $1,000 to buy my first truck. I started making money and I bought another truck and another and another.” Two years later, by reinvesting the profits back in the company, he had “110 employees and about 50 trucks.”
Then Goldrich got another business idea. He watched how builders operated and decided to try construction. “In 1956, I started building apartments in addition to cleaning houses. I built my first one in North Hollywood, 24 units.” How did he pay for this project? “In the beginning, I gave away 75 percent of the profits to attract investors.”
Goldrich kept building and as his apartments made money, more investors wanted in. This gave him the leverage to retain a greater share of his profits and a real estate empire was born. To concentrate on construction, he turned the cleanup business over to his partner, Sol Kest.
Today, through construction and investment, Goldrich & Kest owns 15,000 apartment units, 38 congregate care and convalescent facilities and 21 commercial, retail and industrial properties.
But that’s not the end of our story. To the core of his being, Goldrich recalls how the kindness of strangers saved his life and he gives generously to charities. He knows how great a difference compassion and a helping hand can make to those in need.
In the next KazanToday, A courageous flight attendant confronts death on a hijacked airplane.