Rabbi Yaacov Lieberman, 88, Holocaust survivor and former ritual director at Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, died on March 23.
Born in Bilke, Czechoslovakia, Lieberman escaped the Nazis during World War II by disguising himself as a Christian in Hungary, Budapest. He worked shoveling coal in the same building where Adolf Eichmann worked.
Lieberman risked his own safety by making kiddush every Shabbat for his relatives that remained in hiding.
The Gestapo caught him when he tried to escape to Romania. Shot in the finger and in the forehead, he was then placed in the Topola Camp in Yugoslavia.
After liberation, he found out that his parents and sisters were dead. His two brothers had survived.
In 1947, Lieberman illegally traveled to Palestine on the French liner, Andre Lebon. He received his rabbinical ordination at Yeshiva Kol Torah in Jerusalem. He also fought in the Israeli Defense Forces as a chaplain during the Israeli War of Independence.
In 1952, Lieberman journeyed to Montreal, Canada, where he met his wife of almost 60 years, Shoshana. They then traveled to Niagara Falls, N.Y. In 1965, Beth Sholom hired Lieberman and he moved to Elkins Park.
Lieberman was also known for his work as a sofer (scribe). His memory was also said to be impeccable, remembering years later the haftarahs of the Bar/
Bat Mitzvahs he had trained.
When Lieberman retired in 2005, he moved to Modi’in, Israel, and lived there until his death. He is buried in Modi’in.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Esther Darshevitz; two sons, Ari and David; 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.