A Gift That Celebrates the Gift of Life

Posted By : Devick Sellam July 29, 2016

JackDr. Jack Terry, born in Poland in 1930, is an American success story. After a horrific youth in concentration camps, he immigrated to the United States, completed high school and college, became a geologist, served in the U.S. Army, and went on to earn a medical degree. From there, he became an accomplished New York psychoanalyst with a focus on helping other Holocaust survivors.

But Jack’s remarkable journey would have taken a drastically different turn if not for Louis S. Leland, a doctor with the U.S. Army medical battalion.

In 1945, Col. Leland found 15-year-old Jakub Szabmacher, as he was then called, in the newly liberated Flossenburg Concentration Camp. Col. Leland and his wife, Ruth, helped the young survivor secure passage to Paris. There he followed their instructions to find Louis’ brother, who helped the boy get a Polish passport and ultimately make his way to the United States.

But Louis and Ruth’s kindness didn’t end there. They arranged for Jack to live with a family, the Terrys, in Queens, New York. And when they learned that he had always wanted to go to school — a dream interrupted at 9 years old, when the war began — they encouraged him to go to Brooklyn Technical High School. Jack was barely 16, had only a few years of primary schooling, and barely spoke English. Fiercely determined, he took it upon himself to learn English well enough to test into the prestigious high school.

Jack thinks of Ruth and Louis Leland as his parents, and the Leland family considers him one of their own. He’s also a lifelong Zionist and has always kept a close eye on Israel. So when he was made executor of Ruth’s trust, she asked him to select a Jewish organization as the beneficiary.

He chose AFMDA. Why? “All you have to do is look at the news and you see Magen David Adom,” he explains. For Dr. Jack Terry, a gift that saves lives in Israel is the perfect way to honor the couple that saved his.

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