Janek “Jack” Mandelbaum

Janek “Jack” Mandelbaum

Janek “Jack” Mandelbaum

April 10, 1927 – August 6, 2023

Janek (Jack) Mandelbaum, aged 96, passed away peacefully in his home in Naples, Florida on August 6, 2023. He was a successful entrepreneur, beloved father, and generous community member whose life story became an inspiration to many.

Jack was born on April 10, 1927, in Lodz, Poland. Later, his family moved to Gdynia, a port city on the Baltic Sea. There, he lived a wonderful life. But all that was shattered on September 1, 1939, when the Nazis invaded Poland, beginning World War II.

Just days after the Nazi invasion, Jack’s father was deported to the Stutthof Concentration Camp. His sister fled to Slomniki to escape the advancing Nazis, but they ultimately took the city and she was interned in the Slomniki Ghetto. Jack, his mother and his brother fled to Slawkow, but when the Nazis took that city as well, Jack was interned in the Slawkow Ghetto. There, he was made to do forced labor, often taking on the work of those unable to do what was assigned to them by the Judenrat (Jewish Council). On June 10, 1942, as part of the liquidation of the Slawkow ghetto known as the “Slawkow Expulsion,” Jack’s mother and brother were deported to Auschwitz, where they died in the gas chambers. He, however, was sent to a slave labor camp. By the end of the war, Jack had survived seven concentration camps, multiple slave labor camps and a Nazi ghetto. Freedom for Jack came on May 7, 1945, when he was liberated from the Dornau Concentration Camp. But liberation came with the bitter news that his entire family had perished, leaving him as its sole survivor.

Hoping to create a new life in America, at the age of 19 Jack immigrated to the United States in June 1946. He was able to do so because of a special law signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. He settled in Kansas City, Missouri and began working in the shipping department of Rose Mercantile. Through incredibly hard work, determination and dedication, Jack learned English, educated himself, and built a family and a new life. He rose through the ranks and eventually became the owner and President of the company he started working in. He retired from that position in 1992.

Throughout his life, Jack was known as an astute and well-respected businessman. He worked as a wholesaler, traveling the world to source handbags, which he sold in stores across America.

In his spare time, Jack was an avid reader and philanthropist. He supported many causes, but Holocaust education, in particular.

Jack co-founded the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education in 1993. He believed deeply in the mission of the organization and participated for many years in its governance as well as its Speakers’ Bureau. Throughout his tenure there, Jack spoke about his experiences during the Holocaust to tens of thousands of children and adults in schools, churches, community centers, military bases and other venues. His story was inspiring to all and his life was chronicled in books, a play and several documentaries, in multiple languages. He was deeply committed to the teaching of Holocaust as a means to foster tolerance in society and ensure that similar horrors never reoccur in the future.

Jack was a committed father, taking great pride in the accomplishments of his four children. He was particularly proud of their educational accomplishments. Because of the war, Jack had little formal education and that he helped all his children become college-educated was a source of great happiness for him.

He is survived by his children, Sharon, Mark (Ellie), Barry (Gittel) and John (Bruce Larsen), and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Services will be held at 1:00 PM in the chapel at the Kehilath Israel Blue Ridge Cemetery, 1901 Blue Ridge Blvd., Independence, Missouri 64052, with burial to follow the service.

Donations can be made in honor of Jack to the Midwest Center of Holocaust Education, 5801 W. 115th St., Suite 106 Overland Park, Kansas 66211.

Please contact Louis Memorial Chapel for the times and location of the Shiva.

Leave a Condolence

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *