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Hillel Yeshiva student a winning writer
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Hillel Yeshiva student a winning writer

Abraham I. Seruya, 11, a sixth-grade student at Hillel Yeshiva in Ocean, won second-place honors in the Monmouth County Genealogy Society’s 12th annual Family History Month contest in October.

Abraham, the son of Rose and Isaac Seruya of West Long Branch, won for his essay, among 177 submitted, about his great-grandfather.

He plans to attend the society’s awards ceremony on Jan. 8.

‘A Hero Amongst Us’

I have a large family which includes my mom Rose, my dad Isaac, my two brothers Mitchell and David, and my one and only sister Cookie. I am fortunate to have many loving grandparents, great-grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins who all live close by. We all have great respect and love for one another. That’s what makes my family so special. There are many family members that I look to but one that stands out in my mind as a true hero is my great-grandfather Sam M. Antar.

There are many stories of the wonderful accomplishments my great-grandfather has made throughout his life. Here is one that I think most of you would like.

In 1945 my great-grandfather served in World War II and fought all over the world. He was an amphibious engineer for the American Army. My great-grandfather was serving on the beachheads of Anzio, Italy. Suddenly there was an explosion at sea. Ships split in half and threw soldiers and equipment overboard. My great-grandfather, along with many, swam out to save the survivors. He pulled a young man to land in order to revive him. Then he gave him a pair of dry boots and made him feel comfortable.

It had been a while since my great-grandfather Sam had written or spoken to his parents, and they began to worry. His dad had set out to find out if anyone at the American base knew of my grandfather’s whereabouts. He boarded a train full of soldiers and went on his way. A fellow passenger on the train had many campaign ribbons, which caught his attention. It wasn’t long till they began to start up a conversation about the war. The young soldier told my great-grandfather about his near-death experience and how he owed his life to a brave young soldier. Mr. Antar, my great-great-grandfather, agreed with him and then went on to say, “I don’t suppose you came across my son, did you? He’s in Italy now.” And he pulled out a picture and handed it over.

The boy looked at it a moment; he could not believe his eyes. “This is your son?” he said. “I’ll say I know him! That’s the hero who saved my life. Mr. Antar, do you realize I am wearing your son’s boots!”

This is just one of the many heroic stories passed on to me from past generations. I hope to one day be able to follow in the same footsteps as my great-grandfather and help others in need. Then the future generation will have someone they can look up to.

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