When congregation leaders at Adath Shalom, the Conservative synagogue in Morris Plains, asked Ed Mosberg what was most important to him, he responded, “Holocaust education.”
It was an understandable answer from a man who lost almost his entire family and endured the hell of the Mauthausen concentration camp, and who has dedicated much of his time to relating his story to countless school and community organizations.
Mosberg, who lives in Union and Parsippany, chose to express his support in a very particular way: In March, he and his wife, Cecile, also a survivor, made a $10,000 donation for Holocaust education at the temple in memory of Parsippany-Troy Hills Councilman James Vigilante, who passed away last November from a sudden heart attack, at 49.
Vigilante, who served in the United States Air Force, the New Jersey National Guard, and most recently the Air Force Reserves, had a deep desire to learn about the Holocaust. Mosberg used to meet the younger man for lunch almost once a week.
“I knew him for 20 years or more,” he recalled, “and he was always very interested to learn about what I went through. We could have made the gift to somewhere like Yad Vashem, but we decided it should be somewhere in our community, to a place the council members know.”
The Mosbergs are members of Adath Shalom, along with the family of his daughter and son-in-law, Caroline and Darren Karger of Randolph.
On April 27, at Adath Shalom’s Yom Hashoa commemoration, Mosberg announced that he and Cecile were giving another $10,000. In addition, their grandson Zachary Karger, 16, donated $2,000 and gave another $4,000 on behalf of his brother Matthew, 15, and sister Jordana, 19, bringing what the temple has called the Mosberg Family Holocaust Education Fund to a total of $26,000.
In addition to Adath Shalom, that same week Mosberg, now 88, also gave talks at the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth and at a synagogue in New York City. He told NJ Jewish News, “I don’t speak about this for you or for myself; I speak for those who were murdered, who are not around to tell their story. Every month a thousand survivors die. Soon there will be no more who can do this. I have to do it for as long as I can.”
Adath Shalom president Mike Stepak, himself the child of survivors, said, “We have so few survivors still with us, and this was such a nice and generous gift. We consider this a tremendous opportunity to do something very special and important.”
Mosberg has been a “tremendous support” to the Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest,” said its director, Barbara Wind. His family’s gift to Adath Shalom “will make a huge difference in the congregation’s knowledge and understanding of the Shoa.”
Former Adath Shalom president Sam Varsano, also the son of survivors, will serve as chair of the Adath Shalom Holocaust Education Committee. A Parsippany High School history teacher, he serves on the curriculum writing committee of the NJ Commission on Holocaust Education and is a speaker for the Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest, a division of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. His committee will work with the temple’s Rabbi Moshe Rudin and education director Charlotte Frank to decide on how best to use the Mosberg fund.