Rabbi Abe Schacter-Gampel Taps Memories of His Grandfather for Federation’s Yom HaShoah Commemoration


Memphis Jewish Federation’s 60th annual Yom HaShoah Commemoration will feature Elisha Wiesel, son of Nobel Laureate, Holocaust survivor, and memoirist Elie Wiesel, “in conversation” with Rabbi Abe Schacter-Gampel of Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab (MJHR). Advance registration for in-person or virtual attendance is required.

Though Wiesel and Rabbi Schacter-Gampel have only recently personally connected, the two share a fascinating connection. Rabbi Abe is the grandson of Rabbi Herschel Schacter, the first U.S. Army Chaplain to participate in the liberation of the Buchenwald death camp, where Elisha’s then 16-year-old father, Elie, was among the survivors.

Rabbi Abe Schacter-Gampel, the first board-certified Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Care at MJHR and rabbi for the Hospice of Hope, fondly recalls childhood memories of his grandfather’s remarkable stories from his past. Sadly, they never had the opportunity to explore these memories together as Rabbi Abe’s intellectual curiosity blossomed in adulthood.    

“My Zayde suffered from Alzheimer’s for the last ten years of his life. By the time I was beginning to ask bigger questions, we were no longer able to effectively communicate,” he said. “The family story of his liberation of Buchenwald became the connection and the memory for me when I wasn’t able to talk to him. He’s brought back alive through these memories and thanks to these opportunities, I’ve gotten the chance to relearn as an adult who my grandfather really was.”