Haim is still campaigning hard in his eighties...


HOLOCAUST survivor Haim Roet is showing no signs of slowing down, even though he is now in his 80s.

"Being socially active is in my DNA," he says.

Haim is offering to help Diaspora voluntary organisations through the management techniques he gained from his work with the Israeli Ministry of Trade and Industry and World Bank.

The man, who has spent much of his life initiating campaigns, was saved from the Holocaust by the inhabitants of a small Dutch village dedicated to rescuing Jews.

He recalled: "It was on the second day of Rosh Hashana, 1943, when a woman from the Dutch Resistance took me and my three brothers to a small village, Nieuwlande.

"Many of its residents saved Jews in an operation led by farmer Johannes Post. They brought me to Anton and Aleisa Deeska, with whom I stayed for a year and a half. They were an extraordinary family who saved my life."

Nieuwlande is one of only two villages recognised by Yad Vashem for collectively sheltering Jews. The villagers worked with three members of the Dutch Resistance, two of whose names are honoured by Yad Vashem.

The name of the third, 91-year-old Max Leols, still alive in Amsterdam, is not, because he is Jewish.

Haim, who made aliya with his family in 1949, said: "For 40 years I never spoke about the Holocaust to my children.

"About 15 years ago Professor Yehuda Bauer, an expert in the Holocaust, said at a meeting that it was typical of the Jews that we recognise the non-Jews and not the Jews.

"I was sitting there and I thought that there were three people in the underground who brought me out and one of them was a Jew. He was never recognised by Yad Vashem, only the two others.

"There is a big plaque of 200 names and in large letters the names of the two underground members who organised it. The third is not there because he's Jewish."

So Haim set up the Jews Rescued Jews Committee to rectify this omission.

In response, Yad Vashem allocated a space in their new Museum of the Holocaust to the Rescue of Jews by Jews.

That was not Haim's only Holocaust-related campaign. When in February, 1989, the government of Holland decided in the middle of the night to release two Nazis who were primarily responsible for the extermination of Dutch Jews, Haim was one of the leaders of a demonstration in front of the Dutch embassy.

He recalled: "I borrowed 32 books from Yad Vashem, containing the list of all the Jews, murdered by the Germans, mainly in extermination camps. It was very moving. People cried when they read the lists.

"Suddenly they started talking when they saw the names and saw what was behind them, the dates, the numbers of children, how they all had a life of their own."

He explained: "We always talk about six million. Maybe we should make it more personal on Yom Hashoah by reading the names of all the victims.

"That's why it's important to gather the names, so they don't remain anonymous, so they will be remembered. They don't have a physical grave, but they have a place in the memory of the Jewish people."

Haim initiated the programme, Unto Every Person There is a Name, which recorded the names of those who perished in the Holocaust, where and when they died and were murdered.

The lists are read out annually in the Knesset and Yad Vashem, as well as in many Diaspora communities.

The son of an economic adviser to one of Holland's largest banks, Haim followed in his father's professional footsteps, becoming head of the export department of the Israeli Ministry of Trade and Industry, deputy director of the Ministry of Finance and a World Bank economist.

On his retirement, he decided to take the management skills he had developed during his high-flying career and offer them to the voluntary sector.

Twelve years ago, he set up a centre for social justice.

He said: "It still exists today. It deals with the enormous differences in income and education in Israel.

"Thirty-40 years ago, when I came, Israel was a very equal society. Now it is very unequal.

"We deal with the government and bring out papers on education, taxation and openness of government operations."

In 2009 he founded Tze'ela, which offers management improvement teams to the voluntary sector.

He said: "I can't understand why nobody took management techniques to the social sector.

"Often the heads of organisations, which want to improve society, are chosen not because they are good managers, but because they have empathy with the programme. In the business sector, if you are not a good manager you cannot make progress."

Volunteer management improvement teams now work in Israeli primary schools and with children at risk.

Haim says: "For the first time in their lives, these children don't expect to get but they are giving to society."

They have also introduced the system of management problem-solving into 180 community centres all across Israel.

Not satisfied with improving Israeli society, Haim is offering free management advice to Jewish organisations throughout the Diaspora.

He said: "The system defines and deals with problems. In four years we have had enormous success, even more in the social than in the business field.

"I would like eventually to introduce the system all over the world to make a better world. But because we are Jews, we start with the Jewish world."

And in the Jewish world Haim also has an eye for injustice.

From 2009-2010 he was on the Claims Conference board, which works to secure compensation and restitution for survivors of the Holocaust and heirs of victims.

But he resigned because he didn't like what he saw and no-one was willing to show a letter he wrote to other board members.

Now the massive fraud scandal which Haim suspected has become public knowledge.

© 2013 Jewish Telegraph