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Holocaust Accordion Comes Back To Life at BTJ

Date: April 2017
<B><CENTER>Holocaust Accordion Comes Back To Life at BTJ</b></center>

When a compact, gray-colored 80-year-old Hohner accordion was recently shipped to Boys Town Jerusalem, its escape from Nazi Germany and journey to the Land of Israel was complete at last. And when its chords were played (for the first time since 1937) to accompany the BTJ choir singing Ani Ma’amin (I Believe), the accordion sounded the song of the eternal Jewish People.

The story begins in Nazi Germany in 1938, as 10-year-old Jon (Yonah) Dlusniewski watched his mother pack her best dishes and china to secretly send to relatives in Montreal, Canada. Although he didn’t understand his parents’ desperate attempt to spirit possessions out of Germany before all would be confiscated, Jon begged to add his beloved accordion to the small shipment.

"I pleaded to pack it as well, but there was little room in the cartons and little hope that the shipment would reach Canada"

“The accordion, which I treasured, was a present for my eighth birthday,” Jon (today Jon Dlusy) recalled. “I pleaded to pack it as well, but there was little room in the cartons and little hope that the shipment would reach Canada. A short time later, my father somehow arranged a “vacation” visa for us to Belgium. We left everything behind – my father’s successful factory, our beautiful home and possessions, a brand new car – and fled for our lives to Antwerp. After three months, we were finally granted a visa to Canada. We arrived in Montreal in October, 1938, just before Kristallnacht.”

"It’s our direct connection to history, to tragedy and to bravery"

Months after their escape, Jon’s parents were shocked to learn that their household shipment had miraculously arrived in Canada. Eighty years later, Jon still remembers the thrill of finding his cherished accordion inside.

Nearly penniless and knowing no English, Jon’s father eventually opened a clothing factory in Montreal. Jon’s only brother Nathan volunteered to join the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942, even before gaining Canadian citizenship. A skilled pilot, “Nat” Dlusy was engaged in radar searches for German submarines when he was killed in a plane crash in 1944 near Scotland.

In time, Jon became a successful real estate management executive in Montreal. As for the accordion, he never did learn to play it, yet he kept it for “sentimental reasons.”

"For me, it was a vivid memory of the day we left Germany, not knowing what the future would bring."

Jon’s first visit to Boys Town Jerusalem in 1986 began a close, generous relationship with the school. Last year, in a meeting with the outgoing director of Canadian Friends of Boys Town Jerusalem Jerry Tollinsky and his successor Sharon Anisman, Jon first mentioned his accordion. At Tollinsky’s suggestion, he agreed to donate the instrument to BTJ’s music department.

“The accordion’s arrival aroused great excitement amongst our students,” said BTJ music director Nir Cohen. “Fortunately the instrument was in relatively good condition, and will be used to accompany the choir. It’s our direct connection to history, to tragedy and to bravery.”

“I kept the accordion all these years,” says Jon Dlusy. “For me, it was a vivid memory of the day we left Germany, not knowing what the future would bring. Now I’m delighted that it will be played at Boys Town Jerusalem by present and future generations of Israel and the Jewish People.”



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