Why I Became a Board Member: Adam Herzig

I am a holocaust survivor.  I was born in Poland into an affluent family.  My father was a lawyer and my mother came from a family of landowners and philanthropists.  It came to a sudden end when the Germans occupied Poland.  In one day we lost everything.   My parents, sister and I survived the war with Catholic papers.  Each day we did  not know if we would survive the day.  I was active in the resistance and  received the Silver Cross of Merit from the Polish government.  


After the war we left Poland and went to Paris. Times were difficult.  I was working, studying Mechanical Engineering, and graduated in Paris.  My sister and her family moved to Canada.  My father insisted that we not be separated so we rejoined them in Montreal. In Montreal I represented the French Bearing Industry for Canada and the United States.  I married in Montreal and my two children were born there.  In 1972 I accepted a position as CEO of a bearing company in Bremen, Indiana.    


In 1979 I was transferred to Philadelphia as No. 2 of SKF industries, the largest bearing company in the world, whose headquarters were in Sweden.  After taking an early retirement from SKF, I joined a consulting firm which was renamed Arader, Herzig and Associates.  I am still working there.  During the same period, I was CEO of a rubber company in Topeka, Kansas and was on the board of several companies. 


In Philadelphia I was a member of the Board of Directors of Jewish Federation, member of the Executive Committee and member of the Board of Trustees and am still a member of the Board of Trustees. I was the Chairman of Partnership 2000 between Philadelphia and Netivot, Israel.  On November 20, 2003 I was made an Honorary Citizen of Netivot. I am also active in Har Zion Temple, served on many committees and was Chairman of the Board of Trustees.


My commitment to HIAS is very deep. I am on the HIAS board for many years and was treasurer for several terms. I was a man without a country for many years and I identify with new immigrants. I understand the difficulties they have to undergo: first, to be able to leave a country; then to be accepted in a new country; then to be integrated into a new culture and very often a new language.  Everything is difficult.


HIAS is a wonderful organization that offers immigrants tremendous help. HIAS enables them to start a new life in a new country and guides them through difficult legal requirements.  What seems easy to us is often seen as overwhelming to immigrants;  HIAS is there to help them with their problems. It not only gives them assistance, it gives them hope. It is a bridge between their old country and new country.  


I am proud to be a part of HIAS Pennsylvania.