CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- A resolution to honor Joe Engel, a Holocaust survivor and Charlestonian, who passed away in November was announced at Charleston City Council on Tuesday.
Councilman Ross Appel, who is Jewish, started the push for a way to honor Engel.
“I remember Joe Engel coming to my school as a young kid,” said Councilman Appel. “The City of Charleston has been very friendly to the Jewish community for a long time.”
According to his obituary, Engel survived the Holocaust after he jumped from a cattle car on the way to a concentration camp. He hid in the snow while German troops looked for him. After they gave up the search, Engel found the Polish Resistance and fought with them until World War Two ended.
The 95-year-old called Charleston home for decades after moving to the Lowcountry with his family in the years after the war.
When he first arrived in the Lowcountry, he lived with many family members in an apartment building on St. Margaret Street and once owned Glamour Cleaners on King Street.
Engel told his story to people at schools, churches and many other places.
“He lived a life of trying to instill in as many people as possible the joy of life and the importance of reminding people what can happen when the worst part of human instinct takes over,” said Councilman Appel.
Many local Jewish leaders were in attendance as the resolution was presented.
“I think it’s a recognition of what Joe meant to this community. Not just the Jewish community but, the entire Charleston community,” said Rabbi Evan Ravski, of Synagogue Emanu-El.
The resolution not only recognizes Engel, but aims to promote a culture of inclusivity in Charleston.
“One of the greatest lessons that we learn in the entire Torah is to love your fellow as yourself. That’s what this is doing. It teaches us that we are supposed to love one another. At the same time we have to push back against hatred,” said Rabbi Ravski.