Leo Melamed is joined on stage by Rabbi David Baron, as he speaks Tuesday night during a Kol Nidre service on the eve of Yom Kippur in Beverly Hills. (Rafu Shimpo photos by MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS)
By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS Rafu Staff Writer
BEVERLY HILLS – “What can an eight-year-old do on a train for three weeks?” asked Leo Melamed, recalling a harrowing episode from his childhood. “There was nothing to do, so I learned to play chess.”
This was no ordinary ride on the rails. It was a flight to freedom for Melamed and his family, through the frigid Russian tundra along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, out of Nazi-occupied Poland and Lithuania to eastern Russia and later, Japan.
Melamed, 84, was sharing his stories during a Kol Nidre service, on the eve of Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. The event, held Tuesday evening at the Beverly Hills Temple of the Arts, also included comments from actor Edward James Olmos and Judea Pearl, whose son Daniel was a Wall Street Journal reporter slain by Pakistani terrorists in 2002.