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98-year-old Holocaust survivor shares story on Yom HaShoah

Monday commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Day
Monday commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Day 01:52

NEW YORK -- Monday commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known as Yom HaShoah. It's a day that honors the 6 million Jews that were murdered by Nazi Germany. Survivors now live to tell their stories.

It feels like there's ever-lasting youth inside Leo Shliselberg's home.

"All this is my shaping," said Shliselberg.

You'll find what he's most proud of is his handmade artwork, his passion for Judaism, and his love for singing, even in the middle of an interview.

"The entire song lets be happy, 'hava nagilah'," he explained in Hebrew.

The 98-year-old said his spirit is a testament of the life he has lived and the miracles that saved him. At 8 years old in 1934, he and his family fled Nazi Germany.

"The hate started from babies, as a child," he said. "My father said time to leave this country ... so we moved to Israel."

Shliselberg said his mother and father's family who stayed behind in Europe were killed in the Holocaust. Then came the British Mandate of Palestine. Shliselberg said he grew up in B'nei Barak, outside Tel-Aviv, where he was part of youth organizations and later joined the army. He was fully mobilized when Israel declared its independence in 1948.

Shliselberg says antisemitism followed his family to the Big Apple

In 1961, Shliselberg and his family moved to New York City. He said the antisemitism he thought he escaped as a child was still in the air.

"One time I found a swastika on my locker. The guys hated me," Shliselberg said.

But despite the hardships in life, Shliselberg saidthe true secret to happiness is laughter.

"You start in the morning when you get dressed in the morning and you comb your hair," he said. "If I don't do it for me, who is going to do it? You have to do it."

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