More than 80 years ago in Greece, sixty thousand Jews lived peacefully in the port city of Thessaloniki. They were a valued and vibrant community. Most of these Jews worked in the port, and since, they had a majority, the port of Thessaloniki was even closed on Saturday or Shabbat, the Jewish day, when religion, forbids work. The rabbis also lived and studied there, and everyone just hung out in the city, and were very fond of each other.
But on September 2, 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, this peaceful community one day felt the terror of Nazis, when on April 6, 1941 Hitler invaded Greece, in order to secure his southern front before launching the famous ‘Operation Barbarossa’ the code name for the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany and his great offensive against Russia.
Sadly, of the 60,000 Jews in Thessaloniki, around 50,000 Jews were exterminated at the Birkenau concentration camp. The massacre of the Jews in Greece was brief but intense. Very few could escape. Among the survivors, there was a family, known as Bourla. After the war, in 1961, a son was born into this miraculous family in the camps. His parents called him Israel – Abraham. He grew up and studied veterinary medicine in Greece. A brilliant student, Abraham got his doctorate in reproductive biotechnology at the veterinary school of Aristotle University of Salonika, also known as Thessaloniki, in Greece.
At the age of 34, he decided to move to the United States. He changed his first name Abraham to Albert and met a Jewish woman named Miriam who then became his wife. Together they had two children.
In the United States, Albert was absorbed in the medical industry, where he progressed very quickly and joined a pharmaceutical company and became its “Head manager.” From there, the road was short for little Abraham (Albert) to rise through the ranks to become Chief Operation Officer before obtaining his appointment as CEO of the company in 2019.
Throughout 2020 Albert decided to direct all the efforts of the company to try and find a vaccine against the new virus which had just struck the world—Covid. He expended great financial and technological efforts to achieve his goal. A year later his work paid off and the WHO and the US government authorized his company to produce the long-awaited vaccine. Today this vaccine will be distributed in several countries including Germany, which counted thousands of deaths due to the pandemic.
Ironically, this vaccine, which will save the lives of millions of people around the world including many Germans was led by a little Jew from Thessaloniki, son of a Holocaust survivor, whose, major part of the community was exterminated by the Nazi Germany. And that is why Israel became the first country to receive the vaccine, in the memory of his grandparents and his parents who gave birth to Israel-Abraham Bourla, today known as Albert Bourla: CEO of Pfizer. Such is the irony of destiny.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
Share it if you like it
Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:
NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION
Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)
IFSC code: BKID0006805
GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE
(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 8 prestigious libraries of the US that includes Harvard College Library; Harvard University Library; Library of Congress; University of Washington, Seattle; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Yale University, New Haven; University of Chicago; University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill University Libraries. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in libraries and archives of Canada, Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai and Jaipuria Institute of Management, Noida, India)
ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY
(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi; Available for reading in Indian National Bibliography, March 2016, in the literature section, in Central Reference Library, Ministry of Culture, India, Belvedere, Kolkata-700022)
AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES
(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be the undying characteristics of Lucknow. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014. It is included for reading in Askews and Holts Library Services, Lancashire, U.K.)
REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD
(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)
TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN
(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
RHYTHM … in poems
(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)
Short stories and Articles published in Bhavan’s Journal: Reality and Perception, 15.10.19; Sending the Wrong Message, 31.5.20; Eagle versus Scholars June, 15 & 20 2020; Indica, 15.8.20; The Story of King Chitraketu, August 31 2020; Breaking Through the Chakravyuh, September 30 2020. The Questioning Spouse, October 31, 2020; Happy Days, November 15, 2020; The Karma Cycle of Paddy and Wheat, December 15,2020; Power Vs Influence, January 31, 2021; Three Refugees, March 15, 2021;
(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)