Wilfred Spangenthal

As the Nazis conquered Holland during World War II, Amsterdam native Wilfred Spangenthal was sent off to the Theresienstadt concentration camp together with his mother and brother, cruelly separated from their father and husband, who was shipped to Auschwitz. Though the three of them were liberated by the Soviet Army two years later, Wilfred’s father did not survive.

In the years that followed, Wilfred’s mother remarried Hans Wollf and gave birth to a baby girl, and the family left the Netherlands to establish themselves in Canada. Shortly after their arrival in their new home, Wilfred’s brother passed away from kidney failure rooted in the distress he experienced in Theresienstadt.

Later, while studying at Montreal’s renowned McGill University, Wilfred travelled to the Republic of Suriname on the northeastern coast of South America to inspect a local company owned by the Wolff family. The country made a strong impression on him, and he decided to stay. Over a period of 25 years, Wilfred grew the family business into one of the largest import and distribution companies in Suriname.

Over the course of his life, Wilfred happily shared his success with others, supporting organizations in the Netherlands, Suriname and Israel. He was a member of the board of the Vereniging de Joodsche Invalide and an active participant in the Beth Shalom Foundation. In 1996, Wilfred agreed to be interviewed by the USC Shoah Foundation, leaving a testimonial of his experiences in Nazi-occupied Holland, ensuring that future generations never forget what transpired during the Holocaust.

Upon his passing, Wilfred left another lasting gift to the Collectieve Israel Actie, the Dutch chapter of Keren Hayesod, through which his gift was distributed to the children of ADI. The generous donation from the Spangenthal estate allowed ADI’s residential and rehabilitative center in Jerusalem to renovate its first floor, creating accessible bathrooms and washrooms with a variety of equipment, as well as aesthetic bedrooms, a family room and professional areas, such as a medical clinic and therapy spaces, enhancing the children’s surroundings and improving their overall quality of life.

Recalling his own suffering as a child and the untimely passing of his brother due to physical and emotional hardships, Wilfred wanted to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable people and children in Israel. The legacy of caring that he established at ADI achieved this and so much more, ensuring that our residents and special education students with severe disabilities will live, learn and play for years to come in an atmosphere that promotes health, wellness, growth and advancement well beyond their initial prognoses.

YOUR Legacy of Caring: Remembering ADI in your will or bequest will create a lasting impact by assisting in the ongoing rehabilitation and advancement of ADI’s residents with severe disabilities.

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