Michael Edelstein was headstrong and independent, a self-described mamzer. He was 10 years old when he rolled under barbed wire and escaped the roundup of the Jewish townspeople of Skala-Podolsk on the morning of Sukkoth 1942. 

Six months later, he escaped again from the Borshchov ghetto on the eve of its liquidation. Then he survived another year of hiding in forest bunkers and the ruins of buildings until the Nazis were finally driven from western Ukraine in 1944.

Edelstein spent his adolescent years in refugee camps in postwar Germany, arriving penniless in New York in 1951. He served in the U.S. Army, built a business as a roofing contractor and raised a family in Brooklyn—achieving the middle-class American dream. Then, later in life, he amassed a fortune in New York real estate, while also giving back through philanthropy on behalf of Israel and Jewish causes. 

What gave Michael Edelstein the inner strength to survive the horrors of the Holocaust? How did those experiences shape the man he would become, and set him on a course for business achievement and personal fulfillment? How did he rediscover humanity in himself and the world? 

These are the questions raised in a compelling tale of Holocaust survival and triumphant personal reinvention. The same mamzer qualities that allowed Edelstein to survive the Holocaust—his courage, determination and practical resourcefulness—were those he applied to compete as a savvy businessman and come out on the top of the heap.

Now 84, Edelstein finally takes the opportunity to narrate the details of his fascinating life story. From his trials in the forests and bunkers, to the purgatory of post-war Poland and Germany, to his early years in the U.S. as a Korea-era GI and self-made small businessman, to his ultimate successes in real estate and philanthropy, Edelstein fills his story with richly remembered details and relates it with characteristic Yiddish humor. 

Michael Edelstein had to survive before he could thrive. In defying the odds to accomplish both, he also rediscovered his essential humanity—his menschlichkeit—the one thing even the Nazis couldn't kill.

Table of Contents

The chapters of Michael Edelstein's life

My Journey

The End of Innocence

Witness to Atrocity

Tests of Survival

In the Aftermath

Refugee Experience

Greenhorn in America

My Working Life

Achieving Menschlichkeit

The Takeaway

Reviews and comments by early readers of Live Another Day


What is the connection between the two stories told in our recent virtual salon, the documentary film Nobody Wants Us and Live Another Day, a book and web site? Both stories are about persecution, flight and statelessness, focusing especially on the experience of children. Our own mother's Holocaust narrative intersects the circumstances portrayed in the film, having received a visa out of danger as part of the rescue campaign by the heroic Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who is portrayed in the film.


Supplemental content from the Edelstein family

Documentary film by Jesse Cogan about Michael Edelstein's 1999 return visit to Skala. 
Selected photos by grandson David Edelstein
Chilling video of the June 1941 roundup of Jews of Lvov that foreshadowed future Nazi aktions
Walter Ruby's 2012 interview with the late Skala community leader