Number 161253 was the number given to Pincus Kolender when he was in Auschwitz. It was the number he carried with him for the rest of his life, tattooed on his arm.
Tomorrow, he will be buried with that number. His funeral will be tomorrow at 11 a.m. (Sunday) in Brith Sholom Beth Israel's Maryville cemetery.
When World War II came to Poland, Pincus Kolender was a teenager. He watched his mother shot by German soliders and survived captivity in Auschwitz. When the war ended, his entire family - parents and siblings - were dead, victims of Nazi atrocities.
Having escaped while en route to another death camp, he escaped and was liberated by American soldiers. Five years later, as an American citizen, he was in uniform as a solider serving in the United States Army.
While many survivors were content to put the past behind and attempt to resume some degree of normalcy, Kolender spoke about his experiences whenever he could around the Lowcountry.
Thanks to Pincus Kolender, thousands bore personal witness to the reality of the Holocaust. The light of his life, which he shared with us, shone far brighter than the darkness of the atrocities of the Nazi regime.
We are forever grateful that he had the courage to bear witness of what he endured, to remind us of the evil that men can do. Let us hope that these lessons are not forgotten.