The joy of giving Couple honored for commitment to Holocaust Memorial Center

By Christine L. Mobley

Legal News

Attorney Sam Bienenstock and his wife, court reporter Lauren, were recently honored for their dedication and commitment to the Holocaust Memorial Center at its 27th anniversary dinner on Sept. 18.

The Holocaust Memorial Center is near and dear to their hearts.

"Sam's family are all survivors of the Holocaust and he was brought up with 'You have to give,' 'You get more when you give,' 'The joy of giving;' and seeing others succeed and being able to maybe help other people in their life struggles," Lauren said. "I was brought up that way too, so it was a good match. We both like the same organizations."

Among the other organizations the Bienenstocks are involved with are the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) and JARC, where Lauren serves on the board and was co-chair for SpringElation 2011.

The Bienenstocks also are involved with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Yeshiva, The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Temple Israel and many others. Lauren Bienenstock also spoke recently at a Solidarity Rally for Israel regarding the peace effort in the Middle East.

"With the Holocaust, we definitely need to preserve the memories of all those who perished and educate everyone about it," she said. "We're really into education. Our FIDF efforts have a lot to do with education. We give college scholarships to soldiers. JARC is involved with helping people who are physically or emotionally challenged in the community and Yeshiva's about learning and studying and that's really what our passion is -- education and helping people in need."

"Luckily for us we both grew up with that notion that helping others is good," Sam Bienenstock said. "I always tell a story that happened to me after my father passed away in 2008: (Growing up) we were very poor and my father always had a little charity canister in the house and he would always put something in, even if it was only a nickel or a dime.

"When he passed away, there was this Rabbi at Yeshiva that called me and asked me to come over and take a look at what they were doing there. I said, 'Sure.' I walked into his office and there was his assistant and once I was introduced she said, 'Are you Abraham's son?' I said, 'Yes, how did you know?' She had said that he was in three times a week to bring them money.

"Here was someone who had no money, but he was known for giving to many charities. This was a man who was known for giving money but had none of his own.

"(Lauren and I) both feel the same way -- that we want to help as much as we

can."

Bienenstock's father, Abraham, spent the greater part of World War II in various concentration camps. Abraham's sister also survived the war. Sam's mother, Bajla, and her four sisters and a brother, survived Auschwitz.

"We just both share the same belief that it's important to give back to the community that you're in, to give back to the people that need," Lauren Bienenstock said. "If you're fortunate enough to be able to do that, then you should do it. It's a wonderful feeling to give and we love doing it."

"(Being honored) is special, but it almost feels like you haven't really done anything that warrants it, because we feel that it's something that everybody should do -- whether it's the Holocaust Memorial Center or other worthwhile charities," Sam Bienenstock added.

"This is especially important even in today's society when you see some of the atrocities that are going on and you want say, 'Guys, don't you remember the kind of things that happened?' and people want to say, 'Well, it's not my problem.' That's one of the things the Holocaust Memorial Center is working on is saying you can't sit back and say 'I didn't understand what was going on. I'm an innocent bystander.' You're really not.

"In order to understand that, you really have to understand what happened then and what kind of evil started out as not a big deal but then became a huge worldwide effort," Sam Bienenstock said.

"The Holocaust Memorial Center brings history alive and keeps it going. In the not-to-distant future, there will not be any more survivors from that generation. Who's there going to be to really bare witness to it and say this is what really happened? We need to make sure that there are facilities that have the evidence to say, 'Look here. We will educate the young and show them what really happened because they're the ones that are going to be the leaders in the future and can't allow that kind of stuff to go on again.'"

Besides being known for their philanthropy in the Jewish community and beyond, the Bienenstock name is also well-known in the legal community.

The couple founded Bienenstock Court Reporting & Video in 1995. The business currently has eight offices throughout Michigan and provides services to clients in all 50 states.

Lauren Bienenstock studied at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. She is a recognized leader in the field of court reporting as well as a pioneer in Michigan of Realtime court reporting -- technology that enables court reporters to instantly convert their stenographic notes into English text.

Sam Bienenstock graduated from University of Michigan and University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. After initially working for Arthur Andersen and Burroughs, he opened and ran his own legal practice for more than 20 years. During that time, he also co-founded Law Offices, Inc., which rented office space to attorneys, and he served as a mediator in Oakland County. He is currently a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the Oakland County Bar Association.

The couple initially met at a deposition where she was the court reporter and he was one of the attorneys. But it wasn't until they were later "fixed up" by family that they began dating.

"This is not about Lauren and me," Sam Bienenstock said at the anniversary dinner. "It is about the survivors. We need to preserve the testimony and facts about the holocaust. This includes the horrors and the bravery of Jews and non-Jews alike. Their struggles continue. We must be vigilant, so this cannot happen again."

The Holocaust Memorial Center recently acquired an original boxcar, which was used to transport Jews to be murdered, to be displayed at the museum at 28123 Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills.

For additional information on the center, visit www.holocaustcenter.org or the center's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/hmczfc.

Published: Fri, Oct 14, 2011

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