Jori Epstein, Max Glauben write book of hope

Jori Epstein and Max Glauben shared many hours over his kitchen table discussing life. Together the two created “The Upstander” available now for pre-order.

Witnesses to history

By Deb Silverthorn

Max Glauben and Jori Epstein have nearly 120 years of life, and together the two have written the book on living to the fullest. “The Upstander,” to be released on March 30 and now available for pre-order, is Epstein’s tribute to Glauben.

“Max is one of my best friends. We know and care about each other and he’s taught me so much,” said Epstein, an Akiba Yavneh Academy and University of Texas graduate who now reports on the Cowboys and NFL as a journalist for USA Today. She worked previously for Sports Illustrated and The Dallas Morning News. “Our understanding is so deep and powerful, and it’s why ‘The Upstander’ is now a reality.”

“The Upstander” explores survivor Glauben’s childhood and teen years as a ghetto smuggler and his journey from displaced person to American immigrant. In speaking with Epstein, Glauben shares memories and events he had held back until now. 

“Jori authenticated everything; she’s a good writer, but also an excellent reporter and she didn’t just take my memory for granted. Even through 14 March [of the Living] trips, and hundreds and more hours of lectures, there were still some things I’d kept inside,” said Glauben, 93. He first met Epstein as a student and has watched proudly as she has become a professional writer. “Jori is a real truthful, Jewish gute-neshamah — a neshama tova — who has religion in her heart. Over the years we’ve built a very special bond and this book comes from that.”

Glauben was 11 when World War II began in 1939. In 1944, when he was 15, he and his family were deported to Majdanek. He spent the rest of the war at Budzyn, Mielec, Wieliczka and Plaszow in Poland, and Flossenburg in Germany. After liberation on April 23, 1945, he spent two years in Nuremberg, Germany, with the 179 Signal Corps. He arrived in the U.S. in 1947 and spent a few weeks in an orphanage in New York City and then in a foster home in Atlanta. In 1948, he registered for the draft and entered the Army, based at Fort Hood in Killeen in 1951. He moved to Dallas in 1953 and began his career in the garment industry, later owning the Imperial Garment Supply company, which manufactured articles for the sewing trade. 

By happenstance, Epstein and Glauben sat next to each other on the flight to the March of the Living in 2012. She had grown up at congregations Beth Torah, Shaare Tefilla and Shearith Israel and is now involved at Shearith and The Intown Chabad. Glauben is a longtime Shearith Israel member. 

“Max’s focus is always to look at how far we’ve come,” said Epstein, who reviewed three oral histories and researched hundreds of records. “He misses none of the nuances of humanity.”

Both families are eager to read “The Upstander.” They include Glauben’s wife Frieda and their children Barry (Michelle), Phillip (Linda) and Shari (Norm) Becker; grandchildren Alec (Ellen), Blake, Delaney (Justin) Katz, Hayley, Madison, Ross (Stacey) and Sarah (Brett) Golman; great-granddaughters Natalie and Amelia Golman; and great-grandson Julian Glauben. Epstein is the daughter of Barry and Dia and sister of Daley, Jason and Zach.

Published reviews of “The Upstander” include those by Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins; reporter and author Rachel Siegel; and Rabbi Meir Tannenbaum, former Yavneh Academy associate principal for Judaic studies. Siegel, a Yavneh graduate, made the 2015 March of the Living trip with Glauben, and Tannenbaum, now with BBYO International, chaperoned many trips with Glauben. 

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