Yovel Zoosman, you played with your grandmother’s name on your back in Alba Berlin’s Bundesliga match against Hamburg on Wednesday, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. Who’s Liba yesterday?
She was born in Warsaw and belonged to a group called the Children of Tehran. She and her sister are the only survivors in her family from the war and the Holocaust. They were Jews, but they were raised Christians to survive. They fled Poland to Russia. In the process, they lost their parents. They were virtually orphaned. In their escape, they tried to survive, as far as I know, they came to Siberia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan. After all, they were brought to Palestine from Tehran in a group of about a thousand children – on ships. I often asked her about her past, I often wanted to know how she lived and how she survived. She does not bother to talk about it. She will not remember.
Is your grandmother still alive?
She lives. She will soon be 89 years old and can no longer walk. She tries to watch every single match I play. I feel honored to have her last name on the shirt. When we played with Alba in Maccabi Tel Aviv, it was very special. After the match, I visited her. I hope to see you again this summer. I would not be who I am without her. Without her, I would not be in the world at all. Therefore, I want to honor my family, my background and my ancestors.
What happened to Liba Yesterday’s parents?
She’s not talking about it. I’m sure my dad knows, but he did not tell me. I am becoming more and more interested in my family’s history. My father’s father came to Israel from Russia. He also lost his family in the war and the Holocaust. My name, Zoosman, is originally the name of Süssmann.
story in a name.
My first name also stands for history. Yovel means anniversary in Hebrew, the jubilee year. Israel was founded in 1948, and when I was born in 1998, I got that name. That’s why I wear the number fifty on my shirt.
You live and play as a professional in the land of criminals. How are you feeling?
I have the feeling that people in Germany and in Berlin really want to remember what happened then. I come across these shiny metal plates all over the city …
… Offensive stones commemorating abducted and murdered Jewish citizens at their residences.
Holocaust Memorial in central Berlin: I see it as a sign of solidarity and an effort to come to terms with what happened in the past. As an expression of respect for what happened to our people. Before I went to Berlin, I asked my grandmother what she thought of it. It’s okay with her. She said this is my life, my choice.
There are anti-Semitic demonstrations in Berlin, most recently in the past week. How are you feeling?
I do not want to go too deep into politics. It is not good. But today I felt obligated to wear my name and wear a black ribbon on the strap of my sweater. It’s the least I can do for my family, my country and my religion.