Yaakov Bernshtein was born in Riga, Latvia in 1926.
On his 15th birthday in 1941, his parents and family were rounded up and murdered. He’s never celebrated his birthday since. He survived by escaping west and ended up in Uzbekistan, along with roughly 250,000 other Jews.
At the war’s end, he went back to Riga to see if by chance maybe someone survived, sadly they didn’t and he ended up getting trapped and unable to leave due to the harsh communist regime. He eventually escaped with his wife and children and came to Israel in 1971. He worked as a master mechanic and boat maker, and those skills came in handy on Yom Kippur in 1973 as he was drafted to the navy and worked on the Israeli Naval ships Reshef and Keshet that took part in the Battle of Baltim.
All of his wife’s family were living in Canada, so they came to visit in 1976 and never left.
Today, he has 5 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.