They say places like Lions Gate can add seven years to your life. At 103, I can vouch for that.

Inek Einziger has lived a life of loss, but he prefers to remember it as a life filled with love. “To survive the Holocaust is to always carry with you the memories of those you lost,” said Inek. “But I also carry the memories of a life I built for myself here in America with my wife and daughters. I opened two stores. I owned my own home. I had many friends. My parents would be so proud to see how I made a full life for myself built on kindness. Kindness always comes back to you.”

Inek was born April 17, 1919, in Zmgrod, a small Polish village. After moving a couple of times as a child, his family settled in Krakow. In 1939, the dawn of World War II prompted his family — his mother, father, older sister Renia Einziger Meir, and husband Beno Meir and baby — to make plans to flee. On September 1, 1939, Inek awoke to the sounds of planes flying overhead and bombs dropping down on the city. By October, the Germans required all Jews ages 15-45 to register for work. Inek’s father told him it was time for him to make his escape before it was too late. There were freight cars leaving the city bound for eastern Poland, so they bundled Inek on a train. “To look at your parents, and feel in your heart that you won’t see them again,” said Inek, “that is a terrible feeling.”

Inek made it out of Krakow, but eventually he was captured and deported to Russia. He survived for 6-years in Russia, and in 1946 he returned to Krakow to learn of the death of his parents, sister, and niece. The anti-Semitism in Poland was so terrible that he reached out to an uncle living in the United States for help. The uncle sent paperwork, and in 1947 Inek left Poland for Paris, France, and arrived in America in February 1948 on the RMS Queen Mary. “How did I survive all of that?” asks Inek. “I always had hope. I learned to be agreeable with other people. Everywhere I went it was always ‘Inek, come with us.’ I didn’t make enemies of anyone. I always made friends. Friendship is the essence of life I think.”

Once settled in the United States, Inek opened a dry goods home store and later a children’s clothing store. He eventually married, and had two beautiful daughters. “They bring joy to my life,” smiled Inek. He now has five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Inek was married for 57 years, and when his wife passed, he decided to move into Lions Gate. “I like it here,” said Inek. “I am so grateful for the good food, the good company, and the good conversation here. When you live as long as I have, it all comes down to the people. The people at Lions Gate have good hearts. What more can you ask of your neighbors than that?”

You are an inspiration, Inek. Thank you for reminding us to live a life of gratitude.