Supervisors Adjourn Meeting in Memory of Earl Greif
RIVERSIDE – On Supervisor John J. Benoit’s motion, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting on March 1 was adjourned in memory of Earl Greif, a Holocaust survivor and founder of the Desert Holocaust Memorial at Palm Desert Civic Center Park and the Tolerance Education Center in Rancho Mirage.
“Earl Greif persisted through the most horrific circumstances to find a new life in America and create two noteworthy monuments in the Coachella Valley to ensure we never forget this chapter in human history,” said Supervisor John J. Benoit. “I had the pleasure of having him as my guest at the annual Holocaust Memorial Week in the legislature, where his story is chronicled for future generations.
“Earl Greif’s tireless and heartfelt commitment to teaching others to overcome prejudice and inhumanity through tolerance, understanding, learning and remembrance has created a beautiful, lasting legacy,” Benoit said. “I note his passing with sadness and express my deepest condolences to his family.”
As a Jewish teenager during World War II, Greif was sent to a concentration camp in Rudki, Poland with his parents, Itzhak and Miriam Greif, his brother Lou and his baby sister. In April 1943, the Gestapo shot his mother and sister in a ditch, and Greif, his brother and father hid inside a brick oven and fled to the forest. Greif’s father unfortunately died in the forest, leaving the wandering brothers to hide in the forest and work on a farm before escaping to Russia by the war’s end in 1945.
In 1947, Greif came to the United States and settled in Los Angeles where he built a successful career in real estate. In 1953, he married Shirley Carelli, his wife through 60 years of marriage. Shirley Greif passed away in 2013.
Greif recorded his story in his autobiography, “Angels in the Forest,” and dedicated his life to preserving the memories of the Holocaust. Greif retired to Rancho Mirage in 1994, and personally spearheaded the founding of the Tolerance Education Center.