Jack Belz

Jack Belz Headshot_July 24, 2023

Mr. Jack Belz, CEO and Chairman of Belz Enterprises, was born in Memphis in 1927. A graduate of MIT, Mr. Belz is known throughout the state for his philanthropy and his contributions to the development and revitalization of downtown Memphis; including the restoration and reopening of the Peabody Hotel in 1981. In 1984, he became a founding member of the Tennessee Holocaust Commission.

Mr. Jack Belz is the son of Philip and Sarah Belz.  A successful developer and entrepreneur, Philip Belz was a prominent member of the Memphis Jewish community. In 1938, he, and several other individuals at the Memphis Federation for Jewish Welfare Agencies, signed a series of letters and documents in which they agreed to provide financial responsibility for Jewish refugees escaping Europe. Through their actions, dozens of Jewish families successfully immigrated to Memphis. During the war and its aftermath, the Belz family employed numerous Jewish refugees in their businesses.


Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. Mr. Belz provides the names of several Jewish refugee families who his father, Philip Belz, financially sponsored to come to the United States before and after the World War II. Who are some of the families and in what ways did the Belz family help provide for them?               
  2. Mr. Belz describes the Saharovici family as not traditional Jewish refugees. How was their Holocaust experience different from Jews who survived the Holocaust in Eastern Europe?                                       
  3. Mr. Belz explains that he thinks prejudice and hatred come from humans’ tendency to find a scapegoat for everything that they disagree with, or dislike. Explain if you agree with this idea. Why or why not? How can an individual learn to become an upstander?                    

Writing Prompts:

  1. Using the interview with Mr. Jack Belz, the interview transcript with Mr. Philip Belz, and newspaper articles, develop a short essay that addresses the following points: What did communities in Tennessee know about Nazi persecution of the Jews? (1933-1945)? What actions did they take? Before the war? After the war?                                                                                 
  2. Using the links to the Survivors, and the interview with Jack Belz, develop a short essay in which you address the following points: How was each survivor’s experience in the Holocaust unique? What similarities did you find? In what ways were refugees and survivors supported in Tennessee once they arrived, and what challenges did they encounter?