Dr. René David Alkalay was born on March 4, 1941 in Zagreb, the capital of the former Yugoslavia (now Croatia). When Dr. Alkalay was just a few weeks old, Croatia became a puppet state of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and his father and paternal relatives were imprisoned in a concentration camp run by the country’s new Ustaša regime. Later that year, Dr. Alkalay, his mother, and his maternal relatives were imprisoned in other Ustaša-run concentration camps for two years.
After the camp was liberated, Dr. Alkalay hid in the forest with partisan groups for a year and then was airlifted out of Yugoslavia to a Displaced Persons camp in Italy. He spent four years after the war at a Catholic school in Rome, unaware of his true religious identity.
In 1950, Dr. Alkalay and his family emigrated to the United States, where he later became a psychotherapist, nutritionist, and pastoral counselor. In 1988 he founded Genesis Society (and served as Spiritual Preceptor), a 501(C)3 not-for-profit organization, with the mission to develop a holistic paradigm, one that integrates cultures and peoples by promoting cross-cultural understanding and cooperation. The programs he developed under the auspices of The Genesis Society include: East-West Center for Interfaith Studies, The Genesis Center for Environmental Studies and The Tree of Life Yoga and Wellness Center.
Dr. Alkalay was the author of seven books, including his book of poetry about the Holocaust, The Darkest Night, published in 2019. That same year, he joined the Speakers Bureau of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust to share his story of survival with students.
Dr. Alkalay died on March 10, 2022.