Sadden by the memory of his cousin, Nachston Wachsman, as the 25th anniversary of the kidnapping and murder just past, Steven Odzer, wants to honor his memory. For Steven Odzer, family is one of the most important things in life. “I have 7 kids and 8 grandkids,” he says. Despite having a large immediate family, Steven Odzer is also quite close to his extended family. “I have a lot of family in Israel.” On October 14, Steven and his family will gather in honor of Nachshon Mordechal Wachsman.
As a dual citizen of Israel in the United States, Nachson Wachsman grew up in Jerusalem with his seven brothers. His father was Israeli-born while his mother immigrated to Brooklyn from her native Germany. Sargeant Nachshon Wachsman served as an IDF soldier for the military.
At the age of 19, while has was on leave, the military instructed him to attend a one-day training in northern Israel. Nachshon Wachsman followed the instructions and left on Saturday night for his training. His family would expect him back on Sunday night, October 9, 1994.
After he completed the training, Nachson began his journey back to Jerusalem were his family expected him. As a common practice by many Israeli Soldiers, Nachshon Wachsman attempted to either hitchhike or catch a bus at the Bnai Atarot junction. Unfortunately, he never made it back home. According to Israeli Intelligence, Hamas militants kidnapped him as he attempted to catch a ride. Witnesses spotted Nachson entering a car with four men who wore kippahs, as to not raise suspicion. It was also reported the kidnappers had a Tanakh, siddur, and played Chassidic music.
Once Nachshon Wachsman boarded the vehicle, the four men overpowered him and drove off to the Palestinian town of Bir Nabala. Bir Nabala is only six miles northwest of Jerusalem. On October 11, 1994, two days after the kidnapping, the Hammas militants responsible for the kidnapping released a video. In the video, the militants identified the kidnapped man as Nachshon Wachsman by reading out loud his identity number and his home address.
The kidnappers also forced Nachshon so say, “The group from Hamas kidnapped me. They are demanding the release of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and another 200 from Israeli prison. If their demands are not met, they will execute me on Friday at 8 P.M.”
Nachshon’s parents appealed to world leaders to aid with the rescue of their son including, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, President Bill Clinton, and other Muslim religious leaders. The Israeli military was able to capture the driver of the car that kidnapped Nachshon Wachsman and question him about his location. When the military learned the exact location, they orchestrated a rescue mission.
Unfortunately, the rescue mission did not go as planned. The rescue operation due to faulty explosives and other technical difficulties failed. The Israeli military lost the element of surprise with the kidnappers. Wachsman was behind a solid steel door, which the explosives couldn’t open. The failed explosion resulted in a heavy open fire. When they finally made it to the chamber, they discover Nachshon Wachsman had been shot by his kidnappers.
With more than 30 years in the distribution business, Steven Odzer now serves as CEO of YBT Industries of Henderson, NV, a relatively new face on the distribution business landscape.
Steven Odzer recalls his early education and entrepreneurship this way: “I went to Yeshiva of Flatbush High School and then to the Brooklyn College Scholars program,” he says. “I started my first company at age 18 out of my parents’ basement. I was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000 in the area of distribution.”
Although YBT is a new company, Steven Odzer applies the principles and lessons he has learned from three decades as a distributor. As YBT expands its business profile, Odzer anticipates exciting upcoming announcements about his new company’s growth.
Steven Odzer’s strong work ethic keeps him focused. Instead of aiming for retirement, he’s striving for the next big thing. YBT Industries holds that potential, he believes. But family, sports and political interests also keep him very busy.
Steven Odzer has already enjoyed a rich life. “I have seven kids and eight grandkids,” he says with a smile. “I also have many family members living in Israel and I am a large supporter of both Jewish and non-Jewish causes.” Odzer also stresses that he is “solid advocate of strong Arab-Jewish business cooperation.”
Odzer’s children, and even more so his grandchildren, keep him fit and on his toes, he says.
Yankees and Golden Knights
As a New York City area resident, Steven Odzer has always been a big fan of the New York Yankees baseball team, a club that has provided its fans with far more World Series championships than any other Major League Baseball organization. The Yankees are headed to the playoffs again in 2019.
But in recent years, Odzer has spent some of his time more than 2,500 miles away from New York, in Henderson, Nevada. While there, he fell in love with the Las Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League. The Knights were the first expansion team in the top tier of any major American sport to reach the championship round of the playoffs in their very first season, 2017-2018.
Steven Odzer believes in giving everyone a chance.
“We promote and support agencies that hire people with disabilities,” he says. “And we are a large supporter of Bris Avrohom, a large non-profit founded in 1979 that helps Jewish immigrants from Russia adjust to life in the U.S.”
Another worthy organization that Steven Odzer has affection for is the AHRC Foundation, which provides financial assistance and support services for the benefit of individuals, especially children, who suffer from intellectual or other developmental disabilities.