Rush singer-bassist Geddy Lee was able to identify his mother in a Holocaust photo thanks to a facial recognition technology. The discovery then led the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer to identify other relatives in similar pictures.
Daniel Patt, a Google engineer who is also the descendent of Holocaust survivors, developed the AI technology into the project From Numbers to Names, which allows users to upload photos of their family members and matches the faces to thousands of anonymous Holocaust photos.
“I started this project after visiting the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland, in 2016,” Patt told The Times of Israel. “I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had potentially walked past a photo of a family member without even knowing it. I’m the grandson of Holocaust survivors, all from Poland.”
Lee’s mother, Mary Weinrib, died last year at the at the age of 95. Researchers working for the From Numbers to Names project were able to use a photo of her to identify her in an image of a displaced persons camp. That led Patt and his associates to contact Lee, leading to the discovery of more of the rock icon’s relatives in other photos.
“We reached out to Geddy Lee, from Rush, with a photo we thought was of his mother,” said Patt. “He was able to confirm this was indeed a photo of her at the displaced persons camp at Bergen-Belsen. Geddy was then able to subsequently discover photos of his grandmother, uncles, an aunt and other extended family by browsing the Yad Vashem collection where the initial photo came from.”
The Rush singer’s mom grew up in a Jewish community in Poland, and was forced into concentration camps, including Auschwitz. After she was freed in 1945, she reunited with and married Morris Weinrib, whom she had fallen in love with while at Auschwitz. They eventually settled in Toronto, where Mary was an early champion of Rush in their formative years.
Mary Weinrib and Geddy Lee were profiled in Dave Grohl’s series From Cradle to Stage on Paramount+ in 2021. A clip of their appearance can be seen below.
Lee and Rush bandmate Alex Lifeson have signed on to perform with Foo Fighters at the upcoming Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts in London and Los Angeles. Tickets for the September shows are available for London here and Los Angeles here.