Jacques Ribons (born Jakob Rybsztajn) is the son of Peretz Rybsztajn (b. 1905) and Bella (Bajal, b. 1906) Rybsztajn. He was born August 15, 1927 in Strzemieszyce Poland where his father was a textile manufacturer. He had two younger siblings: Bernard (Berek), born in 1929 and Esther, born in 1935. In 1933 the family moved to Zelow, Bella's home town. The family remained there until 1936 when it moved back to Strzemieszyce. In 1939 Germany invaded Poland and later the Rybsztajns were forced to move to a ghetto. Jakob attended a ghetto Hebrew school. Peretz Rybsztajn, his father, worked with or was close with the Jewish Council, but he soon disappeared. After the ghetto was liquidated, probably in June 1943, Jakob and Berek, who were initially hidden, were forced to return and then sent briefly to Bedzin. In September they were deported to the Blechhammer concentration camp where they worked unloading cement from train cars, insulating oil and fuel tanks with asbestos, and cementing steel forms to the tanks. They lived in a barrack with other boys their age, including Kalman and Heniek Kaliksztajn, two brothers also from Strzemieszyce. In January 1945 the Germans liquidated the camp in advance of the Soviet army, and the brothers were sent on a death march via Gross Rosen and by open train to Buchenwald. They arrived in Buchenwald on February 10, 1945, and were placed in the children's block, Block 66.
Jakob and Berek remained together in block 66 until they were liberated in Buchenwald by the U.S. Third Army in April. The boys in the barrack, under the supervision of Gustav Schiller, the deputy block elder, did not work and received occasional Red Cross packages distributed from other prisoners in the camp. After liberation, the Rybsztajn brothers joined a children's transport to Ecouis in France, sponsored by the O.S.E., where they spent the summer. But they, along with other religious boys, including the Kaliksztajn brothers and Elie Wiesel, were sent to children's homes in Ambloy and Taverny. Jacques later immigrated to Paterson, New Jersey and then enlisted in US army during the Korean conflict. He arrived in New York in February 1947 on board the Gripsholn, a Swedish ship. Berek was adopted by the Homberger family in California. Later he went to Israel and served in the Israeli Defense Forces, returning to California in the late 1950s. Jacques also settled in Los Angeles. The Rybsztajn parents, Perez and Bella Rybsztajn, and their sister younger sister Esther perished in Auschwitz, it is believed, during 1943.