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Israel - Yad Vashem Online Exhibit Commemorates Jewish High Holiday Traditions Before, During, And After The Holocaust

Published on: September 9, 2015 09:32 PM
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Lodz, Poland, a Rosh Hashanah greeting card, 1941. After the ghetto was closed in May 1940, a systematic array of services was installed. Among them, a food supply department whose officials began to apportion the meager provisions, and public kitchens and distribution points for bread and other staples were set up. This card apparently reflects one of those distribution points: Bajs Lechem (which appears in the upper left corner) means "House of Bread" Yad Vashem Photo Archives 37BO5Lodz, Poland, a Rosh Hashanah greeting card, 1941. After the ghetto was closed in May 1940, a systematic array of services was installed. Among them, a food supply department whose officials began to apportion the meager provisions, and public kitchens and distribution points for bread and other staples were set up. This card apparently reflects one of those distribution points: Bajs Lechem (which appears in the upper left corner) means "House of Bread" Yad Vashem Photo Archives 37BO5

Israel - With the Jewish New Year fast approaching, Yad Vashem has announced an online exhibit that features some 50 items from its archives, giving readers a glimpse into how Jews marked the High Holidays before, during, and immediately after the Holocaust.

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Accessible through YADVASHEM.org (http://bit.ly/1QotPTU ) the exhibit includes Jewish New Year-related greeting cards, documents, religious artifacts and testimonies, available in English, Hebrew, and Spanish.

One such testimony is titled “Shofar blowing in the Kovno Ghetto” by Shmuel Daitch Ben Menachem, who describes Rosh Hashanah when he was a 16 year-old boy in Slobodka ghetto in Poland in 1941 after being sent there along with the rest of his family following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

“On Rosh Hashanah, anyone who could get out of their work and come to the synagogue in order to hear the blowing of the Shofar did everything to do so…. ,” Shmuel writes. “My father blew the Shofar all throughout the Jewish month of Elul without a single mistake, and so he got up and put the Shofar to his lips -  and no sound came out.  He tried two, three times, and nothing came.  No one wanted to ask Rabbi Mendel, the Head of the Yeshiva, to take the Shofar away.  At the time I was 16 years old, and I went over to him and said, ‘Father, give me the Shofar.’  He gave me the Shofar and I blew the thirty blasts.  The whole congregation started to cry - with good reason.  A month and seven days later most of the people there were in the world to come, together with my father and the rest of my family except for me, my sister and my younger brother.”

Shmuels’ bio states that his parents and older brother were later murdered in the Ninth Fort in Kovno, but that he and his brother and sister survived. And after joining the Zionist ABC Youth Movement in the ghetto, Shmuel eventually joined the underground, leading to his escape and a life in hiding until the Soviet liberation.

Also of interest are original drawings, including a Jewish calendar from the Jewish year 5705 (1944-1945) and the U’Netane Tokef, one of the holiest prayers in the liturgy of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The artist, Menachem Shimoni, (formerly Emil Neumann) was born in 1927 in Krakow, Poland, but spent his childhood in Budapest where his family remained through the war years. In 1944, however, Menachem’s family boarded the “Kastner train” that took them from Budapest to Bergen-Belsen, Germany where they were imprisoned.

Completely from memory, Menachem created the calendar, including all the festivals and special days, and along with them a special weekly Torah section which served to buoy the spirits of many religious Jewish camp prisoners.


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