Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Tishrei 5763 - October 2, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

The first regular Shabbos of the year. Its eternal message:

"Let us concentrate on SHABBOS."

Karlsruhe 5695 - 1935

A Foretaste of Things to Come
by Anni Rephun Fruchter

That Shabbos morning, I awoke early. A pale sun had just risen as I washed neigelwasser and said the brochos. As I marched past the wohnzimmer I heard Mutti: "Mendel, the child wants so much for you to go ONE Shabbos to the Fromme Shul..."

I went back to my room knowing that I was not meant to overhear this. For many months I had wished for Papa to join our service on Shabbos morning but he preferred to daven at the Adlerstrasse Shul with others who had come from the East. It was a source of pride to them that in their shul, people were learning from early morning until late at night. It was customary for workers, businessmen or visitors to stop in and join one of the groups or find a chavrusa. So now I waited for a few minutes and then joined my parents.

It was customary for men to have coffee before shul and children had milk and cake. "Anni," Papa said, "this morning I will accompany you to the Fromme Shul." I was elated. Then I realized that if Papa would come with me, so would my brothers.

Sholom, who was now eleven, had been going to the earliest minyan every weekday since he was six years old. At that age, he had insisted on being awakened when it was still dark and also requested a house key. Often when Mutti had her women friends over for coffee, one would remark, "How do you have the heart to wake up a little boy so early, winter and summer?"

"Es wird ihm nicht shaden," Mutti would reply [It won't hurt him.] So for Sholom to come would be fine; he was known there. Osher, on the other hand, was used to running up and down the aisles in the less formal Adlerstrasse Shul, but here this would arouse unwelcome attention.

Just by looking at my pensive expression, Papa read my thoughts. Smiling, he said, "Osher will sit quietly between me and Sholom."


Looking down from the women's gallery, I saw Papa and my brothers standing near the entrance. Immediately, Mr. Elias Krotowsky, who owned a large electrical appliance company and served as gabbai here, walked over to seat them. For a moment, he spoke to Papa and then walked over to Dr. Wilhelm Weil and Mr. Stern, spoke to them, and then returned to Papa. I felt suffused with happiness. Papa would get an aliya! The service began as Mr. Altmann's lyrical tenor filled the shul. Now I needed to concentrate on my prayers. We had a lot to pray for after two years of Nazi rule.

When the Torah reading started, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. How proud I was of Papa, his quick stride to the bima after the call for Menachem Mendel haLevi, how he pronounced the brochos the way the German-born Jews did, how slowly and lingeringly he made his way back to his seat, reluctant to leave the side of the Torah, yet swiftly grabbing Osher who had made an attempt to run down the aisle.

When the service was concluded, I did not go to the children's Kiddush in the Chinuch Library as usual, but stayed in the gallery to watch Papa and Sholom being greeted by Mr. Stern of Bankhaus Ellern, the Altmann brothers, and Rabbi Dr. Abraham Michalski shaking hands with Papa, smiling at and talking to Sholom.

As I write this, I remember our visit to the Rabbi before we left for America and how he kissed Sholom on his forehead after blessing him, saying, "May you continue along the path you have chosen." How proud I felt of Papa and Sholom. Alas, my joy was short-lived.

As we came out on the Karl Friederichestrasse, we saw hysterically crying women running, frantically flourishing passports, followed by wailing children. Finally we heard and understood:

During shacharis, the Gestapo had burst into the Adlerstrasse Shul, shouting that all men present must show their passports. A law had been passed that all non-German citizens must carry passports at all times. Of course, on Shabbos, observant Jews did not do this. Not a single man had his passport. The Gestapo forced the men into trucks, screaming at them and kicking the Jews who refused to desecrate the Shabbos. The frail and venerable R' Boruch who was said to spend most of his waking hours in the shul studying Torah, put up a big fight, was beaten and forcibly carred to the truck.

When they arrived at the police station, they were ordered to stand with their arms raised high, and told that if they dropped them, they would be shot. They were told that as soon as they had their passports, they would be released.

This proved no simple matter. In the panic that ensued, some women who had been at shul and were not carrying/wearing keys, found themselves locked out of their house and unable to get to the passports. Others, panic- stricken, simply could not find them. In the police station, elderly men fainted from fear.

Papa sent me and my brothers home, telling us not to mention anything to Mutti, only that he was delayed. When we came home, Mutti already knew. Papa returned an hour later with a red wound on his cheek, and told us that all had been released. Dr. Weil had gone to help those injured, first stopping at the Jewish-owned pharmacy in the Kronenstrasse whose Orthodox owners were used to Dr. Weil appearing on Shabbos en route to or from one of his walking mercy sick calls.

"How is R' Boruch?" Sholom asked. "Dr. Weil will see him first," Papa replied. When I saw Papa's wound, I knew that he had gone to the police station and how he had been greeted there. When asked, Papa said,

"It's nothing. Let us concentrate on SHABBOS."


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