Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Shevat 5762 - January 16, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
Modesty Above All
A Jewish Princess -- A Jewish `Queen'-Mother

by Anni Rephun Fruchter

In the summer of 1934, Mutti heard of a young American woman who was stranded in Karlsruhe. She had come to Germany with her father who was unaware of the many new laws of foreign exchange. He was arrested by the Gestapo and sentenced to a year in jail.

Mutti immediately went to see Miss Gutman. She found her weepy and distressed, wearing a sleeveless, very short dress. Mutti comforted her and told her that as a Jewish Daughter, she was not alone. Mutti could easily extend her full hospitality if she would be willing to change her apparel according to the standards practiced by every religious Jewish community. If she wished, Mutti would be delighted to lengthen her dresses and sleeves and adjust necklines.

Miss Gutman agreed and they began sorting out the items to be repaired. Mutti gathered them up and then put her own spring coat around Miss Gutman and they headed towards our home. In our sewing room there was a large basket where discarded curtains, partially faded velvet drapes and still useful parts of old Shabbos dresses were kept.

For two days Mutti and Miss Gutman stayed in that room, even taking their meals there, while Mutti repaired the dresses in her wardrobe and as the piece de resistance, lengthened a short winter coat with material from a heavy, brown velvet velour drape. Miss Gutman was elated. That same week, Mutti invited several women acquaintances to meet the modestly dressed Miss Gutman who soon had new friends and many offers of hospitality.

Most Sundays were usually spent in a picnic outing. Our family, accompanied by Dr. Homburger and his wife, who was our pediatrician, and some family friends, usually including Miss Gutman, would go to the forest. A two hour walk took us to a farm house where there were wooden tables and chairs in a garden setting. There we ate our sandwiches and drank milk fresh from the cow, whose milking had been supervised by a mashgiach. We usually met other families from the religious community. The farmer's wife gave all the children baskets and showed us where the heavily laden blueberry bushes were and where small wild strawberries grew on the forest floor.

Whenever there were newborn lambs and calves, she would take us to see them. At that time, we did not realize that it was to be our last summer there for soon after, Jews were forbidden to walk in groups on the street or even in the forest.

There were constant new limitations on our lives. Our Agudath Israel group leader, Rolle Greisman, had already left for Eretz Yisroel. We could no longer even meet with Flora Rabinowitz, who was the girls' new leader, because of these new laws. How we missed her! Yet, as I look back, our lives still retained a structure. School, German and limudei kodesh, shul, visits to and from friends' homes, and Papa's stories on Sunday afternoons. Some were from Tanach, like the story of Yiftach for boys and of Devora Hanevia for girls, midroshim from Ein Yaakov, and our favorites from the gemora: Shimon Ben Shetach, Choni Hamaagal, Shimon Hatzaddik and many others.

The year passed, Miss Gutman's father was released and when they came to say good-bye, Miss Gutman kissed Mutti and said, "When you told me that I was a princess, a bas melech, you changed my life. You returned me to religious observance.

"I will never forget you."


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