Thursday, April 01, 2010
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
--Lessons In Emunah
By: Gemma Blech Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The Story Of An Oleh
Photo credits: Gemma Blech
Kol Tuv- Best Regards,
Rabbi Richard Wolpoe
Friday, June 08, 2007
Friday, August 25, 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
Friday, May 05, 2006
(A Dead Shul Lives Online)
This is the recent article in the latest Jewish Week and I thought
you would find this to be of interest.
Note there are several inaccuracies!
A Dead Shul Lives Online
So Karen Franklin, a professional genealogist, recently found herself in the basement of the Bronx’s Hirsch & Sons funeral home on a rescue mission.
Franklin’s eyes went wide as she homed in on the gurney carrying her latest project, siddurim dating back to 1832, inscribed with the name and village of the German-Jewish immigrants who brought them here.
Already in small brown packages tied with string to be buried, the prayer books were an overlooked batch from a ragtag library Franklin collected from the pews of the Congregation Ohav Sholaum when the Conservative synagogue closed forever in January.
Splashed by transatlantic waters and inscribed with history-laden, and eerie, dates such as “the tenth of November, 1938, Kristallnacht,” Franklin shuddered to think of the stories, journeys of Holocaust refugees now mostly deceased, about to be buried. “The men in the funeral home were so respectful,” said Franklin, director of the Judaica Museum of The Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale. “They understood the power of what I was doing. They had no idea that books this old with these kinds of stories were among those that they were burying.”
Those stories, and the power they carry with them, are now keeping Ohav Sholaum and its congregants alive, in a manner of speaking, with the help of modern technology.
In the past few weeks since she listed the books’ owners on a Jewish genealogy Web site, Franklin has heard from many families who now have tangible pieces of their family history, and the history of a once-thriving shul.“It means so much to our family to have Julius’ prayer book,” wrote Sheila Adler of Ohio of the book belonging to her husband’s uncle. “Julius is the reason our
Adler side of the family survived the Holocaust. He gave an affidavit to his brother, my father-in-law, to come to the states in 1938 from Germany.”
Franklin, who collected over 100 of these books with the intent of returning them to the families, said she has since received e-mails from Mexico, Israel, Canada and Germany.
“These books have unleashed a flood of memories and family stories,” she said of the 20 items she has returned so far. “For us as Jews, the most valuable items are the items that tell stories that connect us. And it’s our Torah scrolls and the prayer books that unite us that are the ones that are the most valuable.”
Schelly Talalay Dardashti, organizer of the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy slated for August in New York, said projects like Franklin’s are becoming increasingly common as both amateur and professional genealogists use the Web to pool resources, compare notes and connect family histories.
“It’s the mystery of history,” said Tallalay Dardashti. “Everyone wants to know who they are and where they came from.”
Allen Spatz of Riverdale, whose late father Alfred Spatz was a founder of the Ohav Sholaum said he was “touched” by the return of his father’s book. In January, he had taken pictures at the closing of the temple where his parents attended the 1940 groundbreaking and where, as a child, he sat between his grandfather and father, refugees from Munich.
When he showed the book to his mother, Erna Spatz, she was “taken aback” by her husband’s familiar handwriting. She laughed at the trademark meticulousness Alfred displayed by including his phone number along with a bevy of other practical information “he would always include should someone lose something.”
As a child in Nazi Germany, Alfred’s survival depended upon such practicality. He learned early on from his mother, whose frequent trips from Munich to deposit money in Swiss bank accounts would later ensure her family’s financial stability when they arrived in New York.
Aside from recounting these few details, Allen said his father refused to discuss his childhood. Erna, on the other hand, enjoyed sharing her memories, and at age 93, she said, the value of the prayer book is that it “reminds her of things.”
Born in Brilon, a tiny town in northern Germany with about 27 Jewish families, Erna felt things change in 1931 when her former friends would spit at her and give her dirty looks as she walked down the street. She said the rising tide of anti-Semitism was especially heartbreaking because her Jewish neighbors had just finished construction on a new synagogue, which would likely be destroyed.
“It was already not good in Europe,” she said in a heavy German accent. “They knew something would happen but they wanted to invest the money in a new synagogue,” she added.
In 1936 Erna boarded a boat for America. Eventually her whole family would join her in Washington Heights, except for one sister who was killed in Belgium by the Nazis, just as she and her son were about to board a plane. Erna began taking night classes to learn English. When she met Alfred he was working factory jobs in the garment industry. They discovered a shared love of dancing and married in 1942, one month after they met.
Born in 1945, Allen was mostly unaware of his German history until he visited his mother’s hometown, at the end of his military service in 1967. He spent a week with Regina Hummel who once hid Erna’s family, across the street from Erna’s old house. Hummel showed Allen to a room she had dedicated to his mother’s family, explaining that she wanted to hold onto traces of neighbors she might never see again.
Another prayer book was returned to Steven Bachenheimer in North Carolina. The book belonged to his second cousin, Fred Ruelf.
Bachenheimer wrote that his sweetest memory of Ruelf was when they met in Germany, and Ruelf took him on a tour of his old haunts in their family’s ancestral village, Rauischholzhausen. They spent two days there, visiting the Jewish cemetery where his great-great grandparents are buried, and a nearby town where his grandparents are buried.
Bachenheimer said that Ruelf’s mother had died in 1930 and was also buried in the Jewish cemetery of that village. Ruelf landed in Europe on D-Day as a jeep driver in General George Patton’s Third Army, and he was the first Allied soldier into the village in 1945. He went promptly to the cemetery and ordered the mayor of the town, on threat of death, to restore the cemetery to its
In later years Bachenheimer would visit Ruelf in Washington Heights. One afternoon Ruelf took him to a nearby shul (perhaps Ohav Sholaum) where a memorial tablet of fallen World War I Jewish soldiers from Rauischholzhausen and nearby villages was kept. It had originally stood in the cemetery, and Ruelf had arranged for it to be relocated to New York.
Bachenheimer said he still thinks often of Ruelf, a link to his family’s past.
Franklin said that the gratification of connecting people like Bachenheimer to their past is addictive.
“People get extremely emotional,” she said. “For me that is so powerful. That’s why I do what I do.”
In March, Franklin held a reunion for a handful of Ohav Sholaum members who are still alive to recall their synagogue, a once-thriving home to over 600 German-Jewish immigrant families in the late 1940s and ‘50s.
For Larry Stein, 82, it was a bittersweet gathering.
“It’s very depressing,” Stein admitted. “I go in the synagogue and look around and there’s no one left. I was one of the very first and very last,” he said.
Stein said he missed attending services at the temple, which once helped his family make the transition from Europe to the United States.
“When we came here my father didn’t speak any English, and he had no trade,” he said. “But we had a base in Ohav Sholaum and it was a tradition that we were used to,” he added.
Still, Stein acknowledged that although the synagogue has died, its soul endures through relics like its siddurim.
“If the prayer books bring people together to talk about [Ohav Sholaum],” Stein said, “then it is not lost altogether.”
Currently, three of the prayer books from Congregation Ohav Sholaum are on exhibit at The Judaica Museum of The Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale. (718-581-1787) The names of the original owners of all prayer books found at the synagogue are listed online at www.jewishgen.org on a discussion group of GERSIG, the German Special Interest Group.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
- Who gives Salvation! -
- Whose kingdom is an everlasting kidngdom.
- Who delivered his servant David from the hurtful sword.
- Who makes a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters,
- May HE bless, guard and protect the Government of the United States of America.
- May The Almighty in HIS Mercy Preserve and Protect it so that it may prosper in all its undertakings for the benefit of our Noble Country.
- May HE inspire our Government with Tenderness to Act kindly towards us and all Israel.
- May The Almighty bless the State of Israel,
- May it flourish and progress, and it become once again the Home of the Jewish People and
- May peace come to the Holy Land!
- May we feel God's Mercy and blessings for our own community, for old and young alike.
- May The Almighty protect them from illness, wan , and sorrow.
- May HE give inspiration to the men and women who lead this congregation.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Note: that eventually the Chumash Shiur was switched to Sefer haChinuch
|1 hour before Mincha||Chumash||Rabbi Richard Wolpoe||Mount Sinai||English|
Ralph Neuhaus, Rabbi, 81
LEAD: Ralph Neuhaus, the rabbi of Congregation Ohav Sholaum in the Inwood section of Manhattan, died on Tuesday at Presbyterian Hospital. He was 81 years old and lived in Manhattan.
Ralph Neuhaus, the rabbi of Congregation Ohav Sholaum in the Inwood section of Manhattan, died on Tuesday at Presbyterian Hospital. He was 81 years old and lived in Manhattan.
Rabbi Neuhaus died of a heart attack, his wife, Betti, said.
He had been associated with Congregation Ohav Sholaum for 47 years. Earlier, he had studied social work at Columbia University.
Rabbi Neuhaus was born in Ostrovo, Germany, which is now part of Poland, and came to the United States with his family in 1941, after being interned by the Belgian and French Governments.
Besides his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Miriam Mandelbaum of Philadelphia, and eight grandchildren.
- A. Rabbi
- B. Board of Directors by Name
- A. Organizatinos:
- Men’s Chevra,
- Members of the Sisterhood
- Members of the Men’s Club
- B. Leaders of Services:
- Minyan Men
- C. Congregation
Yizkor @ COS
Order Of Special Prayers
- A. Rabbi Ralph Neuhaus
- B. Cantor Eric Neumann
- A. Four Soldiers of Our Congregation who Perished during WWII
- B. Members of the Sisterhood
- C. Members of the Congregation, and Family of the Congregation
- A. Victims of the Holocaust
- B. Defenders of Israel
It would seem that Passover is a continuation of Purim. After all the first two of the four special Parshiyos take place BEFORE Purim and the last two take place AFTER Purim and Before Passover. And especially this year, a Jewish Leap Year, it would seem from the fact that we observe Purim during the SECOND of the two Adars, that Purim is again connected to the upcoming Passover. Indeed this is one reason mentioned for observing Purim during the 2nd Adar and NOT during the 1st Adar.
Nevertheless, we must remember that Passover takes place during the first month of the Jewish Calendar while Adar is the last month of the year; i.e. the 12th month during a regular year, or 12th and 13th months during a leap year. When viewed from this perspective, Passover is at the beginning of the year, and Purim is actually 11-12 months later.
Thus, Purim is close to Passover in the same way the END of one year is near the Beginning of the following. Recall that on Simchas Torah we read V’zos Habrocho at the end of the Torah immediately before we resume a new cycle by reading Breishis. Additionally when a Siyyum is done on a tractate of the Talmud Gmara, there is a tradition to begin the first few lines of the NEXT Tractate. One lesson we then learn is that ends are merely preludes to new beginnings.
Another lesson is about protection and salvation. Just as Hashem rescued us at the beginning of the year, i.e. during at Passover; so, too, HE rescued us at the end of the year during Purim. And just as Hashem rescued us at the Beginning of History during Passover, so, too will HE rescue us at the end of days with the Advent of our Moshiach and the reconstruction of our Beis Hamikdash.
From the Wolpoe Family
The month before New Year we begin the process of Teshuvo by beginning with introspection and ending with Forgiveness. The month before Passover- in other words right after after Purim - we begin the cleaning process ending with an inspection for Chometz
Thus, before New Year we clean out our misdeeds while before Passover we clean out all Chometz. Chometz is considered by our Rabbis as symbolizing ego or arrogance. Just as yeast causes dough to rise and to “puff up” so does arrogance cause our egoes to “rise above” others in our mind and to puff ourselves up. Matzo, on the other hand, is symbolic for humility.
If so, then why not then rid ourselves of Chometz all year? Well, we cannot function properly without SOME ego! Never would we adequately assert ourselves to do our daily tasks. Nevertheless, periodically, we need to clean it out and start from scratch.
Similarly it is impossible for humans not to sin once in a while over the long run. Therefore, we ritualize repenting once a year in order to keep ourselves from sinning habitually.
From the Wolpoe Family
It is conceivable that we will enventually support a full-sclase web-site. For now this is a first step.
Members and Friends are invited to contribute their own memorires or bits and pieces of memories from those no longer with us.
Rabbi Richard Wolpoe