Eleh Ezkerah אלה אזכרה
These We Recall
Each Yom Kippur since the early 1990s, BJ has set aside time for members whose families experienced the Shoah to tell the stories that recall and honor those relatives. This part of the service is called “Eleh Ezkerah” – These I Remember.
We offer a selection of these personal testimonies for everyone to read, contemplate and share – with more to come in the months ahead. These poignant and moving narratives are a living historical testament to how the Shoah affected the lives of BJ members and their families. They can also serve as a valuable resource for parents and educators who wish to bring aspects of the Shoah to the awareness of children.
We hope these stories remind all of us of the truth of what occurred under the Nazis, the courage of our people in the face of unimaginable horrors, and the complex legacy that has been entrusted to their descendants and to Jews everywhere.
“After the war ended in 1945, my parents came out of hiding, but that wasn’t the end of their story. I was born one year later and grew up hearing the stories of the war—we called them Les histoires de pendant la guerre…” Read More
“At the end of 1939 the Germans captured Lachva and gathered the 2,300 Jews into a ghetto. Father’s older brothers, Michael and Aaron, became the leaders of a resistance group formed inside the ghetto. Father became a supplies sergeant in the Russian Army and continued fighting the Germans…” Read More
Elizabeth and Madeline Cohen
“Using her fluent university German (spoken without any trace of a Yiddish accent), Frida calmly told the governor their cover story of being stranded Polish university students. The governor then saw in Frida a solution to a problem he was confronting: The German armies in the area relied on the local wheat mill for flour for the military. However, the German mill manager spoke no Russian, and the Russian mill workers spoke no German. Frida spoke both…” Read More
“Dazed and frightened, the family wandered onto Chechegomaya Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, where Zaydeh noticed the Russian soldiers preparing to leave. He knew then that he and his family could not return home. The German army would be there soon. So, with nothing but the clothes on their backs, they began to walk…” Read More
Shira Nadich Levin and James L. Levin
“We believe that my father’s role as advisor on Jewish Affairs had a profound impact on his life. We know from his diary and book about this period, when he left this position and the army he felt that he could not go back to his former life as a pulpit rabbi…” Read More
“At the last moment, my grandparents gave their blessing and told my father to go. They suggested he head east and would meet up with him in two weeks, as soon as things settled down. My father left, carrying a rucksack, a couple of zloty, and two buttered rolls. And so my father began a journey unlike any other—an odyssey that Homer could not have imagined…” Read More
“On September 1, less than four months after [my parents’] wedding, the Nazi war machine drove into Poland and quickly conquered it. As the invasion began, the young men of military age were ordered by Polish authorities to leave the city and regroup on the outskirts, possibly to stage a counterattack…” Read More
“I went to the train station, but no trains were running. I returned to my room. The city was empty, except for some police. The Russian army had already fled, and the German army was not there yet. The shelling of the city was so severe that everyone in the building spent the night in the cellar…” Read More
“When Yom Kippur came in 1944 at Lippstadt, the Jewish workers fasted, despite being fed very little. My mother and the others heard a German military officer say in German: ‘We will never be able to kill the damned Jews. Look, they get almost nothing to eat, and yet they fast on their holy day.’ My mother told us that this proved to be a very uplifting moment for her and the other Jewish workers…” Read More
“March 15, 1939. Prague capitulates to Germany, Hitler, the Nazis, Gestapo, SS—at 8 I had a sense of the overlap. Earlier in the dead of night my parents carried incriminating books and papers to dump them into the river, the Vltava or Moldau. Here is my own overriding image of that day: There was an insistence on normalcy, so we children go to school. As we are let out, I walk home, only to find I cannot cross our street: A phalanx of German tanks blocks my way to our building…” Read More
“My mother’s early life was traumatic and filled with drama. She grew up in an observant home in Essen, Germany, the oldest of three daughters, surrounded by a large extended family. After being separated from her parents, she never saw them again. She did not speak of it. With no context and no explanations of the fate of our maternal grandparents, we grew up in silence, afraid to ask questions…” Read More
“It was 1939. The borders of Europe were closing fast. The Nazis were rounding up Polish Jews, and the Gestapo told my mother, “You have a choice. Turn your husband over or we will take your father instead…” Read More
“That afternoon Lea and her sister Chanka, each holding onto one end of a huge potato sack, had marched through the housing area. Inside the sack was five-year-old Musia and whatever meager belongings they could carry. They headed for a building that had a twelve-foot-high platform protruding over the outside fence. Guards took turns patrolling the exterior. The two sisters waited until a guard known to take bribes was on duty…“ Read More