Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rescued from Kristallnacht, a family Torah reaches a new generation



Charlotte Smith and Rabbi Jerry Levy
at the dedication of the family Torah scroll rescued by
her great-great-grandfather, at AlmaVia,
a senior residence community in San Rafael, Calif., Oct. 2012.
|Julie Ann Kodmur)
It was the "Night of Broken Glass" in Germany, Kristallnacht -- a national pogrom of death and destruction of Jewish property and the rounding up of Jews -- and Dietrich (David) Hamburger was in hiding.

Hamburger was the leader of a small congregation that met in his home in Fuerstenau, a countryside village in what now is the province of Niedersachsen. Someone had warned him about the coming onslaught, and on Nov. 9, 1938 he went into hiding in the local Catholic hospital.

"The cover story was that he was in for a hernia," said Edith Strauss Kodmur, his granddaughter and the family's historian.

This spring -- 75 years later and a continent away at a Californian winery -- Kodmur's granddaughter will have her bat mitzvah. And Charlotte Ruth Smith on that day will read from the Torah scroll that her great-great-grandfather rescued soon after that tragic night. -- Edmon J. Rodman, JTA

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