Towards the 75th yahrzeit of my mother’s three brothers we had many family discussions over whether to hold an azkara at all. After all, what more can be said, what more could be discovered about three little boys who were killed at such a young age, and where no one is still alive who remembers them.
It was at that stage that our wonderful nephew Noam Corb, who has become – at age 21 and still an officer in a combat unit of the IDF! – an incredible not-so-amateur historian and researcher, came up with the idea of concentrating more on the Strauss side of the family (our grandfather Leo z’l) rather than the Roseman side (our grandmother Daja).
Earlier in the year, about a year ago as I type this, Noam held a family “launch party” for the book he wrote in Hebrew about the Strauss family, called כמעוף הציפור.
We had the book professionally translated and its title is “As the Flight of the Bird”:
In the course of his research for this book Noam discovered several relatives of ours with whom we had all lost contact over the years. Specifically he found my mother’s (and his grandmother’s) cousins Dave and Bernie Strauss in America, and their families. Unfortunately neither of the brothers could come over for the azkara but Noam met Carly, one of their granddaughters, while visiting Jerusalem.
Noam also found the children of Paul Piterman, my mother’s cousin who had been hidden in a convent in the war and whose sisters were fostered by my grandparents and they came to azkara all the way from France. It was a very emotional reunion!
In fact there were over 150 of us present at the azkara, and as David remarked, it was the largest Strauss family gathering ever, certainly since the War, and very likely of all time. Our grandparents are sure to have been “kvelling” up in Heaven.
Below is the “order of service” of the azkara:
To light the first four candles in memory of David, Elchanan-Herbert and Uri-Michael Strauss and in memory of Yitzchak & Rosalie Lange who amongst others looked after them in Holland and on the last 3 days of their lives on the train from Westerbork to Sobibor, I call on my mother Judy, Miriam Eva and Ruth.
To light the 5th candle in memory of Betty and Alex Piterman, I call on Marion Piterman.
To light the 6th candle in memory of Bernhard, Lina & Miriam Borenstein, I call on Michel Piterman.
To light the 7th candle in memory of Amalia Strauss, I call on Amanda Howard.
To light the 8th candle in memory of Heinrich & Rozel Gruenbaum and their children Alice & Berthold I call on Eran Strauss.
To light the 9th candle in memory of Yitzchak-Kurt Niederman, son of Hedwig, I call on Uri Navon, Ruti and Michal Koppel.
אלחי רוט יקרא פרק בתהילים – שיר המעלות ממעמקים
אורי קורב יקרא פרק בתהילים – שיר המעלות אשא עיני
Reading from Paul Piterman’s Testament Lodged at Yad Vashem
We invite Marion Piterman and Michel Piterman to read an extract from their father Paul’s Testimony deposited at Yad VaShem.
קדיש ו א-ל מלא רחמים
I invite Henry to say kaddish for the boys and then to say the Keil Malei Rachamim prayer for their souls.
Here is the video (slightly shortened at the beginning) of El Malei Rachamim:
Here is a picture of all the members of our family who were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust and in whose memories the candles were lit and prayers recited:
After a delicious meal, my brother David welcomed all the guests who had come from very far and wide in some cases. We had my aunt and cousins from Canada, cousins from France, from England, and of course all of us Israelis.
Here is a copy of David’s very moving speech. Just stand your mouse on the page and scroll:
Below you can see almost the entire family who attended the gathering. Apologies for the poor quality:
Here are a couple of pictures of my mother and her sisters. Sadly their youngest sister Naomi z”l, grandmother of the amazing Noam, passed away many years ago.
The highlight of the evening was an amazing, emotional and evocative hour-long film, narrated by David, and consisting of interviews with the four sisters and their cousins in England and America. Thanks to Suzanne Landau for coordinating the project and organizing the editing, and to all of us on the “yahrzeit committee” (Suzanne Landau, Sharon Shahar, Nechama Cohen, Gavriella Kadmon, Noam Corb, David Prager and myself [Anne Klausner] ) who translated the film into both Hebrew and English.
Here is the film in its entirety:
May we continue to meet but from now on only in smachot!