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If Mezuzahs Could Talk……

As a birthday (11/1) gift, Rabbi Raanan came to hang a very special mezuzah at my home. This simple tin mezuzah once hung at the entrance to my great-grandparents’ apartment in Berlin for at least the 16 years they lived there (1916 – 1933).  They were Arthur Hahn and Julie Hahn, nee Schwarz.  I discovered it by pure chance on the very last day of my very last trip to Berlin in May 2017.  It was well camouflaged on the doorframe, and yet I spotted it.  I believe it was because my great-grandparents wanted me to find it and tell the mezuzah’s story.  I then emailed the hotel owners if they could remove the mezuzah and give it to me and why I wanted to have it.  The timing was perfect, as the hotel was about to be shut down and renovated, and the mezuzah would have been tossed into the garbage, so they told me.  Once removed, it remained in Berlin in a friend’s care for the next 5 years, till recently, when another congregant kindly brought it over from Berlin to me.

It was the only mezuzah left in the entire building, which comprises 6 floors and today is the beautiful Hotel Seifert, built in 1877. But in 1939, at least 36 Jews were living there.  If this mezuzah could talk it would tell how it had seen the very best and the very worst.  How it had witnessed my grandparents’ engagement on Jan 14, 1919 and their marriage six months later.   It would also say how it witnessed the deportation of the apartment’s last occupant, Dr. Richard Salomon, to Auschwitz.  My great-grandfather Arthur had died in 1933, and the Salomon family had moved in shortly thereafter.  My great-grandmother Julie would later be deported to Theresienstadt in December 1942, one day after Richard Salomon, where she succumbed to lung disease and starvation 10 months later, witnessed by my grandparents, who were also there and who miraculously, and barely, survived.

Now this mezuzah, a silent storyteller of history’s good and evil,  will remain on my doorframe forever while I live in this home.  It will be loved and treasured by me 3 generations later, and will never ever again witness a deportation. 

In remembrance of Kristallnacht (Nov 9-10), we remember and honor all those who were victims.

Thu, July 25 2024 19 Tammuz 5784