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The Homecoming

01/02/2020 03:41:59 PM


Rabbi Elie and Mordechai


Every now and then, we see such an explicit sign of HaShem's Hand, that it's hard to deny. Two weeks ago, Rabbi Elie received a phone call from someone in Vancouver who said that they had something that they felt should rightfully belongs to us. Being that it was just before our Golf Tournament and Shavuos, we couldn't pay too much attention and the matter was quickly put out of our minds. Sidebar: For those who don't know, The Albert & Temmy Latner Forest Hill Jewish Centre is also known as the Glassman Jaslo Memorial. Jaslo is a city in the south of Poland. The exterior of our Centre, and the Aron Kodesh, are exact replicas of the Great Synagogue in Jaslo which was destroyed in 1939 during the Hol-ocaust; In the FHJC, the link to previous generations lives on in a very real and literal way. 

A week ago Friday, just before Shavous, a box arrived at the Centre containing this letter. We are including the letter in its entirety as it speaks for itself. 

Dear Rabbi Karfunkel: Re: A Wonderful Reunion! Please find enclosed in this package two candlesticks, of which we spoke on the phone two weeks ago. In reply to your wish to learn more about them, I am pleased to share all I know, however, it is not much. My father, Julius, passed away in 1973 (Born 1909) leaving all his possessions to my mother, Annaliese (Born 1908) passed away in 1982 leaving all her possessions to my elder sister. The first week of May, 2019, my sister gave these candle-sticks to me and asked me to try and do something_with them. This was the first time that I had seen them although I vaguely recalled my father referring to them in conversations with his Jewish business colleagues in the past. The bits and pieces of information that! can recall, because I never saw these candlesticks, was that they came from Jaslo. They were given to my father, we presume, for safe keeping because he was not Jewish and the homes of Jewish residents in Jaslo were being searched for valuables by the Nazis. Although he was watched every day by the Gestapo, his business of running the Jaslo Food Supply Co-operative for the district around Jaslo had allowed him to become good friends and business associates with many of the farmers there. Although my father was not Jewish, he was not a Nazi and did not in any way sympathize with them. As we understand, he had many close friendships with the Jewish community, so much so that, we presume, he was entrusted to hold these candlesticks for safekeeping. Since most of the residents of Jaslo were driven out or killed, my father held onto the candlesticks, we presume, it was because he did not know what else to do with them. In 1951 my father and our family moved to Canada, encouraged by the Batitisky family, originally from Jaslo area, living in Edmonton. Long after the war, on or about 1969, my father was summoned from his home in Vancouver, Canada to Frankfurt by the Simon Wiesenthal group to testify during the Nazi trials to describe the conditions from his recall and to help convict Nazis for their horrendous crimes in the Jaslo area. He attended these sessions in hopes of bringing some justice to his old friends. This concludes all of the historical information that I have gathered in pieces over the past. The candlesticks have remained carefully stored in my parents, and then my sister's, home since that time. It is interesting to note that my parents had to flee Poland when the Russian Army came to Jaslo and were restricted to only carry a few precious items with them to the west. That these candlesticks became part of their sparse luggage indicates to us that my father contin-ued to feel responsible to keep them safe, no matter what. We are so delighted that we have been able to complete his goal of getting them to a safe place. Once my sister gave the candlesticks to me, in May of this year, and said that she knows our parents never would have purchased such elaborate items, that they were never placed on display in their home and that they were from Jaslo. Since she recalled from our parents that there were many Jewish families in Jaslo, she thought that these items might be Jewish. 

To start my research on the internet, I entered "Jewish Candle Holders Jaslo" and to my surprise the item about your Synagogue in Toronto, built in the image of the Jaslo Synagogue, was the first item to come up. What an amazing event! With your kind assistance, we are grateful and excited to think that these may now become reunited with the heritage to which they belong. Even after all these years, something that represents light and hope has survived. As requested, I have enclosed a couple of photos of myself and my wife, Faye and one of my parents, Julius and Annalise. We have one son, Aaron. We ask nothing in return for these items, but perhaps to be remembered in your prayers. Respectfully, Harold Erbe, on behalf of the late Julius Erbe 

These candlesticks finally "made their way home". We are pleased, proud and thankful to be the recipients of such a gift. That one family should appoint themselves as guardians, and that that family should eventually make their way to Canada, and then find us on the web to send them to us.... As children, we play the game "Connect the Dots"; as adults, we can recognize when the dots have been laid out as a trail by The Master Artist of us all, and we are merely players in the ultimate game. 

May the inspiration of this story motivate us all to a higher level of recognition of The One Above. Have a most amazing Shabbos and please be certain to share this story with others! 

Mon, April 22 2024 14 Nisan 5784