On Friday nights, candelabras like this one are lit in Jewish homes to welcome Shabbat. My family’s candelabrum holds a special place in our history and family story.
On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. My paternal grandfather, a Polish cavalryman, was taken as a prisoner of war. Thankfully, his Jewish identity was not discovered. Upon hearing of the war’s start, my grandfather’s brothers and sister buried valuables behind their house, knowing they would not be able to keep anything when the Germans came. My great-uncles were soon taken to a labor camp, and later spent 3 years in Siberia. My great-aunt and her family hid in the home of a Polish neighbor. Miraculously, they all survived the war.
In 1945, my grandfather and his brothers were reunited in a DP camp, where they heard rumors that their sister had survived. Upon reaching their hometown of Pruchnik, they discovered that a Polish family had taken their home and possessions. One night, they snuck into the backyard and dug up the valuables they had buried 6 years before. Among them was this candelabrum, which their mother had lit every Friday night to welcome the Shabbat. When they were finally able to immigrate to America in 1949, they took the candelabrum with them. Here, they continued the tradition of lighting it every week to signal the beginning of Shabbat, a tradition that lives on in our home. I am proud to be a part of that tradition.
– Rivka Thurm