Leichter (Candelabrum)

My great-grandmother, Ma, brought this silver leichter, this candelabrum, from her home in Poland to Germany once she married my grandfather, Pa. Upon a woman’s marriage in Orthodox Judaism, women are often given a set of candlesticks or a candelabrum as they begin to build their own Jewish home. The candles are lit and blessed, generally by a woman, before every Sabbath and Holiday to delineate between workdays and the days of rest and festivities. Ma brought this leichter with her as she and her family fled Nazi Germany to Belgium where they hid in a barn in the countryside for months. The leichter subsequently made it with them to America. Throughout their journey, Ma bribed Nazi officials and paid Righteous Gentiles with jewelry and money, but she did not think about using the leichter for trade, despite its size and weight. All Ma and her family had with them were the clothes they were wearing and what they could carry by hand; Ma, evidently, deemed the leichter a necessity since she brought it along. Although I cannot ask Ma why she took the leichter with her, I am fairly certain of the answer. Ma travelled with this object during the Holocaust for so long and so far because she wanted to be able to again have a Jewish home in which she could use the leichter and practice her Judaism freely. Now, the leichter sits in my Nana’s home and is a symbol of hope and survival not only of my own family, but of Jews worldwide. 

Place(s): Poland,Germany,Belgium
Year: 1938

– Talia Askowitz

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant