Silver Pointer

In Jewish synagogue every Sabbath, a chazzan, or cantor, reads portions from the Torah using an elaborate silver pointer to help him keep his place. This silver pointer dates back to the late nineteenth century, when it was made for my great-great grandfather, Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Twersky (1877-1941). Rabbi Twersky was a leader of a Hassidic sect of Jews in Trisk, Ukraine, serving many roles in his community including spiritual leader, teacher, and cantor. He used the same silver pointer every Sabbath when he read from the Torah. When the German Nazis invaded Ukraine in June of 1941, Rabbi Twersky refused to leave his congregants, and was therefore shot by the Nazis on the steps of his synagogue. Every member of his family was killed by the Nazis except for one of his sons-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Tzvi Eichenstein, my great grandfather. Rabbi Eichenstein, also a religious leader, escaped to America soon after his father-in-law was killed, bringing with him little except for some clothing, prayer books, and Rabbi Twersky’s beloved silver pointer. In America, Rabbi Eichenstein continued to use his father-in-law’s pointer in his own congregation in St. Louis, Missouri. The pointer has been passed down to my grandfather and my father, who serve as rabbis in their communities. We keep it in a glass case to remind us of our ancestors’ commitment and perseverance.

Place(s): Ukraine
Year: 1941

– Aviva Lehrfield

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more