Historic Krumbach Torah Ark to be auctioned off in NY City

The ark, made by American soldiers for Holocaust survivors, helped renew Jewish prayer after World War II.

By HEDDY BREUER ABRAMOWITZ
September 3, 2019 20:17
2 minute read.
Historic Krumbach Torah Ark to be auctioned off in NY City

Torah Ark. (photo credit: UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST M…Y ROSENBACH)

A Torah ark (in Hebrew: aron kodesh), which may have played a historic role in reestablishing the revival of Jewish life and prayer in Germany after World War II, is set to be auctioned in New York on September 19.

The ark was constructed to serve the remnants of the Jews who survived the terrible devastation and destruction of their homes, their communities and their families. With no homes or families that they could return to – and most of them being in a highly weakened state due to starvation and rampant illness – displaced persons camps (DP camps) were established  to give humanitarian aid in the immediate aftermath of the war, following the liberation of the death camps and concentration camps by the Soviet, American and other Allied forces.

One such camp, the Krumbach DP Camp, was located in the Bavarian village of Krumbach in the Swabian region, tucked between the Danube River and the Austrian Alps. Before the war against the Nazis, it had vibrant Jewish life and was a long-established community, first mentioned in 1156. In the 18th century, it was particularly noted for the prolific development of regional synagogue styles, all subsequently destroyed on Kristallnacht as the Nazi regime rose to power.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Rubin, an internee in the camp and a survivor of Auschwitz, is credited with recognizing the need for a return to Jewish ritual and prayer. He sought to create a yeshiva and synagogue to address the spiritual needs of the survivors beyond their immediate physical needs.

Though normally known for their prowess at building bridges and other military structures, it was soldiers in the locally deployed US Army Corps of Engineers who created this small cabinet to house a Torah scroll, which is sacred to the Jews, and was an important factor in giving them hope that their lives would be set back on the path of their heritage.

The provenance of the Torah ark continued to Brooklyn. Rabbi Rubin and his wife, Chana, along with other members of the Krumbach congregation, were able to immigrate there on April 19, 1948, less than a month before the establishment of Israel on May 15.

The Rubins, and the Krumbach Torah Ark which they brought with them, benefited from President Truman's Directive of December 22, 1945, which, despite its great unpopularity, widened quotas to include DPs and war refugees.

The Krumbach Ark was set in its new home, the Congregation and Yeshiva Yeshurun on Ocean Parkway in Flatbush, established by Rubin.

Following an expansion of the synagogue, the ark was placed in storage, and then gifted to The Living Torah Museum, which helps support the homeless of the community. The museum is seeking to find a permanent home for the Krumbach Ark, appropriate for its illustrious history.  

Guernsey's Auction House will auction off the Krumbach Ark on September 19 at the 5th Avenue Synagogue in NYC. Also on auction will be items such as letters of Marc Chagall, a Moshe Dayan archive, a previously unreleased recording of Dr. Martin Luther King and documents bearing Golda Meir's signature.


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