Aging Mishna traced to Holocaust victim

Tattered Mishna found in a TA shul in a pile of old holy books that were meant to be buried last week.

November 22, 2005 22:59
2 minute read.
old mishna 88

old mishna 88. (photo credit: )


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The aging and tattered Mishna was lying amid a pile in a Tel Aviv synagogue of old holy books that were meant to be buried last week. A worshiper in the synagogue happened upon the books, and, out of curiosity, opened it up. He looked inside and saw the name "Moshe Shmuel Ehrlich - Lodz" written on the inside cover. The book, which was printed in Lithuania in 1929, also bore the seal of the now-disbanded Ministry for Religious Affairs, with the words 'Books from Poland' found underneath. The worshiper, Dov Tennenbaum, 43, of Tel Aviv, realized that the book he was holding in his hand likely belonged to a Holocaust victim. In the 1950s, hundreds of such holy books that had belonged to Polish Jews murdered in the Holocaust arrived in Israel from Poland and were distributed at synagogues nationwide. The Mishna in question came from Seder Nezikin, the order of the Mishna that deals with Jewish criminal and civil law. Tennenbaum retrieved the Mishna from the pile of books to be buried and, his curiosity piqued, did a search on Yad Vashem's new Holocaust database on the Internet ( to see if he could find any information on the book's original owner. The state-of-the-art database, which was launched last year, lists the names of three mi llion of those who were murdered in the Holocaust. Tennenbaum typed in the name from the book cover and found it on a German list of prisoners at the Lodz Ghetto as well as on a "Page of Testimony" detailing Ehrlich's death that had been filled out by E h rlich's brother, Joseph, who now lives in Florida. Excited by the discovery, Tennenbaum called Joseph in the US, who was overwhelmed to suddenly have an item that had belonged to his brother Moshe. Joseph, 82, was the only member of his family to have s urvived the Holocaust, as his 21-year-old brother and the rest of his family were murdered by the Nazis at the Chelmno death camp in 1942. Ehrlich, who was a teenager at the time of the Holocaust, filled out the page of testimony at Yad Vashem a half century ago, he said in a telephone interview from Florida. Now, six decades after the Holocaust, he is eagerly awaiting the arrival by mail of the Mishna that once belonged to his older brother.

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