A Glimmer of Hope

Not all was destroyed by Kristallnacht. The Torah from the Forst (Lausitz) Synagogue was saved by 18-year-old Jakob Weinblum.

Jakob was born in Forst (Lausitz) in 1921 to a loving middle-class family. As Jakob grew up, Hitler rose to power and the conditions for the Jews in Germany deteriorated. As a deeply spiritual 18-year-old, Jakob felt a close connection to the Sefer Torah that was located in his synagogue. As Kristallnacht took place, he risked his life to flee to his shul, where he managed to save its cherished Torah scroll before it could be burned.

On what would be one of the last ships out of Germany, Jakob and his family traveled to Shanghai, China in 1939. The family had to leave everything behind other than 10 marks (equivalent to approximately $75 in 2021 currency) and whatever they could carry. Jakob elected to give much of his precious luggage space to the rescued Torah scroll, which traveled with him in his duffel bag.

A duffel bag similar to what Jakob might have used to transport the Torah. Source: Pinterest
Reichsmark, German currency in the 1930s. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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