|Some have asked, "What’s the story about Annelore’s 'family book of
Well, the “story” of the family book of generations began when I was
23 years old. My mother could not produce the birth certificate of her
birth year of 1918. She asserted the copy of 1938 to be the original. This,
of course, was absurd. Likewise, throughout my childhood she tried not
to take notice of my suffering due to our Jewishness. She ignored it. Perhaps
people would forget. Moreover, she refused to make any claims on our lost
possessions (which were substantial) lest new records would identify us
once again as Jews.
On that particular day in 1966 I had enough of her pretending our Jewish
identity to be non-existent, and demanded to finally know the truth. Among
the many things she at last proceeded to tell me was the following account:
after the principal of the girls’ school my mother attended got arrested
by the SS, my grandmother took my mother immediately out of that school
and went into hiding.
While hiding my mother was filled with traumatic fear of discovery.
One day her father came to visit his daughter, acting rather strangely.
He told her to be seated, then began very solemnly to wrap the tefillin
on arm and forehead and the tallit around his shoulders. He picked up the
book he had brought with him and, standing in front of mother, kissed it,
spoke a prayer and opened it.
Then he said to my mother: “My daughter, that you may know that you
have no reason whatsoever to be ashamed of your Jewish identity and heritage
I will read to you now from this book. For this book is the evidence that
your family is older and nobler than the oldest and noblest royal houses
of Europe. May it help you carry your head high and not be dismayed or
ashamed of your heritage, for your father’s house dates back to king David,
being of the Wise Stock1 of Solomon.”
Then he began to read --- names after names after names, for a long
time. Mother did not understand all the names (I guess they were also in
Hebrew as well as in Spanish). Grandmother thought that perhaps he had
lost temporarily his proper mind from the traumatic stress.
Then grandfather told mother and grandmother that he was leaving the
country for Holland (we had family there) and that he would take this book
with him, guarding it with his life (he was the firstborn of the family).
But should he somehow fall into the hands of the Nazis he trusted that
G-d would then guard and keep the book.