The Kristallnacht Bar Mitzvah Boy’s Revenge on Hitler
Last week, baby Yonatan and I paid a visit to one of my favorite places– the Israel Museum. And as soon as we got there, I noticed a crowd of people near the entrance of the museum wearing this T-shirt below…
Of course, I was extremely curious to find out more about the famous Saba Shlomo who had inspired this crowd of people to come out to the museum that morning. And you can imagine how pleased I was when I ended up at the museum cafe at the exact same time that Saba Shlomo and his relatives and friends gathered there to enjoy a festive buffet and birthday cake.
While there, I had a chat with Saba Shlomo’s daughter, Elana Mayerfeld, and found out about the amazing life of Saba Shlomo.
Saba Shlomo Reutlinger was born in Pforzheim, Germany in 1925. On November 9th, 1938, on the day of Shlomo’s bar mitzvah dress rehearsal, the teacher who was preparing Shlomo for his bar mitzvah urgently warned his mother not to send Shlomo to school that day. After midnight, Shlomo’s family was woken up by noise and yelling. Nazi storm troopers had attacked Shlomo’s elderly grandfather. Kristallnacht had begun.
In the morning, Shlomo’s family learned the extent of the damage. Many of their friends had been sent to Dachau and Buchenwald and they learned that the same events took place all over Germany. The family cancelled Shlomo’s bar mitzvah celebration which was to take place that week, and Shlomo read his Torah portion hiding in fear at home, in front of only his immediate family.
The following year, Shlomo and his younger brother fled to Belgium to live with their uncle and in 1940 Shlomo made aliya to Eretz Yisrael. His brother, Erich, who had been too young to come to Israel, stayed in Belgium and disappeared without a trace in the Nazi inferno. To this day, his family has no idea how or where he died.
Here, in the Holy Land, at the age of 23, Saba Shlomo witnessed with his own eyes the establishment of the State of Israel.
With his own hands he built up and founded the religious kibbutz, Ain HaNetsiv.
Last week, on his 90th birthday, Saba Shlomo celebrated with his extended family and friends, including his wife, Marcella, his 2 children, Elana and Raanon, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the photograph below.
I am crying as I write this. Thinking of that 13-year-old boy whose bar mitzvah celebration was cancelled under the heavy shadow of Kristallnacht…
Who grew up to see his own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren living as Jews in the land of Israel.
If that’s not a modern miracle, I don’t know what is.
A huge mazal tov to Saba Shlomo and his entire family.