Monday, March 16, 2015

Surviving and Leading

Although born in Hungary in 1904, Rabbi Yehoshua (Joshua) Menachem Ehrenberg was living in Cracow when the Nazis began their systematic destruction of European Jewry.

The city of Cracow, which was brought under German control in September 1939, had a significant Jewish population that was inflated by an influx of Jews from the surrounding area. While the Nazis initially tried to force Jews out of the city, it was decided in late 1940 that a ghetto be established. By March of 1941, Rabbi Ehrenberg, already a well-respected scholar, along with the rest of the Jewish population, had been relocated into the ghetto.


Although it is not publicly recorded how Rabbi Ehrenberg survived, it is known that he was one of the approximately 1700 Jews included in the “Kastner Train” 
 in June 1944 This transport, which consisted of 35 cattle trucks, was arranged by Rudolph Kastner, who quite literally paid Adolph Eichmann for Jewish lives.

After arriving safely in Switzerland, Rabbi Ehrenberg decided to settle in Jerusalem. He was not there long, however, before he acceded to Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog’s request that he provide religious guidance to the Jews interned by the British on the Island of Cyprus. One can only imagine how difficult it was to return again to barbed-wire enclosures, but Rabbi Ehrenberg dedicated himself to his new role and returned to Israel on the last ship, only after the camp was dismantled in February 1949.


Settling in the city of Jaffa, Rabbi Ehrenberg continued to dedicate himself to his Torah studies and to serving his community. He was appointed Av Beit Din (head of the religious court) in Jaffa and was considered an expert on Jewish divorce. Rabbi Ehrenberg’s published responsa are known as Teshuvat D’var Yehoshua.


The yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yehoshua Menachem Ehrenberg was yesterday, 24 Adar.


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