Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Polish construction workers in the city of Lodz could not believe their eyes. In the course of digging around the foundations of a building undergoing renovation, they recently found a treasure trove of hundreds of Jewish artifacts, many of them wrapped in newspapers dated October, 1939. They had been preserved in that way for more than 80 years and included candlesticks, Kiddush cups, tableware, holy books, Hanukkah menorahs, and personal items.
Journalist Ofer Aderet reports that Jews hid these objects under a building at 23 Polnocna Street at the beginning of the Second World War. They hoped one day to return and retrieve them but never did. Before the Holocaust, one third of the residents of Lodz -- a quarter of a million people -- were Jews, but only several thousand of them survived the war.
David Gorfinkel, a member of the local Jewish community, emphasized that this is a rare discovery, both in quantity and quality. "I feel that these artifacts want to tell us something," he emotionally confessed.
You are invited to study the attached photograph and to think about what these objects, more than 400 in number, are telling us. What is the Havdalah set that distingushed between Shabbat and the rest of the week, between the holy and the profane, saying, or the little cups of the children that held wine poured from their father's Kiddush cup, or a mother's silver candlesticks. They are telling us something about special sights and sounds, flavors and fragrances, about tradition and family, about identity and longing, about an attempt at destruction and the triumph of the living.
And now they are trying to find the legal heirs of these artifacts since perhaps there are living descendants of their previous owners. Yet, in a certain sense, all of us -- the entire Jewish people -- are the heirs of these precious treasures.