A Moving Photo

Friday, 12 April, 2013 - 8:29 am

A few days ago, on Yom ha’Shoa (Day of Rememberance), I got a phone call which caused me great sadness, more than any other Yom Ha’Shoa in the past years.

What happened?

On the phone I was told that Mrs. Eva Weber passed away. Mrs. Weber was a Holocaust survivor, who lived in Luzern, and whom I was privileged to get to know closely. She was about 93 years old when she passed away a few hours before Yom Ha’Shoa.

As I think about her and am saddened, I open the pictures application on my iphone and search for this picture, which I took about two years ago at Eva’s home.

Take a look at this picture. What do you see? A simple tray, an old Siddur (prayer book) and  a set of ancient candle holders. At first glance it doesn’t look special. This image is what I would see almost every Friday, on my visits to Mrs. Eva Weber’s home shortly before Shabbat.


She lived in a small two-room apartment in Horw, just outside of Luzern. Each time I came in on Friday I was always greeted by this meaningful sight: In the middle of the small room, stood a low table and on it was the old Siddur, open to the Lecha Dodi prayer (which is said on Friday nights), and near it, two candles ready to be lit before Shabbat. She would always ask me what time Shabbat comes in, each week.

The old Siddur was a gift from her father she told me all excitedly. And since then she prays the Kabbalat Shabbat prayers every week.

For years and years, since her arrival to Switzerland, Eva had no contact to the Jewish Community. About 2 years ago, we got to know Eva through my dear friend, the well known eye doctor in Luzern, Dr. Itzik Schipper, who was treating her. Since the first contact, I would go to her almost every Friday with Challot, Gefilte Fish and Kugel for Shabbat, all home made by Rivky.

When I invited her to come hear the Shofar on Rosh Hashana, she refused politely. She has not done anything Jewish in public, since those terrible war days. After some persuasion she finally decided to come. After the services she came over to me in tears and told me how emotional this all was for her. The last time she had heard the sounds of the shofar, was before the war in Budapest. She was so happy she came. This was just this past Rosh Hashana.

The story of her escape and survival is unique, as she was miraculously saved quite early on. She was in a small camp, where many Jews were taken to, and from there they were sent to the various concentration camps. She always told us how she did not look Jewish with her blond hair and blue eyes, and not only once did she get the question “… but why are YOU here?” from the guards. One of the guards decided to take her under his coverage and made it possible for her to leave the place.

From there she was again miraculously able to get work with the Swedish Embassy and through them was brought into Switzerland.

Eva Weber passed away without leaving any children to mourn her or to say Kaddish.

Eva, we will, please G-d, remember you on Yom Kippur during the Yizkor prayer and you will always be in our hearts.

(If anyone would like to eternize her or to sponsor a Kaddish for her name, please contact me.)

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim,

Rabbi Chaim 

                                             Eva Weber ע"ה

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