The Torah ark that survived Kristallnacht

A Torah ark that survived Kristallnacht was brought to Israel, discovered in the Hebron Mountains and used in outdoor services during COVID.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Torah ark at the Stern home
Torah ark at the Stern home

Mordechai Stern was one of the leaders of the Jewish community in the city of Karlsruhe in southwest Germany on the eve of Kristallnacht - when local civilians joined paramilitary units on November 9-10, 1938, destroying Jewish property in what signaled the initial stages of the destruction of European Jewry. Stern witnessed Germans burning down his synagogue and others throughout his home town.

When the fires had eaten away most of the building, Mordechai felt compelled to do something so he made his way though the burning structure, miraculously retrieving two Torah scrolls from the ambers of the synagogue.

But that wasn't enough. Stern proceeded to make one more trip to the building he had dedicated years of his life to and and carried out the magnificent Torah ark along with a number of sacred items.

When the fire was finally extinguished, he realized the entire building had been destroyed save for his seat and a nearby prayer book.

Later, Mordechai managed to immigrate to Israel and brought the holy items to the Carmel community of the Hebron Hills. During the coronavirus crisis, Mordechai's grandson, Ezekiel Stern, used the ark for outdoors prayer services in the community.

Ezekiel has taken care of the ark for decades and says he would never part ways with it. "This ark together with the Torah scrolls are a sweet memory of my late grandfather who performed an amazing deed when he entered that burning building and saved the synagogue's relics despite being faced with imminent danger. My grandparents came to Israel and raised a large family who represent the biggest victory over the Nazis," he says.

Yochai Damari, head of the Hebron Regional Council, noted, "75 years ago, the Germans tried to murder us off physically and spiritually. To destroy our tradition, our heritage, our history. But the Jewish people throughout the ages have maintained their national identity. Jews have always been willing to put their lives on the line for the sake of maintaining their tradition. A Torah ark is much more than just a piece of carpentry. It's a symbol of our national heritage and tradition, and we are very happy to make a small contribution to the traditions of our ancestors"