Esther Orenbach’s three siblings were murdered in a gas truck during the horrific children’s transport in the Lodz Ghetto. Now, for the first time, a Torah scroll is being written in memory of the million and a half children who were killed in the Holocaust, including Esther’s siblings. Partake in the writing of the Torah scroll in their memories.
Esther Orenbach’s three siblings were killed during the Lodz Ghetto children’s transport in 1942, seven years before she was born. When she was 10, one of Esther’s friends told her that she was adopted, which caused her to confront her father, who in turn was obliged to open the family’s Pandora’s Box.
One evening in 1959, Esther’s father told her of the horrors of the war, about his wife who was murdered, that his three sons were taken from him in the Lodz Ghetto in 1942, and that since then he has no idea what came of them. 10-year-old Esther hears everything that her father manages to tell and absorbs it. She discovers her siblings whom she never had the chance to meet, she discovers the atrocities that her parents experienced, that they chose life and that her mother’s family was also wiped out. She only heard the story once; her father told her all he could that night. And that’s it. From then on and until he died, the topic never arose again. She didn’t ask questions, she didn’t ask to clarify more details, and she didn’t try to help her father find details about the siblings whom she never met or what became of them. Esther grew up as an only child who only dreamt of the siblings that could have filled the house, the siblings who were taken by the war. She only had one picture of her brother, she kept it with her for all these years, hoping that one day she’ll discover what became of them.
After the passing of her father, Esther begins her mission to find out what became of her siblings. After inspecting archives, crosschecking names, dates, and partial information that her father told her, she finds that her father and his first wife, together with their three children, are listed in the Ghetto Lodz list, during the year which the horrific transport of children to the Chelmno extermination camp began. During the transport, 20,000 children under the age of 10 were ripped out of their parent’s arms and were sent for mass extermination in Chelmno. Esther’s siblings: Israel Eliyahu, Tziril, and Simcha Gittel, were among the first children who were sent to be exterminated. They died while traveling in a truck into which deadly gas was released.
Esther discovered this horrifying information, years after her father’s death. She understood what atrocities he experienced and finally discovered what became of her siblings.
80 years later, Esther is going on a moving mission to memorialize them. She traveled to Poland and walked the grounds of the Lodz Ghetto and Chelmno extermination camp, the place where her siblings whom she never knew were killed and are most probably buried. “I’m coming full circle. On this cursed ground, the siblings whom I dreamt of all my life were murdered. This Torah scroll in their memory and in memory of the one and a half million children who were murdered in the Holocaust is what will ensure that we will remember them and their stories forever.”
Shem Olam Faith & the Holocaust Institute for Education, Documentation & Research is launching a project to write a Torah scroll in memory of the children who were killed in the Lodz Ghetto and the Holocaust. The first letters of the scroll were written on the grounds of the extermination camp where the children, including Esther’s siblings, were murdered
“In memory of my siblings and the millions of children that were murdered, with no way of defending themselves, who have no continuance, no remembrance, no one to remember them. All those years I dreamt of a full house, of fun and games with my siblings, of meeting the siblings who I always dreamt of having but never did. In their memory and in the memory of the children who were lost to the Holocaust, we are going to write the Torah scroll which for the first time will eternalize their memories.