‘A heavenly kiss’: Candlesticks saved during Nazi invasion of Poland find home at Toronto synagogue

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Harold Erbe’s wife, Faye, gently fixes his tie at the entrance to a Toronto synagogue. It is really a big night for the couple they have travelled all the way from Vancouver to be in this article. 

“Hey!” Rabbi Elie Karfunkel, the gregarious leader of the Forest Hill Jewish Centre, yells as he hugs Erbe. “Thank you so much for coming!”

It is really the very first time the two adult males have fulfilled in individual, but the warm embrace illustrates the deep link they share, spanning both a long time and continents. The story is pretty much way too fortuitous to imagine, even for the rabbi. 

“The fact is, when you 1st identified as me, I considered you were marketing me a timeshare,” Karfunkel stated with a giggle as he ushered Erbe into the sanctuary. “I was thinking, ‘Who is this dude?'” 

Rather, Erbe was providing a present of heritage: a pair of ornate candlesticks his father, dependable by his Jewish neighbours, served rescue from a synagogue in Jaslo, Poland for the duration of the Next Entire world War.

It is really the incredibly identical synagogue Karfunkel chose to replicate when setting up the Forest Hill Jewish Centre. Karfunkel has no immediate relationship to Jaslo, but selected the design and style to honour the plenty of other tiny-known temples wrecked in the modest towns of Europe. 

Now the candlesticks sit prominently shown on the bimah, the elevated system from which Karfunkel addresses his congregation the lacking hyperlink to the initial synagogue is now supplied pleasure of put.  

“Becoming the custodian of the candlesticks,” Karfunkel stated, referring to Erbe’s father, “I type of experience he knew that sometime they would discover their correct household.” 

“Your dad did also a lot for them not to wind up in this article.” 

Observe | Toronto rabbi fulfills man whose father saved candlesticks from the Nazis:

Harold Erbe has gifted candlesticks his father assisted help save from a Polish synagogue in WWII to Rabbi Elie Karfunkel’s Toronto synagogue. 1:07

‘I will maintain them safe’

Julius Erbe, Harold’s father, managed a significant agricultural co-operative in Jaslo, a compact town in southeastern Poland, when the Nazis invaded the place. 

On Sept. 15, 1939, Hitler’s troops set fireplace to the synagogue in Jaslo, but it was saved by a group of courageous firefighters who extinguished the blaze, endangering them selves to support their Jewish neighbours. 

Five days later, the Nazis returned and compelled nearby Jews, at gunpoint, to commence an additional fire in the temple, just one that burned it to the floor. 

Julius Erbe is seen right here in advance of his demise in 1973. (Submitted by Harold Erbe)

A Jewish friend of Julius Erbe’s rescued the candlesticks from the charred synagogue and gave them to Erbe — who wasn’t Jewish — to defend them from the Nazis. 

“Can you visualize the hardship that individual ought to have felt to say, ‘Here, you keep on to these. We really don’t want the Nazis to get them,'” stated the younger Erbe.

“And my father said, ‘I consider you, you have to have confidence in me. I will continue to keep them harmless.'” 

‘I couldn’t consider it’

From Poland, the candlesticks have been introduced to Germany, then Italy, finally crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Halifax just before arriving in Vancouver, the place the Erbe household settled immediately after the war. 

This previous May possibly, Erbe started hunting for a new household for the candlesticks, wanting to somehow return them to the Jewish group. 

“I went and Googled Jaslo synagogue and I stated, ‘This is ruined,'” Erbe said. “But then I searched even further down and [found] they created a replica of the Jaslo synagogue in Toronto — an unbelievable event.”

Erbe, at residence in Vancouver, then achieved out to Karfunkel. 

“I phoned him up one morning and I stated, ‘I imagine I have one thing useful that you may well be interested in,'” Erbe said. “They are a few of candlesticks and they are stunning.” 

Look at | Rabbi ‘couldn’t believe’ he was given candlesticks rescued from Polish synagogue:

Rabbi Elie Karfunkel describes his nice shock when Harold Erbe gifted Karfunkel’s synagogue with candlesticks Erbe’s father assisted conserve from the Nazis. 1:02

The rabbi was speechless. 

“When he tells me, ‘I have the candlesticks,’ I couldn’t consider it,” he said. 

“It can be a heavenly kiss,” stated Karfunkel, who cried when he obtained the candlesticks from Erbe.  “Here is the a single synagogue from the 1000’s of synagogues we could have picked out.

“And now we have the candlesticks from Jaslo.”

A guarantee kept 

The rabbi also now has a lifelong bond with the son of the person who saved the cherished artifacts from the forces of evil. 

Previously this month, dozens of men and women went to the Forest Hill Jewish Centre for a special ceremony celebrating the Erbe spouse and children. 

It was that large night time that brought Erbe and his spouse to Toronto for the initially time in 30 years. 

“It is my great honour to get in touch with up my latest BFF, Harold,” Karfunkel said in his introduction, labelling Erbe a best friend for daily life even although the two just satisfied. 

Rabbi Elie Karfunkel laughs as he addresses congregants at Forest Hill Jewish Centre before in December as the candlesticks rescued for the duration of the Next Globe War are settled into their new property. (Ellen Mauro/CBC)

Erbe returned the heat in variety. 

“Thank you from the bottom of my coronary heart,” he informed the congregation. “My father many thanks you, if he could. I know he is hunting out at these points ideal now.” 

Look at | Ceremony marks the candlesticks’ arrival at their new household:

The Forest Hill Jewish Centre held a candlelighting ceremony to honour Harold Erbe, whose father helped rescue candlesticks from a Polish synagogue in 1939. :53

And now, many thanks to Julius Erbe’s bravery in risking his possess daily life to safeguard the candlesticks, they once again assist give mild in a synagogue.

Erbe and Karfunkel lit them alongside their wives as the congregation appeared on, and a father’s vow to preserve the candlesticks harmless was retained by his son. 

The two gentlemen explained the satisfied ending of a story rooted in one of history’s darkest periods delivers timeless classes. 

“We require to target on the goodness of people today,” Karfunkel stated. “If you continue down the path of goodness, you will light-weight up pretty dark sites.” 

The architectural style of the Forest Hill Jewish Centre, still left, is modelled immediately after the Good Synagogue in Jaslo, Poland, which was built in 1905 and destroyed by Nazis for the duration of the Next Earth War. (Michael Wilson/CBC, JewishGen.org)

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