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Handmade wooden hanukiah with Hebrew inscription made by Kindertransport refugees

Object | Accession Number: 2006.69.1

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    Handmade wooden hanukiah with Hebrew inscription made by Kindertransport refugees


    Brief Narrative
    8-branched Hanukkah menorah with central holder for the 9th candle made for Louis Judah and Etty Cohen by 3 male student refugees at the Whittingehame Farm School in East Lothian, Scotland. One evening, the students requested that Mr. Cohen and his family come to the school and, in a heartfelt ceremony, presented the handcrafted menorah to the couple to thank them for what they had done for them. Judah and Etty were governors of the school, and members of the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation which established the school in 1939. Its mission was to care for German and Austrian Jewish children arriving from Europe on the Kindertransports. Mr. Cohen was a frequent, and much loved, visitor to the school, often bringing a freezer full of ice cream treats to the children in the evening. His family also welcomed two young refugee brothers, Egon and Max Koenigstein, into their home during the war. The school was designed to prepare the children for agricultural work in anticipation of their emigration to Palestine. The school aided approximately 160 teenagers from 1939-1945.
    received:  approximately 1942
    creation:  approximately 1941
    received: Whittingehame Farm School; Whittingehame (Scotland)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Amanda J. Cohen and David D. L. Cohen
    Subject: Louis J. Cohen
    Louis Judah Cohen was born in 1886 in Edinburgh, Scotland. His wife, Etty Pass, was one of eight children, originally from Riga, Latvia, and became a naturalized citizen in 1897. Judah had two brothers and three sisters. He ran the Ideal Trading Stamp Company and a tea import business with his brothers and brother-in-law. Judah and Etty were dedicated Zionists and the couple were members of the Orthodox Edinburgh Hebrew congregation, which included about 300 families. Judah served as treasurer. The couple had two daughters, Fay and Hilda, born on August 21, 1923, and one son, John Bernard, born in 1928, who assisted them in their charity work. Judah was deeply concerned about the persecutions of Jews by the Nazi Government and he stopped importing items, such a porcelain dolls, from Germany in the mid-1930s. After the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 9-10, 1938, the local Jewish community became involved in rescue efforts for refugee children from Europe. Etty was a member of the Scottish National Council for Refugees and she arranged to have thirty-five Kindertransport refugees transferred from the Dovercourt camp in England to Edinburgh in December 1938. Judah and Etty took in two young brothers, Egon, about 11-12 years, and Max, about 8-9 years, Konigstein, from Lackenbach, Austria. They also found homes for thirty-three other child refugees and started a social club for adult Jewish refugees.

    In late 1938-early 1939, Lord Traprain, Robert Balfour, offered the use of his estate in Whittinghame, East Lothian, as a haven for refugee children. Judah and Etty and other members of the Edinburgh congregation, established the Whittingehame Farm School, an agricultural training (hachshara) and boarding school to care for Austrian and German children arriving from Europe on the Kindertransports [Children’s transports]. Judah raised money to establish and furnish the school and hired a twelve person staff. The mansion was prepared to accommodate about 160 children with dormitories and a kosher kitchen. Judah was a Governor and served as treasurer of the school, and was responsible for supplies, a difficult task once wartime rationing was introduced. Etty was also a Governor of the school and chaired the House Committee, supervising domestic issues. Judah was a frequent, and much loved, visitor to the school and often brought a freezer full of ice cream treats to the children in the evening. The school's curriculum included Hebrew and traditional courses, but was designed to train the students, average age, 14-17, in agricultural work, including farming and poultry-raising, in the hope that many would eventually emigrate to Palestine. Vera Weitzman, wife of Chaim, the future leader of Israel, was a frequent visitor to the school.

    When Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Britain declared war. Blackout schedules were observed and Red Cross training classes were held at the school. There were frequent air raids as it was in the flyover path for German planes on bombing missions to the Glasgow ports. In 1941-42, some children and staff at the school were declared enemy aliens; all males over the age of sixteen were sent to an internment camp in England. After the war ended in May 1945, some of the children rejoined their families and many were relocated to Palestine. Those who remained were moved to a smaller facility in Dalkeith until permanent homes were found. Judah learned that the parents of Egon and Max, the two boys adopted by the Cohen family had been killed in the concentration camps. They discovered distant relatives of the boys in London. Egon and Max went to live with them and eventually married and established their own homes in London. Judah died on June 19, 1945, age fifty-nine years.

    Physical Details

    Jewish Art and Symbolism
    Object Type
    Menorah (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Wooden candelabrum with a 6-sided central column set upon an irregular hexagonal base with 2 levels. The column has 4 angled arms of staggered lengths that extend from both sides. On the front top of the column are inlaid Hebrew characters in a darker stain. A small replica of the base is screwed to the top, with a center wooden peg. A small arm extends from the column front near the top. The arm is composed of 3 pieces of rectangular wood that join to form a bent arm with a flat, square surface. There is a small, circular hole at the top for a candle. Four arms of differing lengths, but similar construction, extend from each side of the column, with the smallest arm at the top. The far right arm has a metal cylinder with a square wax guard; the next arm has a metal cup; the 3rd arm has aluminum foil lining the hole; the 4th arm has candle wax remnants.
    overall: Height: 17.750 inches (45.085 cm) | Width: 20.500 inches (52.07 cm) | Depth: 7.250 inches (18.415 cm)
    overall : wood, metal, wax, stain, adhesive
    front top of column, handwritten, stained on the wood : Hebrew text [Chanukah / c. 1941 / From Agricultural School Whittinghame]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The hanukiah was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2006 by David D.L. Cohen and Amanda J. Cohen, the grandchildren of Louis J. and Etty Cohen.
    Record last modified:
    2023-09-28 10:59:39
    This page:

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