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Tefillin and green velvet pouch used by a Polish Jewish survivor

Object | Accession Number: 2006.285.4 a-c

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    Tefillin and green velvet pouch used by a Polish Jewish survivor

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Set of tefillin and a green velvet storage sack used by Isak Perelmuter. Tefillin are small boxes containing prayers worn by Jewish males during weekday morning services. After Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Isak, his wife, Chaja, and daughters, Dora, 13, and Cywia, 6, were imprisoned in Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto. Isak delivered flour and the others worked in a bra and corset factory. There was never enough food and disease was widespread. The Germans destroyed the ghetto in the summer of 1944. Isak defied the deportation orders and the family hid until they managed to join the work detail retained to clean the area. One day, the men were ordered to dig large holes in the cemetery. Their fears that they were digging their own graves were confirmed by a German officer, who left their doors unlocked so they could escape. Isak and his family remained in hiding until Łódź was liberated by the Soviet Army in January 1945. Not long after the war ended in May, the family left Poland because of the continuing violent antisemitism. They lived in Schlachtensee, Foehrenwald, and then Bad Reichenhall displaced persons camps in Germany for about a year until making an illegal crossing into France where Chaja had a brother.
    Date
    use:  1939-1945
    Geography
    use: Litzmannstadt-Getto (Łódź, Poland); Łódź (Poland)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Sylvia Rozines
    Contributor
    Subject: Isak Perelmuter
    Subject: Sylvia Perelmuter Rozines
    Biography
    Isak Mendel Perelmuter was born on April 14, 1903, in Łódź, Poland. He was orphaned at the age of 10. Isak married Chaja Wolfman and they had two daughters. Dora (Dora), born on January 2, 1927, and Cywia (Sylvia), born on January 20, 1935, in Łódź, Poland. Isak was a salesman of wholesale flour and sugar. Soon after the war began on September 1, 1939, the family attempted to relocate to Warsaw as it was supposed to be a safer place for Jews to live. They traveled there overnight by horse and buggy, but unable to find a place to live, they returned to Łódź.

    In February 1940, the Germans established a sealed ghetto in Łódź, now Litzmannstadt. The Perelmuter’s moved to a small apartment with one room and a kitchen where Isak and Chaja shared a large bed with Cywia and Dora had her own bed. They had a small garden in the backyard where Isak grew potatoes, with the help of the two girls. Isak delivered flour by horse and buggy to the ghetto bakeries; Chaja and Dora worked at the women’s underwear factory in the ghetto, but Cywia was too young to work.

    In 1942/43, the Germans decided to take the children away from their parents in the ghetto. They said that the children would be going to camps in Germany where they would have food. Most of the parents did not want to give their children away, so the Germans started to take the children away by force, at night. Dora was not at risk, because she was older and worked in the factory, but Cywia was young enough that she could be taken away. Isak hid with Cywia whenever the Germans came. One night, Isak grabbed Sylvia and pulled her over a wall to the cemetery where he dug a hole in which they hid. They stayed there for a day and a night, because he was too afraid to get out and look for the white sheet in their window that signaled that the Germans were gone. The policy was later changed and families were allowed one child. The Perelmuter’s received special papers that allowed Cywia to stay.

    The Germans began to destroy the ghetto in the early summer of 1944. They selected able bodied men and women to stay to gather and sort the leftover belongings for shipment to Germany. The family was almost selected to stay, but when the officer saw Sylvia, he changed his mind. He told the family that they were to be deported the next day. Isak decided that they should not leave and they hid and managed to get into the work detail. There were about 800 workers, housed in 2 factories: 1 for women, 1 for men. One of the buildings had a basement where Cywia hid with 8 to 12 other children while their parents worked cleaning out the ghetto. The Germans discovered the children there one day, but let them stay with their parents. Isak thought that they did this because they feared what the Jews would do to them if they killed the children; the Jews far outnumbered the German officers.

    One day in the winter, the men were called to dig large holes in the ground at the cemetery. They suspected that this probably meant they were to be killed. The head of the group had some vodka and got a German officer drunk that night. The officer confirmed that a large squad of additional soldiers was arriving to shoot them in the morning. He left the door to their factory dormitories open that night, giving them a chance to hide. Isak was afraid of being tracked by their footprints in the snow, so they waited until the morning. Some men went to the German headquarters and confirmed that many more soldiers had arrived. Isak and his family first hid in a nearby factory where he used to get flour across from the German headquarters. They soon moved because they could not start a fire for heat or food because of fear of discovery. One day, they saw a Polish woman walking in the street and this is how they knew they were free. The ghetto was liberated by the Soviet Army on January 19, 1945.

    After the Germans left, the Poles entered the ghetto to take the possessions and belongings that had been left behind. The Perelmuter’s ghetto apartment was left with only a few photographs. The family moved to a place in another part of the city. Isak re-established his flour and sugar business, with credit from people who remembered him from before the war. The business prospered and Cywia and Dora returned to school. However, virulent antisemitism was still everywhere and they did not feel safe. Poles would sometimes arrive at apartments in the middle of the night and take all the occupants’ money and there were murders of returning Jews by the Poles. One night in 1945, taking only a few belongings to avoid detection by their neighbors, the family took a night train to Szczecin, Poland. From there, they went by truck to Germany, crossing the border illegally at night. They arrived in Berlin, Germany, and were registered and vaccinated at the Schlachtensee displaced person’s camp. From there, they went to Foehrenwald, then to Bad Reichenhall displaced person’s camps.
    Cywia (Sylvia) Perelmuter was born on January 20, 1935, to Isak, born in 1903, and Chaja Wolfman in Łódź, Poland. She joined older sister, Dora (Doris), who was born in 1927. Her father worked in a wholesale flour and sugar cooperative. On September 1, 1940, Germany invaded Poland. Łódź was occupied and renamed Litzmannstadt. In February, the Jews were forced into a small section of the city that was closed in by barbed wire. All residents were required to work. Her father delivered flour by horse and buggy to the bakeries and her mother and Dora worked at the women’s underwear factory. Sylvia at first was considered too young to work and went to school, but she later joined her mother and sister in the bra and corset factory.

    In the spring of 1944, the Germans decided to destroy the ghetto and deport the residents to killing centers. They retained a small group of about 800 workers to gather and sort the leftover belongings for shipment to Germany. The Rozines were supposed to be deported, but they disobeyed orders and stayed. Cywia hid with eight to twelve other children, while their parents worked cleaning out the ghetto. One day, German soldiers discovered the children and took them to their headquarters. After a long day and a lot of talking which Cywia did not understand, the chldren were taken to the factories to be with their parents. By August, the ghetto was nearly empty. The workers heard that more German soldiers were arriving, and, believing that they were to be killed, they all went into hiding in the ghetto. The ghetto was liberated by the Soviet Army on January 19, 1945.

    After the Germans left, the Poles entered the ghetto to take the possessions and belongings that had been left behind. The Perelmuter’s ghetto apartment was left with only a few photographs. Cywia heard one of the Poles exclaim: “Look how many are still left over.” The family moved to another part of the city. Isak re-established his flour and sugar business, with credit from people who remembered him from before the war. The business prospered and Cywia and Dora returned to school. However, virulent antisemitism was still everywhere and they did not feel safe. Poles would sometimes arrive at apartments in the middle of the night and take all the occupants’ money and there were murders of returning Jews by the Poles. One evening in 1945, taking only a few belongings to avoid detection by their neighbors, the family took a night train to Szczecin, Poland. From there, they went by truck to Germany, crossing the border illegally at night. They arrived in Berlin, Germany, and were registered and vaccinated at the Schlachtensee displaced person’s camp. From there, they went to Foehrenwald, then to Bad Reichenhall displaced person’s camps.

    In November 1946, Sylvia’s mother discovered that her brother was living in Paris where he had moved before the war. The family again made an illegal border crossing at night, and went to Paris. Isak worked pressing clothes in a garment factory and her mother sewed clothes at home. Sylvia and Dora made money as delivery persons. Sylvia resumed her schooling. She had to start all over again in a new language, but the teachers and the other students were helpful and welcoming. Her father hired a tutor because the sister’s education was so important to him. Sylvia’s sister married a fellow Polish survivor, Jacques Galek, in 1948, and the couple emigrated to the United States in 1949 with the assistance of Jacques’s relatives in Albany. In 1951, Sylvia’s mother died of cancer at the age of 45.

    In 1957, Sylvia and her father were able to immigrate to the United States to join Doris and Jacques in Albany, New York. Once Isak obtained a garment factory job, he and Sylvia moved into their own apartment. Sylvia married David Rozines in 1959, also from Poland, who had survived the war in Siberia. They had a son in 1961. Isak died, age 77, in December 1980.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Jewish Art and Symbolism
    Object Type
    Tefillin (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    a. Head tefillin with a square, hollow, black painted leather box (batim) centered on a slightly larger black painted square, layered, leather platform with a dark brown leather strap inserted through the platform. The box contains 4 parchment scrolls inscribed with 4 verses from the Torah. It is stored with the strap wrapped around the batim.
    b. Hand tefilln with a square, hollow, black painted box (batim) centered on a slightly larger black painted square, layered, leather platform with a dark brown leather strap inserted through the platform. The box contains a parchment inscribed with 4 verses from the Torah. It is stored with the strap tightly wrapped around the batim, which is barely visible.
    c. Green velvet squarish pouch with an offwhite cloth liner. There is no closure.
    Dimensions
    a: Height: 3.000 inches (7.62 cm) | Width: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm)
    b: Height: 3.250 inches (8.255 cm) | Width: 3.000 inches (7.62 cm)
    c: Height: 6.750 inches (17.145 cm) | Width: 5.250 inches (13.335 cm)
    Materials
    a : leather, paper, paint
    b : leather, paper, paint
    c : cloth

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The tefillin and bag were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2006 by Sylvia Rozines, the daughter of Isak Perelmuter.
    Record last modified:
    2022-08-15 10:36:52
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn518527

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