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Calligraphy of Sukkot prayers and a personal inscription created by a sofer

Object | Accession Number: 1992.8.37

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    Calligraphy of Sukkot prayers and a personal inscription created by a sofer

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    Brief Narrative
    Welcome prayers for the festival of Sukkot (Succoth), or Feast of Tabernacles, with an inscription in honor of the birth of his son, Shalom, hand painted by Rabbi Isaac Ossowski in the fall of 1933. It was originally framed for display in their home. During the seven nights of the festival, which is similar to a harvest festival, celebrants are to build and have their meals in a succah or temporary hut built in remembrance of the forty years the Jewish people lived in the desert before reaching the Promised Land. The poster includes all the basic prayers for use inside the sukkah: the prayer for entering, a special prayer for the Sabbath in the sukkah, a prayer inviting the 7 Ushpizin, the main guests at dinner each night of Sukkot: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David, and a prayer recited upon exiting the sukkah. Rabbi Ossowski was a prominent member of the Jewish community in Berlin. He was head shochet [ritual slaughterer], mohel [practioner of ritual circumcision], sofer [scribe], and hazan [cantor or musical prayer leader] at the Alte Shul [Old Synagogue]. After Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933, increasingly severe sanctions were enacted against Jews. The Ossowski family was repeatedly questioned by the SS (Schutzstaffel; Protection Squadrons) who gathered intelligence on opponents of the Nazi state and policed racial purity. In 1934, Isaac sent his youngest son, 14 year old Sol, to Lithuania to study at a yeshiva. In 1936, his sons, Joseph and Leo, left for the United States. In 1938, Isaac and his wife, Frida, and their daughter, Nettie, escaped Nazi Germany and joined Joseph in the US. Sol joined them there in 1939.
    Artwork Title
    Welcoming Sukkot
    creation:  1933-1934
    emigration:  1938
    use: Berlin (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Sol Oster
    front, center, left side, inside box, handwritten in black ink : יצחק [Issac]
    front, center, inside box, handwritten in black ink : יעקב [Jacob]
    front, center, right side, inside box, handwritten in black ink : אברהם [Abraham]
    front, center, left side, inside box, handwritten in black ink : אהרון [Aaron]
    front, center, inside box, handwritten in black ink : משה [Moses]
    front, center, left side, inside box, handwritten in black ink : יוסף [Joseph]
    front, center, inside box, handwritten in black ink : דוד [David]
    Artist: Isaac Ossowski
    Subject: Isaac Ossowski
    Subject: Sol Oster
    Isaac Ossowski was born in 1877 in Lubraniez, near Warsaw, Poland, to an extremely devout family and Hasidim, with a long tradition of religious study and service, as hazan [cantors], shochet [ritual slaughterer], mohels [perform ritual circumcision], and sofers [scribes.] His father, Menahem, was a shochet and Isaac attended Yeshiva in Russia. He resettled in Germany, first in Frankfurt am Main, then in Berlin. He married Frieda Schwartzbardt, born in 1888. They had three sons, Joseph, (1915-2011), Leo (b. 4/1/1913), and Sol (1919-2011), and one daughter, Nettie. Rabbi Ossowski became head shochet, overseeing the ritual slaughter of animals in Berlin. He also served as hazan, mohel, and sofer for the Alte Shule [Old Synagogue]. After Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933, the persecution of Jews became official government policy. Rabbi Ossowski and members of his family were interrogated several times by the SS (Schutzstaffel; Protection Squadrons) who gathered intelligence on opponents of the Nazi state and policed racial purity. In 1934, due to the threatening anti-Semitic climate of the Nazi state, he sent his young son, Sol, to Lithuania to study at a yeshiva. In 1938, Rabbi Ossowski, with his wife and daughter, escaped Nazi Germany for the United States. They joined their sons, Joseph and Leo, who had settled in the United States in 1936. Their son, Sol, joined them in the United States in 1939 after completing his rabbinical studies in England. Rabbi Ossowski, 66, died in Ohio in 1943.
    Sally (Sol) Ossowski was born on January 1, 1919, in Berlin, Germany, to Frieda Schwartzbardt, born in 1888, and Rabbi Issac Ossowski, born in 1877 in Lubraniez, Poland. Sol had two brothers, Leo, born on April 1, 1913, and Joseph, born in 1914, in Pfungstadt, and a sister, Nettie. His father was a prominent and active member of the Jewish community, serving as a shochet [ritual slaughterer], mohel [practioner of ritual circumcision], sofer [scribe], and cantor. The family attended the Alte Schul synagogue where Sol sang in the choir. He attended the Jewish Community School for Boys until he was 14 years old and was active in sports, plays, and clubs.
    By the early 1930s, and especially after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor in 1933, Sol noticed a change within society as people’s attitudes towards Jews began to change in response to the anti-Semitic policies of the Nazi government. The Ossowski family was the target of anti-Semitic behaviours and attacks, much of this due to his father's prominent position within the Jewish community. Some of Sol's friends stopped playing with him and neighbors no longer said hello. Members of the Hitler Youth attacked Sol on the subway, yelling “Jew, get out”, and attempted to open the doors of the moving train; Sol escaped, but not one person helped him. One day as they were on their way to temple, two SS (Schutzstaffel; Protection Squadrons) guards took Sol, his brothers, and father into the basement of a bar. Sol managed to escape, but was captured and returned; a neighbour talked the SS into letting them go. Another time, the SS forced their way into their home looking for contraband.

    As a result of this incident, Sol decided he wanted to leave Germany. Isaac supported this decision and made arrangements for him to attend seminary outside of Germany. Sol left in 1934 for a yeshiva in Ponevezh (Panevezys), Lithuania. He wanted to emigrate to Palestine and help establish a Jewish state. His brother, Joseph, got a visa for the United States with the help of a cousin, and emigrated in 1936. He sent Sol money for his living expenses. In December 1936, Sol received a letter from the German government requiring German citizens to register with the embassy in Kaunas and to hand in their passports. He was terrified that if he complied he would be stateless and unable to leave Lithuania. Sol believed emigration to Palestine was no longer an option. An Arab revolt in 1936 resulted in the British severely limiting immigration. He discussed his plight with Rabbi Kahaneman, the head of the Yeshiva. They decided that Sol should apply to the Tree of Life seminary in London. Sol no longer felt safe in Lithuania. Pro-Nazi groups were active in the country and anti-Semitism was growing stronger throughout the country. He decided to go into hiding in the Jasnegurke forest in January 1937. A farmer allowed him to live in his barn. Food was brought to him by the Green family whom he had lived with while in school. The mother, a cook at the Yeshiva, made food for Sol which her daughter brought to him. Once he received his acceptance letter from the seminary in June 1937, Sol came out of hiding and left for London via Denmark. He stayed for one week in Copenhagen with a local Rabbi before securing a ticket to London from the Joint Distribution Committee, a Jewish humanitarian assistance organization that aided German Jews in their flight from Nazi Europe. He entered England on a student visa in June 1937.

    Sol’s parents and sister left Germany for the United States via Belgium in 1938, having changed their name from Ossowski to Oster. Sol completed university and emigrated to the U.S. in 1939. He married Frieda Perl on December 20, 1947, and they had a son. He was the longest tenured rabbi at Temple Beth Israel-Shaare Zedek in Lima, Ohio, serving for more than 40 years. He retired in 1992, and was bestowed the honor of rabbi emeritus by his congregation. Leo died in 2008, Joseph in 2009, and his wife, Frieda, in 2011. Sol died on August 25, 2011, in Hilliard, Ohio at age 92.

    Physical Details

    Jewish Art and Symbolism
    Physical Description
    Rectangular light brown paper poster with Hebrew calligraphy in black ink. There is a black border overall and the body of the poster has 14 outlined boxes of different sizes with Hebrew text within. The lower corners have graphic design details : painted boxes bordered with radiating black lines within rectangular black outlined boxes. There is paper backing adhered to the top front and reverse, possibly left from when it was framed.
    overall: Height: 20.000 inches (50.8 cm) | Width: 14.500 inches (36.83 cm)
    overall : paper, ink, adhesive
    front, left and right corners, hand printed in black ink : Hebrew text [The page was prepared in honor of the birth of my son Shalom, known as Zali, who was born with Mazal Tov on Wednesday, during the week when Parashat Shemot is read (from the Torah), in the year 1918. He continues, here in Berlin, may the city thrive, by me, Yitzhak son of Menahem Ossowski, Shohet]

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    Administrative Notes

    The calligraphy of the Succoth prayer was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1992 by Rabbi Sol Oster, the son of Isaac Ossowski.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:22:10
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