Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The queen of Bais Yaakov: The story of Dr. Judith Grunfeld (Great women, great stories)

 by Miriam Stark Zakon

Dr. Grunfeld was one of the founders of the Bais Yaakov movement. She was educated at Hirsch's realschule and was the wife of Dayan Grunfeld, the famous translator of Horeb and Judaism Eternal II.

Contains this gem:

In many ways, Frankfurt was a lovely place to live, and judit had good friends and good times there. But one thing upset her very much, and that was the way many of her friends talked about the "Poylisher," the Polish Jews who had moved to Germany.Life in Poland was very hard for the Jews at that time.There was a lot of anti-Semitism. Polish Jews did not have a lot of opportunities open to them, and many of them were very poor. To escape the hatred and the poverty, many Polish Jews made their way to Germany, where things were better.
There were many differences between the Polish and German Jews. The Polish Jews spoke Yiddish rather than German. Their dress was more old-fashioned, and they were- usually much poorer than their German brothers and sisters. German Jews generally were quieter and more disciplined, and some of them looked down on the high spirits and loud voices of the Polish refugees.
In Judit's home there were no prejudices against the unfortunates who'd come from Eastern Europe looking for a better life. When Mama was a young girl, her parents ran a guest house, and some wealthier Polish Jews came to stay there. As a teenager Mama often watched these Polish chassidim. They talked with their hands. They stroked their beards. They yelled at each other as they learned a piece of Gemara. On Tishah B' A v, in contrast to the German Jews who sat quietly reading about the Temple's destruction, the Polish Jews cried out loud and wailed and lifted their hands up to Heaven, begging for Hashem's mercy. Mama didn't find these strangers disgusting or primitive or silly. She thought they were interesting, and she liked their open, friendly ways. 
Now that she was a grown woman, Mama still respected the Polish Jews. She felt sorry for many of them, too, since most of the refugees were very poor. Every Shabbos the Rosenbaum home was full of Polish Jews enjoying a good, hot meal. Some of the poor people were dressed in ragged, dirty clothing that looked strange next to the sparkling, starched white tablecloth and gleaming silver candlesticks. 
Quite often the refugee children, who didn't eat well and whose parents couldn't afford doctors, had runny noses-or ugly sores. Mama Rosenbaum, always polite, never seemed to notice anything unpleasant. She would simply urge the little ones to eat more of her steaming chicken soup. Later,
after Shabbos was over, she might offer some of her children's outgrown clothing to a poor Polish mother and add on a basket of eggs or a special medicine as a gift.
From her end of the table Judit would watch her mother speak cheerfully and pleasantly to these guests. Mama never made them feel that they were not as good as she was. Judit, following Mama's example, went out of her way to be friends with the Polish girls. Like her mother, Judit didn't see the differences between her and the poor refugees. Instead, she saw what made them the same. They were all Jews.
Judit's school friends soon learned not to ask her why she insisted on playing with the ragged Shlomowitz children or why she shared her schoolyard treats with the Katzenstein girls, who spoke German so badly.

Around her crowded Shabbos table, Juditt learned important lessons in tolerance and true ahavas Yisrael, love for a fellow Jew. It was a lesson that would serve her well in years to come, when she faced a challenge her Frankfurt friends would never have imagined. 

pp. 21- 23

You see this shining example of the Frankfurt community caring about the needs of Jews in general and Eastern European Jews in particular.

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