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The International School for Holocaust Studies

Lesson 1 - The Fast of Gedalia

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Tuesday, June 8, 1943
Today, the eve of the festival of Shavuot, no one senses anything of the festival atmosphere outside. A Jewish city without a Jewish festival.[1]

Sabbaths, festivals, and birthdays were unendurable.
Leah Neumann Weiss

From the diary of Menachem Oppenheim of Łódź October 9, 1943
On the first Yom Kippur of the war, I was in Warsaw at 24 Nowolipki St. On the second Yom Kippur of the war I was in the ghetto; I went to services at the Bajka Cinema.
On the third Yom Kippur of the war, I was at the “Mizrachi” on 8 Zofii St. On the fourth Yom Kippur of the war, I was working at the sofa factory on 44 Wolborska St.
On the fifth Yom Kippur of the war, I was at Pasterska with the bakers. I also received some oatmeal at the factory.[2]

April 9, 1942
Passover 1942. In the ghetto, terrible hunger. Only rye matzo and soup made of water and wild beets, that’s the festival. Because of the hunger, many people ate bread and so did I, the little one. For the seder[3], all they prepared was matzo and black coffee.
I’m living together with Gershon Leib Krinitzer and Leibush Weinberg.

On the night of the first seder, all we did was recite Kiddush over the matzos.
On my third Passover away from my family, in 1942. I ate hametz [leavened food forbidden on Passover]for the first time.[4]

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[1] Rabbi Ben-Menahem, Łódź Ghetto Chronicle, Vol. C., p. 302.
[2] Mordechai Zer-Kavod, “The Łódź Ghetto Diary of Menachem Oppenheimer,” Sinai 14, vol. 28, pp. 253–265 (Hebrew).
[3] Jews in the Diaspora celebrate the eve of Passover twice. For this reason, they perform the seder and read the Haggada on successive days. Oppenheim is describing the first seder.
[4] Memorial wreath, "The diary of Menachem Openheim of Lodz Ghetto," Sinai, Fourteenth Year, volume 28.