The huppa, originally from Eretz Yisrael (British Mandatory Palestine), waspurchased by Joint board member Jane Weitzman at a public auction in America several years ago. It dates back to the end of WWII, when the Joint asked the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Eretz Yisrael) to help provide rings and huppot required for Jewish weddings in the Displaced Persons’ (DP) camps. For thousands of Holocaust survivors — anxious to marry as quickly as possible and raise new families — these were often the only wedding paraphernalia they used.
Avraham and Shoshana Roshkovsky were one of seven couples to use such a huppa on 19 May 1945, in the Bergen-Belsen DP camp. The couple met when Avraham — who had survived the war in hiding with a Christian family — was brought with a broken leg to a British-run hospital where Shoshana was volunteering. Bergen-Belsen was the third camp Shoshana had survived. None of her family was alive to see her marry.
Shoshana’s “wedding gown” was a black skirt and oversized shirt; her “veil” a large gauze bandage. Two dwarfs who had survived the Mengele experiments formed the band. “We got up and danced to forget our sadness. We danced until dawn,” Shoshana recalled. Their son Moshe was born in September 1946 in Bergen-Belsen, and two years later, they made aliya. All three were present at the ceremony at Yad Vashem, which marked the “closing of a circle” for the Roshovskys, as well as for the huppa, which had been lost after the DP camps were disbanded.
One aspect emphasized by the new Museum will be the rebuilding of Jewish life after the Holocaust; the Joint’s activities on behalf of DP camp survivors were central to those events. For Shoshana and Avraham, it marked the beginning of a new life of hope. “Despite our smiles today, this takes us back to that awful time and place,” said Shoshana. “We lost a family, but we started a new family and we continued with our lives.”