An Inscription Bears Witness
Volume of Tzena U’rena belonging to Ruda Rayzla Baum in the Lodz Ghetto, 1941 Ruda Rayzla Baum, who signed her name on the book in the Lodz Ghetto Rivka Baum (center), daughter of Ruda Rayzla, who perished on a death march from Auschwitz to Germany Mendel (right) and Yosef (left), Ruda Rayzla Baum’s sons. Yosef survived and currently lives in Haifa
This volume of Tzena U’rena** was part of the Museum Collection for many years, but until recently, Yad Vashem knew little about its former owner and her fate. The handwritten inscription appears on the back page:
Ruda Rayzla Baum
Thanks to research that was carried out in preparation for the opening of the new Holocaust History Museum, and with the help of the Central Database for Shoah Victims’ Names, new details about the identity of Ruda Rayzla Baum, who signed her name on the back page, have come to light. The lists of Lodz Ghetto residents indicated that Ruda Rayzla Baum was in the ghetto until her deportation to the Chelmno Death Camp, where she was murdered. From the Page of Testimony submitted in 1956 by her son Yosef Baum we learned that she was a married woman, a mother of three, as well as a resident of Lodz.
After further searching, Yosef Baum was located in Haifa. His family was amazed to discover that Yad Vashem was in possession of an artifact belonging to Yosef’s mother. His daughter, Ruth Einhorn, even came to Yad Vashem with her family in order to see the book. With Ruth’s help, the museum staff was able to piece together the story behind the volume that had lain in Yad Vashem’s collection for so many years, and thereby breathe life into an inanimate artifact:
Yosef Baum was the sole survivor of the Baum family. His father, Shmaryahu Chaim and his mother, Ruda Rayzla (born 1892), lived in Lodz and had three children: Menachem Mendel Yitzhak, born in 1917, Yosef Shlomo, born in 1920, and Rivka, born in 1924. Ruda Rayzla and Shmaryahu (Shmarl) Baum worked in textiles. In 1939, the family was forced to move, and live within the confines of the Lodz Ghetto, on Embach Street. Menachem and Yosef worked inside the ghetto in “Schneider Ressort”, a factory where uniforms and clothes for the Germans were produced. Rebecca worked in the straw shoe factory. In 1942, Ruda Rayzla was deported to Chelmno, where she was murdered. Her husband Shmaryahu perished in Auschwitz in 1944, and Menachem and his sister Rivka perished on death marches from Auschwitz to Germany.
In 1944, Yosef was transported to the Hassag uniforms factory, where he stayed until the liberation.
Yosef returned to Lodz after the liberation, and was confronted there with the enormity of his own personal tragedy. Not one member of his family had survived. Later on, Yosef Baum went to the DP camps where he was active in gathering children and organizing their emigration to Eretz Israel. In 1949, he married Rachel Gerstner, also the sole survivor of her family. Their son was born in a DP camp in Munich, and in July 1950, they emigrated to Eretz Israel. Their daughter, Ruti, was born in 1954.
By accessing Yad Vashem’s Names Database, the staff of the Holocaust History Museum was able to reunite a family with a precious possession used by their mother/grandmother before her death.
Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
** The book ”Tzena Ur’ena” comprises a Yiddish rendering of the Pentateuch, the Haftararot and the Five Scrolls, accompanied by Midrashic and other explanations and commentaries. It was compiled in Poland by Rabbi Ya’acov ben Yitzhak Ashkenazi, “the Wandering Maggid”, and became a very influential source for Jewish women.