Dozens of tefillin pairs found during the demolition of buildings in the Warsaw ghetto - were secretly transferred to Israel • The rabbi who brought them to Israel: "A very rare find"
The tefillin discovered in hiding // Photo: Shem Olam Institute
Decades after the Holocaust, items and documents that testify to the lives of Jews in ghettos and extermination camps continue to be discovered.
Thus, 76 years after the Holocaust, a bunker was recently discovered in the ruins of the Warsaw ghetto containing one-hundred-year-old tefillin, hidden from the Nazis and apparently left in place after the Jews were expelled.
In recent years, the Polish authorities have decided to carry out urban renewal and demolish buildings within the Warsaw ghetto in order to turn them into residential buildings.
Recently, during the demolition work, an entrance to a bunker excavated by the Warsaw ghetto uprising was discovered by chance.
One of the Polish construction workers went into the bunker to evacuate it, and then discovered ten pairs of tefillin hidden in the corner of the room behind many objects and books.
The tefillin pairs were used by the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto and were hidden by them throughout the war.
The tefillin that was found was made about 100 years ago and has been well preserved throughout this time, thanks to the Jews who hid and guarded it fiercely, even though they knew it would endanger their lives.
The emissaries of the Shem Olam Institute scattered throughout Europe heard about the sensational discovery from locals with whom they kept in touch and used it to gather such information.
They secretly approached the construction workers and asked them to move the pairs of tefillin they found.
After lengthy negotiations and a commitment to maintaining confidentiality regarding their cooperation with the Polish authorities, the tefillin was transferred to the emissaries.
The operation to transfer the tefillin pairs was carried out secretly and under the auspices of the authorities, and recently arrived in Israel and were transferred for disinfection and preservation at the institute.
This week there is a virtual conference of the institute on the subject "The universality of the Holocaust - burning or blurring?"
To mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, towards which the existence of tefillin was revealed.
The conference will feature panels with the participation of politicians, intellectuals, rabbis and historians from around the world, who will talk about the memory of the Holocaust from an international perspective.
The conference will be streamed and open to the general public.
"The discovery of ten pairs of tefillin concentrated in one place indicates a Jewish way of life that was observed in the ghetto," noted Rabbi Krieger, chairman of the Shem Olam Institute.
He said, "Despite the atrocities and cruel realities in which they lived, they continued to maintain the customs and traditions they grew up with. Which indicates the importance they had in the eyes of the Jews. "