Kiddush Cups

I am a Holocaust survivor from Eastern Poland. After liberation I returned to my hometown hoping to find remnants of my family, but it was not to be.

I had no possessions, not even a blanket or a pillow. I remembered that my parents gave some items that they were able to hide from the Nazis to our former Ukrainian maid for safekeeping.

Literally taking my life in my hands again, I set out on foot to the village where she lived. There were rumors that survivors who tried to retrieve their possessions often did not get what was rightfully theirs and were brutally killed, but that did not stop me.

When I entered her cottage, she crossed herself and murmured a prayer. Did she think I was a ghost or was she happy I survived? I explained that I only came to get some bedding and that I did not want anything else. I did not know what my parents left with her.

She started to take out silverware, knickknacks, and my parent’s precious Kiddush cups. I immediately recognized the familiar pieces. My throat closed, I could not utter a word. Memories flooded my mind of my mom lovingly polishing my father’s Kiddush cup, her cup and the cup used for Elijah the prophet on Passover. I cried bitterly, touching each piece, as, in my mind I saw clearly my father lifting the cup and saying the blessing over the wine.

The cups and the tray are all I have left from a home rich in Jewish tradition – my parent’s legacy. Although our maid was willing to give me other things, I took only these items and some bedding since I did not know where I would go or how I would live.

From that day on, the cups were with me through all the hardships that came. The journey was not easy to leave Europe and build a new life out of the ashes. I was married for 44 years to a loving man who also believed in tradition. Together we raised a wonderful family.

The Kiddush cups graced our table on holidays and special occasions. Recently my grandson got married and he and his lovely bride drank wine from my father’s cup under the “Chuppa”.

I hope my daughter and son, and their children after them, will cherish the Kiddush cups as tribute to their grandparents and great-grandparents.

--Upper Montclair, NJ