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August 15, 2014

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PAGE 8A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 15, 2014 Seekinq Kin: For two families, Chanukah drawings keep ties burning By Hillel Kuttler Marcel Calef The drawings of Alfred Grotte brought together his descendants and those of his arh'stic subjects. depicting their grandson in imagined scenarios, which they mailed to their loved ones in Liechtenstein. All were dated and contained written messages. In one of the Hanukkah- themed postcards, Gretel is holding Moshe as a hand extends from the right side to light a candle. In another, Moshe stands on a stool beside Hugo, who has just lit the third night's candle and replaced the shamash. Grotte wrote below the im- age: "Grandpa's Dream." Another postcard shows a birthday celebration of a man named Jacques, appar- ently someone in the Lewins' and Grottes' circle of friends. One depicts a pregnant Ellen standing beside a baby car- ACCOM The "Seeking Kin" column aims to help reunite long-lost relatives and friends. BALTIMORE (JTA)--While researching his mother's family, Daniel Camhi landed on a Facebook page for Yad Vashem. The page featured four colorful postcards-- three of them depicted a boy lighting Hanukkah candles in 1937, 1939 and 1940. The artist was Alfred Grotte, Camhi's great- grandfather. It surprised Camhi; he'd never known Grotte's creativity to have extended beyond his work as an architect in Breslau, Germany. Camhi's discovery last December would lead to a mid-July meeting between his cousin, Marcel Calef, who was visiting Israel, and the boy depicted in the draw- ings--Moshe Posener, now 78 and living in Herzliya. Grotte and his wife, Klara, were friends of Posener's grandparents, Hugo and Gretel Lewin. The Lewins' daughter, Ellen, and her husband, Franz--Posener's parents--had moved from Breslau to Mauren, Liechten- stein, in 1936, and while the Lewins visited that October, they would never see Moshe, who was born the next month and named Ernst. Perhaps prompted by their yearning for the boy, the Lewins asked or hired Grotte to draw postcards, many COMMITTED TO COI00 EDUCATED AND EXPE riage; the daughter she gave birth to is Moshe Posener's sister, Lilly Tchinio, now a 73-year-old widow who lives on the first floor of Posener's two-family house. The drawings displayed by Yad Vashem, the preeminent Holocaust institution in Is- rael, were among the 30 or so of Grotte's custom-made postcards contained in two albums that Posener and his sister donated to the museum in November. As a child, recalled Posener, a bachelor retired from a career in civil aviation, the albums never interested him. Even as an adult he'd open the albums just a few times ayear. He acceded to his sister's entreaty that they donate the albums, but didn't think Yad Vashem would deem them worthy of acceptance because the drawings are "so indi- vidual, so family-centered" and, he figured, lacking in wider relevancy. On the contrary, said Eliad Moreh Rosenberg, the curator and director of the museum division's art department. "You see an entire world, which makes it a treasure: of a period, a friendship, a concern, a yearning, a love, a strong family connection," Rosenberg said of the items. "It's a rare testimony to this family's life." The pastel, crayon-drawn postcards tell "a family story that's extraordinary: a story of a family and of friendship, Orlando Sentinel Kevin Weiss... is the most qualified candidate in this two-man race for an open seat. He'S a top-rated lawyer who managed his own successful law firm and still found time to be active in legal and community groups. It's notable that [State Attorneys] Lamar and Ashton chose to endorse Weiss in this race ... We do, too. -Orlando Sentinel, July 22, 2014 of one family that fled.., and one that remained," she said. "Grotte was applying his talents to art, so his friends could write to their own child and grandchildren." Perhaps Grotte's last draw- ing for the Lewins shows them with their baggage on the verge of deportation from Germany. With that the mailed postcards, and the lives they portrayed, ended. Grotte was sent to the Grussau transit camp in 1942 and from there to Theresien- stadt, where he was killed on June 17, 1943. Klara was murdered in Auschwitz. The Lewins were deported in 1942 to Izbica, Poland, where they, too, were killed. Ellen, Moshe and Lilly Po- sener moved from Liechten- stein to Israel in 1961, three years after Franz's death. The Grottes' son, Horst, fled Germany in 1939 and settled in Bolivia and later Colombia, where he died in 1995 but where much of his family still lives. Camhi and Calef, first cousins, moved to southern Florida in the 1990s. In the months after he and Camhi came upon their great-grandfather's draw- ings, Calef planned to meet with Posener and Yad Vashem officials at the Jerusalem mu- seum so he could view all the postcards. Yad Vashem later gave them all a CD-ROM of the albums' contents. "That was special--to meet somebody who had a relationship with my great- grandfather," Calef, 44, said of Posener. "Here was someone who, as a kid, received those postcards. "I'm already the third generation [born] after the Holocaust, but we're still at the point where we can learn what would've been if the Holocaust didn't happen. My mother would have been friends with Moshe, and we would've been living in the same town," he said. But even seven decades after the two families' bond was severed, the postcards, he said, "can serve to reconnect friendships." Please email Hillel Kuttler at if you would like "Seeking Kin" to write about your search for long-lost relatives and friends. Please include the principal facts and your contact information in a brief email. "Seeking Kin" is sponsored by Bryna Shuchat and Joshua Landes and fam- ily in loving memory of their mother and grandmother, Miriam Shuchat, a lifelong uniter of the Jewish people. Evangelical pastors from every U.S. state show solidarity with Israel at conflict's frontline By Sean Savage SDEROT--With only a short time to recover from their jet lag, a group of 51 Evangelical Christian pastors representing every U.S. state and the District of Columbia embarked on a journey to the frontline of the recent Gaza conflict as part of a three-day mission organized by Christians United For Israel (CUFI). "We came to lift the hands of the leaders and people over Israel," Pastor Victor Styrsky, the Eastern Regional Coordinator for CUFI, told "We are going to make a statement to the world that we stand with Israel." CUFI organized the visit to Israel in just 72 hours last week, with pastors from states as far as Alaska or as small as Vermont dropping all else to come to Israel during a time of need. After receiving briefings from high-level government officials in Jerusalem, the group headed down to the war-weary southern region of the Jewish state to show solidarity with the Israelis most affected by the Gaza conflict. Upon arriving in the rocket-battered Negev city of Sderot, the pastors got a taste of the conflict by receiv- ing a "code red" notification from the new Red Alert App that warns Israelis of rocket attacks from Gaza--but it turned out to be a false alarm. Sderot residents wel- comed the group for lunch, with a restaurant owner telling the pastors that they came at a very fortunate time due to the reaching of a 72-hour cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. "It's been the quietest it's been in a long time," the owner of the falafel shop in Sderot said. With several residents stopping and taking pictures of the large group of Ameri- can pastors, many seemed appreciative that the group arrived just more than 24 hours after a fragile cease- fire was declared. "I have been here several times before, but it seems different this time. The people here seem war weary and fatigued," Pastor Ron Sebesta of The Light of Mis- sion Viejo Church in Santa Fe, N.M., told from a Sderot hilltop overlooking Gaza. Sebesta, himself a U.S. military veteran, said he un- derstands the complex threat Israel faces and hopes he can use this experience in Israel to bring the message back home to his congregants. "We want to do everything we can to tell our congrega- tions and our leaders to sup- port Israel," he said. The visit by the U.S. pas- tors couldn't have come at a more important time for Israel. After a month of heavy fighting and unrelenting rocket attacks, Israel, which had record-high numbers of tourists in the first half of 2014, has felt the economic toll of the latest Gaza con- flict. Operation Protective Edge has seen the Jewish state suffer the loss of tourism revenue due to the constant barrage of Hamas rockets, and according to the Israeli government, the overall cost of the month- long Gaza conflict was up- wards of $4.3 billion. Israel's economy lost 0.5 percent in projected gross domestic product growth, estimated at $1.3 billion. Meanwhile, Israeli officials hope that Hamas continues to honor the cease-fire and that a diplomatic solution can be worked out in Egypt. "We are hoping this all stays quiet, but it really depends on the diplomatic process, which is going on in Egypt currently," a senior diplomatic official at the Israeli Foreign Ministry told "However, Hamas is making several unreasonable demands such as fully open borders, which we cannot agree to." After visiting Sderot and getting a first-hand view of Gaza, the pastors went to Ashdod to see Israel's highly successful Iron Dome mis- sile defense system, which has saved countless lives by shooting down Hamas rockets traveling towards heavily populated Israeli cities. After a treacherous drive through a citrus farm that saw their tour bus nearly get stuck in the dirt, the pastors arrived at an Iron Dome bat- tery manned by more than a dozen Israeli soldiers. With the skyline of Ashdod in the background, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson briefed the group on the Iron Dome system. At the site, several of the pastors told they felt a sense of pride that the U.S. was working together with Israel to fund and develop a system that is protecting Israeli civilians. Many of the pastors added that they hope to continue to press their elected representatives to continue supporting the Iron Dome. The U.S. Congress last week passed a bill to provide an additional $225 million in emergency funding for the Iron Dome, and President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on Aug. 4. With Israel agreeing to extend the current 72-hour ceasefire, hope is abound for a lasting quiet in southern Israel. CUFFs Pastor Styrsky believes that the solidarity mission--coming at a time "when we hear that 95 per- cent of trips [to Israel] have been canceled"--has not only had a positive impact on the beleaguered Israeli people, but also on the pas- tors. "It has been life-changing for us," Styrsky told "Though we came to change other people's lives, our lives are being changed too."