Sunday, May 13, 2012

Prayer Book Returned to Family of Original Owners Murdered in the Holocaust

by Deborah Berman

In September of 1938 Shmuel Rosenberg of Hajdunanas, Hungary presented his daughter Margitte with a Machzor – a special prayer book for the Jewish High Holidays. Rosenberg, a Melamed - a teacher of Jewish studies, lovingly inscribed the Machzor in poetic Hebrew, as follows: “I purchased this for my remarkable daughter as a reflection of my deep love for her/ to inspire her heart to pray from this finely crafted book/ in her youth, in her father’s home.”

In the aftermath of the war torn years that followed, as the winds of the Nazi invasion wreaked devastation on European Jewry, only the Machzor and a father’s warm wishes for his daughter survived - Shmuel and Margitte were both murdered.

Over half a century later in 1997, Yishai Shachor, an Israeli studying medicine in Budapest, who says he has always been fascinated by relics from the past, found the Machzor in a local Synagogue’s collection of old books from the Holocaust period and found himself captivated by the dedication and with a strong curiosity to learn more about the book’s original owners. After completing his studies, Shachor asked to bring the prayer book back to Israel with him and has used it since for his High Holiday prayers year after year - always wondering about the fate of Shmuel and Margitte Rosenberg.

Recently Dr. Shachor decided to contact Yad Vashem to learn more about the book and it’s owners. Yad Vashem researchers were able to decipher the name of Rosenberg’s hometown as well as Margitte’s Yiddish name, Meittel. A search on Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victim’s Names revealed that Pages of Testimony were submitted for Shmuel and Margitte Rosenberg by Shmuel’s granddaughter Esther Rosenberg-Weisel in the year 2000.

Shachor immediately contacted Esther and told her the story of the how the Machzor came to be in his possession. He told her that he wanted to hand the prayer book back to the descendents of Shmuel Rosenberg and scheduled a meeting with the extended Rosenberg family in Kfar Saba.

Chaya Eichel, Esther’s daughter described her anticipation before the meeting. “I was very excited and couldn’t sleep all night. When I think about how things have worked out, I believe that there is nothing more appropriate to honor the soul of Shmuel Rosenberg. After all these years the Machzor is being returned to the family - a family who will continue to use the book for prayers on Yom Kippur,” she said.

Esther, herself a Holocaust survivor, said that her aunt Margitte was engaged to be married before her life was brutally cut short, and spoke of the importance of submitting Pages of Testimony to Yad Vashem, like the one she submitted for her grandfather that ultimately enabled Dr. Shachor to find the Rosenberg family. “Yad Vashem is doing very important work; without [Yad Vashem] none of this could have happened.”
Visit to  Search the Names Database, get information about submitting a Page of Testimony, or learn about the Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project.


  1. The name of the town in Hungary is Hajdunanas. Also, Margitte is Esther's aunt, not her cousin.

  2. How wonderful that Yad Vashem was the point of contact for Dr. Shachor and Esther Rosenberg-Weisel and Chaya Eichel! I have visited Yad Vadhem on three trips to Israel (2007, 2009, 2011) and am always deeply moved by the care that is taken to present and teach what happened during the Shoah. For survivors to recover a Machzor from someone who realized what a treasure it is and who took the step to find the owners family is an amazing and blessed event. I am praying that the Lord will bless each one of you and all of Israel with His love and hedge of protection.

  3. Thanks for your attention to the details.

  4. Hajdúnánás is my hometown. Never heard about this story before. Thanks for sharing!