Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Polishing Diamonds

David Damen, Antwerp

For close to 130 years, Antwerp’s legendary Yesodei HaTorah institution, with its thousands of alumni and its living testimony to the miracle of a post-Holocaust resurgence, has rallied to its challenges with confidence. And now, in the shadow of a government clampdown on education, Antwerp’s flagship institution still clings to its legacy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Antwerp, 12 Elul 5701 (September 4, 1941) There are no less than 500 students in theYesodeiHaTorah andBaisYaakov building onLangevan Ruusbroeck Straat in central Antwerp. The bell chimes. The maintenance man opens the gate and discovers a group of Gestapo soldiers. They haven’t come to say hello. They have come to take the Jewish students. The maintenance man summons the secular studies principal,Mr.JuliusSanctorum.Mr.Sanctorum, who is well aware of the visitors’ mission, hastily instructs all the students to hide in the school’s basement. Only then does he approach the entrance gate. From inside he can see the convoy of vehicles that is meant to transport the student body to an unknown location. Without another thought, he slams the door in their faces. The Gestapo men are stunned, but for some strange reason they turn around and leave. Meanwhile,JuliusSanctorum organizes the children into groups, removes the yellow star from their lapels, and sends them home with their teachers. Some of them already have nowhere to go home to.Mrs.Chana (Anna) Grunfeld-Landau, one of the survivors of that horrific time, retold the events of that harrowing day in a 1981 hearing to discuss grantingMr.Sanctorum the Yad Vashem Righteous Among the Nations title. Ten years later, in 1991, the school celebrated its 90th birthday with a festive ceremony.Mrs.Grunfeld-Landau still lives in Antwerp, where she raised a proud Jewish family and continues to relate those deepest moments of despair the school experienced. The school has known ups and downs, good days and difficult ones, but never, except during the Holocaust years, did it close its doors in its 129 years of existence. And now, all of Antwerp’s religious families are holding their collective breath, waiting to see how they will be affected by a government ruling that threatens to invalidate chareidi educational standards.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
A Response to "Too Far from Home"
Rabbi Moshe Grylak “Chareidi Israel is not happy to absorb immigrants”
Life after Kollel
Yonoson Rosenblum Remaining a ben Torah requires remaining a bar daas
Angel's Advocate
Eytan Kobre Because this is how’s it’s supposed to be always
Bring Back the Wonder
Yisroel Besser Look around and say, “Ribbono shel Olam, wow!”
Make Your Words Count
Rabbi Shneur Aisenstark This story delivers two sobering lessons for all of us
I Know of What I Speak
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman I would allow my mask to fall, my soul to be revealed
Meet the Tzaddik
Jacob L. Freedman “Aren’t there meds that can get him back to yeshivah?”
Two centuries later, the Chasam Sofer’s niggunim are heard again
Riki Goldstein The musical side of the Chasam Sofer dynasty
How Do You Think of These Words?
Riki Goldstein “For me, the words are the neshamah of the song”
The Song I Can't Stop Singing: Shlomo Simcha
Riki Goldstein “Which song are you connecting to this season?”
Megama Had the Magic
Riki Goldstein Remembering Moshe Yess a”h and Shalom Levine a”h
Living Beyond the Moment
Faigy Peritzman Someone steeped in Torah always lives beyond the moment
Uncertainty
Sarah Chana Radcliffe We can only be sure that we can never be sure
Instinctive Knowledge
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Jewish babies are born knowing Hashem
The Gardener: Part II
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer “It’s a secret language called body language”