Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Sweet Ambition

Riki Goldstein

Is there any oma — or bubby, savta, or grandma — who doesn’t like to serve the children chocolate? For Erna Koppenheim a”h of Manchester, chocolate was more than a way to sweeten the family’s visits. Chocolate was part of her legacy, an instrument she used to support her family alone in a foreign land and ensure her son could learn Torah undisturbed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Broad Lancashire accents mingle in the air; women work at a brisk pace. The heady scent of chocolate wafts from an industrial-sized melting pan, lending the 1940s factory scene its aromatic charm. Supervising the production is a frum lady with an aristocratic bearing. Her English is precise, but German-accented, and her dress is elegant and sophisticated. As various fillings emerge from their viscous chocolate bath, they’re left to dry, and then packaged by hand in decorative boxes. Mrs. Erna Koppenheim, the factory’s owner, has an unerring business sense that keeps her confectionary enterprise bustling. Yet Erna (Esther) began her life in a very different world. She was born in 1910 to Reb Eliyahu Pinchas Hepner and his wife. The family hailed from Ocwiecim, but had moved to Leipzig, Germany, the center of the European fur trade. Her father had learned in the Lomza yeshivah and the family was staunch in their Yiddishkeit. An intelligent young lady, Erna left school at age 14 to work in the family business. In the six years until her marriage to Avrohom Koppenheim, Erna became a proficient businesswoman. Her husband was a doctor, the only son of Reb Meyer Koppenheim, cattle fodder magnate and president of the Corn Exchange in Breslau, Germany. They moved into the Koppenheim mansion in Breslau, where the family lived a very privileged and affluent life. The Koppenheims’ oldest son, Peter (Peretz Yehuda), was born in 1931, followed by Eva (Ellinson) in 1933 and then Ruth (Friedman). The Koppenheims employed a cook and a couple: she was the housekeeper, and he was the maintenance man and driver of the family Mercedes. A frum nanny (kinderfraulein) looked after the children. Erna had no need to put her hands into cold water. The 1930s progressed. Inside their aristocratic home, the Koppenheims raised their children tranquilly on the yekkish path. Outside, on the streets of Germany, the Nazi party gained momentum, their hate-filled agenda capturing the hearts of an unsettled populace.  

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
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"