Imagine your living room window in Kiel, Germany. The year is 1931 and a few months ago the Nazi Party moved into the concert hall across the street. They are not in power yet, but their hateful rhetoric is getting louder every day. And now it’s Hanukkah, and you put your menorah right in the window… no hiding for you! And you snap a photo for the family album and go on about your day.
This is the true story of this iconic photograph. If you haven’t looked closely, notice the flag in the background! The photo was taken by Rosi Posner, wife of the last rabbi of Kiel, Arthur Posner. The family left Germany in 1933, taking the menorah and photo album with them. On the back, Rosi wrote, “Just as the flag says Judaism will die, so the light says it will live forever.” The family survived and thrived.
This very menorah, on loan from the family and Yad Vashem, was sent to Germany last year, to be lit at sunset for the second day of Hanukkah. Neither the apartment nor Nazi headquarters in Kiel survived Allied bombing, so where you might ask did the lighting take place? Rosi and Arthur’s menorah, once defiantly displayed in the face of evil, was lit in Berlin in the presence of German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier.