Inside a tiny box in a temperature-controlled, locked cabinet at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, there is a ring. It is not particularly beautiful, and in purely monetary terms, it is not particularly valuable. But behind this ring is a beautiful story of survival of Jews living under Nazi occupation—people for whom the ring’s value proved incalculable.
When WWII broke out, Abraham “Bumek” Gruber was a cattle merchant and butcher in Drohobycz, a small town—now part of Ukraine, but then part of Poland—that was then home to some 14,000 Jews. The town, whose Jewish history dates back to at least the 15th century, fell under Soviet control in 1939. But two years later, the Nazis invaded; killing squads arrived, murdering 400 Jews on the streets in a pogrom. The rest of the Jews of Drohobycz were ultimately forced into a ghetto. While it was technically an open ghetto with no fences, Jews were not allowed to leave. May 21, 1943, marked the final liquidation of the ghetto; the Germans declared the town Judenrein, cleansed of Jews. But roughly 400 Jews hid in the forest or other hiding places and survived.
Bumek was one of them—thanks, in part, to the ring.
Read the full story at Tablet Magazine.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.