of Jacob Greenebaum, Sr. (cont.)
May the Heavenly Father grant her a happy hereafter for all this loving
care! I remained four years without interruption in Odenbach. I suffered and endured much;
the memory of those days pains me to this day, and I could tell several things, but I
purposely refrain from dwelling on this epoch. Hardly had I attained my fourteenth year,
when I assumed my independence and sought little by little to enter into business. I began
on a small scale, but after a few years I had acquired a knowledge of all the products of
the region and did a considerable business in all articles.
Even if business was not brilliant in all times, I was successful on the
whole, and in all enterprises I observed the words of Solomon: "Commit thy works
unto the Lord, and thy purpose shall be established." In this manner, by my
dealings, I became recognized by all who knew me as a trustworthy and honorable business
man. I found free access and friendly welcome in all gatherings, with a favor accorded to
few. But I also had to resist many temptations; whichever way I turned the toils of
allurement were laid.
There are snares especially prepared for a youth who is without parents,
or far away from them, and for one who is not wholly without means. They sought to entice
me to games of cards, drinking bouts, and other forms of pleasure, but it always appeared
to me as though I heard a voice, that I thought the voice of my sainted father, calling to
me: "Do not follow them, the path leads thee to destruction." Strengthened by
this admonition, I tried to avoid everything that might injure my character and be
detrimental to my honor. it may therefore truly be credited, that God helps him who helps
Moreover, what that period of my life taught me, is especially to be
recommended to youth. It is, that abstinence is the mother of virtue and is a principle to
be heeded during our whole life. Whoever cannot acquire this one, becomes a prey to all
vices. Faithful to this resolution and persevering in the conduct of my business, I
continued the career I had begun until I was twenty and a half years old. Then a new epoch
began for me. In order to record this fully, I must refer to events thirty years earlier.
Entering the town of Rathskirchen
Photo, copyright 1995, Susan E. King. All rights
Jews' Alley in Rathskirchen
Photo, copyright 1995, Susan E. King. All rights
In the eighties of the eighteenth century, Jacob ISAAC
(FELSENTHAL) of Rathskirchin, of whom I have spoken
before, gave his youngest daughter (Judith FELSENTHAL)
in marriage to a young man by the name of Michael HERZ of Eppelsheim, canton Osterhofen, now in Rhenish Hesse.
Michael HERZ was a man experienced in the affairs and carried on his
business during a number of years most successfully; but in the beginning of the
nineteenth century his circumstances changed. In the first place he suffered much through
the war, and in the second place, through an unsuccessful venture, he sustained such
losses, that in a short time nearly his whole fortune passed into the hands of strangers.
In spite of all these difficulties and in the dreadful plight in which he
now found himself, he did not lose his presence of mind, and with renewed strength he
faced the future with energy.
Michael HERZ and his wife had twelve children, two sons
and ten daughters, who were all living when the parents departed this life. That the
losses of fortune were all the harder to bear with such a numerous family of children
needs no further comment.
In spite of all hardships, their marriage was an exemplary one. Their
dwelling was a true abode of contentment, and with confidence in God, he endured all with
patience and submission. This man possessed every virtue. He was modest in his demands and
faithful in the keeping of a secret and he was therefore the confidant of all in the
He was modest towards everyone and his word once given was sacred. He
would swear to his own hurt, whatever the cause for which his word was pledged. About the
year 1808, his business affairs improved somewhat and he gradually began to recover his
fortune; he conducted his business honorably, enjoying the confidence of everyone, until
the middle of the twenties.
In the meantime he married off six children-five daughters and the eldest
son, which cannot be accomplished in Germany without means. As he had now no one to assist
him in his business, and he himself became old and feeble, he was obliged to retire. He
was well versed in the medical treatment of diseases in cattle and gave his services
freely in the neighboring region. He had given his services gratuitously in his more
prosperous days, but now his knowledge became partly a means of support. All the time
which was not otherwise claimed, he devoted to the study of our Holy Law, in which he was
quite at home.
I now return to an account of myself when I was twenty and a half years
old. I was solitary and alone in life, with many a danger still threatening me, and no one
near me who stood faithfully by my side. I resolved in July, 1817, to take a pleasure trip
to Eppelsheim, partly to give myself a change of scenery partly to visit my relatives, the
family above mentioned. It is only a distance of ten leagues and I had never been there
I do not wish to conceal either, what may have occurred to some, that I
had a purpose in view; but everyone who knew my situation would not blame me, that I
should have such intentions in spite of my youth.
I will therefore confess that the thought was not foreign to me, that
among the many daughters of the worthy man it might not be impossible to find one, who
would be a suitable companion for my whole life's journey, who would be at my side as my
My meditations on this subject did not remain without success. I traveled
thither and really found my Sara there. I was cordially received by my friends and stayed
more than a week without disclosing my intentions, but through a later confession from
her, I learned that the thought had not been a stranger to her either.
I made use of the time for observations, as Eleazer did with Rebecca. To
avoid diffuseness, and considering it superfluous to relate the progress of events, I will
no longer conceal that I became betrothed to Sara HERZ
(daughter of Michael HERZ). As I write this, it is now forty and a
half years, and today I thank the Lord for His provident care, in guarding me from
disappointment in my expectations.
In the year 1819, in the beginning of January, was our marriage. What
happened in the meantime I will be pardoned if I do not explain. That at times the heavens
seemed open and everything bore a bright and promising look, all will know, and they who
have not had the sweet experience, may try for themselves.
It may seem strange to some that we were betrothed a year and a half, but
this had its sad cause to the regret of both of us. We resolved to make our home in
Eppelsheim; for this reason I had sold my property in Reipolskirchen, but when the civil
marriage ceremony was to be performed, the Hessian government forbade it until I could
bring a certificate of release from the Bavarian government; the latter would not issue
it, until I could show definite acceptance by the former.
In this manner, I was chased to and fro for a year and a half, when the
acceptance was sent me through the assistance of a lady, Madam Kallman of Darmstadt.
Believing that now there were no further obstacles, we were married without waiting for
the formal release from Bavaria, but this brought us still greater cares and worries.
We believed, now that we had achieved our aim, the unpleasant experiences
were forgotten and happy days began for us; no dark clouds disturbed our domestic peace
and all that we had suffered was forgotten. Not long were we granted unalloyed happiness,
and our joy was unexpectedly interrupted. It was before the end of the year 1820, and my
dear wife had scarcely left her first childbed, when I was summoned by a decree of the
Bavarian government to serve as a conscript, and I had but a few days' time in which to
appear before the provincial commission at Kusel, a distance of eighteen leagues.
I responded to this call. What impression this trip made on us, especially
on my dear wife, every thoughtful person will understand. Fortunately I drew a high
number, at which even the commissioner and recruiting officer were pleased, for, if I had
not drawn a number that freed me, they might have treated me as a deserter according to
the law, because I had settled in another country, and they would not have allowed me to
leave the place. The only thing then left me would have been to supply a substitute, which
at that time would have taken the greater part of my fortune.
After four sleepness nights, during which my wife sat weeping on her bed,
I returned with the high number fastened to my hat. This number was also called, but in
the meantime I had secured my release, thus escaping from this ill-fortune with the help
of God. Now daylight began again to dawn in our home and even if at times a somber hour
entered, it was as Goethe tells us; "if there were no rain, no one could
appreciate the sunshine."
Previous Page | Next
- This family adopted the surname FELSENTHAL in 1808. Return
- Known as Darmstadt in Hesse, to be distinguished from
Kassel or Homburg in Hesse, etc., since WWII mostly incorporated in the modern state of
Hesse. "The situation of the Jews in Darmstadt was generally more favorable
than in Kassel. Generally [apart from the expulsion of Jews from the cities by
Ludwig (or, sometimes, Louis) VI for a short period [before his death in 1678.] Generally,
however, the policy of the rulers was one of nonintervention in Jewish affairs, which
stimulated the development of institutions of Jewish self-government. [Nevertheless] the
Jews of Darmstadt were subject to legal disabilities until the middle of the 19th
century. Even the Hessian constitution of 1820 placed strict limitations on citizenship,
and the majority of Jews remained Schutzjuden [protected Jews]; all legal disabilities
were not finally abolished until 1848. The Jewish population of Darmstadt was 19,530
in 1822, and reached a peak of 28, 0612 in 1849, declining gradually to 20,401 in 1925.
Although their percentage of the total population declined from 3.04% to 1.52%, it
remained throughout one of the highest in Germany. [The pre-Hitler Jewish population of
what then constituted Germany amounted to some 504,000 out of a total of 66,000,000, or
.76%) The Jews, who were settled primarily in rural areas, engaged in peddling, livestock
trade, and dealing in wholesale agricultural produce; accusations that they exploited the
peasants were endemic. The Jews of Darmstadt (and Kassel as well) suffered
during the Hep! Hep! disturbances of 1819 and again during the revolution of 1848. In both
cases the rulers intervened vigorously on behalf of the Jews; later in the century they
tried to moderate the anti-Jewish policies of the Russian czar, to whom they were related
by marriage. In contrast to their rulers, the backward peasants of Hesse repeatedly
elected to parliament the rabid anti-Semite, Otto Boeckel; the region continued to be a
hotbed of anti-Semitism and actively welcomed the Nazi seizure of power." After
"Kristallnacht", November 9-10, 1938, the Jews from rural communities left or were moved to
the larger towns from whence the majority were deported to concentration camps in Eastern
Europe. (Enycl. Jud. v. 8 p. 435) The post-war state of Hesse contained 1,508 Jews in
- Sara is Jacobs first cousin, daughter of Sara
FELSENTHAL HERZ, his mothers (Miriams) younger sister. Return
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