Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Fate of the Wandering Chandelier

Our story begins before WWII, with the wealthy Grunstein family in Oradea, Romania, the owners of a flourishing logging business in the Transylvanian forests. They helped their less wealthy relatives, either by employing them or in more original ways, like sending a few wagons of timber to the reputed French Notre Dame school to cover the tuition fee of my mother in law, a poor villager relative, who dreamed of attending this school, but could not afford it.

The Grunsteins lived in a beautiful home and this chandelier was hanging in their living room.  Then came the war with the Holocaust, where the Grunsteins perished with so many others. Gross Feri, one of their relatives and Holocaust survivor, returned (without his first wife and daughter) and collected some of the Grunstein belongings. He met Rose, another Holocaust survivor and married her. The chandelier was now in their living room, in the house where their daughter Marion was born. In the sixties, the family emigrated to the USA and the chandelier, one of Marion's childhood memories, was collected by my mother in law, the Grunstein relative who studied at the French school on their expense. At the end of the seventies, the family moved to Israel, but this time, the chandelier was not left behind. My husband disassembled it and meticulously numbered and packed each part. The chandelier, together with some other furniture and household items, was transported by ship to the port of Haifa and from there, by truck, to the nearby Jewish Agency storage in Tzur Shalom.

About a year later, my husband released the luggage, assembled the chandelier, and hanged it in the living room of their first rented apartment in Holon. Then in the second one. Then in the last one, where my mother in law lived till 2002. For five additional years, all her belongings remained untouched, until the apartment was sold and we had to empty it. My husband disassembled and packed the chandelier yet again, and the box waited patiently in our storage for its next journey.

Last month we repacked it, photographed the parts in their order of assembly and sent the box overseas by plane, to Marion in New York. The photos, arranged in a PowerPoint presentation, were sent by mail.

I don't know if and where it will be hanged again, but considering all the mileage and wandering, I can safely call it a Jewish chandelier.

1 comment:

Marion Feig said...

Erika dear, I just read your blog which, I must confess, besides warm memories of my childhood, brought tears to my eyes. This beautiful chandelier, just like it's previous owners, had a long and challenging journey, but thanks to your husband's loving care survived many hardships. I am forever grateful to you and Peter for taking such good care of the only material possession left from my Oradea childhood. Rest assured that it will shine again in our or our children's home.