Here is an interesting story-and true, we are told-about a man who would not surrender his Jewish heritage.
There lives in New York today a merchant named Levy. He was recently told he had just inherited some property in Germany from his grandfather Ehrenstein.
“To my knowledge” he told his lawyers, “I have never had a grandfather Ehrenstein, but estates being rare in this day, and age, it is certainly worth looking into.”
So they began to trace Levy’s family tree, for property, even in Nazi Germany, is nothing to be sneezed at in these hard times. It was discovered he deserved title to the property.
The story goes back to the middle of the Nineteenth Century. There were two brothers named Ehrenstein. Both prospered in business ; both lived somewhat better than the average and both held their own counsel and lived at peace during sporadic persecutions that swept the countryside at this time.
But one of the brothers was told that he looked like an “Aryan.” He was flattered. He spent nights scheming as to how he could get out of the scorned Jewish class and enjoy the broader liberties extended to non-Jews in that city-and, indeed in this. He visioned himself as an official in civil service, which at that time was completely “Aryanized.”
So he changed his name to Stein. The Ehren-German for “honorable”-he cut from his name.
The second brother took none too well to this change. He refused to bartar his Semitism for the shallow allurements of “Aryanism.” And from that day one of these tragic family schisms continued without cessation.
In the first place, it behooved the “Aryanized” Stein not to recognize Levy as his brother, for in such recognition the entire secret would be given away. Their relations grew colder.
The second brother brooded long over family conditions. He considered the action of his older brother as the product of a fleeting notion, and for some weeks awaited his return to reason.
When reason failed to return, the second brother arose in great wrath and declared that neither he nor his children should ever be subject to the same temptation. He went to the courts and had his name changed to Levy.
And to this day the name is Levy. The children and grandchildren were unaware until recently that their name had ever been otherwise.
According to our information they have no intention of changing the name again to Ehrenstein, and they certainly will not change it to Stein. In the circle in which the Levys do business the name is honored.