Bloody prayer shawl from Yom Kippur pogrom found in former Lodz ghetto


(JTA) — Part of a blood-stained prayer shawl from a 1940 Yom Kippur pogrom was found in the former ghetto of Lodz, Poland and brought to Israel, its finder said.

The part of the shawl, or tallit, is a decorative collar known as an atarah. It was discovered this month by a worker with the Shem Olam Holocaust museum near Hadera in Israel under the wooden floor of a structure that used to be part of the Jewish ghetto of the central Polish city, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Friday.

According to the museum’s director, Avraham Kriger, the blood on the tallit belonged to a victim of a Nazi-led pogrom that erupted on the eve of Yom Kippur in 1940.

Chaim Rumkowski, the head of the local Judenrat, the Jewish council appointed by the Nazis to administer life inside the ghetto, had arranged for Yom Kippur prayers to take place at a former cinema that had been turned into a synagogue, according to the Channel 2 report, which is based on Shem Olam’s research.

Nazi officers came to witness the Yom Kippur event, along with Rumkowski. Thousands of Jews had amassed at the entrance to the theater, as hundreds prayed inside. At a certain point, ghetto police officers began violently dispersing the crowd, resulting in the death of several people, according to the report. Nazi officers also joined the beating.

The bloody tallit collar was discovered during renovations to the former theater, Channel 2 reported, along with several crumbling prayer books.

“It’s a chilling, a rare, find,” Kriger, whose institution focuses on religious life during the Holocaust, told Channel 2. “It attests as to Jewish religious life in the ghetto and the unfathomable cruelty of the German murders, who showed no mercy even on the holiest day to the Jews, never ceasing to butcher, Jews abuse and murder them in cold blood.”

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