The Grand Duchy's Ramath Orah was destroyed by the Nazis in 1941. 61 refugees contributed to bringing the community back to life, in New York City.
Ariel Fishman - President of Ramath Orah :
The transplantation of an entire community from Luxembourg to here, I think reflected a moment where a community felt collectively like they didn't belong like they were in danger, they felt unsafe. And so, to come here, not only as escapees but to come here as a group, I think they establish a very strong commitment of ensuring that they wanted to always have a place where they belong, they always have that support system from one to the next. Raymond Learsy, a citizen from Luxembourg who lived on Grand Rue, tells us about his family's dire situation.
In 1940, the war in Europe escalated and my mother, herself being of German-Jewish decent, felt it was imperative for us to leave Luxembourg.
Due to circumstances and the German invasion, the Learsy family decided to join other people, who were trying to obtain the right visa and were preparing themselves for the long journey through Europe, all the way to the West. It was a long road with an uncertain end, but a necessary one, if you wanted to survive. Their goal was to arrive at a port in Portugal, to then continue their journey to America, where some would decide to settle down in the city of New York.
More and more people came from Luxembourg, because of the valiance and vision of Luxembourg's Chief Rabbi Dr Serebrenik.
Rabbi Dr Serebrenik was the founder of Ramath Orah in New York. He put all his effort into contacting important German officials and managed, thanks to his courage and strong personality, to displace 2.000 Luxembourgish Jews from Luxembourg.
François Moyse, a Luxembourger and president of the AEPJ (The European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage), has advocated for the promotion of European values and human rights, simultaneously preserving the Jewish heritage.
Through the force of personality, Serebrenik was able to get these people so involved that they were able to purchase this building on 110th Street in New York and create the Congregation Ramath Orah, where I of course went to Hebrew school and where at a given point in my life, I was bar mitzvahed.
Jane Blumenstein, the former president of the community and the one that found documents from the time of Rabbi Serebrenik, now advocates for the strength of the newly-founded community.
Join our ranks, become a member of our congregation. Do your share in our constructive work. Take part actively in our tasks. Attend our services and gatherings and you will find that more than you give to Ramath Orah, Ramath Orah will give you. In terms of those values which shape and mould a real person, in terms of rebirth with a new heart and new soul and so keeping in line with the essential.
The idea that something can come from such a dark period and bring so much light, which is in fact what Ramath Orah means, "Orah" means light, is a beautiful thing, it's an inspiring thing, and to know that we should always have hope that we can always go on, even in the darkest of times.
And this community, and adherence to our religion, our religious ways, is one of the ways that helps us go on. And that's what Rabbi Serebrenik did when he brought his community here to New York.
To preserve all the values of Rabbi Serebrenik in the community, people gather at the Ramath Orah Congregation to commemorate their deep roots to Luxembourg. Our Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and the Luxembourgish General Consul also made time to inaugurate this important moment.
And the Luxembourg government gave us a very generous donation towards this window. We designed this window to connect directly to the history of Luxembourg. Inside of the Magen David is a line from Isaiah, which is the same line of scripture that was above the ark in the synagogue in Luxembourg that was destroyed. It's a constant reminder to us about our Luxembourg connection and our Luxembourg history and we're extremely grateful that we had the contribution of the Luxembourg government to make that happen.