77 Pulpit for the prayer leader


Béla Hammer

Bánffyháza (today Stânceni, Romania), 1943

wood, engraved

present of Béla Hammer, 1943

In course of World War II, Jews and people considered politically not trustworthy were taken to unarmed auxiliary forced labor. They did hard and dangerous work: they were used to dig trenches and as human minesweepers. By the summer of 1943 there were several hundred thousand forced labor workers not only on operational grounds but also in defense plants and factories. With the dangerous and strenuous work and the brutality of the guards it was officially not possible to observe Jewish holidays. However, there are several sources that describe secretly organized services. For the 101/83 forced labor battalion serving in the quarry near Bánffyháza, the carpenter Béla Hammer, himself in the battalion, made a pulpit for the prayer leader, from used planks. On the bottom of the pulpit, he wrote with a pencil his name, the number of his battalion, and the date, September 29, 1943. That year, this date was Elul 29, so the pulpit was probably used for the prayers of Rosh Ha-Shana (new year) the following day.