July 24, 2024
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The Miracle ‘Kos’ Spreads Light Within the Darkness

As told to Pearl Markovitz by a family member who is a Teaneck resident

Many of us have read “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry. It is an inspiring story that depicts the dramatic escape of the Danish Jewish population during the Holocaust. Although the story is a fictionalized account, the historical facts do indeed accurately describe the method and route used by most of Denmark’s Jews who managed to flee to Sweden to escape the Nazi atrocities. It was through the heroic efforts of many ordinary Danes that this ruse was accomplished.The heroes were fishermen who planned, orchestrated and executed a Spielberg-worthy thriller. Under the cover of night, entire families were squeezed onto the bottoms of fishing boats, covered with tarmacs and ferried across the North Sea to Sweden, not far away.

Fast forward 75 years.

Sarah, a recognizably Jewish woman, is seated on a bus in Antwerp, Belgium, two weeks before her daughter’s wedding is to take place. She is quite perturbed as she had missed her regular bus home. Across from her is seated a gentile woman who is eyeing her cautiously. After several minutes, the woman pulls a silver kos, goblet, from her bag and gingerly approaches Sarah. Recognizing that Sarah is Jewish, she asks her if she reads Hebrew. Sarah responds in the affirmative and a fantastic story unfolds.

The woman introduces herself as Maya and explains that she has a friend with whom she visits periodically in Denmark. During one of her visits, her friend handed her this silver kos and asked if she could take it to Belgium and have someone who reads Hebrew translate the inscription. He explained that the kos was given to him by his father who had been a Danish fisherman and had been gifted with this cup by a young, newly married Jewish man. In the absence of many Jews in his community in Denmark, he would very much like to identify the name on the inscription and return the cup to its rightful owner. Months went by and Maya forgot about the kos and her mission. A call from her friend reminded her of her promise, and so on that particular evening, Maya placed the kos in her bag and set out to fulfill her promise.

Sarah read the name on the kos to Maya. Before parting, they exchanged phone numbers as Sarah intended to ask her father, who was originally from Denmark, if he recognized the name. To her amazement, her father immediately identified the name inscribed as that of his own elderly uncle who was currently residing in Lakewood, New Jersey, at the tender age of 99. The re-surfaced kos had been a bar mitzvah gift to Sarah’s great-uncle Menashe Zvi Ben Michoel Shalom Winkler. The precious kos had been given as a token of appreciation to the Danish fisherman who ferried Menashe Zvi and his new wife across the North Sea to freedom in Sweden. Excitedly, Sarah contacted Maya with the incredulous news! Miraculously, the kos was returned to the family of its original owners.

Sarah’s daughter was married in Belgium two weeks ago. The rescued miracle kos was used during the sheva brachot. The kos is now making its way across the Atlantic to Lakewood, New Jersey, to be reunited with its original owner, Menashe Winkler, after 75 years. On November 14, Menashe Zvi, at the age of 99, ad meah v’esrim, will recite one of the seven marriage brachot under the chuppah, over the miracle kos, at the marriage of his grandson Michoel Shalom Winkler, named for his own beloved father!

Can there be a greater light from within the darkness?

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