Ettel Gruber, my great-grandmother, the wife of Anschel Gruber, died in Radauti in November, 1946. Her gravestone is the first I am conscious of seeing that represented a woman with candlesticks.
Well into her 80s at the time of her death, she survived World War II deportation to Shargorod, in Transnistria, and walked back from Radauti from there. (Or at least the story goes: Until my trip to Romania in September 2009 with when I traveled to Radauti with two of my cousins, Arthur Schankler and Hugh Rogovy, and Hugh’s son, Asher, I had always heard that Ettel lived to be up in her 90s. But the registry document for her marriage to Anschel, which we found at the Radauti town hall, indicated that she was only 19 at the time of her wedding in 1880.)
Whatever the story, I was given my middle name, Ellen, in her honor. As of this writing I have visited her grave four times — once in December 1978 (with my brother Sam, when we traveled around Romania at Hanukkah with Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen), once in 1991 (when I was researching the first edition of Jewish Heritage Travel), once in 2006 (when I was researching the National Geographic updated edition of Jewish Heritage Travel) and most recently in September 2009, on my trip with my cousins.
Ettel’s epitaph reads:
A positive and dedicated woman, fair and kind in all her doing, (she) offered hospitality and charity to the poor and set a full table for the Tzaddikim.
Ettel, daughter of Ephraim, died 17 Heshvan, 5707.