At Ettel Gruber’s Grave, Radauti: 1978-2009

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.

Asher, Arthur, Ruth, and Hugh at Ettel's Grave. Sept. 3, 2009

Asher, Arthur, Ruth, and Hugh at Ettel's Grave. Sept. 3, 2009

September 2009

September 2009 (Photo: Doru Losneanu)

Ruth Ellen Gruber at Ettel Gruber's grave, Radauti, 2006

Ruth Ellen Gruber at Ettel Gruber's grave, Radauti, 2006 (Photo: Alexandra Losneanu)

Ruth Ellen Gruber at Ettel Gruber's grave, 1991

Ruth Ellen Gruber at Ettel Gruber's grave, 1991 (Photo: Gail Bensinger)

Ruth Ellen Gruber in Radauti, 1978

Ruth Ellen Gruber in Radauti, December 1978 (photo Samuel D. Gruber)

[Sam_Gruber_at_Radauti_Cemetery_1978.jpg]

Sam Gruber at Ettel's tomb, December 1978

Arthur Schankler at Ettel Gruber's grave

Arthur Schankler at Ettel Gruber's grave

3 thoughts on “At Ettel Gruber’s Grave, Radauti: 1978-2009

  1. Pingback: Romania/Hungary — Getting Ready to Go to Radauti | Guska.net

  2. Wonderful photos and an amazing subject!
    I’m very interested in the way the hands are depicted. The creases and the thumbs being toward the bottom seem to indicate that when women in Eastern Europe blessed Shabbat and Yom Tov candles they did so with the backs of their hands toward their eyes. Yet, the women I know seem to put their palms toward their eyes.
    Is there any information on this?
    Thanks,
    Vicki

  3. Vicki — Thanks! I don’t have any information on this, but it is certainly something to think about. The women I know today in the region who bless the candles put their hands over their eyes when they recite the blessing (also see the picture in the book “The Last Jews of Radauti,” which I link to on the sidebar of this site) — but some of them also wave their hands in a blessing way, with palms toward the flame, before covering their eyes, as if gathering in the light before doing so.

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