FINDING MY OLDEST ANCESTOR GRAVE


On my recent trip to Germany I visited the old historical Jewish cemetery in Hamburg which is situated not far from the Reeperbahn - in fact Konigstrasse is an extension of that famous street. The intention was to find the graves of my 6th great grandparents, Elia and Mate Wiener. I found Elia's grave - he was buried in 1713, but Mate's no longer stands as it was destroyed in World War II.

Mate was the sister of the famous 17th century Jewish diarist Gluckel of Hamelin of whom most German Jews know of. Her memoirs, in which she gives a wonderful account of Jewish life in her time, have been translated into many languages and have been widely read and remains a popular piece of work.

The sister's parents were Loeb Joseph Pinkerle and Bella Ellrich, my 7th great grandparents, and they too were buried in this cemetery and their tombstones still stand.

What really surprised me was finding the tombstone of Bella's mother Mate Ellrich, my 8th great grandmother, who died in 1656. That it still exists is surprising as it is made of a relative soft sandstone and it has survived the harsh elements of the Hamburg, many wars and skirmishes including the invasion by Napoleon in the early 1800s as well as WWI and the firebombing of Hamburg in WWII.

The picture on the above left was taken at the beginning of the 20th century when the cemetery was fully documented. The photo to its right was taken by me.

The inscription on the stone reads as follows:

Here lies

The wealthy and modest woman Mate

Daughter of Yaacov of blessed memory

Wife of the important communal leader

Rav Nosson Mellrich of blessed memory

Who passed away and left her life from this world

Died on Wednesday 14 Tamuz

And was buried on Thursday 15th Tamus 416 (1656)

May her soul be bound in the Eternal Life