Tombstone Tuesday: Harry Weizenbaum, Machpelah Cemetery in Detroit

Tombstone Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt from Geneabloggers.

I don’t have many photos of my ancestors’ tombstones, but I’ll share those that I have over the next few weeks. Then, in July, I’m going to visit (living!) relatives in the Detroit area and will hopefully come back with some new tombstone photos and stories. Most of my buried-in-the-USA relatives are in Detroit Catholic cemeteries, but my maternal grandfather’s family was Jewish. His parents, older half-brother (Leo), and sister-in-law (Paula) were buried in Detroit’s Machpelah Cemetery.

This photo was taken by my grandfather in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Harry Weizenbaum tombstone

Machpelah Cemetery in Ferndale, Michigan

Harry Weizenbaum
Died April 7, 1954
Age 75 Years
[need to translate line 4 from Hebrew]
[need to translate line 5 from Hebrew]

I’m hoping one of my second cousins will help me translate the last two lines of the inscription since I don’t know Hebrew!

My great-grandfather was born Jechiel Weizenbaum on May 12, 1879 in Chrzanów, which was at that time part of the Austrian Kingdom of Galicia. It lay on the Western edge of the kingdom, bordering both Poland and the German province of Silesia. I know nothing about his early life except that Jews in Chrzanów enjoyed civil equality with the Poles until the 1910s (source: Chrzanów: The Life and Destruction of a Jewish Shetl). He had at least five siblings and lost several members of his family in the Holocaust.

Harry was a skilled furrier, reportedly following in his father’s footsteps. He had a son, Leo, with his first wife before she died in 1916. His 1920 marriage to my great-grandmother Henriette Ormann was arranged by her maternal uncle; Henriette was twenty-two years younger than Harry. They raised Leo and their two sons, Heinz and Josef, in Berlin, Germany. Despite Germany’s rising anti-semitism, Harry’s furrier business flourished and the family was comfortably wealthy.

In 1935, however, Harry was accused by the government of having an affair with a Gentile maid. The affair itself didn’t matter as much as the fact that Jewish-Gentile relations were strictly prohibited in the Nuremburg laws of 1935. Though he was not convicted, Harry decided to emigrate with his wife and sons to the United States. His sister Sarah was already living in Detroit, along with his adult son Leo, so that was where they went in January of 1936. Harry and Henriette remained in Detroit their whole lives.

Harry and Henriette Weizenbaum in the 1940s

Harry and Henriette Weizenbaum in the 1940s

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