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19 th century stories
The first Jews of Dorsten
Dorsten 1820: "Violence in
the synagogue itself"
Eisendrath Family in Dorsten
The family name
Julia Eisendrath - portrait of
a Jewish Mama
Eulogy at the grave of
Julia Eisendrath
Jewish real property in Dorsten
Nathan Eisendrath emigrates
David Samson Eisendrath
Establishing in the USA
Migration of Jews from Europe
to North America
20 th century stories
Visits to Europe since the 1920s
1933: A Protest Letter to
President Hindenburg (1933)
The Letter in full text
The Eisendrath branch in Zaandam/Netherlands
The last jewish place in Dorsten
Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath
Charles R. Eisendrath: An
identity and family history that
are inextricably linked (1999)
21 st century stories
Adam Eisendrath: The German Heritage Quest - February 2000
Dorsten contacts and
visits 2001-2007
Family Reunion 2010
The journey of two prayer books
Who and why?
The Dorsten research group
and the Jewish Museum
of Westphalia
 
* The signature in the header above
is that of Samson Nathan Eisendrath
(from the year 1840)
 
 
Julia Eisendrath - Portrait of a Jewish Mama
She was extravagant, christable and extremely beautiful

Anyone who is not familiar with Judaism or only observes Jewish life from the outside makes the mistake, as many feminists do today, of thinking that it is a purely patriarchal society. In reality women have a very dominant role. In many Yiddish stories women represent the role of reason and common sense. The much cited men’s prayer of: “Thank you God for not making me a woman!” sounds almost like a pitiful attempt to assert themselves against women, the Jewish “Mamas” who are the heart of the Jewish family.
Julia Eisendrath was definitely such a Mama. She died at the ripe old age of 85 and had 18 children (family tradition speaks of 23) and survived her husband, Samson Nathan Eisendrath by 21 years. The descendants say that she was the matriarch who was the boss in the family. She was proud and very convinced of herself, they say. But above all she worked very hard and must have been a remarkable housewife who managed to run such a complicated household. The children loved and worshipped her. The family supported each other, the older siblings helping to bring up the younger ones and all of them stood up for each other. The huge Eisendrath clan in America still has the family motto which originates from their Dorsten history: “All for one and one for all.”

Another of Julia’s characteristics was her extreme thrift and niggardliness. The following story has been handed down: before he emigrated to America Sam Wolff (also known as Samson or Samuel) lived with his grandmother for many years. Sam was her darling. He was also the only person who was allowed to accompany Julia to the larder which was located on the top floor of the house on Wiesen Strasse and where the very precious provisions such as fruit and jelly were stored. When they went there Sam was always allowed to take a piece of fruit. After a lot of begging she allowed him to take two more pieces of fruit for his two sisters. One day Sam’s cousin Henry (son of Cosmann), who like Sam also went to secondary school and shared a room with Sam in the grandmother’s house, tried to get hold of the fruit he so craved for. He achieved a daring feat by climbing up the outside wall, getting through the attic window into the larder and taking as much fruit as he could carry. He did not want it to be discovered and so he hid it in a basket under his bed. But his grandmother “smelt the stolen fruit”, checked the larder and discovered that she had been “robbed”. She asked Henry but he denied everything and asked cheekily how he could have got into the larder. But Julia searched his room and forced him to return the “stolen goods”.

Julia, they say, was a tiny person, even smaller than average. But she was extremely beautiful, had wonderful, white skin and slim, delicate hands. Her clothing was exquisite, if not to say extravagant. She always wore a lace bonnet with long ribbons as was proper for a Jewish wife and she had it specially made. Her black taffeta dresses were “spruced up” with strikingly white lace collars and cuffs. She was always heavily adorned with jewellery and wore thick rings on her fingers. She had brown hair and they say it never went grey. Julia was also regarded as very generous and charitable particularly to all the poor and needy. When a child was born she gave presents and donated money. She also donated to the Catholic sisters. When a new church was to be built in Dorsten she donated a considerable sum towards the tower and the bell in which her name was to be engraved. As the Protestant church was not built until around 1890 and nothing is known about any other church being built in the 19th century, the story may concern the renovation of a church. More exact information has not been found.

Julia was a woman with principles and a strict routine. Every evening at exactly ten o’clock she retired to bed irrespective of what was going on in the house. She took her evening meal of fruit and drinks and climbed into her high four-poster bed which was covered with lots of cushions. When she was dying the Catholic sisters came to care for her and as they had to stay with her for a long time, Julia allowed them to set up an altar in her house so that they could pray.

Julia’s husband, they say, was honoured by the Prussian king three times, namely after every seventh child (although the lists state only 18 children, not 23!). Julia, however, needs no orders. She was important enough as she was.

 
 
Jewish cemetery in Dorsten - Rebekah Eisendrath at the grave of Julia Eisendrath (2007)   Wiesenstrasse Nr 10 – the house of Samson Nathan and Julia Eisendrath (Photo from 1911)
 
   
 

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