Siblings: Suse and Felix (Phil)
Spouse: Rachel née Schenker
Children: Abner and Ronni, Neri
Ludwigstraße 17 (now 10)
September 1938 emigrated to Palestine
Hans Josef Ehrlich came from a long-established Jewish merchants’ family. His grandfather Samuel Ehrlich had been given the license for cloth trading in 1841 and had later opened a textile shop in Obere Marktstrasse. His son Felix Ehrlich had further expanded the family business and was awarded the title of “Royal Bavarian Supplier of the Court”. Since 1887, he ran a flourishing fashion shop at the corner of Ludwigstrasse and Kurhausstrasse. After his death his sons Franz and Ludwig took on their father’s business that was simply called “Modehaus Felix Ehrlich” since 1925. In 1914, Ludwig Ehrlich had married Margarete Efrem from Bernstadt and on September 13, 1921 Hans Josef was born in Bad Kissingen as their third and youngest child.
He grew up in an economically, socially, and culturally well-to-do family in the atmosphere of the spa and bath town Bad Kissingen and perceived his childhood as “amazing” up to 1933. “We went on excursions to the Rhön. I enjoyed sailing on board the “Dampferle” (small steamboat on the Saale River) and then I often went riding in the Tattersall.” (See Mainpost, October 19, 2007)
The Nazis’ seizure of power at the beginning of the 1930s led to the scattering of the family across the whole globe and to an end of this idyll. In April 1932, Hans Josef entered Kissingen Realschule which he could attend till the school year of 1935/36. Then Jewish students had to leave the school. That’s why he changed to a Jewish boarding school in Coburg where he finished his middle school graduation.
When the situation of the family became more and more untenable because of the exclusion policy of the Nazis and Hans Josef’s parents were forced by the Nazis to sell their business, the then 17-year-old boy emigrated to Palestine in September 1938, where he changed his name to Joske Ereli. He found refuge in Kibbutz Givat Brenner, committed himself to agriculture, in particular as an ambitious tractor driver, and became a member of “Hagana”, a paramilitary Jewish underground organization which had come into existence as a protection for the Jewish settlements against raids of the Arabs. He joined “Palmach”, a paramilitary organization that - among other things - supported the immigration of Jewish refugees from Europe against the British Mandate rule, and fought as a soldier in the War of Independence of 1948. In Kibbutz Givat Brenner he also got to know Rachel (Rochik) Schenker whom he married in 1943. The couple had two sons, Neri (Abner) and Ronny.
After the end of World War II and before the beginning of the War of Independence (1948), Joske’s parents Grete and Ludwig came from England and moved in with him and his sister Schoschana Ben David’s family in Kibbutz Givat Brenner. Joske stayed in the Israeli army till 1954 and held several senior positions. From the middle of the 1950s to 1967, Joske worked in a subsidiary of the Jewish Agency and helped new immigrants in agricultural settlements with mechanical equipment and expert advice. After that, he worked in an insurance company in Tel Aviv for 10 years and was responsible for personnel management and maintenance.
In 1977, a new stage of their lives started for Joske and his wife: They moved into Kibbutz Ein Gedi at the Dead Sea. There he committed himself to tourism and particularly took care of German-speaking groups. He got into contact with his hometown Bad Kissingen and emphatically committed himself to establish a dialogue between Germans and Israelis. It is first and foremost due to his commitment that there is a twinning arrangement between the districts of Bad Kissingen and Tamar. Up to his death in 2014, several months after his wife Rochik had died, he maintained personal contacts to his hometown and committed himself to extending the relationship.
© Joske Ereli, Ein Gedi