Ehrlich Family Reunion in Bad Kissingen (May 2023)



Photo: Sigismund von Dobschütz

After more than 20 years the descendants of the Jewish fashion merchant Samuel Ehrlich met in Bad Kissingen. The fashion house of his son Felix was located at the corner of Ludwigstraße and Kurhausstraße. This is already the second family reunion. In 2001, the Ehrlichs - at that time still many who were born in Bad Kissingen and had lived here - had met again for the first time in their former hometown. This time, almost 50 family members, relatives from three generations from Israel, Australia, England, South Africa, the USA and Canada had traveled to the town of their ancestors.

Saale-Zeitung and Mainpost reported on the family reunion on May 16:

Familientreffen Ehrlich Saale-Zeitung und Mainpost 16.5.2023 Familientreffen Ehrlich Saale-Zeitung und Mainpost 16.5.2023, 1693 KB

Here the translation:

When the Ehrlichs meet… (Mainpost, 05-16-2023, Sigismund von Dobschütz)


The descendants of the Jewish fashion merchant Samuel Ehrlich have learned in Bad Kissingen, among other things why Felix [Ehrlich’s] grave is situated apart In the cemetery.

For the second family reunion after more than 20 years, descendants of the Jewish fashion merchant Samuel Ehrlich (1813-1891) and his children met in Bad Kissingen. The nearly 50 family members, members from three generations, had traveled from Israel, Australia, the USA and Canada as well as from Great Britain to the town of their ancestors.

The program included a Shabat service, a visit to the exhibition "Jewish Life in Bad Kissingen," a meeting with Head of the district authority Thomas Bold (CSU) and Mayor Dirk Vogel (SPD), and a one-hour visit to the graves of their Kissingen ancestors at the Jewish Cemetery.

Ida's wish

„Stay well together, keep faithfully together, even if you are scattered all over the world," Ida Ehrlich (1857-1938), who remained alone and unmarried in her parents' house in the spa town because of her disability, had already written on a postcard to her relatives scattered all over the world in 1937. "She was the core of our family. Thanks to her, [the house in Bad Kissingen] was the center for all parts of the Ehrlich families" in Germany and the world, people had already told about her in the family circle, the same was heard again last weekend in front of the family grave. One does not visit Bad Kissingen, one visits Ida", the present seniors told their children and grandchildren,

The Ehrlich descendants had already fulfilled Ida's wish for cohesion in the year 2000 with a first meeting in Bad Kissingen. At that time, members of that generation were still alive who had once to flee abroad as children or young people from persecution by the Nazis. Thus there was still a member of that generation in 2000 who at the beginning had refused to set foot on German soil, but then arrived after all. „He did not come to Bad Kissingen at that time, he came to the family reunion," was now told.

Search for ancestors gravesites

At this family reunion, which should have taken place 20 years exactly after the first one, but had to be postponed for three years because of the worldwide corona pandemic, the Ehrlich descendants were no longer felt any bias.

The connection to Judaism also seemed to have diminished: Hardly any of the men in the group wore a headdress in the cemetery, as Jewish tradition actually prescribes. Everyone moved freely among the graves, chatting familiarly, visiting the graves of their own ancestors or, as in the case of Amalie Zunz (1847 - 1924), née Ehrlich), thinking together about where she should be placed in the family tree.

In her case it was simple: like her sister Klara, she was a daughter from the first marriage of the fashion house founder Samuel to Jette Strauss, while Henriette, fashion house heir Felix, Ida and Ludwig were the children from his second marriage to Sara Spiegel. In front of the gravestone of fashion house heir Felix (1854-1918) and his wife Clara (1858 -1935), Marlies Walter, curator of the exhibition "Jewish Life in Bad Kissingen," told the younger visitors why his grave is so remote, almost outside the cemetery.

The very liberal-minded royal Bavarian court supplier Felix Ehrlich, as the first Jewish resident a member of the Bad Kissingen magistrate (city council), had ordered that his body be cremated, contrary to Jewish tradition.

As the Bad Kissingen community was quite orthodox, the family was forbidden to bury the urn in the local cemetery, but Felix's family owned an orchard beyond the cemetery wall. Without further ado, they buried the urn on their own land, right next to the wall. It was not until years later that Felix's gravesite was included in the cemetery, which is why today the wall there makes an arc around the grave.

For many Kissingen residents, the Jewish Ehrlich family may not be a household name, but the name Joske Ereli (1921-2014) is. He was a grandson of fashion house heir Felix Ehrlich, had emigrated to Palestine at the age of 17 and later, as an officer in the Israeli army, changed his German name Hans-Josef Ehrlich to Joske Ereli.

The partnership between the districts of Bad Kissingen and Tamar, which was established in 1997, is due to his persistent efforts over the years. In 2001, he was awarded the silver citizens' medal of the city of Bad Kissingen and the silver badge of honor of the district of Bad Kissingen,

Joske Ereli was also one of the few foreign recipients of the German Federal Cross of Merit on ribbon since 2009. At the family reunion now, Joske's son was also back in Bad Kissingen, the hometown of his ancestors.