Another laver and basin in the Aron Museum's collection also comes from Paul Aron's home. This miniature laver and basin was made in the early twentieth century in Germany, and was donated to the museum by one of Judith's sisters, Molly Aron.


The Aron children were all accustomed to the collection that was built up around them. Judith reflects on her father's collecting practices: "My father brought very often new pieces home. When I was born, there was already a collection - we lived always in the same house. There was a very large room - a huge room. My mother sometimes had parties for thirty or forty people, and there was enough room for everyone to sit there. So anyway, on the walls of this room, they put - it was built onto the wall - and whenever he had new pieces, he would put them in. He wouldn't tell us: 'I got this, I got that.' But I knew the man who got it. He was Oppenheimer, he was one of the brothers. The Oppenheimers had a very big antique business in Frankfurt am Main. This one brother who was not a partner in the business, but he always brought pieces to my father, and he would buy them off him. So it was an ongoing collection. But it wasn't used as a collection. We used the pieces."


Paul Aron also had a number of wine goblets in his collection. At the Shabbat meal, a prayer is said over the wine. A special goblet known as a Kiddush cup is used for the blessing. The Arons had a number of decorative cups, and each one was used by a different member of the family.


Saturdays in the Aron household were devoted to prayer and study. A set of five prayer books in the Aron Museum's collection were certainly used by the family in their studies. The books were published in Germany, in Hebrew and Yiddish, between 1818 and 1821. Paul Aron gave the books to one of his granddaughters, Sarah Aron, as a Chanukah gift in 1946. Sarah and Shlomo Rosenman later donated the books to the Aron Museum.


Many rabbis came from Palestine to Germany at that time in order to collect money which they would bring back to their communities. Paul Aron always befriended these men and invited them into his home. One rabbi stayed with the Arons for a few years. Rabbi Amram Cohen arrived in Frankfurt before the First World War. When the war began, he could not get back to Palestine. The Arons welcomed him into their home and gave him a room in their attic. When he was finally able to leave, Rabbi Cohen promised his hosts that he would find a way to repay them for their generosity. He told them that he had a nephew who could find them an apartment if they ever came to Palestine. Of course, there was no reason for the Arons to believe that they would ever leave Frankfurt at that time.


The next World War would give Rabbi Cohen the opportunity to fulfill this promise. When the Nazi party came into power in Germany, life changed dramatically for the Aron family. Paul Aron anticipated the looting that would become commonplace in Germany and began smuggling pieces from his collection out of the country. Every month or two, one of his non-Jewish employees, Mr. Baum, would travel to Zurich on business. Paul Aron would wrap a few of his pieces in a bag, such as the set of five prayer books or a few Kiddush cups, and send them with Mr. Baum to friends in Switzerland. Those pieces that left Germany with Mr. Baum rested peacefully in Switzerland until the end of the war, but the whole collection could not be saved. The Nazis would not allow Jews to have businesses. Paul Aron was forced to stop operating his business and therefore lost the ability to smuggle works out of the country. Like their fellow Jews, he and his family began losing their basic freedoms year by year.


During one Shabbat in 1934, Paul Aron realized that, like the pieces of his prized collection, he would have to leave Germany in order to survive. SS officers had come to his house to arrest him. They claimed that they had seen him take a photograph from his window, obviously of something that they did not want recorded. The Arons protested. Paul Aron was a strictly observant man, and would not have been operating a camera during Shabbat, which is a day of rest from all types of work, including picture-taking. His son Arnold was particularly vocal, and was beaten up as a result. The SS officers were relentless and took Paul Aron away. He was released a few days later, and it was then that Paul and Karoline Aron made the decision to leave Germany.


Paul Aron had to pay the German government a "Judensteuer," or Jew's tax, before he was allowed to leave the country legally. Some members of the family had already left. Two of Paul's daughters, Judith and Gella, had sensed the danger of staying in Germany and had escaped from the country into Holland in 1933. From there, they journeyed to Canada to join two of their father's brothers, Josef and Herman Aron. Josef Aron sponsored Judith and Gella, as well as Gella's future husband, Nathan Bing, in order to allow them to stay in the country.


Gella and Judith Aron on their way to Canada



This picture shows Judith and Gella Aron on their way to Canada in 1933. Gella's daughter, Evelyn Uditsky, relates the events that led up to their departure from Germany: "One evening they were in a café having dinner and some SS people walked in. My father [Nathan Bing] was dark and looked Semitic... The Arons all had blue eyes... The SS decided that he [Moritz Aron, Gella and Judith's brother] was sitting with Jews and that he was Aryan, and they started to yell at him, what was he doing with these "Juden." And my father had a terrible temper. My mother told him to stay quiet, and the minute they turned around, she said, 'let's get out of here,' and she dragged my father and uncle out of there. They ran away and escaped. It was after that, my father said we must get away from Germany. He had a sixth sense that this was dangerous. That was 1933. So they went and packed a small overnight bag and they took the train to Amsterdam, to Holland. They went as though they were going to visit a friend for a weekend. They left their apartment, their money, their offices, their work, their clothes... they just packed an overnight bag... They could not contact their parents... So they left - it took Uncle Joe 6 months to bring my mother and then another 6 months to bring my father [to Canada]."


Paul Aron did not join them in Canada. He had always dreamed of going to the Jewish homeland and living in Jerusalem. This dream had previously seemed unrealistic since everything he had - his business, his home and his family - was in Germany. Now things had changed. He had lost his business and he would certainly lose both his home and his family if he were to stay in Germany.


Paul, Karoline and Ruth Aron en route to Jerusalem
San Marco Square, Venice, Italy


In 1935, Paul and Karoline Aron set out with their youngest daughter Ruth for Jerusalem. One of their sons, Joseph Aron, had already immigrated to Palestine in 1933 and helped to bring his parents and younger sister into the country. They took a train from Frankfurt to Venice, from where they sent a picture of themselves in San Marco Square to Judith and Gella. There had been no time to contact their family before leaving Germany. The picture acts as a testament to their safety and informs the two sisters, now living in Montreal, of their whereabouts. From Venice, they took a boat to Palestine.


Once in Jerusalem, the Arons contacted their old friend Rabbi Cohen. The Rabbi remembered his promise and found them an apartment at a low fixed rate. Paul Aron may have fulfilled a dream by moving to Jerusalem, but he had lost his business and the comfortable life that he had built in Frankfurt. The cost of leaving Germany had drained his financial resources. Paul Aron was forced to rely on his children to support him. In his final years, he also received some money as restitution from the German government.