Mary Roufa

Karolina Lenke Kinderman Kessler and Morris Kessler  – The Life of a Ketubah

Roufa.Photo.A Mary Roufa, member of SOJC, was born after WWII ended. Both of her parents survived Auschwitz and reunited back in their home, having lost their two boys and other family members.  Today Mary’s Shabbat candelabra, from her parents, has a place for five candles (usually two) symbolizing their whole family, including their sons who were lost in the concentration camps.

“My father returned from Auschwitz before my mother.  He found their house ransacked but these (the Ketuba and Tanaim) were in the middle of the floor and he took that as a sign that my mother would return.  He cleaned the house, set up a kosher kitchen and started rebuilding his hardware store connections to get product and reopen.

At my father’s funeral, survivors told the story that they returned to find him hammering and trying to rebuild the shul singlehandedly.  The men picked up tools and started to help.


Mary Roufa and her parents’ Ketubah and Tanaim found in their home after WWII ended.


My mother was a different story.  She was beaten down by her experience and the loss of both her sons, parents, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews – everyone.  She walked home from the camp and swore that she was done with everything Jewish.  When she got home, she found the house ready for her and her husband with his determination to rebuild their lives and she said that she just started going through the motions.  Eventually, she was able to reconnect both with her life and with Judaism.”

A Ketubah is a special type of Jewish prenuptial agreement.  It is considered an integral part of a traditional Jewish marriage, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom, in relation to the bride.

Tanaim or Tannaim are literally “conditions.”  Originally signing this was a separate ceremony that served as a formal announcement of the engagement when the wedding date would be set as well. Now, only a formality: a tannaim contract is signed and usually read aloud prior to the Badeken or veiling of the bride.


Roufa4WEBsmall >> PDF of the story mural tile display, designed by Diane Pinney
Holocaust-Memorial-Logo_100x100 >> Return to the Holocaust Memorial Stories