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Ohne dich | Without you, a prayer for Natalie Baeck by Rabbi Dr. Leo Baeck (7 March 1937)

https://opensiddur.org/?p=54163 Ohne dich | Without you, a prayer for Natalie Baeck by Rabbi Dr. Leo Baeck (7 March 1937) 2024-02-08 10:09:27 This is Rabbi Dr. Leo Beack's prayer for his wife Natalie Baeck née Hamburger (1878-1937), dated 7 March 1937. Natalie had died two days prior on 5 March. Text the Open Siddur Project Aharon N. Varady (transcription) Aharon N. Varady (transcription) Aharon N. Varady (translation) Leo Baeck https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Aharon N. Varady (transcription) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ Mourning 20th century C.E. 57th century A.M. German vernacular prayer marriage Jewish women elegies
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Souce (German)Translation (English)
Wir sollen nun ohne dich sein,
unser leben ohne den segen deines lebens,
ohne dich,
die du so rein,
so wahrhaftig,
so klar warst,
so hell,
so echt,
so fromm,
so andächtig,
so gut,
so hilfreich,
so herzlich,
so erschlossen für jeden,
so selbstlos,
so neidlos,
so anspruchslos,
so harmlos,
so niemals auf dich bedacht,
so schlicht,
so dankbar auch für das Kleinste,
so voller Frohsinn und Jugend in dir warst,
so voller Freude an deinem Hause,
so ganz voller liebe, um sie uns allen zu geben,
ohne dich nun, die du für uns nur leben wolltest,
nur leben mochtest,
wenn du für uns dachtest, für uns sorgtest
und arbeitest ohne Rast und ohne Müdigkeit,
um jeden wunsch wissend,
jeden Gedeanken erratend.
We shall now be without you,
our life without the blessing of your life,
without you,
who were so pure,
so true,
so clear,
so bright,
so genuine,
so pious,
so devout,
so good,
so helpful,
so warm,
so open to everyone,
so unselfish,
so unenvious,
so unpretentious,
so harmless,
so selfless,
so simple,
so grateful even for the smallest thing,
so full of cheerfulness and youth in you,
so full of joy in your home,
so full of love to give to us all,
without you now, who only wanted to live for us,
only wanted to live
when you thought for us, cared for us
and worked for us without rest and without tiredness,
knowing every wish,
guessing every thought.
Du bist heimgegangen
und lässt uns zurück
ohne dich.
Gott gebe die Kraft,
durch die Tage hindurch zu gehen.
You have returned home,
leaving us behind
without you.
God grant us the strength
to get through these days.

This is Rabbi Dr. Leo Beack’s prayer for his wife Natalie Baeck née Hamburger (1878-1937), dated 7 March 1937. Natalie had died two days prior on 5 March. Natalie Hamburger was the grand-daughter of the radical religious reformer Rabbi
Adolf Wiener, who had served the Jewish community of Oppeln until his death in 1895.

In Rabbi Leo Baeck: Living a Religious Imperative in Troubled Times (2020) p. 113, Dr. Michael Meyer writes,

Baeck’s final years in Berlin were—if anything—even more difficult than those that preceded them. Until March 1937, his wife, Natalie, had been his support. Their home had always been open to friends and students at the seminary. With her death from a stroke, arguably brought on by the extreme anxieties of the times, Baeck lost his life’s companion, and only a house keeper remained to serve his domestic needs. He called it “the hardest blow of these hard years.” Two days after Natalie’s death, he committed his thoughts to paper: “We shall now be without you, our life without the blessing of your life, without you, who were so pure, so true, so bright, so genuine, so pious. . . . You have returned home and left us behind without you. May God give strength to get through these days.” A friend who had often been in their home and had witnessed their matrimonial harmony wrote of their marriage that it had been “earnest, sacred, and deeply happy.”[1] Hans-Hasso von Veltheim-Ostrau to Edith Andreae, 5 March 1937, cited in Karl Klaus Walther, Hans Hasso von Veltheim: Eine Biographie (Halle: Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 2004), p. 259.  For months after Natalie’s death, Baeck daily visited her grave in the Weissensee Cemetery of the Jewish community. On her gravestone, he asked that words from the last chapter of the Book of Proverbs be written in Hebrew: “But you surpass them all” (Prov. 31:29). According to an interview he gave after the war, each year on the anniversary of her death he suggested to his students at the seminary that they preach a sermon on women.[2] Eric H. Boehm, “A People Stands Before Its God: Leo Baeck,” in idem, We Survived: The Stories of Fourteen of the Hidden and Hunted of Nazi Germany (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1949), pp. 282–283. 

The prayer is archived in the Leo Baeck Family Collection, AR 25449, in the Leo Baeck Institute Archives (LBIA), graciously digitized and made accessible by the Institute at the Internet Archive. Many thanks to Rabbi Marisa Elana James for proofreading my German transcription. English translation is my own, but please feel free to correct or improve upon it. –Aharon Varady

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Notes

Notes
1Hans-Hasso von Veltheim-Ostrau to Edith Andreae, 5 March 1937, cited in Karl Klaus Walther, Hans Hasso von Veltheim: Eine Biographie (Halle: Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 2004), p. 259.
2Eric H. Boehm, “A People Stands Before Its God: Leo Baeck,” in idem, We Survived: The Stories of Fourteen of the Hidden and Hunted of Nazi Germany (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1949), pp. 282–283.

 

 

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