David and Ruth Weichselbaum, pillars of the Kew Gardens Hills community, were a couple who rose above the atrocities of the Holocaust to build a flourishing family that has left its mark on their respective communities. Their lives chronicled the Jewish triumph and remain an everlasting legacy to how the Chosen Nation continues to survive and thrive in face of Amalek.

Mrs. Ruth Weichselbaum a”h (June 17, 1934 - September 8, 2022) was niftar this past Thursday at 88. The following depicts her emotional return to Germany just two months ago, alongside her husband and their extended family.

May this story illuminate the memory of Mrs. Weichselbaum and bring solace to her husband Mr. David Weichselbaum, and their children Dr. Akiva Weichselbaum, Rabbi Michael Weichselbaum, and Mrs. Sari Samuel of Teaneck.

This article originally appeared on July 27, 2022, in Main-Post, a German publication, in an article written by Helmut Hussong. It has been translated by Shabsie Saphirstein.


David Weichselbaum has always lived as a proud Jew. Together with his family, he emigrated from Germany at the age of ten in 1939 ,shortly before the start of the Second World War. Recently, he returned to Hessdorf with relatives.

Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and other relatives of the Orthodox Jewish family originally from Germany returned at the invitation and organization of David Weichselbaum to visit his former parents’ house in Hessdorf, which is still almost in its original state today. His wife, Ruth a”h was a proud participant on the journey.

David recently lost his brother Bert z”l. Just a few days before the start of the Second World War, on September 1, 1939, they both emigrated from Germany with their parents. The Weichselbaum Heritage Trip, encompassing relatives from America and Eretz Yisrael, allowed the family to walk together once again in the footsteps of their ancestors.

In the courtyard of his then parents’ house at what is now Höllricher Strasse 17 in Hessdorf, David Weichselbaum told his numerous companions about the life of the local Jewish community. Based on genealogical research, David was able to tell a lot about the history of his family, which had a longstanding history of at least 200 years with Hessdorf, now a district of Karsbach.

Grandfather bought another house for the family in Hessdorf.

In English, the emigrant informed the approximately 25 descendants and relatives accompanying him about his childhood in his parents’ house. “My grandfather Meir Weichselbaum, who bought the adjoining building for my father in 1919, lived in the adjacent property number 19,” said the senior, who was still sprightly at his advanced age. Then, David repeated his words in German for some Hessdorfers, including Mayor Martin Göbel. Some of those present remembered the few remaining Jewish families from what their parents had told them.

The Weichselbaum family probably lived in Hessdorf since 1775.

The 93-year-old reported that he had evidence that the Weichselbaums had lived in Hessdorf since 1775. As a further example, he referred to David Weichselbaum of the same name, who is said to have been born there around 1835. One of his descendants, in turn, was his father, Leo, who was married to Hedwig Forchheimer, who came from another longstanding Hessdorf family.

In Hessdorf, it was traditional for the Weichselbaums to have their firstborn become a butcher. That is why his father had been a butcher running a slaughterhouse in the back, and a butcher’s shop in the front. “Everyone went to the farmers within a radius of 25 kilometers to buy their cows.”

Jewish and non-Jewish families lived together in Hessdorf without any problems.

“My brother and I shared a room on the second floor. There was no running water or heating in the house; it was quite cold here,” David Weichselbaum recalled of his youth in Hessdorf. “Jewish and non-Jewish families lived together for a long time without any problems,” Weichselbaum continued.

That changed during Hitler’s time. “I remember coming from Karsbach in 1937 and had stones thrown at me by youngsters.” Later, when things generally got worse, his father believed that nothing could happen to him because he had fought for Germany in the First World War. Nor did he want to move to Palestine or the USA.

The Weichselbaum family had to accept reprisals.

Nevertheless, his father gradually had to give up everything. “They took his horse, his bicycle, and his motorcycle away,” related Weichselbaum, describing some of the reprisals. David experienced Kristallnacht in November 1938 in Würzburg. Upon his return to Hessdorf, David learned that everything had also been smashed, possibly by non-residents.

His family then tried to emigrate and finally received an immigration number for the USA from a close relative. David still remembers the date of his emigration, August 25, 1939. He called it great luck that “exactly five days before the start of the war we came to England with our parents and were able to stay there for a year.”

Visit to the Jewish cemetery in Laudenbach

David Weichselbaum thanked those present and the current owners of his childhood home for being received so warmly and for being able to visit the home once again. David revealed that he is happy about how Germany has since developed. Former Chancellor Angela Merkel was a remarkable stateswoman, he noted.

The group then visited the approximately 600-year-old Jewish burial ground in Laudenbach, where their relatives are interred. There they were guided through the complexities by Georg Schnabel, who has been looking after the Jewish cemetery on a voluntary basis for 32 years and is a member of Worldwide Jewish Circles of Friends.