Joske Ereli's life story (Hans Joseph Ehrlich) follows the past 92 years and is part of a remarkable 300 years of family history in Germany and Israel. This book, "From Hampi to Hansel to Jossel Ehrlich, Joske Ereli's Biography," brings to the Hebrew reader the main stations of the storyteller's life.
Although he was officially born with the name Hans Joseph Ehrlich in Bad Kissingen during 1921, he was called Hampi, Hansel, and Hansel the Lucky throughout his childhood. Hansel was indeed lucky during the twenties and thirties of the last century. He was raised in a middle-high class environment and surrounded by the culture and comforts of life of the world-famous resort, Bad Kissingen (Bad K). The Ehrlich family, who lived in Bad K for the past 300 years, was well-known in Bavaria in the fashion and domestic appliance industries for being successful, honest businessmen and the chosen suppliers for the Bad K royalty for many years.
When the Nazis came to power in the thirties, the good life ended, and most members of the family saved their lives by immigrating to other countries around the world. Three perished during the war – Aunt Ida Ehrlich to whom the book is dedicated, who died most probably on the December 3rd, 1938 in Bad K, and Clara and Moritz Efrem from Bernstadt, the grandmother and grandfather of Hansel Ehrlich, who perished in Auschwitz during 1944.
Hansel left Germany as part of Aliat Hanoar (Youth Aliya of the Jewish Agency) at the age of 17 on September 1938 and arrived at kibbutz Givat Brenner in then Palestine/Eretz Israel. Similarly to his parents, Hansel left Germany at the very last minute.
In Givat Brenner, Joske was trained in agricultural work, and later on was enlisted to the defence units, Hagana and Palmach, in the area. In the kibbutz, he fell in love with Rachel Shenker (Rochik), whom he has been married to for the last seventy years.
At the end of the war, his parents, Grete and Ludwig, came from England and settled in the kibbutz. Now, the entirety of the remaining family was reunited. During the War of Independence (1948), Joske was wounded in combat, fighting in Bad El Wad on the way to Jerusalem. He served in the military until 1954, during which the family moved from the kibbutz to the suburb of Tel Aviv, the newly developed area called Zahala. During this period of time, he hebrewtized his surname from Ehrlich to Ereli.
During the next twenty years, Joske worked in a subsidiary company of the Jewish Agency dealing with heavy mechanical equipment as an agricultural consultant to the new immigrants who settled in the northern part of the Negev. From the Six Day War (1967) until his retirement (1977), he was in charge of the operations and maintenance of Sahar insurance company, which headquarters in Tel Aviv.
At the age of 56, Joske and Rochik decided to start a new chapter of their lives and settle near their son, Neri, in kibbutz Ein Gedi, which is close to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth.
At this point, Joske started a new, fascinating career – tourism, offering personalized hospitality to German-speaking individuals traveling to Ein Gedi. This became a life-long project of developing a special health resort in Ein Gedi, which was recognized by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and influenced by the resort in Bad Kissingen. Joske found himself completely committed to the development of the relationship between Germans and Israelis, especially that of young people from Bad K, Ein Gedi, and the regional council, Tamar. He initiated cultural, educational, and professional activities between Tamar and Bad K, which resulted in the notable relationship still existent today.
Those years are marked by Joske's increasing interest in his family's history in Germany. During his numerous trips to Germany, Joske used his rare gift of developing personal relationships to yield much information and documentation on not only his own past, but that of his family going back hundreds of years.
This book is a result of many hours of interviewing Joske during the past one and a half years. These conversations were accompanied by extensive rare documentation from Joske and Rochik's personal archives and documents received from public and state archives obtained especially for this book.
We hope to publish this book in multiple languages in order to increase its accessibility around the world.
Ilan Shtayer (Hebrew)
Producer of the book
Editorial member of the "Making History"
Translated and edited by Judith Reifen Ronen & Megan Schoenberg.