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[Page 4]

Publication Committee

Standing: Aryeh (Leibl) Beckenstein, Meir Bakalchuk, Abraham & Masha Kulakowski
Sitting: Chaim Rabinovich, Malka Alper & Yekhezkiel Raban

 

[Page 5]

Our Memorial Book

Y. Raban, editor

This Memorial Book is presented by the editors to the people of the former Jewish communities of Deretchin, Kolonia-Sinaisk, and Halinka, living in Israel, U.S.A. and other parts of the Jewish Diaspora. It is to be a Memorial Monument to the martyrs of those communities, who rest in unknown graves, who were slaughtered, burned, and buried alive in the fields of our town, or who, as avenging soldiers, fell in battles against the cruel and murderous adversary, with weapons in hand and a burning vision in their hearts of their people's redemption.

This book is a Monument to the martyred community of Deretchin and the neighbouring settlements – to their history, their deeds and their struggles, from their inceptions until the day they were cruelly erased from the face of the earth. Several centuries of Jewish life are mirrored in these pages, reflecting all of the beauty and suffering inherent in the life of a shtetl encompassed first within the bounds of the Czarist Empire, and then within the borders of an anti-Semitic Polish state. All this is told, so that we, and our children, and their children, may know that which was lived, thrived – and was cut down.

Scores of Deretchiners wrote this Memorial Book, simple people and not writers by vocation, but their souls could not rest until they had recounted the memories, thoughts, struggles of those dearest to them, who were lost in the streets, fields, and forests of their town, the town which had been a peaceful home of a carefree childhood and adolescence, and which the war and Holocaust turned into a place of death. It is these unpretentious people who built this Memorial Monument.

The book, by the essence of its contents and style, tells the story of the common Deretchin. There is no pretence of presenting an exhaustive and comprehensive historical survey of the life of the community and its institutions, nor of the destruction of its Jewry during the Holocaust; and there is certainly no attempt to recount in its entirety the brave and stubborn struggle of our sons and daughters against the Nazi enemy. This is a collection of stories of many individual Deretchiners, each one remembering his childhood home, his street, his experiences, thus of necessity there is a great variety in the descriptions.

We were content to let the people of our town speak and put down all that was etched in their memory. There was no slavish striving for exact historical accuracy or objectivity in the selection and presentation of the material, all the more so since details are generally unavailable.

The contributions are presented in their original language and only consideration of space forced occasional editing; but their essence and spirit were always preserved. Thus, out of all of the memories and personal tales, there emerges a luminous and glorious painting of the life of our town, one surfeit with the pain and tears of the death of a community, yet shining with the majesty of its heroic fighting sons.


Deretchin was a Jewish town, and the Jewish spirit pervaded its walls, courtyards, schools and institutions, the daily habits of our fathers, the youth-movements and political parties, the dreams and ambitions of its people, the days of work as well as those of festival and celebration.

Until the end of the nineteenth century it was the tradition of the Torah which permeated all the aspects of life in Deretchin. From the onset of this our turbulent century it was the national spirit which set its stamp upon the youth movements, political parties and public institutions. The community also experienced the enlightened ideals which so fermented the Jewish masses of Eastern and Central Europe.

We attest with pride to the part which Deretchin played in the war of vengeance against the Nazi butchers. This is confirmed by all the historians of the partisan struggle. Doubtlessly the fighting spirit displayed by the sons of our town stemmed from the national education they had received and from their deep-rooted ties with their people and its strive for salvation and freedom.


Scores of years have gone by since the days of the Holocaust and battles. Several years have also passed since we first started to gather and organize the material for this book. It has not been an easy task.

As we present this book to the members of the Deretchin, Halinka and Kolonia-Sinaisk communities, we acknowledge with gratitude the fruitful work of the editorial-staff – first and foremost, Malka Alper, who laboured tirelessly in all the minutae of the publishing aspect; Chaim Rabinovitch, whose astounding memory uncovered much of the history of our town; Meir Bakalchuk, Arie Beckenstein, and the couple Masha and Abraham-Hirsch Kulakovsky, all members of the editorial staff, who helped in all possible ways, and in no small measure determined the book's final plan, context, and character.

We wish to thank the members of the “Committee for the Remembrance Book in the United States”, for their work in gathering material and recruiting funds for the publication. The thanks of the publishers are also extended to the Jacob Mishkin family of Venezuela, which contributed towards the financing of the communal remembrance project.

To the partisan Samuel Borenstein, parts of whose book “The Partisan Group of Dr. Atlas”, appear in this book, and to the elderly author Shlomo Yudson, a son of our town, from whose book “Of Three Worlds” we quote several delightful scenes – to them we send our thanks.


At this hour of unveiling this Monument let us remember two of Deretchin's finest, who were closely tied to the task of the book, but were lost to us before they could see the fruit of their labours; let us remember Reb Chaim-Zvi Sinai-Miller, who never abandoned his dream of a memorial-book to the town to which he devoted his energies as [a] teacher and [a] Zionist; let us remember David Rabinovitch, who laboured much in the planning of the work, in the gathering of material, and in the recruitment of funds.


As we follow the pages of this book, let the pure Kaddish prayer rise from our hearts for our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and for all those families of whom none survived – let the prayer hover over the distant fields and forests, wherever be found their scattered graves.

And we shall take up this book devotedly, for the holy thing that it is, and it shall keep constant in us the memory of pure and martyred souls, of sacred warriors.


[Page 11]

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DERETCHINER YISKOR BOOK COMMITTEE

A. FEDER, Chairman
SARA SLOTNICK, Treasurer
ROSE SISKIND, Secretary
365 W. 28th St.
New York 1, N. Y.
Tel. WA 4-1286
N. BLIS
J. SILKOWITZ
F. BERMAN
I. SARNOTSKY
R. FEROS
S. KANINETSKY
   SHUMAN
SH. BERNICKER
S. BERNICKER
P. LANCE
SH. PILCER
D. YANOFSKY
J. YANKELEWICK
   LEVIN

Worthy Landsleit:

As you know, the Deretchiner Landsleit in America, together with our Landsleit in Israel are publishing a YIZKOR (MEMORIAL) BOOK for our hometown DERETCHIN.

Deretchin was a small town, but it was rich in culture, Rabbinical personalities and fine people. This will be the only monument for our town, for our dear beloved martyrs who were so brutally murdered during the last war. In this YIZKOR BOOK they will be commemorated.

If you have a picture from streets or houses of certain people of interest in our hometown, which will shed a light on the way of life in Deretchin, please send it to the Committee. Also if you could send us articles describing your life there in school, organizations, World War I, and especially World War II. Please send it to us as soon as possible and all the material and pictures will be reviewed by the Editorial Board and whatever they will find of interest, will be printed.

Naturally, worthy Landsleit, a book like this costs about 4 to 5 thousand dollars. Our landsleit in Israel do more financially for this cause then they can afford, therefore we appeal to you, please do your share, send us your generous contribution for this sacred cause. We thank heartily for those of you who already sent in their contribution.

If you know some Deretchiner who doesn't know yet about this project, please talk to them, also to your children, and that they should contribute to the Yizkor Book.

We hope that your name will be among the contributors to this everlasting Memorial. Write to your out-of-town Deretchiner friends, tell them about the Yizkor Book. Or send to us their addresses and we will write them.

Please do not delay. — We expect to hear from you in a few days.

Fraternally yours,

ABRAHAM FEDER, ChairmanSARA SLOTNICK, Treasurer ROSE SISKIND, Secretary

        Please make checks or money orders payable to:

DERETCHINER YISKOR BOOK COMMITTEE

 and send to:

ROSE SISKIND, 365 West 28th Street, New York 1, N. Y.

[Page 12]

Deretchiner Yiskor Book Committee in the U.S. June 1965

(Left to Right) Standing: Kadish Feder, (Chairman), Shimon Bernicker (z"l), Mrs. Bernicker,
Ida Sarnotsky-Feder, David Yanofsky, Sam Bernicker
Sitting: Judith Yankelevich-Lantzevitzky, Tsirel Kamenetsy-Freedman, Sarah-Beilkeh
Slotnick-Yanofsky (z"l) (Treasurer), Rukhamah Siskind-Abelovich (Secretary),
Rachel Efros-Feldman, Guta Boyarsky

 

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