by Michael Walzer-Fass
SEFER KORELITZ is intended to serve as a monument this old and elite Jewish community which, for centuries on end, was the center of vibrant and variegated Jewish life, a community of diaspora Jews who bore the heritage of their people for many generations, struck root in alien soil, made steadfast their Jewish way of life, and maintained the continuity of their traditions.
The volume is meant to eternalize the memory of the dear ones who perished in the holocaust which overtook European Jewry during the Second World war, the memory of the town and its inhabitants, so that Jewish Korelitz may forever remain a star I n the sky - a small shining star, someone's star.
SEFER KORELITZ will always be a fountain of inspiration to the men and women of Korelitz who were born there, were reared in the town, were part of its life and tribulations, and who, at an early age, joined the Zionist chalutzim who went to the Land of Israel to rebuild its ruins. The volume will strengthen the townspeople who remained there until destruction stuck and escaped miraculously, after long and agonizing experiences. It will serve as a family album for those former residents of Korelitz who left the town before the war and found their places in other countries on the face of the globe, struck root there and went on to live traditional lives, and for those who were saved from destruction but have not as yet come to Israel.
Editing a memorial volume involves many problems. Each passing day makes gathering the material more difficult; a townsman who passed on takes with him recollections which then become lost forever. Also, this material must be studied, edited and reworked, so as to achieve a certain balance, since the purpose of the editing is to project not only the life of the town as a whole but also to emphasize the role of the individuals who lived there, particularly if they contributed something unique to its cultural and social experience.
The volume is also a history of sorts of regular events. In history, as a rule, the farther one gets away from the period, the better equipped is he to write its annals. Here the situation is quite the opposite: the nearer one finds himself to the events, the more accurate and authentic is the compiled material. Pre-war Poland had about 2,800 Jewish towns and cities. Of these, about 600 have been memorialized in Yizkor volumes of one type or another. Each volume is in communion with its town and its dear ones. So is this volume. It brings us into communion with our dear ones and our town, for a twofold purpose: to perpetuate the memory of those who were taken from us by the most brutal destruction recorded in human history since the fall of the Temple, on the one hand, and to portray to the younger generation the images of its progenitors, whence they came, what brought them there, and who were their preceding generations. The young people in Israel and abroad should be told about this other life, more modest but intensely civilized, of dreamers and fighters, of pious and honest people whose were lives mirrored their creed.
In ordinary times, the Jews of Korelitz would not have thought of photographing their town and its personalities, for future generations. It would never have occurred to them that the history of the town should be written in order to preserve the elite reputation of the locality. There have been people who jotted down reports of events, particularly in times of distress (and these were not rare in the history of Poland's Jews), but these generally became lost. Even the records of the Four Lands Committee did not remain intact. However, it so happens that Korelitz maintained a written community record, part of which has survived and has served as a genuine source of information. An attempt to keep the record going and to preserve the information has been made by Hassia Oberzhansky-Turtel of Korelitz. Thus SEFER KORELITZ is able to present a broad tapestry of the town and constitute a worthy monument to its memory.
It is a pleasant duty for me to acknowledge the aid and assistance of those who were helpful in the compilation of this volume - particularly Moshe Cinowicz, Yitzhak Alperowicz, and Yad Vashem, and of Israel I. Taslitt, who abridged the material and translated it into English. My thanks to the Achdut Press, its managers and crew, for their fine work, to United Platemakers, and finally to the members of the publication committees in Israel and the U.S. and to all who once called Korelitz their home.
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