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Yizkor Book

To perpetuate the remembrance of the destroyed Jewish Communities

Rozniatow, Perehinsko, Broszniow, and Neighboring Communities


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Our Yizkor Book

by Zecharia Friedler

Translated by Jerrold Landau from a draft by Isak Shteyn

Our Yizkor Book in remembrance of the destroyed Jewish community of Rozniatow needs no prefaces and clarifications. It is the only monument that we can erect for the martyrs of our shtetl, which drank of the cup of poison in its entirety. As long as there are still living witnesses, it is our sacred duty to gather all kinds of materials, our remembrances, knowledge, and feelings about our shtetl.

I want to relate here how our society, the Organization of Rozniatow Natives, came into being, and how the idea to edit this memorial book, dedicated to the memory of our community, arose. This happened in the years following World War Two, when there was a mass Aliyah 1 from Poland and the first immigrants from Rozniatow arrived. Among these immigrants was a friend of mine, whom I last saw thirty years ago. He came to see me from the immigration center in Haifa. There was great joy mingled with deep sorrow. Old reminiscences were awakened of the personalities of our dear relatives who perished so brutally.

Just a few years previously, we still received greetings from them, full of warm love and concerns, and today all are speechless … all dead.

Our parents, sisters, brothers, friends and colleagues perished terribly. The Nazis and their Ukrainian helpers did not spare young children, not even babies. All of a sudden our shtetl became a dreadful slaughterhouse from where it was impossible to emerge alive.

An important duty became apparent to me. All of us who were originally from Rozniatow, and now living in Israel and other countries, had a sacred duty to immortalize our martyrs, all those Rozniatower Jews who hoped to live a better, quieter and nicer life, but did not live to see it.

The next day, I met our fellow natives of the same town, Samuel Spiegel and Izak Rotenberg. I told them about the first immigrants and their poor material circumstances. We were convinced that our first task was to secure material help for them and to set them on a firm footing. Two days later in my apartment, the first gathering of a larger group of Rozniatower natives took place, and in this way, the organization of Rozniatowers in Israel came into existence.

We sent out invitations to all our countrymen from Rozniatow, Perehinsko, Broszniow and Szwaryczow. Simultaneously we announced the place and the date of the first general meeting in the press.

The meeting passed very solemnly. All former citizens of Rozniatow and surrounding communities living in Israel, the old people and the new immigrants, people who went through different infernos during their lives, and now who live in the State of Israel, met for the first time.

People became closer to each other and tight relations were formed amongst our fellow natives. People who had not seen each other for decades fell upon each other, embraced, kissed, and wept.

These were cries of joy and of grief.

A committee was elected to lead the new organization with Bendet Schwartz as its head. The committee undertook the task to collect money to help our brethren with their first requests. We clung to the hope that some of those rescued from the valley of fire, ashes, and death would still appear.

We organized a free-loan institution, which appeared to be very useful. Our society was helpful to newcomers with such matters as getting an apartment, finding work, etc.

With the help of our countrymen living abroad, we increased the funds in our account. The members of the committee were always ready to help everyone who needed it.

We honor the memory of our martyrs, coming together every year on a fixed day for an “Azkara” 2 for our saintly departed.

A very important deed was accomplished when we erected a monument for the martyrs of our shtetl in the Martyr's Forest in Jerusalem. Simultaneously, we understood the huge importance of compiling a Yizkor Book, this holy work, to which each Jew originally from Rozniatow should contribute by writing down his own or somebody else's reminiscences, facts, events, episodes, legends — all that is related to Rozniatow, to Rozniatower Jews, and to Jewish life in Rozniatow.

We felt that an important and holy duty was incumbent upon us, a duty that we are obliged to pay back to the tragically slaughtered Rozniatower community, with whom we lived and suffered together, dreamed, fought, and strove for better times, for a better life.

We accomplished this. First of all we strained all our resources to procure the material basis for editing and printing this book, which we are now presenting to you. The assistance that we received from our natives in America, Belgium and Australia was great.

We did all that we could to make this Rozniatower Yizkor Book look richer, more valuable in its content, better and more aesthetic in its exterior form.

Our shtetl was small and poor. But it had a rich way of living well established in Judaism and Jewish traditions. Jews lived in Rozniatow for centuries, and they endured misfortunes, torture, evil decrees, and persecution. Nevertheless, they laid down deep roots there.

All that characterizes Jewish life was present in Rozniatow. Our shtetl had interesting types of healthy common folk and fine scholars 3, Hassidim 4, and enlightened people (Maskilim) 5. There is plenty to tell about them and we tried to immortalize them, to erect a monument for all those people, whom we will never forget.

We are doing this for our exterminated shtetl Rozniatow.

With bowed heads and wrung hands, we stand before the modest monument to our vanished Jewish community. We unite with the holy memory of the killed martyrs.

We feel bad about those who were annihilated and will never be forgotten!

May this Yizkor Book serve as a permanent reminder to the future generations, who will see in it a document and a mirror of a rich way of life, which is no longer here.

May the scream that emanates from this book never be silenced, and never cease to be heard by people, until the end of time.

Zecharia Friedler

The committee at a memorial service in 1971
From left: Dr. Alter Berger of blessed memory and his wife, Bendet Schwartz,
the Cantor Binyamin Unger, Zecharia Friedler, Yehuda Har Zohar-Zauerberg and Mordechai Stern

 


Translator's Footnotes

  1. “Aliyah” means immigration to Israel. Back
  2. “Azkara” is a memorial gathering. Back
  3. “Scholars” is to be understood as scholars of Judaism. Back
  4. “Hassidim” are adherents of a Hassidic sect, who are faithful to their Hassidic Rabbis. Back
  5. “Enlightened” are adherents of the Haskala enlightenment which introduced secular wisdom into Judaism. Back

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