Table of Contents



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The Szrensk Martyrs

by Joseph Rimon (Granat)

Job's Tidings

After the Second World War, when the rumors proved to be true and we found that Jewish Szrensk no longer existed, I felt that a sacred duty rested upon each and every individual who was born there. Each of us had to take a hand in preparing a memorial for their kin, and preserve the memories of those who lived there. We had to kindle a Ner Tamid, a perpetual light for our martyrs.

At a meeting of Szrensk townsfolk, held in Tel Aviv, I undertook the onerous task of preparing a Yizkor Volume to perpetuate their memories.

The volume is divided into two sections. The first deals with the history of Szrensk until the outbreak of the Second World War on 1-9-1939. The second gives an account of the destruction of the community as a whole, and of the individual members.



How the Material Was Obtained

To begin with, I communicated with townsfolk living in Israel and abroad. I searched through Rabbinical and Hassidic literature and visited a number of libraries. Extensive correspondence followed with various countries, particularly U.S.A., likewise study of introductions to books written by former Szrensk rabbis as well as material in encyclopedias and lexicons. I found that a considerable amount was recorded about this in itself tiny spot; which, however, was not a mere geographical concept for the Szrensk townsfolk, but the city and Mother in Israel where they were born and grew up. Elderly one-time residents living in Israel or abroad provided reminiscences. I selected what seemed to be the most reliable narratives, together with essays and articles by people from the town.


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All this, with the material collected from the writings of outstanding authors and authorities, makes it possible to give a more or less complete picture of Szrensk, its personalities and worthies, its communal workers, its ordinary people and its public institutions.

In dealing with the Destruction in the second part of the volume, every possible source of information was exploited. Those who were sent to the Camps and were miraculously delivered relate here what they saw with their own eyes. From them we learn the last days of the community. I have done my best to give as complete a picture as possible of this epoch of terror and horror, which enables us to accompany our martyrs from the commencement of the war to the Mlawa Ghetto, and from there to Auschwitz.

A special chapter devoted to these martyrs has been arranged in Hebrew alphabetic order. It contains details of each family, its life, livelihood and activities; in order that their memories may remain green among those who once knew them, and among their own offspring.

Here an attempt has been made to give their own words, in order that the facts may speak for themselves.



The Question of Languages

Although I would have preferred to issue the entire volume in a single language, careful consideration and discussion with other townsfolk led me to choose Yiddish and Hebrew; as well as one section in English to enable Szrensk townsfolk and their families in English-speaking countries to read about their kin.



Repetitions


Szrensk was a small town. The contributors to this volume are mostly simple everyday folk, not professional writers. They wrote because the grief they felt, and the longing to provide a memorial for their birthplace, made them wish to give coming ages some idea of the last days of a representative small Jewish town in Poland. As a result repetitions are inevitable. However, I have done my best to reduce them to a minimum.


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Spelling of the Names

In the English section the name of our former home is spelt in the Polish fashion as “Szrensk”, but is pronounced as “Shrensk”. In early Rabbinical sources and elsewhere the name was written in a form corresponding to “Shrentsk,” and this spelling is followed in quotations from such authorities.



Pictures

I have collected pictures and photographs of individuals, groups and organizations. Here the eyes of the townsfolk gaze at the reader, and each individual may gaze on his family and friends once more. Let them remember the past and relive forgotten incidents. Let parents show t heir children the pictures of their martyred loved and dear ones.



Errors and Inaccuracies

I have checked all the facts given, as far as lay in my power. If any townsman finds an inaccuracy in a date or in an identification on a picture, I hope he will forgive me, for we have checked each and every detail as far as was humanly possible. We shall be grateful for any corrections.

I am well aware that my objective has not been an easy one. Our congregation has been completely obliterated. Not a single document has been left. When the Jewish towns were destroyed, all the spiritual treasures of each and every one of them also went up in flames. The material which passed out of existence include the journals of the various societies and the Book of the Hevra Kedisha (Burial Society) which has always been a source of local history; together with all the documents of the congregation and the various organizations which helped to create so rich and vital a social and economic life in these little centers. It was with considerable difficulty that I succeeded in finding material regarding our centuries-old community, from which came world-renowned scholars, saints, prodigies, famous Hassidim and great Rabbis.


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To tell the truth, I had decided after careful and prolonged consideration to give this task up, for I did not find enough material and saw no possibility of continuing. However, chance, Father or Providence, – whatever one wishes to call it – altered my plans. At the time I was about to withdraw I received a letter from my friend and comrade A. Kirshenbaum in America. He informed me that the late Reb Jacob Aaron of blessed memory, one of the camp survivors had had one single prayer in his last illness. He prayed that he might live to see a “Yizkor” volume on Szrensk printed for coming generations, and related that this had also been the prayer of our brethren who had gone to the furnaces. Upon learning this, I returned to my task with renewed energy, it being my aim to write about the community as a whole and each individual in it without distinction of class or status. For the whole community were holy martyrs. I therefore took a vow to continue and complete the work, for I believed and am assured that it will serve for coming ages. This vow of mine I have fulfilled to my best ability.

I have been privileged to complete the holy task, and have fulfilled my vow of setting up a memorial for our community, and making a permanent record of our brethren, sisters and comrades who live no longer… I feel proud of our people who come from Szrensk. They are neither writers nor poets not wielders of the pen, yet in their writings a special grace and charm can be found. And I am impressed by the language and style of our comrades, their solecisms and lack of polish. For it is a living witness to their vast love of their little home town. I must in particular thank my wife Lieba for the devoted help she has given me. Apart from the simple encouragement she provided, she helped me to obtain material, copying essays and examining documents. And she has also had no small share in the aesthetic aspects of the work.

It is my wish to thank all those who have helped in bringing about the publication of this Memorial Volume; all the companions, men and women, from Szrensk, who responded to my appeal and participated in the writing, whether much or little.


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In particular I wish to thank the Szrensk Landsmanshaft in USA, especially their Chairman, Joshua Marinovitz, and the members of the Publication Committee in America: Alex Kronenblatt, Chairman, Leib Mondrel, Harry Segal, Hymie Zellen, Hayim Jacob Marinovitz, Moshe Niborsky and Abraham Kirshenbaum, who devoted themselves heart and soul to the holy task, helping to raise funds and collect material, and who were among the first to write reminiscences. I express my personal appreciation to Moshe Niborsky for the essay “Szrensk and its Institutions”, of which he wrote the great part. Mention must also be made of Joseph Mordechai Zieman, who cooperated with the others in the work and writing involved.

My deep esteem is hereby expressed to Rabbi Avida (Zlotnik) for his aid and counsel in writing and shaping the entire work; to our friends Nathan Dobroshklanka and Nahman Korn who helped by reading the proofs and by their devotion to S. Rosenbaum, Chairman of the Szrensk Settlers' Organization in Israel, and to I.M. Greenbaum and Abraham Stavisky, members of the Publication Committee.

Mention should also be made of Reb Joseph Leib Feffer, who was one of the first to propose the publication of the volume.

I thank them one and all.



Foreword to the Alphabetic Memorial Chapter

by J. R. (Granat)


The Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet, written twenty-five hundred years ago and more, have been true of all generations throughout the Exile.


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Jewish history tells how our forefathers were slain, murdered and martyred throughout the ages; how countless Jewish communities have been destroyed, how Jewish blood has been shed with impunity. And yet our history tells us that at all such periods some miracle happened. Some other country opened its gates to the persecuted Jews, so that they could flee and survive.

But in our own generation, during the Second World War, when our brothers and sisters were martyred in the most cruel and savage extermination campaign known even in our history, we stood stricken and helpless before the unbelievable overwhelming of our brethren, kinsfolk and acquaintances without distinction of age or sex, when old and young, men, women and children were slaughtered like cattle.

The Szrensk martyrs were forlorn and forsaken before the vast apparatus of extermination, helplessly waiting for the murderers as they went about the slaughter in the bright noontide. There was none to aid or deliver them. All hope fled from their hearts. Yet even then, as survivors tell, there were some who believed that the storm must pass and they might yet live to see their beloved.

Like all the small towns of Jewry, Szrensk embodied its own chapter in the history of Polish Jewry; a chapter of suffering and poverty, and of the supernal heroism which was common to the early and later generations alike.

Outstanding writers have devoted essays and tales to the community and its members. One generation passed on legends of its outstanding scholars and Hassidim to the next. It had a genealogy of its own, and preserved its own spiritual heritage.



The Hallowed Martyrs

It was in a truly religious state of mind that I endeavored to record each of the hallowed martyrs of our one-time home. Each of them was a full universe, himself and his family. I have tried to relate something about each one, his work, his deeds for Jewry at large in one fashion or another, so that they may not be forgotten, particularly by their own kin: and so that their offspring and descendants may come to know those who fell hallowing the Name of Israel and the God of Israel, and thereby come to know the rock whence they themselves are hewn.


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I shall not attempt to put into words all that I felt while preparing these accounts of our near and dear souls, each of whom experienced all the sufferings of the seven Infernos.

I can only close by quoting the words of an ordinary Jew:

“The entire soil of Europe is steeped in the blood of our parents and brethren. But Poland above all was an ocean of Jewish blood. The Poles joyfully accompanied our brethren when they were taken to the death trains. Sometimes our dear martyrs were beaten by the Poles on their last road to the death camps. And they also looted their property of the murdered saints.”

I hope the reader will forgive me if I add that I could not, and also did not wish to, change or improve on the descriptions and accounts of our Szrensk heroes and martyrs.

May their souls be bound up in the boundless life


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The Family of the Rabbi

Yehuda Shraga Lichtig

Last Rabbi of Szrensk
  1. Rabbi Yehuda Shraga Lichtig, head of the family.
  2. Mrs. Roza Lichtig, his wife.

The Children

  1. Eliezer, the Rabbi's oldest son, who married and went to live in Markow, where he and his wife had 6 children.
  2. Zvi Menahem (Hersh Mendel) who married and went to live in Mlawa, where he and his wife had 2 children.
  3. Alto, their daughter who married and lived in Mlawa.
    The two surviving children are:
    1) Miriam Lichtig Zeidman, married, who lives in Haifa;
    2) Shlomo Noah Lichtig, married, who lives in Tel Aviv.


Rabbi Yehuda Shraga Lichtig

Accounts of the last Rabbi of the community are written by:

  1. Nathan Ben Menahem, his pupil, in a detailed article on Szrensk, dedicated to the family of F. Dobroszklanka.
  2. I. M. Greenbaum in his essay: Yom Kippur Eve in Szrensk before the Destruction.
  3. Abraham Stawisky, his pupil, in his essay: Szrensk and her Torah scholars.
  4. Joseph Rimon in: The Rabbis of Szrensk.

The Rabbi of Szrensk, who was appointed Rabbi of Mlawa, served as rabbi of all the communities in the Mlawa Ghetto. On the first day of Kislev, 5703 (10.11.42) he was sent from the Mlawa Ghetto to Treblinka together with two thousand others.



Zvi Menahem Lichtig

He married the daughter of Perlmutter, a miller in Mlawa.


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In his youth he studied in the Szrensk Bet Hamidrash and with his father, together with the young lads of the community. We studied at the Bet Hamidrash and did business together after he married.

Before his marriage he was a visionary. His vision was not money but the unity of Jewry. For he believed in the day when the love of Israel would unite all Jews, since that pure love was naturally part and parcel of the Jewish people.

There was never a speck on his clothes, as befitted a disciple of the sages. Even when he prospered he never lived a life of luxury.

In business dealings he was honest and straightforward, and was therefore popular among all who came into contact with him. He traded in timber together with partners, and was highly esteemed in Mlawa because of his friendly temperament and fine spirit. His partner Levkovitch, who was an important and well-known merchant in Mlawa, said to me once that Hirsh Mendel proved that it is possible to be straightforward even in business.

Before I left for Eretz Israel I visited him to say goodbye. He told me, “We shall meet again soon, because I am preparing to come together with my family to the destined home of the Jewish people, where the future of our nation lies”.

It is reported that he had liquidated all his affairs and prepared all papers, but war broke out before he could leave.


1. Shlomo Ossman, head of the family.
2. Chaya Ossman, his wife.
    The children 3. Gitel, 4. Hannah, 5. Bella, 6. Yitzhak, 7. Rivka, 8. Dvora, 9. Sarah

 

Shlomo Ossman

A son of David Ossman. Before he married he used to come to the Bet Hamidrash and study a “Blatt Gemora.” After he married he used to come to the Bet Hamidrash in the early morning and ask, “What's going to happen?” For him this question had a double meaning.


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First: when was the Holy Sabbath going to arrive, so that he could sit and study some chapters of the Mishna; and second, why do the righteous suffer while the world goes well with the wicked? He was not concerned with the material aspect in asking this. For him the problem was the spiritual one: Why is it that the wicked man who does not wish to serve the Creator has so much time, while the righteous one cannot serve his Creator properly because he has no time? Yet though he had to work very hard for a living, he always found time to work for the public benefit. Wherever he could be useful, he was an active member. He belonged to the Hevra Kadisha, and was one of the first to help a Jew in need. In fact, he would drop his own work and dash about raising money for families in distress, whom he would always look after.

1. Jacob Aaron Ossman, head of the family.
  1. Hannah (Hentche) Ossman, his wife.
    children: 3. Frieda, 4. Esther, 5. Rivka, 6. David.
Jacob Aaron Ossman

He was the last Chairman of the Kehilla, a son of Reb David Ossman and the son-in-law of Velvel Radzinowski (Malach). When young, he played an active part in the Tarbut cultural organization. Since he had a magnificent voice, he brought life and joy to every group, to the weddings of his friends, and wherever young people came together. He used to sing Jewish national songs. All the years I knew him he was sad and downcast. It seemed as though his smile and cheerfulness was forced, and a weight of trouble and care always lay on his shoulders.

He experienced all the trouble and distress which the Jews underwent in the Second World War. He survived the Mlawa Ghetto and Auschwitz (Oswiecim). We had hoped to greet him here in Israel but his heart gave way; and he died soon after his arrival in the United States.


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His death dumbfounded all the townsfolk in Israel. Each and every one had been sure that he would soon be coming to live among us. Fate desired otherwise. The best monument we can raise for him will be one of deeds that are worthy of his own.


1. Joseph Ossman, head of the family.
  1. Yetta Ossman, his wife.
    The children: 3. Rivka, 4. Penina, 5. Jacob Aryeh, 6. Moshe.

Joseph Ossman
A son of Reb David Ossman. When he was young, he became blind in one eye through an accident. He worked very hard to earn his daily bread. The family in America used to help him with money from time to time, and his brothers also assisted him. He maintained a strictly observant home and was always present at public prayer. By temperament he was full of faith.

He is described in the essay on “The Last Generation.”

1. Yehiel David Oronov, head of the family.
  1. Sheine Roza Oronov, his sister.

Yehiel David Oronov
The son of Samuel Haim Oronov. He kept the shop left by his father and lived a quiet, calm life.

1. Akiva Eidlitz, head of the family.
  1. Haya Rechel Eidlitz, his wife.
    The children 3. Hinda, 4. Abraham Joseph.
They were quiet and peaceable people, who worked hard for their living and were satisfied with what befell them, living according to the saying, “Happy is the man who is content with is lot.”


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1. Menahem Eizenstein, head of the family.
  1. Hannah Haya, nee Granat, his wife.
    The children 3. Henna, 4. Fahla.

Menahem Eizenstein
He was the son-in-law of Reb Moshe Granat, the husband of my sister. The love of Israel was ingrained in him. When he came to Szrensk on a visit as my sister's fiancé, he showed me a photo of Dr. Jacob Feitelowitz, who rediscovered the Falashas, the Jews of Abyssinia. He told me that this was a friend of his and he had tried to arrange to accompany him on his journey, because he wanted to help to develop those Jews. But Dr. Feitelowitz was against this because he was sure that he would not be able to stand the climate.

He was a voluntary communal worker because he wanted to help Jews, and helping other people was part of his very life. He was very careful not to insult anybody, respecting every individual person, being particular about human honour and self-respect. He was one of those who might be insulted but would not insult or hurt others.

He devoted many hours daily to the affairs of the community. There was about him the holiness of a pure conscience, of a man with clean hands who went his honest, assured way. He was trusted and understood by the people of Szrensk. My sister did not interfere with him or his habits. It was hard for her to be in the shop and also to look after two children. She herself was religious by nature and was also always prepared to help others. Their Sabbath was a Sabbath of Torah. On 10.11.42 they were sent from the Mlawa Ghetto to Treblinka.


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1. Isaac Meir Olshover, head of the family.
  1. Taube Olshover, his wife.
    The children 3. Shlomo, 4. Esther, 5. Zelda.
Isaac Meir Olshover, a brother-in-law of Perl Bonislawski and her husband Israel, was middle-aged when he met his end. He had a fine business and was quite well-off. He was fanatically pious, feared everything that was in any way new, looked after his children to make sure that they should not forsake the path of their parents, God forbid, and lived a righteous and proper life.

On 10.11.42 he was sent from the Mlawa Ghetto to Treblinka. His son Shlomo was sent to Auschwitz on 13.11.42 with the second transport.
 

1. Saul Altus, head of the family.
  1. Tcharna, his wife.
    The children 3. Genendel, 4. Esther.
He always had a smile on his lips. He smilingly fulfilled the verse “In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread.” The harsh struggle for existence never put him in a bad mood. He was indeed what is called a “folkstype”. His hard work did not exhaust him. And he could be claimed as a proof of the saying that “Work Sweetens Life.”
 
1. Shlomo Anshelewitz, head of the family.
  1. Rivka Anshelewitz, his wife.
    The children 3. Joseph, 4. Shoshana.
Shlomo Anshelewitz, the head of the family, worked hard to secure is existence. After many years of exhausting labour he saw the fruits of his toil. When he was a young man he had taken an interest in the communal organizations.


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At the selection of the first ntransport to Auschwitz he ran across to the other side, and was shot and killed on the spot.

Tzirel Arbiter
1. Sarah, her daughter.

A pure, honest, suffering soul, who had a very unhappy life. A very gifted daughter died of consumption in her youth. A second daughter committed suicide in the flower of her youth. Her husband, Reb Israel Leib, died of consumption when middle-aged. After each calamity Tzirel raided her hands to God, saying, “you and your judgment are right, yet what have I done to deserve it?”

And the same fate also befell her in due course.

1. Shepsel Aks, head of the family.
2. Hannah Rasha Aks, his wife.

All is lifelong Reb Shepsel lived from his toil. Thanks to his talented children, his workshop was well-known in the entire Christian neighborhood. Simply and straightforwardly he earned a good reputation, was successful, and was regarded as a well-to-do person in Szrensk.

His wife Hannah Rasha looked after the business side of the workshop. She went to Mlawa, established contact with the wholesale merchants, and brought back the wares for the workshop. A few words should be devoted to that quiet woman.

She bore all the worries and burdens which are to be found in every family. She attended to all the domestic details and was a devoted mother to her children. She could not influence the life of her sons, since that was marked out for them and once they finished Heder they went to help their father in the workshop, but she devoted all her energy and made sure that her daughters obtained an education. They studied together with all the girls of Szrensk.


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She made sure that they developed a deep love for all national values, and studied the Hebrew language and literature.

From Szrensk they were sent to the Mlawa Ghetto, and on 10.11.42 they were sent to Treblinka.

1. Shmuel Meir Bonislowski, head of the family.
  1. Yona Bonislawski, his wife.
    Daughters 3. Lily, 4. Shoshana, 5. Perel.
The son of Perel and Reb Israel, the last Gabbi (Warden) of the synagogue. They were comfortably off and kept their mother at home with them in her old age. They maintained the honest Jewish family life of a respectable Jewish home. He gave charity as was required. His was regarded as one of the better families in Szrensk. They were killed together with all the Szrensk people who were sent to Auschwitz.

See the essay in the section on “The Last Generation.”

1. Miriam Borenshtein.
Her children
Faiga, 3. Tova Sarah, 4. Yehezkel Isser, 5. Rivka, 6. Mendel.

Miriam Borenshtein was the wife of Shlomo Zalman Borenshtein, who is in Israel. She suffered for years, hoping to come to Eretz Israel with the children and reunite the whole family. Mendel Borenshtein was killed as a partisan, fighting the German and Lithuanian murders, in the Vilna district. See the essay in the section on “Szrensk Heroes.”

Mendel Borenshtein was the last of Abba Kovner's group to leave the Vilna Ghetto, and fell in battle against Polish and Lithuanian White Guards. All honor to his memory.


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1. Akiva Borenshtein, head of the family.
  1. Feiga Borenshtein (Granat) his wife.
  2. Gitel Rashe, their daughter.
The son of Miriam and Shlomo Zalman Borenshtein, a son-in-law of Moshe Granat. He lived a quiet life, and was a serious and hard-working person who always found time to study and read books. His wife Feiga was a quiet, calm creature, “as quiet as a dove” as they say in Yiddish, who never complained but worked and was always satisfied, always ready to help others and look after the poor people she know. She used to look after them and help them without any theories or philosophy. To her one can apply the saying, “All the honor of the Princess is turned inward.”

Akiva died in Auschwitz of starvation, simply going out like a light.

Hava Bilawski
She suffered all her life long. Religious by temperament, she married a second time in order to have children, and gave birth to a son and a daughter. The daughter died owing to a medical error. Her son Abraham Moshe was killed in the Polish-Bolshevik war. Until her death at the hands of the Nazis his mother believed that he was still alive. She was the last to leave Szrensk because she delayed, bidding farewell to the Mezuza of her door to remind herself of her son.

See the essay, “Moishele.”

1. Eliezer Bilawski, head of the family, cantor and slaughterer.
  1. Keyla Bilawski, his wife.
    The children 3. Hava Rivka, 4. Frume Dvora, 5. Zalman Hirsh
The son of Haim Bilawski, who took over the post of cantor after his brother-in-law Haim Baruch gave it up.


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Born and bred in Szrensk, he was a great scholar. His mother had died when he was a child. His father was miserly by nature and did not help him. He suffered but studied. Anyone coming to the Bet Hamidrash would find him immersed in the Gemara.

It was hard for him to obtain the post of cantor. He had a difficult struggle before he obtained this office and became the cantor of Szrensk.

He was taken from Mlawa on 10.11.42.

1. Zkena Rivka Bialistok.
The children 2. Noah, 3. Hava, 4. Rivka, 5. Sarah.

The Bialistok family was once of high standing in the community, Reb Abraham Bialistok, who was called Abraham Menashe['s, was the Rosh Hakehilla (Head of the Community).

Many of the family emigrated to America. Samuel. Bialistok, her husband, was not successful, and being a poor man he became a Shamash (Beadle). After his death the family was left in a very bad position but thanks to help from America and the help of the children as well, their situation gradually improved.

On 10.11.42 they were sent from the Mlawa Ghetto to Treblinka.

1. Esther Necha Beker
2. Shmuel Jacob Beker, her son.

Esther Necha was the wife of Tuvia Beker, who died of a heart attack on market day. His widow took over the bakery and displayed much energy, running it until her daughter married. (See the essay on “The Last Generation.”)

Shmuel Jacob Beker was sent to Auschwitz. Despite the dreadful situation he remained an optimist and consoled others all the time.


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However, he received an injury in his leg and could not run as fast as the Nazis demanded. As soon as they saw this, they sent him to the furnaces.

1. Shmuel Mordechai Beker, head of the family.
    Dinah Beker, his wife.
    The children 3. Meir, 4. David.
Shmuel Mordechai was the son of Red Meir Beker and was a tailor, making suits to order. He was not a rich man but made a respectable living and treated his widowed mother with all respect and honor. His wife was shot in Mlawa before the second transport to Auschwitz started out. The Jews were ordered to hand over their money. She was afterwards searched and 5 marks were found in her possession.

1. Abraham Beker, head of the family.
  1. Rachel (nee Granat) his wife.
    The children 3. Sarah, 4. Blima.

Abraham Beker was the son of Reb David Beker, and the son-in-law of Reb Mendel Granat of Racionz. In order to understand his business and his work in Szrensk, the workshop f Reb David his father must be described. This was a tailoring workshop, the products of which were sold to wholesalers in the large town of Mlawa. Abraham Beker purchased material, chiefly in Lodz.

All the family were workers. During the ten years before the Second World War their situation changed very much. The family moved to Mlawa and suffered great hardships. Their livelihood collapsed, the children dispersed and some went abroad. Reb David became paralyzed. Abraham and his family were the only ones left.


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They bore everything silently. In spite of their sufferings, he started again from the beginning and rebuilt the life of the family.

They were sent to Auschwitz from the Mlawa Ghetto.

Golda Granat nee Cohen Lask
The wife of Reb Moshe Granat, daughter of the locally well-known Hassid, Reb Moshe Cohen Lask of Racionz. She was brought up and educated in a Hassidic atmosphere, but at the same time was much influenced by the spirit of Haskala which her brothers Joseph Hayyim and Mordechai David introduced into their home.

When my father used to talk to me about the study of Torah as the fundamental principle of faith, my mother would intervene and remind me that her brothers were maskilim, far from being religious, and nevertheless devoted much of their time to the study of Torah, Talmud, etc. Every Saturday evening after Melave Malka the very shrewd dayan Reb Mottel would visit us. He used to say to mother, “Your father knew far more than I. It's a pity that he never became a Rabbi in Israel. We lost a great and good Rabbi.”

Golda Granat was a quiet and highly intelligent woman. I stress the word intelligent. She could weigh and analyze matters, and reached her conclusions for herself. I remember that one Sabbath day she sat on the steps in front of the shop reading the Tze'ena Ure'ena. The women sitting beside her told her, “Your husband always thought that your son Joseph would be a great Rabbi in this world, but now people say that he reads unholy books and also goes to the “tum'a” (pollution) – Tum'a being the term they used for the Tarbut library. Mother answered without any excitement, “Talk has never yet hurt anybody, and I don't regret it.”

During the First World War the Russians began with an advance into Eastern Germany and the Poles incited them against the Jews. Every Jew felt it was his duty to explain to the Russians that this was false.


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Mother once came into the shop, where she found my Father and my sister telling the Russians how false all the Polish incitement was. She told them in Yiddish, “Go and hide the goods. They are only out to loot, and none of your explanations are going to help.”

She was a devoted mother and understood her children very well. When they began to scatter and leave Szrensk, she gave them her maternal blessing of “Furt Gezunterheit” (Good health to you in your journey).

While father saw to the religious education of the children, mother always told me in Yiddish: “The important thing is to be good. It is not piety that counts.” In the course of her life she did a great deal of good, but it seems that people want to forget the good.

Golda Granat left a son Jacob in Argentina; grandchildren in London who are the sons of the late Wolf Granat, and Joseph Zvi Rimon in Eretz Israel. Her daughter Zissa (Naomi) died in Israel, leaving a son named Moshe Borochovitch. She was 74 when the Nazis murdered her. I have been unable to obtain information as to where they were sent from the Mlawa Ghetto. I have been told that she was sent to Soldaw, but I have also heard that on 10.11.42 she was sent to Treblinka with the first transport.

The family of Hannah Granat
The children
Zvi (Hirsh) Granat, 3. Pinhas Mordechai, 4. Gitel Shifra, 5. Hinda, 6. Leib.

Hannah Granat was the widow of Hertzka Granat, and helped her husband in all his charitable work for Szrensk Jews.

She lived a hard life. Yet with the strength of her faith that things would be better the next day, she brought up her children, always having a smile and a good word for everybody.


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On 10.11.42 she and her daughter Gitel Shifra were sent to Treblinka in the first transport from the Mlawa Ghetto.

Mordechai and Hirsh were sent to Auschwitz with the second transport on 13.11.42. They were selected by the Sonder Kommando. Mordechai Granat immediately became ill and went to hospital and from there to the crematorium. His brother Hirsh could not bear this and committed suicide, flinging himself against the electrified wires surrounding the camp.

1. Judah Golobroda, head of the family.
2. Esther Golobroda, nee Lichtman.
3. Their little daughter Fahla.

Both were from Szrensk. She was the daughter of Jacob Lichtman. They were the children of workers, and themselves worked very hard both as children and young people. They had to start worrying about the future when they were still young, and worked for others, saving money till they could become independent. After severe toil and effort, they managed to open a tailor workshop and lived a fine, decent family life.

But fate did not wish this to last long.

Moshe Hirsh Greenbaum
See the essay in the section called “Personalities” on Moshe Hirsh Greenbaum.

Rosa Greenbaum nee Turovsky
The wife of Reb Zvi Moshe's youth and a true Jewish mother boundlessly devoted to her children, overflowing with energy and full of life. She was tall, with a clear and pleasant voice.


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When she grew angry or was serious, she would finally dismiss everything with a wave of her hand and would begin laughing.

She belonged to a respected old Szrensk family and maintained the family traditions. On 10.11.42 she was sent to Treblinka with her husband.

1. Hannah Krul, nee Greenbaum.
2. Yehiel Meir Krul, her son.

She too was destroyed with the entire Greenbaum family. In traditional Hebrew literature, a good daughter used to be called a Kosher Daughter of Israel. Such was Hannah. Her heart was afire with a deep love for every national value and for all that was connected with the Jewish nation and its revival. IT is enough to mention her love of Hebrew and Hebrew literature. She gladly agreed to be librarian in the Szrensk library; for the sole reason, she told me, that it would allow her to read many6 Hebrew books.

She was shrewd and intelligent. I used to enjoy discussing things with her. All her comments and replies were carefully thought out. I had the honour of teaching her Hebrew and guiding her in the reading of modern Hebrew literature. All her comments and remarks were worthy of the daughter of a Talmid Hacham.

Her devotion and love of Jewry gave us the hope that she would teach her child in her own spirit, and bring him up to good deeds as a worthy son of his people.

But theirs was the fate of all Polish Jewry.

1. Haya Yutta Brown, nee Greenbaum.
2. Joshua Brown.


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1. Mordechai Joseph Greenbaum, head of the family.
2. Sheindel Greenbaum, nee Brown, his wife.

Mordechai Joseph and Haya Yutta were brother and sister. So were Joshua and Sheindel Braun, who came from Zhuromim. In each case a brother married a sister. They were hard-working people who lived peacefully. The Shechina rests among such people.

The only surviving member of the Greenbaum family is Isaac Meir, who is in Israel with his family.

1. Elia Nahman Gruda, head of the family.

2. Feiga Gruda, his wife.

Elia Nahman Gruda was an active member of the Hevra Kadisha and other societies.

It is worth mentioning that though all the older people were far from Zionism and the Zionist Funds, he was a member of the Jewish National Fund Commission and helped in Zionist activities.

Basha Greenberg.

2. Tova Greenberg
3. Matityahu Greenberg

Matityahu Greenberg was the son of Jacob and Basha Greenberg, and a grandson of Reb Binam David. He was one of fifty boys whom the Nazis caught in the Mlawa Ghetto. They tied their hands behind them with wire and flung them into the fortress cellars, where they were left for 24 hours. In the morning they were taken out into the open. Seeing so many Nazis with arms, they understood that this was the end. They were shot in groups of five in the presence of all the Jews in the Ghetto, though they were no more than children. My heart aches as I write these lines.

May the Lord avenge their blood!


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1. Yaakov Israel, head of the family.
  1. Haya Sara Greenberg, his wife.
    The children 3. Binem, 4. Matityahu.

Yehiel Greenberg was the son of Reb Binam David, who was a well-known Hassid and followed the Alexander Rebbe. Yehiel was not lucky. He shifted from one kind of business to another, and barely made a living, if at all. Yet, he was always cheerful and optimistic.

His wife, Haya Sara, was the daughter of Hayim Bilavski and a highly intelligent woman. She seemed to be happy and cheerful but was actually quite different. The suicide of her friend, Rivka Arbiter, had a deep effect on her.

The pair lived a happy life together until the common fate of Polish Jewry befell them as well.

They have a daughter in Tel Aviv.

Feiga Dobroshklanka and her daughter Hannah

Nathan Dobroshklanka describes the family of his mother Feiga in the section “Memories and Reminiscences.” However, I was a close neighbour of the family and on very friendly terms with them, so I feel it my duty to give some account of the life of this exceptional woman.

Feiga married her husband Mendel Dobroshklanka when they were both seventeen years old. He had already earned an outstanding reputation as an illlui (prodigy) and outstanding scholar. Her life was one long chain of tragedies. If ever the situation improved it was only for a brief period, for the shadows always came back to her home.

The first tragedy was the untimely death of her husband when he was no more than 28 years old.


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Feiga remained a widow with six orphans but her spirit was not broken. Sighing, she said, “It seems to have been God's will” and she began her struggle for the upkeep of her family. She succeeded in what she undertook and found encouragement and consolation in her exceptional children, who developed admirably.


Feiga Never Wept

The Angel of Death continued to visit her home. Her oldest son, Isaac Baruch, a handsome lad of outstanding scholarship and general culture and behavior, suddenly developed inflammation of the brain at the age of 18 and passed away a few days later. All the Jews of the town attended his funeral. Weeping could be heard on every side, but Feiga never wept. She went to the gravesite and said: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be blessed. God and his judgment are just!” She did not wish to grieve her sorrowing children by weeping herself.

Soon after the 1905 revolution in Russia and Poland, her two sons Gedalia and Elia Joseph emigrated to America, leaving Feiga with three children, Hannah, Rella and Nathan. The latter is still with us, having survived Hitler and come to Israel with his family.


A Bitter Fate

Her oldest daughter Hannah was exceptionally charming, gifted and lavishly endowed with good qualities, Feiga's shop of textile goods developed and grew thanks to Hannah, who attracted non-Jewish purchasers and residents of the town and the surrounding villages. She married Baruch Lifshitz, a scholarly and talented young man. They had no children for ten years. A daughter was then born to them to the joy of the whole family, but Hannah became sick immediately after the birth with a chronic illness from which she suffered the rest of her life.


Rella

The youngest of Feiga's children was Rella, who was the pride of Jewish youth in Szrensk.


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She was beautiful and full of Jewish and general knowledge. A proud Jewess, she studied day and night, and this affected her health. After becoming betrothed to the son of Rabbi Bronrot of Czechanowa she developed a chronic illness of which she died. The grief of the youth was very great, but nothing to compare with the sorrow in Feiga's home. As far as she was concerned, the light had gone out and the sun was set. That was all that was left after this brave woman had struggled and suffered for so long.


A Brief Ray of Light

Feiga's son Natan and his family brought a ray of light to her home. Feiga very much loved her little granddaughter Goldke (Zahava). Once when I was in her courtyard where Goldke was playing, Feiga said to me, “Just look at the bright eyes of the little thing.” But when Nathan and his family left Szrensk, his mother's home was left desolate again.

I clearly remember how one morning, while I was in their house, I heard a voice full of entreaty and weeping. I dressed and opened the door of my room. She noticed this and said to me, “I am pouring out my heart to the Creator and reciting all my troubles to Him, though He knows them perfectly well. And yet the truth is that my life might have been much worse, for distress is boundless.” Such was the spirit of the woman.

On one occasion she came to my late brother-in-law Menahem and suggested that he should buy her house, which she wished to sell. When my brother-in-law asked her why she wanted to sell it to him of all people, she answered that she wanted to live with a God-fearing Jew as her neighbour, and hear the Kiddush being beautifully recited on the Sabbath. Just as she had been accustomed to hear the Kiddush when her son was living with her, so she now wished to hear Menahem in her old age. She also wished to hear the chant to which the Talmud is studied.


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Two of her sons are now living in America. Her son Nathan and his family now live in Israel, as well as the daughter of Hannah with her family.

Among the Jews there is a saying that in some cases death marks out the entire life of a person. It can be said that this proved true in the case of Feiga, who was sent to the Treblinka death camp on the 10th November 1942, together with her daughter Hannah.

1. Azriel Hamburger, head of the family.
  1. Hendel Hamburger, his wife.
    The children 3. Moshe, 4. David, 5. Abraham.

Reb Azriel played a significant part in the social and social aid activities of the town, where his energy was widely felt. He was a member of all such societies as the Hevra Kadisha, Bikkur Holim, etc. For years he was Communal Representative, took part in the management of the Co-operative bank, belonged to the Gemilat Hessed Fund, and was devoted heart and soul to everything he undertook. His Zionist work should also be appreciated. “Fancy a decent and serious Jew devoting himself to foolishness!” was what the local Jews used to say to him when they were opposed to Zionism. “Children can be silly, but a householder!” Still, Reb Azriel helped the Jewish National Fund, and took charge of the special dish placed by the Jewish National alongside the dishes placed by all other charities in the House of Study on Erev Yom Kippur. In those days this greatly helped the young people. He passed through various times, good and bad, and towards the end lived under very difficult conditions.

He was sent to Treblinka on 10.11.42.

His son David had a business at Grodszanz in Pomerania. When the war broke out, he was with his father in Szrensk. He returned home to liquidate his business and was shot on the way by the Nazis.


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1. Naftali Hertzke Hiller, head of the family.
    Dvorah Hiller, his wife.
    The children 3. Haya Yetta, 4. Tzivia, 5. Abraham.

A deeply rooted and worthy Jewish family (mentioned in the essay on F. Dobroshklanka by Nathan Ben Menahem). He was a scholar who believed that tomorrow would be better, and struggled hard to support his family decently. He perished together with all the other Jews in Szrensk.

His brother Gedalia is in Israel.

1. Zvi Hersh Hiller, head of the family.

  1. Puah Hiller, his wife.
    The children 3. Golda, 4. Rella, 5. Esther

Reb Zvi Hersh belonged to one of the oldest families in Szrensk, which had once claimed that “Torah and well-being are found together,” but that was a matter of the past. (See the essay on the family of F. Dobroshklanka, written by Nathan Ben Menahem.)

Reb Zvi was born and brought up in Szrensk by wealthy parents. In his youth he absorbed Torah and the teachings of Hassidim, and was filled with them to overflowing. He would astound anybody discussing the Talmud with him by his extensive knowledge of the Talmud and its commentaries. He was regarded as one of the leading scholars in the town.

Fortune did not smile on him. He was unsuccessful in business transactions, and was rather absent-minded, even though he always quoted the Talmud saying: “He who gives life will give food.” Both he and his wife worked hard to make a living. Finally they moved from their birthplace to the neighbouring town of Zhuromim, apparently believing that “he who changes his place changes his luck.”

From Zhuromim they were expelled to the Mlawa ghetto, and from there to Auschwitz.


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1. Elisheva Zeeman

2. David Ziman.

See the article “Elisheva forsees the Future.” Here I wish to add details about her family. Elisheva Zeeman was a daughter of the well-known Kuzmer Hassid, Reb Abraham Moshe, who himself had regularly visited the great and saintly Reb Ezekiel Taub of Kuzmir, one of the disciples of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizansk. Here I wish only to add that the great saint and Kabbalist, Reb Zelig of Szrensk, was a comrade of the saintly Reb Yehezkel.

Elisheva's mother was a milliner named Shprintze, and the old folk called her Sheva Shprintzes. It used to be told that on Saturday night in winter Hassidim of that neighbourhood who went to the Kuzmer Rebbe used to come and celebrate a cheerful Melave Malka (end of Sabbath celebration “to speed the Sabbath Queen”). The family name had been Marhayyim. All important Hassidim were given the names of the city where the Rabbi they followed kept his state. The Marhayyim family is a widespread one in Israel. Elisheva in her own time had learned a great deal about Hassidim from her parents. When she married the Gerrer Hassid, Reb Mendel Zeeman, she continued the tradition.

Elisheva Zeeman was sent to Treblinka on 10.11.42.

David Zeeman succeeded in leaving Poland and reaching Russia. However, the German caught him, in Bialystok I believe, in 1941, in the course of their advance to the East. He was shot while standing at a window.

O earth, do not cover their blood

1. Aaron Zelig Zeeman, head of the family.
  1. Yutta Zeeman, nee Koraltchik, his wife.
    The children 3. Israel, 4. Abraham

A good and faithful comrade who always helped generously.


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His friends found a home with him. The son of Reb Mendel Zeeman, he took an active part in all cultural institutions, helping to build up the library. He was one of the founders of and chief actors in the local theatre. He was a member of the financial institutions, and always tried to provide loans without interest (Gemilat Hassadim) for poor people. A good son of the Jewish people, he helped all Zionist activities. He particularly honored the commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother.” His family life was a happy one.

On 10.11.42 he was sent from the Mlawa Ghetto in the first transport, together with many other Szrensk Jews.

His wife Yutta was a good daughter of Israel, who helped to implant the love of the Jewish people and the Hebrew language and literature among the youth. She helped all the Zionist funds, and participated in all Zionist activities. She participated in building up the Hebrew and Yiddish library, and went from house to house to collect money for the Jewish National Fund. Also she regularly helped the local poor folk.

She perished together with all the other Szrensk Jews.

1. Shlomo Zeeman, head of the family.
2. Zissa, nee Shapiro, his wife.

Both of them were born in Szrensk. Zissa Shapiro was Reb Mendel Shapiro's daughter. In this volume, the Shapiro family is described in the essay on “The family of F. Dobroshklanka” by Nathan. Shlomo Zeeman, a son of the Gerrer Hassid, Reb Mendel, was popular among the local population, and sacrificed himself for the family when their economic situation was a bad one. At that time Shlomo was the only one who helped, and used all means to ensure that the family did not collapse. Zissa Shapiro took part in the social and cultural life of the town, and from time to time used to read essays.


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I have heard that she was active in the Lodz Ghetto, where she helped the Jewish refugees from other towns.

They too shared in the fate of all Polish Jewry.

1. Tzivia, nee Itzkowitz, Zelenka.
2. Shlomo Zelenka, her son.

Tzivia was an active member of the local theatre, taking part in all performances which were put on by the Szrensk amateur group.

It is reported that she did not wish to part from her mother, and was killed together with her.

1. Golda Zilberstein, nee Nash.
2. David Zilberstein, her husband.
3. Abraham, 4. Israel, 5. Leibush, 6. Malka

Golda was the daughter of Reb Israel Nash. She married a young man of very good family in Zhuromin and conducted a pious household. Her children were given a national religious education. Even when they were badly off, she generously supported the National Funds – a quality she inherited from her father. She was a member of societies for aiding others and for helping the poor.

The family was expelled from Zhuromin, and was murdered in Auschwitz.

1. Yaakov Israel, head of the family.
2. Devorah (Hava Malka's) Israel, his wife.
3. Noah, who married a girl from Szczegowa.
   The children 4. Shlomo, 5. Faiga, 6. Etta

Reb Yankel Moshe was a very quiet person who did all his duties in the community without any pretentions. When people complained about the taxes, he merely used to smile and say, “they have to be paid.”

He died in 1940. His oldest son Noah married a girl of Szczegowa. His son David is in Israel.


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His wife Devorah and her children were sent from the Mlawa Ghetto to Auschwitz.

Shlomo was sent on 13.11.42 with the second transport. He died of starvation and suffering.

1. Leah Fruma Itzkowitz, widow of Reb Shlomo Itzkowitz.
Her sons 2. Shlomo, 3. Yehuda Aryeh.

After Reb Shlomo Itzkowitz died, his son Alter supported the whole family.

I have been informed that Leah Gruma Itzkowitz died in Soldau, together with her daughter Tzivie.

1. Hayyim Iglowitz, head of family (Muster's son-in-law).
2. Penina Iglowitz, his wife.
3. Binam, their son.

Hayyim Iglowitz was the son-in-law of Aaron Yitzhak Muster. His mother-in-law, who had been born to the Kodzbarski family, belonged to an old and respected family of the town.

He was one of the fifty Jews who was caught in the Mlawa Ghetto and were shot in groups of five.

May the Loard avenge his blood!

1. Istshembski, head of the family.
2. Sheindel, nee Greenberg, his wife.
3. Binem, the son of Sheindel and her first husband, Hayyim Baruch Sherpski.

Istshembski was the second husband of Sheindel Greenberg, Binem David's daughter.


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Her first husband had been Hayyim Baruch Sherpski, to whom she bore her son Binem.

Sheindel was a successful businesswoman. She introduced her men folk into the cloth business, in which she made a good living.

1. Epstein Itzkovitz.
2. Sarah Yutta Itzkovitz, is wife.

They were very good people, but had no children. It was their habit to help people in secret, either with charity or by good deeds. They are described by Zelig Pfeffer.

Abraham Cohen, head of the family.
2. Miriam Cohen, his wife.
3. Their daughter Hannah Rosa.

It would be possible to write a great deal about Reb Abraham Cohen and his faithful service to the Jewish community. As long ago as in the days of Czarist Russia he served in an honorary capacity as Secretary of Szrensk Kehilla.

A first-class scribe, “he could hold the pen well in his hand,” as people used to say of somebody with a beautiful handwriting. He was therefore exploited for all duties in the community.

Reb Abraham could engage in friendly conversation. He had a considerable narrative talent, and was full of tales about towns and communities and people. It is a great pity that he never put any of those tales in writing.

Only a few days before I left for Israel he told me many tales, one of which I remember. This was about Reb Pinhas Petrikowsky, who left Ratawa village and was chased by dogs. He thought they were wolves, went to the police and demanded that a group of men should be organized to go out and kill them.

Reb Abraham engaged in the timber trade, which was a family business.


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When he proved unsuccessful he quoted the old Jewish joke which goes back to Abraham Ben Ezra: “If I were to deal in shrouds, nobody would die.” When the First World War broke out, he was the first victim of robbery for Russian soldiers destroyed his whole stock of timber.

Reb Abraham was popular with all the townsfolk. He was honest in his dealings with everybody who came into touch with him. Such behavior is its own blessing.

From the Mlawa Ghetto they were sent to Treblinka.

(See the essay on “The Last Generation.”)

Tova Rasha Korn, nee Olshever
Her son Zalman Hirsh Korn (see p. 451).
Her grand-daughter Meyra Korn.

The martyred tova rasha

Wife of Reb Baruch Korn, she engaged in the battle of existence at his side in bad times as in good, despite all the suffering and bitterness. She was the daughter of the Zwolin Hassid Reb Simha Meir Olshever, the only Zwolin Hassid in the community. He prayed in the shtiebel of the Gur (Gerrer) Hassidim, and always related the greatness of the Zwolin rebbe. The two facts he regretted were that Hassidism in Szrensk was no longer what it had been; and that the Bet Hamidrash youngsters took no interest in the past history of Szrensk and its early and outstanding Hassidic figures.

Tova Rasha grew up and was educated in this Hassidic atmosphere, where her father constantly spoke about Hassidic life and thought in general, and about his own revered rebbe in particular. In those days Jewish girls did not go to school and even their religious education was largely restricted to the home, where an attempt was made to ensure that they grew up to be truly God-fearing and constantly prepared to perform mitzvot and do good deeds.

I always had the impression that this gentle woman was weighing and measuring everything she did. She was devoted to her children to the point of self-sacrifice; a true “Yiddishe mama.”


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During the First World War a German soldier entered her shop to take a pocket lamp without paying. Her daughter Zilla, who was minding the shop at the time, warned him to remember what the women of Belgium had done to German soldiers. The furious fellow drew his revolver to shoot her. At that moment the mother appeared, and flung herself between them, flinging her arms out, closing her eyes and awaiting the bullet…

She watches the goings-on in her home… her children rise and praise her (Proverbs XXXI 27-28).

The modern commentary known as the “BIUR” (initiated in the 18th century by the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn) explains that this passage refers to the woman who quietly observes what is going on among her household at every step, and thanks to whose activities no time or place is left for idleness. It is told that an outstanding saint had a practice whereby his Hassidim alone sat at table with him at the Friday evening Sabbath meal, and his household were not present there at all. One Sabbath he was the guest of another great rabbi where all the family, including the rabbi's wife, were present at table together. When the guest asked who this woman was that was sitting at the table, his host answered, “This is Malkeniu” (the affectionate diminutive of the name “Malka,” which means “queen” – i.e., the queen of the home). The surprised guest said, “Yes, but Malkeniu is also a woman.” “Well, you see,” answered the host, “The verse, 'she watches what is going on in her home' means that the honour of a king's daughter lies within walls. By virtue of the modest and quiet queen here we sit and eat at our ease; and the atmosphere of tranquil joy to which men of worthy deeds and faith attain should be credited to the women folk who bring happiness to the home.”


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Those who remember the quiet, gentle Tova Rasha of blessed memory with her aristocratic countenance and characteristic calmness, and who had an opportunity of observing her tranquility under all conditions and her modest, all-comprehending smile and how hard it was for her to bother anybody even at the most dreadful times, will understand the full meaning of that last chapter in the Book of Proverbs, which commences: “Who can find a woman of valour.”

When I hear her son Nahman, who lives in Israel, talking with his characteristic calmness, I am reminded of his departed mother of blessed memory.

When the War began she moved to Ostronice. Thee she was murdered by the Nazis, during the Expulsion of October 1942.

1. Jacob Lichtman, head of the family.
2. Dinah Malka Lichtman, his wife.

They were an old couple who had suffered a great deal in their lives. All their children were married and had large families. Most of them remained in Szrensk. After all kinds of experiences in business, he became the Mikveh keeper. He received part of the Mikveh earnings for his upkeep, and participated in the life of the community. He was a member of the Hevra Kadisha, and also belonged to the Psalm Reciters, the Havrat Tehilim. On 10.11.42 he was sent to Treblinka.

Feiga Lichtman
Feiga was the daughter of Reb Yankel Lichtman and the wife of Isaac Jacob Anshelewitz, who was born in Szrensk. She gave considerable financial help to the Szrensk youngsters when the library was set up. After her husband died she married a second time, her new husband being a man from Zhelon. She met her death in Auschwitz.

A daughter lives in Israel.

1. Beinish Lichtman, head of the family.
2. Toba Lichtman, his wife.


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Beinish Lichtman, the son of Jacob Lichtman, had a tailoring workshop in Soldau. When the war broke out he went there to liquidate his business. The Germans caught him and shot him on the way.

1. Eliyahu Isaac Lipshitz, head of the family.
2. Rachel Lipshitz, his wife.
   The children 3. Adel, 4. Hava, 5. Hinda, 6. Blima, 7. Deborah

Eliyahu Isaac was the son of Reb Jacob Shimshon, a respected householder. The widely branching Lipshitz family was held to be well-to-do and in a satisfactory material position.

Reb Eliyahu Yitzhak, a Gerrer Hassid, prayed in the Gerrer Shtiebel, where he was the regular reader of the Torah. When the Shtiebel was liquidated and the Gerrer Hassidim went to the Bet Hamidrash to pray, he continued to read the Torah for the entire congregation.

It should be noted that on Mondays and Thursdays he always used to wait until the last minyan (group of ten or more who said their prayers together) to make sure that somebody should be present who could read the Torah for them. Every inhabitant of Szrensk who can remember how much business was done in his shop on Thursday, will realize what a sacrifice this was.

His hand was always open to help the needy. Sometimes he himself would go round making a collection for a poor Jew.

He died in Szrensk during the war. His wife Rachel was murdered by the Germans in the Mlawa Ghetto when they found two little rolls there. They have a son in Israel.

1. Pinhas Lipshitz, head of the family.
2. Haya Miriam, nee Sherpsky, his wife.
   The children 3. Abraham, 4. Sarah, 5. Feiga, 6. Tzenka


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Pinhas, who was the son of Reb Yankel Samson, was one of the ten hostages who were arrested by the Germans after the occupation. He was a traditional Jew, bound to the laws of the torah heart and soul. On that night when the ten Jews were arrested, and cries and weeping and prayers burst from the Bet Hamidrash, Reb Pinhas sat quietly in the jail, reciting the Viddui, the Death Confession, as though this were the assured fate of any Jew. In this way he made ready for what was to come. It was not easy for this small town merchant to make a living. He made it his business to bring up and educate his children in the traditional Jewish spirit. At the same time he loved his people and his land, and showed this in a practical fashion. He bought land in Israel and sent two daughters. They have established families in the country.

I remember the first celebration of the 20th of Tammuz in Szrensk, at the home of Pinhas Lipshitz. After the ceremony and the addresses, refreshments were served. Pinhas and his wife, Haya Miriam, would not permit anybody to help them. Their faces were bright with pleasure for such an occasion.

They were sent to Auschwitz with the second transport.

1. Feivel Lipshitz, head of the family.
2. Devora Magna Sheva's, his wife.
   The children 3. Etka, 4. Shmuel, 5. Shimon, 6. Tzvi.

Reb Feivel was born in Mlawa, and married the daughter of Magna Sheva. She gave the young couple her drapery shop, from which they made a decent living.

He was a yeshiva student, who studied a great deal and engaged in communal activities from his boyhood up, as I remember from the Mlawa yeshiva at which we studied. He was energetic and devotedly carried out every duty he undertook, participating in all the public institutions in Szrensk.


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His young son Shmuel was sent from the Mlawa Ghetto to Auschwitz in the second transport. Together with other young fellows from Szrensk he was chosen for a builders' school. They believed that they would be able to hold out there. But the suffering was too much for him and he died in the middle of his work.

Zana Lipshitz,
2. Zvi Meir, 3. Isaac, 4. Adela.

They were a poor hard-working family. Their father died and Hersh Meir was the only earner. He engaged in all kinds of hard work to earn a living for the family, which kept going thanks to help from America.

1. David Yomtov Levirtan, head of the family.
2. Haya Levitan, his wife.

   The children 3. Hannah, 4. Aviezer.

His spirit sometimes fell because of his bad situation, but it promptly rose again. He was lively in all fields. His jokes and casual conversation were well worth hearing, as well as the Hassidic stories with which he was well acquainted. Young at heart, he spent his time with the younger people, who exploited him for dealings with the merchants. He was the son-in-law of Reb Yankov Shulem, studied a great deal and was a shrewd scholar. When he failed to support his family and lost his money after a number of bitter experiences, he took up a calling which he disliked, and became a “melamed.” It should be noted that his Heder did not resemble those which were common among the religious Polish Jews in those days. He improved it and introduced changes.

Beloved by all, he was devoted to his family. He was not a happy man despite the frequent smile on his lips. On 10.11.42 he was sent to Treblinka with his family.

1. Reb Mendel Landau, head of the family.
2. Tzipora Landau, his wife.
   The children 3. Freidel, 4. Hannah, 5. Kina, 6. Bella.

Reb Mendel was a grandson of Reb Yerahmiel Landau, the great Hassid of Mlawa, and the son of Reb Isaac Meir Landau. At home he imbibed the Hassidic atmosphere. He himself prayed in the “shtiebel” (little house of prayer) of the Alexander Hassidim. After this shtiebel was closed, he went to pray in the bet Hamidrash. In spite of his modesty and simplicity, he was known to have a wide range of knowledge and was a sound student of the Talmud, even though he did not spend much time in the Bet Hamidrash. Only on one occasion did I have an opportunity of hearing him take part in a lively debate. This was an evening when Reb Moishe Leib was leading a group who were studying the Mishna test of Tractate Sukkah. At the same end of the table sat Reb Boruch Lifshitz (who died in Israel) and Reb Mendel Landau. They reached the following question: If a person has said the blessing for sitting in the Succah and rain compels him to stop eating and leave the Succah, and then rain stops so that he can return to the Succah to finish his meal – is he required to say the blessing another time? I then heard the opinion of Reb Mendel, and that was a surprise for me, as I had never before heard him take part in a discussion on Torah.

On the High Holidays, he was the regular Baal Shaharit (Reader of the Morning Prayers) in the bet Hamidrash (see the essay on “The Last Generation”).

Before the final destruction he began to take part in communal life and was elected a member of the Bank Committee. (See the photo of the Bank Committee members.)

Reb Mendel and his wife were sent to Treblinka.

May their memories be blessed.


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Hannah Sherpski, nee Landau and her son Raphael.
She was the daughter of Reb Mendel and Tzipora, and was born in Szrensk. She married Zeev Sherpski whose grandfather had studied in Szrensk at the famous Yeshiva of Rabbi Joshua trunk (Reb Shiele Kutner) together with the rabbi brothers Graubard. Two characteristics of Tzipora's daughters may be mentioned: the warm and pleasant smile which they inherited from their mother and their open-heartedness. There was always a smile on Hannah's face, and I would like to believe that she retained her smile till her last day.

Hannah had a boy and a girl who were educated in the spirit of tradition, to love their people and what they held dear. Her household was conducted in accordance with the best of Jewish tradition.

A fortnight before the outbreak of the Second World War, her husband Ze'ev and her daughter arrived in Israel as tourists. Hannah and her son should have arrived soon after, but it was too late and they never came.

May their memory be blessed.

1. Hayyim Isaac Mondry, head of the family.
2. Mondry, his wife.
   Two children.

He was the son of Reb Shmuel and Tzipora and was born in Szrensk. Everybody who studied in the Heder will remember how charming and generous he was, helping all who came to him. He was openhearted and humorous and always smiling.

He married a relation from the town of Biezhon. The marriage proved a success, but he did not do well in business. He was always a worker and thinker, and did not remain idle in Biezhon either. He made every effort to support his family decently, passing from one line of business to another and making his way.


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He had a sentimental feeling for Szrensk. I remember that when I was in Biezhon, I told him “I'm looking for an opportunity of going to Szrensk. “Don't worry,” said he, “we'll arrange it.” When I came back an hour later, he said to me, “Come, let's go.” But when I wished to pay he refused and said to me, “Why must you cause a scandal?” Everybody who came into contact with him liked him. He always remained a good comrade of people in Szrensk.

All his family were murdered among the Biezhon martyrs.

Rachel Miantchin nee Naach
She was the daughter of Reb Israel Naach, and when young married a member of Miantchin family from Szierpce. People who remember her report that she was called Ruchele. She was a nice and good-hearted girl. She had five children. Two boys who intended to study at the university died young. This calamity affected her health. Two daughters are in Israel. She, her husband and her other daughter were expelled together with all the other Jews of Szierpce to Nowydwor, and afterwards to Warsaw. They were murdered together with all the other Jews of Szierpce.

Esther Rachel Maranowitz
She was the wife of Reb Israel Meir and the mother-in-law of Reb Abraham Zalman Niborski. Her son David is in Israel with a grandson, while another two sons are in America. Her only daughter Haya Hodes was killed, together with husband and children.

Esther Rachel Maranowitz spent her last years in easy circumstances thanks to the allowance she received from her children in America, who fulfilled the Commandment, “Honour thy mother” to the utmost.

The story is told that at her daughter's wedding the mother of the bridegroom, Yetta Haya Wolffs, proudly referred to the fact that her children were in Szrensk together with her; to which the quiet and peaceable Esther Rachel answered, “Let them be blessed wherever they are.”


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She had a boundless love for her children. When the ultra-orthodox of the town began to complain that her children were going the wrong way, she answered in her usual calm voice that she certainly could not see that her children were harming anyone at all. On the contrary, they were working hard and making an honest and decent living.

Hava Mitzenmacher, nee Cohen and her daughter Batya.
She was the daughter of Reb Abraham Cohen and married Shlomo David of Szrensk. They had a daughter Batya. Her husband died after a protracted disease. A likeable, pleasant and good person, she suffered much in her young life, and had little luck or happiness. She was destroyed at Auschwitz together with her daughter. A sister lives in Israel.

1. Samuel Mondry, head of the family.
2. Miriam Tzipora, his wife.

They left a widely branching family. There is one son in Israel and two children in America. Their daughter Haya Sarah married Joseph Mordechai Zeeman of Szrensk and was murdered with her parents. It is related that Reb Shmuel left home to support himself when he was very young, paying no attention to his aristocratic family, who objected.

The family always lived in Szrensk and supported all the enterprises of the Jewish community. During the final years he stopped working because the support he received from his children in America was enough to maintain his family in worthy fashion.


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His wife Miriam Tzipora is described in the first section on Szrensk before its destruction, in the essay called “Hannah and her Seven Sons” or “Miriam Tzipora bids farewell to her youngest son.”

On 10.11.42 they were sent from the Mlawa Ghetto to Treblinka.

1. Shlomo Malevantshik, head of the family.
2. Sarah Malevantshik, his wife.
3. Leibel Malevantshik, his brother.

Shlomo was given a traditional Jewish education, as was usual in those days, and was popular. His parents died at an early age, and this had a grave effect on him. He shut himself into his dwelling and ceased all contact with the outer world. Finally he submitted to the pressure of his friends, opened the doors and returned to social life.

Shlomo experienced the most dreadful tragedy of those dreadful times. His brother Leibel was among the fifty Jews chosen by the Nazis to be killed in the Mlawa Ghetto. His brother Shlomo was among the fifty who were given the duty of burying them, and he heard his brother's voice crying, “Shlomo, what are you doing, I am still alive!”

1. Matityahu Matus, head of the family.
2. Rasha Matus, his wife.
   The children 3. Zvi, 4. Aaron, 5. Hinda, 6. Pessa.

Matityahu was the son of Reb Mendel Heinmacher or Reb Mendel Melamed, of an old Szrensk family. Though he wished to continue studying after Heder, he had to stop on account of the family's poor circumstances, and started earning a living. From his youth he shared in all the communal activities of the younger generation. He helped to organize the library, was one of the pillars of the Dramatic Circle, and took part very successfully in the plays. He was popular among his comrades.


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Matityahu and Rasha, both born in Szrensk, were precious souls. They lived close to one another, knew one another from childhood and married when they grew up, quietly building up their family life, even though they struggled hard for their existence. They always had a friendly smile in company. After an exhausting day's work, he would appear in the library and share in the activities of the members.

On 13.11.42 all the family were sent from the Mlawa Ghetto to Auschwitz. Matityahu and his son Aaron (Arche) held out to the end, and were murdered before the arrival of the Russians.

1. Hayyim Wolf Niborsky.
2. Haya, his wife.

They called him Wolf Haya's. The only child of his parents, he was born in Szrensk. His mother looked after him like the apple of her eye, and his father helped his mother to protect him against the evil eye. So it is not surprising that he was always spoilt. He was regarded as one of the Rabbinic scholars of the town. When he was a boy, there was a big Yeshiva in Szrensk and he studied there. It was said that when he was young he was a great matmid (studied without a break). When we used to sit in the Sukkah, during the Sukkot festival, he always conducted lively debates with my father about the differing methods of study and which was to be preferred.

He was an outstanding Baal Tefilla (reader for the congregation) and Baal Kriya (Cantillator of the Torah). The neighbouring small towns used to invite him to come and act as cantor for them against payment on the High Holidays.

The pupils who studied with him include great scholars who are now scattered all over the world.

Fate did not wish him to die a natural death at the end of his days. On 10.11.42 he was sent to Treblinka from the Mlawa Ghetto.


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1. Rachel Katz, nee Niborski.
2. David Katz, the husband.
   The children 3. Yehiel, 4. Laizer, 5. Mordechai, 6. Shifra.

Rachel was the daughter of Reb Wolf and Feige Niborsky. Her husband came from Makow, where she went to live with him. When she came to Szrensk she told me that she longed for Szrensk, but her family life made her forget it. Her's was a religious home, like that of her parents. Her children engaged in Jewish studies, and it made her happy.

All of the family were killed, except for one son who is in Israel.

1. Reb Abraham Zalman Niborski, head of the family.
2. Haya Hudes Niborski, nee Maranowitch, his wife.
   The children 3. Eliyahu, 4. Sarah Hinda, 5. Rivka, 6. Bella, 7. Isser, 8. Israel, 9. Zissa Leah.

Regarding Reb Abraham Zalman, see the Essay on “Personalities” in the First Chapter. The only one alive of the whole family of ten is his son Moshe who passed through the seven circles of hell before he reached the United States.

The entire family was sent to Auschwitz in the second transport of 13.11.42, except for the boy, Isser, who was one of the fifty kidnapped and murdered by the Germans in the Mlawa Ghetto.

Abraham Zalman worked at Auschwitz, together with his weak brother Gedalia, whom he endeavored to aid with all his strength. Unfortunately this did not help. When Gedalia became ill and was sent to hospital and from there to the Crematorium, Abraham Zalman could also hold out no longer. He became ill and was sent to hospital, from which he never returned.


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My Mother Haya Hudes

The Jewish mother has often been described already in song and story, and not only in Yiddish literature. Much will be found about her in other languages, as the most gentle and faithful mother of all. Yet all these songs of praise had been almost forgotten when our mothers lived and showed their affection and gentleness to their children. Which mother had so many children as the Jewish mother of the small East European towns? Yet now that our mothers have been so brutally cut off, one would like to find a fresh song in praise of those noble and saintly women… It is very bitter indeed for the surviving children of such mothers, and we feel it our sacred duty to speak of them at all times, including all the mothers of Szrensk who unhappily left no living souls behind them.

My mother, Haya Hudes, was the only daughter of my grandfather Israel Meir, and my grandmother, Esther Rachel. When she was a girl she lacked for nothing. She simply bathed in honey and oil, as the saying goes, being particularly treasured by her three brothers, Hayyim Yankel, Joshua and David. Hayyim Yankel, the oldest brother, was a horse dealer, who travelled a great deal in Germany and always brought back presents for her. My mother graduated from the Russian school and knew Russian and German well. She was one of the prettiest girls in Szrensk. Later, when she grew up and wanted to visit her brother Joshua who was working in Mlawa, he would proudly tell his friends that his sister was coming. He felt in a happy and holiday mood when he knew that she was due to arrive.

My mother grew up amid much gentleness and love. She married in 1915, and my father was then described as what is called in Yiddish a “zeidener yunger man” (a young fellow who was first-class material). It was a case of Torah and business. My mother was soon blessed with a son Eliyahu, and fifteen months later I came into the world. My father was taken away to the war, and by the time he came back, I was already running about. My brother was frightened and hid himself when he saw my father, but I stood staring at him. He recognized Eliyahu, but of me he asked: “Whose mother's child is this?”


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Times changed and began to be hard. More children came. By 1931 my mother had brought eight into the world, four boys and four girls. She accepted everything with affection, suffered silently, and had a warm word for each of her children large or small. Although we lived in need, she always helped other people as much as she could. Sometimes Miriam's family did not have enough to eat, and my mother would take them some bread. Sometimes on the contrary, Miriam used to bring in bread and tell us: eat, eat in good health. That was the way in which they helped one another.

My unforgettable mother was sent from the Ghetto in the second transport to Auschwitz, together with the children. As soon as they arrived there she was separated from her husband. Eliyahu had already died in Szrensk, while Isser was among the fifty shot in the Mlawa Ghetto. Now at Auschwitz she was taken with her children, Sarah Hinda, Rivka, Belcha, Israel Meir and Zissa Leah, and sent to the notorious “bath.” There they were pushed in, doors and windows were hermetically sealed and they were poisoned by a few pellets of cyclone gas and afterwards burnt. That was how most Szrensk families died. May her holy soul light up my orphaned way in life.

1. Isser Niborski, head of the family.
2. Sarah Niborsky, his wife.

Isser was the son of Reb Wolf Haya's and devoted himself entirely to communal activities. After a hard day's work he would forget his weariness and his state of health, attend at various meetings and committee meetings and set out to help somebody. He was a communal worker in the good and broad sense, serving the Szrensk community heart and soul. He was popular and welcome among all circles, and was trusted by all, irrespective of party.


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He was elected almost unanimously to all institutions, and headed all the national and economic institutions.

By nature he was a good person who did good, always being the first to aid others with the upmost devotion. Aiding individuals and groups alike, he helped all the members of his family as well as others with paternal warmth.

It is reported that in the Mlawa ghetto he called on the Jews to be courageous and not to despair. Whenever he spoke in the Bet Hamidrash, it was crowded. He was helped by his wife Sarah in all his communal activities. See the account in the first section, in the chapter on “Personalities.”

He was sent to Auschwitz and killed, together with all the Jews of the Mlawa.

1. Menashe Nordenberg, head of the family.
2. His wife.

He was the son of Reb Eliyahu Nordenberg and began the struggle for existence at an early age, wandering from place to place in search of a living, until he finally returned to his birthplace Szrensk.

He earned his living by dealing in horses, and worked hard to support his family, dashing from place to place all day long. However, he was always in a good mood, which also infected other people.

He and his wife were sent to Auschwitz.

1. Gedalia Niborski, head of the family.
2. Sarah Niborski, nee Ebert,wife.
   The children 3. Isaac Meir (Itshe), 4. Jacob David.

Gedalia was sent to Auschwitz from the Mlawa Ghetto. He did not hold out very long there, although his brother Abraham Meir helped him.


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He was sent to hospital and never returned. See the section on him in the chapter on “Personalities”. Here I wish to add a few words about his gentle wife, Sarah, nee Ebert. Sarah loved her parents deeply, and at a tense period succeeded in bridging the gap between them and her husband. She devoted herself with all her force to her husband during his sickness, and subsequently when he remained very weak.

I remember that once, during an unexpected visit, she sat weeping. In order to conceal the reason or this, she told me that the onion was so sharp, it made her cry. But finally, she realized that I understood the onion was not the reason or her tears, so she told me the whole truth. She explained that her father loved his grandchild, and although he was known to be very pious, he was prepared to accept everything. He never even cared if he saw secular literature in their home. He himself said to me that he saw, after all, that Gedalia was following the proper path, praying every day, and not profaning the sanctity of the Jewish religion. This was the only joy that life gave her, so her heart hurt when she heard him saying something heretical to her father, which he would not like. Why should he hurt her father for no reason? Those were her tears, because Gedalia was very weak and had to be looked after, which called for strong nerves, “but thank God I am reasonably successful.” That is the way a good Jewess speaks.

Their son Isaac Niborski was killed after a fortnight in Auschwitz.

Feiga Nordenberg
Feiga worked hard all her life long. She was always burdened with worries and had to be the one who made the living. She sold textiles, and spent three days a week in the markets of the small surrounding towns to sell her cloth and obtain a little ready money for meeting bills and buying goods.


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But she was happy to be able to work at her age, and earn her living and support her family.

She was sent to Treblinka from the Mlawa Ghetto.

1. Jacob Moshe Soldaner, head of the family.
The children 2. Zissa, 3. Rilla, 4. Yonah, 5. Rachel, 6. Meir Yehiel.

Reb Jacob Moshe was a sage and scholar. He came to Szrensk from various Yeshivot and was fully versed in the Talmud. He was the son-in-law of Reb Zorah the Glazier. Women told one another that Reb Yosef Zorah the glazier had a son-in-law who was a jewel. He fully experienced the meaning of the verse “In the sweat of thy brow shall thou eat bread.” His living was an exceptionally hard one (“as hard as the splitting of the Red Sea,” according to the ancient saying.) Still he used to save a little money in order to buy good books.

In spite of the great difficulty he had in providing for his family, he always found time to help poor Jews, and used to hasten to help the sick together with Hertzka Granat.

He was exceedingly retiring and modest, but in spite of this he was generally known and appreciated. Many esteemed him for his good nature. He was regularly chosen to serve as an umpire in arbitrations. He was an active member of the Hevra Kadisha, and Gabbai (Warden) of the Bikkur Holim Society for visiting the sick.

He was one of the ten zakladniks (hostages) who were arrested by the Germans immediately upon their entry. The Germans murdered him at the end of the war. Two sons survive him in America.

1. Hanoch Stavisky, head of the family.
2. Sarah Devorah Rivka Stavisky, his wife.
3. Haya their daughter.

I feel convinced that when he went to be sacrificed, he was wearing his Talit and Tefillin.


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For he paid great attention to the fulfillment of all commandments. Once I heard him say that an attempt had been made by Gentiles to make him eat trefa food; and he added very simply, “And thou shalt love the Lord They God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,” even if He takes the soul away from you, says the Talmud.” For there was a kind of Jewish simplicity about him. I remember that one night before market day thieves broke into his booth and stole his goods. When he came to pray in the morning and related what had happened, people commiserated with him, but he insisted: “God gave me enough wealth, thank Heavens, when I came back from Russia and was privileged to have two good children. That is my wealth.” He joined the Hevra Kadisha in order to be of service. He used to say, “A Jew should be helped as a Jew in all situations, particularly in the commandment of burying the dead.” For faith and sanctity accompanied him all his life long.

His wife, the daughter of Reb Jacob Shulem, resembled her father not only in appearance but in character. She had not only his smile, but also his goodness of heart. Children, who are sensitive to good people, used to wait for her every morning to open her sweet shop in order to buy sweets from her. They liked her smile and the way she talked to them. All those who knew the Kotzk Hassid Reb Jacob Shulem and his daughter, could see the resemblance. She was a Hassidess with a smile. People used to quote the verse at the end of the book of Proverbs, describing the good mother, “She looks to the ways of her household,” when they spoke of her. She was modest and devoted to her quiet and loveable family, who set out to live a decent and upright life.

On 10.11.42, the first day of Kislev, the family was sent from the Mlawa Ghetto to Auschwitz. Abraham, the son of the Stavisky family, is in Israel with his own family.


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1. Daniel Nordenberg, head of the family.
2. Haya Lieba, his wife.
   The children 3. Rachel 4. Hanoch 5. 6.

Daniel was the son of Feiga. He himself had many children and worked hard to keep them, for he was devoted to them. He carried out whatever work was loaded upon him. In spite of all his energy, he was never lucky, and had to pass from one kind of livelihood to another. He was a partner in a car which carried passengers to and from Szrensk. When that failed he took over an omnibus. Finally he opened a sweets shop and lived a meager life thanks to help received from America.

On 13.11.42 he was sent from the Mlawa Ghetto to Auschwitz.

Malka Ebert
She was the wife of the late Leib Ebert, a devoted mother to her two children who were all her life. She devoted herself entirely to every detail of their being. When she gave charity or did some other good deed, like taking a little food under her apron to Zina Lipshitz, she would always say, “For the children's life.”

Her son-in-law Gedalia was proud of her and always told me about her. He used to say that maybe the precise meaning of the worlds “Eshet Hayil” is no longer known, but the term certainly applied to this quiet and gentle lady who was prepared to share her last farthing with others. And he added: “I certainly find that the last verse applies to her – Give her of the fruit of her handiwork, and let her deeds praise her in the gates.” She supported herself by her work until the destruction. (See the essay on “The Last Generation.”)

From the Mlawa Ghetto she was sent to Treblinka.


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Devora Podless, nee Reichgott

The Young Hassidess

A daughter of the Reichgott family, her father, Reb Abraham Meir who died in Israel, was an absolutely devoted Ger Hassid. Her mother Pearl grew up in a Hassidic atmosphere and was said to know a great deal about Hassidism. Considering the milieu in which Devorah was educated and brought up, it is not surprising that she had an exceptional knowledge of Hassidic stories and prided herself on her familiarity with Hassidic lore. Once she asked me whether I sang the Friday evening “Zemirot.” When I asked her “Why Zemirot all of a sudden?” she answered, “It has been my practice ever so long to sing Zemirot without omitting a single one or a single verse. Father is more than delighted and mother is pleased as well. Nowadays it is hard to find even a single Hassid among the young fellows.” There was a note of true sorrow and regret in her voice. “Here's a new Ludmir Mold for you,” I added with a chuckle. (The Ludmir Mold, or maid of Ludmir, it should be remembered, was a woman of such great knowledge and piety that a whole group of Hassid chose her as their Rebbe.)

She was full of life and energy, and both her heart and mouth were always singing. Wherever she went she brought gaiety, youthful charm and the joy of life. All the Szrensk folk remember her, with her gracefulness and talents and that winning and cordial smile which was part of her life. Her gifts always put her ahead of the rest. She was outstanding in her studies and in everything else which she undertook.

A true and devoted daughter to the Jewish people and their homeland, she spoke with love and esteem of Jewry, its heroes and martyrs who died for the sake of the Jewish God, people and land. She took part in every enterprise which aimed at the redemption of Israel, and had a great love of the Hebrew language and literature.


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She made every effort to acquire the knowledge of Hebrew and succeeded. She read widely, spoke well ad could quote sayings and passage from the Talmud. At the same time she did not forget the future. “Tomorrow”, she used to say, “does not promise much, the path is not strewn with roses or paved with gold. We have to work and use every effort in order to establish a stable position for the future.”

After the war between Poland and Soviet Russia, I met her in Szrensk. She had just arrived with her nice little boy to spend a holiday with her parents. At the time I had just returned from service in the Polish army. In the course of our conversation, I gained the impression that in spite of her smile and gaiety she was worried and not at ease. In her face I saw signs of her worry, while there was some sorrow in her eyes. I asked her what the news was with her and she answered, “Suffering purifies the soul.” Then it is also for the best,” I answered. Deep in thought she then asked me, “Do you intend to go to Eretz Israel?” Then, if I remembered rightly, she murmured, “It's the problem of what we'll do?”

After this conversation she again appeared as bright and cheerful as usual.

She was married to Ziniu Podless of Tarnopol, and they had a son named Jacob Leib.

In the last years of all she lived with her family in Grodno. We know that most of the Jews of the Ghetto tried to escape to the forests, but they did not reach them, they were killed on the way.

In these few words, I did not intend to bewail her or mourn for her. What I had tried to do is to give a glimpse of a woman of good family as we saw her, and as she has remained in our memories. May these lines be a lasting memorial to her pure soul.


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The Jews of Grodno were sent to Treblinka. May the earth refuse to conceal their blood!

Chaya Feige Pedro nee Freidenberg
1. Tuvia Pedro, her husband.
    The children 3. Hannah, 4. Manya (Miriam).

The tragic truth

In memory of my dear ones of the Freidenberg family
By Rachel (Rickel)

I can sense the expression on the faces of the dear and loved ones of my family in their suffering and torment during the catastrophe and destruction… I have remained alone out of all my widely branching family, without brother or sister, or any offshoot from among their offspring.

Day by day, month by month, for years I waited, hoping and believing that one day the door would open and one of my dear ones would enter. But now it is all over. Poland, that country steeped in Jewish blood, has swallowed them up. They have all vanished in that valley of the Shadow of Death, and I am all alone.

Jointly with all Israel, who lament the destruction of European Jewry during the Second World War, each individual Jew bears his own wound and personal grief at the loss of those who were near and dear to him.

A whole generation has passed since I left my home in the exile. But they the people of my generation remain engraved in my memory and feelings, in my entire essence and being.

It is and will always remain very hard for me to accept the absence of my dear ones. Their memory is alive in my heart, for the wound is always deep and refuses to heal.


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Here in Israel, I bear their memories with me in my joys and in my sorrows. Never shall I forget them. May the earth refuse to conceal their blood!

1. Eliyahu Moshe Freidenberg, head of the family.
2. Mindel Freidenberg, nee Kirshenbaum, his wife.
   The children 3. Hantche, 4. Abraham, 5. Michael.

We studied together at the Heder of Reb Leibye Hausman. He had every possibility of being a happy child. His parents were well-to-do and did not interfere with him in any way. Still he was far from happy. Although he was a pleasant and friendly child, he did not take part in the games. When he grew up, he participated in cultural institutions.

He suffered greatly in his family life. His wife's illness broke him up. In 1934, when the family situation improved, he also took an interest in public activities and was elected to the Committee of the Cooperative Bank (see the picture of the Bank).

From the Mlawa Ghetto he was sent to Auschwitz.

Beile Yablanovsky nee Plaut
She was born in Szrensk to Senna and Hannah Haya, but was orphaned of her father while young. She always prayed that she might be enabled to see him at least once. She used to say that people said her father had been handsome and clever but she could not remember. Incidentally, I remember one remark made by her father. When he came to the Bet Hamidrash to say the morning prayers and found the congregation reciting the Sephardic usage as followed by the Hassidim, he remarked that the only difference between the two forms of prayer was in the tune.

If I remember rightly, Beile and her family went to live in Mlawa in 1927, and she began to support herself. She married a member of Rabbi Yablonovsky's family and they had a child.


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She was loved by all who knew her. She always appeared in company with a friendly smile that lit up her face. She was murdered with all the Jews of the Ghetto.

Feiga Zuker
The wife of Reb Reuven Zuker. Her only son Hirsh passed away in Tel Aviv in 1957, leaving a large family behind him. Feiga also had a daughter Teshe who is now in Uruguay.

Hava Malka Fleisher
She was an old woman, the mother of Joseph Fleisher, and was supported by her children in America.

1. Joseph Fleisher, head of the family.
2. Feiga Fleisher, nee Niborski, his wife.
   The children 3. Rivka, 4. Shlomo, 5. Yuta, 6. Rosa, 7. Noah, 8. Abraham.

He was born in Szrensk, the son of Malka Fleisher. After his marriage he became one of the big horse dealers in town. When the horse trade collapsed he was one of the first victims, and did not recover. The problem of making a living was a very severe one. The family continued only with the help of the children.
The history of the Fleisher family during the Second World War was one long tragedy. When the war began their intelligent, delicate and talented young daughter Rivka died. Their son Noah was one of the fifty murdered by the Germans in the Mlawa Ghetto. Their daughter Yuta was murdered in Russia. Feiga Joseph's wife, had a nervous breakdown through her grief. She was taken from the Ghetto on the verge of death and did not return. The others were murdered in Auschwitz.


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1. Zalman Pitel, head of the family.
2. Devorah Pitel, his wife.
   The children 3. Dinah, 4. Rachel, 5. David.

Zalman Pitel, the town's barber-surgeon, came to Szrensk from a different town and found his place there. Modest and humble in all his ways, he was a man of feeling and kind-hearted. As a Feltcher he helped a great deal and never took any money from poor people.

See the essay on “Szrensk Heroes” in the first part.

The family was all killed in Auschwitz. He was shot during the Buchenwald Revolt.

Elhanan Kudzborski, head of the family.
2. Gitel Kudzborski, his wife.
   The children 3. Haya Leah 4. Moshe, 5. Rivka, 6. Jacob

He belonged to one of the oldest families in Szrensk. His was one of the first families to receive permission to purchase houses from non-Jews or to build new houses.

They were three brothers, plain everyday folk but decent, straightforward and good. He was careful never to hurt anybody's feelings, and was respected and liked by all the inhabitants of the town.

All his life long he engaged in building. It seemed that he did not and could not imagine that Jewish property would become free to the first comer in the lands of the Exile. All that belonged to him vanished. He was prepared to help and did help all who were in need. All his family was sent together with him to Treblinka.

1. Isaac Kudzborski, head of the family.
2. Feiga Kudzborski, nee Mitzenmacher, his wife.
   The children 3. Abraham 4. Miriam, 5. Moshe, 6. Batya.


[Page 62 – English]


Both Isaac and Feiga were born in Szrensk. She was the daughter of Reb Moshe Mitzenmacher, while he was a brother of Reb Huna. Isaac served in the Russian army and married on his return, hoping to go to America. Though they saved in the hope of putting aside enough for the journey, they could not manage it, so they remained in Szrensk. (See the essay, “The Last Generation”.)

Their son Moshe was sent from the Mlawa Ghetto with the second transport, and froze to death while at work. Nahum Altess of Szrensk relates that he tried to save him and dragged him for several kilometers, but it was already too late.

The Late Alter Kirshenbaum
The son of Reb Michael and Golda. From his youth he was drawn to the eternal life. He died in a very cruel and tragic fashion. I always saw him with sad eyes, revolting against everything. It seemed to me that the death of his parents at a fairly early age affected him for he clearly bore within himself a sorrow at the very fact of life. His own life passed like a shadow. I remember when he lived in Szrensk with parents, brothers and sisters. It was hard for them to make a living. The father died and was followed by the mother, and the orphans started fighting for their existence.

He was a youngster with great but unused gifts. The struggle for existence robbed him of all his energy. When the family moved to Mlawa, he was sure that this was only a temporary shelter. He dreamt of America or of Eretz Israel, but before he could take any steps he was caught by the Nazis and was passed on to the World to Come, together with all Polish Jewry.

Can there be any recompense for young blood? He has a brother in America and a sister in Israel.

1. Shlomo Kleiman, head of the family.
2. Yuta Golda, nee Hiller.


[Page 63 – English]


He came from Zhuromin and married Yuta Golda, the daughter of Reb Zvi Hiller, an old-established family. They were both young and began to settle their lives. They were the first in the village to be fined 500 zloty without cause by the Germans but continued as before. Together with all the Jews of Szrensk, they went to the Mlawa Ghetto and from there to Auschwitz.

1. Judith Kudzborski, nee Rosenbaum.
2. Moshe, 3. Hannah, 4. Zalman, 5. Noah.

The family lived in a home of their own, and made a respectable living with the aid of the children, They were good and quiet people and there were never any complaints about misunderstandings between them and their neighbors. Instead the latter were all on friendly terms with all of them.

They were murdered at Auschwitz.

Yocheved Kolkovski
She was the daughter of Haya Sarah (Die Gele) and the wife of Menashe Kolkovski. After her husband's death she managed to go on working thanks to superhuman efforts, and travelled from place to place, selling her goods to the Poles of the neighborhood.

She was killed at Auschwitz.

1. Yehiel Kruk, head of the family.
2. Haya Kruk, his wife.
   The children 3. and 4.

Yehiel was the son of Reb Mendel Kruk, who passed away in Eretz Israel. Before his father and his daughter Rachel came to the country he was already planning to come and settle here. I heard him say more than once that he had had a number of opportunities of coming to Israel, but he had missed them.


[Page 64 – English]


He was one of the good young men of the town, who used to be described as “Torah with Sechora” (Learning and business). He married a girl from Skiernevitz. A few years after the wedding he returned to Szrensk with his family and engaged in the timber business. (See the essay on “The Last Generation in Szrensk.”)

He was the fate of the Polish Jewry.

1. Rivka Rosenbaum.
   The children 2. Simha, 3. Leah

The wife of Reb Mendel Rosenbaum, who died before the Second World War. She was a religious woman whose principal concern was religious education. At all times she quoted the first verse in the Book of Psalms, “Happy is the man who has not followed the counsel of the wicked.” She esteemed every religious and scholarly Jew, and tried to make sure that her son Samuel should study at a Yeshiva.

She knew many Talmudic legends. Once I told her of a dream of mine, and she taught me what to do and what to say. If it is a bad dream, you have to say “Dreams are vanity!” But if it is a good dream, say, “Are dreams vanity?” She seemed to have read a great deal in Yiddish, and knew many stories of Hassidic rabbis and saints.

Her son Samuel married his bride Sarah in the Kruk home, if I remember correctly. Rivka sat in the corner worried. I happened to pass, and she asked me whether it was correct that they were going to leave Szrensk. When I asked her, “Don't you know?”, I saw tears in her eyes. Then she said, “My son has to be the first.” I slipped away. I understood her very well. That was the tragic fate of a Jewish mother. She had been prepared to burden herself with the education of her children when her husband went to America. At the time she called on him to return so as to provide a religious education for the children.


[Page 65 – English]


She was sent to Treblinka.

1. Judah Gershon Rosenbaum, head of the family.
2. Pesse Rosenbaum, need Greenberg, his wife.
   The children 3. Penina, 4. Yetta.

Yehuda Gershon was the son of the late Reb Mendel and Rivka. He devoted himself entirely to Zionist activities. Zionism was his only concern in addition to his family. The heart weeps for this rare Jew who was just about to come to Eretz Israel, but was too late. He did not study at any Yeshiva or in the Bet Hamidrash, nor did he enclose himself in the tent of the Torah like other young men of the town. Instead he started making a living for himself with his own hands when he was still very young. Even so his work did not keep him from his activities for Zionism and Eretz Israel.

After marrying his bride Pesse Greenberg, who also came from Szrensk, he found himself loaded with worries. His life was not an easy one, but he always remained upright and decent.

See the essay on “The Last Generation” and the “Keren Kayemet.”

From the Mlawa Ghetto he was sent to Auschwitz.

1. Aryeh Rosenbaum, head of the family.
2. Etka Rosenbaum, nee Kudzborski, his wife.
   The children 3. Bella, 4. Mendel

He was the son of Reb Mendel Rosenbaum, while his wife Etka was the daughter of Reb Huna Kudzborski. Their families were of long standing in Szrensk. They were in a satisfactory economic position and lived a happy family life. (See the essay on “The Last Generation.”

17.11.42 they were sent to Auschwitz with the third transport.


[Page 66 – English]


1. Yehiel Eliezer Reisfeder, head of the family.
2. Rivka, his wife. 3. Shlomo and two other children.

Reb Yehiel Eliezer was the son-in-law of Reb Jacob Zorach, the glazier. He was what used to be described as a real diamond, “a young man of pure silk.” He was a great scholar, at home in the whole of the Talmud and the later Rabbinical literature. People claimed that he studied at all times. When he came to the Bet Hamidrash to pray, he went straight to the bookcase, took out some book and began to immerse himself in it. He was always studying Torah.

He fulfilled the commandment of serving the Lord with joy. He was one of those men who are wealthy because they rejoice in their lot. When the problem of sustenance plain and simple had to be faced, he began to teach the bigger children, saying that Jewish children wished to learn Torah. He accepted whatever happened to him with love and joy.

His death was characteristic of his life. On 10.11.42 he was among the two thousand who were sent to Treblinka. He found that he had forgotten his prayer shawl, tefilin and a book, so he returned to take them. A Nazi shot him and wounded him badly, and in that state he was sent to Treblinka.

1. Abraham Rabinovitch, head of the family.
2. Hannah Rabinovitch and two children.

Reb Abraham was the son of the Kantonist Reuven who was known as “Black Reuven.” He served in the Russian army and fought in the First World War. He was reported missing, believed killed. Suddenly a letter was received from him stating that he was alive. In her joy his mother ran through the streets of Szrensk crying that her only son was alive; and the family rejoiced very greatly.

He took a wife from Mlawa, worked hard and lived a model family life.


[Page 67 – English]


He rejoiced in his portion.

The family were sent to the Mlawa Ghetto, and from there to Auschwitz.

1. Gedalia Hirsh Shchepkovski, head of the family.
2. Malka Shchepkovski, his wife.
   The children 3. Yehiel Joseph 4. Jacob Shlomo 5. Yetta.

He came from Zhuromin while she was born in Szrensk. By profession he was a shoemaker. He made a good living and they lived a happy life. There was always the sound of singing from his workshop. His love of children was widely known in the town. He was prepared to fight the whole world for his own children. When two of his own were caught in the Mlawa Ghetto among the fifty who were imprisoned and shot. It is not surprising that he lost his reason.

On 13.11.42 he was sent to Auschwitz with all his family.

1. Aaron Shaft, head of the family.
2. Freda Shaft, nee Bilavski, his wife.
   3. Jacob, their son.

Both Aaron and Freda came from Szrensk. Reb Aaron was a member of a distinguished, wealthy and scholarly Hassidic family, and married the daughter of Reb Haim Bilavski, who was also a wealthy scholar and very shrewd. It is hard to understand how such a clear-headed man could have been so close-fisted. He had all the qualities needed for a man of affairs, and was familiar with all the laws. His daughter Freda inherited all his good qualities, but the life of the young pair was a difficult one and they always had to struggle hard for a living. They failed in whatever they tried. They always made a living with the utmost difficulty, until their children grew up and their situation improved.


[Page 68 – English]


When she tried to obtain a certificate for her son to go to Eretz Israel she told me that their only hope was to follow him.

Read about their son Jacob in the chapter “Heroes from Szrensk.”

1. Abraham Aaron Sherpski, head of the family.
2. Devora Sherpski, his wife.
   The children 3. Jacob, 4. Rachel, 5. Feiga, 6. Tzirke, 7. Zalman, 8. Zelig.

He was one of the richest men in the town and could stand level with the rich men of Mlawa. He achieved all this wealth through his great energy. He brought only a little money from America, but thanks to his business talents he became very rich indeed, and was known to all the estate owners in the neighborhood of Szrensk. See the essay on “The Last Generation.”

From the Mlawa Ghetto he was sent to Auschwitz.

1. Berech Sheer, head of the family.
2. Esther Sheer, nee Kruk, his wife.
   3. Aaron, their son.

Reb Berech was a Maskil (modernist), and the friend of the distinguished Hebrew writer Fischel Lachover. He used to read the Haskala literature himself, but remained religious and observant. He was the son-in-law of the late Reb Mendel Kruk who died here in Israel, and began to engage in the timber business under his father-in-law's guidance. However, he did not do particularly well, and had to face the problem of making a living. In addition there came the calamity with his delightful son Aaron, who became ill. This illness exhausted all his strength. His wife Esther helped him and they fought and struggled hand in hand, trying to establish their future with all their strength. It is enough to repeat his remark, “Living is as hard as the division of the Red Sea.” On 10.11.42 they were sent to Treblinka.


[Page 69 – English]


They have a surviving daughter in Israel.

1. Peretz Shapiro, head of the family.
2. Hannah Shapiro, nee Greenberg, his wife.

Time does more than common-sense. Reb Peretz Shapiro never believed or imagined that all his children would leave him. Luckily it happened. They all came to Israel and have remained alive.

It was possible to converse with Reb Peretz for hours and hours, for he was always full to overflowing. His Jewish shrewdness gave material for conversations, and he enjoyed a good Jewish joke. His wife Hannah was the daughter of Reb Binam David Greenberg, the Alexander Hassid. She was a quiet woman with a boundless love for her children. When they began to leave home she concealed her feelings and preserved the same quietness with which she accepted everything in life. She also agreed to their departure.

On 10.11.42 Reb Peretz was sent to Treblinka and his wife to Soldau.

1. Judah Dov Sherpski, head of the family.
2. Tishel Sherpski, his wife.

The son of Reb David Sherpski, he was born in Szrensk. It was plain that the members of this family had been in the town for four or five generations. Everybody knew the quiet and thoughtful Reb Judah Ber, who used to weigh every word and endeavored to be one of the first in the bet Hamidrash. In this he carried on the tradition of his father, Reb David, and of his grandfather, Reb. Zalman Shneour, who was always the first to arrive in the Bet Hamidrash. He was one of those who made the decisions in the Hevra Kadisha (Burial Society), for “his conception and birth were holy” – a phrase which was always used for people whose parents had been members of the Hevra Kadisha.


[Page 70 – English]


In the case of Reb Judah Ber, his grandfather had also been a member.

There was always a pleasant mood in his parents' house. The economic situation was good and the atmosphere was an elevated one, which accompanied them for many years and set its stamp on the course of his life. On 10.11.42 he was sent from Mlawa Ghetto to Auschwitz. He has a daughter in Israel.

1. Haya Sarah Sherpski nee Mondrei.
The children 2. Abraham, 3. Rachel, 4. Leah.

She was the daughter of Reb Shmuel and Tzipporah Mondrei and took over the business after the death of her husband though she had little children to bring up. Without a moment's hesitation she took the reins in hand and went on providing for the family. An energetic person, she struggled bitterly against the situation and overcame it. Her struggle for a living did not prevent her from being a devoted mother to her children.

On 10.11.42 she was sent to Treblinka. Her son Abraham was sent to a builders' school at Auschwitz, but never returned.


szre070.jpg [16 KB] - Aryeh Leib Rosenbaum
Aryeh Leib Rosenbaum, May G-d avenge his blood
(see page 461)


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