Reflections and Observations
Washington D.C. 1983
Alex Rosenblum New York
I still don't know exactly why I chose to attend the Gathering. Perhaps I'll never know. Nevertheless, the Gathering was exciting, spiritually uplifting, and full of sad and joyous moments. The following is a recounting of some of these moments.
During the second day, I was attending a seminar involving the Second Generation. A young woman and man sat down near me and began a conversation with the person next to me. During their conversation, the young woman and man stated that they were brother and sister, living in Louisville, Kentucky, and that their father was a survivor. When asked from which town their father came, the young woman replied, It's a small town in Poland, you never heard of it, called Piotrkow.
My heart skipped a beat. I quickly introduced myself and we excitedly discussed our backgrounds. Soon Janet and Ben introduced me to their father, Abe Jakubowicz, and I, in turn, introduced him to the numerous Piotrkower attending the Gathering.
What made the moment so special was the feeling of affinity that we immediately felt for each other. Although we were total strangers, our common background and heritage transcended our differences. We were the children of the survivors of Piotrkow, and, as such, a bond was immediately formed.
At this seminar there were at least 400 members of the Second Generation. The seminar had just begun when someone entered and informed the audience that a doctor was urgently needed in another room. Immediately, several people rose and hurriedly left the room. I couldn't help but think that here, at the seminar attended by sons and daughters of Jews who endured the worst moment in history, were probably enough doctors to staff a large, modern hospital.
At the dedication at the Capitol, I stood next to a very old woman from Germany.
|On the podium: among the distinguished guests with President Reagan and the First Lady are
two of our Piotrkower Rabbi Israel Lau and Cantor Isaac Goodfriend
|Rabbi Lau with Jack and Mira Birnbaum of Boston|
She seemed to enjoy the fact that near her was a group of young people. Suddenly she interrupted them.
Is anyone here a doctor? she asked in a serious voice. A concerned young man immediately stepped forward and offered assistance.
Will you please take my picture? she asked pleasantly and handed him a camera without waiting for an answer.
The doctor seemed more confused than annoyed. He began to scold her when the old woman, with a twinkle in her eye, asked him Wouldn't you rather take my picture than treat me in an emergency?
He gladly took several photographs.
There were numerous emotional reunions of old friends and distant relatives. People walked aimlessly around with large signs asking the whereabouts of long-lost relatives. A reporter from Virginia told me of the bittersweet reunion of a couple married before the War. Both survived, believed the other dead, and remarried and had children. They found each other on Tuesday, April 11, 1983.
The people were captivated by Rabbi Israel Lau. As a child, he survived Bergen Belsen and was not chief rabbi of Natanya and an international figure. Wherever the Rabbi went, he was surrounded by people who wanted to talk to him, hear his words or just shake his hand. On Tuesday, about 18 or so Piotrkower had gathered to take some photographs. On our invitation, the Rabbi stopped by to say hello and to pose with us for pictures. The crowds followed us for pictures. The crowds followed him to our small group. I asked someone to take some photographs quickly. When I stopped posing and looked around, our small group of 18 Piotrkower was lost in a crowd of about 50 people, who were posing with Rabbi Lau.
I was very disappointed by the fact that not one of the survivors chose to speak in Yiddish. They all spoke of passing on the legacy to the second generation; yet, they all spoke in English. Sam Gejdenson, 33-year-old Congressman from Connecticut and the son of survivors, addressed the 8,000 people gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday. In beautiful, flawless Yiddish he spoke of his background and his pleasure at being involved in the Gathering. The audience loved his speech.
Soon, we the witnesses will all be gone Our sons and daughters will carry forward our legacy of pride, of heroism, of an obligation to keep the memory alive, and to warn the world again and again don't let this happen again.
THE SECOND GENERATION
As the heirs of the six million Jews and twenty thousand Jews of Piotrkow who died during the Holocaust, and as the sons and daughters of those who survived its horrors, we pledge to forging our future by remembering our past. The second generation committed to the oneness of the Jewish people, to the solidarity with Israel, to the fundamental principles of universal freedom, justice, democracy and equality. Our central goals are to perpetuate the authentic memory of the Holocaust and prevent its recurrence, to perpetuate our common background, to strengthen and preserve our spiritual, ideological and cultural heritage, to fight all manifestations of anti-Semitism, and other forms of racial, ethnic or religious hatred, and to raise our collective voices on behalf of all human beings, Jews and non-Jews alike, who suffer from discrimination, persecution and oppression anywhere in the world.
Together with our parents, we shall perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust and Piotrkow and we shall ensure that no similar cataclysm will ever again be allowed to befall mankind. That is a fundamental purpose of our being.
for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. And
in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land
|The word of God is given to Moses in Leviticus|
In the wake of the awful pogroms and persecutions of Jews at the turn of the 19th century, the Jewish People of the Pale groped desperately for an answer. This was the time when in many corners of ghettos and shtetlach, a new voice was heard from people who called themselves Hovevey Zion.
Their motto; Beth Yakov Lechu Venelekh, which in transliteration became Bilu, guided the first settlers to the Promised Land. They grew in leaps and bounds.
In the Sharon they founded Petach Tikva. In the Galilee they founded Rosh Pina. In Samaria they founded Zichron Yakov. And soon, all over the Ishuv, the amazing posts called Kibbutzim started to sprout.
|The unsung Heroes of EM Hachoresh.
From the left: Menucha Reuveni (Rubinstein),
Szulim Reuveni, Varad Zviri (Konstantynowski), Regina Ben Yakov (Jakubowicz),
Lea Kaminer (Weintreter), Lea Amrami (Zygmuntowicz) and Zeev Amrami.
(Hazorim Bedimah Berinah Ikceru)!
After World War I, Zionist youth movements started to flourish in Poland. Hashomer Hatzair and Gordonia, Freihait, Hanoar Hatzioni and Betar. Also in Piotrkow, scores of young people found their new world in the Kens, the Isbas and Locals. They learned; they sang of Zion; they danced the Hora; they dreamt of Canaan.
From the Bnei Midbar, Ankorim, and Kwirim through the Tzofim and Bogrim, some reached the hard and demanding life on Hachshara. After all this, the ultimate reward was a British certificate of immigration to Palestine.
No bed of roses was waiting for them there. They found hard labor and malaria, the desert sun and scarce food. Homa Umigdal they called the era. In the midst of night, they would move up to a post and build a watchtower and a stockade in order to be protected from Arab bullets. Then, painfully, they started to build a life within. A beautiful song, Two Letters, originated in those time. Al niar lavan, it begins The snow-white letter from the terribly sick mother in the Galuth calling her son home; the other letter, a grey sheet of paper from the Halutz, who, with tears irrhis eyes, refuses to abandon his dream and will not return.
The time has come to pay tribute and honor the Halutzim of Piotrkow, co-founders of Israel, for their devotion and their sacrifice. They are now respected senior members in the following Kibbutzim though, (alas!, some are no longer among us): Salek Horowicz* and Franka Konstantynowska in Kibbutz Messiloth; Abram Milsztein and Itshak Grossberg* in Ein Shemer; Cvi and Sara Zygmuntowicz, Yehoshua and Hanka Zigelman,* and Shlomo Bogdanski* in Negba; Regina Jakubowicz, Vered Konstantynowski, Leah Weintreter, Leah Zygmuntowicz and Shalom Rubinstein in Ein Hachoresh; Itka Kaminska in Beth Zera; Shmuel Sherman in Lehavot Habashan; Shlomo Majzner* and Badana Katzenelson in Maaleh Hachamishah; Andzia Brem in Kibbutz Galon.
There are many others. It would be so good to mention their names. So, Dear Friends! We salute you and wish you health and happiness for many years to come!
IN KIBBUTZ EIN HACHORESH
We all left Piotrkow when you were a little boy We all are really glad to be contacted and that you found time to write these words about the times of Halutziut and Hityashvut.
We do sent our warmest Drishat Shalom to all our landsleit everywhere
My name now is Varad Zviri (Konstantynowski). I am a widow with 3 children and 7 grandchildren. We came here in 1932 with Aliah B. The first Piotrkower came in 1929. Our first base was in Hedera. When we went on Hityashvut, we were living in metal (tin) huts The first house of 2 stories was built for our children. The structure was called the house of safety. The grave malaria epidemic proved a horrible experience. It took us more than a year to recuperate. Our Kibbutz grew and developed during the years where there was a desert, houses are standing and gardens are now blooming.
We all enjoyed the Bulletin very much. It brought so many memories We came here as youngsters; now we are all 78 plus We still work part-time for our beloved Kibbutz
Varad Zviri (Konstantynowski)
The Annual Memorial and the Unveiling of the
Scroll of Immortalization at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem
Moshe Ish-Horowicz, Tel Aviv
On November 17, 1985 (4th Kislev 5746), an assembly of about 400 survivors of Piotrkow Trybunalski, and vicinity gathered from all over Israel at Yad Vashem. They took part in a most touching and dignified Annual Remembrance Day, combined with the Unveiling of the unique Scroll of Immortalization of the names of our Martyrs who perished in the Holocaust.
Amidst mourning and silence, Mrs. Henia Grinberg unveiled the Scroll of Parchment placed in a special niche in the Hall of Names. Rabbi Israel Meir Lau read out his introduction inscribed in the Scroll. A children's choir opened and concluded this first part of the program.
The annual Remembrance ceremony for our Martyrs followed under the chairmanship of Mr. Moshe Ish-Horowicz. At the dais were also seated Mrs. Henia Grinberg, Dr. I. Arad of Yad Vashem andfor the first time together at our Hazkarah, the two distinguished brothers, Rabbi I. M. Lau, the chief Rabbi of Netanya, and Mr. Naftali Lavie, Director General of UJA in Israel and former Ambassador from Israel to New York: both prominent sons of the last Chief Rabbi of Piotrkow, the late Moshe Hayim Lau.
|Rabbi Lau dedicates the Megila||Guta and Ben Giladi at Megilat Piotrkow|
The Hall was filled beyond capacity. In solemnity and sorrow, the Chairman welcomed the Assembly and Mrs. Grinberg began the dignified and emotional ceremony. Six candles were lit by members of the Second Generation in memory of the Six Million Martyrs of the Holocaust, and a roll of Honor was called for our townsmen who had died in Israel and abroad during the last year. After a minute's silence in their memory, Dr. Arad and Rabbi Lau addressed the meeting.
The impressive day was concluded in the Tent of Remembrance of Yad Vashem. A guard of honor stood by the symbolic location of Treblinka and Auschwitz. The flame was kindled and, after the service and El Mole Rachamim, the Kaddish intoned by Rabbi Lau echoed in the ears and souls of the assembled.
Never before have the words of the Hatikvah rung more true and full of promise than at the end of this inspiring Day. This Remembrance Tribute did honor to the Assembly, the Society and, most of all, to our Holy Martyrs, to whose Memory it was dedicated.
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