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[Page 424]

In Memory of the Missing Ones

 

[Page 425]

Reb Mordechai Mendel Zilberstein, of Blessed Memory

Moshe Kerbel

Mordechai Mendel Zilberstein was one of the most distinguished property owners in the shtetl. A fine figure of a Jew, he was respected and esteemed by Jews. He was famous in the entire city as one of the best mohelim [ritual circumciser], and every family considered it a great privilege to obtain him as the mohel for their sons.

Reb Mordechai Mendel was a traditional Jew, a pursuer of justice and a God-fearing man, who was noted for many virtues. He was a man with a sharp mind and deep logic, and also had an excellent memory. It was an absolute pleasure to chat with him. He used to include many proverbs and much humor in his conversations.

He was a nationalistic Jew and at the same time he was extremely tolerant of the younger generation, and well and truly understood their aspirations and ponderings.

I still recall how many years ago Reb Mordechai Mendel used to come to pray in the Talmud Torah on every Sabbath and holiday, accompanied by his sons – Avraham, Noah and Yaakov.

He used to devote a lot of time, energy and work to the Talmud Torah, and also other community institutions. His house was of a Zionist bent, and his sons were respected members of the Zionist organization.

Reb Mordechai Mendel had a warm heart, and he especially loved little children, and so it was clear that during the holidays, when the portion “All the youths” was read – the privilege of covering all the children with his tallis [prayer shawl] belonged to him.

His wife, Reizele, was a quiet and modest woman, who loved to give charity (anonymously), and was utterly devoted to her home and children.

His daughters Sheindl and Sara were accomplished girls and occupied themselves with the housekeeping and also loved the tranquil atmosphere of home.

In contrast, his daughter Hannale was the embodiment of energy and courage, socially very developed and active in various cultural institutions and youth organizations.

Thus the life of the patriarchal family was woven. The children married, the family grew, and everything streamed with satisfaction and joy.

Until the sudden waves of the Hitlerite ocean of blood arrived and destroyed everything - the trunk and the branches. The only branch of the family that survived is the daughter Hannale, who has been living in Toronto for many years. She was married to the talented, active young Wierzbnik man, Yossl Neiman, who passed away in Toronto.

But the twig, the little plant of Hanna Neiman-Zilberstein, grew deep new roots and branched out. All the children and grandchildren are instilled with the holy values of her beloved parents, who were not privileged to see them in life. And the Jewish chain is forged anew.

May God take revenge!

And you – the survivors – remember – and don't forget!


[Page 427]

Shmuel Morgenstern, of Blessed Memory

Yitzhak Kerbel

A great distance separates the quiet humble shtetl of Wierzbnik, which was located on the banks of the Kamienna River, surrounded by old mountains and thick pine forests, and the big and noisy city of Caracas in Venezuela. If you need to unfold a tragic life of wandering, dreams that were shattered, aspirations that weren't fulfilled, then the biography of Shmuel Morgenstern can serve as a clear case of such an occurrence.

He himself didn't move in the front rows of society and his family didn't belong to those that sat at the “eastern wall” [a place of honor in the synagogue]. But the father of the family, Reb Shlomo, of blessed memory, who was better known as Reb Shlomo the Beadle (who served the rabbi of the city and his school and synagogue), was an honest and upright man, a scholar, respected and loved by all, goodhearted and ready to do a mitzvah with great devotion.

If I am not mistaken, they lived in an attic apartment, in the house of the Tennenbaum family in the middle of the market, and earned money from a stall that sold haberdashery. This “little shop” was run by Shmuel's mother, a very modest, goodhearted woman whose name I can't remember, but I recall that they called her “the Beadle's wife” – and every child in the shtetl knew her by that name.

Shmuel was born in 1912 and went to Łódź when he was young, and learned carpentry there, working and spending his youth there. He had two brothers and a sister. One brother, Efraim, was a clerk in the one and only bank in our shtetl, and his other brother – Leibish – was one of the most outstanding young people in the Young Agudath Israel movement.

His wandering began immediately after the Germans entered Wierzbnik. Together with Sara Kerbel, whom he later married, he left for Russia. As happened there with thousands of other Jews, they were arrested there and deported to Siberia for many years.

After the war they were released from the camp and traveled to Poland, and then via the illegal ways of the Bricha they illegally crossed the border into Germany, from there to France, and their last stop was Caracas – in Venezuela.

The first tragedy happened to him while still in Siberia, when their only daughter died. This was a terrible blow for them, from which Shmuel couldn't recover, probably because after that they had no more children.

Desolate and alone, he wandered around the world, because none of his family survived. He actually had a distant uncle in Israel, but only in 1964 did he have the opportunity to see him during a visit to Israel, and indeed, from then on the relations between them grew closer. However, how tragic and impossible to understand are the ways of nature. Exactly one month after Shmuel passed away, his uncle in Israel passed away as well.

Shmuel had dreamed of settling in the Jewish country; he had even visited it a second time after the Six Day War, visited the new territories and the holy places, stood thrilled and wondering in liberated Jerusalem. Nevertheless something bothered him, something depressed him, perhaps his serious illness, and possibly things we don't know about. He was very refined and dignified, never bothered anyone, quiet and unassuming. After his death at his cousin's home in Holon, an entire chapter came to an end, and the branch of the Morgenstern family of Wierzbnik was chopped off.

May these lines be a memorial candle in memory of his holy spirit.

May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.


[Page 429]

Mr. Noah Citrinbaum

His Daughter Esther

My father, Noah Citrinbaum, was a wonderful and rare blend between a devout Hasid and a true lover of Israel.

I remember sitting in my father's lap every Shabbat while he told me in a voice full of yearning wonderful stories about Israel, the land of his dreams, ending them with the words: “One day we would make it to Israel…”

He instilled his love of Israel in his children as well. His sons, Yoseph and Zisman, volunteered to serve in the Haganah as soon as they came to Israel. When my father received his first chance to leave for Israel (his son Zisman sent him a certificate) he never hesitated, and we were among the first families in Wierzbnik to pack up and immigrate: he, my mother Gitl and myself, his youngest daughter. A dark affair cast a cloud over his happiness in Israel: his daughter Sarah, her husband Avraham Yitzhak and their daughter Hanna all remained in Poland and perished in the Holocaust. Avraham Yitzhak finished a training course of Agudath Israel and their immigration was guaranteed to follow ours. Regretfully, they were preceded by others and remained behind in the vale of tears.

Yoseph served at the time in the Polish army, and upon his release my father spared no effort or expense and managed to bring him to Israel. Out of deep love for the fatherland he offered his military experience to the Haganah, dedicating much of his time and energy to this sacred cause, as one of the organization's commanders.

Our path in the new land was strewn with hardships and obstacles, but my father accepted it all with love, since he always believed that God will provide. Father never wanted to be rich and was content with what he had. He lived his entire life with such innocence and integrity. While we still sat among the gentiles in Wierzbnik, he was praised by many of our gentile customers for his business integrity, while in Israel he set a personal example for many of his townsmen.

When we arrived, my father found work at an orchard, wishing to thank God for our immigration. He wanted to work with something that gave the holy land its unique character, such as citrus fruit. His coworkers from those days surely remember him standing at the top of the ladder and picking the golden fruits lovingly, singing. He was filled with admiration and joy for everything he saw in Israel, an inner joy he retained even after losing his sight… and our home was always filled with song. His children and friends were encouraged by his strong stance and our admiration for this amazing person, who was like a model to us, only grew with time.

His virtues, his integrity, his modesty, his love of God, man and town, are all carved into the memories of the residents of Bnei Brak, the town he loved so much during his 35 years of residence, and they offer some consolation for the loss of a father and such a dear a friend.

My father, rest his soul, passed away on Marheshvan 10th 1970 and was buried at the Poniewież plot in Bnei-Brak where he found eternal rest.


[Page 430]

Hershel Froyman

Yaakov Katz

Of all the humble and righteous saints and unique people that our town was blessed with, and who perished tragically without a trace, one who springs to mind is Hershel Froyman, also known as “Hershel Got”[1].

I remember him as a man who spent all his time studying the torah and debating it. His devoutness and thirst for religious knowledge stemmed from his faith and a deep desire to delve into the issues and glean pearls of knowledge and justice from them. Day and night he would read the Talmud and its supplements, and his face would shine with an otherworldly glow, as if he had no worries and was happy with his lot.

He also liked giving for charity, collecting donations of clothes and food from our people to distribute among the needy. All done in secrecy, so the needy would no feel shame.

But in truth, he was as poor as a church mouse and barely managed to provide for his family, a burden that often fell to his wife. He owned a small grocery store and his humble wife cared for both the house and that sore, providing them with a living. It was as if they divided the chores between them, he would take care of higher things such as torah and good deeds, while she took care of livelihood, the family and raising the children.

Their house was small and the family members numerous, yet no one complained and the children were raised to be humble and modest, accepting everything with love and never opposing the will of God, who maintains the whole world.

In order to give an example of the humility and innocence that characterized Hershel, I would tell you how he got the nickname “Hershel Got”.

Rumor has it that once, while he was talking to the students at the Beit Midrash, someone asked him, part in earnest part in jest: “Hershel, how come you are such a great and handsome scholar, while your wife doesn't suit you at all?”

And he answered, “My wife may not be pretty, but surely it is the will of God.” Ever since he was known in town as “Hershel Got”, rather than by his true name, Froyman.


  1. Yiddish for God Return

[Page 431]

Israel Reisler, of Blessed Memory

Abe Zukerman

Israel Reisler, know to the people of Wierzbnik as Srulu, suffered greatly during the horrible nightmare of the Hitler years, and in his relations with the survivors his presence was clearly felt, from the aspect of helping in any way he could. He spared neither money nor time. More than once he left everything behind and took me with him to Ottawa, where the Canadian central immigration bureau is located, in order to personally settle the formalities required for bringing over a relative, or just any survivor of the Nazi extermination.

He approached the act of assistance, which he considered a mission, with complete sensitivity and dedication. That is why he accelerated the immigration process for all the Holocaust survivors that he brought over to Canada, and afterwards also helped them get settled and begin their new lives.

When any former resident of Wierzbnik showed up in Montreal, (Srala) Reisler immediately engaged himself with him, just as though all the compatriots were in the physical sense a large surviving family. Possessing a broad vision with regard to the future in anti-Semitic Poland, he left Wierzbnik in 1921. After a short time, when he had saved the few dollars and it was just sufficient for a boat ticket, he immediately brought his younger brother Haim, of blessed memory, to Canada. He planned to do it one by one with the rest of his family, but unfortunately, it was already too late. The war intervened and all his near and dear ones also died as martyrs. To our great regret, our compatriot, to whose help and dedication many things can be attributed, was torn away from us at a very early age, dying suddenly, and a year later his brother Haim, of blessed memory, also suddenly passed away. Both of them left behind their own families, in whose hearts they will remain forever, and the Wierzbnik Society in Canada will always bear them in its memory.


[Page 432]

Shmuel Gelbard

David Plonsky

His heart burned with a love for Zion even as a young boy. Before the last World War broke out, he planned to immigrate to Israel, settle there and build it. But the coming of the war has forced him to remain in Poland. He suffered greatly. In 1947, he managed to leave Poland and immigrate to Israel. Here, he immediately joined the ranks of the Haganah, and carried out his assignments with devotion. He perished in the malicious Egyptian bombardment during the war.

Loved by those who knew him, he was 31 in death and left behind a wife and a year old child.

May God avenge him.


[Page 433]

On the Grave of Yosef Citrinbaum

Moshe Sali (Kerbel)

Heads bowed, consumed by grief, we stand on your newly filled grave, your kin and family, your townsmen, your relatives and your friends.

You were a gentle soul, honest and spirited. A blameless scholar, blending religion and literacy. A conversationalist, kind and virtuous. You loved the torah of Israel, the people of Israel and the land of Israel. Even while you suffered, you never complained and accepted reality for a fact.

A man dedicated heart and soul to his family and yet always willing to listen to others, assisting and helping in their time of need. Even when the suffering and stress were evident on you face, when the disease was already nesting within you, you would ignore your situation and pay attention to the suffering of others.

You were among the activists of our organization, one of the surviving townsmen of Wierzbnik in Poland, and you felt the pain of the terrible Holocaust that visited the Jewry of Europe and your townsmen among them. Recently you have managed to write for the Yizkor book of our community a moving commemoration of the town's martyrs, your friends from youth, who perished at the hands of evildoers – and suddenly you were taken from us before your time. We cling to the holy task and will strive to hasten the publication of the book containing your thoughts about the Holocaust and its results.

The pain is great and I cannot express it well enough. “Vai Lehai Shefra Devli baerea”.

May your soul rest among the saints.


[Page 434]

Yoseph Citrinbaum (Harari)

His Sons, David and Amos

Father liked to watch and take part in an experience personally, because physical participation was part of his world view.

These characteristics made him realize that the Diaspora is not the place for Jews, and despite the news from Israel during the 1930s that life was hard, he chose to immigrate because he believed that a Jew belonged in Israel. He therefore encouraged and pressured his parents into immigrating to Israel, even though he himself was serving in the army at the time. And indeed, as soon as his service in the Polish army ended in 1938, he immigrated to Israel.

When he arrived, he volunteered to the Haganah and served as an active member until the foundation of the state, when he enlisted with the Israeli Defense Force.

Membership of the Haganah was a sacred thing for him and he was willing to give his life for it. His humility prevented him from telling of his adventures, but from time to time, when a similar topic came up in conversation, he would tell of events from his time with the Haganah, events which often put his life in danger. He wrote down about some of his time with the Haganah.

His innate intelligence and the desire to know pushed him to study, although he never received formal education.

In Poland, he studied in the Heder and the Yeshiva, where he acquired religious education and learned some Hebrew. In secret, without the permission of his parents and despite their active objection, he studied Polish and became fluent in it. In Israel, despite the hardships of earning a living, he studied English and became fluent in it, and naturally he knew the Hebrew language through and through.

Reading was his sole source of general education. He read many books and was glad to find a job at a publication house. Authors and poets whose books were published there became his dear friends because they found him to be an avid reader.

Father loved to tour the land, to travel the country on foot before 1967, and he quickly became familiar with the liberated territories. He was fond of trips and tours of the holy places, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron, which he considered links to the glorious past of the Jewish people. During the last days of his illness he was planning a trip to Sinai once he got well. He believed in Greater Israel and argued this position passionately.

He faced hard times but never complained or asked for favors. He knew how to keep his suffering to himself, and share joys with friends.

Mother and father took great care to educate their children. They spent their energy ensuring that we, their children, had a proper education that would guarantee our future. Our parents taught us that we must prepare for the future, and helped us as much as they could. We regret that they found so little happiness.

My father observed the fifth commandment, showing his father and his mother full respect. He spent many hours doing their bidding.

Father passed away on Tamuz 7th 1971 (26.6.71), at the age of sixty. On his tombstone, at the cemetery in Zichron Meir in Bnei-Brak we have inscribed:

A man of Integrity
And of modesty
Poet and warrior
Participated in the Haganah to found the country
Blameless and sincere
Concerned with the education of his sons
Forever beloved
His deeds and his memory would never be forgotten
May he rest in peace.


[Page 436]

Mr. Moshe David Rothschild

Zvi Faigenbaum

One of the interesting characters in our community was Rabbi Moshe David Rothschild, who came from Kielce.

His father, Yehuda Hiskiyah, was a scholar and a noble man, one of the students of the Admor Gaon Rabbi Avraham Borenstein from Sochaczew.

His house was scholastic-Hasidic in the full sense of the word and Moshe David was raised in this atmosphere. To supplement his religious-Hasidic education, he also studied at the Hasidic house of Gur in Kielce. We should also mention that the two, father and son, were among the most important of the Gur Hasidim.

To Wierzbnik he arrived as a husband to Libale, daughter of one of the oldest landowners in the community, Mendel Zukerman, sister of Yaakov Zukerman and sister-in-law to Simcha Buchbinder.

As customary in the days before World War I, they received financial support from Libale's father-in-law for a few years (“kest”) before opening a store for iron and construction materials. During the first few years, the business was managed by his young wife Libale, who acquired business experience at home, while her husband assisted her. But Moshe learned quickly and became an expert iron merchant.

The reconstruction of the town following the battles of World War I turned the store into a success. Nevertheless, the two never considered their success a personal advantage. They participated generously in every charity enterprise, especially those concerning the Hasidic house of Gur. Moshe David became a member of that shtibl and held many parties at his house on holidays. He also took part in public affairs and was chosen chairman of Agudath Israel in town. During one of his occasional visits to the Admor of Gur, he was offered Rabbi Yitzhak Goldknopf, one of the finest Gur Hasidim in Warsaw, as a husband for his eldest daughter, Hitzi Yochit. The grand wedding took place in Wierzbnik and from that day onward there was a new aspect to the religious and Hasidic life in the community of Wierzbnik, because Yitzhak quickly proved his spiritual wealth in matters of torah, morals and the world. Many youths who wished to study the torah gathered around him and listened to him, learning and debating. The only survivors among them are Zisman Citrinbaum, Jechiel Brodbeker and David Cohen.

I remember that the righteous Admor Yeheskel of Ostrowiec used to study the torah in secret with Yitzhak, who was considered a great man by all. Moshe David and his wife were naturally pleased with their son-in-law, who earned the respect of all. They did not pressure him into earning a living and his wife Hitzi Yochit helped her parents at the store while Yitzhak taught torah and morals and shared his personality with his students.

In the middle of the 1930s, Moshe David was among the first to see the coming darkness, and headed to Israel with Zvi Wajzer, to build the country together.

Upon their arrival, however, they separated in search of a living. After securing his livelihood, Moshe David innocently believed that he would soon bring his son-in-law Yitzhak (who meanwhile took part in managing the store) and his daughter Hitzi Yochit, along with the daughters, the granddaughters, the younger daughter Gucia and his brother Reuben, who joined the family by marrying the daughter of Simcha Buchbinder. Those were his intentions, but he was outraced by the terrible events. The war broke out, the armies of Hitler stormed Poland and the communities of Israel fell into the hands of the devil, which slaughtered and destroyed them.

It should be noted that during the dark days before the destruction of the community by the murderers, it seemed that the young men could be saved from this plight by signing up for work at the factories in Starachowice. Those who listened to Yitzhak came to ask him what to do and he told them his opinion: don't leave your family, we cannot defend ourselves from this cruelty by being cruel to our family (wife and children)…

And so he went with the martyrs, pure in mind, to accept judgment as his body was burned and his soul ascended into the heavens.

Moshe David spent the rest of his days in Jerusalem, at the court of the Admor of Gur, as a reader of the torah at the great Gur synagogue in Jerusalem. He considered his reading, which impressed all his listeners, to be a great privilege which inspired him to survive the ocean of hardships he waded through.

The rabbi was very close to him. He came to visit him from time to time during his illness. When he passed away, the rabbi lead his followers after the late man's bed, escorting him to Har Menuhot where he and his wife Libale rest.

The only survivor from this family is his young daughter Gucia, who immigrated to Israel and made a new home. May she live long (and prosper).


[Page 438]

I Cry for Them

Leibl Rabinowicz

My father Yerahmiel Rabinowicz, of blessed memory, was a grandson of the “Holy Jew” of Pechishce.

He had lived in Wierzbnik since 1925 and was an active co-worker in the city Talmud Torah, as well as in the Merchants' Union. In the month of Sivan 1935, a murderous Polish hand shot my youngest brother Moishele, of blessed memory, to death, and gravely wounded my brother Yaakov-Yitzhak.

After this tragic event, happiness disappeared from our life, and the glimmers of energy and hope were extinguished.

In October 1942, my father and my mother Sheindel-Leah, of blessed memory, along with other martyrs, were deported to their terrible deaths. Blessed be their memory.

My son, Eliezer Mordechai, of blessed memory, was born in 1938. When the news of the deportations reached us, we prepared to hide the child with a Volksdeutsch acquaintance, but as soon as the search for hidden children was intensified, the child was handed over to the missionaries in Wierzbnik, which was supposed to be a place of rescue for the unlucky children. But on a beautiful morning we received word in the camp that the murderers had taken the children who were with the missionaries and had sent them to the assembly point in Szydłowiec, from where they were afterwards taken away to be exterminated.

My brother-in-law Yashe Rosenberg, of blessed memory, was a student of the Ostrowiec rabbi, of blessed memory, and an activist in the Ostrowiec Young Agudath Israel, and also a periodic writer in a Warsaw daily newspaper. He participated generously in all public undertakings. He never lacked the time or money to do favors for people.

He took the destruction of the Ostrowiec Jewish community and the loss of his own child Tuvia-Yehiel very much to heart, and filled with despair he walked to the market place and marching from there on the way to the Starachowice camp, he fell at the hands of a Ukrainian-Hitler murderer.

 

May his soul be bound in the bond of life.


[Page 439]

In Memory of my Beloved Ones

Yehoshua Jerry Rolnizki

My father Reuven and mother Reizl ran a respectable home and lived a traditional, modest life. We stem from a large extended family, and in our family alone there were six children, five brothers and one sister.

In 1938, I, the oldest son in the family, went off to America with the intention of afterwards bringing over the whole family, but unfortunately, the World War broke out in 1939, and brought a halt to all my plans and hopes.

When the war began I enlisted as a volunteer in the American army, and took part in the battles against Hitlerism in Europe.

After the Hitler war, out of my entire big family only one brother, Aaron, who now lives in America, survived. When he was liberated in Begen-Belsen, he consisted of skin and bones, a real skeleton, and he had to be taken to Sweden to save his life and put him back on his feet.

Now, the two of us, my brother and I, have, thank the Lord, created new families and raised our children in the spirit of our parents. Our sons study in well-known yeshivas and colleges, and our daughters in Beit Yaakov [school system for religious girls].

I will never forget one of the first letters I received from my brother Aaron after liberation, because it incorporates the anguish and torment of our martyrs by the Hitler specter.

This is the content: “Dear brother Yehoshua, your letters affect me like the best medicine. I didn't believe I would survive the bloody nightmare and still live to hear from you. When I was in sorrowful Bergen-Belsen, where hundreds and thousands of people lay in the gutters and putrefied while still alive, so that the stink could be smelled for miles, people risked death for a bit of potato peel. I once positioned myself and grabbed a potato, and the people attacked me like wild animals, and afterwards the Nazi police came and shot at us. Beside me many people fell, and I miraculously survived. Yaakov Kamec, Yehiel Lerman, Yosef Zawner, Yaakov Meir Krystal, Kalman Kornwasser and other people from our town dropped dead before my eyes. I can't believe what I witnessed, and to this day I haven't been able to recover. When I was liberated, I weighed 35 kg., they carried me like a little child. We didn't have an easy time in the previous camps either. The lice ate us alive, and many typhus and dysentery epidemics broke out from time to time.

Those who didn't die of typhus, were shot by the wild German Huns. Our cousins died in this way.

I myself also became very ill, but this time more than half the camp was very ill with typhus and the Germans were afraid that they would be infected with the typhus, so they no longer entered the sick-bay barrack, and stopped shooting us.

When I was back on my feet, I went to work in the well-know ammunition factory. I went around hungry and naked, and the work was grueling.

The situation was saved by the Russians, who were then carrying out strong offensives by the Wisła. Then the Germans sent us off to Auschwitz, from Auschwitz to Austria and afterwards to Bergen-Belsen camp, where we were finally liberated.

Your brother Aaron.”

I considered it necessary to submit this letter for the Yizkor Book. To commemorate the memories and to remember and report the Hitler hangmen's devilish and cruel methods and plans to exterminate the Jewish people.

But just as “The Eternal One of Israel doesn't lie”, so the Haman had his downfall, like all the other enemies of Israel in the history of Jewish martyrdom, and the Jewish people has re-forged its future in the State of Israel and in the Diaspora.


[Page 441]

In Memory of our Family – Sternkranz Family

 

Yehezkel Sternkranz

With great pain and deep sorrow we commemorate the memory of our beloved father, who perished on the way to Auschwitz.

Our father was not only loyal and devoted to his family, but he was also well known as a Zionist and social activist, who contributed a great deal to the national revival and the development of the Zionist ideals.

 

Sara Sternkranz

Our beloved mother was a quiet, modest woman, a real Jewish mother who worried, suffered the pain and endured the fight for life and lived to come to Israel. Unfortunately, the vestiges of that hard time left her terribly injured in body and soul, which caused her premature death, and she passed away in 1967.

 

Elka Sternkranz

Our beloved sister, who was brought up in the spirit of beautiful ideals, was instilled with the best virtues of a Jewish child and dreamed of a bright future. Unfortunately, cruel fate tore off the thread of her life and she perished tragically in a concentration camp in 1942.

 

Yankel Sternkranz

Our dear brother was born in 1932 and had barely begun to grasp the meaning of life, when the dreadful Nazi catastrophe advanced on Jewish life. He was murdered by the Nazi beasts during the deportations in 1942.

We also recall our relatives and family members who tragically perished in the Nazi hell.

 

We honor their memory.
The sorrowing survivors,
Sima, Zehava, Hava, Binyamin and Meir


[Page 442]

The House of Mr. Shmuel Kleiner

Moshe Sali (Kerbel)

This house was famous in our town because of its unique charm. Any person who needed moral or material support could find it there.

The house was quiet and peaceful and popular among the folks. A Zionist house, radiating a distinctive sense of nobility. A house of scholars and educated people.

The head of the family, Mr. Shmuel Kleiner, was a believer in Jewish tradition, a pleasant, kind man, tall and always elegantly dressed.

He was known as a philanthropist, whose house and heart were open to the needy. He was among the most prominent members of the Mizrachi and took active part in every Zionist enterprise and especially in the collection of funds for Keren Hayesod. In 1940 he passed away unexpectedly from terror of the terrible acts of the Nazi beasts against the Jews.

The mother, Mrs. Sheindl, was a model “Yiddishe Mama”. With limitless humility and dedication she cared for and nurtured her home. She was kind and offered unconditional love. Her main concern was providing the children with traditional education about their people and their land.

And indeed, the children grew well, a source of pride to their parents, and the house was filled with life and creation. Unfortunately she was not spared by the Nazi soldiers, who murdered her brutally.

The eldest son, Fishel, was a true genius, schooled in “fine print” and trade, full of knowledge and aware of events around him.

He married a girl from Kielce and moved to her town. He settled there with surprising ease and secured a respectful place for himself among the activists of “Mizrachi”, who excelled in social and public activities. Cruel fate has decreed that he, his wife Golda, his daughter Rivka and his son Baruch all perished at the hands the Nazi beasts.

The second son, Yaakov, was a lovely lad, full of life and open of heart and mind, schooled in trade and barter. He was always an activist of the Zionist Organization and later became a pillar of the revisionist movement in our town. He was also murdered by the villains and only his wife and daughter survived and reached Israel after many travels.

The familial harmony at their home was perfect, there was an air of mutual respect and even more so of respect for father and mother. Over the years, the sons helped their father manage the business. The children grew up and married, raised families and moved to other places, but always remembered where they came from and often visited their family, until the Holocaust.

The ones who survived the Holocaust, having suffered through the camps, were the daughter, Sarah, who married lawyer Leon Wiesenfeld, and the son Yoseph, who married Ruszka Kerbel. Both raised lovely families.

A glorious tree was cut down, but the offshoots and branches that grew from this strong trunk follow the ways of their ancestors, imparting Zionist and universal education to their children. The legacy of the parents has forged and given the children the strength and desire to impart ideals of culture, tradition and knowledge, a truly comforting fact.

May our loved ones, who were burned at the stake, rest in peace among the pure martyrs.

Magnified and sanctified may His great Name be…


[Page 444]

At the Mass Grave of our Brethren

Moshe Sali-Kerbel

We will eternally remember and sanctify our compatriots from our city who so tragically perished in anguish at the hands of the most atrocious cannibal, devourer of Jews, that History has ever known, in the dark period of Hitlerism. We won't forget that many of you did not receive Jewish burial, and that your bones are sown and spread, without a sign or a vestige.

We have therefore decided to perpetuate your memory and that of all the martyrs in our memory, hearts and souls. For this purpose, with tears in our eyes and trembling hands we have gathered together your holy names, so that in the future they will be turned into a written, worthy tombstone, which will be a symbol of your heroic fight for life and of your death.

In this way your names will be rehabilitated, will receive eternal meaning, and your souls will be inscribed in the Book of Life of all the souls who perished as martyrs in “sanctification of the name” in the Diaspora and also in the State of Israel.

With the publication of the Yizkor Book in the State of Israel, we have symbolically and visibly given you Jewish burial and have erected a verbal monument, which will remain as a memorial for generations. With deep sorrow and broken hearts we stand beside the mass grave and together say Kaddish Yitgadal Veyitkadash

 

In Memoriam after the Holocaust

With a mournful silence, heads bowed and hearts filled with sorrow and rage, we hereby commemorate the pure souls of our townsmen, who were brutally murdered by Polish criminals after the Holocaust.

And these are the names of the victims:

– Sarah Wolfowicz, her son Fishel and her daughter Rivka
– Rivka Enisman, the wife of Shlomo Enisman
– Miriam Zylberberg, daughter of Avraham Zylberberg
– Rivka Pszytycki, daughter of Jechiel Pszytycki
– Noah Kornwaser
– Bronia Cipis, daughter of E. Kalmanzon
– Chaim Binstock, from Wąchock
– Avraham Kadyszewicz, son of Godel Kadyszewicz
– Noah Enisman, from Bodzentyn


[Page 446]

Conclusion

Yizkor Book Committee

Dear Townsmen,

After many doubts and hard, financial and humane efforts, and after such a long wait, we are finally done and the Yizkor book for the community of Wierzbnik was published along with testimonies and memories dear to each and every one of us.

For years we have debated how to immortalize the town, its Jews and lifestyle. And while we were debating, a few started gathering the material, filled with a holy sense of duty, to remember and prevent the memory of those tortured to death from being forgotten, and offer the next generations a truthful testimony of this time of horrors. It was not an easy task, because the publication of a Yizkor book is not an easy project. The book is therefore the result of a collective effort, made mostly by people who put their thoughts, feelings and memories into writing for the first time. But therein lays the advantage of such writing, which is true honesty.

Every line, every letter, every name and every fact related to our memories are likely to stir the hearts of our town's survivors. Every one of them will feel from this book the air of the time and place that wove the threads of their past and connected them with those who are no longer among the living and whose memory is as precious as life itself – the lives of their families, relatives and friends. And while leafing through the book they would realize its value and scope. Now, in a time when the patterns of the past are being destroyed and the belief in ideals and high moral values is collapsing, when religion and tradition have ceased to serve as the most important elements in Jewish society, now of all times we need to present youths with the spiritual and moral light, the way of thinking that characterized the Jews of our town and their lifestyle that was filled with sacred values and deep religious and national sentiments, which offered succor in the hardest of times.

This Jewry has spun a thousand sentimental threads of love for Israel, the people of Israel and its eternal ideals. This spiritual milieu, which sheltered generations, and this atmosphere of deep affinity to legacy, national calling, spiritual and moral values, have given us many of the finest thinkers of our national rebirth. Without them, who knows if we would have reached this far.

It is natural and unavoidable that some of the details would be incorrect or lacking, and for several of the articles to repeat or offer alternate versions of the same events. After all, the book is nothing but a reflection of the rich reality of old, which was gone with most of its people and is no more.

We hope that this memorial enterprise will be an ever-burning candle among the burning candles of Israel's communities, creating together the flame that lights the unique milieu and existence of this magnificent Jewry.

This memorial book, which is a memorial candle for the souls and memories of martyrs, will also serve as a torch lighting the path of the living for the young generation and the generations that will follow it, because their light will be ours.

Yizkor book committee

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