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[Pages 196-197]

The Prosbitsky Family

By Leah Prosbitsky

For days, I have been steeped in the thoughts of my heart. Spirited memories of the past rise before my eyes. The literally come alive, taking form in three dimensions. Time moves so quickly, so fluidly; and each time period and its happenings pass before my eyes.

During these moments, I daydream of my childhood, my youth, of the house in which I grew and was nurtured, of the narrow streets, and of the paths and roads that I passed over in the dawn on my youth.

While I have a few moments alone, to myself, I dream dreams of the past and suddenly scenes of horror from the Holocaust are before my eyes. My entire family, the elderly and weak, the young people at the height of their lives, women and children, murdered. We passed into the depths, tortured, hopeless, like sheep being led to their slaughter for a reason they knew not.

When I begin to think of my family and of all the Jews of Piesk, I am overwhelmed by sorrow and deep pain and without consolation, my heart weeps. I cry without tears for I have no tears left to cry. For the sake of the eternal memory of my precious family, I will present their images.

Our father, Yitzak, of blessed memory, was a Jew with great fear of Heaven. An upright man, humble and modest, he educated us to guard the traditions of our fathers, to deal in an upright manner and to love G-d's creations. He was a father completely given over to his children, his family, and his house. Nothing was too difficult for him if it would provide an honorable livelihood for his family. He worried constantly that our house should never be lacking for anything. It was a law in our home that every Shabbos, there would be a poor guest seated at our table. Whenever my father would see a poor man at the entrance of the synagogue where we prayed, he would bring him home and try to befriend him so that he would feel comfortable in our home.

The commandment of honoring one's father and mother was never seen as an obligation to fulfill. It was deeply rooted in his soul. Our father's parents, my grandmother and grandfather, lived with us at our home. They were also good and upright people. My father would watch over them with the greatest of care. He was constantly involved with them and gave them great honor. At his side was the constant assistance of our precious mother—Itka.

She was a modest woman with a good heart, with a charm and pleasantness that was every-present. Her expression told of her readiness and willingness to always help others. Our mother was not killed in the Holocaust. She died of old age. When we think about it, the solitary consolation was that, at least, she did not see the horrors of the Holocaust and her own children being led to the slaughter.

Our father always accomplished many good deeds and always dispensed assistance. Our family was large—six children; and times were difficult. However, he did the best he could. Our father's parents enlisted the financial help of their children who were in America although the financial burden was quite large and overwhelming. When one of the girls was ready to be married, I have on particular memory that is engraved deeply in my soul.

Our sister, Marta, may her memory be blessed, was getting ready for marriage. As was customary in those days in Jewish families, a dowry was promised to her betrothed. It was impossible for us to keep our promise on our own. We turned to the uncles in America, our father's brothers, to help us. They also were not people of means. They financed themselves mostly through manual labor. Yet, they answered our request immediately.

We waited with longing eyes for the dowry that was to arrive but, to our distress, the time for the wedding was getting closer. Everything for the bride was ready for quite some time, but the dowry in American dollars was slow in coming. The situation seemed hopeless; and we were like mourners on Tisha B'Av. Those days are a story in itself. Right before the chuppah, the promised money arrived. That very hour, I slept and felt that they were taking me by force. I was shaking. I thought that perhaps a fire had broken out or that thugs had overtaken our house. However, when I opened my eyes, I realized from the happy faces of my family. I understood that a miracle had occurred. How great was the happiness at our house, impossible to describe in words.

Our father, of blessed memory, believed with great faith of inhabiting the land of Israel. The building of the land and its development were very close to his heart. However, he always would say it has to be done according to our faith and our cherished traditions. When our sister Chava informed him that she wanted to make "aliyah," our father did not pause for even a second and gathered together all the money that was necessary for the trip.

Our sister Chava went wit the office of Aliyah. After than, I, Zahava, went as a tourist with the first pioneers. I was successful in circumventing the regulations of the passport office of the government office of Hamandet. Afterwards, our sister, Miriam and a group of her friends arrived at the brink of World War II with an organization called Chalutz. To our sorrow, we did not merit that our father, Yitzak, our sister Marta and her family, our brother Dov and his family, and our youngest brother Shmuel Yosef and his family, of blessed memory, joined us. They all perished in the Holocaust.

Before I finish this entry, I would like to paint a small picture of our Jewish community of Piesk. The daily life was not easy or pleasant in Piesk. The upright people of Piesk were merchants, storeowners, craftsmen, and farmers who mainly worked with tobacco. There were also teachers involved in education. The people of the town did not balk at any type of work that would provide sustenance. They were happy with their lot. They continued their path in life. They trained their children to do good deeds and hoped for a better tomorrow.

The children were exciting and lively. They were idealistic and full of enthusiasm. Without hesitation, they tried to improve their lives and fulfill their aspirations. The young people were affiliated with the Chalutz and Beteir movements. Their main desire was to make Aliyah to Israel and to be involved in the building of their land. However, many were not successful in penetrating the locked gates of the land due to the many obstacles that prevented Jews from making Aliyah.

I would like to add that there were youth in Piesk who lived and worked in the underground. These youth, in their innocence, believe that, in their day, the communist government would change and that the problems of the Jews would improve. Their efforts did not save them from the tearing claws of the Nazi beast. They, along with their brothers, perished in the Holocaust.

May it be the will of the Almighty that these few lines serve as a monument to the anonymous graves of my holy family and all the Jews of Piesk.

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