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Our sons who fell in Israel's wars

Shalom Kass, of blessed memory

     Born the son of Henich and Fasia in 1923 in Podwolocyska.
     As a child he excelled in his studies at the grammar school where he finished ninth grade. When he was thirteen years old he was sent by his parents to study in a Yeshiva, and here too, he was among the outstanding pupils. He was a member of the Mizrahi youth movement and his goal was to emigrate to Israel. When he returned from the Yeshiva, World War II broke out and after the Soviets occupied Polish Ukraine he continued studying on his own. He studied Hebrew, Bible and history.
     After the Nazis attacked the Soviet Union he escaped into the Soviet Union and during the five years he spent there he was drafted and worked as a tractor operator and driver. When the war ended, he returned to Poland and joined the Zionist youth kibbutz in the town of Schetzin.
     Together with his friends from the kibbutz, he crossed the border into Germany and stayed there for about a year and a half.
     He endured all of the tribulations of the immigrant ship "Exodus", which tried to sneak into then British-occupied Israel, and after many wanderings, he arrived on the shores of Israel on March 12, 1948. He joined the army immediately, even before he had a chance to become familiar with his homeland. The army discovered his talent and he was sent to a course for sharpshooters and served as a sharpshooter for his division and participated in all the battles. His friends knew him to be a man of peace and a good friend.
     He fell in the battle of Beit Naballah on July 11, 1948.
     He is survived by his sister Charna who lives in Israel.
     May his memory be blessed.

Joseph Kilman, of blessed memory (son of Paula Greenhaut)

     Corporal Kilman gave his life for his country. He fell in the battle at Tel-Faher on Friday, the first day of Sivan 5727 (June 9, 1967).
     Yoseph was wounded during battle, bandaged himself, and despite his commanding officer's order to stay behind, he advanced with his unit towards their objective.
     After his commanding officer was wounded, Yoseph and some of his comrades took the initiative and tried to enter one of the trenches in an attempt to cleanse it of enemy forces. He fell in this battle.
     We carry the holy memory of Corporal Yoseph Killman always and he is forever in our hearts.
     May his memory be blessed.

Yigal Aldes, of blessed memory (1945-1967)

     Yigal was born on Aril 17, 1945 in Haifa. He studied at the Urim grammar school in Kiryat Eliezer and continued at the technical school of Beit Galim, becoming a qualified welder. He was a quiet and introverted boy who loved sports, particularly swimming and volleyball. He was easy to get along with. He worked in the Israel shipyards before he was drafted.
     He served for two and a half years doing regular army service as a welder for heavy tanks. He was a dedicated soldier. After he finished his regular army service he was transferred into an infantry unit as part of his reserve duty.
     When he was called up for special duty to defend our existence on May 19, 1967, he was in bed with a broken toe. He had been given a month and a half leave from work, but when he received the order he got up and packed his things. When his mother said, "But you can't even walk in your condition," he answered, "Mom, my foot might be injured but my arms can sill hold a weapon."
     On June 9, 1967, while storming the Syrian Dardara bunker he was wounded by machine-gun fire and died the following day in the hospital in Safad. He is buried in Afula.
     Yigal always took good care of his sick parents and used to bring them his salary. All he wanted was for them to be well.
     He would write letters to them every day. In his last letter of Friday morning, only a couple of hours before he fell in battle, he wrote, "There is really nothing to do here. I am safer than you are. I hope to be home soon. The war is over." May his memory be forever blessed.

     While the B Force was gathering on the road near the Ashmura Bridge, the force was attacked by a heavy burst of gunfire as it stood on the street. Corporal Aldes, who was a gunner in the second unit, took cover along with all the other soldiers. When he jumped, his helmet came off, and before he could get it back on he was hit in the head and severely wounded. He was taken to the hospital in Safad and died there on June 10, 1967.

Captain Yitzhak P., B Company

Daniel Neuman, of blessed memory

     Born to Tzipora and Shimon on September 13, 1949, in Haifa. He was a fifth generation Israeli. He studied at the Be'eri grammar school and then graduated from the high school, having majored in mathematics and physics. Daniel, whom everyone called Danny, was an outstanding student, especially in the fields of natural sciences.
     In early November Daniel was drafted to the Israel Defense Forces and served as a communications officer for a tank unit made up of reservists. This was where he served when he became a reserve soldier.
     When he was released from the army, he studied chemistry at the technical college near the Technion. He studied there from 1971-1973. After he completed his studies with high grades, he was recommended for work in the engineering department of the Technion as a chemical technician.
     During the Yom Kippur War, his unit participated in the battles to stop the advancement of the Egyptian troops in the Sinai Desert. Danny served as the commanding officer's communications officer. During the entire war he remained calm and never left his radio equipment for a second. His commanding officer stated that despite the difficulties, Danny never complained and even during the worst shelling, he remained calm with a sense of security.
     On October 19, 1973, he was hit during a bombardment and killed near the bridges which the Israeli army used to cross the Suez Canal. He was buried in the military cemetery in Haifa. He was survived by his parents and a brother and sister.

     May his memory be blessed.

Yoseph Gruber, of blessed memory

     He was born in 1947 to Leah and Pesach in Haifa. He studied at he Leo Beck grammar school and then finished high school. In the army he served in an engineering unit and participated in a number of border skirmishes. He also participated in the Khrama Operation.
     In 1970, he was released from the army and prepared to continue his studies in the Technion but his plans were upset by the sudden death of his father. From then on, he became responsible for the livelihood of his family. He began working for the Ministry of Defense as a building technician, supervising the construction of bomb shelters on the Golan Heights and in the northern areas of Israel.
     On January 1, 1972, while he was on the job, traveling on the path the patrol cars usually take, he was suddenly shot at by automatic weapons. He was killed immediately. The shots were fired at the slow moving vehicle from a distance of only about 3-5 meters. After he was killed, his murderers cut off his head and took it with them over the border, apparently to show off their "victory".
     Yoseph Gruber was 24 when he died and still a bachelor. He is survived by his mother Leah and sister Batya.

Second Lieutenant Dror Shesh, of blessed memory

     He was born in Jerusalem on September 17, 1962, to Nili and Shmuel. He completed his studies as an outstanding student, majoring in computers.
     Computers opened up the world of science for him. To feed his soul, he played guitar. He was inducted into the army in November 1980, and volunteered to serve in the tank force. He underwent intensive courses which led him to become a tank unit commander. On the week he was killed, he was to participate in the ceremony for officers who finished a course and he was to be promoted to the rank of second lieutenant. During his service, he excelled in his job as a tank loader.
     He was decorated for his actions during the war in Lebanon.

Michael Weisser, of blessed memory

     He served in the British Mandatory Police. He was murdered in the Carmel Forest by rioters in 1936 while in the line of duty.

Moshe Shechter, of blessed memory

     Moshe Yitzhak Schechter was born in the town of Podwolocyska on January 26, 1910 to Mordechai (Motti) and Bela. He grew up as an only child in the warm and loving atmosphere of his parents' home. He was raised on the friendship, mutual aid and love of others which were characteristic of the town.
     In April of 1936, he obtained the much sought-after certificate to move to Israel from the Grossman Zionist movement and he moved to Israel.
     On December 26, 1983 he joined his Maker after a long illness. He is survived by a wife, two daughters and two grandchildren.
     He loved his friends from Podwolocyska until his dying day.

     May his memory be blessed.

In Memory Of Hunchu-Hanan Jorisch, of blessed memory

     Hunchu was one of the six children of Zvi and Tzipora Jorisch. Zvi, his father owned a carpentry shop. His mother, Tzipora, who was known as the "Bird Queen" was known for secretly giving charity. It was a warm home and the children received a proper Jewish education.
     In 1946, Hanan married Miriam Ashkenzi Yeruslav. They moved to Israel illegally in 1948, with their only son Zvi. At first they lived at Kibbutz Maagan Michael and then afterward in Haifa, where Hanan worked as a carpenter.
     He died after a brief illness in 1985, at the age of 75. He is survived by his wife, son, and three grandchildren.
     May his memory be blessed.

Pnina Barrer, of blessed memory

     Pnina Barrer Suslik, a preschool teacher, educator and charitable woman, died at the age of 79.
     Sometimes death removes the veil from the life's work of modest people who preferred to give to the needy without letting others know about it. Pnina Barrer-Suslik was this type of person.
     Known as one of the most venerable preschool teachers in Petach Tikva, Pnina was born in 1908 in Poland to a Hassidc father and Zionist mother. She was educated in the Jewish school in the town and later studied at a teachers college in Lvov. In the early 1930's, she moved to Israel and in 1935, she opened the first pre-school in Petach Tikva. It was attached to the municipal building and became renowned among educators, parents and children. Shmuel Yavnieli and Moshe Avigal ("Beigel"), then the founders of the socialist educational system, enlisted her help. She wrote in the founder's book of the educational system, that more than once she took up a shovel to get the place ready for children to come in.
     She was paid a salary of six pounds a month, which was often late in coming. Aharon Yoeli, one of Israel's first pilots during the War of Independence wrote of her, "She is a jewel like her name- a rare jewel, caring as an adoptive mother, trains like an artist, radiates warmth, dedication and loyalty, brimming with creativity as she sings and dances. I love Pnina the teacher."
     For various reasons she was forced to leave the field of education but she did not give up her public service. She was active in the Organization of Working Mothers and in teaching Hebrew to uneducated women and various other charitable organizations.
     On the thirtieth anniversary of the state of Israel, Pnina, along with the mayor of Petach Tikva, Yisrael Feinberg and his wife Lena, decided to establish a scholarship fund for a technical high school for girls in town. The Worker's Council and the women's organization, Naamat, joined the effort. Later on a similar fund was established in Tel Aviv. The fund still benefits the children of Kfar Shalem boarding school in the southern part of town and the children of Neve Taf in Tel Aviv. But this was not all, Pnina Suslik and her husband Shaul, people of modest means, always believed that they must help others less fortunate than themselves, so they always contributed to various organizations in secret. When Pnina died, the former Minister of Labor, Ora Namir wrote," I knew her well as a modest woman, who helped others and who was composed of sensitivity and friendship. She took an interest in many areas and I particularly remember her good taste."

     May her memory be blessed.




In memory of our townspeople

In Memory Of Morris Rosenblum

     Morris Rosenblum was born in 1917, to Basha and Pinhas Levy (Pinyu). At the age of 13, he apprenticed in carpentry with Rotter. He worked there for nine years until 1939, when he was drafted into the Polish army in order to fight off the German invasion. He then returned to carpentry, this time as an instructor at a furniture cooperative, until the war between Germany and the Soviet Union broke out.
     During the war, he met up with his sister Clara Landman and her husband Jack, who had fled Podwolocyska with the retreating Soviet army. Together they spent the war years in the Soviet Union, helping each other and others as well.
     After the war, Morris returned to Poland and from there went on to the displaced persons camp at Baaden-Reichenwald in West Germany. Since he had intended to go to Israel, he purchased furniture equipment and sent it to Israel. He had been a member of the Gordonia youth movement and was an avid Zionist. However, his plan to move to Israel fell through after the "Exodus" incident and he decided to move to the U.S. instead. He was joined there again by Jack and Clara Landman.
     In New Jersey he set up a chicken farm from which he made a decent living. But then Morris and his brother-in-law, Jack, decided to return to their former trade and they began making kitchen cabinets together. They were able to combine their talents to streamline the production process to make a good quality product at reasonable prices. Their factory grew and soon they were marketing cabinets all over the U.S. and overseas as well.
     Morris and his family made numerous charitable contributions. Especially worthy of mention is their contribution to the Adelphia Talmudic Academy in New Jersey, which erected a building which bears the family name. Their contributions have kept the talmudic academy going.
     Morris died of a serious illness in the summer of 1987, at the age of 70, when he was still in his prime. His wife Clara and son Barry along with his wife and four children still live in New Jersey. They continue the family tradition.
     Jack and Clara Landman have also continued to be staunch supporters of Israel, continuously working for and contributing to the Jewish state, as well as local institutions. For this reason they have been invited to meet with various Israeli leaders, including David Ben-Gurion, Menahem Begin,and Yitzhak Rabin among others. They were also invited to the White House for the signing of the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel in 1978. Their daughter, Sharon, who lives in Israel with her family, is the translator of this book. Their daughter Beatrice, is a psychologist in New Jersey.

     May his memory be blessed.

     Baruch Goldshtein the chairman of the Podwolocyska organization in the U.S. for a long time. During his term as chairman, an ambulance was contributed to Israel by the organization.
     His poem was published in the Yiddish newspaper, the "Algemeiner Journal" on May 21, 1982.

A Dream of Bread by Borekh Goldshteyn [Baruch Goldstein]

In those dark days of terror
The skies were leaden gray;
I sought a way to God
To sound my pain...

Nazi fiends inflamed my hurt --
A blood-red sunset;
My lust for life and bread
Became a dream...

Day was darker than night
When Ashmodai slaughtered children;
The sun was ashamed to shine,
The moon to give light...

Aloft in his blue heavens,
God kept still;
Maidanek's smoke swallowed
His forgotten children...

I could not praise You with joy,
For You did not hear me;
My faith was dismally slain
When the sword conquered wantonly
...

Yet dawn rose anew
And the sun spread its rays;
The dream I had spun
Had become a loaf of bread...


(Translated by: Leonard Prager)





In Memory of a Good Friend, Mishko Greenberg of blessed memory

by Dov Brayer

     He was more than, he was like a member of the family. We were born in the same year, the same month, practically on the same day. We spent our childhood and adolescence together, in our homes, in our yards, and the empty lot by his house between the Katz the tailor and Zeidler the framer. We both went to Birnbaum's "cheder", Rabbi Eli prepared us both for our bar-mitzvahs, and we were in the same grammar school class.
     Mishko was warm-hearted by nature. He was modest and aware of what was happening around him and he was always eager to help others.
     I still remember the day we said good-bye, when he left our town and traveled to relatives in Leningrad before the war broke out.
     The cruel war caught up with him in Leningrad, which was besieged by the Nazis until nearly the end of the war. After the German defeat, he somehow made it to Toronto, Canada. There he established a new family although he was able to bring over his only son, David, from the Soviet Union through great effort and with the help of the Red Cross. In his new home, he did well financially, and helped anyone who approached him.
     Mishko and his wife, Eve, visited Israel twice. Our meetings were very emotional for him and brought tears to his eyes...
     Three years ago he was stricken by an illness from which he never recovered. He left behind a wife and a son and a sister, Molly, who lives in the Soviet Union.
     May his memory be blessed!

Holocaust Survivor, Dr. Nathan Spiegel

     I spent my childhood in Podwolocyska, until the German occupation.
     In 1942, we were expelled to the nearby town of Skalat, where my mother and brother were murdered. My father and I were sent to the Kamiunki labor camp. In April 1943, we were escaped from the camp and hid in the forests near Polopnovka until the Red Army liverated the area in 1945.
     We set out toward Poland and arrived in the town of Katovicz, moving on to Germany later that year. That was where I finished grammar school and studied medicine.
     In 1949, we moved to the U.S.




Forty Years Ago

by Joseph Dor (Marder)

     Dedicated to my dear children Pnina and Avi and in memory of my parents and sisters, may their memories be blessed. The monotonic chimes of my watch -one, two, three- caused me to glance at it and there were two digits marking the date, 22. The month was June and the year was 1941. Yes it is a sinister date. Today, 46 years ago, Germany attacked her ally, the Soviet Union, with whom she had divided up the loot, occupied Poland, for less than two years.
     June 22, 1941, was a Sunday. Even so, I woke up before sunrise. I lived in Podwolocyska then, with my relative Dvora Bilbitz, who lived next door to a synagogue called the "Hosiatiner Kloise". In my youth I had enjoyed stopping in there to rest my head on a table and perhaps read a page of the Talmud, maybe even enthusiastically, in the dim light. But now, as rebellious youths tend to do, and perhaps because of the drones of the government, I had turned a bit away from religion. I ceased to pray in the morning and was no longer drawn towards the threshold of the synagogue. However, sometimes I would peek out my window and watch the Faithful on their way to morning prayers. It was the insecure march of people with bent backs, wrinkled foreheads, burdened with worries and bothered by their thoughts. In awe they would touch the mezuza by the door of the synagogue, and then be swallowed inside in a flash. There they would wrap themselves in their prayer shawls and plead with their Creator. And I, even though I was an apparent atheist, would identify with the worshippers. More than once I felt the schism in my personality.
     I woke up early that morning, so that I could go to the village of Nowe Solo, which was about 20 kilometers away, in order to visit my parents and sisters who lived there.
     The village was still immersed in its slumber, with no one moving about. The procession of worshippers had not yet begun and the street was empty...
     Riding on my bicycle, I found myself outside of the town within minutes. The granaries, which were once practically full of wheat and had provided a livelihood for many of the town's Jews, stood desolate. Behind them were the green fields and tree lined avenues, a tranquil landscape. The birds flew in the breeze welcoming the rising sun with their song as the crickets joined them in a harmonious hymn to the Creator...
     The sun rose a bit, my body felt warm despite the breeze, and the songs of the birds accompanied me. Suddenly the sharp whistle of steel birds passing only a bit over my head startled all of the songbirds. We had not yet gotten used to these.
The joy of meeting my parents made us forget our confusion for a moment. The breakfast conversation was pleasant. Afterwards, my father went to his office because he used to work on Sundays instead of Saturdays. While I was still enjoying time with the rest of the family, my father returned home with the terrible news. The Germans had attacked their Soviet ally. The newscaster's voice resounded over the air waves, repeating Stalin's call for his people to go to war against the enemy.
     The joy of our meeting was dissipated. It was replaced by confusion and worry and fear of what tomorrow would bring. What would happen? How could we preserve our warm nest? My mother's sobs, my father's silence and the words of encouragement spoken by my sisters and me could not conceal our fear.
     Saying good-bye was extremely difficult, although I had not imagined that it would be the last time I would say good-bye to the people I loved most in the world...
     I got back to the town. I ran home and did not remain in the street to see what was going on. I looked out the window. A few Jews were in the synagogue, not poring over pages of the Talmud, but rather sitting and talking, using arm gestures to emphasize their explanations...
     The next day I went to work as usual. The town was in confusion. The armies were beginning to move, some toward the east and some westward. People were being drafted. Some planes flew overhead, and were shot at by nervous soldiers. Rumors were flying, some were considering fleeing, others were already packing.
     I had my last telephone conversation with my parents on Thursday. The news of Nazi penetration was spreading panic. The Jewish community did not know what to do. They had no plans to flee, for the question remained - where would they go? What would happen to them there? The main problem was that there were not enough vehicles.
     On Sunday the authorities started to load the trains to take their families back to Russia. A few Jewish families left with them. By Monday plans for fleeing the area were coming together and I was convinced by friends at work to join a group getting ready to leave. By Tuesday, July 1, I put my knapsack on my back and arrived at the designated meeting spot near the farms, in Moshe Hahn's yard. There is no need to explain what we felt that day. The thought of leaving my parents weighed so heavily on my heart that I had to fight to keep myself from sobbing. I followed my friends in a trance. I stayed near my close friend Micha Tsweig (today he's Sass), and together we made our way toward the border. However, the military convoys coming towards us blocked our way. It took us a half a day to walk the one half kilometer to Volocyska, on the other side of the border. By nightfall we made it to the other side. Since it was forbidden to travel after dark, we made camp on the grass by the Zbroch River and settled in for the night. But the night was not restful, due to the continuous movements of the troops and mainly because everyone huddled close to his bag and thought of what he had left behind.




And all the street mourns

By Michael Sass (Zweig)

     Dedicated to my daughter Dina and my dear grandchildren Guy and Shiri and in memory of my father Moshe, my mother Bina, my brother Zeev and my sister Pnina. May their memories be blessed.

     As the Germans progressed towards our town, our household became depressed. My parents reluctantly allowed me to join a group of young people who had decided to leave our homes and flee eastward.
     Saying good-bye to everyone I loved most dearly in the world was excruciatingly difficult.
     "Oy vey! Oy Vey!! I'll never see him again" wailed my mother in a horrific voice. It was July 1, 1941, and she lay sick in bed. She hugged me and kissed me and her warm tears flowed down onto my cheeks and mixed with my own.
     "Oy vey! Oy Vey!" her departing works resound in my ears always, whenever I remember the farewell scene or dream memories of my father's house. I did not imagine then that this was a final good-bye and that it would be the last time that we would be together.
     No, Mommy, no! I will not leave you. I will stay home with you and Father, no matter what." These words erupted from amongst the deep sorrow and tears. I just wanted to console the mother I loved so much.
     But my mother sensed the danger marching toward our door and she screamed, "No! No!" and her cry ascended to the heavens "Save yourself, at least you!" as if she were a prophet.
     Neighbors and relatives gathered at my house to say good-bye to me. Among them were my father's brother Yehoshua (Shaya) Tsweig and his children Munyu and Sally, my mother's sister Yente and her husband Haim Weinstein and their two daughters Dina and Perl. The house was overtaken with sobs. Another good-bye, I get to the door and my mother wails "Just one more look, for I will never see him again!" And I return to my mother's bed crying, choking on the words, "No, no, Mommy, I'll stay".
     This kept happening over and over agian. Everyone cried together with my mother Bina and my father Moshe, my brother Volvel (Zeev) and my sister Pearl. We all felt as if we were at a funeral, as if we were escorting the dead, ourselves.
     Then my brother Volvel forced me out of my mother's arms. Her cry of "Oy Vey! I will never see him again" resonated in my ears from the house until the corner where the Shneiderman house meets the township building. On the way I said good-bye to neighbors, who all looked sad and depressed. Nathan Shperling, a counselor at the "Bnei Akiva" youth group kissed me and shook my hand uttering the group's greeting "Be strong" .
     He was holding his two cute children, Moishele, aged 5, and Ahrale, aged 7. I loved these boys very much and I always remember them when I see children their age.
     How could they dare to snuff out their lives, to pick the most beautiful of the flowers?
     Yossele Gelber , Feivel the son of Yehoshua the butcher and Feivel the son of Haim the butcher shook my hand and escorted me to the end of the street.
     My brother Volvel, who was carrying my small bag which contained some clothes and a bit of food, dragged me to the courtyard where about twenty young people were gathering, unaware of the magnitude of the impending catastrophe, in order to leave the town temporarily in the hope that we would soon be returning to our loved ones.
     That was how I, the pampered child, began my difficult wanderings. The curse of "And thou shalt wander" had become my fate.
     Among the young people with whom I left town was my loyal and true friend Yossele Marder (today Yoseph Dor). We were the youngest in the group. From the beginning, we clung to each other and we remained close for about a year. We shared any bread we managed to get hold of, and we comforted each other through the difficult sorrow and yearnings for our parents' home.
     Our wandering brought us to the Stevropol district of Kovkoz, and we "settled" on a farm cooperative in the village of Nina. As the Nazis moved toward the village, we were forced to leave and wander eastward again. The local administration provided us with transportation in order to ease our escape. They gave each of us a carriage with two horses because we wanted to save two other Jewish families, refugees from Leningrad, and take them with us.
     We started out, each with "his family". Because of the traffic and chaos on the roads, we could not stay close to each other all the time, and we lost each other a few times. At last we decided that we could not travel together and we decided to separate in order to make the journey easier. We decided to meet up with each other near the municipal building in the city of Kizlar, which was on the way to Astrikhan, our final destination.
     We were indeed forced to separate. The next afternoon, we approached the bridge which was at the entrance to the town of Kizlar. But I couldn't get to the town because the military police were stopping all vehicles and taking any man under the age of fifty five. They informed him that according to the special order of the supreme commander, he is now drafted into the Red Army. And I was one of them.
     With a heavy heart, I took my personal possessions and handed the reins over to one of the women in the family with me (there were no men), and bid them a tearful good-bye, as if they were close relatives. They cried as well.
     A few hundred men had been rounded up. I wanted to look for Yoseph, but they would not let me move about. After a while they loaded us onto transport vehicles, and drove us into town, to Kizlar.

     They deposited us in an enclosed courtyard, from which no one could leave. Again I began searching for Yoseph. I was certain that they must have taken him before the bridge and brought him into the courtyard. I continued searching for him into the night but I could not find him. I was saddened. I feared the worst. I was in shock. I had lost my dear friend and the only friend I had.
     I did not sleep at all that night. I marched back and forth among the people spread out on the ground, sleeping soundly. Maybe I would find Yoseph among them. But my search was in vain. Yoseph was not there. By early morning I became exhausted and lay down on the ground to sleep, with my body trembling and my teeth chattering. Again I recalled the separation from my family a year earlier and again the voice of my mother echoed in my ears saying, "Oy vey!..."
     Various thoughts sprung into my mind. Will I never again see Yoseph, who had been so close and yet had suddenly disappeared? We could have traveled together in the same wagon, saving ourselves the agony of the separation and we would still be together. I was certain that Yoseph was searching for me wherever he was, and that he felt as tormented as I did. However, the way we had been raised had made it imperative that we do anything we could to save the two Jewish families.
     That night, my torture began anew: loneliness, insomnia, terror, nightmares.
     A few days later they divided us into groups, gave us food for a four day journey, which sufficed for only two days, appointed a commanding officer, and commanded us to march toward the city of Grozny in the Kafkaz, to the city of oil. We got there a week later. I began my military service. With a heavy heart I was forced to discard my personal possessions which I treasured, because they reminded me of home. I secretly kept two shirts which my mother had sewn herself. The service was difficult, training day and night and hard work in the trenches. A while later I found a note I had hidden which contained the address of a Jewish doctor who lived in the city of Tashkent in central Asia. The doctor's relatives had been refugees at the farm cooperative for a while and were supposed to travel to him in Tashkent. That was what they had told me when together we conducted a symbolic Passover Seder in a strange land. That night Yoseph and I had cried when we remembered the Passover Seders which were held in our homes.
     Then I wrote a letter to the doctor in Tashkent describing what had transpired and asking him to inform me if he knew anything about Yoseph. How happy I was when a few weeks later I received a letter from him with a letter from Yoseph enclosed. It turned out that he had written to him with the same request regarding my fate. As it turned out, he had not been drafted, because the guard station by the Kilzar bridge had been set up after the general draft order had been given, after he had already entered the town. Now he was living in the city of Sverdlovesk in the Ural. That was how we got back in touch with each other. Due to the Red Army advance westward beyond the borders of the Soviet Union, and the difficult conditions, we again lost touch with each other.
     However, Yoseph did not remain idle, and he personally contacted the commanding officer of my unit to find out what had become of me.
     The officer gave the postcard to me and we renewed our correspondence. His postcard, from 1945 remains with me to this day. I traveled through all the Balkan countries with the army and reached the province of Graetz in Austria. Any place I went, I always asked about the fate of the local Jewish population and tried to locate survivors. When the war was over, our unit was stationed in the city of Galatz in Romania for a long time. There were many Jews living there who had survived the Holocaust. I became friendly with a Jewish family which lived in the courtyard opposite our camp. Their young son introduced me to a young girl from the "Bnei Akiva" movement, which was still active.
     I was overcome with yearnings for the movement in our town, and I felt a ray of hope.
I would wait impatiently for the each meeting of this group.
     They told me that many Jews were going AWOL and sailing to Israel by way of Treist. I liked the idea of realizing my lifelong aspiration and that of my parents to emigrate to Israel. Within the next few days, the discipline in the unit became very strict and they did not allow anyone to leave the camp. The reason for this was that a Jewish soldier from my division had gone AWOL. A few days later I saw the soldier being brought back in a jeep by his commanding officer, in handcuffs, accompanied by two armed guards. With great sorrow I watched as he was brought to the gate of the camp.
     I trembled as I thought of the fate which awaited him. I became depressed. I felt that something horrible was about to happen. A few days later they began interrogating me often .I paid a dear price for my Zionist activities. It included torture, deterioration of my health, terror and despair. In the end I was sent to prison for six years. Three years later, after surviving indescribable hell, I was released after I had appealed the sentence. During my incarceration, I had not had any correspondence with Yoseph.
     I have only briefly described my wanderings in the farm cooperative, the army, prison. I could write a book about my life, and my torment as a Jew. and the torture I endured after my release from the K.G.B. in the town of Rostov, after I was already a husband and a father. But how could I describe this, knowing that it was nothing compared to the horrible torture which my parents and family endured along with the remaining members of my town, led by the holy Rabbi Yehuda Leibush Babad, before their martyred souls were taken? In September 1949, I was released from prison and I did not know where to turn. I was overcome with a desire to visit the town and see for myself the dimensions of the horrible Holocaust which had befallen our people. Therefore, I traveled to Podwolocyska. From the train station, I ran like a madman toward "my home" until I reached the Shneiderman house. I met no friends on the street this time...I returned along the same route I had taken when my brother Volvel had escorted me after I had bid farewell to my parents on July 1,1941.
     I ran to my house while recalling it in my mind. Soaked with sweat, I fell to the ground. My legs kicked the place where I had been born and raised, and from where I left each day to go to school, to synagogue, and to the youth movement meetings. I broke into heavy sobs.
     At that moment I again saw before me the neighbors and relatives who had gathered together to bid me farewell and again heard my mother's words echo, "Just one more look....".
     When I found out that Shantzi Glass and the family of Aaron Jarchower were still living in town, I went to visit them. With great sorrow I listened as they related the oppression which our town had endured during the Holocaust. We went together to our parents' graves, which were not there. How sad I was to see the sidewalks paved with tombstones, and in the cemetery, only a few tombstones strewn about. Then we passed the Rabbi's street where the ghetto had been, and went on to Feitel Hill, where, behind the cross, most of the young people of our town were hurled into the grave which they had been forced to dig for themselves.
     It was not because I had seen what was coming, or because I had been smarter than the others, that out of all my friends from school and the youth movement, I had survived. I would like to mention them here: Nahum Epstein, Yisrulik Goldshtein, Shaike and Luzer Shperling, Yoseph Pickholtz, Volvel Bomze, Mottel Goldshtein, Motti Vildnigger, Muni Shpindel, and more friends, may their memory be blessed.
     I was fortunate to have survived the hell and realize the dream we had woven together in the youth movement- to live in Israel. I reached a safe haven. G-d had given me my life as a gift, and I thank him for that. I had been on the verge of death a number of times, and he kept me alive.
     My ambitions had been realized. I arrived in Israel. I built a home, began a new generation, that would be a continuation of my parents, who are responsible for my life. How sorrowful I am that so many young people from my town never got to do that. They include my brother Volvel, who had trained at the "Poel Mizrahi" kibbutz in the town of Kosov and in our town, and never got to realize his goal of living in Israel. The tower which he had built in his dream, became a bubble in reality.
     The Nazis and their collaborators, may they be damned, arrested him together with other young people from the town and incarcerated him in the ghetto in Kaminunki, where they forced them to do hard labor in the quarries until they starved, or died of tortures and beatings. None of them remained alive. May G-d avenge them! May their memory be blessed!
After I moved from the Soviet Union to Poland in 1958, I got in touch with people in Israel and I found out who from our town had survived. Yoseph was among them! I was happy to find out that some of my relatives had survived and were living in Israel. Among them were my uncle David Valdinger and me cousin Yentel Drimmer (today Dagan), and my cousin Shmuel Avivi (previously Helboim), who has since passed away. After I moved to Israel with my wife Rita and my daughter Dina, we met all of the survivors of the town with joy and sadness and I was reunited with Yoseph.

Herzlia, Israel, 12 Heshvan 5748 (1978) - Memorial Day




A letter to Chava Kastenbaum, Chairman of the "Helping Hand for the Sick"

     We have published a letter received by Chava Kastenbaum, nee Greenhaut, from the Helping Hand for the Sick organization, in recognition of her contribution to the needy.

          June 1, 1986

Dear Mrs. Chava Kastenbaum,

     Mother of all people! I often ask myself how your parents knew to name you the great historical name of Chava (Eve)!
     You are Chava for besides being a wonderful mother to your own family, you have numerous "children", sick, wounded and handicapped. Since the Six Day War, you have become their concerned mother.
     With your excellent connections and because of the respect people show you, you have personally supplied the hospital and the sick with advanced medical equipment which helped speed their recovery.
     You often recommend to your friends to memorialize their departed loved ones, or their own memories by purchasing a room or an important piece of medical equipment in order to immortalize their names. They bring and honor to themselves and provide important assistance to the hospital.
     We are all, the sick and healthy alike, proud of you and your deeds, and your use of your courage and strong spirit to do what is right and beautiful in the eyes of G-d and man will always hold you upright.

     We love you Chava!
          Sincerely Yours,

          Chairman of the Helping Hand for the Sick at
            Tel Hashomer Hospital




A letter

from Josef Horowitz

     This is a letter of Josef Horowitz, a Holocaust survivor, who died in 1966 in New York. After his death, the letter was found among his papers. The letter is dated March, 1945. The war in Europe was nearing its end and the bleeding heart of my husband and his grief for his lost parents found its outlet in this letter.
      The letter was written in Polish and I translated it into English.
     Josef, the only son of his parents, couldn't forgive himself their deaths. The sophisticated lines of the letter and those that reflect the cry of his heart, make kind of his will for coming generations. A teacher by profession, a very educated person, he was born in Podwolocyska and lived there until WWII broke out.

June, 1996 Klara Horowitz, his wife, a Holocaust survivor
New York

     Mother!... Father!...

     Mother!.. Father!.. A vain call. Never more will I receive an answer from you... Never more will I see your faces, never more will I hear the mindful words: "What do you want, my son?" A vehement spasm makes my heart bleed. There is a tight lump in my throat... Not so long ago was our farewell. I receded into the unknown far-away leaving your so lightmindedly to fall a prey to the fascist henchmen. We parted so fast, so thoughtlessly, easy, as if for a short period of time. The next day the horses ran away with me into my wandering life. Swiftly passed I the streets of my native town. And suddenly I noticed you, Father. I felt like calling you, but you made some tragic gesture and limping walked fast away. May be at sight of me you realized an imminent fate and decided to do something against it. Tremendous painful feeling pierced through the depths of my soul.
     I got the impression as if you would seek an opportunity to run away from the deluge despite the normal bonds that forged you onto the place. The ill fate caused Mother's disease and she could not undertake a long wandering. Despair and fear were written all over you. Your figure carried in itself much deadly tragedy, that when I remind myself of it all the cells of my body vibrate. The picture engraved deep upon my memory, persecuted me everywhere - day and night- and I will grieve over it to the end of my life. They say you, Mother, died a natural death. To all other misfortunes, I am sure, a morbid yearning for your only son emerged.
     I was everything to you and such a separation killed you. And you, Father, were put to the Gehene of torture, that only imagination of the bloodthirsty Hitler beasts could develop, a trip in freight cars to Belzec and a succession of sophisticated torments and eventually put to death, a horrible death, by using the most licentious methods to kill. Oh, irony of fate. All your life you dreamed of brotherhood of peoples, you instilled in me the lofty idea of altruism, you taught me to rate a person only on the basis of spiritual value and you yourself fell victim to atrocious hatred of racism. Bereaved grief burns deeply at my soul.
     I wish I could run, roar and rock the conscience of mankind. How could it be? Why? Revenge!... Revenge!... But on whom? Whether again to shed innocent blood that runs in the veins of an unfortunate, who by Nature, not even being asked, came out of the womb of a nation, that carries the responsibility? No, this would not be according to your will, Father. To burn to uproot the Nazi pest, to liberate humanity of the dangerous degenerates, sadists and vermin, whose nourishment is murder and continual dissuasion of hate.
     The best way to commemorate you, Father and Mother, if I shout to the world: "Destroy the authentic culprits of the present cataclysm, exterminate the fascist thugs to the last. Let the millions of catacombs be the last victim laid to compassionless Molochof the international war, collective tombs of the tortured, will be a warning for the coming generations, as eternal monument to the forever gone barbarity.
     Fortunately, those, who still have their fathers and mothers among the living, do not deprive others of this fortune. You, who share with me the deep mourning follow also the voice of my heart!
     Let the fields, moistened with blood of the murdered and fertilized with the ashes of the cremated, give life and blossom to a wonderful rose of universal love forever.

           Przemyl, March,1945

P.S. Josef went from the Ukraine to the Polish town of Przemyl after the liberation.




As his daughter

(To my father Moishe Segal) by Susan Segal

     It is very difficult for me to write about my father. It is hard to write without beginning to cry what seems like a flow of endless tears. I miss my father so much - it sometimes seems unbearable. My father was - and will always be - the love of my life. He was not only my father, but my mentor, my best friend, my soul mate, my teacher, and he taught me everything that has enabled me to live an ethical, fulfilling and happy life. He spoke so lovingly about his family in Podwolocyska - that died so tragically. I know he left home at 13 years of age and never saw his parents or any of his 8 brothers or sisters again. He gave me the hand embroidered shirt that was given to him by his mother. I wear it on Yom Kippur and Passover - when I lead the seder that we had led together for so many years. I can still hear him "davening" proudly, or speaking the 8 different languages he spoke fluently.
     My father was loved and admired by everyone he met - he was truly the most wonderful and insightful person I have ever met. A day, and sometimes even a moment, does not go by that I don't think about my father, and all the sacred memories that live inside of me. In my eyes, my father was a "tzaddik".
     Although I do not know many of the details of his life in Podwolocyska, I know he lived every moment of his life with a zest for living and an unending love for the Jewish people. As his daughter, I strive to live my life with the same ideals he had, and to continue to honor the memory of his family.




Epitaph

by Dr. Yaacov Gilson

For them, whose names I have not mentioned,
For them, who I have not forgotten,
For them, who I never knew,
For them, with whom I spent my youth-

For all of those who lived in a small town
Who were lost, leaving no traces behind them,
Only the shadow of Death, where once shone the light of Life.
For them, in whose memory we light a candle

On the day that the prayer of mourning is recited in synagogue,
On the day which the Holocaust is remembered,
Even Hell pales in comparison,
The survivor stands alone with his memories.

On the street the horns are honking all around,
He stands and remembers his beloved relatives,
He remembers the incinerated ones going up in smoke
Trembles in his tempest, storms in his anger.

In his country all movement freezes
In all the streets, in all the passages,
In the settled homes, on the major arteries,
The heart hurts badly, the soul is mournful.

The land of Israel remembers and reminds
The entire world of its loss
And to its people it reminds in its pain,
That we are but Jews and that is our "crime".
David's strength will vanquish any Goliath.
By using our mind to command our hands
We will overcome poverty and hardship
But there will be no more murderers, no more gassers.

And if an innocent Jew shall die,
No matter where his blood is spilt,
His murderer will not be cleansed of the blood,
For a court will perform justice on him.

The Guilty will be tried before the world
He will be hung like Eichmann was,
He will no longer say "This is murder? I had no idea!"
He will not the deed as Cain did to Abel his brother.

One who spills blood anywhere in the world
He will meet his just punishment...

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