Belchatow, Poland Yizkor Book

Project Name. Translation of Belchatow, Poland Yizkor Book

Project Leader
Roni Seibel Liebowitz

JewishGen Yizkor Book Project Manager Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

In 1764–65, only seven Jews inhabited Belchatow. During the first half of the 19th century, its Jewish population increased substantially, with the development of the textile industry. In 1857 Jews were 73% of the population, with 1,100 residents. During the early part of World War II, an estimated 5,500 – 6,000 Jews resided in Belchatow. About 400 survived the war.

In 1951, former residents of Belchatow published a 511-page yizkor book in Yiddish: Belchatow yizker-bukh (Belchatow memorial book), Editors: Mark Tarkov and Abraham Mittleberg. Buenos Aires: Association of Polish Jews in Argentina, 1951. Approximately 129 pages have been translated and are online at A list of photographs is at This project will support the services of a professional to translate the remaining 382 pages of Yiddish text.

Key Audiences

Jewish genealogists seeking to trace their roots in this town constitute the primary audience for the material.  However, the material has the potential to be of broader interest to scholars specializing in Jewish history and society in this region.

Project Importance

Yizkor books are unique sources of information on once vibrant towns, primarily in central and eastern Europe, whose Jewish populations were destroyed in the Holocaust. Written after World War II by émigrés and Holocaust survivors, yizkor books contain narratives of the history of the town, details of daily life, religious and political figures and movements, religious and secular education, and gripping stories of the major intellectual and Zionist movements of the 20th century. The necrologies and lists of residents are of tremendous genealogical value, as often the names of individuals who were taken to extermination camps or shot in the forests are not recorded elsewhere. Usually written in Hebrew or Yiddish, these important books are not accessible to most users, who cannot read these languages. Thus, the translation of these books into English unlocks this information to many more researchers all over the world. The JewishGen Yizkor Book Project received the award in 2002 for outstanding contribution to Jewish genealogy by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

The Nazis declared Belchatow a Jewish town and it thus became an “open” ghetto. In the Fall of 1941 the ghetto streets were filled with Jews from nearby communities, specifically from the villages and hamlets of Kleszczow, Wodzierady, Przyrownica, Dobrzelow, Belchatowek, Chabielice, Grocholice and Szczercow. In August 1941 the deportations to labor camps began. In 1942 most of the remaining Jews were sent to their deaths in Chelmno, with a smaller number sent to the Lodz ghetto. The two cemeteries in Belchatow no longer exist.

Project Description

Approximately 382 pages of Yiddish text remain to be translated and put online at To accomplish that JewishGen will hire a professional translator. The project coordinator will select the order in which to translate the chapters and will work closely with the translator to ensure a grammatically correct and idiomatic translation. Specific tasks the project coordinator will perform include proofreading, editing, and preparing the work for submission to the Yizkor Book Project.

Estimated Cost. $13,850


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Updated 28 Aug 2009 by LA