Sarny, Volhynia Yizkor Book

Project Name An English translation of Sefer Iskor Lekehilat Sarny (Memorial Book of the Community of Sarny)

Project Coordinator
Esther Gilbert

JewishGen Yizkor Book Project Manager: Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

This project will fund the English translation of the Yiddish and Hebrew 508 page Sarny Yizkor Book, originally published in Israel in 1961. A complete English translation of this book will be posted on JewishGen. at:

Key Audiences

Jewish genealogists and Jewish families seeking to trace their Sarny roots constitute a primary audience for the translation of this Yizkor book. English-speaking descendants of Jews from Sarny will be able to read about the lives of their families and their community before the war, and the fate of the Jewish community of Sarny and its environs during the Shoah. All those interested in the Volyn region of Czarist Russia, Poland, the Soviet Union, and Ukraine will find Sarny among the great Volhynian Jewish centers.

Project Importance

Among the most important collection of documents of Central and Eastern European Jewish life, Yizkor books provide a window into a world that no longer exists. Compiled by former residents who had survived the Holocaust, Yizkor books were written directly after the war to remember the cities, towns, and villages and their Jewish inhabitants, and to document their fate. The history of the town from its earliest settlement of Jews, the cast of characters that peopled it streets, the institutions and organizations that prepared Jews of all religious and political persuasions for their future lives, all are captured in the pages of the Yizkor books, inaccessible to the English reader and researcher. As a body of knowledge, along with contemporary newspaper articles and books, nothing compares with the Yizkor books in exploring Jewish life before the Second World War.

Along with providing a window into the pre-war life of Jews in Europe, each Yizkor book give us a first-hand account of the storms of the Shoah as it swept through that particular town. With the freshness of recent recollection, the writers ensured that the individual experiences would be recorded and remembered, that the fate of their town would be known, and that their own survival meant that denial and oblivion would not be the end result. To make these Yizkor books available in English will ensure their primacy in Holocaust research and education, and give names and fates to those family members who were lost.

In 1885 the town of Sarny was established in Czarist Russia, as the crossroads of two major rail lines – the north to south line connecting the then-Russian city of Vilna with the Austro-Hungarian city of Lvov, and the east to west line connecting the then-Russian city of Kiev with the city of Warsaw, then in Russian Poland. Until today, most of these rail lines are single-track: trains go either in one direction or the other, so towns like Sarny with major shunting yards are vital to the movement of goods and people. With industry came Jews, and the 1931 census shows that 45% of the town's population were the 3,414 Jews living there. Sarny became a center for Jews living in the villages in its vicinity. For those interested in Jewish Sarny, Jewish Volyn, and the history of Jewish life in the Pale of Settlement, this translation brings to a wide audience the vibrancy and destruction of a Jewish community.

Project Description

As funds become available, all Hebrew and Yiddish pages will be translated into English. The Project Coordinator has enlisted Jack Solomon Berger, an experienced translator who has translated nine Yizkor books. Mr. Berger will also be creating a hard-copy bound edition of the Yizkor book for those interested in owning the book.

Estimated Cost

A full translation is currently estimated to cost $15,000.


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Updated 24 Jan 2012 by LA