Jean-Pierre Stroweis, Leonard Levin
JewishGen Yizkor Book Project Manager Lance Ackerfeld
This project is being initiated primary in order to fund the completion of the translation of the 690-page Staszów Yizkor Book into English. The primary goal is to eventually provide a complete translation of this book on JewishGen. A translation of the table of contents and broad summary chapters of the book comprising about 15% of the book (overview of the history of the Jews of Staszów and of the destruction of the community, and name lists) already exists on JewishGen. Volunteer translators are available for some of the remaining Hebrew-language chapters, but not for the Yiddish chapters (comprising about 50% of the untranslated portions). In addition, a secondary goal is to facilitate the translation of a selection of key chapters into Polish. The translation will appear online at http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/staszow/staszow.html.
The town of Staszów is in Kielce province in southeastern Poland, northeast of Kraków and southwest of Lublin. Prior to World War II, it had a Jewish population of slightly under 5,000. Over half the book is devoted to a description of the Jewish religious and cultural life in Staszów before the war. The tragedy of the Jews of Staszów is told in three phases: the ghettoization occurring throughout the year 1942, the liquidation of the ghetto on November 8, 1942, and the attempted survival of the escapees in the surrounding forests and villages from November, 1942 through the Russian liberation of the area in August, 1944 (of approximately 1,000 who escaped to the forests or hid in the area, fewer than 100 survived). The book also contains synopsis chapters of the fate of the Jewish communities in the surrounding towns of Osiek (Oshik), Połaniec (Plontch), Kurozwęki (Kurozvenki), Rytwiany (Ritvian), and Szydłów (Shidlov).
Jewish genealogists seeking to trace their roots to Staszów and its region constitute the primary audience for the material. However, the material has the potential to be of broader appeal to scholars interested in the region or specializing in Jewish history and society. In particular, as has been the case with other such books, Polish gentiles with an interest in the cultural and spiritual legacy of the Jewish community of Poland or the particular history of the community in Staszów will likely take an interest in the book.
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 died in the forests are not recorded elsewhere.
As funds become available, all Yiddish and Hebrew pages that are not already translated will be translated into English, and portions will be translated from the English into Polish. To accomplish that, JewishGen will hire one or more professional translators. The lead Yiddish translator will likely be Anita Turtletaub, an experienced and respected translator with previous experience in translating Yizkor bikher. We are also considering Murray Kaplan, who has come recommended to us, to translate portions of the book. The Polish translator will likely be Dobrochna Dyrcz-Freeman, a credentialed scholar in Slavic languages and literature (Harvard Ph.D.), who has native fluency in English and Polish, and has done translation from Polish for YIVO, as well as professional scholarly editing, and who is in addition the daughter of the late Dr. Stephen Freeman (a survivor of Staszów) and Irena Dyrcz (a righteous gentile who played a crucial role in the rescue of Jewish survivors from Staszów).
Jean-Pierre Stroweis has served and will continue to serve as the overall coordinator for the translation of all articles from Hebrew and Yiddish, and will retain exclusive management of the translation from the Hebrew, which will continue to be done on a volunteer basis. Leonard Levin will specialize in managing the translation of the Yiddish articles (and the translation of selected articles into Polish), contacting the translators directly and reviewing their work before passing it to Mr. Stroweis for final submission.
Completion of the translation of the remaining Yiddish articles of the book, and translation of selected articles into Polish, is currently estimated to cost $10,000. This estimate will be revised and refined as the project progresses.
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Updated 14 May 2012 by WSB