If youre reading this its because you want to learn about the now extinct Jewish village of Zhetl, known today as Dyatlovo, Belarus. Unfortunately, you cant read it in Yiddish. Sixty five years after this Zhetl Yizkor book was originally published, I am honored to make it available to the English speaking world.
Why do you care about Zhetl?
If youre like me, its probably because your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts or cousins were born and lived in Zhetl. A few of them survived, all of them tried to, but most of them were savagely murdered during humanitys lowest point in modern history:the Holocaust of World War II.
If youre like me, youve heard bits and pieces of your familys Zhetls stories over the years. Some of them get repeated to the point where you no longer hear them. Then one day you wake up and want to know more. You want to ask the questions which your youthful self didnt have the time, nor interest, to ask.
But alas, our Zhetl is gone.
Therein lies the wisdom of our dear Zhetl relatives. They knew this day would come.
We all owe a debt of gratitude to all the authors who made the time to tell their stories, as painful as it was. To Baruch Kaplinski (zl) for editing the original 1957 version and to Mordecai (Motl) Dunetz (zl), for passionately gathering and editing materials from former Zhetl residents and survivors the world over for nearly a decade in order to drive the project through to its completion.
As for this English translation, I want to thank Ronnie Dunetz for making me aware of the Zhetl Yizkor Books existence and for encouraging me to take on this project.
Of course this project is what it is only because of the hard work and professionalism of the members of the project team:
In the end, I took on this project so that my direct connections to Zhetl, my great-grandfather Shlomo Zalman Dunetz, and his son, my namesake, Shmuel Dunetz, could meet my children, Tovah Karl and Adam Bayer, and my grandchildren, Colden and Reese Karl.
Hopefully, someday after Im long gone, my grandchildrens grandchildren and their grandchildren will all say we are survivors from Zhetl.
May we never forget.
Sam (Shmuel) Bayer
December 12, 2021
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