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[Page 361]

Yizkor

Translated by Pamela Russ

 

[Page 364]

Book of Lamentations, Chapter 2, verse 2:

God destroyed without pity
All the dwellings of Jacob,
In His anger, He razed
The fortresses of the daughter of Judah,
Bringing them down to the ground.
 
(Translation from Yehoash)

[Page 364]



For an eternal memory

Of our dear husband and beloved father and grandfather

Shmuel Keller,
may he rest in peace.

(Died on October 2, 1959, Rosh Hashana eve, 5720)

May his memory be honored!

Chana, Morris, Florence, Barbara, June, and family (New York)

[Page 365]

Shmuel Keller,
May He Rest in Peace

Shmuel Keller, of blessed memory, was one of the first who gave thought to, and later began working on the realization of the idea of the Gostyniner Yizkor Book. Shmuel could not come to terms with the thought that his hometown, its Jewish community, the activities that went on there, the accomplishments and struggles of its beautiful youth, the fights for the existence of its Jews – that all of that would be lost and forgotten. Yes, he gave himself a clear accounting that along with the destruction that came upon the Polish Jewry, the Jewish settlement of Gostynin was also wiped away – but he sought to eternalize the memory of Gostynin.

And it is no wonder then that he was the initiator of the Yizkor Book project. Shmuel was a Gostyniner through and through, even after tens of years of living in New York, thousands of kilometers away from his beloved hometown. Here, on this American soil, he did not forget the smallest detail of what went on there. With every fibre of his being, he was tightly bound to that place of the past. His grandfather Reb Yisroel Itche and his father Reb Yakov Mendel did not cease to affect his character – they always stood in front of his eyes. From his youth onwards, his gentle soul was open to the influence of both of these men, for whom he carried within him the greatest honor and respect. At the smallest opportunity, he mentioned both of them and all his days he reaped benefits from their deeds, which he remembered well, in spirit and inspiration.

Characteristically, when he was on his deathbed and was lightheaded by the large dose of sleeping pills that they gave him in the hospital, without stopping, he mentioned the names of his grandfather and father. He likely believed that they were standing at his head and he was conversing with them.

In his early youth, Shmuel was already joined the choir of his beloved cantor, chazzan Yakov Miller, may he rest in peace. As a choirboy, he knew all the chazzan's compositions. He took very seriously …

[Page 366]

… the music of the Gostyniner chazzan, and loved to sing the sweet melodies of the Shabbath and holiday prayers. In his later life in America, Shmuel sang and preformed with choirs and well-known cantors. Everywhere he went, he brought along the personal songs of his beloved cantor and his choir glowed with authentic Jewish homey flavor that penetrated everyone who heard him and his choir. It was not only the music that he inherited from the Gostyniner chazzan, but he also, just as his teacher, behaved with respect and seriousness toward his position, to the prayers, and to the congregation, since he felt like the chazzan's ambassador.

At home [in the town], Shmuel Keller was one of the most gifted amateur actors that participated in the performances of many plays. He was able to bring a role to life. He understood how to identify himself with the personality that he was portraying. His presentation was authentic and convincing. He was also active in the work of the library. For him, a book, a sefer [religious book], a Jewish book with Jewish content – was a treasure. He wanted Jews to read and to know how to appreciate their own culture. He himself did not stop acquiring Jewish books and his book shelves continued to expand. In particular, his thirst for Jewish knowledge grew after the destruction [Holocaust]. He swallowed every letter, every word, with curiosity. He wanted to immerse himself in the wisdom of the generations.

As a Gostyniner coming to America, he soon became active in the Gostyniner Society of New York. He was ready to participate in every issue. He was active in the Gostyniner Social Club that was formed, and in the creation of the Yizkor Book. When he found out about the horrific termination of his family, he could not rest, and he searched and found every Gostyniner survivor that remained alive, stayed in contact with him, found means to help the needy, and sent packages of food and clothing, and often even cash. With this work, he hoped to forget his own tragedy. But his health was now compromised. His task was to mark …

[Page 367]

… the yahrzeit [anniversary of the death] of the Gostyniner martyrs. When he recited the prayers at the memorial gatherings you could feel the deep anguish and endless pain that he carried inside himself.

With the establishment of the State of Israel, Shmuel became like a different person. He became involved with the activities of the established Jewish independence. In 1953, he went to Israel to see with his own eyes what Jewish strength can demonstrate. Of course, he met with his Gostyniner compatriots, particularly with the victims of the evil Hitlerism, who found their home in Israel after their horrifying experiences. He knew about everyone's ancestry, what happened with someone's grandfather, uncle and aunt…

With his growing interest in Israel, he joined the Bialik branch of the Jewish Nationalist Labor Movement. His contributions to the funds were done with an open hand. He thought of going once again, but it was not fated for him to do so.

It was also not fated for him to see the Yizkor Book. He worked very hard for this book, lived and breathed with it. He was torn away from the living too early, unjustly for him, for his family, and for his compatriots and acquaintances.

Never, never will we forget this humble, fine man and good brother.

Yosef Keller

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For the holy memory of our beloved husband and father

Shlomo Gostinski,
may he rest in peace

Died on December 5, 1957


Honor his memory!

Golde and daughters: Pauline and Clarisse
and family


[Page 369]

Shloime Gostinski,
May He Rest in Peace

When Shloime left Gostynin, he left behind a city with all sorts of activities and many different schools of thought. He himself was active in many areas, in political life as well as in the cultural life of Gostynin.

His life in Gostynin was an interesting one, because he was very interested in all of the city's activities. But since all his brothers were already established in America, and his dear ones had already left Gostynin, he too left for America.

Here, in this new country, he did not give up his interests in social life. He now became an active member of the bakers' union, involved in the Poalei Zion [Zionist Labor Party] movement, and also an active member in one of the Workman's Circle branches.

When a group of Gostyniner established the Gostyniner Club, with the goal of helping the Gostyniner refugees, Shloime was one of the founders and was very active in the aide work. And when the plan developed to publish a Gostyniner Yizkor Book, Shloime quickly became one of those who devoted himself to the creation of the book.

He devoted a lot of energy and work to this book. He attended all the meetings of the book committee and also wrote about Gostynin himself. Of course, his article is published in this book. He hoped to see the final product of this book, but sadly death suddenly tore him away and he did not merit to see the published final piece.

Honor his memory!

Y. K –R

[Page 370]



In holy memory of our dear brother

Meyer Gostinski,
of blessed memory

Died in the year 1955

Honor his memory!

Brothers: Yosef and Yakov
Sisters: Tzivia and Ruchtshe
and family


[Page 371]



The Gostyniner Yizkor Book Committee
in New York

expresses its anguish and sorrow on the untimely
passing of our dear friend

Meyer Gostinski,
may he rest in peace,

who did not live to see the fruition of this book, about
which he dreamed, and in which he was active.

Honor his memory!

Gostyniner Yizkor Book Committee
in New York.


[Page 372]

Meyer Gostinski,
may he rest in peace

Golde Frenkel-Gostinski

Golde Frenkel-Gostinski

I have known Meyer Gostinski from the time that I came to the United States. Actually, I knew him before that because when his brother Shloime – my husband – came to Poland to be married to me, he introduced me to his brothers in New York, describing each one of them. But mostly, we spoke about Meyer. When I mentioned to my future husband about the places and things of the greatly developed technology of America, I received this answer: that Meyer will show me everything.

When my husband and I came to New York twenty-eight years ago to the house of Meyer and his brothers, I really connected more to Meyer than to any other family member. He won over my care and love from the very first day that I stepped onto American soil. For every tear shed, whether it came for yearning for my family or friends, or whether I was caught up with the thousands of threads from which I was uprooted – Meyer comforted me and found a good word to say. He was more than a brother-in-law. He showed himself to be a sensitive person, understanding the other person's situation.

He descended from generations of chassidic-rabbinic roots, and this ancestry influenced his education and the future path of his life. The awareness of his lineage shaped his character and even though …

[Page 373]

… he was not a religious man, he never forgot this. He possessed extraordinary capacities, a good head for everything, but sadly, sometimes a will that was too weak to push large things through [to the end]. For that, there were several contributing factors. One was his frail state of health. Whatever he undertook, he always had to fight against a difficult obstacle – illness.

While still a boy, he was pulled into the Zionist movement. He ran to the Beis Medrash and to shul [synagogue] and did not keep his convictions secret. This gave his chassidic parents much heartache. He always remembered that Simchas Torah [last day of Sukkos holiday, celebrating with the Torah scrolls], when the Zionists dared to sing the Hatikva [Israel national anthem] during the Hakafos [dancing with the Torah scrolls]. With an open pride, he described the smacks he received from the gabbai [sexton] for this Zionist affront …

During his lifetime, he had rises and downfalls. But failure never discouraged him. On the contrary, through each cloud he could see the sun's rays. This strength gave him energy to get through both the physical and spiritual experiences, when even deep in his heart there remained yawning open wounds, may no one know of this.

One of his great attributes was that he could fit into society and take part in the discussions that took place. He showed particular zeal in discussions about Zionism. Here he used every argument to convince his opponents of the correctness of his views.

He was very aware of words: a smart and good person. Truthfully, he was easy to anger, and in the heat of his anger you could see a characteristic expression on his face: He raised his lower lip over the top one. Those who knew him and noticed this, that now, now, now, he was becoming angry, because he was already biting his lips…

Because of his sincerity and other qualities of his personality, people were attracted to him with love and respect.

In his heart, he carried warmth and love. He …

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… tried to express his feelings in the lyrical poetry that he wrote and would then sometimes read to select people. More than once I asked him to send in one of his poems to an editor to have it published. But he declined. He writes – he used to say – for himself and in the best case, for his close ones…

He was completely broken up by the horrifying devastation that the last World War brought to European Jewry. He mourned to himself for the terrible loss of millions of Jews. Pained, he raged against the German beast that tore apart his nation, his tragic nation.

Is it a wonder, then, that at one of the assemblies of his Gostyniner compatriots, Meyer requested that the memory of the devastated home town be eternalized? He was of the first ones to support the idea of a Yizkor Book.

It was not fated for him to see the book published, dear Meyer Gostinski. His shining face will remain forever deep in our hearts.

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For an Eternal Memory

Forty-five Jews who died or who were killed in the Konin camp were taken by Rav Aronson right after liberation to a separate part of a Christian cemetery and given a burial.

Among these 45 were Jewish from Gostynin. These are the names:

Weitzner Avrohom
Born in the year 1890 – died or was killed on the 5th of April, 1942

Shurin Yosef
Born in the year 1891 - died or was killed on the 5th of June, 1942

Isaak Shloime
Born in the year 1897 - died or was killed on the 12th of May, 1942

Goldberg Nachum
Born in the year 1884 - died or was killed on the 12th of May, 1942

Kowend Yitzchok
Born in the year 1911 - died or was killed on the 19th of May, 1942

Lefkovitch Yosef
Born in the year 1911 - died or was killed on the 29th of May, 1942

Fajnzilber Yosef
Born in the year 1914 - died or was killed on the 2nd of June, 1942

Brustowski Lipe
Born in the year 1928 - died or was killed on the 16th of June, 1942

Losman Eliezer
Born in the year 1913 - died or was killed on the 2nd of July, 1942

Rak Moshe Yakov
Born in the year 1909 - died or was killed on the 4th of July, 1942

Nasinowycz Avrohom
Born in the year 1897 - died or was killed on the 7th of July, 1942

Tzimerman Chaim Mordechai
Born in the year 1906 - died or was killed on the 20th of July, 1942

Motil Yakov Leyb
Born in the year 1893 - died or was killed on the 31st of January, 1943

May G-d avenge their blood!

[Page 376]



For an memory of our comrade and friend

Fishel Lefkovitch,
may he rest in peace

Who was untimely torn away from us.

Gostyniner Yizkor Book Committee in New York

[Page 377]

Fishel (Philip) Lefkovitch,
may he rest in peace

Philip Lefkovitch was one of the founders of the Gostyniner Social Club. Even though he was one of the most active members of the Gostyniner Society in New York, when he found out that a group of Gostyniner were getting together to establish a group to help the Gostyniner in Israel and all the Gostyniner who managed to save themselves from the great destruction in Poland, he immediately joined the group and helped found this club.

Fishel Lefkovitch was born in Gostynin into a poor family what worked hard and honestly to earn a living and did not have the means to give their children an elementary education.

As a young boy, they already made a worker out of him, and when he came to America, he was already a practiced tailor.

Here he joined up with the Cloakmaker's Union, where he was active. He read the daily newspapers and began to take interest in issues outside of the confines of the sewing machine. The union, as well as the workers of the shop where he worked, recognized and praised his activities. He was elected as chairman in his shop, which was one of the bigger shops.

His work in the Gostyniner Social Club was also active and multi-faceted. He was particularly active in the aide work for the good of the Gostyniner.

Unfortunately, Fishel became ill with a heavy, incurable illness. He went through several difficult operations, but whenever he had the opportunity, even when he was sick, he did not cease and was active with his last energies.

After a long and difficult illness our comrade and friend, Fishel, died.

On the day of his funeral, the shop – where he worked and was chairman – was locked so that all the workers would be able to give him his final respect.

He will always be missed in our group. Honor his memory!

Y. K-R

[Page 378]



For the holy memory of our dear and beloved father

Dovid Bresler,
may he rest in peace

Who was so suddenly torn away from us

Wife Rochel and daughters: Ruth and Gloria
Bresler (New York)


[Page 379]

Dovid Bresler, may he rest in peace

Dovid Bresler was one of the few survivors of the entire Jewish community. His rescue did not come easily. He went through all seven gates of hell. He suffered for years in the German labor camp “Ginskirchen,” and agonized with terrible troubles and pains. His number was 144573 and he remained there until Hitler's downfall.

From Ginskirchen, he was taken to the well-known “Fernwald Camp” [DP camp]. When he left Fernwald, he went to America, and arrived in New York in May 1949.

He arrived in America sick, a broken person. He suffered terrible, constant headaches, and spent 17 months in the hospital. And when he finally left the hospital he was still dangerously sick, but he was recovering.

Just as he was active in the Bundist organization in Gostynin, he immediately joined the Bundist Club in New York. He also joined the Gostyniner Social Club, and was one of the founders of the Shloime Mendelson Branch of the Workers' Circle.

As soon as he learned that the Gostyniner were preparing a Yizkor Book, he immediately joined the book committee, and also contributed to the book fund and attended the sessions of the book committee.

His sudden death tore him away from us on the 11th of June, in the year 1950. Honor his memory!

May his valuable social work be a comfort for his wife Rochel and his two daughters, Ruth and Gloria.

Y. K-R

[Page 380]



For the holy memory of our father

Yakov Miller, may his memory be blessed

Cantor for many years and shochet[1] in Gostynin

Died in Detroit in 1942

Our mother Sarah,
of blessed memory

Died in Gostynin in 1910

Yoel Miller (Chicago)
Moshe Ber Miller (Chicago)
Leah (Miller) Keller (New York)
Mashe (Miller) Litov (Detroit)
Pesse (Miller) Kest (Kenosha)

[Page 381]



For the holy memory

of our devoted wife and beloved mother

Tille,
of blessed memory

the daughter of the Gostyniner chazzan[2] and shochet and bodek[3], Reb Yakov and Sarah Miller

She left us in the middle of her life.

May she rest among all the other holy ones.

Her husband: Meyer Dovid Tremski and the children

[Page 382]



For the holy memory of our dear father

Feivel Kruczyk,
may he rest in peace

Honor his memory!

Herman and Sonia Krauz
(New York)

[Page 383]



For the holy memory of our dear mother

Fradel Kruczyk,
may she rest in peace

Died in New York in 1940

Honor her memory!

Herman and Sonia Krauz
(New York)

[Page 384]



For the holy memory of my father and mother

 
My mother,
Baila Faiga Keller,
may she rest in peace
Murdered by the Hitler devils in the destruction of Poland
My father,
Yakov Mendel Keller,
may his memory be blessed
A community leader in the Gostyniner community

(died in Gostynin 27, Shevat, 5697 [Feb. 8, 1937]

Honor their holy memories!

Yosef Keller

[Page 385]



For the holy memory of my entire family

Gathered around the gravesite of my father Yakov Mendel Keller, of blessed memory

All those gathered around the gravesite were killed along with their children by the German murderers in Poland.

Women from right to left:
Chantche Keller (Zerochyn) – Yechiel Meyer's wife; Manya (Zerochyn) Keller – Aaron's wife; Charna (Motil) – my sister, Efraim's wife; sitting – my brother Yechiel Meyer
Top right:
My brother Sholem; next to him – my brother Moishe; near the gravestone – Sholem's wife; sitting – my brother Aaron
Top left:
My father's brother Ben-Tzion and my brother-in-law Efraim-Motil (Charna's husband)

Yosef Keller

[Page 386]



The Gostyniner cemetery became shamed because of the bestial
Hitler murderers who tore up the gravestones of the graves and used them
to pave the streets.
For that reason, we are placing a gravestone here for our grandfather

Reb Yisroel-Itche Keller,
of blessed memory,

one of the pillars of the Gostyniner Jewish community.

Also for our grandmother

Chaya Sarah Keller,
may she rest in peace

a truly modest woman.

Here also, may these names be perpetuated of our uncles and aunts
who lost their lives together with their families in the terrible Hitler murders:

Peretz Keller, Benzion Keller, Fraida Hadas and her husband
Zalman Czarnabrode and their three daughters, and Shayna Brocho.

Honor their memories!

Yissachar Motil
(New York)
  Josef Keller
(New York)



For the holy memory of my sisters

 
Pesse Keller,
may she rest in peace

Died in Gostynin in the years
before World War I
Chava Keller,
may she rest in peace

Died in Gostynin before
the outbreak of World War II

Honor their memories!

Josef Keller

 

Translator's footnotes

  1. Ritual slaughterer Return
  2. Cantor Return
  3. Ritual slaughterer and examiner of meats for purposes of kashrut Return

 

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