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[Page 8 - Hebrew] [Page 9 - Yiddish]

At the Gate of the Book

The Publishers

Translated by Rabbi Molly Karp

At the gate of the book we see a need for a few words of apology about a few points that are likely to arouse wonder and questions from the side of the native reader of our city:

  1. On the literary side: Not many among us who came out of Lida are wordsmiths, for whom writing is their profession, and if the reader finds here and there flaws from this aspect, indeed we hope that the honesty of the feelings and the experiences and the simplicity of their presentation will serve as a counterweight in our favor.
  2. Regarding the question of languages, over which we debated a lot: theoretically, the parentage and birth of the book are in Israel, and, apparently, most of its readers were from Israel. And therefore we said – it will be written in Hebrew, in order that a second generation will also be able to, and will want to, study it. Nevertheless we will clarify that, because there is a demand for the book also in the Diaspora, in every place where the children of Lida are found, (and even if there was once a beginning there which for some reason was cancelled in enmity). And from here the wish – Yiddish – if not entirely, at least in part. An additional wish was – also something in English – for the young generation in the United States, in order to bring the book, and also their Jewish past, near to their hearts.
  3. To our sorrow, we were not able to go on the path of a complete solution, which would be a full translation, an exceedingly difficult thing for reasons that are understood. We chose, therefore, the middle path: alternately Hebrew and Yiddish, and a specific addition in English, in the hope that most of the children of Lida read both Hebrew and Yiddish, and the rest would come to partial satisfaction, whereas the language of the pictures would be understood by all of them. On the multiplicity of pictures on one topic and the paucity on a second topic (a thing which is accidental, of course, we simply did not find them), the reader will forgive us and will judge us favorably, on the side of the multiplicity.
  4. Many of the readers will certainly feel in the Yiddish part a lack of a certain uniformity from the aspect of the Yiddish grammar. But check and you will find that in most cases there is nothing here but the usage in the Lida dialect – out of a digression from today's accepted literary norm – this was a conscious liberality, to set down the Lida-ite Yiddish as it is. Let the reader not be surprised, therefore, if he finds here “di kup” [the head] “di hartz” [the heart], “di maidel” [the girl], instead of “der kup” “das hartz” [this heart], “das maidel” [this girl”, and the like.
  5. Regarding the content: The reader will forgive us if the proper proportion is not always found in the illumination of the various aspects of the lives of the Jews in Lida or of the lives of the children of Lida outside of Lida (in Israel, the Unites States, etc.). We are sorry for the lack of material on specific topics (which is not our fault).

We are especially distressed about the lack of completeness of the list of the names of the slain in the great Shoah. Despite all our efforts, we did not succeed in assembling a complete list, although a few times forms were distributed among all the children of Lida to list their relatives and acquaintances who were slain in the days of the Shoah, many families were not included in this list, as they did not have anyone to lift up their names.

For the things that were known to us, we have apologized. And for those things that were unknown to us, and the discerning eye of the meticulous reader that reveals them: don't hold us to the depth of the literary law, for we did all that we did according to the best of our knowledge and ability.

[Page 10 - Hebrew[ [Page 11 - Yiddish]

* *

Translated by Rabbi Molly Karp

Decades have gone by since the community of Lida was obliterated from the land of the living, and thousands of her children, our parents, our brothers and our sisters, were sentenced to annihilation at the hands of the bloody Nazi beast, amidst tortures and torments, which a person whose human senses have not dulled could speculate in their imagination. Decades have passed, but the pain is too great for time to be able to make it be forgotten.

A magnificent community in Israel became as if it had never been – the community of Lida. Only the remains of a few ancient moss-covered stones at the edge of the city, placed inside a breached fence, a remnant of the ancient Jewish cemetery, still testified for a number of years about the number of generations of Jews who lived in this place – until its holy stones became plunder to headstone thieves, who set them as the foundation of their houses. Only an engraved address in foreign writing on the back of one solitary gravestone which is surrounded by forest, at the other edge of the city, will tell a visiting passerby who happens there about the thousands of souls who were murdered in this place – without mentioning that these were Jews. The affront is difficult.

With agitation of feelings we approached the arrangement of this book, which comes to place a hand and a name[1] for Jewish Lida, the cradle of our childhood, for thousands of her sons and daughters, whose memory is precious and sacred to us. We gathered minute details, from within old writings, books, periodicals, articles, memorials, and scattered quotations, a tiny bit here, a tiny bit there. We assembled collections of testimony, fragments of memories and impressions, and line to line, reflection after reflection, the picture of the Lida community becoming more and more apparent before us. In it, from the time of the 16th century, and maybe even before that, was heard the voice of the Torah of Israel, a community that grew, put down roots, became a living cell, and even added its own hue within the great Lithuanian Jewry, which kept the special spiritual tradition and lofty traditional qualities that joined together in a unique way of life.

Jewish Lida! You were a mother city to us![2] A city that had everything in it: labor and handwork, factories and commerce, Torah and enlightenment, neighbors and friends, helping others, lofty national and personal ambitions. Indeed, there were also many divisions in Lida: each one saw the way to the revival of Israel and the redemption of humanity in his own way, and each one wove into his method the tractate and creation of his life. But one thing we knew, all of their eyes were towards the good and the lofty.

Even the sentence of the “Judenrat” was decreed, in the days of the Shoah and the destruction in most of the disintegrating Jewish communities. In Lida it was crowned with a crown of supreme bravery and devotion, the test of every soul.

We will remember all of you today with quaking and trembling.[3] With your pure blood that was spilled – you were sanctified to us!

[Page 12]

The Great Synagogue



  1. In Hebrew, Yad Vashem, the name of the National Holocaust Museum in Israel. Return
  2. 2 Samuel 20:19 Return
  3. Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 22a. Return


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