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In the first concentration camp on Polish soil

by Haim Gershonovitz, New York

Whenever I recall my shtetl (townlet) Przedborz, it constitutes a deeply emotional experience for me as well as a revaluation of my whole life. When I sit down to write my experiences in the war-years, I return, as it were, physically to Przedborz, to the bygone world of my native shtetl where I spent my childhood, studied in the Heder and later learned the tailors' trade from Haim-Yankl Kshentovsky and after finishing my tuition with him, became an independent worker. Despite the fact that d daily life in the shtetl was poor, helpless and without prospects, there was also a lot of exaltation and charity and what is most important; the pious, good and honest person was always appreciated no matter how bad his material situation might have been, he always enjoyed the understanding, recognition and affection of society.

With a heavy heart, my parents and I left the shtetl, for it was

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hard to find a means of livelihood there. We settled in Lodz where, like my father, I worked as a tailor. There we did not do too well either and many times we used to talk about Przedborz with longing and regret. Przedborz has been in my blood and I never could nor tried to forget my shtetl, my relatives, companions and friends.

In the tailors' trade union of Lodz, where I was an active member of the board, I met with other people from Przedborz and we used to talk about our shtetl. In the grey week-days these recollections about the shtetl had a pleasant nostalgic effect and they played an important role in our lives.

In all my wanderings I felt myself attached to my shtetl of origin. On the fronts, where I fought in the ranks of the Red Army, I always saw before my mind's eye the people of the shtetl, the Jews with their noble character and the idealistic youth, the fervent discussions and dreams of a better world for which they were prepared to sacrifice their lives.

Such was life until the dark Hitler-night came that hit every one of us, wherever he was. I at that time lived in Lodz.

 

The Nightmarish Beginning

In the night, when the clock struck midnight, a great restlessness was felt in town. At first, no one knew what was happening. But from one minute to the other, it became ever clearer that something terrible was taking place … In the street people were seen with trunks, bundles and satchels slung over their shoulders. They began to trek to Brzezin Street on the way leading to Warsaw.

It was already known that the Germans had crossed the Polish border and that they were marching with the utmost speed and were approaching Lodz. One passed information to the other. People went to Warsaw in order to help stop the German march and defend the capital of Poland.

Thus began the nightly departures from the town. People did not think much for there was no time to think. Children awoke from their sleep and cried. Women helped pack the belongings and people left

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their homes to which a large number of them never returned.

Little by little, the long street became flooded with a compact mass of people which looked like a stream of lava that had got out of control and they all moved in one direction mingling with parts of the retreating Polish army.

The tanks and other military equipment that the soldiers dragged in tow frequently caught the clothes of the civilians. Thus my father, David-Yacov, lost a tail of his coat which was torn away by the wheels of one of these machines. It was something short of a miracle that the tank which hooked his coat did not tear him to pieces there and then.

Marching became every more difficult. People dragged themselves with their last strength over roads and side-lanes. The human mass began flooding the fields. The heat became ever more intense and the people ever more tired. They began, little by little, to throw away their trunks, bundles of bedding, satchels and other belongings. Suddenly, the single shot of a rifle could be heard. It was a soldier who had killed himself being unable to stand the torment and the shame of defeat. There were moments when several German aircraft flew by bombing a passing train which blew up in flames.

The large majority of the people who had left Lodz did not reach Warsaw. Suddenly they halted on a road that was already taken by the Germans. This is what happened also near Rawa-Mazowiecka, so the people had to turn back to Lodz.

Pretty soon, all the roads and side-lanes were occupied by the Germans. One could see German military motorcyclists racing like save beasts, frightening to death the tired wanderers who had behind them several days and nights without a piece of bread or a gulp of water. It became particularly oppressive when German tanks appeared on the scene heralding the final defeat of Poland.

At the exit of the shtetl, when the people began to go back, the Germans arrived from the right hand side of the road and encircled the enormous mass of the returning inhabitants of the area. They surrounded a tremendous space with a fence and drove all the wanderers from the neighbouring roads into the area - men and women, Jews and

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Poles alike and people from various struts of society. One could see manual labourers rubbing shoulders with government employees from the Post and Railway departments. Everyone the Germans came across they drove into this potato field which became the first concentration camp on Polish soil.

The sun's rays scorched, the heat and dust burned the eyes. Lips became whitish-blue and cracked, and hair covered in a grey layer of dust. Human faces became unrecognizable.

The Germans demanded obedience and punctilious fulfilment of their order failing which – they would shoot on the spot.

German officers and men took up a position on the margin of the field from where they issued their commands which were heard all over the field. Guards were set up to watch the human mass and warnings were incessantly voiced by means of loudspeakers. Soldiers with dogs followed every motion and whoever was suspected of an intention to flee was warned and abused and from time to time, shots were fired into the crowd.

Near the German posts were placed buckets of water. These were destined for the Germans only and who, with sadistic pleasure, gulped the water in the presence of people that were parched with thirst.

In the evening when the sun began to set, the Germans made preparations for moving the human mass to another place. Orders were heard, terse and harsh, should and abuses of the Germans created an atmosphere of a veritable hell. The coming night bode new horrors.

Not everyone could reach the road with his own powers. Those who were near helped one another. The Germans made their way in to the crowd and drove the people toward the road with bayonets in the direction of the town.

It was beginning to get dark when the orders were heard to march on. The crow moved with dragging steps as if it were without feet. The road led to the market-place of the town. Suddenly the noise of approaching aircraft was heard. One of the planes dived very low over the road. A deafening explosion was heard and flames shot up

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from a house that was situated to the right-hand side of the road. In great terror, the crowd rocked on both sides of the road. Shouts in German were heard followed by shots. The crowd clung to the earth.

When the order was given to get up, many remained lying on the earth – dead. They had been spared the other harrowing events that developed with a tremendous speed. The people were, in effect, thrown into an inferno of explosions, shots and blows that rained on them from every side.

The people were already confused. Running and chased, people fell and were trampled underfoot. These were the older and the weak. Many of them remained dead on the spot but there were those who got up again. They were destined for further torments, some for a shorter time and some for a rather longer one.

Those who continued to run fell victim to the German brutality and unceasing provocations. No one could avoid the blows. Many were wounded by hand grenades and bullets.

There were those who tried to escape by jumping over a fence. They remained mostly hanging on it as they were hit by German bullets.

When the crow finally reached the large market place of Rawa there were no more chances to escape but the German murderers kept on firing and throwing hand grenades into the crowd. Soon came the command through the loudspeakers – everyone should fall to the ground with their face downward.

In the middle of the large market place, to the right of the road, stood a church with its black cross silhouetted against the dark sky. The Germans summoned the leader of the congregation, the priest Yan Plutinsky, and ordered him to address the crow in order to deliver the German warnings that whoever should try to escape would be shot on the spot. Death would also be faced by anyone not obeying the German orders. The priest, Yan Plutinsky, would be responsible on pain of death for the execution of every German order.

The priest translated these warnings verbatim into Polish.

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He was, apparently, very much frightened for when he spoke his voice stuck in his throat nearly choking him. After his address, the priest returned to the church accompanied by two German officers who set up their temporary field-command in the church.

The clock on the church tower struck eleven times. The low mourning sounds heralded a prolonged occupation and the horror of murder camps.

 

Our Wounded Brother Berish

In the market square, among the large and compressed crowd, were three brothers: the writer of these lines, Moritz and Berish, who was seriously wounded. In the church we obtained a stretcher on which we carried him to the hospital.

We walked and were escorted by three German soldiers; one in front and two bringing up the rear. On our backs we constantly felt the points of their bayonets. The way to the hospital was about one mile long and carrying a wounded man was very hard. But the Germans did not allow a moments respite. They drove us all the time, abusing us soundly.

The hospital was shrouded in darkness. There was neither electricity nor water and no preparations were made for the reception of the wounded. In the darkness we heard voices of frightened men and women and we gathered that they belonged to the staff of the hospital.

The Germans lit their pocket torches and we observed that in the back of the room, a woman in white smock was trying to light a few candles while others began to tend the first wounded which we had brought – our brother Berish.

The Germans took us back to the market place and appointed us to be porters of stretchers for the wounded. In a certain corner of the market place were gathered some fifty injured persons who tried to subdue their groans. They feared lest the Germans get angry and shoot them on the spot and made superhuman efforts to overcome their pain. They awaited death quietly. We began to carry the other

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wounded to the hospital. I felt my last strength sapping. My feet ceased to obey me and I could hardly take another step. The night was dark and in the darkness we heard the footsteps of the German hobnailed boots on the pavement. On my back I felt the points of their bayonets. For a moment I sank to my knees and thus made a few steps forward. It seemed that the German walking behind me enjoyed it for he did not comment on my behaviour. I repeated this, walking on my knees, a few times until we dragged ourselves to the hospital.

In the hospital, several candles were already lit. By their glow the doctors prepared themselves to perform the first operation on our brother Berish. The stretcher on which we brought the second wounded was full of blood. We washed it somewhat by drawing from a small barrel of water which a nurse had pointed out to us. Our throats were parched and we thanked her for enabling us to have a cool drink of water.

When we got back to the market place, the Germans took our stretcher away and ordered us to lie on the ground. The market place was full of dead, piled on top of each other. A deathly silence reigned all over the place.

On the right-hand side of the market place, near the road leading to Lodz, a man lay dead covered with a prayer shawl (a Tallis). According to what I was told the following day, it was the son of the rabbi of Rawa whom the Germans had shot dead when he left his house.

The number of dead steadily increased. The moment the Germans heard the groan of a wounded man, they shot him straight away. They bent over the lying crowd, exclaiming: “If there is a physician among you, let him get up!” But the moment anyone got up trying to tend the wounded, he was immediately shot.

The short summer night dragged itself into an eternity. When finally the grey light of the dawn could be seen, the shouts and commands of the Germans were again heard and we began to realize what had happened to us and what awaited us in the future.

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Then came the command for all the Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) to get up. They immediately assumed part of the military command and began to maltreat the people in the crow with the utmost brutality. They ordered the Polish to get up and led them away somewhere. Only Jews remained.

The Poles, encouraged by the Volksdeutsche, took away the clothes of the Jews before departing. The Volksdeutsche did the same. This caused a few tragi-comic scenes when some of the Volksdeutsche did not manage to find clothes in their size and some garments were either too big or too small for them. A number of Jews remained partly or wholly naked, much to the delight of the Germans whose laughter echoed like the neighing of wild horses.

Although several decades have gone by since then, these scenes remain imprinted in my memory. I recall a tambourine player from Lodz who gained a reputation as a talented amateur performer and nicknamed 'lago” because he impressed the audience by playing this role in Shakespeare's 'Othello'. He was very carefully and neatly dressed, so they took away his entire clothing and he remained stark naked until a post employee's jacket was thrown to him. He later found a towel and covered the lower part of his body with it.

The Germans ordered the Jews to form lines from which they selected the tallest me whom they led aside and shot. It became apparent that the only reason for killing them was the fact that they were tall – taller than the German officers and men.

Later on they divided the Jews into groups. I found myself in a group numbering several hundred men who were led to a wall and ordered to stand facing it. They then ordered that everyone hand over the money and valuables in his possession. This order was accompanied by a warning to shoot everyone hiding the smallest item.

I was lucky enough to stand near to the wall and not among the last ones of the group. On my left stood two young religious men who cried aloud complaining to the Almighty: “Why, o why have

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we been dealt with in such a manner? We have scarcely had a chance to live”.

We advised each other to hand over everything in our possession and thus save perhaps our lives. It availed to noting. After we handed everything over, the Germans placed two machine guns behind us and opened fire into the crowd. Those who stood near the machine guns fell dead on the spot.

The survivors were ordered to move away from the wall. Stepping over the dead, our shoes became saturated with blood. This time the Germans did not order us to run. They wanted us to look at the dead, to become imbued with fear and the knowledge that the same might happen to us.

We marched about a mile away from the town and came to a spot in which we saw several areas fenced with wire nets a storey high. There we were herded – several thousand men and were kept there for a second day without a bite of bread or a gulp of water under the scorching rays of the cruel sun.

Among my friends there I saw Yitzhak Markovitz, the well-known librarian of Lodz, a most intelligent man. His wife Jadzia and her sister, who originated from Rawa, approached the wires with a bucket full of water but the net was so thick that they could not pass even a small pitcher of water through it. Hundreds of people threw themselves like animals against the wires, sticking out their tongues in order to try and moist them on the pitcher. The Germans laughed at first at this scene but they soon upset the bucket with their boots and chased the two heroic women away.

The women tried to come yet another time and succeeded in throwing a package of food over the fence. But what as the use of this for such a large hungry crowd?

All through the day there was talk that in the evening everyone would be sent home. This really happened but the order came at the curfew hour when the Germans shot everyone they came across on sight.

The majority took the risk and set out at a run, through the back

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lanes, across fields and forests. Everyone wanted to be as far as possible from the spot where death threatened from everywhere.

The group among whom I ran with approached a village and knocked on the doors of the first huts asking for permission to spend the night there. But we were not admitted anywhere.

After a few abortive attempts of a similar kind, we finally met a peasant who gesticulated that we keep quiet and made us enter a shed, brought us a dish of milk and a piece of bread for everyone. He wished us goodnight and safe arrival home. In those fateful moments we saw in him the best of friends, so rare in that cruel time.


The Youth of Przedborz

by Ya'acov-Kopel Kaufmann, New York

There is no doubt that everything remembered about the Jewish life of our shtetl (townlet) should be recorded, that everything about all those who so tragically lost their lives should be reported. The question however persists: can memory encompass everything that should be noted down? Will we be able to restore and revive all those images that lived in our shtetl and whose memory is so near, dear and holy to us?

Thus I now experience a feeling of longing for all that passed and will never return and my heart utters a prayer that whatever I will try to record will turn out the way the Jews in our shtetl deserved and that this way, they will always live in my memory.

Many years have gone by since I left our shtetl where my mother's parents, brother and relatives lived. They were the Bukovsky family. My uncle was Itshel the Melamed (Heder teacher). Przedborz was a religious town and harboured many Hassidim of many rabbis.

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In the Hassidic oratories, life was characterised by its being full of enthusiasm and joy.

Occasionally, a controversy flared up on account of a rabbi. Controversies also flared up between Hassidic parents and their progressive children who had absorbed worldly ideas.

I like to recall myself as the pupil of the Widomer Ylui (prodigy) Kupermintz's son-in-law, a man with much knowledge and understanding.

I particularly remember the drama circle of the shtetl's youth in which Berish Yahimovitz, Shamay Levkovitz, Nehemia Vernik, Malka the ritual slaughterer's daughter and others were active. It made uproar in the shtetl. Religious Jews came running to the rabbi and he summoned the leaders of the drama circle and asked them why they were doing this. They defended themselves saying that the income from the play would go to charity to help children of poor labourers. The rabbi listened to them attentively and bid them not to allow young boys and girls to dance together on the stage.

Engraved in my memory is the joy of living that characterized the Przedborz youth. They were open to ideals and ideas that came to us from the big city. Jewish youth also felt attached to the shtetl and wanted to assist in its building and to participate in its social activity. I remember how a large number of young people strove to enter the ranks of the fire-brigade but that their parents had viewed this as a superfluous thing that distracted them from studying and which led to striking up friendships with gentiles.

It once happened that a gentile fell into a well and a Jewish youth saved his life demonstrating by this a lot of devotion; he was not recompensed by thanks on the part of the Christian population, however.

Very faded are the memories of the controversy that made the rabbi leave the shtetl and move to Raspshe. Only once a year did he come to the graves of his parents. Of his four sons, all of them rabbis, I recall only two: one of them lived in Warsaw and the other was a rabbi in Pabianitz, the shtetl where I was born and where my

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parents lived for years. I am indeed a son of Shmuel Becker of Pablanitz.

My mother, who was Itshel Melamend's sister, had another two brothers: Yeshaya and Kopel Bukovsky. My father went early to the United States. Thereafter, mother returned to Przedborz where we waited for father to take us to him. In the meantime, we participated in all the joys and sufferings of the Przedborz Jews which engraved them much in my memory.

Our house in the United States was called: “Cassel Garden” for the Przedborz people used to gather there. Among them: the Rosenzveigs, Moshl Rishpan, Moshe Vernik, Noak Mashlak, Hershl and Hanna Zacharies, Alter Davner, Levkovitz, Shmuel Shvarts and Yehiel Meshnberg who was called uncle Yehiel.

We used to trade reminiscences of our shtetl on the conditions and situations of past times. Much as one distanced oneself from the old home and was absorbed in the new environment and new world with quite different concepts and a different way of life, the pictures of the old home always remained alive before one's eyes; the shtetl of old with its market, the narrow streets with the deep morasses and magnificent forests surrounding it.

The Przedborz shtetl has been engraved in my memory from the dawn of my life. For there I came into the world and began to observe the beauty surrounding me and the love of my mother's family who excelled in loyalty to one another.

Years later, mother brought her brother Yeshaya Bukovsky to America and later, his family. He made good and was elected to the post of President of the Przedborzer Society in New York. His children became big businessmen and they faithfully guard the memory of their parents' native shtetl – Przedborz.

 

Bar Mitzva of a Przedborzer boy in New York

This was a great celebration that took place fifty-five years ago in the Przedborzer synagogue on the East Side of New York. In those times and conditions, it was considered a rich celebration and one conducted on a large scale.

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My father, Shmuel Kaufmann, had a brother in Peterson, New Jersey, and he brought his son for his Bar Mitzva celebration. My mother prepared the whole big celebration in the synagogue and offered wine, brandy, chales, cakes, herring and other delicatessen to the guests and to the worshipers who attended the Bar-Mitzva celebration of her brother-in-law's son.

My father said the benedictions with the boy when he was called up to the reading of the Law. The Bar-Mitzva youth did not know his Hebrew for in his town there was no cheder, neither was there a melamed who could teach him to pray.

The celebration lasted the whole Sabbath. It was a rejoicing of the Przedborzer people in New York. I would gladly have enumerated all the worshippers and the Przedborzer people who attended the celebration, but remember precious little of their respective names. First and foremost, I remember the Rishpans: Meshl, Pinhas and Ytzhak-Leib, Yehiel Meshnberg, Hershl Zacharies, Noah Mashlak, Pinhas Miller and Oredella. Needless to say that Yeshaya Bukovsky was among the most important participants.

The joy was mixed with nostalgia, with the longing for the beautiful former Jewish life in the shtetl. All the participants wholeheartedly wished that the youth would have a magnificent future.

This boy is today one of the great personalities in New York. He is my cousin Dr. Sam Kaufman.

We shall never forget the shtetl where our fathers and fore-fathers had their home. Neither shall we forget the first times in America where our Przedborzer compatriots had their own synagogue on East Side in New York. Their children, the young boys and girls, had their own club where they spent the evenings on every Sabbath and Sunday.

So many years have passed since then but I can still hear the voices of the Przedborzer fellows as prayer, in conversation and discussion and exchanging reminiscences of the Jewish-Polish shtetl that was among other things, full of curiosities and jokes. When one compares the past with the present and with the conditions under

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Which children are brought up today, those times seem fantastically unbelievable.

Like from a faraway dream, the picture of the shtetl comes to me – a shtetl that is no more, nor the synagogue, nor the club which gathered the whole of Przedborzer Jewry into one big family of good and dear Jews, many of whom have already left us.


Przedborz

by Sol Ryshpan

A small town like so many others
A small town unlike any other
A handful of ashes under a glowing sky
Its name is Przedborz
And our Przedborz does not exist any more
But here it is inside us
And we claim here it is
Przedborz, inside our hearts

 

prze078.jpg
The Market-Place

 

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Our Unforgettable Town

by Sol Ryshpan, President of the Przedborzer Society in the U.S.A.

Unforgettable is our town. Unforgettable is the beauty of the years spent in the shtetl, the years that have passed, far away, sweet, quiet years, enshrouded with dreams of great adventures and fantasies about a distant large world, accompanied with Chassidic songs, with prayers of Orthodox Jews, with the enthusiastic singing of the Halutzim (pioneers), of idealistic dreamers who saw visions of better worlds for man and Jew and who were sincere in their belief, ready to sacrifice for the realization of their dreams.

No matter how great is the distance from our home town, we shall always see before us the G-d fearing Jews, scholars, Chassidim with their sincere enthusiasm and simple merchants and shopkeepers with their unique common sense and inborn honesty. The Melamdim (tutors) who led the children from the very first Aleph-Beth to the Talmud and the Tosafot, sharpening their minds and saturating their hearts with Jewish beauty and with the admiration for good and high values.

The Jews of Przedborz living in America did not forget their town. Throughout all their years in America they felt strong ties with Przedborz, with their nearest and dearest. Our Landsmanshaftn (a society of the natives of the same town) in America was established in the year 1905 and throughout the years we followed the life of the Jews in Przedborz with apprehension and worry. Their fate was close to our hearts and we tried everything in our power to lend them a helping hand. Every letter which reached us from the home town found a resounding reception among all the Landslayt and encouraged us to continue our efforts to remain in contact and help them face the economic difficulties.

So many years have already passed since the shattering Holocaust, yet the attachment with the survivors of our town is alive and strong as ever in our hearts. We feel closely bound to our Landslayt

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in Israel; and lament with them the fate of the generations of Jews and Jewish spirit which have become nothing but tremendous mass-graves with neither tombstone nor the tiniest trace which might shout at the world telling the horrible tragedy that happened there.

We, the Landslayt of Przedborz in America, are not resigned to this loss; and throughout the years, we have looked for ways and means to perpetuate the martyrs of our town and erect a tombstone in their memory. We have arrived at the conclusion that the most beautiful perpetuation is a memorial book – a book in the memory of the destroyed Jewish Community of Przedborz. We live with the notion that such a book will serve as a symbolical tomb in memory of the martyrs of our town. The tortured, burnt and buried alive – for they are our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, wives and children, close friends, associates and acquaintances, all unforgotten figures.

They all stand in our imagination and our heart is bleeding with pain and grief.

Very few have survived to witness the frightening tragedy. The heart grieves over the tortured and lost but their memory demands of us a strong and courageous heart.

Remembering these images, our hearts are overwhelmed with love for all those who were and are no more; for all those who formed a part of our life and soul.

The memorial book which we have compiled by mutual effort will serve as a memorial for the coming generations. Our children and grandchildren who are not aware of our past will discover through its pages their family tree and will find here a documentary mirror of a rich and beautiful life that is no more.

We all have shared in this holy project. We have all contributed our efforts to collect the material which has enabled us to publish this collective result; memories and experiences of tens of the Jews of Przedborz. We recorded witnesses and collected documents concerning the fate of our dearest and nearest, and here we present the result of our tireless efforts.

The memorial book of the Jewish community of Przedborz will

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hopefully remain an everlasting memory for us, our children and for the entire nation for generations to come.


My Shtetl Przedborz

by Esther Zilbermentz-Rudnicky

The publishing of the Yizkor Book in memory of our shtetl Przedborz gives me an opportunity for which I have waited many years. Now I can record the memory of my entire family of whom very few have survived Hitler's murders.

My father, Reb Aron Zilbermentz was counted among the prosperous Jewish business people. He owned a brewery and also dealt in lumber, grain and wheat. He was highly respected by all the people of Przedborz.

In our house, which was a very large one, we children were raised and married. There was always an atmosphere of joy and laughter throughout our home. My heart cries from longing for those bygone days. The picture of my parents, brothers and sisters is always on my mind.

I am the only daughter who survived the Holocaust. My niece, now a New Yorker, also escaped being slaughtered. After fleeing Poland, my nephew settled in Israel and became a famous agronomist. He was killed by Arabs and in gratitude for his contribution to Israel's agricultural expansion, his name is prominently displayed in a library in Naharia. He was called Israel Kaspi Zilbermentz.

From my youth remains in memory our dear shtetl with all our Jewish people, religious and non-religious; organizations, clubs, heated discussions about current events; the walks on the “Mayova Gura” and “Lanka”. The Nazi brought all this to an abrupt and bitter end. And ending that left an endless longing in my heart forever.

I hope the people of the world never allow this tragedy to repeat itself.

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prze082.jpg
Yeshaya Bukovsky

 

Yeshaya Bukovsky came from Przedborz to America in 1920 and immediately became active in the Przedborzer Society. In 1932, he was elected President of the Society and was among the founders of the relief committee that gave financial assistance to the Jews in Przedborz.

With boundless devotion, he dedicated himself to the helping of Przedborzer Jews who escaped a terrible death at the time of the Nazi power.

He remained faithful to this task until his death in 1952.
Blessed be his memory.


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The history of the first Przedborzer
Benevolent Association in America

In 1905, seventy years ago, a handful of immigrants from Przedborz assembled in the house of Reb Moshe Ryshpan on East Broadway to talk about what's going on in Przedborz, who needs help to make a Chasene, or who needs help in sickness and in general. There were lonely and poor people looking for something to bring them closer together and to help each other in need. In order to do this, they formed a society and named it: The First Przedborzer Benevolent Association, better known in Yiddish as:

."פרזשעדבארזשער אונטערשטיצונגס פאריין "תפארת שלמה

The first few years they could not even afford a meeting room. They had to meet in private homes. However, the help that they offered each other was always the best that they could afford. As an example, if somebody had to bring his wife and children from Przedborz, or needed a job, or any other help, they were always ready to help.

By 1910, they hired a meeting room on Rivington Street. The first thing that they did was to make a shul where they gathered every

 

prze083.jpg

 

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Friday evening and Saturday morning to daven as they used to do in Przedborz. On Saturday evening, they came together to have a cup of tea and sometimes play a pinochie game. But always to discuss how best to help each other and the people in Przedborz.

With the outbreak of World War and all communications with Europe broken, they knew once the war ended that the people in Przedborz would needs a lot of help. To be ready, they organized Chanukah and Purim parties to appeal for money. When the war finally ended, they were ready to help and bring families to America as well as helping families in Przedborz re-establish their business which had been ruined during the war.

During the years 1918-1925 many families came to this country from Przedborz and many became hard working members of the society. Among them were: Shieh Bukowsky, Isaac and Pincus Ryshpan, Chiel Meshenberg, Chanah Zacharias, Malke Moshlak and Noyech Moshiak, among others.

Later, with the rise of Hitler in Germany, these people founded the Relief Committee and people who were not members of the society were drawn in to help with the relief work. Men like Shamsheh Lefkowitz, Benny Jacobs, the Geduled family, Frimit Ryshpan, Gussie and Sidney Emansky and the Secretary to the Relief Committee, Betty Davner. The Committee helped many landslayt just out of concentration camps with food, clothing, medicine and settlement in the U.S. and Israel.

Solomon Ryshpan
President, Przedborzer Society of America

 

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