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[Page 7]

To the Community of Przedecz (Pshedetz)

Translated by Jerrold Landau

© by Roberta Paula Books

“Would it be that my head were water, and my eyes a source of tears – I would weep day and night over the victims of the daughter of my nation”
(Jeremiah 8:23).[1]

 

In Eternal Memory
In memory of the souls of our dear ones, the martyrs of our town

Przedecz (Pshaytsh)
(District of Włocławek)

Who were murdered at the hands of the Nazis and their helpers, may their names be blotted out
In Chelmno on 7 Iyar, 5602, May 24, 1942.
And in other places of annihilation. May G-d avenge their blood.
The memorial day was designated as 7 Iyar
May their souls be bound in the bonds of eternal life
The survivors of our city in Israel and the Diaspora will perpetuate their holy memory.

Memorial tablet in the Chamber of the Holocaust in Jerusalem

 

Translator's note:
  1. This is an excerpt from the Haftarah of Tisha B'Av morning. Rrturn

[Page 8]

In Eternal Memory

Translated by Jerrold Landau

© by Roberta Paula Books

May G-d remember the pure martyrs, the Jews of the city of Przedecz (Pshaytsh) who were murdered by the Nazi Germans and their inimical assistants, who were murdered in all sorts of unusual, cruel deaths.

The brave soldiers who fell in the War of Independence for our holy land.

The brave soldiers who fell in defense of the borders of our land during the war of 1948 and in the Yom Kippur War.

The soldiers who fought in the allied armies who fought against the Nazis and fell in the line of duty.

Those who resisted in the death camps, the partisans in the forests, and the ghetto fighters who fell in sanctification of the Divine Name and the nation.

The holy soldiers of our town who fought in the Polish army and in the partisan units against the Nazi troops, and fell in the killing fields.

All of those whose names are not known, and are not mentioned in the book.

And those who died, whose graves and gravestones were uprooted and destroyed to the foundation.

May our G-d remember them for good, and may their souls be bound in the bonds of life under the wings of the Divine Presence. May G-d avenge their blood.

The Mourners:

The survivors of the city of Przedecz (Pshedets) in Israel and the Diaspora.

 


[Page 9]

Forward

by the Editorial Staff

Translated from Hebrew by Harris Werksman (Zvi BenShalom),
whose mother Mindl Buks was born in Pschaich

© by Roberta Paula Books

With fear and trembling due to our sacred mission, we publish this memorial book in order to preserve the memory of our dear martyrs, the Jews of Pschaich who were murdered during the Holocaust in the years 1939–1945 by the Nazis and their helpers, may their names be blotted out.

The terrible Holocaust where six million Jews were killed and obliterated, for the sole reason that they desired to live as Jews, struck us as individuals and also as survivors of the city Pschaich, and we were left bereft of parents, brothers and sisters, women and children, relatives, friends and acquaintances, and the community of Pschaich.

This city is where we were born and lived, breathed its air, and dwelt in the bosom of our families, where we spent our beautiful youthful years among friends, and where each one dreamed and dreamed, each in his own way, of a better and more rosy future.

This city was drained of its Jews.

After the Nazis conquered Poland and entered our city in September of 1939, their first operation was to burn the synagogue. In addition, they blamed the Jews for burning the synagogue, and if this was not enough, the Jews of our city had to pay a fine for burning the synagogue, in gold, silver and jewelry, to the conquering Nazis.

Furthermore, there were selections where a significant portion of the Jews in our city were moved to work and extermination camps where dozens of the people of Pschaich were killed by many unusual and cruel deaths that had no parallel in history.

On 7th day of Iyar 5702 – 4.24.1942, the community of Pschaich (in Polish, Przedecz) was destroyed after all of the Jews who were left were rounded up in the Christian church, and from there were transferred to the Chelmno extermination camp where they were murdered with poison gas in closed trucks.

We, the survivors of Pschaich, some of whom survived all these horrors within the extermination camp Chelmno, a small step away from death, are shaken and shocked, to the depths of our hearts, and we ask: –––

“Why Oh Why”?

This book is meant as a memorial and yahrzeit candle for the martyred citizens of our city Pschaich.

[Page 10]

In this book, we reveal events and deeds in the lives of our dear ones, suffering and joy, laughter and silence, pleasure and sorrow, times of welfare and times of distress, years of persecution and years of tranquility, the suffering and happiness of each family, up to the years of the Holocaust and destruction, and the elimination of our loved ones.

It is clear to us that no book has the ability to express the depth of the sadness, the pain and the grief of a prospering Jewish community, along with its institutions, that was cut down. However, we felt obligated to memorialize the memory of our loved ones in a memorial book that would record the deeds of the citizens of our city, and to engrave in history the eternal condemnation, the deeds, horror and murder of the despicable Nazi beast, predatory and blood thirsty, the severity of whose crimes where not previously known to mankind, and as we were commanded: –––

“Remember what Amalek did to you”.

Remember and do not remove the pain from your heart. Remember and don't relinquish from your mouths the eternal curse of the Nazis and their helpers who maliciously destroyed one third of our nation.

This memorial book will immortalize our loved ones, the Jews of Pschaich, and shall serve in place of a graveyard. Any time we peruse its pages we shall feel as if we are standing by their graves, because this, too, was not granted them by the murderers. The bones of our loved ones were ground and used to fertilize corn fields surrounding the camps. Holy martyrs, rest within this memorial book. It is your graveyard which we shall always visit. It is your Jewish grave which we take in our hands and let fall the tears mixed with our hearts' blood, and say with sadness and anguish:

Yisgadal v'yiskadash shmai rabbo … ! [the mourner's prayer]

Our Pschaich, as we knew her and as she is engraved upon our hearts, shall never be re–established, but her memory shall never be forgotten by the Jewish people.

The images of our relatives, friends and acquaintances will remain engraved upon our hearts forever. We have sworn never to forget them.

This book, which will serve in every house as an eternal candle in memory of our loved ones of blessed memory, is not intended solely to memorialize the souls of our brothers and sisters. Its main purpose is that the young generation which we have raised will study it, will learn about the great suffering and annihilation that the Nazis perpetrated upon the fathers of their fathers, and will learn the lesson of the horrific Holocaust.

In addition to the book serving as a memorial to beloved martyrs and an eternal candle for their souls, this book shall serve as a rebuke and a witness in an indictment that will be served one day on the wicked and malicious world, and against the leaders of the “enlightened” world who watched with indifference the destruction of our people, and stood aside without taking action and without pangs of conscience, thus indirectly contributing to the annihilation of one third of our people.

Let this book be a stratum in the literature of the Holocaust, and a source of study for those who will research, in the future, the history of Israel. This, then, is the purpose of this book.

In this book, which is a commemorative monument to the memory of the citizens of our city who were murdered in the Holocaust, we felt the need and the obligation to also mention those citizens of our city who fell in the ranks of the Jewish Brigade that fought within the framework of the British Army which fought against the Nazi beast at the Italian front, and in the war of liberation of our people to establish the State of Israel, and also those who fought in the Polish Army and the divisions of partisans, and who fell on the battlefield.

[Page 11]

Writing and editing this book is a heavy task involving a high degree of responsibility. Together with the disappearance of our loved ones, the sources of information concerning the lives of the Jews hundreds of years ago also disappeared. A portion of the few survivors who escaped the terrible events after going through the seven levels of hell, are satisfied with the silence concerning this subject. They do not wish to re–open their wounds which have yet to be healed. At every stage of our work, difficulties were encountered. Only the commands of our conscience drove us onward, and because of the great efforts expended and the difficult and painstaking work, we succeeded in gathering, sorting, rehabilitating and putting the finishing touches on the material, inserting layer upon layer to raise up this monument in the form of a memorial book.

In an objective manner, we tried to describe the city with all of its institutions, parties, personalities, wheeler–dealers and leaders, events and destruction, and also noteworthy observations regarding its way of life.

Even though we did not economize the time, effort and work in publishing a perfect job, we know that this book is not complete, and if we missed events, institutions, names, facts, or if we presented incorrect dates or inexact facts, we deeply regret this and beg the forgiveness of all who are related to the matter.

Here it is worth noting that in spite of our remaining few in number after this tremendous destruction, there was a drawing together of the hearts of all the survivors of our city all over the world as we all saw ourselves as one broken family, decimated and orphaned, with one common goal, and that is to raise up this memorial monument (literally grave marker) in the form of this remembrance book to the memories of our loved ones who were murdered in the Holocaust.

We hope and believe that publishing this book will strengthen and bring together all of the citizens of our city wherever they may be, and this will give us some small consolation for our martyred loved ones who were murdered in the tremendous destruction during the years of the Holocaust.

Our utmost thanks go to all who enabled us to complete this project. Blessing on all of our friends and all of the survivors of Pschaich in Israel and the Diaspora who supplied us with material and participated in financing this book, which is an eternal memorial monument to our beloved martyrs of Pschaich, may G–d avenge their blood.


[Page 12]

Forward

by the Editorial Staff

Translated from Yiddish by Roberta Paula Books

© by Roberta Paula Books

With solemn trembling and honest emotions, we act to publish this memorial book in order to preserve for all time the memory of our dear and beloved Pshaytsher Jews (Jews from Przedecz, called Pshaytsh in Yiddish) who were so cruelly murdered in the great Holocaust during the years 1939-1945 by the monstrous Nazis and their collaborators.

This great destruction, in which six million Jews were killed solely for the crime of wanting to live their lives as Jews, happened to us both as individuals and collectively. As individuals we were orphaned, losing our parents, sisters, brothers, wives and children, and as a group – Pshaytsher (Przedecz) Jewry no longer exists.

This town is where we were born, lived, breathed the air, were surrounded by our families, enjoyed our childhood years among friends and pals, dreamed and struggled, everyone in their own way, for a better future. The town which bubbled with beautiful sophisticated Jewish youth and with loving Jews is now empty and devoid of Jews.

When the Nazis occupied Poland and also entered our town in September 1939, their first act was to burn the synagogue, and as if this was not enough for them, they also accused the Jews of Pshaytsh (Przedecz) of having set the fire. To add insult to injury, Pshaytsher Jews also had to pay taxes: -

Money, money and jewelry, required as a fine for burning the synagogue… Afterwards the selections began whereby a large part of our Pshaytsher (Przedecz) Jewry was sent to labor and extermination camps, and there tens of our relatives and friends were exterminated, and on that wretched day of April 24, 1942, the 7th of Iyar 5702, the last Jews of Pshaytsh (Przedecz) were crowded into the Catholic Church and from there they were sent to the extermination camp Chelmno (a village near Kolo) where they were gassed and burned.

[Page 13]

And we are the remnants, the small last living fragments of Pshaytsher (Przedecz) Jewry, most having lived through the holocaust, and endured a terrifying hell in the SS camps, where only a thin thread separated us from those who were killed. We stand here now, shocked and scattered, and asked with pain in our hearts: why and for what?

We, the broken and orphaned survivors, have decided to commemorate our beloved Pschaytsher Jews in the form of a memorial book.

This memorial book is a monument and a memorial candle for the martyrs from our city.

In this Yizkor book we bring to you history and fact, anguish and joy, prosperity and deprivation, years of suffering and years of happiness, each family in its suffering and fulfilment, up until the years of the Holocaust and the physical destruction and annihilation our loved ones.

It is true that a book cannot express the deepest grief, anguish and sorrow of a Jewish community which was eradicated in such a terrifying way. However our obligation is to perpetuate the memory of our dearest and erect a tombstone in the form of a memorial book where the lives of Pshaytsher Jews will be written down, covering all areas, as well as the frightful facts about the Nazi beasts who cannot be compared to anything in human history.

 

“Remember What Amalek Did to You”

It is our holy obligation to the martyrs to carry the deep grief in our hearts, and it is also our obligation carry on our lips an eternal curse for the Nazis and their collaborators who so savagely murdered one third of our people.

This memorial book which will preserve the memory of our Pshaytsher (Przedecz) relatives and friends and will also serve as substitute for a grave, and every time we take this book into our hands we will feel as if we are standing at their graves as this too was not provided to us by the murderers. The bones of our relatives and dearest were ground up and spread as fertilizer on fields, after the pain of their tortured bodies burned in crematoria.

Here in this book will you have your eternal rest, my beloved friends and relatives. This is your cemetery, where we will come regularly, this is your Jewish grave where we will shed our tears and say

[Page 14]

yisgadol ve yisgadash sh'mei rabo (magnified and sanctified be God's great name – the mourner's prayer).

The town of Pshaytsh (Przedecz) as we knew it no longer exists. But it will remain forever in our memory. Also eternally etched in our hearts are the images of our relatives, friends and acquaintances, the appearance of personalities and community workers, elderly Jews, women and children, who were so brutishly wiped out, and our oath not to forget them.

This book, an eternal light to the memory of our relatives and friends of blessed memory, has an obligation to be more than a memorial book; its task is also so that our children and grandchildren learn and teach about this terrifying period.

In addition to serving as a tombstone for our martyrs of blessed memory, and an eternal light for their souls, this book will also be a brick in building the great attested act of accusation against the criminal Nazi government. And also against the world's welfare providers and humanitarians who stood by calmly and watched the destruction of the Jews, how an entire nation, millions of people, women and small children, were annihilated, and did not react. This book will also be a contribution to Holocaust literature and a source for future researchers who will describe this terrifying period.

This is the goal of this book.

In this book which serves as a tombstone to remember our relatives and friends who were killed in the Nazi Holocaust, we feel it necessary to remember and to mention our friends who fell in battle against the German army on the Italian front in 1944, in the Jewish fighting battalion “Chayil” (Force) and “The Fighting Jewish Division”. And also the freedom fighters in the “War of Independence” in Israel for the establishment of the Jewish state.

We also remember our friends who fell while fighting in the Polish army against the Nazis, as well as those who fell fighting the Nazis in the ranks of various partisan units.

Writing and editing this book is a difficult and responsible work. Together with the disappearance of the Pshaytsh (Przedecz) Jewish community, the sources of information have also disappeared which could have provided us with an exact picture of Jewish life in Pshaytsh tens and hundreds of years ago. Our friends who lived through and survived the Holocaust prefer to remain silent and not reopen the infected

[Page 15]

wounds which are still bleeding. The victims who were killed in the gas chambers and Nazi concentration camps can no longer speak. Only our strong belief that we must fulfill this holy task of immortalizing for all time the memory of our martyrs and of our Pschaycher (Przedecz) community gave us strength and courage to erect this tombstone.

We tried to present our town with total objectivity, with all its institutions, political parties, personality, descriptions and religious life: the characteristics of Pshaytsher Jewish life, Jewish professions, joys and suffering and the horrific frightful history of the Holocaust extermination and destruction.

Although we did not skimp or spare any effort, insofar as possible, to publish this book, we know it is far from perfect. Through no fault of our own, we are probably missing documentary material, institutions and names in the list of those who perished. If anyone feels hurt or insulted, we beg your forgiveness.

It is worthwhile here to mention that even though few Pshaytsher Jews survived the great Holocaust, when this book was published our townspeople gave with all their hearts. From all around the world they began to contact one another, and suddenly we saw how a broken orphaned family had a common goal, to erect a tombstone for our dear martyrs in the form of a memorial book.

It is to be hoped that publication of this memorial book will embrace and bring even closer together the hearts of Pshaytsher Jews and will provide a bit of comfort for the murdered martyrs of the Jewish catastrophe of our times.

We express our heartfelt thanks to all our friends and townspeople in Israel and abroad who helped assemble material for this memorial book as well as financially helping to create this monument to remember our dear martyrs of blessed memory.


[Page 17]

To the Holy Souls of the Fallen of Przedecz
Testament to the Fallen

by Moshe Mokotov

Translated from the Hebrew by Marshall Grant

© by Roberta Paula Books

 

From the Jewish Brigade to the Yom Kippur War

The memorial book of the Przedecz community may not be known for its level of “professional literature” – and you should not be surprised. However, the authors of this book's entries have written in the best professional manner the authors can offer, even if they are not professional journalists or writers.

There are other books that surpass this one from the literary perspective, but those have been written by publicists, writers and other journalists.

Nevertheless, our memorial book is the most updated from all those that have been published in Israel. Those from Przedecz and their descendants have contributed the most meaningful of contributions for the birth of the nation.

Ze'ev (Wolf) Rusk, of blessed memory, from Tel Aviv. He was one of the first volunteers of the Chil, the Jewish Brigade in the service of the British military. It was modest and responsible, and operated with complete loyalty, and the brigade fulfilled directives and orders issued by the Jewish leadership and its commanders. He died while attacking Nazi soldiers in the killing fields on the Italian front at the height of the Second World War.

Eliezer Pearlmuter, of blessed memory, from Jerusalem. One of the veterans in the defense of Jerusalem, a happy and brave person. He was one of the first Jews to join the English Royal Engineers to fight against General Rommel, one of Hitler's most senior general officers. With honor and wisdom, he protected Jewish soldiers against attacks by non-Jewish soldiers.

May 15, 1948, the State of Israel was founded. Eliezer was amongst those defending Jerusalem. When the War of Independence broke out, the city was disconnected from the coastal cities, food was lacking and the city was under siege. The winding convoy of food and medical supplies slowly made its way through the Jerusalem hills towards the capital. Amongst those protecting these convoys was Eliezer Pearlmuter, but this time in the service of the Israel Defense Forces. As the person he was, he was the first to volunteer and among the first to fall!!

Ya'akov (Kobi) Burg, of blessed memory, from Ashkelon. In the 1970s, the War of Attrition raged, a bloody and undeclared war. The prices paid in the war were dear - the lives of our best young soldiers. The blood of our young inundated the hills of Sinai, and our city had suffered our third casualty.

We still remember the beautiful and cordial young man, with a sensitive soul, who took part in the discussions

[Page 18]

for the memorial services held for our community in the Jewish National Fund hall in Tel Aviv. Nothing here is surprising – he was the grandson of Rabbi Zemelman, and the grandson continued the ways of his grandfather, and remained loyal to his beliefs until the end…

Both met a hero's death.

Four years later, the Yom Kippur War. Despite the glamorous victory of our military, we had yet to experience such large disasters.

Some 3,000 of our most loved sons were killed while in service for their country. Again Przedecz had given its share.

Two young men were taken during the best years of their lives.

Rami Levin, of blessed memory, from Bnei Brak. A third-year student in Tel Aviv University. He had a golden heart who always sought to help others. His young age betrayed his natural wisdom and unique perspective.

It is still a riddle of how this gentle person became a hero, who calmly fought with extraordinary bravely, and charged the enemy with his tank. His friends who were with him in his last moments tell of his actions in battle. It is hard to understand this contradiction, two different worlds. Modesty and heroism. A sensitive soul with an exemplary sense of sacrifice. He fell in battle on October 18, 1973, on the Jewish holiday of Simhat Torah, in the Battle of the Chinese Farm during the efforts to breakthrough towards the western bank of the Suez Canal.

Yeshiahu (Shaika) Mekovitzia, of blessed memory, from Tel Aviv. The second casualty of the Yom Kippur War, one of our city's grandsons.

He stood out early among his friends, still in his early years, and in 1966 participated in a youth delegation from Tel Aviv to France and Italy.

A year later he joined the IDF and became an officer. Several months later he was appointed to be a team commander in the officers course for supply officers, and several months later was appointed to command this course. Following his discharge from the IDF he studied in the Economics Department in Tel Aviv University, where he earned his degree. Shaika married and exactly one year later arrived to join his military unit even before they were publically called.

The Yom Kippur War was at its peak, and after 12 consecutive days leading his soldiers, he fell – commanding his platoon.

These are stories of sacrifice that are nothing less than living legends, and their stories have been covered in the most important newspapers around the world. Stalingrad and El Alamein pale compared to the heroism and sacrifice that took place in the Yom Kippur War.

Israeli soldiers, among them the offspring of our city, are now role models in military schools around the world.

The descendants of Przedecz are an integral part of the Yom Kippur War.

May the memory of these young heroes, who in their death gave us life, be blessed through their ultimate sacrifice for their homeland.


[Page 19]

The soldier Ze'ev Rusk z”l

Translated from the Hebrew by Marshall Grant

© by Roberta Paula Books

 

The soldier Ze'ev Rusk, of blessed memory

Son or Moshe Aharon and Rachael

Fell on Nissan 5, 5705, March 19, 1945 in the Italian front while in service of the Jewish Brigade.

Born in Poland in 1941.

 

Ze'ev Rusk of blessed memory. Fell on the 5th of Nissan, 5705, March 19, 1945, during an offensive launched by the 3rd battalion of the Jewish Brigade. In the Jewish Brigade's first combat experience on the front, the first German POWs were captured.

He was born in 1914 in the city of Kutno in Poland. While still a child, his family moved to Przedecz, where he studied with Rabbi Zemelman and was one his most gifted students. Ever since his youth, he had been active in the Zionist movement and was one of the organizers and activists in the “The Young Mizrahi” (Tze'erei Mizrachi) and the “Religious Guard” (Hashomer Hadati) movements in our city. He invested much of his time to the Jewish National Fund. His affiliation with the Young Mizrahi movement was given to him from his father, Rabbi Moshe Aharon Rusk, a longtime Mizrahi member and enthusiastic supporter of The Young Mizrahi movement in our city.

He arrived to a training center in one of Poland's cities and made Aliyah in 1934. He was concerned with the future of Jewish settlements and the country and aware of all events that took place there. He was attentive to any request from official institutions, and when his draft orders arrived, he volunteered to the military.

He was quiet and modest, smart and funny, his jokes always raised the spirits of those around him. He was well liked by his company, he was a friend, loyal and dedicated to those close to him and to those he knew.

May his memory be blessed.

[Page 20]

Ze'ev Rusk, of blessed memory, before his Aliyah.
Among his friends from the Young Mizrahi and Religious Guard movements

 

Ze'ev Rusk with members of his unit
The picture was taken just several days before the battle in which he met his heroic death

[Page 21]

In recognition of our friend, Ze'ev Rusk, for his dedicated work for the good of the movement. We are presenting you this Tanach for the eternal memory of your making Aliyah to Israel. “Turn it over, and [again] turn it over, for all is therein”.

The Torah and Labor Movement in Przedecz

Zvi [illegible]
Yitzhak Yehuda [illegible]
Moshe [illegible] Tekovsky
[illegible]
Shlomo [illegible]
[illegible] Zvi [illegible]
[stamp: Young Mizrahi Przedecz]

Dedication inscribed in a Tanach given to Ze'ev Rusk
by members of the movement before his Aliyah


[Page 22]

The soldier Eliezer Perlmutter z”l

Translated from the Hebrew by Marshall Grant

© by Roberta Paula Books

 

Eliezer Pearlmutter, of blessed memory

Son of Yehuda and Chaya

Fell on April 23, 1948 in the War of Independence while defending Jerusalem.

Born in Poland in 1915

 

Eliezer Pearlmutter, son of Yehuda and Chaya. Born on April 13, 1915 in the village of Przedecz in Poland. He made Aliya in 1934 and worked as a driver and in strip mining in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. He was a long-time member of the Hagana; in 1938 he volunteered to serve in Notorot (the Jewish Guard brigade in the British police force) in Jerusalem. From 1940, and until his release in 1946, he served as a driver in the British Air Corps in Egypt, the western desert (was gifted with highly developed orientation skills in the desert terrain), Libya, Tunisia and Italy. He took his commitments seriously and courageously stood up for his people's honor, even though there were very few Jewish soldiers in his unit. When he once heard British soldiers talking amongst themselves mention degrading things about Jews, he silenced the offending soldier with a winning comment and with his fists. Whenever possible, he would tell the British of his national pride: “We, the Israelis, are envoys of the Jewish Agency, and it was not because we were out of work that we joined the British army, as you want to believe.” Due to his unique skills and efficient service, he was “forgiven” for his nationalistic statements.

When the War of Independence broke out, he appeared for service as a driver for an armored vehicle. As a father of four, he was able to exempt himself from serving in dangerous areas, but he never once tried to use this right. He drove an armored vehicle in the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv convoys and inside the city. He was slightly injured when the Jewish Agency building was bombed and his armored vehicle caught fire. After the explosion on Ben Yehuda Street, he worked for 24 hours in rescue missions and removing debris. He would visit his home only on rare occasions and for short periods of time before hurrying back to his service. He fell in Sha'ar Hagai while driving an armored vehicle (that was completely burned) in a convoy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on April 23, 1948 and was buried in Ma'ale Hahamisha on 9 Cheshvan 5712, November 8, 1951 and reinterred in Har Herzl in Jerusalem. He was survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.

 

[Page 23]

For the Three Who Fell

by Reuven Yamnik

Translated from the Hebrew by Marshall Grant

© by Roberta Paula Books

For three heroes whose lives too early were taken,
My lament will be loud and heard afar,
Their only sons lost, parents shaken,
Heroes of the Yom Kippur war.
The second was Rami, with cordial eyes,
He was generous and hearts around him would naturally gather,
With an eternal smile always so wise,
A dear and only son to his mother and father.
Day and night I will mourn,
For those who fell on days so balmy,
Three heroes, three soldiers, so recently born,
Ya'akov, Yeshiahu and Rami.
On Yom Kippur he bid his family adieu,
Kissed goodbye his parents and only sister,
And left to fight a bitter enemy he never knew,
That had invaded our country to raze, ruin and blister.
They were three from our town,
Grandsons of those holy and divine,
A third of our people destroyed, ashes in the ground,
In foreign lands by the most heinous and vile.
Sorrow and dread gathered and grew,
Expecting every day, but never receiving word,
Time passed and about Rami no one knew,
On Sukkot he had last written and was last heard.
Not in the diaspora our three heroes fell,
But in their homeland, in battle slain,
Fighting a vicious enemy from hell,
Their blood was not shed in vain.
The home is engulfed with mourning and sorrow,
Tears flow from everyone's eyes,
No word from their missing son, maybe on the morrow,
If he has fallen or is still alive.
Three charming men so dear,
Three offspring from a village so small,
Ya'akov, Yeshiahu and Rami always near,
The fought till death, gave it their all.
Then the news reached home like bitter rattle,
Their dear son had been lost in war,
Near the canal, in a cruel battle,
On Shimini Atzeret, he was no more.
Young, vibrant and shining bright,
Smart, alert and refreshing as water from a well,
An only son, with eyes so bright,
The War of Attrition, was when Ya'akov fell.
The third was Yeshiahu, so dear,
Likable, smart with life's refreshing hue,
Loved, educated and vibrant with no fear,
Dedicated son and husband true.

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Yom Kippur, war and times of strife,
The enemy is near.
Yeshiahu leaves his family and young wife,
To fight the enemy he most fears.
All three left and said goodbye,
Kissed their parents, wives and sisters and then,
Left to their units to defend and fight,
And their last words were – until we meet again.
He had yet to build his home,
He had yet to start his life,
He had yet to taste life his own,
Yet he left for his country for to fight.
Everywhere is sorrow and strife,
The sun has in the afternoon has set,
In their death they gave this country life,
And with their bodies they defended a county secure not yet.
Uprooted from his family and wife
Family sorrow and grief do swell,
A massive disaster, but in family life –
Yeshiahu the hero in a campaign fell.
The heart winces at the sight of shrines,
of the best the nation had to offer.
From the Holocaust inferno to surviving embers,
All holy, the best the county had to proffer.
How can a young widow's experience joy,
Her love suddenly sings no more,
Yeshiahu fell, but the heart accepts no ploy,
Of such a young heart that beats no more.
January 9, 1974
Yom Kippur, will be engraved into eternal memory,
as the people of Israel will live forever due to the heroes who protected it.


[Page 25]

The soldier Ya'akov Burg z”l

by Bella Burg

Translated from the Hebrew by Marshall Grant

© by Roberta Paula Books

 

The Soldier
Ya'akov Burg, of blessed memory

Son of Shimon and Esther

Fell in the War of Attrition on the Southern Front on 22 Nissan, 5730, April 28, 1970; born in Israel.

 

My Brother Ya'akov Burg

My brother, Ya'akov Burg, the grandson of Rabbi Yosef Alexander Zemelman from Przedecz, fell in the War of Attrition on the banks of the Suez Canal on April 28th, 1970 while in active IDF service.

He was known as Kobi.

He was tall, handsome and smiled and was so understanding…

I don't know how it's possible to write about him.

If we tell, all we hold in our hearts become words, and that part of my life – deep, deep inside, becomes a written legend.

Should I say he was a hero?

They say that about all the fallen.

Kobi wasn't like this, his body was not made of steel, and his heart was not made of iron.

He was a person, just like all others. He loved sports, but also liked to paint and write poetry. His teachers said he excelled in his studies, and his friends shared that he was a good friend, who was always

[Page 26]

willing to help in lessons or actively participate in holiday activities (as leader of the school's “Youth Parliament”, Kobi organized many parties).

When we were young we would fight like all good children did, and he, like everyone else, was also scolded and punished.

I loved my older brother, I loved him and believed in him with all my heart.

I always told him about my problems and difficulties and I felt that we were good friends.

I always knew that he loved our little country. I always knew he was willing to give it everything he had for it. But I never thought he would really have to give everything he had. A sacrifice for the homeland.

Mother and father were worried about him. They thought something would happen to him. They asked he agree that they intervene to make sure he was positioned away from hostilities, but he would not have any of it. “This is my place, if I won't be posted there, then someone else will have to be.”

Even on Pesach, he would not allow his father to ask for his release via the IDF community officer, “Someone else will have to stay here instead of me,” he said, and returned to the front.

Kobi had three parents, and to all three he tried to give his love. Among the three he divided his life, and that division remains the same after his death. For the homeland he gave his body, and he left his soul to his mother and father.

He gave his homeland his life, and to his parents he left his letters, thoughts, contemplations, memories, and the pain….

Kobi is not dead. He is still alive. He is deep in our hearts, protected against any more bullets. Safe from enemy fire.

 

Ya'akov Burg's Bar Mitzvah Drasha

Dear parents and honored guests,

I have been alive for 13 years, satisfying years full of unforgettable experiences.

I now stand ready to accept the responsibility of the commandments and I am very excited and I cannot believe that I am now celebrating such a significant event.

Dear parents: I have caused you to worry a lot and you have had to exert many efforts ever since I was born, until today. I thank you for the way you raised me, you honestly taught me so I would be able to be self-sufficient amongst my peers.

It has been many years, and you have borne this large burden with love.

And I – I hope and am confident that I can return the love and dedication you have shown me, should you ever need, my dear parents – I wish you much happiness, satisfaction and pride.

At this moment I stand before something important and significant, a once-in-a-lifetime event,

[Page 27]

the acceptance of the responsibility of the commandments. I am ready to bear, with pride and honor, all the commandments that have been given to me, and I will not fear nor hesitate before any obstacle that I may face while fulfilling them.

The tasks laying before me for my homeland are many, large and lofty, both in the present and future – for the homeland that has embraced me, given me sunlight, enlightened me with parks, and injected courage and the joyfulness of youth into me. I want to be a source of pride, and I will do everything possible for its development and prosperity.

To my grandfather and grandmother, uncle and aunt, who were unable to be with us, this is the day your grandson makes his Aliyah to the Torah; the descendent of those who died as martyrs in the death camps, and of those who fought heroically against the wicked enemy until their last moments.

I inherited a lot from my two dear grandfathers – from my maternal grandfather, the spiritual life, Hebrew literature and poetry and it continued to my religious lifestyle and beliefs.

My grandfather who died a hero's death in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, wanting to return the honor to the people of Israel that had been destroyed, to return the honor to all those who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis. Although my grandfather was killed and was unable to realize his dream, a dream of redemption and freedom, prosperity and growth and the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel, but his heart still lives and rejoices, and he calls for Jews to come and continue his fight, and I promise that I will continue my dear grandfather's fight and I will realize his most sacred dream.

And from my other grandfather I inherited strength, bravery and self-respect among my peers and in the environment, and I am proud to have my grandfather's name. May both of my grandfathers be blessed, they accompany and guide me in every step I take.

And for my aunt and uncle who died so I can now safely celebrate, as a Jew, my bar mitzvah.

Thirteen years have passed, and I now stand to receive the commandments. I undertake the most serious commitments, and I must bear them with love and desire as a loyal first son must be to his parents.

And to you, dear guests! I thank you for honoring me with your presence to celebrate this great day with me.

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Minister of Defense

Dearest Mrs. Esther and Mr. Shimon Burg,

Allow me to wholeheartedly recognize your sorrow following the loss of Ya'akov, of blessed memory.

First Private Ya'akov Burg, of blessed memory, gave his life for the homeland. He fell near the Suez Canal on 22 Nissan, 5730, April 28, 1970.

Ya'akov served in the 195th battalion. He was awarded “outstanding soldier” in his company, he was a brave soldier and trusted friend – he was greatly loved by all of his peers.

The memory of first private Ya'akov Burg, of blessed memory, is holy and engraved in our hearts forever.

May his memory be blessed,

Sincerely
[signature]
Moshe Dayan, Lieutenant General (res.)
Minister of Defense

Sivan 5730
June 1970

[Page 29]

 

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