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In memory of my father, sister, her husband and their children and all our relatives. I am translating this memorial book of the martyrs of Strzyzow to the language spoken by my children and my grandchildren so they will know what happened to the Jewish people who lived amidst the civilized nations of Europe during World War II, between the years 1939-1945.

Harry Langsam


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Acknowledgment

I would like to express my gratitude to my daughter, Rema Nadel and to my son-in-law, Michael Friedberg for the time spent with me helping in the translation of this memorial book. Without them it would have been difficult for me to achieve my goal.

The translator


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Commemoration of Martyrs

May the merciful Father who dwells on high, in his infinite mercy, remember those saintly, upright and blameless souls, the holy communities who offered their lives for the sanctification of the Divine Name. They were lovely and amiable in their life and were not parted in their death. They were swifter than eagles and stronger than lions to do the will of their Master and the desire of their stronghold. May our G-d remember them favourably among the other righteous of the world; may he avenge the blood of his servants which has been shed as it is written in the Torah of Moses, the man of G-d: “O nations make his people joyful! He avenges the blood of His servants, renders retribution to His foes and provides atonement for His land and people”. And by Thy servants, the Prophets, it is written: “I will avenge their blood which I have not yet avenged; the Lord dwells in Zion”. And in the holy writing, it is said: “Why should the nations say 'where then is their G-d? Let the vengeance for Thy servants' blood that is shed be made known among the nations in our sight”. And it is said: “The avenger of bloodshed remembers them. He does not forget the cry of the humble”. And it is further said: “He will execute judgment upon the nations and fill (the battle-field) with corpses: He will shatter the (enemies) head over all the wide earth. From the brook by the wayside he will drink, and then he will lift up his head triumphantly”.


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On such sadness,
tears should be endless.
Each person should be concerned
and each heart distressed.
(Reb Yehuda Halevi)
 
Because between us and the Western World,
the bodies of the untainted martyrs are lying.
From my murdered people, young and old,
killed in the season of bloom and season of snow….
The dust that supposedly had them covered did not cover.
Their exalted faces….They radiate in their exposure.
And we the heirs:
For all the goodness and honour that they paid for
with their blood, here we shall be burdened
to carry for ever the eternal light.
From a poem by
Uri Tzvi Greenberg

 

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Strzyzow my little town

By Shlomo Yahalomi

Here is a story, a very sad story
About a town which vanished with all its glory.
Horrible is the story, behold!
In this book the story will unfold.

There was once a town
A very small town
Surrounded with hills, and valley galore,
It belonged to me, you and more.

Although its territory was small,
A few hundred families in all,
Two thousand people or maybe less –
Her importance everyone impressed.

There were rabbis a score,
Great scholars blessed by G-d they were.
Sons and grandsons, descendants
Of holy men, and in Torah studies valiant.

From Ropczyce Rabbi Naphtali the men
Who, with wisdom, the Hassidic world ran.
Rabbi Mendele of the book Sova Smachot the author,
From which people our traditions learned to adore.

The author of Drishat Ari, the book
Turned our town into his study nook,
To study with diligence he was keen,
With his cousin the Yismach Moshe he was always seen.

To enchant the hearts and revive the souls,
Was the author of Bnuyot Ramah's goal.
And with his penetrating preaching
He brought for the souls a healing.

The one from Dynov, the extreme,
Fighting G-d's war was his dream.
Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech the holy,
In our town wonders performed, truly.

The Tzadik Rabbi Elazar from Lanzut
Was popular and looked good,
His father name him as his heir
And he proudly filled the rabbinical chair.

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Rabbi Shlomo, the lion of the group,
Was our Rabbi and leader of troop,
His ways were benevolence and might,
He was our guiding light.

Rabbi Shlomo with his roaring voice,
His chanting split heavens and we rejoiced.
Aroused the pious and those non-devout,
Never tolerated a weakening of belief in G-d.

The town was once upon a time
A home, when they were in their prime
Two Baal Shem Tov lads
Who always lived in a world above their heads.

Rabbi Elazar Fishel, the kabbala man
Thought that to speed the redemption he can.
He authored several books and also studied mysticism,
Always a dreamer far removed from realism.

We had many more personalities
Who nowadays are considered rarities.
For their good deeds they were well-known
Because here in town they were born.

Simple people and scholars abundant
Who studied Torah daily and kept the covenant.
With crystal clear hearts beyond fault
Never did they dare G-d to insult.

Hassidim truly and stirring
From exaltation like fire burning
Always joyful and happy
Never became tired, always snappy.

Light they spread like a candle
With G-d fearing spirit, everyone's heart they kindled.
For sacrifice – always ready,
Generous to the poor, never greedy.

Young men with brains acute
Spent their days in Gemara's sophistry.
Their energy and power they spent
To find in the commentaries for their questions answers at hand.

Our merchants and tradesmen
Were hospitable to strangers and kinsmen.
Our town also was blessed
To have good leaders among the best.

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There were also women righteous and modest,
With hearts of gold and with mercy possessed.
And Psalms – reciting Jews who did their best
During the prayers for redemption G-d addressed.

Whatever there was, whatever there has been
This town disappeared entirely from the scene.
Woe! Woe! What a tragedy! What an end.
They all perished. It is hard to comprehend.

Once upon a time there was a town
What left is a piece of stone
Which is Strzyzow's monument
Mounted on a wall in the martyr's basement.


The Book of Remembrance
Dedicated to the Holy Community of Strzyzow and Vicinity;

For the generations who remained buried in foreign lands, and for those whose burial place nobody know, because the cemeteries have been turned into public parks and their gravestones used for sidewalks; only a few gravestones were saved after the intervention of the survivors from Strzyzow; they were removed from the sidewalks and returned to the site of the last Jewish cemetery before the war.

For the last generation who worked for the beginning of the redemption but had not lived to see it, they sanctified the name of heaven with their martyrized deaths during the European Holocaust and have not had even a Jewish burial.

To the natives of Strzyzow and vicinity who are spread throughout the four corners of the world, may this book be a bond with their perished brothers and sisters, and to their offspring, a way of getting acquainted with their origin.

Itzhok, the son of Baruch Berglass


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Do Not Forget!

In the very ancient times, the people of Israel in Egypt, in the land of Goshen, resided among the Egyptians but did not mingle with them. They were quiet and humble. They were faithful to the Kind and obeyed the laws. As it is written: “And the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, and multiplied and vaxed exceedingly might. And the land was filled with them”.

“Behold! The people of the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us”. They became rich from exploiting us. The King got smart and published the “White papers” which in reality were black. The proclamation said: “All first-born Jewish males should be killed”.

On appearance, the Egyptians were very civilized and did not question this ordinance. On the contrary, they faithfully obeyed this order without hesitation and for a time, it seemed that there would be no Jewish male child survivor, Heaven forbid.

But one Jewish mother by the name of Yochebed, succeeded in hiding her first-born son in a wooden box and putting it in the Nile River. When Batyah, the daughter of Pharaoh came to the river to bathe, she heard a baby crying. Immediately she understood that this baby is probably one of the last Jewish children and she could not be so merciless not to spare this child's life.

But here is what happened in our century – a tragic and terrible Holocaust – nothing like that ever happened to the Jews in the Diaspora. The corpses are still before our eyes. The orphans, the very few who survived, small children and adults, they were standing before our eyes. It happened almost yesterday but they already seemed far away, almost forgotten. Few remember that once upon a time there were a Jewish people great in numbers and quality amongst the Europeans, to so-called “civilized” nations. The Jewry of Poland, Lithuania, Galicia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Russia. All categories, Hassidim, Mitnagdim, plain Jews, Jewish tradesmen, Jewish farmers, Rabbis, heads of Yeshivot – millions of them – also scientists, poets, writers, politicians and philosophers. A Jewish life full of energy and creativity. And suddenly, a poisonous snake – Hitler – came to power and ordered the final solution, to annihilate all Jews – which no one should survive.

These cultured, intelligent German people of composers, poets and philosophers, turned loose their animal instincts to kill mercilessly and in a most cruel way. Old and young indiscriminately, of all ages. They killed, murdered, burn and even buried alive, six million! Six million! Can they be forgotten? And yet, in a miraculous way, a few survived.

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One from a shtetl, two from a family, remnants of the European Jewry. And they are the ones who have sworn not to forget.

Those who heard about the Holocaust from far away might be inclined to forget, but not the people who witnessed this tragedy. Those individual survivors who lost their wives, husbands, parents, children – they keep reminding us and are warning us ever minutes, every hours of the day and in every place: DO NOT FORGET!

And from the general destruction to the destruction of our beloved home, our beloved shtetl Strzyzow. Although it was small, to us it was a great place.

Once there was a place in Poland, at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, the name of this place was Strzyzow. Small, but important enough to write about. About the Torah scholars, the Hassidim and about how the sound of Torah never ceased to be heard from the inside of the Beit Hamidrash, the kloyz. About the beginning of Hassidim which goes back to the time of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Hassidic movement.

We will write about all the stories and legends that were told in this town. The lights and shadows which existed and had their influence on the town. This place has a historical value to tell about her past. All the tales I have heard from the elders and what I have read here and there. It is worthwhile to collect all this in a book, particularly when this is our town where we were born and raised until the destruction by the cursed Nazi.

This book will serve as a perpetuation of the town, for our sake and for the sake of the martyrs who went up in flames to heaven and died for sanctification of the Divine Name. It is the duty of all those who survived to do everything possible, that this place should not be forgotten. Not by us, nor by future generations. With G-d's help, I have told here the stories which I collected from my notebook which were written not with ink, but with blood and tears.

May G-d help us to succeed in our task.

Shlomo Yahalomi (Diamand)
The son of Joseph Chaim.
A remnant rescued from fire.

 

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