Moshe Weinstock, Efraim Farber, Abraham Wolfson, Shimon Scher,
Zwi Traeger (Tal), Hanoch Becher, Chaya Schissel
Editor: Dov Shuval
Efraim Farber, 8a Jabotinski Street, 2900 Kiriat Yam
The Editorial Board
This book was written in commemoration of the Community of Shebreshin, one of more than a thousand Jewish communities annihilated in cities and townlets of Poland, and it appears on the 42th anniversary of the massacre perpetrated there, 39 years after the fall of the Nazi rule and the end of World War II. Is this not somewhat late? Has not its day passed and its importance diminished? Has not all been told yet of the destruction of Polish Jewry? Was the subject not yet fully exhausted?
And yet, this dark period in the history of the people is not forgotten and all that was written until now does not exhaust the magnitude of the loss: the tragic end of the deeprooted Jewry of Poland, the Jewry of a thousand years.
Many are the books of Yiskor, the memorial prayer, published in memory of annihilated communities, but it does not fill the need. Every one of the survivors of the Holocaust abreacts in memories of his past; everyone wants to see himself reflected in his book, his town and wants to perpetuate what is closest to him personally.
Each city and townlet was in a way a small world until itself; a Jewish world with all its signs and symbols, with its public institutions, political parties, organizations, synagogues and academies a collective tradition are remembered and demand expression.
And such was Shebreshin, a township in the province of Zamosc, in the district of Lublin, counting 8000 inhabitants with about 3000 Jews among them before World War II.
Not only did many years pass since then, but revolutionary changes took place in many spheres: in social life, policies, conceptions varied, outlook altered, new values were created and the State of Israel was
Founded. And yet, there is to a certain extent, a yearning for just the very period that knew full and perfect Jewish life, community life, that feeling of togetherness, to be one in sorrow and one in hope.
Much is to be told, therefore, of the problems involved in editing the book.
The editorial staff took pains to ensure that the material remains true to its original form without changes being made but as far as possible, adhering to the version of the participants, albeit not in a distorted manner.
The editors had no political approach when assembling the book. If here and there a sympathizing tendency with anyone political ideology emerges, this has its origin in the natural and legitimate inclination of the writer and is, of course, his responsibility.
We endeavoured to correct the style but took care not to beautify and polish unduly; not to impose too literary and flowery a form of expression but also not to present any material in a blemished style. We tried to avoid presenting confusion and disorder, tastelessness and leanness of form, but as far as possible, sifted and arranged clear and precise material.
We also took care to preserve the essence of concepts, the terms and expressions of the local people and the specific environment.
As is customary in townlets, the people, in general, were not called by their surnames. Nearly everybody had a kind of nickname, a given name whether after that of the father or the mother sometimes after his profession or occupation, but also after his outer appearance, or in memory of an incident that happened but at times, also derisive and insulting. These nicknames were so popular as to make it difficult to identify the people without them, so that we did not omit them.
It was particularly difficult to hebrewnize these given names since in that guise they would not be recognizable. For that reason, some of these names were not translated but brought in their original Yiddish version.
Our gratitude is extended to all who assisted us in this sacred task to those who contributed their writings and to those who donated funds, their generosity making the publication of the book possible.
Special heartfelt thanks are deserved by our friend Mendel Boim, who, over many years, gave generously of his time and effort in collecting the material from contributors in Israel and abroad. He was the address for contacts with friends in Israel, Poland, U.S.A., Canada and Argentina, and encouraged them to write. He did all this voluntarily. The five brochures he published were the swallows that heralded the appearance of the book and laid the foundation to it.
Today, so long a time after the destruction of the townlet, its former inhabitants are prepared to forgive it all its shortcomings and omissions and are longing for it. As is known, people tend to return to the place of their youth, to search for their roots. But no, Heaven forbid, no they do not wish to return to the townlet not even for a short visit. There is no one for them to visit. It is there that their loved ones were killed and butchered and the few survivors escaped to wherever their legs could take them. No happiness could be found there, only pain and anguish. There are only a very few of the refugeesurvivors who have the wish and courage to visit the place of desolation.
The townlet has certainly changed its appearance with time no doubt new buildings have been erected on graves and ruins but they, the former townsmen carry its image in their hearts, as it was then, before those dreadful events. The imaginary town let has, therefore, become a symbol around which they gather as one family.
The townsmen, today, scattered and dispersed, live on various continents at great distance from one another. Their hearts are divided. There they are in their new homes, spending their days and nights with their families, at work, at business, but they feel a closer affinity with the friends of their youth with whom they can exchange reminiscences of the past, talk of the present and exchange hopes for the future, discuss many more subjects with them than with their close neighbours. It is the share heritage that creates a bond between them. The man from New York, Montreal, Buenos Aires or from San Paulo, feels closer to his fellowtownsman from Haifa, TelAviv and Jerusalem than to his presentday next door neighbour.
It is natural for the book of memories to appear in the State of Israel. Not only because this is the centre of the Jewish people, but also because it is here that the largest number of survivors from our township are living.
May this book be a sign and symbol for shared fate, for shared meditation. Here the contributors gave their thoughts, their hopes, the abundance of their soul and they desire to draw from it the feeling of reciprocity, of togetherness beyond geographical boundaries. It would appear that, notwithstanding the contrasts, differences and disputes of the past here they are once more standing together as one, handinhand, united in feeling and in thought.
Szczebrezeszyn (Rus. Shchebreshin; Yid. Shebreshin), town in *Lublin province, E. Poland.
An organized community existed there from the first half of the 16th century. The Jews in
Szczebrzeszyn traded in spices and frequently did business at the Lublin fairs. In 1583 King
Stephen *Bathory* renewed the rights formerly granted to the Jews there to trade in the
Villages. In 1597 King Sigismund III Vasa prohibited the Jews from leasing tax collections.
A magnificent synagogue, built in Renaissance style, was erected at the close of the
16th Century. (It was set on fire in 1939). The Jews of the town suffered, at the time of the
*Chmielnicki massacres in 164849. Meir b. Samuel of Szczebrzeszyn, who escaped, gave
an account of these events in his Zok haIttim (Cracow 650). In 1701 a session of the
*Council of the Four Lands was held in Szczebrzeszyn. There were 444 Jews living in
Szczebrzeszyn in 1765. After 1815, when Szczebrzeszyn was incorporated within
Congress Poland, there were no restrictions on Jewish settlement in the town. The Jewish
population numbered 1.083 (31% of the total) in 1827: 1.605 (38%) in 1857: 2.449 (44%)
in 1897 and 2.644 (42%) in 1921.
During the 19th Century, Hasidism had considerable influence in the community. The addik of Javorov, Elimelech Hurwitz, stayed there during the 1880's. The Hebrew scholar Jacob *Reifmann lived in Szczebrzeszyn in the first half of the 19th century.
In the municipal elections held in 1931, the General Zionists obtained three seats: Po'alei one, *Agudat Israel one and the *Bund five.
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