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[Page 399]

The History of the Book,
Czenstochower Yidn [Czenstochow Jews]

by Editorial Colleagues

Without a doubt the idea that the history of Jewish Czenstochow should be immortalized in a printed edition (book) was alive for a long a time before the history of the book Czenstochower Yidn began.

However, it came to expression in published form once in the publication Dos Neye Wort [The New Word] of Tuesday, the 18th of July 1922 published by the district division of TSYSHO [Tsentrale Yidishe Shul-Organizatsye – Central Yiddish School Organization] and during a visit to Czenstochow by the two delegates, Louis Szimkowicz and H. L. Szwarc, the following was published on the last page of an issue of Dos Neye Wort:

 

 

The idea of the book resulted from the contact of the Czenstochower landsleit [people from the same town] on both sides of the ocean that also came to expression in the creation of the house for the Y.L. Peretz children's homes and folks-shuln [public schools] in Czenstochow.

It was a long time from then until the decision by United Czenstochower Relief to publish a book, Twenty-five Years of Fraternal Aid. However, the idea already was alive in a certain form. An attempt also was made to bring about a book during that time.

In October 1924, E. Ch., being in America, published an article in Dos Neye Wort, dedicated to the golden book, Fun Beide Zeitn Yam [From Both Sides of the Sea].

On the 4th of March 1929, Czenstochower Relief in New York decided to begin the work of publishing a book of the history of Czenstochow under the title, Czenstochower Album. Szimlowicz. Litman, Charbalowski, Lewensztajn, Rok, Win, A. Kaufman, Gerter, Silver and Rikman were elected to a committee. The committee made contact with Chicago and Czenstochow. However, Czenstochower Relief in New York was weakened and the plan again only remained on paper.

The idea to publish an historical book was stronger in Czenstochow itself than in America. Engineer H. Wilczinski (perished in Warsaw), one of the main initiators, gave a great deal of time and work for this purpose. At his own initiative, he researched the old documents of the old kehile [organized Jewish community], gathered material and even published a series of articles about individuals in the Czenstochower Zeitung [Czenstochow Newspaper] and in other Yiddish publications. Through his initiative, an historic commission to publish a monograph of the history of the Jews in Czenstochow was created at YIVO [Yidisher Visnshaftlekher Institut – Yiddish Scientific Institute, now the Institute for Jewish Research] in Warsaw. Moshe Asz, the son of Rabbi Nakhem Asz, also gathered material from the Czenstochow pinkasim [registration books] and published it in the Czenstochower Zeitung.

In 1932, the Friends of Jewish History in Czenstochow Society was founded at the initiative of R. Federman. Found in the presidium of the managing committee [of the society] were: Dr. Al. Walberg, chairman; Yakov Rosenberg, vice chairman; Z. Markowicz, treasurer, Engineer H. Wilczinski, secretary.

The Society printed and sent a communiqué to a wide group of people in Czenstochow and other cities in Poland and America in which among other things was said:

“In the projected monograph, the economic and cultural development of the Jewish population in Czenstochow will be expressed in words and pictures.”
The communiqué called for help from “the widest circle of the Jewish population in our city,” using their “shared efforts and strengths to create the history of the Czenstochow Jewish settlement, from its start to the present day, for today and the future generation.”

As a result of the appeal of the committee in Czenstochow and from Mr. Wilczinski of Warsaw to Moshe Ceszinki in Chicago, who was then a member of the Educational Union, Moshe Ceszinki led a broad campaign in the union for the plan, and gave a long lecture at a members meeting about the history of the Jews in Czenstochow and of the importance of publishing a history book. The Chicago Educational Union

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elected a committee with Moshe Ceszinki as chairman, which held a meeting. However, a members meeting later rejected the project.

There was no relief organization in New York then. The Czenstochow committee, therefore, made contact with individual people to help with the work.

Seven years passed. In that time, Yakov Rozenberg became chairman of the Jewish community in Czenstochow and at his initiative, on Shabbos [Sabbath], the 24th of June 1939, a large conference with the participation of the historian Dr. E. Ringelblum (perished during the years 1939-1945) from Warsaw took place in the hall of the Jewish community in Czenstochow, at which a local committee was created that would work with an already existing committee in Warsaw.

The initiative group, which called the conference, published the following appeal in the Czenstochower Zeitung [Czenstochower Newspaper] of Friday, the 23rd of June 1939:

 

History of Jews in Czenstochow

The initiative group for publishing the history of Jews in Czenstochow, which was created by the historical committee for Poland at the Jewish Scientific Institute, turned to all Czenstochower with the following appeal:

The Jewish community in Czenstochow has existed for approximate 250 years. The special laws that were applied to Czenstochow, as to a spiritual city, made it impossible that previously a Jewish community would arise here. In the course of the 250 years that Jews have lived in Czenstochow, they have contributed a great deal to the development of the city. With their initiatives and capabilities, Jewish entrepreneurs developed a series of branches of production, such as the metal industry, toys, the haberdashery industry and so on, and then created the ability to work for thousands of workers, Jews and Christians.

Czenstochow also played a great role in Jewish life. The various currents that were active in Czenstochow created a series of institutions and establishments that were jewels for Czenstochow.

It is the obligation of today's generation to give honor to the past generations. It is our duty to summarize what has been done until now by the Czenstochow Jews in the areas of the economy, culture and so on. For this purpose a committee to organize the publication of a monograph about the Jews in Czenstochow was created by a group of Czenstochower under the protectorate of the Historical Committee of Poland at the Jewish Scientific Institute [YIVO - Yidisher Visnshaftlekher Institut].

The Czenstochower committee turned to all Czenstochower in Poland and in other nations to make contact with the committee and to provide all materials in their possession (photographs, documents, periodicals and so on) as well as [providing] financial help for implementing the planned publication. Address of the committee:

Historical Committee at YIVO
Warsaw, Bladna 2.
For Czenstochower Committee
Or:
Jewish Community in Czenstochow for the Monograph Committee.
A special meeting of the executive [committee] of United Czenstochower Relief on the 22nd of March 1942 decided to call a conference of representatives of Czenstochow organizations in New York to approve the decision to publish a Czenstochower Almanac in connection with the 25 years of help activity by the landsmanschaft [organization of people from the same town]. The book was to be called: “Twenty-five Years of Fraternal Aid.”

The conference took place on the 23rd of May 1942. In truth, a great number of devoted communal workers remained unenthusiastic about the idea of publishing a book. Above all, a great sum was collected as the first aid for rebuilding Czenstochow. Both items, both the sum of $10,000, which we decided to collect, and the publication of the book appeared more fantasy than reality.

A separate administrative body under the name, “Committee for 25 Years of Czenstochower Fraternal Aid,” was established as follows at its first meeting, Wednesday, the 8th of July 1942:

Chairman: Yakov Ber Silver.
Vice-chairmen: Louis Szimkowicz, Nisen Cymerman, Harry Fajersztajn, Mrs. Yetta Lentszner.
Treasurer: Yosef Kaufman, Secretary: R. Federman.
Editorial Committee: E. Chrabalowski, R. Federman, Abe Kaufman.
[Page 401]

 

Elkone Chrabalowski
 
Rafal Federman
 
 
 
Dr. Rafal Mahler
 
 

Wolf Gliksman
 
Abe Kaufman

 

Editorial Colleagues for the Book Czenstochower Yidn

Executive members (alphabetically):

Isidor Berger, Samuel Karpiel, Mrs. Rose Kuperman, Zigmund Epsztajn, Mrs. F. Fajersztajn, M. Fajner, Mrs. R. Frajermojer, Morris Gelber, Khona Gliksman, Yitzhak Gurski, R. Grodzenski, D. Guterman, Joseph Jacobs, Mrs. Ray Kaufman, Jacob Kapin (Kapinski), Jacob Lewi, Mrs. C. Lewi, Simon Lipszuc, Abraham Litman, Andza Monowicz, Samuel Oberman, Isidor Rikman, Chaya Waga-Rotman, Joseph Rozenblat, Itshe Zelkowicz, Abraham Senzer, Mrs. Sadie Senzer, Mrs. Ray Sobol, N. Wajsberg, Max Wilinber, H. Wajn, Emanuel Wargon, Michal Wajskop, David Zitman, Herman Zigas.
The committee held a series of meetings, sent circulars with a questionnaire to all landsleit [people from the same town] to collect material for the parts of the book, “biographies and memoirs,” and established a connection with Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and with groups of landsleit in other cities in other countries.

A letter from the Organization of Czenstochower Landsleit in Eretz-Yisroel was read at one of the meetings of United Czenstochower Relief in New York in which it was reported that they would take part in the work of the construction fund and with the publication of the Czenstochower Almanac. The first letter from Eretz-Yisroel, where the largest number of Czenstochower landsleit live after America, brought joy and elevated the mood at the gathering.

In addition to Eretz-Yisroel, connections were made with Czenstochower organizations and people from Buenos Aires (Argentina), Melbourne (Australia) and London.

 

Material and Editing of the Book Czentochower Yidn

In 1942, when the actual work of the book, Czenstochower Yidn, began, the editors were cut off from Czenstochow and [they] had almost no material in their possession besides an

[Page 402]

incomplete set of Dos Neye Vort [The New Word] of several years, which Louis Schwartz had taken with him to America after his visit to Czenstochow, a full set of the Czenstochower Reklamen-Blat [Czenstochow Advetiser] and Czenstochower Vokhnblat [Czenstochow Weekly] and a large number of Czenstochower Togeblat [Czenstochow Daily Newspaper], which Moshe Ceszinski (Chicago) had provided, a number of issues of Arbeter-Zeitung [Workers Newspaper], which Friend Rubin Luks from Detroit had collected and a number of issues of Czenstochower Zeitung [Czenstochower Newspaper], which were in the possession of the chairman of United Czenstochower Relief in New York, Friend Avraham Ber Senzer.

The materials and articles that were collected, mainly written and revised by Feitl Szmulewicz, and sent from Eretz Yisroeli, were a great help to the editorial staff of the book.

In addition to him, Godl Fajertag provided a large mass of the gathered material from Eretz Yisroel that was used for the article, “Czenstochower in Erstz Yisroel.”

The first two reports of the destruction of Czenstochow, put together by Dr. Josef Kruk according to the testimony of the two Czenstochow refugees, Avraham Izbicki and Brandes, also came from Eretz Yisroel.

The publication of the book was delayed in order to provide a more detailed picture about the destruction of Czenstochow and to obtain more material about the Nazi times, directly from Czenstochow. The war had just ended, contact with the old home was established and it would have been a great loss for the entirety of the book if the time of the destruction did not appear in the book. The material had to be written as an eternal memorial for our martyrs. The completion of various articles resulted in the book needing to carry the title, Czenstochower Yidn.

Taking part in the editorial staff, which planned the compilation of the book and arranged the content of the articles were: E. Chrabalowski, Rafal Federman, Abe Kaufman and Yakov Ber Silver.

As a result of the decision of the editorial staff, the well-known historian, Dr. Rafal Mahler, who himself revised and completed a large number of articles, was invited to become the editor of the book. Most of the material for the book was revised by E. Chrabalowski.

After the arrival in New York of Friend Wolf Gliksman, the editorial committee designated him as a member. In addition to the preparatory work that he carried out for the book, Friend Gliksman was very useful in compiling the material from the time of the destruction, which to a great extent he himself lived through in Czenstochow.

Friend Wolf Gliksman and Friend Rafal Federman took over the technical work of compiling all of the material for the book, preparing it for printing and a great deal of other work.

The 18th of May 1947 was designated as the day on which the book would be made public.

 


Gathering dedicated to the forthcoming publication of the book

[Page 403]

Administrative Committee of the Czenstochower Yidn Book

 

Yosef Kaufman
 
Avraham Yakov Tenzer
 
 

Yankl Kapinski (Kapin)
 
Yakov Ber Silver

 

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