« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Pages 193-230]

Goniadzers in Israel

by Fishl Yitzhaki–Treszczanski

Translated from Yiddish to English by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

(Seen through their families and places of residence in the old home)

Dedicated to the memory of my father, Yitzhak, may he rest in peace, who died on the eve of the Second World War and of ,
my mother Rywka, sister Gitl and my brothers, Yudl, Ayzyk and Ruwin, who perished at the hands of the Hitlerist beasts.


After the First World War, after the historical act of the Balfour Declaration, there awoke in our shtetl [town] as in the entire Jewish world, a hope of the more rapid achievement of Zionism. The haHalutz [a Zionist pioneer group] was founded and it strengthened Zionist propaganda and activity. The first three families then traveled to Eretz–Yisroel. These were the families of Efraim Halperin, Mordekhai Rubak (the baker) and Leibl, Shakna's son.

Thus was drawn the cord of the pilgrim. Their number mainly grew in the years 1924–1925, until the last years before the outbreak of the Second World War. This era brought the most significant number of Goniadzers who today are found in Israel. The last dozen Goniadzers arrived after the Holocaust.

Today more than 150 Goniadzers are in Israel. Mainly, one or two from a family. It can be said that someone from every second or third house in the shtetl is in Israel.

We will try to recall from our memory our shtetl during the last years before the

[Page 194]




destruction to present an idea of the members of the families who perished and those who are in Eretz–Yisroel.


Let us begin our stroll on the roads that connected Goniadz with the larger world: on one side – the road that led to Osowiec–Grajewo–Prussia, and on the other side – Osowiec–Bialystok–Warsaw.

Meir the rich man lived in the first house near the bridge at the entrance to the shtetl, in the village of Guzy. He drew his income from his water mill and was one of the many Jews in Poland in that era who lived as an arendar [lessee]. It was a distance of 10 minutes from Guzy to the city. Reb Meir was a Jew, a learned man, tightly bound to the Jewish life of the shtetl. His youngest daughter, Ruchl, lives in Neta'im near Rehovot.

From Guzy we enter the street that leads to the old market. On the left, Moshe Mazur (Fiszbajn), the wagon driver, lived in one of the first houses that led to the village of Bednarka. A decent and toiling

[Page 195]


Rybecka Street


Jew. His two nieces are in the country [Israel].

Further toward city is the house of Elia Dlugalenski. Elia, who was intelligent and educated, was a councilman and alderman at city hall. He defended the interests of the Jewish population in a clever manner. He had to remain in the shtetl because of his weak health and could not think of a life in Eretz–Yisroel.

His neighbor – the house of Borishke's son, Zeydke (Chanowski). He was one of the “regular Jewish” types who made himself heard. He fought in his way to aid and to lighten the situation of the artisans. He was among the founders of the cooperative bank that was organized before the Payen Bank. He also was in the opposition to the elected Rabbi Szlomowicz and one of the fervid followers of

[Page 196]

Yakov Rudski at the rabbinical election. His daughter, who was in Israel, had to return to Goniadz before the outbreak of the Second World War because of the condition of her health, and could no longer return [to Israel].

Dowid Goldiner, one of the calm, good–natured and modest Jewish middleclass men, lived opposite. He lived a quiet life with his wife and children. His daughter, Yafa, is in Tel Aviv.

A few steps further – Mushke Pekarski and family. Mushke's children gathered friends from school and organizations around them in the house. Their house served as the meeting point for a significant number of young people. The first Hahalutz–Hatzair [Young Pioneers] room was in their house.

The first of this family who traveled to Eretz–Yizroel was Khatskl, then Dobka and Leyzer, who was one of the first educators with Hahalutz

[Page 197]

Hatzair. In the end, Mushke himself came with his daughter Hinda who in time emigrated to America.

One of Mushke's children was Chaim–Arya. [He was] one of the most capable and most talented among the young, himself a student in the Hebrew school, and right after graduating in the first graduating class he became a teacher in the same school.

He was full of strength and energy. Right at his start as a teacher, he would enter the class where just yesterday he had sat as a student, with sure steps. With his blond head of disheveled hair, smile and with his fluid, pearly speech, his students focused all their interest on his lecture.

His home in the shtetl was restricting for Arya. He left for the wide world and in later years became an esteemed lawyer and an admirable Jewish and Zionist personality in Canada.

Yehoshoya Supraski, a Goniadzer who settled in the Russian city of Kursk and who would come to Goniadz from time to time, is a relative of the Pekarski family. After the outbreak of the revolution, he emigrated to Eretz–Yisroel, where he was very active as a Zionist and communal worker. [He is one of] the most eminent Jewish personalities in the Jewish community and one of the leaders of the general Zionists in the country.

Opposite, the Garber family from Jasionówka had moved into the Wajntrojb's house during the last years. The Hebrew school was located in the house for many years. Peshke, Garber's daughter, lives in Petar Tikva.

As a neighbor – Shmuel Ber Malozowski, a

[Page 198]


ShmuelBer Malozowski


dear and good–natured Jew. He and Leyzer the blacksmith (Todorowicz), Borukh the tailor, Nisan the tailor and others, were the first worker–Zionists in the city at the beginning of the century [20th century] thanks to the influence of Supraski. They rented a room from Saika, across from Benyamin the scribe, and taught the geography of Eretz–Yisroel, history and the history of Khibes–Zion [first Jewish movement favoring the return to Palestine]. Shmuel Ber's younger son, Dowid, lives in the Gvat kibbutz.

Asher's son Itshe, whose house served as an inn in the last years, lived in the same row of houses. His oldest son, Zeydl, was one of the first Poalei–Zion workers. He was the first secretary of the Hebrew school for many years. He emigrated to Argentina where he died.

His younger son, Asher, is in Cuba, and is one of the eminent people in Jewish society there. He visited Israel several years ago with his wife, Freydl (Szajnenzon).

For many years, [in the house] after Asher's [son] Itshe, lived Khatskl Bialastocki, who was the owner of the sawmill that he had

[Page 199]

erected right next to the river. Wood would be brought to the sawmill on the water from the entire area. Only Christians were employed in the sawmill. Therefore, the sawmill had no importance in the economic life of the shtetl. Khatskl himself was a charitable person and generous donor. He erected the fence around the synagogue hill.

His daughter–in–law and a grandchild live in Israel.

Next, Leyzer the blacksmith, and opposite – Avraham'l the shoemaker (Tshudak) and at the corner – the house of Moshe–Mendl's daughter, who lives in Jerusalem with her husband and family.

The old market starts from her house. At the start – Itshe Lichtensztajn's family. His son Chaim was one of the first Halutzim in Israel. The entire family emigrated to Israel in the 1930s with the youngest son, Dovid, who was one of the young social workers of Hahalutz–Hatzair in the shtetl.

The father and his two sons Chaim and Dovid died. Leah, the mother, and her daughter, Ruchl, are in Israel.

We pass several houses where Moshe–Mendl the tailor [and] Yehosha Cwiklic lived and we come to the last houses, before the expanse that led to the river.

The Mali family lived in one of the houses. Moshe, who was a Zionist all those years, today is in Israel with his wife and his daughter. Their son, Leyzer, also was in the country, but because of his communist activity, the mandate regime drove him out of the country and he perished in Goniadz.

Shmuel–Yoska Rubin's son–in–law, Y. L. Gradzinski, who was a Hebrew teacher in the Jewish school

[Page 200]

and carried out Zionist propaganda at various meetings in the city, also lived there. They gave their first daughter the name Bat–Ami [girl of my nation]. Even then, they lived in the shtetl in the spirit of the new Eretz–Yisroel settlement. He and his wife, Zahava (Golda), and their family live in Tel Aviv.

On the other side of the old market – Sara'ke, Chaya–Cyrl's daughter, and her husband Wolf Rajgardski who had a bakery. Their children were in HaHalutz. The son, Avraham'l, was one of the active


Avraham'l Rajgardski


members of Hahalutz and Keren Kayemet [Jewish National Fund] and he perished with his parents. His two daughters are in the country, Yafa in Haifa and Yona in Tel Aviv.

Further, Avraham and Ida Rudski lived in the house of Chaim Polak (Kobrinski). Avraham was a merchant on a large scale. During the last years, he was a volunteer doing communal work and also was active in the Zionist area. The only son of simple parents, he attended the Bialystok Tarbut–gymnazie [secular Hebrew language secondary school] and several years later, the Strasbourg University. Avraham came to Eretz–Yisroel in 1935 and accepted with joy and enthusiasm

[Page 201]

everything he saw in the development of the country. However, because of his illness, he returned [to Goniadz] with great sorrow and pain. His son Tzwi lives in Ramat HaKovesh.

Next door to him lived Chaim Kobrinski who was the supplier to the government (liferant) for the soldiers in Osowiec. Rywka, one of his daughters, came here [Eretz–Yisroel] in 1924. His second daughter, Sara, came later. Then also Chaim and his family. Today Rywka, Arya, Sara and Leyzer are in the country.

A little further – the house of Chaya–Tsirl. Her son Hilke (Hilel) Bialy also carried on a large trade with wagons of flour and sugar, in addition to his large iron business. He was active as a Zionist, managing committee member of the Hebrew school. His son Moshe graduated from the Tarbut–gymnazie in Bialystok. He studied in England and arrived in Eretz–Yisroel as a volunteer to take part in the war of our country's liberation. He was a member of the Kfar Blum kibbutz [communal settlement] in the Galilee. He met his death in a tragic manner a few years ago, leaving a wife and two young children.

In the alley of the old market, we see


Josl Tikocki [Sheymele's]


[Page 202]


My father, of blessed memory


a row of houses after the post office, the house where Yankl the refuah [traditional healer] lived, Atlas the photographer and we come to Yosl Tikoncki (Sheymele's [son]). He was one of the first who collected [money] for the [Jewish] National Fund. He was active as a Zionist volunteer, a teacher and one who loved Yiddish melodies.

Shlomo–Yosl's house is after his. [He was] a Jew, a scholar and a meticulous man. His older son, Yisroel–Shimeon, emigrated from America when he was old and has lived here for nearly 20 years. His younger son, Kheikl, visited the country several times.


From there we enter the alley that leads from the old market to the new market.

The Guzowski family lived on the left in the alley. Their daughter, Dwoyra, lives in Israel.

As a neighbor – Gela's son Yoal (my grandfather, may he rest in peace) and his children and their families. Itshe (my father, may he rest in peace), his sister Khinka and brother Yankl. The writer of these lines and his brother Meir are here in the country [Israel].


GONIADZ – Ulica Krotka [Krotka Street]
The “short street” (Przejazd)


[Page 203]

As a neighbor – the Miltszan family. Their son Sender, who was a Zionist communal worker and one of the most active in the Zionist library, is in the country [Israel].

Opposite, in the courtyard of Chaya–Ruchl Luria, lived the Grynszpan family. Industrious people and one of the few whose entire family emigrated to Eretz–Yisroel. The mother and son, Gdalia, live in Kfar Malal near Tel Aviv.

Chaya–Ruchl Luria herself was a woman who ran large businesses. She was good–hearted and always ready to help everyone. Chaya–Ruchl “Keynenhorenit” was her nickname because she added the words “keyn ayen hore” [may there be no evil eye] to everything she said. So much so that when she said, he is dying, [she added] may there be no evil eye…

Her children and their families played an important role in the life of

[Page 204]

the shtetl. However, not one of them had the merit to see Eretz–Yisroel, despite the fact that both of their sons–in–law, Zelik Poliak and Isak Zaliszanski, did everything that was possible to be able to come to Eretz–Yisroel.

Henekh Frydman and his family lived in Chaya–Ruchl's building. He was one of the few Hasidim in the shtetl. He was one of the individuals in the city who during the great typhus epidemic was dedicated with his life and body, day and night, to bringing aid to all of the sick. Business mainly was carried out by his wife Feygl Fruma. His daughter Toba and his son Zeydl are in Israel. The youngest daughter Liba died here.

Yehuda the furrier (Hercig) lived opposite Chaya–Ruchl's building. He was a Jew, a man of the people, a wise man, a hospitable man, full of humor, always with a smile on his

[Page 205]


Yehuda Hercig [the furrier]


lips and a good word for everyone. It is said of Yehuda:

After the First World War, when the various refugees without citizenship documents came to Goniadz, Reb Yehuda was the constant witness for them and confirmed that they were born in Goniadz. His testimony was reliable to the municipal authorities (city council), after which he was treated to a good whiskey and a snack…

Reb Yehuda gave testimony for too many people… And a commission from Bialystok came specially to investigate him. Reb Yehuda “clarified” for them that there was a society in the city that went to every celebration and bris [circumcision] and because he was the gabbai [sexton] of this society he knew of all of the births in the shtetl

And another episode:

After the great fire, the Goniadz pristov (police commissar) did not permit the building of houses without official construction plans. On a given day, Reb Yehuda left for Grodno and he succeeded in being received by the governor himself. In his usual manner, during a short conversation

[Page 206]

he persuaded the governor to fulfill his request and before Reb Yehuda returned to Goniadz the pristov had received a telegram: Permit everyone to build…

His son Tovya was one of the first of the family to go to Eretz–Yisroel. Then Tsipora and Yosl. After Reb Yehuda's death, his wife Ruchl–Leah also came with their daughter Liba. After the [Second] World War, Yehuda's grandson, Leibl Gopsztajn, the son of his oldest daughter Tsipora, came here with the remaining refugees. Liba, Shprinca's daughter, is also here from before.

Further – Etl Mushke's house. Left with two children after the premature death of her husband, she took the yoke of earning a living on her shoulders and ran the businesses. She was devoted to her two daughters with her body and life. Her house was open to all. Every emissary from Eretz–Yisroel was a guest in her house. She was generous in her donations to Zionist funds. Her daughter Malka lives here in the country [Israel].

As a neighbor – the Luria family. A house with many visitors to the family and children. Hershl Luria was a gabbai at the synagogue and chairman of the Linas haTsedek [society for visiting the sick]. His son Sholem, one of the first halutzim who emigrated, today lives in Kibbutz Ein–Harod, the first kibbutz that arose in the country.[1] Yankl, Teybl and Rivl emigrated after Sholem. Finally, Hershl and his wife Ruchl, the grandmother Khina also came and died here several years ago.


The valley that led hill down to the river extended from the Lurias' house. A number of families lived in the valley who

[Page 207]

were far from the idea of Zionism, like the families of Shimeon Jewrejski, Brumer, Tyukl, Todorowicz, and others. Shimeon Jewrejski was active in the Bund during elections and with the Jewish school. Tyukl was a leading person in the leftist youth group.

Shepsl the shoemaker also lived in the valley. His strongest desire was to go to Eretz–Yisroel. He even wanted to become a member of haHalutz. His love of the land probably came from his earliest youth. Perhaps he saw Eretz–Yisroel in the light of the Khumish [Torah] that he once studied in kheder [religious primary school]. However, his desire was not fulfilled. Due to his age, haHalutz could not accept him as a member and, naturally, at that time he could not obtain a certificate [from the British permitting him to emigrate].

Yankl Rudski's pivovarnia (beer brewery) stood deeper into the valley, near the river. Only the giant house remained of Yankl Rudski's attempt to build a large brewery in the shtetl. Much energetic zest as well as money was put into this unsuccessful try. This was characteristic of Rudski who had a broad, worldly approach to life. He was one of the nicest and most interesting Jewish men with his comprehensive point of view. [He was a] man full of charm, a synthesis of Torah and education, modern and simultaneously an ordained rabbi. One of the first Zionists in the city, he took part as a delegate at the fourth Zionist Congress in Basel. In addition to his grandson Tzwi, his daughter Chana Rudski and her husband and son, who recently arrived here after various wandering in Poland, are [in Israel].


Leaving the valley, we meet the house of Katinke. Once Feygl Szilewski lived there.

[Page 208]

Her daughter Chana and granddaughter Avigil live in Israel.

Further – Baylka Pesha's piekarnia (bakery). The premises of the Zionist organization Hahalutz, Hahalutz Hatzair and the Tarbut [secular Hebrew language organization] library were on the second floor of the house for many years. Zionist lectures with the participation of emissaries from Warsaw and from Eretz–Yisroel took place there as well as discussions among the parties. There on Shimkhas–Torah [the autumn holiday celebrating the conclusion of the yearly Torah readings and the start of the readings for the new year], the Zionist minyon [10 men needed for prayer], the collection for the Keren Kayemeth L'Yisroel [Jewish National Fund] and for the league for those working in Eretz–Yisroel took place. The sound of the songs from Eretz–Yisroel echoed across the entire shtetl.

On the bottom floor of the house, near Baylka Pesha's lived her sister Henya and her children. They came from Russia after the First World War and were permeated with the revolutionary winds there. They provided the main push for the development of the leftist camp in the shtetl. Two contradictory orientations, two camps – by chance, under one roof…

From Baylka Pesha's family, her son Avraham'l is here [in Israel].

As a neighbor – the house of Alter Trezczanski. Wolf Pekarski lived with him. [He was] a councilman and alderman at the city hall (city council) and the only Jewish official from the surrounding province who received a salary from the government.

Wolf was one of the leading Jews in the shtetl. We would come to him with the most difficult [problems for] arbitration thanks to his shrewdness. He was one of the active Zionist workers in the Hebrew school, in the bank, for Keren Hayesod [the Foundation Fund, now the United Israel Appeal] and others. He, nor his wife, nor his children lived to emigrate to Israel.

[Page 209]

Wall to wall – Mushka Rozencwajg and her two daughters. The younger daughter Dora was active at the Zionist library and went to Eretz–Yisroel in 1925. She lives in Kfar Vitkin. The mother and Hinda emigrated in 1935. The mother died here and the daughter Hinda lives in Jerusalem.

The further house was Tovya–Motl's and from there began the alley of the house of prayer. Of the families in the alley, there were no families from which someone emigrated to Israel, except for Moshe Dinka's daughter, Grunia, who lives in Kibbutz Glil Yam, Bajdan Gitl and Piekhote's daughter who live in Ramat Gan.

Wolf the rabbi and his family lived in the house of prayer alley. He was a modern Jewish rabbi, smart and ingenious. He belonged to Mizrakhi [a religious Zionist organization] and he himself distributed the Zionist Congress membership cards. He had a good reputation as a great arbitrator and was interested in life in the shtetl and was particularly concerned with those who needed communal charity, contributions for Passover necessities (Passover flour), and, in general, was a great help. His daughter Ida, the wife of Yosl Hercig, who provides a treatise about Friend Wolf in this book, is here in the country [Israel].


Exiting from the alley of the house of prayer, a row of houses begins on the left, one after the other. Someone from each of them lives in Israel.

Riwa–Tsirl Yafa lived in the first house. Her oldest son Nakhum escaped from Goniadz with the largest number of the young in 1920 when the Bolsheviks withdrew from the city and before the Polish military marched in, inspiring a strong fear among the young Jews. When Nakhum returned

[Page 210]

to the city, he brought with him customs from the great, modern world, as for example: walking in the street without a hat… He was one of those who appeared in the theater performances, whose income was designated for cultural or Zionist purposes.

Yankl–Moshe, his second brother, was in haHalutz. He was always full of humor and witticisms. Both brothers are in Israel.

Their house abutted Manya Cuker's house. Her oldest son Yisroel studied in Italy and perished there. His youngest brother, Heczak (Tzwi), was a founder and active worker with the Revisionist youth organization Betar. He and his mother live in Israel.

In the house further along – Chaim Koplman. One of the nicest, most respected merchants in the city. A great philanthropist. One of the first members of the Odessa committee in the city. From his large family, only his daughter Sonya is here [in Israe].

Moshe Zylbersztajn, one of the directors of studies at the Hebrew school in Goniadz, lived in the same house. In the course of


Moshe Zylbersztajn


[Page 211]

long years of work at the school, he became a resident of Goniadz. In addition to the school, Zylbersztajn was very active in the city in all areas of Zionist work. His public appearances and basic clarifications about all Zionist and Eretz–Yisroel problems remain in our memories. I particularly remember his interesting lectures about Yiddish and Hebrew literature that were rich in content, given in a beautiful form and language and drew listeners from the right and the left. During the last years he dedicated himself with his entire soul to the new building for the Hebrew school.

The difficulties of going to Israel prevented him and his family from emigrating despite his great efforts in that direction.

As neighbors – the house of Avraham and Gnendl Gelbard, one of the respected merchants in the city. Several members of the family live in the country [Israel]. Chaya and Yehudis in Kinneret, Gershon in Ramat HaKovesh. Gershon was one of the founders of HaHalutz–Hatzair, active in the pioneer movement and a member of the central committee of HaHalutz–Hatzair in Warsaw.

After their house, Sholem Hirszfeld's family lived in the courtyard. Leyzer, one of his youngest children, lives here in the country [Israel].

Further – the house of Dwoyra Rajgrodski. Dwoyra carried the burden of the businesses for all of her years. Her house was “open” with a generous hand for everyone, always ready to do a favor. She sent her children to study at the Hebrew gymnazie [secondary school] in Bialystok. Her daughter Yona traveled to Eretz–Yisroel in 1924 and, later, Dwoyra and Sura and Malka also came.

[Page 212]

Sura Bejnsztaun, the baker was a neighbor. She, too, ran the entire bakery with her own strength. Her oldest two sons are in America and her daughter, Tsipora, who was active in haHalutz and Keren Kayemet, is here in Israel.

The small alley, after Sura the baker, led to several houses in one of which Arka the tinsmith lived. His daughter, Shifra, lives in Israel.

Mordekhai Nielowicki, one of the most admirable teachers at the Hebrew school, and his wife Baylka from Trestina [Trzcianne], lived in the same alley, nearer to Dalistower Street, for many years.

Nielowicki, who came from Wizna, arrived in Goniadz at the beginning of the 1920s and became an educator of the second graduating class (graduates) of the school.

He was unusual in his special approach toward students. He attempted to avoid keeping a distance from them, but the opposite, searched for ways to come near to them and be their comrade and friend.

He brought the spirit of Halutz with him that influenced a large part of the Jewish youths in Poland and he set for himself the task of educating his students in the spirit of the Halutz ideas.

Thanks to him, the school class was the basis for the newly created haHalutz organization. A majority of his students were the first of the Halutz emigrants in the city, such as Sholem Luria, Moshe and Shaul Zakimowicz, Arya Khtiba, Berl Beris, Yankl–Moshe Yafa, Gitl Frydman, Chaya Gelbard, Ziva Kabrinski and others, who went immediately after graduation to hakhshore [preparatory training for prospective agricultural emigrants to Israel] and emigrated to Eretz–Yisroel.

In the course of time, Nielowicki

[Page 213]

almost became a citizen of the city, the main social worker and communal worker. He took part in the business flow of the Halutz and Zionist work and from time to time appeared with programs with Eretz–Yisroel and literary themes.

Even during the time when he had ceased his work in the school and worked for the main central [office] of Keren Kayemet L'Yisroel in Warsaw, he visited Goniadz often because for him it was as near and his own as a birthplace…

Nielowicki and his wife Baylka live in Israel. Their families in Wizne and in Trestine perished there.


The Dalistower Street begins there. Efroim Halperin and his family once lived after Tserel's house.

Reb Efroim was one of the first followers of the Enlightenment in the city and one of the first in the Odessa vaad [council]. One of the nicest and most respected Jews. He was mayor during the German occupation [First World War]. In 1915 he was among the founders of the Hebrew school. He was also one of the first to emigrate to Eretz–Yisroel with his family.

His older son Josef came to Israel before his family. He was arrested in 1912 when he was at a wedding in Bialystok with the National Fund pushke [tin can used to collect contributions]. Thanks to the intervention of the then Bialystok Rabbi, Dr. Josef Mohilewer, may his memory be blessed (a grandson of the Rabbi Shmuel Mohilewer, may his memory be blessed, director of the Rehavia gymnazie, Jerusalem), he was freed and he emigrated to Eretz–Yisroel a short time after this.

His second son, Shimeon, one of the first Hebrew teachers, was gifted with

[Page 214]

great abilities. He died very young.

The remaining children, Golda, Nekhama, Meir and Elkhanon, are in Israel.

Further – the Tawolinski family's house. The daughter Malka was one of the first Hebrew teachers abroad and is a pre–school teacher here [Israel] to this day. The second daughter Chana'ke, who graduated from the first course at the Hebrew school in Goniadz, also is a pre–school teacher. The third daughter, Chaya–Ruchl, is also here.

A few houses further – Ruwin the shoemaker. His daughter Chana was one of the first halutzim who emigrated to Eretz–Yisroel. She and her family brought her father here. He died several years ago.

Further – the Izraelski family. The Hebrew school was located [in their house] for a long time. The younger son, Ayzyk, is here in Israel. After them lived Gedelia the cabinetmaker. His older son Berl was one of the first halutzim. He brought his parents [here]. The youngest son, Dovid, also came here before the outbreak of the Second World War.

From this house on we pass several houses and come to the house of Bertshuk Polak (Kobrinski). His daughter Ziwa (Zelda) was one of the first halutzim. She lives in Tel Aviv.

Again several houses and we come to the last house on Dalistower Street. This is the house of Rwyka Ruchl, Moshe's daughter (Zakimowicz).

The oldest son Moshe was one of the Halutz founders in the city. He tried to enter Eretz–Yisroel illegally and was deported from the Romania border. He tried again and this time with success. Shaul came after him, then Nakhum and finally the parents with Masha–

[Page 215]

Gitl. The parents were with Nakhum in Kibbutz Ayelet HaShahar. Reb Eliezer and Rywka lived with respect in the kibbutz, esteemed by the entire kibbutz, young and old. Eliezer's ceremonial melodies and compositions for the Days of Awe prayers from the synagogue lectern were a big hit with everyone here.

A few years after the death of Reb Eliezer, his youngest and most beloved son, Nakhum, tragically perished. The mother Rywka died a year ago at a very old age. Today, Moshe and Shaul live in Haifa; Masha–Gitl in Ayelet HaShahar and Nakhum's family in Kibbutz haGoshrim.

After their departure, the family of Nusan Lewin moved into Zakimowicz's house. Their son Melekh (Meilakh, or as we called him, Meilakh Shatan) was very popular in the shtetl in his own way. He was somewhat unpredictable. He liked a dance, a song and a leap, easy and carefree and was informally friends with all strata of the Jewish population in the shtetl.

He was educated in the Hebrew school, was in haHalutz, went for agricultural training, dabbled in communal affairs and was very active in Zionist matters. He also appeared in the theater performances for Zionist purposes when emigration to Eretz–Yisroel was closed. He tried his luck and left for Uruguay. He was unsuccessful in settling there and returned.

During the last years he was a Hebrew teacher in the surrounding shtetlekh and perished there with his family.

Jewish Goniadz ended with the house of Moshe's daughter, Rwyka Ruchl. From there on was the Christian population and among them lived

[Page 216]

several Jews: Diodka the melamed [religious teacher] (Furman). His older daughter, Chaya was a chief nurse and died some time ago. Two more daughters, Peshka and Sura, are in Israel. Shmuel the blacksmith also lived there [among the Christian population]. A Zionist and philanthropist. His daughter Chaya–Itka and her family came [to Israel] with the last refugees.

The road from there led to Klewianka where Moshe Lewin was born, one of the most meritorious people in the Hebrew school system, not only in Goniadz, but also in Bialystok where he founded the first Hebrew school and in the entire Hebrew education movement in Poland and then in Canada. There is a special appreciation of Moshe Lewin here in this book. Moshe Lewin, his wife and children live in Israel.


Returning from Dalistower Street, on the other side, one reaches still more houses until halfway down the street, where Sender Yaszwiler lives. His daughter Zelda lives in Israel.

Several houses further – the Tokar Family. Yakov Tokar, the son, was one of those who fell with Trumpeldor defending Tel Hel.

Libka the widow (Rubin) lived as a neighbor. Her son Avraham Rubin lived in Petar–Tikvah. Moshe Mikhl the dyer (Yaroszewski) also lives there. Their son, Yisroel– Dovid Yardeni, emigrated to Eretz–Yisroel before the First World War and became a well–known teacher here [in Israel].

Further – Leibl Ribak's house. An extensive family. After the father's death, Chaim, the oldest son, became the leader of the business and took care of all of the children as a father. A daughter,

[Page 217]

Chaya–Liba, who married Khona Makay, lives here [in Israel] and also Josefa, the youngest daughter.

Chaim's brother, Yankl Rubak, lived in the next house. His daughter Kayla lives here in Israel. Moshe Szewc's daughter also lives here.

From there we come to the corner of the market where Barski's building stood. Years ago, the Goniadz religious judge lived on the spot. His son, Avraham Yafa, was one of the most successful people in Hebrew education. He graduated from the first Hebrew teacher's course in Grodno. He was proficient in Russian and Hebrew literature and took part in journals about education problems. He and his family live in the country [Israel].

After Barski – Yudl Bojarski, one of the Zionist workers, Meri Halpern, Krepcin – to the house of Penski. Berl Penski died tragically during the normal years, going to Bialystok. His daughter Chana lives here [in Israel].

From there we come to the Szajenzon family. The oldest son, Elimelekh, was one of the first halutzim who emigrated [to Israel] in 1924. His mother and the second brother, Leibl, came later.

From this house began the so–called Maysim [Dead Man's] Alley, which counted a few houses. And in one of them lived Yankl Janowski, a modest and honest Jew. His daughter Rywka lives here in Ramat HaKovesh. There, on the street, also lived Bobka the widow (Bialystocki). Her oldest son Motie emigrated to Uruguay. Ahron and Yankl, the remaining brothers, also emigrated here [to Israel]. Then the children brought their mother and their sister Yehudis.

The only one from the family who became stubborn and did not want to go was Meir, the youngest son, who

[Page 218]

is here in the country [Israel]. He married Mushke's daughter Malka Etl. The last to come from Uruguay was Yehudis, Meir's sister, and she settled in Israel with her husband and family.


On the corner of the market, the Jewish library was in Arka Bailach's house. This was the gathering spot of the leftist faction of the young in the city. Extreme left parties were forbidden under the Polish regime. Therefore, the work was done in the name of the library where gatherings would take place from time to time that were ostensibly on literary themes. The library was rich in books; newly published books were bought immediately. The possibility of acquiring the books was thanks to the income from the theater presentations that were on an appropriate artistic level and had a cultural value.

Dovid Treszczanski, who lived here in the country [Israel], was one those of who was active in cultural work and took part in theatrical presentations.

Avraham Orki's daughter Hoga (Halpern) lived as a neighbor in the courtyard. The first Hebrew school was in her house. Her two daughters, Fruma and Ruchl, who were active in haHalutz–haTsair, live in Israel.

Nusan Trac lived there, too. Ahron Frydman, the brother, left for Eretz–Yisroel before the First World War. He lives in Kibbutz Ein Harod. He is an influential and leading comrade of the kibbutz movement. Yankl Trac's daughter also lives here in Rishon LeZion.

A little further – Kheikl Yerajski. The only family that

[Page 219]

hid in Goniadz during the time of the Nazi occupation and that went through all seven levels of hell of those difficult and cruel Hitler years. Two brothers came here to [Israel]: Tovya and Zalman as well as the youngest sister, Kayla. Tovya, the oldest son, provided a great description in this book of their survival during those years under the name “Goniadz Destruction.”

Diodia the baker also lived there. His son Yosl, who lived in the country [Israel] for many years, died several years ago. Zerah Miltshan and his family lived in the same house. [He was] a Zionist and the constant bal–tefilah [person reciting prayers] for the Zionist minyon [10 men required for prayer]. One of his brothers came to Eretz–Yisroel in the 1890s and created a large family with many branches. He lives in Rehovot. Zerah's oldest son Leyzer lives there. Zeydl, the youngest son, was among the last refugees who came to Israel.

In a further house lived Shimkha the leaseholder (Hativa). An honest man of the people, lessee of orchards and land from Polish noblemen. He loved agricultural work and raised his children in the spirit of love of agriculture. His son Arya was one of the founders and active members in haHalutz. He traveled illegally several times until he was successful in entering the country [Israel]. He lives in Kfar Vitkin and is actually one of the new Jewish farmers in the country. His sister Chaya lives here, too.

Moshe Furman also lives here, a son of Yoske's son Yitzhak, the gabbai [sexton] in the house of prayer. Moshe himself was a Zionist and technical leader in all undertakings with Zionist aims.

Itshe Biali lived in the narrow alley, near Yoske's son Yitzhak. [He was] one of the worshippers

[Page 220]

at the reader's desk in the house of prayer. His two daughters and son live in Israel.

As neighbors – the house of Moshe–Leyzer Grodzenski. His son Mordekhai–Itshe was one of the mobilized soldiers that left for Russia. He came to Israel after the Holocaust and died several years ago, leaving a wife.

Notka the lessee (Altszuler) and his family lived in the next house. Notka the lessee was the holder of the korobka [community tax on the kosher slaughtering of meat] in the shtetl.[2] He was one of the respected [members of the middle class]. He would be seen strolling at ease through the streets of Goniadz with his arms crossed behind his back, taking pleasure from God's world.

His son Zeydl, full of energy, devoted himself to communal and party work. He was involved with sports and organized theater presentations mainly within the framework of his communal work and he himself appeared in the main roles. The standards of these presentations were much higher than the usual amateur acting.

Zeydl was one of the few survivors from our shtetl. A few years ago he visited Israel.


From there we go to the corner where Yankl Tikacki's house stands, going past the house of Zalman Bialistocki and come to Mordekhai the baker. His two daughters are here [in Israel]. One in Hadera and the other in Kfar Haroeh. Further, after the house of Alter the iron shopkeeper, Fayga–Ruchl and Gornastajski, we came to the house of the Czerniak family.

Khatskl Perec Czerniak was one of the respected and most popular people in the city. [He] was active in Zionist matters and in the Hebrew school. He was one of the founders and leaders of the bank that

[Page 221]

financially helped all of the merchants and retailers. He had a special proclivity for theater. Thanks to his beautiful voice and theatrical abilities, all of the productions were directed by him in which he himself played the main role – [they were] on an appropriate artistic level.

He, his wife and children are in Israel. His parents came in the later years and died here in deep old age.

After this house began the official residence of Koszcial the priest and his private house with a large garden that occupied half of Tiple Street.


After Koszcial, opposite, among the gentile houses, lived the family of Avraham'l Farber. His son Ruwin, who was active in haHalutz, lives in Tel Aviv.

From Farber's house – one returns to the city, passing the house of Rayna's son Leibl the blacksmith. Yankl the blacksmith (Ruwin) was a neighbor, one of the respected Jews, a gabbai in the house of prayer and bal–tefilah, one of the heads of


Yankl Ruwin [the blacksmith]


[Page 222]

the kehile and one of the strongest followers of Yakov Rudski. His son Leyzer was one of the fighters in the Bialystok ghetto and fell as a partisan two weeks before the end of the war. His two daughters, Chana and Leah, live here in the country [Israel].

There is the house of Moshe's son Ayzyk Yankl the glazier (Rawer). His son Skharye was in haHalutz and lives in Israel. As neighbors – Avraham Rower's house in which the Jewish school was located for many years.

From there one goes to Ruwin the shoemaker, Sidranski and Moshe–Feywl Bialasurkenski.

Moshe–Feywl was one of the active Bund workers. When the Bolsheviks were in Poland for a short time in the 1920s, Moshe–Feywl was among the Bolshevik regime's most trusted people. In order to maintain order he received weapons. With pride he would go through the streets with a rifle and many of the young envied him, particularly his son.

Moshe–Feywl's brother, Avraham–Meir, was one of the founders of haHalutz. He was a teacher at the Hebrew school for a few years and later in other Hebrew schools in Poland. He spread and rejoiced in the idea of Eretz–Yisroel everywhere. However, he did not live to go to the country [Israel].

As neighbors – Tsalel's son Leibl – Tikacki. His youngest son Pesakh was one of the last refugees to come to Israel.

After Anshel's son Itshe, [lived] the shoemaker Moshe–Gershon and Alter Zimnach. The latter's son Chaim was mobilized in the Polish Army during the Second World War; he was in Russia and came to the country [Israel] with General Anders' Polish Army. His brother Motl, who was a Hebrew teacher, perished with the family.

[Page 223]


Motka Kliap


His house bordered with Motka Kliap's house. One of the respected families. All of his children were active in communal areas. Baylka, the oldest daughter, devoted her entire energy to the work for Keren–Kayemet, which she headed for the entire time. His second daughter, Grunya, and her brother Gershon were among the active workers for haHalutz haTsair. Both live in Israel. The two younger brothers and their parents perished.

As neighbors – the Bachrach family, one of the most esteemed Zionist families in the city. Every one of the children was active in his own way: in the Hebrew school, in the library or in the Zionist funds. Dovid, Moshe and Kalman went to America. Their sister Kayla, who married the Hebrew teacher, M. Gaelman, moved to Canada with her husband. Khasya, and then their mother Chaya, went to Eretz–Yisroel. Dovid came here from America in 1934 and Kayla and her family came to Israel from Canada and settled in Israel during recent years.

[Page 224]

After the departure of the Bachrach family, Rabbi Szlamawicz moved into the house. There was a quarrel in the shtetl for a long time after the death of Rabbi Wolf until the arrival of Rabbi Szlamawicz that divided the kehile [organized Jewish community] into two sides: Rabbi Szlamawicz's side and the side of Yakov Rudski. There is a special discussion about both of them in this book.

Dovid Leyzer Simchowicz lived on the second story of the house. His two daughters live in the country [Israel].

Further, the building of Zerah Niemai. The Hebrew school and the Zionist library were on the second story for a long time and sometimes the theater presentations. No one from Niemai's family is in Israel.

After Niemai, one went past the house of Chana Surozki, the Polish apothecary, Gerzon, and one arrived at Chaim Lejczke's (Niewodowski). His son, Eliahu–Hershl, also was among the mobilized soldiers and survived thanks to this and came to Israel.

Next door lived his brother Zelig Niewodowski who was one of the leading and most popular people in the city. He was active in all Zionist and general municipal matters. Zelig was beloved and respected by the Goniadz population. He always stood as the first representative in the city hall, kehile, and bank and in the Zionist institutions. Zelig fought for the Zionist idea for his entire life and tirelessly devoted himself to Zionist work. He led election campaigns to the Polish Sejm [lower house of parliament], the city council and kehile. He appeared at every Zionist gathering and election meeting and clarified Zionist ideas and interests in a logical manner, with much persuasive power in juicy Yiddish.

The Zionist ideas were interesting.


Market Street


[Page 225]

Zelig always was engulfed in daily communal work: providing the Hebrew school with teachers, with monetary means, with its own building. He stood at the head of all money collections for Keren Hayesod and Keren Kayemet, welcomed all of the Zionist emissaries and also had time to intercede for Jews with the police commissar or village elder. In a word: everything connected to Zionist work in the shtetl, as well as what was important or simply, day–to–day, went through Zelig's hands.

However, fate willed that he, who personified everything connected with the idea of Eretz–Yisroel, would perish there [in Goniadz] tragically with his family and not live to come to the country [Israel], for which he sacrificed so much.

After him lived Asher Szirates. He was educated in the Hebrew school and graduated from the first course.

[Page 226]

Then he was one of the most capable teachers in the same school. He was drawn to the theater. He directed all of the children's performances in the school and also took part himself, showing much talent. He, who lived with the thought of Eretz–Yisroel, did not succeed in emigrating to Eretz–Yisroel for various reasons. During the last years, he married Shifra Ribak and had a child. He perished there [in Goniadz] with his family.

As a neighbor – the family of Ahron Grinberg, who sold his business and came here [to Israel]. His two daughters are here, Dina in Jerusalem and Ester in Haifa.

Near them – Ruwin the furrier. His daughter Yehudis and her family live in Israel.

In the same row of houses – Leibl Mankowski and his family. He was the most dedicated leader of the Bund.

[Page 227]

The Bund played a respected role in the Jewish life of the shtetl at that time. A large proportion of the working population belonged to the Bund.

After long–lasting difficulties, Leibl succeeded in opening the Jewish school and he supported it with great effort.

Leibl was an honest party man for whom the truth stood higher than the party. Who could have predicted at that time that Leibl, the dedicated member of the Bund, who as such, fought Zionism and everything connected with Eretz–Yisroel, would have sons who were such fervid Zionists… His youngest son Yankl was an active Zionist worker and his older son Ruwin was a police officer in the Jewish Zionist land [Israel] that was so strongly opposed by his father…

Yes, fate possesses a great deal of humor at times!…


The above–mentioned survey returned us to our former, old home for a while. A number of families close to us and far, whose children and family are now in Israel, passed before our eyes.

Understand that this survey does not pretend to gave an exact description of all of those mentioned,

[Page 228]

almost all of whom [deserve] a chapter for themselves.

All who find themselves here in [Israel] come from families that perished; they are among those who found their way to Israel and in the course of time became rooted in the local way of life, for and in the new Jewish nation.

The Goniadz landsleit here [in Israel] are united by a common past in the old hometown. They are bound to the source of the former dear shtetl, from which we inherited our good Jewish traits from our parents who were personified by the best characteristics of good folksiness, reciprocal aid, enthusiasm, goodness, honesty and simplicity.


The last greeting from the two Goniadzers, Chana, Yankl Rudski's daughter and Elya Gamzon, who visited the ruined shtetl in 1955 is a very sad one.

They say that only some individual houses remain whole and gentiles who were partners in the annihilation live in them.

The streets were empty, not one living Jewish soul, the synagogue was a ruin, no trace of the house of prayer or of the school. Everything disappeared in smoke, erased and wiped away. Even the cemetery was plowed up and without a fence. Only seven headstones were located there, broken and erased. They could only read with difficulty the inscription on one headstone: here lies Yakov Rudski, Zionist heart and soul.

Seven broken headstones remain of an entire Jewish congregation that lived in the shtetl for hundreds of years, that boiled over with life and creativity, full of belief and hopes for a better tomorrow.

[Page 229]

The only inscription on one of the remaining headstones is a silent witness of the truth of the correctness of the road that always led a significant number from the city to Eretz–Yisroel. The only road

[Page 230]

that also remained for the last two refugees who stood on the ruins of our hometown that once existed, lived, fermented – and disappeared forever…


Memorial Service Evening that took place in Tel Aviv

Translator's notes:

  1. The first kibbutz actually was Degania. Return
  2. The Russian government that controlled Goniadz at this time leased the right to collect the korobka to individuals. Return


« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Goniadz, Poland     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Moshe M. Shavit

Copyright © 1999-2021 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 23 Dec 2014 by JH