Table of Contents Next Page »

Book Committee in the U.S.A.

Max Berman Shulim Zuckerman
Jerry Keitel Joseph Post
Estelle Keitel David Silverstein
Bernard Goldshore  

Book Committee in Israel

Shifra Spokoiny Efraim Appelbaum
Abraham Spokoiny Bunim Silverstein
Sarah Mandel Towa Mager
Simcha Appelbaum Beniamin Himelfarb
Moshe–Nachum Berman Yakov Yablonka


The Material in this Book
Was Compiled, Elaborated and Written
By
Simcha Appelbaum


[Page 3]

The Shaping of the
Jewish Community in Lomaz

This chapter begins at the time when Jews settled in Lomaz. The arrival of Jews in Lomaz was a result of the universal process of emigration of Jews from Western Europe and this emigration was caused by persecutions against Jews who were forced to leave their former place of residence.

Thanks to the wave of Jewish emigration from Western Europe to East European countries, the Jewish community in Poland was reinforced. Among the new arrivals were mainly merchants and craftsmen who saw in Poland a country with economic possibilities.

What was the motive behind the readiness of the feudal rulers of Christian Poland to accept the masses of Jewish refugees from Austria and Germany?

The reason that the gates of Poland were opened for the Jewish refugees was, first of all, the Polish need for development. An intensive domestic colonization started in the country. The population of Poland was still scarce and each new wave of immigrants, especially those experienced in handicrafts, trade and business was welcome and useful.

After its unification with Lithuania, Poland became a great power that needed additional forces for the development and defence of the country against the many enemies threatening it from outside.

Lithuania was especially interested in the settlement of Jews because it was much less developed than Poland.

In 1388, Vitold, the Duke of Lithuania, recognized the rights of the Jews in his country based on the Polish rights of 1264 granted by King Boleslav V. Prince of Kalisz. In 1334, the King of Poland, Kazimir the Great, confirmed and extended these rights that became the foundation for the lives of many generations of Jews in Poland. The following are some of these laws:

The Decree of the Right of Residence.
The Right to Buy and Cultivate Land.
The Right to move freely in the country without any limitations.
The Law forbidding to accuse Jews of Ritual Murder.
The decree that

[Page 4]

A Christian who kills a Jew is to be punished by a death penalty and his property confiscated.

The Jews made every effort to secure these rights in order to lead a decent life and to be loyal to the laws of the state but, in reality; they had to struggle for their survival and for their economic existence against many hostile forces.

 

Lomaz and the “Vaad Arba Aratzot” (Committee of the Four Countries) in Lithuania

A meeting of the heads of the Jewish communities took place in Brisk in 1623. One representative of the community of Lomaz was present when it was decided to found the “Vaad Arba Aratzot” and to form a special “Committee of the States of Lithuania”.

The new “Vaad Medinoth Lita” whose centre was in Brisk, represented 30 communities including Lomaz as well as Rossosz. These 30 towns occupied a large geographical area.

A statue of 100 regulations was adopted including the following:

  1. Determining the competence and the boundaries of the administration of the chief communities, methods and elections for social and religious institutions.
  2. Nominating the official assessors who decide the amount of taxes for the rich, the middle class and those with a low income.
  3. Lobbying with the appropriate organs of authority in the case of bad decrees and blood accusations.
  4. Imposing penalties on Jews who do not obey a verdict or behave immorally.
  5. Educational problems of the community and of the neighbourhood. Supporting Yeshivat and tutors and participation of the communities in their expenses.
  6. Nominating a Rabbi or a Shamash as well as an official arbitrator by secret ballot and with a majority of votes.
  7. Fund–raising on Rosh Hodesh and during Yamim Noraim for our brothers in Erezt–Israel.
  8. Modesty and simple clothing, avoiding wasteful behaviour.
[Page 5]

In 1628, “Vaad Medinoth Lita” decided annual amounts of money to send for dowries for 30 poor brides. The money will be donated by the communities of Brisk, Grodno and Pinsk.

For Brisk and the neighbourhood, it was decided that they participate each year in the dowry for 12 poor brides. A meeting of “Vaad Medinoth Lita” in 1639 discussed the problems of the missionaries who steal the souls of Jewish children and force them to convert to Christianity.

It was decided to save the unhappy children from conversion at the cost of the community and, if the parents agree to their own conversion, it is necessary to save the children.

Delegates were chosen in 1628 to represent the “Vaad Medinoth Lita” in the Polish Sejmik (state council). The representatives were:

Rabbi Yeshavahu of the community of Vilna;
Rabbi Baruch of the community of Brisk and
The officer Rabbi Moredechai of Lomaz.

These were representative authoritative personalities who had the power and the courage to appear at the palace of the King and face his ministers.

These representatives stayed all the while in Warsaw during the meetings of the state council and took care that the decisions taken should be favourable for the Jews. They also made efforts to limit the size of the “head tax”.

The lobbyist was also authorized to give a pledge with regard to the tenancy of the total “head tax”. In the issue were also involved the heads of the Rabbinical courts of Brisk, Grodno and Pinsk.

In “Book of the State” (Pinkas Medina) by the great historian, Prof. Shimon Dubnov, it is written: “Mordechai of Lomaz (lobbyist of the state). It is certain that Mordechai of Lomaz and others are blessed with a great variety of leadership abilities when they represented 30 communities in Warsaw”.

…”It was necessary to have knowledge in the conduct of negotiations, to influence and persuade that the Jewish side is right and also to know the language used in the royal palace”.

1638: “Pinkas Lita” (the Book of Lithuania) by Prof. Shimon

[Page 6]

Dubnov says: “On the 15th March, 1638 King Wladislaw IV abolished the privileges of 15th December, 1637 that gave the nobleman, Paulus Stodzinski, the right to take some tax from the Jewish synagogues”.

….”Upon the request of the lobbyists Shmuel–Mendl and Mordechai Nekel, who intervened with the King in the name of all Jewish communities” (Mordechai of Lomaz was known in the official state circles by the name of Marcus Nekel).

1623: Prof. Shimon Dubnov writes: “…In a detailed financial report that refers to the years 1621, 1622 and 1732 it was decided that the community of Brisk will pay the debts on the account of “Vaad Medinoth Lita” and among others, also for Rabbi Oizer of Brisk with regard to the penalty of 20 Kop paid for a criminal 100 Kop for Michael of Lomaz 4 Kop and additional 7 Kop as well as debts according to the old book (probably this is the book of “Vaad Arba Aratzoth”).

1631: Prof. Shimon Dubnov writes: “…It was decided to help the Jews of Lomaz with 200 Zloty for the purpose of building a wooden synagogue in Lomaz, if they will make efforts to get permission”.

….”Regarding the building of a synagogue of stones, the Vaad Medinoth Lita will contribute an additional 200 Zloty”.

This is the first document which proves that the community of Lomaz has built a new synagogue in the first half of the 17th century.

 

Rabbis of Lomaz whose signature appear in the Book of the State (Pinkas Hamedinah)

1644: The statues determined the signatures in the “Book of the State” in the following sequence:

  1. Rosh Medinah of the Jewish community of Brisk;
  2. Rosh Medinah of the Jewish community of Grodno,
  3. Rosh Medinah of the Jewish community of Pinsk.
Anybody who is above the age of 60 must be honoured and placed higher in the list of regulations.

[Page 7]

79 personalities signed the statues including many Rabbis, heads of communities, starting from 1623 to 1761.

Among the outstanding personalities who signed the statues of the “Book of the State” are two Rabbis of Lomaz: Rabbi Moshe, head of the Rabbinical court of Lomze (1685) and Rabbi Yaacov of Lomaz (1679–1695). Both Rabbis of Lomaz are mentioned in several sources.

Rabbi Zeev Wolf

The book “Otzar Harabbanim” by Friedman tells the following facts:

“Rabbi Zeev Wolf, son–in–law of Rabbi Shaul Wohl, a famous Gaon in Lomaz and Brisk in 1640, is mentioned in the book by Y. Feinstein: “Ir Hatehilah” (City of Glory) – a collection of documents on Brisk. He writes as follows:

“The Gaon Zeev Wolf, son–in–law of the Head who was during his childhood President of the Court of Lomaz in Poland and later was received in Brisk (Rabbi Zeev Wolf) was previously Rabbi in Lomaz and later in Brisk. This was probably at the end of the 16th century or in the beginning of the 17th century”.

Reb Zeev Wolf was the first Rabbi in Lomaz about whom documents exist, possibly also because he was a member of the famous family of Shaul Wohl. It is also possible because he was a son–in–law of the Lomzer Rabbi Zeev Wolf; he tried to ask favours from the Grand Duke Radziwill to help the city of Lomaz in general and the Jews of Lomaz in particular.

 

200 Jews of Lomaz perished during the Cossack Riots 1648–49. (Slaughters of TAH and TAT)

A considerable number of Jews lived in the territories of eastern Poland, East Galicia and Ukraine in the 16th and 17th century. These Jewish inhabitants of various towns and villages engaged in commerce, handicraft, managing estates, etc.

[Page 8]

A rich Jewish life of Torah studies and social activities flourished in these Jewish localities. The large non–Jewish population of these provinces were Pravoslaw Ukrainians. They constituted the peasant masses in the villages and also part of the inhabitants in the towns.

The big landlords – the wealthy upper classes, were mostly Catholic Poles and the provinces were under the rule of Poland.

The rich Polish landlords and high officials oppressed the Ukrainian peasants brutally. Repeated revolts by the Ukrainians, who were led by the Cossacks, broke out on the land estates.

The Cossack leaders used to argue that the Ukrainian people were oppressed not only by the Polish rulers but also by the Jews who served the rich Poles and managed their lands and estates. Therefore, when the Ukrainian peasants rioted, they used to attack not only the Poles but also the Jews.

Several of these riots occurred in the beginning of the 17th century but they were all suppressed.

In 1648, the revolt broke out under the command of the Cossack leader, Bogdan Chmielnitsky. The fire of the revolt spread over the whole of the Ukraine, Podoliya and into the district of Lublin.

The incited blood–thirsty Cossacks attacked not only Poles but also Jews. More than a quarter of a million of Jews were in hundreds of towns and villages. The Cossacks staged savage pogroms described in a book “Yeven Metzula” by Nutte Hannover. This is the main source of information on these events by somebody who experienced them personally and whose father Moshe perished during this course.

The Jews died as martyrs. The Cossacks used to carry out massacres. They sometimes advised the Jews to accept conversion to save their lives, but only in isolated cases, the Jews could not resist the temptation. Most of them refused to accept the Christian religion and died.

The save Cossacks killed innocent victims with special cruelty and destroyed everything.

Shmuel Feibish writes in a collection of documents named: “Tit Hayven” on that era: “From Lublin and other cities, came the

[Page 9]

Cossacks to the towns of Lithuania and into the holy community of Lomaz and there they killed 200 Jews”.

The Jewish encyclopaedia in the English language also points out: “The Cossacks of Bogdan Chmielnitsky murdered 200 Jews in Lomaz during the war against Poland in 1648”.

The Cossacks riots in the years 1648–49 are named in the Jewish history books “Gzeirot Tah Vetat” (according to the years of the Jewish calendar) and in 1650, the Jewish Committee of the Four Countries proclaimed the 20th of Sivan as a Day of fast.

Rabbi Moshe Ben Mordechai of Lomaz. The Representative and Chief Lobbyist of the Jews in the whole of Poland

Jan Kazimir, King of Poland. 18.5.1666.

It was registered in the book of records of the Polish Kingdom: Upon the request of the representatives of all Jewish communities in Poland who have decided to appoint Rabbi Moshe Ben Mordechai as presentative and chief lobbyist of the Jews in the whole of Poland.

Rabbi Moshe Ben Mordechai has expressed his readiness and consent to represent the Jews in the whole of Poland whole–heartedly and in the best possible way. He is authorized to conclude, conduct and close various agreements; to represent the Jews of the Polish Kingdom in various state organs and institutions; to end conflicts where it is necessary; to accuse in the court; to defend the Jews as well as to appeal to higher courts.

Signed in Polish by:

Abraham Ben Shlomo – secretary of the Synagogues in Poland.

Jan Kazimir, King of Poland. Jaroslaw, 3.1.1666

We herewith announce that the representatives of some Jewish

[Page 10]

Communities (the name of 21 communities are specified), among them Abraham Ben Shlomo, chief secretary of the synagogues in Poland and Rabbi Moshe Ben Mordechai, chief lobbyist of all Jews in Poland, whose place of residence is in the royal palace – appeared before the secretariat of the book of records and have asked to note in the books in their own name and in the name of the representatives of the communities of all Jews in Poland as follows:

….“We have presented our especially hard situation and the persecutions by the military men who have taken on the account of the debt not only to property but also lives. The secretary of the books of records, Kazimir Kawalkowski, has brought into the royal treasury, 26,000 Zloty to pay the military.

…This has helped us a lot and we pledge to pay this amount in instalments. If we do not pay the debt in time, it will be permitted to apply against us and against all Jews in the whole of Poland various means of punishment in the markets, on the roads and also in our apartments; to arrest, seize the merchandize and confiscate it, close the synagogues, confiscate the houses and let Christians dwell in them until the debt is paid…..

Jaroslaw, 3.1.1666

The finance department of the Kingdom has issued payment regulations for amounts of money for military personnel that Jewish leaders and communities should pay.

During the action by the military, property was taken and there were also cases when Jews were murdered…The finance department has taken hostile step against the Jews.

1664. Jan Kazimir, King of Poland

In 1664, King Jan Kazimir gave the last warning to the Jews in Poland:

“….If the Jews won't pay at once the head tax, they will be arrested soon and their goods will be confiscated in the cities and on the roads…”

[Page 11]

1665. Jan Kazimir, King of Poland

In 1665, King Kazimir of Poland declares:

“…On the request of the chief–lobbyist of the Polish Jews, Rabbi Moshe Ben Mordechai, because the Jews have to pay the head tax, they are exempted from all other taxes (Moshe the chief lobbyist of Poland is the son of Rabbi Mordechai of Lomaz)”.

1658, Jan Kazimir, King of Poland

In 1658, King Jan Kazimir declares that the economic situation of the Jews in Poland is very bad and it is hard for them even to pay the head tax. The Polish authorities have to take care of their safety on the roads as well as in the apartments. They have to take care of returning them their property that has been taken from them by force in the time of the wars and that it is in the hand of various persons.

 

Lomaz after the annulation of the Jewish autonomy

The autonomy of the Jews of Poland–Lithuania was abolished on the order of the Empress Ekaterina in a law of the Polish Sejm of 7th May, 1764. The Polish Sejm decided that the taxes that are paid by the Jews are far less than what should be paid according to the calculation based on the number of Jews.

The Sejm decided to carry out a count of all Jewish individuals in the entire Kingdom, with the exception of children who are not yet one year old. The tax was decided in the amount of 2 Polish gulden per capita. Generally, a head tax that is not based on the amount of income of the family contradicts social justice. On the other hand, with regard to the Polish Christian population, the head tax was only applied in cases of emergency such as in time of war.

The commission that has carried out the population count included the heads of the community, the Rabbi, the Rosh Kahal and the Shames. The fourth member was a Catholic supervisor who has to declare by oath that the count was carried out according to the law. The three Jewish representatives of the Lomaz community have to declare the oath in the synagogue before the Torah Book.

[Page 12]

Systematical Growth of the Jewish Population in the second half of the 18th Century

In the second half of the 18th century one may point to a substantial growth of the Jewish population in Lomaz and especially toward the end of the 18th century, we find indications of this growth in various sources.

Thus, for instance, we find in the Jewish Encyclopaedia in the Russian language, 10th volume–book published in St. Petersburg by Brockha!us–Efrom 1908–1913, the information that in the count of 1766, there were 475 Jewish taxpayers in Lomaz, not including children up to the age of one.

The population count also included Jews from surrounding villages. The researchers state that infants up to the age of one year constituted 5% of the total number of Jews, which means that the total population in Lomaz was, at that time, 500 individuals.

In the following years, Lomaz developed well economically and parallel with the economic growth, came an increase in the number of Jews in the town. The Jewish community in Lomaz was already soundly based at that time and had deep roots.

Dr. Raphael Mahler, in his research work: “statistics of Jews in the district of Lublin in the years 1765–1766”, mentions the groups of towns according to the size of the Jewish population.

9 towns with 500–1000 Jewish inhabitants;
11 towns with 250–500 Jewish inhabitants;
7 towns with less than 100 Jewish inhabitants.

Lomaz belongs to the category between the first and the second group and is considered as a medium–sized community according to the number of Jewish inhabitants.

 

Our Master and Teachers (Admorim) and Hassidim in Lomaz

In Lomaz, there were highly honoured Admorim of the Hassidic dynasty of Kotzk.

Rabbi David Horvitz, Rabbi and head of the yeshivah in Lomaz

[Page 13]

from 1869, was the son of Reb Zushe Halevi Horvitz – the grandson of the “Visionary” Rabbi Yaacov–Halevi Horvitz of the sacred Jewish community of Lublin.

Reb. David Horvitz is considered as one of the important Rabbis of his generation. He was one of the distinguished young Hassidim of Reb. Menachem Mendel Morgenstern of Kotzk.

Rabbi David Horwitz of Lomaz had published the book:”Zikaron Zot” which was written by his grandfather, Rabbi Yaacov Yitzhak Halevi Horvitz. The book was published in many editions and in many places. In the “Hascamot” of the book, it is written: “Rabbi David Horvitz, the head of the Jewish Court of the sacred community of Lomaz, had met Rabbi Yaacov Arieh of the sacred community of Radzymin in Warsaw who gave him his consent for the publication of the book “Zikaron Zot”.

Rabbi David Horvitz died on the eve of Shavuot 1906 (source: “Eked Sefarim” of Friedberg).

Rabbi Zvi Hirsh of Lomaz, born in 1852, son of Reb. David Morgenstern of Kotzk – a grandson of Reb. Menachem Mendel Morgenstern of Kotzk.

In 1873, he was an Admor in Radzymin. He moved to Lomaz and took a seat in the Rabbinate. He later moved to Warsaw and died on 3rd Elul (5)686 (1926).

Friedman writes in his book: “Otzar Harabbanim” (Treasure of Rabbis):

“Reb. Abraham Pinhas Morgenstern, born in 1877 and son of Reb. Zvi Hirsh of Lomaz, has been Admor in Lomaz, Szedlec and Warsaw. He was famous in the Rabbinical world. Reb. Abraham Pinhas died at the time of the Holocaust (1942). All three sons of Reb. Zvi Hirsh, Reb. Yaacov–Yitzhak, Reb. Abraham Pinhas and Reb Mendel perished too during the Holocaust”.

In Lomaz there were also Hassidim of Braslav, whose founder was Rabbi Nahman of Braslav. He founded a new Hassidic method that still exists today.

Rabbi Nahman called in his books for the unity of the heart, the soul and enthusiasm. The main thing is the fervent dance immediately

[Page 14]

after prayer. His Hassidim forgot all their troubles. They formed at once a human chain and danced with great excitement. The Christians used to wonder how poor Jews, who had enough worried to make a living, could be so merry. It was said about the Hassidim in Poland that if Jews are singing and dancing that they were probably hungry…..

 

At the threshold of the 20th century

The 20th century was about to begin. The established frameworks of the traditional way of life were going to break up. The number of intellectuals in the town was growing.

The first seeds of Zionist ideas were sprouting in a national renaissance, especially among the middle–class. On the other hand, the radical socialist movement was gaining strength among the workers and popular sections which caused ferment inside the community. Life demanded changes.

Supporting the old Yishuv in Eretz–Israel, was a tradition since ancient times. Emissaries from Eretz–Israel used to visit Lomze and raise money for the Rabbi Meir Baal Haness “Pushke”. The fund–raising box was hanging almost in every Jewish home and women used to throw a coin into it on the Sabbath eve before blessing the candles.

“Hovevei Zion” also had some influence in the town. They were active in raising money for “settling Eretz–Israel” and recruiting members and donors.

The Zionist Movement that started its activities in Lomze with some delay also helped a lot in that the Haskalah movement should find support among the younger generation. Of course, Zionism was “out” in the Hassidic circles and the sympathizers of the idea were strongly suppressed.

The national Zionist trends that aroused excitement among the Jewish masses in the first years of the 20th century, finally achieved a breath–through in a world of political and national indifference.

[Page 15]

For the Jewish leaders in Lomaz, the idea of Jewish national policy was alien. Till the first Zionist pioneers appeared, no struggle divided the Jewish community council in Lomaz. The social activists at that time operated with the narrow framework of the limited Kehilah activities.

The socialist movement started its development in Lomaz in the beginning of the 20th century. Emissaries from the big cities of Biala, Brisk and Warsaw visited Lomaz and with the help of conscious youthful supporters, they preached socialism and distributed illegal revolutionary literature that called to overthrow the Tsarist regime.

At that time, the organized activity of the “Bund” began. They staged political demonstrations in the larger neighbouring cities. They marched with red banners and chanted revolutionary songs until they were dispersed by the local gendarmes. These demonstrations had some effect in Lomaz too.

After the revolution of 1905 in Russia was suppressed, came days of depression and persecutions. The economic situation was hard and the chance to find a job was small. Most of the intellectuals left the city and this trend had repercussions in the cultural and social field.

The popular classes were still culturally backward. The Tsarist regime made the economic conditions of the Jews difficult in many ways and in order to improve the situation, the Jews of Lomaz organized various social institutions for mutual help but the centre of all social organizations remained the community council.

The Emigration of the Jews of Lomaz

The emigration of the Jews from Lomaz started at the time when Poland belonged to the Russian Empire. Emigration was a result of social upheavals in Czarist Russia. Parallel with these upheavals began a wave of anti–Semitic outbursts that led to grave incidents and pogroms in various Russian cities.

These events affected, of course, Lomaz too. The situation in

[Page 16]

lome016.jpg
Bottom line, right to left: Joe Post; David Kaiser; Estelle Keitel; Gerald Keitel; Jack Mandell; Max Berman; David Silverstine
Middle Line, right to left: Harry Bronstein; Sam Soroka; Ida Soroka; Sam Goldshore; Wm. Steinberg; Coppel Blechman; Sholem Zukerman; May Silverstein
Top line, right to left: Abraham Mandell; Bernard Goldshore; Morris Greenspan; Boris Shiffman; Rose Bigman
Missing in this picture are: Irvin Engelman; Sonia Goldshore; Irene Gruman; David Katzman; Shirley Slansky and Irvin Tennenbanum

 

[Page 17]

Those days is described in the weekly “Szedlecer Wochenblatt” of the year 1932. A Tchernobrode writes:

“When the pogrom of Siedlec started in 1906, many Jews began to immigrate from a large number of cities around Siedlec to the United States. In those years, Lomaz became part of the district of Siedlce. In that wave of emigrants also came the first emigrants from Lomaz to America”.

The independent state of Poland was founded after World War I. Although Jews supported it and Jewish soldiers of the Polish army fought for it, massive attacks accompanied by pogroms were staged against Jews, with the participation of soldiers belonging especially to the military units of the Halertchikes and the Poznantchikes (units of General Haler and the city of Poznan (translator's remark).

The attitude of the Poles toward the Jews became even stronger in Poland. This found its expression in open assaults by hooligans against Jews and pogroms broke out in various Polish cities.

In the town of Przitik, incited peasants demolished the stands of Jewish traders in the market place, robbed their merchandize and killed several Jews.

In the city of Minsk–Mazowieck, a pogrom erupted after a Jewish soldier shot in despair a Polish gendarme who harassed him.

One should remember also the pogrom in Brisk which lasted almost a whole day and at a cost of Jewish casualties. These excesses enraged the Jewish public in Poland and all over the world.

The Jews in Poland reacted strongly against the anti–Semitic declarations of Madame Pristorowa who spoke against the Jewish ritual slaughter of animals. A “numerous clauses” was introduced in the Polish Universities. Jewish students were ordered to sit at the left side of the classroom – on the so–called “ghetto–benches”.

The Polish government declared an economic war against the Jews which found its expression in the word “Avszem” and voiced by General Slawoj Skladkowski who was Prime Minister at that time. He said: “Pogroms against the Jews to exterminate them physically – is not allowed, but fight them economically – why not”?

[Page 18]

Leaflets were distributed in Polish towns calling for the boycott of Jewish business: “Pole – buy from your own people”. (“Swoj do swego po swoje”).

Jews who lived in such an atmosphere in Poland were looking for a way out and the solution was: immigration. Many Jews immigrated to America, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and other countries but the main country of destination for Jewish youth was Eretz–Israel.

Among the immigrants were, of course, Jews from Lomaz. The biggest Jewish community of immigrants from Lomaz developed in America. This was the only community that built an organization of self–help with a budget and a status of its own and with voluntary executive bodies.

The surviving Jews from Lomaz before World War II and after it have mostly made Aliyah to Israel where they met those who came to Eretz–Israel before the war. After the U.S. it became the biggest Lomazer community.

Smaller or bigger groups from Lomaz are concentrated in the following countries: Argentina, France, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Uruguay and other places. In those countries they also became integrated, some better and some worse but all maintained relations and ties with Israel where they have close and distant relatives.

The Lomazer Jews all over the world have been blessed and enriched with children and grandchildren who are the generation that continues the tradition of Lomaz.

The wish of their parents was and remains to continue the contact with Israel in cooperation with the young generation who were born in various countries and together, weave the Lomazer chain and tradition wherever they live.

[Page 19]

Lomaz – between the World Wars.

Shabbath, Tisha Be'av (5)674, (1914). Lomaz was shocked by the news that a war had broken out between Austria and Serbia that turned a few days later into a world war.

Germany declared war on Russia and sent its army there and mobilization orders appeared in the streets of Lomaz. The Jews of Lomaz were weary and sad. The recruits were given short notice to liquidate their affairs. Families of the recruited soldiers experienced hardships when their supporters had to depart to the front. Cries of children were heard everywhere. Large crowds accompanied the mobilized soldiers who departed in horse–carts and carriages to join their military units.

Vivid trade was going on among the Jews of the city who supplied goods and foodstuffs for the army. Gradually, the economic situation in Lomaz improved. The shops opened again. The peasants brought produce into the city and bought the necessary articles such as soap, salt, coffee, etc.

The municipal marketing organs forced the shopkeepers to open their premises on Shabbath. But the situation worsened because the Russian army was forced to retreat from the front in July 1915. The economic conditions deteriorated at once. The goods and products disappeared. Columns of retreating Russian soldiers marched through the city; refugees arrived including Jews who moved eastward.

The situation of these families, who had not prepared food stocks in time, was especially difficult. Because of undernourishment, diseases were spreading and epidemics of typhus and dysentery as well.

The war penetrated every Jewish home. The repercussions of the military operations on the front were felt in the city. War changed the way of life for the people.

The Russian army left Poland in 1915 and the Germans came and ruled for three years. When the Russian army retreated from Lomaz, the Russian Cossacks burned the city from all sides. The fire destroyed whole streets and many houses were ruined.

[Page 20]

The Jews of Lomaz suffered more than others because the fire broke out on Shabbat and to sae the household goods, it was necessary to harness a horse to a carriage and pious Jews were not prepared to do this on Shabbat.

There were differences of opinion among the Jews and finally, some of them succeeded in saving their belongings.

Soon after the fire in 1915, the population of Lomaz started to take part in the hard job of rebuilding the burned houses.

Usually they built wooden one–storey houses with one and a half or two rooms, but the building costed a lot of money and most of the Jews in the city could not afford such enormous investments. They were helped by the local Jewish loan fund and especially the American Joint Distribution Committee which was prepared to grant loans in significant amounts compared to the prevalent conditions in those days.

Another important factor was the mutual help of the Jews of Lomaz – skilled workers, carpenters and constructors – based on the principle: I shall help you to build your house and you will help me build mine.

 

The German Occupation. 1915–1918.

The Russian army abandoned Poland in 1915 when the Germans invaded the country. They occupied Lomaz until 1918.

After a year of war, it became clear to the population of Lomaz that the Russians, who had suffered defeats on the front, would withdraw their military forces further to the east and evacuate a large part of the population including the Jews.

Some of the Jews of Lomaz decided to leave the city but the majority remained. Those who fled to Russia wanted to get away from the frontline.

After a short artillery bombardment, the German army marched into the city and, after occupying Baranowich in the autumn of 1915, the German invasion came to a standstill on this front until February 1918. With the occupation of Biala district, the Germans declared the whole area a military zone and cut it off from neighbouring districts.

[Page 21]

The German occupation of Lomaz led to a radical change in the economic and political situation in the city.

First of all, the German authorities confiscated all the merchandize and within a short time, the city was emptied of its stocks. The peasants were required to deliver part of their farming products to the military authorities. Heavy punishment was imposed on those who did not deliver their contingents.

The German posted military guards on the roads. The soldiers controlled the peasant in order to prevent them from bringing any foodstuffs into the city. They had to deliver all supplies to the German authorities.

The population got special ration cards for a limited quantity of foodstuffs. In such an abnormal situation the people were starving and the result was the smuggling of foodstuffs from the villages into the city;

Due to the shortage of necessary supplies, a typhus epidemic broke out. Besides, the Germans imposed a system of forced labour. The adult population was compelled to carry out hard and physical work for a minimal pay. During the German occupation the inhabitants were only allowed to go out into the streets during the hours approved by the police.

Every citizen had to carry with him appropriate documents; various papers, especially a “work certificate”. Moreover, the German authorities imposed a special tax – the so–called “Kopfsteuer” on each inhabitant. The Germans also took from the city various metals such as copper. They took off the metal frames from the doors and even candlesticks had to be delivered to the Germans.

On the other hand, a change for the better occurred in social life. There was a revival of culture. Activities developed in all sectors of Jewish society in Lomaz, among the Zionist organizations as well as the Left–wing groups such as the “Bund”, etc.

Two important events took place in 1917: The February revolution and the October revolution in Russia and for the Jews, the Balfour Declaration that was celebrated by the Zionist social circles in Lomaz.


[Page 22]

Memories from Lomaz

by Abraham–Leib Weinstein

Lomaz – unfortunately, we hear this name very rarely and when we mention our birthplace and the Jews of the city where we were born and educated, it touches our heart. There in Lomaz, I have breathed the good smell of our Jewish home The Jews have lived their traditional Jewish lives there until everything went up in smoke at the time of World War II.

I am the son of Sheine–Feige and Yehiel Weinstein. My mother gave birth to 12 children and I was the 12th child in our family. I spent my childhood and my youth in Lomaz.

Hard was the life of the Jewish working people. Heavy was the burden borne by our mothers. Quietly and without complaints, they have borne it. In most households, mothers did the cooking and baking alone and with their own hands as well as the cleaning and the washing and they even carried alone the water from the well…

I remember a few scenes from our life in Lomaz and I believe they reflect the Jewish life in Poland in those years in the small townships such as Lomaz.

In those first years of childhood, I learned in a cheder like all boys in this town. Near the cheder lived a tile–maker and when a horse cart arrived to load the tiles, we, the cheder boys used to help him load and in return the coachman allowed us to travel a small distance with him on top of the cart.

 

lome022.jpg
Abraham Weinstein

 

Once it happened that I fell off the cart and the wheel broke both my legs. My sisters Perl, Freide, Tsirl and Esther came running and carried me home. I was lying for six months with plaster–bandage on my legs and after I recovered, I continued to study in the cheder.

When World War I broke out, I was 6 years old. As we know,

[Page 23]

Russia ruled Poland. The German army broke through the front and occupied many towns and villages. The Russian army suffered heavy losses on the front and when the Russians began to leave the towns, the Cossacks staged pogroms, raped Jewish women and robbed Jewish property.

My sisters who were aware of the situation escaped from Lomaz deep into Russia before the Cossacks entered Lomaz.

The Cossacks burned the big synagogue of Lomaz and many houses around the synagogue including our house. Father, who saw this, hired a horse and cart and put all necessary household goods on it. We also led our cow with us.

We arrived in a nearby forest and there we stayed for two days. When we returned to Lomaz we saw the ruin. Coal and ashes remained from our house.

My father was the sexton (Shamash) of the big synagogue but when it burned we remained without a source of living. We had no income except for the small salary that my father got as a court attendant but we also had to pay rent.

Our family suffered from hunger. Luckily we had our cow so we got a bit of milk. But this was not enough to keep us from starvation. I came home in the evening from the cheder and not a single piece of bread in in the room. My mother went to a distant relative to ask for a small loan – a few Groschen to buy some bread. I was going after my mother crying. Mother could not see how sad I was so she took me in front of her and with tears in her eyes, she said to me: “My boy, eat my flesh. I have nothing to give you..” Her pain was greater than my hunger. I shall never forget this scene and I'll remember it my entire life.

When the Germans occupied Lomaz, they established a police centre and declared it a military regime. It was forbidden to leave the city without permission. Nobody was allowed to leave his house at night.

I had a sister by the name of Rachel living in Rososz – a small town 6 kilometres from Lomaz. Life in Rososz was easier because there was no permanent police station. My brother–in–law was trading with

[Page 24]

the peasants and we started smuggling food from there to Lomaz – grain, wheat, flour and eggs.

My parents and my sister Gitl left our apartment at dawn by hidden ways. I was running away at night and arrived unnoticed at Rososz – avoiding, on the way, some local hooligans and Germans who were watching the road for Jews.

When it became dark, we went home with packages through a forest. I served as a scout marching ahead. My father told me that if a German would call me that I should start shouting. This would be a sign that they should not go further. I remember still today how afraid I was.

My brother Menachem, who lived at the time in Parczew, came to help with the smuggling of foodstuffs. Our situation improved and we didn't suffer hunger.

When the Bolsheviks entered Lomaz, life became easier and Menachem returned to Parczew. He was active there among the youth as a devoted communist. When the Bolsheviks left Poland, he escaped to Russia and lived in Leningrad (today St. Petersburg).

When Poland became independent, we came under the Polish regime. My father would not agree that I stop my studies. At that time, a Yeshiva was established in Miedzyrzec where young men who had run away from the Bolsheviks were studying, after the Yeshivas were forbidden in the Soviet Union and Yeshiva bocher were considered as counter–revolutionary.

In Miedzyrzec, I had an uncle and a cousin and I stayed there overnight. I was eating with them 3 days and on Shabbat. The other three days I was eating in the Yeshiva.

The food in the Yeshiva was very bad. A piece of black bread and tea without sugar. A Yeshiva bocher was asking what sweetens the tea – the sugar or the spoon? The answer was the spoon. You use the sugar to know how long you have to mix it… This anecdote can give you an idea about the conditions of my life when I was young.

I was sent to the Yeshiva in Kowel after it opened. I thought it would be better there but it was worse. I could not bear it and decided to go home but I had no money for a ticket. I marched by

[Page 25]

on foot to the railway station and begged for money to buy a ticket for the train to return home.

Arriving at home, my mother saw how I looked. She started to cry and asked my father not to send me to Yeshivat anymore.

In Lomaz, I studied at the Beit HaMidrash. Eliahu Moshe gave me Gemara lessons. But, I saw it had no purpose and I was thinking of my future.

I didn't want to remain in Lomaz. Jews in the city said that my grandfather and my father were sextons so I would be a sexton too. The only alternative was to learn a profession. In Lomaz you could be a tailor or a shoemaker or a carpenter. I learned carpentry at Daniel Spokojni's shop.

I had been working a week and my father didn't know at all that I was a carpenter's apprentice. When he became aware of it, he went to Daniel and ordered him to dismiss me from my work. He was afraid that as a carpenter I would go and work in the villages for Christians and eat their food with them.

I had been asking my parents for a long time to let me go to Warsaw where my sister Freide–Tsirl was living. In Warsaw I became a sign–board painter.

I became a member of the painters union which was under communist influence. The communist propaganda was strong and I was soon captured by the communist illusion. I was active in the communist youth movement. One day during a communist propaganda action, I was arrested by the police.

After sitting for a short time in prison, I was released. When I came to Lomaz for the holidays, I was speaking to the young people about Marxism–Leninism. I was devoted to the communist ideal until Stalin proclaimed Trotsky as counter–revolutionary.

One day when I came to Lomaz to my parents, it was the period before the elections to the Polish Sejm (parliament). The Communist Party had the number 5 and the “Bund” had number 4. The voters cast their ballots according to the numbers. As a sign–board painter, I was asked to paint the number 5 in the Beit HaMidrash on the Friday night. The

[Page 26]

idea occurred to me to make the “Bund” a bad reputation and I painted number 4.

Next morning, Shabbat, when the Jews came to pray in the synagogue and saw that the “Bund” had violated the Shabbos, a riot started against the Bundist because they wrote on Shabbat number 4 on the wall….

The Bundist denied everything until I was the suspected culprit.

World War II broke out and the tragic extermination of Polish Jewry began. In the flames of the Holocaust perished my sisters with their children, Freide–Tsirl in Warsaw and Perl in Lomaz. My brother Menachem and his son fell as soldiers in the Red Army on the front in the battle against the German during World War II.


“The Polish Forests in Lomaz are burning”

by Lea Teitelboim

A characteristically episode that reflects the fight waged by the fanatical, extremist–religious Jews against the secular Jewish literature has occurred in Lomaz in 1924.

The famous book “In Polish Forests” by the well–known Jewish writer, Jozef Opatosho, has appeared in Lomaz.

The book aroused great interest in the Jewish world of culture and several lovers of Jewish literature such as Laze Teitelboim, Yacov Schwarzberg and Lazer Blusztein of Lomaz, bought the book that was read by many Jews in Lomaz.

Incidentally, the book came into the hands of a group of religious fanatics who burned it in spite of the advice from Rabbi Yitzhak Ber Greenberg of Lomaz who was opposed to the burning of the book.

Lazer Blusztein was unable not to react. Soon afterwards, he wrote an article in the Bundist newspaper: “Folkszeitung” published in Warsaw. The title of the article was “The Polish Forests in Lomaz are burning”.

This article caused stormy reactions in Warsaw and especially in Lomaz where the article aroused a wide echo and was read with great interest.

[Page 27]

Beginning of the reconstruction of the Great Synagogue in Lomaz.

World War I was yet at its height. The Russian army was defeated at all fronts.

During the retreat of the Russian army from Lomaz in 1915, the Cossacks set the town on fire from all sides. The Great Synagogue of Lomaz went up in flames together with the houses. The foundation and part of the walls remained.

In 1925, the Jews of Lomaz initiated a plan to reconstruct the Great Synagogue and to restore it as it had been before the fire.

The Jews of Lomaz enlisted their efforts for this goal. People who themselves needed help made donations according to their possibilities with their last financial means.

Lomazers by birth in the U.S.A. demonstrated their devotion for their old home and their assistance was significant.

As a result of the collective efforts, the high and impressive masonry of the Synagogue was erected.

During the occupation, the Germans turned the Synagogue into a stable and soldiers turned the Synagogue's surroundings into a training place.

In 1943, the Great Synagogue was destroyed with the clear goal of deleting any sign of Jewish past in Lomaz.

The leadership of the Jewish Community in Lomaz applied to the District Directorate for Public Works in Lublin to receive the permission to reconstruct the destroyed Great Synagogue according to the enclosed plans.

Signed by Chairman Noah Berman
Lomaz. 25–09–1925.

On 20–10–1925 the Head of Biala–Podlaska region turned to the District Directorate in Lublin and supported the project of reconstructing the Great Synagogue.

On 23–10–1925 the District Directorate in Lublin approved the reconstruction of the Great Synagogue in Lomaz.

Seal and Signature of the Lublin District Directorate.

[Page 28]

On 22–12–1925 the leadership of the Jewish Community in Lomaz transmitted and announced as follows:

To the Head of Biala–Podlaska region:

“In reply to the direction of 02–12–1925, we inform you that the leadership of Lomaz Community has nominated four members, without vice–members. The Chairman of the Community is Mr. Noah Berman, a member of the orthodox party.

The Rabbi Itshak Dov Grinberg was approved in July 1906. The document on his approval is not in our possession.

The leadership of the Community was elected in 1924”.

Chairman Noah Berman.

On 11–10–1926, the leadership of the Lomaz Community sent the following announcement to the Head of the Biala–Podlaska region:

“We send you the record of proceedings n°9 of the Direction meeting which was held on 08–10–1926. It was decided to fix duties for the registration of the register at the registry office which will be managed by Rabbi Itshak Dov Grinberg. We request your approval. Duties are not high and according to the local conditions.

Chairman: Noah Berman
Members: M. Szklasz
M. Weinberg

The record of Proceedings n°9 of the Direction Meeting held on 08–10–1926.

Present : Chairman Noah Berman
Members of the Direction: Mendel Weinberg
Hersh Joseph Lichtasz
Rabbi Yitshak Dov Grinberg

The Chairman Noah Berman read the letter to the head of the Biala–Podlaska region dated 27–09–1926 relating to the fixing of the Rabbi's salary for the registration in the documents of the registry office. The change of opinions at the meeting was made and after the discussion, it was decided to fix the duties as follows:

[Page 29]

For the registration of a baby: 2 Zloty
For the death registration: 2 Zloty
For marriage registration: 5 Zloty

Lomaz, 11–10–1926
Chairman: Noah Berman
Members: M. Szklarz
M. Weinberg

 

lome029.jpg
The family members Friedman in Lomaz
Standing from left to right: Elyahu Friedman, Perl Friedman (maiden name Weinstein), Shifra Spokojni (Friedman), and Grandfather Yehiel Weinstein
From right to left are the children Yehoshua, Fiega and Shalom

 


[Page 30]

The “Bikur Holim” Society in Lomaz

One of the most difficult social problems that the World War I raised for the Jews of Lomaz was: how to organize medical help that was so badly needed by the Jews in the city.

The problem was that the Jewish institutions that carried the burden and responsibility for the social and economic life of the Jews in Lomaz were unable to organize the medical care for these people.

In view of this situation, an initiative was taken by a group of social activists: Mendel Weinberg, Berl Lieberman and Moshe Handelman, who undertook the task of organizing a “Bikur Holim” society in Lomaz that should take care of the medical needs of the Jews in the city.

To

legalize this society, the above–mentioned group sent a letter to the authorities of Biala–Podlaska dated 12–10–1929 with the following request: “We send you the statutes of the sanitary–hygienic society “Bikur Holim” and ask for permission to call a general meeting of the members of “Bikur Holim” to be held on 22–10–1929 in the apartment of Berl Lieberman, with the following agenda:

  1. Electing the board and the representatives;
  2. Electing the Control Commission;
  3. Approving the statutes;
  4. Confirming the membership fees.
The authorities approved the request on 25–10–1929.

 

Report to the Administration in Biala–Podlaska.

The general meeting took place on 22–10–1929. It was decided to organize the sanitary–medical help for people who could not afford it. The “Bikur Holim” meeting was attended by 13 members. The following people were elected to the board:
Chairwoman: Rivka Lieberman.
Treasurer: Eliahu–Moshe Handelman.
Members of the Board: Hanna Lerman, Udes Frozberg and Ester–Hanna Lichtarz.

[Page 31]

All the above–mentioned were inhabitants of Lomaz. The statutes of “Bikur Holim” in Lomaz, stating as many as 40 items, were confirmed. They included:

Organizing health–care for the sick according to the prescription of a doctor and also some foodstuffs according to the instructions of a doctor and to decide in special cases, night–care services for patients in serious conditions. In exceptional cases, one used to pay money for poor patients to make it possible for them to travel to health resorts for a cure.

The activists of the “Bikur Holim” used to control sanitary conditions in poor houses. The physicians were also active in preventive medicine.

The administration of “Bikur Holim” used to organize various courses and lectures on sanitary and health subjects.

The membership fees were minimal: 30 Groshen a month. Admission fees were 25 Groshen. Besides, there were sources of income from performances, flower–days and help from institutions as well as from some well–to–do donors.

The general meeting convened to approve the annual report of the administration and of the Control Commission as well as the budget for “Bikur Holim”.

As honorary members, men and women were accepted that had earned special merits in the service of the “Bikur Holim” Society or who contributed considerable amounts of money. The elections to all organs of “Bikur Holim” were by secret ballots.

The members of the administration were well–known social activists in Lomaz and their devoted activities gained respect among the Jewish population. They served “Bikur Holim” with great devotion and for them, it was a great satisfaction.

“Bikur Holim” in Lomaz developed extensive social activities in the time between the two World Wars. The initiators and members

[Page 32]

of the board who signed on behalf of “Bikur Holim” were: Mendel Weinberg, Berl Lieberman and Moshe Handelman. (Report according to the documents of the state archives in Lublin).


The Beit Yaacov School in Lomaz

by Shifra Spokojni

In the flood of my memories about my childhood, emerges the Beit Yaacov School in its various periods of existence in Lomaz. Beit Yaacov was a girls' school. Its students got a national–traditional education. The school was founded by the activists of Agudath Israel. The chief initiator and founder of the Beit Yaacov School was the teacher, Rabbi Israel Lazer Szteinklaper. He was assisted by Rabbi Yitzhak Dov Greenberg together with other well–known activists.

At first they hired a big room from Ephraim Menashe Tennenboim that was turned into a real study–room. The management board of the school brought a female teacher from a small town in Lithuania, Rosa Machines, a graduate from a teachers' seminary in Cracow.

 

lome032.jpg
Lea Spokojni, a pupil at the “Beit Yaakov” School in Lomaz

 

The girls in Beit Yaacov School and I among them, studied in the morning in a Polish school and in the evening we continued our studies in Beit Yaacov.

The curriculum consisted of learning the Pentateuch, (The Five Holy Books of the Torah), Jewish history, reading and writing Yiddish, the significance of the Jewish holidays, Jewish tradition, customs and of course, prayers. Keeping the religious laws was obligatory.

[Page 33]

Besides the studies, there were performances on Purim and other Jewish Holidays performed by the students, prepared and conducted by the teacher.

The teachers were changed from time to time. The second teacher came from Baranovich. Her name was Hava Kraschinski and she was good in pedagogies and the girls liked her as they had liked the first teacher.

In the course of time, the place of the school changed too. It moved into the house of Hershel Lederman who son Hayim Shmuel later married the school teacher Haya. His two sisters, Tove Zilberblech (Lederman) and Haya Vilner (Lederman) studied in Beit Yaacov too.

The teacher Haya continued her pedagogical work in the Beit Yaacov School until the outbreak of World War II. The school was then closed in September, 1939.

The teachers played a dominant role in the school. They created the atmosphere and the contents of the institution. We, the students, young girls from middle–class traditional homes, had a strong desire for knowledge and especially Jewish knowledge because in the Polish school we learned according to a Polish curriculum – Jews and Poles together.

I remember that the two teachers, both excellent pedagogues, made great efforts that the studies in the Beit Yaacov School should not be too abstract and they found the proper methods to make the duration at school attractive for us.

The lessons in Jewish history were especially interesting. The teachers tried their best to teach us to draw our own conclusions from episodes, pictures and examples in Jewish history.

The teachers won our hearts and with great joy, we rushed to the school to draw inspiration from the sources of Jewish cultural treasures. In such an environment, we were imbued with a love for the Jewish people, for its fine tradition, for its beautiful and rich culture.

The years when we learned in the Beit Yaacov School were the best in our young lives because they had a formative effect on our world conceptions. Beit Yaacov has forged loyal servants of the Jewish

[Page 34]

people. With our Jewish emotionality, we have been drinking from the traditional sources of the Jewish people, got acquainted with its martyr ology and with the history of its long exile.

The Beit Yaacov School has brought light into the Jewish hearts in Lomaz. Almost all its students have shared the terrible fate together with all the Jews of Lomaz during the Holocaust.


The Municipal Library (from the press)

In the course of the events, a municipal library was established too in Lomaz. From Warsaw came Dora Srebnik. She called a meeting of lovers of Jewish literature and explained the aims and the necessity of founding a municipal library.

Thanks to intensive activities it was possible to collect a significant number of books and also to raise funds in order to lay the basis for the municipal library.

The meeting with the participation of Dora Srebnik reflected and illustrated the thirst of the youth of Lomaz and the necessity to organize a municipal library.

The following cultural activists were elected to the temporary management board: Miss S. Friedman, Patsharuk, David Polosetzki, Moshe Szklarz, S. Federhar, A. Weisman and Hayim Geldbord.

The library and the blessed cultural activities in Lomaz had a great effect on the urban population. It was an extension of the Haskala (Enlightment) movement. A growing number of traditional Jews started to accustom themselves to the general environment. They were wearing modern clothes, sent their children not only to the cheder but to the general state schools.

One should point out that the other social groups also made efforts, with more or greater success, to create libraries.

Thus, for instance, writes the “Bialer Wochenblatt” in 1932 about the Jewish cultural life in Lomaz:

“A meeting of the board of the local Zionist organization has

[Page 35]

recently decided to found a library. A special library committee was elected. Its members were:
David Polosetzki Chairman
Sara Altermann Treasurer
Haim Sklarz Secretary
Malka Lichtasz Member
Moshe Glasboim Member

The sum of 50 gulden was raised on the spot to buy the first books. Lomaz will soon have a Zionist library of its own”.

In the course of events, a political differentiation started between the activists and readers of the municipal library. The controversial struggle between them became more intense and adopted sharper forms. During the further developments, it became increasingly difficult to maintain the unity of the leadership of the library and the common character of the cultural activities in general.


Anti–Jewish events in the neighbourhood of Pod

“Attacks on Jews happened during the Shavuot holidays in the towns of Lomaz, Wisznice and Piszczac which are situated between Biala–Podlaska and Brisk.

The police intervened in all of these towns. However, many Jews were severely beaten up and are now hospitalized.

A number of Endekists who resisted the police in some places were arrested”

(“Naye Folkszeitung” 1934 – Jewish Telegraph Agency).

What do they write from Rossosz?

For a long time Rossosz has been an area where the hooligans harass Jews almost unpunished. They intrude Jewish houses, beat Jews and throw stones at them. These are events to which nobody pays attention to anymore.

As soon as evening comes, the Jewish houses are shut, doors

[Page 36]

and windows are locked and the street looks as if nobody lives there. It would still be advisable that security forces should take some interest in this situation and free us from our tormentors, writes a correspondent from Rossosz.

(“Bialer Wochenblatt”, 1936).

 

Social life in Lomaz

Immediately after a sad event in Przytyk and the surrounding communities too place, a “Youth Aid Committee for the Victims of Przytyk was formed at the community council of Lomaz. Representatives of the following organizations participated in the committee: “Mizrachi”, “Hechalutz” and “Agudah”.

The committee has organized a campaign in which 43 Zloty was collected for Przytyk.

The Committee has also sent two of its members to Rossosz and they also raised 20 Zloty there.

The amount of 63 Zloty was remitted to the editorial office of “Moment”, writes the correspondent in Lomaz.

(“Bialer Wochenblatt, 1936).


Occupations of the Jews in Lomaz before World War II

There were no heavy or light industries in Lomaz but the Jews in the city developed handicrafts and craftsmanship. Some Jews were smaller and bigger merchants who engaged in petty trading with the peasants. They bought their farm products and sold them manufactured goods and products made by craftsmen.

The trade was concentrated in Lomaz mainly in the market place which was the centre of the town.

Dozens of shops were in the market place with all kinds of goods. The principal business was, of course, on the market days when the

[Page 37]

town was full of peasants from the surrounding villages. The picture of the town changed entirely on market days.

People were mixing with carts, horses and beasts that were brought for sale. Various smells filled the air – a mixture of city and village, fields and merchandize.

On all other days of the week, the streets and alleys were empty and the shops were open only because this was the habit. Seldom a Jewish buyer would turn up and buy some small wares.

The main source of income of the Jews in Lomaz was from handicraft. Craftsmen owned their workshops or were employed by some artisan as wage–earners. Each workshop employed up to four workers including members of the owner's family.

The products were sold to the urban and rural population. Special professions in Lomaz were: tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, blacksmiths, fur makers and others. Naturally, a young man who wanted to learn a profession had to choose among these crafts.

The workers and artisans of Lomaz were known as good experts but the earnings were minimal. So people were looking for additional sources of income to make a living.

Adjoining a large number of houses in the town were gardens where vegetables were grown. In the courtyard, people kept various kinds of poultry to supply themselves with eggs and meat. Some Jews had cows at home to have milk, cheese, sour milk and butter. But life was hard and some Jews needed social aid from the community. Poverty was visible in many Jewish houses in Lomaz.

In the period between the two world wars, Lomaz could not provide a living for all its Jews. Therefore, quite a number of them immigrated to the large Polish cities or overseas, especially to America or Argentine. At that time, the support from relatives abroad (in particular in the U.S.) played an important role in the economy of the town.

Some statistical data on the number of Jewish inhabitants in Lomaz and their occupations and jobs prior to World War II can be found in the “Bialer Wochenblatt” of 31–7–1936. The newspaper writes that the election committee of the groups who participate in

[Page 38]

the Jewish community elections in Lomaz, found that 228 heads of families with voting rights pay community tax but many families were exempted from this tax.

Important statistical data on the number of Jewish families in Lomaz (including the poor sections of the Jewish population who were exempted from the community tax) was found in the archives of Lublin. In the preparation of the material for print, our distinguished fellow citizens Shifra and Abraham Spokojni participated. They lived in Lomaz all the time until the German army entered the city in 1939. Their report shows the following division:

Workers and Artisans Number Percentage
Workers in various professions 96 39.7
Artisans in various professions 64 26.6
Small traders 33 13.7
Merchants trading with animals, cereals a.o. 34 14.1
Partners in buses, pubs, medical personnel 10 4.2
Rabbi, Shohet and community employees 4 1.7
Total number of jobs 241 100%

Remark: The 160 workers and craftsmen constituted 66% of the total Jewish workforce, contrary to the anti–Semitic propaganda that Jews are merchants only… According to the example of Lomaz, this serious defamation is not in conformity with the reality. After a thorough analysis, it is found that the 260 families and 241 bread–winners represented about 1200 Jews in Lomaz before the outbreak of World War II.


In the Hands of Fate

by Abraham Wunderboim

Our family has lived in Lomaz. My father, Pinhas Wunderboim, was a strapper by his profession and he had a workshop in the city where he was working for the peasants in villages around Lomaz.

After the Polish–German war broke out, the Red Army crossed the

[Page 39]

Polish–Soviet border on 17th September, 1939. After some time, the Soviet army occupied Lomaz but according to the German–Soviet agreement, the Russian army withdrew from Lomaz in October, 1939.

Immediately after the Red Army left the city, some Christians started a pogrom against the Jews. They murdered the daughter of Pesach Berman, 22 years old Mina.

They also attacked my father and hurt him badly to his head. The hooligans surrounded our house, blocked all exists and set fire on the apartment from all sides. Their intention was to burn it with all the people inside.

Luckily there was a good man who was prepared to save the lives of my family. He opened the door and we all escaped unharmed before the house burned down. 8 members of our family were saved from certain death otherwise they would have burned us alive. To remain in Lomaz was very dangerous, so we ran away to Parczew.

This time my family was saved from death but later the Germans seized my mother and 4 sisters and murdered them.

Me and my brother were living like hunted animals. We were hiding in the fields and forests but we were caught once. They put us into locked wagons and brought us to an unknown destination.

We had a feeling that we were led to a place where we were going to die. On the way, we decided to jump from the driving train. We succeeded to open the door of the waggon and jumped. I then lost my brother. He was running in one direction and I in another.

Each of us was walking toward Parczew hoping to find our father there and so it happened. Returning to Parczew I met both my father and brother.

We decided not to remain in Parczew and the three of us escaped into the nearby forests. We were recruited there as partisans. At that time the Germans made an extensive blockade against the partisans. Many partisans fell in the course of these events including my father, and I buried him myself in the forest.

My brother went out to look for food from the peasants. They caught him and murdered him. I remained in the forest, the only one

[Page 40]

only one left if my family. Later, when the Polish army organized the well–known writer, Wanda Wassilewska, arrived in our neighbourhood, I joined the Polish military units named Armija Ludowa.

I was active in capturing Germans and their co–operators. We caught eight Hitlerists who had murdered Jews in Majdanek and they got their just punishment.

I was fighting as an officer in the ranks of the Polish army and took part in many battles against the German Nazi.

Soon after capitulation of Germany, I went to Berlin and saw the ruins of the Nazi capital. Looking at the centre of the blood–thirsty Hitler beast, I had the greatest satisfaction to see the ruin of those murderers of the Jewish people.

Returning to Lomaz, I found Baruch Goldscher and Rachel Weinstein.

The following are names of the members of my family who were murdered by the Hitlerists:

My father Pinchas; my mother Dvora; my sisters Rachel, Sara, Lea and Dina, and my brother Shmuel.

 

Lomaz–Warsaw–Paris–Auschwitz

(in memory of my brother Joseph)

Until the outbreak of World War II, my elder brother Joseph led the ordinary way of like with every one of us, in a little town until he took off into the wide world.

Joseph studied in a cheder during his child his childhood and later in the Polish school in the village of Dokudow. From his earliest years, he shared the burden of supporting our family. He was 11–12 years old when he began working for the peasants in the field together with adults. He was even working with channel–diggers that irrigated the fields in the neighbourhood.

The village of Dokudow helped our family to prepare themselves for pioneer work. No work was too hard for my brother. He wanted

[Page 41]

To earn money for his expenses. But because the elder brother Leib had made quite some money as a saddler, Joseph went to learn this profession as well with Zelig Wunderboim in Lomaz.

The material situation of the parents was difficult and Joseph wanted to learn the profession of saddler as soon as possible and be a skilled worked in order to help the family. The rising cost of living, the food shortage was felt in our home and these conditions motivated him to learn the profession at an early age. Saddler was always considered as a “golden trade”.

 

lome041.jpg
Joseph Appelboim

 

Joseph had worked some time with our brother Leib for the firm of Jungermann in Biala–Podlaska. Both brothers were working assiduously and efficiently. The boss, Jungermann, was so satisfied with the two brothers that he suggested to them to bring their whole

[Page 42]

family to live in his shop. Uncle Shimshon thought that he was sleeping in an ordinary room but when he woke up in the morning, he found that his ears were frozen….

Later, the brothers Leib and Joseph went to Warsaw to work there in the big Wokinski factory that produced various fancy goods for the Polish army in Warsaw.

After he arrived in Warsaw, Joseph joined the workers' circles. He became a member of the leather workers' union in Leszno Street n°19 and developed the extensive social activities where he proved his organizational talent. Soon, he gained the trust and recognition of the leather workers and became their leader.

Joseph distinguished himself on social activity among workers in Warsaw where he arrived from a narrow street and began advancing on a broad track. He breathed the atmosphere of the metropolitan centre of Warsaw with its poor Jewish neighbourhoods.

At that time, I was a tailor's apprentice with Moshe Elboim in Lomaz. For me too, the small town of Lomaz was too narrow and I was waiting for a signal from my brothers to come to Warsaw.

Arriving in Warsaw, I lived together with Joseph for some time. He supported me and provided me almost with everything I needed. He did it to make me feel good in the big city.

In 1929, thousands of workers lost their jobs due to the economic crisis. The conditions of material distress forced my brother to leave Poland and to immigrate to France. He was working as an upholsterer in Paris. There, he married a girl from Biala–Podlaska by the name of Rachel Tuchminz. Later, his daughter Anna was born. Fortunately she survived and she remembers still the smiling face of her father. Anna gave birth to Helene and so my brother Joseph had got a granddaughter and we got a new member in our family.

Joseph learned soon the upholsterer's profession. He became a qualified worked and even made an important invention in the upholstering which added to his income. His material conditions improved considerably, but not for a long time.

World War II broke out. Hitler plunged the world into a hell of fire. Almost the whole of Western Europe was occupied by

[Page 43]

Nazi Germany. On 14th June, 1940 the German army entered Paris. The French population, including the Jews, were surprised by the rapid advance of the German forces.

Evil decrees and measures of oppression started soon against Jews. The Polish Jews were the first victims. Joseph was arrested and brought into an internment camp near Paris. At first, the Nazi masked their criminal schemes and granted some improvements to the camp inmates. Better food was provided, the interned were allowed to wash their clothes, but these privileges did not last long. The camp commanders treated the prisoners with brutality and now, few of them anguished in the dark, damp cells of the camp prison.

The life in the camp was intolerable. Every contact with the family was forbidden. Days and nights passed in constant tension. The camp barracks were filled every day with captured Jews. From them it became known that the deportation to extermination camps in Auschwitz had begun.

The turn of my brother Joseph soon came too. He was deported to Auschwitz on a transport of 999 Jews and in his young life ended in Auschwitz.

To all the monuments that I have set up in my heart was added the tombstone in memory of my elder brother Joseph who died in Auschwitz.

Convoy N°4 Departed on 22–06–1942.

This document is an excerpt from the book by Serge Klarsfeld: “Le memorial de la Deportation des Juifs de France”. It tells about Transport n°4 that was sent from the forced labour camp of “Futivier” near Paris to Auschwitz.

In this transport were 999 Jews including 937 who had emigrated from Poland to France at various moments.

It was accompanied by a list of those who were departed to Auschwitz. This list mentions the name of my elder brother Joseph Appelboim, born on 5–08–1910, an upholsterer by profession residing at Paris, rue Bosperau n°61.

[Page 44]

The list of the deported Jews was signed by the commander of the internment camp “Futivier” dated 22–06–42.

There also exists a document of the Gestapo in which the march of the deported Jews to Auschwitz is described. The transport arrived in Auschwitz on 27–06–1942. This means that the 999 Jews from “Futivier” were five days on the way. A telegram on this subject was sent to Eichmann in Berlin.

The transport N°4 got numbers 41773 and 42772 in Auschwitz. On 15th August, 1942 it was noted that 557 of the 999 Jews who were deported to Auschwitz were alive. 45% of the Jews perished in such a short time.

In 1945, 51 Jews returned from Auschwitz to France including 9 people from transport n°4.

My brother Joseph did not return to France from Auschwitz.

 

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.

  Łomazy, Poland     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Binny Lewis
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2019 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 31 Mar 2015 by JH