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[Page 625]

Around Staszów


Alas, Children of Osiek!

(Osiek, Poland)

5031' 2127'

by Shlomo Groshaus, Holon

Translated Leonard Levin

With heavy heart, trembling, and tears, we bring to mind their sacred memory. How very painful that not one of you, precious members of our community, was saved from the fury of the insolent, not one of you will transmit to coming generations the tale of bodily and spiritual torments from the time of the obscene conquerors, of your last moments, the time you were led out to the Final Solution together with the surrounding towns–Staszów, Połaniec, Klimontów, Koprzywnica, and others.

Your innocent, holy faith that “the Keeper of Israel will not slumber or sleep,” a faith that provided you with the amazing power to suffer and endure, to withstand all the assaults of the times, both normal and abnormal–that faith turned into a stumbling block when the destroyer came upon you and with hellish cruelty unleashed his fury on you, cutting you off from the land of the living.

Osiek! You were a small community in a foreign, exilic land. Yet in a spiritual and cultural respect, you did not live in accordance with the gentile environment, and it did not lay its stamp on you. It was the Beis Midrash (traditional Jewish house of study) that shaped your image; it provided you with your image and special dignity, making you into a part of a people that harbored national, spiritual, and universal human destinies.

Dawn had not yet broken, yet your Beis Midrash was already teeming with Jews, some of whom had come to pour out their hearts in prayer before their Maker and others to learn and debate Talmud and Codes–not to mention those who were assiduously studying Maimonides, the Bible, and other holy books.

The secular cares of the working days occupied most of the time of these laboring Jews, Jews whose faces, furrowed with wrinkles, testified like a hundred witnesses to the difficulties of their livelihoods. Yet when the Sabbath and holidays arrived, their faces all lit up. It was as if the entire town was decorated with the festive presence of Queen Sabbath. Throughout the afternoon, you could hear emanating from the Beis Midrash the chants of “Abaye said, Rava said”[1] and “Thus taught the rabbis…”

* * * * *

The natural longings for Zion and redemption, which had been nourished from the outset from the beloved stories of rabbinic lore, full of soulful outpourings and yearning for the desolate Temple Mount, the dirges of Lamentations and the like, became more profound and even assumed palpable forms with the major transformations that occurred in the lives of Jews in the period leading up to World War I and following it.

As everywhere else, so with us these transformations gave rise to patterns of living, institutions, and organizational rubrics, such as the Zionist Organization, Hashomer Hatzair[2] (our troop was named for Yosef Hagelili), a library (named for Yosef Ḥayyim Brenner), and a Hebrew–language school.

With great pride and love, O Jews of Osiek, you established and nurtured this school, with admiration and affection for the teacher of Hebrew, who came, incidentally, from the nearby town of Staszów. Your efforts to maintain him were fraught with sweat and labor, but you fulfilled your obligation to him in faith and devotion in order to raise a generation that was knowledgeable in Hebrew with the explicit purpose of building a bridge between you and the Zion that was being reborn.

In close proximity to this modern school there coexisted–with no feeling of envy–the more traditional cheders,[3] including those of the teachers Reb Aaron and Reb Abraham (may their memory be a blessing). These, too, contributed a not–negligible part to cultivating the Jewish and Zionist character of the town.

Establishing the library and turning it into a cultural asset that would satisfy the ever–increasing needs of all who made use of it–this certainly was not an easy task at all. Nevertheless, the pennies accumulated, and from time to time a delegation went out to Staszów, to the bookstore of Reb Benjamin Tochterman (may his memory be a blessing), for the purpose of acquisitions.

O people of Osiek, you carried on your activities in brotherly and neighborly love! Besides the above–mentioned library, the mainstream Zionist Organization and a cell of the socialist Hashomer Hatzair also dwelt together there in the same hall, with the utmost respect and mutual toleration despite differences of views and approach. The connection of these organizations with their nationwide parent organizations and the world Jewish community, together with our devouring the books and newspapers in Hebrew and Yiddish (Ha–Tzefirah, Haynt, and Moment[4]), broadened our horizons and shed light on the problems and struggles–national, social, and political–of the Jewish people.

In your participation in the memorials in memory of Dr. Theodor Herzl, the prophet of the Jewish State, and in your labors for the Jewish National Fund, which were carried out with reverence and love in order to spare no effort to contribute as much as possible, you were preparing for a day in which you might all unite with the Homeland that was building to fulfill a generations–old dream.

And when the day came that the town merited seeing the first of its children going up to the Promised Land by a route that was not a route, by irregular border crossings and at great risk, the whole town gathered to escort them as far as the Vistula River. As the boat set off into the distance, they burst forth singing “Hatikvah” as a prayer for their journey to be successful and as an expression of a future continuation.

But the continuation never came …

* * * * *

Few were the members of the Osiek community who left the valley of slaughter before the outbreak of the Holocaust and who now live in Israel and in the Diaspora. O people of Osiek! We, who are of those few, who cannot even remember most of your names, perpetuate your sacred memory in this Book of Staszów and Surrounding Communities, of which you were a part.

May your souls be bound up in the bond of life of the people and the State of Israel!

The chapter of Osiek is ended. May the Name of the Holy One be sanctified …


  1. Abaye and Rava: the controversies of these Talmudic masters proliferate through the Talmud. Return
  2. Hashomer Hatzair: a labor Zionist youth group (literally: “the young guard”). Return
  3. Cheder: a primary school for traditional Jewish religious instruction. Return
  4. Ha–Tzefirah: “The Siren” (Hebrew); Haynt: “Today” (Yiddish); Moment: “Moment” (Yiddish). Return

[Page 632]

Sons and daughters
of Osiek victims of the Nazi enemies

Transcribed by Jean-Pierre Stroweis

(תָּשִׁיב לָהֶם גְּמוּל יְהוָה, כְּמַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵיהֶם (איכה, פרק 3, 64

Thou wilt render unto them a recompense, O Lord, according to the work of their hands. (Lamentations, Ch. 3, 64)

[Translator note: this list from Hebrew is sorted alphabetically according to the Latin alphabet. Surname spellings according to Alexander Beider's Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland; given name spelling according to modern transliteration from Hebrew, unless purely Yiddish.]
BERL Iccie Meir, Malka and children
BLACHSZTAJN Benyamin, Faigele and children
BLACHSZTAJN Mordechai, Gitel and children
BLACHSZTAJN Shlomo, his wife and children
CYNAMON Schachna, Mali and daughters
CYTRON Shmuel, Yarel and children
CYTRON Yeshayahu, Frida and children
EINHORN Moshe, Frumit and children
EINHORN Ya'akov (the shochet), his wife and children
ERLICH Shmuel, Alte and children
Esther Raizel and the daughters
FRYMAN Natan, his wife and children
FUKS Mendel, Rachel and children
GOLDHAR Eliahu, Tova
GROSHAUZ Benyamin, Malka (ERLICH) and children
GROSHAUZ Chaim Yechiel, his wife and children
GROSHAUZ Eliahu, Lea and children
GROSHAUZ Levi, Hadassah and children
GROSHAUZ Meirel, Rachele and children
GROSHAUZ Ya'akov, Rachel Lea and children
GROSHAUZ Zvi, Rachtsche and children
HAMER Zvi, his wife and children
ICCHE Meir, his wife and children
KLAJNER Aaron (melamed), his wife and children
KLAJNER Hirsh Meir, Sarale and children
KLAJNER Hirsh Meir, Sarale and children
KLAJNER Malkele (Judel Jatchis)
KLAJNER Mula, Chantche and children
KLAJNER Ya'akov (“Ya'atchi”), Raizeke and children
KOCHEN Aaron, Rivka and children
KOCHEN David, Fajga Rachel and children
KOCHEN Simcha and children
KOCHEN Yehiel, his wife and children
KOCHEN Zelig, Frida and children
KOIFMAN Abrahamtche and Hindele
KRUGER Scheindel and Zvi
LANDGARTEN Avraham, Rachel and children
LOTERSZPIL Godel (the schochet), his wife and children
NACHUMOWICZ Mindel and sons
NACHUMOWICZ Moshe, his wife and children
NACHUMOWICZ Nachum, his wife and children
NACHUMOWICZ Schamai and children
NACHUMOWICZ Zadok and children
PIPEK Shmuel (dairyman), his wife and children
RAJCHMAN Lejbus, wife and children
RAJFER Lejbus, Pessel and children
RAJFER Shlomo, Rachel and children
RAJFER Shmuel, Idel and children
RAJFER Zvi, Etel and children
RAPAPORT Mendel, Sara and children
ROZNER Moshe, wife and children
RUBIN Doba and children
RUBIN Yosef Leib, Malka and children
SZNEUR Bluma Raizel and children
SZNEUR Eliezer, Rivka, Mendel
SZNIFER Mordechai, Fajga and children
SZTARKMAN Brajndel and children
SZTARKMAN Rivka and children
SZTARKMAN Shimshon and Frida
SZWAJCMAN Lejbus, Yente and children
TREFLER Moshe, Raizel and children
WAJNFELD Moshe, Rosa and children
WAJNRIB Ya'akov, Bluma and children
WAJSBLUM Eliezer, his wife and children
WAJSBLUM Gelle and children
ZAJFMAN Meir, Fajga
ZYLBERBERG Motel, Lea and children
ZYLBERBERG Shmuel Josel, Rachel and children
ZYLBERBERG Yehuda, Sara and Anchel
ZYLBERBERG Zysman, Bluma and children

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