|Synagogue in Tarnogrod Artist: Yakov Muterperl|
Translated by Lorraine Rosengarten and Zvika Welgreen
by B. Mordechai
Translated by Sara Mages
Wind, gather your wings, your wrath on the crisis is over!
It has been a long time since darkness raged over graves
My voice emerges, and if there is no one to hear and if there is:
Yitgadal v'yitkadash! [Magnified and sanctified!]
And if there is no exploration into the abyss and no escape to the lost
And if there is no limit to pain and no limit to grief
I hold the wind and with the storm I descend.
by K. Shimon
Translated by Sara Mages
We will remember the souls of millions of brothers and sisters who were cut off from the land of the living, all the Jewish people who were led to the slaughter and their ashes were scattered all over the world; the tortured and the heroes, those who fell in battles, those who raised the standard of revolt and consecrated the name of the Jewish people when they fought and fell within the walls of the burning ghetto, among the ranks of the partisan battalions, in the forests and on the battlefronts all over Europe, and in their hearts the vision of immigration to the homeland, faith in humanity and the redemption of the Jewish people.
We will remember the simple Jews and the scholars, the glory of humanity, from the old to the young, the righteous and the precious, those who gave charity and benevolence, love of humanity and total devotion.
We will remember all the brilliant talents, the dreams, the hopes and desires, the lofty aspirations, the love for the Jewish people and the love for Eretz Yisrael, faith and heroism in the face of death.
We will remember the synagogues and Beit HaMidrash, the institutions of charity and mercy, the libraries and the houses that were dedicated to the work of the people and the country.
We will remember all those who were destroyed and cut off by all sorts of worthless evil people: some by fire and some by water, some by starvation and some by thirst, some by the sword, some were buried alive and some in the gas chambers, all those who were tortured and uprooted gave their lives for the sanctification of God's name.
We will remember and eulogize you in all twentyfour letters in which your lips sang songs of hope.
We will remember we will not forget!
by K. Shimon
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
|Mr. Meir Ringer delivers a speech to the assembled Tarnogrod Jews at the unveiling of the memorial for the martyrs of Tarnogrod who will remain engraved in the hearts and memories of the survivors forever|
|Iser Stockman from London speaking at the memorial about the life and death of the Jews of Tarnogrod, their spiritual courage and faith, their heroic struggle and martyrdom|
When you ascend the hundred stairs that lead to the top of Mount Zion, the echo of your feet striking the stone steps evokes a flood of memories about the past. You hear voices, words fluttering with anxiety and despair. You see faces, tortured and dead, in the land that fell into Nazi hands. In deep silence you cross the threshold into the Chamber of the Holocaust, a memorial for those who died, where there have been gathered the remains of what was. You are engulfed by feelings for which human language has never before had words to express, thoughts that you still cannot fathom. Yet you can feel the greatness of the place.
|The rebbetzin, widow of the Zamech rabbi, son of the Tarnogrod rabbi, Mordechai Tsvi Teicher, light the candle at the memorial on Mount Zion|
You walk through dark, narrow passageways paved with massive stones. You enter niches that look like they were hacked out of rock, you stand momentarily in deep silence; your eyes and your limbs absorb the horror and the sanctity of the place. This is the Chamber of the Holocaust.
Old stone buildings with yellowed walls on the outside; inside, the vaulted ceilings are painted black. The hundreds of candles attached to the walls and ceiling do little to alleviate the sorrowful darkness that reigns in these rooms.
It seems as if the souls of the millions of dead are fluttering around the candle flames and you feel as if blood is dripping, flowing, freezing and seething unseen between the stone walls.
Generation after generation will come here, feel the seething of their own blood, relive the Holocaust by silently contemplating the fate of their people.
The Chamber of the Holocaust, the memorial to 6 million brothers killed at the hands of the most horrific murderers in human history, a chamber of ashes.
In giant earthen vessels lie torn parchments, pieces of holy scrolls, remainders of the destroyed communities. Large black letters call out:
Our Father our King, do it for the sake of those who went through fire and water for the sanctification of thy name. [From the prayer Avinu Malkeinu]And then your eyes fall upon on words that proclaim:
Earth, do not cover my blood, may my cry find no resting place. [Job 16:18]One large glass case holds earthenware vessels marked with white, blue and black stripes, like the uniforms worn in the death camps, each holding the ashes of murdered Jews.
Soon your eyes encounter other items that exude horror. A simple glass jar holds Zyklon gas, used to murder our families. Here are pieces of yellow soap made from the fat, milk and blood of the murdered, labeled, Soap for washing, manufactured in Munich and Best soap for shaving.
Another jar holds poison gas marked with a skull and cross bones. Death, the breath of mass murder swirls in this room, filling the air between the vaulted black ceiling and the stone walls.
More earthenware containers hold parchment scrolls, covered with the curtains from Torah Arks, and prayer shawls spotted with blood. The walls are covered from ceiling to floor with plaques naming communities of which they remain the only trace. You approach and read them with feverish eyes: In memory of the martyrs of Lyubavichi, Pinsk, Minsk, Oswiecim, Tshizheva, Plotzk, Karlin, Loshitz -- room after room.
Now we see the plaque for our town Tarnogrod.
Let us walk through the rooms again and absorb the horror of the past. Here is a Torah scroll in a glass case, splattered with the blood of the old rabbi who was holding it when he was shot.
Here is a curtain for a Torah ark, rescued from a death camp. Dozens of the prisoners had brought with them pieces of such curtains and later lovingly sewed the pieces together.
Another glass case holds a holy Torah cover, this one sewn together by the Nazis. They liked to torment the Jews by mocking their holy practices. It's odd to bend down and read, Ki Sovo [When you will come], the parsha [weekly Torah portion] of Toykekher, the 50th sedre [verse] of the Torah.
Here are the yellow Stars of David, with their inscription of shame and pride, Jude a symbol of isolation and annihilation which today is the symbol of our national rebirth.
Here are pieces of yellow paper with the inscription Jews Only the money of the ghetto.
You continued with measured steps to the small synagogue on the highest floor. The curtain for the Torah ark is woven with words from the Torah, covered with thousands of inscriptions by visitors from various cities in Israel and the entire world.
|The memorial plaque in Martef HaShoah [Chamber of the Holocaust] on Mount Zion in the capital city of Israel, Jerusalem|
Translated by Sara Mages
God, full of Mercy defender of widows and father of orphans
Be not be silent or restrained regarding the blood of the Jews
Which was split like water, grant proper rest beneath the wings
Of Your Presence in the great heights of the holy and the pure
Who like the brilliance of the heavens gives light
And shines for the souls of the martyrs of
Men, women, boys and girls who were killed
Earth, do not cover their blood!
Earth, do not cover their blood!
Translated by Sara Mages
|Tarnogrod my town,
I will carry with lamentation and weeping for you,
For your Jews because they are gone,
For their destruction and loss.
I am silent, suffocating a sigh all my life,
In their sacred memory
These I will remember and pour out my soul within me
for wicked people have swallowed us, like a cake, unturned.
The beginning of piyyut[i] Aseret Harugei Malchut
[The Ten Martyrs[ii]] for Yom Kippur
Translated by Sara Mages
It's impossible to describe in words the destruction of the Jewish people over the years 5700-5705.
It is impossible to find an adequate expression to the magnitude of our grief for the loss of the six million Jews, holy and pure, who were murdered during the terrible destruction of the Jews of Europe.
It is impossible to find anyone who can lament this destruction.
We can do nothing now for these martyrs.
It is not even possible to erect a tombstone on their grave, because the accursed villains, who murdered them, burned their bodies and it is not known where their ashes are.
But we cannot forget them!
Although we cannot erect a stone monument on their graves, we can erect a spiritual monument for them.
This monument the history of the town and the memories of its people is a candle in their memory, so that they may live forever.
And we will end with a prayer that is also the end of piyyut Aseret Harugei Malchut for Yom Kippur:
Gracious One! Look down from Heaven, at the
spilled blood of the righteous, and their life blood.
Look from the place of Your holy Presence and remove all
stains, Almighty, King, Who sits upon a throne of mercy.
by The Book Committee
Translated by Sara Mages
We do not pretend to erect a full memorial to the ancient Jewish settlement in our city. Tarnogrod deserves a more perfect monument. In this book before us we seclude ourselves with the sacred memory of our beloved townspeople, who were annihilated in such a terrible and terrifying way that there are no words in the human mouth to describe it and call it by name.
We made sure to contain, mostly, the material on Tarnogrod when it was alive, and unfortunately - is no more. Our ambition was to describe and commemorate the Tarnogrod that is still lives in us, that is still our bones and flesh.
Jewish Tarnogrod was and is no more. Together with its Jews it was wiped off the face of the earth without a trace, and it is not possible to unveil all its past.
This is what the enemies intended and to a large extent their plot succeeded.
The only source that enabled us to write, to the proper extent, the chapters of our recent past, is the power of human memory. Therefore, we endeavored to draw from this spring, to weave chapters from the life of the town, life of toil and creation, life of matter and spirit, vibrant life in all its forms and periods.
The next generations will find in this book, as in all the books of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust, evidence of what was in the Diaspora of Europe, before the great destruction and before any trace of Jews life there was erased.
And we found in this work a kind of consolation in our grief and the preservation of the past so that it wouldn't be forgotten from the heart of generations to come.
This is not the time for our generation, who saw the Holocaust in its terrible form, to write long chapters. But, within the chapters that mention the intensity of our disaster and the intensity of the evil of our malicious murderers, this memory will also rise in the book, this monument to our town Ternogrod.
And if anyone will ask about the ruined Ternogrod community, if it still has a name and memory in the hearts of its sons, the preacher will tell him: on the contrary, open this book and read it.
After all, as you go through a broken heart, you also go through the pages of this book, in which hearts beat and cling to the generations of our patriarchs and the vision of the landscapes.
Read and see that the grace of the town is on its sons and is fixed in our hearts like a seal.
Since it lives in the heart of its sons, it is a sign that it deserves an eternal life in the history of our people.
Sacred is the Jewish suffering and sacred is the shed blood, it cries out to us and the sound of its cry will not be silenced.
May the Book of Tarnogrod be a kind of bridge between the past that has been so cruelly interrupted, and between the future whose sun rises before our eyes, It will remind us what we must take from yesterday and deliver to tomorrow.
May the book be a monument and everlasting memory!
by Shimon Kanc
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
Tarnogrod, like hundreds of other Jewish small towns in Poland, is today a world of the past, and this Yizkor Book is a memorial for the beautiful Jewish life that that was led there for centuries. This is a nostalgic book, a book of attachment and longing, of the bitterness of scores of orphaned sons and daughters of the destroyed Jewish community.
Like all of Jewish history, the history of the Jews in Tarnogrod is interwoven with oppressive laws, false accusations, persecution and martyrdom. They weren't heroes or world conquerors, but a community of the suffering and oppressed. Yet out of the sorrow and darkness of their lives they produced human gems, pure and great Jewish hearts.
The Jewish community grew larger and stronger. Private, social and economic life were accompanied by sorrows and joys, gloomy and sunny days, dark and light spots, until the outbreak of the brown plague [Nazis] that brought total annihilation.
We were witnesses to great wonders, romantic and heroic. The town frequently experienced fires and destruction, hunger and epidemics, but also miracles, awakenings, an ascent through thousands of pitfalls and struggles, to a better, more beautiful life.
It is clear and understandable that in the majority of the accounts in this book one hears the sorrow of the bereaved. Every memoir will sound like a eulogy, an elegy, a lamentation. For those who participated in producing this Yizkor Book, a memorial for the annihilated Jewish community, the Holocaust, the general tragedy for European Jews, is entwined with personal tragedy and eternal sorrow over the loss of loved ones.
For that reason, there are repetitious descriptions and accounts of the same topics, events and people. But each one complements the others and helps to create a complete picture of an entire way of life, from disappointments to achievements. Everything taken together tells how much we have lost, how immense and actually immeasurable the loss is.
A common characteristic of the entries in this book is the warmth with which they are told. It is the special warmth of Tarnogrod Jews, experienced by the refugees who passed through our town during World War I. It made such a profound impression on them that they spoke of it with great affection in later years when they encountered Jews from Tarnogrod in the Siberian taiga or the Kazakhstan steppes.
This warmth is preserved by Tarnogrod Jews living in the most distant lands, who treasure it along with the longing for the lost world of the former Jewish way of life. It inspired simple ordinary people who had never dreamed of being writers or historians. It was only their shocking suffering that made them eloquent.
Let us here mention some of the most active, hardworking representatives of Tarnogrod Jews, who so devotedly helped to produce this book.
Nuchum Krymerkopf, whose contributions constitute the vast majority of the book. Without his passion and energy, the Yizkor Book would never have happened. Everything he has written exudes a love for the town, its many institutions, its people. You can feel his deep attachment to the life of the town.
When you learn more about Nuchum Krymerkopf's work for the community, back when he was Secretary for the Tarnogrod library, you conclude that there are traditions that stubbornly persist even through difficult experiences. In his work for the Yizkor Book he revealed the extent of his sense of responsibility. In addition to all of his writing, he put enormous effort into raising money for its publication. This was an arduous task. But he was blessed with deep conviction and had the strength to instill that conviction in others. He conducted his fundraising both in Israel, where he also worked to put up the memorial in the Chamber of the Holocaust on Mount Zion, as well as in America, where he put great effort into realizing his dream of publishing the Yizkor Book.
Meir Ringer, the chairman of the Tarnogrod Landsmanshaft in Israel and the soul of the book committee, was born for important missions and highly responsible tasks. While still in Tarnogrod, he was the leader of the Zionist youth movement and then was one of the first pioneers who made aliya. In his work on behalf of the Yizkor Book, he distinguished himself with his native intelligence. Also blessed with the analytical intelligence of a lamden [religious scholar] and with a steady temperament, his contributions at the consultations, meetings and private conversations about the book were very significant and a blessing for those who worked with him.
Shmuel Khefer (Fefer), Moyshe Shprung, Shmuel Puter, Khaim Borenshtein, Tsvi Ben Efrem (Yehiel Hering). Each of these deserves special appreciation and praise. Their communal activity, their hearty friendship and idealism are key to their devotion to their work on the Yizkor Book, for their impeccable execution of the tasks which each voluntarily undertook.
|First row, from right to left: Shmuel Khefer, Meir Ringer, Nachum Krymerkopf
Second row: Shmuel Puter, Tsvi Ben Efrem (Yehiel Hering), M. Shprung, Kh. Borenshtein
These men, who represent the Association of Tarnogroders in Israel, put all their effort into the work of organizing and raising funds for the Yizkor Book and enthusiastically overcame internal and external difficulties. Committed to the activities, dedicated to the sacred work of keeping alive the memory of the martyrs.
Zahava Shprung, whose work on behalf of the Yizkor Book is even more impressive because she herself was not from Tarnogrod, but participated as the wife of the energetic Moyshe Shprung, who was one of the initiators of the first memorial to the Tarnogrod martyrs. He came to Israel as a soldier in General Anders' army and remained in Tel Aviv, where he met Zahava. She came to Israel from Drobnik, near Plotsk, in 1936 and settled in Givatayim, which was then still a moshav [agricultural cooperative village]. Since their marriage, she has shared her husband's deep interest in everything related to keeping alive the memory of the dead of Tarnogrod.
At every meeting at their home, the participants felt the warmth of this woman, who became so close to the world of Tarnogrod Jews. She worked to establish the memorial, to see to it that it honored the dead with the greatest respect, and that the Yizkor Book should have the requisite appearance and contents. She must certainly see in the book a reward for her great efforts.
I want to express deep appreciation to all of these people who did everything in their power to see that the book would be as beautiful and complete as possible, so that it could serve as a worthy monument. Special thanks to them for the tremendous interest they exhibited in the daily work and for their understanding of all my demands during the various phases of the work on the book. Their contribution was especially great in the last section of the book the list of names [of those who died], which they assembled with great effort and respect. May the quality and comprehensiveness of Sefer Tarnogrod served as the reward for their effort.
This is the reward for the survivors, for those who had the privilege of emerging from the great conflagration and constantly see before them the words of the ancient law that is inscribed in letters of blood and fire: Remember what Amalek did to you -- the Amalek of the twentieth century.
This is actually the role and purpose of this book. Not just memoirs of the distant and near past, not only a memorial candle for the pure souls who were so brutally murdered. In recording their memories, Tarnogrod Jews felt the need to express the nobility of the ordinary people of the town. May it impart to future generations some notion of the beauty that was destroyed.
May this Yizkor Book be a constant reminder for future generations, who will see in it a document and a reflection of a way of life that no longer exists
May the cry that rises from this book never be silenced and never cease to serve as a reminder.
Yiskadal v'yiskadash [First words of the Yizkor prayer for the dead], Jewish Tarnogrod, and Live in spite of your blood [Ezekial 16:6].
by Meir Ringer
Translated by Sara Mages
In reverence we approach the work of erecting a monument and commemorating the memory of our martyrs, the martyrs of the city of Tarnogrod, the Lublin District in Poland, and in my mouth a silent prayer: may we not fail, that we may succeed in discovering the source of beauty and purity, the moral power, thanks to which we have been able to stand, for all generations, against every wave of malice that came to swallow us, and thanks to them they demonstrated devotion and courage in days of panic and confusion, and sanctified the name of Israel in public.
Throughout the generations that our ancestors lived in the Diaspora, they worked hard, created something out of nothing, and made a living from their hard work, set up homes, various businesses and magnificent institutions. They participated in the country's life, and donated their money and their blood for the benefit of the country. As honest citizens they fulfilled all the duties of the country, and with all this the nations, in which they lived, saw them as strangers to everything and the exploiters of the people and the state, and therefore also our brothers lived there in fear of false accusations and the pogroms, which have become a normal phenomena in their lives. From time to time their lives were subjected to ridicule and mockery, to murder, robbery and looting, until the rage erupted on them and everything they labored and created for all generations was destroyed in one day, young to old perished in all sorts of deaths by the German evil regime and their helpers, may their names be blotted out.
According to our concepts there are two types of heroism: A) Physical heroism, like the one who lifts weights or heavy loads, or the one who bends iron bars with his hands. B) Mental heroism, such as a war hero, or the kind that the Mishnah teaches us, Who is the hero? One who conquers his impulse to evil, of course, in all sorts of situations. But the heroism shown by the Jewish families while living in the forest with their children and infants, who fled there from the Nazi murderers during the extermination period, such heroism has not yet been written and no one thought to describe it.
With all these, the Jews, who sought refuge to save their lives, chose the forest, to live there under the open sky, and even there they lived in constant fear, not only from the cruel enemy from which they fled, or from the animals of the forest, or from the cold of the snow and the rain, or from the hunger that constantly bothered them, or because they were torn, worn and barefoot, but also from those who were called partisans, who also fled to the forest from the same cruel enemy in order to fight it, also these partisans harassed, attacked and shed the blood of the Jews, their neighbors to the forest and brothers to trouble.
And here we read the manuscript in the diary Ud Mutzal MeEsh [Survivor], written by Avraham Haler from the village of Lukowa, on everything he, and his family, went through before they fled to the forest, and later about the life in the forest of two families, Holler and the Ephraim, with their children and infants. About their terrible sufferings and also about the miracles that happened to them every day and every hour, and later, when the war ended, when they tried to start a new life, their Polish neighbors did not let them build their ruined nests, their lives were in danger again and there were also cases of murder. A hand of horrors was wrapped around them like a giant vise-grip and with no choice they left their city.
They escaped from Tarnogrod, and escaped from Poland.
Not a single Jew remained in Tarnogrod. Also those who returned from Russia didn't find a place in their country of origin. Some survivors found shelter in North and South America and also in Western Europe, and most turned to the gate of aliya [immigration].
Most of the survivors from Tarnogrod were absorbed in Israel. They found their home in the independent State of Israel, which gives them a feeling of freedom and national human independence, and they participate in all areas of life of the state, in the city, in the village and in the acts of development.
They arrived beaten and devastated, torn and worn, and became partners in the day-to-day responsibilities of an established and developing country. They willingly accepted all the duties and hardships, and tied their lives and future with the people and to their country.
The few survivors who immigrated to Israel feel the duty imposed on them, to remind and tell the future generations about the beloved and precious who were murdered, about the history of the town and its destruction.
May these few rows be like a stone in the monument for our town Tarnogrod.
Once there was a Tarnogrod community and is no more.
It was cut down from the multi-branched tree trunk of the Polish Jewry by the German murderers.
Its memory remains in the hearts of its dozens of survivors who are scattered all over the world, most of whom were absorbed in the homeland, in the State of Israel.
by Meir Ringer
Translated by Miriam Leberstein
We approach the task of creating this book with reverence and apprehension, aiming to establish a monument to eternalize the memory of the holy martyrs of Tarnogrod. We whisper a prayer, May it be God's will, that we shall not stumble that we will succeed in uncapping the well of pure beauty, of moral strength and persistence that helped us to endure, over the course of centuries, despite the waves of evil and hostility that threatened to inundate us. In the worst times of panic and horror we evinced boldness, devotion and willingness to sacrifice ourselves for our faith.
In the course of the many years that our forebears lived in the diaspora, they worked hard and created, out of nothing, buildings, businesses and social institutions; participated in the economic and social life of the country; were good and loyal citizens. Yet the people among whom they lived regarded them as strangers, as parasites. That was what led to the libels and pogroms that became common events in their lives. From time to time they were subjected to jeering and mockery, robbery and murder, until the wrath of [of their enemies] engulfed them and everything that they had created in the course of generations was destroyed, young and old suffered all kinds of horrific deaths at the hands of the Germans and their helpers.
There are two kinds of strength: One, physical strength which manifests itself in unusual feats like lifting heavy weights or breaking iron with one's hands and two, psychic strength, which manifests itself in fighting, under various circumstances. But the strength that the Jews exhibited in those times has not yet been described. We do not yet have the words capable of describing it. The Jews fought in the ghetto and in the forests where they lived in constant fear, more of the Nazis than of the wild animals or the cold and rain and hunger.
The Tarnogrod Jews who fled to the forest also had to watch out for the Polish partisans, who were being pursued by the same Nazi enemy. In this book we will read the diary of Avraham Haler, which describes the experiences of his and other Jewish families who hid in the forest, their frightful suffering, as well as the miracles that occurred every hour of every day. When the war ended and they returned to Tarnogrod, hoping to begin a new life, they faced new dangers. Their Polish neighbors threatened them and even killed some until they had to flee the town. They fled Tarnogrod, they fled Poland. The majority of the surviving Tarnogrod Jews settled in Israel. Broken and depressed and mourning their loved ones, they found a home in Israel, became partners in the daily task of developing the land, binding their fates to that of the country and the Jewish people.
We all feel the obligations to future generations to tell about the life and death of the Jewish community of Tarnogrod. Its memory will live forever in our hearts.
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