« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 399]

Organization, Aliya, and Culture

[Page 404]

Organization of Natives of Zawiercie
Its Tasks and Activities

by Nakhum Drezner
(Member of the council of the organization)

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Although the organization was officially created administratively in 1943, thanks to the initiative of our Zawiercier natives, Messrs. Yisokher Bornsztajn, Elimelekh Gutman, Yitzhak Windman, Mrs. Frenk-Yitzhaki, Yosef Finkl and Yehuda Erlich, there was certain communal activity among and on behalf of the Zawierciers much earlier and two Zawiercier women, Mrs. Fridman, may she rest in peace, (wife of the secretary of the Zawiercier religious community for many years, Reb Shimeon Fridman) and Mrs. Cila Frenk-Yitzhaki, long life to her, who many knew and esteemed, in 1935-1936, took upon themselves the

[Page 405]

difficult effort to visit those from Zawiercie every month and collect money from them for the needy. This was an absolutely difficult activity because imagine what it meant to travel through such a city as Tel Aviv and visit everyone from Zawiercie in every corner of the city. They were not always found [at home] and they [the ones doing the collection] had to go again.

It is worth mentioning as an illustration of how devoted their activity was that at one of the first meetings, after the creation of the organization in 1943, Zawiercier landsman [person from the same town], Mr. Yitzhak Windman, expressed his thanks to the two very beloved Zawiercier women, for their many years of activity. He added that thanks to them the work of the Zawiercier organization was eased. The two women continued their activity until the time urgently demanded that the mutual aid not be carried out in the narrow frame of Tel Aviv, but also across the then Eretz Yisroel (Palestine-Eretz Yisroel), in all the cities and towns in which those from Zawiercie were located, many kilometers distant from us in Tel Aviv, but close to us in our hearts.

The above-mentioned city people gathered at the residence of our Zawiercie friend, Yisokher Bornsztajn and we decided to organize all the Zawierciers in the country and to tell them about the sad situation of those closest to us who were torn from their homes and about the need to create the means and contacts to be ready at every call [for help] when the appropriate moment came. We had then already heard about the cruelty of the Hilter-bandits, about how they, without a reason, without cause, hurled into and annihilated people in gas chambers. Yet, we would not allow ourselves to believe that the destruction would be so big.

When Mr. Yehuda (Leibush) Erlich opened the first meeting with a memorial speech in memory of those who perished on the savage sacrificial altar only because they were Jews, everyone felt a trembling in their heart and tears appeared in their eyes.

A collection for the fund was conducted on the spot. Everyone answered the call and showed a readiness to help.

The elected council (Mssrs. Bornsztajn Yisokher, Gutman Elimelekh, Danziger Yehiel, Windman Yitzhak, Jakubowicz Yehezkiel, Landau Yakov, Fajgnblat Shimeon, Mrs. Frenk-Yitshaki, Finkl Yosef, Fridman Shimeon as well as the writer

[Page 406]

(Photo, caption: Committee of former residents of Zawiercie and former activists)

of these lines, threw themselves into the work. Several non-members of the committee were also attracted to the activity, because there were many tasks: collecting the promised general taxes, as well as taking in the monthly payments.

Actually, the most responsible work was carried out by the chairman, A. Gutman, the secretary, Y. Burnsztajn and the treasurer, Y. Finkl. The latter is today still at his work. However, the remaining council members also carried out whatever work they were given.

At that time Zawierciers arrived who had come on roads and roundabout ways, through Romania, Hungary, Russia and turned to the committee for help. The help was given in the form of loans, according to the principle: the least for the taker, the maximum for the giver. Simultaneously, it was decided to send packages of clothing to Russia, if we had the address of Zawierciers who found themselves in Russia.

Understandably, those who did not have any relatives in the country were burdened three times more than those who had relatives to support them in the country.

Immediately after the liberation of Zawiercie, we turned to the local committee and made contact with it. Immediately after

[Page 407]

receiving their answer, we sent 10 packages that contained shoes, socks and sweaters. We also sent packages to Sweden to the designated addresses. However, the help was made difficult because it took a great deal of time until the acknowledgements of receipt arrived.

In 1945, 1946, 1947, the immigration [to Israel] of those from Zawiercie increased. There was joy when we saw one of our own. However, the descriptions of their experiences upset us. It was incomprehensible to us that such devastation could occur.

According to the evidence we heard, the eve of the 25th of Av and the 25th of Av was designated as a day of mourning in memory of the Jews of Zawiercie. The Zawierciers assemble every year on the eve of the 25th of Av to give honor to all of our dear Zawiercier Jews who were murdered by the Nazi murderers in such a brutal manner.

Life in Israel, right after the War of Independence, was not easy for everyone and, particularly, for the newly arrived immigrants. In order to make possible the aid for the needy Zawierciers, the landsmanschaft [organization of people from the same town] in America, whose president-chairman was Mr. Yakov Fagin-Fajgnblat (a son of our beloved and popular Zawiercier, Reb Yosel Fajgnblat, of blessed memory,) provided help. They organized a relief campaign in America for money certificates that were distributed among the needy Zawierciers by the local committee [in Israel] that had been elected for this purpose by the council of our organization.

In 1956, a new council was elected at a general meeting with the participation of the new immigrants. Elected to the council were: Messrs. Fajgnblat Shimeon, Finkl Yosef, Perl (Chmielnicki) Bronya, Danciger Yehiel, Zaks Avraham, of blessed memory, Rotmentsh Yitzhak, Grinkraut Yoal, Frajndrajch Chaim, Brat Dovid and the writer of this chapter.

It was decided to publish a Yizkor Bukh [Memorial Book] in which the Zawierciers would participate with descriptions of Zawiercie life.

The council immediately went to work and took appropriate steps. The head of the community, Mr. Shimeon Fajgnblat, the recently deceased secretary, A. Zaks, may his memory be blessed, and the treasurer, long may he live, Y. Finkl, as well as all of the remaining members of the council, did everything possible to fulfill the task they had been given. This was a noble but also difficult task. Yet it was an undertaking that was bound to many expenditures and with work beyond one's strength. It was particularly difficult

[Page 408]

for the secretary because he had to contact every one of the Zawierciers scattered over the entire world. He had to write letters and flyers and write reminder letters again. Often many on the council doubted if they would succeed.

However, we overcame everything and began to concentrate on the sending in of material, collecting the necessary money, thinking about an editorial board. The matter began to take on a serious character.

On a certain, bitter day, the council all at once, just as every Zawiercier, trembled because of the sudden death of Reb Avraham Zaks, of blessed memory, who had led the secretarial office and sincerely and dedicatedly worked on Zawiercier matters. Often, one could hear from him: “How I want to see the book already.” But bitter fate wanted something else.

However, life makes demands. Mr. Brat temporarily took over the work and he carried it out systematically until the book was published.

May this book, which describes days and years of Zawiercier life, joy and suffering, blossoming and death, be in the house of every former Zawiercier resident.


Zawiercier in Israel at a memorial service on the eve of the 25th of Av
In front (on the right) long-time dedicated activist in the organization, Mr. Nakhum Drezner

[Page 409]


Yosef Finkl

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

I left Zawericie in 1920 and emigrated to Eretz Yisroel – as the first Zawiercier, who came to Eretz Yisroel after the war [First World War]. I say “from Zawiercie” because I think that Yitzhak Spivak came a little earlier – from Germany. Yona Blat came right after me.

I was known in Zawiercie as Yosl, Meir Lelewer's grandson. I had a confectionary shop there.

I remember this about Zawiercie: The Habermans already were in Zawiercie. From that time, I remember: the Hercbergs, the Persices, the Helbergs, Yehiel Windman and his son, Hendl Hamer and son, the old Moszkowicz and his son, Sewek, the feldsher [old-time barber-surgeon] Czebiner and his brother, the vegetable trader, the old broker, Zilberman and his son, Arka, the Buchner brothers (Wolf and Yitzhak), Berl Poznanski, the old Storozum (later Nabun), Abele Edelis, Dovid Azshe Trajbeczacz, Ruszinek, Moshe Zaks-Shoykhet, the Landaus, Leibl Brener, Shlomo Sztal (he had a shop near Przejazd and he was a mohel [ritual circumciser]). The Szajn brothers, the feldsher Wolberg, Reb Avraham Bornsztajn, Leibush Frenk, the Dancigers, the “clergy,” the Gancwajchs, then Rabbi Landau, the old cantor, Shabtai the cantor and so on.

Reb Shabtai, the cantor, had a choir, in which I also sang for a short time. However, I always sang with my grandfather, Reb Meir Lelewer, of blessed memory.

I remember that in Reb Shabtai's choir were Yosef Gold, Kopl the shoemaker's sons (one, Nekhemya, had a good bass voice), “Shaya Bass” (Yehoshua Kasier. He had a strong tenor [voice]. He later left for America), Yitzhak Ahron Swarc, Yekl (Tovya the Klezmer's son), Zalman, the Klezmer, me, Yosef Spiwak and many small boys. There also was a conductor for a time.

I remember that we created a Khevre Bokherim [Young Men's Society], where we studied and spent our free time with Jewish culture.

* * *

When I arrived in Tel Aviv, as I said, in 1920, I opened a confectionary shop. My confectionary shop was an open-door

[Page 410]

for all the young Zawierciers who had not long before arrived in this country. They came to me in the shop every day to receive mail.

Not long after my arrival and the founding of my confectionary, various Zawerieciers began to work with me from time to time. The first one to begin working was Dovidl Turner, then Nakhman Fridman, Yitzhak Spiwak, Yosef Spiwak, Pinya Hocherman, Kiva (Akiva) Wajnsztok (he returned), Noakh Szlenczinski, Yehezkiel Landau, Yishakhar Borensztajn, Dovid Groman and so on. Yisokhar Borensztajn, Shimeon Fajgenblat, Henokh Erlich arrived in around 1924, as I remember.

A few months after my arrival, came: Rabbi Szpira, Shabtai Spiwak, Sholem Iserowski, Liwer. Reb Sholem Iserowski had, I think, first bought land in Afula, and later joined the group of settlers in Magdiel, where Reb Shabtai already was a participant. Reb Shmuel Helberg bought land in Ra'anana and settled there with his children. Liwer, a Bedziner, a son-in-law of Berish Frajberg, moved to Magdiel.

The four Zawiercier families, I think, were among the first Zawiercier families who, at the end of 1923, and the beginning of 1924, settled on the soil and became farmers in Israel. At the time, there were very few Zawierciers in the kibbutzim [communal settlements], as I remember. They came later.

Thus, an intense life in Tel Aviv was conducted at that time. However, the Zawierciers always maintained contact. They would meet. They would help each other. Before the Second World War, two genteel Zawiericier women, Mrs. Cila Frenk-Yitzhaki and, alas, the since deceased Mrs. Fridman, created an interest-free loan fund whose purpose was to help poor Zawierciers, the sick and the needy. A meeting of the Zawierciers was called in 1943 at Yisokhar Borensztajn's house. Money was collected at the meeting to be able to help, when at the end of the war, the returning Zawierciers turned up in Zawiercie and elsewhere. Alas, very few Zawierciers remained alive, saving themselves from Hitler's blood bath and from his gas chambers.

I was the treasurer both in the first and in the later council. This was not an easy function, but it delighted me that I had an active part in the Zawiercie organization and also in this book.

[Page 411]

A Greeting from the Zawiercier Landsmanschaft
in Montreal (Canada)

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

We send you a few memories from several of us, as well as a collective picture of our Zawiercier Society. The photos of three more families are missing from the picture. In total we number 21 members, men and women (women have a separate club in our landsmanschaft [organization of people from the same town]. President – Mrs. Krawiec; Secretary – Mrs. Swarcbaum). We have been in existence since 1952. We meet often at meetings in our private residences because, as a small landsmanschaft, and consequently, because of a meager treasury, we cannot permit ourselves to maintain premises like other large landsmanschaftn.

We are mostly new immigrants, and we are just at the start in the matter of income and arranging a home for ourselves after so many years of wandering and suffering. We hope, however, that in time we will have equal status with all of the other landsmanschaftn.

And now, looking at the collective picture,


Photo without caption
In the photo: Zawiercier landsmanschaft – Montreal, Canada 1957

[Page 412]

you might think that the faces and the names are unfamiliar and unknown. However, this is not so.

So, for example, the Minc family. Mrs. Minc is a daughter of the late Mr. Mordekhai Krawiec (his brother, Mr. Yehuda Krawiec, may he live long, is the chairman of our Society). Their father, Reb Layzer Krawiec, the baker from Porembska Street, was certainly well-known to everyone. Another of his daughters was Mrs. Karl. Mrs. Rozengartn is a sister of L. Werbski and a grandchild of the late Ahron Yoblandski. The Rozengartn family lived for a time in Lazy, near Zawiercie. Messrs. Y. Sztibl and Tifnberg lived in Kromolow, near Zawiercie. The Binder family are in-laws of M. Zlotnik. Mrs. Troper is a daughter of the late Reb Yosl Staszewski. Missing in the picture are the families of Y. Haberman, M. Ruszinek, D. Zelkowicz.

We stay together like one family.


(___) Y. Krawiec (Society president)

(___) Y. Borzykowski (Society secretary)


[Page 413]

The American Union of the Zawiercier Natives

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

The American Union of the Zawiercier Natives (First Zawiercier Progressive Benevolent Association) has existed for 38 years, as can be seen from an invitation to a banquet in honor of the 36 [year] existence of the Union. The banquet took place at the end of 1956 in New York. On the invitation is written:


Yakov Fagan


“Many years have passed since our organization was created by a group of landsleit [people from the same country] who came together to create an organization for communal relations and support. The people did not know at the time that after 36 years their group would represent one of the larger groups that remained of the once proud Zawiercier Jewish population. Let us again keep alive the memory of Zawiercier's life by continuing to take part in the Zawiercier Union.”

From this greeting, we can also see the 18-year existence of the women's Aid Society in America. In 1943, a Zawiercier aid fund was created in the name of Shmuel Kanarik; the organization helped our city residents all over the world with packages and money. Money also was sent to Israel.

The signature on the greeting: Jack Fagan (Fajgenblat)


« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

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

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

  Zawiercie, Poland     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2024 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 13 Oct 2023 by JH