Table of Contents Next Page »

[Inside Cover, Unnumbered columns]

Hrubieszow Memorial Book

Printers: Defus Yisra'el Ltd., Tel–Aviv, Tel. 41204
Plate engravings: Yonah Rindzonski Zincography, 12 Peretz St., Tel–Aviv

[No Column Numbers]

Book Committee in Israel[1]
 
Meir Hofman Yosef Epshteyn
Mordechai Hurvitz Zvi Pachter
Helman Ackerman Moshe Tsigel
Blyuta Vasser Avraham Tsimerman
Baruch Yanover Khayim Kliger
Ya'akov Cohen  
Shemaryahu Mintz Yosef Shvarts
Moshe Maskal Efrayim Shtikh
 
Book Committee in the U.S.
 
Rabbi Avraham Vertheim Reuven Katz
Beny Kuper Yisra'el Landau
Charles Pachter Yitzchak Sas
Yechezkel Korn Avraham Kas
Morris Krakauer Chana Kas
Tzine Oil Natan Kas
Eliezer Goldberg Max Knal
Shifra Hastig  
Eliyahu Heidenblit Ya'akov Rozenblat
Yehoshua Zamer Yitzchak Shapel
Eliyahu Zilberblech Menucha Shtundel
Khayim Zeltzer Pinchas Shtundel
Ya'akov Tchekhovitch Harry Shneider
 
Book Committee in Mexico
 
Yitchak Eisen Eliyahu Pachter
A. M. Goldhaber Hinde Firsht Kleinboym
Gitl Goldman Avraham Tzimet
Sarah Goldfeder Hersh Tzimet
Malka Grin Chana Tzimet
Shprintze Grin Yisra'el Tzimet
Ben–Tziyon Heidenblit Moshe Tzimet
Noach Vaksman Yoel Kam
Tsirl Yaffe Dr. B. Ratnyevsky

[Columns 1-2]

Hrubieszow Memorial Book

Marking the 20th year after the terrible destruction of our former home

Editor: Baruch Kaplinski

Published by the Hrubieszow Association in Israel and in the U.S.
with the aid of Hrubieszow associations throughout the world.

Tel Aviv, 1962[2]

Translator's Footnotes:

  1. The names have been transliterated, not reconstructed. Return
  2. Translated from Hebrew. Return


[Columns 3-4]

Introduction

Translated by Yael Chaver

 

1962

It has been twenty years since the destruction of Jewish Hrubieszow, and the wounds have not yet healed, our hearts are pained, our spirit bleeds, and there is no consolation.[1]

The town of Hrubieszow lives, works, parties, and enjoys life. Rowboats with young people probably still slice through the waters of the Hucwa, on the way to the turbulent confluence with the Bug. Polish boys and girls probably stroll through the Brodice grove, eating cream and breathing in the fresh aroma of pine trees.

And our young people, where are they?

Where are our Moysheles, Shloymeles, with and without caps, kapotkeles, with the lively almond eyes, where are they, the dear little children?[2] Oh, if only we could still tell them today, “Well done, with your smart, little Jewish heads!”

And where are the older children? Those who sit in an alcove and sing a slow Hasidic tune, and those who go for agricultural training, chop wood, saw boards, carry loads, and wait impatiently for immigration certificates from the government of Palestine?[3] Alas, today they would not have to wait.

Is it possible that the hora is not danced in Hrubieszow today, HaTikvah is not sung, and emissaries from kibbutz settlements no longer arrive?[4]

And where are the hasidic Jews, the great scholars, the lively brains, those who distribute petitions to rabbis, celebrate meals on Shabbes, and fill the houses of study, the large and small synagogues?

Is it possible that they are gone? That they no longer look at us from the street leading to the synagogue, with its houses of prayer, study houses, kheyders and talmud–toyres?[5] Can we believe that the Trisk synagogue is no longer the scene of Melaveh–Malkeh and Moyshe Rolinek, on the mitlave, no longer reads the Yoreh–de'ah, and no one comes in with a religious query?[6]

And where are the Zionists of all stripes and hues, minimalist and maximalists, those who dream of an immigration certificate and those who dream of a Jewish state? And where are the founders of the HaTikvah and Tel Chai school, of the Zionist factions and youth organizations, those who collect money for the Jewish National Fund and those who collect for the Foundation Fund?[7]

Where are they?

And where are the busy Jews, bearded and shaven, in respectable polished boots and satin coats, who calmly calculate and figure out prices, cartloads, and profits?

Where are the grain merchants, flour–sellers, those who place orders and those who pick them up, brokers and swindlers, notions merchants, and agents?

Where are those who send railroad cars full of flour from Poguzhe and Pobrezhan to Lemberg, and impatiently wait in the flour office for a phone call from the exchange?[8]

And where are the simple Jews, ordinary folks, the masses, the cart–drivers with their “lions,” the water–carriers with the keromesl, the meat–sellers with the crossbars and the porters with ropes on their hips?[9]

And where are the old–clothes sellers, who walk around with hands swollen from slapping peasant palms, where are the orchard growers who sleep in their cabins all summer, where are the market traders and buyers who come before dawn to wait for the peasants who come to the market?[10]

And where are the socialists of all hues and temperaments, those who grease the wheels of the social revolution, and those who preach Marxism and Leninism?

And where are the Folkists and the Territorialists, who campaign for diaspora and mock Zion, who are proud of Yiddish and make fun of Hebrew, those who propagandize for diasporic nationalism and satirize any notion of gathering in Eretz–Yisra'el, where are they?[11]

They are no more!

They are not on Synagogue street, or on Market Square, not on Lubelska or on Mitlave. Only their houses and shops remain.

Do they know that other eyes and faces look out of their doors and windows? Do they know where the real owners are? Do they know that their walls might bear the same signs but with different names?

Do they feel, do they know, that a terrible, gruesome wrath was loosed upon the Jewish community which numbered seven thousand?

 

Not an Average Community

Hrubieszow was not an average community, and its members were not ordinary. It was the Jewish center of the area, rich in numbers and proud of its quality.

Its leaders over the years came from different ideological backgrounds, but were famous for their initiative and energy as well as their national, religious and social temperament.

Its social, philanthropic, and cultural institutions were lively as well as willing to take on commitments.

Its common folks were rich in Hasidic enthusiasm, and had a Jewish heart and a humanist sensibility.

There was nothing that they did not establish and build.

They set up kheyders, talmud–toyres, and modern schools. They initiated community associations, societies, drama clubs, and cultural activities.

They founded study houses, large and small synagogues, and (excuse the comparison) political parties and youth organizations.

They developed small industry, commerce, trade, and crafts. They breathed with the breath of Jewish life in Poland. Their heartbeat with the heart of the Jewish people. They rejoiced in its successes and were saddened by its failures. They spoke of Hasidism, Enlightenment,”Love of Zion,” Zionism, and Socialism.[12]

They believed in, and fought for, a better tomorrow. Sadly, they did not live to see that tomorrow.

[Columns 5-6]

March 1962

Thousands of kilometers and decades separate us from Hrubieszow. We live in a different political and geographical climate. Other people and other problems. By now, our children often have trouble pronouncing the name Hrubieszow. The town, its Jewish population, and its diasporic way of life is alien to them.

But those who first saw the light of day in Hrubieszow, those whose cradle was on Synagogue Street, although they live with all the problems of today, cannot completely forget the past.

Memories beg, demand, and command them: Don't forget us!

Let not a single fragment be lost, not a single remnant of that rich Jewish life, constructed by twenty generations who did not know they were building on top of a volcano.

True to this request, we have been selecting, collecting, and, bee–like adding letter to letter, word to word, image to image, to write down and preserve for eternity that which existed and will never exist again.

This was no easy task!

Should we list all the difficulties, hindrances, and failures that delayed the appearance of this book from one week to the next and from one month to the next?

Yet, after all, we overcame all the difficulties, and bring before you today, dear readers, the Hrubieszow Memorial Book.

We would like it to be a memorial plaque; or, in plain Yiddish, a gravestone over the grave of 7000 Jews of Hrubieszow, who lived but did not live to enjoy even a bit of contentment. Have we achieved our goal? You, dear readers, will judge us. When you judge, do not hold against us mistakes, omissions, contradictions, duplicated descriptions, and inaccuracies. These crept in illegally, and “adorn” quite a few pages. It was not always possible to avoid them in such a large, ramified project with its specific conditions.

Please also don't hold against us the fragmentary nature of the book. We wanted it to be monolithice, homogeneous, and stylistically unified. In this, we were not always successful. This is because the Hrubieszow Memorial Book is a collection, the collective of initiators, material–gatherers, memoirists, document annotators, and editors. Various opinions and different levels of writing did not always hang together organically. It is not easy to create a whole product out of splinters.

Oh, if only all the collaborators on this book could have divided the work among them according to a plan, we would have avoided many duplications, which crept in in spite of the strong hand of the editor, who was often merciless in his deletions.

Dear readers, when you pass judgment do not fault us for deciding to allow as many natives of Hrubieszow as possible–often unsophisticated writers–to express themselves in the book, talk about themselves and about the town in their own style and language, with hardly any changes.

One result of this is that here and there we allowed long–windedness which, at the same time, is accompanied by great simplicity and even more authenticity.

 

Language

As far as language goes, we are far from uniform. Yiddish, Hebrew, and even English rub shoulders on the pages of the Hrubieszow Memorial Book.

True, we could have been satisfied with Yiddish alone, the common language of Hrubieszow natives all over the world. However, we wanted to achieve two more goals: allowing each Hrubieszow native to express himself in the language where he feels most at home now, while enabling our children in Israel and America to glance at pages, even a few

Therefore, let our severe critics and aesthetes forgive the mish–mash of languages. This is who we are.

In spite of its size and diverseness, the Hrubieszow Memorial Book is still not comprehensive. Many institutions, personalities, and events have not been expressed in the book. We regret that so many specificities were not written by anyone, They will be forgotten, and mentioned by no one.

Therefore, we ask forgiveness of all those whose names and works were minimized or not mentioned at all. We had many good intentions, but it wasn't possible to translate our wishes into entries – sometimes due to our faulty memories, and sometimes there was no one to remind us.

 

Congratulations

We appreciate the efforts and work, goodwill and devotion, that have made it possible for the Hrubieszow book to be here before us. We therefore permit ourselves now to express heartfelt thanks and comradely congratulations to all the compilers and creators of the Hrubieszow book.

Congratulations to all members in Israel, America, and throughout the world, who searched, rummaged, and were generous with their time and energy in order to offer another article or another image that would enrich the Hrubieszow book.

Congratulations to all the activists who knocked on doors, asked and demanded tirelessly, even when they were turned away.

Congratulations to the talented writers, masters of the written word, the wonderful portrayers of life in Hrubieszow.

Congratulations to all those who identified photos, compiled the list of martyrs, organized addresses, collected and donated money.

We thank them with all our hearts! It is thanks to them that the Hrubieszow Memorial Book lies before you.

The Editor
Tel Aviv, March 1962

[Columns 7-8]

To Our Young Reader![13]

I assume you've heard the name Hrubieszow from your parents more than once. It's in Polish, and might be a bit strange to someone who knows only Hebrew. But it is with this name that you grew up, and its frequent mention at home probably left traces.

It was different for your parents, whose cradles stood in Hrubieszow homes, and who saw their first light of day coming from its alleys. Their souls tremble and thrill when they hear the name. Sometimes it causes them to weep.

What is the power of this mysterious name that thrills and excites the souls of fathers and mothers, who are so deeply involved in everyday concerns?

There are many reasons for this.

It was in the town of Hrubieszow that your parents were born. They were educated in its homes; grew up in its streets; matured in its community life; and gained experience in its institutions.

One's first steps in life and primal experiences are not easily forgotten. That is exactly what happened to your parents, natives of Hrubieszow. Throughout their lives, regardless of twists and turns, they are accompanied by these youthful first experiences, their lights and shadows. The experiences never leave them; they cry out and demand, Don't forget us!

Do you understand now what thrills the souls of your parents, natives of Hrubieszow?

The very name evokes memories of entire families, ramified and complete, not torn apart and broken, from the time before the massive murder committed by the Nazi scourge.

Their souls secretly weep for the family occasions, the celebrations, the support offered by the family to those in need–all that is now gone.

Do you understand what excites the spirit of fathers and mothers, natives of Hrubieszow?

The town's name evokes values that developed when they were young. It's important that you know: Jewish Hrubieszow was not an ordinary town. It was a town that fought, struggled, and built. It was aware of all that happened in the Jewish world. It absorbed every cultural and social trend of Jewish thought. Its homes produced Jewish and secular scholars, Lovers of Zion, Zionists, and Socialists.

Many of them became renowned as astute masters of Halacha, expert scholars of Torah and Hasidism.

Many of them called for Enlightenment, progress, and rethinking Jewish life in diaspora.

Many dreamed of Zion and aimed to settle and rebuild it.

Their descendants gained experience in training groups. They chopped trees, carried water, went hungry, and dreamed of an immigration certificate that would enable them to reach the longed–for Eretz–Yisra'el.[14]

There were also circles that worshipped revolutionary Socialism, and believed in a social revolution that would rescue the world from poverty and injustice and would also solve the problem of the Jews in diaspora.

Such was the many–colored mosaic of Jewish public life in Hrubieszow, which argued, struggled, and fought, and raised our parents to love the Jewish people devotedly, faithfully, and wholeheartedly.

The name of Hrubieszow also reminds them of the mutual aid, the charitable and support societies, the cultural and economic institutions, and the mutual responsibility in its broadest, finest sense, that natives of Hrubieszow developed over twenty generations on the banks of the Bug and Hucwa, which surrounds it, in Poland.

Who can count the institutions that were initiated and founded by natives of Hrubieszow?

They established kheyders and houses of study, synagogues large and small, yeshivas and modern secular schools.

They initiated traditional aid associations such as Gemilut–Chesed, Ezrat–Cholim, Somekh–Noflim, Bet–Lechem, an orphanage, and a hospital.[15]

They founded political parties, youth movements, trade unions, libraries, drama and cultural clubs.

They developed banks, funds, merchant and tradesmen organizations.

They advanced small industry, commerce, and crafts.

They made a modest but honest living and raised their children “unto learning, wedlock and good deeds.”[16] They believed in, and fought for, a better future, but did not live to witness it. Their lives were degraded, trampled, and crushed by a cruel boot.

 

March 1962

Thousands of kilometers and dozens of years separate us from the Hrubieszow that I described. We are living in new times, singing new tunes. Our climate – political, social, and economic – is different. Therefore, the name of Hrubieszow may not have significance for you, our children. This is not the case for your parents. The present, as wonderful as it may be, does not overshadow their past.

Personalities, events, deeds and institutions populate their memories, begging and demanding – do not forget us!

Obedient to this command, we have collected information, gathered memories, and assembled events. We have patiently combined words, essays, and images, to commemorate things that existed in the past – and are gone forever.

The result of this complex effort lies before you: the Hrubieszow Memorial Book.

It is mostly written in Yiddish. This may make it hard for you to read. We expected this, and therefore had long debates about the language of the Memorial Book. But the decisive factor was our wish to publish it in the common language of all natives of Hrubieszow wherever they live; and, for the most part, they are Yiddish readers. However, to enable you to read it, we have added quite a few articles in Hebrew.

We will have our reward by fulfilling the biblical injunction “Repeat them to your children. Talk about them![17]

Repeat, you young folks, the story of the twenty generations that came before you in the Polish–Jewish town of Hrubieszow, on the banks of the Bug and Hucwa, in the small country of Poland.

Don't make light of it – it merits study: the story of generations of Hrubieszow natives who persisted, exhibiting bravery, adaptability, and volunteerism.

Let them be your compass in private and public life, in the independent State of Israel.

The Editor

[Columns 9-10]

Pictures Tell Tales[18]

 

The station on the Ludmir– Zamość –Zawada line, 2–3 kilometers from the center of town

 

Carriage–drivers and cart–drivers made their living here. This was also the first and last encounter of many Jews with the town. Jews dressed in their best would come here to welcome guests or bid farewell to young people leaving for Eretz–Yisro'el. To our great sorrow, the station was also witness to Jews being transported to Belzec by the Nazi beasts.

 

A view of one of the town's bridges – the Zamość bridge

 

Ever since its' beginning, Hrubieszow has been surrounded by water. Access to the town was only by way of bridges. Each bridge was named for the town to which it led: the Zamość bridge, Chelmno, Svinitin, and Kryłów bridges.[19] Jews from towns near and far, whose marriages were troubled, would come to divorce their wives in the town by the river, whose name would appear in the divorce document.[20]

 

Staszic Street was central to the town. One end had a charming balcony, with a view of several streets.

 

The area around the balcony was always lively. It was the location of the Jewish butchers, who were always the first to defend Jewish lives and Jewish honor in times of trouble. Tall Benny with a pipe in his mouth would stride around and terrify the non–Jewish hooligans. It was the location of the government alcohol monopoly, where peasants came to buy strong drink. Many of the customers' buyers would drink up while still on the bar's steps. Yellow Leyzer's brick building was prominent on Staszic. It had a large wall with a long entryway, lined with small apartments. Yellow Leyzer departed this sinful world long ago, and only his wife and her grown sons remained. There was a wooden bridge across the street; the carriage–driver sons of Khayim–Efroyim and Yankev Yeshayele would drive their passengers to the train over this bridge.

 

This is the image of two inns, one belonging to Finkelshteyn and the other to Hershl (Noah's son).

[Columns 11-12]

There were several large inns in Hrubieszow. One was owned Finkelshteyn. The other one was owned by Hershl (Noah's son) and his two sons Avrom–Yankev and Yosele was especially famous. The owners belonged to a branch of the Radzin hasidic dynasty and were known as scholars who kept silent and never sought honors.[21] On a free day, all the hasidim would gather at Hershl's, discuss Hasidism, and enjoy some drinks. Once the alcohol warmed them up, they started singing a soft tune. Hershl liked to go out on the balcony while they were singing and observe the festive town.

 

The New Market Square began at the corner of Panska and continued far into the distance, almost to Lubelska

 

The area was crowded with businesses of various kinds, which opened and closed quietly each day. Even the three seltzer stands that forced themselves into the market treated their customers politely. The better sort of people got their drink at the stand in the middle, run by Shoul Abeles.[22] He was childless, and secretive. As you held your glass of seltzer, you had to glance at his large wife, whose big earrings constantly swayed and sparkled. No one knew who she was, or where Shoul Abeles had found this treasure.

In the evenings, the commercial street became a promenade; it was called “the exchange.” This is where members of political parties met, as well as romantic couples; the embarrassed lovers would snatch a moment at the stands.

 

A corner in the market, where Shloyme Butche's goldsmithing business was

 

One of the few workshops on the main streets was Shloymele Butche's goldsmithing shop. Old Butche and his sons and grandsons sat at the work tables, happily working away and telling tales. It was a gathering place for better passersby, who would listen to the news.[23] One of the regular visitors at the goldsmith's was the unmarried Motl Benkl. When the group saw Motl with his cane they would invite him in. If he was in a good mood, he would start singing; the group hummed along, to everyone's enjoyment. The singing would annoy the neighbors. The first to come in was always Mordkhe–Avrom, the fabric dealer; in 1905 he was closely connected to the strikers.[24] He never stopped talking about the revolution. Now, he was a merchant, and very religiously observant, who followed Bentshele Melamed and admired his sermons. Another one was M. I. Mernshteyn, head of the local Jewish National Fund, whose every move was accompanied by a Zionist phrase. They were joined by Shmuel Zayd, who was a Bundist merchant and Yitzchok–Shimen Fayfer's right hand. The workshop warmed up and became intimate. The elder Butche enjoyed it and gazed at the group with laughing eyes.

 

A House on Market Square

This house was not remarkable in any way; it was the home of the renowned fabric merchant Arn Lerner. The cutting and stitching workshop of Shloymke (Khayim–Efroyim's son) was nearby, as well as Zelig Luxemburg's hut, where political activists would gather to simmer down after heated meetings, and where arguments were often resolved. It was also the location of the bar run by Holtzer's widow. Her husband had long since died, and Bluma ran the bar alone. A local center of the Po'aley Tziyon party operated here as well.[25] They would host important guests, and hold deliberations. The buildings were surrounded by a municipal orchard, where idlers would dream about their professions.

 

[Columns 13-14]

After Poland regained freedom, this street, a central thoroughfare previously known as Panska, was known as May 3 Street[26]

 

The street began with two churches. The Catholic church was on the left, deep in greenery. The prayers, accompanied by an organ, and the sea of candles terrified the Jewish passer–by. The walker was eager to rush through the grandeur and arrogance that radiated from the church. The church's shadows often seemed to chase you, trying to catch you with pincers. On the right side, the Russian church looked coldly across. It was always closed, and prayers were rarely heard. Jewish strollers searched for the fat, long–haired Russian priest, but people were hardly ever seen there. The street was paved on both sides. Strollers breathed–in the aromatic fragrance of plants. Courting couples had dates on the street. Library patrons walked by with books tucked under their arms. Party activists and speakers would come here for the fresh air. Hrubieszow had fun in its three cinemas (Oasis, Rusalka, and City). But Jewish caps were nowhere to be seen, as the whole area smelled of sinfulness.

 

Tuesday is Market Day in Hrubieszow

 

The market took place once a week, on Tuesdays, in the church square. Jews would prepare for the market all week. The evening before market day a girl would quickly part from her boyfriend, saying, “Tomorrow is market day.”

 

A hard day, but it provides our livelihood

 

That day, peasants from the surrounding villages would come to Hrubieszow in their produce–filled wagons. Jews would check out the carts, and buy chickens, geese, ducks, or even a calf. Once they had a few zloty, the peasants scattered, to the bars or the shops. The shop owners sought customers, and there was much bargaining and palm–slapping.

 

 

How important was the Jewish Hospital?

The Jewish hospital of Hrubieszow played almost no role in the town. No one was in charge of the dilapidated structure, and people rarely came in. A few used it. One who comes to mind is Falik Vekhter, a Jewish leeching practitioner, who was often found near the building. Later, Rayz, the local medical practitioner, also busied himself there. No reports about the institution were ever given. But the building was refurbished under the rule of the Hitlerite beast; local Nazi murderers enlarged the depressing structure and turned it into a municipal medical clinic.

[Columns 15-16]

 

 

Who functioned in this house?

This was the office of the district governor, the starosta. All the functions of government came from this house. The governors changed over the years. They were not especially hostile to Jews. Some of them were even liberals, who did not use heavy–handed methods. It was possible to cancel many edicts. One of the starostas was rumored to be a converted Jew who was a dandy, rarely talked, and would have Yankl Sherer over every morning to refresh his face.[27] People envied Yankl, saying “Jewish luck–he'll get a bone from his table.” Another starosta was said to have come from Austria, where everyone bears the title of “Doctor.” He was a very courteous non–Jew, rarely seen, who wanted to live in peace with everyone. Once, at a municipal council meeting, the right–wing Po'aley Tziyon party demanded that the poor be given coal; they threatened to bring the population out on the streets.[28] The next day, the courteous governor intervened. He sent his driver with the coach, hitched to two tandem horses, to seek out all the council members, who were then received politely and ordered to take care of the matter, to ensure peace in the town.

 

The three girls are standing where a narrow flow from the wide sluice enters the Vane stream

 

The residents of Swinitin built a small bridge over the water, and young people walked there at twilight, on Shabbes, and on holidays.

Konyuche's orchard was not far away; people would pop in for a bit of fruit. One could hire a boat to take a likable girl for a ride. Khayimke Fisher would often be around, with his cap visor pulled down and hiding his fisher–blue eyes. The poor soul was cramped in the cellar “palace” of Arn Remikhes, but he felt free on the water. Here, his almighty God looked down at him, saw him, and felt him. Pious women said that Khayimke Fisher was probably one of the thirty–six hidden righteous men, who justify the existence of the entire sinful world.[29] During the first days of the week he was busy mending nets. On Thursday and Friday he would go to the river to catch some fish for Shabbes.

Those who were not satisfied with strolling in the Rusalka garden would go on to Kilinsky Street. From there, a road led to meadows, forests, and fields, where the Jews of Hrubieszow could breathe some fresh air. That is where Scout outings took place, as well as secret meetings of the revolutionary parties.

 

There were many small synagogues in the town. One of them was the Belz synagogue.[30]

 

The Belz small synagogue, with walls of fired bricks, was surrounded by houses of worship on three sides: the Radzin synagogue on the southwest, the large house of study on the west, and the synagogue on the south.[31] The small synagogue stood on a mound, a bit higher than the other places of worship around it. The Belz hasids had the same attitude: they considered themselves more exalted than others. Their rabbi was the only real rabbi; they were the only God–fearing folks, grimacing more and praying longer than others. They were also more fanatic than other hasids. If a young Belzer became a freethinker,

[Columns 17-18]

The road from Pobrezhan to Zamość

 

removed his Jewish cap and came to Shabbes prayers wearing a house robe, he could sneak into a nook. But the others immediately sensed the presence of the insolent one, and delayed the Torah reading until the impertinent “hater of Israel” was thrown out of the synagogue. The mood would then gradually improve. The southwestern corner of the large square synagogue had an alcove bounded by two large double ovens, where itinerant beggars would spend the night.[32] The alcove was used by children on holidays and Shabbes; there, they could be free of their fathers' watching eyes and have some fun with other boys.

Yisro'el Holler, one of the important cart–owners, who would drive passengers to Zamość through Pobrezhan, has long been deceased. His “lions,” who provided his living, and whom he cherished as though they were his sons, are also gone.[33] Could a bridle from Grandpa's horses be hanging in a forgotten room in the house of one of his descendants? Yisro'el would recount his clashes with the imps who pestered his horses. They would show up at the edge of Pobrezhan, near the small forest, where young and older children would celebrate Lag–be'oymer.[34] They would appear, wearing green caps like German children, and ask for a ride. Yisro'el was not a fool; he would grab the reins and set off at such a gallop that the horses' bones creaked. Another time, a lump of sugar was in the road. When you see sugar, of course you go to taste it. But before you get your first taste, you hear devilish laughter all around, which penetrates your entire being. Yisro'el forgets about the sugar and gets moving fast. There were many such stories. The Pobrezhan road was later forgotten; people went to Zamość on the train, and only peasant carts used the road. A Jew named FridlanderΒΈ from nearby Austria, set up a gigantic mill there. Other Jews opened a granary in Pobrezhan. Surprisingly, the most successful of all was a woman, Dvoyrele Zharki. She owned the area, and peasants greeted her with a pleasant “Good morning.” These townsfolk were always peaceful, busy with their small workshops. On Sundays, wearing caps with shiny visors and holding a bouquet of wildflowers, they would walk to the church to the fat priest regards from Pobrezhan. This peaceful atmosphere vanished in the last years before the war. At nightfall, it became dangerous to stroll there; stones would fly out from hidden spots. The Jews who worked at the granary started thinking about moving back to town.

 

The sluice was very significant for folks in Hrubieszow. The image shows the area behind the Zamość bridge, near the sluice. Krasnopolski's house is in the background. In the boat: Unknown; Khane Fayer; unknown; Lolek Peretz.

 

The part of the river known as “the sluice” was very significant for the town's residents. The name itself was a bit frightening. Not everyone dared to risk his life in this part of the river. The surrounding houses abutted on the sluice. The Christian Krasnopolski, with a constant greasy smile in his thick, Polish mustache, lived in one house. This was also where Arn Moyshe Palski lived. He headed the klezmer musicians of Hrubieszow and played clarinet. Krashkevitch, the Pole, kept his boats in that corner. People would hire his boats for a sail on the river. Good skippers would also try out that area. They would sneak into the Shatens' garden for fresh tomatoes or tasty strawberries. There are many tales in town about the sluice. Not far from the hill, where the depth tempted many swimmers, there used to be a large water–mill. It was impossible to retrieve all those who drowned there. Swimmers sometimes encountered a pair of stiffened legs belonging to someone who had drowned. The following story was told about the small Svinit bridge, over the spot where the sluice joined the river: It was many years ago, when the town housed Russian soldiers (before barracks were built for them). A Russian company commander threw himself into the water from the bridge. The waters immediately pulled him down into the depths. From that night on, when the town clock started ringing for midnight, a white dog would appear near the bridge, leaping in all directions. People said that it was a reincarnation of the drowned commander.

Dear Reader!

You have probably been away from Hrubieszow for 20, 30, or 40 years. And wherever you are – Israel, America, or Europe – the pictures were very evocative of your house, your family, of the days when homes were homes and families were families. Today, pictures are all that is left.

Translator's Footnotes:

  1. The text here and throughout the following incorporates many phrases, names, and terms that have been italicized, probably for emphasis. I have reproduced the italics as they occur. Return
  2. The text alludes to, and quotes from, a popular poem written in 1901 by Haim Nahman Bialik (1873–1934), a Jewish poet who wrote primarily in Hebrew but also in Yiddish. He was considered the national Jewish poet. The kapote is a long coat formerly worn by male Jews of eastern Europe; kapotkele is the diminutive form. Return
  3. Under the British Mandate for Palestine (1920–1948), Jewish immigration was restricted, and a limited number of immigration certificates was issued each year. Zionists awaiting certificates would go to agricultural training centers to ready themselves for immigration. Return
  4. The Balkan folk dance hora was very popular among Zionists; HaTikvah was a Zionist song later adopted as the national anthem of Israel. Kibbutz settlements in Palestine would send emissaries to meet with Zionist youth in different countries. Return
  5. The kheyder is the elementary school for boys, teaching basic Judaism and Hebrew. The talmud–toyre is the more advanced level of study. Return
  6. Melaveh–Malkeh is the celebration that marks the end of Shabbes. I could not identify mitlave. Yoreh–De'ah is a 14th–century compilation of Halacha (Jewish law). Return
  7. The Jewish National Fund was created in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish settlement. The Foundation Fund (established in 1920) collects donations to support Israel. Return
  8. I could not identify Poguzhe and Pobrezhan. Lemberg is now known as Lviv. Return
  9. Wagon drivers often referred to their horses fondly as “lions.” I could not translate keromesl. Return
  10. Slapping palms seems to have indicated the completion of a transaction. Return
  11. The Russian–Jewish historian Simon Dubnow (1860–1941) was the ideologue of Jewish Diaspora nationalism. In 1907 he helped to found the small political Folkist party, supporting a combination of political liberalism and cultural autonomy for Jews as a fully legitimate national minority. The Territorialist movement, which coalesced in 1905, preached the formation of a Jewish collective in Palestine or anywhere else, on the basis of self–rule. Return
  12. “Lovers of Zion” was a pre–Zionist Jewish nationalist movement, founded in 1884. Return
  13. Columns 7 and 8 are translated from Hebrew. Return
  14. “Wood–choppers and water–carriers” are biblical terms for unskilled, low–class workers who may be aliens in the community (Deuteronomy 29, 11; Joshua 9, 27). Return
  15. A Gemilut–Chesed is a free–loan society; an Ezrat Cholim society assists with medical needs; Somech–Noflim is a charitable association to benefit the poor; a Beit–Lechem society collects food from the Jewish community for redistribution to the needy. Return
  16. This is a traditional blessing for the parents of a newborn boy. Return
  17. Deuteronomy 6,7 Return
  18. Original note: Written by Meir and Yehuda Hofman and Nosn Hadas Return
  19. I was unable to identify Swinitin. Return
  20. The divorce document must have the location in which it was issued. Return
  21. The Radzin hasidic dynasty was founded in the early 19th century. Return
  22. I could not determine the meaning of “better people.” Return
  23. See Note 20. Return
  24. Workers' strikes throughout Russia in 1905 were harbingers of the 1905 Revolution. Return
  25. Po'aley Tziyon was a movement of Marxist–Zionist Jewish workers founded in various cities of Poland, Europe and the Russian Empire. Return
  26. May 3 is a Polish national and public holiday, celebrating the declaration of the Constitution on that date in 1791. Return
  27. The Yiddish sher means scissors, and this most likely refers to providing a shave. Return
  28. In 1920 the Poa'ley Tziyon party split into right– and left–wing factions. Return
  29. According to an old Jewish tradition, every generation has 36 righteous men on whose piety the fate of the world depends. Return
  30. Belz Hasidism was founded in the town of Belz, in eastern Ukraine, in the early 19th century. Return
  31. Radzin Hasidism originated in the early 19th century. Return
  32. Such large ovens were kept burning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and their vicinity afforded shelter to vagrants. Return
  33. Cart and coach drivers often referred to their horses as “lions.” Return
  34. Lag be'oymer is a minor holiday that occurs on the 33rd day of the Omer, the 49–day period between Passover and Shavuot, and schoolchildren have the day off. It is customary to shoot bows and arrows and to light bonfires. Return

 

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.

  Hrubieszów, Poland     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


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

Copyright © 1999-2021 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 5 Nov 2020 by LA