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[Page 22]

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Surviving Nowy Dwor Jews, photographed at the yortstayt [anniversary of death] gathering for their murdered sisters and brothers
Photographed in Pocking, German, December 14, 1946

 

A Letter from the Central Committee of the Nowy Dwor Survivors in Germany
to the Relief Committee of Nowy Dwor landslayt in Los Angeles, California
Sam Bernstein, Secretary

Esteemed friends,

We can report that on December 12 and 13 there occurred a meeting of Jewish survivors in Germany. This was the first organized meeting of those who miraculously survived. It was a very moving scene when people from one town, returning as if from the dead, met for the first time after seven such horrific years.

The whole meaning of our lives found expression in those few seconds. There wasn't the kind of joy we used to feel. Blood flowed with every tear shed, and our hearts beat with both pain and joy as we remembered how we had once lived like human beings. And now we were the abandoned remains of the large Nowy Dwor family that had been so gruesomely annihilated in gas chambers, crematoria, and other death camps. People wanted to mourn, but had no place, no remains over which to do so. And then you meet again a person from the same town, with whom you played as a child and your whole life repeats itself. Then you feel as if you are human again, because you are among your own. That was the purpose of our gathering. The memory of that day will last for many years for those who were there.

The memorial that was held on December 12 at 9:00 P.M. made a very good impression. Two hundred Nowy Dworers and thirty people from Vishigrad and Zakrotshin participated. Comrade Yosl Pinker opened the meeting. Then there were three minutes of silence to honor the martyrs. Comrade Hersh Weiss, as the most senior person of our town, was asked to join the Presidium. The temporary committee and others were also invited into the Presidium.

After Comrade Pinker gave an overview of the life and liquidation of the Nowy Dwor ghetto, the cantor sang the Al Mole Rakhmim prayer [for the dead]. The entire auditorium burst out sobbing and Hersh Weiss said kaddish for the whole town of Jews who died as holy martyrs. People fainted.

Then Comrade Y. Roytman was introduced and spoke about the communal life in Nowy Dwor.

[Page 23]

He talked about the high level of culture in the town, and of its fine, upstanding Jews. He mentioned all of the fine personages our town produced. He called for unity in order to make it possible to rebuild our broken lives.

After that, the “katstetniks” [concentration camp prisoners] described their horrific experiences in the Nowy Dwor ghetto and the concentration camps. The blood froze in our veins as we heard how the enemy tortured our women and children. If only we hadn't had to hear this. They talked about how the filthy scoundrels of Nowy Dwor -- such as Y. Gershon, Nieshkele's son, Melekh Gerers, Ankl Baranik, Shrut, Skrobak, Nakhman Raykhman(Kotoynte), Herman Abramovitsh, Khaim Yatsik – helped to murder our loved ones.

Then, Eta Shimonovitsh recited a poem she wrote about our town. Then Shloyme Kartsovitsh and others called upon us to fulfill the unexpressed testament of our parents, that reached us in the smoke of the crematorium. Comrade Pinker closed the memorial and everyone sang together.

The next day, December 13, at 10 A.M. the general meeting began under the chairmanship of Roytman. Kartsovitsh and Pinker delivered a report about our activity, which was unanimously adopted.

We passed resolutions to send warm greetings to our brothers and sisters in America for their help, and to send greetings to our brothers and sisters in Argentina, Eretz Yisroel and other countries. It was also resolved to ask our American landslayt to send a delegation to Germany so that we can discuss everything with them, and to ask the New York Committee to lay a wreath of flowers on the grave of Comrade Rudovski on behalf of the Nowy Dwor Committee in Germany.

The general meeting then decided that our Committee should remain a Central Committee because we are spread out over all of Germany. The meeting decided to elect a committee of nine people, five from Wahlstadt and four from the surrounding area.

The following were elected to the committee from Wahlstadt: Yosl Pinker, Shloyme Kartsovitsh, BInyomin Mosak, Isser Knekht, and Binyomin Rozenberg. Yisroel Roytman, Mendl Kosover, Yisroel Kokhalski, Shimen Patshinsk were elected from the region. Also elected was an oversight committee of the following: A. Pinker, A. Sakovski, M. Matushok. Comrade Hersh Weiss was elected honorary chairman. The meeting was then closed. After a communal luncheon people dispersed.

Later, there was a constitutional meeting of the entire plenum, which confirmed Yosl Pinker as Chairman, B. Mosak as Vice Chairman; Secretary Sh. Kartsovitsh, Treasurer Isser Knekht. It was also decided to publish shortly an almanac about our town, under the direction of B. Rozenberg.

This is a brief overview of our gathering. We're also letting you know that because of difficulties with the mail service, we are sending our addresses and photos in a separate envelope.

  Sh. Kartsovitsh Secretary, Wahlshtadt, Germany,
December 20, 1946

* * *

now023.jpg
Yisroel Leyzer Bornshteyn

To the bright memory of our sweet nephew Yisroel Leyzer Bornshteyn, who gave his life in the fight against Fascism, for a better world for future generations. His memory will remain as a ray of sunlight in the hearts of our family.

We solemnly promise to raise your child so that he may with honor carry your name, and never to harm him.

Khane Sore (Bornshteyn) Goldberg
Menakhem Bornshteyn
Zelig Bornshteyn
Shloye Bornshteyn
Shmuel Bornshteyn

[Page 24]

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The Rabbi brings home a Jewish soldier as a guest for Sukkos

 

The Nowy Dworer Rabbi

By Meyer Blake

Los Angeles, February 10, 1947

The Rabbi of Nowy Dwor, Rabbi Ruven Neufeld, was known always and everywhere as a brilliant religious scholar as well as a worldly man. People came to him from far and wide with their disputes, upon which he was the final authority. And everyone came to him for rulings on religious matters.

He also acted as an intermediary with the authorities on behalf of the Jewish community, a role which could have put his life in danger. At the beginning of World War I, the Russians issued various decrees against the Jews, one of which ordered them to evacuate the area around the Modlin Fortress. Risking his life, Rabbi Ruvn Leyb Neufeld went to see the commandant, who was a great anti-Semite, at the Modlin Fortress, where no civilian was allowed, and managed to have many of the decrees annulled. During the German occupation later in that war, the rabbi also interceded with the authorities on behalf of individuals as well as the community.

When the Poles took power [after World War I], the real work of mediation began and the rabbi had to knock at the door of government officials about the daily decrees which were falling upon the heads of the Jews. In many cases, he was successful.

He was also a great philanthropist. He had a large inheritance from his father–in–law Reb Moyshe Yankl Blat, as well as a good income from his rabbinical post. Most of this was spent on charitable gifts to Eretz Yisroel and yeshivas. The rabbi did not need much for himself; a glass of tea and a cigarette constituted most of his daily requirements. Thanks to him Nowy Dwor was able to build a synagogue of bricks, which was not allowed by the Russians. As a sign of gratitude, the Nowy Dworers named the synagogue after him: “In memory of Rabbi Ruvn Leyb Neufeld.”

These are only a few words about the great scholar whom the Jewish people lost to the Nazi murderers. We hope that a person will be found who will provide a fuller account of the biography of Rabbi Neufeld so that his memory may be eternalized among the Jewish people.

[Page 25]

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Reb Avrom Yungvits, one of the prominent Jews in the Nowy Dwor of the past, father of the beloved Jewish actor Boaz Young

* * *

Greetings!

Nowy Dwor – where my cradle stood.

The Piasek [“sands,” a part of the town] where my feet would stride.

The graves of my father and mother

no doubt trampled down, not a blade of grass remaining.

I send you a greeting from there.

Boaz Young (Yungrits),
New York, January 9, 1947

[Page 26]

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A gathering of Nowy Dworers in Los Angeles, with several guests from Chicago

Chicago, February 10, 1947

Dear Friend Bernstein,

I would surely feel guilty if I didn't write a few words upon the occasion of your event. I would certainly have liked to have been at your celebration. But unfortunately it was impossible. So please accept my wishes for a great success. I am convinced that with your ability and dedication to the work on behalf of our surviving Nowy Dwor Jews, my wish will surely be fulfilled.

Along with my letter you will find my contribution, a check for $10. May you be blessed with strength. Send my heartfelt greetings to all the Nowy Dworers in Los Angeles.

  Moyshe and Khaye Kohn

* * *

Greetings and blessings, fellow Nowy Dworers, for the noble work you have done to alleviate the need of our survivors. We are proud of what you have accomplished until now. The next step in our work will need to be more constructive. Our aid must consist of helping the remnants of our surviving landslayt in Poland to settle in their old and new places in Poland itself. This work will demand more effort and energy.

Inspire all landslayt to carry out their duty, not just as landslayt but also as Jews. The rescue of the survivors will assure a Jewish future in Europe.

We send greetings also to Comrade Bernstein, the secretary of the organization, whose love for the landslaytin particular and for the Jewish people in general enabled your work and effort to be a success.

  Yankev and Esther Kanaster
San Pedro, California

[Page 27]

Reychbach, November 20, 1946

Dear Friend Sam Bernstein,

I received your letter as well as the $100, for which I thank you heartily. This money helped to save me from the difficult situation in which I find myself. Imagine: on the day I received your letter my wife had to bring our six month old child to the hospital for surgery. It had long been necessary, but I couldn't afford it, but today, as I write, my child has had the operation. Perhaps in your honor, it will be successful.

I thank you very much for finding my cousin. I have already received a letter from him. He wrote that he has sent me a package.

Now, dear friend, I have heard that an American delegation is coming to Poland. If that is true, I would very much like to be able to speak with them about all my questions. If it is true, write me. I thank you and the entire Nowy Dwor Relief Committee for your good hearts, and for not having forgotten me.

  Your friend,
Moyshe Michalowski

 

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A group of Nowy Dworer smugglers during World War I

[Page 28]

In the name of the Nowy Dwor Relief Committee and of the surviving landslayt in Europe we send our regards to our Corresponding Secretary Sam Borenstein for his untiring work for Jewish survivors. After working all day in a shop, Sam Borenstein comes home and writes hundreds of letters to various parts of the world on behalf of survivors. It is only because of his efforts that all of the landslayt mentioned in the various parts of this book have been located, and many of them put into contact with their relatives in America and other free countries.

Notwithstanding that this has impaired his health, he continues the work. We wish him strength.

  The Committee

 

The Joy of Life

If no one smiled at us, or encouraged us in hard times
if no one, near or far, offered us help
if everyone, always, thought only of himself
and no one cared for us in our time of need
and no one wanted to give of himself
but everyone had to meet life's struggles all alone --
Oh, what a horrible world it would be –
the very opposite of what we strive for.

Life is sweet, and that is because we have kind friends
with whom we share our sorrows and our joys.
We will live not for ourselves alone
but also for those who think like us
and give and do for others in need
wherever they may be.

That is where the pleasure of life lies, and in the end
we find that by creating true and beloved friends
we not only make life beautiful
but we fill it with joy.

[by] Shmuel Bernstein,
Los Angeles, California

[Page 29]

In memory of the noble personage

Hershl Yeruzalimski

A name that will be remembered with great respect for his service as a teacher and a guide for many young people in Nowy Dwor, who under his guidance enjoyed their first secular education.

Nowy Dwor Relief Committee,
Los Angeles, California

now029.jpg

 

Agudath Yeshurun

By Meyer Blake (Blakharik)

I believe it will be interesting to give a brief overview of the photograph which appears on the next page [p.30], because despite the fact that the Nowy Dwor rabbi called us Agudath Yeshurun, [Association of the People of Israel] because our organization was established to study Jewish learning, we encountered opposition from both right and left.

The Hasidim objected to us because Reb Hershl Yeruzalimski (his photograph is above, on this page) taught us Rambam's Guide to the Perplexed. Nevertheless, the classes were well-attended by the young Jewish intellectuals of the town. That constituted the opposition from the right. The opposition from the left was stronger, as I will further explain.

Rabbi Elimelekh Neufeld, the son of the Nowy Dwor Rabbi [RuvnLeyb Neufeld], who today is influential in the Mizrachi [religious Zionist] movement in Israel, at that time had returned to Nowy Dwor from Germany, where he had studied. Every Sabbath he would give a talk on the theme, “in the course of the day,” which would attract a very large audience. Unfortunately we do not have a photograph of him.

Reb Yeshaye Baranik taught Tanakh [the Jewish bible]. When he taught, the audience was glued to their suits for the entire time. He had a very pleasant voice and interpreted the verses beautifully.

Reb Yitshak Ayzik taught Hebrew language and writing, as well as Talmud and EynYakov [Jacob's Well, a 16th century text that includes Talmudic tales.] Once, during one of Reb Yitshak Ayzik's lessons, a group of leftists came to our besmedresh and disrupted the lesson. Our boys wanted to go out and chase them away, but Reb Yitshak Ayzik did not want that. He himself went to the door and talked to them. “You are after all progressive people. How can it be that you prevent others from doing as they wish?”

One of them, clearly their leader, answered, “We can't tolerate that in the 20th century young people can be so unenlightened and study these moldy old stories.” To this Reb Yitshak responded (and I will never forget his answer): “Listen, my children. You are so proud of your 20th century. Thirteen years of the 20th century have already passed and what has it brought you? Only bloodshed, pogroms, war and other troubles. And God knows what the civilized 20thcentury can still bring us. You certainly have nothing to be proud of in the 20th century. And as to your objection to moldy stories – come in and wipe off the mold and you will find a source of life in them.” Of course, he didn't have any influence on them, and the struggle continued.

It is also worth mentioning that of the 26 people in the photograph [on p.30] only six remain alive: myself, the brothers Zelig and Itshe Borenstein and Gedalye Goldstein in Los Angeles; Melekh Shikara in New York; and Shmuel Stanislavski, somewhere in the United States. The others (with the exception of Yehiel Holtsman, Reb Yeshaye Baranik, Reb Yitshak Ayzik Ben Tuvim, who died of natural causes) were killed as martyrs by the German murderers in Poland.

The photograph was taken at a banquet we held upon Reb Yitshak Ayzik's departure for Israel. As he stood at the open window of the train car, he said to us: “Reb Yehuda Halevi [medieval Hebrew poet] said:` I am in the West, my heart is in the East.' When I will be in Eretz Yisroel, I will say the opposite –'I am in the East, my heart is in the West'.”

[Page 30]

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Banner depicted in photo: Nowy Dwor Agudath Yeshurun Year 5673 [1912-13]

From right to left, top row: Moyshe Yoskevitsh, Elye Gershon Perlmuter, Avrom Khaim Shrut, Berish Zobotske, Yehiel Dovid Zlatekamin, a young man from Warsaw
Second row, standing: Shloyme Shrut, Melekh Zaydenberg, Itshe Borenshteyn, Moyshe Ivan, Aron Shulbank, Gedalye Goldshteyn, Velvel Grinshpan, Zelig Borenshteyn
Third row, sitting: Yosip Barank, Yehiel Holtsman, Meyer Blekharik (Blake), Reb Yeshaye Baranik, Reb Yitshak Ayzik ben Reb Shloyme Zalmen Ben Tuvim of Jerusalem, Aba Shikara, Shmuel Stanislavski, Melekh Shikara
Last row, sitting: Zelig Kalmanovitsh, Itshe Zelig Loybgot, Yehiel Meyer(?)[sic], Leyzer Perlberg

 

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