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The Committee of Sochaczewites in Israel

by Joseph Grundwag

The Sochaczew Committee in Israel (the Committee) is the group that wrote the Sochaczew Yizkor book, relating their and other Sochaczewite survivors' memories. The Yizkor Book, Pincas Sochaczew, lists 2,467 of the Sochaczewites who were killed in the Shoah. However, this is not the full number of the victims as Sochaczew's Jewish Community totaled over 5,000. Some victims are, therefore, not included.

The Committee has existed since the 1950's, with an executive committee that moved between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv over the years. Joseph Grundwag has been the Secretary for the past 12 years. Mr. Grundwag left Sochaczew in 1934 to become a student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, having taken part in all the wars Israel has fought. He spent 37 years as the director of the Jerusalem branch of the Jewish National Fund.

Among the most important activities of the organization are:

1. The establishment of a memorial monument at the Holon Cemetery in Israel, including the burial of ashes from the extermination camps in Poland.

2. Conducting an annual memorial service in memory of the Sochazewite Holocaust victims.

3. Saving the grounds of the Jewish cemetery in Sochaczew from total deterioration and preventing the Polish authorities from demolishing it in order to build new low-cost housing, as they did elsewhere. This was accomplished after a meeting held in 1988 between the Mayor of Sochaczew, Committee members Arieh Firstenberg and Joseph Grundwag.

4. The construction of a metal fence around the Jewish cemetery in Sochaczew, with the financial assistance of Mr. Yehuda Widavski, a Sochaczew hassid.

5. In 1991, the Committee built a huge memorial wall within the cemetery grounds in Sochaczew, with metal plaques in four languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English and Polish. Adjacent to the monument is a symbolic grave built of the fragments of the shattered gravestones found in the area.

6. Members of the "younger generation" have started to participate in the Committee's activities. The Committee also established a scholarship fund for higher education, which is granted annually to children or grandchildren of original Sochaczewites living in Israel. Three scholarships were awarded in 1999 (August 31, 1999) for the eighth consecutive time.

7. Following the construction of the said memorial wall, the Sochaczew Hassidim built by an Ohel Yizkor, containing two graves of the Admors (Hassidic Rabbis) Rabbi Shmuel and Rabbi Avreimel, of blessed memory. This followed excavations to uncover the remains of the two rabbis. Many visitors now flock to the site and in November 1999, 40 rabbis from Israel visited.

The Sochaczew memorial

(Photographs donated by Mr. Yosef Grundwag of Jerusalem)

The unveiling ceremony of the memorial plaque on the "remembrance wall" which stands in the Sochaczew cemetery.
23rd July, 1991.

The right side of the remembrance wall. Standing: Aryeh Firstenberg Ze'ev Szianwald and Yosef Grundwag (speaker).

The deputy mayor addressing the audience.

From left to right: Yosef Grundwag (Sochaczew Organization Secretary), Ze'ev Szianwald (former Organization Chairman), the "chazan" David Vishniya (formerly from Sochaczew, a Holocaust survivor currently living in the U.S.) and Shlomo Friedman (of blessed memory - was former chairman of the Sochaczew Organization).

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