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[Page 29]

The Martyrs (Kedoshim)

Yacov Fleisher

I already mentioned that in the absence of Community Book (Pinkas Hakehilah), in our town - where the important events, that across the town, are usually registered - it is impossible to bring accurate details, about important, and even historical occurrences, that were known in town, that happened many years ago, and were handed over from generation to generation, just by rumors, without a reliable documentary basis. Therefore it is obvious, that every one heard the story “a little bit” in a different way; and so as years were running, different versions about that occurrence ,where walking by.

Such is the tragic -historic malicious blood libel that happened about two hundred and fifty years ago, and that was known in town as The Kedoshim. Every child in town could tell the malicious story about the Kedoshim, who were killed on Kiddush Hashem (martyrdom), by the Grafina (noble) Tarnowski, following the blood libel, which was slandered by the gentiles against the town's Jews. But every one told it in a different way, and added “something”, upon his friends' story, each one, up to the version that he heard in his own home. Hence, the versions about that terrible event were multiplied.

While all versions relate only to details of the occurrence, there is no argument or rejection, which it happened in reality. This is because people even pointed at the location, where the terrible execution took place, and there were in town families who were descendants of the Kedoshim. No doubt, that this tragic occurrence constitutes an important case in the history of our town.

Following, I submit the story, as it was widespread in our town, which is more or less so : It was in the time of the “Schliachte” (the Aristocracy, the “Pritzim”) reign in Poland. Each “paritz” was the sole ruler and autocrat, in a district, that was his own property. Dzikow belonged to aristocrats of Graf Tarnowski family.(this is the source of the name Tarnobrzeg, which was given to the town Dzikow). At that time, the reign was in the hands of Grafina, who was a fervent “Soine' Yisroel” (enemy of the people of Israel).

Once - so it was told - before Passover, suddenly a Christian boy got lost in Dzikow. According to one version, it was a boy who served the Jews on Sabbath: (Shabbes-Goy). He was heating the oven in winter, removing the candlesticks from tables, and when there was not yet Eruv (boundaries of Sabbath), he carried the proprietors 'Talith' and Tefilim to the synagogue, or to Beith-Hamidrash, and more such works. One Sabbath, the boy did not return home. Soon the rumor was widespread over the entire area, that a Christian boy got lost, and somebody added, that the kid was murdered undoubtedly, by the Jews, in order to use his blood for the Passover Matzoth. That rumor got wings also in the surrounding villages, and soon there were instigators who inflamed the ignorant mob, to punish the Jews severely .Of course they first called the Graf or Grafina, to make “law and justice” and avenge the “Jewish murders”.

The ruler - the Grafina, who was, as mentioned, loaded with sick hatred to Jews, has immediately ordered to take ten(or : eight - seven - five, according to the different versions) congregation leading Jews, for inquiry. They were “investigated” and hardly tortured, until they “admit” the accusations. And when she did not succeed in having their admission, she issued on them a verdict, to be burned alive.

The Shtetl Jews have obviously bombarded universe, decree fast, gathered in Beit -Himdrash, and days and nights said Tehilim, crying and yelling and shouted for heaven's mercy - but all the gates were locked up ,and their prayer was not accepted. They also sent messengers to the Ba'al Shem Tov, of blessed memory, to ask for mercy, and pray for a cancellation of the bad predestination.

But when the messengers arrived to the “Besh”t, he told them that they are late, and that the verdict was already carried out.

Immediately after the execution, the Grafina has ordered to set a big fire in the midtown, not far from the synagogue, and to burn alive the Jews, whom she held as responsible for the “murder”. At the time of the execution, the Grafina was present in person, and was very delighted with that “splendid shaw”. The wretched Jews, jumped into the fire, with “Shema Israel” on their lips, and with vigorous curses, towards the Grafina.
She, the vicious, was not yet satisfied, just watching the view, except she took a full hand with ashes and threw it, in order to spread the ashes, to the four points of the compass - but suddenly, a strong wind blew in the opposite direction, that brought the ashes back, straight to the Grafina's eyes, and she immediately became blind.

A few more days have past, and hither, the boy came back home. He told that on that Sabbath, when he was on his way home, a convoy of Gypsy persons was passing by. They kidnapped him, and dragged him along to fairs, until he finally managed to run away and return.

When the Grafina heard, that the “murdered” boy has returned home, and what happened to him - while she writhes in her suffering and pains - she ordered to appease the families of the murdered Jews, and to help them. Moreover, she ordered, that each year, towards the feast of Pessach, they will be distributed - of four from the treasure of her palace - with “Ma'oth hittin” ( the Mitzvah of giving coins for wheat),and for Hanukah - that falls approximately on time of their Christmas - wood for heating, would be supplied to poor Jews, as supplied to the Christians. Also to supply wood for the Beit-Hamidrash. She ordered to observe it all, for generations.

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