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[Page 287]

The Families of Tykocin


Translated by Selwyn Rose

Avraham Olcha – “Avrum'keh Zameczeker(?)”
– A name adopted from the name of his family's home village

As is fitting for man who had earned the esteem of his town, he had a seat by the eastern wall of the Beit Hamidrash, there he prayed all his life. Even his pure soul departed him on his way to the Beit Hamidrash to pray “Selichot” during the Ten Days of Penitence in the year 5687 (1927)

As a learned Torah scholar he was counted as a regular participator in the lessons of Mr Baruch Surawicz, the noted preacher, known as “Reb Baruch Meyer Shirkas”.

He was known as a quiet modest man; the needy in town would turn to him in times of distress for help and he never turned anyone away empty–handed. He was the type of man who actively did things in the “Aid and Assistance Society” in his community, a man of deeds and actions.


Avraham and his wife Breine

[Page 288]

Isser Olcha and his wife Rivka (née Winograd)


More than one of the Tykocin families, living today in America arrived there because of the help of Mr. Avraham Olcha.

He was inordinately proud of his love for Zion and he never missed an opportunity to boast, even before the land–owners, with whom he had commercial connections, that his two children Tzvi and Sarah had immigrated to Palestine.

He supported his extensive family honourably as manager of his large commercial enterprise, trading in agricultural produce, which was situated on Sokolówka Street at the entrance to town.

He reared his children in the spirit of love of the Torah and kept its commandments, using them in an exemplary fashion in his day–to–day life. It is worth noting the look of sad–ness in his eyes in the photograph, simply because he was compelled by law to sit bare–headed for his passport photograph.

His wife Breine (née Branowitz), was his faithful aide and deputy and dedicated herself with all her heart to educating her children and to her home; she was known throughout the town for her good–heartedness.

[Page 289]

Their eldest daughter, Devorah was married in 1913 to one of the businessmen of Mizrahi and editor of “Hatsfirah”, Nathaniel Silverstein who settled in Tykocin after his marriage.

Tsvi (Herschel), the son, was one of the first three pioneers who went to Palestine from Tykocin. He emigrated at the beginning of 1921 in the framework of the pioneering youth movement “Young Zionists” and settled in Tel–Aviv, married Meital (née Goldman), a girl from Tykocin…

Sarah, (today Sarah Havatzelet) followed her brother in 1925 and settled in Ramat Hasharon.

Isser married Rivka (née Winograd) one of the girls from Tykocin family. They and their three children, Shimon, Haya and Ya'acov, perished in the Holocaust, May G–d Avenge their Blood.

Esther was married to Nahum Koziol who was born in Trestiny. They and their two children Avraham and Golda, perished in the Holocaust, May G–d Avenge their Blood. Nahum was taken into the Red Army and never returned.


Shalom Yitzhak, the son of Avraham Olcha


Shalom Yitzhak (Itcha), married Rachel (née Grodzinsky), from Yashinovka. They and their two twin daughters, Yehudit and Teivl perished in the Holocaust in Tykocin. May G–d Avenge their Blood.

Yona (Hanna Teivl – today Lipchitz), was active in “Hashomer Hatza'ir” in Tykocin, immigrated to Palestine as a member of the movement in 1932 and settled in Tel–Aviv.

Haim Wavell managed to escape the Holocaust on the eve of the war in 1939, immigrated to Palestine as an illegal immigrant. He lives with his family in Ramat Gan.

[Page 290]

Avraham Mordecai Olsztejn – A trader he dealt principally in agricultural produce and chickens. In 1922 when motorized transport came to the area he acquired auto buses in partnership with a non–Jew and thus he supported his extensive family. All the bus stops of the town's buses were located in the yard of his house on Sazowkas(?) Lane, and from there all the buses began their journeys to Warsaw, Bialystok and Lomza, driven by his sons Hana, Yud'keh and Zisskind.

Occupied principally with his trading business he was not readily available for public and community activities but nevertheless donated generously to all the community charities. He provided a traditional education in Torah together with the help of his wife Haya (née Srolyuk) from Horschitz, who dedicated herself to the education of her children in Torah.

Avraham Mordecai Olsztejn died in 1936 at a good age. Three years later, on the day the Germans entered Tykocin, his wife, Haya, too, died. Their eldest daughter, Hynka immigrated to America in 1908 and married Harry Kabat, from Horschitz.

Chana received a traditional education in town, married Bluma (née Feller) a girl from Tykocin. They and their children, Sarah–Leah, Baileh, Arieh–Leib and another boy and girl perished in the Holocaust, May G–d Avenge their Blood.


Avraham Mordecai Olsztejn and his family

[Page 291]

Sister–in–law of Eliezer Olsztejn   Sarah the wife of Yehuda Olsztejn


Reuven – exhibited fine qualities and was among the distinguished pupils in the “Heder” of Reb Berl'eh–Leib. In 1912 He went to America brought up a family and died there in 1927 after falling ill.

Yehuda (Yud'keh) – after receiving a traditional education in Tykocin, he entered his father's business. He married Sarah (née Rumianek). They and their children, Arieh and Gina perished in the Holocaust, May G–d Avenge their Blood.

Eliezer (Lazer) – Received an education in the Seminary in Tykocin and afterwards in Bialystok. With the outbreak of WW1 he returned to Tykocin to help sustain the home. He married Chaya Hinda (née Zacharewicz) and engaged in trading in Tykocin. His wife, Chaya and their children, Gittel, Rasch'keh, Hanna and Yisroel perished in Holocaust in Tykocin, May G–d Avenge their Blood. Eliezer, among the survivors of the Shoah, immigrated to Israel in 1950 after passing through all the filth and refuse under the Nazis. He lives in Givatayim.

Hanna Bluma – A graduate of “Beit–Ya'acov” An extremely modest and graceful woman, died in 1925 from a heart disease.

[Page 292]

Zisskind – He was educated in Tykocin and when he finished school went to work in his father's business. He married Rosa (née Zolty). On that bitter, premature day, when the people of Tykocin were gathered together in the market square, Rosa sneaked back into her house with her three children, Haim, Tsvi and Mordecai. After the agonies and filth of the Holocaust, the family was reunited in the ghetto of Bialystok. They were again separated during the final “Aktzia[1]. Rosa and the children perished in the camps, May G–d Avenge their Blood.

Zisskind and his brother, Eliezer Asher were transported on a death train but jumped from it and escaped into the forests, where they hid until the end of the war. Zisskind today is in Australia.

Sheyne – an excellent student in Yisroel Buber's “Heder”, married Moshe Serolnik from Kortshin. They and their two daughters perished in the Holocaust, May G–d Avenge their Blood.


Bezalel Eidelstein – a dedicated Zionist, in thought and deed, for the sake of the Land of Israel and dreamt all his life of fulfilling the vision of his own physical Return to Zion, a dream he was unable to fulfill.

He was a known and accepted personality among the côterie of Torah knowledgeables in Tykocin, a fixture among the regular attendees in the Study House. When the hour of prayer or study arrived he stopped his work as a watch-maker and repairer and hurried to the Study House where he spent long hours in the company of his friends and colleagues of the Tykocin Study House.

His good-heartedness shone forth from his face and his very entity spoke of honor and majesty. On more than one occasion he collected donations for the needy or spent the night at the bedside of the sick extending support and sympathy.

His wife, Sarah Dina, a dedicated house-wife, the very essence of a princess in her attributes. She cared for her nine children, serving her Creator with dedication, and dreaming, like her husband on immigrating to the Promised Land and to live there for the rest of her life.

Their children were: David-Shlomo, Moshe, Arieh-Lev, Haya-Bilha, Miriam, Malka, Marsha, Rivka, some in the Promised Land and some abroad.

Their daughter, Eda who married Reuven M. of Bialystok, perished in the Holocaust together with her husband and her two children, Meir and Rachel in the Bialystok ghetto (May G-d avenge their blood).

Translator's Footnote:

  1. Aktzia (action), – the roundup of Jews for degradation, expulsion, work, or execution. Return


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