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[Page 4]

May the Nation of Israel Remember
[Memorial prayer]


With a trembling soul, with a shuddering heart and with the greatest respect for the pure and pristine souls of our sons and daughters who were destroyed by every means of violent murder: by strangulation and by fire, by the gas chambers in Belzets, driven away to work camps upon foreign land soaked with blood and tears, on killing and slaughter sites sanctified by their torment.

We recall our fathers and mothers, our brothers and sisters, our children and grandchildren, and all of the other precious ones who were slaughtered, burned and strangled for one reason only: because they were Jews, the descendants of the prophets of Israel, a nation that yearns for freedom, justice and peace.

We recall the souls of the valiant ones who cast aside their lives, put their lives in their hands and sacrificed themselves for the sanctification of God and the honor of man, who gave up their lives with the eternal proclamation of “Hear O Israel” and with Hatikvah on their lips.

We recall with feelings of bereavement, as orphans, the holy and precious community of Zbarazh and its environs.

We mourn and weep over the precious town, plundered, desolate and abandoned, without any Jewish community and inhabitants.

We will not forget the martyrs of Zbarazh and its environs. The memory of the kindness of your youth will never leave our hearts.

May their souls be bound in the knot of life.

[Page 5]

“God, Filled with Compassion”
[Prayer for the Soul of the Departed]


Creator of the earth and the heights, You Who hear the outcry of the disconsolate, Judge of widows and orphans, do not remain silent before the blood of Your nation Israel that is spilled like water. Grant them proper rest upon the wings of God's Presence, on the lofty level of the holy and pure ones, who shine with the brightness of the firmament, the souls of six million Jews, among them the people of our holy community of Zbarazh and the surrounding holy communities, thousands of men and women, boys and girls, babies and infants, who were killed, strangled, drowned, burned and buried alive by the unclean and inhuman Amelekite Germans in the ghettos of Zbarazh and its environs, in the gas chambers in Belzets and in the other death camps of the Nazi enemy and their collaborators–all of the Jews holy and pure, among them heroes of the spirit, prodigies and righteous people, blameless and upright, rabbis and Hasidim, aristocrats of the Torah and their students, doctors, lawyers, judges and craftsmen, all of them diligent–may Hashem remember them for good and may they rest in the Garden of Eden. May the Master of compassion hide them in the concealment of His wings forever and bind their souls in the knot of life, which is their inheritance. May He take vengeance and recall for us their slaughter. May their merit accrue to us and to all Israel. Earth, do not conceal their blood and do not allow their outcry to continue! In their merit, may the outcasts of Israel return to their estate. And may the righteousness of these holy martyrs be a permanent memory before Hashem. May they come to peace and rest, and awaken and stand at the end of days resurrected. And let us say, Amen!

[Page 7]

This Book

Moshe Sommerstein

Years ago, a small group of people, émigrés from Zbarazh, had the idea of establishing a memorial for this ancient community, whose generations and influence spread beyond its limited borders. They wanted to commemorate their community, this glorious community, whose Jews were lost in the Holocaust.

It was difficult to attain the historical material needed to give an impression of the city, material that would testify to the cultural life of this community and its inhabitants. We know that this is the last chance to find and save documents and papers. We gathered very little, but we put together stories, descriptions, pictures and memories that will give some idea about our community.

We had to search for all material possible to reconstruct Jewish and Zionist Zbarazh, to find documents that describe the destruction of the city and the extermination of its Jewish residents by Hitler's soldiers, and gather material about the deeds of blood and acts of might as related by the people who personally experienced the terror of those days and who were saved miraculously and who live today in Israel, Europe, the United States, Argentina and Australia.

With the passage of time, people are passing away, and the survivors of Zbarazh and its environs who live in Israel are growing fewer. Our recognition of this fact intensified our feeling of urgency and inspired us to record what people have to tell. If we have succeeded in completing this mission, even if we have gathered little, we have done a great service for ourselves and for our children.

We will tell our youth about our holy community, and that will be a small consolation for us: that we have established a memorial of all of our holy martyrs who were annihilated in the Holocaust, and whom we loved.

May their memory be blessed.

[Page 8]

To: Our brothers and sisters,
compatriots, across the entire world.

From: The Central Committee of Zbarazh Jews
in Israel, P.O.B. 22186, Tel Aviv.

Zbarazh was a town in Galicia (Poland) that was famed as a gathering of Jewish maskilim, rabbis, outstanding individuals, writers, Yiddish and Hebrew schools, Torah study halls, Hasidim and forward–facing youth with great national pride–a town whose sons and daughters played a major role in building the land of Israel.

Among the bloody, tragic events of the destruction of the Jewish nation in Poland, so too the Jewish population of our town went upon the “last way” of sanctification of God's name.

Almost an entire generation has lived since that tragic time, but the blood of our precious, tortured parents, brothers, sisters, children, relatives, neighbors and young comrades has not ceased crying out from the graves of the slaughtering fields, Belzets and Majdanek, reminding us to “remember what Amalek did to you” and calling for vengeance against the enemies of Israel, who are still walking free across the entire world, and there is no justice and no judge.

We here in Israel, a large part of the survivors, undertook the holy task and mission of establishing a living monument to the martyrs of our town in the form of a Yizkor book that will reflect the one–time life of our town of Zbarazh.

[Page 9]

We turn to you, beloved sisters and brothers across the entire world, to make the effort to respond properly with an appropriate sum of money so that it will be possible for us to publish this Yizkor book for the fallen martyrs of Zbarazh. May the pages of this book tell about the destruction and downfall of our former community, which lived and flowered, and then suddenly disappeared, murdered by the criminals of the Nazi regime and the bands of their murderous collaborators.

We await your extended hand and assistance to help us realize our dream of many years to honor the names of our holy martyrs by publishing this monument in words and pictures. You are requested to send us materials (if you have such).

P.S. Please send us the addresses of all of our brothers and sisters that you know of, so that we will be able to write to each one individually about the monument that we have decided to publish in Israel. We will send a copy to everyone who participates in granting assistance to this project.

Every donor is requested to send a donation to the following address:

Sefer Yizkor (Organization of Zbarazh Émigrés)
Account number 489720
Bank Hapoalim, Haifa, Israel
Mordechai Sherlag
Rechov Pinsker 11
Haifa 32715

[Page 10]

Central Committee of the Jews of Zbarazh in Israel, 26 De Haas Street, Tel Aviv

Moshe Sommerstein, President
Mordechai Sherlag, Treasurer

Nachman Karmi, Stella Seidenberg, Gershon Landsberg, Icchok Wechsler, Yesaiahu Rothman, Swadron Moshe, Weihrauch Moshe, Zalman Rosenberg–committee members.

Tel Aviv, Haifa, 23 Adar 5739 (22.3.1979)

[Page 11]

Federation of Outgoing Zbaraz and Vicinity

Moshe Sommerstein, Advocate
26, De-Haas Street, Tel Aviv, 62-667, Israel


Dears, Sisters and Brothers,

According to the decision of our last General Assembly, which took place on the 29.6.1980 in Tel Aviv, where there has been elected a Committee to consider organization and publication to perpetuate the memory of the fallen “KDOSHIM” in our town Zbaraz and vicinity, through publishing a Book “ISCOR”.

The members of this Committee are from Haifa and Tel Aviv.

Herewith, is the decision:

  1. to apply in writing to all outgoing Zbaraz and vicinity people wherever they are asking to supply us with various material in writing, pictures, photos, personal impressions and any material connected with the holocaust in the years 1939-1945 in order to start work regarding the “ISCOR” Book.
  2. to ask all the Zbaraz people all over the world to prepare personal scripts in Hebrew, Yiddish, English, Polish and German, their personal difficulties in the past and experience in the holocaust, how they were persecuted, suffering and punished.

[Page 12]

  1. to ask all the Zbaraz people to help us financially in publishing this Book “Iscor”. Without their help, we cannot make it.
  2. all contributions, donations, ;please send to the address: “SEFER ISCOR”, Irgun Yozei Zbaraz, Bank Hapoalim, Haifa, ISRAEL.

Moshe Sommerstein
The President
Mordechai Sherlag

The Members of the Committee

Nachman Karmi, Stella Seidenwerg, Gershon Landsberg, Icchok Wechsler, Yesaiahu Rothman, Swadron Moshe, Weihrauch Moshe, Zalman Rosenberg.

Tel Aviv

[Page 13]


Moshe Sommerstein

Very few Jews of the city of Zbarazh and its environs survived the Holocaust. Most of those who survived came to Israel in the years 1955–1960, and they all found work and were integrated into its life.

The Jewish community of Zbarazh numbered about 80,000 people, including Jews who had fled from the Polish territory occupied by the Germans at the beginning of the war. The Jews were liquidated by the Nazis and their collaborators in the town or in other murder sites.

In Israel, the survivors who had been in Zbarazh, newcomers and old–timers, got together. Together, we number a few hundred people.


The Grove of a Thousand Trees in the Forest of the Martyrs.
In memory of the Jews of Zbarazh and its environs.


[Page 14]


[Page 15]

Monument in memory of our children who died in the Holocaust
A gift of Dr. Monya Froynglass (of blessed memory) of Zbarazh,
in the Holocaust Cellar in Jerusalem


[Page 16]

Over the years, we wanted to erect a monument in memory of the members of our families who were put to death in many terrible ways–in forests, in the ghetto, in the fields and in bunkers, in gas chambers and in fiery ovens that our enemies set up in order to annihilate us–but we did not have the means to do so. And so for many years we made do with memorial gatherings for our martyrs in Haifa and in Tel Aviv, where most of our people live. And we do that to this day.

In the years 1959–1960, we bought a grove of a thousand trees in the Forest of the Martyrs, where we gather next to the monument and recall the victims of our city. This year as well we organized such a gathering on Holocaust Memorial Day.

In addition, two small monuments were erected on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, and a monument in memory of our murdered children was built in the Holocaust Cellar. This monument was set up with the financial assistance of Dr. Monya Froynglass (of blessed memory) of Zbarazh. But we could not manage to publish a Yizkor book because we lacked the means to do so.

We turned both personally and officially to the organization of the Jews of Zbarazh in the United States and to its president, Isolde Shpeizer, who promised to help us, and we received word by telephone that they decided to send us $1800. For this help we thank them–in particular, we thank the new president, Lester Shpeizer, and the organization's secretary, Peninah Veit.

We hope that we will complete this project, now that the émigrés of Zbarazh who live in Vienna, Mr. Carl Kahane, Joseph Gutfrei of Toronto and others have helped us with significant sums. This time we will overcome the difficulties and, with the aid of our compatriots in Israel, we will establish a memorial for our community in the form of this book.

This Yizkor book, which will be distributed to the émigrés of Zbarazh in Israel and across the world, will bring the story of this small community to the broader public. The community of Zbarazh played

[Page 17]

an important role in the history of the Jews of Poland. This community achieved much in the fields of culture and education; its inhabitants performed mighty deeds before the war and during the years of the Holocaust.

May we be worthy of remembering them.

Chairman of the Organization of Emigrés of Zbarazh and its Environs
Moshe Sommerstein, lawyer in Israel

[Page 19]

The Landscape of Zbarazh, District of Tarnopol

A Brief Survey of the Jewish Community

The earliest mention of the city of Zbarazh is from the years 1205–1213. It is not known exactly when the city was founded, but there is reason to believe that in 1393 Prince Witold built a fortress on the site.

In 1422, the king bequeathed the city in perpetuity to one of the nobles.

In 1474, Zbarazh went up in flames as a result of Tatar raids, and it again went up in flames at the beginning of the sixteenth century. As a result of raids in the fifteenth century, Prince Zbaraski fortified the city, and in 1629 it had 465 houses.

In 1649, Chmielnicki lay siege to the city. In 1675, the Turks and Tatars conquered the city; again Zbarazh was almost entirely burnt down, and its inhabitants were driven out.

Jews lived in Zbarazh at least as early as the end of the fifteenth century. According to a document from 1593, the cities Stari–Zbarazh and Novi–Zbarazh were leased for three years to Nikolai Yonasowitz and to his partner, the Jew Ephraim Dovid of Novi–Zbarazh, for 9100 gold coins. The lease included the serfs, estates, debts and income.

In the first half of the seventeenth century, the Jewish community in the city grew, and a synagogue was built. However, Chmielnicki's siege in 1649, the Turkish conquest in 1675 and the Haidemak raids in 1708 caused great harm,

[Page 20]

although the community recovered relatively quickly and the population even increased.

The community of Zbarazh gained glory from its rabbis. Rabbi Moshe ben Rabbi Lemel Mazel served as the city rabbi during the second half of the seventeenth century (d. 1696). At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the city rabbi was Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch, and in 1920 [sic] Rabbi Shlomo ben Rabbi Yisrael Hacohen Charif. In 1746, Rabbi Alter Teumim, also known as Rabbi Zbarazher, author of Birkat Avraham, served as city rabbi.

He was followed by Rabbi Eliezer Rokeach, who passed away in 1754. In 1773, the rabbi of Zbarazh, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh, son of Rabbi Shimon Bochner, passed away.

Rabbi Aryeh Leibush Berstein ben Rabbi Yissachar–Ber of Brody served as rabbi of Zbarazh, and in 1778 he also served in Brody as the rabbi of Galicia. This post was eliminated in 1786, and Rabbi Aryeh Leibush passed away in 1789. He was followed by Rabbi Shaul ben Rabbi Meir Margulies. After serving as rabbi of Zbarazh, he went to Komarna and Lublin, where he passed away in 1787.


The precious town of Zbarazh–destroyed,
desolate and abandoned, without any Jews living in it


[Page 21]

Rabbi Meshullam Feivish Heller (son of Rabbi Aharon Moshe Halevi) took his place and passed away in 1795. He wrote two books: Derech Emet and Yalkutei Yekarim. Rabbi Yishayahu Braz left the leadership of the rabbinate in Zbarazh and settled in Brody, where he passed away in 1798. In 1800 the admor (Hasidic rebbe) of Zbarazh was Rabbi Ze'ev–Tzvi (son of Rabbi Yechiel Michel of Zlotshov). R. Alexander–Sender Margulies was the av beit din (chief judge) in Zbarazh and passed away in Satanov in 1862. Rabbi Nachum Halevi Horowitz (son of Rabbi Tzvi) was the rabbi of Zbarazh until he passed away. His place was filled by his son, Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi. In 1840, Rabbi Moshe Yosef (son of Aryeh Leib) Halberstam served as rabbi of Zbarazh. Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi (son of Rabbi Simchah) Babad (1840–1910) was av beit din of Zbarazh from 1893 and onward.

Rabbi Yosef (son of Rabbi Moshe) Babad, who was av beit din in Tarnopol, also served for a while in Zbarazh. Due to slanderous denunciations, the government expelled him and he served as rabbi in Shniatin in 1842 (d. 1874). He composed Minchat Chinuch. R. Gedalia Tzvi Rubinstein became av beit din in Zbarazh in 1893, and in 1897 he also became its rabbi. He left behind responsa on Shulchan Aruch and a commentary on the Torah.

Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Halevi Heller was admor in Zbarazh and passed away in 1910.

Zbarazh was not only a city of rabbis and Hasidim, but also the city of the first maskilim in Galicia. Among them were professionals in free trades: lawyers, physicians, engineers, veterinarians, pharmacists, high government and town officials, officials in various local institutions, and even a Jewish judge.

In 1897, an organization called Hatzionim Hatzi'irim (The Young Zionists) was founded in the city with the goal of raising money to establish a Galician community in the land of Israel. That same year, another Zionistic organization called Achot Tzion (Sisters of Zion) was established in the city. Similarly, at the same time there was also a Yehudah Halevi Organization.

[Page 22]

In 1903 an Igud Nashim (Women's Union) was founded, whose purpose was to advance the learning of Hebrew and Jewish history. In 1904, a Toybi–Ha'aleh club was established, where Hebrew courses were given. That year as well a school based on Safah Berurah was active in Zbarazh, where sixty students learned in three classes.

In 1902, the Agudat Dovrei Ivrit (Society of Hebrew Speakers), whose members spoke only Hebrew among themselves, began its activities.

Zbarazh was the birthplace of Velvele Zbarazher (Ehrenkrantz), a well–known folksinger and comedian, and it was also the birthplace of the well–known researcher of Polish literature, Wilhelm Feldman (1868–1919). In 1874, the city was one of 45 whose municipal institutions did not include one Jew. But by 1904 the pharmacist Yaakov Karo was elected Jewish mayor for the third time.

[Page 23]

Velvel Zbarazher
Folk–Poet and Troubadour

Yaakov Larens (Peterson, N. Dzsh.) writes: Perhaps you can help fifty–year's reader of the Forverts find the source of a song of which I remember a few lines, as we would sing it in my hometown of Lodz:

Under the earth you will see
Bones lying about without measure.
They were once nicer
Than yours and than mine.

Today, the worms make them their meal.
They are sworn to do so.
Brother, the world is but a dream–
Man was born to die.

Here everything is still, here everyone rests,
Here no one worries,
Here no one needs fine clothing,
Here no one needs to borrow.

Here no one wants sweet food,
No one's ears request music.
Children, the world is but a dream,
Man was born to die.

[Page 24]

Here a person sees that he is just a fool,
That all of his logic is foolish.
Here the slave lies next to the master,
The beggar together with the ruler.

Here enemies make peace,
Sworn to each other like brothers.
Children, the world etc.
Under the hills, you will see,

Bones are rotting without measure,
They were also as nice,
And maybe nicer, than yours.
Now the worms make a meal of them,
They are sworn to do that.
Children, the world, etc.

Regarding this song submitted by readers, we have already mentioned on a number of occasions the poet Velvel Zbarzsher (whose real name was Binyamin Wolf Ehrenkrantz), born in Zbarazh in 1826 and died in Constantinople in 1883. Just as various versions are given regarding the exact date of his birth, so too a number of stories and legends have circulated about his interesting life and about his death. (On his tombstone, the year of his birth is given as 1826.) He was fascinated by secular ideas and eagerly read the worldly books of the maskilim and of the German classicists. His father wanted to lead him back

[Page 25]

to the “straight path,” and to that end he married him off at the age of 18, and Velvel became a children's teacher. According to one source, his wife was an ignorant girl who could not understand her husband's interest in books and his satiric songs, which he published, but according to another source she was the one who urged him to write and publicize himself. He wrote Hebrew songs, and in order to please his young wife he wrote lyrics in simple Yiddish, “The Hasid and His Wife,” composed a melody and sang it to her. Learning of his undisguised heresy, the townspeople persecuted him and forced his father–in–law and mother–in–law to persuade their daughter obtain a divorce from this heretical song writer. He had to flee in 1845 to Rumania, to the Moldavian state of Batosani, where he was a merchant, a school teacher and finally–his true calling–a poet, who loved to sing his compositions over a glass of wine.

Zalman Reizen writes abut him and about his influence on Jewish life of that time:

Zbarazher was one of the first Jewish folk poets in general and the most significant among the folk poet–comedians, upon whom he had a very great influence. In many of his songs, we find an echo of the ideals of the haskalah. In them, he fights against ignorance and credulity, against the Hasidim and holy men, against false piety. There is no bitterness in his anti–Hasidic songs. It is not for nothing that he calls his songs “a pleasant rod”–he struck his targets with compassion. With the help of a fine

[Page 26]

sense of humor, of colorful, vigorous language, and with the aid of his folksy melodies, he smuggled in his anti–Hasidic tendencies without undermining the religious sensibilities of his listeners. How great Zbarazher's influence on the spiritual life of the Jewish folk classes must have been is indicated not only by the extraordinary popularity of his songs but also by the fact that Zbarazher's popular songs were used as intermission entertainment in texts of traditional Purim plays.

[Page 27]

The Lonely Person Wishes to Rest

by Binyamin Wolf Ehrenkrantz
(Velvel Zbarazher)

“Tell me, I ask you, wind,
You sweep across the entire world,
Do you not know where the lonely person can find
A tent in which to rest,
Where murders have ceased,
Where no one ever wailed,
Where no eye ever wept,
Where the righteous person is not troubled?”
The wind is silent and remains still as a stone,
Sighs and answers, “No, no!”

“Tell me, you deep, you great sea,
You whose storms are so far–reaching,
In your islands here and there,
Do you not know any place in some corner,
Where the pious person is consoled,
Where he rests securely?
Do you not know the name of such a town?
Say a good word!”
The sea storms and echoes: “No!
I have not seen such a place.”

[Page 28]

“You lovely moon, in your beauty
You oversee everything
Where it is still night,
Covered with a black shawl.
You pass across the entire world,
Always through the nights.
Do you not know somewhere of a tent
Where the good is not bad?”
She can be seen in a passing cloud,
She sighs and answers, “No, no.”

“Tell me, my soul's port,
Where are love and hope near?
Where does the sun shine everywhere?
Where does one find a quiet life?
Where is no evil nearby?
Where do we live only in freedom,
Free of sin and worry,

Of troubles and of suffering?” They all give one reply:
“Only in heaven does one live quietly.”

from Makel Noam, Vienna, 1865


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