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[Page 335]

Dow Berysz Zylberszac

by D. L.

Translated by Nitsa Bar-Sela

He was a Hassid, a scholar and highly educated. He was also active in “Aguda”, a member in the committee of the municipality and its various boards. He was one of the founders of the “Agudat Israel” cooperative loan bank. He was kind-hearted, open to all kinds of charity, well-dressed, poised, and highly honored for his devoted and successful work for the kehila.

Bed-335.jpg [12 KB] Dow Berysz Zylberszac
Dow Berysz Zylberszac

Still he was modest and quiet because he preferred deeds to words.

His wife, Chanale, also excelled in acts of charity, good deeds and activities in various social societies.


Hilel Zabner

by M. Sz. G

Translated by Nitsa Bar-Sela

He was born in Słomniki, Poland, 1896 and died in the Holocaust in 1943.

His father was Rabbi Dawid of a respectable Hassidic family, relatives of our master and teacher from Pilica, grandson of Rabbi Jechiel Windman, a well-known wealthy man and the leader of the Zawiercie kehila. Hilel was raised in the spirit of the Torah and Hassidism. From the first days of his youth he was devoted to the religious Zionism and followed the Rabbi of Pilica. He frequented the synagogue of Będzin, was highly learned and anxious to widen his education, and was an expert at playing various musical instruments. He knew hundreds of melodies by heart and had a very good reputation at the parties of Hassidim.

He was one of the founders of “Underground Hamizrachi” in Będzin during the period of the German occupation before the end of the First World War, together with Jeszaja Jona Pszenica, Cwi Natan Wiloga, Jeszaja Hendel Erlich, Meszulam Liwer, Szalom Klajner, Berysz Prager, Chaim Welner (Tel-Aviv), and participated in the first clandestine meeting in Kalisz of the Hassidim of Żarki, which was located at the time in a cellar in the new market, in 1916. He was one of the best and most devoted “Hamizrachi” and the “Tzirei Mizrachi” [Young Mizrachi].

He had a haberdashery store, was a teacher in the “Mizrachi” school and he never missed a day in the movement clubhouse. He was a member of the curatorial of the first “Mizrachi” school in Poland in 1908, a member of the “Mizrachi” committee, one of the leaders of the “Tzirei Mizrachi”. He was a lecturer on various subjects, an agent of distribution of “shkalim” [membership fee for Zionist organization], a member in the committee of the municipal K.K.L., a member in the regional committee of the “Mizrachi” and the vicinity. He was a lecturer for the “Mizrachi” in towns and villages and in Zionist gatherings, a delegate in conferences, an activist in the management of the “Independent Bloc” in Będzin and a member of the main committee of the “Tzirei HaMizrachi” in Poland.

He always looked towards Zion. His religiousness was a combination of his faith in the God of Israel and the arrival of the Messiah with activity towards aliyah. He voiced this central belief in all of his lectures. In the books which he gave as a souvenir to friends who went to Israel he used to write in his dedications, amongst other things, “Remember that I am still in the Diaspora until God allows it and has pity on me and I too will deserve to enter our good country and build it in our own spirit, in the spirit of the Torah and tradition.”

He also tried to be a publicist and participated in “Zagłębier Zeitung” of Będzin and from time to time also wrote in the press of the movement. In one of his articles, (“Yiddishe Shtime”, 20th of October 1939), he warned his readers painfully against the serious situation of the religious education in Poland and demanded mobilization of all our forces for the education of our children.

His hope to make aliyah did not perish even in the Ghetto of Będzin and indeed he subsisted until the last expulsion of the Jews of the Będzin Ghetto to Auschwitz at the end of 1943. He has not been seen since.


Chaim Josef Zając

by M. Sz. G.

Translated by Nitsa Bar-Sela

He was born in 1861 and passed away in Bnei Brak in 1956. He was born in Będzin to a family of rabbis and Hassidim. From his father's side he is a grandson of the senior president of the rabbinical court in Olkusz and from his mother's side he is the grandson of the wealthy and great philanthropist R' Lajb Potok from Będzin. In his house Torah and greatness were combined together in a single place. Already as a youth he dreamt of the return to Zion.

He learned with the Admor of Ostrovtse [Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski] who noted his talents and perseverance and kept him close to him. He was learned and sharp-witted and his diligence with the Torah amazed all his acquaintances, but he did not pretend to be a scholar of the Torah and chose the world of commerce.

After he married, he settled in Sosnowiec and dealt with the wholesale marketing of food products. He was fortunate and became very rich. His business spread through the town and in the environs. He was kind with anybody who was in touch with him and always found time to study the Torah.

He was one of the first Zionists in town after the First World War. He was a member of the Zionist committee and when the “Mizrachi” was founded he was one of its first members. His main work in Sosnowiec was the magnificent building of “The Home for the Elderly”.

During the Second World War he underwent all of its torments. His whole family was exterminated and only he miraculously survived when he was given a hiding place by some gentiles to whom he had passed all his possessions. He then went on to Paris and was put in an old people's home. With the help of his friends of the “Mizrachi” he came to Israel and was admitted to an old people's home in Bnei Brak. He died there in 1957 when he was 85, and some said he was 100 when he died.

[Page 336]

Reb Jakob M. Gutman

by L. D.

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

He was the son of Mojsze Cwi and Blima. The mother, Blima Sanders, a clearly, typical Będziner, lived to a ripe old age and passed away at the age of 106.

Jakob Gutman was born in 1880 in Będzin. He was educated in the graces of Orthodox-Chassidism, studying in his childhood in a “cheder” [elementary religious school] and when he grew older he continued his studies in the famous Mstów yeshiva and finally in the Sochaczew yeshiva. There he studied under the “Avnei Netzer” [Rabbi Avraham Bornsztajn (14 October 1838 7 February 1910)] ztz”l.

Bed-336b.jpg [16 KB] Jakob M. Gutman
Jakob M. Gutman

Reb Jakob married a wife at a young age, when his new direction in life was towards commerce which went well for him and he became renowned as a wholesale trader in metal products.

In spite of his many businesses he did not neglect his studies and determined times for studying Torah, daily at 4.00 in the morning you could here his soft singing from a page of Gemara that he would hum whilst studying by himself or you would hear his arguments with his learned friends like Reb Josef Hirszberg known as “Kaliszer” (from the name of the place where he was born), Reb Chanoch Jungster and others who were regular visitors to his home.

In 1924 he was elected as a kehila leader from the “Agudat Yisrael” party as a representative of the Sochaczew Chassidim.

For 30 years Reb Jakob served in the large Sochaczew kloiz [Chassidic Synagogue] as a head gabbai [beadle] and the personal and general needs of the worshippers in the kloiz were obvious to him, and he always found solutions for everything. Thus he took care of the poor visitors who came from afar and prayed in the kloiz on Sabbath eves and the following day, and more than once it occurred that some of the “visitors” remained without lodgings and Reb Jakob invited them to his home for the Sabbath meal in addition to his regular “visitor”.

His home was full of life and warmth and was open wide for the wellbeing of everyone, till the fateful day that brought about the disaster of the Nazi invasion into Będzin, on the 2nd of September 1939. From then on, a dark bitterness overwhelmed the hearts of the Jews of Będzin, darkness and shadows in their homes and amongst them the home of Reb Gutman, as well. The voices of the learned students arguing about Talmud issues were no longer heard. Day followed day a variety of strange decrees came, until that bitter and rushed day when the ghetto was liquidated, and he was taken together with the rest of the Jews of Będzin to Auschwitz, there his pure soul was taken together with his wife, May the Lord revenge their souls.


Miriam Tenenbaum

by D.

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

Her father, Reb Abali, one of the characters who is not satisfied with the norm, left his town, Staszów, settled in Będzin, removed his long cloak, sought a freer life, absorbed a spirit of a wide education that was aroused amongst the best men. Zionism also entranced him, he was enthusiastic about it and was amongst its preachers and activists.

As an educated person and knowledgeable in Hebrew and literature he followed after Hebrew writers of whom he was influenced. The “Hashaluach” [The dispatch] and “Hatzfira” [The siren] were always on his table, and he admired Reb Nachum Sokolow. His home was always open to writers and various educated people, who were visitors in our town for lectures and lessons.

His spirit of striving for good influenced his family. In the evening, especially on Saturdays, he read and translated songs of Juda Lewi, Juda Lajb Gordon and others, for his daughters. It is clear that this atmosphere made its mark on Miriam's development.

She gained complete knowledge of the Hebrew language. She was used to competing with yeshiva graduates in reading “Hamatmid” [“The Talmud student”] of Bialik, those of whom failed to read expressions and difficult idioms, and she always had the upper hand. With her knowledge of Hebrew she did, as a woman, excel not only in Będzin, but in all of Zagłębie, during the period in which our language was defined as a “Holy tongue” only.

In the years 1905-1914 a rebellious spirit captivated Miriam as well. She felt that she had grown up in an atmosphere saturated with hate, restraints and discrimination against Jews and laborers. Unhesitatingly, she joined up with those struggling for freedom and rights, in particularly amongst the Russian students. She was caught by the Tsarist gendarmes, sentenced as a political criminal and had a taste of the Russian jail in Sosnowiec. Thanks to the intervention of the town leaders she was prevented from being sent to Siberia.

Bed-336a.jpg [16 KB] Miriam Tenenbaum
Miriam Tenenbaum

At the age of twenty a change in her opinions began. She felt stronger about the aim of her life, with a Zionist spark, that had been secreted within her. As a faithful member of the nation she dedicated herself with all of her heart to the teaching of Hebrew and its propagation, and to the activities entailed in dissemination of the national spirit in the various levels of the people. She took upon herself the running of the “Hazamir” local library, and with her knowledge of Hebrew she was employed as a teacher in the “Yavneh” gymnasium. She also dealt in translating from foreign languages and from Hebrew to Yiddish. In the years that she studied in Warsaw, she was at home in the families of writers and worked in an educational institute of the famous teacher Janusz Korczak.

[Page 337]

Because of her completely idealistic personality she was surrounded by youth, whom she inspired with her wide knowledge. She had a captivating combination of Europeanism and Jewishness. In 1925 she visited in Eretz Yisrael on the occasion of the opening of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, together with a delegation of teachers on behalf of the “Tarbut” organization in Warsaw.

She molded the character of her family and concerned herself with their development and education. She was offered work as a journalist in the Jewish newspaper in Vilna [Vilnius], however because of her dedication to her parents she did not accept this offer. And indeed, in their death also she was not separated from them, and her soul was taken in Auschwitz.


Aron Hampel

by Motek

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

He was born in Będzin (1900). His parents' home, a meeting place for intellectuals and activists, was saturated with a Zionist atmosphere. His father, Abram Hampel, of blessed memory, was amongst the large traders in the town if the food department, and was amongst the Zionist activists and the few who liquidated their thriving businesses and properties in 1930 and made aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, planted an orchard in Magdiel, built a large house in Tel Aviv and was amongst the activists in the Będzin Émigrés Organization.

He studied in the Christian technical gymnasium, during the period that there was not yet a Jewish gymnasium in our town. He was an active member in the “Hashomer” [The guard] and “Hechalutz” [The pioneer] organizations, which were founded in Będzin during the World War One period.

More than once embarrassing incidents occurred to him as a young, impassioned Zionist. In 1918, a festive prayer meeting was held in the Great Synagogue when the Polish nation was freed from enslavement. The synagogue was decorated with Jewish and Polish flags. Hampel became wrought up with pent up anger: A foreign flag in G-d's palace? This type of thing won't happen! Without hesitating to think about the consequences of it – he pulled and threw them down. He was brought to court for disgracing the flag, however he managed to flee and was sentenced to jail in his absence.

He fled to Germany, a place where he spent several years and continued his education and activities in the Zionist movement guided by Dr. Szmerjahu Lewin. With the announcement of amnesty by the Polish government, he returned home and enlisted into the army.

After his release from the army he completely dedicated himself to Zionist activity and the “Tzirei Zion” [Youth of Zion] party, and later to the united “Poelei Zion” [Laborers of Zion] and “Zionist Socialists” parties full of energy and initiative. He was one of the outstanding activists of the movement in Zagłębie and in the whole of Poland. He was sent to international Zionist-Socialist conferences in Prague, Vienna, Danzig (Gdansk), Berlin and so on. He participated as a party delegate in the Zionist Congress in Zurich, in 1939, a few weeks before the eve of the Holocaust.

He was party representative in the Będzin town council and served as a community leader for many years, till his bitter end that did not overlook his home. He burdened himself with every public onus and took on responsibility without a shade of arrogance and without asking for recognition or reward. He was also amongst the members of the “Muza” [Muse], YIVO and other societies. He provided his time and money for any project that he saw as worthwhile.

He was a talented public speaker, and there was practically no party appearance that he didn't participate in. Even though he was financially stable, his place was amongst the laborers and workers, who respected him for his honesty and forthrightness. They knew that he wasn't pursuing eminence and benefits.

All his life he aspired towards Eretz Yisrael, however he didn't get there; since each time his aliyah was delayed for some reason, until the Holocaust befell him and brought an end to his ambitions and his life – and he was amongst its victims. His many friends in Eretz Yisrael wanted to rescue him, however they weren't able to do this, since all means of rescue were severed and they returned on their tracks.

His family: his wife, from the family of Jona and Ester Gertler from Miechów, in the Kielce district, of whom the writer Israel Zarchi (Gertler), who died in his youth in 1947, described, in his book “Beit saba shenechrav” [Grandfather's home that was destroyed] (published by “Achiasaf”, Jerusalem, 1941), his daughter and his son – were killed by officers.

I will grieve and weep over the death of my beloved brother and relatives whose memory I will carry in my heart till my last day.


Mosze Openhajm

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

He was born in Będzin in 5662 (1902) – he was killed in the Holocaust in Poland.

From childhood he was educated in the “Mizrachi” [Orthodox party in the Zionist movement] spirit. At the age of 16 he was included amongst the founders of “Tzirei Mizrachi” [Young Mizrachi] in Będzin – one of the first branches of this movement in Poland – and served for many years as the branch secretary. Thanks to his enthusiasm, branches of the movement were organized in all the Jewish communities in the Zagłębie region. He participated in all the conventions and conferences of “Tzirei Mizrachi” and in 5693 (1933) was elected to the central administration of the “Torah veavoda” [Torah and labor] movement in Poland. He was amongst the instigators of the idea of independence, and organizers of the group who sought to formulate the “Torah veavoda” movement as independent and unaffiliated from an organizational viewpoint from “Mizrachi”. He participated as a delegate in several Zionist congresses. Apart from his work in the movement he was also active in the public life of Będzin. He was taken in one of the death railway carriages to Treblinka, from where he never returned.


Chana (Hanka) Bornsztajn

by Tzvi Tzur (Tzuchtelzon)

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

I still retain in my memory the years of terror and horrors, unremitting persecutions, deadly edicts and “Akziot”. The deportations and murders left their mark on us and instilled in us an expectation of extermination as those caught in traps. Constant depression and thoughts of bleak hopelessness gnawed at heart and mind – was there a way out from this perilous path? Did we have a way of doing something, to save, to rebel and to oppose?

We, a small surviving group of youth from the “Gordonia” movement in Będzin, who had lost most of the best of its friends, banded together and gathered around Hanka who recited her doctrine to us at every opportunity: “We must strive to save and defend, and not surrender. We should not forget, that we, the youth, are an inseparable part of the Jewish People and the “Vanguard“, its spearhead force, and we must be part of it in all forms and lead our lives as normal under all conditions and circumstances”

She preached and carried out this doctrine.

She was full of a deep love for our people, to its historical past, to our cultural heritage, of which she was knowledgeable, of the Jewish Street, to the people's way of life in all its variations. She lived to serve our people, from which she drew encouragement and strength. The dream of Eretz Yisrael always was on her mind, the excellent Hebrew that she frequently spoke, enchanted us and we were jealous of her, and her reciting and reading from our books had a strong impact on us.

[Page 338]

She had a never disappointing love of life beating within her, and she enthused all of us to action, that we would never have been able to carry out without her.

Bed-338.jpg [14 KB] Chana Bornsztajn
Chana Bornsztajn

She was born in Będzin in 1922, the only daughter of her educated and genteel mother (of the well-known Reb Prager family), and father Aleksander Ziskind Bornsztajn, a renowned Hebrew teacher in our town. In her childhood she grew up in an atmosphere of Jewish culture and Zionism, and imbued values that were her guiding light. Hebrew was her mother tongue, the language in her parent's home, and it is not surprising, therefore, that the knowledge of our language and literature was absolute. She amazed her teachers and educators as one of the most talented pupils. Her clear and delightful voice in reading extracts and in recitation was pleasing to the ears.

She joined the “Gordonia” movement in her youth, and was one of the principal personalities in the center, endowed with noble leadership qualities she projected her heart captivating mastery on her friends who so loved her. A. D. Gordon's doctrine was her life's belief.

In the war years she was a source of inspiration for us and the center of movement life. At the early stages of the Nazi annihilation she already understood our unstable situation, however didn't let us break down and despair, and in a self awakening she moved from preaching to deeds, to awaken the youth sunken in inactivity. Her activities touched every area of our lives, in youth education, help for the needy, contact with the partisans, a defense organization and including obtaining forged papers and rescue documents (Paraguayan passports).

“Only in the name of life are people are going to their deaths” – she would say, and in believing in this saying, she destroyed her documents, that were obtained with great effort in order to save her. She said:

“We must, the young of the people, to remain with the masses, to defend it, to organize it, to instruct it, to bring about rebellion, and if we are to die, it is for the honor of the people”.

Her request wasn't granted her, because the Germans overcame us and hastened the end.

Chana was led to Auschwitz, and there as well, in the valley of death, she excelled in her talents that weren't weakened because of the strength of her courageous spirit. With exceptional methods she gathered around her a group of girls, which she organized as a “group”. On the brink of destruction her life's dream of being in a group in Eretz Yisrael was “realized”. Gradually death severed the lives of the girls and Chana's turn came. She fell ill, was taken to hospital, from which she never returned.

We light a candle to the memory of her in our hearts!

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