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[Page 5]

Committee's Preface

Translated by Mira Eckhaus

We point out with personal fulfillment and satisfaction that we overcame the task we set ourselves, even though the means that were available to us were extremely poor.

Needless to say, that we did not have any documentation from an organized community archive. And the most difficult thing was that we took action about twenty years after the exterminator destroyed the town. We collected here and there fragments of memories and descriptions from the townspeople and the surrounding area. It is only natural that the writers and narrators could not avoid inaccuracies in their words and articles, and in any case, it is clear that not all ways of life and atmosphere in the town were expressed.

We decided to print the things as they were written and as they were said by the narrators, with the clear knowledge that these do not harm the facts and actions themselves. And it seems to us that usually a faithful picture (admittedly incomplete) of the town's way of life and atmosphere is brought up.

The book committee expresses its gratitude to all those who assisted and participated in placing a memorial stone to the saints of the Bobrka community and the surrounding area. Blessed are those who wrote articles and descriptions of the atmosphere and way of life, who told their memories, and handed over pictures and photographs.

First, blessed are the three dear friends from the United States of America: Julius Haber, Avraham Fisher and Shimon Marcus, who were among the encouragers, motivators and doers, and without their blessed actions, the book would not come to fruition.

We thank the historian N. M. Gelber for his nice article about the history of the town.

And also, be blessed our hometown friend, the painter Aryeh Eluil, who dedicated his time and contributed his works to the decoration of the book.

We also wish to thank our hometown friend, Prof. Michael Zohari, who guided us with his wise advice.

And finally, a special “well done” to our hometown friend, the editor Dr. Shraga Pivel Kalai, who spared no toil and trouble, who collected and gathered written documents as well as oral testimonies, reviewed, sorted, edited, proofread and included all the raw material that was brought before him (and ordered if it was not brought before him), sent it to print, proofread and designed it until it reached the final form that is provided here.

The committee

[Page 9]

To the Hill of Bodies in the Snow

Uri Zvi Grinberg

Translated by Mira Eckhaus

And when they took my father out to the hill of bodies in the snows on the field, the German officer shouted: Austzien! And my father understood the verdict. My father took off his coat and his pants as if he had been taking off the materialism of the world, he took off his shoes as customary at the nineth of Av Eve and remained standing in his underwear and his socks ... what was more naked in the world that day than this nakedness under the sky, in the snows on the field?

He never stood like that, under the sky, in his underwear and the black kippah on his head except when he stood in front of his bed at night and except in the bathhouse, in the moment before going down to the ritual immersion ... because only then did he also take off his underwear, socks and kippah and did not look at his body until it was covered with water from all sides: as if he was descending to bow down in the depths.

But when the German officer noticed that my father was still standing in his underwear and with a black kippah on his head, the evil struck him between the shoulders with his weapon. My father coughed and fell to the ground on his face, as if he was praying to God: a deep bowing down to the bottom of life and he did not want to stand up again. He moaned a groan as if he had just finished the last prayer, after which there are no more prayers, only a cloudy sky, a hill of bodies and an alive German officer in the distant fields of snow. And on both sides of my holy father's face, the snow melted and turned red because of the blood that came out of his mouth, from the punctured lung.

And when the German officer saw that my father was not getting up, he stuck the tip of his black boot under my holy father's stomach, kicked him and turned him over on his back. My father's face looked as if the land of the Gentiles had also kicked him.

And with nightfall, stars twinkled and there was a hill of bodies in the field and a night snow fell, fell in a soft and cruel abundance... that's what God willed. It was felt that there was a God - but he belonged to the Gentiles. There is a God in the world, but there is no God for Israel.

Only the snow alone was a witness to what happened. It fell in a cruel abundance.

Ikla hai sava lehai atra (Grandfather stumbled upon the scene): Rabbi Uri of Strelisk HaSharaf, and there was no sound of his footsteps in the place and there was no sound of his breathing... and he opened his mouth and said in a whisper:

Rabbi Chaim, the son of Rabbi Yitzchak Eliezer, my grandson
A body that was a violin for the prayers of Israel
A mouth that brings comfort to the oppressed people of Israel
The snow in the Gentile field covers you without limit
Where did your prayers go my grandson?
Where did my prayers go?
To what abyss in the world - -

From the hill of bodies, my sister's little son, whose name was Shmuel and affectionately was called Shmuiltshi - moved and crawled to the feet of Rabbi Uri of Sterlink HaSharaf - and cried as a boy and did not open his eyes because he could not, and felt with his small palms grandfather's shoes. Grandfather bent over to him, kissed him on the forehead and said to him: My baby, my holy baby!

The son of my holy sister, whose name was Shmuel and affectionately was called Shmuiltshi replied: Grandfather, grandfather, why didn't you come here before with a multitude of angels and seraphim?

Grandfather, grandfather, where is the God of the Jews?

And the child became silent and remained lying at the feet of grandfather Rabbi Uri, who was late to arrive with his torches,

who did not bring a lot of angels to our home - to protect us.

And Rabbi Uri of Sterlink HaSharaf is standing on his knees, freezing in the gentile field, and the snow is falling and falling.


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