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Preface to the English translation

by Leon Zamosc

Coordinator, JewishGen translation of the Gombin Yizkor book

Back in 1995, the launching of its website transformed JewishGen into the most important international resource for Jewish genealogy. At that time, one of its key initiatives was the Yizkor Book Special Interest Group (predecessor of today's JewishGen's Yizkor Books Project), which was fostering the creation of lists of same–shtetl people who could be potentially interested in researching, indexing or translating their town's Yizkor book. In September of that same year 1995, I circulated a call inviting people to join in the effort to create such list for the Gombin Yizkor book. That turned out to be the beginning of a process that eventually transcended the initial focus on the Yizkor book and led to the establishment of the Gombin Jewish Historical and Genealogical Society in 1997. As the process unfolded and the Gombin Society embarked on its ambitious (and demanding) projects to restore the Jewish cemetery of Gombin and build a Gombin memorial monument at Chelmno, the translation of the Gombin Yizkor book was put on hold.

Fortunately, it was a case of “postponed, but not forgotten”. A few years after the 1999 dedication of the Gombin memorial projects in Poland, Ada Holtzman initiated the Yiddish–English translation of the Gombin memorial book within the framework of the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project. As coordinator of the Gombin project, Ada supervised the translation of several chapters of the book, but her premature passing prevented her from seeing the project through to the end. Ada Holtzman was an awesome Gombin genealogist, a tenacious fighter for the memory of the Polish shtetls and the Shoah, and a tireless contributor to many JewishGen projects. As the person who stepped into her shoes to coordinate the continuation of the work, I am sure that the completion of the Gombin book translation represents a most fitting homage to her memory.

 

Ada Holtzman z”l (1951–2016)

 

Like all Yizkor books, the Gombin memorial book is a unique source of information about the town's vanished Jewish community. Its narratives, testimonies and photographs offer a vivid overview of the history, religious and secular institutions, leading personalities, social and cultural activities, and daily life of the Gombin Jews before the Second World War. They also convey the horrors of their persecution, suffering and annihilation following the occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany. As an important addition to the original version, this English edition of the book includes a new appendix with individual information about 2,249 Gombiners who are known to have perished during the Shoah. For me, it is a privilege to have been able to fulfill the duty of remembering their names and transmitting the historical legacy of the Jews of Gombin to new generations of scholars and Gombiner descendants all over the world.

On behalf of Ada Holtzman and myself, I would like to express gratitude and appreciation to the volunteer and professional translators who contributed to the success of this project: Janie Respitz, Dorothy and David Rothbart, Clarice Gostinsky–Horelick, Ida Selavan–Schwarcz, Melvyn Wrobel, and Ada's father Meir Holtzman z”l. I would also like to thank the members of the JewishGen's Yizkor Books Project team who diligently supported the production of the book: Binny Lewis and Lance Ackerfeld (Yizkor Book Managers), Joel Alpert (Coordinator of Yizkor Books in Print), and Jan Fine (Yizkor Books Project Graphic Designer).

Finally, the speedy conclusion of the translation of the Gombin memorial book would not have been possible without the support of a grant from the Gombin Society and the individual donations of the following persons: Harold Boll, Bernard Guyer, Robert Kucinski, Sarah Liron, Richard Lozins, Richard Narva, Marlene Rifkin, Carol Rissman, Edee Simon–Israel, Gayle Frenkel–Sokoloff, Arthur Stupay, Dennis Teifeld, Anna Zamosc–Stone, Leon Zamosc, and Shlomo Zytman. Thank you all for your JewishGen–erosity.

San Diego, November 2020

 

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