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[Page 151]

Memories from my Home Town

by Malia Kleinman – Perkal (Tel–Aviv)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

When I remember my tormented Jewish neighborhood in the shtetl Jadow, I see first my father–and–mother, my sisters and my brothers. My father, Simcha Perkal, was the son of Motl Shoichet [ritual slaughterer] from Vengrow. When he was a young man he studied in the Yeshiva and later with the Gur Hasidim. In 1910 my father moved to Jadow and lived a clean and honest life, never complained, never cheated, offended no one – just followed the path that God had commanded.

My mother, Tzipora Perkal nee Potashnik, daughter of Leibush Potashnik (Rachel Schiyes) excelled in her honest and modest life and her warm heart in relation to people. With a constant smile on her lips, she was always ready to lend money, even if it was her last few Zloti, in order to help a needy small businessman to buy some ware for his trade.

My town Jadow deserved to be proud of its Jewish life in all respects: a socialist–oriented youth, various parties, leftist Po'alei–Zion, a “Needle–Union” (led by communists), the sports organization BEITAR under the leadership of Berke Branstein, the Tarbut School, the General Zionists Organization and the Hasidic shtiblech (synagogues).

I cherish the memory of the beautiful activity of Po'alei–Zion Left in the twenties and the thirties. I worked at the time for the party with my friends, with whom I have grown up together: Yochanan Finkelman, Feige Rosenberg, Shmuel Grinberg, Motl Gzhende (today in Canada), Leibel Spieler, Chana Slodash, Reizel Feldman and other devoted members.

Po'alei–Zion Left possessed a rich library full of books. The librarian was Shifra Bass. The party had a Drama Circle, led by Leibel Fyerowitz. I also remember the

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Po'alei–Zion Left Organization in Jadow


hard–working Jews, who had to struggle for their daily loaf of bread: the wagon–drivers Moshe Denak, David Gorbarski (Pletzel), Sender the lame, Shimon Gzhende, all pulling their wagons day and night, in rain and frost, taking to the train station merchants and regular passengers who were going to Warsaw.


The Farmers Rebellion in 1927

It happened on a beautiful summer day, a Wednesday, the weekly market–day, when many farmers with wagons full of grain streamed into town from all sides, and others came on foot leading their horses and cattle for sale.

Before entering town, the farmers began to gather and prepared a mutiny: they refused to pay the “gate–tax” that was managed by Jews. The farmers argued that the tax was too high. They soon advanced, armed by sticks. The police were aware that the members of the Anti–Semitic party “Narodna Demokracia” were the instigators of the opposition to the tax, only because the tax–collection was in Jewish hands, although the Jews had received an official license from the town authorities.

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The police, who were prepared for the farmers' rebellion, positioned policemen at all entrances to town and disarmed the farmers.

This conduct of the police enraged the farmers and they began fighting with the policemen. They grabbed whatever “weapon” they could and attacked first the policemen then the police headquarters in town, and wrecked the rooms. The police called the “Staroste” [chief] in Radzimin for help and advice, asking him how to deal with the “rebels.” In an hour, a carful of policemen arrived, headed by their commandant. The farmers had almost occupied the entire town.

The policemen from both towns, Radzimin and Jadow, took positions in an empty building near the firefighters' headquarters and opened rifle–fire on the farmers. Soon dead and wounded were lying on the ground. Moshe Shemendik, the regular collector of the gate–tax, very quickly fled from the place and only by a miracle several Jews suffered only a few blows.

After the firing subsided, the farmers jumped on their wagons and, whipping the horses over their heads hurried to leave town. In a few minutes all was calm again.

These are the memories that remained imprinted in my heart; other memories from my home and my neighborhood are veiled by the shadow of mourning and sadness. My beloved father and mother, my brothers and sisters suffered and perished with the six million Jews. We were seven children, I alone survived.

The question must be asked: where were my father's prayers, when he walked his last road? Or were the Heavens shut?

This deep sorrow will never leave me. The deep wound in my heart will never heal.

[Page 154]

Memories from my Old Home

by Shalom Blyashke (New–York)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

It seems as it was just yesterday – the way the Shtetl Jadow is fresh in my memory, the town where I was born and raised and where I spent the best part of my young life. We all felt close and friendly since the days of our childhood. Although the years were filled with the usual daily worries and all were struggling for mere existence, we were still very happy and joyful. The town was unique, full of beautiful natural sights, and enjoyed a rich Jewish social life: political parties, youth organizations, schools, prayer houses and Hasidic shtiblech.

Factories were non–existent in Jadow, and most professional occupations were closed to Jews. So a young Jew became an apprentice of a tailor, a shoemaker, a tinsmith. In most cases, learning the profession – although it was not easy and it lasted several years – was pleasant: the feeling of togetherness among the “professionals” and the apprentices in the workshop, the noise of the sewing machines, the thumping of the hammers, the popular working songs and the beautiful Hassidic tunes that were sung from time to time…

When they became full–fledged craftsmen, most of them had become friends. They knew each other closely, unlike in the big cities where the relationship between boss and worker was cold and distant. The “master” was a qualified professional craftsman who had two or three workers – and the relations were friendly and close. The workers were organized in professional unions, and when they asked for a raise, sometimes even following a strike, their demands were met.

The Union was concerned with the spiritual and cultural needs of the members as well. They had a library and a drama group (to which I belonged).

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The rehearsals, held in private homes, served also as meeting places for young men and women and often turned into a joyous party where everybody had a good time. No salaries were paid for the performances; the profits from the tickets were use to buy books and pay the rent and other expenses.


A theater performance of the Drama Group in the “Tarbut” Hall.


The “Tarbut” Society also had a drama group and often we had joint performances.

Matel Rawinska, member of Hashomer Hatza'ir movement, took part in one of the plays. At a certain point in the play she had to pronounce the words “he does love me” in a happy and assertive way – however it came out with a clear question mark. She tried again and again to no avail, until an old man in the audience lost his patience and cried out loud: “She was such a nice girl and now, poor soul, she has become crazy because of this “threater.”

The religious life in town was very active. The young men, who were mostly non–observant, when they married and each became a “head of a household” went back to the synagogue and prayed with the rest of the community, because “it wasn't respectable” to do otherwise.

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The religious Jews in the community celebrated many joyous occasions and the entire town participated. I remember when the community “completed the writing of a Torah Scroll” – with great festivity. Old and young gathered in the market place and danced with the Torah with delight; the parade advancing toward the synagogue was accompanied by “actors” dressed in special costumes; Dudl (David), Leibel Tsalkes' son–in–law, who had been a cavalry–man in the army, organized a group of riders; cake and brandy was served along the way. It was a happy and joyous day that continued until midnight.


R'Yakov David Perlmutter –
a Jadow Balebos [respected man, lit. house–owner]


The Hol Hamoed days [intermediate days of the Pesach and Sukkot holidays] were particularly joyful: the arrival of many guests in town, the fresh friendships between young boys and girls, the spring holidays Pesach and Shavuot – all this filled the town with joy, overflowing into the woods and the green fields.

All this Jewish life exists no more. We shall remember it forever.

[Page 166]

My Home–Town Jadow

by Yakov Minski (New–York)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

My home–town Jadow, although very small and remote, has left a deep impression on my soul. A deep longing persisted, a longing for my childhood and adolescent years, a longing for the simple and warmhearted Jews, who were so cruelly eliminated by the Germans.

I don't know when Jadow became a town and when the first Jews settled there – probably in the second half of the 18th century. Jadow was then part of the estates of Graf Zamaiski, who had a good relationship with the Jews. There are no reports about persecutions in Jadow at that time; Jews lived in peace in town and traded with the peasants, who showed no hostility towards the believers in the “old religion.” In general, Jewish life in town during the 19th century flowed peacefully, without serious trouble.

My great–grandfathers – R'Moshe and R'Zelig Grinberg – were employees of the nobleman, the estate–owner. Other Jews had taverns, or were in the lumber trade – the Jadow region was blessed with woods.

The figures of the rabbis, the religious leaders of the Jadow Jews, remained etched in my memory: R'Leibale – the rabbi of Dubienka, the Rav R'Israel Leimanowitz and the Niesewzer rabbi, who perished with his entire family. I want to mention also other dear Jews: my grandfather R'Yitzhak Mordechai, R'Moshe Rawinski, R'Yeshaya Farber, R'Yechiel Charinovski, Leibale Schiyes, Tzalke the mohel [circumcisor], R'Yochanan, R'Zalman, R'Yerachmiel Pravda and R'Avraham Ber Hoffman.

From the First World War I remember in particular

[Page 167]


Berl Bronstein (Kizhak)' his wife and their two sons


the year 1917. Young men from other towns arrived and were taken by the well–to–do Jadowers as husbands for their beautiful daughters. After the weddings, they became “sons–in–law on kest[1] and students of the Bet Hamidrash [“house of learning”].[2]

However, they almost never finished the kest term. Most young men began looking for more lucrative occupations: they went to the villages, set up a stand in the market, or traded in furniture, dry–goods or tools. Some of them became teachers. Very seldom one of the young men became a craftsman. Among them were very kind young people – my dear friends Meir Chaim Berls, Avraham Leizer Radzinski and and David “the anvil.” In winter days, when we came before dawn to our class in the Old Bet Hamidrash to study the “daily page” (of the Talmud), Avner the house–painter was already there. He had already read his Tehillim [Psalms] and would get ready for the morning prayer.

During the summer we moved our class to the New Bet Hamidrash, where the Jewish laborers came to the ”early Minyan.”

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We studied every day, except when there was a fair in town, or when we had to travel. We would discuss the matters studied, sometimes even argue loudly, but it was always an argument for the sake of understanding the material studied [lit. “an argument for the sake of Heaven”]. Some of the Jadow young men who would come to study were very religious and honest, like the brothers Shmuel and Yechezkel Rosenbaum, Kopel Berman and Shmuel Lichtblum (now in Israel). Among them were some real prodigies, very diligent in their Torah study: Simcha–Jonah Finkelman's grandson, Leibel Yedwovnik and Motl Yerachmiels, brother of our dear friend who lives in America – Hinda Lakyetch.

After World War I, with the establishment of Independent Poland, the situation in the shtetlach deteriorated. Anti–Semitism spread and Jews began to lose their livelihood. Soon came the Grabski decrees and the merciless taxes, and the Jadow Jews lived in poverty. The romantic era in Jadow was over.


Yankel Bronstein, a Jadow well–to–do Jew [lit. “house–owner”]


Translator's Footnotes

  1. The literal meaning of kest is “room & board.” The term was used for a special arrangement among Eastern European Jews where the father of the bride promised to provide room & board for the newlywed couple. The length of time was specified before the marriage and was to enable the groom to continue his religious studies. Return
  2. Minyan = prayer quorum of ten male adults (over 13 years of age). The “early Minyan” was held at dawn, for the laborers who had to go to work early. Return

[Page 169]

Stories from Jewish Jadow

by Chaim Neta Perlmutter (Bat–Yam)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Hassidic Bandits

The Alexander Stiebel[1] was in the house of R'Feivele Gzhenda, the old melamed [Torah teacher]. All week R'Feivele learned with the children, on Shabat the heder, in R'Yechezkel Biderman's house, was converted into a Hassidic “shtiebel.” The Hassidim were among the greatest learners in town: R'Leibish Potashnik, R'Leibel Gelbard, Shmuel–Shalom Zlotkovski, R'Yehuda–Yakov Winograd, R'Yehoshua Askala, R'Yidel Kitzkovski, R'Shlomo–Zalman Fjorawitz and R'Avraham–Moshe Guttman (Avraham Moishele the melamed).

Here is what once happened in one of the Hassidic stiebels:

As is well known, the readings of the Torah at the Sabbath Morning Prayer were symbolically “sold” to the persons called to the Torah, and the payments were made during the week. The money was used for the maintenance of the shtiebel: rent, the shaleshides [the third Sabbath meal] in the afternoon, wine for havdala and so on. However, those “debts” were not always paid on time, and to ensure payment, the gabbay [synagogue treasurer] would often “confiscate” the prayer–shawls after the Sabbath prayer was over and return them during the week only after the debt was paid.

Once, the gabbay R'Israel Potashnik performed this procedure. All men willingly gave up their shawls. Only one, R'Naftali Schidlowitz the leather merchant stubbornly refused – he will not part with his prayer shawl! It was decided to take it from him by force, and when R'Israel saw that the entire congregation began to advance toward him, he began calling in a loud voice: “Help! I'm being robbed! Help, robbers, bandits!”

[Page 170]

The Enmity between two Bookkeepers

The Jadow Jews had two banks and an Interest–free Loan Fund. The bookkeeper of the “First People's–Bank” was R'Yakov Schidlowitz and the bookkeeper of the “Second Merchants' Bank” was R'Avraham–Leizer Radzinski. He was the son–in–law of the Gites family, who originated in the Sileve village, 6 kilometers from Jadow.

Both bookkeepers prayed in the Alexander shtiebel and both hated each other. Avraham Leizer Radzinski was the reader of the Torah during Sabbath prayer and Yakov Shidlowitz liked to “buy” the sections of the Torah Portion that were most honored; in this context they often found a reason to quarrel. Sometimes it was not easy to calm them down.

And so they lived through the whole year hating each other. On the eve of Yom Kippur they reconciled and made peace, and after Yom Kippur they became enemies again.


He Missed a Mitzva

In 1938, my father, R'Yakov Perlmutter, became ill and was several weeks in bed. Dr. Wishnievski came often to see him. Once, on a Sabbath, my father had a bad attack, it seemed that it was his liver. The doctor came and ordered to prepare hot water. I knew it was Sabbath and it was forbidden to light a fire; but “saving a life overrides the rules of the Sabbath” [pikuach nefesh doche Shabat], so I lit the stove and boiled some water.

In the house next to ours lived R'Leibel, the Warsaw baker's son–in–law. He was a Jew with a small beard and long side–curls, a Chasid of Uman (we used to call them “dead Chasidim”), a very pious person. In his youth he had been a very “hot,” active communist, but later, out of conviction he turned into a very, very religious Jew.

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When R'Leibel heard that the doctor ordered to prepare hot water in order to save the life of a sick man, he came running: he wanted to perform the mitzvah [commandment] of lighting a fire on Sabbath and save a life!

When he heard that I had already prepared hot water, he cried out loudly, in real pain: “Oy, I was too late, I missed a mitzvah, an opportunity of once in a lifetime!”

Translator's Footnote

  1. Hassidic prayer–house Return

[Page 172]

Once, Long Ago, This was my Home

by Leibel Grzende

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

My father Avraham Shmuel was a melamed; he was the teacher of the best children in the Shtetl.

My father told me, that as a boy of 12 years he went to Zamosz to study at the Yeshiva, and later he studied with the rabbi of Volhyn.

Very seldom I saw a smile on my father's face. On the eve of Yom Kippur he changed – he became a completely different person. After Mincha [the afternoon prayer], as we finished the last meal before the fast, he went to the Mikve [the ritual bath]. When he returned, our mother said the blessing over the candles and then we all went to the Gerer shtiebel [the Gora Hassidic synagogue].


Israel Grzende – Avraham Shmuel, Yossl's son – in the Byalistok Yeshiva


[Page 173]

My father remained there all night and the next day, and came home only after Yom Kippur was over. After the Maariv prayer he entered our house, happy and in a good mood. He was certain that our prayers for a good year were answered, and right away he began packing, in preparation for his journey to Gora, where he would spend the first two days of the Sukkot Holiday.

My melamdim [heder teachers]:

My first melamed, who taught me the alphabet, was Feivele; my father had learned with him as well. I believe, that every Jadower, at one time or another, studied with R'Feivele. He was a short, skinny Jew with a yellow beard, and as I remember he “ate days” – was given his meals every day in another house. People used to come to him to write their letters.

My chumash rabbi [the rabbi who taught me the Pentateuch – the Five Books of Moses] was known to everybody as the Gerer melamed [the melamed from Gora]. His real name was Avraham Yitzhak, a man with a big red beard. With him I began learning “Torah with Rashi.” After I finished studying with him I went to Nechemia Schlesinger, where I started learning Gemara [Talmud]. He wasn't a bad rabbi. My second Talmud-teacher – the little Avraham-Moshe'le, a small Jew with a big beard, did not beat the children, but used to give them a “little pinch” on the cheek, but so strong that one could pass out. Saturdays I liked to study with him Perek [Pirkei Avot = The Wisdom of the Fathers], which he taught in a particularly sweet melody. Last but not least was my own father, who studied with grown-up children: Moshe Finkelman, Moshe Meltzer, Simcha Finkelman, Yehoshua Novinstern, Chaim-Hirsch Bloshke, Yidel Fishels, Leibl Weinstock, Chaim Neta and my younger brother. There were also Moshe Bunim Meinimer, Zalman Fellman, Avraham Yeshayahu Motike and Israel Zabranetzki. The latter I remember in particular, since he was one of my father's best pupils.

With my father we studied Tanach [the Bible]. After graduating from his heder, we went straight to the Yeshiva. To tell the truth, I went to the Yeshiva not because I was so eager to study Torah, but because my father wanted that my brother and I grow to be great Torah scholars. I was 13 years old and my brother was 10. As a matter of fact I did not stay at the Yeshiva for a very long time – only 3 years. For my father I was a disappointment, and therefore he put all his hopes in my brother – in him he saw the continuation and preservation of his own life.

I did not realize that at the time; I did not understand my father as I do now. He was a simple and straightforward person. One of his friends, Betzalel Fargman, told me the following story: they were young children, and on Sabbath nights

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they used to study the Tractate Ketubot. Once, the attendant of the synagogue had forgotten before the Sabbath to refill the lamp with kerosene, so the two learners had no light. They did not go home, but continued learning partly by moonlight and partly by heart, until before dawn, when the Chevra Tehillim [reciters of the Psalms] arrived.

Betzalel also told me: you did not know your father; your father was a truly good and honest man. Today I remember many things from my father's life. During weekdays, the pain and suffering of the entire Jewish exile could be seen on his face. But when he sat down in the Gerer Shtibel to study Talmud, he became a completely different person: truly detached from this world. His face shone with a special light.

At the beginning of the 1930s most of us young people, did not go to the Yeshiva. We were a group of about 15 young men, who belonged to the Tzeirei Agudat Israel organization, but we soon changed our minds: it had not been a good idea, we thought. We decided that we must join an organization that was effectively related to Jewish life, as, for example, Po'alei Zion Left – a large organization, or Hashomer Hatza'ir, or the General Zionist Party, which were being organized at the time. We discussed the matter and decided to join BEITAR, which had just been founded, and had 10 members: Itche Gitt, Moshe Mordechai Yedwobnik, Moshe Meltzer, Moshe Finkelman,


R'Aharon Gedanke – president of the Community


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Yechiel Chrinovitzki, Yeshayahu Pyenik, Moshe Spieler, Zlatke Silberman, Lea Balaban and Yakov Wans. We joined BEITAR because at the time it was, to our understanding, the closest to a national group. The Brit Hachayal organization was founded in those days as well.

When my parents became aware of my “crime”, I had to leave my home, so I went to Warsaw. However, when I later returned, dressed in a suit and a hat, my parents made peace with me.

I would like to mention several of the Jadow Jews, whose personalities remained imprinted in my memory: Hershel Rikels with the golden eyeglasses, whose prayer during Rosh Hashana as cantor in the Old Shul was a delight for everyone in the synagogue. In the Gerer Shtiebel prayers finished earlier, so we went to the other synagogue to listen to the beautiful sounds of Rikels' praying. His two sons, Shmuel and Yechezlel, who had beautiful voices, helped him. To this day I never met such a cantor.

In the Gerer Shtiebel there was “the little Yeshayahu Chaim'l” – a Jew who was all spirituality. During prayer he was absorbed in another world… On the first day of the month of Elul he went to Gora and remained there until after Yom Kippur. I remember another Jew, a simple tailor, whom everybody called Chaim Kishke. He would read the Tehillim [The Book of Psalms] with such sweetness, that I think today that all the angels in Heaven must have gathered and listened. Little Yeshayahu Chaim'l said about him, that one cannot imagine what kind of soul the man had and what delight he creates in the world by his reciting Psalms.

I remember the Jadower shtadlen [lobbyist for community matters], the president of the Community R'Artche Gedanke. His appearance – always clean, the beard neatly combed – his grayish hair, his aristocratic walk and behavior commanded respect. He died young. There was a Jew, Yakov Shiye, a porter, tall, a giant with a great wide beard. When Sabbath came and the giant dressed up in the clean kapote and the Jewish little hat, it was a sight to see.

Yerachmiel Pravde, who prayed in the Gerer Shtiebl, was already a bit of a maskil (enlightened). He was educated, and received all the newspapers.

These were the Jews of Jadow.

[Page 176]

My Poor Home And Pious Mother
(Her tragic death by a German assassin's bullet)

by Tzvi Burshteyn (Holon)

Translated by Murray Kaplan

Many devoted Jewish mothers lived in Jadow, that took upon themselves the responsibility of earning a living and raising the children. I will tell you here, the story of my mother whom they called Bella– in Jadow. She was the daughter of Yankel Schneider. A small skinny woman, wearing a black wig on her head, a round face with two cherry shaped eyes, that constantly had a worried look, because her situation in life never lacked problems.

I had hardly reached the age of four and my brother Tevyeh was seven, when our father, Elijah David, abandoned us. In my little childish brain, I was unable, at that time, to comprehend what had happened, for what reasons our father left us little children on the skinny, dried–up shoulders of our mother.

As soon as I regained my sensibilities, I immediately felt and emptiness in my soul and a constant loneliness, because I missed my father, that the children in the neighborhood possessed, and of whom they were proud. In addition I missed my father when I went to Hebrew school to Chaim Rimazh, who lived close to the new school. His living quarters, consisted of one room and a hallway, which served as a cheder, were we children, 30 in number, of all ages, studied the Torah.

My loneliness caused me to be submissive to the children that I thought were stronger than me–that's how they seem to be, the ones that had their fathers. Often it would happen, when I came home from cheder after a full day of studying, wishing to refresh myself with a piece of bread, I found our poor attic apartment, where we lived on the same premises as Fishel , the vinegar maker, locked up. My mother was busy at that time, trying to earn some money.

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Our whole apartment, as was customary in our town of Jadow, comprised of one room. That is the way the majority of her residents, lived, the shoemakers, the tailors, the carpenters and the other craftsmen and villagers, to which group my mother belonged. She carried a variety of items on her back which were for sale. Such as: needles, soap, bandannas, combs, brushes, all sorts of elastic, and different colors of ribbons and everything that was necessary for the villagers. And that is the way that my poor mother Bella, walked around, day in and day out with packages hanging in front and on her back, and in both hands. In the summer time for the vacationers and in the wintertime in the villages, such as Zhirzhnaveh, Vievkeh and Fiask.

From wandering around all day long with these packs on her worn out back my unfortunate mother scarcely had the strength to make her way home, but she did come home, weary and fatigued from walking around the village all day long.

When I began to understand what a bitter situation we were in, every night I would go out to meet my mother, in order to help her carry her bundles, and in this way we came home together, to eat our evening meal together which consisted of a few potatoes and beet borscht which my mother would cook and whiten with a bit of milk and an egg. With this very borscht we were able to satisfy ourselves every time my mother came home from work and was unable to prepare a meal, this borscht was all there was.

In this situation in which we found ourselves at that time, myself, my brother Tevyah and my mother––––the whole responsibility of making a living and parenting lay on the shoulders of our mother. In our town of Jadow, my mother Bella was known as a serious and pious woman. With all her strength, she took upon herself the job of giving us a religious upbringing. This was the desire of her life: that her sons should grow up in piety among their peers. Her only other pleasures in life was reading the women's prayer books on the Sabbath. Immersing herself in these prayers, she would cry and find the courage for the following week of bitter work.

This little bit of spirituality on the Sabbath, would give her the strength and courage for the following week's work so that she could support us financially according to her ability.

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“He will help”––– she would say to us, when we were still small children––– “God works in mysterious ways, that no person can understand.”––– she taught us, and all of her life, until the day of her tragic death, she hoped for the coming of the Messiah––––then we will be fortunate Jewish people. We will be free in our land of Israel. This was my mother's sweetest dream and constant hope.

In spite of our poverty, my mother took pains to share her bread with people more needy than ourselves. At the very beginning of the Jewish tragedy, in September 1939, when the German murderers first entered Poland, the Jews in the environs of Jadow––––the people that abandoned their homes, came to Jadow––––women with infants in their arms. They were in need of a warm place to stay, and indeed, a few of these refugees, found a home at my mother's attic apartment.

In spite of this great danger, that lurked everywhere, my mother continued to ply her trade in the villages in order to buy food for herself and her guests, that were there at the time. It was then that our mother suffered a tragic death: a murderous German shot her on the road from Vievkeh, as she was returning home with a little food in her bag. She was among the very first casualties from Jadow.

And that was the beginning and the end of the story of my holy mother.

[Page 179]

The Rise of the Synagogue and Study Hall

by Yossel Gurshteyn (Haifa)

Translated by Murray Kaplan

I am among the oldest Jews from Jadow of the survivors of the great holocaust. There remains in my memory interesting survivors of the previous Jewish life in Jadow, which, as a child, I heard of them from my father and other elderly people of that generation.

About 68 years ago, being a little boy at that time, I accompanied my father to a funeral of her relatives, and from the conversation among the elderly people at the cemetery , the story about the beginnings of the cemetery of Jadow remains in my memory. The story goes as follows: after the signing of the marriage contract of a certain boy and girl of this shtetl, the bride shortly thereafter suddenly died. The sadness in the shtetl was widespread. The Jewish community decided to bury the bride in Jadow.

At that time, Count Zamosky donated a large parcel of land for a Jewish cemetery, which was not utilized for a long time. However, since another death occurred in the close by shtetl Tluschtch, in the same day as the death of the bride, both of them were buried in Jadow and they opened the new cemetery. Then I saw a tree close to a grave on which was written “here lies buried a little girl.” My father showed that the writing on the tree had been written 50 years ago. From this I make the calculation that this cemetery in Jadow is 120 years old. Previously, the corpses were transported to burial in Vishkov or Radzimin.

In the same forest, to the left of the Jewish cemetery, there existed an evangelical cemetery, with a brick fence, containing eight gravestones. We children were deathly afraid and dared not to enter the Jewish cemetery

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but we felt absolutely no fear at the Christian cemetery. We were curious about the markings on the gravestones at the little Christian cemetery and they have remained in my memory. The evangelical cemetery came about by the following conditions:

In the year 1868, Russia was engaged in war with Turkey. And in the Turkish army there were many English officers, and after a very serious defeat which the Turks suffered, the English officers that were killed were buried in this cemetery by the community of Jadow.

Concerning the large synagogue, my father told us it was built soon after I was born. That means she must've been approximately 75 years old. I myself remember that the wooden structure of the study hall was completed approximately 60 years ago, and she was built by the Tehillim Society.

At that time, the mikvah and the bathhouse were built of wood and very primitive. The steam issued forth from a hot stone upon which hot water was poured. The new mikvah was built about 50 years ago, already with more modern facilities.

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My little Yiddish Shtetele Jadow
A Eulogy

by Sam Greenstone (New York)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

My little Yiddish Shtetele Jadow, I am far away from you. I have established my second home in the sated, contented America, but I never ceased thinking of my first home in Jadow, “where I spent my childhood years” – in the words of the well-known folk-song.

Most of Jadow Jews were poor, always troubled with livelihood worries. There were families who went to bed hungry, only the Kri'at Shema – the prayer at bedtime – keeping them company. Yet, even in this situation the shtetl produced liberation dreamers, who dreamed of the deliverance of the Jewish people.

The pogrom in the far away Kishinew in 1903 – far in space and time – was still painful to Jewish Jadow. When the terrible news reached the town, everything stopped, as if petrified: the tailor put down his scissors, the cobblers left their little workshops and the grocers their shops – and with bowed heads all went to the synagogue. Hurting and weeping they recited chapters from the Book of Psalms, protesting against the pogroms in the dark land of the Czars.

Among the victims of the gruesome Russian rulers were Jews from Jadow as well. Some were arrested and exiled to Siberia – I remember them well: Shlomo Jona's, Finkelman, Yechiel, Heshel Weinstock, Motl Goodman, Tzolke Greenberg-Platkavers, Chaim the son of the barber-surgeon, Yankel Lewitch, Shlomo Yedvobnik, Yakov Esther-Beile's and others, whose names I cannot remember.

The Jadow victims, who gave their lives for Freedom, sadly did not achieve freedom for their fellow Jews.

[Page 182]

Instead, the dark German-Nazi era of slavery began, their aim being the annihilation of the entire Jewish people. With the six million tormented and murdered by the Germans, perished Jewish Jadow.


Our consolation: From the tragic experiences, like a ray of light in the pre-dawn darkness, the State of Israel emerged. The two-thousand-year old dream of the Jewish people became reality. After so much suffering and so many victims – let us uphold, with all our might and devotion, this consolation and comfort: the dream that came true – the State of Israel.

[Page 183]

The Old Home that Lives in my Memory

by Berl Glickman (Tel Aviv)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

My Jewish home in Jadow was erased from the face of the earth by the wild Germans. But in my memory, in my heart and my soul – my Jewish home is still living. It grows suddenly before my eyes, like an old oak with deep roots and large spread-out branches – until the cursed axe of the horrible German cut it down and it became a ruin.

In front of my eyes my childhood years come alive: Polish elementary school and at the same time the Heder with the melamed R'Feivel. In the Heder we absorbed the traditions of our nation, the social laws of our Torah and the longing for Zion. Rabbi Feivel is etched in my memory as a true proud Jew. His serious attitude toward his pupils was for us like the first rays that were to light our future road.

My mother Feige Pearl was a seamstress. She employed young girls, Jewish and Christian, from Jadow and from surrounding villages. She did not discriminate between Jews and Christians. What was important to her was the person's character and behavior, and she treated the girls with warmth and devotion. She shared their problems and troubles and helped them as much as she could. There was complete harmony between her, the “boss” and her workers.

Some of her girls felt the need to consult with my mother even concerning intimate matters and to trust her with personal secrets… and even after they married, their friendship was not cut off. In those times, such conduct between employer and employees was indeed rare.

[Page 184]

My mother's earnings provided a livelihood for 9 persons. Her main purpose in life was to give her children an education and a profession; she invested in that a great effort and much work. She understood and believed that a person must have an occupation, in order to be able to lead an independent life. This aim my mother has achieved.

At the age of 15, my older brother Leibel left home and went to Warsaw to acquire a profession, at the same time studying the Hebrew language as a preparation for the Aliya to Eretz Israel. He devoted much time to Zionist work; unfortunately he has not achieved his goal… My other brother, Chaim, followed in the path of the older brother. Al of us siblings were committed to the Zionist idea and our objective was Zion. The German plan of the “final solution” for the Jews marked the end of our large family: almost all perished by horrible deaths. Only my sister Lea and I have survived.


I was deeply moved by the warm welcome for my wife, who visited New York in 1960. The visit was arranged by the Jadow Committee and its president Nechemia z”l. The Jadow Landsleit welcomed with great joy the news that Feige Pearl's daughter-in-law is visiting the United States. For me as well, it was a ray of light that dispersed the dark shadows that had accompanied me since the German afflictions.

[Page 185]

Additional Notes on the
Jewish Community in Jadow

by Zvi Stutchka (Ramat-Gan)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

We do not have exact information about the time the Jadow Jewish Community began its existence as an organized and independent institution. But there is no doubt about the fact that in the first quarter of the 19th century Jadow already was a so-called Dazor Buzhnitchy – “Synagogue Administration” – in those days the official legal name of general Jewish activity.

It is an accepted historical fact, that in every town or village in Poland where a number of Jews settled, they built a synagogue and obviously arranged care-taking and supervision over it. This type of management was called Dazor Buzhnitchy and the leaders of the community were called “Dazares.”

In 1827, as mentioned in the Introduction, 48 Jews lived in Jadow and 30 years later – 331. It is clear from the records that by that time a community leadership already existed: 4 Dazares, who were religious Jews.

This system of community leadership functioned until the end of WWI, when the government of Independent Poland issued the decree whereby the leaders of the Jewish religious community will be elected by the Jews, who pay the community taxes.

The budget was modest, coming mainly from the community tax and the slaughtering tax. The community paid the salaries of the rabbi and the shochet [slaughterer] and maintained the religious institutions – synagogue, Bet-Midrash [study-house] and the “Welcoming Guests” Society (free accommodation for guests). The income from the Hevra Kadisha [burial society] was used to maintain the cemetery and its related needs. The leaders of the community were: Aharon Gedanke, Mendel Chrinowietzki, Shmuel Chaim Frieder and Leibel Weinsaft.

According to the new laws in Independent Poland, the elections of the community members

[Page 186]

were conducted officially, with the participation of the entire Jewish population. The Jadow Jews held the first elections, but there was no great change in the leadership of the community: Aharon Gedanke, Mendel Chrinowietzki, Shmuel Chaim Frieder and Meir Altenberg. This leadership lasted until 1930. With the increased activity of the Jewish political parties, the tendency was to enlarge the community leadership, proportionally to the size of the parties.

As a result of the elections that followed, the community leadership comprised 8 members. Three were from the Aguda: Mendel Chrinowietzki, Aharon Gedanke and Leibel Weinsaft, four from the General Zionists: Yidel Rosenberg, Moshe Mayerowitz, Shmuel Hoffman, Meir Henzel, and from the laborers was Mordechai Zlatovski. The “office” of the Community was at the home of the secretary, Shlomo Goldfinger.

The Polish authorities have not allowed Jewish participation in the municipal organs. In fact the Jews were a majority in Jadow, but the authorities included in the township the surrounding villages as well and so they became a minority and had no representation in the municipal council. From time to time, when a matter concerning the Jews was on the agenda, the Council invited to the deliberations a Jewish representative, in the person of Avraham Yitzhak Mayerowitz. The birth records and other administrative Jewish matters were managed by the community.


In 1928 a Workers Union was established. The management consisted of Mordechai Zlatovski, Yidel Koptzel, Yerachmiel Chrinowietzki and Noah Guttman. The Workers Union defended the Jewish workers against Anti-Semitic laws concerning Jewish craftsmen.

The Union had a Free-of-Interest Loan Fund to assist the needy craftsmen.


[Page 187]

The Aguda organization's center of activity was the Shtiebel [prayer house] of the Gur Hassidim. The Aguda had a great influence on the religious Jews of Jadow. Among others, they opened a Beit Yaakov School for Girls. The leaders of the organization were Leibel Weinsaft, Asher Penyashek, Joseph Dittman and others.


The General Zionists Organization existed since 1915. Between the two World Wars, various factions formed in the organization, the largest being the Yitzhak Greenboim group. In 1924, a group of young people separated from this faction and founded the Hechalutz, led by Shimon Salzman, Shmuel Hoffman, Yechezkel and Shmuel Rosenbaum, Shmuel Lichtblum and others.

In 1928, another group separated and established the Hashomer Hatza'ir.


The Jewish Saltis

In order to maintain contact with the Jewish population, the municipal authorities appointed Itche Grinberg as a special liaison officer, the Shtetl's “Saltis”. His function was administrative, without any effect on the town affairs. He was a simple Jew, had a large yard with little houses in it, which he rented to poor Jews. He earned his livelihood from the rent and by selling his garbage to the peasants; poverty was looming in his courtyard all year around.


“Butche Caesar”

In 1905, the spirit of revolutionary activity reached Jadow as well. A group of workers was created, and “agitators” from the big cities came to recruit members to the revolutionary movement.

[Page 188]

They held their meetings in the home of Baruch Jedwobnik, who was nicknamed “Butche Caesar.”

The group became known as “the strikers.” Their assignment was to acquire money, even by threats, in order to buy weapons. The agitators would come to the synagogues at the time of prayer and force the people to listen to their revolutionary sermons. The agitators were: Hershel Jedwobnik, Yakov Levitch, Hershel Weinstock, Max Goodman, David Pop, Shloimele Gzhedne (Good Sabbath) and others.

[Page 189]

Jews in the Villages around Jadow
(Their Life and their Ruin)

by Shepsel Khrinovitzki (Bat-Yam)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Several villages were located around Jadow, and the Jewish families who lived there were strongly connected, until the last minutes of their lives, to the Jadow Jewish community. At the South of Jadow were located the villages Silewa, Viewka, Rivna. Jewish families lived for many years in these three villages; they made their living by various occupations: cobblers, tailors, house-painters, grocers, merchants and leaseholders in the noblemen's estates.

In religious matters, the village-Jews were united through joint employment of melamdim [Torah teachers] for their children and cantors for the High Holidays. In the last few years before the war, hatred toward Jews increased greatly: stones were thrown at the windows of Jewish houses and hooligans attacked Jews in the streets.

The Jews in the villages were not rich; they had many children and their living conditions were difficult. The adolescents sought connections with the more organized youth in the shtetl, and this had a strong cultural and social effect on their life-experience. The adults maintained and strengthened their relations with the Jadow community.

The difficult living conditions of the village-Jews often caused disputes between them – for example while trying to buy a calf or to acquire rights of a milk farm, or simply to get hired for daily work at one of the local farms. Often the dispute broke out in harsh words, mostly at the Sabbath Morning Prayer or at the reading of the Torah Portion. The dispute was then brought before the Rabbi, who would order them to pay a fine as punishment. Sometimes the rabbi ordered to remove the Torah Scroll from the synagogue for a certain time; this was the gravest punishment.

[Page 190]

Life was not easy for children in the village. The poorer families had many children, who early in their lives had to help earning the daily bread. Half barefoot, they often had to carry buckets full of milk or do other work, missing school and study. When the situation of the Jews in town worsened, the Jews in the villages suffered as well. The anti-Semites pursued the village-Jews and many families left and moved to the shtetl.

When the war broke out and the Jews of Jadow were sent to the ghetto, the Jews from the villages were sent with them, and they all perished together. The fact, that the village-Jews had many friends and acquaintances among the peasants with whom they had lived for generations, didn't help at all. The so-called “friends” very soon joined the enemy and many of them helped in the annihilation of the Jewish community.

In our home lived: our father, our step-mother, three brothers and a sister. They had been very friendly with the peasants. The brothers and the sister went to the village school together with the peasants' children and spent with them their entire lives. Yet they found no place to hide, and all perished. In that region, none of the peasants could boast that they helped save the Jews.

[Page 191]

The Potashnik Family

by Avraham Potashnik (Tel Aviv)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

My father Leibish Potashnik, the son of Rav Aharon Zev, who was Rav in the shtetlach Shemnik, Nadorzhin and Dobre, was ordained as Rav at the age of 18 by 18 rabbis. However he has not officiated as rabbi: he owned a grocery store, which was managed by my mother Rachel and later she was helped by the grown daughters. R'Leib spent his time studying Torah and worshipping God. At times he would choose some of the best students and study with them Talmud and Codifiers.

Father had promised his father – with a handshake – not to serve as rabbi: only in case


Rachel Potashnik   Leibish Potashnik


[Page 192]

the local officiating rabbi was out of town, would he be allowed to make decisions concerning matters of law and pass sentence. Many people in town engaged him as arbiter, to solve disputes and conflicts.

In 1913, a tragedy befell our family: On Yom-Kippur night, my brother R'Berish, a great scholar, walked out of the synagogue to go home, and in the yard of the synagogue he was struck on his head by an iron bar. He fell down unconscious and died the next evening, after the end of Yom-Kippur Day. The entire town mourned him.

My father asked his dead son to promise him that he would let him know, by a dream, who had killed him. And so it was. My brother came to my father in his dream and informed him who the murderer was: to our great sorrow – it was a Jew. My father went to that Jew, who soon confessed that in the dark he thought it was a thief and he hit him – this is the story told by our people in town.


There were 6 sons and 4 daughters in our family. The sons Avraham and Mordechai live in Tel Aviv; David, Yerachmiel, Berish and the 4 daughters perished. When my father remained alone in his elderly years, I brought him, in 1936, to Tel Aviv.

In Tel Aviv he was always busy studying. In 1940 he died, after a long illness, at the age of 80 years, on the holiday of Shavuot. According to his request he was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.


My brother-in-law Hershel Kalushiner married my sister Chana before WWI. He owned a large store of tobacco products and in 1916 he left Jadow and opened a dry-goods store in Warsaw, on Genshe Street. The store was very successful and in the years of the Second World War he was considered one of the greatest merchants in Warsaw.

Hershel Kalushiner has also built a house in Tel Aviv. Every winter

[Page 193]

he would come on vacation to Eretz Israel with his wife, sometimes with his only son. When the Germans occupied Warsaw, my brother-in-law fled to Bialystok, which was under Soviet rule. But when the Russians wanted to send him to Siberia, he ran back to the Warsaw ghetto.

He perished at the last “Aktzia” in Warsaw, together with his wife Chana and his only son Zev.


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