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[Page 282]

My Experiences in the Shtetl Jadow

by Henia Garbovski (Friedman) (Benei Berak)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

My Jewish Shtetl Jadow is in ruins. The Jewish way-of-life, so characteristic of Jadow, was erased. When I think of the tragedy that has befallen us, my memory becomes alive with remembrances from the past.

I remember my parents – always working hard, surrounded by small children. Later, when the children have grown up a little, the parents began worrying about what to do with their lives.

I was the oldest. As soon as I finished elementary school, they began thinking what to do with me. To continue my studies was out of the question, because it presented no chance for “a future.” At that time, in Poland, access to liberal professions was restricted for Jews. It was also difficult to practice crafts or commerce, since most Poles boycotted the Jews. The result was that the Jews in our shtetl lived in very difficult economic conditions. As the children grew up there was no occupation waiting for them. The parents themselves struggled to make a living; for the youth there was no future, and most of the young men and women left for Warsaw, looking for any work available.

Despite all these challenging and demanding conditions, and as small as the town was, a ramified and intensive social life flourished in the shtetl. Many of the young people were members of the Zionist-Socialist movement, which connected the future of the Jewish People with Eretz Israel. There were other parties a swell – each party conducted cultural activity and attracted the youth to a rich social life.

Several weeks before the outbreak of WWII, the Jadow Magistrate

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published an appeal to the population to volunteer to dig trenches as shelters against air attacks. Shovels and rakes were provided and Poles and Jews alike went daily to work. However, not much was achieved and soon the war started. Like black clouds, German aircraft covered the skies and spread death and destruction.


Velvel Vans,
the barber-surgeon in town
  Velvel's wife,
the town's midwife


With the German occupation of Jadow, the difficult and painful life of the Jews in town began. One morning, Germans broke into Asher's store and began throwing merchandise out in the street. Peasants from the nearby villages arrived, to profit from the Jewish tragedy and enjoy the Jewish goods. However at the time there were still some honest Christians, who stopped the wild crowd, saying “one cannot get warm from another's toil.”

From my memory, my experiences of those horrible days unwrap:

I went out on the street and saw how they were catching Jews and driving them to the market place. Jewish women came out

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with tears in their eyes begging the Germans to free their husbands and fathers. The Germans answered mockingly: “Bring brooms so they can clean their soiled streets.”

Several weeks before Rosh Hashana [the Jewish New Year] a group of Jews appeared in town, guarded by armed Germans. They were brought from the shtetl Plonsk. The Germans drove them into the synagogue. They had not eaten any food for several days. They were emaciated, tortured, unorganized. The Jadow Jews flocked to the synagogue and brought the suffering Jews something to eat. My family was among those who carried help: my aunts Henia and Yehudit and my mother. The synagogue was locked, only one window was open and an old German stood guard. Luckily he “looked away” and the food was taken inside.

After a few days, the Germans drove the Plonsk Jews back to their shtetl.

I lived through a horrible war. When I came back to Jadow and saw the great disaster, I decided to continue the rest of my life in Eretz Israel.


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