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[Page 6]

Members of the Publication Committees

Publication Committee in Israel Publication Committee in the U.S.A.
Zvi Arad Joseph Arnold, President
Eliezer Birnbaum, Treasurer Sam Berke, Vice-President
Joseph Holtz Abraham Bandel, Chairman
Gershon Wroclawski Samuel Okladek, Financial Secretary
Dr. Saul Zalud Israel Diamant, Treasurer
Abraham Zohar, Secretary Peretz Walter, Secretary
Baruch Tall, Chairman Hersh Arkush
Mendel Sieradzki Max Smolen
Menahem Szklanowski Nahum Median
  Jacob Levi
  Samuel Roth
  Kalman Aronovitch former secretaries
Hava Shurek

Jerusalem members: Moshe Carmeli, Joseph Rosenbaum
Haifa members: Arieh Eifodi, Shimshon Green, Eliahu Winter,
Fishel Katz, Moshe Fuyara, Israel Friede
Graphic Design and Layout: Samuel Brand

All rights reserved


The Hebrew and Yiddish text of the first volume were composed in the year 1964, seven centuries after the promulgation of the Kalish statutes (1264).

The Hebrew and Yiddish text of the second volume were brought to the press during the six-day war of Israel, 5-10 June, 1967 (28 IYYAR, 2 SIVAN 5727).

The Kalish Book is issued by the societies of former residents of Kalish and the vicinity in Israel and the U.S.A.

Composed and printed at Eylon Press, 11 Hasharon St., Tel-Aviv.
Photographs printed at the M. Anabi Offset Press, Tel-Aviv.

[Page 7]


The decades after the Nazi exiled the Jews of Kalish from their homes to the ghettoes and the death camps:

Fifteen years after the end of World War II and the appearance of the survivors who brought the dread tidings of the destruction of the Kalish Community and the extermination of the Jews who had been its members.

The vestiges of the Community in the State of Israel, in the United States of America and in other countries of the dispersion, resolved to set up their Memorial to thirty thousand fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters who had fallen facing the foe and who had been slain to Hallow the Holy Name.

The Committees of the “Kalish Book” in Israel and America gleaned the material page-by-page, testimony-by-testimony, article-by-article, and item-by-item. With efforts that continued for years, they collected the material for this Kalish Book.

Here is the history of a very ancient community which existed for almost a thousand years. On numberless occasions throughout the generations, the community fell only to rise again and continue its life and way of living until at last it was eradicated so that not even a sign of it is left.

May this Book be an everlasting witness to an outstanding Jewish Community which reeled and fell. May its history serve as a memory for coming generations and a source of pride to those who came forth from our City so that they may preserve and continue the tradition of the Community and Holy Congregation of Kalish.

The Editorial Committee

[Page 8]


Jewry, remember the City and Mother in Israel cut down with her children. The city remains as it had been, untouched.

The houses raise high, the gardens blossom, the River Prosna twines as of old with banks that are now paved with tombstones out of the Jewish graveyard.

Yet the thirty thousand Jews of Kalish have been cut down one and all never brought to a Jewish grave. Their ashes are part of the ashes of millions burnt; their bones flung afar in alien fields – all they had was left behind in the city where aliens batten upon it.

Seven hundred years ago and more, they arrived in the city and at once became the yeast in the dough; they minted coins for the kind; they toiled and they traded. Swiftly, they spread beyond the narrow bounds of the Jewish callings of those times and engaged in crafts and commerce. Skilfully, wisely, they laboured until they made their city into a leader in all embroidery and lace-making work.

This was a city of Jews – a Jewish city – a city of merchants and craftsmen, the city of the learned “Magen Abraham” and “Nefesh Haya”; the city of Revolutionaries in 1905 and of ghetto fighters who came from Youth Movements, went to their brethren all over the country and with their blood wrote pages of valour in the record of Polish Jewry; city of pioneer Halutzim who went ahead to show the way to the Homeland; city of all-year-round Jews who filled synagogues and stieblech with the chanting of prayer and the study of Torah; city of youngsters in many a party contending together, their hearts full of the Love of Israel, flaming with zeal for the Honour of Israel; city of Erect Jewish Workers with skilful hands who were honoured at home among their own people and in the eyes of their Gentile comrades.

[Page 9]

But the murderers came like robbers at noon, encompassing them with deceit and trickery and brought them to the flames before they could utter their prayer, before they could lift up their hands.

See them go to the Market Building, to the railway waggons with little bundles and huge eyes – sad Jewish eyes. For seven hundred years they had contended here with hostile, envious neighbours who drove them away and oppressed them; sevenfold they fell and sevenfold they rose; their right to eat and pray to God which they purchased with anguish, yearning, intercession and money. Here or there, the hand of a Jew was raised to repay murderers their deserts. So it went on day-after-day – century on century. Read the tale of their chronicles in the city and you will know what brought the sad sheen to their eyes.

Women pass clutching the babes to their breast, running naked to gas chambers, some stumbling and perishing. Children pass and their wise eyes know the whole of the naked truth. The old folk pass with their hands clutching their prayer books. Men pass along and their backs are bowed with the burden of seven hundred years. Lads leap from the waggons and smash against the stone permanent way. The hopes of the people pass and iron-shod jackboots trample them underfoot in the sun.

Remember and Never Forget!

Let the people remember their offspring and write their names large and hallow their memory. You who were born in this city or whose fathers and mothers were born there repeat and repeat to your children: Your fathers before you were pure in their lives and were martyrs in death. And their souls are bound up forever in the bundle of life.

[Page 10]

Memorial Stones

…The deeds of humankind will swiftly pass away and vanish from memory unless they are preserved by verbal witness or written documents. (From the Kalish Statute, 10th September, 1264).

Kalish is one of the middle-sized cities of Poland. In the year 1938, it had a population of 68,000. Its size determines the style of life there and saved the inhabitants from the monotony of the hamlets and small towns and that absence of a centre which marks the residents of a metropolis. Like the Prosna flowing slowly through the city, so the inhabitants wove the pattern of their daily lives. Most of them earned their living by light industry and retail trade. Special mention should be made of the Lace Industry which reached considerable dimensions and opened commercial horizons to the city through exports – first to the expanses of Russia before World War I and afterwards to Poland and the West.

Kalish, which lay on the former frontier between Russia and Germany, absorbed a Western atmosphere over the years. This atmosphere combined with the cultural life and enlightenment activities which were part of the local tradition. There were three governmental Secondary Schools; a Public Library bearing the name of Adam Mickiewicz and a Society for Popular Music whose handsome Concert Hall welcomed the leading musicians of the world. The Municipal Theatre, where renowned companies staged their performances, lies on the river bank at the entrance to the magnificent park.

After the destruction that followed the outbreak of World War I, Kalish was rebuilt with modern streets and new houses. It had an extensive circle of intellectuals who included most of the members of the free professions. From their midst came the Polish writers Adam Asnik, Maria Konopnicka and Maria Dombrowska.

There were 25,000 Jews in Kalish whose life, in general, resembled that of their brethren in other Polish cities.

For the greater part, they engaged in retail trade, handicrafts, as agents and in the free professions. They played a considerable part in establishing the Lace Industry and expanding it. Among them, a minority enjoyed very considerable economic success. The majority made a bare living, suffering from the manifestations of anti-Semitism and the animosity of the dominant majority.

Their social life was lived in and around the Jewish Community in which all parties and economic bodies were represented.

Elections to the Community Council were important occasions. More than once there were “explosive” election campaigns which were participated in by all the parties in the Jewish Street: The Bund, Agudat Israel, General Zionists, Labour Eretz Israel, Left Poalei Zion, the Hassidic “Stieblech”, the Hassidim of the Rebbes of Gur and Alexander, Craftsmen, Retail Merchants, Trade Unions, etc. Kalish was a citadel and stronghold of various Hassidic groups and each of these maintained its own “Stiebel”. As a whole, the Jews of the city prided themselves on the renowned authorities who had served there as Rabbis.

Secular life was equally lively. The political parties had their clubs where lectures and entertainments were held. Intellectuals and youngsters found reading matter in the libraries of these clubs. Two Yiddish weeklies: “Kalisher Leben” and “Kalisher Woch” were published and reflected the daily life of the Jewish Community.

Thanks to local initiative, a Jewish Gymnasium or Secondary School was established and educated the younger generation for years, providing them not only with their general training but also with the foundations of a national Hebrew education.

Sabbaths and festivals were clearly to be recognized in the Jewish Quarter which ran from the Old Market to the Maikow Fields, criss-crossed with streets that were always full of life. Kalish Jewry was blessed with an ever-fresh and effervescent younger generation. The Hebrew Gymnasium, the Government Gymnasium, the Trade School and the many Yeshivot, educated hundreds of young men and women whose influence could be felt. Zionist and Halutz youth, trade union youth, school children and members of Sports Organizations had their own regular meeting places in the Old and New parks. Many of their best came to Eretz Israel over the years and joined those who were building up the Homeland.

The Kalish Book describes the daily life of the Jewish Community, its struggle for economic, cultural and social existence from the early days until the end. In these pages, the survivors of the Community have done their best to set up a Memorial to their brethren. May it serve as a landmark for the coming generations of our offspring.

Baruch Tall


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