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[Page 647]

Members of Avodat –Yisrael Go On Aliyah

by Chava Shapiro, Kfar –Hassidim

It was a special night of “watching”, the night before the first chalutzim of Avodat –Yisrael went up to occupy their own land at Charbaj, which is close to the Kishon River (today Kfar –Hassidim). The houses of the Rebbe on Magitove Street were lit up with kerosene lamps and silver candelabra. At the set tables there sat: The President of Avodat –Yisrael, the Rebbe, R'Yisroel Elazar, a righteous man, of blessed memory, next to him, may they be distinguished for life, to his right, Rabbi Shalom Shapiro, the Secretary, R' A. A. Zuckerman, and all of the members and Hassidim – around the tables. The rooms were filled to capacity, and many gathered outside due to lack of space. The balcony at the entrance was decorated, and on a gigantic white banner there were embroidered in blue “Book and Scythe”, and “Torah and Avodah (Labor)”. It was magnificent embroidery which I had done. The banner waved proudly above our home, and had the privilege of going on Aliyah with us, and to wave over the territory of Kfar –Hassidim. To my sorrow, cruel hands removed it from the flagstaff, tore it and threw it into the Kishon River. To this day I'm grieved over it. In my soul I embroidered it. Too bad for the symbol that was lost.

 

On That Night No One Shut An Eye

Even an infant in its crib could feel the rising excitement. The entire gathering was moved and excited at the thought of escorting the first Chalutzim to Ertz –Yisrael. The Hassid, R' Yechiel Elazar and his son, may God avenge their blood, stood on guard and preserved order. From time to time, shouts of joy were heard: “Come and Let Us Go Up” from the mouths of: Abraham Yakl Freilich, R'Yaakov Eliazor – a merchant in skins, may the Lord avenge his blood; R'Elimelechl – the bookbinder; R'Aaron Berish; the dedicated Zionist: R' Motl Potshnik, R' Shlomo Zalman, R' Shmuel Motl Alters, Pinchas Freilich, R' Aaron Gutman, our devoted Bible teacher, and his son, Kaddish, the silversmith, R' Michael, the watchmaker, R' Shlomo who was the teacher of the Rebbe's children, and the Hassid, R' Moshe Yakl. All of us, as one, felt that we were participants in the celebration. Sparks of hope were kindled in the hearts of all, and the desire to go on Aliyah beat in the hearts of those who had never even thought about leaving the diaspora.

 

The Heart of the Rebbetzin, Bruchale, Was Frightened

In the adjoining room sat my sainted mother, the knowledgeable, and wise Rebbetzin, Brachale, of blessed memory, and observed the goings –on with joy mixed with fear. She believed that her sons are sacrificing their souls for the good of Eretz –Yisrael, but in her deep understanding she could foresee the heavy responsibility, that her sons are taking upon their shoulders. Therefore her heart feared.

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The hands of my sister, Chana Golda, who was well educated in Torah and science, were heavily occupied in anticipation of the journey. My dear sister, who devoted her soul to the Holiness of Eretz –Yisrael, used to, in the first years of settlement, in Kfar –Hassidim, go from hut to hut, and attend to everyone who was sick. She made a trip back to Poland and was stuck there, without a chance to return. She perished there in the Holocaust, may God avenge her blood.

Until the wee, wee hours we sat and discussed details. The President spoke and explained the heavy responsibility that each member had taken upon himself. Spontaneously, we answered that we would do and accomplish all!! With a prayer that God shine his countenance on them and make them successful – they dispersed.

 

R'Tzuddok Didn't Let Go of the Torah Scroll in His Hands

On the morrow, in the morning after morning prayers, once again multitudes gathered at our house. The house hummed like a rushing stream. The President took out the Torah Scroll that was to go on Aliyah with us, and gave it to R' Tzuddok Simonhoz, of blessed memory, one of the first chalutzim. R' Tzuddok didn't let go of the Torah until he went up on the boat. AT 10:00 a.m., the procession went to the railroad station in Kozienice. At its head marched R’ Levi Godel with the banner. In reverence he pressed against his heart. He would sit and learn from a volume of the Talmud in his store, and between customers would engage in learning. He had closed his store to carry out this holy function. During the procession, under a canopy, we danced and embraced the Torah, with our souls uplifted with song and melodies, accompanied by the City Orchestra. At the end of two hours we got to the station. As the chalutzim went up into the cars, the crowd burst out in song that penetrated the seven heavens: “Our Hope has not abandoned us!M This song was sung with the reverence of the final prayer of the Yom Kippur Day (Neilah), in the hope that it would open the gates of Heaven. From the eyes of all, tears flowed, and in everyone's heart there beat Hope!

When he became the Rebbe of Kozienice, R'Yerachmiel Moshe instituted the custom that each Hassid, upon coming to him with a request, would have to give a contribution for the resettlement of Eretz Yisrael. A special plate for this stood on his table. If a Hassid did not put his own money into the plate – the Rebbe himself would put his own money into the plate!

From the book: Beit Kozienice by Rabbi A. I. Bromberg


[Page 649]

The First Steps of Kfar Hassidim

by Malka Shapiro, Jerusalem

As the Moshav, Kfar –Hassidim completes 20 years, there arise in our memory the birth pains of the Moshav and they reflect all of our strivings.

 

The Great Awakening

I remember the great awakening that occurred in the city of Kozienice at the time when the members of “Avodat –Yisrael” prepared to leave Poland. A large crowd from nearby cities and villages came and wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Eretz Yisrael. Since Rabbi Yisroel Elazar Hopstein, a descendant of the Holy “Maggid”, son of the Tzaddik of the generation, Rebbe Yerachmiel Moshe, of blessed memory who is President of the organization, is going on Aliyah – certainly the day of redemption is certainly approaching. A great procession, accompanied by song and music, went to the station, and over it fluttered the blue and white banner, that the sister of the President, Chava, had embroidered on it in letters of gold HAvodat –Yisrael Org.”, and the entire city rejoiced and made merry.

 

Emotion of a Different Sort

I remember also emotion of a different sort on the part of the people of the city, when the members returned from Eretz Yisrael, and told of the great hardships, and even though they praised the President, who was ready to give his life for his fellow members, and he led them through every danger, there were complaints that exceeded all bounds, and even reached the ears of my mother, the sainted Rebbetzin, Bracha, Tzipporah, Gitl of the house of Tzernobol, of blessed memory, who suffered because of the hardships imposed by her son on Jews. In spite of this, she accepted it because of her love of the Holy Land, and she didn't prevent her other children from going.

 

We Left Grodzshisk

A short while after these days, we left Poland, and went out from the house of Grodzshisk. My father –in –law, the righteous Rabbi, and my mother –in –law, the Rebbetzin, parted from us in tears, but didn't prevent us from making the trip to the Holy Land. They and all of the family and the entire congregation of Hassidim accompanied us to the train, and the Hassidim parted from us with traditional songs, which we did not forget all of the days that we suffered in the Land. The first hardships of Eretz –Yisrael we experienced in Haifa. After trying all sorts of factory work, and after quite a bit of suffering, my husband, the Rabbi of Grodzshisk, Abraham Elimelech, went up to Jerusalem. Since he was an expert in engineering and electricity, he began to rebuild his life anew in those fields.

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We Turned Towards Kfar Hassidim

I, in the meantime, took my daughters, and turned towards the Moshav “Avodat –Yisrael” which had been founded by my brother, Rabbi Hopshtein, and the members of my family, and had developed after members of “Nachalat –Yaakov” and “Hapoel Hamizrachi” had joined, into Kfar –Hassidim. We hoped that the parents, the brothers, the sisters and the families, would soon come up to us. They also hoped for this, but neither I nor they were to be privileged to experience this.

 

We Reached the Fields Covered With Thorns

It was summer. The wagon pulled by mules moved heavily on the rutted roads. We passed over the Kishon River. The members of Avodat –Yisrael had immediately set a bridge over it, when they had settled the land. But the bridge would be wrecked from time to time by the Bedouins, who were camped in the area, and in the rainy season when the Kishon overflowed, it was swamped and had to be repaired, but we crossed over it safely. The sun disappeared in the west, past Mt. Carmel, and to the east and south the hills darkened, those which surrounded the Zevulun Valley. We came across fields, sown with thorns, which covered us, the wagon, and the mules. The sad wail of jackals filled the air, and it seemed to me that this wailing had not ceased here since the Temple had been destroyed and since Rabbi Akiva had seen jackals on the Temple Mount and rejoiced saying: “Since the evil prophecy has been fulfilled, also the prophecy of consolation will be fulfilled (that the land would be rebuilt)”. We who had come to rebuild it certainly felt this seeing the progress that had been made.

 

We Reached A Hill Covered With Thorn Trees

We reached a modest hill covered with thorn trees (now “Kfar Hanoar Hadati”), huts of wood scattered among the bushes, and wild –life appearing before our eyes. Here a cow grazing near the hut, there a tethered calf. People bent over their work, uprooting weeds, digging in the soil, fixing stoves for cooking among the rocks, digging a well in the depression. Joy fell upon us. Through the silence of dusk the sound of tools was replaced by the murmur of prayer from the hut of the synagogue. Immediately members and my family came to greet us. Their faces were tanned and like ancient water gourds. My brother, President of “Avodat –Yisrael” was somewhat changed. His pleasant expression remained only in his blue eyes. I asked how he was, and he answered: “My life is entwined with the lives of tens of families in Israel, with their troubles – I suffer, and when they are at peace – I am at peace. Would the Glory of God shine on the works of our hands!”

We came to the wooden hut with its cracks. Openings covered with nets served as windows. The walls which were somewhat decorated with needlework, which my sister, Chana, of blessed memory, had brought with her from Poland. A number of years previously she had gone on Aliyah, and now she had come here from Jerusalem, in order to aid in the building of the Moshav. Her sense of the beautiful had not left her, and it found its realization on the bare, ugly boards of the hut.

[Page 651]

We Came Upon Hard Times

Night darkened and the members of the Moshav came to greet the President upon his receiving us as guests. The elders among them said that it was a privilege for them, that a reed in the ocean of waste, had given them the opportunity to build the Moshav in the name of the Holy Maggid of Kozienice whose grandson is now their leader. There began mixed religious and secular discussions. Finally the practical secular items came to the fore, and the Moshav matters were discussed. When I saw the sparks of joy on their poor faces I said: “Certainly, the good that is hidden from the eye, is hidden in their suffering. And then there was revealed to me the incidents of their suffering: Attacks by their Arab neighbors when they drew water from the Kishon, and when they plowed their bare fields. One hand holding a gun and the other a scythe. The draining of the swamps, which endangered the health of the members, and still the malaria mosquito reigning over all. The kerosene dripped out of the small kerosene lamp and the long shadows danced on the walls. Silently decisions were adopted for work arrangements and the schedule for Torah learning. They also decided to augment guard duty at night so that it would include three, in order to make it easier on the President, who doesn't sleep, and is ready nightly to mount his horse, in order to frustrate attacks. The members left the room with words of encouragement, and disappeared into the darkness of the night, which swallowed the hill, its trees and huts, and the mountains and valleys all around. An enthusiastic evening prayer broke out from the synagogue hut, and it seemed as if the stars at the dark blue peak of the heaven whispered to us about a future of good fortune and peace.

 

We Came Down From the Hill

The national organizations, the Jewish National Fund and the Keren Hayesod, planned the layout of the Moshav, in the valley at the foot of the mountains of Zevulun. We were happy to descend from the hill, where we were isolated, and the Bedouin would ambush us from the mountains. We moved the huts from the hill to the wide valley. Also the members of “Nachalat Yaakov”, which had been founded by Yablona Hassidim, came down with us from their hill to the valley. Also the members of “Hapoel Hamizra chiH joined us, and the Moshav grew.

 

Kfar Hassidim Became a Swamp

The rainy season approached, and the winds blew from all four directions, and a number of huts were blown away. The rains poured down heavily and the swamp grew. Our entire valley, which was called by its new and common name: “Kfar –Hassidim”, became a sea of swamp, and the members suffered the worse. Disease increased and it was impossible to get to an infirmary, which had been set up by the Kupat Holim on the central hill. The stone stoves, which had been built outside were being demolished, and the iron stoves, which had been provided by the Keren Hayesod, couldn't be used, because there was no wood with what to kindle them (the road to the mountain on which the thorn trees would be cut, was closed).

[Page 652]

No Water in the Moshav

In the work of drilling the well, which was at the foot of the hill it was impossible to continue at this time, and the well above, where the water was pure, the Arabs had contaminated by throwing the corpse of a cow into it, so that using the water was dangerous. And since there was no water in the Moshav, and the way to the Kishon strewn with wagons, which couldn't be pulled out of the way. Even the mules were stuck up to their bellies in the mud. It seemed as if the world had become .a wilderness. Even inside of the hut we suffered from the blessed rain, because we hadn't rainproofed the hut sufficiently. The huts of the other members had been built before ours had been.

Once again, I stood before a situation I hadn't anticipated. My brother, the President of “Avodat –Yisraer aged twenty and some years, who at home hadn't moved on his own or left the Torah desk, he, who was a gentle soul, rose up first and went out to inspect the swamp; The desolate land requires its builders to be devoted. We must provide support and medicine for the members from whatever source even by way of miracles!” And the members of the Moshav, when they saw their President, Rebbe Yisroel Eliezer of Kozienice, and his brother –in –law, Rebbe Shalom, in the wagon being pulled with difficulty, immediately harnessed their own wagons and went out to the swamp, on the way to the hill. And also this brother –in –law, is a descendant of holy forefathers from ancient times, and is already engaged in the labor of the Holy Land with all of his heart and soul, ignoring reality. His wife, Chava, the sister of the President, who had embroidered, at home, the blue –white banner with the gold letters, did not fear either illness or pain, nor difficult labor, and with devotion she serves besides him.

 

Finally The Rains Ceased

Finally the rains ceased and the thunder and lightning quieted down. The swamp dried up a bit, and the sky wore its blue “tallit” once again. The members went out to plough the fields. They prayed. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, blessed at this time the works of the hands of those who went out to work the Holy Land which had been promised to the descendants of Israel. And I, when I went down with the cow to the valley, where the shepherd gathered the herds. The birds began to nest in the trees, with the settlement of the Hassidim. The red anemone flowers which had blossomed on the hill and in the valley smile at the wagons which are being pulled amidst song and melody. Then I felt in my heart: Perhaps the melodies of the Baal Shem Tov (founder of Hassidism) and his holy convocations are hidden among the thorn trees there in the niches of the mountains, at the point where the sky and earth kiss, and that is what gives spirit to those who go to to the desolate field through intimate contact. And perhaps the spark of the Ari (R’ Isaac Luria, of mystic fame, who lived in Safed) and his devotion and attachment to the Holy Land took hold of them in order to actualize part of the vision that always enwrapped itself around the house of our forefathers, of blessed memory, in the Diaspora.

[Page 653]

Blessed be the Moshav Kfar –Hassidim, that was privileged to become an example to the God –fearing who plough at ploughing time and sow at planting time, and harvest at harvest time, who engage in charitable and righteous deeds, and set aside time for the study of Torah. May it be Thy will that they be sated from the best of the land below, and from the produce of the heavens above until the coming of the Redeemer! .


[Page 654]

Avodat –Yisrael on The Banks of the Kishon

by Sh. Shalom

Several weeks after the settlement of these Hassidim on the land of “Nachalat –Yaakov”, other Hassidim came up with their young Rebbe, of the descendants of the Maggid of Kozienice, on different land closer to Haifa, and they also established a new village, that was called “ Avodat –Yisrael”, the name of the Maggid’s book. Also the founders of this village passed through by the house of grandfather, of blessed memory, and also to them there attached themselves one of my family as a teacher and leader. He was my younger brother, Yitzhak. My brother and I used to visit each other at night, mounted upon horses, and in this way I observed the birth –pangs of this settlement point. The young Rebbe, who was called “The President” by his people, and also his brother –in –law, who had made Aliyah with him, the son of the Rebbe of Grodzisk, were related to us, one on my father's side and one on my mother's side. The wife of this brother –in –law, the sister of “The President” was “renowned” for her beauty. Quickly she also became famous for her expertise in milking cows, for the speed with which she could harness a pair of mules, in order to bring barrels of water from the Kishon, and her wisdom in construction which she displayed.

Healthy Jews, good –hearted and of righteous spirit, broad –shouldered and strong –armed, men of the soil, smiths, carpenters and laborers from the country towns, and from the Hassidim of Kozienice, who were outstanding in their height, who while still in the Diaspora would bend iron bars at weddings in their Rebbe's home, would display some of the approaching Messianic era, when the Eretz –Yisrael mules would submit immediately to them and they would go out each morning to their labor as the Jewish “cantor” would chant his merry melodies to the words: “On the Sabbath Day an offering of two impeccable yearlings.”

(From the book: “The Aliyah of the Hassidim”)

And from here would travel and reach the territory of another forefather, the Maggid of Kozienice of blessed memory, whose home and courtyard stand complete “to this day” like a precious corner in the town of Kozienice. Someone who had visited in his youth, on a Sabbath, that house, and parted with the words: “A peaceful Sabbath” from the empty room, as he was retreating backwards with his back to the door, and his face to the inside of the room, can now relive that experience, which the simple and sparkling words of his mother aroused.

The small room of the holy Maggid, which breeds antiquity, and every piece of furniture on a child scale, the small bed, the small chair, the child's high –chair, where the Maggid would sit all day, wrapped in his Tallit and engaged in the study of Torah. The open book, resting on the shelf attached to the chair front, his holy book: “Avodat –Yisrael” – she would finish her story in a tone of wonderment – that this is the foundation and the bridge to the labor that our chalutzim are today performing in Eretz –Yisrael. And that its signs were visible there on the Sabbath at dusk, when the souls return to their resting place in Paradise.

(From “The Candle Is Not Extinguished”)


[Page 655]

Our Landsmanschaft in Israel

by Tzvi Madanes, Tel–Aviv

The Kozienice Landsmanschaft in Israel is younger than those in Paris, Brazil and America. They already have served their internship of tens of years of work in helping out fellow townsmen, who are new. This problem did not exist in Israel, by us. Each immigrant established his nook, according to his abilities and possibilities. Our landsmanschaft was founded right after WWII. When our refugees brought with them the great tragedy of our city and her destruction, we took it as our holy duty not to forget our martyrs, and not to stifle their last outcry. The committee in Israel took upon itself the responsibility to carry out our holy duty towards our martyrs and put out the Memorial Book of our city, in order that the blood and tears not be obliterated. Our first work was to set up a memorial, in memory of the Kozienicer Martyrs, on ML Zion, in the Holocaust Cellar, among all of the obliterated Jewish communities.

 

One Thousand Trees In The Forest Of The Martyrs

Our second objective was to plant in the Forest of the Martyrs on the road to Jerusalem – 1000 trees. Among the trees we set up a memorial. To this ceremony there came members of the committee and tens of fellow townsmen. Rabbi Nurok's words moved boulders. The trees, as if in mourning, bent their heads, and we felt that we are fulfilling the last will and testament of our martyrs: NEVER TO FORGETI Our third step was to publish this Memorial Book, together with all of our fellow townsmen all over the world.

At first we were pessimistic: When will we be able to realize such a great undertaking with so many aspects. But already at the first meeting of the committee all of the members pledged large amounts, which greatly encouraged each one of us. As Chairman of our Landsmanschaft in Israel, I took it upon myself to greet all of the male and female members of the committee and of the editorial committee. Thanks to their active work, the book was published. I also want to greet the fellow townsmen who encouraged us with greater sums of money for the Yizkor Book. These are the families: Tova and Levi Mandel, Mordecai Donnershtein, Leah and Shlomo Gelbard and Yedidya Berneman (Belgium). I want to greet our townsmen in Israel for their participation in writing and funding. We are also closely bound with all of our Landsmanschaften in the whole world, and we hope to carry out our task with honor. It is also worthwhile mentioning, that during the time there turned to us members who wanted loans. We had no special funds for this purpose, because everything had been set aside for the Yizkor Book. But every member, who turned to the committee, had his request acknowledged. Our committee consisted of the following: Chairman and Secretary – Tzvi Madanes

 

Correspondence – Leah Gelbard

In the executive committee the following members took part: Tova Mandel, Elimelech Feigenboim, Levi Mandel, Zelik Berman, Mordecai Donnershtein and Chaya Adler.

The Editorial committee consisted of the following members: Tzvi Madanes, Levi Mandel, Mordecai Donnershtein, Ratze Vasserman, Zelik Berman, Elimelech Feigenboim, Yerachmiel Kestenberg and Leibl Fishtein.


[Page 656]

The Kozienice Landsmanschaft in Paris

by Yitzhak Shamis, Paris

In 1933, some Kozienice townsmen came up with the idea to found a Kozienice Landsmanschaft in Paris. At the time it was a necessity, because there had been an immigration of many townsmen from our town of Kozienice. A portion of our townsmen had come without any means and they needed help.

 

The Founding –Meeting

The first founding –meeting took place in the Jewish Quarter, Belleville, in a Jewish restaurant and a large number of Kozieniceites participated. The gathering elected a committee of the following members: Chairman – David Eisenboim, Secretary – Yosl Eisenboim, Correspondent – Volf Reishappel, and a few other people. There were immediately set up a fund and a sanitary committee, whose job was to see to it that material and also medical help be provided for all in need. We immediately joined up with the Central Federation of Jewish Organizations in Paris, whose obligation was to conduct cultural, material and also social welfare and fight anti –semitism and for equal rights for the Jewish immigrant masses. We had to legalize the illegal Jewish immigrants, which at that time couldn't find employment and did not receive resident permits. The Federation had contacts with the administration. In many cases she enabled workers and handworkers to establish themselves in France.

 

We Worry About A Cemetery

When we were legalized, there arose for us the problem of providing for ourselves our own cemetery. This was the basis for our Landsmanschaft in Paris. We set up a general monument with each city inscribed on it, and we eternalized the names and photographs of those who perished. This created, to a certain degree, a tie between the townsmen and the societies. Every eve of Yom Kippur, all of the societies came to the cemetery, and prayers were conducted and we honored the memory of our nearest. This involved a large expense, and then there was support from all of the societies to cover expenses. This way we conducted our community affairs and our society grew. A large number of townsmen became members, and it beared the character of a large family. The frequent meetings and social activities, which we arranged were very successful. We would discuss various current problems and we would share memories about our town of Kozienice. Afterwards we drew into our organization the leftist element which consisted of the syndicalist workers, such as Yechiel Zucker – a very capable community worker, Yerachmiel Serota, who was experienced in communal work, Shmuel Goldman, David Weitzman and many others. Together with them we organized the first welfare action for our needy families in Kozienice, which yielded very good results, because quite a few families in Kozienice benefited from our help.

[Page 657]

Persecution of Jews

When the Hitlerites occupied France, they immediately began to persecute Jews. Everyone tried to find a way to save themself. Many Jews went to sparsely inhabited places, where Jews were able to hide out. But it didn't take long and the Nazis and their helpers among the French collaborators caught Jews and deported them, not sparing children, the old and the sick. Each day they sent away, to the infamous concentration camp, Drancy, large masses of Jews, and from there they were deported to the Hitler Death Camps, where they perished. Many had perished in the French Resistance.

 

We Renew Our Activity

After long years of troubles and torture, when the Nazi Army was smashed by the Allied Armies, in France and we were liberated, we saw the terrible destruction which had come upon European Jewry, and among them – our town of Kozienice. Then we faced the difficult problem: How to renew our activity, in order to give help to our fellow townsmen, who had the good fortune to survive, but without the means to carry on their lives. There came men without wives, women without husbands, children without parents, the sick and the broken. This way we started our first rescue operation, which was successful.

The first meeting took place at the home of our long –time President, Shalom Meltzer. The following took part: Shalom Meltzer, Yitzhak Shamis, Yechiel Shamis, Gutman Meltzer, Morris Meltzer, Yerachmiel Serota, Shabbtai Kamer, Abraham Shamis, Shalom Chlivner, David Radovitsh, Nagel and his wife, Teme Potashnik. We immediately got financial support from all present, and distributed the proceeds and began a steady activity.

 

We Worry About the Sick

We set up a Health Committee, whose job was to care for the sick children without parents, and to visit sick townsmen in the hospitals and distribute help to them. At the head of the Committee, stood Mrs. Potashnik, thanks to whom, many fellow townsmen were helped. We also took part in community activities, which took place in the Jewish community. We contributed annually to the old –age homes, to the appeal for the children's colony, which sent children to Israel for summer vacation. We also supported the memorial to the unknown Jewish Martyr, which the great personality, Shneerson, headed. The House of Documentation reflects the great tragedy which befell European Jewry. We arranged an annual memorial evening for our town, in which many townsmen participated. Our fellow townsman, the well –known cantor, Fleisher, chanted the prayers and a general Kaddish was recited.

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We are in contact with our Israel fellow townsmen, about various problems which concern our town. We took an active part in putting out this Yizkor Book, which eternalizes our families who perished. We organized a committee, which consisted of: Serota, Elani, Mrs. Potashnik, and the Dimant brothers. They carried on the work, which yielded good results. We occupy a respected place in the Jewish community of Paris.

 

In Memory of Our Fellow Townsman, Peretz Gelberg, of Blessed Memory

Peretz Gelberg was born in 1906 in Kozienice. His first activity was in the “Bund” Party, but in 1933 he turned to the Zionist Organization. He joined “Hechalutz” and prepared to go on Aliyah to Eretz –Yisrael. In that year he also married Rivke Herbst, and in 1934 went to Palestine. He crossed the Mandate boundary by way of Egypt. As soon as he arrived he joined the forces of construction laborers. In 1937 he went to Kfar Yonah and was accepted into MIrgun BorochovH, which prepared its members for settlement on the land. A few months before the outbreak of the War, his wife also came to Palestine, and they began to build a family. In 1940 and 1945 they gave birth to two sons, who were raised in the love of the land. Peretz was a member of the “Hagana”, and in spite of his advanced age, stood guard duty during the riots and the War for Independence. All of his life in the land was dedicated to fruitful labor and the rebuilding of the land. At age 63, on April 22, 1969 he passed away. May his memory be blessed!


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Our Kozieniceites in Paris

by Yerachmiel Serota, Paris

The Kozienice Society in Paris was founded in 1933 by: Shalom Meltzer, Shabbtai Kamer, Gutman Meltzer, Avrahamtshe Shamis, Zelik Eidenboim, David Eidenboim, Yankl Birnboim, the three Reichappel brothers and others. At the beginning the Society concerned itself with a cemetery and with mutual welfare. Actually there already existed in Paris several Societies, which had been founded by Jewish immigrants from Poland, in order to help Political Prisoners in Poland and support a Progressive Jewish newspaper, a Library and Theatre.

 

We Found a Patronat

A limited activity was conducted by the Culture Council. Already in 1927 –1928 we founded a Patronat, which was conducted by Radomer, Kozienice and other surrounding fellow townsmen. The first meeting took place at the home of our member and friend, Shmuel Leib Goldman. In his home was laid the foundation stone of an organization called the Patronat. A committee was chosen to work in the Patronat, which consisted of progressive elements, who had come from Poland with the baggage of communal activity experience.

From time to time the Patronat organized readings, outings, visits to museums. It was, so to speak, our second home. We conducted ourselves brotherly and friendly. The immigrant, who came at that time to Paris, did not feel lost; quite the contrary; he immediately found a comradely atmosphere. Many came illegally. The Patronat concerned itself with obtaining employment, even illegally, for each one of the newcomers. Every one in the Patronat had his acquaintance, his friend his comrade. The approach to work in Paris, was not like in Poland. Here, each one had to go to a small trade school, to learn the local methods of work. We saw to it that one of ours was not exploited by strange elements. We exerted ourselves to see to it that the newcomer should do his learning among familiar comrades and become fit for work. It was also a necessity because of the language. It is very bitter for an immigrant when he has no one with whom to exchange a word in his mother tongue. He feels like one who is dumb. And another factor, not unimportant. The immigrant who has no friend or family, begins to search for a fellow townsman or a friend.

The first immigrants, after 1905, were, mostly, political refugees from Russian Czarism. They went through quite a hard time, until they were settled. Many had to leave France and Oee further.

[Page 660]

In 1926, There Was Already Jewish Life in Paris

After WWI, when Poland became independent, the immigration of Polish Jews to France expanded because of economic and political reasons. In 1920 an economic crisis broke out in France. Many immigrants couldn't find employment, and had to return. At that time, Jewish communal life was less developed, and this made the life of new immigrants even more difficult. In 1926 and 1927 there was already a Jewish life in Paris. You already didn't have to look for acquaintances in the coffee –houses. Many of our Kozieniceites already had their own homes, and we had where to spend an evening and discuss the old and new home. We had a place to set up a rendezvous with a fellow townsman and an acquaintance. Once at Meichael Nagel's, at Savell Friedman's and at others.

I want to mention that Savell Friedman and his wife, Ida, and their sons, Paul and Marcelle, were shot by the Hitler bandits a few days before liberation in Perigo – a provincial town in France.

Our second home was there, by them, Kozieniceites were, in general, employed. The main problem was the problem of proper papers. At the moment this problem was solved, the immigrant could breathe free. I remember, that not long after my coming to Paris, many of my friends and acquaintances came to me. In a short while we became a large group of Kozieniceites. We had a good word to say about everyone, to encourage them, to help them look for a hotel, and whoever didn't have papers, we would provide him with a place to sleep. The Patronats at the time concerned themselves with all of the on –going problems and needs of the immigrants.

 

We Join A Society

A few years later the Patronats joined the Societies which had been organized in Paris. Until then the Societies had only been concerned with burial ground. At the moment that we joined them, they began entirely different activities. First of all, we had a definite communal experience and a different approach. We blew new life and soul into the Kozienice Society. We decided to hold new elections. A few of our group were elected to the committee: Shmuel Leib Goldman, Zucker, Savel Friedman, and myself. We arranged help for the needy and also concerned ourselves with communal activities. We arranged an annual Ball, where all Kozieniceites and friends from surrounding outskirts came together to enjoy a happy and homey atmosphere. There was always friendship in our Society. The majority of Kozieniceites in Paris were members. Every activity which we organized was always successful. Our Society, like all of the others, consisted of people of all classes, even though we were all united. We straightened out every misunderstanding, and always handled with tact, so that our community did not suffer.

[Page 661]

200 Kozieniceites Perished

So our work progressed until 1940, when the Hitler murderers occupied France and began their criminal activities. Some of us immediately mobilized ourselves into the ranks of the Resistance, together with the French, who did not want to bow their heads to the murderers. Many Kozieniceites hid themselves in towns and villages. Almost 200 fellow townsmen perished in the concentration –camps, crematoria and gas –chambers. After this terrible Holocaust we were once again obligated to organize immediate relief for all of the needy. We immediately renewed our activities. All, who crawled out of the nightmare, and from their hiding places, where they had spent more than four years, needed help. Our Kozieniceites who had the good fortune and remained alive, were like all others, ruined and broken morally and physically. Many families did not return. There were those who had lost a husband, a wife or children. All needed our help.

 

We Help – Israel

Many Kozieniceites, who had saved themselves from Hitler's Hell, went to seek their relatives over seas. We went towards them and helped them as much as we were able to. The committee at the time, which we had organized, is still engaged in that work today. As for example: President Shalom Meltzer, has had that position for 25 years. I, Avish Blatman, Yitzhak Shamit, Chili Gutman, Meltzer, Meir Nagel, and others, who joined later, such as Yankl Haberman, Chil Mandel, Abraham and Chaim Diament, Yitzhak Elani, Shmuel Kestenberg, our beloved Teme Potashnik (maiden . name: Krishpel) and many others. Besides the difficult problems that we had to solve, we didn't forget Eretz –Yisrael, who was carrying on her struggle for independence. Every activity on behalf of Israel was widely supported. To this very day we are in contact with all of Parisian Jewish community life. We do everything, to support every organization which has a humanitarian character, and supports friendship among the nations and peace.


[Page 662]

I Feel a Longing

by Leibele Fishtein

Why do I feel such a specific closeness when I meet a townsman? Only because of the Yizkor Book? Yes! This is a holy obligation. A steady Kaddish for generations to come, for our dearest who perished. The question arises: When the Book will already have been published, or a while after its publication, will this closeness disappear? It seems, that not! When you see a townsman, at that moment there appears before the eyes an unwinding tape of pictures of the childhood –years and of later youth: the celebrating in the lovely nature preserves, summer, the forest, the lake and the city, the lake by the “Hamer”, the Yezshore, the walking around the church garden and the outing to the “Babyagura”.

Winter: A pleasure, snow and ice. And most important, the way home to the high stove, where every night, it drew like a magnet, to a meeting, to a lecture, a reading, a debate, evening courses, and some with books under their arms to the Library. We are already established citizens of Israel, which we learned about in Heder, that .it is our land “flowing with milk and honey”. The childhood dream was realized. Still there is a longing for what was once: the school and House of Study; to the former festive life, which ruled every Jewish person. Even those former week –days are glorified. Today as we meet someone from the family, we feel a strange nearness. The more we look at each other, the more we remind ourselves of the past, where we used to meet, also with those who are no longer with us. Cruel hands pitilessly cut them off. May their memory be Holy!


[Page 663]

Kozienice Landsmanschaft in Paris

by Shalom Meltzer, Paris

In 1937 I decided to found a committee of all Kozieniceites in Paris. I immediately set about realizing my dream. It was necessary because there had arrived at the time Jews from Kozienice, who had .to settle in Paris. For various reasons – they couldn't remain any longer in Poland. Many of the immigrants needed help. To whom could they have turned if not to Kozieniceites? In order to help them materially and to settle themselves, I called together all of those from Kozienice, who lived in Paris and founded a Kozienice Landsmanschaft. At that meeting I was chosen as President of the Committee. When the War broke out, I had to destroy all documents dealing , with the : Landsmanschaft, for security sake and unfortunately, today, I don't remember all that I had recorded up to the outbreak of War. At the gathering in 1945, which I had called, it was noticeable that many had perished. Before the War we had been 120, now only 68. This was with a post –war supplement of members. After the War there began to appear Kozienicer survivors, who needed support. We did everything to aid these fellow, townsmen. We also did much for those who went on Aliyah to Israel, and passed through Paris on their way. They also needed support and help. At the end I want to mention those Kozieniceites from Paris who so tragically perished at the hand of the Hitler bandits, and honor them. We honor their memory!

 

In Memory of Yoel –Aaron Birnboim, Of Blessed Memory

Yoel –Aaron Birnboim was born in Germany in 1947 to his father, Yitzhak, and his mother, Tzivia, of Kozienice. When he was still an infant he went on Aliyah. A short while afterwards, he and his brother Chaim, were orphaned of their mother. His early years of education were obtained at the Dogma School in Tel –Aviv. In 1956 he joined Kvutzat Yekinton in Manara. After he finished elementary school, he continued his studies at the regional school in Dafna. He distinguished himself in his grasp and ability to express himself, was well –liked as social director and at his work. His musical and dramatic talent were well known. Thanks to them he was the lively spirit at parties and social gatherings. He passed the required Air Force tests, and indicated that he wanted to be drafted into the Air Force, but the Kvutza objected and he was drafted into Nachal. (Working and Serving Pioneer Youth). During his military service, he fell in action on March 1, 1967, at age 20. May his memory be blessed!


[Page 664]

Our Participation in the Resistance

by Yerachmiel Serota, Paris

Our town of Kozienice has a rich past of struggle. Soon after WWI we fought, together with all Progressive elements of the Polish Nation against Polish reaction. I consider it my moral obligation to write in our Yizkor Book the part played by Kozieniceites in the Resistance, together with the French Nation, soon after the German Army marched into Paris. The soul of each one of us froze, when this happened. A black cloud hid the sun, as soon as we saw the SS bandits on Paris Streets. At first it was quiet. Jews could still go to work, but those who had the least bit of political sense, could foresee that they would do the same in France as they had done in the other lands they had conquered.

 

The Hitlerites Poison the Atmosphere

First of all, the Nazis psychologically prepared the French and poisoned the atmosphere against Jews and Communists. The two were always equated. All of the Fascist groups and periodicals were mobilized. All streets were posted with anti –Jewish posters and caricatures. The radio blared away all day, until late at night, that Jews are this and that. In one word: the entire Goebbels –Torah came out of the mouth of the French Goebbels, Phillippe Henri and his helpers. In the meantime the Vichy regime ordered that all Jews must register in their own areas. Even converted Jews who had been Christians for generations had to line up to register. The lists later made it easy to deport Jews to the gas –ovens. Later it was forbidden. for Jews, under threat of death, to possess a radio. Every few days, new decrees: Jews cannot travel in the coaches with Frenchmen; Jews may only buy food at certain hours of the day.

 

Frenchmen Help Us

Later there was issued a decree, that Jews must liquidate their businesses. A commissioner was appointed to oversee every Jewish business. In this way the Jew no longer had the possibility to earn his livelihood. The majority of the French population displayed the greatest sympathy towards their Jewish neighbors, and helped them in every way possible. Many Frenchmen hid Jewish fortunes. Those who had the good fortune to survive, got everything back from their friends and neighbors. There were many cases of French householders who didn't want to rent the businesses which had been confiscated from Jews, except when forced to do so. There were also Frenchmen who fictitiously bought Jewish businesses, moved into Jewish homes, and right after the liberation returned everything to their Jewish owners. Besides solidarity with Jews, the French by their acts carried out patriotic acts against Hitlerism. This way Jews lived in a steady nightmare, with the constant ' fear of new decrees and persecutions.

[Page 665]

A New Misfortune

It didn't take long and a new misfortune overtook all foreign Jews, who had lived for many years in Paris and her suburbs. Jews received a notice on May I”, 1941, that they were to gather at specific points with a blanket, a cup, a spoon and shaving equipment. In one day 5,000 Jews were assembled, only men. They were tossed into wooden barracks, encircled with tall barbed wire fences in Pitivie, Bon –Loroland, about 50 kilometers from Paris. This was the first, great tragedy of the Parisian Jewry. The decree severed thousands of Jewish families, and caused tragedy to mothers, wives and children. Later it was permitted to bring to those arrested, a package of food by way of the gendarmerie, who guarded them day and night, as if they were criminals.

Some women managed to see their men through the wire. But the French gendarmes continuously drove the poor women away, and at the same time also threatened those arrested, and their wives and children, who had come to see their fathers through the barbed wire. The threat was that if they would carry on like this, they would turn over the guard duty to the German soldiers. In the meantime it was the French Police who were doing this dirty work. It went on like this for months. Many families remained without any income to live. We felt that further evil was awaiting us.

 

We Help Poor Families

At that time the Resistance began to grow stronger, and the solidarity activities in Jewish circles to help poor families. A number of the interned men managed to escape. For us, who had escaped, it was extremely satisfying. The Germans, meanwhile carried on with their dirty work. They sealed off the streets where Jews lived, and arrested all Jewish passers –by. At that time they no longer differentiated between foreign and French Jews. They sent us all to Drancy, about 10 kilometers from Paris. From that day on all Jews lived in constant terror. No one was any longer secure in his fate, and trembled, that he shouldn't be cast into Drancy or Compien, 50 kilometers from Paris. Ignoring the terror, the resistance developed from day to day. Illegal newspapers appeared. Ignoring the danger, which faced old and young alike, more and more took part in the struggle. Jewish, young communists, who distributed flyers on the wide boulevards of Paris, paid with their lives: Among them the sons of our comrades and friends: Tishelman and Bekerman.

When the communists decided to use arms in the struggle, the first attack was carried out against an SS officer in the Metro “Barbes”, by a French Communist, Fabian (He later received the Grand Colonel). After the attack, the Germans shot 100 men: half of them Jews and half – Frenchmen. Ignoring the terror which the Germans unleashed against Jews and non –Jews, there was an immediate upsurge in the Resistance in the Free Zone, where the Vichy Regime ruled, and in the Zone occupied by the Germans. There was also a third zone in the Alps, occupied by the Italians. In the Italian Zone, Jews were not under any pressure, until the Germans occupied all of France, after the capitulation of the Italian King.

[Page 666]

We Flee to the Free Zone

In the Free Zone there was organized the Central Resistance for all of France. We, a group of Kozienicer, Radomer, and Zvoliner Jews decided to pass over to the Free Zone. Three of us were naturalized Frenchmen: Myself, Greenberg and Yosef Bleecher of Radom. We decided to cross together. But it didn't occur that way due to various reasons. In October, 1941, I was one of the first in Limoges. From there I went to Lyon. In Lyon, our townsman, Itshe Elani, and his brother Abish were already to be found. Later there came: Greenberg, Bleecher, Issacher Funk and others. We were constantly in contact. Each one of us was looking for employment. Since we were Frenchmen, we didn't have any difficulty finding work. A while later we were able to bring our wives to Lyon. I had luck: I found a bit of a dwelling. For the while we were already a Resistance group.The one in charge of my group was a man from Lyon, an acquaintance, a comrade, and longtime activist, David Keniger, a very fine person. Later friends and comrades came from Paris. They had my address, so they sent the neediest to me. Every week I received valises filled with things, and this helped them a great deal, because to take things along with them was impossible. At the time it was frightful in Paris: Seizures and arrests. In 1942 they began the mass –deportation of Jews. No one knew, where they were being taken. They were packed into cattle cars, without food and drink. Many died on the way. But the greatest tragedy of Parisian Jewry occurred on the 16th of July, 1942.

 

July 16, 1942

Gestapo agents and French Militia, with bestiality, rounded up 32,000 Jews in one day: men, women, children and the elderly. It is impossible to write about the sufferings of our parents, sisters and brothers. The point to which they were dragged was the Veledrome d'Hiver (a sport's palace). Later they were all taken to concentration camps around Paris, and from there they were all deported. After these tragic events, there was a mass emigration. Jews ran. They looked for a hole, where to hide. Man hid in the towns and villages. Frenchmen of all classes, displayed great sympathy and made the effort to help us in this difficult moment, even though they were threatened with the same fate as the Jews. Many Jews fled to the Free Zone. But the border was closely guarded, by German field Gendarmes and also by Vichy Gendarmes, who weren't any less cruel. Non –naturalized Jews had to report every few days to the Police, and they couldn't move about without an official permit. Many Jews were sent to the Spanish border, where they were placed in wooden barracks, without sanitary facilities. French gendarmes and criminals guarded them. Many Jews, unfortunately, couldn't cross the border into the Free Zone. They fell into German paws and were deported. A lot of familiar friends arrived in Lyon, and many of my comrades stayed with me, until they found a place, where to lay their heads. The solidarity was great. We did everything in our power to help the newcomers.

[Page 667]

New Decrees

Right after the disaster of July 16th, Jews received a new gift: The Yellow Patch. At the same time it became forbidden to Jews to go to the theatre, the movies, and parks. It was difficult for Jewish children to understand that they could no longer play in the sand with other children.

Frenchmen proposed to their Jewish neighbors to take the Jewish children along with them, in order that they might continue to play in the parks. The same was also true of the Yellow Patch. Jews felt, that the “patch” would automatically separate them from the French populace. Fortunately the opposite occurred: The majority of Frenchmen greeted Jews in a friendly manner. There were cases where Frenchmen, in order to display patriotism and friendship to Jews, put on the Yellow Patch. At the same time there were checks in the streets. Many Frenchmen were dragged to the Police stations, and they were warned that if they would again be caught with the Yellow Patch, they would be deported together with the Jews. The French populace helped us a great deal in those tragic moments. This gave us encouragement. After the mass –deportations, the Germans began to steal Jewish possessions. All of Jewish property was transported to Germany.They broke walls and floors, and looked for gold and diamonds, but at the same time our morale grew.

The Resistance in France, and also the other occupied countries grew from day to day. With satisfaction we could demonstrate, that in the struggle all classes and parties participated: from the extreme right to the extreme left. The struggle against Hitler and his cohorts was carried with devotion and self –sacrifice. In the cities and in the provinces there was a commissar who commanded the Resistance. There were fighting units, sabotage units, who were concerned with arms, disseminating literature, and newsletters.

 

The Resistance Aids Jewish Children

We, Jews, had a special task: Together with the general Resistance, to hide Jewish children with French families. For that we needed a great deal of money. A cousin of mine, Madame Galtshtein, who arrived after the 16 of July, stayed with us. She had placed her two children with a French family, on the German side. Once we received a letter from the family, saying that an agent had come to them and asked if the two children, one aged six and the other seven and a half, whether they were Jewish. So she told them: No!

Afterwards the agent asked the teacher in school, and he also said: “No!” I and my cousin, who had joined a group in Lyon, conveyed this information to the women responsible, in the Resistance and she undertook a special investigation of the matter. Within three days time the two little girls already found themselves with us in Lyon. Afterwards we provided the girls with a safe place. With such dynamism did the group carry out the task of saving Jewish children.

[Page 668]

Right before the Liberation, something happened to a very good friend of mine, Meir Shalom Goldstein. He was an escaped German war –prisoner. He lived and worked far from Lyon at cutting lumber. His wife later came to him with two small children. When the Germans occupied all of France they began making changes in the cities and in the towns, and I received from him a very unpleasant letter. He writes that his wife and two children are about to be arrested. Twenty –four hours later I, with the help of the woman responsible, took care of the two children in Lyon. Soon afterwards, the parents also came, and this way, we were able to avert a tragedy.

 

Terrible Years

The years, 1943 –1944, were terrible. The revisions (searches) were a daily occurrence. Many Jews lived in hotels, which were especially terrible. As soon as we received information, that a search was to take place, there already were with me many of my friends, and we averted trouble. Ignoring my wife's serious illness, I did not neglect my work for one moment. At that time there were in Lyon, the son and the daughter of our not forgotten friend, Shmuel –Leib Goldman. They had left the provincial city of Vienne. The son, Marcelle, occupied himself by providing false papers for the Resistance. Looking for a birth certificate in the Municipality, he was arrested by the French Milita. The Resistance approached the Prosecutor of the Republic, and managed to free him. It is important to note, that also the Prosecutor was a member of the Resistance.

The daughter of Comrade Goldman, Dora, 15 years old, well developed, was occupied bringing arms for the Maquis and also served as the Courier to the high command of the Maquis. It is worthwhile mentioning joyfully that, the young Dora, who had been with me for a few months, was, after the Liberation, decorated by the French Government with the Croix de Guerre (War Cross). My cousin, Mrs. Galtshtein, (her husband was deported) also did tremendous work. Twice or three times a week, packages, flyers and newsletters were prepared in her home. And she, together with another comrade, distributed them disguised as food, in a food basket, to all sectors of the city. This was how it went on until the Liberation.

 

We Are Free!

The 6th of June, 1944, was for us Jews in France and for all French patriots, the most beautiful day of our lives. On this day the Allied Armies landed on French territory. In that year the Hitlerites suffered defeat after defeat. An anger seized their ranks. They felt their end approaching. The Partisans and Resistance became very active. Acts of sabotage became a daily thing. The most outstanding in the struggle were the French Railroad Workers. At the risk of their lives, they sabotaged German transports. As revenge the German murderers shot hundreds of fighters daily in the cellars of the Gestapo on Bertelo Avenue in Lyon. Also, we Kozieniceites, suffered victims. David Zucker, the Secretary of our Society, and Yitzhak Potashnik, were deported, and perished. Serge, the 19 year old son of Moshe and Shifra Wolberg, was shot by the French Militia in a small town, Maniek –Lavalle and drove into mourning his unfortunate parents.

[Page 669]

It was enough to go down to the Jewish cemetery in Lyon, and see the long rows of graves of the heroic, Jewish fighters, many of whom we had worked with. On the day of the Liberation, when the Jewish population of Lyon and representatives of the Resistance came to honor the fallen heroes in the struggle against the bloody murderers, we said to them: “Your struggle was not in vain. On this soil, which is soaked with tears and blood, we will build a world of brotherhood and love between nations.”

WE HONOR THEIR MEMORY!


[Page 670]

Kozieniceites in New York

by Shmuel Reizman, New York

During the years, 1949 –50, when the American government eased the Immigration Law, and allowed almost 100,000 refugees into the United States, there gathered in New York and the surrounding area, some forty odd Kozieniceites, who had come from the camps of Germany and Austria. Most of them were young people, who had married and had children after the War. There were also among them a few families who had married before the War, and had the good fortune to survive the terrible War and reunite.

 

We Arrived Without Means

The majority had arrived without means, without money and without the possibility to resettle themselves. Almost no one had any family or friends, and those who met some distant relatives, found them cold towards the newcomers. They could not expect any help of any sort, or aid in settling in. The few tailors among them immediately found employment. A few of the shoemakers among them got some employment with the help of Motl Goldstein, may he rest in peace. Pinchas Shmelke's son was then an official in a professional association of Leather Workers. The vast majority of Kozieniceites found themselves in great difficulty. They simply didn't know where to turn. The so –called Kozienice Society, which had by then already existed for 40 years in New York, had quite a large membership and much money in the bank, did not show any interest in the newcomers. The reason? Those of the Kozieniceites, who had many years previously founded the organization, almost no one remained. Those, who headed the organization, were American born, and really had no attachment to Kozienice. This unsympathetic attitude towards the newcomers, they would display on every occasion, and they would tell about the experience that they had had with the Kozienice Rabbi, R' Yisroel Eliezer Hopstein, of blessed memory. When he came to America in 1942, they, under the urging of Kozieniceites then still living, had helped him. At every opportunity they emphasized what they had done for him. But the Rabbi would have nothing to do with them, since it wasn't befitting to the honor of the Kozienice Rabbi to take a part in their activities, and this pained them greatly. Later they would mention this at every opportunity. This was why the newcomers weren't accepted into the so –called “Kozienice Society.”

 

A House In Which to Warm Oneself

In those difficult times, when everyone was seeking a place to live, and warm oneself, and hear a good word from an acquaintance – the home of Moshe Kohn (Shlomo Berl's, who had come to America in 1937) was the gathering place for our fellow townsmen. Every Sunday a group of us would gather there to enjoy, receive regards and become aware of who of our acquaintances had arrived in the country, and where they were living and working.

[Page 671]

The fact that, at the time, Moshe Kohn was sick, and there wasn't much of a livelihood at home, did not prevent us from spending our Sundays there. The relation among the newly arrived Kozieniceites were warm and friendly. We would help each other in time of trouble, and enjoy ourselves very much, when a fellow townsman celebrated some joyous occasion. And so life moved on. Bit by bit all of the newcomers got settled with housing, employment, or were able to open some small business. The children grew up, and were sent to school and then to university. The contact among the townsmen did not weaken.

 

We Try Our Luck

Later we decided once again to try our luck with the existing “Kozienice Society”. Perhaps we would be able, from the inside to interest them in our undertakings.

Ignoring the difficulties that they had caused us when we attempted to enter the Society, the hefty dues, which they had requested from a few of the older members, such as: Yitzhak Mandelboim and Matis Fishboim, of blessed memory, and Max Tennenboim, for long life, a large group of us became members of the Society. It quickly became clear that all of our efforts had been in vain. When the question of help for this Yizkor Book came up, or help for a fellow townsman overseas, setting up a memorial event for Kozienice martyrs – they didn't want to know of or participate in such things. All of these things we had to do on our own. \5hen we turned to them about setting up a monument for the Kozienice victims on the cemetery, which.they had, they stalled us with all sorts of excuses for two years. It turned out that they wouldn't support us, nor give us a proper place for the monument.

 

We Quit the Society

After deliberations of the temporary committee, which had already existed for a long time, we decided, that we “had to set up on our own”, and that in order to carry out our undertakings, we would have to create an organization of newly –arrived Kozieniceites. We went to work, raised money and bought land for a cemetery. We carried out various undertakings, meet on various occasions and remain in touch with our members. Unfortunately, to our great sorrow, the new Kozienice Cemetery in New York was started with the grave of the 18 year old daughter of Chava Weisbard –Berger, who died in June, 1967. All of the townsmen express their deepest, heartfelt sympathy to the Berger family on their great loss.


[Page 672]

The Kozienice Landsmanschaft in Brazil

by Issachar Lederman, Rio de Janeiro

At the start of my report on the activities of our Landsmanschaft, I consider it my duty to greet all of the Kozienice Landsmanschaft in France for the idea to publish a Yizkor Book in memory of the destruction of Kozienice. You should be blessed for this holy idea. This will lead to a closeness of all Kozienice townsmen in all countries. Now a few words about our own Landsmanschaft. At the end of WWII, after the first tragic reports from across the sea, about the great Holocaust which overcame 6 million of our brothers and sisters in the old home, the Landsmanschaft movement in Brazil became strengthened. Daily new ones were formed. The object of their existence was a holy one – to bring help to the surviving Hitler victims. The help was great!

 

We Found the Landsmanschaft

We Kozieniceites also understood that our obligation was to found one in Brazil. Essentially it was the two large cities: Rio and Sao Paulo, where there are to be found almost all Kozieniceites, in order to help our surviving townsmen in Poland and other countries of Europe. Although our total was small in the two cities: 32 families (mostly in Rio), we managed to raise a large sum of money. We immediately sent, by way of the “Joint”, packages of clothing and shoes to Poland. We also helped the survivors, who came through Brazil, with everything they needed. We contacted the Kozieniceites in Poland, France, Israel and America and also with the Kozienice Rabbi, R' Yisroel Eliezer Hopshtein, who is in America. We also sent $200 to the Kozieniceites in Poland, for the reburial of the martyrs in a mass Jewish grave in the Kozienice Cemetery. They carried out this holy task with the greatest dignity. We also set up a monument in the Martyr's Tomb in the Rio Cemetery, in the name of our Kozienice Martyrs, as an eternal memorial. This was how we were united in a Landsmanschaft, in joy and in sorrow.

 

During Succos We Gather for a Memorial Evening

Each year, on Succos, we meet and make a memorial for our martyrs. We are sending you a number of notices about the memorial evenings so that they may be eternalized in our Yizkor Book.

[Page 673]

Kozienice Landsmanschaft Rio De Janeiro

We invite our townsmen and all of the Jews of Rio and the surrounding area to the unveiling of a:

MEMORIAL PLAQUE

In the Tomb of the Martyrs on the Cemetery of Villa Rosalie
In Memory of our Martyrs on:
Sunday, September 19th (21st of Elul at 9:00 a.m.)
The assembly point will be at the Burial Society, 225 San tana Street
at 7:30 a.m., where buses will be waiting for all.

COME AND HONOR THE MARTYRS

The Directorate

Since we are a small group, its natural that our activity on the culture front is very limited. But still, we participate with other Polish Landsmanschaften in the Jewish life, and annually we participate in the observance of the 19th of April, which is celebrated by the Organization of Polish Jews together with the entire Jewish community. In conclusion, we will mention with honor our late townsman Yaakov Rechthand, of blessed memory, who devoted a great deal of time and energy to our Landsmanschaft. We hereby list the Kozieniceites who came to Brazil after the Holocaust: Moshe –Yaakov Eisenmeser, Tova Berman and her husband, Zelik Berman and his wife, Hese Honigshtok, Chaim –Yakl Hershenhorn, Mendel Vasserman, Tsharne Lederman, Chaim –Yakl Shvartzberg, Berish Shabason, Hershel Weinberg and his wife, Yechiel Shabason and his wife, Rachele Weinberg, son and daughter, Ephraim Kreitzberg.

To our Kozienice friends in Brazil!

Confirmation (Receipt)

Dear friends!
With this we confirm that we received a letter from our friend Potazshnik, that your aid – the $200 has already been received. This means that in fact the money is already in our hands.
At the same time we want to inform you that soon, in the next few days, we will approach our task. About the progress of our work, we will keep you informed. Last week we wrote you a detailed letter. In the name of our difficult and holy work, we express to you our heartfelt thanks for your initial and earnest help.

Fond regards from all Kozieniceites.
The Committee:
Chairman Tennenboim Secretary Tochterman Cashier Peredstein
Waldbzheg, February 12, 1949

[Page 674]

We also consider it our obligation to eternalize in our Yizkor Book, all of the Kozieniceites who lived with us in Rio, and death tore them away from us: Yaakov Birnboim, Shifra Birnboim, Tove Berman, Chome Berman, Shimon Berman, Berish Diament (Ritual Slaughterer), Hese Honigshtok, Daniel Weinberg, Rivke Lederman, Yakl Krishpel and Yaakov Rechthand. We Honor Their Memory!

With this I conclude the report about our Kozienice Landsmanschaf t in Brazil. The Directorate of our Landsmanschaft: Chairman: Issachar Lederman. Vice –chairman: Berish Shabason. Secretary: Benjamin Krishpel. Treasurer: Ephraim Horvitz. Members: Yisroel Bakman, Me lech Birnboim.


[Page 675]

Kozienites in Belgium

by Yedidya Berneman, Antwerp

Among the first Kozieniceites, who came to Belgium in 1906, was Eliezer Shipper, of blessed memory the eldest son of Yakl Shipper, of blessed memory. At the same time there also came Aaron Usher Eisentzveig, who was actually a Kozienicer son –in –law. He had married the sister of Chaim Chmielnitzky. After WWI there began a large Jewish immigration into Belgium. In 1923, Mordecai Shipper came to Belgium (today in Mexico City) to his brother Eliezer, of blessed memory, who by that time already occupied a prominent position among the large diamond –merchants in Antwerp, and in all the diamond –markets of the world. Later Mordecai's friends began to come: Moishele Berneman, of blessed memory, Liuba Potashnik, of.blessed memory, Ida Shipper and Yosef Kuropatva. In 1929 there came Yosef Lichtenstein, of blessed memory, his wife Dobra Potashnik and Bracha Weintroib (Shipper). During 1929 –30 there broke out the serious crisis in the diamond industry. Because of it, Yosef Lichtenstein, his wife, Dobra, and child, went back to Kozienice and perished during the deportation to Treblinka. Their son, Gedalyahu, remained alive. He was in Eretz –Yisrael, participated in the War for Independence, and returned to Belgium. In 1932 there came to Belgium: Moshe Ber Birnboim and his wife, Batshe Leah, Moshe Pearlstein and Israel Goldman.

In 1934, the crisis in the diamond industry was over, and the immigration from Kozienice was renewed. Then there came: Shlomo Kuropatva, Moshe Kuropatva, Gedalyu Potashnik, Ite Birenman, Zelik Kuropatva, Chaya Weintroib, Mordecai Donnerstein and Velvel Patashnik. Thanks to the humanitarian attitude of the Belgian population during WWII, Kozieniceites were able to save themselves, with the exception of the families, who were deported and did not return. Among those who didn't return were: Aaron Asher Eisentzveig and his wife, of blessed memory, Moshe Ber Birnboim and his wife Batshe Leah, of blessed memory, Chaya Weintroib and her husband Birnboim, of blessed memory.

After the liberation there came to Belgium: Dovrele Zaltzberg, of blessed memory, the daughter of Leib Ber Zaltzberg, who after terrible suffering, died, and found his eternal rest on the cemetery in Pite (Holland), Hershl Potashnik, Velvel Zaltzberg, Pinye Kirshenboim, Kalman Berneman, his wife, Chana Flam, Gedalyahu Lichtenstein, and Moshe Patashnik, who came from Israel, after he had participated in the War of Independence, and was among the liberators of Eilat. In general we want to emphasize that Kozieniceites in Belgium are well off. They cooperate generously when it's necessary to help fellow townsmen. We want to emphasize, that the immigration from Kozienice to Belgium was based upon the families: Shipper, Kuropatva,

Benenman and Potashnik


[Page 676]

The Book of Kozienice Finished and Completed

by Baruch Kaplinsky, Tel–Aviv

There lies before us The Book of Kozienice. It is not just any book. It is a monument on the grave of the 5,000 member, Holy Jewish Community of Kozienice, which had lived and struggled and so tragically perished. It is proof of a sum –total of 350 years of Jewish life in a Jewish, Hassidic Shtetl in the center of Poland. This sum –total did not come easily to us. Maybe there are in Poland many sources for the history of the Jews of Kozienice, but here, in Israel, in France, in the United States, in Brazil, the sources are few. A notice here, a few lines there, a hint in an encyclopedia, an item in a newspaper, and that's it. From these poor sources, we couldn't build a rich history of the Jews of Kozienice.

 

Memoirs

Therefore we made intensive use of memoirs. The Kozienice survivors wrote. I would even say that they wrote a great deal, and naturally, that which they remembered. Foremost the memoir concentrates on the tragic consequences of the Holocaust. On the other hand, communal institutions, the traditional ones as well as modern schools, political parties and the life –style were privileged with only a few meager lines. Too bad!

 

A Collective Creation

This book is a collective undertaking and creation of a hundred authors, who did not mutually discuss the contents of their work. Therefore our book is not free of contradictions, and duplications, in spite of the hand that erased, but with Jewish mercy. We wanted all Kozieniceites should have the opportunity to tell about themselves, about their relatives, about Kozienice and her history in their own words, in their own style and according to the way they remembered. As a result of this, the Book is not free of a nice amount of contradictions in dates and events, but not one of us wanted to be final arbiter and judge who remembered best. Maybe it would have been more logical if the Book had been composed entirely in Hebrew, the Language of Israel, the language of our children, the Sabras. Maybe it would have been more natural, if the Book followed the tradition of Kozienice Record Books, which were always kept in the Holy Tongue (Hebrew), but never reached us. Maybe it would have been more realistic if we had written the Book for future generations and not for ourselves. But, in spite of all, after long deliberation we decided: Let each one tell his story in the language that he finds easiest to use.

 

Thanks

At the end may we express our thanks to the initiators, gatherers of materials, memoir writers, and fund –raisers for the Kozienice Book. Congratulations to the tens of anonymous friends from Israel.

 

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