The cemetery of Grodzisk Maz. - September 1997

Back from Poland (4)

Message to JewishGen email Exchange Group, Tel Aviv, 14.10.97

The following is a revised message summarizing what I felt during my trip to Poland last month, and stressing the urgent and most important task we have, in trying to protect and save the Jewish cemetery of Gombin... as well as all other thousands remnants of the Jewish life in Poland.

Date: Tue, 14 Oct 1997 07:40:01 PDT
From: Ada Holtzman
Subject: "Forget - me - Not"

I wish to bring to your knowledge, a certain paragraph, quoted from a book in Hebrew: "The Price", written by Miriam Akavia, newly publish by Sifriat Ha'poalim, Tel Aviv, 1988. It is a free translation from Hebrew, and I wish to dedicate it to the Jewish community of Wyszkow.

While others only talk, something was done for the cemetery of Wyszkow. Vishkovers all over the world, along with living descendants of families from Wyszkow and many others not even with direct ties to this town, DID something to preserve the memory of this lost shtetl in Poland. With the direction and management of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, and the on-site participation of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, a Holocaust memorial was built on the site of the old Wyszkow cemetery. It sets an example for others to follow and is a wonderful tribute to the memory of the families who once graced this town.

A second related project - to identify the broken shards of tombstones used in the monument deserves special mention and is of particular interest to all descandants of Polish Jews. Working with the newly created database of Jewish vital records of Wyszkow, Stanley Diamond, Michael Richman and Sarah Lasry, three dedicated genealogists with connections to the town, have already identified over 25% of the matzevohs. It is meritorious work. We hope to do no less with the retrieved pieces from the gravestones of our own families of Gombin and in any of the other lost Jewish shtetls of Poland.

See the WEB site:


"To the reader, 1)

Fresh and strong is still my impression from my last visit in Poland (1988), country where I was born, me and the heroes of my stories.

They came out towards me from deserted yards; from foreign apartments they peeked from shut doors, in which I knew every crack; from old houses they descended down to me on stairways so well known to me, and while I was in the street - they watched me through empty hollow windows. I saw them walking below the shadow of familiar trees in the public parks, or resting on sun bathed benches; their children - and me among them - playing hiding games among the lilac bushes, or hiding behind thick stems of trees. Meeting them was painful, since my longings to them never faded. With trembling hands I wished to touch them, a real touch, but I could not, because they were and were not - because they are gone.

My visits in the Jewish cemeteries were most difficult. Here rouse towards me, not only my beloved, but a whole nation rouse from the depth of earth, from collapsing and crumbling tombs, in entangled jungle of vegetation which was spreading around them. The roots branch out, press and clip around our ancestors' tombs and swallow them. the tombstones rise up and twisted under the pressure of the roots. These tombstones, which were erected on our deceased graves, struggle for their lives...

And they are countless. Hebrew words, not understood by the people of that country but very well understood by us, written upon them. By the hand of an artist they were engraved in the stone, in letters of gold and silver, and they constitute elegies, love poems, praise and prayers, pain and farewell, wisdom and sorrow... and longings for Zion... Grand Jewish tombstones, neglected now and deserted in a foreign land, in a country with no Jews anymore. In Poland.

And the camps. Six millions of our people perished here and never brought to burial. In the land of Poland. And now, in the season of spring, wild flowers flourish around Auschwicz, Treblinka, Chelmno, Mejdanek and around the Jewish cemeteries. And among the flowers, one special beautiful small flower is distinct to my eyes, and its color is the same as the color of the skies: �Forget-me-not�. Their growth seems like magic to me! How they grew here, so many - countless - so fresh and nice, in the earth sunk in blood. Their sight filled my heart with gratitude, for growing there, and for having the color of the sky and for having the name:



1) Miriam Akavia, Hamekhir, Sifriat Hapoalim, Tel Aviv, 1988, ISBN965-04-2045-2