Ada Holtzman:

Finding a Copy of the Yizkor Book of GOMBIN.



For the coming Yom Ha'Shoa, and to be able to answer so many questions for information and searches, and mainly for myself and my family, I decided I have to have the Yizkor book of Gombin, which my parents (both from Gombin) never had. Gideon said Mr. Lushinsky from Kiriat Haiim was willing to give it for photocopy in the last year memorial.

Somehow, Gideon never had the time to get it, since Lushinsky lives far away from his Kibbutz.

I phoned Lushinsky, who also was very eager about the cemetery project. He wanted to give our Society a videotape he took three years ago, when visiting Gombin for the 4th time in the past years.

I had a free Friday and decided to go and get the book and the tape and talk with him about our project, and also get his cousin in Plock, telephone and address.

After 3 hours drive, having heavy traffic in the roads due the holiday, I came to his modest apartment in Kiriat Haiim, near Haifa. Then, may be after the second or third sentence that we said to each other, he said: "but I am not giving you this book".

I was a bit shocked, and I told him I just need to make a photocopy and will return him the book, personally, not even by the post office. I asked him why didn't he say so by the telephone and he said he will never give this book to anyone. I said I have to photocopy and send to Yad Va'Shem, to Lochamei Hagetaot Museum, but he will not agree. I told him I'll give him a deposit, leave my Identity Card, but he won't agree.

I was upset but knowing the meaning behind his refusal, told him that we shall go to a nearby shop and try to make as many photocopies we shall manage, before the shop will close down. (it was already 12:00 and the shops close at 13:00...) He agreed we had only a few minutes to look at the video, where I saw Lukaszewsky and his "Jewish" room. I saw Zychlin and the memorials Leon talked about, and the Gombin cemetery. It was summer time and there was lot of greenery. Very different to the experience I myself had when visited Gombin in 1989 in the winter.

We went to a small stationary shop nearby, where they may be make 200 A3 photocopies in 5 years... The machine stopped all the time; ink had to be replaced 3 times...

In the meantime we were talking and the owner of the shop (from Romanian origin) joined our conversation. Lushinsky, complained that there is not even "Minian" in the previous memorial meetings in Beit Gombin... This year, for health reasons he might not come himself. He is from a nearby small town but lived in Gombin from age 15 till 19. His wife Golda, nee Zeidman, lived in Gombin until the war. They were in Warsaw during the War. They remained in Poland until the 60's when they made "Alyia".

We talked about the Joint in the War and before and how much they helped all of them, and after the War they really lived from the allowance of 20 dollars they received a month ...).

There was a special Jewish lady from New York, I think he said her name was Reisner, (I forgot her first name as it was not possible to make notes), who sent them once a month a parcel which contained all what they really needed, and she was not even a family member.

We talked about the cemetery project, which he supports with all his heart. He said he is willing to give money also, if he will be asked. I asked him if he is not afraid of future vandalism to the cemetery, once restored, and he said that the municipality of Gombin will take care to protect it. Than, the owner of the shop, about the same age as he is, both in their 70's, interrupted and kept saying: "you do it for your own consciousness. It must be done, to have this burden out of your chest"...

He than told us his story. He was born in a small town in Romania. His mother died when only 34. He was 13 months old at the time. Never knew her. He was raised by the second wife of his father. In the age of 60, he felt uncontrollable urge to go and search for his biological mother's grave. He took his wife (Jewish of Lithuanian origin, immigrated to Cuba) to a root trip. They arrived to his home village and went to the cemetery. The neglect and destruction of time was horrible, but all the tombstones were there.

They searched for hours and than, it was his wife, who cried out, "Here it is", she found the grave.

The tombstone was exceptionally high but covered with moss. They both worked for many hours and cleaned the tombstone. He later took a picture and when they came back, he enlarged it and now it is in their bedroom, so everyday when he wakes up it is the first thing he sees when he starts his day...

13:00 passed a long time, also 14:00... The man kept the shop open for me and Lushinsky, and slowly slowly made another photocopy and another one, until it has all finished.

The quality of the pictures from the book is very poor, but I was very pleased that I have this holy book now in my possession. I kept wondering why my parents, both from Gombin, never had the book, never put any memorial pictures of their own families, they had no money, living in Kibbutz, so may be that was the reason? Did it cost money to insert materials?

When the man was working, I already discovered a picture of two aunts of mine; I never saw their picture, with date of birth. Who was "Laski" from America, who gave the picture and who mourns Channa Laski Gostynski, my uncle, Pinkus Gostynski' wife. He married her in the Ghetto.

Here she was, ginger indeed, freckled, as my father described her for me sometimes ago...

And afterwards, an article about Maccabi Movement in Gombin.

"Stop a moment" I asked the man, my uncle Hersz Holcman was active in this movement. I look, it is in Yiddish, and I see the name "Holcman".

"Oh," I cry, "stop stop, there is a picture of Ester Maincik, mother of Eli Holcman, wife of "Bucik", Israel Baruch Holcman, another aunt, but from my father's side"... Who is Wolf Maincik from America who put this in honor of the memory of his beloved sister?...

My emotions overcome me. I ask their forgiveness and go outside. I start to cry. I think this book was also forgotten, nobody cares about it, they, did not even cared to send it to Yad Va'Shem. My parents didn't have it. Nobody pays respect also to this book, not only to the destroyed and deserted cemetery of Gombin in that far and cursed land.

I returned to the shop, and finally at 15:00 the work was done. I paid and thanked the man heatedly. We went out of the shop and when I crossed the street, the man from the shop called me back. I went back and he took me to the back room of the shop, and there it was. A framed beautiful picture of a very high tombstone, with Hebrew inscription, trees in the backyard...

"This is my mother's grave. I cleaned it myself, with my own fingers"...

I left the shop and drove back, wondering about "our role", as Gayle Frenkel wrote, and how much tears, suffering and pain are now in these 400 pages near my seat, in a nylon bag, and will I be strong enough to continue to fulfill our "role".


My Israel
















Guest Book