We Remember Janow Sokolski


A Sketch of the wooden Synagogue

The Janow Sokolski Synagogue, Photo by Szymon Zajczk

Synagogue Interior - Photo by Szymon Zajczk

The Menorah, from Moshe Verbin's Catalogue

A Wooden Synagogue in Poland, destroyed by the Nazis during WWII.

Pictures of the old wooden and destroyed Synagogue of Janow Sokolski. Donated by Allen B. Saxe 27.11.99 (email: absaxe "at" earthlink.net – replace "at" by @ to avoid spam)..

Moshe Verbin: Wooden Synagogues in the 17th and 18th Century

Allen Saxe writes:
The pictures were photographed by Szymon Zajczk of blessing memory.There is an excellent biography of him in the book Images Before My Eyes, A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland,1864-1939. It should be available at any bookstore or major library. He was the major photographer of Polands synagogues.He survived the Warsaw ghetto but was hunted down and killed by the Nazis in 1943.

From Moshe Verbin catalogue:

"The synagogue was built in the second half of the 18th century and was burnt down by the germans during the second world war.
Its dimensions: 19x 19.5 m, hight: 16 m.
The women 's sections were at the northern and southern parts of the ground floor as well as the gallery over the learning rooms at the west. The almost square men's synagogue was on a lower level than the entrance room and was covered with an octagonal dome with its center coming down a little into the hall."

Moshe Verbin: Model of the Synagogue of Janow Sokolski

 Welcome to the Zechariah Family By Allen B. Saxe

The Feel of History  |   Janow Sokolski  | The Synagogue  |  Bunim and Sara Scharja   | Sima and Jacob Lev  |   Yeshiva  Years |  Leaving Janow  | The Letters  |  The Shoah  | The Saxe Family | Eight Generations  |  The Family  Tree |  Appendix 1-Letters | Appendix 2-Records | Links

From the book: "Jewish Bialystok and Surroundings in Eastern Poland, by Tomasz Wisniewski, published by Ipswich Press (PO Box 291, Ipswich MA 01938). The book can be ordered from Ipswich Press at that address, or by phone 578 -356- 0541,. pages 76-77:

Janow Sokolski
Population 4920 (in 1993).
49 km north of Bialystok

Jews began to settle in Janow as early as the 17th century, and by 1719 the bishop of Vilno, Konstanty Brzostowski, had granted them permission to build a synagogue (which was constructed in 1740). The town's census in 1775 counted 214 Christian residents and 221 Jews. In 1897, 1797 (or 78 percent) of the town's 2,296 residents were Jewish.
In the book of Gary Mokotoff " Where Once We Walked" it is written that there were 1027 Jews living in the town in 1921.

Just prior to World War II, nearly 1,100 Jews lived in this small, poor town known for its hotel, which was owned by the Jew Chmiel Rudawski.

Rabbis in Janow from 1880 until WWII included Nissin Perelsztejn, Jehoszua Kralusz, and Zalman Kosowski.

The town's wooden synagogue, which prior to World War II was renovated and maintained by the State Office for Historical Buildings, was burned and destroyed by the Nazis.

A Jewish cemetery remains in the northern part of Janow (On the way to Kuplisk and Kamienica). The cemetery - which is not fenced in any way - contains about 200 mazevas as well as the remains of a brick gate.

Jewish families named in the 1928 guide: "Medicine doctors and pharmacy: Chassin Ruben, Shapiro Maria, Goldstein Gershon. Butchers: Bobrowicz Chaim, Nowokolski Mendel."


Thanks to Stanley Diamond and Arne J. Pearlstein for their comments and corrections, now added to the article. Anyone who has more information/old photos/articles/sources on this lost Jewish Community is kindly requested to contact me.

Ada Holtzman - Tel Aviv - 9.12.99

Other Sources:

1.     Boznice Bialostocczyzny, Heartland of the Jewish Life Synagogues and Jewish communities in Bialystok Region, Tomasz Wisniewski rys. Jaroslaw Wojtach, David, Bialystok 1992

2.     Janow, Studium historyczno-urbanistyczne, opr. J. Kubiak, Warszaw 1974 (BBIDZ Bialystok).

3.     St. Szyroki, Monografia parafii janowskiej w dekanacie sokolskim woj. Bialostockiego 1936.

The Business Directory of Janow Sokolski
Published at Poland in1929. This list includes most of the business and professional people of the town and their occupation. It was donated by Allen B. Saxe.

Treblinka: The End

Treblinka Death Lists/Kelbasin Collection Camp - The Nizkor Project

Allen B. Saxe adds:
"The Nizkor Project identifies transports from Bialystok to Treblinka and 950 people from Janow to Kelbasin Concentration Camp. My family was from Janow. My grandparents were Sara and Bunim Scharja,my uncle and aunt Jacob and Simcha Lev and their children were Abram and Shandel Lev. No death lists are available".

Allen Saxe: "Jacob Lev, Simcha Scharja Lev, Abram Lev, Shandel Lev of blessed memory. They along with my grandparents and millions of others were killed during the shoah. They perished at Treblinka".

Allen Saxe: My Grandparents: Sara and Bunim Scharja of Blessed Memory,Perished in Holocaust, Treblinka.



On May 15th , 2000 I rceeived the following email from Allen B. Saxe

Dear Ada,
I have received a note from the Museum Director that my request for a monument for
JANOW SOKOLSKI has been approved and that the stone inscription will be done this summer.
I appreciate your support, direction and assistance.I hope we will meet in Israel on our next visit.
Allen B.Saxe

Message from Allen B. Saxe
(email: absaxe "at" earthlink.net – replace "at" by @ to avoid spam).

(November 20th 2000)

As a youth I spent hours going through the top drawer of my parents’ dresser where they kept the family photographs and letters from Europe. Somehow I knew my father’s family had died. It took years for me to learn about the Shoah . We felt our history long before we knew it. The documented words would have to wait.

Over the past several years, I have documented the history of JANOW SOKOLSKI and my family. It was with deep pain that I learned that the death and destruction of the Jews of Janow along with millions of others was at Treblinka. Treblinka’s sole purpose was to kill. It was not a concentration camp or a labor camp; its mission was to kill our families as fast as possible.

A stone monument has now been placed at Treblinka to memorialize this community. Hopefully my work and the work of many others like Stanley Diamond and Arnie Pearlstein whose families came from Janow will tell the full story of the community. Ada Holtzman of Tel Aviv has encouraged and assisted me. Tomasz Wisniewski of Poland has been a constant help in locating documents and directing me to other resources. Edward Kopowka, the Director of the Treblinka Museum, dealt promptly with my request to add a monument and provided photographs that appear on thwebsite. I am confident that we can assist other persons to insure that all communities will be remembered.

JewishGen has become a primary resource for Jewish historical and genealogical research. I urge all to use it and support it finan.

Remembering JANOW SOKOLSKI assures that the story will continue. As I searched the past, I located family in the Unites States and Israel who had survived as well as making new friends who also had ties to JANOW SOKOLSKI.

Allen B. Saxe
Charlotte, NC

Passover Success Story

Message from Allen B. Saxe (April 1st 2007, posted in BialyGen Forum)

In 1998, I began a serious study of my father's history and the  Jewish community of Janow Sokolski,Poland.

My father left Janow in 1928. Between 1928 and the Shoah, his  parents, Bunim and Sara Scharja and all the family wrote letters to my father. My father died in 1954. My mother kept the letters  and often shared stories of their content.

In 1998, I had my cousin Stephen Bensman and his wife Miriam   Bensman translate these letters which were written in Yiddish.  Among the letters was  a letter from Rabbi Abraham Kosowski. For  years I have been searching for  any of his family. Over the years  a large number of Kosowski reasearchers  formed a group. Recently  Bob Kosovsky put together a enormous list of all Kosowsky (and  variants) entries. Among those entries I located a reference to a  Yad Vashem record for Rabbi Abraham Abba Kosowsky submitted by his  sister,Rachel Kofman, in the 1950's. I then contacted Avignor Ben-Dov who is active in Bialystok research in Israel and requested his   assistance in locating the family. He jumped right on this,found  their home which was still the home of the family. He confirmed the  details and gave me the phone number of Ahova Braude. I called her and told her about the letter. She was most pleased that I had some  record of her family. The letter is on his offical stationary as the Head Rabbi.We hope to meet in Israel.

I appreciate the help of all those who work to remember our families  and the Jewish communities throughout the world. I especially   appreciate the work of Ada Holtzman of Israel who has been tireless  in her efforts. JewishGen is a resource that enables us to help each  other in learning and remembering our history.The work at Yad Vashem  is so valuable.

Allen B. Saxe


A Symbolic Stone for Janow Sokolski added after Allen B. Saxe's efforts.
Treblinka, May 2000.

AJGS Cemetery Project: The Jewish Cemetery of Janow Sokolski

We Shall Remember!

Return to Treblinka Web Page

First posted on  November 1999

Last updated on September 27th, 2012