This stone shall be a witness unto us... (Joshua; 24;27)

We Remember the Jewish Cemeteries!

To Ada Holtzman,
The future lies buried in the past. Let us do something about it...
Benjamin Yaari 9.3.1997

..."Than the man from Kaluszyn whom I just talked with for the first time told me, crying: "Der BeythOlylem is oych nishtdu. Der BeytzOleym is e feld was waksen dort kartofel"... (The cemetery is gone. There is a field of potatoes growing on the cemetery)..." 1

1Yehudit Handel: "Near Quite Places", Siman Kria, Tel Aviv, 1987

EPITAPH
INSCRIPTION ON A MATZEVA

Itzik Manger: "Lid und Balade", Israel, 1956, page 306
Hebrew version: "Poems and Ballads, translated from Yiddish by Benjmain Tene, Tel Aviv 1969, page 235.
English version: Prof. Hardy Mayer; 25 December 2000 - Hanukka day 4, 5761 25.12.2000.

XVI. EPITAPH

 

Here lies the sad and tired nightingale
the first time in its own bed.
The
taylor's assistant, vagabond and poet,
with his forever silent source of songs.

 Do not pick the nettles from the tomb,
and don't scrape off the snow in winter-time.
The sleeper underneath no longer feels the pain,
he lives in peace with the worm and the mouse.

Do not throw flowers on the mound of dirt,
don't straighten out what the storm has disturbed,
don't chase the owl away from the tombstone.

 Let the butterfly, the bee, the fly hum around him,
let the gravediggers goat graze undisturbed
and him himself let him be alone

 

יחד עם כל אוהבי ומוקירי בנימין יערי - שהלך מאיתנו אתמול שבת, ג' בניסן תשס"ו אנו כואבים.

 

 

זכות גדולה נפלה בחלקנו,

חברי החברה הגניאלוגית הישראלית להכיר את בנימין, ללמוד על מפעליו ופועלו הבלתי נלאה להנצחת

העבר, הנפשות, ערכים ותמונות חיים שאבדו ואינם.

 

מי מאיתנו שהיה איתו בקשר קרוב והדוק ביותר ומי מאיתנו שזכה לשמוע ולקרוא ובדרך זו להכיר ולהוקיר.

מי שהצטרף אל בנימין בעשייה בכל דרך ומי שלמד ממנו.

 

נתנחם מעט בירושה הרוחנית שבנימין השאיר המהווה צוואה מתמדת להמשיך לזכור, לתעד ולהזכיר.

 

יחד עם לוציה, הבנים שרון ויעקב, הבת חגית והנכדים, בני משפחה קרובים, חברים ועמיתים

אנו מלווים היום את בנימין יערי

בדרכו האחרונה. ינוח בשלום על משכבו.

 

חנה פורמן,

יו"ר

 

ד' ניסן תשס"ו

2 באפריל 2006

The Israeli Genealogical Society is humbled in presenting the name of Benjamin Yaari (Wald), member of our Society, who dedicated the last years of his life to restoring and documenting Jewish cemeteries in Poland, with the help and cooperation of local people, in the hopes that this will be an ongoing project. Benjamin, a survivor of the Holocaust as a teenager, knew that his time was limited, and he lived every moment as if it were made of gold. Had he lived longer, there is no doubt that he would have accomplished even more. Benjamin engaged Israeli and Polish (and in one case, German, from over the border) youth in the actual onsite work in the cemeteries.

Benjamin published the results of his research in a series of books written in three languages: Hebrew, Polish and English, in which he included interesting and informative essays by local people about the cemeteries. In one of the books he included a section educating youth groups visiting the cemeteries about these projects.

Benjamin died on Saturday, April 1st, 2006. Blessed be his memory.

Ellen Stepak 7.4.2006

ספר המלגות וההנצחה תשס"ו 2006 :

Ada Holtzman: Remember Benjamin Yaari היה היה אדם...

Benjamin Yaari: Documenting Jewish Cemeteries in Poland - Message to the Youth

 Benjamin Yaari & Ada Holtzman:
To Document, To Cherish, To Remember...

בנימין יערי ועדה הולצמן: לתעד... להוקיר... לזכור...

Documenting Jewish Cemeteries in Poland


Benjamin & Ada in the Jewish Cemetery of Krakow, April 1998

"Forget-Me-Not..."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 Auschwitz, Treblinka, Chelmno, and Meidanek 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:

"Forget-me-not..."

1 Miriam Akavia, "The Price", Sifriat Hapoalim, Tel Aviv 1988 (Hebrew), ISBN: 965-04-2045-2 Translated from Hebrew by Ada Holtzman.

"טריים וחזקים עדיין רשמי ביקורי בפולין (אביב, 1988), ארץ בה נולדתי אני וגיבורי סיפורי.

הם יצאו לקראתי מחצרות בתים נטושים; מדירות זרות הציצו אלי דרך דלתות, שבהם הכרתי כל סדק; מבתים ישנים הם ירדו אלי במדרגות המוכרות לי היטב, וכשהייתי ברחוב - הציצו 㨩י דרך חלונות ריקים וחלולים. בפארקים ציבוריים ראיתי אותם מטיילים בצל האילנות, או נחים על ספסלים שטופי שמש; ילדיהם - ואני ביניהם - משחקים במחבואים בין שיחי לילך, או מסתתרים מאחורי גזעי-עץ עבותים.

הפגישה עמם הייתה כואבת, כי געגועי אליהם לא פגו. בידי הרועדות רציתי לגעת בהם נגיעה של ממש, אך לא יכולתי, כי הם היו ולא היו - כי הם אינם.

בפולין.

 

קשים היו ביקורי בבתי הקברות. כאן קמו אלי לא רק אהובי; כי אם אומה שלמה קמה אלי ממעמקי האדמה, מקברים מתמוטטים ומתפוררים בג'ונגל סבוך שמתפשט סביבם. השורשים מסתעפים ומתהדקים סביב קברי אבותינו ובולעים אותם. המצבות מתרוממות ומתעקמות מלחץ השורשים. המצבות הללו, שהוקמו על קברי מתינו, נאבקות על חייהן...

והן רבות מספור. מלים עבריות, לא מובנות לבני הארץ ההיא אך מובנות לנו, כתובות ביד אמן נחרטו המלים באבן, באותיות כסף וזהב, והן מרכיבות שירי אהבה וקינה, הלל ושבח, כאב ופרדה, חכמה וצער... וכמיהה לציון... מצבות יהודיות מפוארות, נטושות עתה ועזובות באדמת ניכר, בארץ שאין בה עוד יהודים.

בפולין.

 

והמחנות. ששה מליון בני עמנו נספו כאן ולא הובאו לקבורה.

באדמת פולין.

ועתה, בעונת האביב, פרחי בר פורחים סביב אושוויץ, טרבלינקה, סוביבור, חלמנו, ומיידנק וסביב בתי-הקברות היהודיים. ובין הפרחים מתבלט פרח קטן ויפה, שצבעו כצבע השמיים: "אל-תשכחני". צמיחתם הייתה לי כקסם! איך צמחו כאן, כה רבים - רבים מספור - כה יפי㪙 ורעננים, באדמה ספוגת הדם. מראה הפרחים הקטנים מילא את לבי תחושת תודה, על שצמחו שם, על שצבעם כצבע השמיים ושמם: "אל-תשכחני"!

 

 

________

1) מרים עקביא, "המחיר", ספרית הפועלים , הוצאה מחודשת תל אביב, 1988, .ISBN 965 - 04-2045-2

 


Benjamin Yaari near a Matzeva (Tombstone), Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland 1995

The Fence of Grodzisk Mazowiecki Jewish Cemetery, September 1997

 Grodzisk: Aftermath...
After our project was completed (sponsored by Serge Rozenblum of France and Gary Palgon of Atlanta, USA, and 2 books containing with the inscriptions from the last matzevot were transcribed and published, the Jewish Community of Warsaw and the Mayor of Grodzisk, raised the necessary funds, restored the fence and maintain the cemetery on a permanent basis!

 Transcribed from a Matzeva in Czestochowa:

Gustawa Niemiec, ne'e Szpigelman, died in 1924.
Dear Mamma,
Accept these miserable souls, murdered by the
Hitlerian barbarians in the years of 1942-44
Daughter Regina Blajwaser and her children
Daughter Ida Majman Zylbersztein and her children
Daughter Eda and Izydor Uffner
Daughter Cycylia and Moryc Samsonowicz and their children
Daughter Franciszka
Daughter Rozalia
Son Stanislaw and Franeciszka
Son Natan Genowel and his children
Son Roman and Henrika
Son Jakob and Teresa and their daughter
Son Stefan and Halina and their daughter
Rest together at the eternal sleep
We shall never forget you
The only one who survived,
your daughter and your sister
Romana Wajomanow and her husband
Prague Czechoslovakia, May 1948

Ada Holtzman with Zbigniew Lukaszewski, Gombin Cemetery, July 1999


The Matzeva of Sara Gnedil, Daughter of Reuven, Grodzisk Mazowiecki, October 1998

  LINKS

Benjamin Yaari: Documenting Jewish Cemeteries in Poland - Message to the Youth

Benjamin Yaari: To the Youth, Documenting Jewish Cemeteries in Poland (Hebrew - Download)

Ada Holtzman: My Heart Breaks with These Broken Stones (Hebrew- Download)

Ada Holtzman: Abbreviations and Terms Found on Tombstones in Poland (Hebrew/English)

Miriam Gimpel: Headstones Which Tell Stories

Ada Holtzman: Jewish Heritage in Poland

The Commission for Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad - Jewish Poland: The Survey

JewishGen: Online Worldwide Burial Registry - JOWBR

IAJGS/JewishGen: Cemetery Project - the Cemeteries: Poland

 Documenting Jewish Cemeteries in Poland

 The Projects

Town

Coordinates

Location

Number of Jews - 1939

Transcription

Book Published

JOWBR

 

Andrychow

4951 1921

290.5 kilometers SSW of Warsaw

400

Matzevot transcribed in March 2001

 

 

 

Chrzanow

5001924

kilometers SSW of Warsaw

6330

Matzevot transcribed in March 2001

Completed, 2001

 

 

Czestochowa

5048 1907

207.1 kilometers SW of Warsaw

25,588

Completed - 1997

1998 (booklet)

YES 

Landsmanschaften involved.

The Jewish Cemetery of Czestochowa: http://www.zchor.org/CZESTOCH.HTM

Dobrodzien

5044 1827

244.0 kilometers SW of Warsaw

 

Completed

Completed 2000

 

See Krzepica

 

Gąbin (Gombin)

 

5224 1944

87.6 km WNW of Warsaw

 2312

Completed 1997-8

 

 

Matzevot removed from the streets and are back in a Lapidarium, August 1999

Grodzisk Mazowiecki

5207 2038

29.0 kilometers WSW of Warsaw

 3587

Completed 1998

1999

 YES

Two young men commissioned the project: Gary Palgon and Serge Rozenblum

More details see: all the inscriptions from the matzevot transcribed and all tombstones photographed. About the trip, read at: http://www.zchor.org/TRIP1.HTM

Inowlodz

5132 2013

96.1 kilometers SW of Warsaw

518

Completed - 1999

1999

 

 Published

Krakow

5005 1955

252.3 kilometers SSW of Warsaw

 60,000

 Completed - 1998-9

 

 

 Published with Krakow Organization in Israel

Krzepice

5058 1844

211.6 kilometers SW of Warsaw

 1772

 Completed - September 2000

 Completed, 2000

 YES

Losice

5213 2243

16.9 kilometers E of Warsaw

3200

Need to remove Matzevot from private house to cemetery which is now a park.

 

 

 PJCRP involved

Ostrowiec Sw

5056 2124

148.9 kilometers S of Warsaw

 9934

 Completed - 1998

 

 

 

Radomsko

5104 1927

169.4 kilometers SW of Warsaw

2000 - 3000

700 Matzevot transcribed by Israeli youth September 2002 & proofread by Jeff Cymbler

 

 

 

Rozan

5253 2125

75.8 kilometers NNE of Warsaw

 1800 (1931)

Completed.

No Matzevot. Cemetery bought by Mr. Efraim Ben Dor March 2003

 

 

 

Wierzbnik - Starachowice -

5104 2104

131.6 kilometers S of Warsaw

 2159 (1921)

 Completed - 1998-9

 

 

 

Szydlowiec

5114 2051

113.4 kilometers S of Warsaw

 7200

 Completed 1998-2000

 Completed, 2000

 

Tomaszow Mazowiecki

5132 2001

104.4 kilometers SW of Warsaw

13,000

Completed, 1994-5

1996

 YES

Landsmanschaft involved.

Tomaszow Mazowiecki Cemetery Book: http://www.zchor.org/tomaszow/tomaszow.htm

Trzebina

5017 1736

321.9 kilometers SW of Warsaw

1150

Matzevot transcribed in March 2001

Completed 2001

 

See Chrzanow. 

Wadowice

4953 1929

283.5 kilometers SSW of Warsaw

1434

Matzevot transcribed in March 2001

 

 

 

Warta

 

5142 1838

173.1 kilometers WSW of Warsaw

 2000-1500

 Started, September 2000

 

 Completed 2001

 

 Book published Nov 2006!

Wroclaw

5106 1702

301.7 kilometers WSW of Warsaw

1600-2000

Completed September 2002

 

 

 

Zawiercie

5030 1926

222.8 kilometers SSW of Warsaw

 7000

 Completed - 1999/2000

 Completed 2000

 YES

 

Zdunska Wola

5136 1856

159.0 kilometers WSW of Warsaw

 9400

 Completed - 1999-2000

 

 

Project commissioned and completed by ZW Organization in Israel, chairman Yehuda Krol and Prof. Daniel Wagner continued the sacred mission

Web Site Zdunska Wola: http://www.weizmann.ac.il/wagner/ZdunskaWola/Contents.htm also see http://www.zchor.org/zdunska/zdunska.htm

 

Web page was erected in May 2006, last updated: March 25th, 2011

 

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