In memory of Hrubieszow's Victims of the Holocaust

Prologue on the activities and deeds

The commemorative activities carried out in Hrubieszow in recent years are an example and model for other Jewish communities that were destroyed during the Holocaust, this subject must be attend to also for the generations to come. In discussing the secret of the success of these much praised activities, it is worth taking a look at the first activities, each of whom contributed, in this own way, to converting the memory of the Holocaust to the next generations. 

Among the activities since the association of former residents of Hrubieszow was established in 1960, far-ranging activities were undertaken, which, from time to time, were reinvigorated by new initiatives. This brief report summarizes major activities during the past five decades:

  • Interment of the Martyrs' Ashes and Unveiling of an Monument at Nahalat Yitzhak cemetery (near Tel Aviv), a Monument commemorating our community and the localities in its vicinity.
  • Annual memory evening at the Z.O.A. House, a perpetuation of memory of Hrubieszow martyrs, through subsidizing literary works and through artistic performance remembrance ceremonies on the theme of holocaust, of which the Jews of Hrubieszow and European Jewry in general were victims.
  • Scholarship funds for young students on the name of "Hrubieszow martyrs fund", a generous contribution raised by the Drucker family, provided thereby the financial basis for the undertaking. A registered fund as a non-profit society, in the status of the fund it was stated: "Every descendant of a member of the society shall be entitled to submit a request for scholarship grant, for the purpose of pursuing studies at an institution of higher learning in Israel.
  • The adoption by the Hankin School in Holon, in order to keep the memory of our town. Within the framework of this adoption, the pupils, especially those of the senior seventh and eighth grade, to learn all they can about the life of our community, its prominent personages, its institutions and political parties.
  • The Golda and Lejb Orenstein Sheltered Housing Center for Holocaust Survivors, In Kiryat Ono.
  • Annual students visit from Israel to Hrubieszow.
  • Repairing and building a new fence surrounds the Jewish cemetery in Hrubieszow.
  • Updating our addresses files including mailing list.
  • The erection of a Lobby dedicated to the Children Department, at Wolfson Hospital in Holon.
  • Computerized web-site of our organization
  • A Compact Disk (CD) presentation of Hrubiezow and its history.
  • The publishing of several books and booklets, covering the role of the founders of our organization, their personalities and activities: Benyamin Yanover, Meir Hoffmand Avraham Zimmerman and others.

We are proud to introduce these books in brief to our beloved residents of Hrubieszow, who speak the English language as a review of activities, a deed of commemoration and remembrance of the Holocaust, as well as perpetuation of our town and its heritage. 

In" Pinkas Hrubieszow" first published in 1962, describes Baruch Kaplinsky the editor, as a prologue, his longingly feelings to the town of Hrubieszow, he says…"I have never been in Hrubieszow. I have never seen its streets and alleys, its schools and "shtieblech", its bridges and rivers, its communal leaders and its institutions. I have never been in the Broditzer Grove, on the Pobreczaner road, on the Poherie or near the Shlicze; I never went for a walk on Panske or "lehavdil" on the Shool street. 

Nevertheless, after having studied all materials, texts, memoranda and written evidence on Hrubieszow, I see in my mind's eye: alive, fresh and authoritative. It is not one Hrubieszow that I see; I see a good many; I see the Hrubieszow of 30-40 years. I see the Chassidishe youth, attired in their Shabbat or holiday best, walking along the aristocratic Pansker street. They carry books stuck under their armpits, following with their eyes the girls who are also walking along the street, cracking melon-seeds and meanwhile discussing Socialism, Liberty and Social Justice. It is said that they are "related" to the strikes and sympathize whole-heartedly and articulately with the social revolution. 

Now they stop at the stand of Nathan Zeide's, or at Abeles place. They drink a glass of soda water and chew on a bun, the while intoning under their breath "Huliet, beize Winten, (Shriek, Shriel, furious Winds) or "techezakna, yedei kol acheino" (strengthened be the hands of all our brethren). Now I see them the previous year; they sit in the "Alkire" or Trisker, or at the Husiatiner Shtiebel. What are they doing their? …It sounds as if hey rehearsing a new Chassidic tune. They start by murmuring it under their breath, then whisper it almost soundlessly, and then, all at once, they wax enthusiastic in their ecstasy, savouring the tune to the full. 

After some time their elders come and drive them out of the Shtiebel with clenched fists: "out with you, shkotzim; such a scandal". Why are these fanatic Chassidim so angry? Why are they so full of wrath? Probably they had heard a report that these youths were reading "Hatzfira" (newspaper) or peruse "Hazman", carry about "small" books and arrogantly argue hat "Yiddishkeit" was made for Jews, and not the other way about. Or, maybe their "sin" is exchanging their Jewish headgear for something more modern, or cutting short their prayers and eschewing facial contortions during prayers. 

Such arrogance, such a shame! 

The banished youths take refuge in Fischer's "heizel" or at the guest-house of Brenner, or at the premises of Hahomer Htzaiir, and sing all together with gusts: Od lo avda tikvateino". With their former Chassidic ecstasy at the Shteibel, they go out on Lag-Baomer day or on May Day to the Broditzer Grove to exchange views and hopes, and dream about a Jewish state of Zion and Jerusalem. 

This is one kind of Hrubieszow; the Hrubieszow of the years thirty and forty. 

But there were other Hrubieszows, other and no less meaningful. Now, I see the Hrubieszow of the "Minyan" and Baal Shem Tov, the Hrubieszow of 200 years ago. 

I see the ten lean, dried "Lamed-Vavnikes", skin and bones and fiery eyes. They sit day and night in the Great Beth-Hamidrash, at the bug table, porting over the sacred books, fasting and deciding fateful issues. Let redemption come! Let the Massiah come! 

And who knows whether the Minyan of the ten Hrubieszow "Lamed-Vavnikes" would not have brought about the "Geula", if Rabbi Israel Sara's had not authoritatively decided: this generation is not ripe as yet. Thus, at any rate, goes the story at Hrubieszow, told at the Beth-Midrash behind the big heating-stove. 

Now I see Hrubieszow of 500 years ago. 

Forty years before that, in the year 1400, Hrubieszow was still a village. Possibly there were Jews already living in village of Hrubieszow But apparently they had no historical sense. As a result, we have ptactically no idea about their lives and achievements. Thus, the first known details about Hrubieszow jewry date from 1440. The first known Jew was Eliahu. Nobody knows whence he came to Hrubieszow, or anything about his family; worries or joys. Had irt not been for the fact that he used to travel from Hrubieszow to Kiev via Lutzk to purchase horses or hides, no trace of his existence would have remained. It is due to a short notice un a document of that time that we know of Eliahu in 1440. Possibly, this Eliahu of 1440 struck roots in Hrubieszow and that this distant descendants living today do not even know that Eliahu's blood flows in their vein. 

A contemporary of Eliahu was a man Itzhak Sokolowitz by name. It appears that he had quite a substantial fortune in Hrubieszow. The historian, Itzhak Schipper, tells us that hus operations extended over a wide field. 

This is only a brief glimpse of the first Jewish elements in Hrubieszow, 500 years ago. These elements did no expand rapidly, because we find that in 1555 there were still only 13 Jews living in 4 houses in Hrubieszow. Nine years later we find 40 Jews in 5 houses. They do not as yet build up a congregation, but they constitute the nucleus of congregation. 

The major part of the book "pinkas Hrubieszow" is devoted to Hrubieszow during the first part of the twentieth century. During this period Hrubieszow was still a small orthodox town, but a new spirit was discernible among its youh, which found expression on two organized camps: Zionist and Socialists firmly believed in, and strenuously fought for, their new ideals, whilst preserving their Cgassidic beliefs which they inherited from their parents. 
The continuous development of the Hrubieszow community following the first world war was shattered by the inhuman annihilation of its seven thousand families in the course of the second world war. And again I see the Shool street, the Lubelsky, the Rinek and the Gorne. Now you no longer hear a single Jewish word. The Shtieblech, the Bathei-Midrash, the houses and the shops are mute. They may have the same signboards, but other names. 
The community, founded by Reb Eliahu in 1440, was annihilated in 1942 with unheard of brutality: out of seven thousand families there remained only graves and tombstones. 

I meant to write only a few lines, but there emerged from my pen a short historical survey of several Jewish Hrubieszows over a period of 20 generations, depicting a good deal od suffering, but perhaps no less sources of gratification. 

How could we ignore the pioneers, those who laid the foundation-stone of the Hrubieszow community 500 years ago, and those who have built the first and then the upper storey 300, 200 and 100 years ago? Could we consign to oblivion all those Jews who came to Hrubieszow from south, west and east, and who put a flourishing community on the banks of Hutchva and the Bug river, on the frontiers of "little Poland" and Wholyn?...No! It is for this reason hat we now bring out this book…"Pinkas Hrubieszow". And later on this web-site that you are tuned to. This is a memorial tablet on the tomb of twenty Jewish generations in Hrubieszow, a survey of 500 years in the life of small Jewish town in this so cold "LITTLE POLAND". 

Unfortunately, the details and the data available on this 20 generation are very paucity, fragmentary and sometimes unreliable. Our few word should, therefore symbolize volumes. Let our unavoidable silence over many episodes and facts cry out and tell the story of 20 links in chain of Hrubieszow community's life, of its achievements and hopes, of which there now remains the "Pinkas Hrubieszow". (Gathered and Edited by Zvi Einat)