Częstochowa Commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Day

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January 27, 2023

Words: Andrew Rajcher Photographs: Częstochowa City Council
 

Holocaust Remembrance Day was commemorated in Częstochowa, on 27th January 2023, with the laying of wreathes and the lighting of candles at the monument on Plac Bohaterów Getta (Ghetto Heroes Square). This was once the site of the entrance to the “Small Ghetto”.

Participants in the ceremony included representatives of the Częstochowa City Council, the World Society of Częstochowa Jews and Their Descendants, the Częstochowa Museum, the Częstochowa branch of the Social-Cultural Association of Jews in Poland (TSKŻ), as well as local residents of Częstochowa.



Willenberg Exhibition Opens in Częstochowa

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January 26, 2023

Words and photographs: Andrew Rajcher
 

Coinciding with the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the exhibition, “Samuel Willenberg – a Hero of Two Nations”, opened in Częstochowa’s Town Hall on Thursday evening, 26th January 2023.

Sponsored by the Częstochowa Museum and the Częstochowa branch of the Social-Cultural Association of Jews in Poland (TSKŻ), the exhibition will remain open until 12th February 2023.

Webmaster’s note: I was very proud to attend this event as Samuel “Samek” Willenberg z”l went to school with my mother, Dora Rajcher z”l (nee Moszkowicz) and Samuel’s father, Perec Willenberg z”l, was my mother’s art teacher. During numerous trips to Israel, I was always invited into the Willenberg home and have many happy memories of those occasions.



Webmaster Visits Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery

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January 26, 2023

Words and photographs: Andrew Rajcher
 

On the morning of Thursday 26th January 2023, together with Prof. Jerzy Mizgalski, our Webmaster, Andrew Rajcher, visited the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery.

As can be seen from the photographs below, it has been a long time since so much of our cemetery has been so accessible.

“I have been regularly visiting this cemetery since 1997 and I can’t remember when it has been in such a great condition”, said Andrew.

Of course, so much of the credit must go to our World Society Vice-President, Alon Goldman, who each year, together with many, many volunteers, works hard to bring our cemetery into the condition shown in the photographs. We owe all these people an immense debt of gratitude.



Częstochowa Annual Memorial Meeting in Israel

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November 10, 2022

Words and photographs: Alon Goldman
 

Around seventy first, second and third generations attended the Annual Memorial Meeting of the Association of Częstochowa Jews in Israel, held on 10th November 2022 in Tel Aviv. The emotional meeting marked the 80th anniversary of the Częstochowa ghetto.

The Kaddish memorial prayer was recited by Stephen Glazer, a third generation descendant of the Potasiewicz Częstochowa family, many of whom perished in the Holocaust. This was followed by an interesting lecture by committee member and Poland tour guide, Modi Givon.  His topic was “Treblinka and Auschwitz and What is In-Between”.

Association Chairman Alon Goldman then presented an overview  of the organisation’s activities, over the past year,
aimed at preserving the Jewish heritage of Częstochowa.

Holocaust survivor, Gabi Horowitz, who was six-years-old at the outbreak of the war, spoke about his Yom Kippur on 21st September 21 1942, of what happened to him and his family. Those present were  treated to the singing of Ofri Ben-Shitrit, of the third generation and the granddaughter of the Holocaust survivor Giza Segal (nee Kleiman). The evening was moderated by Modi Givon.

Finally, the Israeli premiere of Krzysztof Kasprzak’s 2019 film “Czestochowa in the Second World War, in the Years 1939-1945” was screened.


At the end of the event, elections were conducted for members of the committee of the Association of Częstochowa Jews in Israel. The results were:

Chairman: Alon Goldman
Treasurer: Tamar Hanoch
Committee: Pnina Paritsky, Galit Perlmutter, Chen Fischhoff
Audit Committee: Michael Chen, Stephen Glaser


80th Anniversary of Deportation of Częstochowa Jews

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September 22, 2022

Words: Alon Goldman Photos: Agencja Wyborcza.pl
 

On 22nd September 1942, the Germans began deporting the Jewish residents of the Częstochowa ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp. In six transports of freight trains, over a two week period ending on 8th October, about 40,000 Jews from Częstochowa and the surrounding area were deported to their deaths.

During the ghetto clearance, about 2,000 ghetto Jews were shot and buried in mass graves on ul. Kavia. Only about 5,000 people survived the “selections” and remained as forced labourers at the HASAG munitions factory.

Marking the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the deportations an emotional ceremony was held on the square of the Częstochowa Jews memorial monument.

Dozens of local high school students, with their banners and flags, the Straż Miejska, dignitaries and guests participated in the ceremony. Attendees also included the son, daughter and six grandchildren of Częstochowa-born author and poet Irit Amiel (Irena Librowicz) z”l, who came from Israel.

The ceremony led by Ms Izabela Sobańska-Klekowska, Chair of the Częstochowa branch of the TSKŻ. Speakers included Deputy Mayor of Częstochowa, Dr. Ryszard Stefaniak, Deputy Chair of Częstochowa City Council, Ms. Jolanta Urbanska, Chairman of the Association of Częstochowa Jews in Israel, Alon Goldman (who also recited the memorial prayer Kaddish) and Oni Amiel, son of Irit Amiel z”l.

Students from the Częstochowa’s Juliusz Słowacki Liceum and Biała Orła Elementary School sang and performed memorial pieces.



Sigmund Rolat Honoured With Huberman Award

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September 16, 2022

Sources: Gazeta Wyborcza, Częstochowa edition, City of Częstochowa

2022 has been designated, by the Częstochowa Philharmonic, as the “Year of Bronisław Huberman”, marking Huberman’s 140th birthday and the 75th anniversary of the  death of the world-famous Jewish violinist, who came from Częstochowa and is the patron of the Philharmonic. Celebrations are held under the patronage of the Speaker of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, the Israeli Ambassador to Poland and the Mayor of Częstochowa.

To mark these anniversaries, the Philharmonic decided to establish the Bronisław Huberman European  Award, which would be presented to people of political, cultural and social merit in creating a community amongst the peoples of Europe, as well between Europe and the USA – something of which Huberman was an ardent supporter.

“The obvious candidate for receiving the first statuette seemed to be the long-time sponsor of the concerts by violin players during the Huberman International Violin Festival and an intermediary in building Polish-American contacts, Sigmund Rolat, who comes from our city”, explained Adam Klocek, Philharmonic Director.

As well as funding the exhibition “The Jews of Częstochowa”, Sigmund is also Chairman of the American Committee supporting the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Thanks to him, stars such as Joshua Bell, Midori, Vadim Repin and Shlomo Mintz have performed at the Częstochowa Philharmonic.

Presentation of the Bronisław Huberman European Award was performed in New York by the Mayor of Częstochowa, Krzysztof Matyjaszczyk, together with the Philharmonic Director, Adam Klocki, and the Deputy Chairman of the Częstochowa City Council, Łukasz Kot.

 Sigmund thanked the municipal authorities and the Philharmonic board and affirmed his further contribution towards building Częstochowa’s music culture. The meeting was also attended by other representatives of the World Society of Częstochowa Jews and their Descendants of which Sigmund is President.



"Czenstochower Yizkerbuch" - a Yizkor Book Like No Other

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July 3, 2022

Sources: Mark W. Kiel

Chonon Kiel z”l (1908-1998), formerly Kielczygłowski, was born to a merchant family in Częstochowa. During the war, his family dispersed. Chonon fled to the Soviet-occupied sector of Poland, but was deported to a gulag. When he was freed from the gulag in 1942, Częstochowa Jewry was being annihilated. He married before the war and had a daughter, Ruth. Her mother, Sarka, was murdered in Auschwitz, while Ruth survived in a convent.

Having survived the war, he married his deceased wife’s sister, Liza and, together with his daughter, settled permanently in New York, where his son, Mark, was born in 1948.

Chonon was truly multi-talented. He was best known as a Yiddish poet and lecturer. As an artist, he worked in numerous media. He illustrated journals and designed covers for his colleague’s books.

In the Yizkerbukh, the text and iconography become an instrument of eternal remembrance. He executed the tome in watercolour, pastel, crayon, magic marker, pencil, and pen and ink.

As Survivors began to die, some families insisted that the names of the recently departed, as well as those who had died before the war, be included – along with those who had perished in the Holocaust. Although this was contrary to Kiel’s initial vision of the book as a strictly Holocaust memorial, he was flexible and acceded to their wishes.

The illustrations, as illuminated manuscripts do, shift the experience of remembering to a complementary aesthetic experience through a symbolism readily recognisable to the Survivors.

For the Survivors, the words are primary and are the whole point of Yizkor. But, as the Survivor generation fades, for others, those who have no personal connection to the names, the illustrations take the forefront.

Nevertheless, the recurrent words of the translated Hebrew and Yiddish texts serve as a powerful reminder of the book’s original purpose.

With the artist’s guidance, Survivors found their authentic voice reflected in the traditional pictorial and textual vocabulary of the book.

For Chonon Kiel, creating the Yizkerbukh was not only a labour of love, but also, undoubtedly, a catharsis, a relief from the pain and longing that was always with him over the loss of his beloved Czenstochow.

“CZENSTOCHOWER YIZKERBUKH”

HAS BEEN PUBLISHED, IN LIMITED EDITION (125 pages),

BY THE AUTHOR’S SON, MARK W. KIEL.

COPIES CAN BE PURCHASED BY EMAILING MARK: rwmk@aol.com



2022 Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery Clean-Up

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June 12, 2022

Words: Alon Goldman Photographs: Asia Sidorowicz and Steven D. Reece

On an almost annual basis, Alon Goldman, Vice-President of the World Society of Częstochowa Jews & Their Descendants and Chairman of the Association of Częstochowa Jews is Israel, has organised and led a clean-up of the Częstochowa Jewish cemetery. Over time, Alon has been joined by volunteers from various organisations, both adults and young people in this holy work.


DAY 1: Tuesday, 7th June 2022

The work of cleaning up the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery has begun.

On the first day of the work, Alon was joined by our dedicate partner, Dr Steven Rees of the Matzevah Foundation, the World Society’s great friend in preserving our Jewish heritage Krzysztof Straus, members of the ADULLAM Foundation of Częstochowa and students of the M. Skłodowska-Curie Zespół Szkół Gastronomicznych, the VIII Liceum Ogólnoksztacące Samorządowe in Częstochowa, the ZSE-Zespół Szkół Ekonomicznych in Częstochowa, the Romuald Traugutt II Liceum in Częstochowa and the Zespół Szkół Technicznych in Częstochowa.

Today, work was carried out in a particularly difficult area, containing extremely dense vegetation. Following the removal of this vegetation, two discoveries were made:

    • the base of a mass grave from the 1919 pogrom, and
    • a water well, which had served the Bet Tahara (House of Purity), in which the deceased were prepared for burial.


DAY 2: Wednesday, 8th June 202

The second day’s work in Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery came with a challenge – the rain.

Despite this, the challenge was overcome together with Dr Steven Rees of the Matzevah Foundation, members of the ADULLAM Foundation of Częstochowa and high school students of the VIII Liceum Ogólnoksztacące Samorządowe in Częstochowa, the Zespół Szkół Samochdowych-Budowlanych in Częstochowa, the Romuald Traugutt II Liceum in Częstochowa and the TZN-Techniczne Zaklady Naukowe in Częstochowa

Work continued in an area where the vegetation was particularly dense. Slowly, the area was exposed and tombstones, which had previously been hidden by that thick vegetation, were exposed.

Today’s work was greatly assisted by a mulching machine, which was hired in order to dispose of the waste from the vegetation and tree branches.


DAY 3: Thursday, 9th June 2022

The weather eases up a little, but the rain continues intermittently. Today, we were joined by student volunteers from the Gen. W. Anders Zespół Szkół in Częstochowa, the Zespół Szkół Technicznych in Częstochowa and the Jan Kochanowski Zespół Szkół in Częstochowa.

We had the honor of hosting the Israeli Ambassador to Poland, Yacov Livne, who, with Alon Goldman, visited the city’s Jewish heritage site. The highlight of the day was the unveiling ceremony of the re-built tomb of the mass grave of the fighters, who, 22nd April 1943, attacked the Eastern Railway (Ostbahn).

                  • Click HERE to read about the operation in English, Polish and Hebrew.
                  • Click HERE to view the unveiling ceremony of the re-built monument.


DAY 4: Friday, 10th June 2022

Today, the weather was pleasant, which enabled the work to continue apace. A particular highlight for our World Society Vice-President, Alon Goldman. In the area that had been cleared of thick vegetation, he found the graves and matzevot of his great-great-great-grandparents, Izaak Dov and Chana Glikson. Such a great find rewarding Alon’s long and hard work for our Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery.

Also, Aleksandra Kaczmarek, from the Zespół Szkół Samochdowych-Budowlanych in Częstochowa, managed to uncover and clean the matzevah of Łucja Gradshtein, who died on 12th October 1902, when she was 16 years old.

Many of the matzevot are extremely heavy and, when uncovered, require a real team effort to turn them over and to prevent any further damage.

Again, many  thanks to the volunteers from the Adullam Foundation of Częstochowa,  led by Robert Kamela, and also to the students from  Gen. W. Anders Zespół Szkół , the Stefan Żeromski Zespół Szkół Technicznych i Ogólokształcących, the Zespół Szkół Samochdowych-Budowlanych in Częstochowa and, of course, to our partner Pastor Dr Steven D. Reece.


DAY 5: Sunday, 12th June 2022

The rain is falling, but the work continues nonetheless.

Today was people’s day, where we invited the people of Częstochowa to join us in the clean-up of the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery.

We were also joined by “Team Tadeusz” – a group of twenty-eight wonderful people, who traveled by bus (supplied by Alon Goldman) more than 120 kilometres, from Łódź to Częstochowa, to help us in our holy task. We sincerely thank Tadeusz Ołubek for organising his amazing team.


DAY 6: Monday, 14th June 2022

Volunteers from the Adullam Foundation of Częstochowa and students from the Jan Kochanowski Zespół Szkół in Częstochowa are mainly engaged in collecting branches left in piles. The mulching machine continues to operate non-stop, grinding the piles of branches created by “Team Tadeusz” on Sunday.

If there are still branches to be cleared away and mulched, some clean-up will take place tomorrow.

As this was the final day of our 2022 clean-up, it’s appropriate to thank many people:

              • our World Society Vice-President, Alon Goldman
              • Adullam Foundation of Częstochowa
              • the Matzevah Foundation
              • the director of the Gen. W. Anders Zespół Szkół, who assisted in recruiting the high school students for the work
              • all the amazing teachers and students from the various Częstochowa schools
              • Tadeusz Ołubek and his wonderful cleaning team from Lódź
              • Rafał Piotrowski, head of the Częstochowa Municipal Education Department, and Iwona Brzeżowska
              • Andrzej Szczerba, director of the Environment Protection Department for his help in the removal of waste from the cemetery
              • Asia Sidorowicz (pic above), for her wonderful photography, documenting the event,
              • and our partner Pastor Dr Steven D. Reece, who is so committed to preserving Jewish heritage and Christian-Jewish dialogue.

Thank you everyone and we hope to see you all again next year!


Together, with your support, we can do much more!

!יחד עם התמיכה שלכם נוכל לעשות הרבה יותר

The Association of Częstochowa Jews in Israel supports these works by financing the purchase of tools and gloves,
as well as protection against ticks and mosquitoes.

We also hire skilled aborists and mulching machines as needed.

Together, with your support and contribution, we can do more! A donation to support our activities can be made as detailed below:


Unveiling of Rebuilt "Operation Ostbahn" Victims' Tombstone

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June 9, 2022

Words: Alon Goldman Photos: Asia Sidorowicz
 

An unveiling ceremony took place today at the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery. Unveiled was the rebuilt tombstone on the mass grave of the victims of “Operation Ostbahn” which took place on 23rd April 1943.

The ceremony took place in the presence of the Israeli Ambassador to Poland, Mr. Yacov Livne, and with the participation of the Deputy Mayor of Częstochowa, Dr. Ryszard Stefaniak, Deputy Chair of the Częstochowa City Council, Ms. Jolanta Urbańska, Chair of the Częstochowa branch of the TSKŻ, Ms. Izabela Sobańska-Klekowska, Rabbi Yehoshua Ellis and many other guests.

To learn more about “Operation Ostbahn” (in English, Polish and Hebrew), click HERE

The event was also attended by many students,
who came with their school banners, with students from the J. Słowacki Liceum performing a number of songs.

The renewal of this tombstone is the result of the hard work, with the Polish authorities, of Alon Goldman over the past two years.
He is currently working to renew the four tombstones of the mass graves of the intelligentsia.

The World Society sincerely thanks the City of Częstochowa, which organised this dignified and moving ceremony.


Częstochowa Commemorates 79th Anniversary of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

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April 21, 2022

Source: Jolanta Urbańska Photographs: Asia Sidorowicz

Ceremonies commemorating the 79th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising were held in Częstochowa on Samuel Willenberg Square, at the Memorial to the Jews of Częstochowa.

The event was organised by the Częstochowa branch of the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland, Częstochowa branch. The City of Częstochowa was represented Deputy Mayor Dr. Ryszard Stefaniak and Jolanta Urbańska, Deputy Chair of the Częstochowa City Council.

According to Cr. Urbańska,  advisor to the Częstochowa Mayor on Jewish community matters, “The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising broke out on 19th April 1943, however the Częstochowa commemoration took place two days later for a good reason. Students and young people were free on that day and we wanted them to participate in this event. It is important that they know the history, especially in the face of the current events in Ukraine”.

Later, young people from Częstochowa schools presented an artistic program. The commemoration concluded with the laying of flowers and symbolic yellow daffodils at the monument.

And this is how local Częstochowa television station, ORION TV, covered the event: