Częstochowa Roundabout Named in Honour of Leon Silberstein z"l

Source: Text – Alan Silberstein, Photographs – Marcin Szpadrowski

Latest News

February 21, 2024

Twenty relatives and descendants of Leon Silberstein z”l, from the United States and Israel gathered in Częstochowa, together with city officials and civic leadership, to commemorate Silberstein’s heroism, as a partisan, who saved hundreds from death during the Holocaust. The ceremony was held at the Leon Silberstein Roundabout (Pol. Rondo) named in his honour by the Częstochowa City Council in April 2023.

The commemoration was officiated by Katarzyna Ozimek, Director of the Częstochowa Museum. Other speakers included Częstochowa Mayor Krzysztof Matyjaszczyk, Deputy Mayor Ryszard Stefaniak, Deputy Chairman of the City Council Łukasz Kot, head of the Centre for Documentation of the History of Częstochowa Dr. Juliusz Sętowski and Leon’s son Alan Silberstein.

During the event, those assembled heard students of the Juliusz Słowacki High School sing
the Jewish Partisan anthem (“Zog Nit Kayn Mol“) in Polish, English and Yiddish.

Following the Rondo dedication, a memorial service was held at the Częstochowa Holocaust Monument, at Samuel Willenberg Square. The ceremony was officiated by Izabela Sobańska-Klekowska, Chair of the Częstochowa branch of the Social-Cultural Association of Jewish in Poland (TSKŻ). Prayers were recited and wreaths were laid.

The Leon Silberstein Story:

In the decade before the war, Leon and Rose Silberstein created a thriving factory, which made bicycle parts and accessories. When the Germans occupied the city and took over his factory, Silberstein persuaded the German authorities that he should be employed to maintain and renovate civilian infrastructure in the area into which the German officers were moving. To assist with this work, he was authorised to recruit some twenty craftsmen in different trades (e.g. electrical, carpentry, plumbing, draperies, locksmith), who were assigned to locations throughout the city. To be able to supervise his workforce, Silberstein used a bicycle to travel freely, one of the few Jews so permitted. The bicycle was a symbol of his authority.

What the Germans never learned was that his team was acting undercover as a brigade of the Jewish partisans. They gathered information, conducted sabotage, identified traitors and carried out executions, often in cooperation with the Armia Krajowa (Home Army) and Armia Ludowa (People’s Army). They also saved hundreds of Jews, hiding them in bunkers and attics, transporting them out of the ghetto, or into the HASAG labour camp following the liquidation of the ghetto.Silberstein’s group was given the task of bringing furniture from Jewish apartments after the liquidation. In those apartments, they often found Jews in hiding with no way to flee to safety. These survivors were hidden in the wagons carrying the furniture to the Möbellager warehouse, where they found refuge in the attic. Among the Jewish children hidden in that attic were his nephews Jacob Shacharon and Sigmund Rolat.

Częstochowa Mayor Krzysztof Matyjaszczyk and City Council Deputy Chair Łukasz Kot learned Silberstein’s story, when they traveled to New York City in 2022, to accept the United Nations “World Bicycle Day” Award for their initiatives to make Częstochowa “bicycle friendly.” Hearing of the reason for their trip, Sigmund’s son, Geoffrey Rolat, told them about his uncle’s war-time activities and the importance of bicycles in his life. Upon returning to Poland, they considered how to honour his heroism, which was verified by the Centre for Documentation of the History of Częstochowa. In April 2023, Częstochowa City Council Vice-Chair Jolanta Urbańska proposed to name the Rondo, which connects to the World Bicycle Day Bridge over the Warta River, the “Leon Silberstein Rondo”. The proposal was approved.


Częstochowa TSKŻ Commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Latest News

January 22, 2024

Source: Text – Izabela Sobańska-Klekowska, Photographs – Asia Sidorowicz

On the afternoon of Sunday 22nd January 2024, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp, the Częstochowa branch of the TSKŻ began its commemoration at the Częstochowa Holocaust memorial monument on Samuel Willenberg Square.

In the laying of flowers and lighting of candles, members of the Częstochowa TSKŻ were joined by Dr. Jolanta Urbańska, Deputy Chair of the Częstochowa City Council, Katarzyna Ozimek, Director of the Częstochowa Municipal Museum, Elżbieta Ferenc, President of the “Adullam” Foundation, Dr. Juliusz Sętowski, History of Częstochowa Documentation Centre, friends from the ‘‘Stare Miasto Nowe Życie” organisation, family members of the Righteous Among the Nations, students form the Gen. Władysław Anders High School and residents of Częstochowa.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, all gathered together holding “WE REMEMBER” signs.

The ceremony at the monument was followed by a lecture, at the Częstochowa TSKŻ rooms, by Wiesław Paszkowski of the History of Częstochowa Documentation Centre. His lecture was entitled “The Face of the Holocaust in Częstochowa”.

The lecture focused on the resistance movement in the Częstochowa ghetto, as well as on the living conditions and the fight for survival. The subject was of particular interest to the youth who attended the event.

Concluding the evening, there was a minute’s silence in memory of those who perished, followed by a group photograph to mark the event.


Częstochowa Jews in Israel Hold Annual Memorial Evening

Latest News

December 19, 2023

Source: Alon Goldman

The Association of Częstochowa Jews in Israel held its annual Memorial Evening on Tuesday 19th December 2023 at Levinsky College in Tel Aviv. The event marked the 81st anniversary of the liquidation of the Częstochowa Ghetto and was held despite the ongoing threat to Israel within its borders.

Following the recitation of Kaddish by Tzvika Welgreen, a member of the second generation, Alon Goldman, Chairman of the Association of Częstochowa Jews in Israel, reviewed the activities being carried out in Częstochowa and around the world to preserve the Częstochowa’s Jewish heritage. He also outlined the challenges we face regarding the preservation and restoration of the city’s Jewish cemetery.

To view the slideshow of Alon Goldman’s presentation, click HERE.

Modi Givon, presenting a talk on the subject, “Why a Hebrew Song”, spoke of the place and importance of a song whose content reflected events of the time in the experiences of a nation – in times of joy, as well as in times of pain – in contrast to those songs about events and emotion which are just fleeting.

Concluding the evening, Cedric Olivestone told the amazing story of his relative, Rabbi Benzion Oliwenstein, a Częstochowa dayan – “Bringing Uncle Ben from Częstochowa to Jerusalem”.

To read more about the story, click HERE.

To view the video of the story, click HERE.


Częstochowa TSKŻ Celebrates Chanukkah

Latest News

December 13, 2023

Source: TSKŻ Częstochowa

As every year, Częstochowa’s Jewish community, as well as the city’s supporters of Jewish culture, took part in a celebration of Chanukkah – the Festival of Lights.

The festival commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem and the subsequent re-dedication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE.

The candle-lighting ceremony, a concert and refreshments were organised, in its social rooms, by the Częstochowa branch of the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland (TSKŻ).

The beautiful venue for the event, the TSKŻ social rooms, is in the same building as the Jewish Museum of Częstochowa, located ul Katedralna 8, in the Częstochowa Old Town.


Częstochowa Commemorates Beginning of Ghetto Liquidation

Latest News

September 22, 2023

Source: Text – Alon Goldman, Photographs – Krzysztof Straus and Malgorzata Kaim

A large crowd attended the ceremony, commemorating the 81st anniversary of the liquidation of the Częstochowa Jewish Ghetto, held in front of the Jewish memorial monument on Samuel Willenberg Square.

This is the place from where trains departed, transporting 40,000 Jews from Częstochowa to their deaths in Treblinka extermination camp.

The Częstochowa City Council was represented by Deputy Mayor, Dr. Ryszard Stefaniak, the Deputy Chairman of the City Council (pic below, right) and the Mayor’s Advisor for Jewish Community Affairs, Dr. Jolanta Urbanska.

The ceremony was organised and moderated by the Chair of the Częstochowa branch of the TSKŻ (Jewish Social-Cultural Association), Izabela Sobańska-Klekowska (pic below, left).

The ceremony also attended by representatives from several Częstochowa schools and of the Straż Miejska (Municipal Guard). Students from the Częstochowa Juliusz Słowacki Liceum Ogólnokształcące performed musical items.

At the conclusion of the formal proceedings, wreaths were laid at the foot of the monument.

Click above link to view how Częstochowa’s Orion TV covered the event.


Częstochowa Students Commemorate the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Latest News

September 20, 2023

Source: Alon Goldman

For many years, students of Juliusz Słowacki Liceum Ogólnokształcące in Częstochowa, under the leadership of Director Malgorzata Kaim, have been involved in activities aimed at preserving the Jewish heritage of Częstochowa.

On 20th September 2023, a two-part event was held to mark the conclusion of the “Miła 18” Project conducted by the school’s students.

The “Mila 18” Project was organised by the Warsaw Ghetto Museum, the Warsaw branch of the TSKŻ (Jewish Social and Cultural Association), Warsaw Branch), together with the Częstochowa Museum.

 

The concluding event was in two parts – the first  taking place at the Słowacki Liceum, while the second part was held at the Częstochowa Jewish Museum.

According to school Director Malgorzata Kaim:

“Thanks to participating in the project, regarding the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the school’s students were able to touch history which is still alive, take part in archaeological workshops and see, for themselves, objects which were discovered that testify to the daily life and culture of the local Jewish population.

Workshops within the “Miła 18 Project” allowed the younger generation to look at things from a different perspective because, in order to really understand history, you have to feel it.  Ordinary objects such as a makeup box, a tin can or a metal plate, remind us that the Ghetto residents fought to: Save Humanity, Save Memory, Save lives.

The first part of the event took place at the
Juliusz Słowacki Liceum Ogólnokształcące in Częstochowa
.

Teachers and students presented the assembled guests with a verbal and musical presentation entitled “To Save”.

During the ceremony, important issues were emphasised regarding the need to remember the history of Polish Jews during the Holocaust and the need to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.

The poetic and musical montage, which was prepared and presented, was not only a summary of the project itself, but it was mainly a form of tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.

To watch a video of the event, click HERE.

The event was attended by the head of the Częstochowa Municipal Education Department, Rafał Piotrowski.

Pictured right, (L-R):

  • Chair of the Częstochowa branch of the TSKŻ, Izabela Sobańska-Klekowska,
  • Częstochowa City Council Deputy Chair and advisor to the Mayor on Jewish community affairs, Jolanta Urbańska,
  • Director of the Juliusz Słowacki Liceum Ogólnokształcące, Malgorzata Kaim and
  • Barbara Jastrzębska-Mucha, daughter of “Righteous among the Nations”, the late Bogdan Jastrzębski, who saved his Jewish girlfriend’s life during the war.

 

On 11th October 2023, the students of Juliusz Słowacki Liceum Ogólnokształcące in Częstochowa will meet with the students of the Ironi Heh Yitzchak Navon High School from Modi’in, Israel, who will arrive at the Polish high school as part of their journey to Poland.  The relationship between the schools now goes back several years. During the COVID pandemic, student meetings continued to be held via ZOOM.


The 2023 Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery Clean-Up is Done!

Latest News

June 17, 2023

Words: Alon Goldman, The Matzevah Foundation Photos: Asia Sidorowicz

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.

At this year’s work’s end, Alon Goldman said:

One of the main factors of success is due to Piotr Sadowski,who joined us for the week with his chainsaw. Throughout the week, without any problems, he very successfully dealt with the cutting of the trunks which, for many years, had fallen onto the ground, fallen onto gravestones. The broken branches and the bushes had blocked the a pathway and access to the area and the tombstones within it. Thank you Piotr!

The work is not finished and now, when I get home, thanks to the photos taken by Asia Sidorowicz, I will begin checking which of the uncovered tombstones appear on the map and what needs to be updated.

To all the students and teachers of Częstochowa high schools, who came and participated in the cleaning work of the cemetery – a huge thank you!

To my dear friends, from The Matzevah Fundation and its Chairman Pastor Dr. Steven D. Reece and the volunteer Romero sisters and Paweł Kulig of the “Guardians of Remembrance” – thank you friends!

Thank you also to:

    • our friends from the Fundacja Chrześcijańska Adullam from Czestochowa, Director Elżbieta Ferenc, Robert Kamela and the volunteers for the logistical assistance and the daily work.
    • our friends, Krzysztof Straus, who is always ready to help with any task, to attorney
    • Paweł Andrecki, who organized a work group and came with his friends to help with the work
    • Rafał Piotrowski, Director of the Częstochowa Municipal Education Department in the city of Czestochowa, for his cooperation and turning the cleaning work of the cemeteries into an educational project to the students of Częstochowa schools
    • Iwona Brzeżowska, the Principal of the General Anders High School for recruiting the schools and arranging their daily wor
    • Rabbi Seth Linfield and students of the Dartmouth University Hillel for joining us for several days of work.
    • The Mayor of Częstochowa, Krzysztof Matyjaszczyk for his cooperation,
    • Andrzej Szczerba, Environmental Department Director, for his help in the restoration of the tombstones of the mass graves of the murdered Jewish intelligentsia and for his assistance in the cemetery cleaning work
    • Robert Jasiak, Culture and Sports Department Director, for organising the ceremony for the unveiling of the three tombstones of the mass graves of the murdered Jewish intelligentsia.
    • Izabela Sobańska-Klekowska, Chairman of the Częstochowa branch of the TSKŻ, and
    • Councillor Jolanta Urbanska, Advisor to the Mayor of Częstochowa on Jewish Community Affairs and Deputy Chairman of the Częstochowa City Council.

For 2023, the work is done – Kol Ha’Kavod to you all!

If you would like to donate to help support the future work of cleaning the Częstochowa Jewish cemetery, details appear at the bottom of this page.


DAY 1: Monday, 12th June 2023

The 2023 major clean-up of the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery is underway! This year, volunteers from The Matzevah Foundation and Steven D. Reece and the Fundacja Chrześcijańska Adullam (Adullam Foundation) were joined by students of the Zespół Szkół Ekonomicznych (Economics High School).

The sides of the main pathway trail were quickly filled with fallen tree trunks which had been cut into pieces to enable removal from the cemetery. In some cases, the removal of branches and bushes revealed hid graves. In some places, for the first time, it was possible to see the cemetery fence from the pathway.

During the works, several unfamiliar graves – some hidden in dirt and some having fallen face-down. Very carefully, these were uncovered.


DAY 2: Tuesday, 13th June 2020

This morning, students from the Częstochowa Technical High School (Zespół Szkół Technicznych) joined in the work. Today, much of the work was concentrated in the area to the left of the cemetery entrance.

The challenge was to clear the wall of the bushes which covered gravestones and prevented free passage between the graves and the wall. From the morning, Piotr Sadowski resolutely wielded his saw, pruning the tangled wild bushes and the fallen tree trunks which blocked the passage

Volunteers from the Adulam Foundation, The Matzevah Foundation and the high school students dragged the branches and tree trunks, creating piles to be cleared or shredded.

In the afternoon, World Society friends Paweł Andrecki, Krzysztof Straus and other good people from Częstochowa joined in the work and helped with two more chain saws. The melody of the saws successfully dealing with the wild vegetation was music to the ears. The two new wheelbarrows, which were purchased yesterday, were put to work at top speed and were used in moving the tree trunks to the pathway in order to be removed.

During the day, we were visited by the head of the Municipal Education Department, Rafał Piotrowski, who came to ensure that everything was fine and that his students were doing their job to the best of their ability – and indeed they were!

Tomorrow, around twenty-five students from Dartmouth University Hillel will join in the work. This evening, they were told a little of the history of the Częstochowa Jews and what work will await them  on the morrow


DAY 3: Wednesday, 14th June 2023

The clean-up work in the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery continued with volunteers from the Adulam Foundation, The Matzevah Foundation and students from the General Sikorski Technical Science High School.

Also, joining in today’s work were around thirty students of the Dartmouth University Hillel from the United States.

The students and volunteers continued to clear the area of tree trunks, branches and bushes, which then uncovered more and more areas which had been inaccessible for years. The wood chipping machine began its work today and, gradually, the piles of branches were turned into mulch. Piotr continued, admirably, working with his saw to cut  back bushes and expose matzevot, which had been hidden for nearly eighty years.

One such matzevah was that of Chana bat Szalom Neuman, who died on 6th November 1848 and, today, her tombstone was uncovered, for the first time, from under the dirt and grime. The area will continue to be examined in an attempt to identify more hidden tombstones.


DAY 4: Thursday, 15th June 2023

Today, we farewelled our friend Pastor Steven D. Reece and the volunteers of The Matzevah Foundation and welcomed another friend, Paweł Kulig from the Guardians of Remembrance of Łódź.

Pawel, an expert in cleaning Jewish cemeteries, is routinely involved in cleaning the large Łódż Jewish Cemetery and came to help us in our work.

Robert Kamela and the volunteers of the Fundacja Chrześcijańska Adullam of Częstochowa and the students from Dartmouth University Hillel from the USA are finishing their work with us today. However, also today, we were joined by students of the Zespół Szkół Przemysłu Mody i Reklamy im. W.S. Reymonta (W.S.Raymont School of Fashion and Advertising).

Following yesterday’s rain, the sun smiled on our work. More and more area is being exposed and the bushes which, for many years, covered gravestones, are piled up where the shredding machine turns them into mulch.

More and more gravestones are being uncovered, photographed. At a later time, they will be checked to see if they are in our records.


DAY 5: Friday, 16th June 2023

Today was the end of five days of intensive work.

Paweł Kulig and our friends from the Fundacja Chrześcijańska Adullam of Częstochowa were joined by photo technology students of  the Zespół Szkoła im. Bolesława Prusa in Częstochowa (Bolesław Prus High School).

The high “Bush Wall”, that prevented access to the area and hid many tombstones, is disappearing through the consistent and systematic work.

The students continued removing the bushes and branches, which were then piled near where the branch shredding machine operated, cutting the bushes and branches into mulch.

Gradually, more and more matzevot (tombstones) from the mid-19th century are being revealed.


HELP TO FUND THE CLEANING WORK OF OUR CZĘSTOCHOWA JEWISH CEMETERY

Donations in Israel (in Shekels only):
By cheque – payable to “Association of Częstochowa District Jews in Israel”, which should be sent to the Association address: Kashani Eliezer 3A Box 6 Tel Aviv 6949904.

By bank transfer to the Association’s account: Account No. 276795 in the name “Association of Częstochowa District Jews in Israel”, Bank Hapoalim 12 – Ramat Aviv branch 568, 33 Achimeir Street, Tel Aviv 6949218.

Donations in the USA – New channel with 501C3
Can be done by sending a Check only payable to  Lev Zahav NEP and get a 501C3 tax certificate according to the following details:
Lev Zahav NFP, 7321 Ridgeway Ave, Skokie, IL 60076
To co-ordinate and for more information, you can contact: Jeff Cohen (Descendant of a family from Czestochowa):
Email:   18jeffcohen@gmail.com Tel.  +1-773-458-3938



Intelligentsia Mass Graves at Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery Restored

Latest News

June 14, 2023

Words: Alon Goldman, The Matzevah Foundation Photos: Asia Sidorowicz

A ceremony was held, at the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery, to consecrate the three restored mass graves of Częstochowa Jewish intelligentsia who were murdered by the Nazis, at the cemetery, during Purim, on 20th March 1943.

To learn more about the circumstances surrounding these murders, click HERE.

The ceremony took place in presence of the Częstochowa Deputy Mayor, Dr. Ryszard Stefaniak, Advisor to the Częstochowa Mayor on Jewish Community Affairs, Jolanta Urbańska, Chair of the Częstochowa branch of the TSKŻ,  Izabela Sobańska-Klekowska and representative of the Embassy of Israel in Poland, Elena Lagutin.

The restoration of two of the mass graves was funded by the Polish government, while the other was funded by the Cohen family of the United States.

During the ceremony, El Male Rachamim was recited by Rabbi David Szychowski, while World Society Vice-President, Alon Goldman, recited Kaddish in memory of Częstochowa Holocaust victims



Nissenbaum Family Foundation Workers Aid in Clean-Up of Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery

Latest News

June 2, 2023

Words: Alon Goldman Pictures: Krzysztof Strauss

This week, the clean-up work at the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery continued with aid from the Nissenbaum Family Foundation.

Responding to a request from World Society Vice-President Alon Goldman, a team of skilled workers from the Foundation spent two days working at our Cemetery – and they worked wonders!

The team focused on professional tasks which the students could not do such as cutting down trees which had fallen to the ground or trees which were broken and were leaning on one side. They also pruned bushes and branches in order to prepare them for removal from the cemetery.

For many years, the area to the left of the cemetery entrance has not been revealed in this way.  This resultant clearing will allow Alon, upon his return, to endeavour to locate new gravestones which, until today, have been hidden by the thick vegetation.

The Nissenbaum Family Foundation was founded in 1983, with the aim of saving Jewish testimonies and heritage in Poland. It was the first foundation established in Poland after World War II and, for years, its activities have been focused on the restoration and protection of Jewish cemeteries throughout Poland.

We sincerely thank Gidon Nissenbaum and Wojciech Łygaś
for their positive response to our request to lend us such an important helping hand.

The next work week will take place between 12th-16th June 2023. During that week, Alon Goldman will be assisted by Pastor Steven Reece and volunteers from the MATZEVAH Foundation from the USA, Pawel Kulig and volunteers from the Guardians of Remembrance Foundation from Lodz, our friends the volunteers of Fundacja Chrześcijańska Adullam of Częstochowa and students from Częstochowa high schools.


Częstochowa Students Clean Up Jewish Cemetery

Latest News

May 25, 2023

Source:: Alon Goldman

This year’s first concentrated cleaning work at the Częstochowa Jewish cemetery took place on 22nd-25th May 2023.  The work was a joint operation involving the Association of Częstochowa Jews in Israel, the City of Częstochowa and the city’s Education Department, a collaboration which began in June 2022.

Around one  hundred students, from four Częstochowa high schools participated in the concentrated work : General Anders High School,  Jan Kochanowski High School, K. Puławski Mechanics and Electrical High School and the Automotive Professions High School.

The purpose of the project and the involvement of the students was not only to clean the cemetery, but also to allow the youth of Częstochowa to learn about Częstochowa’s multicultural history and the contribution of the city’s Jewish community in the life of the city and its development over the years.  As part of the project, the students also received a lecture on the subject from the historian Wiesław Paszkowski.

 

This week of work could not have come to fruition without the efforts of several dear friends of the World Society: Rafał Piotrowski – head of the Education Department of the City of Częstochowa, Izabela Sobańska-Klekowska – Chair of the Częstochowa branch of the TSKŻ, Cr. Jolanta Urbańska – Deputy Chair of the Częstochowa City Council and advisor to the Mayor on Jewish community issues, Elżbieta Ferenc – Director of the Adullam Foundation of Częstochowa; Iwona Brzezowska  – Principal of General Anders High School and Robert Kamela of the Adullam Foundation from Częstochowa.

Our sincere thanks to all the students and teachers who took part in this activity. 
Your involvement is greatly appreciated and is not to be taken for granted.

The next work week will take place between 12th-16th June 2023. This week, Alon Goldman will be assisted by Pastor Steven Reece and volunteers from the MATZEVAH Foundation from the USA, Pawel Kulig and volunteers from the Guardians of Remembrance Foundation from Lodz, our friends the volunteers of Fundacja Chrześcijańska Adullam of Częstochowa and students from Częstochowa high schools.