Szczuczyn Yizkor Book
"Hurban Kehilat Szczuczyn"
These memoirs and articles,
which have been included in this book, were written some years ago; however they
have not lost their relevance to today because they tell about the martyred
death of our Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) community. Although ten years have passed
since their [Jews of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn)] annihilation, for us it seems as if
it happened only yesterday. They will be eternally engraved in our memory. These
memoirs and articles, which were written with grief and tears, will forever
remind us of our beloved and dearest ones, who were so tragically and ruthlessly
wiped from the earth.
For financial reasons we delayed the
publication of the book, and then we had a visit from one of the daughters of
our town, the esteemed Mrs. Chaye-Leye Sender Chelchovski from America, the
daughter of the now resting Boruch Chelchovski blessed be his memory, 
and the sister of the now resting Avrom Yehoshua Chelchovski, Z.L. -- the Hebrew
teacher of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn). She made it possible that this book, "The
Destruction of the Jewish Community of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn)," should see
the light of day.
Mrs. Chaye-Leye Sender Chelchovski
contributed the largest portion of the funds necessary to put out this book.
I believe that all former Shtutsin
(Szczuczyn) inhabitants throughout the world, and not only those who reside in
the Land of Israel, are very grateful to Mrs. Chaye-Leye Sender Chelchovski for
her fine deed helping to erect a monument to our dear and beloved ones.
were preparing to put out the Yizkor Book 
a years ago, we turned to our fellow townspeople all over, requesting that they
send us obituaries of their families and a list of names of those who had been
killed. Unfortunately only a small number of the remaining survivors spoke up
and responded, and so, in order that there should not be any complaints the
committee decided to put out the Yizkor Book in a small format, and not
to publish any obituaries.
Jews in Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Until
Their Destruction, By: Yeshiah Skubelski
We often ask ourselves this question: Why
do we feel compelled to write and talk so much about the small shtetl 
Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) which has ceased to exist as a Jewish settlement?
There is a simple answer to this
question: We must not forget that there, in that Polish town, was a Jewish
community which was destroyed and wiped out by the Germans and their Polish
anti-Semitic collaborators. We will never forget the rich Jewish life there,
which existed over hundreds of years. Each time when we -- the children of that
community -- assemble, we recall our most cherished and dearest friends and family
with whom we were raised, with whom we spent the best years of our youth
learning together in the chedorim, 
yeshivas  and
schools, later in organizations, and so on for scores of years, for better or
for worse until fate led each one along a different path. Some meanwhile, had
the privilege to leave the shtetl and wander in the greater world. Others
realized that great dream of settling the Land of Israel; and thanks to that,
saved themselves from the Jewish extermination by the Germans. It is our task --
who have survived -- to immortalize through memories recorded, those who remained
behind and tragically ended their lives on that path, at the height of
development of Jewish life in Shtutsin (Szczuczyn).
In the following additional lines I would
like to give a brief survey of the town, in sacred memory of those who died
there, as well as to serve future generations.
Not far from the then German border lies
the shtetl Shtutsin (Szczuczyn), 14 kilometers from Grayeve (Grajewo) and
21 kilometers from Stavisk (Stawiski), on the way to Lomza. Jews there
engaged mainly in commerce and trade. All businesses were Jewish. Only a few
were of Christian proprietorship. Two days in the week were market days:
Tuesdays and Fridays. The peasants came to these fairs with their products:
eggs, chickens, butter, potatoes and so forth, and sold them to the Jews. With
the money they received the peasants would buy from the Jews: clothes, drink and
the like. Life went on in this manner until Hitler came to power. Anti-Semitism
grew stronger and commerce was taken out of Jewish hands.
There were two Houses of Study in
Szczuczyn: the new House of Study on Vesaler Street, and the old one in the
newer section -- a large synagogue with a beautiful Holy Ark.
Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) was famous for the Gaon,
Rabbi Yosele, blessed be his sacred memory, 
whose activities on behalf of the community are well familiar to the older
generations. Following his death, people threw notes upon his grave [as is the
custom for a great person]. Today there is no sign even of his, or other graves,
in the cemetery. The Poles plowed the cemetery and planted potatoes there.
After the demise of Rabbi Yosele, Z.TS.L.,
the community council turned to his son Rabbi Lipe Chaim, Z.TS.L., and requested
that he take over the rabbinate; however he turned it down. Later the Vishniever
Rabbi was chosen, Rabbi Eliyohu Zvi Efron, Z.TS.L. He, together with all of
the Szczuczyn influential men were led to the cemetery and there tortured.
Before anti-Semitism infested the shtetl,
Jews had felt like their own masters and prided themselves with their
Everything had been open to the Jews: City Hall, government institutions and all
other offices. Szczuczyn municipal government had 24 councilors; of these, 16
were Jews and 8 were Poles. There were 3 Jewish clerks working at city hall.
These aldermen were: Hillel Ber Sheynberg Z.L., Avrom Chone Finkelshtayn Z.L.,
and also, may he live a long life, Boruch Fishl Zeml.
The Jewish alderman in the courts, my
unforgettable father Avrom Chaim Skubelski Z.L., worked together with Polish
judges on trials and investigations. His proxy was Slutsky Hersh.
Education held priority in Jewish
cultural life. There were 3 private chedorim where the children were
taught in a religious atmosphere. There were also public religious educational
institutions like the Talmud Torah and the yeshiva. Children of
Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) parents, as well as those from the neighboring shtetl,
studied there. The visiting children took their meals in the homes of wealthier
families. Both Torah institutions were sustained by donations and
financial funding from the Kehilah 
and the municipal government.
The modern school also held a place in
Jewish Szczuczyn. There was a cheder metukin 
a Hebrew school, which were run by Yehoshua Chelchovski Z.L. Some Jewish
children studied at the Polish trade school, referred to as one of the "shabosnikes."
The school was attended by exclusively Jewish Children and therefore closed on
the Sabbath. Velvel Bergshtayn Z.L., was in charge of the Polish school.
The Zionist organization, B'nai Zion
(Sons of Zion), conducted a wide reaching cultural campaign. Their meeting
place housed a reading room and a library with books in Hebrew, Yiddish and
Polish. Evening courses were held there and one could study Hebrew, Jewish
history and literature, Palestinian geography and English. Zilbershtayn the
Hebrew teacher took care of these classes. Boruch Fishl Zeml was the chairman of
the Zionist organization.
Aside from the general Zionist
organization, there were also a number of Zionist youth groups such as: Hertsaliah Hechaluts (Pioneer), Hashomer Hatzair (Guardian of the Youth), and
Hechaluts Mizrachi (Pioneer of the East).
The entire Zionist movement of Shtutsin
(Szczuczyn) participated in the work to settle Israel. They Collected money for Kerin
(Eternal Fund Committee for Israel), Kerin Hayisud (Establishment
Fund Commission of the Zionist Organization), and took part in all Zionist
activities. The Zionists had their representatives in the Jewish community, the
city council and other institutions. in 1925 large groups emigrated from
Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) to Israel. In the same year a training program was held for
Hechaluts, in Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) and its environs. There were 150
participants, men and women, from cities nearby such as: Lomsa (Lomza), Ostrolenka
(Ostroleka), Zambrov (Zambrow), Grayeve (Grajewo), Ugostov (Augustow)
and others. The youngsters carried out their training with those who owned land
in the area, and were later certified to emigrate to Israel.
The Jewish workers had their
organizations and cultural institutions as well. Much political activity was
carried on by the Bund (Jewish Socialist party), the left Poaley Zion
(the Socialist Zionists), and the Communists (illegal in Poland). The Peretz
library, with many Yiddish and Polish books, was a leading cultural center, and
arranged lectures, readings and fund-raising evenings.
There was also a general drama circle to
which belonged many young people from all the parties. Chaim Leyzer Bergshtayn and Motl
Penzuch were in charge of the drama group. They performed various plays
and the admission charges would go to Lines Hatsedek, Gmiles Khesedim 
and other worthy causes. The Lines Hatsedek group which aided poor sick
people see doctors, receive medications and basic financial support, had been
operating since 1916.
In 1922 an interest-free loan fund was
established, which gave loans to those who needed: small merchants , artisans
and the general public, irregardless of their political directions.
Jewish life in Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) until the Hitler hordes descended on Poland
and destroyed the Jewish shtetl. Szczuczyn, that sacred community, was
wiped away by the German murderers. We will never forget our closest and
cherished ones -- the martyrs of Szczuczyn.
Cooperative Bank in Szczuczyn, By: Boruch Fishl Zeml
At the beginning of 1926 a Jewish
cooperative bank was founded by Boruch Fishl Zeml and Alter Bibliovits Z.L. The
bank was part of the Association of Jewish Cooperatives in Poland. Its
development and success was swift. In a short while it grew to 350 members
(families) from Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) and from the surrounding closer shtetls
Vanses (Wasosz) and Radzilove (Radzilow). Every member received a small loan at
a low interest rate. This was important income for the members, for merchants
and artisans. It was particularly helpful for the artisan because with this
income of a few hundred zlotys, which was then a large sum of money, he
could buy up raw materials, work them, and afterwards in the season, sell the
goods at the fairs.
The bank had at its disposal 25,000 zlotys
which it had accumulated with time at a small percentage rate from the
Association of Cooperatives in Poland. The bank also received savings from the
city inhabitants, as much as seven thousand dollars, zlotys as well.
Aside from loans, all financial
transactions, such as payments and the crediting and collection of promissory
notes, were managed through the bank. The bank gained the confidence of the
entire Jewish population and took care of everything promptly and accurately.
The bank was managed by a committee of 3
persons and a board of 6. All members of the board and the committee worked
without material compensation.
years before the War, because of the overall bad condition for Jews in Poland,
because of boycotts against Jews -- especially in our area -- the bank, ceased to
exist. All savings and debts were paid back.