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Szczuczyn Yizkor Book, Part 3

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Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Jews Live On
The Creation of the Gmiles Khesedim Fund in the Name of the K'dushe Shtutsin (Szczuczyn), Z.L., in Israel
In Memory of our Beloved Shtutsin (Szczuczyn)
Boruch Fishl Zeml
The Great Mitsveh of the Gmiles Khesedim
Meyir Grinfeld
The Official Acknowledgment of the Founding of the Gmiles Khesedim in the Name of the Martyrs of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn)
The Solemn Declaration of the Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Society of New York
Heyman Horovits
The Gmiles Khesedim Fund in the Name of the Martyrs of Shtutsin {Szczuczyn)
Yeshiah Skubelski
The Old and New Gmiles Khesedim
Ruven Finkelshteyn
General Report of the Gmiles Khesedim Fund
General Accounts; Cycle of Loans

Former Residents of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Now Citizens of Israel
The Managing Committee and Auditing Commission of the Gmiles Khesedim Fund
List of Photographs

Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Jews Live On

In Memory of Our Beloved Szczuczyn: Boruch Fishl Zeml

As it is known, I was a Zionist and social activist almost my entire life. In the years of the last war, I lived through many experiences and saw the tragedy and horrible holocaust of our people, as well as my own sufferings and misfortune, when the majority of my family and friends were murdered. No pen is capable of describing and relating the dreadful and hideous experiences through which we survived.

It is hard to write about the destruction of one's own city, with one's own beloved people -- children, parents, brothers, sisters, acquaintances and friends -- of whom there remains not more than a bit of dispersed powdered burned ashes in the crematoriums; and where our graveyard was desecrated, the tombstones' knocked down and grown over with grass the field hoed and planted. There is no sign left of the graves of our saintly ones, who had the privilege hundreds of years ago to be buried there and rest.

It is an ancient custom of Jews from the old times, that on the day of the reckoning or one's soul, as on the days of yortsayt and Tisheh-Bav [31], slikhes days [32] or the days of awe, to go to the cemetery and cry upon the graves of our cherished, who have departed from us forever. One also went to the cemetery in times of trouble or sickness to the grave of the Tsadik Reb Yosele Z.TS.L. Some threw kvitlech on the oyel of the grave, [33] requesting that he should act as an intercessor for them in order to be helped.

It is difficult to describe and recall how our beloved and cherished ones were tortured by hunger, dirt and epidemics, how they were choked to death in gas chambers, shot and slew with iron bars, and buried alive. Children were killed before the eyes or in the arms of their mothers, by the Nazi German murderers. A large number were done in at the hands of our former Polish neighbors, amongst whom we had lived many years. Those who saw everything including those moments with the murderers, and who later escaped, have related all this to us. Our wounds will never heal, our fallen brethren will never be forgotten as long as we live.

If it is merely by chance that I and others did not share the fate of our Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) kehilah and that of the 6 million, who were tragically annihilated only for being Jewish; if we remained alive only through accident then we must carry out the obligation, the duty and realization of the commandment of "remembrance" and "passing on to our children"; to record for future generations the story of their parents' pain; and sufferings in order that all may learn from this and go further.

This unassuming Yizkor Book, "The Destruction of the Kehilah of Szczuczyn," holds important significance and value, not only for the residents of Szczuczyn, but also for those from other shtetlach, who were familiar with Jews from our town, and who were destroyed together like martyrs.

This Yizkor book is a monument, a tombstone, a reminder of the former existing and now annihilated Szczuczyn.

Often I find comfort in the realization of that longing of the Jewish people of over two thousand years, for an independent Jewish country. These were also my aspirations, my hopes in my lifetime. I had the honor, Blessed be his Name, to live and see through the most trying conditions of life, to be in our free and independent Land of Israel.

On founding here in Israel the Organization of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Immigrants and the Gmiles Khesedim group, in the name of our martyred ones, Z.L., we became once again like a united family. We have met together with early settlers of Israel, new immigrants from Sharis Hapliteh [34] on many occasions on the realm of constructive help, as an interest free loan fund. Unfortunately we have not yet created much. In comparison with the needs, our means to give help to our needy brothers in Israel are small. We must make our fund grow and give loans when they are needed rather than waiting until the money from other numerous loans flows back in, despite the fact that they are usually paid out immediately.

We must exert every effort to expand our resources and activities and that depends on the help of all of us, who are interested in realizing our eternal monument for our perished martyrs, Z.L.

The Great Mitsveh [35] of the Gmiles Khesedim, By: Meyir Grinfeld

"If you lend money to my people, to the poor
who is in your power, do not act toward him
as a creditor, exact no interest from him". (Exodus 22:25)

To all our brothers and sisters, fellow countrymen from Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) in Israel, and in the rest of the world.

Peace and blessings unto you!

In the name of our organization of immigrants from Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) and the Gmiles Khesedim Fund, in the name of the martyred of Szczuczyn, we turn to you in our simple Yiddish. Although the official language in Israel is Hebrew, we found it necessary to write the minutes of our general assemblies, of the first and second evenings of mourning, the orations, the resolutions on the founding of the Gmiles Khesed Fund and the new decisions about the way to make our fund grow -- to write this all in Yiddish.

The Gemore [36] in the Suteh tractate says: All prayers and blessings should be recited in the Holy Tongue, but must be done with intention, feeling and heart; the Gemore says that even the "Kriyes Shma" which must penetrate the Jewish heart and soul, should be said in the vernacular -- so we may use all languages. At the evening of mourning and the general assembly of landslayt, which took place in Tel Aviv, 18/3/51, we decided to immortalize the memory of the martyred, Z.L., with an institution which would recall the former Jewish community that no longer exists for us Jews; an institution that would be of great use to the surviving children -- the orphans.

The Rambam [37], Z.L., in the sixth portion of "Halkhus Matones Vetsdokeh" [38], lists eight virtues of charity and appraises as the greatest virtue over all, on the highest scale, the deed of interest free loans. He says:

Eight categories exist in the manner of charity. When a person becomes financially impoverished the greatest virtue over all is to help him by giving him employment, a trade, or an interest free loan, so that he may better his material situation and avoid becoming a burden, so that he does not have "to be in need of the gifts of mortals." An interest free loan does not destroy the human dignity; this is the true intention of the Torah "Vehekhzakta Bo" -- you should strengthen him so that God Forbid, he will not fall. Following the ways of the Torah then, we actually created an interest free loan fund in the Land of Israel.

Also we hope, with great faith in the Almighty, that here at last we will find peace of mind and our inheritance. We have established here in Israel a sacred monument to our dear and beloved martyrs, Z.L., which brought many uses. It is not enough however to be satisfied with what we have done. Reality showed us that the need in loans is much greater than we had imagined. If we do not search for ways to make the fund grow, we will not be able to fulfill our duty with regards to our landslayt.

Those from Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) now in Israel, with the help of our brothers overseas, laid the foundation stone of the Gmiles Khesedim Fund. Now we implore you: Give us a hand from afar, in order that we should be able to further sow our sacred work.

It is worthwhile to recall my welcoming words in a speech at the opening of our important landslayt, who visited Israel from New York in the month of May 1951:

Mr. Chaim Mordche Horovits, Secretary of the Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Society in New York, his sister Miss Rochl Meyran, Mr. Velvl Gamzohn, also Mr. Biblevits from Columbia -- they were all present at the opening of the Gmiles Khesedim Group in Israel. I spoke to them in this manner: Our sages of blessed memory say -- Every living creature, those who speak and those who don't, plants and other forms of life, all offer a song of praise each morning, a song of praise for the world's creator, with an appropriate portion from the Tanakh. There exists a bird with the Hebrew name "Ratsifi", a swallow. Swallows have specific attributes. When they feel the winter approaching they gather together in families, lock wings and submerge themselves in rivers or swamps, until the spring awakens them anew to life. It is thanks to their attachment to each other that they survive; one alone would not have made it through the winter. Therefore they are called "Ratsifi" which means together.

The chapter of their "song" is -- Nakhmo Nakhmo Ami -- console yourself Jewish people. They symbolize us, for when we hold each other hand in hand, we will with the Almighty's help also secure our survival into the future. We turn to all our brothers and sisters in the rest of the world, where Hitler's dark elements -- may his name and memory be blotted out -- thank God did not reach, where Jews have been able to attain good economic standing; give us your wings and let us hold together as one family.

I believe that these sincere words, in my name and the name of our committee, for the sake of the Gmiles Khesed -- the only monument to the tragic perishing of the martyrs of Szczuczyn, Z.L.-- will touch the hearts of our friends and compatriots as in -- "he who lends a stone to the poor in the hour of need..."

This mitsveh concerns the poor as well as the rich. Our devotion in heart and soul to the Gmiles Khesedim Fund is not God forbid for individual gain or to chase after honor.

The Official Acknowledgement of the Founding of the Gmiles Khesedim in the Name of the Martyrs of Szczuczyn

The State of Israel

Tel Aviv. 1763, 9493 665/99

Date: July 6, 1951

To the District Administration Office,

Dear Chairperson of the Union of the Gmiles Khesedim Fund in the name of the holy martyrs of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) and Bialystok. In Israel, Mr. Zeml Boruch, Diezengof Street no. 205, c/o Mr. Yeshiah Skubelski, Tel Aviv.

Dear Sir,

In answer to your letter dated 30/5/51, I am happy to confirm having received the following documents:

1. The declaration of the charter of the Union with the name "Gmiles Khesedim Fund in honor of the holy martyrs of Szczuczyn-Bialystok in Israel.

2. The minutes of the Union.

Yours truly,

I. Kuperman
Appointee of the Tel Aviv district

Chairman's address is: Zeml Boruch, Jaffa, 319 Avenue no. 2.

The Solemn Declaration of the Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Society of New York

To the Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Landsmanshaft [39] in New York.

Sisters, Brothers and Important Guests.

We would like to express our happiness with your presence at our 50th anniversary jubilee.

It is our great pleasure to see how many of our friends, landslayt, showed up to participate in our simcheh [40]. At today's testimonial dinner, in comparison with the banquet at which we celebrated our 40th anniversary jubilee 10 years ago, we feel in many regards that we are poorer. The link with our home of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) is today torn from us.

Fifteen years ago we still had an address there. We still had our dear sisters and brothers, parents, relatives; and we could help them in their needs.

Today we have no connections with our home town. The murderers -- may their names be blotted out forever -- exterminated our dearest and loved ones.

We survived with one comfort -- the honor of seeing our 2000-year-old dream realized, acquiring a Jewish home with a Jewish government in the Land of Israel. Our few remaining landslayt who were able to escape from the cursed lands and came to Israel, there created a small organization and carry on with the true fineness of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) and traditional Yiddishkayt. This is now our new address.

The Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Society will from now on show a greater interest in our landslayt in the State of Israel, and we will once again feel that the golden thread has not yet been completely cut.

With our sincerest regards to all of you, sisters and brothers and guests, we remain


Heyman Horovits, editing secretary
Shtutsiner (Szczuczyner) Young Mens B.A.

From the 50th year jubilee of the Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Society of New York, 18/11/50

The Gmiles Khesedim in the Name of the Martyrs of Szczuczyn, By: Yeshiah Skubelski

Many years ago simple immigrants and pioneers from our birth place Szczuczyn, began to leave for the Land of Israel. In this manner scores of families came to Israel before the Second World War. Amongst them were many workers who spread out over the entire country. Each and every one was preoccupied with his daily work, showing no interest in his former comrades or friends with whom he had once played and studied together in cheder and school.

And so life continued in this manner until the well dried up. Our shtetl was destroyed, our dearest and beloved were exterminated by our former neighbors, the Poles and the Germans, may their names be blotted out. That place from which our landslayt would emigrate to Israel was liquidated.

When news of these tragic survivors of the extermination trickled in I became concerned with helping then from near death, and sent out packages of food. I turned to our landslayt and each one contributed. But this was a provisional activity. It demanded help from our fellow Shtutsiners (Szczuczyners). For this purpose I created a provisional committee, which from time to time would meet and conduct various campaigns.

When landsmanshaftn were being established in the country, and each city and shtetl began to organize memorials for those who had perished, I began to contemplate the organization of our landslayt in Israel. By chance we had received a notice that in New York the 50th anniversary jubilee of the Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Society would be held. This was November 18, 1950. I summoned together the provisional committee, and it was decided to send them a telegram of greeting with a request from us -- landslayt of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) in Israel -- that our brothers and sisters in America should not forget at their celebration that fresh immigrants who had escaped from the Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) ghetto, had arrived in Israel. We appealed to our compatriots, that they should join us in immortalizing the martyrs with a monumental stone in Israel.

We received an answer from my cousin, secretary of the Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Society in New York, Mr. Chaim Mordche Horovits. He noted that the telegram had made a great impression at their gathering. At the banquet a substantial amount of money had been collected. The money had been passed on to an institution in America in order to help a family settle themselves. This disappointed us and we asked the Society in America, that instead of donating money to 'the unknown soldier' it would be more appropriate perhaps for them to help out the new arrivals from our shtetl. And the best monument to perpetuate their memory would be a Gmiles Khesedim Fund in honor of the K'dushe [41] Szczuczyn.

Our appeal met with immediate success and when we received the confirmation of their support we rallied together our landslayt about 120 members, and after a remembrance evening for those who had perished, Z.L., it was decided to set up the fund. The initial investment capital was immediately collected. The members pledged 5 to 10 pounds and the result was a few hundred pounds. And so the existence of the Interest Free Loan Fund was begun.

A few months later Mr. Chaim. Mordche Horovits, the secretary of the New York Society, along with his sister, Miss Rochl Meyran, paid us a visit. A solemn evening of welcome was arranged for them. Mr. Vilim Gamzan, also from America, was staying with us. They contributed a large sum of money in the name of the Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Society. Later from Colombia, Mr. Tsvi Biblovits and his wife arrived. They also donated a substantial amount to get the venture started.

We began to give out loans to the members; at first for 50 pounds and later for 100 pounds. Recently, we received a loan from the central Gmiles-Khesedim Organization: a sum of 500 pounds to repay over the duration of 5 years without interest. Up to this point 17 members have benefited from loans. They are, according to their occupation: 12 artisans, 3 clerks, 1 policeman, and only one business person -- an owner of a soda water kiosk. All members who receive aid pay their promissory notes promptly at the bank Halvoeh Vekheskhon, with which we deal.

We then appealed to the landslayt in the rest of the world, to help us strengthen our capital. One dear member, Yoysef Shereshevski answered. He informed us that he with his sister Gutke and brother Elimelech, as well as Sholem Grayevski, would help us as much as possible. Shereshevski is a comrade who while together with us in Szczuczyn, always worked for the Zionist ideal. He found it necessary to further his work and remained in contact with us in order to help his fellow Shtutsiners (Szczuczyners).

We hope that our compatriots around the world will understand how important our goal is. They will be of great help in creating a permanent memorial to our martyrs of Szczuczyn, by helping us increase the amount in our fund.

Awhile ago we received a gift from another compatriot in Uruguay, Mr. Ruzenboym, Boruch the glazier's son. He sent us a radio wire apparatus with his son who came to Israel. The radio brought to our fund a sum of 360 pounds.

At the same time we heard from dear friends in Cuba. Mr. Yitschak Moysheh Wapinski warmly answered our call and promised to help.

The Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Society of New York remains in constant touch with us and provides the main source of our income.

This concern from the landslayt shows how important the fund in Israel is to everyone wherever they may be.

During the two years of our group's existence, we gave out 52 loans of 150 pounds, to be repaid at 10 pounds a month. Thanks to the fact that the members pay promptly, we can continue to give loans. Naturally if our capital were greater we would give larger loans.

I would like to point out that even from America a landsman turned to us requesting a loan for a friend here in Israel. We met his request; already he had taken care of the loan.

The further growth of our fund depends on you -- landslayt in the greater world.

Here we are doing everything possible to increase our capital and broaden our activities, because we believe that the Gmiles Khesedim is the holy tombstone for the unmarked graves of our cherished and loved ones.

In the last while many landslayt from our city visited us. Mr. Moysheh Vayngrubski with his wife from Philadelphia sent to us a typewriter. Mrs. Liberman from America sent us a donation. Mr. Sheynberg Chaim Bertsi with his wife from Australia also contributed a fine sum of money to our organization. Mr. Eliyezer Keyman visited us from Australia and made a donation in the name of the fund.

December 1953, Mr. Chaim Savitski visited us with his wife, also from Australia. They had given us money to make it possible to complete this book and publish it.

Blessed be the hands, who help us build our fund in the name of those who perished.

The Old and New Gmiles Khesedim, By: Reuven Finkelshteyn

The founding of the Gmiles Khesedim venture here in Israel in memory of those who perished in Szczuczyn, is nothing new. It is merely the reenactment of a tradition, in our old home, of reciprocal help.

The conditions and location have changed -- the foreign Diaspora land of Poland for our ancient but new homeland in Israel, the city of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) for Tel Aviv.

Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) has ceased to exist for us as a Jewish settlement. Of the thousands there, only a few survivors remain, who carry on with them the deep rooted traditions and the good virtues -- things which cannot be measured.

The present work of the organization is principally to continue the work of those generations who breathed Yiddishkayt, and who took care to observe the command -- "if your brother is in straits..." (Leviticus 25) [help him out] -- as our Torah has taught us.

The present committee of the Gmiles Khesedim Fund guards sacred the traditions of those martyrs, who with the greatest of self-sacrifices, put aside their own interests, in order to build funds and offer help to all needy, regardless of stratum or class.

Just as in Szczuczyn, our old home, members here take responsibility for the fund; he who is financially able does not take advantage. The present devotion of our members recalls the work of the former committee and revisions commission, who with heart and soul were always devoted to their activities, not seeking any rewards.

Just as each one had his own worries in Szczuczyn, here too we have the worries of our private lives, making a living. No time can be spared however in bringing the fund to its proper moral purpose. We must show great devotion and observe the commandment of "Love thy neighbor as oneself." (Leviticus 19).

Brothers, friends and neighbors were the endorsers who made it possible for the needy to receive loans and-saw that the money, in due time, fell back into the fund. This was how constructive help was carried out there. Here in the State of Israel it is continued: The endorser is the guarantor for the money and this is observed fit and proper according to the portion from Exodus 23: If you should lend money to a poor man, do not act towards him as a creditor.

The Gmiles Khesedim Funds are established by Jews on the basis of this law -- "If you should lend money..." It is worthwhile to point out that for the Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Gmiles Khesedim group the Sabbath on which this portion was read was observed as a solemn holiday. All the chevrot [42] in Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) had their special holidays, and as it says in the tractate Yomey Depagrah, each chevreh had arranged a banquet for its holiday. The chevreh of the Gmiles Khesedim held their banquet annually on Shabos of that portion of Exodus. After the morning prayers they would make a toast. The fund had more than 500 members, about 400 tasted from the mitsveh glass, wishing one another Lechaim! Lechaim! Until the next year! This was how it was for a long time until the tragic catastrophe -- they did not have the fortune to live until the coming year.

The fund there was supported by individual pledges, various collection campaigns, and also outside help from brothers and friends in the world. Significantly large was the help they received from the Joint in Warsaw.

There together with the growth of the fund, also grew the level of poverty. Along with the preoccupation for their daily bread was the constant worry of raising children with no future of a practical sort for them in sight. The wish for "lechaim and "lechaim habaah" held much significance; surely our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers would have survived the hard times, if not for the gruesome campaigns of the Germans and the Poles -- represented by the slogan of Jewish extermination and making a Jewish free...

They carried out their extermination plan. Not even the holy grounds remain for us to go and visit the graves, not even a precise date is known in order to observe the yortsayt.

The Gmiles Khesedim Fund in the name of the martyrs of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) is our tombstone. It is a memorial to our annihilated community of Szczuczyn.

The Gmiles Khesedim Fund is a mitsveh. It honors the souls of those who perished and for us serves as a monument on our unknown graves; it recalls for us our dearest ones, the holy martyrs of Szczuczyn.

The general report of the Gmiles Khesedim Fund in the Name of the Martyrs of Shtutsin (Szczuczyn), Z.L., from her onset, the 6/5/51 until 1/10/53.

General Account of our fund "Gmiles Khesedim Fund in the Name of the Martyrs of Shtutsin," (Szczuczyn) Z.L., in Israel. From the 6/5/51 till 1/10/53. The fund was established on the 6/5/51.

Active (In Israeli Liras)

6/5/51 - 1/10/51/td> 1/11/51 - 1/10/52 1/11/52 - 1/11/53
In cash and bank 74.566 143.389 48.159
Loans to members 720.000 2259.862 3807.300
Debentures and government loans --- --- 10.852
Expenses 112.934 151.148 152.958
Total: 907.500 2554.349 4019.269

 Passive (In Israeli Liras)

6/5/51 - 1/10/51/td> 1/11/51 - 1/10/52 1/11/52 - 1/11/53
Independent Capital (Donations, pledges, membership dues) 907.500 2314.349 3729.269
Debts to centre (Agency and ransom money) --- 240.000 180.000
Deposits (Debts to institutions and individuals) --- --- 110.000
Total: 907.500 2554.349 4019.269

Cycle of Loans from 16/8/1951 to 1/10/1953 (In Israeli Liras)

1951 1952 1953
Loans distributed to the borrowers 9 26 29
Total sums distributed to borrowers as loans 720.000 2259.852 4445.000
Payments during the year by borrowers against their debts. --- 1485.000 2685.250
Note: There were no expenses this year.
Chairperson: Boruch Zeml
Treasurer and Secretary: Yeshiah Skubelski

Specification of Loans Divided According to Occupation

1951 1952 1953
Artisans --- 3 3
Peddlers, Kiosk Holders --- 2 5
Workers, Clerks 8 15 18
Teachers, Policemen, misc. 1 6 3
Total: 9 26 29
October 21, 1953

Go to Yizkor Book, Part 4


31. Day of mourning and fasting in commemoration of the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem, on the 9th day of the month of Ab. [Back]

32. The days preceding the High Holidays through Yom Kippur. [Back]

33. It was a tradition to throw little notes of paper with a prayer on the graves of important persons, here on the oyel, a structure over the grave. [Back]

34. Survivors of the German extermination campaign. [Back]

35. A good deed. [Back]

36. Part of the Talmud which comments on the Mishnah. [Back]

37. Maimonides. [Back]

38. The ways of gifts and charity. [Back]

39. Organization of landslayt. [Back]

40. A happy occasion, affair, party, banquet, etc... [Back]

41. The Hebrew word used throughout the articles referring to the Jews who perished in the war as holy martyrs. [Back]

42. Plural of chevre society. [Back]

My thanks to Dr. Alex Stone for contributing and granting me permission to reprint his English translation of Hurban Kehilat Szczuczyn, published in Tel Aviv, 1954, by Former Residents of Szczuczyn in Israel. Dr. Stone had graciously sent me copies many years ago, when I first learned of my family's Szczuczyn roots. All spellings in the portions reprinted here are written as they appear in the translation, with a few exceptions, most notably, substituting "Ch" instead of the "Kh" as is found throughout for such names as Khaye (Chaye) or Borukh (Boruch).

Optical scanning and editing of Dr. Stone's translation, by Jose Gutstein.
Photos contributed by Mike Marvins and Jose Gutstein.

This version of the Szczuczyn Yizkor Book is Copyright 2002 by Jose Gutstein.
NOTE: A few names and phrases have been deliberately inserted throughout the text, which are not in the original, but which do not alter the context, to easily detect unauthorized use and publication of this material, on the internet or elsewhere.