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
slikhes days 
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,
 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  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.
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 
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
 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.
, Z.L., in the sixth portion of "Halkhus Matones
, 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
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..."
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.
In answer to your letter dated 30/5/51, I am happy to confirm having received the
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.
Appointee of the Tel Aviv district
Chairman's address is: Zeml Boruch, Jaffa, 319 Avenue no. 2.
Solemn Declaration of the Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Society of New York
To the Shtutsin (Szczuczyn) Landsmanshaft
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 .
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
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 --
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
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 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 
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
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
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.
the hands, who help us build our fund in the name of those who perished.
The Old and New Gmiles Khesedim,
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
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 
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.
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.
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.
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
|Loans to members
|Debentures and government loans
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)
|Debts to centre (Agency and ransom money)
|Deposits (Debts to institutions and individuals)
Cycle of Loans from 16/8/1951 to 1/10/1953 (In
|Loans distributed to the borrowers
|Total sums distributed to borrowers as loans
|Payments during the year by borrowers against their debts.
|Note: There were no expenses this year.
Chairperson: Boruch Zeml
Treasurer and Secretary: Yeshiah Skubelski
Specification of Loans Divided According to
|Peddlers, Kiosk Holders
|Teachers, Policemen, misc.
|October 21, 1953
Go to Yizkor Book, Part 4
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]
The days preceding the High Holidays through Yom Kippur. [Back]
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]
Survivors of the German extermination campaign. [Back]
A good deed. [Back]
Part of the Talmud which comments on the Mishnah. [Back]
The ways of gifts and charity. [Back]
Organization of landslayt. [Back]
A happy occasion, affair, party, banquet, etc... [Back]
The Hebrew word used throughout the articles referring to the Jews who perished
in the war as holy martyrs. [Back]
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
Optical scanning and editing of Dr.
Stone's translation, by Jose
Photos contributed by Mike Marvins and Jose Gutstein.
This version of the Szczuczyn Yizkor Book is Copyright ©2002 by Jose Gutstein.
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.