The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Memorial Book of Ostrow-Lubelski
by Adlna Elchenbaum (Alkon)

Small was our town Ostrow. One of thousands of towns throughout Poland. Such towns, by the river and in the forest were integrated in the pastoral panorama of Poland for hundreds of years. Ostrow was not marked on maps or perpetuated in books.

Ostrow did not become famous because of its heroism and wasn't blessed with Famous people. However, the Ostrow Jews were God-fearing people, faithful to the Torah and its commandments, respectable and honest people without deceit. They gave their charity in secret and were not oblivious to their brothers' distress. They supported the poor, the orphan and the widow, and joyfully fulfilled the commandments of "Hachnassat Kalah", helping poor girls to obtain dowries and to get married. A holy Jewish congregation.

Their lives, like the lives of their fathers, were a constant struggle for existence, to support their families and to defend them again the inimical and harsh world. All that the fathers desired was to raise their children in Torah, in love of Israel and good deeds. And despite the troubles, the gentiles' hatred and the insecurity of the morrow, they lived full lives, in their families and communities. They knew the joy of Oneg Shabat, of holiday and festival, knew days of ecstacy and inspiration, joy, grace and love.

The young people, too, were open in their minds and hearts to everything that transpired and took place among the Jewish people and participated actively in the Jewish social and political movements desiring to improve the lives of their people, each individual under his own flag and according to his world outlook, his road and beliefs.

Until the German Satan came from the kingdom of death and destroyed and slaughtered all of Israel on the soil of Poland, and among them also our dear community, Ostrow. Not one of our town was saved, nor has a single survivor remained to tell us and future generations what the German Satan did to the Jewish community of Ostrow. We do not have at hand the testimonies of any eyewitness from those terrible days. And therefore the duty devolves upon us, the embers saved from the fire that consumed our home, who only by miracle have remained alive, the duty and obligation to tell to our children and to our children's children, after us, about the town of our birth, to build a monument of mourning and tears, of words and cries, to perpetuate the memory of the relatives who were slaughtered by human monsters the like of whom the human race had never known since God created heaven and earth.

The participants in this Yizkor Book do not, however, pretend to be writers and historians, but only, as we have said, Ostrowites for whom the memory of their town has never left their hearts for even a single moment, and all they have written they wrote with the blood of their hearts -- the memories and pictures always present before their eyes, in holiday and festival as in mourning and sorrow. We who have been privileged to witness Israel's rebirth and to find even a single moment, and all they have written they wrote with the Exile, have brought remnants of the ashes of the slaughtered to Jewish burial in the State of Israel, in the words of the Prophet: I have set my spirit upon you and you will live and I have set you upon your own land.

We must confess, this Yizkor Book comes very late, since for many years, the early years after our aliya to Israel, we could not find the time, despite our pangs of conscience, to publish this book. We were few and penniless, and the pangs of absorption into our land--Israel, were difricult ones. Still, despite all this, we established an organization to aid our fellow townsmen in their early days after immigration. And always, in times of crisis and need, we cherished the memories on the estimated Memorial Day, the end of Shevuot (Simhat Torah) and at every meethlg, celebration or party of fellow townsmen.

You, dear reader, when you take this Yizkor Book in your hands, you will feel the breath of the tortured and slaughtered arising out of these pages, and your eyes will see our parents' homes that went up in flames. To the last of our days we shall cherish their holy and precious memories in our hearts.

Some little comfort may we find in our children and grandchildren growing and flowering in our blossoming homeland, as the Prophet says: And I shall bring back the return of Israel and you shall plant upon your land and you shall never again abandon the land that I gave you. Amen.

This book is being published thanks to the initiative of our townsman Mr. Misha Eckhaus of Australia and his wife Bronva. We tender our thanks and congratulations to the editorial committee headed by Avraham Feierstein and the membcrs: Yitzhak Goldstein, Yaakow Liebhaber and Dr. Isidore Last. We also tender our thanks to the editor, Mr. David Shtockfish

Adlna Elchenbaum (Alkon )

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