Friday, September 29, 2017

TBE Holocaust Names Project - High Holidays 5758

TBE Holocaust Names Project

Last week on Rosh Hashanah, at the conclusion of my first day sermon, I asked those present to do the following:

 An assignment for next week - take these Holocaust victims' names home, go onto the Yad Vashem website and find out something about them.  Then resolve to do one thing this year to repair the world in a manner consistent with the passions, the concerns or the life's work of that person. Or maybe something related to that person's name.   And if you let me know what you find, I'll share some of the stories behind the names next week; for will we bring THEM to our holy mountain - and our house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples.

There are different places on the Yad Vashem site where information on victims can be found. 

Here's some of what I've received thus far - and my deepest thanks to all who have participated.  If you have names to submit, send them by tonight and I'll include them in our Yizkor services.

From Jeffrey Price:

Dear Rabbi Hammerman,

I have seldom been more moved than when standing with hundreds of others reading the names of children who perished and knowing that there were thousands more such lists. I think the emotional outreach that recitation provided might well benefit us if it is part of our service each year.

You asked that we each reach out over the years to the children we remembered. Esta and I would like to honor some of those children by acquiring a number of books appropriate for children about the Holocaust. I will then create a small personalized remembrance bookplate label with a child's name on it to go inside the front cover.  My draft of the model I created this afternoon is attached.
My daughter Eva is the librarian for the South Portland Maine school system, and I believe she can see to it that the books go into libraries there.


Thank you once again for starting me on the task of dedicating some books about the Holocaust to children who perished. Today the books I ordered arrived from Amazon and I completed the bookplates which will go in the front of each volume bearing one child's name together with their age and birthplace.

By writing out these children's names ages and hometowns I feel I connected in a small but very real way to those children. I thought about each one; I wondered about them, I imagined what I little I could about their lives, and I mourned their tragic death. I know that wasn't enough.

I will remember them again on Yom Kippur, and by then these children's books will have made their way to Maine to be placed in school libraries by my librarian daughter.

After finishing my page of names, I became so very aware that I had fallen short. Perhaps another sheet, and another, needed to be dedicated... but even though everything helps it really doesn't touch the magnitude of loss.

But I'm glad I began this mission, and I thank you for inspiring me and so many others.

Shalom and L'shana Tova,


See the name plates below...

Barbara Brafman and Larry Stein are dedicating a Machzor with the name and date of death to appear on the bookplate:

Binyamin Sternlicht
1936 - 1942

Laura Markowitz sent me this:

Idessa Frenkiel was born in Mszczonow, Poland in 1938 to Jankiel and Liba nee Zamlinski. Prior to WWII she lived in Mszczonow, Poland. During the war she was in Warszawa, Poland.   She was just 4 years old when she died in the gas chamber at Treblinka.  There was't a lot of information for her. She was just a child.

I have never looked at the Yad Vashem website before. Seeing the pictures of the victims before they were in the camps was unbearably emotional.

Sandy Golove sent information on Sonya Plotkina and Rochel Goldstein.
Sonya Plotkina was born in Korets, Poland in 1933 to Sholom and Rakhel nee Tzirkina. She was a child. Prior to WWII she lived in Chelonets, Poland. During the war she was in Khvorostov, Poland, where she was murdered.
Rochel Goldstein was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1924 to Yosef and Szerene nee Feldmann. She was single. Prior to WWII she lived in Budapest, Hungary. During the war, she was in Lichtenwoerth, Austria.  She was murdered at age 21.  Cause of death was listed as sexual assault.

Susan Schneiderman remembers:   Ronya Ochsman was born in Luniniec, Poland (previously part of Russia until WWI) in 1930 to Mottel (born in 1902) and Rivka nee Bachovczik (born in 1905). She was the youngest of 3 sisters.  Her older sisters were Malke (born in 1925) and Chava (born in 1927). Mother Rivka was a housewife and father Mottel was a cattle trader. The Ochsman family never made it out of Luniniec.  They were murdered by local townspeople in or around 1940. The Ochsmans' cousins, Avram and Dvera Raizin, left Poland before the war, in 1929, with their 2 young daughters, emigrating to Ontario, where they had another child.  The family eventually relocated to Nevada. 

In Ronya's memory, I am sending a memorial donation to the Anti-Defamation League, to support the fight against hate crimes.  I am hoping to find an address (email or physical) for one of her living cousins to list as recipient of the memorial card.  

Magdi Schwartz was 21 years old when she was murdered in Bergen Belsen.  She was unmarried and worked in a warehouse for a company called Gutman-Fekete in Budapest before being taken.   Unfortunately, I couldn't find any information about her employer or family.  Magdi's friend, Eva  Lustig Svartz provided testimony that Magdi died of starvation during a death march.  Eva posted a photo  of Magdi during happier times to the Yad VaShem data base.  Eva survived, settled in Bat Yam, Israel, and provided testimony concerning the death of many of her Hungarian friends from Budapest.  Because of her testimony, many young, unmarried Jews were remembered.

In Magdi's memory, I will donate an "extra" bag of food for the food drive and I am researching worthy groups of young Jewish singles to support.

From Karen Gault-Welt

Dear Rabbi,

I've spent a great deal of time on the Yad Vashem since your sermon on Rosh Hashanah.  Growing up Catholic, I never really gave a great deal of thought to the Holocaust until I met Phil and got to know his family.  His father, Morris, fought in WWII in Patton's third army and was a part of many of the major battles towards the end of the war.  I also know that not all of his family immigrated to the US from Romania, so I used the database to look up the last name Welt.  There were numerous names of those who were persecuted and murdered, and many more who they did not know what happened to them.  It left a lump in my throat and a feeling of innate sadness.

Reading the stories of the children were heartbreaking.......some of the children had pictures attached to their memorial page.  The absolute enormity of the waste of these beautiful children's potential was overwhelming.  I do not know yet how to best honor their memory.  I do know that this year on Kristallnacht, I will post once again that we must NEVER forget and I plan to scan in one of those lists and mention to my friends who have children, "What if this had been YOUR child."  

A very moving and deeply emotional sermon for both Phil and I.  I look forward to your follow up on Yom Kippur.

La Shana Tova!

Suzanne Horn will be dedicating a prayer book in memory of her person.  She writes:

Below is information about Elhanan who was born in the same town in Poland as my father's family.  My maiden name is Sesnowitz and we are related to the Sosnowitz family. 

Elhanan Cudzynowski was born in Sosnowiec, Poland in 1933 to Yaacob and Ester. He was a child. Prior to WWII he lived in Sosnowiec, Poland. During the war he was in Sosnowiec, Poland.

Elhanan was murdered in the Shoah in Auschwitz in 1943 at age 10.

This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed here) submitted by his cousin, Hanina Khanina Cudzynowski Tzudzinovski

Elhanan is no longer just a name. He is now a person whose birthplace connects him to my family.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to have this experience.

Jeannie Kasindorf writes that her chosen name to recall is Geni Fieniksz. She was a 19-year-old student who lived in Lodz and was murdered in 1944.

"Not much more info on her.

So then I started looking up her parents, who were also murdered, and the relative who submitted the info, Bila Kuperman, Geni's parent's niece and her first cousin.

I looked for the youngest person on my list. Knowing my father was a survivor, I wanted to preserve another young person's memory.

The Hebrew translation of her name is Gina, which is the name of my great aunt who after my father came to America, was like a grandmother to me.  And Gina's mother's name was Ester, which is my mother's Hebrew name.

My twin sister befriended a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who came to my house for Rosh Hashanah. Her name is Magda. She is now part of our family.
And so is Gena Fieniksz. 

I will say Kaddish for her. May her memory be a blessing."


From Pamela Tinkham:

"Found the pages of testimony.  I have the names on the shrine in my office with candles to remember them.  I dedicate my life to helping teens and adults and now I have some names to go with my dedication.  Thank you for this meaningful quest." 

From Beth Boyer:

Here's my name info: I had a sheet with adults listed. I selected a woman whose year of birth and death indicated she was 51 when she was murdered. That's how old I am.

Chaja Zycher was a housewife from Warszawa, Poland. This is the Polish spelling for Warsaw. I do not know if she was taken out by train, or whether she died in the ghetto, or by some other means. A relative of Chaja's knew only enough to indicate that she had been murdered, not how or where. But Yad Vashem provides this information by way of filling in missing material:

During the Shoah, Jews were murdered in a variety of ways, among them gassing, shooting, burning, drowning or burial alive, exhaustion through forced labor, starvation, epidemic diseases, deprivation of medical care and minimal hygienic conditions, and more. Some Jews took their own lives in order to escape arrest and further persecution, or to end their hopeless, relentless suffering.

So how to memorialize someone about whom I know so little? All I know is she was married, her mother's name was Rakhel, she lived in Warsaw, and she was murdered because she was a Jew. I assume a housewife of her age had children, and probably grandchildren. If they lived in Warsaw, it is also likely they all were murdered as well. 

According to the United States Holocaust Museum web site, Warsaw's population pre-war was 1.3 million, and of those, 350,000 were Jews, about 30% of the total. Warsaw was home to the largest Jewish population in Europe, second in the world only to New York. It is estimated 77% of all of Poland's Jews were killed during the Holocaust. I don't know how many from Warsaw survived, but I found a search engine on JewishGen that a child, named Danuta Zycher, from Poland, was evacuated to England. She later left, presumably after the war, for Palestine. Looking up Danuta's information, she does not appear to be the child or grandchild of Chaja, but perhaps she was a niece. 

As a way to memorialize this family, I made a donation to ASAF, an organization in Israel that aids asylum seekers there (mainly from east Africa). Just as Chaja was taken in as a refugee in Israel, an orphan, may Israel, which has been overwhelmed by asylum seekers from Africa be able to find a way to help those most desperately in need. 

G'mar tov!


From Karen Hayworth


The responses you shared inspired me to stop working and go to the Yad Vashem website.

I chose the name Beila Hoffman from your list, because my grandmother's maiden name was Hoffman.  The first thing that shocked me was that when I searched this name I got 96 hits.  For a single name (with alternate spellings).
I found the entry for Beila Hoffman of Kruszelnica, Poland.
Beila was murdered on July 13, 1941, at the age of 10.  Her parents were Hersh David and Ettl Hoffman.

Then I went back to the hit list and selected Izabella Hoffman from Tab, Hungary, since my grandmother's father came from Hungary.  She could be family.  Izabella, also known as Bella, was born to Julianna Kohn and Lipor Hoffman and she was a student.  Bella turned 13 in 1944.  She should have been celebrating her bat mitzvah and looking forward to her future.  Instead, she was murdered in Auschwitz.

Tomorrow, I will light Yahrzeit candles to remember these girls.

This project is one of the most meaningful Holocaust Remembrances that I have experienced.  For the first time, the victims are not "the 6 million" - mere numbers - but real people with names and stories.

Karen Hayworth 

From Judy Aronin

here is my person:
He lived in Nagyacsad, Szabolcs Hungary.
He was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944.

He died the year i was born!
The history of the holocaust which continues to soooooooooooooooooooo continually
haunt me IS ~ ~ ~ what would these people have become???
these precious lives!  would they have become scientists, humanitarians,
philanthropists, doctors??? which of these murdered people would
have discovered something brilliant ~ ~ ~
a cure for a disease??? a solution to world hunger & poverty???
who knows!!!!
and this treasure, DOV (our son daniel's hebrew name), he was murdered
at such a tender, young age, AND his  parents,
murdered in the holocaust.  we know of this history thru Dov's sister, YENTA VIG,
who survived.

in addition, i have been reading testimonies of brave, courageous survivors.
life was cruel, challenging AND beyond difficult even following liberation.
Many people died because they ate too much food.  People in the camps were so
malnourished & suffering beyond starvation ~ ~ ~ now they had the opportunity to consume food,
AND they ate too much, too quickly which caused death.

here is the testimony of JUDY ROSENZWEIG:
She was liberated from BERGEN BELSEN by the English Army.
The army said:
"We are the English Army ~ ~ You are liberated.  Stay away from danger and stay inside and we'll help you.  Stay alive.  Try to hang in there.  We're here to help you."

"And we knew we were liberated. So thank God we are alive. But are we really thankful?  Who are we?  Where are we going to go?  What are we?  Nothing.  That's okay, we're alive."

How to honor AND how to remember our ancestors ~ ~ ~ our sisters, our brothers, our children
who died as well as those who survived these horrors????
i am uncertain about precisely what i must do ~ ~ ~
i DO know we must STRIVE to honor and respect and treasure life ~ ~ ~
we must respect alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll life ~ ~ ~
people of alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll colors, alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll races, alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll nations.
we must, we must, we must STRIVE not to fear "the other"; somehow to find commonality
in the desire to celebrate the treasured gift of life!
currently, i am struggling to discover something tangible to honor AND to celebrate these

extraordinary people!  i will share with you when i discover what that will be!!!

And finally, me:

When I took my randomly selected list, there was a Mara on it, so I naturally gravitated to her - Mara Gudeiskaya, born in Odessa in 1933, murdered there as well.  Her aunt, who filled out a testimony form on her behalf, thinks she died in 1941, which would have made her eight at the time.  Her parents were named David and Sara.

In Mara Gudeiskaya's memory, I read up on a somewhat under-the-radar massacre of Ukrainian Jews that took place in 1941, with the prime perpetrators being Romanians.  Here's what I found on the US Holocaust Museum site .

Roughly 180,000 Jews lived in Odessa in 1939, about 30 percent of the total populaton. On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany and its  Axis  allies, including Romania, invaded the Soviet Union. In August 1941, Romanian troops set siege to Odessa. The city surrendered on October 16, 1941. At least half of the city's Jewish population had fled Odessa before Axis troops surrounded the city. Between 80,000 and 90,000 Jews remained in Odessa after the Romanian occupation.

Odessa became the administrative seat of Transnistria (the area of the Ukraine between the Bug and Dniester Rivers which was under Romanian control between 1941 and 1944). On October 22, 1941, a bomb exploded in Romanian military headquarters in Odessa. The blast killed 67 people, including the Romanian military commandant, 16 other Romanian officers, and four German naval officers.

Using the incident as an excuse, Romanian army units assembled 19,000 Jews in a public square in the harbor area and shot many of them. They doused others with gasoline and burned them alive. At least 20,000 other Jews were assembled at the local jail and then taken to the village of Dalnik. There, the Romanians shot some of the Jews and locked others into warehouses that they then set ablaze. Romanian troops shot and killed any Jews trying to escape the fire.

In November 1941, the Romanian authorities ordered the remaining 35,000 Jews in Odessa into two ghettos, Dalnik and Slobodka, established on the edge of the city. Many died of exposure, disease, and starvation over the next three months. In January and February 1942, Romanian police and military personnel deported the surviving 19,295 Jews from the Odessa ghettos to Romanian-administered camps and ghettos in the Berezovka region in Transnistria, including Bogdanovka, Domanevka, and Akhmetchetka. During 1943, SS detachments made up of local ethnic Germans murdered the remaining Odessa Jews, along with other Jews deported to the camps in Berezovka from elsewhere in Transnistria.   The Soviet army liberated Odessa in April 1944.

In memory of Mara Gudeiskaya, I am going to purchase copies of Rywka's Diary to use in teaching this year.  Rywka Lipszic and her diary were mentioned in my first day Rosh Hashanah sermon.  You'll be learning more about her on Yom Kippur.  This hidden Anne Frank has become a hero of sorts for me.

G'mar Hatima Tova

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman  

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