Sunday, November 27, 2005

One Out of Six Million

Hello everyone!
This feels good. The Jewish Freak has a lot to say.
For my first post I submit the story of my great-uncle. It was written in Hebrew by my maternal grandmother's sister who moved to Israel before WWII. The imperfect translation is my own.

In order to understand the magnitude of the holocaust, I ask the reader to remember that this is only one story of one person out of six million murdered.

by B.B.

Regarding my brother Dovid, there is so much to write about. Who in our town was not familiar with Dovid? Who in all the surrounding area did not hear of his righteousness and good deeds? He was so great a tzadik (righteous person) that few were on par with him, even in those days. When he was still a young boy, he was already spending his days and nights in the Beis Midrash (study hall) concerning himself with Torah and Avodah (service). His mother would beg and plead with him to come home to eat because there were times that he forgot he even needed to eat.
While still in his youth he was ordained as a Rabbi (teacher). The study of Torah literally was never absent from his lips. He kept with him at all times the book "Chofeytz Chayim" ("He who desires life" written by one of the greatest rabbis of his generation) and would constantly be studying from it. He also travelled to the town of Radin - hundreds of kilometers from Tarnobjek (his home town) in order to visit with the famous Chofeytz Chayim (the famous rabbi named for the book he penned).
Not only did Dovid distinguish himself in the study of torah, but also and perhaps even more so did he distinguish himself with his acts of charity and piety. All poor people when feeling downtrodden and bitter in spirit would turn to him - and he would help them all! Between mincha and maariv (afternoon and evening prayers) he would make the rounds in the beis midrash to collect funds for the poor. Similarly, he would concern himself with all of the poor people who came from outside of the town and would invite them to the beis midrash to feed them and also to give them money. He organized a system of written obligations for all of the heads of housholds in order to obligate them to feed the poor once a week or at least once every two weeks. In this manner did every poor person who came to our town receive a proper meal with dignity in an efficient and organized way.
On Friday evenings he did not return home from prayers until he had arranged for all of the needy who were strangers in town, a place to eat the Sabbath meal. Any remaining poor who were not set up for a meal with any of the townspeople - and most of these remainders were among the poorest of the poor, ragged and worn - Dovid would bring these people home with him! When mother would ask why he couldn't bring home a better class of poor, he replied: "And who will take in these poor? Should I have left them with no place to eat for the sabbath"?
Dovid married a woman from the town of Madin(?) and settled there. There too he continued to grow and strengthen his service of G-d. He was dilligent in his Torah and Avodah and he involved himself in acts of charity and good deeds. The townspeople who had already heard of him before his arrival, recognized his greatness even more now, seeing his precious righteousness and good deeds. After only a short time had passed, he was accepted as an authority and Dayan (judge in the jewish court). He was one who observed the edict "Do not fear any person" in his legal decisions. He would not superficially flatter the townspeople. On the contrary, he would chastize them, and was insistent on the correctness of every detail. They all extended honor to him, feared him, and tried to improve their ways.
His greatness and righteousness can not be described in words. This became apparent to those who were with him at the time of his greatest challenge, when the evil ones took him to be killed. It was told to me that when the jews of Poland learned of their bitter fate, and the deportation of the jews to their destruction had begun, the parrish priest upon hearing of Dovid's righteousness, offered to save him from the Nazi's claws and to hide him in safety. But he refused saying: "If you can not save all the jews of the town, then my fate shall be with them".
On the day of the deportation, he removed the Torah scrolls from the Ark and said to the people of the town: "Don your talleisim (prayer shawls) and we will go with joy to give our lives in sanctification of G-d's exalted name"! He donned his white robe and tallis, purified and sanctified himself, took a Torah scroll in hand and began to dance with great enthusiasm. With a fiery expression born of joyfulness and holiness he went to meet his death. He was lost together with his wife and children. May G-d avenge his blood, and may the righteous be remembered for a blessing. - B.B.

My grandmother's gravesite bears the names of her parents and five of her siblings mercilessly taken from her before their time.
May their nazi murderers pay the price of the jewish lives they took. - JF

A personal note:
Rav Dovid - I have undertaken that you should not be forgotten. I have named my oldest son after you. The memory of you and your deeds are an inspiration and a blessing to all jews for all times. - Your admiring great nephew (Soroh's grandson).