Explore Your

Jewish Heritage

in

Wyszków, Poland

Birth of this website

This website owes its origins to a meeting between Wojciech Chodkowski, President of the City Council for Wyszków, Poland, and Howard Orenstein, an American who visited  Wyszków in April, 2004. 

Left to Right: Chris Malczewski (Interpreter), Howard Orenstein, & Wojciech Chodkowski (President, Wyszków City Council)

Howard's father, Jack (Yankiel), was born in Wyszków in 1913 and emigrated to the United States in 1930.   Jack was the last person in his immediate family to reside in Wyszków, and talked with Howard about his life in the town, as well as in Warszawa, where he attended Yeshiva. Before Jack's death in 1996,  he and Howard discussed the family's lore and origins, which included other families, such as Blum (Bloom), Holland,  Ostrowiak, and Pieniek.  Read about Orenstein-Bloom genealogy.

Howard then found a copy of the 1929 Business Directory of Poland,  and, with some encouragement from Stanley Diamond,  Executive Director of Jewish Records Indexing - Poland, began a project to translate the Wyszków entries in that publication. Further discussions blossomed into a full-blown interest in family genealogy, which led eventually to Howard's involvement with projects already underway at Jewish Records Indexing - Poland, including the Wyszków Town Page and the Marriage Banns of Wyszków, Poland.

During this time period, Howard received a set of black and white photographs from Claudio Cembal, an Israeli, whose grandfather, Aharon Cembal, had lived in Wyszków.  Howard created a website which displayed these photos, mostly of people who were nameless. He then notified various JRI-Poland list subscribers, and requested that they try to identify the people depicted in the photos.  That website, which eventually morphed into a website hosted by Ada Holtzman,  is called, "We Remember Jewish Wyszków" .The website has links to translations of chapters from "Sefer Wyszków," the Yizkor Book of Wyszków, edited by David Shtokfish (1964).

At about the same time these developments were taking place, Wojciech Chodkowski seriously wondered about the decimation of Jewish life and its subsequent absence in Wyszków in the years following the Holocaust. Re-establishing a Jewish presence in Wyszków was not an easy task. Yet, in 1997, a large monument on the grounds of the former Wyszków Jewish cemetery was dedicated. Tombstones and pieces of Jewish tombstones that were discovered in and around the town, were incorporated into this beautiful and historic monument. The work on the monument was conducted under the supervision of The U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad but was funded by "Vishkovers" and their descendants all around the world. A few years later, in 2003, a monument was erected by the City Council to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the death of Wyszków native, Mordechai Anielewicz, the commander of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Under the forward-looking guidance of Wojciech and the City Council, additional efforts, including this website, are underway in order to reinvigorate Jewish interest in Wyszków.

If you would like to contact Howard for more information, or would like to provide material for this website, please do so by email: Howard Orenstein

Please check this page from time to time, as updates will appear.

Links

On Sunday, June 3, 2018, a monument was dedicated in Wyszków to the memory of former Wyszków Mayor, Stanislaw Wolski, who saved two Jewish Rubinowicz sisters from the Germans during WWII.

Photos of the historic event

English translation of Polish text follows:

This monument - a symbol of two values: humanity and self-government. Monument of tolerance. A monument to the memory and gratitude of two families whose lives here, in Wyszków, were joined by tragic war events. The monument to Stanislaw Wolski, the last pre-war mayor of Wyszków and two Jewish girls saved by him, was unveiled at Wyzwolenia Square in Wyszków on Sunday, 3 June. The inhabitants of Wyszków, present and those from a few dozen years ago, whose fate scattered the world, thus honored the feast of the Self-government.

The celebration began with a mass. for the residents of Wyszków, Stanislaw Wolski and the Wolski family. Participants of the ceremony then went through the streets of the city, assisted by the Youth Brass Band OSP under the baton of Franciszek Józef Bieganowski for the square of Liberation. At the unveiling of the monument to Wyszków, the family of Stanislaw and Wincentyna Wolski came in large numbers, including the Polish Consul General in Lviv, Stanislaw's grandson, Rafal Wolski. One of the heroines of the monument, saved by Stanislaw Wolski, was also present at the ceremony, today Brucha Rubinowicz and her family grew up. A family of late Rachela Rubinowicz also came from Israel and Paris. Guests were welcomed by the city host.

- Monuments, if they are to survive centuries, are built not on people but on values - said Grzegorz Nowosielski. - The monument of Stanislaw Wolski, the pre-war mayor of Wyszków, Righteous Among the Nations, is not only a monument of a man with a great heart, character and courage. It is above all a symbol of two very close values - humanity and self-government. Self-government is what society is like because people create it. And if it is made up of people like Stanislaw Wolski, he will always serve people who are close to people, placing man in the center of all values. We can be proud, we Wyszkówians, that one of us - the one who years ago from the will of society was the father of this city - was a noble, courageous, brave and protective father. Not only for their own children, but also for those in danger of needing help. This is a beautiful monument. Beautiful as an artistic work, as a history of human life, as a city history card, and finally beautiful as the idea of building authorities and the spirit of society. And there is great power in him, the same that causes good to always overcome evil. Maybe not right away, maybe you have to wait, but at the end good has to win. In this place, in front of the monument of our pre-war mayor, we will remind you that our local government is strong, smart, based on agreement and service to another man - assured the mayor, Grzegorz Nowosielski.

- We want to consolidate in our hearts and in this monument our gratitude for the mayor of pre-war this Wyszków-land. And we want, while looking at this monument, to serve those values that this image presents - he added, commemorating the monument, Fr. Zdzislaw Golan.

Respect for the work of his grandfather and the memory of him, thanked the grandson of Stanislaw Wolski, Rafal:
- Commemoration of Stanislaw Wolski and together with him Wincentyna Maria Wolska is for us, their descendants, a commitment. It is also a commitment for Wyszkówians, including those scattered around the world. The memory of Stanislaw Wolski should be what unites the exiles - those of the past and those present. It will be a very joyful day for us, for our family, and it will be easier for us to live with the knowledge that the mayor Stanislaw Wolski returned to Wyszków - he said.
For the Wolski family, Wyszków was a happy refuge after a forced escape from the Vilnius region. From June 3, 2018, it will be another reason for pleasant memories.

- I am pleased that I could come to Wyszków, my little homeland. The inhabitants and authorities of my Wyszków gave me the biggest surprise and gift in my life. My irreplaceable father and pre-war mayor of Wyszków was honored. I still think I'm dreaming to meet my friends from Isreal in our Wyszków. Our families are proof that in the time of even the worst terror, inhuman actions and crimes one must have hope for a better tomorrow and a normal life. You can not forget about those dark years, and people like my dad were many. They risked their own lives and their families, but they did not consider themselves heroes. It was a measure of humanity for them - Maria, nee Wolska, daughter of Stanislaw Wolski confessed.

- I did not think I would go back to Wyszków - said Bronia Rubinowicz, one of the two girls saved by Stanislaw Wolski, in turn moved.

The idea of the monument was personally told by prof. Czeslaw Dzwigaj, author of the design and performer of the monument.

- The figure of the mayor is a ghost hovering over two girls. He has very big hands, he embraces girls, and he has no legs, he is above them. He kept his identity as a Catholic, an open person and he saves his life. Especially there is a sign, a form of a base that may resemble the Star of David, because it was in this place synagogue. There are also imprinted feet and hands - traces of those who did not survive who left. There are also eternal times for young people to go reading "Righteous Among the Nations" - original copies of this medal.

According to the professor, the monument is characterized by one word:

- Tolerance. It is very important that it is well understood and implemented among our youth and in the international system - he emphasized.

Stanislaw Wolski was the mayor of Wyszków in 1931-1939. After the outbreak of the war he refused to cooperate with the Germans and during the German occupation he worked with his family as a gardener in a rented garden in Wyszków. Together with his wife, Wincentyna, they saved two Jewish girls from the war pogrom, the daughter of the Wyszynski Jew Rubinowicz. One of them lives in Israel. Stanislaw Wolski had the reputation of an excellent local government, expert and devoted to his work. In 1938, he was awarded by President Ignacy Mościcki with the Silver Cross of Merit. He was a Piłsudski, a social activist, a patriot, honored with the honorary badge of the 13th Infantry Regiment. He was considered a good, honest and noble man of great courage, which certainly required hiding Jewish girls during the occupation, for which he was awarded the Righteous Among the Nations medal by Yad Vashem. Last year, for his heroic attitude and extraordinary courage in saving lives of Jews during World War II, but also for outstanding merits in defending dignity and humanity, the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, posthumously awarded Stanislaw and Wincentyna Wolski with the Knight's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.

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The US Library of Congress has published online images of the 1926 declarations of friendship between Poland and the US, "signed" by more than 5 million Polish people, the vast majority of them students of primary and secondary schools. You can browse the signatures to see who attended schools in Wyszków:
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If you would like to see a very detailed version of this image (about 12 MB) click here: large version.

If you can identify anyone in the photo please contact me.

On May 8, 2013, the town of Wyszków staged memorial ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Wyszków-born Mordekhai Anielewicz, leader of the Uprising. The program included a scholarly and educational session which focused on the remembrance of Mordekhai Anielewicz, and his merits with regard to Poles and Jews. The meeting was co-organized by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, whose home is in Warsaw.

The program consisted of two parts: The first was the commencement of ceremonies at the monument of Mordekhai Anielewicz (Berek Joselewicz Square), featuring a speech by a representative of Wyszków Jews, Alan Grosbard ( a US-based attorney). He is the 4th speaker in the video. His remarks are translated into Polish by Krzysztof Malczewski, Jewish Records Indexing-Poland representative in Poland.

Video: Ceremony at the Mordekhai Anielewicz Monument in Wyszków

The second part was a scholarly-educational session at the Hutnik Cultural Center in Wyszków. A very touching moment for all participants was experienced during the speech of Alan Grosbard whose family comes from Wyszków.

Video: Mr. Grosbard at Wyszków Cultural Center

Text of Mr. Grosbard's speech can be found here.

Here is a photo (courtesy of Elzbieta Szczuka) of the house (at Zakolejowa 45) owned until 1939 by Zalman Grosbard, Alan Grosbard's grandfather. To its right, you can see a glass factory (Robotnicza Huta Szklana), which continues to operate as part of Ardagh Glass S.A., a company now traded on the NYSE.

Visit the Wyszków Virtual Shtetl at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. *PHOTO: Giborim Heroes scout group against a studio backdrop, Vishkov (Wyszkow), Poland, 1930s.
If you recognize someone in the photo, please contact me.

*"Flight From Fear" is the Holocaust memoir of Rabbi Samuel Cywiak, who was born in Wyszków, Poland in 1920. It chronicles the six years during World War II where, not only did he survive the wraths of both Adolf Hilter and Joseph Stalin and witness many horrors throughout Europe, but he was ordained a rabbi, became a husband and father, and witnessed and experienced many miracles. He was ordained by Rabbi Chaim ben Zion Notealevitz in New York and later certified fit in matters of Jewish legal questions by the great Moshe Feinstein. Rabbi Cywiak was honored by former President of Venezuela, Carlos Andres Perez, for community service and has had a distinguished career as an Orthodox Rabbi, mohel, and cantor for over sixty years now. For more information about Rabbi Cywiak's memoir visit Flight From Fear


*Ghetto Fighters House Archives: Wyszków entries

* Read "Wyszków"
--- from Pinkas Hakehillot Polin: Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland, Volume I, pages 199-201, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
* Read Meir Gover's description of the headstone for his great granduncle, Zwi Herz Broder
* Where We Came From: Stories from the Radzyminski Family by Rona G. Finkelstein

Israeli Memorials for Vanished Communities (Holocaust Era):

click here --------> Wyszków

*Read about Frida Grapa Cielak's grandmother, Khavele Markushamer, from Wyszków
in English or in Spanish.
*Attention all Wyszków Survivors and their descendants!
Well-known Mexican historian, author and essayist, Dr. Enrique KRAUZE, in gathering information for "The Wyszków Project"
*The Wyszków Cemetery project
*Short Film of The Wyszków Cemetery
*Jewish Cemeteries in Poland (In English)
*Jewish Cemetery in Wyszków (In Polish)
*Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw; Marriage Banns of Wyszków
*Orenstein-Bloom Genealogy
*Wyszków Entries, 1929 Polish Business Directory (English)
*We Remember Jewish Wyszków, Poland
*Wyszków Town Page JRI-PL
*Wyszków Yizkor Book
*1921 Polish Census Cover Page, Warsaw Voivodship
*Jewish Population of Wyszków and nearby towns, 1921
*Photos Wyszków, 1920s-30s, 1939-1945
*Aerial Photo of Wyszków, 1944 (courtesy Stanley Diamond)
*Photos, Wyszków 2004
*"Original" 1929 Wyszków Business Directory Page
*Photos of Wyszków Prior to WW II
*Museum of Family History-Wyszków