The Days of Awe and the Years of Horror by Menachem Z. Rozensaft



Zawiercie Web Site

December 1, 2014

The Zawiercie web site was redesigned. The new version includes all the material that was presented in the older version with additional pages.

The current history page includes new essays and references about the history of Kromolow and Zawiercie in general and in particular the history of the Jewish community.

The web site is work in progress and we will be happy to receive photographs, stories and data of the Jewish life in Kromolow and Zawiercie.


Zawiercie Jewish Cemetery

Restoration Project

Dec 26, 2014

Dear friends,

I finally organized all the pictures I could  find and I created a site on my Facebook page titled “Zawiercie Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project.” 

 As regards the cemetery, Marcin Bergier was very busy this year clearing the vegetation and smaller trees as well as the area at the entrance behind the two buildings either side of the gate. He also contacted the city to empty the garbage can behind the carriage house.   I have also sent him a chainsaw, which he plans on using next year to  take down some of the smaller trees...  One of the most difficult issue we are dealing with are the two buildings on either side of the entrance gate.  The one on the left is the carriage house and the one on the right is where the caretaker lived and the bodies were prepared for burial.  These two buildings have serious structural damage...  If we don’t get some serious money,  the two buildings will likely have to be torn down.  If anyone has any idea about a charitable organization we can contact to get a grant, please let me know.

Please forward this note to anyone I may have missed. 

Thank you,

Joe Greenbaum



December 2, 2014

On Tuesday April 9, 2013 Joe Greenbaum send email to a group of people that have an interest in the town of Zawiercie:

"Dear Friends and Family, I would like to inform you that the city of Zawiercie is planning to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the liquidation of the Zawiercie ghetto on Thursday, August 29, 2013. Attached, you will find the invitation and a preliminary program schedule. "

The event took place on August 29, 2013 and Heidi Urich shared with me her experience:

"I attended the Zawiercie commemoration and found it to be a very worthwhile experience. I was particularly moved by the procession from the marketplace at the edge of the ghetto to the train station. In addition to town officials, there appeared to be a great many town residents who joined us as we walked about a mile on the route our family members were forced to take as they were being deported to Auschwitz. A large plaque commemorating the Jewish community was unveiled at the train station opposite the tracks in a solemn ceremony. This was followed by another ceremony at the Jewish cemetery. "

Read more ....


The Days of Awe and the Years of Horror by Menachem Z. Rozensaft




Menachem Z. Rosensaft, (born in 1948 Bergen-Belsen, Germany) an attorney in New York and the Founding Chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Survivors, is a leader of the Second Generation movement of children of survivors,[1] and has been described on the front page of the New York Times as one of the most prominent of the survivors' sons and daughters.

Rosensaft has also struggled with the theological implications of the Holocaust. “Where was God when the fires of Auschwitz failed to ignite the universe,” he asked at a 1995 commemoration at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

Rosensaft elaborated on this theme in a guest sermon at Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City on September 7, 2013, the Saturday between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, in which he concluded that as he remembered his parents on the anniversary of their death, "perhaps God did not hide His face from them after all during the years of the Shoah. Perhaps it was a divine spirit within them that enabled them to survive with their humanity intact. And perhaps it is to that God that we should be addressing our prayers during these Days of Awe and throughout the year.

In this context of the theme in the sermon Rosensaft brings a story, told by his father, about the Rabbi of the Polish city of Zawiercie. With the permission of Prof. Menachem Rosensaft that part of his sermon is brought here. To read the full sermon check the reference in faithstreet

In mid-October 1943, during Sukkot, my father smuggled a tiny apple into the Birkenau barrack where the inmates had gathered to pray so that the highly respected Rabbi of the Polish city of Zawiercie, known as the Zawiercier Rov, could recite the Kiddush blessings. Throughout the prayers, my father recalled, the aged Rov stared at the apple, obviously conflicted. At the end of the clandestine service, he picked up the apple and said, in Yiddish, almost to himself, “Un iber dem zol ikh itzt zogn, ‘veakhalta ve-savata u-verakhta et Hashem Elohekha . . . .’” And over this, I should now say, “And you will eat, and you will be satisfied, and you will bless your God . . . .” “Kh’vel nisht essen,” I will not eat, he said, “veil ikh vel nisht zat sein,” because I will not be satisfied, “un ikh vill nisht bentchn” and I refuse to bentch, to sanctify God. And with that, the Zawiercier Rov put down the apple and turned away.


About Menachem Rosensaft from Wikipedia

The paragraph is quation from:
Menachem Z. Rosensaft, “The Days of Awe and the years of horror,” 


The Zawiercier Rov never lost his faith in God. Like the Hasidic master, Levi Itzhak of Berditchev, however, he was profoundly, desperately angry with Him, and this anger caused him to confront God from the innermost depths of his being.

One evening around the same time, my father and a group of Jews from Zawiercie were sitting in their barrack when the Zawiercier Rov suddenly said, again in Yiddish, “You know, der Rebboine shel-oilem ken zein a ligner,” the Master of the Universe can be a liar. Asked how this could possibly be, the rabbi explained, “If God were to open His window now and look down and see us here, He would immediately look away and say, “Ikh hob dos nisht geton,” I did not do this—and that, the Zawiercier Rov said, would be the lie.

The following year, the Jewish kapo an inmate assigned supervisory tasks by the Germans in charge of Block 11, where my father had been an inmate for more than five months, wanted my father to conduct the Yom Kippur service. Emaciated, starved, my father chanted Kol Nidrefrom memory in the Death Block of Auschwitz, and then led the prayers there that evening and the following day for his fellow prisoners. As a reward, the kapo gave my father and the other inmates of Block 11 an extra bowl of soup to break the fast.

“You have screened Yourself off with a cloud, so that no prayer can pass through,” we read in the Book of Lamentations. And yet it is told that Reb Azriel David Fastag, a disciple of the Hasidic Rebbe of Modzhitz, spontaneously composed and began to sing what has become the bestknown melody to Maimonides’ 12th Principle of Jewish Faith while in a cattle car from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp: “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and even though he may tarry, nevertheless I will wait every day for him to come.”

A young Jew managed to escape from the Treblinka-bound train, taking with him the niggun, the melody of Reb Azriel David Fastag’s “Ani Ma’amin.” Eventually the melody reached the Modzhitzer Rebbe who is said to have exclaimed, “With this niggun the Jewish people went to the gas chambers, and with this niggun, the Jews will march to greet the Messiah.”