The Jews of Ivansk (Poland)
Honoring our ancestors and preserving our identity

Ivansk Project Newsletters

beginning with the most recent issue

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NOTE (Oct 25, 2007):
Beginning with the earliest newsletters, all are being updated to include photos previously linked to another website. An asterisk * beside the Issue number denotes these updated newsletters)

Updated: Apr 29, 2017


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2011 Nov - Dec

o Yidel Podeswa, Artist and Ivansker
by Gary Lipton (with Arthur E. Zimmerman)

Born in Ivansk in the 1920s,Yidel shares his childhood memories of shtetl life. In the early 1930s the dismal economy in Ivansk forced his family to move to Lódz. Yidel’s innate artistic talents emerged when he was teenager. He created numerous canvases both before and even during the war. Sadly, most of these works have been lost. A few were miraculously found after the war. In 1950 Yidel moved to Canada where he married, raised a family and continued to paint to critical acclaim.

o Searching for Ivansk in the Kielce Polish State Archives
by Pawel Skowron

Powel Skowron is currently working towards his PhD on the interwar history of the Jews of Chmielnik, a shtetl in the same region of Poland as Ivansk. Much of his research is being carried out in the Kielce Polish State Archives, which also houses material about Iwaniska. He has kindly provided us with the first of a series of documents relating to the lives of Ivanskers before WWII.

o Ivansker Teenagers Appreciate Their Heritage
by Norton Taichman

Our teenagers are seriously interested in their heritage and will eagerly accept the responsibility of becoming the guardians of their family’s history and preserving Jewish memory. It is up to us, their parents, grandparents and other relatives to nourish their curiosity and encourage them to discover who they are and where they came from.

2011 Sep - Oct

Author Sheds Light on Nazi Labor Camps    by Dean Shalhoup

Historian Christopher Browning and Ivansker Yechiel Eisenberg share the podium in New Hampshire in a discussion about what it was like to be a slave in Starachowice.

The Suicidal Passion       
by Ruth R. Wisse

Who is damaged more by anti-Semitism — Jews, or those who organize politics against them?Ruth Wisse states that political anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism ...“are about the Jews only in the way that fox hunting is about foxes”. In her compelling essay Wisse reviews the basis for and the consequences of modern political anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Middle East. Why is anti-Semitism so pervasive and so effective as a means of attaining and holding onto political power and authority? Wisse reminds us that nations that persecute and demonize Jews ultimately deny their own citizenry’s basic human rights and lag behind in economic productivity.

Empty Gestures        
by Emanuele Ottolenghi

Never Again!” is interpreted one way by Israelis and another way by Europeans.  For Ottolenghi the bottom line is this: if its worst fears about its enemies turn out to be true, will any other nation come to Israel’s rescue? The lessons of Czechoslovakia in 1938 and Poland in 1939 have not been lost on the Israelis.

The e-News Turns 50

The first issue of the e-News appeared in the autumn of 2003. At that time I don’t think anyone thought it would ever reach “middle age”. Fifty issues later I am proud of what The Ivansk Project has accomplished. Our commitment to honor our ancestors and to illuminate our collective heritage has been realized. We started with very little. But thanks to the contributions and encouragement of Ivanskers throughout the world we now know where we came from and who we are. More still remains to be done. Please let me know what kind of material you enjoy reading in the e-News. Suggest subjects you’d like to see in future editions. And if possible, submit stories, photos, letters, etc about your family and your connections to Ivansk. With thanks and very best wishes, Norton Taichman

July - Aug
  • An Amazing Thing Happened On Our Trip to Poland   by Judy Tolkan

In the summer of 2011 Judy and her husband Howard visited her ancestors’ shtetls, Lagov and Ivansk. They also spent time in neighboring Apt where an unexpected meeting took place … an encounter that they’ll never forget.

  • Finding Leah Tickotsky. A Discovery of Heritage in Poland.
    A film by Sarah Golabek-Goldman

Sarah Golabek-Goldman documents her journey of personal discovery in Poland. Her inspirational account also raises important questions about Polish-Jewish history, past, present and future.   Her film is reviewed by Pauline Dubkin Yearwood.

  • Jewish School Graduates Focus on Themes of Persecution by Rachel Burstein

    Are Jewish day schools focusing too heavily on the history of Jewish victimhood and persecution? As a consequence, are their students ignorant and uninterested in national and global affairs? These important issues are raised by Burstein and discussed by readers who respond (pro and con) to her conclusions.
  • Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder A book review by David Herman

David Herman characterizes Timothy Snyder’s “Bloodlands” as one of the most important contributions to our understanding of 20th century European history. I’ve just completed the book and enthusiastically recommend it, because of Snyder’s keen analysis and new interpretations of Hitler’s and Stalin’s brutal assaults on the peoples (including the Jews) of eastern Europe from 1933-1945.

2011 May - June
  • The Ivansker Mutual Benefit Society’s 25th Anniversary,  1932 – 1957

Two interesting articles have been copied from The Ivansker Mutual Benefit Society’s 25th Anniversary Jubilee Book. M. Meyers reviews the accomplishments of the Society during its first 25 years. Most admirable is the membership’s commitment to assist those in need both at home and abroad. N. Shemen’s essay focuses on religious life in Ivansk before WWII. He describes numerous Torah scholars and the charitable, social and political organizations that were central to the town’s dynamic Jewish culture.

  • The Holocaust We Don’t See: Lanzmann’s Shoah Revisited, by Timothy Snyder

To mark its 25th anniversary, Claude Lanzmann’s landmark film, “Shoah” was re-released in 2010.  Historian Timothy Snyder reviews the film and explains why it still serves as a forceful vehicle for transmitting the indescribable…the history of mass murder.

  • Two Reviews - Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness (2011)

A video biography of the great story-teller, Sholem Aleichem is currently featured in Jewish film festivals in Canada and the USA (and perhaps elsewhere). Two informative reviews will whet your appetite to see the production. Be on the lookout for it.

  • Yad Vashem’s Video Lectures Collection:
    Insights and Perspectives from Holocaust Researchers and Historians

Numerous scholars in residence at Yad Vashem provide summaries of their work on-line. A list of the wide ranging topics currently available is provided. This incredible resource will be invaluable to everyone interested in the Holocaust.

2011 Mar - Apr
  • Shtetl by Samuel Kasso

For centuries the shtetl symbolized the distinct Jewish people hood in Eastern Europe. Samuel Kasso has constructed a comprehensive history of the “real” and the “imagined” shtetl. He skillfully weaves a fascinating story that captures the essence of that vanished world. His scholarship is a notable contribution to our understanding of where we came from.

  • “The Eichmann Trial”
    Commentaries on Deborah Lipstadt’s New Book

    *The Whole Truth, by Jonathan Kirsch

    *On 50th Anniversary of His Trial, Eichmann’s Case Still Brands Israel, by Thane Rosenbaum

    *Should Bin Laden Have Faced a Judge? by Deborah Lipstadt

2011 Jan - Feb
  • In Memorium:  Mendy Shuman, z”l  (1932 – 2010).
                - Mendy, My Brother.   
    by Jerry Shuman
    A Tribute.     by Gary Lipton

    Mendy’s brother Jerry, and fellow Ivansker Gary Lipton pay homage to a man who left his mark on many people. Mendy was a man who held solid values, who was passionate about his family and who served his community.
  • Ivansker Mutual Benefit Society Seventh Annual Banquet, January 2, 1938.
    Introduction by  Gary Lipton            

The booklet commemorating the anniversary is reproduced in this issue of the e-Newsletter.

  • Memories of Lagov.    by  J. B. Salsberg

            With an Introduction by Ettie Taichman:
            Remembering  Joseph B. Salsberg  (1902 – 1998)

Lagov was a stone’s throw from Ivansk and both shtetls had a Jewish population of about 2,000 individuals. Joe Salsberg’s recollections of his childhood, as well as his return to Lagov just before the outbreak of WWII, would probably have produced almost the same memories had he been born in Ivansk.

  • The Last Naiman Children of Ivansk.     by  Mindy Horrow

Mindy and her family pay a memorable visit to Israel to meet with relatives who were born in Ivansk.

  • Tragic Artifacts.     by Randy Cohen

    Randy Cohen of The New York Times considers whether it is ethical to purchase articles that were “looted” or “abandoned” during the Holocaust.

  • On-Line Broadcasts of Interest to Descendents of Polish Jews.
    Part 1:  My Fear of Poland.    
    Part 2: A Conversation with Yale Reisner.

                                          by Natalie Kestecher

Natalie Kestecher embarks on a journey of self discovery in Poland. While visiting her family’s shtetl, she finds the house where her father was born. She also learns about the past and the present world of Polish Jewry. 

Nov - Dec
  • A Closer Reading of Roman Vishniac    by Alana Newhouse

Roman Vishniac’s photographs of Polish Jews were taken just before the Holocaust. For many of us, his black and white images represented how we perceived our ancestors’ world. Alana Newhouse reviews new findings indicating that Vishniac deliberately selected his subjects to advance an impression of the shtetl as a place where Jewish life was dominated by poverty and piety and by men and women whose burdens had caused them to grow old before their time. 

  • The Shtetl, Reconsidered     by Eric Herschthal
Why did millions of Jews leave Poland beginning late in the 19th century and continuing until WW II (1939)? Anti-Semitism was certainly a major concern. But progroms were not a primary determinant. Most Jews immigrated for economic reasons. Other factors included the penetration of modernity into traditional Jewish society and culture, as well as the continuing political upheavals in Eastern Europe.
  • The Crime of Surviving     by  Dovid Katz
It’s hard to believe that an elderly Jewish woman who joined the anti-Nazi resistance in the forests of Lithuania is being defamed. She has been accused of being a war criminal. The background and the politics that underlie this sinister, obscene affair make compelling reading.
  • German Army Honors Jews Who Fought In World War I   by Jack Ewing

Do you believe the world is round? Think again. On November 8th, the day before the 72nd anniversary of Kristallnacht, members of the German army placed wreaths at a memorial for Jewish soldiers who fought and died for Germany in WW I.

2010 Sep - Oct
  • In Memoriam:    Arthur Lipton,  z”l    (July 25, 1914 – July 29, 2010)

Arthur (Artie) Lipton lived a long, productive life. He left behind a loving family and an enviable record of service to his community. His children, Carol and Michael, pay tribute to their Father. His nephew, Gary Lipton tells us that Artie was the “heart and soul” of the Ivansker Mutual Benefit Society.

  • An Ivansker Child Looking For Answers      by  Raymond Rosenberg

Raymond summarizes the history of his family. Like many of us, he knows relatively little about his ancestral roots.  He seeks our help in learning more about his family, especially his Father, Sam (Zelig) Rosenberg who was born in Ivansk and immigrated to Toronto in the 1920s.

  • Tumultuous Time.  A panoramic history of Russian and Polish Jewry focuses on the key period between 1881 and 1914.       by  Adam Kirsch

Adam Kirsch is a contributing editor to Tablet, an on-line magazine featuring material on Jewish life and civilization. His article is intended as a review of Antony Polonsky’s, The Jews in Poland and Russia, Volume II: 1881 to 1914, But Kirsch has done more than just critique the book. He’s written a thought-provoking essay about the period when most of our ancestors left Poland for distant lands.

  • “The Right Road to Pontypool”      reviewed by  Gary Lipton

“The Right Road to Pontypool” is a play about Moishe Yukel Bernstein, an Ivansker who settled in Pontypool, Ontario in the early 1900s. There, Moishe Yukel began an unpretentious summer retreat for Toronto’s Jewish immigrants.  Soon, many hotels and resorts sprang up in the town, which became a popular destination for hundreds of Jewish families seeking relief from the city’s heat and humidity. But by the 1960s Pontypool was no longer fashionable and its Jewish character withered and little is left to remind of us of the past.

  • Do You Remember Pontypool?  The e-Newsletter would like to publish a history of the Jewish experience in Pontypool focusing on the Ivanskers who earned their livelihood or vacationed in the area.  We need your help to write the story.  
2010 Jul - Aug
  • Kielce and Radom Gubernias – Geographic History     

    by Warren Blatt

In the late 19th - early 20th century Iwaniska (Ivansk) was located in the Radom gubernia (province). Warren Blatt, currently the Managing Director of JewishGen, has written a concise account of the history and geography of Radom and its neighboring gubernia, Kielce. His essay was published in Kielce-Radom SIG Journal, Volume 1, Number 1, pp 3–7, 1997.

  • Surnames from Eastern Radom Gubernia    

    compiled by Alexander Beider

Searching early 20th century voters’ lists and post WWII Yiskor books, Alexander Beider compiled a list of Jewish surnames from the 4 eastern districts of the Radom gubernia. The names were published in Kielce-Radom SIG Journal, Volume 1, Number 1, pp 17-23, 1997. Ivansk was located in the district of Opatów, and surnames from this area are presented in the e-newsletter.

  • Ivansker Marriages in Neighboring Towns, 1826-1881
    compiled by Norton Taichman

There are no existing records of Jewish marriages in Ivansk. However, some Ivanskers, usually men, were married in neighboring shtetlach. A list of these unions has been assembled from 19th century records published in the Kielce-Radom SIG Journal.

2010 May - June
  • Ruth Lederman Celebrates Her 100th Birthday!

Mazel Tov to Ruth and her family! Ivanskers hope that she will continue to enjoy good health and live “till 120” surrounded by those who love her.

  • The Foundation for the Preservation of the Jewish Heritage in Poland 
    by Monika Krawczyk

 Monika Krawczyk is CEO of The Foundation dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Jewish Civilization that blossomed in Poland and contributed so much to our Jewish World. She seeks our interest and help in fulfilling The Foundation’s work.

  •  Studies Show Jews’ Genetic Similarity        by Nicholas Wade  
      … with an Introduction by Lorne B. Taichman

DNA sequencing reveals that Ashkenazim and Sephardim share many genes inherited from a Jewish population that lived in the Middle East some 3,000 years ago. Indeed, it looks like we belong to a very, very large extended family.

  • Chosen, but Not Special    by Michael Chabon

When compared to other nations, are Jews endowed with more “siechel” (wisdom) because of our “Yiddishe kops” (Jewish heads)? Chabon concludes that we are just like everybody else. Reactions to his opinions, in letters written by readers of the New York Times, are recorded at the conclusion of his essay.

  • The First Step on the Road to Another Treblinka     by Norton S. Taichman

All my adult life I’ve been studying the history of the Holocaust. It was not until I attended a lecture at a church in my neighborhood that I personally understood how well-meaning people can unknowingly set us on the path to another Treblinka.

2010 Mar - Apr
  • Bulgaria’s Role In The Holocaust: Deserving of Praise or Scorn? by Norton S. Taichman

Despite its alliance with the Nazis, almost all of Bulgaria’s 50,000 Jews survived WWII because Bulgarian Christians protested against the deportation of their neighbors to the death camps. On the other hand, Bulgaria invaded Greece and Yugoslavia and killed 20,000 Jews (as well as thousands of other civilians) in the conquered territories. Should we honor Bulgaria or hold it accountable for crimes against humanity?
[In the preparation of this manuscript it is a pleasure to acknowledge the helpful advice given to me by my friend, Joe Shrager of Philadelphia. I also thank Laurie Naiman and Louise Taichman for proof-reading the final document.]

ADDENDUM (May 17): An article in the May 16 issue of GlobalPost reports on efforts of the tiny Jewish community left in the Macedonian city of Skopje to commemorate those Jews (98% of their population) killed by the Bulgarian occupiers in WWII.

  • Capitalism and the Jews: by Jerry Z. Muller.
    reviewed by Catherine Rampell

Jerry Z. Muller presents a provocative survey of how Jewish culture and historical accident ripened Jews for commercial success and why that success has earned them so much misfortune.

  • On-Line Search for Ancestors Buried in Warsaw’s Jewish Cemetery

Researchers can now access the database of the names of approximately 80,000 individuals who were buried in the Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery.

2010 Jan - Feb
  • In Memoriam:    Zvi Weissdorf, z”l  and   Ben Teichman, z”l

Our community has lost two men who contributed to our collective heritage.  Koby Silberstein’s eulogy for his friend Zvi and Jennifer Teichman’s tribute to her grandfather appear in the e-Newsletter.

  • Seeing the Good in People   by Audrey Taichman

Audrey describes why she once disliked Poland but has now come to judge Poles on an individual basis and has found more “good” than “bad” people.

  • "I Miss You, Jew!"   by Grzegorz (Greg) Gregorczyk

Something really strange is happening in Poland …”I Miss You, Jew” graffiti is popping up all over the place. Our foreign correspondent in Warsaw investigates.

  • The Ladies of the Henry Street Shul  (Revisited)

Arthur Zimmerman and Saul Glass provide information about Mrs. Goldhar who appeared in the group photo of “The Ladies” that was taken in 1908. [see: The Ivansk Project e-Newsletter,  No. 17, 2006, page14 ]

  • Welcome to God’s Country   a blog by  David Blumenfeld

David announces the inauguration of a blog featuring his fantastic collection of stunning photographs.

2009 Nov - Dec
  • Pope Pius XII: A Good Man or a Good Company Man?       by  “Zellick Ivansker”

The controversy concerning whether Pius XII deserves to be canonized is heating up. Did he do enough to try to save Europe’s Jews from the Nazis? We are far from obtaining a complete answer because many of the relevant documents pertaining to his papacy have been destroyed or remain closed to public scrutiny within the Vatican Archives. Meanwhile, there are arguments on both sides.  In the current e-Newsletter “Zellick Ivansker” concludes that Pius XII was not a saintly man; at best he was an able administrator. As vicar of Christ and leader of his world-wide church Pius XII knew about but cared little to ameliorate the desperate plight of Europe’s Jews.          

  • Shtetl Communities: Another Image       by  Annamaria Orla-Bukowska

Our ancestors’ lives in Ivansk are often painted in bleak tones. Life was never easy, and that the situation was aggravated by tensions between the town’s Gentile and Jewish inhabitants. The local economy was in steep decline during the interwar years, but it is hard to believe that the community was one in which Poles and Jews were always at each other’s throats. They had lived together for hundreds of years and depended on each other for their livelihood. Surely, strong and meaningful relationships developed between many of them, as verified in several testimonies from Ivanskers and Iwaniskers that have been published in the e-Newsletter. In her research Annamaria Orla-Bukowska examines the everyday culture of the Polish shtetl and posits that most of the time Poles and Jews lived in co-operative symbiosis.

2009 Sep - Oct

The House at 211 Beverly Street, a Memoir. by Ben Teichman, Toronto, Canada [as told to Norton Taichman]

Ben Teichman, the first of his parents’ Canadian-born children, shares his recollections of family life during the first half of the 20th century. The memoir revolves about his parents and siblings who lived at 211 Beverly Street in Toronto and gives us a glimpse of the past and what it was like to set new roots in Canada. The family’s triumphs and disappointments are representative of all Ivanskers who went in search of more hopeful places to live and to raise their children.

2009 July - Aug

The Ivansker Mutual Benefit Society’s Jubilee Celebration,  Toronto, 1961

On its thirtieth anniversary the Society published a commemorative book which is reproduced here. Reading it, you will share in the pride that stirred the men and women who fêted that evening. The Society had accomplished its major objectives, caring for its members as well as addressing the needs of others; everyone was eager to move forward into the future. But despite the optimism and confidence, everyone in that room harbored an intense sorrow. The pain of losing family and friends left behind in Ivansk would never abate and was most acutely felt on joyful occasions.

  May - Jun
  • Museum of the History of Polish Jews (Warsaw): “Virtual Shtetl” Site

A new museum is taking shape in the former Warsaw Ghetto. It will open in 2011 and portray the history of Polish Jewry.  Recently, The Museum launched its “Virtual Shtetl” site on the web to acquire and disseminate information about individual Polish shtetls. A link to Iwaniska (Ivansk) is already operational and holds the promise of generating new information about the lives of our ancestors.

  • “The Catholic Church and Antisemitism Poland, 1933-1939”     by Ronald Modras

Dr. Modras’ scholarly assessment of the church’s anti-Jewish attitudes and actions during the interwar years is an important contribution to our knowledge of Polish-Jewish history. Chapter 9: The Interwar Economy: Poverty and the Boycott examines how the church attempted to stifle Jewish trade and commerce. His findings are a window to the powerful forces massed against our people on the eve of World War II.

35 2009 Mar - Apr
  • The Ivansk Project Survey I, 2009 (Norton Taichman)

The survey acquired information and opinion from members of The Ivansk Project.  Respondents up-dated contact information and outlined their familial connections to Ivansk. They evaluated whether the e-Newsletter was achieving its primary objective of documenting the history of Jewish life in the shtetl and recommended ways to expand the scope of The Project. The results of the survey are summarized in this issue and give promise for continued growth and relevance of the endeavor. Thanks are extended to David Lederman, Shelly Kesten, Gary Lipton, Laurie Naiman and Arthur Zimmerman for their help in setting up and assessing the results of the survey.

34 2009 Jan - Feb
  • The Jews in Poland, edited by  Chimen Abramsky,  Maciej Jachimczyk and Antony Polonsky. Basil Blackwell, Oxford, UK.  1986.

Although it appeared over 20 years ago, “The Jews in Poland” remains an indispensable foundation for anyone attempting to understand the course of Polish Jewish history. In 17 chapters a group of distinguished scholars consider a broad range of issues and events that impacted the lives of Polish Jews. The Introduction to the book was selected for the e-News as an excellent summary of what our people experienced during the best and the worst of times.


  • The Two Saddest Nations on Earth: A Polish Jewish Octogenarian Looks Back and Forward.     by  Rafael F. Scharf  (1914 – 2003)

 “The Two Saddest Nations on Earth” is a personal and poignant statement of the triumph and the tragedy of Polish-Jewish history. Born in Cracow Raphael (“Felek”) Scharf lived most of his life in England but always remained a Pole and a Jew. This thought-provoking essay explores his feelings of the people and the country of his birth in light of the momentous events that occurred during his lifetime. Felek Scharf was a scholar, historian, journalist, lawyer and successful entrepreneur. His obituary in The Guardian (UK) is appended to the essay; you’ll be interested in learning more about this remarkable, accomplished mensch.

33 2008 Nov - Dec
  • The Economic Status of the Jews of Iwaniska in the Late 1930s by Pinchas Zalzman

In 1937 Pinchas Zalzman completed his study on the condition of the Jewish community in Iwaniska. A copy of his report was recently discovered in the archives of YIVO Institute of Jewish Research in New York. Pinchas assessed the community's economic prospects and commented on the social, cultural and religious atmosphere in Ivansk. He interviewed many of the town's Jewish residents as well as members of the Ivansk Kehillah. From what Pinchas observed, it is clear that there was no long-term future for Jews in the shtetl. His bleak assessment provides a disheartening picture of Jewish life in Ivansk on the eve of World War II. We are indebted to him for his insights into the lives of our ancestors.

  • AfterWords

In the January - February, 2009 the e-Newsletter we will inaugurate an “Op-Ed” section where readers can comment on subjects of interest to the Ivansker cyber community. “Jewish Life in Poland during the 1930s” will be featured in the first Op-Ed issue. We hope that the Op-Eds will encourage more readers to contribute material to the e-News. Unless this happens we may be forced to cut back on the number of e-Newsletters we are able to publish.

32 2008 Sept - Oct
  • Never Give In To Despair - Lazer Naiman

“Lazer, you have to escape! From Ivansk you must escape!”

These chilling words were spoken by Rivka Naiman, Lazer Naiman’s older sister. Poland 1940, under the German occupation. No one in Ivansk had any doubts about what was going to happen to them.. Even though Lazer resisted abandoning his parents, brother and sisters, he was forced to bear the heavy burden of saving his own life so that the family name would be preserved. He managed to flee the Nazis but lived under the repressive political system of the Soviet Union for 51 years. Nevertheless, Lazer never gave up hope of “returning” to Israel and living a full Jewish life.

  • Ivanskers Seeking Ivanskers: A Photo From Fred Apel

Fred asks our help in identifying family members in an old photograph taken in Ivansk.

31 2008 July - Aug
  • In Memoriam: Henry Lederman (1910-2008) by Gary Lipton

    A tribute to a long serving leader of Toronto's Ivansker Community

  • A Child of the Holocaust by Henriette Kretz, as told to David Blumenfeld and Audrey Taichman. Transcribed and edited by Norton Taichman

    An idyllic childhood in Ivansk is shattered by the onset of World War II. Henriette and her parents flee to the Ukraine but cannot escape the Nazis. Five terror-filled years follow, culminating in the murder of her parents. But Henriette survives, builds a new life and bears witness to the Holocaust
30 2008
May - June
  • Bela Milstein’s Story - as told to David Lederman & supplemented by Bela’s daughter, Tova Bahat
    In 1942 Bela Nissenbaum was shipped to a Nazi labor camp where she was enslaved producing munitions for the German army.  Somehow, she survived, but the family she left behind in Ivansk was exterminated. As a refugee in post war Europe Bela met her husband, Yaacov Milstein. Together, they were determined to start new lives in Israel.
  • Photographs of Ivanskers

    A sampling of previously published photographs of Ivanskers is presented in the hope that readers will provide information on those who remain to be identified in the pictures. In addition, readers are urged to keep sending photographs that reveal more about our collective heritage.
Mar - Apr
  • “No More Tears” by Eva Abbo Eva (Lederman)

    Abbo’s book, “No More Tears” is a fictional account of the lives of four generations of a Polish-Jewish family. The story is based on her own family history in Poland and Colombia, including her Ivansk ancestors. You’ll want to read Eva’s saga.

    (Thanks to David Lederman (Israel) for providing many of the photos used in this article)

  • Book Review: “They Called Me Mayer July” by Mayer Kirshenblatt and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

    Mayer and his daughter Barbara’s beautifully illustrated book describes his boyhood in Opatow (Apt) just before the Holocaust. Mayer’s memories serve as an incredibly rich resource about what life was like in Apt and other neighboring shtetlach, including Ivansk which was just a few kilometers down the road.

  • I Saw the Extermination of Jews in Iwaniska by Andrzej Martynkin.

    Andrzej Martynkin was only 8 years old when he watched the Nazis deport the Jews from Ivansk. The memories of that autumn day in 1942 still haunt him.

  • Wrestling With Reality: Challenging Dr. Norman Weinberg’s Response, by Norton Taichman.

    Dr. Weinberg (Executive Coordinator, Poland Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project) has written a letter questioning Norton’s allegations that the PJCRP should be held to account for mismanagement of The Ivansk Cemetery Project (see The Ivansk Project e-Newsletter, No 28, Jan – Feb 2008). Norton confronts Dr. Weinberg by challenging his assertions.
Jan - Feb
  • The Road From Ivansk. Seymour Sherry

    Time and space are not enemies for Seymour; the memory of his Ivansk-born father and his ancestors inspire and give meaning to his life.

  • Wrestling With Reality: Ivansk Cemetery Monument Fuels Controversy in Poland. Norton Taichman

    The wording of the inscription on the monument that we erected in the Ivansk cemetery has sparked an uproar in Poland. This report details the circumstances of why and how this happened.

  • After Words: Readers Respond to "Wrestling with Reality"  

    Our readers react to the troubles concerning the Ivansk Jewish cemetery
Nov - Dec
  • The YIVO Postcards. Letters From Residents of Ivansk to Relatives in South America, 1940-1941 - Margaret Daniele, David Lederman and Norton Taichman

    Several handwritten postcards sent from Ivansk to South America during the Nazi occupation of Poland were found in the archives of the YIVO Institute of Jewish Research. Members of the Zalzman family in Ivansk posted the letters to relatives in Colombia and Paraguay asking for their support. The mailings provide a painful record of the plight of the doomed Ivansker Jewish community. However, our research lead to the discovery of descendents of the Zalzman family still living in South America who had no contact with other relatives and little knowledge of their Polish-Jewish heritage.

  • Searching for Answers. Family Thoughts on the Revelations Contained in the YIVO Postcards - Abraham Zalzman, Estella Zalzman, Emmanuela Zalzman, Daniela Zalzman, Margarita Zalzman and Gabriel Zalzman

    Descendents of Zalzman family reflect on the impact and meaning of The Postcards on their origins and their identity.
Sep - Oct
  • In Memoriam: Jack Brauner (1917 – 2007)  A tribute by Sydney Kasten.

    Jack Brauner and his sister Ruchel Kesten, the authors of the Kesten-Brauner Map of Ivansk, gave our community an invaluable legacy to understanding our heritage.

  • Poland 2007: Return to Our Ancestral Shtetls, Ivansk and Rakow - Michael and Susan Copeland.  

    Michael and Susan, brother and sister, describe their journey to Poland to visit the shtetls where their father and grandfather were born. 

  • Ivansk Humor - Albert P. Roberts.  

    Al Roberts returns with a cache of stories featuring characters fresh out of the shtetl. Since he’s not originally an Ivansker, Al has been granted an honorary degree in Ivansker Narishkeit.    
Jul - Aug
  • Hinda's Story - Mona Brown. Hinda (Saltzman) and Yeukel Brown immigrated to Toronto in the 1920s. Mona shares her mother-in-law's memories, providing another glimpse of life in Ivansk at the beginning of the 20th century.

  • Fingers - Bobby Rotenberg. In 2006 Bobby participated in the trip to rededicate our ancestors' cemetery. Wandering alone in the Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw, he enters an unexpected world. His account is a segment of a larger piece he is writing about his journey to Poland.

  • Difficult Questions in Polish-Jewish Dialogue” - a groundbreaking publication reviewed by Poland-based Action Committee member Grzegorz (Greg) Gregorczyk. "This book is an important step on the road to Polish-Jewish reconciliation. It offers a frank discussion of sensitive issues that Poles and Jews continue to ask about each other. The work is directed primarily to young readers who will shape the future, but it is also of value to anyone interested in Polish-Jewish history."

  • On the Web - a sampling of web sites, including films, of Polish-Jewish life, past and present.

  • Ivansk Humor:
    • 'Life on Mars' (Arthur E. Zimmerman)
    • 'Gone Fishing' (Darren Taichman)
May - Jun
  • The New Ivansk Website - Coming Soon - by Laurie Naiman. Shelly Kesten (Israel), Len Monheit (Canada) and Laurie Naiman (USA) are creating a new portal for the Ivansker Community. Laurie describes what they aim to achieve.

  • Rededication of the Ivansk Jewish Cemetery- Participating in History - Gary Lipton.

    “The Ivansk Cemetery Rededication was a conscious act of “tikun olam”, making the world a better place. … We are all now part of Ivansk history and have guaranteed that the story will continue to be recounted.”

  • Jewish Settlement in Poland, circa 900-1650 C.E. - Norton Taichman.

    This essay describes why Jews felt compelled to flee Western Europe during the Middle Ages and why most decided that Poland offered their best hope for a better life.
Mar - Apr
  • Torontonian Witnesses Polish Cemetery Reclamation - Andy Levy-Ajzenkopf, Staff Reporter, The Canadian Jewish News. This report was based on his interview with Susie Kaplan and Norton Taichman about the rededication of the Ivansk Jewish Cemetery.

  • My Father's Shtetl: A Trip to Remember - Evy Eisenberg "It was such an emotional journey, and until this day there are many times when a particular moment, a unique experience or an unforgettable sight floods into my memory."

  • Thoughts on Anti-Semitism Arising from the Trip to Rededicate the Ivansk Cemetery - Ellen Shumak Monheit. Ellen cautions us against minimizing the threat of anti-Semitism; "Even if it's "invisible", it is still potentially deadly."

  • Going Home Again - To A Place I Had Never Been Before - Lisa Newman Greenspan. "Poland, it seems, is in my blood, even though I don't speak the language, have only a fumbling knowledge of Yiddish, and have never before visited the country."

  • Ah, Es Shmeckt Just Azoy Vee In Der Heim! - Norton Taichman
Jan - Feb
  • Iwaniska Revisited by Sidney Freedman
  • Treblinka Photo Collage
  • My Trip to Poland. An Unforgettable Experience - Jacob (Koby) Silberstein
  • AfterWords: e-Mail from Ivanskers Written After Returning from Poland
Nov - Dec
  • List of Participants and outline of Itinerary of the Trip to Poland
  • Sights and Sounds of Iwaniska. Participants Explore the Town (photo collage)
  • Assembling for the Rededication Ceremony (photo collage)
  • Rededication of Ivansk Jewish Cemetery: 23 October 2006
    • Opening Remarks - Gary Lipton and Grzegorz Gregorczyk
    • Addresses - Kasimierz Zoltek and Monika Krawczyk
    • Keynote Address - Norton Taichman (read by Susan Taichman-Robins)
    • Message from Ewa Junczyk Ziomecka (representing the President of the Republic of Poland)
    • Message from Norman Weinberg (read by Gary Lipton)
    • Message from Rabbi Michael Schudrich (read by Father Kolasa)
  • Consecrating the Memorial to Jewish People of Ivansk (photo collage)
  • Memorial Inscriptions at the Gate and on the Obelisk
  • Ivansk Revisited by Dorothy Kestenbaum, Brauner, Wiener
  • e-Mail from Ivansk, 17 October - 26 October
Jul - Oct
  • Rededicating Our Cemetery in Ivansk: Installing Our Rescued Matzevot in the Cemetery Wall - Gary Lipton
  • Finding Our Roots: A Journey to Poland - Bernice & Gord Starkman
  • We Used To Live Side By Side. Recollections of Older Inhabitants of Iwaniska of the Time When Jewish People Still Lived in Our Town (Essays submitted by students attending the Junior High School in Iwaniska)
May - Jun
  • Letters To Malka, 1938-1939 Letters provided by Binyomin Karniel, Malka's son
  • The Ivansker Mutual Benefit Society Admits Women to Membership - Gary Lipton
  • Progress Report on Restoration of the Ivansk Cemetery - Norton Taichman
  • A Disturbing Image: German Soldiers in the Ivansk Cemetery
  • Preserving Our Heritage: Recovering Our Ancestor's Matzevot - Norton Taichman
  • My Trip To Poland, May 2006 by - Eli Taichman
Mar - Apr
  • Within These Walls: The Death and Life of Ivansk - David Blumenfeld
  • Day in Ivansk: 2 August 2005 - Shira Blumenfeld
  • Current Status of the Cemetery Restoration Project
  • Protecting Jewish Heritage: A Petition to Safeguard Jewish Cemeteries in Central Europe - Frederick Salzberg
  • “ Rescuing” Matzevot Fragments Lying in the Cemetery: A Once In A Lifetime Experience
  • The Ladies of the Henry Street Shul - Arthur E. Zimmerman
Jan - Feb
  • My Life in Poland (1922-1949) - Yechiel Eisenberg (as told to Norton Taichman)
  • Ivansk Cemetery Restoration Progress Report
Nov - Dec
  • Louis Rotenberg: My Life in Ivansk and in Toronto. Transcribed by his niece, Lisa Newman Greenspan
  • A Scholarship Fund is Established in the Jr. High School in Iwaniska in Conjunction with the Restoration of the Ivansk Jewish Cemetery - Grzegorz (Greg) Gregorczyk
  • Keynote Address - Aleksander Kwasniewski, President of Republic of Poland To the American Jewish Committee
  • Progress Report on Ivansk Cemetery Restoration Project
Sep - Oct
  • Progress Report on Ivansk Cemetery Restoration Project
  • Memoirs (Part 1, Life in a Small Polish Town) by Manny Rotman, 1909 - 1997
  • Lives Lived: Manny Rotman - Ruth Wolfish Rotman
  • A Postscript About My Uncle Manny - Sydney Kasten
  • Synagogues and Cemeteries: A Trip to Poland and Spain (Part 1, Poland) - Gary Lipton
  • Report From Ivansk e-Mail Letter from David Blumenfeld
Jul - Aug
  • Progress Report on the Cemetery Restoration Project
  • Memories Of My Youth - Zvi Weissdorf
  • Ivanskers Seeking Ivanskers
May - Jun
  • Ivansker Tales - A Memoir - Sidney Freedman
  • What did the Gate of the Ivansker Cemetery Look Like?
  • Progress Report on the Cemetery Restoration Project
Mar - Apr
  • Return to Iwaniska, April 2005 - Norton Taichman
  • 1929 Polish Business Directory for Iwaniska
  • A proposal to Revise the Business Directory for Iwaniska
  • Update on the Campaign to Restore the Ivansk Cemetery
Jan - Feb
  • Within These Walls. The Death and Life of Ivansk - David Blumenfeld
  • Progress Report: Ivansk Cemetery Restoration Project
  • Reflections on Appeasement - David Greenspan
  • Ivanskers Seeking Lost Ivanskers
  • Progress Report: Ivansk Cemetery Restoration Project
  • Progress Report: The Ivansk Virtual Cemetery and Yiskor Book Project
  • First Generation Ivanskers Can Receive e-Newsletter by Mail
  • A Terrific Web Site (unavailable after Apr 2, 2007)
Nov - Dec
  • Restoring the Cemetery in Ivansk; A Progress Report - Lisa Newman & Norton Taichman
  • The Ivansk Project Has Its Own Web Site
  • The Ivansk Project Receives a $500.00 Award from the Ivansker Mutual Benefit Society
  • The Ivansker Mutual Benefit Society Sponsors A Meeting on the Ivansk Cemetery Restoration Project
  • The Ivansk Tish: “Traditions” - Gary Mokotoff
  • Restoration Of The Ivansk Jewish Cemetery. A Journey To Preserve Our Heritage - Norton Taichman
  • Gary Lipton Joins The Ivansk Project Action Committee
Sep - Oct
  • Our Unfinished Business in Poland - Lisa Newman
  • Honoring Our Dead: One of the Greatest Mitzvot - Norman Weinberg
  • Jewish-Polish Collaboration in the Restoration of the Ivansk Cemetery - Grzegorz Gregorczyk
  • The Lost Tombstones of Ivansk - Norton Taichman
  • A Lost World Comes Alive: Photographs of Ivanskers from Zvi Silberstein's Collection - provided by Jacob Silberstein
  • The Virtual Cemetery Project: A Reminder
  • The Ivansk Project Subscribers' Directory: A Reminder
Jul - Aug
  • Greg Gregorczyk Visits with the Mayor of Iwaniska
  • A Person is Not Truly Dead until his Name is Forgotten” - Lisa Newman
  • The Virtual Cemetery and Yiskor Book Project - Arthur Zimmerman
  • My Story - Leo Apelbaum
  • Stories from the Ivansk Tish - Albert Roberts
  • Ivansk Project Subscriber Directory
May - Jun
  • The Ivansk “Virtual Cemetery” - Arthur Zimmerman
  • My Early Life; A Memoir” - Max Carl Blumenfeld
  • The Ivansk Tish: Schmaltz - Norton Taichman
  • Grzegorz (Greg) Gregorczyk, Our Man in Warsaw
  • The Memory - Grzegorz Gregorczyk
Mar - Apr
  • Background to “The Funeral”: the Plight of Polish Jews Under the Nazis, 1939-1972 - Norton Taichman
  • The Funeral” as told by Yitz'hak Goldstein
  • Commentary on “The Funeral” - Sonny Monheit
  • Testimony of Yitz'chak Goldstein from Yad Vasham Archives
Jan - Feb
  • Pinkas HaKehillot of Iwaniska
  • Poems - Ettie Taichman
  • Mi Vida (My Life) - David Lederman
  • Introduction: Hello Ivansker Landsleiters
  • How You Can Participate in the Ivansk Project
  • The Ivansk Project Action Committee
  • A Visit to Ivansk (April 1996) - Norton Taichman

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