This week's Yizkor book excerpt on the JewishGen Facebook page

Bruce Drake

I struggled this week to find a Yizkor book excerpt that felt right to me. The last few weeks have been grim ones for many, out of fear of the coronavirus, the sicknesses and deaths it has caused, and the disruptions to peoples’ lives. As important as it is to constantly remind ourselves of the overwhelming horrors of the Holocaust, my heart wasn’t in a dark excerpt. A pleasant slice-of-life chapter also seemed out of place this week.

So, instead I collected some passages about caring for the sick — “a custom so embedded in Jewish tradition that even the non-religious Jews observed it scrupulously,” according to the Yizkor book of Zloczew, Poland. Part of the tradition was represented by the concept of Bikur Cholim (visiting the sick), which also was a social institution in many communities. “We know that a healthy person needs a friend, the sick person needs even more a human being that is willing to listen to him,” the Zloczew book says. The book of Rozniatow, Ukraine remembers that family members of an ill person “would leave their business and activities and devote their energies [which] would be drained from the effort of caring for the sick person,” and that Bikur Cholim would find ways to give them some rest. A chapter in the book of Sokolivka, Ukraine recounts: “When an epidemic broke out, such as the cholera, there were people who volunteered to wage war against the disease. Healthy and courageous men did not flinch from the danger.”


Bruce Drake

Silver Spring MD 


Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel

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