Jose Gutstein <jmg-miami@...>
My family found a letter written in May/1939 by my father's then 12-year-old
cousin Ephraim GUTSZTEJN to his aunt who was already living in Israel. The
letter was sent >from Grodno Yeshiva, where young Ephraim had already been
studying for a year away >from home and was now preparing for his upcoming
Bar Mitzvah. Ephraim's family was living in Sokolka, Poland at the time, and
his extended family in Radzilow, Poland.
It is quite a moving letter, where the young, but mature boy (who obviously
grew up way before his time due to the world going on around him) predicted
in ominous tones exactly what was to come. He indicated a desire to continue
his religious studies beyond his 13th year, even as he wrote quite
eloquently and with religious references, about the bleak future that was
facing the Jews. No one knows if he ever celebrated his Bar Mitzvah, but we
do know that Ephraim did not survive, nor did any of his 4 siblings or his
My questions are these:
1) Does anyone know when Grodno Yeshiva was shut down and if that happened
before the Germans advanced on Grodno? Or was the Yeshiva still active and
its students were rounded up >from there? I'm trying to figure out the time
line, if it's likely that young Ephraim made it back to Sokolka and was
killed there, or if it was more likely he was killed or led out to the camps
directly >from Grodno Yeshiva.
2) He writes that his 13th year would be on "Shabbat Nachamu." Does anyone
know what part of the year that Haftorah reading refers to?