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

Bruce Drake

Hanukkah is approaching so I thought I’d help you welcome it with three vignettes of the holiday drawn from the Yizkor books of Strzyzow and Kaluszyn in Poland, and Gorodets in Belarus. Some extracts:

“When Hanukkah eve arrived and the Almighty was good to us children and sent us down the first pure white snow, it was for us the greatest happiness and exhilaration. Snowballs were thrown at the sextons while they were reciting the blessings during the candle lighting ceremony” ... “The Chanukah nights were studded with stars. The snow glistened as if to light up God's little acre. On Layzer Farber's hill squeaked little sleighs and on the sidewalks of the main street unhurriedly promenaded young couples dreaming of their future happiness” … “The Chanukah nights were bright and joyful. The smell of latkes wafted from all windows until late into the night. The Chanukah candles flickered slowly; one by one the shutters closed, and the night enfolded the little wooden houses of the town. From a distance one could hear only the creaking of the train wheels at the station at Mrozy. Or was it already the sound of the Angel of Death flapping his wings on his way to the shtetl” … “The lit wicks of the Hanukkah-Menorah, on the window sills of houses, light up the street around them and warm the hearts of children. I stand and watch the burning candle and Hannah and her seven sons march before my eyes. They paid with their life because they were not tempted to betray their belief and their people. Then I see Matityahu the Cohen and Yehuda Maccabee with his soldiers and it seems to me that the Hanukkah candles are in fact a yortzeit [memorial candle lit once a year] candle for the soldiers killed in the revolt.”


Bruce Drake

Silver Spring, MD


Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel