THE OZARÓW CEMETERY
By Norman L. Weinberg
This article details what remains of the Jewish cemetery of Ozarów.
The village of Ozarów is located in Kielce gubernia at 50 degrees
53 minutes latitude, and 21 degrees 40 minutes longitude. The book,
Memories of Ozarow, a Small Jewish Town That Was by Hillel Adler,
has been recently translated into English from the French by William Fraiberg.
An excerpt of that translation was published in the Kielce Radom SIG Journal
(Vol.1, No.4, 1997). The book records the bittersweet life of the Jews, before
Jewish Ozarów, which had existed since the sixteenth
century, was forever destroyed. Thanks to a number of Ozarowers living in
Canada, Fraiberg has collected and added new materials, stories and photos to
this remarkably readable and wonderful account of shtetl life, including the
village characters, the customs, religious life, the humorous nicknames, the
jail, the occupations, and the trials and tribulations of the inhabitants just
before the war. The book contains additional information on the cemetery.
Town of Ozarow, Oct. 22, 1942, just before the deportation of Jews.
With the assistance of Ms. Dorota Kuszyk, a Polish student then at Lublin University, I was able to have the Ozarów cemetery photographed in the Spring of 1997. The Jewish cemetery is situated opposite the Catholic cemetery, near the road leading to Opatów , Zawichost and Lublin in the southern part of Ozarów.
The cemetery today is neglected, with many broken or fallen stones.
All of the 81 known stones have been catalogued. Stones with illegible texts have been
catalogued by specific distinctive features.
Many of the stones are beautifully carved with characteristic symbols, including those associated with Cohanim (two hands in the priestly blessing), Leviim (water poured from a pitcher),
for men usually (several books in a bookcase, a lion or a tree), and for women (an
outstretched hand with a donation of coins, a chandelier, or candlesticks).
As was the custom of the time, no surnames appear, only the first name of the
deceased and the father’s first name. While this is certainly a serious
limitation, it may be possible to identify many individuals, taking into
account all the clues, including the family information, description of the
stone carvings, and the date of death. The most pertinent information is assembled in the
(please click here to view the table).
Many additional stones may still be buried
underneath the overgrowth of weeds and grass. Uncovering these awaits the
Ozarow Cemetery Restoration Project, headed by Rabbi Tanchum B. Becker, the
present Ozarower Rebbe, President of “Esh-Dat” Rabbinical Seminary, P.O. Box
36628, Tel Aviv, Israel.
No Jews live in Ozarów today, and aside from
the former synagogue, now a business, and a few houses, formerly of the Jews,
this is all that physically remains of "a small Jewish town" that was.
The former Ozarow synagogue as of June 2001
The author is grateful to Ms. Dorota Kuszyk for her considerable help in travelling
and photographing the monuments in the Ozarów Cemetery. Special thanks are
extended to Mr. Morris Feldman of the Ozarower Society of Toronto and Mr. Aaron
Shiffman of Hamilton, Ontario, who provided additional photos of the cemetery.
These have supplied much additional valuable information. A special debt of
gratitude is owed to Rabbi Mordechai Leifer of “Esh-Dat” Rabbinical Seminary,
Rabbi Heschel Greenberg and his wife, Leah, of the Jewish Discovery Center in
Williamsville, NY, and to Dr. Guillermo Zappi and his wife Sara of
Williamsville, NY for their comments and help with translations of the Hebrew
inscriptions on the stones.
Dr. Norman L. Weinberg started researching his family tree in 1996 after discovering the
REIPP SIG (now JRI-Poland) web site, and to his amazement and further
encouragement, names and dates for his paternal grandparents and great
grandparents. He is searching for Weinberg, Sherman, Weisfogel and Tai family
from Ozarów, Tarlow, Ostrowiec, and Opole. He and his wife Hannah live in East