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By Norman L. Weinberg

map of the area  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 accompanying table  (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 Amherst, NY.

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