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linia 2006-11-23 WYSOKIE MAZOWIECKIE

We are honored to present a letter by Mr. Marvin Brooks, read at the ceremony finalizing the first stage of the Wysokie Mazowiecie Jewish cemetery restoration project.

Dear Major, Town Officials, Residents and Students of Wysokie Mazowieckie, FODZ representatives, Members of Jewish Community of Poland and Friends:
I truly regret not being with you this morning to participate in the re-dedication of the Wysokie Mazowieckie Jewish Cemetery due to a health restriction.
Wysokie Mazowieckie holds a special place in my heart and in my family history.   I believe my family story is representative of many Jewish families in the area.
Here in Wysokie Mazowieckie my great-grandfather, Akiva Joseph Lipshitz, a poor religious  man, who always attended synagogue, struggled to make a living as a Melamud (teacher) of Jewish boys training them for their Bar Mitzvah.   [The Bar Mitzvah occurs at age 13 when a boy participated in the synagogue service, read from the Torah (scriptures) and is accepted as a Jewish man in the Jewish community.].
Family history is that my great grandfather was born in nearby Czyzewo in 1837 and married his first wife, Yenia Mirla, in that town before 1868.  They had two children and came to live in Wysokie Mazowieckie.  These two children,  Ida and Miriam, married had children and immigrated to the United States in 1889-1902.  The fate of Akiva Joseph’s first wife is unknown.
My great-grandfather married again to Yenta Schrenitz about 1875 in Wysokie and had 6 children over the period from 1887-1907.   Two children, Dawid and Shefra died at ages of 6 and 17, respectively, in Wysokie.   My grandfather, Schmuel, also trained in religious studies was sent for further education in Lida or Vilna where he met my grandmother, Ester, had a child, Miriam; my mother, and the immigrated to the US in 1917.
The three other female children (Lea, Anna and Shenka) remained with my great grand parents in Wysokie.  The family was very poor.   Wysokie had a central market where you could buy potatoes, eggs, and fruit.  The stores were owned by Christians and Jews.  My great grand mother, Yenta, was the family business lady who would sell aprons and stockings which she had purchased from others who had done the manufacturing.  She would sell these items at the Wysokie market 1-3 days/week.  This was major source of income for the family. According to a recorded family history, my great-grandfather died in 1912 (age 75) in Wysokie.  After the death of my great grandfather, my great-mother and her three daughters struggled to maintain their lives through the first World War.  
In 1921, the older two female sisters, Lea and Anna immigrated to the United States followed by their mother (my great-grandmother), Yenta, in 1929. The youngest sister, Shenka, married a man from Jablonka and immigrated to Argentina in 1926.  Half of this family remained in Argentina and the other half later immigrated to Israel
My family in Wysokie did not suffer through the holocaust, unfortunately my other families in other cities throughout Poland and Belarus were not as fortunate and many perished.  
To me, what personally started as a search to find the grave of my great grandfather and two of his children in Wysokie has taken on new more significant meaning.  We have uncovered a Lipshitz matzevoh (tombstone) in the Wysokie cemetery.  Perhaps he was a cousin? He has the exact name as my grandfather, Schmuel and he died in 1920..  From the tombstone we have learned that his father’s name was Eliahu.  But more meaningful to me presently, is to have provided a more appropriate and respectful holy resting place for the Jewish Community in Wysokie.  I am hopeful that this small remnant of what was a Jewish community will serve as a memorial to the Jewish soul of Wysokie Mazowieckie.
In closing, I would like to than Michael Traison and Wojtek Faszczewski, who initiated this restoration of the “Jewish Forest,” Dora Zitno of Argentina, our major contributor, our other donors (see donor plaque at cemetery), Norman Weinberg of the Polish Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project and Monika Krawczyk of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish along with their responsive staffs for making this restoration possible.
When my health permits, I hope to visit Wysokie Mazowieckie in the near future to pay my personal respects to the memory of the Jewish Community of Wysokie Mazowieckie.

Sincerely,

Marvin A. Brooks

 

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