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  II Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Marii Konopnickiej w Zamościu  
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"To Bring Memory Back" edition 2006-2007

KOCK- Zespół Szkół - Gimnazjum linia

Who are we

Middle School in Kock's School Complex

Why we do this project

We realize the „Bring Memory Back” Project because we want to awake in our town community a necessity for caring about artefacts of other cultures. While learning about culture and history in our area we want to know the history and the past of our town. History Circle (where we realize the project) helps us to discover and broaden our knowledge of Jews, their culture, religion and ceremonies.

Jewish community in our town

Jews settled in Kock in the beginning of 17th century and for many years they were positively the majority of its residents. In 1927 lived there over a 2.5 thousand people of Jewish origin, what made 68% of the population.   In 1829  Menachem Mendel Morgenstern came to town, the well-known student of famous „Seeing One” Jaakow Icchak Halewi Horowic from Lublin and „Saint Jew” Jaakow Icchak from Przysucha. Thanks to him the town became the next strong Chassidic centre. Hanna Wegrzynek in „History and culture of Polish Jews” dictionary (pol. “Historia i kultura Żydów polskich”) characterizes „Kocker Rebe” as follows: “In his teachings he stressed the importance of spontaneity and zeal of faith. As author of many aphorisms he used to say: „People have souls, not clocks”, justifying the rejection of exterior faith, regulated by ritual, not by the inner need. He taught that “one cannot serve God just out of habit” (.). He attributed great meaning to following perfection in serving God, what was for him a meaning of life (.) For 20 years, to the day of his death, he lived in seclusion, in closed room by the synagogue, refusing contacts with people.”  Chassidic dynasty of Morgensterns was continued by his descendants: David, Chaim Israel and Moses Mordechai. One rabbi from Kock asked a Chassid: „Have you ever seen a wolf?” „Yes, I did” – answered the Chassid. „Were you afraid of it?” „Yes, I was.” „And have you thought about how afraid you were?” „No, I have not” – answered the Chassid. „I was just afraid.” „Fear of God should be just like it” – said the rabbi.

Jewish residents of Kock supported the November- and January Uprisings. Near the town there is a grave of Berek Joselewicz who died in a battle of Kock in 1809. Berek Joselewicz has earlier Server in Dabrowski’s Legions, participated in victorious offensive of Princedom of Warsaw Army. On the tombstone, founded in 1909 by the Count Edward Zoltkowski, there is an inscription: „Berek Joselewicz – Jozef Berkowel Berkiewicz, born in Kretynga in Lituania in 1760. A colonel in Polish Army, commander of 5th Regiment Cavalry Shooters’ squadron in Army of Princedom of Warsaw, knight of orders of Legion of Honor and Virtuti Militari. Died in battle of Kock in 1809. Buried in here. The glory he achieved by blood. One hundred years after his death. 1909.” The second tombstone bears the name and surname of the deceased and dates of his birth and death. Holocaust has broken the history of the shtetl. On September 9th 1939 during an air-raid, tzaddik Jozef Morgenstern had been shot to death. Germans established a ghetto in Kock, where Jews from Lubartow, Suwalki, Serock, Nowy Dwor and Radzyn Podlaski were deported. The inhabitants of the closed district were murdered in 1942 in Parczew and Treblinka.

To this time a great part of pre-war buildings still exist, mainly houses owned then by Jews. At the corner of Wojska Polskiego and Polna streets there is also a well preserved house of a tzaddik with characteristic little tower. The Jewish cemetery in Kock is located outside the town, about one kilometre from its turnpikes. One can reach it only by field, sandy road, from the main square by Hanka Rawicka Street and near the wayside shrine turn right. The area of the cemetery is fenced with solid, metal fence and the gate is lock with a key. The keys are in safekeeping of Mr. Roman Stasiak, living in nearby house (right from the cemetery). Mr. Stasiak also cleans the graveyard. During the war the Nazis used matzevot to harden roads on marshes. Today there are not many matzevot left. For many pilgrims the most important place on the cemetery is still an ohel, where the following people are buried:  

- Menachem Mendel from Kock (1787 - 1859), founder of a Kock dynasty, teacher of i.a. Isaak Meir Rothenberg from Kalwaria Peak

- Benjamin Morgenstern, son of Menachem Mendel, son-in-law of Abraham Mordechai from Kalwaria’s Peak , dead in 1866, when he was 26 years old,

- David Morgenstern, son of Menachem Mendel, according to well-known researcher of history of Polish Jews, Marcin Wodzinski, “one of the most brilliant minds of his generation”, dead in 1893,

- Jakob Jozue Morgenstern, dead in 1907, son of David, tzaddik from 1906

- Dow Zeew Kohen Rappaport, dead in 1901, son of Israel Kohen from Pinczow, son-in-law of tzaddik Menachem Mendel.

In 1958 local authorities decided to afforest the area of the cemetery.

There were many poplars planted as a community service with help of children from local schools. The trees grew very quick.

What we do in the project

1. Take care of the Jewish cemetery in Kock;
2. Make interviews with inhabitants of Kock and the region concerning the matter of Kock Jews;
3. Gather the material evidence of the existence of Jewish comunity in Kock;
4. Trip to Lublin to visit a Holocaust location (Majdanek)
5. Organize a literary contest "The Memory of Jewish history and culture";

Who is helping us

In broadening our knowledge about Jewish culture and history of Jews from our region a great helper is also Mr. Pawel Szczotka (history teacher, caretaker of Historical Circle) and a frequent guest, Mrs. Maria Kowalewska (retired librarian, living treasury of knowledge about Jewish history, culture and religion).  We’ve learned many interesting things from the materials sent from the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage as well. We try to involve the town’s community while interviewing the elders. Also the workshops in Leczna helped us much. Kasia and Ania have a broad knowledge and they encouraged us to learn about Jewish customs in very interesting way.

What are we proud of

We are proud of we learned much about Jewish culture and religion in a few months. We can also be proud of that we managed to thoroughly clean the Jewish cemetery and conduct many interviews with Kock’s residents who remember past times.


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