Early next week, I will be traveling to Poland to participate in the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps of Auschwitz.
Like so many families, we lost many dozens of our members to the ravages of the Nazis ym’s during the war years and for years now I have been feeling a growing sense of responsibility to say Kaddish for them at Auschwitz at least once during my lifetime.
My namesake and paternal grandfather, Reb Yakov Moshe Horowitz zt’l was one of nine children born to his saintly father Reb Dov Berish Horowitz hy’d, lovingly referred to throughout pre-war Chassidic Europe as ‘Reb Berish Vishever.’
Tragically, Reb Yakov Moshe was the sole survivor of his entire family – having come to America in the early 1930’s. His parents, siblings, their children and their children’s children were all obliterated in the maelstrom of the Holocaust.
I am trying to compile a list of the names of all our family members who were killed so I can recite them before I say Kaddish next week, and would appreciate the help of our readers who may be more skilled at this research than I am.
I would be deeply grateful if you can assist me with this matter and kindly drop me an email at email@example.com if you can.
A partial list of members of generations 3 and 4 was provided by my cousin Mindy Ganz Ribner who works in Yad V’shem, but there are entire sections of the family that are not represented there.
Below is a truncated bio of Reb Berish as listed in the Yad V’shem database:
Berisch Horowicz was born in Brod, Czechoslovakia in 1870 to Ester. He was a cantor and ritual slaughterer and married to Rakhel nee Tob. Prior to WWII he lived in Wischo, Romania. During the war he was in Wischo, Romania. Berisch died in 1944 in Auschwitz. This information is based on a Page of Testimony submitted on 09/04/1957 by his nephew.
And here are a few lines I posted about my saintly great-grandfather in an article titled, “My Grandfather and I,” several years ago.
My paternal great-grandfather was Rabbi Dov Ber Horowitz. Among Chassidim throughout Europe, he was lovingly referred to as ‘Reb Berish Vishever, ’ drawing on the name of the city in which he lived and faithfully served as chazzan and shochet for more than fifty years. Each year he wrote beautiful songs for Chassidishe Rebbeim with whom he had close contact – among them the Admorim of Satmar and Viznitz, zichronom livracha. Many of his niggunim (songs) are still sung today by chassisdim around the world (Among them, the ‘Satmar Sholem Aleichem’ niggun and the Viznitzer ‘V’emunah Kol Zos’, sung on Shabbos Shirah and Shvei Shel Pesach).
The great tzaddik and gadol Reb Shrage Feivel Mendelovitz z’tl used to ask my father a’h to sing his grandfather’s stirring “Geshem/Tal Niggun” each Seudas Shlishis in Torah Vodaas. To this day, Reb Shrage Feivel’s eighty and ninety-year old talmidim (students) be’h hum the tune to me when we meet at social gatherings. I honor my Zeide’s memory by singing his songs at each Yom Tov meal, and my wife and I, with the chesed of Hashem, recently walked our daughter to the chuppah as dozens of my male cousins – Reb Berish’s descendants – sang his beautiful “Geshem/Tal Niggun.”
In 1944 at the age of 72, Reb Berish and 3,000 of his townspeople, Hy’d, were rounded up and deported to Auschwitz several days before Shavuos. On the loading dock waiting for the trains to arrive, surrounded by armed German troops and snarling dogs, Reb Berish rose and tearfully addressed the crowd of assembled Jews. It was late in the war and despite the fact that the people knew they were headed for almost certain death; escape was impossible under those conditions. Reb Berish encouraged his townspeople to turn inward and do teshuvah before they met their fate. Having served as chazzan in the town of “The Visheves” for fifty years, he knew all the yomim noraim tefilos (high holiday prayers) by heart. He used this knowledge and his beautiful voice to lead the entire assembled group in a word-for-word recitation of the closing Neilah tefilah of Yom Kippur during their last few moments together.
Thank you in advance for your assistance.
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