Kałuszyn קאלושין “Where are they all, the Jews, the Hasidim and the artisans? Where are all the bridegrooms and the brides, the little children and the Yeshiva boys, the schoolchildren and their instructors, the congregants and the cantors, the rabbis ,the learned teachers, the judges, the beadles, the Klezmer players? Is there a sign of the synagogue or even a single headstone in the two old cemeteries?” —Yosef Zisholtz, Sefer Kałuszyn (1961), p. 42 (translated from the Yiddish).
Kałuszyn is a village located approximately 65 kilometers east of Warsaw. Jewish settlement of Kałuszyn is thought to have begun in the 1600s. Over the centuries, Jews contributed to the development of Kałuszyn as millers, wood and metal merchants, tailors, furriers, prayer shawl makers and manufacturers. The town was the residence of great rabbis, Hasidic masters and scholars.
On the eve of the Second World War 5,200 Jews lived in Kałuszyn, about sixty percent of the population. The village was attacked by the Nazi enemy in the very first days of World War II. Jews in Kałuszyn responded, from those early days, with kindness and warmth toward their brethren fleeing burning Warsaw and heading to the eastern Polish border, and with resistance and heroism in the struggle against the enemy. The humiliation, torture and murder of the Jews of Kałuszyn by the Nazi enemy began in those very first days of war in September 1939. The war years were years of great suffering for the Jews of Kałuszyn. The Nazis established a ghetto in the town, carried out mass executions of Jews in and near the Cemetery and ultimately deported the remaining Jews of Kałuszyn to the Treblinka death camp. Few Kałuszyn Jews survived the Holocaust.
The major Jewish landmarks in Kałuszyn did not survive the War. Little evidence of the energetic Jewish Kałuszyn was visible when the Kałuszyn project, spearheaded by one and then many more Jewish descendants of Kałuszyners, began. With the cooperation of the Foundation for Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, those descendants established a monument on the Kałuszyn Jewish Cemetery property in 2017. Since then an Israeli Amuta (NGO), the Dr. Avraham Gamzu Kaluszyner Society of Israel, has encouraged and facilitated visits by tour groups to Kałuszyn, where they are led by a Polish tour guide dedicated to telling the story of the rich Jewish presence that once existed in Kałuszyn. The Society has recently published a book, Kałuszyn, in Hebrew and English, which it has distributed without charge, to educate visitors about the community and its destruction.
Much more work remains to be done, as described below. To read our June 2021 newsletter click here.
Establish several additional small monuments on the Cemetery property, each with a different theme. One such monument would include names in small font of the many thousands of Kałuszyners who were murdered during (and some after) the War. A second monument would memorialize and honor those buried in the mass graves. A third monument would contain audio links enabling a visitor to hear on a cellphone in Hebrew, English and Polish, a short summary of Jewish Kałuszyn.
Mark the corners of the Cemetery property with large “L” shaped cement blocks;
Place an historical marker near where the main synagogue of Kałuszyn once stood. That synagogue was detonated and destroyed by the Nazis on May 5, 1941;
Integrate the approximately 15 loose matseiva (headstone) fragments that have survived into an appropriate monument on the Cemetery grounds;
Continue the maintenance of the Cemetery, mainly post-winter cleanup and periodic grass mowing;
Place an historical marker at the location of the second, older Jewish Cemetery in the town. The Kałuszyn municipal offices are built on the site of that older Jewish Cemetery;
Please click on either "Donate" button on this page to make your donation by credit card or Pay Pal. To learn more about how donations are handled or to send a check by regular mail, please obtain information by clickinghere.