Adv. Traison, Michael H.:
Traison "at" MillerCanfield.com
Memory and Memorial
The tombstone of Simcha, son of Baruch Bendit KATINKE (died Sivan 22, 5670 - June 29th, 1910) in the restored cemetery of Wysokie Mazowieckie
I don't think anyone will ever be able to share the emotions felt when looking at these pictures through my eyes. It was almost six years ago to the day when I sat in a Starbucks in West Bloomfield, Michigan, with Wojtek who has grown to be a good friend of mine. It was a dark autumn morning at about 5:30 a.m. Ignorant then of Wysokie, I asked him about his hometown's Jewish history and he told me there was no physical sign left but there was a place called "the Jewish Forest."
Intrigued, I hurried to visit this place a few weeks later. Here I discovered it was the overgrown field of weeds and trees and dense vegetation. It had served the teenagers of the town for six decades as a secret gathering place to smoke a cigarette or drink or talk among the foliage and the hidden recesses. Unlike some similar locations in the hundreds of other such spots I had visited throughout Jewish Poland since 1992, this spot was bereft of litter and had suffered no destruction, other than that visited upon it by the passage of time.
I hurriedly arranged a visit with the Mayor and a few thousand Zloty brought about an immediate clean-up. The clean-up alone revealed that this was one of the two Jewish cemeteries of Wysokie. The Mayor ordered his clean-up crew to photograph the Macewot (tombstones). There were said to be 107. During the ensuing years, I met with local students and encouraged involvement in building a memorial. Each November 1st, on the Catholic All Saints Day, either I or one of the local people would visit and light a ner zikaron (memorial candle) in memory of the Jews of Wysokie.
I recall five years ago this November when I received a call in Israel on my cell phone from a 16 year old back in Wysokie who asked me if Jews lit candles on all saints day as do Catholics. I told her no we don't and she said she needed to admit that she and her high school friends had gone there to light one on behalf of all Jews.
I was moved by this gesture and of the reborn democratic Poland.
As the years passed, Ada Holtzman created the beautiful Wysokie website and slowly I received emails from people throughout the world with Wysokie roots. Slowly life began to be breathed into the lungs of what was for too many a forgotten Jewish community and for others a longed for memory.
Then came the involvement of Norman Weinberg and Marvin Brooks. Marvin's involvement grew and grew and now began the reality as he was able to engineer the fundraising so much needed. We all opened our pockets. One family more than any other many times over did so.
And, now we have these pictures. It reminds one of the phrase we say three times a day when reciting the Shemona Esreh: mechayeh maytim b rachamim rabim: He raised the dead in his great mercy.
All of this can be traced to one Polish boy, now a 30 year old man living in Vienna, Wojtek Faszczewski.
We shall not forget this.
And, when we hear from the mouths of some the scurilous words that are sometimes uttered in haste, we also shall not forget the 16 year old girls lighting the ner zikaron on all saints day, the high school teacher in Wysokie who wrote the book about the town's Jewish history, the old woman in Tel Aviv with whom I sat on a park bench at the Hilton Hotel at the side of the Mediterranean as she spoke over the cell phone to a young woman lawyer from Wysokie four thousand kilometers north of us, or the town's Mayor's excitement over the possibility to reclaim the cemetery, or one November night three years ago when I stood in the blackened dark field of green vegetation and lit a ner zikaron with a local Catholic family who looked at the one flickering flame before us while thousands and thousands of flames burned in the distance in the town's Catholic cemetery beyond and said: "Sometimes, one candle can be more beautifully powerful than tens of thousands of candles".
Thanks to these people, the fence, the gate and the monument are now a reality.
Albert Stankowski & Adv. Monika Krawczyk of FODZ (Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland - Fundacja Ochrony Dziedzictwa Żydowskiego) supervised reconstruction and supplied the photographs. Fund raising for the Project was originally started with PJCRP (Norman Weinberg).
Implementation of The Wysokie Mazowieckie Cemetery Restoration, May 2006
Pictures of the Cemetery before the Works Started (May 2006)
Click to enlarge photograph
The Restored Cemetery
The Recovered Tombstones
Back to Wysokie Mazowieckie Memorial Web Site
Last updated November 3rd, 2006