Stories from our Ancestral Homes
Recollections from the Shtetl
by Grace Ittleman
HOW RAIZEL MET
My mother, my sister and I left Czyzewo in 1930 when I was only seven years old. My father had already left and came to the States in 1925. Most of my mother's family had already immigrated by the early 1930s. My maternal grandmother had already immigrated to Palestine in 1911. She was very religious, and even though she was still young, she wanted to be buried there. My grandfather came here to the States because he already had two sons and his sister here.
My great grandparents were still alive at the time we left there and they were living in Czyzewo. I remember them so vividly. All of my father's family perished during the massacre in Czyzewo that occurred on August 21, 1941 when all the Jews were marched into the forest of Szulborze and forced to dig their own graves. My cousin was the only one to survive. He fell on the bodies and pretended that he was dead. After the war, he told my father not to bother to look for any survivors because there weren't any. He was the eyewitness and told my parents that all the relatives were killed.
My sister and I both have vivid memories. My grandparents had a bakery in Czyzewo. There were two floors in the building. The bottom floor was the bakery, and there was another floor over the bakery where they lived. They had wooden stairs in front of the bakery. My sister and I used to sit there on Sunday morning when the Christians were going to church. My grandmother used to say, "Now you have to be very quiet and sit very still so that you don't show any disrespect for these Gentiles that are going to church." Imagine that.
My sister keeps telling me about our great grandparents. My bubbe--my great grandmother--she was very short and had no teeth. When someone would give my sister and I candy, our bubbe would come along and take the candy away from us, because she loved candy. My sister and I, to this day, still talk about that!
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