In Memorium

Arthur Gertzman z"l (1938-2017)

It’s hard to imagine the Gombin Society without Arthur Gertzman, who has served as its respected President for the last 8 years. Thus, with deep regret, the Board of Directors announces his recent death on February 6, 2017 from complications of pancreatic cancer. He was 78.

Arthur was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He lived in Bridgewater, NJ for many years before moving to Flemington in 2004. Arthur graduated from the City University of New York with a Bachelor of Science degree, and then earned a Master of Science degree from Boston University. He was employed for many years as a research and development scientist at Ethicon, and later worked at The Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation in Edison, where he was the Executive Vice President of Research and Development. Arthur authored numerous publications, and invented many medical and surgical devices for which he received many patents. Arthur was a longtime member and a past President of Temple Sholom in Bridgewater. He also recently was elected to the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame. In his spare time, he was an avid reader and author, and enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren, and traveling around the world. (Published in Courier News on Feb. 8, 2017)

Arthur Gertzman provided leadership to the Gombin Society’s most recent projects in Poland, including the School Project of the Dialog Among Nations in Gąbin, the building of a model of the Gombin Synagogue, and the video virtual tour of that model. He traveled to Warsaw for a conference at the State Ethnographic Museum in 2015. Finally, he authored a family history, “Rissman of Gombin” (2010).

Tributes to Arthur’s leadership and friendship came from friends in Poland and Israel:

“We met Arthur in Warsaw. He was wise and very good man. We are very proud for opportunity that we got while doing something for remembrance of Gombin. We would like to express our condolences to Mrs. Gertzman, family and other members of society. May his memory be for a blessing.” Adam, Elzbieta, and Aleksander Czyzewski (Ethnographic Museum of Poland)

“Arthur's enthusiastic affirmation of the Gombin synagogue video-project was very encouraging and inspiring… May His memory be for blessing”. Warmly from Kraków, Wojtek Wasilewski

“[We are] sorry to hear the bad news of the death of Arthur Gertzman; a loss for the Family and for Gombiners. King Solomon wrote: ’it is time to be borne and it is time to die’. It is the Lord’s world; we can do nothing about that! Wishing better days for the family and all Gombiners.” Moshe Joseph Lewenberg (Israel)>/p>

Arthur will be greatly missed by his family and friends. He is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Gloria; his son Michael Gertzman and wife, Carole Balin; his son Jerrold Gertzman; his daughter, Sharon Gertzman, and her husband, David Dafilou; and ten grandchildren.

The home address for his family is Mrs. Gloria Gertzman, 17 Biggs Place, Flemington NJ 08822. Donations to continue his work can be made to the Gombin Society, c/o Michael Kaplan, 45 Copper Mine Road, Princeton, NJ 08540.

Ada Holtzman (1951-2016)


It is with great sadness that we report the death of Ada Holtzman, a child of Gombin, who served this community as our principal historian and genealogist, helping countless Gombiners to trace their family stories. She will be missed by all who knew her and benefited from her prodigious work in creating the Zchor website. May her memory be for a blessing.

Ada was the daughter of Gombin natives Meir Holtzman and Rivka Gostinska who emigrated to Palestine in 1939. They were khaluzim who helped found Kibbutz Evron, where Ada lived as a child. Many of her relatives, on both sides of the family, were killed in the Holocaust. She was the representative of the Gombin Society in Israel and held an annual gathering for Gombiners in Tel Aviv.

On her website, she wrote, “I visited Gombin in 1989, saw the ‘schule’ still there in Warshavska street... I saw some houses still remembered by the Poles to belong to Jews... saw the empty large field, covered by snow, where nothing is in, and that was the Jewish cemetery for hundreds of years, from which the Nazis broke all the stones and made roads from the holy tomb stones...I saw the woods around Gombin, bare and black trees in the white, hiding inside some secrets of murders and most barbaric actions committed not so long ago against my people... I saw the place where once stood the synagogue of Gombin, one of the most splendid synagogues in Poland, burnt by the Nazis... I saw the houses of the Ghetto in Kilinskeigo Street, from which the Jews went to their last journey... and I saw a memorial to the Poles who died in the Second World War, but no memorial to the 2500 Jews from this city who were deported, tortured, murdered and strangled by the Nazis... I swore then, that if it will ever be possible, I shall help to erect a memorial to the Gombiner Jews, and their tragic history.”

Michael Shade wrote poignantly about the importance of Ada’s help with his research on his Frankenstein family: “In particular, the Gombin Book of Residents, which she had transcribed, translated, and converted into a spreadsheet which is available at her website and from the Gombin Society website. It was this work that directly led to all the progress we have made in our Frankensztajn family history over the past couple of years.

He continued: “Specifically, one small entry in the Gombin Book, which I had seen but taken no real notice of previously. We had always believed the Frankensteins came from Gombin, so I was surprised to see that there were no Frankenstein families listed in the Book. Indeed, there was only one occurrence of the name: Bajla Frankensztajn, married to Towje Aron Szwarc. The bit I had missed was a note that said Bajla was born in Swiniary. When I went to the Archives in Płock 2 years ago with Lukasz [Florkewicz], I mentioned this to Mariusz the archivist, and he brought out the Book for Czermno. Lo and behold, there was the entry for the whole family on one page, in the village of Swiniary - which proved that Dana [Boll] and I, for instance, are 3rd Cousins - our great-grandparents were brother and sister. Without Ada’s work, this could never have happened.”

How could there ever be a more apt compliment for an historian and genealogist!

From B’nai Gombin #37 October 2016