My father Meir Holtzman and my mother Rywcia (Rivka) Gostinska were born in Gombin in 1914 and emigrated to Palestine in August 1939, on an illegal ship “Colorado”. My parents settled in Israel and were “khaluzim”, among the founders of Kibbutz Evron, near the Lebanese border. I was born in the end of 1951, in Naharia, the third daughter out of five. One child Igal, the first born, died when only a baby. I have a brother Avi Holtzman who lives together with his wife and three children in Kiriat Ata Israel, sister Raya, married to Mel Jaffee and lives in California USA with her two children and a sister Oshrit lives in Moshav Rinatya with her man Moshe Salem and has one adorable baby : Alon.
I graduated the Tel Aviv University in 1978 where I studied Economy and Social Sciences. I am divorced and I have a daughter who is 16 and a half and her name is Inbal Katz. “Inbal” means in Hebrew “the tongue of the bell”. My daughter is in the 11th grade in the “Ironi Yud Dalet” High School of Tel Aviv and she is also an excellent pianist. I work as an analyst and programmer for Alitalia, the Italian world airlines in Tel Aviv. I have been to Gombin and I am interested in preserving the memory and heritage of the Jewish Gombin.
My father’s father, Eliahu Holtzman was born in 1866 and died in Gombin in 1923. My father’s mother, Rasha Zlotnik was born in 1870 and died in 1937 at Gombin. She was a descendant of a very well known rabbis family. Rasha Zlotnik was the sister of the most famous Rav of Gombin, the Rav AVIDA – Yehuda Leib Zlotnik, Rabbi of South Africa / Canada and a famous commentator of the Book of Ecclesiastes. Another brother of Rasha Holtzman was the Rabbi of Guwazuv, and another one was the Rabbi of Plock: Yona Mordechai Zlotnik. All the 7 brothers and sisters of my father, with husbands and wives and little children were killed in Chelmno by the Nazis. Two brothers were shot before, in the woods of Gombin.
These were Meir Holtzman brothers and sisters perished in the Holocaust:
- Avraham Holtzman married to Lea Luidor, hhad a son Eli Holtzman.
- Faiga Holtzman married Jecheskel Luxenburrg and had four children: Balcza, Rutka, Eli and another boy.
- Yosef Holtzman married Lea Zolna and had two daughters: Shaina and Andjya.
- Israel Baruch (“Bucik”) Holtzman, marriedd Ester Mainczik, had a little boy Eli.
- Golda Itta Holtzman, married Hersh Leib BBauman and had little girls Ella and Channa.
- Hersz Leizer Holtzman, married Lea Koren and had one child Channa.
- Mosze Aharon Holtzman married Miril from Wisnogrod, and had two childres: Channale and another one.
My mother’s father was Yaacov Gostinski. Napoleon Bonaparte, so the story goes, when visited Poland in 1812, slept in the Gostinski House… The name comes from the small city Gostynin near Gombin. Yaacov had a sister Perla, who married Zavirowcha and left to Paris from which they were deported to Auschwitz and died in 1942 together with their 2 daughters. Their son, Max Zavier, survived Auschwitz and lived in Paris until he died in 1993. My mother’s mother name was Yochevet Honigstock, and many relatives from this side left to England before and after the war. Both my mother’s parents were killed in the Chelmno Death Camp and her brother Pinhas Gostinsky died in Auschwitz. He had a wife Lea Laski and a little child, both perished in the Holocaust. My mother’s sister Rachel Shechter was born in 1908, immigrated to Palestina in 1930, lived in Kibbutz Ein Hachoresh and died in 1995.
My mother Rifcza died in December 1969 and is buried in Kibbutz Evron. My father, Meir Holtzman remarried Lotka Krzywanoska from Klechew who is the only survivor herself of a family of 11 brothers and sisters all already with families of their own, all killed by the Nazis. My father and Lotka live for the past 25 years in Kibbutz Ramat Hashofet.
My father has a sister, Channa Bruk who immigrated as “halutza” to Palestina in 1934 and was among the founders of Kibbutz Negba. Her husband Sheika was a volunteer in the Jewish Brigade. Both her husband and her eldest son Yoav, already a father to two little children, died in 1977 from a car accident.
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 Kilinski 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 than, that if it will ever be possible, I shall help to erect a memorial to the Gombiners Jews, and their tragic history.
*A special thanks to Ada Holtzman and Leon Zamosc for providing historical documents.