Transliteration by: Yigal Rechtman
February 1992, New York City(c)
The Lomza Yizkor Book, or as it is in Hebrew "Sefer Zikaron Le Kehilat Lomza" was published in 1952 by a committee which was sponsored by "Vaad Olei Lomza" in Israel. When I went to the YIVO institute I could actually see the book which I have been looking for in the past seven years. My great-grandfather, in a narrative about his life mentions this book. One of the first items on my checklist when I started my research was to lay hands on "Dr. Lewinski's book about lomza". Now this item can be checked out.
The original idea was to translate the descriptions of the rabbis of the city. When I read through the different parts of the book I found that the abstracts themselves, with the exception of a narrow range of families, do not contain interest for the general public. However, other sections of the book may be interesting for many people. The book is roughly divided to four parts: 1) the history of the city and its area, 2) Jewish life in Lomza, mostly concerned with the different Judaic streams and organizations around the turn of the century and the main figures, the rabbis, that lead these streams, 3) the life in Lomza and its people and characters and 4) three cities near Lomza and some detail of the townsmen of Lomza as they spread around the globe (after W.W. II.) This last part also includes the Yizkor section for both the holocaust and the Israeli war of independence.
Once before in "Landsman" I submitted a short historical preface that begins the historical overview of Lomza. However, for those of you who are interested, the book extracts and extends the description of the different events, occupation and contra- occupation of this part of Poland. I did not verify the earliest historical event that is being described (the preface goes back to the year 1000) but I imagine that it does not go before circa 1850.
The part that I found most informative was the third one. It may very well be because my family was NOT a rabbis family's (despite the image my great-grandfather insisted on portraying...). This part has short narratives, sometimes not longer than a 100 words each, describing different people. The narratives are mostly memories of the editors and writers in the book, or sometimes they are written by a relative. In most of them the names of the person's wife, family and sometimes their whereabouts (after W.W. II) are described. While reading the text I found that I could actually figure out the inter-connections between families. In many places one's spouse is mentioned as "such and such's son/daughter". For example, in my great-great-great grandfather's column the writer's mention that "(He) was dad's cousin". That for itself can deepen my research back two generations, and there are many similar examples.
The first project I took upon myself was to transliterate the indices in the book. Altogether there are two indices: the main pictures' index and a small citizens' list from 1890. The database contains at most two spelling variations of the same last name. The list is indexed using the first variation's soundex.
There are some notes to be made about the transliteration and the structure of the index. Hebrew letters are transliterated in this way: the letter Bet and Vet are distinguished (that is, allowed a secondary spelling), as well as Pey and Fey, Kuf and Chaf and Shin and Sin. The Tzadik is transliterated TZ and the Chet or Chaf as CH. Transliteration distinguishes between Sh and S (eg. Finstein and Finshtein.) When a K sound appears the letter K (and not C) is used, same with E (like Echo, not I), or I (not Y). The O and U are not likely to be confused, however, a possible OO becomes a U (eg. BOORSTEIN was entered as BURSTEIN). If you are looking for family names that starts with BEN- look for them under the B500 soundex. KATZ are all originally spelled KAT"Z which stands for Kohen-Tzedek. In many cases when I found a V sound I translated it as both V and W letters, knowing the soundex's weakness with these cases.
The index is organized by the first-spelling's soundex. The secondary spelling of the last name is found right to it, with its soundex. The name is always in last-first order (also in comments). If there is more than one way to translate a name, a slash (/) will separate the variations. The reference column describes the source and the page number. In the comments column one may find additional reference page numbers (of the same source as in the reference comments), or any additional information about a person. Note that if the word 'father:...' appears before a name that means that this person's father is so and so. If the comment read something like 'mother of/father of:...' that this person is the father of so and so. This type of comment will generally appear for entries from the RN source. In other cases the comment may read 'Mrs.' or 'Wife of', that is usually a direct translation from a parenthesize comment in the original source. Lastly, when I found it necessary, I did create my own cross-reference by re-entering a last name and pointing for the first entry. For example: last name BZOZA-ZALITZKI (B220) is pointed to in ZALITZKI (Z432) as 'See BZOZA'.
The "index of pictures" (Category code PI) list about 850 different people, sometime with cross-reference and the page number where their picture appear. In many cases these picture are 'group picture' such as the 'Hebrew Stage' or 'Evening Class School' et cetera. However, in some cases one may be able to find more information near the place where the picture is located. In the transliterated index, these are referred to as PI and a page number follows. In many cases there is more than one page number, which is mentioned in the Comments column as 'ALSO ...'.
The citizens' list (Category CL) index is a short list of about 150 'young people' as the text states it, that pre-purchased Yosel Pyotintzki's book "She'erit Yosef" that was published in 1890. Some of the people that signed the book appear to sign as 'Son of Rabbi so and so' which does not provide a last name. They may be simply entered by their first name soundex.
The rabbinical section of the book and the other narratives (Category RN) are another source of names. From reading the narratives I could sometime find out a person's occupation or family relation (son-in-law, et cetera). This additional information is reflected in the comments.
In the table of contents in the beginning of the book I could find some additional references and names. These are categorized IN. Persons that participated in editing or writing for the book, were also extracted from the table of contents and are categorized WR.
The index sums to about 1200 records, which I estimate as 850 original records, 150 of the citizen's list and about another 50 for cross-reference and miscellaneous records. There are other three towns, Lomzitzia, Pyontitzya and Novogrod that are described in the end of the book. The three town's section takes about 20 pages of the total of 380 pages in the book.
Researches interested in the index can send a $7.00 check with a self-addressed envelope to Yigal Rechtman, c/o Person & Co. 10th Floor, 6 East 39 Street #601, New York, NY 10016
October 10, 1995
For more information Email to Rechtman@aol.com..