Landsmanshaft of Melbourne
the Pabiance Landsmanshaft of Melbourne
The Pabiance Landsmanshaft of Melbourne was formed in 2006 following my experience on the 2005 adult “March of the Living”, organised through the Jewish Holocaust Centre.
The “March of the Living” guided tour comprised two sections. The first section was a seven-day Holocaust tour and the second was a tour of Israel for another seven days.
It was a roll-coaster of a journey and a life-changing experience.
While in Poland I visited my father’s home town of Pabianice and found his family home and place of business, both of which were confiscated by the Polish government.
The only remnants of a Jewish community of 9000, was the plaque of the destroyed synagogue and the totally neglected and dilapidated Pabianice Jewish cemetery, which is labelled a tourist attraction.
I was totally shocked and outraged at what I had discovered at the cemetery, and I was determined to do something positive about it, at least for the 650 Jews buried there.
On returning to Melbourne, I organised a meeting of the Pabianice Jewish community at the Holocaust Centre. It was decided after much discussion to pay for and erect a memorial monument at the Melbourne Chevra Kadisha cemetery at Springvale.
The Pabianice ghetto was destroyed by the Nazis on 16 May, 1942, and is why the Pabianice memorial service is held every May in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.
On 3 June, 2007, the Pabianice memorial monument was erected and dedicated. The 65th memorial service was conducted by Rabbi Yirmi Garfunkel.
In 2009, the Pabianice website (pabianice.com.au) was established by the late Harry Ciechanowski, and is now administered by his daughter, Debra Belleli.
On 14 July, 2012, the Pabianice memorial plaque was erected and dedicated at the Caulfield Hebrew Congregation. Caulfield shule has a long-standing connection with the Pabianice community: one of its founding fathers and past-presidents was the late Simon Roth, who was also a past-president of the Pabianice Society of Victoria. Mr Roth also organised and conducted the annual Pabianice memorial service at the Caulfield shule in the 1950s.
The Pabianice Memorial Book was translated from Yiddish and Hebrew into English by Melbourne translators Bobbi Zylberman and Sara Brott and was sponsored by the Light family – Dr Ian Light and Eva Light.
The Pabianice Memorial Book was launched on 30 March, 2014, at the home of Marion and Max Nowoweiski. Copies of the book were distributed to libraries around the world.
The English version of the book was published on the Pabianice website on 1 February, 2017, with the help of JewishGen.org through Lance Ackerfeld, of Kibbutz Yiftah, Israel.
This was done to make people aware of their heritage, where they came from, and their ancestors. More information about the book here...
We want this to be a valuable source for the descendants of Pabianice and for those who study the history of European Jewry. It is another link in the chain of our shared Jewish history.
The Pabianice Landsmanshaft of Melbourne is the only active Pabianice Jewish community group in the world. It is a non-profit community group run by volunteers.
I make special mention of Max Lasky and Rachel Engelman, who both help organise the annual Pabianice memorial service.
Jack Ekstein has been president of the Pabianice Landsmanshaft of Melbourne since its inception in 2006.