Rejowiec– Then and Now.
From the book “From Rejowiec to Jerusalem” by Doba Buchstein.
Rejowiec is located between Chelm and Krasnistav . At the beginning of the 20th century there were a few hundred Jewish families living in Rejowiec.The Christians lived on the outskirts. Rejowiec was a small village, the roads were unpaved, and in winter awash with deep mud. Transport to Chelm was by means of horses harnessed to wagons. There was no electricity, no central water system or sewage system. Paraffin lamps provided lighting, and water was brought from the wells in the market square. There were two wells with pumps on them, in the center of the village.
On cold days, when the pumps froze, and water could not be pumped from the wells, they broke the ice on the river near Yutze’s house and took river water home in buckets. The river was a place for bathing, for doing the washing, and often also the place for washing the dishes.
Apart from Yutze’s river, there were other rivers near Rejowiec and many forests surrounded the village, including the Rishver forest and the Kashilover forest.
In Rejowiec fairs were held twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. On these days, the farmers from the surrounding villages brought their agricultural produce for sale. With the money they earned, they bought products from the Jews: salt, matches, clothing, hats, and more.
Rejowiec was a very poor village; the villagers lived in desperately squalid conditions, which obviously influenced their health. There was no doctor in the village. The food was poor in both quantity and quality. Clothing and shoes were luxuries. Many of the Jews were artisans: tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, hat makers etc.
In 1923 a synagogue was inaugurated in the village, to replace the synagogue that was destroyed during the First World War. There was a school in the village that still stands today.
Outside the village stands the house and grounds of the nobleman Bodner, who owned the estate and many other properties. His house was extremely fancy. He employed many laborers, some of whom were Jews and he treated them well.
Bella (Buchstein) Dax, and Achia, next to one of the two pumps in the center of the village
The tombstone of Hana-Sheindel in Rejowiec (photographed in 1930), which of course no longer exists.
Rejowiec main street - 1984 Friends in Rejowiec 1936-38
Can anyone recognize any of our family ?
Click on photo, to enlarge
The monument, built from the fragments of tombstones found on the site of the old cemetery.
The new gate and fence of the cemetery
Bella, giving Mr Klinovsky a copy of the book “From Rejowiec to Jerusalem” writtenby her mother.
Rejowiec - Today
On Tuesday 19th of August 2003, a group of travellers arrived in Rejowiec. The travellers were ex-residents of Rejowiec or the children of Rejowiec residents. The trip was arranged by Tova Wax, Chairman of the Association of those born in Rejowiec, daughter of Jerucham Wax -previous Chairman of the Association.
At the Rejowiec Municipality building, the group was greeted by the deputy Mayor and his staff. In his speech he mentioned that he was happy to host the group.
After the welcome reception, we went to see the estate and residence of Bodner, which is still impressive today. This is a large two storey house surrounded by wide expanses of lawn and groups of trees. On our way there we passed the school where our parents had been pupils before the second World War, which still stands today.
Then we went to the cemetery, the main focus of our visit to Rejowiec. After the second World war there was not one undamaged tombstone left standing in the cemetery. Anything that had not been destroyed during the war was destroyed later by the residents of the place who used the tombstones to line the sidewalks. The whole site of the cemetery became a garbage dump.
The renovation of the cemetery began by chance. Sara Rab, one of the ex-Rejowiec residents applied to the Municipality of Rejowiec to obtain various documents and papers (her son Shimon Rabb, and his family were part of the group visiting Rejowiec that day). In the Rejowiec archives there is a librarian by the name of Mrs Klinovsky, whose husband is interested in the history of the village and is planning to write a book about the subject. Mr Klinovsky took upon himself the task of putting up a monument and a fence around the cemetery. The funds for the monument were donated by ex-Rejowiec residents in Israel and abroad. The funds for the fence were donated by the Fechter family from Baltimore, USA.
We held a ceremony at the cemetery, to reveal the monument and the surrounding fence. The monument was built of pieces of the tombstones found on the cemetery site. At the base of the monument a plaque was mounted. The plaque was brought from Israel by Tova Wax and is engraved in Hebrew, English and Polish “In memory of the Rejowiec martyrs who perished in the holocaust”.
On the gate of the fence surrounding the cemetery, we mounted another plaque, which we had also brought with us from Israel, engraved in Hebrew, English, and Polish, saying “Jewish Cemetery”.
The ceremony was impressive and moving. Many of the people living there today attended, including the deputy mayor and his staff. During the ceremony I presented Mr Klinovsky with a copy of the book “From Rejowiec to Jerusalem” written by my late mother Doba Buchstein.
After the ceremony we walked around the village and some of us identified the houses where our parents had lived.
We saw the two village pumps that had been such a central part of village life, and we saw the place where the synagogue had stood. It had been established in 1923 and then destroyed during the second World War.
It seems that the village has not changed much since our parents lived there, before the second World War. The houses look dilapidated and judging by the coffeehouse that we visited, this is an extremely quiet little village, with no activity, and no younger generation.
written by Bella (nee Buchstein) Dax.
History of Rejowiec - click HERE
This page was last updated on 29/05/05 By Baruch Krotman