Remembering Luboml  -  Images of a Jewish Community

The Virtual Exhibit - 2001
Developed in 2001, this page was our original web site.

The exhibition Remembering Luboml: Images of a Jewish Community offers a poignant glimpse of daily life in a shtetl representative of many others which were destroyed in World War II. The exhibition is a photo essay of archival prints and artifacts that re-create life between the wars in the Polish shtetl of Luboml (Libivne in Yiddish). The exhibition is the culmination of three years of intense research and gathering of archival photographs, original films from the 1930s and interviews with Libivners and precision design for a traveling installation.

Research, design and all aspects of exhibition development were underwritten by Mr. Aaron Ziegelman (New York) who wanted to honor Luboml, his birthplace and the town from which he, his widowed mother and sister emigrated to America in 1938.

Northwestern view of the Great Synagogue, with shtiblekh (small prayer houses) at right, ca. 1930.
Collection of Polska Akademia Nauk, Instytut Sztuki

"We were amazed by the force of the resonance in the synagogue and when we had a chance to remain there alone, we would shout and wait excitedly for the echo that came to us from all directions. On the other hand, we were afraid to pass close to the synagogue alone at night -- the time when the souls of the departed came to the synagogue for prayer and the reading of the Torah." 
Yisrael Garni

The Jewish community of Luboml dated back to the 14th century. By the 1930s, Libivne (as it was called in Yiddish) had a vibrant community of at least 4,000 Jews. The interwar years were a period of astonishing cultural ferment and change in this Polish shtetl. While the family and traditional religious institutions continued to play a central role, they were joined and sometimes challenged by modern intellectual attitudes, styles of dress, and other secular influences (particularly Zionism) which increasingly made their way to this corner of eastern Europe.

Luboml was occupied by the Soviets from 1939 until 1941, when the Germans took control and established a ghetto there. Ultimately, the Germans, assisted by Ukrainians and Poles, massacred the Libivner Jews in a series of "actions" which culminated in the final executions on October 1, 1942. Only 51 Luboml Jews (excluding those who had emigrated before the war) are believed to have survived the Holocaust.

The Luboml Exhibition Project has located almost 2,000 photographs and artifacts from more than 100 families and archives around the world, and has taped many video interviews with Libivners. We are pleased to present a small part of our collection online.

Right to left: Roza Szwarc,
 Rivke Milshtein and an unidentified girl. 1937
Collection of Fruma Golod

"To me, Luboml was and will forever remain -- Libivne!"
Chane Kraut Achtman

"After World War I, new winds began to blow in the small towns of the new Poland and former Russia ... As everywhere else, so it was in Libivne."
Yecheskel Kahn

"The area of the market place was divided up into various, definite sections: the southeastern corner for the horse auction, and the section nearby for cows; on its northern section, pigs and stands for selling pork and other products; and the northwestern section, for shoes, clothing, furs, hats, and other furnishings. The noise was deafening; voices of vendors and buyers, mooing of cows, whinnying of horses, snorting of pigs -- all these filled the area of the marketplace, which bustled and hummed without let-up until the late afternoon." Yisrael Garmi

  Market day in the marketplace, 1926

The Milshtein brothers (in doorway)
with employees of their shoemaking
business, ca. 1920.
Collection of Alexander Ostapyuk.
Townspeople posing with Torah Ark 
donated to the Lines-Hatsedek Synagogue
by the Gershengorn family in memory of
their mother Khaye Devoyre, 1930s.
Collection of Heichal Yahaduth Wolyn.

Artifacts from Luboml
Click on each image for a larger view

Liquor labels from the distillery of M. Rajsman
and K. Kopelzon, 1920s - 30s.

Collection of Alexander Ostapyuk.
Liquor Labels   Click to see larger image
Matzoh cover made by May Szyster for her father, Yaacov Isroel, embroidered, "Observe the Holiday of Matzohs [Passover], Y.Y. Szyster, 1930."
Collection of May Goodman.
Matzoh Cover - click to see larger image
Rosh Hashanah card with portrait of Nuchim Dubecki. The Yiddish verse reads: "Like God's pure and radiant angel / With a banner flag in hand/ Loaded full of blessings / The New Year now arrives!"  1938
Collection of Milton J. Linder.
Rosh Hashana card  Click to see larger image

My dear beloved Arele and Lybule! I can in no way make peace with the idea that you, my dear ones, are going away. Because until now it seemed like only a fantasy to me. But I see that reality is stronger and that a higher authority wished it travel in good health, arrive in peace, be successful throughout life. I expect to hear good tidings from you. Be proud, religious, nationalist Jews.
Your uncle, Joseph Zygielman

Entry in homemade autograph book given to Esther Zygielman and her children Aaron and Luba, upon their departure from Luboml for New York, 1938.
Farewell portrait of friends and family at the Luboml railroad station. 1938  Collection of Lillian Ziegelman Chanales
Taken on the occasion of the departure of the Zygielman family for America.  Aaron Zygielman (front row, near center, with white cap), Aaron's mother Esther (behind him wearing a hat), and sister Luba (standing, 8th from right). 

Survivors "I returned to Libivne on June 22, 1944...Not a stone was left of the Besmedresh (the study house). A place that had served its holy task for hundreds of years; where for hundreds of years Yiddish was heard; where many generations of Jews would gather to pray to God -- it now lay in ruins. Thorns and wild grass had covered it."
Chaim Rozenblitz
Survivors at an early monument
to Holocaust victims in Luboml., ca. 1945.
Collection of Nathan Sobel.

The Luboml Exhibition Project was initiated in 1994 by Aaron Ziegelman, a Libivner who emigrated to the United States in 1938. To date, the Project has located almost 2,000 photographs and artifacts from more than 100 families and archives around the world, and has taped many video interviews with Libivners. The Luboml Exhibition Project is underwritten by the Aaron Ziegelman Foundation.

All quotations are translated from the Yizkor Book of Luboml (Tel Aviv, 1975),
unless otherwise indicated.

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