Ada Holtzman (1951-2016) was born on Kibbutz Evron, where she was buried. She had a tremendous influence on the Jewish genealogical community, mainly thanks to her extensive research of many Jewish communities in Poland, beginning with her own ancestral town, Gabin (pronounced and known by the Jews as Gombin). Both of her parents were from Gombin, and they immigrated to Israel in 1939. Among her many projects, one of the biggest was researching and memorializing Gombin, both on her website, and as a leader of the Gombin Society in Israel.

She worked as a sales analyst at Alitalia, and she put her expertise to work on her website. She is remembered for the website “zchor!” meaning remember (http://www.zchor.org). Zchor! was a command, not an option, for her, which she also intended for all of us. The website still exists but remains unchanged since Ada’s death. She also volunteered to establish websites for Bialystok and the vicinity and many other towns.

The list of projects that Ada was involved with preparing and donating to JewishGen.org is lengthy. Considering that her life was cut short, she accomplished an amazing amount of writings and translations.

Ada cooperated with Benjamin Meirtchak (Chairman of the Polish Residents’ Association) and edited his major effort of documenting the Jewish soldiers who died fighting in the Polish Armies, Jewish Military Casualties in the Polish Armies in World War II. He himself had been an officer (reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel) in the Polish Army in the USSR, after being imprisoned in Soviet concentration camps. He was also wounded in action. There are five volumes in the series of books on this topic:

Volume I: Jewish Soldiers and Officers of the Polish People’s Army Killed and Missing in Action

Volume II:

  1. Jewish Military Casualties in the September 1939 Campaign
  2. Jewish Military Casualties in the Polish Armed Forces in Exiles

Volume III: Jewish Prisoners-of-War Murdered by Germans in the Lublin District 1939-

  1943

Volume IV:

  1. Jewish Officers, Prisoners-of-War, Murdered by Soviets in “Katyn Crime”
  2. Jews, Members of the Polish Underground, Fallen in Action
  3. An Addendum Supplement to Volumes I, II, III

Volume V: Supplement

All of the material in these books was donated to JewishGen.org.

Ada worked in partnership with Benjamin Yaari (Wald), who led projects to document and rehabilitate Jewish cemeteries in Poland, enlisting high school students from Jerusalem and Poland to help with the work. Benjamin was on the Board of Yad Vashem. Benjamin and Ada then published books with three languages (Hebrew, Polish and English), with their documentation. Among these books were a book about the Jewish cemetery of Tomaszow Mazowiezcki (Benjamin Yaari’s home town); The Jewish Cemeteries of Chrzanow and Trzebinia; The Jewish Cemetery of Szydlowiec (2000), List of the Gravestones documented. Another book documents the Jewish cemeteries of Krzepice and Dobrodzien (The Jewish Cemeteries of Krzepice-Dobrodzien). This book also includes a Fact Sheet for Visiting Youth to the Cemeteries. The last book in the series, The Jewish Cemetery of Warta (D’Vort), Documentation Made in the Year of 2000, Ada organized and published on her own in 2006, after Benjamin Yaari had passed away.

Having met Daniel Wagner by chance in the summer of 1999 in Zdunska Wola, they jointly created an early listing of tombstones in the local Jewish cemetery.

At www.zchor.org, I have found a poem by Ada entitled “We Are Still Here”, which deals with the return to Gombin of survivors, and the memory of families born there.

We Are Still Here

By Ada Holtzman

After more than half a century we are still here,
Back to Gombin, with a smile and a tear,
Descendants, survivors from five countries flew,
To visit the hometown so old and so new.

Birth place of fathers and mothers,
Of uncles and aunts, cousins and others,
We all share the same past, same common history,
And remember the Shtetl and its lost faded glory.

United in grief, together we prayed,
And the Kaddish again loudly was said,
We swear it will never happen again,
And we shall not forget, Amen and Amen…

Photo courtesy of Prof. Daniel Wagner

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