Reb Alter Walmer

by Dow Gorzalczany of Tel Aviv

Translated from Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

He was born in 1896 in Sokolow Podliski, and educated in his parents' house in the traditional, religious style. Slowly but surely during the time of his studies in the Yeshiva of Sokolow, he dedicated some of his time to secular studies, and diligently completed studies as a bookkeeper.

He moved from Sokolow to Jandziw or to a nearby village, where his father-in-law owned a mill. Nevertheless, he did not remain in the village for a long time, for during the 1920s, the attacks anti-Semitic ruffians of the N. D. reached their peak of infamy – especially in our area. They caused many villagers to uproot themselves from their place to go to the nearby towns.

Reb Alter Walmer moved to Czyzewo. He set up his house in a lot next to the post office. He earned his livelihood as an official with the Szopkowicz Brothers Forestry merchants. He later became their partner. Still later, he became the partner in the flourmill of Messrs. Lepek and Szopkowicz. Since he was of pleasant manner and liked by people, he quickly stood out and took his place among the honorable families of the town. He also had a recognizable place among the Hassidim of Aleksandrow. His deep knowledge of Torah and holy books, in addition with his broad, variegated general knowledge, earned him a most honorable and prominent place among the community of Hassidim. Everyone revered him. He added to this reverence by slowly earning a place in the wold of Hassidic cantors, since he worshiped wit a sweep voice – at first with Lecha Dodi on Friday nights and at the end as the leader of Shacharit on the High Holy Days.
His excited dynamism in all areas brought him to a strong economic position. His name went before him, and his fame went out as a successful businessman. His abilities stood out everyone, and the “Aleksandrowers” did not hesitate to choose him as their representative in the only “Cooperative Bank” in our town. His place was not missing even on the communal council. Later on, when the influence of the Hassidim of Gur declined, he was elected as the head of the Czyzewo community. He served in that lofty position for many years, and he fulfilled his duty faithfully and responsibly, as befits his uprightness.

The manner of Reb Alter in communal and social affairs was crowned with success. First of all, this was with regard to conducting services, with regard to which this wonderful man brought great satisfaction to hearts and souls. His home turned into a place that served the community. His faithful wife, Bashka, also gave over a great deal to visitors and those who turned to her for help as the chairwoman of Linat Tzedek. Her efforts were directed to the assistance of the ill and needy, as she concerned herself with arranging hospital stays, lending out of sanitary equipment, and cleaning the equipment after it was returned.

czy781.jpg [13 KB] - Alter Walmer, his wife, daughter and mother-in-law

Alter Walmer, his wife,
daughter and mother-in-law

The years of the terrible Holocaust brought Reb Alter Walmer, together with Reb Zvulun Grozbard (the head of the community and head of the Merchant's Union), and Jehoszua Lepek (one of the chief Zionists and activists of the “Zentus”) to the Judenrat. After Reb Zvulun was fired, Reb Alter filled his place.

He did not take the opportunity to flee and save himself. However, he did attempt to hide his family. He almost chased away his eldest daughter and forced her to flee – however he did not listen to the pleading of his daughter Mirl who urged him to flee. His responsibilities to the community to which he was so faithful removed this thought from him. He preferred to remain with the community and to share in their common fate. He went on his final journey with the remnants of the Community of Czyzewo. He was taken to Zambrowa and from there to Auschwitz – the vale of murder. The death of this finest of people breaks the heart.

May his memory be blessed!