(13 November 1918 - 24 February 2011)

click on image to view inscription:
 Old Cemetery, Kfar-Sava

Moshe BirenbaumGrave of
              Moshe BirenbaumMoshe
              Birenbaum at Jewish Cemetery in Narewka

Courtesy of Israel Birenbaum
Relationship: father

Visits in Narewka – Birenbaum Family

My name is Israel Birenbaum. My father, Moshe Birenbaum, was born in Narewka on 143 November 1918.  He grew up and lived in Narewka and surrounding villages and towns until 6 June 1941.  On that day he joined the Red Army. Accompanied by his sister Lea, he went to the railway station at Hajnowka and was taken from there to Russia.

In 1957 he got permission to come back to his homeland, Poland.  He visited Narewka and heard all the stories from the Polish residents. He worked in Poland as an account manager of a restaurant chain.  In 1961 he was permitted to go to Israel, where his aunt (mother's side) and cousins were. In 1963 he married my mother - Haya Rapaport - Birenbaum. Three children were born, Zvi Aharon (after Moshe's father), Israel Yosef (after Moshe's brother) and Ester (aftern Moshe's mother). My father passed away on 24 February 2011.

I visited Narewka twice - the first time in June of 2001 with my parents; the second time in May of 2011 with my brother and the students from his high school in Israel.


First visit in Narewka – 20 June 2001

My father and mother, his cousins, originally from Orla (a nearby town), and I visited Narewka on 20 June 2001. Before the visit, my father made a sketch of a map of Narewka and it was amazing to see the similarity to the actual streets, river, etc.

 Sketch of Narewka

My father showed me the place of his former home; we entered the backyard and he explained how they lived there near the river.


Backyard in

Narewka River

    Across the street was the house of his grandfather – Yehuda Aydel Birenbaum.

 House of Yehuda Birenbaum

  My father found the well from where he brought water home.

Well in Narewka
Narewka Well

We talked to an old women (same age as my father) and she showed us some pictures,
one of them from the old school where my father was a student. (In the middle is the principal.)

School Photo

We went to the Jewish cemetery and my father said the Yizkor on one of the graves,
but not on his grandfather's, since we couldn’t find it then.

 Moshe Birenbaum at Cemetery

After that we went to the monument, to the place where the Germans killed all the Jewish men of Narewka.
My father said the Yizkor and Kaddish. My brother's name is after my father's father - Aharon Zvi -

and my name - Israel - is after my father's brother.

Israel and
            Moshe Birenbaum at Monument

Birenbaums at Monument

    We also visited Bialystok, where my father studied a few years in a Talmud Torah (until 1939) and where some of his family had lived.

House in LosinskaAnother place that we went to see was the school in Łosinka, were my father was a teacher during the years 1940-41, until he joined the Red Army. We also met the couple who rented him a room in their house across the street from the school – this was also very exciting.

Second visit in Narewka – 1 May 2011

My father, Moshe Birenbaum, who lived and grew up in Narewka, passed away on February 24, 2011.

Two months later, for a second time, I went, joining my brother and his high school's - Adar High School -  journey to Poland from Israel.

We first met the local school principal and some teachers and students at the school in Narewka.* We told them about our father and they took us for a short visit to meet with school classes. At the end the students from Israel played football (soccer) with the students from Narewka.

Playing football 

In the school there is a mini-model of the old village, where one can see the exact location of the synagogue.

Model of Village of

We then went together for a walk through Narewka streets from the place where the synagogue was to a view of my father's backyard from the river side ...

Students at
            Narewka River 

        Through my father's home place and the well ...

At the Well 

        To the Jewish cemetery.

View of Cemetery


  Israel Birnbaum
            at graveAt the cemetery I walked directly to one of the graves, which turned out to be the grave of my father’s grandfather  – it was a miracle, since we couldn’t find this grave on my first visit in 2001 with my father.

Gravestone of Yehuda

Then we said goodbye to the Polish students and went to the monument. There we had a ceremony in which my brother, his daughter and I said a few words. I played the tape of my father saying Kaddish and Yizkor that was recorded back in 2001, when we were there, and asked all attendees to say Amen. This was a very emotional ceremony.

Birenbaums at Monument


I would like to thank some great and very special people who helped me:

-- Israel Birenbaum
Zichron Yaacov, Israel
May 2011
Photos courtesy of Israel Birenbaum

Birenbaum Brothers
Zvika and Israel Birenbaum

Birenbaum Family

Click for larger image

Israel Birenbaum is interested in hearing from anyone who might be related,
descended from his great-grandfather Yehuda Birenbaum, or with information about his family.

(*Addendum: The 2011 meeting between the Israeli students from Adar High School and the Polish students from the
Zespół Szkół w Narewce and their joint tour of Narewka has also been reported on the websites of the
GOK - Gminny Osrodek Kultury - the Narewka Municipal Cultural Center - and the Zespół Szkół.)

On Zvika Birenbaum's April 2013 visit to Narewka with his students,
see article, "Israel celebrates the festival of lights," from the English Edition of Israel Hayom, an online newsletter,
as well as the coverage on the website of GOK - Gminny Osrodek Kultury, the Narewka Municipal Cultural Center.
This youtube video of the visit was made by Magda Zw-ski, a cousin of one of the Narewka teachers:

To hear a song written and composed by Zvika Birenbaum, Principal of Adar School (, together
with his students, soon after their visit to Narewka, click here (and scroll down to gravestone of Eliyahu son of Yerachmiel).

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Copyright © 2011 Joy Kestenbaum
May 2011;  December 2013