Thursday, December 1, 2011

Loss of a Leader

I recently received word from friends in both Poland and Israel of the death of Haim Kincler, a key figure in the worldwide community of Jews from Radom.  Kincler was the head of the Radom Society in Israel and was instrumental in the creation of the cemetery restoration project in Radom, Poland.  The original cemetery was destroyed by the Nazis who used the tombstones to pave roads. As I’ve written in prior entries, he facilitated the creation of a Lapidarium in 2010, a curved wall in which 70 previously hidden tombstones from the former Jewish community were embedded.  These had been hidden by a Polish tombstone maker during the war.  The Polish tombstone maker had hoped to sell them after the war, but was unable to due to Communist constraints on holding something of historic value. They remained hidden for many years. Kincler learned of them and got the children of the tombstone maker to contribute them to the city.  Ultimately they were returned to the cemetery as part of the newly constructed monument, a joint effort between Israel and Poland.

Kincler had survived the war in the East.  Later he arrived in Palestine on the ship Exodus.  He was blinded during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.  Despite this handicap, he finished law school and subsequently owned and managed a successful business.  Early this year I was in Radom with my friend Dvora.  Dvora was a school girl in Radom when the war broke out.  She was deeply touched that on this visit there were so many commemorative efforts around the former Jewish community.  Many of those efforts came about through Haim Kincler.  He was 93 and had lived a full life, but his loss is a loss to the broader Jewish community with ties to Radom.

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