Sunday, April 3, 2011

Where Once There Were Jews: Lapy, Poland

The story of Łapy native Sol Rubenstein begins: "The one-story brick house in which I was born on March 2, 1916 stood on the main street in Łapy, Poland, twenty-five kilometers south of the city of Bialystok. Łapy, a small town called in Yiddish "shtetl," was a major railroad crossing for the Warsaw-Vilna line. It had approximately one hundred Jewish families and three-thousand gentile families in 1939. The main industry was government railroad repair shops that employed about 4,000 gentile people. The Jewish population was discriminated against and denied the opportunity to work at the railroad shops. Two of the major streets were Main Street and Railroad Street. The few side streets were no more than alleys inhabited mostly by Jewish residents. Most of the gentiles lived at the outskirts of town in small villages. Each family had a house with two or three acres of land to plant grains, potatoes, vegetables and to raise a few livestock and poultry. Most of the Jewish people were merchants and tradesmen. Each family had the front part of their home as a place of business and the back room as their living quarters. My entire family consisted of uncles, aunts, great-uncles, great-aunts, and their children branched out into ten separate and independent families. Each family had their own home and retail business on Main Street. Their businesses dealt with the farmers and railroad employees...."

Continue to read Sol's story as well as see many photographs of Łapy taken there both before and during the war when the Germans occupied the town. You can find the exhibition "Where Once There Were Jews: Lapy, Poland" by clicking here.