Faces of Dynów

Nina Talbot’s portraits depict the stories of her ancestors who lived in the historical town of Dinov. The portraits are a product of Talbot’s trip to Dinov on Rosh Hashanah of 2013. While the initial goal of her trip was to investigate the emigration of her grandmother Bella from Dinov to New York City, what Talbot encountered was a town living in the shadow of a massacre of Jews that took place there at the hands of the Nazis on the second day of Rosh Hashanah in 1939. Talbot’s discovery of the names of her murdered great uncles, aunts and cousin imprinted on the wall of the sanctuary in the newly built Jewish Center Dinov catalyzed a new focus of the trip toward rediscovery of the lost lives. Confronting the loss of so many lives made Talbot realize „My grandmother left first, and that’s why I’m here.” This work presents inner point of view from Talbot’s family that gives the viewer a path to wander down and meditate upon their own reflections of their histories. Talbot weaves the faces, places and family relationships into her complex, yet hopeful portraits of the vanished Jews from Dinov. The first step in Talbot’s artistic process is a thorough investigation into the history of each subject. This investigative research is done through listening to interviews and recording oral histories, examining primary documents and learning about the history of the Galicia region. The Polish Jewry Heritage Center in Dinov is run by Rabbi Pincas Pomp from Izrael, who organizes a Rosh Hashanah celebration and memorial to the massacre that took place on that day in 1939. Many Dynow townspeople participate, including non-Jewish members of the community, and guests partake in a combination of traditional polish culture performances, Jewish prayer, Hebrew lessons, and memorial services to the massacre. Current activities in Dinov that include students, young and older generations reflect an attempt to understand and mediate an atrocious chapter in history. Rabbi Pincas has agreed to feature the artwork that could as a part of next year memorial. Read more about Nina and her work: www.ninatalbot.com Read more about Center: www.facebook.com/pages/Centrum-Historii-i-Kultury-Żydów-polskich-w-Dynowie/545779988820250?sk=info

Wide 1

The WERTENTEIL Siblings (Jack, Ben and Chancha)

The three WERTENTEIL siblings in this painting were three of the seven children born to Duvid WERTENTEIL and Tilla WERTENTEIL. This Jewish family lived in the town of Dynow. By the time of the German invasion of Poland September 1, 1939 the family unit in Dynow had already been reduced in size. Jack, the eldest, had immigrated to the Untied States in 1937, at the age of 17. {Grandmother} died of throat cancer two weeks before the German invasion. 
WERTENTEIL Siblings (left to right): Jack (Yankl), Ben (Betzalel), Chancha WERTENTEIL
Upper left corner — Jack with Dynow landscape — sub-Carpathian mountains in the background. Within Jack’s figure is the train station of Etampes in France, where the station was filled with soldiers and refugees from the concentration camps. Jack witnessed countless scenes of families reuniting with each other, not having realized that they had survived. 

Center figure of Betzalel WERTENTEIL as a child playing at the train station with the figure of a German soldier and German planes in the sky. Within the figure of Betzalel is the Siberian landscape and map referring to the nearly ten years the WERTENTEIL family spent there. Between Betzalel and Chancha is the San River with Jewish people escaping to the Russian side by raft and by swimming. 

Above Chancha is an image referencing a photograph of the family taken before their trip to America. Within Chancha’s figure is a collaged photo of her large extended family in Brooklyn. Below that is a small vignette of the WERTENTEIL home in Dynow with German soldiers marching in the street with the Nazi flag, and Betzalel looking out the window. Betzalel’s father, David WERTENTEIL is seen collecting bodies of the dead in the streets, as ordered by the Nazis. The dead were townspeople who did not abide by the curfew imposed upon Dynow.


Sam NEGER was born in Dynow, the youngest of five children Avraham Neger and Ryfka. Avraham came to the marriage with nine children from his first wife who died in 1919. Avraham, in partnership with his father and his three brothers, was a kosher butcher in Dynow. The Neger men were also cattle dealers in Dynow. On September 15, 1939, on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the day of the Nazi massacre of Jews in Dynow, Sam, who was nine years old at the time, was taken across the San River to the safety of the Russian sector of Poland. By the war’s end he was sent to Buchenwald by the Nazis, from which he was eventually liberated by Allied forces. After a period in a displaced persons camp in Europe came to New York in 1947. He took an offer for housing and employment in Duluth, Minnesota, where he married and began to rebuild his life.

Guided imagery in the painting (going clockwise):

In the upper left hand corner of the painting is an image referencing the cattle of the NEGER family business. Pictured in the upper right is the commotion of Jews running towards the San River to escape the Germans invading the town. Below that is an image of Sam standing outside his family home on Lazienna Street. Below that, slightly to the left is an image of liberation of Buchenwald, taken from the Yad Vashem collections, with the child prisoners in the forefront. Sam can be seen in that photo. Then we can see the memorial in the Jewish cemetery of Dynow to the Jews that were killed by the Nazis. Within the figure of Sam is his visit back to Buchenwald in 2006. He stands next to his old bloc 22 with the main compound in the background. On the bottom left is a corridor with the torture rooms. Above that is an imagined storefront of the NEGER brothers butcher shop in the rynek (marketplace), and the rynek with market stalls and vendors. Within the figure of Samuel is his liberation from Buchenwald with trailing ghosts.


Bella NEGER was my grandmother. She was born in Dynow, the daughter of Abraham NEGER and Taube (nee SPINRAD. Bella was the eldest of Taube and Abraham’s eight children. She grew up on Lazienna Street. Taube died of Cholera, which she contracted during a Pogrom in 1920. During this time, the Cossacks pillaged the town to drive the Jewish people out. Bella returned to town without her mother. In her grief, she spent every night at her grandmother Chaya’s apartment, which was across the street from her father’s house.

Bella came to the United States when she was 17 years old. Her sorrow over her mother’s death prompted her to seek a new life for herself. She arrived by boat into the U.S. and went to Buffalo, NY to stay with relatives. 

A scene imagined of Bella with her father Avrahm, with his cattle with local homes in the background. Bella’s grandmother Chaya SPINRAD, based on a photograph my mother gave me. The Jewish Cemetery; The U.S. S. Gothland, the ship Bella came to America on, which was on the Red Star Line, originating in Antwerp. A scene from Bella’s aunt’s apartment, which was so small, and only contained one bed. Bella reported that her cousins would tell her, “Sleep Fast, I need the bed,” as they took turns sleeping. Lower east side scene in New York City with Eastern European immigrants, vendors, pushcarts. Bella as a seventeen year old “greenhorn” standing on Dynow on Galicia map. Lower left corner; the bathhouse on Laziena Street, near where Bella lived at #1 Laziena. Center left; view of Bella’s grandmother’s house from up Laziena Street. Wedding photo of Bella and her husband Joseph TOLPEN. Bella’s father, Avraham. Center image inside of Bella’s figure — section Dynow necrology list includes some NEGER’s.

The Dynower Rebbe and the Dynower Dynasty

Upper left hand corner, The Polish Jewry Center, run by Rabbi Pinchas POMP. Dynow landscape of sub — Carpathian Mountains. Upper right corner — Ohel of Dynower Rabbis Tzvi Elimelech SHAPIRA (known as The Dynower Rebbe) and his son, Rebbi Dovid the Tzaddik of Dynow. Street scene of old Dynow with Hasidm. Memorial words of the murdered Jews from the sanctuary at the Polish Jewry Center. Candles, and Rabbi Pomp’s children singing prayers. Dynow sign at the entrance to the town. Lower left corner — legend and town map, Hasidim of old Dynow gathering at the rynek, image of interior of old Dynow synagogue. Central image of Rebbes Tzvi Elimelech SHAPIRA, known as The Dynower Rebbe with his book, “Bnei Yissaschar.” and his son, Rabbi Dovid the Tzaddick of Dynow, author of “Tzemach Dovid” against their headstones and Rabbi POMP looking in.

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