AVROM-ZEV HELER (1885-September 14, 1941)
He was born in Halusk (Hlusk), Byelorussia. He studied in religious primary school, with the local rabbi, and later in Slobodka Yeshiva and at the rabbinic institute in Slobodka-Kovno where he received ordination into the rabbinate. He subsequently was rabbi in the city of Mariampol (Marijampolė), Lithuania. He was a regular contributor to the Orthodox Yiddish and Hebrew publications in Lithuania. He published articles of Jewish and general character in: Idisher lebn (Jewish life), Kovno, 1925-1931; Tsum yugnt (For youth), Kovno, 1928-1938; and in Hebrew, Haneeman (The faithful), Telz (1929-1938). When the German seized Mariampol on June 23, 1941, R. Heler and the Jewish intelligentsia of the town were forced into the local synagogue where gruesome experiments were carried out on them. In early September, during the extermination of the Jews in the synagogue, he gave a sermon wearing prayer shawl and phylacteries and called upon the Jews not to fall into despair but to go to their martyrdom with joy. He went to his death with pride at the head of the first group of martyrs in Mariampol.
Sources: Divre efrayim (Word of Efraim) (New York, 1949); R. Froym Oshri (Ephraim Oshri), Khurbn lite (The Holocaust in Lithuania) (New York-Montreal: Bukh-komitet, 1951), pp. 257-60.