Herschel was the youngest of three sons born to Yiddish-speaking Jewish parents. When Herschel was a child, his family moved to Radom, an industrial city which had a large Jewish population. By 1930, Herschel had finished his schooling and was helping in his father's shoemaking business. With the help of a friend, he later found a full-time job as a house painter.
1933-39: Herschel's career as a painter was interrupted for two years when he was drafted into the Polish cavalry at the age of 20. When Germany threatened to attack Poland in August 1939, Herschel was called up again. After Germany occupied Poland, he avoided capture as a POW and returned home. When the Germans beat up his older brother Itzik he borrowed money and fled east to the town of Slonim in Soviet-occupied Poland.
1940-41: In Slonim Herschel again found work as a painter, but in 1941 he fell from a scaffold while painting and broke his leg. He was in the hospital when the Germans attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Three days later, German troops stormed into Slonim. Most of Herschel's friends were able to flee in time, but Herschel lay helpless in the hospital. As German combat troops continued their advance into the Soviet Union, they were followed by mobile killing squads which entered Slonim to kill Jews.
Along with other hospital patients in Slonim, Herschel was shot and killed as he lay in his hospital bed. He was 25 years old.