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[Page 130]

Types and Images

Reb Yossef Buchwicz and his Melody

by Borukh Szimkowicz

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

In the shtetl, Reb Yossef Szames was known by the name of his father in law. His mere appearance drew respect. He was a tall man, his face was full of dignity, and he had a black beard. He was a faithful Alexander Chasid, and he traveled to (and studied with) the Rabbi Reb Israel Yitzhak, the “Baal Yismach Israel”[1] (The one who rejoices Israel).

Reb Yossef Buchwicz was one of the Torah scholars. He was also an expert in the Aggadot, Midrashim and Mussar. As a teacher, he taught Chumash and Rashi, and even Tanach, with all of the Perushim (commentaries). He taught with a special nigun (melody). None of the other Klobucker Chadarim (elementary religious school students) could sing the verses of the Songs of Songs, the Ecclesiastes and the book of Ruth as well as Reb Yossef's students.

During the week of Shavuot, from Reb Yossef's Cheder, people could hear the beautiful songs of “Akdamot” and “Yetziv Pitgam” (liturgical hymns sung during Shavuot). Also at the time of the weekly Torah portion, “Vayechi”, the shtetl could hear the song: “And I when I came back from Padan Aram ...”(Mesopotamia), and also “Shimon and Levi brothers”. Everything was sung with the appropriate trope (Torah melody). Because of these songs, no other Cheder could compete with Reb Yossef's Cheder.

Reb Yossef was also a great specialist of reading Tehilim (Psalms) aloud in public. By saying Tehilim, he was the prayer leader for all the sick people in the shtetl. Everybody was sure that with his wailing song of Tehilim, he obtained, by persuasion, a full recovery for the sick people from God. When an epidemic (God forbid) broke out in the shtetl, and later it stopped, everybody was sure that Reb Yossef with his Tehilim songs, as a prayer leader, canceled the bitter decree.

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Reb Yossef Buchwicz, murdered by the Germans

 

Reb Yossef took care of the poor people. Himself, he had nothing to give. He was a very poor man. Often he used to go to the important landlords, and walk from house to house to ask (wealthy) Jews for charity --“Anonymous Charity” – (the highest form of charity) to give to a respectable poor family. He used to say in the Beit HaMidrash, during the prayers to one of the assembly: “You should know that if God allows, for Chanukah or Purim, the shtetl will gather a few gilden (coins) for a respectable poor family”. The well to do Jews, from whom he requested (contributions), never asked to whom the money would be given, because if Reb Yossef raised money for the poor, they knew that he would give it to those who needed help.

It was said about him in the shtetl that he is a man of God and of the people.

Translator's Footnote

  1. “Yismach Israel” is the name of a book written by Rabbi Israel Yitzhak. It is usual to refer to a Rabbi by the name of his main book. Return


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My Grandfather - the Pious, Believing Tailor

by Moshe Goldberg

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

The lives of my grandfather, Chaim Moshe, and my grandmother, Fromet Goldberg, were typical of the lives of the large majority of Jews (in Klobuck at that time). The inclusion of my grandfather's and grandmother's (experiences) in the Yizkor book will perpetuate the lives of the courteous, observant Jews from the Klobuck community, whose life descriptions are unknown.

My grandfather lived close to the Zavade (name of a pond), opposite the watermill with the enormous wooden wheel, which was constantly spinning day and night. I often visited my grandfather and grandmother. Each one nurtured me in their own (special) manner: my grandmother made my present world better, by giving me good cheese and egg cookies she always kept hidden for me; and my grandfather focused on the future world, by reading to me aloud the Torah weekly portion, and the Rashi commentary every Shabbat.

My grandfather was very concerned that the laws of (religious) observance be continued by his grandchildren. He saw to it that I could davenen all the prayers over time, and that I should answer “Amen” when people said Kaddish, because if I did not, (the belief was that) one could become, God forbid, orphaned. My grandfather made sure that I made my best efforts

 

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Chaim Moshe Goldberg with his wife, Frimet

 

to be observant, (and to such a degree), by always keeping an eye on me, that I became jealous of the boys who were able to play around freely in the yard, like throwing a bucket down the well or doing other silly things.

Each festival my grandfather adhered to all of the divine instructions, which were mandated in the Holiday observance (rituals), like Pesach, the Exodus from Egypt in which all the Jews, even nowadays, participate; the “Tal” (dew) bentshen (benediction), which is a prayer for good livelihood, during the whole year; Shavuot, the receiving of the Torah, which was given (to the Jewish people) for all generations and for all times, and every year it is renewed as if we were standing before Mount Sinai. Then there was the teachings about Succoth, and Simchas Torah, when we rejoice again with the Torah, at the time of the harvest Festival, and the remembrance of Eretz Israel, where every Jew sat “under his vine and under his fig tree” and went to Jerusalem for the Festivals, with the belief that this will happen again in the future, when we (Jews) deserve it. These were the thoughts with which my grandfather welcomed the Festivals.

For my grandfather every event in the world was linked to the coming of the Messiah. Every day he really hoped that the Messiah would come. That is why he did not worry about furniture or the apartment. “For what do we need to buy furniture?” he would say. “Everything is waiting for us over there. Any day the Messiah may come. In order to be able to welcome the Messiah, we need to be clean (pure) of all impurity.” He indeed kept himself clean, without any sin, and every day, summer or winter, he used to go to the Mikveh (ritual bath house): “When you dive into the water you feel like it was before the Creation, before the “Original Sin” when everything was Tohu Bohu”.

My grandfather was also knowledgeable about secular events. He was an assiduous reader of the “Haynt” (Yiddish newspaper), and was delighted to read Itshe's political letters, which were part of his rejoicing during Shabbat. The letters of Itshe (Yojanes) were explained and interpreted by my observant grandfather in his own manner. Regarding all of the political events of his time, he saw the anticipated coming of the “Gog and Magog war” (between good and evil), and the “Righteous Liberator”.

From each wrong doing in domestic life, my grandfather saw the impurity,

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which was the greatest enemy of man. A blow, an abscess on the body, a meal that was burnt, the dough that did not leavened properly, everything, according to my grandfather, came from impurity, from not washing hands. My grandfather also strongly believed that the deceased had a great influence on the living. “If it were not for the deceased (good deeds), he would say, the world would have stopped to exist a long time ago”. That is why he prayed with great fervor in the Shemonah Essere (prayer), where the “Techiyat HaMetim” (Resurrection of the dead) is recalled.

On every Rosh Chodesh (new moon: beginning of Jewish month) eve, for many years I found him in the cemetery. My grandfather was convinced that on Rosh Chodesh eve the souls came down from the World of Truth and hovered above the tombstones. Then they were ready to listen to the prayers of their relatives and bring them to the higher worlds in the heaven. He was never short of requests from the dead: livelihood, health, marriage of a daughter, free a son from non-Jewish hands (military service) and the general liberation of Jews that would come from the “Righteous Liberator”.

In particular, for a long time my grandfather prayed over the tombstone of his grandfather, Shmuel, who was, according to the family tradition, a miracle worker. Among the family it was said that the ancestor, Shmuel, saved Klobuck from a fire. Once a house was burning, and the wind was blowing the flames in the shtetl's direction. The well to do Jews came to Reb Shmuel to pray. He took his stick and an old book and went to the fire. After a short prayer he raised his hands to the heavens, as if he was pointing to the wind (and directing) where it should go. After a moment the wind changed its direction and the shtetl was saved.

The tombstone of my ancestor, Reb Shmuel, was made of wood and it was very old, and it was covered by gray-green moss. Each time my grandfather came to the cemetery he removed the moss from the tombstone and read aloud the date (of Reb's Shmuel passing away). During my time, in the 1920's, according to my grandfather, the tombstone was already 119 years old from “the day he passed away”. By his side was the tombstone of my ancestor's wife, Chava. When coming back from the cemetery, Jews used to greet my grandfather (by saying): “May this be of good fortune for you”.

My grandfather had a hard life. He made a living as a tailor. He worked hard, day and night with the needle, the scissors and the sewing machine, producing

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“ready to wear clothes” to sell in the market. Whether in the summer's heat, or winter's frost, he used to work half a night in order to be ready to go to the market at dawn with his goods. He had to provide food for his large family of sons and daughters. One bill of exchange pushed another one. When his sons grew up, he taught them to be tailors. In his apartment the sewing machines buzzed from the morning until late in the night and it was also financially difficult to marry off his daughters.

Slowly by slowly the family emigrated. Four sons went to England. The large table, where on Shabbat (the family) used to sing Zemirot (Shabbat songs), became deserted. My grandfather envied the families that were able to keep their “nests” full.

Once when my grandfather received a photograph from his sons, he looked at it attentively and told me: “Do you know the meaning of the verse 'your life will hang in front of you'? I will explain it to you”. My grandfather said: “Your children who are as dear to you as your own life will hang in front of you on photographs on the wall. You will see their images, but you will not (really) see them. This is my fate.”

Later his sons sent photographs of themselves in tuxedos and top hats, and their wives, his daughters-in-law, dressed in low-cut evening dresses. My grandfather wondered and in his manner asked: “Is this Naomi? Are these my children.” Then came pictures of growing grandchildren and my grandfather had a new worry: he asked his sons when their sons will start learning Chumash and to which Cheder they went. They answered that they went to “school” where they also learned “Hebrew”. So as to please their old father and mother, the sons from England sent their children's school assignments in Hebrew.

My grandfather took great satisfaction (nachas) from his grandchildren in London. He went going around with their essays, showing them (to all) and said: “You certainly thought that there (in London) our children become Goyim (non-Jews). But look at this, written in the Holy Language. Try to write such a letter yourself in the Holy Language, with vowels. No, the Torah will not be forgotten by my sons and sons' sons.”

With these words he wanted to reassure himself. But

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silently the doubt gave him anxiety. Once on Shabbat after studying Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) he told me, in a broken voice:

“Avraham, I hoped that one of my children would study Torah, and continue the legacy of the past generations. Unfortunately, it did not happen, so at least I would like that one of my grandchildren will continue this legacy. You have a good head for learning. If you wanted you could become a Rabbi.”

From his words I felt his supplication. I did not become a Rabbi, but I studied with great devotion. When I excelled in an examination of Gemara and Commentaries that troubled Torah scholars, I felt that I provided my grandfather with a great satisfaction. My father, agreeing with my grandfather, wanted to send me to a Yeshiva, but by then, at that time I already was caught up with Zionist ideas, and I had no desire to sit for years crumpling on the bench and wasting days ...

When my grandfather was in his seventies, his situation changed completely. His sons in England became wealthy, but they did not forget their parents. They instituted a lifetime pension for their old father and mother. My grandfather did not need to work anymore. In his old age he could afford to live comfortably, and give generously to charity (“with a large hand”). Even so, he could not free himself from his work, and he often picked up the scissors and the needle, simply out of habit. Their kindness did not go un-noticed. The old couple became sick. My grandfather did not complain about this new worries and explained his present situation with a Rashi commentary: Rashi says: “ Yaakov requested to live in peace but he had to worry about Yossef.” What happened to Yaakov Avinu (our forefather) whose image is engraved in the Throne of Glory, who could not get (to live in peace) in this world and in the world to come? My grandfather learned the literal meaning: how can I, as such a simple human being, live in this world without any sufferings. I can obviously, God forbid, waste in this world all that I prepared for in the world to come. My grandfather justified the judgment and calmly bore his sufferings that came with his old age.

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The old couple loved each other very much. Their entire lives were in harmony, with common work and helping each other. When he was tailoring, she sewed, with extraordinary dexterity, buttonholes and buttons in clothing. She ran the household. The cleanness in her house was renowned, although in her house there were wooden floors. My grandmother was also very observant like my grandfather, and wept in supplications while blessing the Shabbat candles. Like my grandfather, she prayed to God for the family: for the sons to be freed from non-Jews hands (military service), for livelihood, for the daughters to have a righteous husbands, etc.

My grandmother and grandfather also prepared for the world to come in their old age. In addition to their efforts to prepare themselves with good deeds, they worried that they should not to be separated after death.

The old couple had great satisfaction from their son, Shmuel, who came for a visit from England. The whole shtetl was stirred. During the reading of the Torah, Shmuel pledged to donate generously to all of the charity institutions, and also made contributions to the charities. My grandfather, as usual, brought his wealthy son to the ancestors' tombstones, and he requested that a plot be bought, where he and his wife could rest in peace together.

Shmuel wanted to reassure his old father, and told him that it was too early to think about the world to come. My grandfather answered him with a verse: “At all times your clothes should be white” an allusion to be ready to die at any time. The son surrendered to his father will. The transaction was made. The “Chevra Kadisha” (Jewish burial society) charged a lot of money, and my grandmother and grandfather received their plots to be buried, while they were still alive.

*

About the passing away of my grandmother, my father told me that he used to visit my grandfather in the morning. One morning, my father found my grandfather saying Psalms and Maamadot (prayers) as always. My grandmother was still lying in bed. She suddenly asked my grandfather to read her

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the letter of Leibele, their son. During the reading she asked for water, she dipped her hands in water and said: “now I am finished”. She died painlessly, being 69 old.

My grandfather was very grieved after his friend, as he called his wife, died. He did not let himself stop grieving, and expressed his mourning with a verse like Yaakov Avinu mourned about Rachel: “Rachel died by me”. The fact that his daughter, Yochebed, came to him and treated him like a king did not help. My grandfather did not stop mourning. He immersed himself in books of ethics, and always spoke about the lives of the souls in the other world. He longed for the day when he would meet his friend in the other world in (Gan Eden) paradise.

The last requests of my grandfather to his grandchildren were: study the Torah, keep the Jewish Laws and traditions, and when my time will come to go from the “world of life” to the “world of truth” I should not be left lying in my apartment during the Shabbat.

His very last wish was fulfilled completely. After a long disease he passed away on Shabbat eve, Zayn beAdar (7th of Adar). His agony lasted for a long time. His soul did not want to leave his body. We feared that his last wish could not be fulfilled. But suddenly two hours before candle lighting his soul was elevated to Heaven. It caused a lot of effort to deal with all of the (funeral) formalities in such a short time. (Jews must be buried as soon as possible and cannot be buried on Shabbat). We had to “grease” all sides (all those involved). Fifteen minutes before candle lighting, he was buried in the Jewish cemetery close to his “friend”, as he used to call my grandmother, when she was alive.

He lived seventy-two years as an honest, God-fearing, hardworking man. No one else had as strong an influence on me as did my grandfather. May these remembrances be a tombstone on his tomb, and on all of the tombs of all of the other observant Jews from the old generation, whose tombstones were torn out and desecrated by non-Jewish hands.


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The Child Prodigy of Klobuck

by Moshe Goldberg

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

Avraham Naphtali Hertzke Goldberg, my brother, was born in Klobuck in the year 1896. When he was one year old, my father was drafted in to the military service by Czarist Russia. My father served the Czar for five years, and our mother, Blume, suffered alone with the little Avraham and raised him. When my father returned from military service, there was great rejoicing, and the neighbors came to tell him the good news: “Reb Yaakov, your growing son is a genius.” Avraham was an exceptional student.

When he was nine years old his teacher came to my parents and told them that he was embarrassed because Avraham already was a scholar in all the subjects that he could teach him. Avraham needed a teacher who was a great Torah Scholar. “Our son can already study with the older students (who studied) with the Rabbi.”

So, indeed Avraham Hertzke went to study with the Klobuck Rabbi. After two years of studying he was admitted to the Czestochowa Yeshiva. In Czestochowa he was famous among the other students. He was called the young prodigy.

Not long later Avraham Hertzke went to study at the Ostrow Yeshiva, with the famous genius, Meir Yechiel Halevi. The Ostrow Rabbi wrote to my father (and told him) not to worry about his son, because he learned very well, and that he would become a “Gadol be Israel” (Famous in the Jewish People).

My brother came back to Klobuck to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah (religious majority). My parents prepared a beautiful Mitzvah meal. My brother held a long oration, full of profound pilpul (argumentation). He spoke in “Lashon HaKodesh” (Hebrew). The whole shtetl then came to see the rising great prodigy.

Avraham Hertzke went away again. He came back twice a year for Pesach and for the days of Awe (Rosh Hashanah &Yom Kippur).

At 16 years old, he received the authorization to teach, and he graduated as a Rabbi, and his diploma was signed by forty famous Rabbis. He married when he turned 17 years old, to a daughter of a wealthy family from a village close to Wielun. The Rabbi of Wielun

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Cover page of book “Maase Zeit” (Action of the Olive) by Avraham Hertzke Goldberg
(commentaries about the Torah weekly portion published in year 1933 in Wielun)

 

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Foreword of the book “Maase Zeit”.G

 

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invited him to study with him. Indeed he studied there for two years. He became famous in Poland among the Torah scholars and he was renowned.

Once he received a letter from Warsaw. He was invited to become Rosh Yeshiva (Head of the Yeshiva) of the Lubavitcher Yeshiva in Warsaw. After three years of teaching in the Lubavitcher Yeshiva, he was contacted by the Warsaw “Metivta” (Rabbinical College) Yeshiva and was offered a better salary. He taught there as Rosh Yeshiva until the beginning of year 1939. Afterwards he went to Lublin to teach in the “Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva”. A short time before the outbreak of the war, his wife summoned him to come home, and indeed the war broke out afterwards.

At the beginning of the war he sent me a parcel with several books he wrote, and added that for Heaven's sake, I should keep the books (safe) because his books were dearer to him than his own life.

During fifteen years my brother, Avraham Naphtali, worked on his dear books until he published them. His dear books received the (praise and) approval of the greatest Rabbis of his generation. Then came the cursed murderers, the Germans, and together with millions of other Jews and thousands sacred books, my brother Avraham Hertzke was murdered in martyrdom, and his books destroyed.

One book, “Maase Zeit”, remains and can be found in Israel.


Reb Israel Eliyahu Dudek

by Moshe Dudek

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

The name of my grandfather, Reb Israel Eliyahu Dudek of blessed memory (Israel Elie), was renowned in Klobuck. He was revered by both the Chasidim and the common well to do Jews. He was a Gerer Chasid. He sat at the table of the “Sfat Emet”[1], and was a great Torah scholar, well versed in Talmud and Poskim (Interpreters of the Law). He knew the Bible by heart. When the Rabbi had to leave the shtetl for a while, before his travel he announced that Reb Israel Eliyahu would represent the Rabbi for all of the questions about the law and in the “exorcise” of the “Evil Eye”.

Every day, at 11:00AM Reb Israel Eliyahu could be seen going with his Talit (Prayer Shawl) and Tefilin (Phylacteries) to the Beit HaMidrash (House of Study). The piety was shining

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shining on his face. Until 11:00AM he studied Torah in his house. He made his living from a dry goods store that was managed by his wife, my grandmother, Esther, the daughter of Reb Chaim Leibish Dudek.

Esther was a woman of valor. In the shtetl it was said that she was a born handler (businesswoman). Both non-Jews and Jews liked to buy goods in her shop. Reb Israel Eliyahu used to come to the shop when there were many shoppers and there was a need to look after them. Later (in the day) he helped to tidy up the overturned goods, and then right afterwards he went back home and studied in a book. Day and night he studied Torah or worked.

*

My grandfather was born in Woldowa. His father, Shmuel, the shochet (ritual slaughterer) of Woldowa, was a Kotzker Chasid. His son, Eliyahu Israel, learned shechita (ritual slaughtering) from his father, but he never wanted to become a shochet. (He was the best student) of all of the other boys, and he was a genius and very studious. People from Woldowa used to say that often he studied and stayed so long in the Beit HaMidrash that he fainted.

When he was 16 years old he married Esther, the daughter of his uncle, Chaim Leibush Dudek, who managed a dry goods store in the Klobuck market. Thus, Reb Eliyahu Israel became a Klobuck citizen. Reb Chaim Leibush committed himself to give 14 years of Kest (board and lodging to a student to enable the study of the Torah). Indeed, Reb Israel Eliyahu also sat and learned.

After a few years Reb Shmuel came to Klobuck to visit his son, the prodigy with the Kest. A sharp controversy started between the two brothers, who were also in-laws, about the behavior of Reb Israel Eliyahu, the son-in-law with the Kest. Reb Chaim Leibish told his brother: “I have a complaint for to you. You gave me a young man, a prodigy, a scholar, but he only studies mystic books and Kabbalah. This is not the way of Kotzk Chasidism. In Kotzk we study Gemara and commentaries, and not Kabbalah.”

Reb Shmuel listened to the argument (of his brother) and conferred with his son for a few hours. A harsh conversation took place between the father and son.

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Reb Shmuel said: “My son, what happened to you? You are only studying Kabbalah books and mysticism, and you are only about twenty years old. In an effort to turn his son away from Kabbalah, he asked him to write “Chidushei Torah” (new commentaries about the Torah).” In order to honor his father, the son promised to write them.

Reb Israel Eliyahu fulfilled the promise he made to his father, and wrote three thick books, commentaries about the Torah and Kabbalah. But he never published them. The margins of all of the books in which Reb Israel Eliyahu studied, were full of handwritten remarks.

When Rabbi Yankele came to Klobuck and established a Yeshiva, my grandfather, then a young man, became an accomplished student of the Yeshiva. Very often they argued about a Torah issue. When my grandfather raised his son, Yossef, my father took him to Rabbi Yankele and to his Yeshiva. My father studied there until the Rabbi passed away.

Rabbi Yankele persuaded my grandfather to pass the graduation examination to become a Rabbi and thus to be able to answer halachic (Jewish Law) questions. Then Rabbi Yankele wrote to the “Sfat Emet”, the Gerer Rebbe, to influence his great Chasiddic scholar, Reb Israel Elie, to help the Rabbi of Klobuck answer halachic questions. The letter was later found by Machel Dudek.

The “Sfat Emet” influenced my grandfather, to become involved in answering halachic (religious law) questions. Later like two “Princes of the Torah”, the “Sfat Emet” and Rabbi Yankele “Baal Emet Yaakov” (name of the main book written by Rabbi Yankele), ordained my grandfather with his Rabbi graduation. My grandfather then started to participate in Halachic Responsa in Klobuck, but he did not want to make profit from his Torah knowledge, like an “adze used to dig with”. He did not want to become a shochet or a Rabbi, although when Rabbi Yankele passed away, the shtetl leaders, and the Jewish representatives asked my grandfather to become the Rabbi of Klobuck. He did not want to accept and only agreed to answer halachic questions until there was a new Rabbi in the shtetl.

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When he reached 64 years of age my grandfather passed away in Czestochowa. His funeral was attended by numerous Rabbis, and a great number of people. His funeral was conducted with great honors.

Translator's Footnote

  1. Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (1847–1905), also known by the title of his main work, the Sfat Emet, was a Gerer Rebbe. Return


Yaakov Moshe Weichman and his Tragic Death

by Avraham Goldberg

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

My friend, Yaakov Moshe Weichman, was not murdered by the Germans, but his unnatural death reminds me, even now, of profound tragic thoughts.

After making Aliyah to Eretz Israel, I left numerous close friends behind, but with no one did I have such a close and heartfelt feeling as I did with Yaakov Moshe. He possessed all the qualities to be a happy man.

He was handsome, healthy, a well to do man and was a leader in all the fields whether in sports, organizational activities and business. He had an open hand (was generous) to the organization and to his friends. He bailed out all of the deficits of the organization (Beitar). All his aptitudes were dedicated to the “Return to Zion” ideas.

During the years of 1933-1934 the gates of Eretz Israel were already locked. But the thought that they would open again was raised by Yaakov Moshe in the Agronomical School of the Beitar Movement in Vilna. He was there with his close friend, from the school bench, David Diamand. They wanted to undergo the “Hachsharah” (preparation to Aliya) and be ready to make Aliyah (emigration to Israel) (when the opportunity arose) .

The letters I received from him were full of longing for the Land of our Forefathers. His writings described his knowledge about agronomy, and stated: “in another year, (or) half a year we will be together in Eretz-Israel”.

His parents left no stone unturned to convince him to leave the “Hachsharah” of the “Beitar” and return home to manage the business,of which Moshe Yaakov was the “soul”. The devoted idealist to Zionism did not want to listen to his parents, and tried to console them by saying that in the “Galut Poland” (Exile in Poland) the Jews will not have any existence. That is why

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it was a waste of time to spend effort to establish businesses in Poland that will ultimately be destroyed. The strong Anti-Semitism, and the slogan of “swoj do swego”[1] would surely only result in an outbreak of pogroms against Jews. That is why it was better for ourselves to establish beforehand a home in Eretz-Israel. Management of an iron business was also possible in Eretz-Israel. That is what Yaakov Moshe wrote to his parents.

Yaakov Moshe did not succeed in (his dream) to arrive in the promised land. Cruel fate caught him bitterly. On a hot day he went to bathe in the Wilenka (Vilna River), and he drowned there. His tragic death put an end to all of his beautiful expectations.

When I received the letter with the news of his death, a black vision appeared in front of my eyes. Common sense could not grasp the event: The ebullient, full of life Yaakov Moshe is dead?! Is this possible? His death left a profound wound in my heart. And when the Chazan (Prayer leader and Cantor) remembers in The “Yizkor” prayer all the people that fell for the land and for the people, the shape of the dear, young man, who
remained in his far away tomb and for whom nobody will come anymore to lay flowers, appears before me.

Writer's Footnote

  1. “ swoj do swego” (the same ones to the alike ones) which means that the Poles should buy only in Polish shops and boycott the Jewish shops. Return


Reb Moshe[1] Zander, Shochet, Prayer Leader and Mohel

by Yitzhak Zander

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

Reb Moshe, of blessed memory, was born on Tav Resh Mem Tet (5649/1889), to his father, Reb Zeev, of blessed memory, in the town of Gorzkowice, near Piotrkow. He was a student of the genius Rabbi, the President of the Jewish Tribunal of Plawno, who wrote the book “Yad HaLevi” (Hand of the Levi). He learned Shechita and Bedika (ritual slaughtering and ritual inspection) with Reb Leibele Shochat, of blessed memory, from Belchatow. He was ordained and graduated in Shechita and Bedika by famous Rabbis, such as Rabbi, the genius, Reb Issachar Dov Grubard, righteous of blessed memory, the Rabbi of Bedzin. He became one of the most expert Shochatim (plural of Shochet) and was an “artist” with an exceptional hand. He served as a Shochet and Bodek (ritual slaughterer and inspector) in Klobuck with devotion, and his melodies, some of them he composed by himself, were pleasant. His prayers, as a prayer leader, were pleasant, and he was accompanied by his sons' choir for seventeen years, from Tav Resh Ayin Gimmel (5673/1913) to Tav Resh Peh Tet (5689/1929).

Reb Moshe was beloved and esteemed by all of the people. His heart and house were open

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to everyone, and he welcomed everybody with a smiling face. To the many who came to speak with him, he helped either by giving good advice or by writing a note “kwittel” for an Admor (Master, Teacher and Rabbi), and sometimes he went along on the journey to the Rabbi, in order to speak on his neighbor's behalf, or to receive advice or instructions on various subjects. For himself he traveled to the Admor of Radomsk, righteous of blessed memory. He was one of his Chasidim and admirers. When he went there, he was the prayer leader, and the Rabbi honored him by allowing him to lead and sing the religious songs during the “Shulchanot” (while sitting at the Rabbi's table).

He always found the right words to compliment people. For a long time he also taught “GePet” (Gemara Poskim Teshuvot, Gemara and Halachic Answers).

People that studied with him are now in Israel: Mr. Baruch Szimkowicz and others, still remember the courses he taught “with good taste” (well argued) and with common sense. During his years in Klobuck he was also taught “Midrash Shmuel” during the summer on Shabbat in the Radomsk Chasidim house. When he was young, he spent many years with his older brother, the Rabbi genius, Reb Shlomo David, of righteous memory, (afterwards the Rabbi of the city of Stshemishitz (phonetical spelling), who served as a Posek she'elot (Halachic decision maker), and thus helped the famous great Rabbi, Reb Yaakov Yossef (Rabbi of Klobuck), who wrote the book “Emet LeYaakov”, to free of the community halachic questions responsibility so he could study Torah with (greater) diligence.

 

His Public Activist Actions

There was no public institution in the shtetl that Reb Moshe Shochat either did not manage or was not actively involved in. Whether it was for the “Cheder” (religious school for boys), or “Beit Yaakov” (religious school for girls), or for any good deed, or choosing an appropriate teacher for the higher classes from outside the shtetl (because there was not always an adequate teacher in Klobuck), he did it with his heart and soul, full of devotion.

I remember his efforts to establish an “Eruvin” (Eruv is an area where Jews can carry items on Shabbat, usually enclosed by a wire) in the year Tav Resh Vav-Tav Resh Zain (5686-5687/1926-1927), which did not exist in this religious shtetl. Reb Moshe arranged the plan of the town like an architect, and he measured the streets and the alleys, the ups and downs, where there was a need for an “Eruvin”. He received help from his younger sons, especially in the streets where Poles also lived, so as not to stir up curiosity and anger, as had been the case before, when an earlier, unsuccessful attempt was made, and when the Poles intentionally interfered and it was then a failure.

The designation of the Eruv were initially made with ropes, and then inside the rope was a marker, and to avoid interference (by non-Jews), sometimes it was necessary to install a post during the night and used tar or nails to fix the post, so that people would not notice the markings, and to make it more difficult to spoil.

After much effort and toil, and mainly after the installation of the electric line, of course a special line in a special manner, (the Eruv was established) . The electricity come from the “mill” of the Kurland and Ziegelbaum, and the electric lines

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were used as a cover up for the “Eruvin”, that finally succeeded. You could not describe the joy of the Charedim (the very observant Jews) that there was an “Eruvin”, which meant that people would not break Jewish Law by carrying things in the streets during Shabbat, so that there no longer was any reason for angry people to be always angry. (Before the Eruv, when someone saw a person carrying an item on Shabbat, a very observant person would become angry, and occasionally cause a confrontation).

The establishment of the “Eruvin” was made possible by devoted people. I especially remember Reb Baruch Zeidman, of blessed memory, son of Reb Aaaron, who was most devoted. You could not describe the joy of these people after their “underground” operations ended very successfully.

 

Charity Funds

Among the charity funds (loans made without interest) established by the “American Joint”, there was also the charity fund number 155 of the Klobuck shtetl. The books of accounts were managed in an exemplary manner by Reb Moshe Shochat, of blessed memory. After receiving a few hours of instructions by Shlomo Ziegelbaum, the accountant of the “Mill” Reb Moshe managed the books of account like an expert. During a regional inspection meeting in Bedzin, he was congratulated by Mr. Giterman, the national manager. The charity fund was then managed by Reb Moshe Ziegelbaum, as Chairman; Reb Zalman Weichman, as Treasurer; Reb Yossef Markowicz, and others. In order to increase the income, the Chazan (Cantor) Badash, from Czestochowa, was invited to perform in Klobuck. The Chazan, accompanied by his conductor, prayed Maariv (the evening prayer), and sang various songs in the Synagogue. The price of the ticket was affordable, and the Synagogue was packed with people, and this was an important event for the community.

 

Public activities in Klobuck

I was eleven years old when I left Klobuck, and thus I don't very well remember the public activities in Klobuck. However, the Cheder “Yesodey HaTorah” (school) is still engraved in my memory. It was established by the “Agudat Israel” (Religious political party). The “Cheder” was located at the end of large rooms in the house of Feichel. The teachers of the higher classes and the manager came from outside of Klobuck. There were special teachers for the general education classes, and for teaching the Polish language.

For the girls, there was the school, “Beit Yaakov”, also established by the “Agudat Israel”, which was attended by almost all of the girls of the shtetl. The teachers (women) were from the Krakow Seminary. Once even the famous Mrs. Sarah Shnirer, the founder of the “Beit Yaakov” network of School for girls and of the Seminary (school for women teachers), came to visit Klobuck. Among the other political parties were the “Young Agudat Israel” and “Poalei Agudat Israel” (Agudat Israel Workers), to which most of the young, observant, people of the shtetl belonged. They had a library with several hundred books in Hebrew and Yiddish pertaining to Jewish religious themes.

During the Purim festival, there was a performance called “David and Goliath”, which was performed for the Rabbi, and to us, and of course, to all of the town; all of the men, women and children came to see the performance.

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I have to recall an unfortunate incident engraved in my memory since my childhood. For some reason Jewish Klobucker bullies, young men from the “Cultural Association”, decided that they would teach a lesson to “HaKli Kodesh” (literally the sacred utensil, but here means the religious representatives), and the best time to do so was on Simchat Torah, and so it was.

During Simchat Torah, while being in the Synagogue dancing with the Torah (Hakafot), they broke our window panes and those of the Rabbi. The other shochet, Reb David Dawidowicz, who lived close to the synagogue was more fortunate, and he was left untouched. For a long time this incident left a deplorable effect on the Jews, and even on the neighboring Poles.

I remember that the Polish Notary expressed his (disappointment and) regrets in front of us about this shameful incident ( although I am not sure and I don't remember if he was a friend of the Jews). This incident also left a profound wound on my mother's health, since she was alone at home during the incident.

In 1929 (Tav Resh Peh Tet 5689) Reb Moshe was accepted as shochet and second Chazan (prayer leader, cantor) in the great Synagogue of Czestochowa. He was nominated almost unanimously, with no opposition from any political parties or from any
Chassidut, which was exceptional. Also I can say that the former Klobuckers, then living in Czestochowa, were very vocal (in their support) (of Reb Moshe), and, in particular, Reb Wolf Szperling, who was a former Klobuck community leader. Reb Wolf, of blessed memory, even made a special trip to Klobuck, on behalf of the Czestochowa community, to help with the relocation.

Reb Moshe Shochat gave his sons a very religious and traditional education. Nevertheless, he provided a private general education to his sons in Klobuck and in Czestochowa.

Reb Moshe Shochat and his wife, Sarah Krasel, and his younger son, Yaakov, were deported to Treblinka on the eve of Sukkot 5703/1942 (Tav Shin Gimmel), when he was 53 years old, and there he died as a martyr.

Of his seven children, only two remained alive, his son, Yitzhak, and his daughter, Zissel-Naomi, who live in Israel.

Translator's Footnote

  1. Sometimes Reb Moshe is called Reb Moshe Zander, sometimes Reb Moshe Shochat (his craftsmanship) Return

 


Reb Zelikl

by Gitl Goldberg

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

Each time I think about the Lamed Vav Tzadikim (36 Righteous), the hidden, God fearing and observant Jews, whose merit allows the world to exist and continue, I remember Reb Zelikl from Klobuck, a God fearing Jew who sat and studied Torah throughout the entire night. The shtetl knew very little about him. His way of life was completely reminiscent of the way of life of the 36 Righteous. He was very humble, lived in poverty, and had a bad (unhappy) life because of his wife.

He lived in a low house opposite the “church”.

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In Klobuck, people said (that the church was) the opposite (of righteousness), it was the“impurity”. A narrow and dark corridor led to his apartment, in which there was a dark room, used to store various things. This room was used by Reb Zelikl as a repository for his goods, which he, or more precisely his wife, sold, which included, limes, fruit in summer and other things. During a certain period Reb Zelikl (also) had a small shop of dry goods; yet from all of these activities there was no real livelihood.

Reb Zelikl's wife, Dobre Rachel, had a bad nature, and her observant husband had substantial problems with her. In his old age he lived in great poverty. His body consisted of only skin and bones. He never complained to anyone; he never requested anything from anyone; and he just sat and studied. There were Jews in Klobuck who knew about the situation of the righteous, God fearing, Reb Zelikl, and used to help him out with some money. But Reb Zelikl did want to benefit from the gifts of human beings, so the good people put money in his apartment and left.

The righteous, observant Jew never let anybody say a bad word about his wife. He always defended her because she had a difficult life because of him. Reb Zelikl accepted his wife's anger towards him with love. Reb Zelikl cited proofs from great, righteous (Rabbis), and even from Tanaim (Rabbinic sages whose views are recorded in the Mishnah - Wikipedia), who also had bad wives. “ We have to suffer in this world anyway”, he consoled himself.

The depth of the empathy for Reb Zelikl from people of Klobuck can be seen from the story that was told in shtetl:

And the story is as follows: Reb Zelikl's wife, Dobra Rachel, once asked her husband to go to Czestochowa to bring back limes. When a woman “asks” it is not worth arguing; the husband has to obey. So Reb Zelikl woke up early and went to the coachman to start his journey. This was noticed by the Klobucker coachman, Reb Beinish Horowicz, who had a restaurant in the old city.

Reb Beinish called his wife, Chanele, and told her that Reb Zelikl was standing close to a carriage and bargaining with the coachman. They both went to the righteous, and when they found out what it

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was all about they invited Reb Zelikl into their restaurant. They did not let him go on the journey, but instead sent a non-Jew to buy lime in Czestochowa and to bring it back to Reb Beinish's restaurant.

So it was, Reb Zelikl stayed the entire day, studying his book. Reb Beinish gave him something to eat and to drink. In the evening, the non-Jew brought the limes from Czestochowa. Reb Beinish requested that Reb Zelikl keep their activity secret, and that he not tell his wife, Dobra Rachel, what happened. He sent the righteous back home with the limes.

It is noteworthy to remark that Reb Beinish and his wife, Chanale, were good hearted people. There was no institution in Klobuck that the Horowicz family did not support and participate in.


Reb Meir Sofer (Scribe)

by Baruch Szimkowicz

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

Reb Meir was the “Hidden” (Righteous) man of Klobuck. He was almost never seen in the shtetl. He did not know (how to travel through) the streets of Klobuck and seldom spoke with anyone of the well to do Jews. He was a scribe “STAM” ( acronym for Sefer Torah, Tefilin, Mezuzot), and he made his living from his trade. Observant Jews, fearing God, considered it to be a privilege to pray with tefilins with “parashiot” (scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah) written by Reb Meir or checked by him.

Reb Meir Sofer lived in the Shul Street. He was always busy with his sacred work. Jews from Klobuck and the surrounding areas used to wait for a few months until Reb Meir had time to write a few “parashiot” for them. Before he had to write God's name he went to the Mikveh (ritual bath). He prayed in the Beit-HaMidrash (House of Study), and during the prayers he stood near and was inspired by the “Aron HaKodesh” (Holy Ark).

Once an incident involved Reb Meir, which stirred the whole shtetl. Here is how it occurred:

Reb Meir's neighbor was Pinchas Brat, the cattle driver. In the middle of the night to prepare himself for a journey, he went to the building attic to fetch his big boots. With a candle in one hand, Brat looked for his boots, and suddenly he noticed that a man was standing

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covered in a talit (prayer shawl), shaking and moaning. Brat was very afraid, and while he was going down the ladder, he fell.

The frightened Jew screamed. Neighbors awoke, gathered around, and with fear heard what Pinchas Brat told them. Nobody believed him, but because he was shaking so much while telling the truth of his story, the most audacious of his neighbors, Yechiel Ber, Yakil Rypsztein and Reb Yossef Buchwicz went up to the attic with a lit lantern, and there they indeed found Reb Meir Sofer, wrapped in a talit. The observant Jew was praying Tikun Chatzot (the prayer to be said in the middle of the night). He asked his neighbors to go back to sleep, and not to make any more noise.

Since then it was known that Reb Meir is one of the hidden (Righteous), observant Jews, and people paid a lot of money for a pair of his tefilins.


Reb Shmuel Friedman

by Yaakov Friedman

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

It is not usual for sons to write about their fathers. It is better that outsiders should write about the goodness of a person, and such writings should not come from close family members, especially from a son. But since there is no one alive from my father's generation, it seems to me that I can write about him. Thus, I have given myself the permission to undertake the sacred mission to record my father in the Yiskor Book, as he, Reb Shmuel, deserves .

For many years my father undertook the management of the Talmud-Torah of Klobuck, and provided the means for the existence of this religious institution. Reb Shmuel was well known in the shtetl as a unpaid volunteer community activist. He held an honorable position in most of the Jewish institutions, and strived to help Jews as best he could. I will recount a few facts of his activities that are engraved in my memory:

One evening, between Mincha (late afternoon prayer) and Maariv (evening prayer at nightfall) when my father, together with other Jews, were studying in the Beit HaMidrash (House of Study), he suddenly closed the Gemara, and went out into the street. Later that night, when everyone was at home, we were all very nervous due to his delay.

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My father showed up suddenly, and he was very happy because of what he did for the poor people of Klobuck.

Recently he had been informed that the city council appropriated a certain amount of money to be shared among the needy. The political activism of my father was aroused, and he went to the city mayor and requested that the Jewish needy should also benefit from the authorized money. After negotiating with the city mayor he succeeded in receiving an endorsed sum of money for the Jewish needy of Klobuck.

My father was Gabai (trustee) of the “Bikur Cholim” (Visiting the Sick) institution, which distributed medicine mainly to the sick and needy people. The institution got by on small contributions given by Jews from Klobuck. These small contributions were insufficient to pay for a doctor to visit the Jewish, needy sick people. There was only enough money to receive subsidies at the pharmacy, when buying medicine. But the expensive medicines were very difficult to obtain.

Reb Shmuel, who was a member of the city council and a representative in the budget commission, was well aware of the difficulties of the “Bikur Cholim” institution to provide medicine to the Jewish needy sick people. When the question of medicine assistance arose in the budget commission, he requested that the medicine assistance should also apply to Jewish needy sick people. Reb Shmuel succeeded in providing help to the Jewish needy people with free medicine.

Also in the struggle to revoke various decrees and anti-Semitic “szykanes” (harassment) against Jewish handlers, my father was always ready to get involved. I remember once on a Thursday, a baker with a broken heart came to us and told us that the police closed his bakery.

It was during the period when the ministry of Health Skladkowski[1] conducted an economic extermination against the Jews. The police and the health authorities complained about the smallest of details, and demanded improvements in the bakeries that were impossible to implement for the Jewish bakers.

The Jew, who came to complain to Reb Shmuel, was

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one of the non-wealthy bakers. His bakery was closed a whole week and now on Thursday, when he could earn something for the Shabbat, the police did not let him work.

My father went right away to the police commander. He did not want to yield until the police commander went with him to the bakery and removed the seals from the closed doors of the bakery. The baker's wife thanked the police commander with tears in her eyes. She wanted to kiss his hand, but he did not accept and said: “you have to thank Mister Shmuel Friedman, who would not yield until I accepted his request.”

My father made his livelihood from the “Tartak” (sawmill). Also in his work he demonstrated his human attitude towards poor people. Often poor women came to the sawmill to pick up wood chips, which were used to warm their poor homes in winter. My father always helped the women fill their sacks. He also sent me to help them carry the heavy sacks.

My mother, Esther Chaya, was the same way as my father. She always thought about the poor and sick people, exactly like my father. She provided sick people with appropriate supervision, and with meals feeding the sick people. On Fridays she sent her children with meal parcels to people (God may have pity on them), because she knew that they did not have enough food for Shabbat. Esther Chaya, exactly like her husband, was involved in activities for the benefit of all. She participated in all of the Jewish women's institutions that existed in Klobuck.

Translator's Footnote

  1. Felicjan Slawoj Skladkowski was a Polish physician, general and politician who served as Polish Minister of Internal Affairs, and was the last Prime Minister of Poland before World War II. He issued many decrees about sanitation. (From Wikipedia) Return


Reb Shlomo Rosenthal (Oleyaj)

by Batya Izraelewicz Zajbel

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

My memory is engraved with the vision (memory) of Reb Shlomo Rosenthal, Oleyaj (Oil maker), as he was called, by reason of his craft. He was a Jew of the old generation, with large shoulders and a dense black beard. He was a good man. Calmly and quietly

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he performed good deeds for people. He did not want people to know what he did.

He lived in a small house at the beginning of the “Zavades”. His trade was the “Alearnia” (Oil Press). The peasants from the surrounding villages brought him “rzepak” (to be pronounced jepak: rapeseed), from which he made oil, by primitive means. The high season was during the “Fast” (Lent, the period starting 40 days before Easter) when Catholics do not eat meat. Then the customers waited in line at Shlomo's oil mill.

In the small house, there were three rooms. One room was the oil mill, the second room was his apartment and the third was given as a good deed to the “Chaye Adam” institution, and used for prayer on Shabbat and Holidays. He did not charge any rent for this room. In Autumn and in the Winter, on cold market days, Reb Shlomo went to the market and distributed cookies and hot tea from a jug to outside Jewish merchants, who came to Klobuck from the entire region, in order to sell their goods.

When Reb Shlomo knew that a Jew was short of money, he went to the person's home and gave him money and told him: “I am lending you this as a “Gemilut Chasadim” (without interest), until such time as you will have the means to give it back to me.

In the same manner as Reb Shlomo was good to people, ready to help and do a good deed, he was equally irritable towards non-observant, non-religious and anti-religious Jews, who did wrong doings to their fellow human beings. In such cases it was difficult to temper his anger.

Reb Shlomo's brother, Reb Yaakov Fishel, was a community activist, an observant Jew and a Radomsker Chasid. Reb Shlomo used to joke: “I am better off than my brother because when I will do a match (Shiduch) for my children, I will be able to claim my brother, Yaakov Fishel, from my lineage. Is this a small thing? But my brother, when doing a match, will not have anybody (from his family) to refer to. When he will be asked who is your brother, he rather should not say: “Shlomo Oleyaj”, the fool.

With this kind of humility he looked at himself. He was a dear Jew from the old generation.

 

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