Lipa Fischer, Tel Aviv
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
The Jews contributed a great deal to the development of the shtetl Jezierna [Ozerna], starting with its external appearance. The houses that belonged to the Jews were distinguished by their nicer outer appearance, particularly the newly built ones. They were higher, built of brick on higher foundations; the roofs were covered with tin. The Jewish houses were also more beautiful inside. The floors were made of wood and the houses had large windows that opened. This had an influence on the non-Jewish population. New, small houses would appear that belonged to the non-Jews, with tin roofs instead of the former straw. The Jews had influence in other areas. For example, the best non-Jewish artisans were those who learned their trade from Jews
In general, the Jewish settlement in Jezierna was deep-rooted; there already were Jews here in the time of the Polish King Sobieski, to whom the shtetl mainly belonged. Commerce was then in Jewish hands. The shops and inns were exclusively Jewish. In about 1860, the Jezierna estate of Count Lubomirski was transferred to the Jew, Mendil Yampoler; after the suppression of serfdom (the old feudalistic order), the Polish prince could not maintain his agrarian possessions and, as it is told, went bankrupt. Yampoler, on the other hand, adapted to the new conditions and created a blooming garden out of the abandoned fields.
And the Jezierna estate administered by a pious Jew became renowned in the area. There also was an alcohol factory on his estate. The factory was located in a modern building with a high chimney; when the factory was destroyed in 1915 by the retreating Russian Army, the chimney remained and stood for many years. A great significance for the economic development of the shtetl was the building of the first mechanical mill by Reb Wolf Fischer in the early years of the [20th] century, which served the Jezierna area.
Among the professionals were: Dr. Hirschhorn, who was the only medical doctor in the shtetl and the surrounding area until approximately 1910; the only apothecary was L. Mintz, a situation that existed until 1940. It appears that the above-mentioned, in general, were the first ones in the shtetl in their profession. They came to Jeziernia in the 1880's. There were also a few teachers from the Baron Hirsch School. There were more cultural leaders before the First World War, Yiddish writers, such as Shmuel-Yakov Imber, A.M. Fuchs, whose names were known throughout the world. It should be understood that in these professional areas, Jews surpassed the non-Jewish residents.
Finally, there was the Jezierna tzaddik [righteous man], Reb Shlomale [Charap], who in his youth was a dorfsgeyer [village peddler] and was elevated to a higher level by the Peremyshlyaner Rebbe, Reb Meirl, as well as the well-known Rebbe, Reb Levi-Yitzhak Monson of the Rizhiner Dynasty. His court was renowned in the Hasidic world and drew many Hasidim from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the shtetl. The non-Jewish population also showed the Rebbe great reverence. With the outbreak of the First World War, the Rebbe's escape to Vienna brought to an end the existence of the rabbinical dynasty in Jezierna.
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