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The History of Our Shtetl (cont.)

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Shamashim (Beadles)

The shamash of the old Beis Midrash was old Meir, an old Jew with a big white beard stained brown from tobacco. Every Chanukah he was the one who lit the candles in the Beis Midrash. He sweated with his two besoms 53 while sitting on the highest bench in the bathhouse.

After him, the shamash was Baruch Leib Milrad, the father-in-law of Pintzi Schwalb. He was a tall man with a gray beard, and he smelled of tobacco. In the intermediate weekdays of Sukkot, he used to carry to the Jewish homes the “Etrog” 54, so that the women and the children could fulfill as well the commandment of blessing the Etrog. He was rewarded for that with a few coins.

Pintzi Schwalb became the shamash after Baruch Leib. In his younger years, he was a cobbler. Of short stature, he had a blond beard, cocked his head a little bit to one side, and his health was weak. He owned a little shop with different used articles located on the Ringplatz corner near the store of Meir Frenkel. He was intelligent, and he was very familiar with the ways of serving as a shamash. He directed and managed the House of Study independently; nobody could dictate anything. He used to divide the “Aliyot” to the general satisfaction of all and was friendly with all of the worshippers. He had an admirable memory and remembered by heart everybody's Yahrzeit 55. If somebody forgot a yahrzeit, they could get the correct information from Pintzi. He could read and write in Yiddish only. He could have been a minister had he also known Polish and German.

Michael Weissmann, the manufacturer of soda water, had a good memory as well. On Sabbaths the siphon bottles were taken on credit because it was prohibited to write, and Michael had them all in his memory. He used to collect the empty bottles on Sunday and he was never mistaken regarding the money. He used to worship in the Beis Midrash and his factory was on the Ringplatz.

Pintzi Schwalb was also the communal shamash. Friday evening he used to call out in the center of the market place “Go to the synagogue” which was a signal that the stores should be closed and people must attend the synagogues for the welcoming of the Sabbath. Later on this function was taken over by Leib Press, the shamash of the Kloiz.

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The Maskil 56 Chaim Yoel Taneh

The prayer houses were not only places to worship, but also places where local news was aired and local and world politics discussed. A big expert in world news was Chaim Yoel Taneh, a Maskil, who dressed in a modern style and conducted a lottery. From time to time he used to go to Vienna where he worked on licenses and tarried pretty long. When he came home for the Sabbath, people surrounded him in the Beis Midrash and he told them world news in detail until the candles in the chandeliers burned out.

He was a well-educated and intelligent man, as were his children. Years later he moved near Lipa Taneh, and after World War I, he lived with his family in Vienna. The further fate of Chaim Yoel Taneh and his family is unknown to me.

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The Parliament of Yossel Kasner

There was another place where there was a source for domestic and foreign news. In the front room at Yossel Kasner's home, everybody had free admission from the morning until the night each day of the week except on Sabbaths and festivals. It was a kind of a casino, if not a small parliament. Order reigned there automatically. Everybody could speak undisturbed when he wanted to and about what he wanted. The meetings (one in, the second out) and the members were permanent.

Sometimes, serious moments predominated there as well — people poured out their hearts. The spokesman was Vovtshe Taneh, a humorous man who was experienced in community affairs and who owned a sawmill on the river Fyszarka near the hill. Unfortunately, nobody from his family survived.

Yossel Kasner was by nature a good and friendly man. One of his biggest virtues was his fulfilling the commandment of benevolence 57. Every shopkeeper, small or large, could get a loan any time from Yossel Kasner; nobody was refused. For a businessman this was like a breath of fresh air. He even helped out some merchants with larger sums of money. He held the “trafik”, that is the monopoly for tobacco in Rozniatow, as well as the sale of postcards, postmarks, and stamps. (A monopoly was a government concession given out to certain people in a city for the sale of certain types of merchandise – tobacco, alcohol, etc.) Estzye Walter from New York and Dwossye Orthmann from Vienna were the only survivors from this family.

Herman Lutwak

 

The Lutwak family
Reb Chaim Shimon and his daughter. David Moshe and Shaya

 

From his earliest youth, he was distinguished by his delicate ambitions and his enterprising initiative. He was an officer in the Austrian army. He was imbued with the love of Zion and he was the founder of the Chovevei Zion organization in Rozniatow.}

Chanina Weissmann

Chanina Weissmann was an important person and respectable citizen in Rozniatow. He ran a strictly orthodox house, was a smart man, had a say in the Kloiz, and his views were considered in the city. He managed a hotel and a restaurant in the center of the Ringplatz together with his two sons-in-law — Kanner who was a Zionist and Baruch Mintz. Tzvia, his wife used to receive guests with a very friendly greeting and to serve them tasty meals. The hotel was famous far and wide, as far as Vienna.

Chanina Weissmann was a scholar and a Hassid of the Gliener Rabbi, Reb Betzalel of holy blessed memory, who used to come every year to Rozniatow, where he worshipped in the Beis Midrash on the Sabbath. For that Sabbath, Hassidim from far away places used to congregate in Rozniatow. On one Sabbath, I saw in the Beis Midrash his substitute, the young Gliener Rabbi. I still remember the Bolekhower Rabbi Perlow of holy blessed memory, who perished in the Hitlerian Holocaust. I knew other Rebbes as well, who used to come to visit their Hassidim in Rozniatow.

Years later Rivkale Kahner's House was sold to the Friedler brothers, who owned dry goods stores in Rozniatow. Their father Berish Friedler has a brother, Nachum. A son of Leib Friedler, Berish, lives in Israel.

Pinye Kanner, a very well educated man and a descendant of the Weissmann family, lives in Israel.

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Feivel Reisler

The Jew Feivel Reisler, a Hassid who was a big scholar with a long white beard, lived in Rozniatow, and was a leather merchant on the Ringplatz. Every dawn, he used to perform the midnight service in the Kloiz. In summer and winter, even during the severest frosts, he used to take a bath before the morning service in the cold ritual pool. Then, he worshipped by heart counting every word loudly like pearls. It would already be ten o'clock in the morning when he came home.

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Mordechai Kriegel

Mordechai Meir Ber's Kriegel distinguished himself with his wisdom. A scholar, he used to worship in the Kloiz and to study there in the winter nights. Before Passover, he was one of the inspectors in the matzo bakeries. He owned a tavern on the Ringplatz. His wife, Sosye Meir Ber's, was a pious God-fearing woman and was very devoted to her husband and her children.

Itzi Gross was one of the Rozniatower Zionists. He loved Yiddish literature. He simply devoured the books of Shalom Aleichem and knew them almost by heart. He carried them about and many of his Yiddish books ultimately became part to the library in Rozniatow. As a boy, he studied in my father's school. He died as a young man.

I want to mention here the teachers as well: Yudale Kaufman, Itzik Barnik, Zeinwill David Rotenbach, Abba Taneh, and Yossel Avraham who became blind in his older years. Years later, there were also other teachers.

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Hersch Rechtschaffen

Hersch Rechtschaffen was a respected citizen of the city. He conducted himself and his family along traditional lines, attended the daily prayer services, studied, and conducted his affairs. His children behaved like their father, wore coats and side-locks and were his choir singers when he conducted the services. He had no influence only on Shlomo, because he was already suspected of heresy, i.e., in the enlightenment.

Hirsch Rechtschaffen was one of the best prayer leaders in the Beis Midrash on the High Holy Days. He worshipped with great fervor and heart, and the services extended until three o'clock in the afternoon.

Three of his sons survived, Yankel in Australia, and Mordechai and Zecharya in Israel.

When Hersch Rechtschaffen called out on Yom Kippur during Neila 58 “Open for us the gate,” it seemed that the Heavens opened.

Due to a quarrel, he left the Beis Midrash and his place as cantor was taken over by Gedalya Weber, a leather merchant in the market center. He was a Kohen and he conducted services nicely. Years ago I met his brother and daughter.

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Reb Itzikel's Kloiz

There was another prayer house, called Reb Itzikel's Worship House, near Itzik Barnik. Reb Itzikl was not an official Rabbi. He did not lead Hassidic gatherings on Sabbaths and did not accept “kvitlech” 59 During my childhood I passed the old Kloiz almost every day on my way to school. It was located where the Jewish Community was located later.

This house was later rebuilt in a modern fashion, with a bathroom and mikva 60. It became a big house. Still later it was sold to Leib Bermann. The niece of Rabbi Itzikl, Malkale, was married to Lipa Weinfeld's son from Szwariczow.

Elkone (Konye) Kortschmann led the first Minyan in the Beis Midrash on the Sabbath. He was a tailor and the head of the burial society (Chevra Kadisha); he busied himself with dead bodies. He was a firm person with a white beard and wore bifocal glasses. When he came to the cemetery, he brought a thick prayer book with all the prayers for the deceased. He lived near us in the closest house on the Schulgasse. He died in his great old age.

He has children and grandchildren who live here. One of them is Shmuel Kortschmann, the son of Leib Konye, who attends our meetings from time to time.

Chaim Landsmann lived near to us. One of his nephews, Max Strommwasser, lives in New York. His father, called Yankel Strommwasser, was our neighbor. He was a scholar and a cantor in the Beis Midrash. In his early years, he immigrated with his family to Germany, after having sold their house to Sosye Reiss, a sister of Meir Frenkel. Sosye's daughter Henye lives in New York. Finally, Avrumtzi Mark, the son-in-law of Melech Gross, bought the house.

Melech Gross, a pious, honest Jew, used to worship in the Beis Midrash. His seat was at the Eastern wall. He possessed a tavern on the Ringplatz and he sat in his office with an open book ready to study. His wife, Freyde, a clever and active woman, helped to manage the tavern. Survivors from this family were Shlomo Gross in Vienna or Israel, and two grandchildren Simcha and Moshe Gross in Israel. Years later Mordechai 61 Gross built a one-story brick house, where he managed a hotel, a tavern, and a restaurant.

There was another Jewish cartwright in Rozniatow, a brother of Avrumtchi Mark, an experienced workman. He lived in the old town and was sometimes engaged as a cartwright in the workshops of the Joint 62 in Stryj.

At the first Minyan on Sabbaths, Hersch Leizer Wechter distinguished himself knowing by heart all the special prayers for the Sabbath. He held his hands in the sleeves of his gabardine, walked over to the Beis Midrash and worshipped. He was a gravedigger and a coachman; he lived near the market on the shore of the rivulet Mlienowka. He participated in Purim in the performance “The Sale of Joseph,” had a sense for humor, told Jewish bon mots, twisted rhymes, sang Purim songs, and could mimic all the women. His brother, Ruvale the coachman, used to play the role of King Achashverosh 63.

The reader of the Torah at the first Minyan on the Sabbath was Yankele Moshe Eli's Hochmann. He finally became the main cantor at this first Minyan on the Sabbath and conducted services with a nice melody.

Itzik Meir Wechter wore a white beard, was honest and pious, and used to worship in the synagogue. He was one of the Psalm Society. He has a son, Samuel Wechter Kanye's son-in-law, living here.

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Advocates

The first Jewish advocate in Rozniatow was Dr. Shlomo Wassermann. He lived and had his office across from the Russian Church. He was an ardent Zionist and had a huge clientele.

To represent the opposite side in Rozniatow there was a notary public, Locaczewski by name, who was a decent man and a fine gentile. He lived in Yudel Weissberg's house and had his office there. It was a time of prosperity and lawsuits. The Jews of Perehinsko bought and sold fields, did businesses with wood and forests, were at law with every trifle, wrote contracts, and Dr. Wassermann was always busy.

Aharon Meir Lusthaus worked with him as a solicitor. He was a very intelligent and capable person. Leizer Schindler was engaged as his secretary. Under the Ukrainians, he was the president of the Zion Society and the Jewish National Council, and led the aid program for needy Jews in Rozniatow. His son Karl (Lolyek) lives in New York and a married daughter, Halya, lives in Israel.

Dr. Isidor Feuer came to Rozniatow. He lived and had his advocate's office on the first floor of Sosye Heller's brick house. He was the general representative of the Schlesinger firm in Broszniow. For a brief time during the period of Polish rule, he was the head of the Jewish Community, then councilman in the city administration and even mayor. In his later years, he started to attend the club of Yossel Kasner, returned to religious observance, used to go to the prayer services and even conducted the service when he observed yahrzeit.

Dr. Simon Sapir was a solicitor at the advocate Wassermann and opened his own office in the first floor of Yossel Berger's house. He was witty and dropped bon mots and was considered a good lawyer. During the Polish reign, he was a councilman in the city administration and head of the Jewish Community. His children, a son Karl (Lolek) who is a veterinarian and a daughter Jadzia, live in Poland.

Later on new advocates appeared in Rozniatow, such as Dr. Korbas, a national Ukrainian chauvinist and anti-Semite. He had his office where the girls school was once located near the Russian Church. Other advocates were Dr. Menkes; Dr. Katz; Dr. Redisz Mattel, the son of Redisz from Dolina; Dr. Leo Horowitz, the son of Shmuel Bendzis Horowitz and a cousin of Simon Liebermann from New York; and a son-in-law of Dr. Sapir. There was Magister Leo Meizels, Chaim Shlomo Meizels' son Leo, a cousin of Dr. Leo Horowitz. Dr. Kahane lived and had his office in the house of Dr. Wassermann. Eli Mordechai Bradfeld, a hedge lawyer 64, tried jurisprudence and made his living that way. I knew Eli Mordechai very well. He used to react loudly to wrongs and people thought that he was ready to administer bodily harm, but in reality he did not harm anybody.

Chaim Schnaper (on his mother's name) was a Jew who longed for advocacy.

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Physicians

From the first physicians, I remember Dr. Berwid who lived at Walisz's. Later there was Dr. Sekanine, called “regiment agent”, who lived where Dr Sabbat later lived. There was Dr. Aharon Bart who did not accept money from poor people and who fell victim of his occupation; he died of typhus during the epidemic in the city. There were Dr.Yanek Yekl and Dr. M. Diamant, the son-in-law of Zecharya Liebermann. They were known in the whole region.

In Rozniatow, there were good barber-surgeons, called “feldschers,” like Motye Berya who used to recommend medicines, pull out teeth, and set leeches and cupping-glasses. He was friendly, and honest. He did not accept money for haircuts from poor people and cured them for free.

He had his barber shop on the Ringplatz. His wife Zlate, called “the Babbe” 65, was a midwife and accoucheuse 66. She was a clever and active woman was by nature a good and compassionate person and did not take money from poor women in labor. When she passed away, she was accompanied to her eternal rest by the whole shtetl. Her son Moshe Berya, who was a barber, died here.

Hersch Frost, besides being a good barber-surgeon, was a girdle manufacturer as well. He lived in the lower apartment in our house. Wagons would be brought from the villages to carry him to sick peasants to whom he recommended medicines. In addition to that, he was a big joker. Some of his children and grandchildren are living here. I encountered his son Mishel Frost here. His son, Shlomo, was a good tinsmith, a big joker as well like his father. For a certain time, he was a member of the Community Council. Philip Frost was the president of the Jewish workmen association “Yad Charutzim” 67 in Rozniatow. He was active in the drama circle and he used to make up the actors for their performances out of his love for the theatre. He shed tears during dramatic scenes.

Later on he drove a bus for his brother-in-law Aharon Zimmermann.

Azriel Wassermann, a barber as well, used to set up leeches and cupping-glasses.

Samuel Wirth (Unktom), a Hassid, used to celebrate with huge ardor, dancing in the streets of the shtetl with an oven fork held high in his hands wishing the Jews all the best 68. Mockers, whom he called “sacred sheep,” used to follow him and to say “Amen” after every congratulation. He had very educated sons-in-law — Binyamin Spiegel, Kalman Halpern, and Srulke Moshe Mechels Kornbluth.

Avrahamtsche Zauerberg, an intelligent and modern person, had musical abilities. His daughter Miriam Zohar lives in Israel and Miriam's daughter is studying Hebrew here temporarily. Meir Frenkel used to worship with great ardor, as is said “all my bones plea.”

Yitzchak, the son of Shlomo Fogel, had a store where he sold flour and herring. He died at a young age. Rivka, the daughter of Shlomo Fogel is living here. Hitler killed some of his other children. There was only one pharmacy in the city. It was near Shmuel Nussbaum's home, whose two sons, Mordechai and Leibtsche, live in Israel. The owner of the pharmacy was an old Pole called Skalka who had a white beard. Yisrael Schwalb, a relative of the shamash Pintzi Schwalb, was a well-educated man, neatly dressed, with a nice beard, and wore glasses. He was the intellectual in the family and many years the reader of the Torah in the Beis Midrash.

The trustees in the Beis Midrash were: Abraham Groll, who ordered new benches for the Beis Midrash; Chaim Shlomo Meizels and Yossel Chaskel's Gelobter, the son-in-law of Pinye Berger. Two daughters of Yossel Gelobter, Dora Ungar and Sophia Widmann, live in the Bronx.

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Shmuel Rosenberg, who lived across from the bathhouse, used to work in Yossel Gelobter's butcher's shop. His daughter Beila lives in Israel.

Yehuda Barnick, a very educated man, was a shamash in the synagogue and a teacher. His daughter Mattl lives in New Jersey. His son Isak, of blessed memory, was active in the Zionist movement and another son, Leib Barnik, died in Israel.

A third son, David, was killed by the Nazis.

Moshe Barnick, an intelligent man and one of the leaders of the Zionists in Rozniatow, was a Hebrew teacher in Zharovna and for a brief time in Rozniatow during the Ukrainian rule. He died in Israel.

Mendel Horowitz was a walking encyclopedia; he knew everything. Being an autodidact, he could have further developed his intellect if he had had better circumstances and conditions. Veritable pearls of wisdom came forth from his mouth, but he remained a practical person. His words and advice were worthy to be heard and followed. His father, Chaim, was a peddler and the children managed a store for pottery and other articles. At one of our meetings here, I saw a brother of Mendel's, Hersch Horowitz.

Sitting from left: Yulek Turteltaub, Moshe Lutwak, and Dr. Nunek Lusthaus
Standing: Pinchas Kanner, Lulek Adelsberg, Lefel, and Dr. Dolek Lusthaus

 

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Avrahamtsche Hauptmann, the son-in-law of Eli Mordechai, came from Bolekhow and was a well-educated young man who was self-taught.

Yossel Rubinfeld lived in the lower apartment of our house. He was devoted to the yoke of livelihood the whole week. On the Sabbath, he sung hymns with ardor and heart that was unequaled by anybody.

A respectable and honest Jew was Wolf Zisye Rosenmann, a peddler who lived on the Ringplatz. He was a Cohen and prayed in the House of Study. His two grandchildren, the children of Moshe Leib Rosenmann, are Shimon, who lives in a Kibbutz, and Yisraelke, who died in Israel. A daughter of Wolf Zisye, Chane Kornbluth, lives in New Jersey and a granddaughter lives in New York. She is also the granddaughter of Mendel Wechter who lived near the hill.

The traditional Sabbath pleasure was strictly observed at Hersch Landsmann's home. His Sabbath hymns, so enthusiastically sung by the whole family on Friday nights and the Sabbath day, resounded over the lane.

Hersch Landsmann was very devoted to his household. He was by nature a good character and supported poor people.

A tragic event occurred in his family. When his son David was a child, he drowned in the cold mikva of the bathhouse on a Friday. His daughter Danye lives in the Soviet Union. His son Mendel lives in the Bronx and another daughter Ida in Proszkow, Poland. Her husband, Mishka Yagelawitch, was one of the pious among the gentiles. He rescued many Rozniatower Jews, now living here in America, from death and hid them in his house at the risk of his own life.

I remember when Yossel and Pinye Berger's brick house was built at the beginning of the 1910s. Both brothers were respected citizens of Rozniatow. Yossel Berger used to export calves to Vienna and Pinye Berger owned a butcher shop. Yossel's children — Dr. Alter Berger (together with our brother Hersch-Mordechai they were among the first gymnasium students), Tuntzia Berger, and Pinye Berger's grandchildren from Stryj — live in Israel. Artzye Yossel Berger died in Israel.

Binyamin Stern was a rich citizen and a fine specialist in the horse trade. His daughter Chane Yampel lives in London and another daughter Ettl Mannheim lives in Brooklyn. Binyamin's brother, Shlomo Stern, a well-educated man, was a merchant. Shlomo's son Yehoshua lives in London. His son, Yissachar, died not long ago in London. He was married to Sheyntshe, the daughter of Chaim Schwartz. Chaim Schwartz, a short man with a black beard, a Hassid and well educated, a good merchant, and managed a bank in Rozniatow in partnership with Pinchas Rechtschaffen and Leib Bermann. Chaim Schwartz's daughter, Chana Pantzer, and his son, Shmueltzi, live in New York. Another son, Bendet, lives in Israel. Baruch Keller Shmuel Herschin was a Jew who used to say bon mots; he was always good-humored. He was a pious Jew, negligently dressed, with a white beard, his nose always clogged up with snuff. He lived across from the Kloiz. Uri Ashkenaz lived in another apartment in the same house. I encountered his son at a meeting here. Binyamin Keller lived and had a store on the Ringplatz for articles of peasant garment. His beard and side-locks were always disheveled. He had the voice of a lion, which was heard outside even when he conducted the service with closed doors. Yankel Hammermann was a hide merchant. Yudele Hammermann (Akselrod) was his relative and lived in New York. His mother, called Devora the widow, lived near Binyamin Stern. Shlomo with the beard (Teitelbaum) wore a thick, blond beard, lived near Berl Yoel Rosenmann. He traded in refuse from sawmills. Nachumtzi Laufer, the son-in-law of Berl Yoel Rosenmann, lived and had his store at his father-in-law house. He traded first in sugar and sweets then in wooden instruments. Itzik Rosenmann was very observant of the commandment of Simchat Torah and every year he was tipsy on this festival. He lived in the second apartment of Baruch Shmuel Hersch's house and had a fruit trade. Friday evening and on Sabbath young people used to purchase Sabbath fruits from him. Prior to my emigration to America in 1932, he was an assistant in Philip Fuerst's bus company. He had a hard but honest life all his years. His son Yechezkel lives in Holland and his son Levi lives in Israel. His brother, Max (Mechel) Rosenmann, lives in New York and is the president of the Rozniatower Society.

Their brother, Nachman, was tragically killed in the 1920s by the murderer Stefan Lapianecki, their neighbor.

It happened when Nachman passed over the “perelez.”, which is the lowest point of a common fence between two properties. When the gentile saw that, he hit Nachman over his head with a metal object. Nachman was brought to the hospital in Dolina where he died from his wounds. I visited him in the hospital a week before his death. The gentile was convicted for the killing by the Stryj Court and sentenced to one-year imprisonment.

Nachman's son Shalom lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Shaul Miriam Binyes Bleicher used to administer the symbolic flogging on the eve of Yom Kippur, for which people paid him with a few coins. I am sure that many people still remember when the floors in all prayer houses were spread with hay for Yom Kippur 69. Abraham Hersch, the son of Shaul Bleicher, loved to lead services, and almost every Sabbath he conducted service at the first minyan.

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