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[Page 16]

History of the Jews of Jaslo (cont.)

Chapter 2

About 1870, the veto on Jewish life in Jaslo was abolished. The city adopted the slogan of “Jaslo the free City” and all municipal papers were signed with this slogan.

Who was the first Jew to enter and live in Jaslo? There are different opinions. Some say that the first Jew to settle in Jaslo was Leibish Winfeld while others say that it was Chaim Steinhaus, both are originally from Zmigrod.

We are told that a Jew from Ulaszowice bought a piece of land in the city of Jaslo, not too far from the Ulaszowice Bridge. The seller received a down payment and set the date for the necessary land sale transaction. When the Christian population heard about the deal they decided to take steps to prevent the completion of the transaction. The seller suddenly claimed that there was a statue of Jesus on the land and the Jew would remove the statue, therefore he cannot sell the land.

When the news reached Chaim Steinhaus he decided to help the Jew by intervening with the authorities. The case went to the courts, to the courts of appeal and finally reached the highest legal authority in Vienna. The transaction was upheld as legal and binding and the land was granted to the Jew. With this decision, the municipal ban on Jews living in the city of Jaslo was cancelled.

Chapter 3

Jaslo later served as a district city for the smaller communities of Zmigrod, Osiek, as well as Dukla, Koloszyce, Fristig and Brzostek. These small towns provided the Jewish population for the city of Jaslo. There

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was also a second version that stated that Chaim Steinhaus and his family settled in the city. Being a rich man, he received permission from the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, to settle in Jaslo and to open his business in the city.

Indeed Chaim Steinhaus settled on the other side of the bridge. The house was soon sold to Eliezer Brenner. Steinhaus then built his home in the market square, between the house of the mayor and the pharmacy. Here he opened a restaurant and a bar where the local Christian intelligentsia met. (In later years the restaurant was leased by the descendant Bogusz Steinhaus, to Max Koegel.)

Steinhaus used his connections to help other Jews move to Jaslo proper and thus fell the anti-Semitic barrier that prevented Jews from entering the city. Jews began to move from the limited space of Ulaszowice to Jaslo. The first Jews settlers in the city feared to distance themselves from the old Jewish section on the village of Ulaszowice. Therefore they concentrated in the Targowica Square where they bought some wooden huts and built new wooden homes. Later with years to come, the Jews will move closer to the city center and built homes.

Leibish Winfeld, an entrepreneur, was the first to open a general store in the market square. The Christian youths refused to acknowledge this fact and created many disturbances around the store. Legally they could not prevent the opening of the store so they frequently resorted to smashing the front windows or stealing the merchandise, thus hoping that the storeowner will close the place. But Leibish Winfeld did not capitulate and kept his business going. With his death, the store passed into the hands of his son-in-laws: Molduar and Shendel. For many years there was a big sign above the store stating in bold gold letters that this store belonged to Moldaur and Shedel, originally established by L. Winfeld (Following W.W.I, the store passed into the hands of Yehoshua Krisher)

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The climate of the city was pleasant and plenty of greenery. There were many trees and shrubbery. Cool winds frequently blew in the summer from the mountains of Guriowic and the forests of Koblow located in the north of the city. There were also pleasant and gentle breezes from the fields of Sowiniow, Wrocenko, and Hankowka from other side of the city. From the fields of Morikim on the outskirts of the city, one could smell the sweet scent of the freshly cut hay, and see the first stalks of the new grain. Furthermore, the city was surrounded by three rivers that cooled it and provided a pleasant atmosphere to the city in the summer days.

jas018a.jpg Market square of Jaslo
Market square of Jaslo

 

The city distinguished itself by its cleanliness; the streets were always swept and clean. The residents observed the cleanliness of the city and did not litter the streets, as was the case in other Galician cities. The streets were broad and long, the houses were two and three stories tall. The gentile homes were built in the Renaissance style ornamented with decorations, balconies and columns of various natures. The Jews built their homes simple and efficient. Amongst the nicest buildings in the city were the building of Bank Oszcindenosci, bank Polski and lately the municipal building.

jas018b.jpg The 3rd May Street in Jaslo
The 3rd May Street in Jaslo

 

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Chapter 5

The first Jewish settlers set the spiritual imprint on the Jewish community and they were: Wolf and Menachem Eintzigers, brothers, Awraham Meir Orenstein, Elimelech Goldstein, Leibish Winfeld, Naphtali Winfeld, Libtchie Werner, Elimelech Teller, Yaakow Freund, who lived all his life in Ulaszowice, Simche Bunim, Tzimet and his sons, Lib Citronenboim and his son in law Yaakow Pinhas Krisher, Chaim Steinhaus, and Bril Stilman, who bought the land for the cemetery from the landowner who was

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embittered when he found out the purpose for the purchase); we can also add the Yehoshua Altman family, Yoel Mendel Beck, Amer, Hirshel Korzenik and his sons, and Zelig Miller, the slaughterer in the Jewish community of Jaslo. The most active communal and enterprising person was Naphtali Winfeld, who was later selected to head the Jewish community. Elimelech Teller and Yaakow Freund dealt mainly with the religious issues of the community.

With the growth of the community, new families arrived who opened all kinds of businesses including stores, workshops, and small plants. Some of the enterprises were very successful. Jews began also to build two story houses in the market square called the “ ring square” and three story houses along the main streets of the city, namely Kosciusko and third May streets and also along the side streets such as Nowa, Korlewskino, Karzimiez Wielkiego, Igielna, Sokol, Czickiego etc…

The center of the religious life was mainly concentrated along Shajnochy Street (named for a Polish writer). The Rabbi lived here, as did the cantors, the slaughterers, the Hebrew teachers, the beadle, the Hebrew teacher helpers, and the book dealer Shlomole Hakatan. Here was built the first study center and next to it the bath house with the mikveh. Opposite was the slaughterhouse from where one could hear constantly the voices of the animals that were being led to the slaughter. These noises frequently interfered with the synagogue prayers or with the studies at the study center. The crowing of the roosters carried to the slaughter could be heard all along the street.

The street was not paved and did not even have sidewalks. After a rain, there was mud and people walked in the mud that reached their ankles. But this was the religious and spiritual street of the Jews in the city.

The Hebrew teachers first settled in Targowica square. Here the first generation of Jews received their instruction from childhood to maturity in the “heders” led by Israel Melamed, Yudel Melamed, Moshe Yukel, Yudli Gorlitzer, Awraham Ressler, etc… If my memory serves me right, many of the homeowners told me that they attended the first heder in Targowice Square that was taught by Israel Melamed. Years later, a “Talmud Torah” was built in Shajnochy Street by the famous donor Itzhak Yehuda Rubel. Thus, the street became the center of Jewish education. All along the street one could hear the voices of Jewish children studying the torah. Their teachers were Shimshon-li Melamed, Baruch-li Melamed, Shmuel Mendel, Nathan-L Melamed and Nehemiah, etc…

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With time other institutions were established: “Haknesset Kalah” or association to help wed the poor girls, “ Bikur cholim” the association to assist the sick, Talmud Torahs, kloizim- or small congregational prayer rooms and a “ Chevrah Kadisha” or burial society. The old timers assumed leading roles in the various societies and they soon became entrenched in the leadership of the various communal activities. It soon became a tradition that these people or their descendants would usually be appointed to head these institutions.

The Rabbi of Jaslo was Yona Tzanger who came from the area of Brzostek. He was the son in law of Elimelech Teller and Awraham Hirsh Brenner.

 

Chapter 6

In 1869-1870, the Jewish community of Jaslo consisted of about 30 Jewish families, the population increased steadily with new arrivals from the vicinity. The new arrivals were primarily concerned with the available religious facilities. They laid the cornerstone for the erection of a larger synagogue, a bathhouse and mikveh and to purchase land to erect a cemetery. Until this day, Jaslo did not have a Jewish cemetery and the deceased were transported to the Jewish cemetery in Zmigrod. The problem assumed serious proportions when the Rabbi of Jaslo, Rabbi Yona Tzanger died relatively young, he was Rabbi of Jaslo for more than two years, but could not be buried in Jaslo where there was no Jewish cemetery. The problem of selecting a new rabbi, cantors and slaughterers also arose and needed solutions.

During this period, a serious epidemic started in the hamlet of Sokolow near Rzeszow. Many Jews including the Rabbi and his family left the place and started to wander. They went from place to place, frequently the Rabbi prayed near caves or forests in isolation until he and his family reached the area of Jaslo. The Jewish community of Jaslo decided to appoint a committee to greet and invite the rabbi to become Rabbi. The latter accepted and became the spiritual leader of the relatively young Jewish community of Jaslo.

The Rabbi of Sokolow, Rabbi Awraham Yehoshua Heshil Rubin, grandson of the famous Hassidic Rabbi Asher from Ropczyce who was the son-in-law of the great Hassidic Rabbi, Naftali Ropczitzer. Rabbi Rubin became the new Rabbi of the community.

 

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Chapter 7

I will digress somewhat and take the liberty to devote a few lines to the Rubin family, especially to the founder of the dynasty. Here is what my grand father Rabbi Shalom Lieberman, brother of the late Rabbi of Tuporow who was the son-in-law of the first Rabbi of Jaslo had to say:

Rabbi Naphtali from Ropczyce used to visit small hamlets in the vicinity of Warsaw. As usual he would start his visit by attending service at the local synagogue. As he approached the synagogue, his eyes caught sight of a young group of students sitting in front of their open Talmudic books and arguing points of “Halacha” or Jewish theological laws. Amongst them he noticed a bright redheaded youngster who agued his points with great conviction, depth and logical reasoning.

The Rabbi remained standing and amazed, fascinated by the handsome lad who continued to argue in his pleasant voice. He was practically mesmerized by the youngster. He began to think seriously about marrying his oldest daughter to the young scholar. He approached the young student and asked him, his name. My name is Asher Yeshayahu but they call me Asheril. Who is your father? I have no father, answered the lad.

Do you have relatives? Asked the Rabbi? Yes, my mother sits amongst the stands in the market. The Rabbi hurriedly left the synagogue. He asked for directions to locate the widow of the boy. He located her and approached her.

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She was sitting near her stand, pale, wrapped in a sweater. She had an innocent and modest look.

The Rabbi said hello and informed her that he was visiting the synagogue and saw her son and was impressed with him. Furthermore, I would like to marry my daughter to your son.

The mother was stunned, who?, what?, what are you talking about said the woman?

The Rabbi again repeated, I would like to marry my daughter to your son Asheril!

The woman was still in a daze and did not grasp the situation. She said that Asheril was young a mere baby, and dismissed the proposal. She begged him to drop the issue but the Rabbi refused. Still the woman kept repeating that her son was very young.

Time passed and the Rabbi again visited the area and arrived at the particular hamlet. He remembered the youngster and again saw him in the synagogue. He was determined to get him to be his son-in-law. He decided to approach again the mother for her consent.

He explained to the mother the situation and furthermore pointed out to her that her son must continue his studies, which he guaranteed to implement. He even named the place where her son will continue his studies, namely with the “Hose of Lublin” or the famous Rabbi of Lublin. Both parties traveled to Lublin where they met the great Rabbi. On seeing the youngster, the Rabbi stated (you have received a nice Pessah sacrifice) you have acquired a bargain or a jewel for your family. Rabbi Asheril indeed passed away on the eve of Pessah but one of his descendants, Rabbi Elimelech, was the father of Rabbi Awraham Yehoshua Heshil Rubin (redhead), the first Rabbi of the Jaslo Jewish community.

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