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History of the Jews of Kolomea (cont.)

4.

At the time of this political struggle, Rabbi, Reb Hillel Borukh Bendit Lichtenstein was the rabbi in Kolomea, a man with a great reputation in the Jewish world.

Reb Hillel Lichtenstein came from Hungary. He was born in 1815 in Vag Vecse [Veèa, Slovakia], where his father was the rabbi and chairman of the Beis Din [rabbinical court]. In 1867, Reb Hillel was received as rabbi in Kolomea. In his youth he excelled with his particular abilities. He was one of the most distinguished and most zealous students of the Chasam Sofer [18*] (Reb Moshe Sofer). He [Reb Moshe Sofer] wrote about him: “He was one of the best yeshiva students in the Petersburg Yeshiva, filled through and through with Gemara [Talmudic rabbinical commentaries] and pusokim [post Talmudic commentaries], rishonim and acharonim [rabbinical scholars from the 11th century to the present], his sense – clear and polished – and his fear of God was great.”[37]

In the course of many years Reb Hillel was active in the yeshiva of Chasam Sofer in Petersburg where he was valued because he was a God-fearing person, because of his diligence and his capabilities as a great preacher. From 1850

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he was the rabbi in various kehilus [Jewish communities] in Hungary. In 1852 he was accepted as the rabbi of Klozenberg. There he was involved in a quarrel with Rabbi, Reb Avraham Fridman, chairman of the Beis-Din of Karlsburg. He also was the rabbi of the state from 1846. The kehile did not order his certification according to the law. Rabbi Fridman waited for a long time. When no request came on the part of the Klozenberg kehile, Rabbi Fridman complained to the governor and on the 2nd of March 1853, he received his decision according to which Reb Hillel Lichtenstein was removed from his rabbinical seat. Then Reb Hillel left Klozenberg.[38] He was the rabbi in Szikszo [Hungary] during the years 1865-1867.

Reb Hillel Lichtenstein belonged to the extreme and he placed himself against every reform of Reb Azriel Hildesheimer who tried to spread general education. Reb Hillel was against the sermons in the German language that Hildesheimer gave in Western Hungary.

The question of presenting a national seminar [school] for rabbis in Budapest emerged on the agenda. He was the strongest opponent at the rabbinical assembly in Nyíregyháza, in 1864. He was a member of the rabbinical delegation that was sent to Kaiser Franz Josef I to deliver the negative opinion concerning the plan to found a rabbinical seminar.

In the years 1868-1869 he took part in the Jewish Congress in Pest, although he was then already a rabbi in Kolomea. Following his lead, the pious representatives took an extreme attitude.

He was one of the most extreme at the Jewish Congress in 1868-1869. He was a magnificent preacher and traveled to all of the kehilus [organized religious communities] and spoke against the new reforms. He was a moralist and a Hasid of Reb Chaim Halberstam of Sandz. He led his life according to the customs of the Hasidim. After the death in 1863 of Rabbi, Reb Gershon Ben Yehudah, the author of Avodas HaGershon [The Works of Gershon], the son-in-law of Reb Menakhem Mendl of Kosev, Reb Hillel Lichtenstein became rabbi of Kolomea in 1867. He brought about the opposition by the progressive people and followers of the Enlightenment because of his extreme attitude toward the question of education and his opposition to the achievements of the emancipation. They, in his opinion, caused

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the discarding of the yoke of tradition [and adherence] to heresy and to the Enlightenment. He preached that they wait patiently for the coming of Moshiakh [the Redeemer or Messiah].

When he acquired the rabbinical seat in Kolomea, he also began to exert influence on the rabbis and rebbes, that they should call together an assembly of rabbis in the manner of the Hungarian Orthodox in order to enact rules about separating “the pious from the destructive.” In 1883 an assembly of rabbis was called in Lemberg and as a result of this assembly the Khevra Makhzikei haDas [Society to Uphold the Faith] was created.

All of his thoughts were focused on the damage to religious Jewry according to the style of the Hungarian orthodoxy. He strongly opposed orthodoxy in the style of Reb Azriel Hildesheimer and his heirs. He came out especially against his son, Hirsh Hildesheimer, because he recommended the founding of schools in Eretz-Yisroel. He saw “sinners and villains” in support of this plan that would cause greater wickedness than Christian clergymen who try with much money to catch [Jews] in their nets, but their success is very small.[39] In Galicia it was thought a sin that he took part in the Congress of Hungarian Orthodoxy.

During the days of the Tisa Eslar Proces [blood libel and trial in Tiszaeszlar, Hungary involving the death of 14-year old peasant girl], he accepted that the anti-Semites and their stories were just “God's messengers” and “the sinful Jews spoke uselessly, that their entire hatred and intention was to corrupt, God forbid, God fearing persons, because they are “...am le'ba'dad yish'kon…” [Numbers, 23:9 – “…lo, it is a people that shall dwell alone…”] and do not mix with the gentiles, do not eat and drink with them and they have no complaints about them.”

In his thoughts and beliefs about fundamentals (precepts) of Yidishkeit [Jewish way of life], Eretz-Yisroel occupied a central position. He had an absolute hatred for the exile.

“In some nations there were good kings and their rulers and residents were people of mercy, as in other nations and in all of the nations of our King, may his glory be enhanced. However, we see ourselves as strangers who are called 'patient ones' and those who say the opposite are non-believers in the dogma of dogmas of the faith and do not take into account the Jewish nation that believes and is devoted to the faith in God.” However, he was an opponent of the Ahavat Zion [Lovers of Zion] and of Baron Rothschild's work in Eretz-Yisroel.

He was against erecting schools in Eretz-Yisroel and he turned to the supervisors of all the communities in Jerusalem with an appeal

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in which he publicly came out against Hildesheimer, “who wanted to create szkoles [szkole is the Polish word for secular schools] (schools) in Jerusalem, the Holy City,” because, according to his understanding, it was incomprehensible: “If he truly wants the colonization of Israel, why does he need szkoles and to dress Jews in French clothing, as this is not necessary for agricultural work?”

He was against cooperation with those who, according to him, would bring shame upon the Jewish people and “for whom all mitzvahs that were connected to the land were worth nothing” and “they put on French clothing so that we no longer recognize that they are Jews.”

“Therefore we said: It is time to do for God, a time to build and to create unions for Eretz-Yisroel according to the Torah and mitzvah [commandment] that this is the practical purpose of a true Eretz-Yisroel and to appoint as leaders the great men of Israel who will serve as eyes for the congregation, so that it does not yield a hair of the Shulchan Aruch [book codifying Jewish laws] and of Jewish customs. And they will attempt to establish colonies and to employ God fearing appointees so that they will be seen to be keeping the mitzvus [commandments] that are connected with the land.”[41][The designation for footnote #40 is missing.]

In the course of his talk he was not deterred even from criticizing the earlier settlers and the Lovers of Zion stating that their purpose “was not to found villages in the land of our forefathers, but their intention was to increase the denial of existence of God, filling the land with secular schools and houses of prostitution – this was their tendency.”

In exile he saw – a deviation from the way of Torah. In the Jews taking root in lands of exile he saw the danger of their complete assimilation. Because of this he was opposed to learning the language of the land. And “if the dignitaries of the country demand this of us, explicitly saying to us that only with this condition could the respect and freedom that is called equality be given to us, then we need to do everything that is possible in order not to agree to this. We also need to tell them that we do not want any freedom that causes our slavery for eternity and that we have a country that is ours by inheritance, a land that is called the holy land and only this rosy land is called Palestine by us, about which we pray and every day look to return there, although we have respect and freedom in other nations.”

The basis of his conception of the world was the conclusion that during this long exile we went through various times, bad and good. It was now a time when the Jews had become very

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loathsome to the gentile nations who pursued all kinds of persecutions and the Jews withdrew from them and they were abused in all matters and the exile from this standpoint had for each generation good and bad, but the good side was outweighed; the bad was that which was against common sense and against the habits of human spirit; because one God had created us and we all have one God; yet he created me and him from one belly. Then how can we betray him? And the good is by which we are belittled and estranged from them, and it does not even suit them to speak with us and those who do talk are unified with us, brought closer and mix with us – thanks to this, Jews remain an “am l'vadad yishkon [a nation that lives alone - Numbers 23:9].”


Rabbi Lichtenstein was convinced that no foundation for the traditional life was present in the lands of exile, but that the Jews needed to avoid every contact with the non-Jews and avoid every move towards their life. The young must not learn anything other than – Torah or a trade – and not the wisdom and not the writing in the language of the people. His worries about his beliefs about the religious way of life can be found in judgments carved with a lead quill in the memory of generations. This was embraced in great part, at his initiative, at the rabbinical conference in Michalovce [Nagymihály, Hungary] in 1866.

He rose above all afflictions of the world and in his eyes all of human life was a matter of suffering: a person was tested through all kinds of trouble and he became refined by poverty in order to be able to better his way. And the Torah was the rope with which God lowered us from heaven to the earth. And “whoever holds it will not sink in the depth of the sea of afflictions in exile.”

He held in esteem the ways of the Hasidim and the rebbes and believed that they were the tzadikim [righteous men] of the generation. In his program for Eretz-Yisroel, he was strongly influenced by Reb Akiva Josef Schlesinger (1838-1922), who married his daughter in 1860 and was with him in Kolomea oyf kest [support given by her father to a daughter's husband so that he could study Torah] for approximately 10 years.[42] Reb Akiva helped a great deal in the leadership of the yeshiva and in his communal activity. Following Rabbi Lichtenstein's initiative, Reb Akiva Josef Schlesinger was chosen as a member of the Beis Din [rabbinic court] in Kolomea. In his old age, Reb Hillel Lichtenstein wanted to emigrate

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to Eretz-Yisroel. His Hasidim collected money in order for him to be able to fulfill his desire. But he did not emigrate to Eretz-Yisroel.

When Schlesinger's son-in-law and brother-in-law worked on the creation of Petah Tikva and laid the cornerstone, Rabbi Lichtenstein sent money to buy building lots in order to settle two families of pious Jews there.

Rabbi Lichtenstein himself was involved in a quarrel about the shoykhet [ritual slaughterer] who was accepted in Kolomea that broke out at that time in Kolomea between him and the Wisznicer Rebbe. The quarrels lasted a long time and the kehile was divided. The two sides struggled in the synagogues and in the bati-medrashim [houses of prayer]. It was such an embittered struggle that the police had to become involved in the matter and it was even necessary to call the army to help. In such a situation, it was difficult for Rabbi Lichtenstein to help his son-in-law and he devoted himself to collecting money for the settlements in Eretz-Yisroel. In addition, the Wisznicer Rebbe expressed his opposition to Schlesinger who in 1884 visited rabbis and admorim [our lords, teachers and masters – title of Hasidic rabbis] in Galicia about help in the matter of settling pious Jews in Petah Tikvah, and warned him to stop spreading propaganda on the part of the agricultural settlement in Eretz-Yisroel. This threw fear into Rabbi Lichtenstein who already knew the strong hand of the Wisznicer Rebbe and did not want to enter a new quarrel in his old age.

Rabbi Lichtenstein gave the bill of sale for the lots of land in Petah Tikvah as a documented gift to the leaders of the Kolel Ungarn [union of kehiles from Hungary] in Jerusalem, Chaim Zonenfeld and Yakov Blumental. It was said in their declaration that was published in the Orthodox press: “If for now we will not have anything to do with the lots, is it because bavoynese ynu-ho ra'bim [in the view of our many sins – said with the presumption of an unfavorable development] an appropriate time has not yet arrived so that Israel's children can sit in the Holy Land in joy and calm, each one under his vineyard and rainbow? Or because every step is surrounded by cliffs of temptation and stumbling blocks? However, we accepted the lots for the coming day (may it be God's will) that will, quickly in our days, bring salvation and relief for Jews. The agricultural worker will build his house and work his field undisturbed. And in order to show that the gaon [brilliant man] and tzadek [righteous man] loves charity, it is our duty to announce to all brother contributors who have helped through the tzadek that this gift of money

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reached the correct source, the desired place and with peace for Israel.”

First, Rabbi Lichtenstein gave the document to his wife and children so that they could settle on the lots. Then he heard that the lots could pass again to the authority of the Turkish government if five years pass without the payment of taxes. Therefore he returned to his first decision and gave the lots to the Kolel Ungarn as a gift with the provision that these lots should be a Karen Kamyemes [permanent fund] for always and that it be named after him.

However, his request was only half fulfilled; the supervisors of Kolel Ungarn announced their opposition to his provisions in the press.

They tried to sell his lots several times; Rabbi Lichtenstein did not permit this harsh goal to be carried out, and the lots were sold only after his death to the officials of Baron Rothschild despite the sharp protest and the declaration of his son-in-law, Schlesinger.[43]

Rabbi Lichtenstein, feeling that his end was approaching, called all of the leaders of the Kolomea kehile to him, preached musar [a stress on spiritual and ethical discipline] to them and told them how to behave after his death and that they should not stray from the path of Torah and its minutest restraints.[44]

His religious extremism was so great that, according to his student and biographer Tzwi Hirsh Heler in his book, Beit Hillel [House of Hillel], Munkacs, 1893, they had purchased a donkey for him in order to fulfill the mitzvah [commandment] of peter khamor [the redemption of the first donkey] and he also had sheep in order to fulfill the mitzvah of reishit hagez [providing the kohanim – high priests – with the first shearing from the sheep raised in Eretz-Yisroel].

He died in Kolomea on the 10th of Iyyar [18 May], 5651 (1891).

As a preacher he was a people's speaker, “whose mouth was like a torch.” There was no doubt that despite his extreme views according to which he did not even fear a split in Jewish life, Rabbi Lichtenstein was one of the esteemed personalities of his generation.

Rabbi Lichtenstein left a large number of sforim [books] that were in the largest part books of sermons and musar.

And these are the sforim: 1) Lev haIvri [Heart of the Jew] two parts. The first part is a commentary on Chasam Sofers Tzava [Chasam Sofer – seal of the scribe – Chasam Sofer's Will], around 1864; 2) Maskil

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el Dal [Contemplating the Needy] in four parts, around 1867-1871, Lemberg, 1870-1871, a collection of sermons; 3) Avkat Rokhel [The Perfumer's Powders] Lemberg, 1883; 4) he published an appeal in Yiddish (86 pages) entitled El Haadarim - Oyfruf tsu Ale Treye Yidish Kinder [To the Flock – Appeal to All Loyal/Devoted Jewish Children], Preszburg, 1864; 5) a book, Et La'asot [It is Time – from Psalm 119:126 – “For it is time to act for God…”]. And these are the contents of the book: questions and responses, how to show the people the way in which to go, the deeds that they should do, two parts, Lemberg, 1872-1878. These teachings are the most important of all his treatises. This is a musar-sefer [book of teaching on ethical behavior], written in the form of short questions and answers in matters of musar, Yires 4 [Awe 4] as well as in concrete matters, particularly about the struggle between the Orthodox and the followers of reforms. He demanded the exclusion from the Jewish collective of each Jew who did not follow the Torah in all its details and he strongly prohibited marriage with these people and that they be counted in a minyon [10 men necessary for prayer] because all of those who do not observe the laws of the Torah and tradition are violators of the law. Despite his extremist Orthodoxy, this book is distinguished by his ethical standing and with his devotion to the principles of Jewish ethics. Other of his other treatises that should be mentioned: 1) Makre Dardeke [Teacher of Children], commentaries on the Torah, Lemberg-Kolomea, 1888-1899; 2) Beth Hillel [House of Hillel], questions and answers, Satmar, 1908; 3) Shire Maskil [Scholarly Songs], sermons, Lemberg, 1877.

After him, Reb Uri Feywl [19*] ben [son of] Yisroel Moshe haLevi Schreier, who was the rabbi in Borotshyn [Bohorodczany], the author of The Great Ones of Holiness and the Small Temple, one of the founders and leaders of communal settlement in Eretz-Yisroel, Ahavat Zion [Lovers of Zion], was chosen as rabbi. In his old age, he returned to the rabbinical chair in Borotshyn and died there in 1898. After him, Reb Yakov ben Efraim Taumim, a descendent of Chacham Tzvi, was chosen as rabbi. He was the rabbi in Wielkie Oczy, then in Tarnograd, Poland. As he was driven out of there because he was an Austrian subject, he was invited to take up the rabbinical seat in Kolomea. He was the rabbi there from 1898 until his death on 2nd of the month of Iyyar, [May 3rd] 5688 (1908).

5.

In the course of time changes took place in politics in relation to the Jews in Galicia. In 1876, the municipal administration demanded that the kehile hasten to carry out the reorgan-

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ization. Shomer Yisroel [Guardian of Israel] made efforts to stabilize the status of the kehilus [organized Jewish communities – kehile is the singular] by arranging a uniform status, approved by the government and uniting all of the kehilus in one national union.

For this purpose, Shomer Yisroel called together the kehilus for a kehilus- day in order to deal with all the problems that were connected to the life of the Jews in Galicia. The Kolomea kehile was represented at the kehilus-day in Lemberg, from the 18h to the 20th June 1878, by its chairman, Shlomo Hersh Wizelberg, who was elected to the presidium of the conference along with Rachmiel Mizes and Dr. [Emil]Bik. Wizelberg was the second vice president; he also was president of the charter committee and he took an active part in the debates. A standing committee that was to be involved with the organization of the kehilus was elected before the close of the conference. Wizelberg was elected as second vice president.

Meanwhile, the elections to the Viennese parliament drew near. The Shomer Yisroel circles that had approached the parliamentary elections in 1873 with the slogan of an independent Jewish politics, renounced the idea in 1879. This time they did not prepare for the elections.

The Poles made use of the situation; Rabbi, Reb Shimeon Schreiber, one of the leaders of the extreme Orthodox, who created the society, Mahazike ha-Dat [Defenders of the Faith], as an organization struggling against the enlightened was presented as a candidate in Kolomea. A Jewish journalist from Vienna, Aleksander Scharf, stood against him. But, after a short time, he withdrew his candidacy.

Rabbi Schreiber received 1,443 votes out of 2,251 at the election.

Rabbi Schreiber was elected on the condition that as president of the “Defenders of the Faith,” and together with its spiritual leader, the Belzer Rebbe, he would influence the pious in all of the counties of Galicia to support the candidates of Kolo Polskje [Polish Circle].

After Rabbi Schreiber was elected, he never took part in the parliamentary debates because he did not know any other language besides Yiddish. But he always voted according to the instructions from Kolo. Once, when the vote

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occurred on erev Shabbos [on the eve of Shabbos], Kolo arranged for there to be a minyon [10 men necessary for prayer] in the parliamentary building so that Rabbi Schreiber could be at the voting. Rabbi Schreiber died in 1883 and elections were held in Kolomea. The Jewish intelligentsia in the voting circles of Kolomea-Buczacz-Sniatyn required a candidate to be entered who would have the standing to represent the Jews in parliament and know his way around the political problems. The election committee in these cities turned to the rabbi of Florisdorf, Dr. Josef Shmuel Block, who was born in Dukla and asked him to offer his candidacy to parliament. It is true that they placed the condition that he join the Polish faction. In his youth, Dr. Block was known for his great knowledge of the Talmud and he had a reputation as the “child prodigy of Dukla.” Ten years after his death, new ideas about the Torah were issued in his name.

After he left Galicia he dedicated himself to worldly studies. He graduated from the university and was welcomed– after he had been the rabbi in several smaller kehilus – as rabbi in Florisdorf. He became famous at this time thanks to his bold struggle against anti-Semitism, and particularly because of his appearance against Prof. Rohling [22*] of Prague, revealing his egregious forgeries from the Talmud. In Dr. Block, the Galician Jews saw the fighter for Jewry. After Dr. Block agreed to the conditions of the election committee, he was officially presented as a candidate to the Viennese parliament. In Lemberg, the Jewish notables, with Dr. Emil Bik and the preacher, Bernhard Lewenstein, at the head, came out against Block. The contention was that a deputy who was connected to Galicia with an internal-national alliance (Poland) must be elected. On the 1st of May a meeting, under the chairmanship of Dr. Philip Druker, took place in the kehile house. Dr. Philip Manish, the leader of Shomer Yisroel who contended that it was necessary to have political representation and not theologians such as Dr. Block in parliament, was against Block.

At the initiative of Lemberg, several kehilus in Galicia urged the residents of Kolomea to elect Dr. Bik.[45]

The Polish central election committee recommended the

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candidacy of Dr. Yohatan Warszawer of Krakow and the gabbai of the Belzer Rebbe, Reb Mordekhai Pelc, recommended the candidacy of the Christian, Baron Romaszkan.

Although Dr. Block was supported by the president of parliament, Dr. Smolka, the Poles boycotted him. Despite this “all-sided” opposition, Dr. Block was elected with a majority of two-thirds of the vote, although he had not appeared even once in the voting district.

After the voting, he visited the cities of his voting district and he was received there with great enthusiasm by the Jewish masses. The leaders of the parnosim of the kehilus and the members of the city councils did not appear at the welcome in honor of Dr. Block. In particular, Dr. Maksimilian Trachtenberg, the Jewish city president [mayor] of Kolomea, boycotted him. In parliament, Dr. Block fulfilled his task as Jewish representative.

In 1885 the parliament session closed and new elections were declared. Dr. Block turned to a member of the Vaad haKehile [Council of the Jewish community] and of the city council, Shlomo Hersh Wizelberg, with an announcement that he would come to Kolomea to give a report about his parliamentary activity. True, Wizelberg was only a vinkl-advokat [23*] and although he did not have any higher legal education, he surpassed every Kolomea lawyer and he had political influence in city hall and in the kehile. Wizelberg advised Dr. Block that he should not come to Kolomea because this time he did not have a chance of being elected. Dr. Emil Bik had won over the members of the city council and the parnosim of the kehilus, as well as the government apparatus. However, Dr. Block was not scared off and he came to Kolomea. He was welcomed with enthusiasm and he became convinced that the mass of Jewish voters were with him.

In Kolomea itself a “Block party” was foundedwith the name “the Good Youth.” This was Jakov Brelter and his entire family, which had a great influence in the city.

At that time elections also took place for the city council. The Poles worked skillfully in these elections. Their leader was Wishniewski. This Wishniewski was a man of high culture, had traveled around the European countries a great deal, was rich and a philanthropist. As a member of the city council

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he suggested the naming of two streets in the Jewish quarter after Spinoza and Mendelssohn. His suggestion was accepted. Wishniewski concluded an election agreement with the Block party, according to which he was obligated to support the candidacy of Dr. Block to parliament, if the members of the Block party during the election to city hall supported the election of the Polish candidate for city president [mayor].

Wishniewski and Stanislaw Szczopanowski, the authors of the book, The Desolution of Galicia, took it upon themselves to carry on propaganda for the election of Dr. Block. He was supported by Franciszek Smolka and the well known Polish deputy, Count Potocki. But the Central Polish Election Committee presented Dr. Bik. The followers of Dr. Bik carried on a hard fight against Block. Jan Dobczanski, the representative of the Central Polish Election Committee, specially visited Kolomea and warned the citizens that they should not vote for Dr. Block. In Buczacz, the Jewish city president, Berish Shtern, threatened the Jews and the Christian voters. He said that Dr. Block was an enemy of the Christians and that they must not vote for him. These elections were a great event. Enthusiasm reigned in all of the districts. The women went to the cemeteries to pray for the success of the elections. The city instilled terror at the voting boxes. But despite this, the Jewish voters in Kolomea, Buczasz and Snytyn were not scared off and they went to the voting boxes. It is true that propagandists from Dr. Bik's side falsified documents and used all kinds of schemes. In Kolomea, Wizelberg declared that Dr. Bik had promised to build a new synagogue for the Jews and a new church for the Christians if he were only elected. But all of this was of no help. Dr. Block was elected with a majority of 28 votes.

Two months after the elections to parliament, elections to the city council took place and the Jews supported Wiszniewski in the spirit of the agreement that had been made.

At the end of 1890 the term of office of the parliament session ended and the new elections were set for the beginning of 1891. The opponents of Dr. Block began to dig in against him in the voting districts. Dr. Emil Bik was not presented against him then, although he had in the last years carried out for the voters of Kolo-

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mea, Snytyn and Buczasz all trials in the Lemberg land courts without payment. In his place was presented Leon Meizlish, one of the grandsons of the well known Warsaw Rabbi, Reb Dov Berish Meizlish; he was the son-in-law of Brodski, the Jewish millionaire, but his wife did not want to live with him. After many years during which he filed many legal cases against her, he gave her a religious divorce and in 1890 he received compensation of a million guldn.

The initiator of his candidacy was Reb Mordekhai Pelc, the gabbai [man who assists in running of synagogue] for the Belzer rebbe, who was angry with Dr. Block because he did not want to contribute 5,000 guldn to the newspaper, Mahazike ha-Dat [Defenders of the Faith] or collect this sum among the Viennese Jews. Out of anger, he proclaimed Leon Meizlish as the candidate of Jewish Orthodoxy in Galicia.

Meizlish declared that he must receive the mandate even if it cost him hundreds of thousand of guldn. Doubts grew about his Austrian citizenship because he had lived for many years in Paris; the mayor of Buczasz, Berish Shtern, helped him sort out his Austrian citizenship and also his voting rights. Meizlish's agents spread money right and left, spread polemical writings in Hebrew and Yiddish in which the writings of Dr. Block on the subject of Biblical criticism were assaulted.

Ignatz Shreiber, the president of Mahazike ha-Dat, published a Yiddish leaflet in which he declared that the activity of Dr. Block in parliament was considered to be against the pious Jews. The Belzer Rebbe also issued an appeal against Dr. Block.

The Poles again offered their candidate, a well know enemy of Israel [the Jews], Count Staczinski, who was supported by Polish officialdom. It is interesting that the assimilated, who were concentrated around the weekly newspaper, Oczyzna [Homeland], came out against Dr. Block. The officials of the district began with various threats against the Jewish voters. The regime clearly recommended the candidacy of Staczinski. In addition to this, the Prime Minister sent a warning letter to the governor of Galicia.

This time Dr. Block was supported by Dr. Bik. The leaders of the Kolomea kehile, Shlomo Hersh Wizelberg, Yakov Bretler, Josef Funkenshtein, even publicly appealed to the voters

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under the name Dover Beytu [In Good Time] in which the representatives of the kehile demanded that only Dr. Josef Shmuel Block should be elected.

The kehile representatives took on a reserved attitude for as long as the struggle between Dr. Block and Dr. Bik went on. With the appearance of the candidacy of Meizlish, the kehile found it necessary to recommend Dr. Block and to declare that one must not vote for Meizlish. This appeal contributed to the unity of all voters. [24*]

The elections took place on the 4th and 5th of March, 1891. The voting passed calmly in Buczacz and in Snytyn. Terrible unrest took place in Kolomea. The peasants who supported the candidacy of Staczinski marched through the streets of the city and attacked the businesses, which closed immediately. A number of Jews were wounded and one Jew was stabbed to death. The peasants also damaged the Jewish cemetery. Despite the terror, the Jews in most of the cities in the county were not frightened off and they went to the voting boxes. Dr. Block was elected with 2,128 votes. Staczinski received 1,778 votes and only 97 voted for Meizlish who had squandered so much money.

The position of Dr. Block, who voted for Jewish interests at every opportunity, was very difficult in the new parliament. The “Social Christians,” with Duke Lichtenstein at the head, began to fear the Polish faction, that it should eliminate his position. The president of the Polish Club, Zaleski, was interested in removing Dr. Block. He used the opportunity of a protest against the elections in the voting district, Kolomea, Buczacz, Snytyn and demanded of Dr. Block that he kindly decline the mandate. On the 22nd of October, 1895, Dr. Block withdrew.

New elections were held in the district. Dr. Block again presented his candidacy. The mayor, Dr. Maksimillian Trachtenberg, who was even supported by the anti-Semites, Dr. Karl Lueger and Ernst Schneider, was presented against him because they were interested in every opportunity to eliminate

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Dr. Block and remove him from the parliamentary political arena.

As a lawyer, Dr. Trachtenberg was convicted in 1891by the lawyers' chamber in Lemberg with a fine of 300 guldn for violating the honor of the position of lawyer and in 1892 – with a fine of 100 guldn.

The country committee determined that as the mayor he bring deposits from outside to the bank and, because of a series of swindles and abuses with these deposits, his management was considered as complete anarchy.[46] The Polish Club, with the support of the Austrian Prime Minister, the Polish Count Badeni, made every effort to disrupt the election of Dr. Block. The district executives received exact instructions to use every means possible for this purpose and they did everything they could: they demanded a tax from Jewish manufacturers of 500 guldn for Dr. Trachtenberg's election fund. The tax commission summoned Jews and warned them not to vote for Dr. Block. On election day, gendarmes guarded the entrances to the voting boxes and stopped Jewish voters.

The leaders of the anti-Semites in Vienna demanded in a telegram that in no way should Dr. Block be permitted to be elected. Thanks to such terror, Dr. Trachtenberg was elected and he sat in parliament until 1900, not achieving anything there.46)

On the 28th of September 1900, in connection with the election in 1901, Adolf Stand proposed to Dr. Theodor Herzl that he present his candidacy to the Viennese parliament in Kolomea because the surest mandate was there. On that occasion Stand wrote to Dr. Herzl about Trachtenberg, the Kolomea deputy, that he is “a marionette in the Polish faction,” but he is “adept in klabrias” (playing cards [klabrias is a card game]). His politics is – “Silent and quiet.” His work program in Vienna is: he wakes up in Donacher (a well-known cabaret in Vienna) and sleeps during the parliamentary sessions.[47]

The Zionist shareholders' committee in Vienna and Dr. Herzl, himself, rejected the proposal from Adolf Stand and the Zionists did not present any candidates and did not take any

[Page 56]

active part in the elections. Dr. Natan Zejnfeld, the candidate of the Poles who represented the city during the years 1901-1906, was elected in Kolomea.

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