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Folklore

Some stories have been left out because they could not be translated effectively.

WITH THE death of millions of Polish Jews, a vast treasure of Jewish folklore, the product of generations of creativity, was lost as well. Every province, city, and town had its own special sayings, parables, tales, jokes and the like. Even if many of these sayings had the same moral, they were repeated in different versions in various locations, always fitting the everyday existence of the Jews who used them.

Entire volumes could be filled with the collected folklore which was passed among Jews, in their study houses, Chasidic synagogues, in the house and in the street. Even the unprintable was valuable for its sharp wit, which is so characteristic of our Eastern Jews.

Our present task is a limited one, our capacities minimal. We have collected the materials for this sample of Chrzanow folklore in haste, to save this tiny remnant from oblivion, and to serve as an example. Perhaps other Jews from Chrzanow will undertake the rewarding task of collecting and recording what we have neglected, because our memory has grown weak as a result of the concentration camp and other troubles. In fact, I have not limited myself to that which has an immediate connection to Chrzanow; rather, I have tried to encompass the folklore that was characteristic of Chrzanow Jews.

A Saint Wearing Fur

Generally this expression is used to describe someone whose manner is extremely religious, who seems to consider himself a fine Jew, but who does not give to charity. Rabbi Shloymele explained the expression thus: In the winter, when it is cold, one can warm oneself in two ways. One can stay near the stove, or wrap oneself in a fur. The first way, someone else can benefit as well, but a fur benefits only the one who wears it.

-Heard from Reb Ben-Tsion Hirshberg, b/m.

"A Poor Man Is Considered as if Dead"

Fat Moyshe Aron supported himself with money which he received from his children in Cracow every month. It so happened that one month the money didn't arrive on time, so Moyshe Aron sent a telegram to his children: "Your father is dead." When the children arrived by train they went straight to the cemetery and asked the gravedigger when the funeral was going to take place. The gravedigger laughed out loud and told them that he had just seen Moyshe Aron joking around at the market place. When they met their father, the children asked why he had tricked them. "The telegram I sent you," their father responded, "was the whole truth-because without money I'm dead."

A Minyan

German Jewish manufacturers from Vienna who had business with merchants in Chrzanow used to come to our city. One of these German Jews observed his father's yortsayt during his visit to Chrzanow. He wanted to make sure that there would be a minyan the first thing in the morning, and he gave the shames two gulden to make sure of it. The German Jew arrived punctually, like a German, but the ten Jews weren't there yet. The shames explained to the German Jew, "The Jews have to prepare themselves for prayer."

"What do you mean, 'prepare'?" asked the German.

The shames explained to him that before they pray, pious Jews drink tea, then tbey smoke their pipes, they go to the bathroom, and then to the mikvah. And that's what preparing means. The German Jew listened to everything patiently, and then responded in a strict tone: "When I come back next year, I'll give you five gulden. In exchange I want ten Jews, fully finished and ready for delivery!"

-Heard from Reb Yoysef Loyfer (Red Yoysef).

MISCELLANEOUS

Two Dead Men

Rabbi Naftoli used to say jokingly that he wasn't afraid of the dead, because he always had two dead men right next to him: Yukl Dodek was always dead hungry, and Tall Yoske was always dead thirsty.

Very Few Circumcisions and So Many Bastards

Avrom Meir, the shames in the study house, who couldn't get rid of the young pranksters who used to disrupt his work-throwing snowballs while he lit the Chanukah candles, and other practical jokes- used to shout angrily, "You don't see a circumcision for love or money, how come there are so many bastards here...

Yortsayt Every Day

Simcha Stapler used to say that he had yortsayt every day, because every day his father was dying of hunger.

Some Miracle!

The well-known joker Berl Kender used to say that the miracle of the Exodus from Egypt was more like an expulsion. The Master of the Universe should have done just the opposite-he should have driven out the Egyptians and left the Jews in their country. He should have sent the Egyptians into the desert for forty years, honored them with exile in Babylonia, exile throughout the Roman Empire, and wanderings down to the present day. We Jews would have it just fine, if we had stayed in Egypt until the present day!

A Cantor Is a Fool

Reb Hirsh Leyb Bakon, the cantor at the municipal synagogue in Chrzanow, used to comment on the saying, "a cantor is a fool," that it didn't necessarily mean that every fool can be a cantor.

He also used to say: The fool is always there at the stand with the man who leads the services. When he wraps himself up in a talit to lead the prayers, he includes the fool. Sadly, not everyone leaves the fool behind when he's finished.

Regarding a coarse individual who was audacious but a pentak (miser), people said (in Polish):

Pieniedzy nie daja
Toyre nie znaja
Ale chutspe maja

If, Heaven Forbid...

Reb Yekheskl Shmuel Blumner b/m (Pipek), a wise and insightful Jew of the older generation, used to say jokingly: The miracle on Mount Moriah didn't benefit our Father Isaac, but rather us, his grandchildren. The daily and holiday prayerbooks are full of the fact that all Abraham wanted to do was slaughter him. Can you imagine if, God forbid, he had actually cut? We'd doubtless need a cartload of daily and holiday prayerbooks to take to the synagogue!

According to its Kind

Yudl Kurtz (Shvinke) used to boast:

"Among Chasidim-I'm a Chasid.

Among modem Jews-I'm modern.

But among women-I'm a man."

An Empty Sheet

When you go to a rebe you should hand him an empty sheet of paper. Why? Because if the rebe really knows what's going on in your mind, then he'll know what you need from him. And if not, you're wasting your time...

-Reb Binyomin Hirshberg b/m.

Spirits

The son of a minor Chasidic rabbi filled his head with ideas from secular books, and his father came to consider him an apostate. The father decided that the only explanation was that the spirit of a dead person had entered into his son's body. The rabbi assembled a minyan of Jews, ordered candles to be fit, and summoned his son, so that he could exorcize the evil spirit. When the shofar was blown he shouted three times, following the custom: "Dibbuk! Dibbuk! Leave my son!"

To that the " dibbuk" -namely his son-responded: "Nonsense! Nonsense! Leave my father!"

-Heard from Reb Moyshe Bochner m/b/a, author of Thoughts of Moses.

Fame-Commands Prices

A coachman once asked the popular and always lively Chrzanow Zionist activist Menashe Fishler m/b/a: "Tell me, what's the difference between the Bobover Rebe, who has a large number of Chasidirn, and other rebes whose Chasidim can be counted on your fingers? The others are just as fine Jews as the Bobover, aren't they?"

Menashe explained it to him: "It's just like the difference between Smiechowski's soap (a famous firm in Cracow, which demanded high prices), and Gasner's soap (a small factory in Chrzanow, which belonged to Menashe's uncle). Both products are of the same quality, but only one has the big "Name."

Nu Akh! Shtayim!

Once upon a time two respectable Jewish merchants of Chrzanow-their names are known to those who know the town-traveled to Vienna on a buying trip. Arriving there late in the evening, they began to say evening prayers in their hotel rooms. One of them finished the Amida first, rapidly said Aleinu, and started out of the room. The second, not wanting to interrupt himself in the middle of the Amida, winked at him and asked, "Nu akh?" ("Where are you going?") The first answered that he was looking for someone to go get into a little trouble with. . . And the one replied, " Nu akh! Shtayim! " (Make it two.)

Mazel Tov!

Mendl Ashkenazi m/b/a, a popular man who loved a good joke, once met an elderly Jewish stranger at the railroad station. He offered his hand, pronounced a hearty "Sholem-aleikhem!" and wished him mazel tov. The stranger stood in astonishment and stared at him: Mazel tov-what for? "Listen," Mendl said, "today's the first time I've seen you since your wedding!"

What's Left to the City,

During the elections to the Austrian parliament in 1911, the Polish Socialist Party deputy, Dr. Marek, came to Chrzanow from Cracow. After his speech in the courtyard of Berish Prister's house, which was well received, he drove away in his automobile which emitted a strong smell of gasoline. At that a supporter of an opposing candidate (Reb Yisroel Shimen Grubner, b/m) called out to the crowd, "You see? Dr. Marek drives away in comfort, and he leaves the stink for the city. . .

If I'm Permitted...

Years ago a Jew arrived in Vienna, and felt the need to urinate while in a strange neighborhood. There was no restroom handy, and he was afraid that he would get into trouble if he relieved himself on the street. He thought for a while and then went to a good doctor, claiming that he was having a problem urinating. The doctor gave him a bottle, and he relieved himself... The doctor was amazed, but the Jew explained to him: "You see, Doctor-when a pot is available I have no problem!"

Resurrection

The former municipal doctor of Chrzanow, Dr. Klein (who served before Dr. Hochbaum), always said that he denied all the principles of the Jewish faith, except for the principle of resurrection of the dead. Jews who suffer bitterly all week long, don't eat when they should or as much as they want to, nevertheless when the Sabbath afternoon comes, make kiddush on an empty stomach over 96-proof liquor and a cracker, then they eat a portion of fat carp, fat galerete, cholent with fatty kishka (derma), kugel dripping with chicken fat and lots of heavy dessert and then, their stomachs stuffed to the maximum, they take a mid-day snooze. And if these Jews are able to get up again, it's truly resurrection of the dead.

Being a Bit Crazy Helps

During the war years from 1914-1918 a certain number of young men pretended to be insane in order to get out of military service. One of these young men, actually nuts, had been certified insane by the military doctor. He was asked how he had done it. "You have to be a little bit crazy to begin with," came the answer, "and for the rest, you rely on God."

A Large Portion of Cloakroom

In Trzebinia near Chrzanow lived a well-known Jew named Aba Zalke. He loved to celebrate at Chasidic weddings, but he knew very little of worldly affairs. Once he received a wedding invitation from an acquaintance of his, which mentioned that a separate cloakroom would be prepared at the wedding. When he arrived at the wedding Aba Zalke whispered to the father-in-law, "Do me a favor. When the food is served, give me a large portion of cloakroom, because I've never had the chance to eat it before."

Various Sayings

A Jew doesn't eat an orange unless the orange is spoiled (and therefore cheap), otherwise the Jew is spoiled (i.e., sick).

"Tea and Psalms never hurt anyone."

There are never too many children nor too many glasses.

Do you want to arrive quickly? Then you should proceed slowly and carefully.

I Say What Reb Eli Says

Until World War I the Jews of Chrzanow enjoyed a large majority on the town council, and the meetings were conducted in a very Jewish manner. The people elected to the town council at the time weren't necessarily those best qualified, but rather the rich men who enjoyed power on account of their money. Among them was Reb Shmuel Bromberger (or Reb Shmuel Mokh), who, although he was wealthy, knew little about the affairs of the city. At that time the main spokesman was the rich man from the Kamienica, Reb Eli Rauchwerger. Reb Shmuel slept soundly through the debate on a certain matter... When he was awakened for the vote, he rubbed his eyes and responded sleepily, "I vote the same as Reb Eli."

Why Does the Rabbi Get a Salary?

Reb Baybi Seifman, a prominent Jew in Chrzanow, the leader of the Radomsker Chasidim several decades ago, asked why the rabbi was still being paid a salary, since he received separate payment for every deed he performed, plus holiday money, presents on Purim, and Chanukah gelt. He was always given an etrog by one of the wealthier citizens on Sukkoth; on Passover he was a partner in the selling of flour, and on the Sabbath he was given a kugel, in addition to the salary he received along with the cantor and the shames. The answer he offered was that the rabbi needed a salary so that at least he could put on his phylacteries without requiring payment...

Let It Rot

There was a self-assured and demanding woman in town, who had a learned and well-mannered son. The neighbors wore out their feet looking for a proper match for the son. But no matter how much was offered as a dowry, it was never enough for the mother. Once a marriage broker said to her, "Tell me, Kayle dear, what and how much do you really want for your son?" She gave him a very businesslike answer: "If you don't bring me a well-mannered and pretty girl with a dowry of five thousand dollars-let my goods rot in my warehouse!"

Caught Lying

Berish Frister, a well-known horse trader, wasn't an especially pious or observant Jew. When he traveled to horse fairs, his wife always packed into his suitcase his talis and phylacteries, along with provisions: a challah and a stomach pouch filled with meat. Once his wife decided to find out whether her husband actually prayed when he traveled, and she packed the stomach into the tefilin bag. When he returned from his journey on Friday, her husband complained that she hadn't given him any stomach as she usually did. "It's because you didn't pray," his wife answered, taking the stomach out of his tefilin bag.

Good Yiddish

The former Polish finance minister Michalski was the tax inspector in Chrzanow under the Austrians. Once the well-known slaughterer, Reb Shloyme Lipe, was summoned to see the tax inspector about his income. Reb Shloyme Lipe, who knew no Polish, asked Michalski to permit him to speak German, and Michalski agreed. After the meeting, Michalski, who knew Yiddish well, said to him: "If I had known that you speak Yiddish so well, I wouldn't have allowed you to speak German under any circumstances. .

Levels

Reb Leybish Wiener, a well-known textile merchant from Chrzanow, used to tell his wife when he was young, before he became wealthy:

"You know, Chana, I have to go to the rabbi." Later, when he had some money, he said, " Chana, I have to go away, because the rabbi wants to see me. " Later, when he built his own house and was quite comfortable, he said to his wife, "Chana, the rabbi always sends messengers to fetch me. But I'm not going to him this time; he can take the trouble to come see me for once."

The Right Answer

An anti-Semitic elementary school teacher once asked her female students, "Why does it rain so often on Saturday?"

The Christian children answered, "Because Saturday is a Jewish holiday!"

"No," spoke up a Jewish girl named Chanele Halbershtam (who happened to be a niece of Ahad HaAm), "'it rains on Saturday so the streets will be muddy on Sunday!"

Forgot About Money

Reb Yakov Ruben, a typical Chasidic character, was a well-known Sanzer Chasid in Chrzanow. When he went to see Reb Chaim in Sanz, his wife asked him to mention to the rabbi that he was having problems earning a living. On his way back, his wife asked him, "Well? Did you mention money to the rebe?"

"No!" was Reb Yakov Ruben's response. "'When I reach Sanz, I never remember anything as prosaic as money. I only remember it when I get back home."

Praying With a Rooster

In Trzebinia near Chrzanow, the synagogue and the study house were in the middle of the market place. In the summer, when the windows were open, the merchants and customers used to say the prayers kedushe and borchu together with the congregations. A Jewish woman was in the middle of making a deal for a rooster while saying the kedushe, and lifted her heels at the words, "Holy, holy, holy." The saleswoman said to her, "You can jump up and down all night, I'm not going to give you the rooster for a penny cheaper,!"

Competition

The well-known Chrzanow marriage broker, Reb Chaim Gross, was summoned to the tax department regarding the taxes he paid on his fees for arranging marriages. Reb Chaim said to the official: "Ill pay you as much as you demand, on condition that you forbid the boys and girls to meet at the Plantn because since the Plantn became popular, I have no more customers, neither boys nor girls...

Three Virtues Which Are Flaws

A Jewish woman went to a rebe with a request. She asked the rebe's secretary to write on the note that she had a son with three failings: first, he plays the violin; second, he sings very beautifully; third and worst, he writes verse. The rebe pushed his spectacles up onto his forehead and looked at the woman as if she were mocking him. "These are three of the finest virtues a woman could expect from a son."

"Yes," the woman said, "he plays the fiddle, and some people realize he's a fool. It's worse when he sings, because then people in the synagogue realize he's a fool. But the worst is his writing-then the entire world knows he is a fool..

A Sin That's Not Mentioned in the Torah

The rabbi of Jaworzno, Reb Vove Rozenblum. b/m, had a son who lived far away and wasn't especially pious. The son sent the father money and gifts on several occasions. Reb Vove didn't want to accept them, because he wasn't sure the money had been earned in the spirit of the Torah. One time the rabbi received a large sum of money from his son, along with a letter saying that if he returned the money as usual, then just to spite him the son would commit a sin the likes of which aren't dreamed of by Jews or by Gentiles. The rabbi didn't want to be responsible for such a dreadful sin, so he accepted the money on condition that the son tell him what sin he intended to commit. His son responded, "I would have put on tefilin on the Sabbath. . . "

I Know the Solution-But I'm Not Telling
(from nearby Cracow)

Reb Leyb Ziser of Cracow (owner of the large house at # 13 Kuzmark), was known for his intelligence, wealth, and impressive appearance. He had many Jewish virtues, but only one major failing. He was not well versed in traditional literature...
Once when he was in the city of Pressburg-at that time one of the greatest centers of Torah-he went to the yeshiva of the Chasam. Sofer to wait until it was time to board his train. Just then two students of the yeshiva were debating a certain fine point, and since they couldn't come to an agreement, they decided to ask Reb Leyb for the proper interpretation. Reb Leyb Ziser, seeing that he was stuck, said to the boys: "Listen, children!

You could, heaven forbid, have embarrassed a Jew with your question, because a Jew like myself, despite the beautiful beard, could never theless be an ignoramus. If that happened, you would lose your share in the world to come. I have the solution on the tip of my tongue, but to punish you for being so careless, I'm not going to tell you what it is. . .

Well Meant, I Said

It is well known that the last rabbis of Chrzanow, with the exception of Reb Yoysef Elimelech b/m, were not especially good speakers.

The son of Rabbi Naftoli, the last rabbi of Chrzanow Reb Mendl, delivered a eulogy for the deceased Reb Shmuel Grajower. As people know, Reb Shmuel's children were not quite as pious as their father had been.

Trying to express the wish that Reb Shmuel's children should be loyal to Judaism and follow the same lifestyle as their father, the rabbi finished his eulogy by saying that "Reb Shmuel's children should go the way their father went."

What Is True Honesty?

It is possible to acquire the World to Come in a single hour. This saying applies to Reb Velvele Loyber, m/b/a, a simple Jew without any pretensions, a wholesome man in the fullest sense of the word. The following story took place once upon a time.

Since he knew that Reb Velvele was a responsible and honest person, the wellknown money changer Reb Leybtshe Klein gave him several hundred dollars to take from Cracow to Chrzanow, as a favor. Reb Leybtshe didn't offer him a commission. When Reb Velvele arrived in Chrzanow, he realized that $200 was missing. After a long investigation, the rabbi ruled that Reb Velvele would have to swear that he hadn't taken the money. But Reb Velvele refused, saying that he had never sworn in his fife, and he wasn't about to start. He would sooner sell his house and pay back the money he had lost. But just as he was about to sell his only possession, his house, a miracle occurred. The Jew who had found the missing money appeared. Thus Reb Velvele, whom people had begun to suspect of foul play, went away with his name cleared and enjoyed everyone's respect forever after.

Don't Argue With Money

Yidl Kurts was once found sitting at home on Rosh Hashanah, while all the Jews were on their way to the town river to say Tashlich. When asked why he wasn't going to cast his sins into the river, he answered: "I can't let myself get away with the same thing that Reb Itshele Yakov-Ruven's or Reb Yenkele Aba's do. Their sins consist of such trivialities as making a mistake in a single word while saying grace after eating on the Sabbath. Or someone else ate beans for lunch, passed wind while saying his afternoon prayers, and couldn't wash his hands immediately... Sins like these can be easily cast into the river, but my sins cost me a lot of money, and it would truly be an even greater sin to simply cast them into the water!"

Isser Lapke, Translator

When the Germans first came to Chrzanow they used Jews as translators. The Jewish population felt even more hatred toward the Poles than toward the Germans, because the Jews expected evil from the Germans, and were psychically ready for it, but the Poles were noted for their provocations and treachery. Our hearts bled watching the Poles gleefully rubbing their hands as they witnessed our tragedy. Just about that time the Germans arrested for some trivial transgression a Pole who was known for his hostility toward Jews. The German, being unable to communicate with him, called in Isser Lapke (who was well known as a joker in town) to translate.

Pole: "I didn't know it was forbidden."
Policeman: "What's he saying?"
Translator: "He said that he's in his own home and can do whatever he wants.”
Policeman: "Slap the bum and knock out a tooth."
Pole: "Why do I deserve to be hit?
Policeman: "What did he say this time?"
Translator: "He said that when you're defeated, he's going to take revenge on you.”
Policeman: "Tear that bum limb from limb and turn him into chopped meat."
Policeman to translator: "Tell that Polish pig that if he were a Jew Id shoot him on the spot, and I'm going to give you a cigarette for your good translation!"

THE DRAFTEES

Older Jews from Chrzanow no doubt remember what used to happen in the winter nights with the draftees who had been called up for Austrian -military service. In order to avoid service, they would torture themselves and stay up all night so that they would be released from the spring exercises, which were held around Passover time. In order to stay awake, they would pull various pranks which made everyone laugh. The following stories tell of some of these pranks.

If You Don't Give Willingly, You Will Have to Give Unwillingly

A rich man in town, Reb Leyb Gross, once refused to give a substantial sum for a certain charitable purpose, saying that he was short of money because he was building a new house. At that time the leader of the draftees was the popular Chrzanow joker Moyshe Mizel who undertook to force the rich man to come up with the sum.

Moyshe Mizel assembled all the draftees, and one night, under his command, they removed the bricks that had been stored for the new house and used them to build a path to the cemetery. The next day the rich man came up with the sum in question, promising to be good and pious forever.

Exchange

One beautiful winter morning the men of Chrzanow woke up to a city they could hardly recognize. The butcher's sign hung on the doctor's house, the druggist's sign hung at the shoemaker's, and so forth. At first the women said that this was the work of "demons," may we be preserved, but later the true explanation came to light:

Since the draftees, who stayed up all night, generally gathered in the municipal study house and caused damage there, the officers decided to close the study house at night, and to forbid the draftees from entering. But the draftees immediately decided to take revenge in a way that would make the city remember them. They exchanged the signs on all the stores in town, and it caused such confusion that the citizens went to the officers and begged them to let the draftees back into the study hall.

Avremele Bentsher

Years ago there was a Jew in Chrzanow named Avremele Bentsher who was half insane and thoroughly witless. If a candle sputtered or leaned on Yom Kippur night, Avremele Bentsher immediately arrived with a Gentile who would set it right. The poles for the chupah for weddings, the chair for Elijah The Prophet, for circumcisions, all were brought by Avremele Bentsher. At funerals as well, nothing began without Avremele Bentsher.

As often happened, an epidemic broke out in town. At the turn of this century, epidemics weren't recognized as medical emergencies; rather, they were blamed on the local sinners. Investigations were made, and eventually it would be discovered that the young couples weren't careful enough... Their beds weren't far enough apart; or many young wives weren't careful enough with their wigs, leaving some of         their own hair showing, may we be preserved! Such sins demanded a sacrificial atonement. The usual practice at the time was to atone by arranging a wedding between a male and a female orphan at the cemetery. But the town had a problem: where would they get a pair of orphans? And there was an additional condition-they had to be from among the poor.

The problem wasn't hard at all for the joker Moyshe Mizel. He immediately came up with a way to kill two birds with one stone-fulfill the commandment of arranging weddings, and also ridding the town of the epidemic.

As you've no doubt guessed, the groom was none other than our Avremele Bentsher. Since he was over sixty years old by then, of course both of his parents had died.

A similar orphan "girl" was found. The younger generation in Chrzanow knew         her as Hindzhe, who had carried large packs of clothing on her back for the past several years, unwilling to part with them for a single minute. In her youth she had been quite beautiful, but at the same time, as we used to say in Chrzanow, "a bit robbed."

Moyshe Mizel played the part of the father-in-law, and the draftees were the other "in-laws" and guests. The wedding was performed at the cemetery on a Saturday night. The things that went on there may be left to your imagination. Not only the living enjoyed themselves, but also the dead in their graves doubled over with laughter. A generous wedding supper was served.
Everyone danced and sang until well into the morning, and the draftees went home as drunk as Lot.

And the epidemic was averted.


How Goodly Are Your Tents, 0 Jacob!

Berish Zolty

When we describe our city, we don't need to be ruled by the sentiments that every Jew feels for the place where he or she was born and raised. When we look back, we can free ourselves of subjective favoritism and still claim openly that Chrzanow deserves a prominent place in the history of Jewish communities in Poland. It is no exaggeration to say that Chrzanow was distinct from many other Jewish cities in Poland, including larger ones, not only because a rich, vital, creative Jewish life pulsated in Chrzanow, but also because the city's external appearance bore a distinctively Jewish stamp.

Chrzanow had a substantial Jewish majority. (For a long time it had a Jewish mayor.) In order to minimize the power of the Jewish population, the Gentile city government incorporated the surrounding villages into the municipality. To describe the external Jewish appearance of the city, we will give space to our greatest enemy, the Hitlerite press.

In 1945, 1 came into possession of an article from the Ostdeutscher Morgenpost dated March 17, 1942, under the headline "The City of Krenau" (Chrzanow). During the disinfection in Buchenwald, it was taken from me, but I memorized several verses:

The City of Krenau (Chrzanow)

Leaving the Old Reich and-heading in the direction of the General Government District of Cracow, we encountered for the first time a city which, owing to its unmistakably Jewish landscape, made an especially negative impression on us. The place is swarming with characters who are all too easily recognizable in their bearing and behavior. Here, until quite recently, the Jews ruled the entire city, including its trade and industry. Today, however, they have been isolated from their center, and one day they will entirely disappear from the city.

We see that even during the war, when the Jews in Chrzanow were forced to restrict their action and to observe the saying "any attention of the princess is a danger" even then the obvious Jewish character of the city was all too clear to the Nazi reporter. We believe that the huge enmity expressed in the cited sentences best describe Jewish Chrzanow. And we must add that its character was dominated by the religious and Chasidic segment of the population. We have to remember how many people flocked to the ritual meals conducted in Chrzanow by Chasidic rebes from the entire surrounding region, the generosity with which their receptions and farewells were prepared, events at which singing and dancing were taken outside into the streets. Months later Gentiles could still recall the melody of the Chasidic song "The voice of joy and salvation," singing it like a popular song. Yes, Judaism as a part of daily life in Chrzanow was not only seen, but also heard. The sound of the Torah echoed in the streets, coming out of the various Chasidic studyhouses in the center of the city, as well as the main synagogue and Talmud Torah.

According to the rabbis of the Talmud, "every place which does not have ten men free to study full time is not a city"; in Chrzanow their number reached dozens and hundreds. Most were scholars who had achieved a reputation throughout the world for their broad and deep knowledge, as well as their own compositions. The Chasidic sector, which influenced customary clothing in the city, was only a fragment of the overall Jewish cultural life. The external view was only a reflection of deep and rich Jewish content.

Chrzanow was shaped by the activity of Jewish organizations of all descriptions. Not only did Chrzanow have a vital Jewish middle class, but also a substantial Jewish wealthy class and a strong, organized Jewish artisan class. We had welldeveloped Zionist and socialist parties. The remarkable thing was that in Chrzanow, unlike most other Jewish communities, all of the parties lived together not only in peace, but even in a certain harmony.

Sabbath in Chrzanow deserves particular attention. Sabbath was entirely Jewish. The image described in Bialik's poem "The Sabbath Queen" was fully realized in our city. Sabbath in Chrzanow revealed the essence of Judaism in all its aspects. Not only the calm and the absence of commerce made an impression, but also the stream of Jews with shtreimelech and long coats going to and from services added life and Jewish charm. To go walking on the Plantn in a shtreimel and a Sabbath coat was entirely normal, as it was for a Jew wearing a shtreimel to take his horse to water on the Sabbath.

Despite the distinctiveness of Jewish life in Chrzanow, anti-Semitism was negligible. On the contrary: the strength of the Jewish community made it a force to be reckoned with by outsiders. It is worth mentioning that the Gentile town council specified that at public meetings and celebrations the rabbi or Jewish representative was to make his address in Yiddish. (We remember what people said during the tenure of the Polish mayor named Gdula. When the rabbi took his place to deliver a speech, it was "Torah and greatness [gdula] [joy in Yiddish] in one place.") We were not only a qualitative but also a quantitative force in Chrzanow. We had our own potential force, which we fortunately never had to use.

Now, when that entire vital Jewish city has been transformed into a cemetery full of martyrs, now we are united only by our memories of that glorious past. These aren't memoirs. They are living symbols of Jewish eternity, which are connected to our city. The deep national consciousness, the feeling for love and justice which was etched into our hearts and minds, now leads us toward a better future. Our rich heritage will enable us to forge our future and continue to spin the thread of Jewish
eternity. Therefore, we proudly look back at our former Jewish life, and although our hearts bleed on account of our colossal loss, nevertheless we cry out with all the feelings we can summon: "How goodly are thy tents, 0 Chrzanow!"

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