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[Page 99]

Perpetuating the Holy Community – Halmeu

by David Meir Appel, Bnei Brak

Only “One in a city and two in a family”[1] remained, scattered and dispersed throughout the earth, who are able to tell to the “camp that survived” about who were the spiritual leaders and the ordinary Jews of that holy community.

Our town occupied an honorable place among the hundreds of Jewish cities and towns that were in Romania at that time, even though Halmeu was small and its Jewish population did not exceed 400. Its was known throughout the world thanks to the renowned Admorim who served in its rabbinate.

Rabbi Eliahu Klein of holy blessed memory, the son of the Gaon Rabbi Shmelka of Selish, the author of the book “Tzror Hachayim” [Bonds of Life] and the son-in-law of the author of “Yeriot Shlomo” the head of the rabbinical court of Okeve of holy blessed memory, served as the rabbi of Halmeu and the district for 50 years with love and devotion to the individual and the community, to the private and the public. He died at an old age on Rosh Chodesh Shvat 5690 (1930).

After him, his son Rabbi Yaakov Klein of holy blessed memory was appointed as the rabbi. “Yaakov arrived whole”[2] to our town from the city of Grosswardein (Oradea), where he had served as the head of the rabbinical court. He was the son-in-law of the Gaon Rabbi Binyamin Fuchs, the head of the rabbinical court of that place, and the author of “Yad Ramah”, may his merit protect us. The rabbi strengthened the religious life of the town. He conducted a Yeshiva in which 120 G-d fearing, wholesome youths, who had come from Jewish communities from around the country, studied. They studied Gemara, rabbinical decisors, and Jewish law in great depth, day and night, with love and with respect to one's fellow man.

The householders of the community willingly took upon themselves the support of the Yeshiva lads. Some of them provided meals one day a week to twenty or more lads,

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and to those of minimal means. The Talmud Torahs operated in accordance to their schedules. As was customary, examinations took place every Sabbath with the participation of the parents of the students. The examinations were given by choice men of the city who were invited by the trustee of the Talmud Torah. How can we describe the joy of the parents and the teachers over the success of the students in giving the correct answers during these examinations?

The synagogues and Beis Midrashes [houses of study] conducted public classes with the participation of the broad community. The Admor, may his merit protect us, gave a class in Gemara and Tosafot every night to the householders. Every Sabbath eve and Sabbath, they completed the Book of Psalms with a minyan, after immersing in the mikva [ritual bath] that was next to the synagogue.

A charitable fund was set up to assist those in need, for mutual assistance is not merely a commandment between man and G-d, but also between man and his fellow – for the poor person also assists the householder by accepting the assistance[3]. For example, the parents of the writer of these lines were working people, who lived from the toil of their hands, and more than once I was a witness to my mother of blessed memory giving her portion to a poor person who requested lunch.

“Over these do I weep – my eyes, my eyes drop water[4]”, for the natives of the holy communities filled with spirituality, Torah, and the fear of Heaven who were murdered and destroyed cruelly by the German enemy, may their names be blotted out. We can only comfort ourselves in that we, the few survivors who emanated from the town, follow in their footsteps. We survivors must tell our sons and daughters about that which the Amalek of our generation perpetrated upon us, how the Jewish street suffused with religion and the fear of heaven was destroyed, about the atmosphere on the Sabbath and festivals, about the synagogues that were filled with worshippers and Torah studiers, about the Jewish homes with the pure tables.

We must toil until the religious life of our town returns, so that that those coming after us continue to cleave to the ways of Torah and commandments in order to perpetuate the tradition. The young generation will be a renewal of the old generation – as is written about Abraham our Forefather of blessed memory, “So that he will command his children and household after him”[5], meaning that even after his death, his children will continue in the life of Torah and commandments. This is the chain of the generations that binds us, and is termed historical continuity and the perpetuation of holy communities, including “my shtetl Halmeu,” which were annihilated by our enemies, may their names be blotted out who transported entire families of our martyrs, the beloved of our souls, to slaughter. Their souls left in holiness and purity in sanctification of the Divine Name, as their lips commanded, “Remember, and do not forget.”


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 3:14. Return
  2. Genesis 33:18. Return
  3. Through granting the householder an opportunity to perform a mitzva. Return
  4. Lamentations 1:16. Return
  5. Genesis 18:19. Return


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A Memorial to those that Went – Auschwitz, 5704 (1944)

by Eliezer Zicherman

 

Our father of blessed memory, David Zicherman,
our mother Chaya, our brothers Avraham and Menashe,
our sister Yita with her family, may G-d avenge their blood.

 

The tragic passing of our father and his family of blessed memory left a great void in our hearts and in the hearts of hundreds of his friends and acquaintances from our town of Halmeu. The pain and grief will not be quickly erased.

Throughout all the years that he lived in the aforementioned city, approximately from 1905, he was involved with all his energy in the helping of the poor and needy by giving secretly, and he occupied himself faithfully in communal affairs.

He took upon many roles in communal affairs. He served as the trustee of the “Sandek-Avot” organization for many years. That organization was founded to help needy parents bring their baby boys into the covenant of Abraham our Forefather, and offered full assistance in that matter.

Similarly, he was a trustee in the “Malbish Arumim” [Clothing the Naked] organization, whose purpose was to assist poor families and families with many children. Indeed, a great deal of clothing was distributed in the wintertime so that the poor children could continue to study without interruption.

He served as a trustee in the Talmud Torah for many years, which was under the leadership of Reb Aharon Kahane of blessed memory. Students from all strata studied there, and the teachers received their salary from the organization. On the Cemetery Road, there was a special building for the Talmud Torah along with a fine Beis Midrash, which was under the leadership of Reb Chaim Klein and Reb Gavriel Traub. A significant portion of the cream of the crop of the personalities of Halmeu worshipped in that Beis Midrash.

It is appropriate to mention the prominent educators, such as Reb Yitzchak Klein of blessed memory, Reb Asher Leib of blessed memory, Reb Yosef Katz of blessed memory, Reb Meir Hirsch of blessed memory who was later appointed as the shochet of Kökényesd, Reb Leib of blessed memory of Turcz, Reb Zev Pfeffer of blessed memory, Reb Tzvi Freidman of blessed memory, Reb Zanwil Farkas of blessed memory of Bătarci, and Reb Tzvi Lebovich of blessed memory. All of them were great in Torah, and all of them perished in the Holocaust, may G-d avenge their blood.

He was active as a trustee of the Chevra Kadisha for decades. He spared no energy to fulfill his role in the commandment of true kindness, which comes with no expectation of reward. Father of blessed memory had a large family, and he would go day and night to fulfill the final act of kindness despite the preoccupations with earning a livelihood. The Chevra Kadisha also maintained a pharmacy and physician for those in need. Any needed help was offered in return for a signature of the Chevra.

I recall several other active leaders of the Chevra Kadisha, such as Reb Yosef Hendler, Reb Yaakov Alek, Reb Yisrael Merovich, Reb Yechiel Tzvi

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Fisher, Reb Mordechai Simcha Blau, Reb Matityahu Gross, Reb Meir Braun, Reb Efraim Kramer, Reb Shmelke Jeremias, and others.

Throughout a period of 25 years, a group that was called in its time “The Eighteen Individuals” was in charge of the Great Synagogue. The following people served in rotation as gabbaim [trustees] of the Great Synagogue: Reb Yitzchak Meir Salomon of blessed memory, Reb Meshulam Payish Weiss of blessed memory, Reb Meir Braun of blessed memory, Reb Shmelke Mandel of blessed memory, and others.

I wish to note the following as chairmen of the leadership of the synagogue: Reb Moshe Jeremias of blessed memory, Reb Yisrael Marmelstein of blessed memory, Reb Meir Roth of blessed memory, Reb Meir Gotlieb of blessed memory, Reb Yosef Rozeth of blessed memory, and Reb Baruch Katina of blessed memory. All of them have fine character traits, and were suited for these important positions in our city of Halmeu.

In addition to the aforementioned, the following people also served in the leadership: Reb Alter Landau of blessed memory, Reb Baruch Hendler of blessed memory, his son Reb Tzvi Hendler of blessed memory, his brother Reb Yosef Hendler of blessed memory, Reb Moshe Steinberger of blessed memory, Reb Daniel Rotstein of blessed memory, Reb Asher Lemel Steinberger of blessed memory, and Reb Betzalel Friedman of blessed memory. All of these form only a small portion of those who worked in the communal leadership to raise the level of Torah and fear of G-d in the city.

I do not forget the successful activities and modesty of my father of blessed memory. You are remembered with every step and move, for your image and the image of all the martyrs of Halmeu are before our eyes. We do not forget you for a moment. You still walk before our eyes…

We recall your fruitful work and your good deeds – deeds that are etched upon the tablet of our hearts. You, especially my dear father of blessed memory, served for us an example of how to carry out the roles we have taken on.

Everything is empty without the positive personality of the rabbi and Gaon Rabbi Yaakov Shalom Klein of holy blessed memory, who loved peace and pursued peace. All the residents of Halmeu, whether the Hassidim of Satmar and Spinka, or whether the Ashkenazim, knew how to give him the appropriate honor. He led a large Yeshiva, and disseminated Torah in public. The closeness was such that the rabbi served as the sandek of my brother who lives in Ashdod, Reb Yaakov Zicherman. My brother Eliahu was named after the father of the rabbi, of holy blessed memory.

The shochtim [ritual slaughterers] Reb Eliahu Markovich, Reb Aharon and Reb Yaakov, the son-in-law of Reb Berish of Wyszo, also come before our eyes. Who does not remember their pleasant prayers, especially on the festivals and the High Holy Days.

I wish to recall as well Reb Shlomo Glick, who served in holiness as a scholar

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and a fearer of Heaven. Similarly, it is my duty to recall my dear uncle Reb Avraham Yekutiel Farkas of blessed memory, who was known for his intelligence and tasteful sense of humor. His wife Hinda, their daughter Feiga, and their only son all perished in the Holocaust, may G-d avenge their blood. Similarly, I must recall Reb Eliahu Schwartz and his righteous wife who observed the commandment of entertaining guests and “whose hand was extended to the poor.”

Woe over those who have been lost and who will not be forgotten!

In the name of the family: Mordechai Zicherman and family, Yisrael Zicherman and family, Eliezer Zicherman and family, Yaakov Zicherman and family, Eliahu Zicherman and family, Beila Zicherman and family.


Reb Zeev Aryeh (Wolf Leib) Farkas
of blessed memory

Reb Wolf Leib Farkas of blessed memory was born in Turcz in 1894 to his father Reb Yisrael, a pure, upright Jew who was a dedicated teacher of young children. He imparted a religious education to his son. He studied in the Yeshiva of Halmeu and later in Pressburg. There, he acquired Torah and knowledge. Later, he completed his education in Vienna, including in business.

He was a successful and honored merchant in Halmeu. Aside from the grocery store that he managed, he opened a wholesale grain warehouse, and remained in constant contact with the authorities.

With the conquest of Halmeu by the Hungarians in October 1940, he was among the first who was arrested as a political suspect. He was tortured harshly. On Yom Kippur, when the Jews of Halmeu were sitting in the synagogues worshipping, he was forced to clean the offices and washrooms of the town council and the streets of the town.

From there, he was transferred to Ungvar [Uzhorod]. There, he was interrogated with even more cruel torments and sentenced to ten years in jail with no iniquity on his part. He was imprisoned in the infamous jail on Hunti Street in Budapest. In 1944, when Szálasi[1] took over the government, he was transferred to the Dachau death camp[2] after four years of imprisonment. He was liberated in Theriesenstadt, and returned home in 1945 sick, without energy, broken, crushed, thin to the bones, and supported by crutches.

He was very happy to see his two sons who were already waiting for him. However, the

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distressing news that his third son had perished in the camp caused him deep anguish.

After he succeeded in laying the foundations and rebuilding his destroyed house, he stood at the right of anyone in need who turned to him for help. In 1946, when a hachshara farm was set up temporarily in Halmeu for chalutzim [Zionist pioneers], it received maximal support from him.

He made aliya in 1951. In Israel, he endured the most difficult stages of acclimatization, but he accepted them with love due to his great dedication to the Land. Later, the Hungarian barbarism left its marks, and his health declined from day to day.

His oldest son Tzvi made aliya at the end of 1958, but he was unable to acclimatize to the conditions of Israel, and died a sudden death. His father was not informed due to his severe illness and weakness.

Two months later, he too died, and was buried in the cemetery in Haifa. They repose eternally one next to the other, for he was buried next to the grave of his oldest son.

May their souls be bound in the bonds of eternal life.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferenc_Sz%C3%A1lasi Return
  2. Note, Dachau was not formally known as a death camp. Return


In Memory of the Traub Family
from their son Menachem Mendel

My father of blessed memory, Reb Gavriel Traub, was born in a small town in Poland in 1994 to a family of minimal means. Already then, he set his steps with those who loved Torah with the ways of the world. Thus, my father studied carpentry along with Torah.

He came to Vienna, the capital of Austria-Hungary, at a young age, but he quickly realized that Vienna endangered the fear of Heaven, so he decided to move to the city of Sighet, the capital of Maramures, a city with a Jewish spiritual life. Sighet was near Halmeu.

Through the Kahane family who had already settled in Halmeu, and who had met him by chance, he was proposed a match with the daughter of the shochet Rabbi Moshe Aharon of Bixad, an honorable family.

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Thanks to this, he was considered special amongst the Hungarian Jews, who were still not ready to teach their children a trade lest they, Heaven forbid, lower their spiritual level. He was an example, since both Torah and the ways of the world coexisted with him.

My parents settled in Halmeu in 1904, built a home, and set up a family. I was the fourth of eight children who were born to my parents in the following order: Reizel, Beila, Hershel, I Mendel, Menashe, Chaya, Moshe and David.

We began our studies in cheder. Of course, we also studied in public school alongside our studies in cheder. We studied in school in the forenoon and afternoons. In the morning, and during the vacation times, we studied in cheder until we got older. Later, my father concerned himself with teaching us, including the girls, a trade, so that we would all be able to earn our livelihoods when the time came, without abandoning the study of Torah that was blended with secular studies. My parents' entire concern was devoted to our education, to the fear of Heaven albeit not in an extreme fashion, to becoming a person who believes and who works.

When I was 15 years old, my parents began to think about the Land of Israel, and I was the first from among the children who was chosen to become a pioneer. However, we will deal with this later.

With time, my father advanced in all areas of livelihood, sustenance, a good name, and honor. He set up a carpentry shop in which many apprentices from our town learned the trade. He owned the only furniture shop in the town. My father was one of the founders of the Kehilat Yaakov Synagogue, and served for a period as the gabbai. Later, he became the chairman of the JOINT, which was headquartered in the nearby city of Satmar. Anyone who wanted to obtain a loan from the JOINT had to be approved by my father. Who would he not certify? Even if there was a danger that the person would not be able to repay, and there would be a matter of personal honor, he would only think about how he could help the needy. Here, I must mention my mother, who did not pale behind my father in good deeds. From the time we started to speak our first words, and our speech was not yet clear, she already taught us to recite the Shema before sleep and Modeh Ani as we opened our eyes in the morning. She was a modest, good hearted woman, who was loved by all her neighbors. She did not know the word no. If she ever did not have the item that a neighbor wished to borrow from her, she would show everything that she did have in order to prove that she indeed did not have the item, lest Heaven forbid they suspect her of not wishing to give. Here is not the place to detail all of her traits, from giving discreetly, promoting household peace for others, gathering women together to read the Book of Lamentations on the night of Tisha BeAv, and other good deeds.

As is written: “Jacob our forefather wishes to dwell in peace and tranquility, and

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the tribulation of Joseph came upon him”[1]. Thus was it with my parents. When they wished to enjoy a bit and to derive a bit of contentment from the fruits of their labor, they were unable to do so..

First of all, the decline in the economic situation reduced their livelihood. We began to think about moving to a larger city, and even about aliya to the Land of Israel, but this was impossible. As I had mentioned, I was chosen as the pioneer to prepare to make aliya, with the intention of bringing everyone else along afterward. Then I left the house and went to hachshara with the Agudas Yisroel movement in the central city of Cluj. My parents were forced to leave the town, and they moved to Satmar, a larger city with more possibilities. Two brothers studied in Yeshiva, and the sisters were forced to work for their livelihoods. This was the time of the ascent of Hitler, may his name be blotted out, to the government.

Only my sister and my young brother remained in my parents' home. The rest of the children had already left the house. This was the year 1941. The Hungarians entered Transylvania under order of Hitler (at that time, the area of Transylvania was claimed by Hungary and Romania). As their first action to endear themselves to the Germans, they gathered a transport of 1,500 Jews whose only sin was that they were not born in Hungary, despite the international agreement after the First World War, of which my father was also part of, that granted the rights of permanent residency in the place. The Jews were transported in closed cars across the Polish border, where they were left with only the clothes on their backs.

It was the beginning of the era of the ghetto in Poland. Nobody took any interest in the deported Jews. Without any recourse, they began to wander to wherever their feet would take them. After many attacks by robbers, thieves, and ordinary villagers, they began to disperse to various families as they searched for refuge. My parents with my 14 year old sister Chaya and my 12 year old brother David set out for my father's native town with the hope of still finding some relatives that they could stay with, or at least to locate in a place that was familiar to my father. The distance was great. Jews were forbidden to travel by train, even if they would be able to pay the price. If they went by foot, there would be a danger of the attacks by those who lay in ambush for them. However, with no choice, they began to make the journey by foot, with their only escort being – G-d in Heaven. Hungry and weak, they arrived in my father's native village of Monasterzhyska after indescribable wanderings over mountains and valleys. To their fortune, they were able to still find two sisters of my father who lived in hiding in a bunker, and somehow, they got set up there. This was the time of the beginning of the gathering of Jews of Poland into ghettos through the auspices of the Judenrat. My parents, who were not on any local list of Jews, were considered abandoned. Nobody paid attention to them. They lived in that manner for an entire year. The relatives were forced to leave that location. They earned their livelihood by helping villagers in the field in return for some potatoes.

In the meantime, we in Hungary felt a certain degree of relief with the change of government, and we were able to obtain papers for my father, who was a Hungarian citizen. There was

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no need for such for my mother, for she was born in the area of Transylvania. She had only joined my father because she did not want to part from him in such a situation. Due to the constant connection that we maintained, especially through my older sister by mail, we informed them that if they could return, we had citizenship papers for them.

Thus, the four of them began to think about a way to return. This was not simple, however. They required a certificate from the Judenrat (the Jewish organization set up by the Nazis to carry out their policies, including collecting the property of the Jews and being the intermediary for all decrees) stating that they were not local residents. They refused to give this for a strange reason that is hard to believe by those who did not live through those times. The Judenrat wanted a sum of money for the certificate, and did not believe that they did not have the sum (the Judenrat used the money for the needs of the community), but rather thought that they were exaggerating their situation in this case. Finally, when their situation worsened along with that of my parents, they gave them the certificate stating that they were Hungarian citizens. They turned themselves toward the Hungarian border, but they were lacking many things, such as money for the journey and a means of transportation.

It was forbidden for a Jew to tarry in any place without a permit, but my parents did not have much to lose. They set out again with their sole escort in Heaven who accompanied them on all their ways. They gathered my father's tallis and tefillin, several changes of clothing and other moveable objects that they could grab, and set out on their journey. They set out on a tortuous journey and slept in forests and abandoned houses, until my mother became ill. Her feet swelled up and she could not carry on without rest and care. They had gone half the way. A three day journey by horse and buggy lay between them and the border. The decree of deportation had not yet reached this village. There were several Jews there who would not let them stay over more than one night unless they received a special permit from the district commander.

The villagers warned my father not to go to the commander, for he was an evil man. My father decided to go nevertheless, for he had nothing more to lose, and G-d has the power to melt rocks, and even more so, humans. Indeed, a miracle occurred during his brief discussion with the commander. Among the many questions that he asked him, the commander asked him how he could prove that he was indeed born there and that he had some connection to Poland. My father remembered that among the few papers that remained, he had an identity tag from the First World War that was the sole item that could identify him. When the commander read the content of the tag, he suddenly called to my father, “We were in the same brigade!” Within a moment, the evil man tuned into a friend, and gave my father more than he requested. In the certificate that he received, the commander wrote that he could move about freely and sleep anywhere for an unrestricted time until they recovered, and they would have the energy to resume the journey. After two weeks, with the help of the people of the village and with the help of the possessions that they gave the wagon driver, they continued their journey toward the Hungarian border.

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Not everything had ended with this. They required a guide to transfer them over the border in darkness and to go over the high mountain. As my mother of blessed memory said, “If only we could reach the top, the descent will be easier.” However, it was the opposite – the descent was more difficult than the ascent. However, this is not the place to elaborate. They reached Hungarian territory at the beginning of the Sabbath. The only way that they could avoid falling into the hands of the gendarmes before they received their papers was to travel by train on the Sabbath in order to distance themselves from the border.

The children indeed did this in order to reach us quickly so that they could bring them the papers. But they themselves did not, for they said, “Is it possible to violate the Sabbath after the Holy One Blessed Be He helped us through the dangerous journey?” They spent the Sabbath even in the home of a Jew, but they had to go out on the street at dawn on the Sabbath day, and of course they were captured. This time, they did not admit that they had come from across the border. They were transferred to the Hungarian capital, and we began to work for their liberation. They freed my mother immediately, but they placed my father in a camp for foreign citizens called International. I had been drafted into a work camp, and by coincidence, our camp was located in that area. Thus, I was able to see my father for the last time.

Their faith had not been weakened even by one hairbreadth after all these wanderings. In a brief conversation that I had with my mother during that time, I dared to tell her that for the first time in my life I began to have doubts, after all that they had gone through. Since they had dedicated their lives to the name of Heaven, I regard the tribulations that they endured as unjust. She did not get angry. She laughed and told me, “It is only now that I believe with full faith, for without the help of G-d, we would not have succeeded in returning. This is the greatest miracle that G-d performed for us.”

It was possible to think that everything had ended with this, but this is not what fate had in store. In the interim, my father had been liberated from the camp of aliens, and the four of them were again together in one house – my parents, my sister, and my brother who had reached the age of 13 and put on tefillin for the first time under the cover of the skies on the return trip from Poland. The general edict of deportation of the years 1942/1943 met up with them, and they were sent to Auschwitz[2]. Along with all the Jews of Hungary, they were taken straight to Auschwitz in closed train cars. My parents never returned from this final journey, but my sister and brother, who had already known suffering and tribulations from their first journey, were able to endure the difficulties of Auschwitz, and they survived in order to tell us and everyone else who would come after us about what the Nazis perpetrated without any restraint. They increased our Jewish pride to struggle for our homeland and our existence.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Rashi's commentary on Genesis 37:2. Return
  2. The deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz actually took place in the spring of 1944. Return


Memories from the
Holy Community of Halmeu as a Torah Center

by Rabbi Yeshayahu Barkai (Berkovitz), Massachusetts, United States

From across the screen of days long past, the era of my childhood and youth constantly rise up and float before me anew. Memories such as these that are close to the heart of man seem as if they had just taken place, and as if the writer is talking only in the present tense. I recall those days, the days of transition from childhood to youth, the days of the destruction of our holy town in which we studied Torah, the Talmud Torah, the study of Torah in the room of the large Yeshiva from the mouth of our holy teacher and rabbi, Rabbi Yaakov Shalom the son of the holy rabbi Rabbi Eliahu, may G-d avenge his blood, may his holy memory be a blessing. His merit should forever stand with us and with all of Israel, Amen.

In the year 5704 from the creation of the world, as we hoped for salvation and comfort in accordance with the prophesy of the Prophet Jeremiah ‘For Jacob there will be joy”, etc. – but it turned to agony, and the groaning turned to weeping and screaming, as all the many unparalleled evil tribulations fell upon us and our souls, upon our sons and daughters, on our elderly and youths, from large to small, when the brazen gentiles rose up against us, the bitter Hungarian and German nations, and poured out their wrath upon the heads of the Jews who were given over to mockery and disgrace, and to acts of murder and destruction. They cruelly murdered children, women, youths and elderly. They had no mercy on babies and nurslings, and no pity for pregnant women. They murdered until there was no remnant or survivor. As if from behind a heavy, thick cloud, I recall these events that overtook me during the childhood years of a long time ago. However the impressions of these events return and rise up with extra clarity, as if they took place just yesterday, as they are preserved in my heart and as I witnessed them with my flesh.

I will utter a dirge with weeping for these righteous, pure, holy ones.

I will lament, tell and wail / lament oh worthy gathering / my heart, lament and wail/ for I received my wounds / garbed in fear / remnants were pillaged / from their heads came down / the large golden crown / friends and comrades touched by the inheritance / for these I moan / for I have been a victim / and my eyes are a source of tears / and I will weep day and night / my cries of despair will grow louder / for children met their destruction / destruction upon destruction / murder and annihilation / they murdered and cut off your nation / those who received your word at Sinai / who call out to your name, G-d / the voice of the crowd / of many in all areas / sanctify G-d the king / located in the king's palace / with joy and gladness / the way of their merit / and also their righteousness / will stand for their descendents / forever Selah.


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In Memory of my Father Reb Yosef Weiss
of Blessed Memory

(from a letter)

Dear. Mr. Schwartz, greetings and blessings!

From the first memorial of the martyrs of Halmeu, your fine and enthusiastic words that you delivered from the podium are etched in my mind. We remember the past with pain and sorrow, but also with satisfaction and willingness. I still see Halmeu before the eyes of my spirit as if in a dream – the residence of my dear parents, brothers and sisters, from where they were sent with harsh tortures to the death camps, and they perished in Auschwitz during the terrible Holocaust.

I recall with spiritual satisfaction the holy souls of my dear, unforgettable parents and relatives. In my opinion, the current obligation is to perpetuate all the martyrs of Halmeu by publishing a memorial book, so that the memory of the holy community will not be forgotten, and will strike roots in the hearts of our sons and daughters, so that they will continue to live by those eternal, holy values that were imparted to us by the martyrs of Halmeu.

In this memorial book, I wish to perpetuate the names of my dear parents as well as my three brothers who fell victim to the Nazi inferno.

The name of my father was Reb Yosef Weiss. He was a soap manufacturer, and that was his nickname in order to differentiate him from other Jews whose family name was Weiss. Our family had five children – three brothers and two sisters. To my great sorrow, none of my dear brothers returned. The two sisters, however, merited with the help of G-d to make aliya to the Land.

My oldest brother, Menachem Mendel of blessed memory, first studied in cheder in Halmeu. Later, he excelled in his expertise and diligence as a student in the Yeshiva of Tăşnad until the period before we were transferred to the Selish Ghetto. Then he was interned in a Labor Camp. He then transferred to Gunskirchen, where he gave up his holy soul with the words of Shema on his lips.

My brother Mordechai of blessed memory studied in the high level Yeshiva in Halmeu with unusual diligence. Day and night, early and late, he sat in studying Torah and involving himself in Divine service until the time of the deportation. My youngest brother continued his studies in the Hebrew High School in Satmar, which was founded in the period prior to the Holocaust.

I still recall how happy my father of blessed memory was when he returned from Satmar after his teacher Shkasgi praised him for his fine achievements and promised him a

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bright future. However, with our great sins, fate was cruel to us, and Auschwitz put an end to all his plans. I recall the difficult struggle and hesitation of my father of blessed memory, for he regarded Yeshiva studies as the sole proper path for his sons. Nevertheless, he did not force his opinion upon them, and he left the choice in his hands.

That we, his two daughters, continued to study in the Gymnasium was a natural and self-understood thing in the eyes of my parents.

In my opinion, it is our duty to perpetuate our dear parents and to etch their names in gold letters, since they dedicated themselves and worked so hard in order to ensure the education of their five children in the faithful spirit of Judaism.

I must note that the spirit in which our parents educated us will accompany us all the days of our lives. We will continue in the same path, from which we will not depart right or left. We will continue in this spirit and path with the help of G-d, may he be blessed, to educate our children as well. Thereby, we will guard their dear memory forever and for all generations.

May their memories be blessed!

  In honor and respect

Margalit Perl Weiss
Wife of Yosef Levi
Ashdod

From Hungarian: Sh. Y.


The World of Yesterday and Today

(biographical notes)

by Rabbi Yeshayahu Barkai (Berkovitz),
a rabbi and school principal, Massachusetts, United States

He[1] was born in the town of Halmeu, Transylvania, Romania on Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5672 (1912) to his father Reb Dov HaLevi and his mother Rivka Spiegel, a native of Halmeu. (She was murdered on the day of the giving of the Torah[2] 5704 (1944) along with her daughter Chana and her seven children in the Auschwitz camp by the Nazis, may their names be blotted out.)

He received his first knowledge in studies at the Talmud Torah (cheder) in the town of Halmeu from scholarly and G-d fearing teachers such as Rabbi Yitzchak, Rabbi Hirsch Meir, Rabbi Meir Teitelbaum of holy blessed memory, and others. At the age of 12, he was accepted to the Yeshiva of Halmeu, where he studied for about four years. He also learned for a brief period with Rabbi Eliezer David Greenwald of holy blessed memory in the Satmar Yeshiva. From there, he transferred to Klausenberg at the age of 17, where he studied for five years in the Yeshiva that was under the leadership of the head of the rabbinical court Rabbi Peretz Stroli and the rabbi of the city at that time Rabbi Akiva Glezner of holy blessed memory. He also attended classes at the Jewish Gymnasium of Klausenberg, where he gained knowledge in the Hebrew language, Jewish history, and other subjects.

He moved to the Romanian capital of Bucharest in 1933, where he served as the rabbi of the Tailors’ Synagogue. He then received an appointment to the Choral Temple (Templul Coral) in Bucharest. He registered at the seminary for teachers and rabbis under the leadership of the late Rabbi Dr. B. Reicher. He was examined and ordained as a rabbi and teacher.

He made aliya to Israel in 1950, where he received an appointment as a teacher and principal at the Ch. M. D. School. He participated in courses for school principals offered by the Ministry of Education and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and was certified as a principal and organizer of elementary schools.

In 1958, he was appointed by the Jewish Agency as an emissary of the Torah education and culture department for Algeria and France.

He moved to America in 1962, where he serves to today as a rabbi and school principal.

[Unnumbered page following page 109a]

 
Rabbi Yeshayahu Barkai, formerly the principal of the
M. D. School in Israel, today serving as a rabbi
and school principal in Boston, United States
  Reb Dov HaLevi Berko[3] and his wife Rivka of blessed memory

 

Reb Tzvi Weiss and his wife Rachel of blessed memory (Cidreag)

 


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Although written in the third person, the author is referring to himself. Return
  2. The Shavuot festival. Return
  3. Barkai would be the Hebraized version of Berko. Return

 

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