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[Page 48]

Woe For This, the Best is Moldering in the Earth
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The Bazilyer Rebbe,
may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing

[Page 49]

The Bazilyer Rebbe

Our lord, teacher and master, the holy Rabbi of respected lineage, the holy luminary, our teacher and master, Rabbi Yosef David, the memory of the righteous for a blessing, son of the Righteous Rabbi our teacher and master, Rabbi Yehoshu`a, grandson of the righteous sage, the illuminating lamp, Abraham Yehoshu`a Heshil of Apt – and on his mother's side, the rabbanis [rabbi's wife-tr], daughter of the righteous Rabbi Hirsh Leyb Oliker, his soul in the secret places on high; and grandson of the Gaon Rabbi Hakham Tsvi.

As a grandson of three greats of Israel – three honorable men of respected lineage: of the Apter Rabbi – the “Ohev Yisrael” [Lover of Israel-tr]; of Reb Hirsh Leyb Oliker – the “One in a Generation”; and of the Gaon of the World, the “Hakham Tsvi”, the Bazilyer Rebbe embodied in himself the great virtues, the high divine spirit of each of them.

His goodness, his infinite love for everyone, he inherited from his grandfather, the Apter [Rebbe]. Like his grandfather, he was always ready to defend each and everyone. He could tolerate everyone, even a Jewish criminal. He could come close to him and in that way raise him up to himself, often preventing sin, and in many cases restoring someone to the best path. His words were always few, innocent, frank, and this may have been the secret of why Hasidim of several tendencies and hues were always grouped around him. These ranged from the most pious to the most radical element. Among his intimates you used to always find even such Jews as Nisl Shostak, Anshil Shtrambler, Eliezer Vinokur, Levi Feldblit, the Kazioner Rabbi, the Lopoten Brothers, Dr Gorevitsh and others whose piety was in great doubt. He attracted them with his goodness and his holy good nature.

[Page 50]

I will never forget the impression that the Bazilyer Rebbe made on me the first time that I saw him. This was in the small town of Nikolayev, not far from Proskurov. I was studying in kheyder there and was still just a small boy. The town was bustling and noisy for a whole week making preparations for the Rebbe's arrival. Friday during the day, I recall, the Rebbe arrived and when I came to welcome him he gave me his outstretched hand while smiling at me. A trivial matter, a rebbe who smiles! All the rabbis whom I had seen before him were severe, ill-tempered, earnest, long-faced, and suddenly here is a rebbe who smiles. How I loved him then!

From his other grandfather, Rabbi Hirsh Leyb Oliker, he received as an inheritance – taking over his leadership – his great devotion to Judaism and Jews, his scorn for the material world on account of his Hasidism, his relationship to his hasidim, his great humility and trust in God.

He didn't treat anyone with favoritism – whether he was the greatest scholar or the greatest man of wealth. Further, his hasidim tell very many beautiful stories in this regard which reflect the purity, the gentleness of his soul.

We should mention an example here which I remember, which was told about him soon after his departure from Nikolayev. He felt like “playing tricks” on his hasid, a very rich rendar [farmland lessee] from a village near Nikolayev. If my memory serves me right, he was from the village of Tshipilipkeh. The rendar handed him a substantial coin together with the kvitl [note asking for divine help]. The rebbe's custom was to read out loud his hasidim's kvitlakh. When he finished reading the rendar's kvitl, he also read his signature, which ended “`im kol b'ney mishpakhto” [Heb., “with all members {or all children} of his family”]. But instead of

[Page 51]

mishpakhto” [=his family] (hiriq-shva-patah-shva-holem [=Hebrew vowel marks]), the rebbe read “mishifhato” [ = “from his serving maid” tr.] (hiriq-hiriq-shva-qamets-holem). When the hasidim heard this, there was a hullaballoo and after further inquiry it turned out that the rendar did indeed have relations with his serving maid [shifhah] who had borne him children.

From his great-grandfather, the Hakham-Tsvi, he had inherited his scholarliness, his proficiency, and his astuteness. He was very expert not only in the books of Qabbalah, but also a great scholar in the Talmud and Halakhah [Jewish law].

He never failed to study a daily lesson in Gemara.

From time to time, he also used to love to look into a worldly book, read a newspaper, and discuss worldly affairs with his intelligent hasidim. He would never belittle the non-Jewish books. He used to say that wisdom was contained in them too.

He was also not against teaching children Russian. I remember that I once came into him and he asked me whether I was learning “grammatikeh,” and when I answered No, he said to me, “One must learn the language of the state; it is necessary to know Russian.”

In the year 5662 [= 1902 ca.], he moved from Bazilyeh to Proskurov. He remained here till his last day under the name “the Bazilyer Rebbe.”

I don't know exactly how many children he had. I only know that he had a very bright daughter, a beauty and an erudite woman, and many of the Proskurov intelligentsia offered to marry her, but the rebbe rejected all of them, until finally, in the year 5664 [= 1903-1904], he married her off to Rabbi Shalom Tversky, who is now in America, continuing the golden chain of Hasidism. He has many followers here who esteem him and regard him with honor.

[Page 52]

Rabbi Shalom Tversky was great in his lineage too. He stems on his father's side from Trisker stock, a grandson of Rabbi Duvidl Tolner. And on his mother's side he stems from Rizhiner stock. And he is a grandson of Rabbi Yitsikl of Behush.

* * * *

The Angel of Destruction who killed and annihilated so many lives of our beloved and dear ones on that sad, dark day of the pogrom in Proskurov, did not spare the pure, holy, kosher soul of the Bazilyer Rebbe, together with his wife and two grandchildren. They were cut off from the world before their time by the bestial, murderous hand.

With his death, the whole Jewish people lost one of the pillars of Hasidism. He was given a Jewish burial in Proskurov among the other martyrs and pure ones who were killed, dying a martyr's death. And his grave is near the mass grave.

May his memory be blessed


[Page 53]

Hayim Yosef Graytsershteyn

The name Hayim Yosef Graytsershteyn was famous in our city. Everyone knew him and esteemed him highly. Because he was active in all corners of Jewish life, and wherever there was communal work, there one always met the fine Jew, Reb Hayim Yosl.

He was particularly famous for his extraordinarily sweet voice, with its touching musical quality and prayer. His praying had no equal. He used to lead the prayers only on the High Holy Days, and sometimes also gave the gift of leading the prayers on a Sabbath at the beginning of a new month.

His High Holiday praying was an event, and afterwards the whole city used to sing his compositions over again.

He would not take any money for his High Holiday praying, but gave it as a gift to the Husiatiner study house, for he was a Husiatiner Hasid.

For long years, his livelihood came from a bakaleyne store (wholesale grocery store), from which he honorably supported himself.

The Husiatiner hasidim loved his praying very much. This story used to circulate among them:

Once, the Husiatiner Rebbe heard him praying and became very excited with admiration, saying to those close to him that this style of praying stemmed from the style of prayers that the Levites used to sing in the Temple. And he considered it a great privilege to hear him pray, declaring it in the following manner:
Every creature, and every person in particular, has within himself a holy spark of the supernal worlds. On account of the merit of the spark – he draws the source of his existence. When

 

[Page 54]

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Hayim Yosef Graytsershteyn and His Daughter Pessi Rahel

[Page 55]

the spark is taken away from the person – he stops existing. And the holy spark of Reb Hayim Yosl – the Rebbe concluded – was his music which stemmed from the songs that the Levites sang in the Temple.

His daughter, Pessi Rahel, was a faithful copy of her father in all respects, both in goodness of character and in organizational activity.

She received an extraordinary Jewish education. She finished gymnaziyeh, afterwards studied in Odessa, finished a Hebrew kindergarten teachers' school, and became a Hebrew teacher, and was also active in Zionist circles. She had recently intended to travel to the Land of Israel. Sudden death stole away all of her holy thoughts.

May Their Souls Be Bound in the Bundle of Life

 

[Page 56]

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Yisrael Pakhter and His Daughter Yokheved

[Page 57]

Yisrael Son of Reb Ya`aqov Pakhter
50 Years Old

His Daughter Yokheved
24 Years Old

He came to Proskurov with his family from Frampol, where he had lived until the year when the misfortune took place.

In the short time that he lived in Proskurov, he made a reputation and became beloved for his good character and straight thinking, and for that very reason he quickly gained a reputation as a good arbitrator. And in almost every complicated matter which required deep understanding and scholarly knowledge, he used to be chosen as arbitrator.

He used to work to keep the peace and in every case before the rabbinical court, peace was the chief point on which he based himself.

He always used to donate the fee for the judgement to charity for his beloved institutions, or secretly to heads of family who had fallen on hard times.

He gave his children a very beautiful Jewish and secular education. On that horrifying day of misfortune, he was killed along with his daughter Yokheved by the murderous hand and fell as a victim in front of his wife and remaining children, who are now in America.

May Their Souls Be Bound in the Bundle of Life

[Page 58]

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In the center: Rafael son of Reb Shmuel Goldfarb
Above in the center: Rahel daughter of Nahman Horovits, 51 years old
On the right: Her daughter Golda 28 years old
Left: Her son Me'ir, 21 years old

 

[Page 59]

The Tolmatsh Family

This was a special family. They stem from a great lineage. Her father, Nahman Horovitz, was a great scholar, a Jew, a scholar and a devoted Zinkever Hasid. Always happy. He went by the rule: Worship God in joy, and come before Him with joyful song. He was not able to bear any sad facial expression, any sorrow, and when he saw a Jew caught up in sorrow, he used to bring him into a good, happy mood with his clever words and nice jokes.

Her husband, Me'ir Tolmatsh, he too a man learned in Torah, was famous for giving charity. However, she surpassed her husband with her charity and kindness.

And she had an opportunity to be charitable, because, before the decree was issued to drive the Jews 50 versts away, they possessed estates near the city of Husiatin. Everything was in abundance, and therefore they used to distribute with a full hand.

It was her custom before every holiday to load a wagon with all sorts of good things which were only found on the farm, and bring it into the nearby city and there distribute the things among the needy. They were well known in the whole surrounding region, and hundreds of poor people used to be drawn there from all corners of the surrounding cities and towns.

May Their Souls Be Bound in the Bundle of Life

[Page 60]

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Sarah daughter of R Ya`aqov,
wife of R. Yehiel Rizitshner
[Page 61]

Yehiel Son of R. Shlomo Rizitshner
60 years old

His Wife Sarah Daughter of Ya`aqov
58 years old

Their Son Monish
29 years old

Their bakaleyne store (wholesale grocery store) was located at the very center of Kamenetser Street. And despite the fact that they did big business that took up a lot of their time and energy, they were very much devoted to the education of their children, who received a quite fine Jewish and secular education.

They also found time to do communal work. And the beautiful Jewess Sarah was seen more than once walking from store to store collecting contributions for a needy person.

May Their Souls Be Bound in the Bundle of Life

[Page 62]

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His Wife Sarah, daughter of
Yehudah Leyb HaCohen

56 years old
 
Pinhas Ya`aqov son of
R. Pesah Sherman

58 years old

[Page 63]

Pinhas Ya`aqov Sherman

He conducted his business in a very honest manner. His word was hard as rock. He was always ready to do a Jew a favor. He held firmly to the commandment of doing acts of kindness. His neighbors can attest to that, for he never used to refuse them a kind favor.

His wife was a true housewife. She was always paid a weekly allowance which she used to give to the poor peddlers in the market.

May Their Souls Be Bound in the Bundle of Life

[Page 64]

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Moshe Shmuel son of R David Zohn

[Page 65]

Moshe Shmuel Son of R. David Zohn

58 years old

A fruit and produce merchant, he conducted himself like a scholar and the son of a good family all of his life. He held firmly to the commandment of honoring one's father, and always followed the ways of his father, David Shohat, who was famous for his virtue and hasidic behavior.

May His Soul Be Bound in the Bundle of Life

[Page 66]

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Aharon Shmuel Cohen
(watchmaker) 31 years old

[Page 67]

Aharon Shmuel Cohen

Whoever did not know him closely and did not have the opportunity to speak with him cannot have any concept of what Jewish humor, Jewish wit and cleverness, are. A smile always spread over his face. And he used to do away with his greatest problems, his worst ordeals, with a joke and a smile.

He was brought up by a father who was a teacher, a great pauper, who studied with him. He received his first secular knowledge, like other intellectuals from the old-fashioned kheyder, from the old and new Hebrew literature. However, when he was 20 years old, he traveled to Odessa. There he studied watch-making and became acquainted, moreover, with modern currents of the new Yiddish literature, of which he became an ardent follower.

Before the World War he returned to Proskurov, where he worked as a watchmaker, and took a quite significant role in all communal affairs.

May His Soul Be Bound in the Bundle of Life

[Page 68]

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Perets ben Efraim Krupnik
(Teacher) 28 years old

An organizational activist and a devoted friend of the workers. His name was well-known in all sectors of Proskurov aid activity.

May His Soul Be Bound in the Bundle of Life

[Page 69]

We received the following lines [which were] sent by his brother, Y. Diton. We present these lines without any changes, at his request:

Gur Aryeh Yehudah son of Israel Diton

We members of his family weep profusely, with a bitter, lamenting voice, over the calamity of our brother. Streams of tears descend from our eyes over the loss of our brother, who fell a fatality in the Vale of Slaughter, cut off in the prime of youth.

He was a saint from his mother's belly, and was born in the year 5649 [= 1888-1889]. Honest he was in his qualities, a righteous man in his conduct, earnest he was all the days of his life in his diligence at study and at work, and he was chosen for an innocent sacrifice on the holy altar on 15 of First Adar, 5679.

May he abide in peace in his resting place and bind his soul in the bundle of life. God is his estate.

 

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Diton Leybush son of R Israel
(watchmaker) 34 years old

[Page 70]

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Ya`aqov son of R. Yosef Langleben
34 years old

He was a refined young man, a Zionist, blessed with a very sweet voice. When he sometimes volunteered to say the prayers in congregation, he always inspired the congregation with the sweetness of his praying. He left a wife and three small children.

May His Soul Be Bound in the Bundle of Life

[Page 71]

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Rahel daughter of
Abraham Groysman

41 years old
 
Abraham son of
R. Fayvel Groysman

(student) 17 years old

[Page 72]

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And his daughter,
Elkeh Zolimakher

19 years old
 
Moshe son of
R Hayim Zolimakher

56 years old

[Page 73]

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Fayvel son of
R David Hazan

(storekeeper ) 40 years old

He was very active in organizational life. He was killed together with his wife, YOKHEVED, 36 years old, and his son, ZE'EV, 4 years old.

May Their Souls Be Bound in the Bundle of Life

[Page 74]

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Berish Groys
40 years old

His wife, Leah,
daughter of R Abraham Likerman

40 years old

May Their Souls Be Bound in the Bundle of Life

 

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