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[Page 129]

Jewish Publishing Establishments

Yeshayahu Pudlowski–Rishon LeZion

The history of Jewish printing shops in Piotrkow began in approximately the latter half of the 19th century. At that time there was already a thriving Jewish community life, whose reputation had reached far beyond the borders of the city. Piotrkow was known throughout the world for its active publishing houses.

On various holy books, which were published at that time, there was the evidence of beautiful covers imprinted “Published in Piotrkow,” a name known throughout the Jewish world for promoting printed works at a high level of graphic art. As a result, the Piotrkower printing houses published thousands of books, both rabbinic and secular, as well as prayer books which were distributed beyond the borders of Poland.

Among the founders of the Yiddish printing industry in Piotrkow were Reb Tovye Fayvl and Tsipe Belchatovsky (1864) and their son Shlomo, who later became the proprietor of the print shop. They published books and had a Polish-Russian section, as well as lithographs, new in the printing field at that time. In their home, too, they had a store of writing utensils which, on a Friday in 1893, burned up in a fire precisely prior to candle-lighting time. The fire consumed the entire house as well as the print shop, which was located therein. It continued to burn for several days and the firemen of the Province and of Lodz (Piotrkow was then a government city) had to come to the aid of the Piotrkower firemen.[1] The print shop had existed for many years.

In approximately 1897, the print shop of the brothers Eliyahu and Shmuel Pansky was established. This was the largest and most varied printing shop in Piotrkow and vicinity. It had a Jewish and Polish section. In the Jewish section, whose manager was Motl Tsederbaum, were printed holy books, and it is worth mentioning that one of the rarest editions of “Talmud Yerushalmi” was published there. According to an ex-worker at Pansky's,[2] it was even a tradition to “daven” with a “minyan” every day, because printers and students from other cities were employed there, many even sleeping in the print shop.

In Pansky's Polish section, the manager was the oldest printer, Leibush Branyetz; his son Joseph also worked there. Motl Lenchitzky worked at Pansky 's from his earliest youth. The oldest print-mechanic was Itche Rosenbloom (Itche Zamostcher).

One must add that the Pansky's were a broadly varied printing family. Shmucl Pansky left the partnership after ten years and relocated to Lodz, where he operated a large paper business. His son Marcus stepped into his place and later opened a large print shop in Radomsk. Shmuel Pansky's other son, Vladislav, relocated to Warsaw and there he, too, established a printing shop. Finally, Shmuel's son Adolph, who owned a bookstore at that time on Kaliska Street, took over the print shop.

The title pages of some books published in Piotrkow
The title pages of some books published in Piotrkow

Adolph Pansky coopted his son Alexander and they published a Polish-language daily newspaper called “Glos Trybunalski.” Among the numerous employees of the last of the Pansky's, only a few Jewish workers remained: Bronyetz, as linotypist; Wolf Erlichman, as printer; and I. Rosenbloom, as printer. The manager of the print shop for many years was Mr. Bloom. In the end, he, too, opened his own print shop directly across the street from Pansky's.

Tsederbaum's print shop was established around 1900 and was operated by Reb Mordecai, who died before the start of the last World War, and his son Yakov Tsederbaum.

Tsederbaum's publishing house was known throughout the world because of its editions of the highest quality. It should be mentioned that only the Bet-Yehudah Chumash (with Rashi's commentary in Yiddish) was but one of the editions that Tsederbaum was credited with. The Tsederbaum's were talented printers and were among the pioneers in the art of Yiddish printing. Thanks to their vast trade contacts, their “sfarim” made their way throughout the entire world.

Tsederbaum employed the printer-machinist Chaim Schwartz, a person for whom everyone had the greatest respect because of his honesty. As an orthodox Jew, he did not avoid attending the meetings of the Jewish Printers' Union, organized in the '30's, and was one of its most active members. Tsederbaum also employed Yudl Yudkevitch as an assistant-machinist.

In time (early in the 20th century) the compositors of “sfarim” grew in number, because the composition itself, without the printing, did not involve gigantic investments, as did a complete print shop. A compositor with a little initiative could, if he had money, organize such a “sfarim”-composing shop by purchasing some letters necessary for setting up only a few pages of a “sefer.” Instances are known of where such “print shop necessities” were laid out on a bed during the day and under the bed at night.

Or Meir by Rav Yehuda Meir Shapira
Or Meir by Rav Yehuda Meir Shapira

1903 saw the arrival of the “sfarim” composing shop of Reb Nathan Note Kronenberg and his son-in-law Abraham Rosengarten, who also had a shop of his own. Kronenberg took on as a partner Reb Chanuch Henech Folman (the son of the famous Talmudist scholar Reb Isaiah Wolf Folman zts”l) and the partnership lasted until the start of the First World War.

From that time until the Hitter War, Reb Henech Folman was independent and managed the composing shop at 1 Garntsarska – later at 21 Garntsarska – together with his two sons, Aaron (who died in 1945 in Lodz) and Motl (who perished in a German camp). Osher Zitman and Moshe Rosenwald (who perished in Treblinka) also worked there, as well as Leybl Kornfeld (who is currently in Israel).

There were other “sefer” composing shops owned by Yakov Kurnenz and Reb Abraham Rosenwald (who is today in Israel), as well as that of Kopelman (the son-in-law of Reb Yakov Tsederbaum). In addition to the proprietors, Wolf Fish and Moshe Nutkewicz (who died in Israel in 1960) were employed.

Additional consideration should be given Reb Benyomen Liebeskind, whose print shop, established about 1902, printed, next to rabbinical and holy books, popular Yiddish story books (before World War I), which began to infiltrate strongly orthodox Jewish homes. It is known that the famous writer, I.J. Trunk, had his works published by Liebeskind. The most unusual characteristic of Liebeskind's print shop was that, in addition to his sons, he also employed his daughters. In the end, Liebeskind's children relocated the print shop to Warsaw.

The last three Jewish print shops that we shall mention significantly reflected the Jewish community life of Piotrkow and vicinity.

In Yakov Moshe Rosenstein's print shop (on Trybunalski Platz), the largest in scope, was published a “Bet-Yakov” journal, as well as many religious books and other editions by the Lodzer publisher, Abraham Moshe Grubstein (a son-in-law of the Piotrkower Reb Itche Meyer Sofer z”l); also, for many years, the “Literarishe Tribune” was published there. This was a journal of the Communist Party for which Mr. Rosenstein had to, more than once, pay fines, endure court actions and even go to jail. The Bundist weekly newspaper, “Piotrkower Vecker,” was printed there, along with many other publications and printed works for various parties and community institutions in Piotrkow. There, too, was published “Shtaplen,” a local literary newspaper in which, among others, Harav Shimon Huberband, Sh. Ziegelman, H. Wohlreich, Yidl Davidowitch, V.H. Ivan, M. Weiss (the grandson of Mendl Dein), the well-known artist Henech Barchinsky (Lodz), Yosl Yablonski, Sh. Yablonski, Sh. Leyzerovitch, Sh. Pudlowski and others appeared.

Rosenstein employed his sons Shimshon (who died recently in America); Israel (who perished in a German camp); David (who lives in the USA); his son-in-law, Hertzl Grinbaum (who died in the German camp “Flossberg”); his daughter Frania (passed away in the US); Moshe Rotbein (who died in 1941); Shamai Glogovsky (the ex-chairman of the Jewish Printer's Union); Yantshe Milyoner (who died in 1936 in Israel in Tirat-Tsvi); Israel Liebeskind (who died in Treblinka), Moshe Rosenstein (living in Israel).

Abraham Mordecai Horowitz's print shop, located at Czarniecki Platz, was managed by his son Menachem, who, despite his active community affiliations (Poalei Zion, for instance), dedicated the major part of his efforts to the development and growth of the print shop, where for many years, the Piotrkower Zionist weekly, “Undzer Tsaytung,” was published and edited by Yakov Baron. For a time, the “Freiheit Youths' ” “Undzer Freiheit” was published there; for many years a Tomashov weekly newspaper was published there, issued by Note Goldkrantz.

Menachem Horowitz and his wife, mother and sister perished at the hands of the Germans. Fayvl Bloomstein, who worked there, shared the same fate. Only Benchovksy survived the German camps.

Reb Yakov Sternfeld's print shop (on Garntsarska #13) was established by his son Yochanan, who had previously worked for Pansky and then for Horowitz. This was when the publication of the “Poalei Agudat Israel” was printed; it was called “Der Yidisher Arbeter.” Also printed for a time were the “Piotrkower Vecker,” the Agudah weekly “Di Shtime,” a Tomashov weekly newspaper, “Tomashover Vort,” issued by the Kurtz Brothers, the “Radomer Shtime,” whose editor was Leyzer Fishman, the Krakower literary weekly, “Di Post,” whose editor was Moshe Blecher; the literary periodical of Zishe Bagish, “Indzlen,” a literary journal, “Tsvit,” by David Puchalnick of Volin, as well as Yiddish books and other printed matter in the Polish language.

Just as in other print shops, the children helped out with the work.

Employed there were Eliyahu Horowitz, who made Aliya to Eretz Israel in the 1930's; Yakov Milyoner, who relocated to Eretz Israel in 1936; Yosl Milyoner, who perished at the hands of the Germans; Eliezer Praszker, who died in a German camp; Yochanan Sternfeld, who died in Treblinka; Moshe Rosenzweig, who arrived in Israel via Vilna in 1941 – one of the miraculous survivors of Kfar Etzion and Yeshayahu Pudlowski, who is living in Israel.

When Hitler's murderers marched on Poland, everything that had been created throughout generations with so much effort was erased in an instant, together with their creators and founders. The history of the printers of Piotrkow was cut off at its prime.

lzkor Book

_______________

  1. This information was related by Motl Lenchitzky of Argentina. Return
  2. Reb Shlomo Weinberg of Bilgoray, currently residing in Rishon-Letsion, Israel. Return

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