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Toporow
(Toporov, Ukraine)

50°07' / 24°43'

Translation of “Toporow” from:

Sefer zikaron le-kehilot Radikhov

Edited by: G. Kressel

Published in Tel Aviv, 1976


This is a translation of “Toporow” from Sefer zikaron le-kehilot Radikhov; Memorial book of Radikhov,
ed. G. Kressel, Tel Aviv, Society of Radikhov, Lopatyn and vicinity, 1976 (H,Y)


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[Page 411-416]

Rabbi Meshulam Zalman Yosef Zilberfarb

A. Dubinsky

Translated by Angela Brice

The rabbi, Reb Meshulam Zalman Yosef Zilberfarb, known as the “Toporower Rabbi”, was born in 5628 (1868), in the town of Rowne,* the son of the devoted Chassid, Reb Moyshele Zilberfarb. His grandfather was living there at that time, the wealthy Reb Eliezer Scheinczes, great-grandson of Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz and descendant of the renowned Shapira family, whose ancestors were amongst the exiles and martyrs of the city of Speyer in Germany at the time of the Crusades. The mother of Rabbi Meshulam Zalman Yosef was the rebbetzin Leah, the only daughter of the admor (our master, teacher and rabbi) Rabbi Chanoch Henich from Olesk [Olesko], author of “Lev Sameach” (“Rejoicing Heart”), a scion of the distinguished Schorr family and descendant of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdyczow.

Reb Eliezer Scheinczes was a Chassidic figure well-known throughout Volhynia and Galicia. A person of impeccable purity, the very image of men of piety and influence from days gone by, he was great both in knowledge and in wealth. A deeply religious man who loved the Truth, he sought faith and lived a pious life. His generosity was boundless; every year he distributed an abundance of wealth to charity. His knowledge of the Torah, both the hidden and the revealed, was renowned, though he behaved with humility and modesty.

Reb Eliezer Scheinczes was a Trysk (Turzysk) Chassid and all his life was considered an exemplary disciple of the maggid Rabbi Abraham, one of the eight sons of the maggid Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl. However, he also endeared himself to all the tzaddikim of his generation, and allied his family with the families of many of them. A Zilberfarb family tradition speaks of the admor Rabbi Yehoshua of Belz, who attended the famous Chernobyl wedding. In the middle of the feast he was obliged to return to his home in Galicia, by a decree from the Russian authorities. On the way back he stopped at Rowne, and stayed in the house of Reb Eliezer Scheinczes, who took great care of him and attended to him personally. When Rabbi Yehoshua of Belz was about to continue on his way, he asked Reb Eliezer at the time of parting, “How shall I bless you?” Reb Eliezer answered, “Riches, I have already; good, upright sons, the Lord has already bestowed upon me – the greatest blessing I could have would be for my sons to be betrothed into families of tzaddikim and holy men.” The rabbi of Belz blessed him according to the request of his heart. And indeed, Chassidim would say, the blessing came about, and Reb Eliezer merited joining with many of the admorim of his generation, including the family of Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin and Rabbi Moshe Tzvi of Svaryne.

His son, Rabbi Moyshele Zilberfarb was the spitting image of his father. He was of good ancestry and very industrious, gracious to everybody and beloved by all, modest in all his ways and righteous in all his actions. He was the son-in-law of the author of the “Lev Sameach” of Olesk and earned the admiration of his father-in-law, more than all his followers. At times of prayer and worship, he would become like burning fire and on the Sabbath his face would shine with excitement so that he was scarcely recognisable.

Rabbi Moyshele, like his father, belonged to the Chassidim of the maggid of Trysk and followed all the traditions of the House of Chernobyl. On Friday nights he would recite all the Psalms, as did the admorim of Chernobyl, and he did so also at his wedding feast. His father-in-law, the author of “Lev Sameach”, father of the bride, was sitting beside him and listening to his rendition of the Psalms with devotion and outpouring of the soul, in a way that only a devout Jew like Reb Moyshele could do. He was greatly occupied with carrying out the commandments regarding charity, gave away much of his money and raised funds for “anonymous charity”. He carried out acts of kindness to everyone and approached every Jew with love and devotion, but tried to conceal his deeds. He preferred modesty in worship. Every day a minyan (quorum of ten men) would gather at his house for morning and evening prayers. In the building where he lived he set openings in all four directions, in honour of the visiting rabbis who flocked to his home and lodged there. All the great admorim who came through Rowne, would lodge at the house of Rabbi Moyshele. “I am jealous of the Sabbath of Reb Moyshele Zilberfarb”, one of the admorim once said, although Reb Moyshele never led a group of followers or a community and never presided over public meals. And the admor added, “Great tzaddikim would have craved to have on Yom Kippur the measure of simple fear of G-d that Reb Moyshele demonstrates every day”.

Reb Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef, son of Reb Moyshele Zilberfarb, stood out too, from childhood, in the manners of holiness he displayed, as a worshipper of the Lord, full of awe and purity. It struck the heart to see the Rowne lad, when he retired to a corner and prayed with sweetness and enormous enthusiasm, with wonderful devotion, loudly and brilliantly. The mighty sound of his prayer echoed for great distances.

Reb Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef spent his childhood in the court of his grandfather, the author of “Lev Sameach”, in Olesk, where he furthered his knowledge of Torah and worship and acquired understanding and fear of Heaven from his distinguished grandfather. Rabbi Chanoch Henich loved his favourite grandson, who was outstanding in Torah, and never stopped loving him. For some time the young Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef even slept in his grandfather's room. Although the rabbi would not willingly suffer the presence of a stranger whilst he slept, he was pleased with that grandson of his and even affectionately approved of it. Rabbi Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef was only 12 years old when the tzaddik from Olesk departed from this world, nevertheless his impression remained in the young man's heart. To serve the Lord with joy, to love people and do good deeds, to be genuine and straightforward like a truly humble man – these, like his forefathers, he revered above all things.

At a very young age, he was betrothed by his father to the daughter of the admor Reb Aharon of Koydanov, grandson of Rabbi Shlomo Chaim of Koydanov, one of the most famous admorim of Belarus. When Reb Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef got married he left Rowne for the court of his father-in-law, where he continued to study the Torah, in pure worship, and adopted much of his father-in-law's method, which characterized a new trend and a unique school of Chassidic thought. The delicacy of his soul, his pleasant ways and noble character, his fear of Heaven and degree of Torah learning endeared him to all those who surrounded him in the new place, who had not previously encountered the Galician type of Chassid.

The services and ways of the Lithuanian Chassidim of Koydanov were very different from the Chernobyl-Galician atmosphere, in which Rabbi Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef was brought up. But the differences were merely external. Actually, Reb Meshulam-Zalman-Yosef Zilberfarb blended in his character the different approaches, into a glorious peak of pure Chassidic perfection, with magnificent harmony. For he was a wonderful man and wonderful were his traits and ways.

The first to carry the flag of Chassidism in Lithuania was the Saba Kadisha (Holy Grandfather) Rabbi Mordechai from Lachowice, the eminent disciple of the admor Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin, who was a pupil of the great maggid of Mezerich. He founded a new school of Chassidism, which was intended for the distinguished and elevated. His pupils were inspired and capable themselves of leading thousands of followers, but they preferred to humble themselves at the feet of their great rabbi and drink from the fountain of his knowledge. The legacy of his flame was carried on after him, by his son the admor Rabbi Noah from Lachowice and his disciples, generations of admorim of the dynasty of Kobrin and Slonim. The Saba Kadisha was descended from the author of “Levushim” (“Garments”), Rabbi Mordechai Yaffe, and he, who was named after him, would also sign his name “Mordechai Yaffe”.

One of the sons of the Saba Kadisha, who died during his father's lifetime in the prime of life, was Rabbi Aharon, a tzaddik and saintly man who was consumed by the flame of his own soul, leaving a small child, called Shlomo-Chaim. Little Shlomo-Chaim was educated at his grandfather's knee, the Saba Kadisha from Lachowice, until the age of bar mitzvah, when his grandfather arranged his engagement to the daughter of his rabbi's daughter (the admor Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin), who was brought up in his mother's father's house, the rabbi Reb Asher the Great from Stolin. The wedding took place in Stolin on the 13th of Shevat 5570 (1810). However, a short time before the wedding service, the Saba Kadisha passed away and was buried in Stolin. Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim stayed in the house of his grandfather, the Rabbi of Stolin, having learned from him ways of worship and Chassidism. He frequently used to visit the sanctuary of the tzaddikim of that generation: Rabbi Baruchl of Medzhibozh, grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement; the rabbi, author of “Ohev Yisroel” (“He Who Loves Israel”) from Apta and the five sons of the maggid of Zloczow, the maggid Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl, Rabbi Avraham Dov from Abritsch, Rabbi Moshe Tzvi of Svaryne, Rabbi Yisroeltchi of Ruzhin and the author of “Beit Aharon” (”House of Aharon”) from Karlin. After years of study, he moved to live in Koydanov, and at the death of the son of the Saba Kadisha, his uncle, the admor Rabbi Noah from Lachowice, in 5593 (1833), began to lead the followers of the house and thus was founded the glorious Koydanov dynasty.

The colour and flavour of this Chassidism was not a direct development from the Lachowice Chassidism of the Saba Kadisha. It was founded not only for the distinguished, but also embraced the masses and the simpler folk.

Koydanov Chassidism cultivated in its followers a naive belief in the tzaddikim, leading to belief in the Lord, and aroused in them the desire to study and worship with joy. Many Chassidim flowed to Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim's sanctuary from all over Belarus and Lithuania. Even in Vilna, the stronghold of the Mithnagdim, he had faithful followers, who stuck by him with every thread of their hearts and souls. Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim bequeathed to Chassidism a wealth of nigunim (melodies), a treasury not lacking in pearls of wisdom, sayings, discourses and new interpretations which enriched Chassidic thought. One of his melodies was passed in the traditional way, from one person to another, from the mouth of the Rabbi Neta of Abritsch, one of the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov who would not sleep all Sabbath long, and on Sabbath night would memorize Massechet Shabbat (Talmudic tractate) to this tune, and as for his sayings and his wit, they spread rapidly through the Chassidic world.

His son, the admor Rabbi Baruch-Mordechai, told, according to his son Rabbi Shalom of Brahin, in his book “Divrei Shalom” (“Words of Shalom”) that his father Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim once rebuked him strongly for harbouring melancholy feelings. When asked why he particularly argued against this when other shortcomings of his were worse, he answered, “With regard to other things, you will surely repent, but not for your sorrow, it is very likely that you will never repent for your sorrow.” Chassidim relate the meaning of “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” as the rabbi interpreted it, while saying to an ascetic hermit, who had chosen to hide away from the follies of this world: “Why do you hate your body? Were you not an ascetic hermit, you would love your body with true love. Therefore go forward, love mankind with a true love, for they are not hermits, withdrawn from the world and they don't abstain from the ways of the world...” And to another Chassid who said to him “Rabbi, I am old and near the end of my days, will you teach me how to die?” the Rabbi answered, “Do you know how to live? Better to learn first how to live, before asking how to die”.

And indeed – all the days of his life, Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim taught others “how to live”, and by his personal example he served as a venerable model for his Chassidim. His sayings were collected in the book “Imrei Ra.cha.sh” (“Sayings of Rabbi Chaim Shlomo”), which is full of glowing pearls, genuine gems of wisdom. On the 17th of the month of Av 5622 (1862), Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim passed away and was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Baruch Mordechai, who did not long outlast him and died at Rosh Hashana 5631 (1870). His place was filled by his oldest son, the admor Rabbi Aharon of Koydanov, who set and consolidated the character of the Koydanov Chassidim, which had spread and expanded in the meantime. The “stieblach” (small prayer rooms) of the Koydaner Chassidim had spread to every city and town of the country and all basked in the glory of the admor Reb Aharon.

He was a genius in Torah and in Chassidism, acted and encouraged others to act, for the sake of the Orthodox community of Eretz Israel and even founded a special kollel (congregation) called the Koydanover Kollel, and built a beautiful and elegant bet midrash (house of learning) in the Holy City with his own money. Rabbi Aharon died at the age of 58, on the 16th of Elul 5657 (1897), leaving his three sons: Rabbi Yosef Perlov from Minsk, Rabbi Shlomo-Chaim from Koydanov, Rabbi Nechemia, who lived in Baranovitch (Baranovtsy), in the latter part of his life, and also a daughter, Chaya Bracha, born in his old age, who was married to Rabbi Meshulam Zalman Yosef Zilberfarb.

So long as Rabbi Aharon from Koydanov was alive, his son-in-law, who years later was known as the “Rabbi from Toporow”, was to be found beside his pew, learning Torah and Chassidism from his mouth. When he passed away, Rabbi Meshulam Zalman Yosef settled in the Galician town of Toporow, the place where he was invited to take the honoured place as rabbi of the community, and to which he introduced in abundance the righteousness of the Koydanov Chassidim. He was ordained into the rabbinate by the geonim Rabbis Shlomo HaCohen from Vilna and Shalom Mordechai HaCohen from Brezan (Brzezany), and afterwards settled in Toporow, where he held office for forty years.

Officially he served as rabbi of Toporow – head of the community, in charge of all its spiritual needs; in reality he presided as admor, continuing the tradition of his sacred ancestors of Berdychow and Olesk, according to the interpretation which he brought from Koydanov. In his later years, his awe-inspiring appearance and his noble and radiant bearing endowed him with a special charm. He gave the impression of being far away from all that belonged to our mundane world, his head bestowed elsewhere, in high places. However even at a younger age, his appearance appealed to all those who saw him. His face was radiant with holiness and people were bound to him as if by magic, for he was a holy man and his graceful countenance was enchanting.

It is true that in Polesia, in Belarus, and in the regions of Lithuania, the Koydanov Chassidim were labeled: “Lithuanian Chassidim”. But of course, there was no market for this “Lithuanian import” in eastern Galicia where the Toporower rabbi settled. How was it, then, that he appealed to Galician Jews? It seems that the main influence was the “Siddur” (“daily prayer book”) that he brought with him from his father-in-law's house in Koydanov. This should be mentioned as being one of the main things that Rabbi Aharon from Koydanov bequeathed to those who came after him, his Siddur. This Siddur, entitled Or Hayashar” (“The Light of Righteousness”), was written and compiled by “the perfect scholar, the kabbalist, recognized as holy, a man of G-d, our teacher, the Rabbi Meir Poppers, a tzaddik of blessed memory, whose light is cast on the land and its people” [the name Meir means “casting light”]. It was adopted by the admorim of the House of Lachowice and Slonim, Koydanov and Stolin. When Rabbi Aharon passed away, he left the Siddur to those who followed his way, amongst them was the Toporower rabbi. To the faithful followers of the House of Koydanov this Siddur became a source of comfort and consolation, a great foundation of faith from which they derived enlightenment, counsel, direction and religious zeal. To this Siddur the Toporower rabbi, with his frank countenance and warm Chassidic heart, added another Siddur, the “Lev SameachSiddur of his righteous grandfather, the rabbi Reb Chanoch-Henich of Olesk, these two works came to be “the Jachin and the Boaz” of the dynasty of the Rabbi of Toporow.

A man of soul and fine character, the rabbi dedicated his life to G-d quietly and with modesty. His family and followers told glorious tales of his wonderful conduct. He lived frugally and filled his days and nights endlessly with studying the Torah. He excelled at everything, but avoided being conspicuous. He was far from seeking the trimmings of leadership. He lived simply and modestly, avoided seeking honour and behaved without prejudice in all his actions, so that he was justifiably considered an example of a perfect man.

He was a great worshipper of the Lord, excited by prayer, he would cry out to the depths of his soul. His roar at the time of saying the Shema, would reach right up to Heaven. Drops of sweat would fly from him then, and his face burned like a torch. Even when he received “offerings” from the poorest most dejected Jews, with requests attached, he would seem to plead towards Heaven, as if he shared in the suffering of the individual, and furthermore, in the suffering of the Divine Presence, who sorrows for the troubles of every Jew, and say: “I am burdened” [Mishna, Sanhedrin 6, 5].

And how graciously and cordially he received everyone who approached him. He had a little notebook in which he wrote the names of everyone who came to him and the names of their mothers, so he could pray on their behalf. The purity of his faith and the purity of his heart expressed perfection, complete consistency, complete abstention from the vanities of this world, and he attained exalted peaks above and beyond the material world.

He was a sweet person and won the hearts of all who encountered him. He used to visit the Lithuanian yeshivot, in the towns of Lithuania in which his father-in-law's ancestors dwelt in the past, and everybody there was drawn to him with extraordinary love. Even the Slonim Chassidim in Baranovitch, who had reservations about the Koydanovers, admired him and liked him, and even flocked to his prayer services.

The years of wrath arrived and as all the Jewish communities in Galicia were being wiped out, so too came the turn of the community of Toporow. On Yom Kippur eve, 5701 (1940) [should be 5703 (1942)], a pack of Nazi soldiers burst into the bet midrash of the Toporower rabbi and beat him ferociously. After the fast the rabbi slipped away and hid in a nearby forest. His Chassidim, who were worried about his well-being, decided to roast some potatoes for him and lit a fire, and thus the Nazis discovered and captured them. From there the rabbi was sent straight to Belzec extermination camp, where he was put to death along with his younger son, Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo Chaim (hy”d). His son and successor, the admor Rabbi Chanoch-Dov Zilberfarb, shlyt"a (may he have a long and good life, amen), of Koydanov, survived the war and now resides in Tel Aviv.

* In an official document he was described as Rabbi Jozef Zalman Silberfarb, born in Olesko, March 1, 1870. Return


[Page 417-419]

Toporow

Shalom Zilberfarb

Translated by Angela Brice

They turned to me, the sons of this town, as one who lived there from the age of eight to fourteen absorbing Torah and religion into my life, at the table of my grandfather and grandmother, the Rabbi and Rebbetzin of Toporow. So I am writing these sentences on behalf of the town, and in its memory, now it is emptied of its Jews. Who knows if there remains any remnant of the Jews who trod there, or if any trace remains of the synagogues, the cemetery and the other public institutions that were in that little town?

Here there were: the great synagogue, the synagogue of the Belz Chassidim, Chassidim of Olesk (a kloyz), Yad Harutzim, Chassidim of Stratyn and of Husiatyn. At the kloyz, yeshiva boys, learned men and regular householders would all sit and learn. The local rabbi, the admor Rabbi Meshulam Zalman Yosef, grandson of the author of “ Lev Sameach” from Olesk, would sit all day, wrapped in his tallit and tefillin, his only meal some gruel and coffee, between donning his Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam tefillin. He concerned himself with matters in the town, ruled on legal issues, determining what was permitted and what was prohibited, brought peace to the town, and domestic harmony between man and wife, and engaged in acts of charity. The rebbetzin, Chaya Bracha, was also very actively involved. When the rabbi used to visit the Koydanov Chassidim in Volhynia and in Russia, being son-in-law of the admor, the holy rabbi, Reb Aharon of Koydanov, his place was filled by his younger son, Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo Chaim (Reb Motele), a man of pleasant temperament, with fine features, and a cantor with a sweet and melodious voice. Sometimes his place would be filled by his son-in-law, the gaon rabbi, Reb Shlomo Thumim (Teumim), until he became the Rabbi of Krytnitsa (Krynica).

Who can do justice to these simple folk, who went out of their way to help others, respected citizens, ordinary folk, craftsmen, traders. Chassidim and practical men, the head of the community, Reb Schmuel Finkel, owner of large timber yards; the ritual slaughterers, Reb Schmuel Wolfshaut and Reb Chaim; the scribes, Reb Eli and Reb Moshe Sofer from Sokal; teachers of the young boys at the Jewish school and the teacher, Reb Yosef, who was brought especially by my grandfather from Yanov (Janow), a Talmudic scholar devoted to Zion; Reb Issachar Schafranski, and Reb Noah Igel, active in the young Zionists movement, all of them now departed, all martyred.

My dear friend Reb Mordechai Peczenik, one of those who survived, tells the following: during the Shoah, in the summer of 1939, the Russians occupied the town and remained there for two years. The Jews did not suffer too badly from their presence except economically, until 1941, when the Russians withdrew and the German occupiers entered, may their names be obliterated. Three days after the German invasion, on June 22, 1941, the Germans arrived in Toporow. The Russians fled and the Germans came in. On the 4 th of Tishri, the first Aktion took place, and the prominent members of the community headed by the rabbi, the righteous Reb Meshulam Zalman Yosef Zilberfarb; the rabbi's young son; the head of the community, Reb Shmuel Finkel; Issachar Schafranski and Noah Igel were held hostage in the great synagogue. On June 26, 1941, the Germans permitted the local Ukrainians to attack the prisoners, to kill and destroy them or do with them as they would. The next day the peasants gathered together and sang anti-Semitic songs to egg each other on with their killing. The Jews hid in their houses, but the Ukrainians rounded them up and took them to work in the surrounding forests. In November 1941, a German by the name of Dreksler came from Radekhov (Radziechow) and demanded that those Jews who still remained set up a Judenrat (German-created Jewish council) and Jewish militia. Then they forced everybody aged ten and above to wear a white ribbon on their sleeve with a Magen David (Star of David) on it. They cut off the beards and imposed a curfew between the hours of seven in the evening and eight in the morning. The members of the community's [council] continued working and Mordechai Hirsch Halperin joined them.

In September 1941, the German representative Dreksler came and cancelled the Ukrainians' privilege of taking the Jews to work for them, and everyone stayed home, terrified as to what would become of them in the days ahead. Almost every week Dreksler would arrive to receive bribes. He collected all the furs and the possessions and any gold that the Jews had, and took 50 of them, including young children, to the Pluhow work camp near Zloczow, and to other locations in the area. Several people hid in the houses of Ukrainians or in the forests. Of all the Jews of the town, only Yosef Peczenik remained alive, now living in Haifa, who ran away and hid in the village Shchirets with the rest of his family. The Ukrainians and the German representative returned and brought the remaining Jews to Kamionka Strumilowa. The rabbi remained in the forest after the Aktion, together with his son. They were found by shepherds and brought back to the town. On the second Aktion the Jews were taken to Kamionka. They passed through the forest on the way and saw traces of fire in the distance that the fugitives who were still there had lit for some warmth because of the intense cold. The murderers entered the forest and killed them all, amongst them the rabbi and his younger son, Mordechai. The admor, the gaon rabbi, the holy Reb Meshulam Zalman Yosef Zilberfarb (hy” d), son of the rabbi Reb Moshe of Rowne was killed by Nazi soldiers in the forest on the 9th of Tishri 5701 (October 11, 1940)** , and his wife, the rebbetzin Chaya Bracha, daughter of the admor Reb Aharon of Koydanov, died in Toporow in 5695 on the 25th of Shevat (January 29, 1935). Their daughter, the rebbetzin Sheincha Menuchah, daughter of the rabbi Reb Meshulam Zalman Yosef (hy”d), and her husband, the gaon rabbi Reb Yaakov Tzvi Waldman, son of the gaon rabbi, the reb Moshe Azriel of Borsa (Borsha), rabbi and dayan (judge in a Jewish court) in the town Ungvar (Uzhgorod, Carpatho-Rusyn, Subcarpathian Russia) were killed by the Nazis at Auschwitz at the festival of Shavuot 5704 (May 28, 1944) along with all their family: their daughter Sara and her husband, the rabbi Avraham Yoel Laufer and their daughter Chaya Bracha, and sons Yitzhak and Eliezer.

Their daughter Malka Reizel was murdered after the liberation in 1945 on the 19th of Av, in Germany, on a journey to seek the remainder of her family. Their son Menachem Mendel died in a road accident in Israel. Baruch Avraham Mordechai, Chanoch Henich and Moshe Azriel perished in Auschwitz. Their [Meshulam Zalman Yosef and his wife's] daughter, the rebbetzin Sarah Thumim, Rebbetzin of Krytnitsa, was the wife of the gaon rabbi Reb Shlomo Thumim of Przeworsk, son of the gaon Rabbi Dov Thumim of Przeworsk, who died on the14th of Adar II in Krakow. She then remarried the rabbi Reb Aharon Yentis, Rabbi of Druszkopol. Their only daughter – Perle Yota, his [Meshulam Zalman Yosef's] son, the rabbi Reb Mordechai Shlomo Chaim, the young rabbi of Toporow and his wife Gitl, daughter of the righteous rabbi, Reb Elimelech of Jaworow, along with Chana Leah Waldman, daughter of the gaon Reb Yaakov Tzvi Waldman, their [Meshulam Zalman Yosef and his wife's] daughter Chava Liebe Rokach, together with her husband Dov Rokach son of the gaon Reb Meir descendant of the rabbi of Belz, rabbi from Bialy Kamien and their daughter Chaya Bracha perished along with the other people of Toporow (hy”d).

His [Meshulam Zalman Yosef's] grandchildren [were] Aharon (z”l), and Malka Shapira, children of the gaon rabbi Reb Chaim Meir Yehiel Shapira, may he have a long life, from New York.

Of all the rabbi's family, only the young rebbetzin Gitl and Leah Waldman were left at this point, together with the rebbetzin Chava Liebe and the children of the rabbi of Narol. They spoke with a farmer who agreed to take them to Bialy Kamien, where they had found a farmer prepared to hide them. But the messenger reneged on his agreement; after he had received his payment, he took them into the forest and handed them over to the Ukrainians who killed them on the spot. It is not easy to describe all of the things that happened to the Jews at this time, in the first Aktion, the second, on the 27th of Tishri, or the third, on the 17th of Kislev. I hope my words will serve as a memorial for the holy community that is no longer.

Known survivors in Israel and elsewhere: Chana Wilner – Tel HaShomer; Hadassah Apsel – Rehovot; Elimelech Peczenik – USA; Shmuel Peczenik – USA; Yosef Peczenik – Haifa; Yaakov Peczenik – Haifa; Shevach Finkel – USA [then Jerusalem].

** The date is clearly wrong as in 1940 the area was still occupied by the Russians. The German occupation began in 1941. Return

Victims from Toporow


N.B. The translation is somewhat amateurish, partly due to my inadequate Hebrew and partly so as to try to maintain something of the flavour of the original writing- there are many expressions and quotations included which have particular significance to those who are knowledgeable about Chassidut, some of which may have escaped me. Similarly, place names may not always be entirely reliable, sometimes there are various possibilities. I can supply the original Hebrew spelling on request. I apologise for any shortcomings and will be happy to receive comments or corrections.
A.B.

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