H. D. Nomberg -- The Child Prodigy of Radomsk
A verse went around that the emblem was a conspiratorial sign for the Polish rebels of 1863. That the rebels' room is located in the house and there the conspirators' conferences were held.
Mordekhai Szpira was a Jew, a rich man, a Gerer Hasid, a man burdened with thirteen children. He and his wife Hana had a spice shop in the house and later an iron store.
H. D. Nomberg
When the children had grown little by little, Reb Mordekhai began to look for a husband for his oldest daughter Mashele, who was then sixteen years old. He traveled, as was his habit, twice a year on yom-tov to Ger to the rebbes. Sitting by the rebbes in Ger, Reb Mordekhai asked for a young man as a husband for his oldest daughter. He was ready to take the son-in-law oif kest (Translator's note: provide room and board) instead of giving a dowry. After three years, after deliberation, the rebbe gave his advice: in as much as there is a yeshiva in Radomsk proper, he should turn to the head of the yeshiva in his name and he would, according to his opinion, make an effort to find an appropriate young man among his students.
Coming home after the holiday, with a document from the rebbe attesting to his lineage in his pocket, Reb Mordekhai turned to the Radomsker head of the yeshiva, Reb Mendel, with a plea that he choose a young man for him from a good family, chiefly a Talmudic student. The yeshiva head promised to give an answer in about a week. A week later the head of the yeshiva proposed a candidate for son-in-law to Reb Mordekhai -- the child prodigy Hersh-Dovid Nomberg, a young man, an orphan (Translator's note: in Yiddish, a child whose father had died is considered an orphan), who came from Amszinow (Mszczonow in Polish).
Reb Mordekhai did not oppose the choice, but he asked the head of the yeshiva to send the young man on the nearest Shabbos, after noon, to an audition. At the appointed hour, the young man accompanied by Reb Mendel came to Reb Mordekhai's room. [Reb Mordekhai] had invited to the audition every Gerer Hasid with whom he was acquainted. The twenty pages of Gemera, which the young man had learned by heart, made a colossal impression. The audition' ended with the general wisdom that the young man has an open head' and is, indeed, the prodigy of the yeshiva.
Reb Mordekhai agreed to the choice and proposed to Reb Mendel that he should inform the mother of the young man and discuss the terms of the tanaim (engagement contract), although the groom and the bride did not know each other. Later it was announced and the tanaim was written and the wedding was set for about three months hence.
All of the Gerer Hasidim of the city were invited to the wedding along with the head of the yeshiva and all of the students and many acquaintances and guests. Before the khupe, the bride's mother showed her daughter Mashele her groom and Hersh-Dovid looked at his bride for the first time. The wedding celebration lasted for eight days as was then the custom and took place with great pageantry. After the wedding, Hersh-Dovid returned to studying and spent time together with his friends in the Beis Hamidrish until late into the night.
The three promised years of kest quickly ended. Reb Mordekhai began to think about a business for the young pair, who at that time already had two sons Moishe and Eliezer. He rented a store for them, together with an apartment a food store. Hersh-Dovid had to interrupt his studies and remain at home, in order to help his wife serve the customers. For almost a whole day, no one was seen in the store. When a customer did appear, Reb Hersh-Dovid would interrupt his studies and serve the customer with a melody from the Gemera... Very often it happened that Hersh-Dovid would confuse things. Instead of giving what was asked for, he gave another product.
Hersh-Dovid began little by little to abandon his studies and from time to time, began inviting his friends Sz. Y. Epsztajn (Kakeske) and Abraham-Yakob Tiberg for sixty-six (a card game). Guarding himself from his contentious wife, he began to read various not-permitted books in the Hebrew and Yiddish language. When Reb Mordekhai learned about Hersh-Dovid's behavior he began to howl: It denotes such a heretic! The moralizing and curses did not help. It was decided to close the store.
Hersh-Dovid traveled to Warsaw and, in order to support himself there, gave lessons in the Hebrew language. The income from this was negligible and Hersh-Dovid had to return to Radomsk. He was already then
After a conflict with Reb Mordekhai, who had demanded a get (religious divorce) for his daughter from Hersh-Dovid, he [Hersh-Dovid] decided to leave Radomsk and travel to Warsaw to seek success for the second time. This time he was satisfied, because his songs and short stories were published in the Warsaw newspapers. He turned, as was then the custom of the young Jewish writers, to Y. L. Peretz, of blessed memory, who took him on with open arms and fought with him for beginning to write in Yiddish.
After speaking with Y. L. Peretz, Hersh-Dovid Nomberg was taken in as a permanent contributor to the daily newspaper Heint (Today).
In 1909, the editor of Heint delegated H. D. Nomberg to go to America. Before departing, he suddenly came to Radomsk to see Mashele and the children. He boarded in the furnished rooms of Mr. Winter and in the morning sent a messenger to Mashele to inform her that he had come from Warsaw and wanted to meet with her and the children. The meeting took place in Shlomele Epsztajn's home in the presence of the oldest son Moishe. All three sat and were silent. Suddenly, Hersh-Dovid stood up from his place, came to Mashele and proposed to her that she travel with him to America and there get married again. The three children would have to be left temporarily in Radomsk, until he would be settled [in America]. Mashele listened to the proposal and asked to postpone her answer until the next morning.
The next evening, during the second meeting, Mashele rejected the proposal, [giving as] the reason that her father, Reb Mordekhai would not agree to keep the children with him and he would certainly renounce his daughter, if she would travel with the heretic' Hersh-Dovid to America.
At his departure, Hersh-Dovid asked that she agree to take a photograph together with the children. She agreed that the photograph would be taken without her, only he with the children. Such a photograph was taken, in Wajnberg's studio* (in the market).
After that encounter, Hersh-Dovid never again visited Radomsk. Reb Mordekhai Szpira took his daughter and her children into his house and took pains to raise them as frume (religious) Jews, in his spirit. When the children had grown up, one by one they left Radomsk and settled down with the assistance of their father in Warsaw.
During the outbreak of the Second World War, Mashele lived in Radomsk. When the Germans erected the ghetto on Shul Street, Mashele was driven to the ghetto with the large
*Printed in this book on page 65.
Szpira family. Later she wound her way out from the ghetto and traveled to Dombrowa-Gurnicza, where her son, Kalman Wohlhendler, from her second husband (He was a ritual slaughterer) lived. She arrived safely, but during the liquidation of this ghetto (1943) she and all of the Jews from Dombrowa-Gurnicza perished.
Of all three sons of H. D. Nomberg, only the oldest Moishe survived. He is now with his family in Israel.
a.A hurt in the person's life,
Oy yes! It is so.
He chases good fortune and finds it nearby
And chases and falls, oy, oy!
Eh, eh he chases and runs!
Oy-vey, good fortune runs away!
The man and sees: the head is gray
He asks first: What is the purpose?
And laughs with malice: The end of playing!
Only the wind.
He brings us greetings
From the cold land!
There it stands, a spade
He holds it in the hand.
And he digs everything deeper, deeper,
Throws the earth out
Do not worry then!
For a falsehood
He digs out graves.
Not the first, not the last
He falls on the field!
Do not worry my child, gave birth to you
Did a great hero.
And a hero you will grow to be,
Sleep, sleep now:
Gather strength for the future.
Gather strength for the future,
Gather, only child!
The cantata begins in the middle with an introduction by the orchestra, in an adagio tempo. The introduction reflects life in the country. The mood is monotonous and hopeless. Somewhere the lament of the jackals resounds, but the slowly striding caravans in the desert echo. Monotonous Eastern melodies are heard.
Suddenly the mood is disturbed by new, completely unfamiliar motifs. Ships with pioneers arrive; from the ships a happy ehe-ehe-leile is carried from the renewers of the old land.
The description is presented by the tenor in recitative form, and later through the men's and women's chorus. The melody gives way to the march of the camel caravan in the country.
The bass gives the announcement: "The dispersed jackals left for the mountain and the king of the animals gave the order, 'Into the desert!' The whole land is seized by the new flowering life. A hymn resounds. The chorus sings in moderato tempo, then transforms itself into happy folk singing. Clanging is heard, dli fe, dli fe, like the work of building, and, at the end again, the pioneers' song ehe-ehe-leile. The finale of the hymn is the recitative: Thus did the hands knead the mixture of cement and sand.
The mixed chorus and then the women's chorus of three voices and the bass and tenor sing Al Breva and Allegro. Dissonance is heard, chaos; a three-quarter fugue resounds, a hurricane... A flood...
The tenor brings calm with his recitative. The work again has the upper hand.
The last number from the cantata illustrates the triumph of the work. A chorus of eight voices and soloists sing in a march tempo the hymn of work and repose.
As we have already announced, this year's concert season of Hazamir is beginning, with the cantata of Y. Zaks' Mul Hayeshimoon to a text by A. Szlanski. This work will take place under the direction of the composer, Monday, the 28th in the Philharmonia Room.
Taking part in the concert: The mixed Hazamir chorus, Lodz Philharmonia Orchestra and the soloists Aziber Kantor, M. Kusewitski, artist from the Warsaw Opera, A. Helman, H. Fefer and others.
Already in his youth, he distinguished himself in his father's choir, which accompanied the davening in the shul, under the leadership of the director Mr. Gershon Groisberg.
Striving to increase his musical achievements, young Zaks pushed himself to become acquainted with more musical instruments. At the same time, he made an effort to draw in youthful strength in his musical circle, particularly the young, very capable Natan Ofman, who had studied in the Warsaw Conservatory. Together with a great deal of energy, they created a musical circle of young people, who had an inclination toward music, under the name Kultura. The young Yitzhak
The composer-conductor Yitzhak Zaks (first on the left) and his closet friends (from the right): Abraham Bugajski, Dovid Fajerman, Berl Bruner, Zisman Epsztajn.
Zaks organized a chorus, too, which in a short time, carried out significant musical productions in public concerts in the city theater. The young conductor satisfied himself, but not with this. At the end of the First World War, he already had a dream of creating a Jewish orchestra in Radomsk. As the Austrian occupation of Radomsk had collapsed, he succeeded in buying up almost the whole wind-orchestra of the 16th Mountain Troops.
This was not only literally a treasure of first class musical instruments, which made it possible for our musical circle to practice and study, but gave great possibilities to the young gifted musician Mr. Zaks to take advantage of his high qualifications in instrumental music.
After a short education, the orchestra under the leadership of Mr. Zaks was already able to give public musical concerts. At the same time, a drama section was created under the leadership of Mr. Adash Horowicz and some times, both cultural institutions appeared together at public events in the city theater, which always were a great spiritual and material success.
In 1919, when the Radomsker Jews could already freely celebrate the Balfour Declaration, the young decided to arrange a public garden entertainment. A large exercise square belonging to the local firemen was located near the city theater, which was also used for public amusements, in other words entertainments. After great difficulties, we succeeded in obtaining the square, which was as due decorated. Some blue and white kiosks were set up and at the entrance near the Polish flag, fluttered two blue and white flags, which I myself hung up. The entertainment made a great impression on the local Jewish population, as well as on the Jews from the surrounding towns and shtetlekh, which had sent delegations to the celebration. The friends Natan Ofman and Yitzhak Zaks had furnished sheet music for Yiddish folksongs and other Jewish creations, according to which the firemen's orchestra played during the celebration. For a long time, Jewish Radomsk remembered the beautiful Zionist garden entertainment.
Our musical and drama sections developed more fully and new members joined from the local youth. Public concerts were regularly given, which gave us -- Radomsker youth -- spirited pleasure. However our happiness did not last long. The Polish population could not accept that the Jews had their own wind orchestra. They requisitioned the instruments from us, with the argument that they belonged to the Austrian army and, therefore, it is war property. Regardless of our interventions, our instruments were never returned to us. Thus, we lost our wind orchestra and its sheet music together with our beautiful young dream.
Mr. Zaks became the conductor of the Czestochowa Synagogue and, later, conductor in the Lodz Synagogue and of Hazamir.
Some of our former members are found in Israel, particularly Mr. Natan Ofman, who sometimes come together in order to remember our Jewish youth in Radomsk.
Let these words be in memory of all of the young friends, some of whom were the co-founders of the musical and drama sections.
Natan Szpigel painted many interesting images, but two of his paintings made the greatest impression. One image depicted a pair of worn out, burst leather men's shoes. The shoes were painted in such a way that it appeared as one sees the weary feet of an old man, who went around in them for many years to houses collecting donations. The second picture presented a table with tefillin a shel-yad (phylacteries for the arm) and a shel-rosh (phylacteries for the forehead). When one studied the tefillin, it appeared as if someone had davened with them and soon someone would again come to the table, take the tefillin and put them on the head and on the left arm to daven.
Natan Szpigel belonged to the Realists. He had exhibitions of his pictures in different art galleries in Poland (in Warsaw, Lemberg) and England (London). In our city, he was the first who had a painting exhibition. The exhibition took place in Zhilinske's Polish gymnazie, on Czenstochower Street. There were landscapes, portraits, still-lifes and all of the paintings made a great impression on the visitors, whether Jewish or Christian.
Little by little, Natan Szpigel was drawn into the communal life of the city, often held lectures about art and associated with the young people. He married the eye doctor [in Radomsk], Hana Fort, who was from Galicia. They lived on Strzalkow Street in the villa of the Jewish pharmacist Mientkewicz and had two children a boy and a girl.
When the Germans entered the city, Natan Szpigel and his wife decided to stay in Radomsk (He had said: In a war, no one knows when one will die). A doctor, a Nazi, came to the city and in a few days, Natan Szpigel received an order from city hall -- to immediately free the villa for the German doctor. With a heavy heart, Natan Szpigel's family left the villa and moved into the ghetto in Blumsztajn's house, on Strzalkow Street, which was later the Jewish Hospital.
Natan Szpigel worked for a short time in the special commission of the ghetto at the Yudenrat. Later, when he saw the growing and hopeless Jewish need, he quietly left the special commission (My heart, he said, becomes sick and hurts seeing how the Jews come requesting help and one cannot help them). In spite of this, he would
The painter Natan Szpigel during his picture exhibition in Radomsk.
often gather the young in the ghetto, talk and sing Yiddish and Hebrew songs, so that they would not be so sad.
When the Nazis began to prepare the deportations of the Jews, Natan Szpigel left his son in the Polish hospital on Strzalkow Street and hoped that there the child would be protected. However, on the 9th of October 1942, when the Germans chased the Jews from the ghetto onto the deportation platz, two Polish nurses from the hospital came with the boy and left him on the platz. A Nazi
The surviving picture by Natan Szpigel.
After the liberation, when I came by foot from Czenstochow to Radomsk, I met Mrs. Keselman in the market. A few days later, I visited her in her home and there saw two pictures by Natan Szpigel. Mrs. Keselman told me that after the liberation when she came back to her home, she noticed on the wall two portraits of German soldiers. She took them down, studied them from the other side and saw it was splattered with blood. She ran [her fingers] over the pictures. She scratched off the portraits and then the real pictures were revealed-- the two images by Natan Szpigel.
Several days later, when Mrs. Keselman's daughter was by chance standing near the pictures, Polish rowdies shot through the window of the residence and the daughter was murdered. One of these pictures, splattered, subsequently [traveled with me] until I came to Israel.
Natan Szpigel, his wife and the second child were deported from the Radomsker ghetto and did not come back. One of his images, however, came to Israel, the land of his young dreams.
During the First World War, he was forced to work in a coal mine in Germany, where he took part in the revolution. After many years, he returned to Poland and studied art with Professor Szimanski in Warsaw. There the world-renowned sculptor and social worker Nakhum Aronson, of blessed memory, saw Jakov Cytrinowicz's sculptures and praised them. Later Jakov Cytrinowicz came to Paris and at first Bakhum Aronson helped him with counsel and deed. In Paris he worked and created many interesting sculptures.
In 1936, the eminent Ukrainian painter Aram Turin wrote about Yakov Cytrinowicz, in Gszegland Artisticzni: Cytrinowicz goes after simplicity, too. He wins in the fine sculpture 'A Woman in a Long Dress,' but he loses in 'Head of a Girl,' and it a great loss, because in print the head is a very pretty one. The same impression of poverty is felt in the 'Female Body,' with all its virtues and defects of this sculpture, in sum Cytrinowicz is interesting.'
During the Second World War, Yakov Cytrinowicz lived in Paris under Nazi-German occupation. France was divided into two zones: an occupied and an unoccupied. In the summer of 1941, he tried to run away from Paris to the unoccupied zone. Crossing the border he was caught by the Germans; they arrested him and then sent him to a concentration camp from Ban La Roland, there he was spared with a thousand more Jews for almost a year. In June 1942, he was deported to Oswiecim (Auschwitz) to the concentration camp. A month later (July 1942) he died there in the gas chamber.
Honor his memory.
(From Josef Sandel's Collection about Yakov Cytrinowicz, in the book 'Murdered Jewish Artists in Poland' [Volume two], Warsaw, 1957)
And A. B. Cerata was one of these.
A. B. Cerata
I knew him in Vienna -- when he was only an assistant typesetter in a Jewish printing shop, right after the First World War, and later we met many times in Paris. Of average height, with sharp facial lines, Semitic? No -- rather Hindu-Aryan looking. His face always smiled, sometimes with love, sometimes ironically, sometimes with anger. Often he could be quiet, often observe endlessly waiting until it was his turn to speak, to approach a painter face to face, or writer, whom he liked. And he chose his likes according to his taste.
He was a simple worker, a linotypist, a typesetter. Often he worked at night, but he always had time to visit his artist friend. He did everything for others. However, he was not servile; he did not serve. He did things in the manner of a friend. He helped.
In Paris in 1950, later 1956. In a small hotel, I have a plan today to visit the Louvre. I leave
An invitation to the opening of the A. B. Cerata art gallery in Bet-Yam.
the room, begin to ask how to go to the Museum. Suddenly, a smiling face appears near me, wearing a French beret on the side of the head Cerata.
Come Rawicz, come Ruchel, I will take you. But how did your suddenly appear here?
I heard yesterday by chance that you want to go to the Louvre.
And so almost every day, these wonderful shadows have some kind of secret power to multiply your time; perhaps that is why they do not connect with families. The artists are their brothers and sisters and children.
In the difficult first Hitler years in Vienna, when it was necessary to save several Yiddish writers from there, Cerata was already in Paris and did everything to save them. And he actually saved them. No one asked him to do this. Letters in my archive pay witness to Cerata's activities.
In order to do something substantial -- Cerata, both in Vienna and in Paris, published a line of Yiddish books. The edition was animated with artistic taste by graphic prints. However, Cerata's life's ideal was to create a graphic print museum, mainly Jewish graphics, and to build it in the Land of Israel. And he achieved the building of this museum in Safet -- where the first books by Jews were printed by Jews hundreds of years ago.
Cerata had a peculiar handwriting: long straight letters written with the patience of a bee. His letters looked like lines with miniature picket fences. He would describe an event in detail in his letters (8 to 12 sides). They were small short stories in the first person. In these letters lived Cerata's longing to be a writer himself. Through these letters he transformed his beloved writer in an ingenious way into a reader...
Cerata's last letter lays on my table now; in the letter, he writes an awesome story about a miracle with a little goat, who did not want to let himself be slaughtered. Cerata heard the story in Meron, where he spent Lag b'Omer 5722 (1960-61). The whole story is gold with silver from cabala folklore and marvelously illustrated, the little goat with a sky blue skin...
A. B. Cerata was buried in a cemetery in the cabalist city, Safet. Where then should such the colorful shadows of many Jewish artists and poets find] eternal rest? Lived as an artist and died as an artist. I am sure that even in death A. B. Cerata's face has not lost the loving and ironic smile. I am sure that with this smile he will appear before G-d and before his beloved painters and poets, who will wait for him in the eternal arts club...
The old-fashioned of the world:
Treachery from the closest,
Discharge from the most beloved,
With the back turned away,
With bile on the lips --
Stands the yesterday brother.
Thus as it was,
Thus as if nothing had happened
And the strongest is after all the person in power,
And the person in power is after all a wicked person,
And the truth is after all with the betrayed,
And not with the betrayer.
And justice is after all the tortured
And not the torturer
Thus as it was,
Thus as if nothing had happened
A dry land on the shoulders
Dirt roads bogged down -- through Fifth Avenue,
Frozen lane -- between the banks of the Hudson,
Tortured Irkutsk-- through East Broadway,
Shaded yurts -- in the snow of Harlem
Through all dirt roads -- to the furthest way
From all truculence to the snow of misery
All, all, all are driven back.
The stronger is after all the person in power,
And the person in power is after all the villain,
And the truth is after all with the beaten,
And not with the beater,
And justice is only with he who is under
And not with the guard who bangs with the
H. Leiwik in the middle (with his parents), on the way from Siberia to America.
Thus as it was,
Thus as if nothing had happened
Old-fashioned singing, --
To open the eyes on the streets of New York
And see oneself under the watch of sentries
Being led to the old, to the cold
Old-fashioned, eternal land Siberia,
Eternal land of snow.
Gone bright window panes,
Gone warm bed, --
Le no one accompany,
Let no one console,
And the hand of the most loved
Should lower and fall
And not come opposite.
In heavy linen -- the body,
In iron blocks -- the feet.
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