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{126}

Righteous Women

by Miriam Har-Zohar


Due to the fact that, for the most part, the authors of memoirs and lists in the Yizkor book are men; I wish, as a woman, to memorialize and perpetuate the stories of several righteous women. These were mothers, aunts, and good neighbors who did a great deal of work quietly and modestly. I wish to describe here the generous characters and good deeds of several women from our town who did their work unofficially, without being members of a social organization, without telephones, and without meetings and committees. They did their work due to their warm Jewish hearts and their sense of responsibility. They conducted their work quietly and without fanfare; they gathered a bit of flour, a bit of sugar, some foodstuffs from here and there and brought it over to needy families. They did this in a secret fashion, so that nobody would know who the donors were. Thus, the recipients would not be embarrassed by the public knowledge that they were needy. In the darkness of night, covered by a large kerchief, the righteous woman would go around to the homes of the needy, the ill, or other such families who would have preferred to die of hunger rather than having their plight become public knowledge.

A few of these women are engraved very well in my memory. One was Sara, the mother of Avraham Saraf Friedler. On Sabbath eves, immediately after candle lighting, she would put on a large kerchief and take a white bag in her hand. She would begin her holy work, going from house to house to collect challas, cakes and other provisions, and then she would distribute them secretly and quietly to the homes of the needy, in such a way that nobody would recognize her. Certainly, they would impatiently await her arrival.

I remember that when I was still a young girl, the good woman entered our home on the eve of the holy Sabbath, in pouring rain, thoroughly soaked, in order to gather the challas and put them in a bag. I was curious about the woman since I knew her, and I asked my mother if she is indeed so needy that she would have to go out in the pouring rain to gather bread and challas. My mother answered me: “You should know my daughter, the greater the effort, the greater the good deed. She is not gathering the challas for herself, but rather to distribute to the needy who have none of their own. Even on a rainy evening they need to eat, and especially on a rainy day is the good deed so great.”

She went about her activities without fanfare or acclaim, without meetings and decisions by noisy activists. I remember one other righteous woman who conducted her activities quietly and modestly in order to fulfill the great mitzvah (good deed) of “giving gifts in secret” 1. I wish to make mention of her here for good among the other righteous women. This is Ethel Treu.

I remember that once on a Tuesday night Mrs. Treu entered out house and turned to my mother saying:

“Tila, come quickly.”

I was frightened by this request, for who knew what had happened, and she told my mother: “Today is the weekly fair, and the Jews have earned some money. I require a sum of money quickly for a great mitzvah, please go and collect money from your sisters and acquaintances, and I will do so also, and we will save a needy family from the disgrace of starvation.”

She spoke and she did. Mother did her part and she did her part. After a short while, they had collected the required money and gave it over to the needy family. They did this without turning to the public assistance organizations, without making detailed investigations, and without bloodshed. This was “giving gifts in secret” in the full sense of the word.

It was the warm heart of the righteous woman who felt the necessity, and acted in haste. To the credit of the Jews of Rozniatow, it should be stated that there was practically no Jewish family who, when asked to donate, refused. They would give a little or a lot, everyone according to their means.

I remember one other righteous woman, to whom people would come to her home quietly in order to receive a portion of hot soup, a bit of cholent, or other such foods. This generous woman was Ethel Rechtschaffen. She was very wise, and with her gentle hands she knew how to offer assistance, how to support one who has fallen without the person even realizing. She did it with fineness and modesty. Only very few knew of her activities and deeds. She understood very well how to act out the concept of “giving gifts in secret”, without embarrassing people and without causing distress.


Entertaining Guests (Hachnasat Orchim)

I wish to describe here another sublime and beautiful idea that was in our town, that of “entertaining guests”.

I remember one incident, on a rainy Sabbath eve, when my father went to worship at the Kloiz of Reb Hirsch Rechtschaffen due to its proximity to our house - generally, he worshipped at the large Kloiz. He returned from the prayers with a Sabbath guest, as was customary. We had not even gotten around to singing the “Shalom Aleichem” hymn and reciting the Kiddush over wine when the door opened and another guest walked in. He excused himself and said: “I have been invited as a guest by several people, however I prefer to come here even without an invitation. I know from my previous experiences that here in this house, I will not feel myself as a Sabbath guest, but rather as a member of the household, like one of you.

Of course, he was received graciously, and he dined with us.

This era was the time of the well-known “moratorium” whereby the anti-Semitic Polish government decreed that all debts that the farmers owned to their lenders, primarily Jews, would be cancelled. The government decreed an annulment of debts for twenty years. This law affected primarily the Jewish merchants, especially the small-scale merchants who collapsed completely. Bankruptcies became the order of the day in every town. Tribulations increased and livelihood decreased. There were merchants whose economic situation had become so bad that they were down to a morsel of bread, and they did not have anything with which to sustain their family. They were not able to go out and beg for money in a place where people recognized them, so they spread out over the land. Most of them were destitute small-scale merchants, whose staff of bread had been cut off. They restricted their own intake in order to send something to sustain their families.

Some of these arrived in Rozniatow as well, and they had to be treated completely differently from the general beggars and riff-raff. Among these people were scholars and refined people who had come upon difficult times. They sat at the Sabbath table as old friends, sang hymns which they brought with them, and learned new hymns, and they did not see themselves as ordinary “Sabbath guests”.

There is much to relate regarding “the entertaining of guests”, both regarding the official “Hachnasat Orchim” institution which provided lodging for poor wayfarers who had no place to sleep in the town, and regarding the concept of “Hachnasat Orchim” in the broader sense.

There were Jews in Rozniatow who brought guests into their homes each week on the Sabbath. They would never be seated at a table where there was no guest. On occasion, an argument would break out in the Kloiz or Beis Midrash regarding who would have the honor of bringing home the guest. One would say, “he is my guest”, and the other would say, “No he is mine”.

There were certain constant guests who would go on the Sabbath to “their own customary home” as a matter of course. These guests did not see themselves as riff-raff, lower in status than those who sit around the table, but rather as members of the household.

Every Wednesday was market day, and Jews came to town from the entire area in order to sell their merchandise and wares. Each Jew had a set place to lodge, where he would store his merchandise and personal belongings. While he would be reciting the morning service (Shacharit), the mistress of the house would prepare a hot drink or a cup of clear liquor. This was the general popular “Hachnasat Orchim” which took place in every home, and nobody minded that on every Wednesday the house turned into a public guesthouse.


An Event Regarding a Mitzvah (Good Deed) and Transgression

There were difficult times for the small-scale merchants and other artisans. Money was hard to come by. It was becoming more difficult to receive assistance from the average Jew for a few days in a row. This was even the case among the generous hearted Jews, from whom it had always been possible to receive assistance. Now it had become more difficult. One day, the wife of a well-known merchant entered out house and almost burst our crying: “Reb Avrahamche”, she said, turning to my father, “You have to help me today, for if I cannot receive any appropriate financial assistance to enable me to pay for the contract, my husband is liable to be imprisoned for non-fulfillment of the conditions of the contract. I have nowhere to turn... Everyone to whom I turned told me that today there is no money, and it impossible to receive any assistance at all. Please try, Reb Avrahamche to visit that specific rich man and ask him for some assistance for this great need.”

When my father answered her requests and went to visit that rich man to ask for assistance, he found him leaning against the hot oven. He received my father pleasantly, and asked him about the matter that brought him to visit him.

My father answered him:

“I have come to save a Jew from imprisonment. I require financial assistance.”

He answered my father:

“It is a commandment (mitzvah) to lend money to a Jew, but it is a sin to request the money in return. I do not want to perform a mitzvah that will bring me to a sin.”

Nevertheless, my father did not leave his presence empty handed.


Frumtze Brina

From among the “righteous women” whom I am attempting to describe for the young generation “Who do not know Joseph” 2, who did not know their grandmothers and the pure, refined, modest women who did their work modestly and discreetly, there was one who was known as “Frumtze Brina the bagel maker”. She was widowed during the First World War and remained alone with her three children. She had to concern herself with providing for her family, educating her children, and selling her handiwork. Therefore she woke up each day at 3:00 AM in order to bake bagels, and later she went out to sell the bagels, to feed her children and take them to school. She did everything in her tiny one-room dwelling, where the kitchen served also as the dining room, the bedroom, and the room where the children did their homework and played. She did everything in that one small room, and she nevertheless kept an immaculately clean house. She was poor, but everything was orderly, and everything was in its place.

She earned her livelihood with great difficulty. Frequently, she had to borrow money for the flour that she needed to bake the bagels, and she was only able to repay the loan after she sold her products.

However, this is not the reason that I am writing about her here. I am memorializing here the poor woman who was alone with her troubles and sorrow, however when she saw a child from a poor home going to cheder or school and she knew that the child had not yet eaten breakfast, she would secretly give him a bagel, so that nobody would see and the child would not be embarrassed.

I myself witnessed this on numerous occasions. She would do it with haste. She would place a bagel in his hand, and disappear quickly so that nobody would notice her.

Our friend Yehuda Axelrad, who today lives in the United States, also related this to me. He told me that often, when he went to school and he was hungry, she gave him bagels that restored his soul.

This is a prime example of giving gifts secretly. May her memory be holy and blessed.

Regarding “righteous women” of Rozniatow, there certainly are many to write about and tell about, especially for members of the younger generation who were born after the holocaust. I myself cannot remember them all, and describe them all for two reasons. First of all, I was a young girl when I left Rozniatow, and I did not have a chance to know them all. Secondly, certainly there were other “righteous women” who did their activities prior to my time. It would certainly be worthwhile for me to write about them. Perhaps others who are older than me, who remember the previous generations, can do so.


Visiting the Sick (Bikur Cholim)

There was another important social institution in Rozniatow for which Jews worked generously. This was the Bikur Cholim institution. In those days when the penicillin remedy was barely known, and other antibiotics were relatively new, it would happen on occasion that a Jew had a high fever, and it was necessary to lower the fever. They would cover such a person in damp blankets for a period of time until the fever dropped. All the family members of the ill person would busy themselves with his care. They would leave their business and activities and devote their energies would be drained from the effort of caring for the sick person.

A Bikur Cholim society was organized in order to divide up various tasks of caring for sick people among its members. They would primarily make sure to help the sick people during the nights, so that the family members can have some rest from their travails.

I remember Mr. Moshe Rosenberg, Kalman Halpern, Eli-Yonah Koral, my father and other good Jews who would help the sick benevolently and on a constant basis.


The Financial Assistance (Gemilut Chasadim) Cassa

There was another important voluntary social institution in Rozniatow. This was the Financial Assistance Cassa.

Since those days were difficult for the Jews and there was an economic depression among the merchants, particularly the small-scale merchants; the turnover was very poor and people became worse off. Many people required loans and financial assistance, and therefore it was vital to set up such an institution that would lend money to merchants for a short period without interest.

On several occasions, a woman would enter our house, weeping, and would say:

“Please have mercy upon me, save me from prison and give me financial assistance for a few days so that I can redeem the bill of sale. For if not, they will imprison me, for I was also unable to repay the previous contract.”

There were such institutions of charity and kindness in Rozniatow, and good Jews gave of themselves and worked for these institutions with all their soul, and with unbounded dedication.



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Maskilim and Men of Haskala (Enlightenment)

by Moshe Fruchter

It is difficult for an outsider to understand how in such a small town as ours, there were a recognizable number of youth and adults who were Torah scholars as well as scholars of secular knowledge and Maskilim. How did it come to pass that physicians, lawyers, students in various institutions in Israel and the Diaspora, youth of the intelligentsia and enlightened people all came from here? How did this come to pass, and who gave them the push and desire for Torah, wisdom, and knowledge?

How is it that the fathers in each generation passed on to their children the desire for Torah and wisdom, for these are our life and the length of our days, and in them we will delve day and night 3.

The youth thirsted for knowledge and study. The Beis Midrashes and Kloizes were full of Torah students. Those that removed the yoke of Torah from themselves accepted willingly upon themselves a different yoke. This was the yoke of socialism, progression and freedom. Those who had the means traveled to institutions of study in various places, where it was still possible for Jews to study. Those who did not possess the means of leaving the boundaries of the town would go to the large library that was run by Ben-Zion Horowitz, and there they acquired wisdom and knowledge.

The desire for Torah and knowledge was the lot of the Jewish children from their childhood. Already in their cradle, the Jewish mothers would sing the following well-known song to their children: “Study Torah - for it is the best merchandise” If one of the children did not wish to study Torah, their father would ask them: “Then what will become of you? You will become a gentile, a boor, and an ignoramus.”

There was great respect for the Torah scholars and secular scholars. Everyone honored them, and they were the heads of the organizations. The youth organized themselves into youth groups that dealt with political and Zionist matters. They had question and answer sessions, Chanukah and Purim parties, and they prepared to make aliya to the Land of Israel.


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Sh. Shalom in Rozniatow

by Simcha Gross


I wish to relate here in front of the readership how the well-known poet and writer from the Land of Israel, one of the leaders of Hebrew literature, Sh. Shalom, came to visit once in Rozniatow during his childhood.

Once, the Admor of Drohobyczh came to spend the Sabbath in Rozniatow, and he brought with him, among his entourage, a young grandchild who was dressed in traditional garb with a spodek on his head like one of the elder rabbis.

Rabbi Hemerling of blessed memory, the rabbi of Rozniatow also had an orphaned grandchild by the name of Mechli who also wore the traditional garb on the Sabbath with a spodek on his head as was customary among the rabbis.

The two children, dressed in their cloaks and shiny spodeks, held hands and went out to stroll in the streets of the town.

The entire town went out to see this splendorous site of the two young “Rebbes” with spodeks on their heads strolling through the town and talking among themselves.

What was the fate of these children? Mechli, the grandson of Rabbi Hemerling of blessed memory is still alive, but I do not know exactly where. However the second child is very well known to me. He is our great, famous nationalistic poet Sh. Shalom, who lives with us here in Israel, may he live to 120 years.


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The Beloved and Pleasant ones

by Mordechai Stern


Godel Schwalb and Godel Yampel were the grandchildren of our neighbor Reb Meshulam Kliger, who was a short person, with a quick gait, and very diligent. He was affluent, for he owned a large store that sold household equipment and other such items. His only son, Eliezer-Bar-Dov, a refined young man, assisted him in his business and his communal work. He came early to the Kloiz every day, and he would study a page of Gemara daily prior to the prayers. Eliezer his son, as commanded by his father, would inquire regarding the neighbors who requires financial assistance. He would also concern himself with setting the prices of the merchandise appropriately so that it would not cause difficulty for the other merchants who were struggling with difficulty for their livelihood.

Godel Schwalb's father was Reb Yisrael Schwalb, a resident of Rozniatow. The parents of Godel Yampel resided in the village of Spas.

Reb Meshulam concerned himself not only about his children, but also made sure that his grandchildren would study Torah. The two grandchildren lived with their grandfather so that he could supervise their education. They were the same age. I studied together with them under the teacher Reb Yehudale Kaufman, as well as in the same class at the public school. The two Godels slept in one bed, and together they shared the sweets of their grandmother Rosia. They celebrated their Bar Mitzvas at the same time. The two of them studied with great diligence. They progressed greatly and attained a high level. They also became proficient in the Hebrew language though self-study. Both of them aspired to make aliya to the Land of Israel. The influence of Moshe Rosenberg, the Zionist leader, was significant upon them.

I met Godel Schwalb in 1934 in Rozniatow during the winter months prior to my aliya. This was at an evening celebration in Sokol. The performance was for the benefit of “the organization which supports travel to the Land of Israel for needy pioneers under the auspices of the Labor Zionists”. A bespectacled youth, with a pleasant demeanor, stood in front of me, and I did not recognize him. Later it became known to me that Godel was the chief speaker of the Revisionist Movement. I was surprised, and apparently he realized that, however it would not be like Godel to disrupt the performance of a rival group. He was not willing to give up his ideas, however on the other hand, he was prepared to help pioneers who wished to make aliya, for there is no greater merit than that. This was a very interesting meeting, and we exchanged memories of the past. This was the final encounter I had with my childhood school buddy, my playmate with whom on occasion I had slept in the same bed. He told me that his cousin Godel Yampel returned to his parents in the village of Spas to assist them with their agricultural work.

Both of them desired to make aliya even in an illegal fashion, however their parents forbade this. Both of them honored their parents, and did not leave their parental home. In any case, “from where would it be possible to obtain an aliya certificate?”, he concluded.

In the summer of 1936, Mr. Lieberman, an aliya representative from the Jewish Agency arrived. He was given the authority by the Mandate government to bring young Jews, who were experts in agriculture, to the Land of Israel. Godel Yampel had the opportunity to make aliya as an agricultural expert. He registered and received a permit. Prior to his departure, Godel Yampel married his beloved, his cousin the sister of Godel Schwalb.

Godel made aliya himself and settled in Petach Tikva. Godel acquired strong horses, and after a few days, he was employed as a ploughman by the orchard owner and poet Streit. The overseer of the orchard was a native of our town and my good friend, Shimon Lustig of blessed memory. To their merit it should be pointed out that in the Streit's orchard, only Jewish workers were employed.

A Purim ball for the benefit of the Keren Kayemet Leyisrael 1935
(note, Yiddish text says 1936)

Seated from the right: Bronka Berger, Dvortza Gelobter, Roza Mintz, Matilda
Prinz, Salka Horowitz and her sister, Reizsha Rechtschaffen, Matilda Hofnung,
Dr. Minkes and his wife, Etka Adlerstein, Blumtza Rechtschaffen.
Behind them: Shabtai Falik, Estzi Treu, Marek Roter,
Rozia Falik, Yehuda Hirsch Stern.

Second row from upper right: Dr. Leon Meiseles, Max Adelstein.
Above them: Philip Fuerst.

In the center holding the scroll: Shabtai Rosenberg, Godel Schwalb

 

There were difficulties of absorption, challenges of language, and work shortages - for him and others, but his dedication to work was boundless. He was very successful. In his small notebook, he recorded the names of the farmers who waited for his work. Now that he was sure of his success, Godel wished to bring his wife to the Land, and he presented an immigration request to the Mandatory authorities. He rented a dwelling in the center of the Moshava and waited for his wife. However the government was not of the same mind. He was imprisoned while he was sleeping in his bed. I immediately decided to work for his freedom, and I began to intercede with the national authorities. He was freed from prison on the eve of Yom Kippur after I made the matter known to Mr. Moshe Chaim Shapira, who served later as the interior minister of the government of Israel. Our fellow native Yisraelke Horowitz the son of Shlomo Shmerel of blessed memory and the Zionist fighter Dr. Ramon Yaval of Petach Tikva, may he live long, both paid a monetary pledge.

About three days later, he was re-imprisoned. The Mandatory authorities wished to imprison him, claiming that he gave incorrect information to the aliya department of the British government, since on his certificate, he indicated that he was a bachelor. They pushed aside all requests for a proper trial that is even granted to confessed criminals. The Hebrew newspapers did not fill their mouths with water, and did mention this strange and unusual occurrence.

Godel Yampel was an enthusiastic Chalutz. He dreamed of settling in one of the Moshavs in the Galilee. He was a member of the “Working Zionists”, and his objective was to make aliya with his wife, and later to bring his parents. However, he was forcibly expelled from the land, and against his will, he was forced to return to Rozniatow, to his wife, parents, extended family, and his cousin-brother-in-law Godel Schwalb. Neither of them merited to make aliya to the Land and to see the establishment of the State of Israel.

This entire large, dear family fell prey to the Nazi claw. Godel Schwalb and Godel Yampel were not separated in life and in death.


Shaya Parish and his Grandson

I knew this family, who lived a few houses away from our house, in the “Rynek” plaza. Reb Shaya had a large cloth store, from which he earned an honorable and substantial livelihood. He was a well-to-do large-scale merchant. He was one of the prime supporters of Reb Itzikel and he fought his battles enthusiastically. Along with his brothers-in-law Reb Tzvi Rechtschaffen and Reb Chaim Schwartz, he made it his business to ensure that Reb Itzikel would be accepted as the rabbi of the city, despite the fierce opposition from a majority of the residents.

During the time of the First World War, Reb Shaya and all of his family, including his daughter Chana and her husband Melech Lustig along with their children, moved to Vienna. Shimshon my friend came to bid farewell along with his parents and his grandparents. They went from house to house, until the home of his brother-in-law Rechtschaffen. Parish's large house remained desolate and empty; however, we, the friends of Shimshon, went to play beside this house specifically. It was as if we were keeping guard, and fulfilling a covenant of friendship.

At the conclusion of the war, Shaya Parish and his wife returned to Rozniatow. Chana and the children, however, remained in Vienna. How happy we were when our friend Shimshon came to visit his grandfather. On that very day, he was sent to the teacher Yehuda Kaufman. The relationship between the grandson Shimshon and the grandfather was particularly close.

Upper left - Shaya Parish
Upper right - Henche Parish
Lower left - Melech Lustig
Lower right - Chana (Parish) Lustig

 

Shimon Lustig
(note - in the text, this
name appears as Shimshon)

 

There was no shortage of fires in Rozniatow. The Ukrainian residents wished to take revenge on the Jews, and they would ignite fires in the middle of the night. There was very little fire-fighting equipment, and most of the houses were built of wood. When a fire would break out, it would destroy a portion of the town. The store and home of Parish in the Rynek, the business center where the weekly fair would take place, was on several occasions a victim of fire.

That year, all of the residents of the town celebrated the holiday of Simchat Torah in the home of Parish. They moved aside the merchandise and furniture, and let the entire house and store be used by the celebrants. Tables laden with delicacies were set up. How great was the joy in the home of Shaya Parish.

About a year later, he sold the white house to Ben Zion Yekel. He left Rozniatow and made aliya to the Land of Israel. He requested that his beloved grandson Shimshon join him.

The Parish and Rechtschaffen families had relatives in Petach Tikva, the Streit brothers of blessed memories. They were communal activists, directors and founders of the agricultural bank, owners of an orchard, and the founders of the Achad Haam High School. One of them was a well-known Hebrew writer. The Streit brothers willfully employed Hebrew workers on their farm. This was the era of “cheap labor”, and the Jewish settlement was suffering from work shortages. The Streit brothers advised Shaya parish to settle in the young town of Herzlia. There, Shimshon would certainly find work, and there were good opportunities to purchase a home and a plot of land. Shimshon worked with all his energy in the blossoming orchard. The grandparents looked upon this with mixed feelings. The absorption was difficult. The climate was difficult for the older people. Shaya Parish was a well-known and respected rich man in Rozniatow, and his decision to make aliya to the Land of Israel created waves in town. However here in Herzlia, the young village, he was lonely and less powerful. He had no regrets, G-d forbid, and was happy with his lot. The most important thing was that he merited to make aliya to the Land of Israel with his beloved grandson Shimshon.

At the time of the writing of these lines, the terrible news of the passing of his only brother Reb Zechariah of blessed memory reached us. He lived in Ramat Gan, and was beloved by all who knew him. He would meet with Rozniatow natives with great joy, even though he did not remember anything of Rozniatow. He was meticulous in observing the commandments. He left a wife and two children.

May their memory be blessed.


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Shimshon Lustig by Yona Lustig

When he was young, his family moved to Vienna, and there he received his education. His grandparents returned to their hometown after the war, however after their store burnt down three times, they decided to leave the exile and settle in the Land.

Shimshon, who at that time was on an agricultural hachshara (aliya preparation) program in Austria, joined them, and in 1925, they all made aliya to the Land.

At first, they joined their relatives, the brothers Yeshayahu and Shalom Streit in Petach Tikva. In accordance with the advice of the Streit brothers, the grandparents and their grandson settled in Herzlia. There, there was no problem with Jewish labor, as there was in most of the settlements at that time. The grandparents' money was sufficient to purchase only a house and small yard, and Shimshon worried about earning a livelihood.

After the death of his grandparents, Shimshon married Yona (nee Kinor) may she live long. He met her at the home of the Streits, their mutual relatives. The couple lived for a few years in Herzlia, and later they moved to the Kfar Ganim neighborhood of Petach Tikva. There they built their home and established their family.

It is important to point out the activities of Shimshon to bring his parents to the Land at the time of the outbreak of the Second World War. His father was imprisoned by the Gestapo, and the certificates that were distributed here in the Land were very few. Shimshon did not spare any effort, and for an entire week, day and night, he kept guard at the doors of the agency offices, until he finally received the requested aliya certificates. Thus, he rescued his parents from the teeth of the Nazi beast. His sister managed to escape to England. However, he never merited to see her again.

He worked in agriculture for all his time in the Land. He rose in rank until he became an overseer of orchards.

He lived a working life, quiet and straightforward. Because of the goodness of his heart and the joy of life that he had in his heart, he was beloved by all who knew him.

His final year, the year that he suffered from his dreadful illness, was difficult to bear, however Shimshon did not worry about himself even at that time. He concerned himself with his family members and tried to hide his pain in order to ease the suffering of his loved ones.

He was one of those to whom our national poet must have surely been referring in his poem:

“May my lot be with you, oh the suffering people of the world...”


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Dr. Sabat by Mordechai Stern

Dr. Sabat was born in Czechoslovakia, which at that time was part of Austria. He fulfilled his duty as an army doctor during the First World War. With the retreat of the Russian occupiers, the Austrian authorities returned to our area, and Dr. Sabat arrived with them. This was the first time that Dr. Sabat met with the “Ostyuda” 4 , which left a strong impression on him. Despite his strange clothing and his strange behavior, he did not distance himself from us. On the contrary, he attempted to set up connections with these Jews.

He discovered quickly that these people had fine souls and healthy intellects. He was astounded by the mutual aid that people would extend to one another despite their difficult circumstances during the war.

In 1917, a typhus epidemic broke out in Rozniatow and surroundings, and Dr. Sabat, as a military doctor, dedicated himself to fighting the epidemic. The home of Yehuda Weissberg, which belonged to the notary, was set up as a hospital. Due to a shortage of space, some of the sick were transferred to the hospital in Dolina. Healthy people who had not been affected were transferred to quarantine camps in Krechowice. The epidemic affected most of the families in Rozniatow. The town suffered greatly, and mourning hit many homes.

In our family, four people, myself included, were stricken, and taken to the hospital in Dolina.

Dr. Sabat worked day and night in order to save people, and his name was mentioned by everybody with the additional praise: “an angel from heaven”. He spent a long time in front of each bed, and despite his difficult work he was always full of good humor. Everyone spoke of his wonderful manners, his courtesy, and his joy when he spoke to anybody.

After the conclusion of the war, Dr. Sabat did not return to Czechoslovakia. He remained in Poland and settled in Rozniatow.

His house was next to the house of the Falik and Kaufman families. His ties of friendship with the Jews of the town were strengthened. Since he was a famous doctor, he took a central place in the societal life of the town. He knew how to encourage and support people, to strengthen tired hands from morning until the darkness of night.

With his great patience, he knew how to relate seriously to anyone, especially to those who required medical assistance. Many of those who required his services were poor, and he supported them with his money.

He attended the Great Synagogue on festivals, and he took his natural place amongst the large crowd. He extended his hand to everyone, as if this was the place where he received his life force.


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Vove Hoffman, Mayor of Rozniatow (Bergenmeister)

Vove Hoffman

 

Vove Hoffman was one of those who attained leadership due to their many actions; actions that are considered together, however each one was important in its own right, and the doer of such deeds would perform them with devotion due to his own enthusiasm and a recognition of the importance of the action at that time. Vove Hoffman attained his position of mayor through a long route, due to many deeds that were necessary in their right time. His deeds were manifold and beneficial to the public with regard to the development and flourishing of the town.

Vove Hoffman was born in Kolusz, and he married Paula the daughter of Meir Teneh of Rozniatow. At that time, Meir Teneh was the mayor. After his death, Walszinowice was elected as mayor of Rozniatow. The Jews of the town thought that, in the interests of peace with the gentiles, it would be preferable to elect a gentile. However it did not take a long time for people to realize about Walszinowice, that even though he was not an anti-Semite, he was incapable of running the civic matters, of protecting the interests of the residents, and of acting for the enhancement and development of the standard of living.

This was the era of modernization and technological progress. The people of Rozniatow had contact with the outside world. They would travel to Lvov, Vienna, Germany and America; they would read newspapers and books, and were very interested in the news and innovations of civilization. In addition, Rozniatow was in the center of many villages, and was fourteen kilometers from Dolina, and therefore it had the conditions necessary to develop as a business and manufacturing center. However, in the district offices of Dolina, the Jews of Rozniatow met with trumped up difficulties that made all efforts difficult. The struggle was very difficult, and when the chance came to choose a mayor, the Jews of Rozniatow preferred a Jewish candidate. They chose Vove Hoffman, who was very intelligent, had a vast knowledge, and was fluent in Polish and German. This honorable candidacy came to him on account of an activity undertaken not to receive a reward, but rather due to the circumstances of communal life. Once he was elected mayor, he acted as a father and a faithful problem solver. He concerned himself with all the needs of the town, however most of his efforts were directed toward the Jews of his town, toward their physical well-being and the maintenance of sanitary conditions. He bore the weight of the public. He took all matters seriously and excelled in his activity and counsel. He insured that roads were paved, that there was adequate lighting, and that the schools were in good shape. He played a major role in the building of the post office, and he took particular pride in the building of the Great synagogue, for which he dedicated supreme activity.

Vove Hoffman, the noble and aristocratic man, was exacting and pedantic. Even though he stood his ground with vigor and was not frightened of anyone, he was loved by all. His uncommon appearance, with his vigor, his long beard like a lion's mane, instilled respect upon everyone with whom he came in contact. However, after a short time, any person would see the gentleness and pleasantness that flowed from him. He left a pleasant impression upon anyone who came in contact with him, and everyone greeted him with obvious reverence.

His orthodoxy did not impact his understanding of the younger generation. Even though he himself was not a Zionist, he taught all of his grandchildren Hebrew. When his grandson Motek Treu left for the Land of Israel at age fifteen in an illegal fashion, the grandfather gave him his blessings and assistance.

On the High Holidays, Vove Hoffman conducted the services in the Great Synagogue. On other holidays, he led the services in the Kloiz. He was an enthusiastic prayer leader. Through his sweet, powerful voice, he was able through his prayers and melodies to arouse the congregants to tears of great joy and celebration.

In 1914, when the First World War broke out and the Austrian army retreated from the town, the Ukrainians prepared to cause trouble for the Jews, who were deathly frightened and confounded. Vove Hoffman attempted with all his might to combat the fear and confusion. He went out with a white flag to meet the Russian army, he found housing for the captains, and he promised that any Russian soldier would be able to take from the stores whatever he wanted, provided that he register his name. Thus, he prevented them from engaging in pillage and murder. He received permission from the authorities to conscript young Jews to the civic militia, so that they would be able to protect the town from any attempt of pillage.

The nationalist Ukrainians hated him and pursued him. When the army garrison changed, they immediately began to contrive against him. The new authorities did not hesitate to demonstrate their strength against the Jews, and they imprisoned him with the intention of exiling him to Siberia.

However, he managed to escape by travelling on foot to Kolusz. He was forced to live in hiding until the Austrian army returned to Rozniatow. Then he resumed his public activities.

His civic duties caused him to neglect his private business, and he often tried to free himself from his job of mayor, however he was unsuccessful in doing so. His honesty and uprightness won the hearts of the residents and officials. He was also revered by his few opponents. When they pleaded with him to stay on, he did not have the strength to refuse, so he answered positively.

Vove Hoffman was an outstanding personality who demonstrated the ability to overcome his private interests. He was characterized by a combination of wisdom and goodwill, benevolence and purity, moral uprightness and responsibility.


{142}

Our Family - From Generation to Generation

by David Stern


Our family, the Stern family, resided in Galicia for many generations, and included praiseworthy and precious people who set up deep roots in Jewish tradition; in whose hearts there were very deep feelings of love of Israel and love of one's fellowman; who inspired with their spirit and their being their entire surroundings; people of fine character, full of reverence for Torah and general knowledge, These larger than life ancestors of ours were our roots.

Our family tree reaches back to Rabbi David the son of Shmuel Halevi Segal (1586-1667), who served with glory as the rabbi of the community of Lvov. He spread the fame of that community widely, for he was well known as mighty in Torah and a great arbiter of Jewish law. He would enlighten the eyes of his students with his methodology of learning. He was the author of the work “Turei Zahav” which explained the Code of Jewish Law and had a comprehensive list of sources. He was full of depth, sharpness, as he cut down to the truth of Torah. His lofty spirit was made known also in his book “Divrei David”, which is an explanation of Rashi's commentary on the five books of the Torah, in which he opens up the gates of light of understanding with his wondrous depth.

In the year 5424 (1664), on the 8th of Iyar, there were attacks on the community of Lvov, and his the two children of the author of the Turei Zahav, Reb Mordechai and Reb Shlomo, may G-d avenge their blood, were murdered.

This era was one of many in the family tree of our family as it spanned the generations. Many fine traits shone out also from my grandfather, Reb Mordechai Stern, the great-grandson of the murdered Reb David Shmuel Halevi. His renown spread out due to his personal charms. His work as the owner of flourmills and fields did not distract him from his labor in Torah.

Even during his youth, all of his acquaintances recognized that he had an open and merciful heart, caring about every soul. He was born in 1809 in Mizon that is near Dolina. According to the request of the elder Admor of Zydaczow, Reb Hirsch of holy blessed memory, he went to live in a village near Rozniatow. Through his generous character, he served as a sign and example to all, and when he died at age 95, in 1904, all of the Jews of the town participated in his funeral. On that day, all of the stores and workshops in the town were closed.

His six sons: Tzvi Yaakov, Zelig, Avraham, Chaim, Moshe and Shlomo, and his three daughters: Chana, Altza, and Feiga, all excelled in their nobility and refined personalities. My father Shlomo Stern owned a store that sold a variety of flour products as well as a general store. Even with all of his work for a livelihood, he found the time and great interest to concern himself with the problems of the public. My mother as well, the daughter of Reb Meir Fruchter, followed the path of my father and dedicated herself to her fellow man - to everyone. Our house was always open, and anyone who entered was accepted pleasantly.

We were several brothers and sisters. Of them, the three brothers Moshe, David and Mordechai survived. They immigrated to the Land of Israel in the 1930s, and live there to this day. Also surviving are the children of our sister Leah, Baruch Tor and his sister Rachel, who immigrated to the United States.

Our father Shlomo and mother Esther, our brothers Yehuda Tzvi and Hirsch, our sisters Leah and Miriam were all killed in the terrible holocaust in 1942.

{143}

Moshe Rosenberg

 

Moshe Rosenberg

His name preceded him. All of the townsfolk, both young and old, knew him. He was the solid pillar, dedicated and faithful to Zion, active in doing sublime good deeds. Is there anyone from among us, Rozniatow natives, who is able to describe Jewish communal and Zionist activism without mentioned Moshe Rosenberg? He was the son-in-law of Reb Feivel Reisler. His major occupation, which he fulfilled with dedication, willingness and without tiring, was for the sake of the community, especially for the sake of Zionism. He was the inspirer of the public, the volunteer, who worried about culture and publicity. Great was his joy when somebody was sent off to the Land. Joy would beam from his face.

Before his eyes was the realization of the dream of the return to Zion. He dedicated himself with love to the upbuilding of the nation and the Land, to changing our lives and setting them onto healthy foundations.



Translator's Footnotes

  1. Giving gifts in secret to the needy (matan beseter), entertaining guests (hachnasat orchim) particularly those in need, and visiting the sick (bikur cholim), are several of many practical manifestations of the commandment of “Love your neighbor as yourself” that are noted in Jewish law. Back
  2. “Who did not know Joseph”, refers to Exodus 1, where a new Pharaoh arose who did not remember the kindness of Joseph, and therefore began oppressing the children of Israel. Back
  3. The last part of this sentence is a quote from the daily Maariv (evening) service. Back
  4. This refers to “Ostjuden”, the Eastern Jews who were more traditional in garb and behavior than the Jews of central Europe. Back

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