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Perehinsko

Jewish Youth in Perehinsko in 5688 – 19311

 

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The Town of Perehinsko

by Avraham Winkler (Bobchio)

It was a settlement in the region of Stanislawow. The Carpathian Mountains were to the south and southwest, and there was a chain of mountains to the East from the Lomnica River. Until the year 1929, when it attained the status of a town, it was considered to be a particularly large village.

In the years 1929/1930 it attained the status of a town so that it would be able to collect more taxes (obviously from Jews) in Eastern Galicia. It had more than 13,000 residents, including 12,000 Ukrainians, a few Polish families, and 1,000 Jewish souls.

In addition to three houses of worship, the Old Beis Midrash, the New Beis Midrash, and the kloiz, there was a charitable fund and a guesthouse.

The Zionist movement arose to life in 1919, in the midst of the First World War2. I remember, and I was ten years old at the time, that my older brothers came home and began to dress up in festive clothes. They told me to do the same. This was November 2nd, the day of the Balfour Declaration. We went out of the house and arrived in the center of town, next to the public school. There, I found all of the Jewish youth. Everyone had a blue and white flag in his hand. I also received a flag. We began to march along the main street. I thought that this was the end of the war, but then they explained to me that this was in honor of the Balfour Declaration that enabled the establishment of a national homeland. This was on November 2nd. The organizers were three youths who had returned from their studies in Vienna. These were as follows:

Alter Hilman, Fishel Mintz, and Yehoshua Yosef Lauber. The latter has two sons who are living in Israel. The youngest is Pinchas Eliav, a senior official in the Foreign Ministry. The elder is Mordechai Eliav, a professor of Jewish History at Bar Ilan University.

Local branches of “Herzlia”, “Hatikva”, and “Shachar” were opened. The Zionist movement found enthusiastic supporters, and the echoes of the ideological excitement in the Zionist organizations of Eastern Galicia reached also to Perehinsko. Every faction set up its local branch, including “Hitachdut”, “Gordonia”, “Beitar”, and “Noar Hatzioni”.

There was one area where there were no factions. This was the dramatic club that put on the plays: “Chasia Hayetoma” (“Chasia the Orphan”), “Yaakov Hanafach” (“Yaakov the Smith”), “Kalandri”, “Kashe Lihiyot Yehudi” (“It is Hard to be a Jew”), “Hazar” (“The Stranger”), “Hakamtzan” (“The Miser”), “Mirele Efrat”, “Hashodadim” (“The Robbers”), and others.

On every holiday, traditional or nationalistic, a celebration was arranged and the money collected went to purchase books for the library, which contained 3,000 books. A Hebrew school was also opened.

On Chanuka of 1932, the “Beit Am” (“House of the Nation”) was dedicated. This building served as a center for all cultural and other activities. It also had a large hall for performances and celebrations.

All of the Jews of the town, with the exception of those who served in ritual positions, such as the rabbi, the shochtim, and the teachers, donated money for nationalistic funds when they had an aliya to the Torah3. Once, a particular merchant refused to donate to the Keren Kayemet Leyisrael (Jewish National Fund). When he wished to lead the services4 one day, the youth protested publicly and did not allow him to do so until he promised to make such donations in the future, and pay a fine.

There were also functioning “Chevra Linat Tzedek” and “Bikur Cholim” organizations, whose job it was to visit the sick and stay with them during the nights, and to provide food if the sick person was alone and had no means.

In 1929-1930, the Pacificzia5 began, and the Ukrainians began to organize themselves to commit destructive acts. They would set fire to the wheat in the fields and in farms. Obviously, they did not neglect the Jewish houses, and every night, a Jewish house was ignited. A self-defense organization was established, whose task it was to guard and protect Jewish property in the event of a fire. Each night, a different group of individuals was on duty. Those who were not on duty slept in their clothing, in order to be prepared if they were called upon.

It happened that they set fire to the house of David Rosenbaum the shochet, a pious, upright, G-d fearing man. We tried to save the most that we could. We removed all of the furniture, and took down the doors and windows. When the insurance adjuster came to estimate the damage, the shochet did not allow his son Shmuel Leib to conduct the business, lest he not tell the truth, and hide from the adjuster the fact that some things were saved. He himself told the truth, even though he did not know Polish. The adjuster said in his own words that he was surprised that a Jew was telling the truth.

A horse dealer named Weisman traveled to the city of Stryj on the day before the market day. He stayed in a hotel next to the train station. In the evening, he left his room, and in the hallway ran into men and woman dressed in festive clothing, whispering and milling about. They told him that a wedding of an orphan girl was bout to take place; however since a dowry of 500 Crown had been promised but there was only 300, the groom did not wish to go to the wedding ceremony. Weisman went to talk to the adoptive father of the orphan girl, and told him that he would be willing to add the 200 on the condition that he be allowed to dance the first dance with the bride (known as the Mitzvah Dance). Obviously, they agreed, and the joy was great.

Nachum Weisman's father was known as a fine man, and he was ready to help his fellowman day or night. Once he saw a Ukrainian beating a Jew, so he approached the gentile and gave him a slap. The gentile fainted, and they carried him unconscious to the hospital. He died a few days later. The police came and arrested Weisman. My grandfather Yitzchak Kanol (the gentiles called him Itzko Holoboti) traveled to Vienna and returned with a pardon for Weisman from Kaiser Franz Josef.

I cannot fail to mention the person of Motka Sharanzal the shoemaker, who excelled in his entertaining of guests. Each day, there were as many as eight or ten guests in his home.

These people that I mentioned here were just a very few, and each one is a world unto himself. It is not possible for me to mention everybody. Each one of us can bring them to our memories even more so, for they are all rooted in the depths of our souls, and will not ever be forgotten, as long as the breath is within us.


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Rabbi David Rosenbaum of holy blessed memory

Shochet and teacher of the community of Perehinsko, Galicia

By A. Brandwein


Reb David the son of the Gaon, Tzadik, and Kabbalist Reb Shmuel Aryeh, a teacher and judge, was of the well-bred stock of the great maggid of Nadworna, and the grandson of the pious rabbi Rabbi David Zlatis. He was known as great in Torah and a great expert in Talmud and rabbinic adjucators. He would issue judgements on practical Jewish law. He was a very honorable person who was beloved by his fellowman. He would greet every person in a friendly manner. The people of his community liked him very much and revered him. They would go to him to be blessed by him and receive advice, whether in personal matters or communal matters.

He was a man of truth, with generous character traits. He would go himself every Friday to check if the eruv was in order6. He was very diligent regarding any mitzvah (commandment). He would give a class daily in the Beis Midrash to the residents of the town, and also to the young men who came to his house. He was very generous with distributing charity, and he would especially collect money to send to the Land of Israel. He was a warm and feeling Jew. When he led services on the High Holy days, he would pour out his soul, and recite the prayers with great sweetness.

He was close to the Admor of Belz, and he married off his daughter Sara to the Admor Reb Yechiel Michel, the Rabbi of Turka-Strettin.

He died there on the New Moon (Rosh Chodesh) of Shvat, 5696 (1936).

His wife was the Rebbetzin Shifra, the daughter of the rabbi and Tzadik Reb Yehoshuale Langnauer of Zhidachev. She was a modest and pious woman, and was renowned for her good deeds. She died on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz in her prime, and left five young children.

Reb David's second wife was Rebbetzin Feiga. She did not merit having children of her own, and therefore dedicated herself wholeheartedly to the raising and education of the children who were in the home. She cared for the children with extra special love, and they reciprocated with honor and reverence, as she deserved.

Her lot was the same as the lot of the rest of the holy community, who perished by fire and water, and by all sorts of unusual deaths, may G-d avenge their deaths. Reb David had one son and four daughters.

His son Reb Shmuel Aryeh was a scholar, who taught Torah in public, both to young and old.

One daughter, Chana (Chantsha) died before the war. Another daughter Rachle was married to Rabbi Yisrael Lipiowker, a Boyaner Hassid and a shochet in his place of residence. They had a daughter and son, Shifra and David. The destruction reached them as well, and they perished along with the community. His youngest daughter Chayale perished in the Holocaust along with the rest of the community. One daughter, Sara, lives in Israel, may she live long and well. She is married to Rabbi Nachum Brandwein7 of Bnei Brak. They have a large, multi-branched family in the Land, who try to continue the dynasty of their holy ancestors. It was from them that we obtained the details about the shochet of Perehinsko.

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Fathers of the Settlement

This was a typical town in Eastern Galicia, with a splendid landscape that overlooked the foothills of the beautiful Carpathian Mountains. It had about 10,000 residents, including several hundred Jews who lived there in relative tranquility. They were merchants, officials, artisans, homeowners, clergy, and simple folk, who lived by the toil of their hands and distributed charity to their fellowman.

During the time of the Holocaust, the cup of agony passed over them as well, and they perished in the furious storm at the hands of the Nazi troops and their assistants, may G-d avenge their deaths. There were only a few isolated survivors who escape due to the grace of G-d, and who have the duty of guarding the coals of memory of these holy martyrs.

The Jews of Perehinsko were dear and pleasant during their life, and in their death they were not separated8. The vast majority of them were murdered in sanctification of the Divine name, may G-d avenge their blood.

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Our Grandfather Rabbi Yitzchak Juner of holy blessed memory, may G-d avenge his blood.

He was an upright Jew, modest, discreet, righteous in all of his deeds, a scholar and a fearer of Heaven. He recited the midnight service9, and he woke up again early in the morning to study Torah and worship.

To hear his recital of “Modeh Ani Lefanecha”10 each morning and his melody when he was studying Torah – these were special experiences that caused the heart to tremble. He was revered and beloved by everyone, especially by his children and grandchildren. The home of their noble grandfather bestowed some of its glory upon them, and set them upon the correct path.

He was very conscientious in receiving guests. He built a special room for guests, and any visitor who passed through the town knew the address of this renowned benefactor. Any poor person who came by received food, drink and lodging, as well as some charity.

Father treated important guests with wisdom and understanding. If a certain Rebbe, or descendent of a Rebbe came to town, as was customary in those days, grandfather would take the guest to his room, and grandmother Chana of blessed memory, his partner, would sleep in a different room. The entire house was turned over to the important guest, who would conduct his Friday evening and Sabbath day table gatherings there in the presence of Jews of the town.

Grandfather was a faithful, well-to-do merchant. He had a good name, was generous, and never hurt or embarrassed anyone. In addition, he was a pleasant prayer leader, and he would lead the prayers on the High Holy Days. The walls of the Beis Midrash would quake when he mentioned the name of G-d during his prayers. On the day that our grandfather of blessed memory donated a Torah Scroll to the synagogue of the town, there was a great celebration in town.

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Grandmother Chana of blessed memory

Grandmother Chana was known as a “woman of valor”, whether in business, or in the entertaining of guests. She worked hard in her preparations, and received every guest and poor person who came to the home in a friendly manner. She assisted grandfather in fulfilling his sublime objectives with diligence and holy awe. Any utterance of his mouth was holy to her.

Our Father and Teacher Reb Yeshayahu Juner of holy blessed memory

He was splendid in appearance and pleasant in his mannerisms. He always had a good-hearted smile on his lips, and there was never a stain on his clothes. He inherited the trait of entertaining guests from his father, and he was well known for distributing charity to anybody in need, and any forlorn soul.

Our father served as the head of the community and a gabbai (administrator) of the kloiz. There were many charity boxes in our home, and he gave to the poor beyond his means. On Sabbaths, wayfarers ate at his table. He gathered them from all synagogues, as he was concerned that nobody should be left without a Sabbath meal.

He did many charitable works throughout his life. He made sure that the poor of the town would receive sufficient wood for fuel. He tried to bring peace between people, and he made sure that the needs of the scholars were met. He gave money for the Land of Israel. On Tu Bishvat, he brought fruit of the Land of Israel to our home, and he instilled a love of Zion in our hearts. He paid for a special tutor to teach the Hebrew language and bible to the local children.

He inherited his pleasant voice from his father as well. He led services with great emotion and feeling, and he served as a prayer leader on festivals and the High Holy Days.

He was beloved and revered by everyone, including the gentiles. He was upright, spoke the truth in his heart, set times for the study of Torah, possessed wonderful character traits, and always acted beyond the letter of the law. He was a Hassid of Belz. He loved his fellow Jew with his whole heart, and gave everyone the benefit of the doubt.

He merited visiting the Land of Israel as a tourist in 1937, and he spent about three months there. He returned home to liquidate his property in the exile, and to make aliya with his entire family to the Land of Israel.

“Many are the thoughts in the heart of man, but the will of G-d prevails”. The war broke out, and he did not merit to fulfil his dream.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. The Jewish and secular years do not correspond here. The Jewish year 5688 would correspond to 1927-1928, not 1931. Back

  2. There is obviously a contradiction of dates here as well. From the context, it is apparent that the year 1917 is meant, the year of the Balfour Declaration. Back

  3. During the reading of the Torah in the synagogue, various people are called up to take part. The honor of being called up to the Torah is referred to as an “aliya”. The number of people receiving an aliya on a particular day varies with the occasion (weekday, Sabbath, festival, New Moon, etc.) In many synagogues, a pledge to charity is made upon receiving an aliya. Back

  4. Weekday synagogue services are often led by a person observing yahrzeit (an anniversary of death of parents) on a particular day. Back

  5. Evidently, some form of nationalistic uprising. Back

  6. On the Sabbath, it is forbidden to carry from a public domain to a private domain, or approximately six feet within a public domain. It is possible to construct an enclosure around a public domain (not a Torah defined public domain but rather a rabinically defined public domain) in order to convert it into a private domain, and thereby allow carrying on the Sabbath therein. Such an enclosure is called an 'eruv'. Often, an eruv is constructed around entire towns. Back

  7. A different husband was mentioned above. This one must have been a second marriage, as presumably her first husband perished in the Holocaust. Back

  8. This is a paraphrasing of the eulogy that David composed for Saul and his sons, recorded in the first chapter of Samuel II. Back

  9. Tikkun Chatzot is a lament over the destruction of the temple that is recited at midnight. It is not an obligatory service, and is generally only recited by exceptionally pious people. Back

  10. The first statement to be made upon awakening in the morning, thanking G-d for returning the soul after the night of sleep. Back

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