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Strzyzow And Its Inhabitants

Itzhok Berglass

Strzyzow my birthplace

Strzyzow was located in Central Galicia, in the southern part of Poland, midway between Rzeszow and Yaslo. The Wisloka River flows through the city. To strangers the name Strzyzow does not mean much. It was known only to Jews living in the nearby cities in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, bordering Slovakia and Hungary...Cities like Strzyzow one could find in the thousands in that part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire…

Spiritually, it was a very rich life, a life of work, study, and spiritual fulfillment. Youths lived a life of dreams about a better future that never materialized. We like to commemorate those people who were always busy doing something for other people, helping the poor and the sick, lending money interest-free to the less fortunate; our parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends who perished by the Satan of Europe. Such a tragedy should never be forgotten.

In 1895, a big fire destroyed the attic and the roof of the shul, and the entire structure of the Belt Hamidrash. The attic of the shul was used as a storage place for the pinkasim. These pinkasim were an irreplaceable source of information for the community. The period of which I am writing is about its ups and downs in the social life of the community and also about its economic life, especially after the First World War. The Zionist movement contributed to the progress and modernization of life in Strzyzow.

Nobody knows exactly when the Jews settled in Strzyzow. In Polish history books, Jews were mentioned since the beginning of the sixteenth century. In the first and oldest cemetery was an old gravestone dated 1703. There were other gravestones, but the dates were worn off. The tree trunks in the cemetery showed signs of very old age. The shul was built four hundred years ago. According to the Polish history books, Strzyzow was founded in the tenth century, and most inhabitants were shepherds, who specialized in shearing sheep. Strzyzow in Polish means shearing, that is how the name Strzyzow originated. In 1241, Strzyzow was still mentioned as a village, but at the end of the thirteenth century, Strzyzow was proclaimed a city.

Since Strzyzow served as an overnight stopover for travelers on their way from Poland to Hungary, they were permitted to sell wine and spirits, and that contributed to the economy of the city. In the sixteenth century, the Arians, a Christian sect, settled in Strzyzow and its vicinity. These settlers contributed to the improvement of life in the city culturally and economically. The entire area was ruled by feudals for centuries. They owned the land, flour mills, brick yards, and breweries, which by the way, was the main industry of Strzyzow and its vicinity until the Second World War. The ownership of these enterprises changed hands. It was passed on from generation to generation... One of the last feudal lords was the head of the Wolkowitzki family whom the Jews used to call "the old man," to distinguish between him and his son who lived in our time. The old Wolkowitzki, took part in the Polish Uprising against the Russian Tzar, and escaped to Galicia where he married a daughter from one of these wealthy families in town, and settled in Strzyzow.

At the beginning of the century, feudalism was abolished by the government. Old man Wolkowitzki, gained his Austrian citizenship with the title of "Count." He was awarded the monopoly to sell wine and spirits and other taxable merchandise, and later leased these rights to Jews. These Jewish lessees had a bad reputation in the community as being mistrustful for their association with the local non-Jewish people. However, they mustered respect out of fear, and therefore, they were always elected to the community leadership. I still remember three such Personalities who served as heads of the community.

Strzyzow Street [31 KB]

Recognize anyone??

Until the end of the nineteenth century, most of the buildings in Strzyzow were wooden structures except a few houses that were built from stone. All the wooden houses were destroyed during the big fire (in 1895) which I mentioned before, and were replaced with brick buildings. The big fire started in the house of Reb Yacov Sturm, the hatmaker. The oven which he used to dry the hats caught fire and within minutes, the whole town was engulfed in flames. The wooden houses with their straw roofs burnt down to the ground, and from the stone houses all that remained was the walls and chimneys. The City Hall, the roof of the shul, the entire structure of the Belt Hamidrash, everything went up in smoke. The local fire fighters with their primitive equipment were not able to help much, especially when most of the equipment was used to save the local church. This fire was remembered for generations, it served as a milestone during conversations. People used to ask when did it happen, before or after the big fire? The townspeople of which the majority were Jewish, suffered heavy losses, and it took many years to rebuild the town, because fire insurance was unheard-of. Therefore, Strzyzow looked like a new little town just built. The town was remarkably clean, and the air was clean and fresh, because of the green meadows and fields surrounding the town, a perfect natural landscape with the Wisloka River flowing through the city. Strzyzow was located in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, 800 feet above sea level, surrounded by pine woods. After the railroad was built at the end of the nineteenth century, Strzyzow was connected with the rest of the country, and this was an important factor in the development of the city.


The population in Strzyzow

The population in Strzyzow was about six thousand people, evenly divided between gentiles and Jews...Most of the Poles were farmers, even those who lived within the city boundaries. Some were employed by the government, and a few were professionals; teachers, doctors, judges, etc. The farmers sold their products to the Jews and in return they bought from the Jews supplies, and items that they did not produce.



How did the Jews make a living

Most of the Jews had little stores in the marketplace. On Market Day, which used to be on Tuesday, the farmers brought to town all their agricultural products, poultry, and cattle for sale. The local Jews and the Jews from the nearby towns who came to Strzyzow on Market Day, displayed their wares on tables and sold it to the farmers. Of course, there were as many sellers as buyers, and everyone struggled to eke out a living. Every city had a different Market Day. During the rest of the year, the people from Strzyzow traveled to markets in nearby cities. There were many Jews who went to the villages and bought directly from the farmers. Since they did not have any means of transportation and had to walk to the villages, whatever they bought they had to carry home on their backs. There were no factories in town except a lumber-mill owned by two Jewish partners. The workers in the mill were all gentiles. There were in town a few tradesmen, tailors, dressmakers, shoemakers, barbers, and a few sheetmetal craftsmen. Jews in the free professions like doctors, lawyers and dentists, were very few. They all came from other places, after they obtained their diploma, they settled in Strzyzow.

Livelihood was very hard. The people struggled all their lives to make a living. From time to time, a salesman from out of town or an agent would show up in Strzyzow to conduct some business. Preachers, scribes, and matchmakers, often visited Strzyzow, and offered their services. They stayed for a few days and left.

On Market Days, an acrobat or a magician would come and perform in the marketplace, and, until the end of the day, nobody would even know if they were Jewish or not until they appeared in shul for the evening services.

There was a group of Jews about whom nobody knew exactly what their occupation was and how they made a living. These people were intelligent self-educated, and used their knowledge to buy all kinds of freight bills or some kind of discount papers, and since the average Jewish merchant did not know how to read or write, they had to rely on these people, as middlemen. Booksellers often came to display their wares in the Beit Hamidrash, sold religious and story books in Yiddish. Occasionally they would secretly sell to young people books from the new Hebrew literature. Out-of-town beggars frequented the town, and went from door to door begging alms. Of course, nobody ever refused them a donation.



The Rabbis in Strzyzow

The most famous of the Rabbis who served in Strzyzow was Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Shapiro from Dynow, the founder of the Dynow Rabbinic Dynasty. After he left Strzyzow his son, Rabbi Elazer, was elected to replace his father. After serving a few years in Strzyzow, Reb Elazer left and his son, Rabbi Shlomo became Rabbi of Strzyzow.

Reb Shlomo served the community in the second half of the nineteenth century. The older people in Strzyzow remembered him well They called him the Munkatcher Rabbi, because he left Strzyzow for the Rabbinical post in Munkatch, the capital of the Carpathian-Ruthenian district…



The community leadership. "The Kehillah"

The function of the Kehillah members was to supervise Strzyzow's few public institutions: The prayer houses, the bathhouse, including also the mikva, and the cemeteries. They also provided flour for matzot and emergency charity needs. The Kehillah paid the salaries of the Rabbi and the ritual slaughterers. The funds came from three sources: The fee for slaughtering poultry and cattle, burial fee, only from those who could pay, and a special annual tax was collected from all the community members, which was assessed by the Kehillah with the approval of the authorities. The taxes were very progressive, not too burdensome, based on income. The upkeep of the prayer houses, provision of firewood were funded by the Kehillah, but small daily expenses were donated by the worshippers. The income from the sale of kosher flour for Passover was distributed among the poor. To purchase land for cemeteries and their upkeep, an inheritance tax was collected similar to the tax which is collected nowadays. This tax was also very progressive, and poor people did not pay, The amount of the inheritance tax depended on the wealth of the deceased, and his generosity when he donated to charity.

The Kehillah members were not paid for their services. On the contrary, it was an honor to be elected to the Kehillah. In the second half of the nineteenth century, and at the beginning of the twentieth century, the head of the Kehillah was always nominated by the gentile landowners of the surrounding land, villages. and the town. Such a nominated head of the Kehillah was Reb Zalman Mohrer, who was a very simple man, He was followed by Reb Yacov Kanner, a member of a very rich family who lived in Strzyzow for many generations. Reb Yacov Kanner was one of the last community leaders nominated by the non-Jewish authorities.

After the abolishment of feudalism, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the system changed, and the Kehillah leaders were elected by the Jewish community. Reb Tzvi Brav who was a newcomer to Strzyzow was the first head of the community elected by Jews. Names of other Kehillah leaders were: My father, Reb Baruch Berglass, Reb Wolf Deutch, Reb Moshe Diamand, Reb Alter Nechemiah, and Reb David Dembitzer, just to name a few. These community leaders had their advisers who ran the show behind the scenes.

One time the Rabbinical dispute and the arguments over who should serve as Rabbi went so far that the Kehillah leader that sided with the Shapiros fired outright Rabbi Alter Zev. But, as mentioned before, because the authorities were on his side, they opposed his firing, and there was nothing the Kehillah could do about it.

Before the First World War, Strzyzow had two outstanding community leaders, Reb Tsvi Brasv and Abraham Keh., Later the leadership went to Reb Wolf Deutch. They all passed away during the war. At the time of the transition from the Austrian rule to the Polish rule in 1918, the head of the Kehillah was Reb Abraham Tenzer. It was a very hard time for the Jews. Pogroms occurred almost daily all over Galicia and in the rest of Poland. After Reb Abraham Tenzer, the leadership passed on to Reb Yacov Greenblatt, followed by Michael Schitz. They also had plenty of trouble because this was the time when the Rabbinical dispute was at its peak. Reb Yacov Greenblatt sided with Rabbi Nechemiah Shapiro, and Reb Michael Schitz was Rabbi Alter Zev's man.

The last Kehillah leader that was elected in a free election was Reb Heschel Diamand. He was young, energetic, sympathetic to the Zionist cause, and was neutral in the Rabbinical dispute. Before the Nazi occupation, he escaped to eastern Poland, and spent the Holocaust years in a Soviet labor camp, After the war, Herschel Diamand emigrated to the United States.

During The Nazi occupation, the Nazis nominated as head of the Jewish community the so called "Juden Rat," Abraham Brav, and his assistants were Yacov Rosen, and Aaron Deutch. The Nazis selected these three men because they were the sons of former Kehillah leaders. These three men did all they could to help the Jews in Strzyzow. They never betrayed anybody in order to improve their own lot, and, of course, they perished with the rest of the people from Strzyzow.



The spiritual and social life of the Jews

Life in Strzyzow was based on an Orthodox-Hassidic foundation, but not too extreme. The relationship between the Hassidim and the progressive segment of the population was very good. The Rabbinical dispute which lasted for generations never affected the relationship between the people. Beside siding with this Rabbi or the other Rabbi, in other aspects of day to day life, there was always peaceful cooperation.

The controversy between the admirers of the Rabbi from Ryzin (later Sadigora), and the Rabbi from Sandz, occasionally reached violent outbursts and once went too far, when the Hassidim of Sadigora caused the arrest of Rabbi Shlomo Shapiro by the local non-Jewish authorities. The Hassidim of the Rabbi from Sadigora were a well-organized group. They used to organize Saturday night get-togethers and helped each other in time of need. Their political representative was Reb Levi Itzhok Schiff, and the spiritual leaders were Reb Baruch Diller and his son-in-law Reb Hershel Gelander.

Reb Hershel Gelander was a fine religious man, a Torah scholar, with a good voice, who for years chanted the prayers on the High Holidays. In later years, the animosity between the Hassidim subsided, and the two opposing groups became more tolerant of each other.

Until the end of the nineteenth century, one could hardly see anyone in town not wearing the typical black coat on weekdays, and a silk coat with a fur hat called a "shtreimel" on Saturday. Women shaved their heads after marriage and wore wigs. Women did not use cosmetics. Jewelry, which was handed down from generation to generation was worn. All the people in town observed all the commandments and stringent religious rules, at home and outside. Trimming beards, reading books and newspapers was forbidden.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, many changes occurred in Strzyzow. People began to wear modern clothes, wearing stylish haircuts, trimmed their beards, and many even shaved them off altogether. People began to subscribe to newspapers and read secular books. Bur still, until the Holocaust, one could not find anyone in Strzyzow who would not observe the Sabbath or eat non-kosher food. Traditions were strictly observed, and everybody spoke Yiddish.

The day usually started by going to the Beit Hamidrash for the morning services. Many people used to get up earlier to study the Talmud and other holy books. During the day, everybody went about their business or occupation. At the end of the day the synagogue filled up with worshippers again who came to the evening services. After the services, people remained in the synagogue, some to study, and some just to chat. There were organized study groups, The long winter nights in particular were used for studying. During summertime, people loved to spend more time outdoors, enjoying the freshness of the summer air.

Women generally stayed indoors, doing household chores and raising children. They rarely visited their women neighbors for a chat. Many women helped their husbands in the stores, especially on Market Days, In the later years, younger couples allowed themselves to take a stroll on a Sabbath afternoon, sometimes even a few couples together. Boys and young men spent their time studying Torah and praying. In summer afternoons, the young people also allowed themselves to go outside for a breath of fresh air, or even take a swim in the Wisloka River. But of course, girls were excluded from such activities. In the late twenties and early thirties, the Zionists organized the youth and taught them how to enjoy life, by singing songs together, playing an instrument, or organizing a play. They read books in Yiddish or Polish. In front of the shul was a big lawn with lush green grass, where the children felt free to run around and play games. However, many times, the sexton who wanted to save the grass for his goats, closed the gates for the children. Sports were unknown in Strzyzow except summertime swimming in the river, and wintertime riding down the hill on a sled.



Sabbath and holidays in Strzyzow

The preparations for the Sabbath began on Thursday when the women did their shopping. Friday at noon the bathhouse keeper appeared in the center of the marketplace and blew his horn, announcing that the bathhouse is ready for visitors. Taking a bath for the Sabbath was a joyous occasion. Even the gentiles frequented the bathhouse. Later in the day, women carried pots of chulent to the bakeries to put them in the oven to keep warm until next day for the midday Sabbath meal.

At candlelighting time, late customers were rushing into the store for last minute shopping, and the sexton Reb Eisik, circled around the marketplace, and called to close the stores, that the Sabbath had arrived and it was time to come to shul to welcome the Sabbath Queen. After Reb Eisik passed away this tradition was discontinued.

Dressed in their best for the Sabbath, the men went to G-d's house for the Friday evening services. On the Sabbath day the services lasted until noon. After a scrumptious meal, the older people took their afternoon naps, and the young people went for a stroll in the fields or nearby woods. Taking a nap on a Sabbath afternoon was one of the luxuries reserved for the Sabbath only. On weekdays nobody had time for such a luxury. Later, after the nap, everyone went back to the shul for the evening services, and if it was too early for the end of the Sabbath, they strolled up and down the marketplace, which was also the main street in town.

When the holidays were approaching, the town was bustling with preparations, and excitement, especially the Passover holiday. Actually, soon after one Passover was over, people began to get ready for the next Passover. Summertime, when the fruit season started, the women busied themselves preparing all kinds of preserves for Passover. Then, when the grain harvest came along, the Jewish farmers from the villages around Strzyzow took extra care while harvesting wheat, to keep it dry and kosher for matzo flour.

At the beginning of the winter, around Hanukkah time, the geese were at their best. Goose fat and chicken fat were staple food in every Jewish home. This was the only fat used on Passover, and therefore, it had to be prepared during the winter. On Passover nobody, even the closest friends, ever shared food, or for that matter, any dishes, with anybody else out of fear that they were not careful enough in observing the laws concerning kashrut and chometz.

AT the beginning of this century, the wheat for matzo flour was stone ground. Later the Rabbis permitted under their supervision the preparation of flour in water mills. Flour for matzot was sold exclusively by the Kehillah, and the profits went for the poor.

A month before Passover, the bakers began to prepare their bakeries and made them kosher for baking matzot. Every household prepared a barrel of borsch far Passover. Normally the fermentation of the beets for the borsch rook about a month, And of course, everybody made his own wine from raisins for the required four cups on the Seder Nights. Those who could afford it, allowed themselves to order from the big city a bottle of Carmel wine from Eretz Israel.

Everybody participated in baking their own matzot. The fresh baked matzot were put carefully into a white sheet, and carried home on a pole on the shoulders of two people. At home the matzot were hung up from the ceiling on a special hook put there for that purpose. On the eve before Passover, the Passover dishes were brought down from the attic, where they were stored during the year. The everyday dishes were taken away, and hidden out of sight. All these preparations were made with inner spiritual happiness in anticipation of the spring and freedom festival.

In the synagogues, the big chandeliers were glistening from the polish they just received. All the children wore new clothes. This was their happiest moments of the year. Later into the night the sound of Passover songs were heard from all the homes in town. Between the first two days and the last two days of Passover which is called "Chol-Ha-Moed," guests from out of town came to visit their relatives, and prearranged meetings by matchmakers of marriage candidates took place. Only on the last day of Passover the strict observance of Passover kashrut was relaxed and people visited each other to taste the delicacies which each housewife prepared and was proudly anxious to show off.

A distinctive feature of Passover was the escorting by Jewish family members the gentile water carriers to and from the city water pumps. The Jews feared that the water carriers might tamper with the water and will become not kosher for Passover. (Until the destruction. Strzyzow did not have running water nor electricity.)

Between Passover and Shavuot, a light mourning period was observed. No weddings, haircuts, or swimming in the river was permitted. (The water in the river was cold anyway.) On Lag-B'Omer the mourning stopped for a day, and it was a children's holiday. The melamdim and their helpers took the children out into the fields, every child was armed with a bow and arrow, and they played soldiers. The arrows sometimes caused light injuries.

On the Shavuot holiday, the homes were decorated with greenery symbolizing spring. This was the peak season for dairy products, and the menu was: Cheese cakes, cheese kreplach, sour creme, and sour milk, everything homemade.

On Tisha B'Av, the day when the holy Temples were destroyed by the Romans and the Greeks, the tables and benches in the synagogues were turned upside down, as a sign of mourning. No kerosene lamps were used, only candles, everybody fasted that day, and leather shoes were forbidden. After Tisha B'Av when the days became shorter and the evenings longer, people remained in the synagogues after the services to study the holy books. These studies continued all winter until Passover.

As the High Holidays were approaching, the sound of the shofar was heard daily from the interiors of the synagogues, as it is customary to blow the shofar daily. Some people blew the shofar during the day for training purposes for the upcoming High Holidays. Many people were traveling to other cities to visit their parents' or relative's graves, as it is customary before the High Holidays. Many strangers were also seen in Strzyzow, who came to visit the graves of their relatives.

Traditional "Slichot" were conducted in the early morning hours of the last Sunday before Rosh Hashana. The Hassidim of Sadigora conducted their services at midnight. In the predawn hours the sexton went from door to door, knocked with a wooden mallet, and called: "Children of Israel, arise and come to worship the Almighty!" The services on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur were solemn. On the second day of Rosh Hashana, the entire community turned out at the river to say "Tashlich." There was a tradition that after finishing the prayer, people emptied their pockets into the river, symbolizing the throwing of their sins away. The children used to fill their pockets with challah crumbs and empty them into the river, and the fish happily devoured these crumbs. It seemed that the fish were waiting for such a treat which came only once a year.

Early in the morning on Erev Yom Kippur, the Schochet went from house to house to slaughter the "Kaparot." This is an old tradition, that every Jew is required to get a chicken for each female and a rooster for each male in the family, to hold it over the head and recite a prayer. After this ceremony the chickens were either given away to the poor or slaughtered and a donation was given instead. Yom Kippur started early afternoon by praying the afternoon prayers in the synagogues. At the completion of the services, everybody passed a table with collection plates for different charities and donated generously. There was another tradition on Erev Yom Kippur after the afternoon services, a very peculiar one. A small rug was spread out on the floor and all adult men lay down and the sexton with a whip in his hand flagged them symbolically as an atonement for their sins. And of course, the sexton was given gratuity for his service.

At home a lavish meal with kreplach stuffed with meat was waiting for the whole family. After the meal was finished, the head of the family, with teary eyes bestowed a blessing upon the children's heads and wished everyone a Happy New Year. Of course the women also joined in the shedding of tears, while wishing each other a Happy New Year, they asked each others forgiveness for any misbehavior during the year. Then, the entire family went to the synagogue. On the way to the synagogue they stopped at the neighbors homes and extended best wishes, and asked their forgiveness for any transgressions that they may have committed during the past year. The Jewish farmers from the vicinity around Strzyzow used to leave their homes, and their households in the hands of their non-Jewish friends, and came to town for the High Holidays. In later years, they established their own places of worship where they conducted the services lead by people they hired from the city.

Soon after Yom Kippur, the peasants from the villages knew already that it was time to bring to town pine branches and sell them to the Jews for the Sukkoth holidays. The branches were used to cover the Sukkoth. In every backyard a Sukkah was erected for the holiday. The decorations for the sukkah was the children's responsibility, especially the girls. A lot of effort was invested by the youngsters to show their artistic talents, by decorating the Sukkah, and preparing flags for Simchat Torah. There were no ready made flags in those days, therefore, all the children had homemade flags. Men spent time in the Sukkah not just to eat meals, but also singing songs, and entertain their neighbors. In fact, in those days, the Sukkoth holiday was exclusively a man's holiday. The women were busy preparing and delivering food To the Sukkah, and the men enjoyed themselves. Since Sukkoth is always in the fall, and in eastern Europe, fall is sometimes very cold, often the rain disturbed the sitting in the Sukkah, and forced the people to escape into the house. Then, the town joker used to say, that when it rains, he enjoys best the holiday by eating in the house. When the weather was cold, everybody had to bundle up to keep warm, nevertheless, it was fun.

On Simchat Torah night the Rabbi was escorted to the synagogue with dance and songs. After an afternoon of drinking and celebrating, the spirits were high. The shul, the Beit Hamidrash, and the kloiz were lighted bright, filled with people with shining faces, and children were parading with their multi-colored flags topped with apples. Stuck in the apple was a burning candle, and not one flag went up in flames, to the children's sorrow. A remarkable thing in all the holidays was, that, on the second night of any holiday, during the intermission between Mincha and Maariv services, the prayer houses were packed to the capacity with people studying the holy books, and it was hard to find a seat, or the desired book. People were rested and did not have to be up early next morning so they studied in a most relaxed way.

Hanukkah was not much of a holiday. However, it was a happy time for the children. When the sexton lighted the Hanukkah candles in the Beit Hamidrash or kloiz, and while he recited the blessing the children were allowed to make all kinds of disturbances, screaming and throwing snowballs at the poor sexton. This was a tradition of unknown origin. During Hanukkah, people used to gather at the Rabbi's house to watch him light the Hanukkah candles and sing Hanukkah songs together. During the ceremony the Rabbi wore his Sabbath shtreimel and his silk coat. As the people started to leave, everyone handed to the Rabbi Hanukkah gelt. No presents were exchanged in those days. The Zionists had fund raising parties for the Jewish National Fund. The next holiday was Tuv B'Shvat, which was celebrated only by eating fruit from the holy Land, Eretz Israel.

When the Purim holiday was approaching, signs were put up in the prayer houses with pictures of two fish, a glass of wine, and clasping hands. In Jewish tradition the symbol of the month Adar is fish, because fish is considered good luck. Therefore, the month Adar in which the Purim holiday is celebrated is considered to be a lucky month for Jews. The clasping hands wishing l'chaim symbolized merrymaking.

On Purim, the streets were crowded with masked people, who went from house to house, performing a Purim spiel, or singing songs, for which they received a donation. Also messengers were hurrying with plates covered with embroidered handkerchiefs and filled with delicacies as it is customary on Purim to send Mishloach Manot.

Purim was a holiday of giving charity. The head of the family sat at the head of the table loaded with cakes, cookies, hammantashen, candies, fruit, wine and liquor. When people soliciting donations, or poor people who were asking alms came into the house, they were invited to sit down, have a drink and taste the delicacies. Then everybody received a generous donation. On every holiday, including Hanukkah and Purim, the clerical functionaries used to get gifts from the well-to-do, and also from the average people. An exception were the ritual slaughterers. They had a regular salary, and wintertime, one leg from each goose or chicken belonged to them. They also had free meat from the butchers.



Family life in Strzyzow

Family life in Strzyzow was generally good, even though romance as we know it nowadays did not exist. Matchmaking was made by professional matchmakers or by friends. Therefore, whenever a matchmaker proposed a match for a son or a daughter, the concerned parents begun to gather information about the family background of the marriage candidate, his or her parents, and their financial situation. The information gathering was done with the help of friends and relatives who lived in the city of the proposed match. If what the matchmaker told about the candidate turned out to be true, a meeting was arranged, and both parties worked out an agreement about the dowry, wedding, and any other problems concerning the welfare of the young couple. And at last, love came for the young couple.

If the parents of the bride did not fulfill all the promises, then a dispute broke out before the wedding. However, the parents always found a way to smooth things out. These arguments never affected the newlyweds.

In later years when the Zionist organization sprang up all over Galicia, and young people of both sexes began to meet more freely, as a result of such fraternization, some marriage came about without matchmakers.

[25 KB] Strzyzow Street

Jewish life was very conservative. Even the people who were rich and better off than others, led a thrifty life, always saving money for dowries, for their daughters, and in some cases, also for their sons. Family celebrations such as wedding or the birth of a child were celebrated only within the family or very close friends. When a baby was born, especially when the baby was a boy, men were invited Friday night to a welcome male party, during which beer and garbanzo beans were served. This was a tradition for generations. Lavish parties were unknown. However, wedding celebrations were celebrated on a larger scale. Even the not so well-to-do people used to borrow money and make a rich looking wedding.


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