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Characters {Cont.}



[Page 181]
Abram Goldkorn

by Avi Menachem

Translated by Ricky Benhart (nee Schikman)


He was born in 1908 of Chassidic parents. His father, a Gerer Chassid, not even thinking that his son might one day become an artist, raised him in a religious manner. He went to cheder and later, until the age of fifteen, he studied in the Beit Midrash (higher religious education, like a yeshiva). He started drawing just like that. He felt a deep urge to draw, until one day by chance, he was brought together with the renowned Jewish artist, Henryk Gotlib, who saw Goldkorn's drawings and he advised him to study art.


Bed-181b.jpg [17 KB] - Abram Goldkorn
Abram Goldkorn

In 1928 he left his parents' home and traveled to Belgium where he studied art in the Academy of Art and Painting.

He went through very hard times in the large foreign world – the accepted life of an artist, which didn't shock him. The urge to study was strong, until he became one of the most prolific painters in Paris. He started painting around social themes. His painting style underwent various changes. He searched for new expressions in art.

In 1940 he fled to France, where he took on an active role in the French underground resistance. After the war he settled in Paris. In 1946 he exhibited his large painting depicting the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. It depicted the imbalanced and amazing battle of Man against Beast. At the time, this painting caused a tremendous impression on the artistic world and Goldkorn became famous.

He distanced himself from realism, looking to express the ideas of his paintings in an abstract fashion (e.g. Abram and the Angels). He was also a master of graphics, one of his most beautiful works being “L'Image Sepharadique” [the Sephardic Image], which is an album of 19 renditions and woodcarvings from the Sephardic Golden Age which he collated in a marvelous edition including a forward by Jean Casseau, historical text by Cecil Roth, and translations of Juda Halevi, Szmul Hanagid, Abraham Abulafia, Rambam, Abarbanel and others. In this work there are imposing portraits of major Jewish figures.

Fourteen months, day and night the artist labored at this work, which certainly belongs to one of the most fabulous editions around.


[Page 182]


The portraits radiate something mystical, which the artist took with him from the Beit Midrash in Będzin through his distant travels over Belgium, Toledo, and Paris. Goldkorn wandered around at length through the streets and alleys and synagogues of Toledo, Sevilla and Cordova, looking for the roots of the past, recognizing the wonderful era and its contributors and brought them back to life for us in his book. Goldkorn is one of the Jewish artists who forged a new road in Jewish painting.


Bed-182a.jpg [19 KB] - Oil painting by A. Goldkorn
“The Jewish Uprising in Warsaw Ghetto”
oil painting by A. Goldkorn


Abram Szymon (Szymele) Rotenberg

by D. L.

Translated by Ricky Benhart (nee Schikman)


Born in 1894 in Będzin, his father, Jicchak Jehoszua had a fruit store. Who in Będzin didn't know Jehoszua Rotenberg's cellar, where you could get peanuts, pumpkin seeds, pretzels, sunflower seeds, etc.


Bed-182b.jpg [14 KB] - Abram Szymon (Szymele) Rotenberg
Abram Szymon (Szymele)
Rotenberg


His mother, Dobrysz, a good soul, was one of the most interesting types in the city. Quietly, without making a fuss, she took care of the poor who were ashamed to stretch out their hands for help, and helped them secretly, (thereby letting them keep their dignity). More than one poor home was set up for Shabbat thanks to Dobrysz, Szymele's mother's intervention.

Szymele received a traditional education, going to the cheder whilst receiving private lessons at home to study Hebrew.

In 1924 he left to study in Vilna. After a couple of years he came back to Będzin, graduated from the university and became a co-worker in the “Zagłębier Newspaper”, where he wrote articles concerning Jewish cultural life in Zagłębie and also he served as a literary critic. He worked simultaneously with the American Yiddish Press. In this free time he took up painting. He was a good “paysagiste” [landscapist], painting all the crooked streets, an area in Będzin referred to as “under the hill”, the castle, the river, the synagogue. He liked to paint his hometown Będzin. Szymele also took part in the political part of life. He was a friend of the workers of Israel and for a while he was president of the “Committee for a Working Israel” organization in Będzin.

In 1929 he began gathering material for his epic work “The Illustrated Almanac of Jewish Zagłębie”. This encompassed the history of all the Jewish communities of Zagłębie. When the book was ready for publishing the Second World War broke out, and the author and his work shared the same fate as all the others of Zagłębie Jewry.

On August 1, 1943, Szymele Rotenberg, together with the last remaining Jews of Będzin was dragged off by the German murderers to the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

Honor to his memory!



Mordechai Berisz Rotenberg

by Liw.

Translated by Ricky Benhart (nee Schikman)


He was born in Będzin in 1903 to father Jehoszua and mother Dobrysz, who was well known as a good storyteller. They did not exercise any influence on the education of the young Mordechai Berisz. On the other hand, he was greatly influenced by the frequent discussions of the group of labor intelligentsia who would visit his father's fruit cellar and discuss with his parents and brothers about Zionism and socialism.

At 15 he was drawn into the labor movement and threw himself into it with enthusiasm and efficiency and became the leader of the “Borochov Youth”. At the same time he learned a vocation and worked as a carpenter.

Over the last 10 years he was the activist of the Leftist Poale Zion in the city, excelling in his quick grasp of matters at hand. He was amongst the most powerful orators, appeared at all the election meetings, debating with polemics with the opponents' parties, especially with the Bund.

His influence was recognized not only in Będzin but also in the Poale Zion movement in the whole of Zagłębie.

In 1925 he went to Israel, where he worked as a street cleaner in Tel Aviv. He came back to Będzin where he was elected to the City Council. As the representative of the Poale Zion in the community, he was a permanent delegate at all the party conventions and was a member in the executive party council of the Poale Zion in Warsaw. Later he was also one of the activists of the dramatic club Mooza. In his free time he translated Polish literature into Yiddish.

In 1942 he was sent by the Germans to a concentration camp from whence he never returned.


[Page 183]


Dawid Zitman

by D. L.

Translated by Ricky Benhart (nee Schikman)


He was born in Czeladź, near Będzin in 1898 to a respected family. He studied in cheder where he was considered to have a good head for learning. He was orphaned as a young child of his father and at 13 was forced to go to work in order to earn a livelihood. At 15 he went to Łódź where he worked as a laborer and then became a Hebrew teacher. He tried his hand in business.

He published his first poems at the age of 15 in a Łódź newspaper. Later he contributed to the notebooks of young Yiddish poets in collections called “Young Jewish Poetry”, “Roads”, “The Field”, and other Łódźer publications. He also participated in Dawid Igentav's collection called “Writings”. In 1921 he published a book of poetry called “On the Crossroads of Distances I Fall”. Suffering from hunger and poverty he became very ill. He wandered from one hospital to another and died alone and lonely in a hospital in Breslau [Wrocław] in 1921.



Dawid Micmacher

by D. L.

Translated by Ricky Benhart (nee Schikman)


He was born in 1904 not far from Będzin. He came to Będzin as a young child with his parents, went to cheder and later to a Russian public school. He started to work at a young age, and came to Warsaw where he became a sales representative in a large iron factory.

In 1924 he published his first stories and sketches in “Ilustrated Week”. Later on he worked with a number of editors of young writers such as “For Young and Old”, “The Jewish Weekly”, “Literary Collections”, etc. In 1926 his book appeared entitled “The Rag Collector”. That same year he received a literary prize in a competition organized by the American Yiddish newspaper called “The Day”.

In his last years Dawid Micmacher was very active in the Yiddish literary club in Warsaw. His house was a meeting point for young writers. Being financially well off, he supported his fellow writers who were poor. He published a series of sketches depicting the typical characters of Będzin in the “Zagłębie Newspaper”.

He was deported by the Germans.



Jicchak Rudoler

by D. L.

Translated by Ricky Benhart (nee Schikman)


He was born in 1884 in Będzin. His father, Hersz-Szmelka, made an effort to give him an education that was not conventional for the time. He went to cheder till the age of 12 and simultaneously his father let him study with a private tutor both Polish and German. At 16 he was already working in the machine factory belonging to Mr. Goldberg, later he worked by Opoczynski, and in the big lock factories of Hartman in Sosnowiec. In 1906 he was mobilized into the Russian army. He was stationed for 3 years in the Caucasian mountain area. When he was discharged from the army, he became a master workman in the iron factory of Salomon Gutman.

In 1914, during the First World War, Rudoler went to Germany in order to qualify himself as a template specialist. He worked in a large factory in Dusseldorf. When he came back to Będzin in 1917, he opened his own lock factory in Będzin. At that time he was elected as secretary to the Będzin Manual Laborers Club. Because of his background in manual labor activities, a year later he became president. He was also active in the social aspect of the political life in the city. He became a committee member of the charity organization called “Dobroczyńoć”, which did a lot of work for the poor people.

In 1926 Rudoler settled in Warsaw. Here, too, he quickly became one of the activists and took a zealous participation in manual labor of the capital, as well as becoming a member of the Central Manual Labor Committee of Poland and president of the Jewish master foremen in Warsaw.


Bed-183.jpg [13 KB] - Icchak Rudoler
Icchak Rudoler


In 1933 he was decorated by the Polish government with a bronze cross for his efforts, devotion and accomplishments. However he didn't let the titles and awards go to his head. Looking at the discriminating politics of the Polish government against the Jews, he understood that the Jewish manual laborer has no future in Poland. And so he decided to leave Poland.

Disregarding his respected and influential position in society and particularly in the world of the manual laborer, Jicchak Rudoler decided to leave his home, his friends, his awards and high positions, and in 1934 he left for Israel. Here he became a pioneer, founded a factory called “Tuval”, the first manufacturer of portable gas cookers that were known in Israel as primus. During that time he succeeded in bringing 20 orphans from Warsaw to Israel. He educated them and established them as qualified professional laborers. In 1937 the factory in Akko [Acre] was burned down by Arabs. It was arson. Again Rudoler started all over anew. He opened a lock factory in Tel Aviv. His work for the Będzin Émigrés Organization is particularly noteworthy, which was an organization to help the immigrants from Będzin to fit into their new life in Israel and it was the first of any such an organization in the country. Rudoler was president of this organization until 1946, when he died and was buried in Tel Aviv.


[Page 184]


Chaim Dawid Grosman

by D. L.

Translated by Ricky Benhart (nee Schikman)


He was born in 1863 in Olkusz, not far from Będzin. His father came from a very highly regarded family background, Reb Duwidl Lelewer, however worked as a laborer. He worked with his hands, and chose a profession for himself which was rare among Jews, that of a wall builder. He also raised his son, Chaim Dawid in the spirit that a man must work for a living and taught him a vocation. In 1890 Chaim Dawid settled in Będzin where he married. He was one of the first builders of this new city, and fulfilled himself by his educating himself in different vocations. He was the first photographer in Będzin, and when the first cinema existed in the city, he became the first operator of the cinematographic equipment. Still these were extra jobs for him. His chief occupation was water installation. When he first settled in Będzin there were still no water pipes in the city, and Chaim Dawid took care of maintaining and fixing the water wells in the city, from which the Będziner water carriers supplied water to the homes of the city. Only later on, when the city started to develop, and new streets were built with modern houses, only then did Chaim Dawid become a real water installer- a plumber. He was also active socially, one of the founders of the “German” school, and one of the first members of the committee of “Hazamir”. Apart from this, it is important to note his work for the Manual Labor Club, from which he was one of the founders and an active member until the end of his life. In 1919 he was elected as Manual labor councilor on the Będziner City Council.

He was valued in the city as an honest worker, a professional master and a sincere social activist.



Dr. Chaim Perl

by Dawid

Translated by Ricky Benhart (nee Schikman)


He came with his mother from Russia and settled in Będzin. Even when he was a student in the Russian high school, he was drawn into revolutionary circles. He was raised in an assimilated spirit, but because of his political activities he became interested in Jewish problems, and joined the Bund, where be became in a very short period one of its most active members.

In his activities in Będzin he started by founding, with the help of a group of young social workers, a free school for the Talmud Torah children, where they were taught Yiddish and general worldly studies.

Thanks to his energy and vigor he succeeded in studying and becoming a doctor. He became very attached to Będzin, and started his medical practice there. At the beginning the population did not have confidence in him for two reasons:

First of all he spoke with his patients Yiddish because he used to say that it was better to speak a good Yiddish rather than a broken Polish.

Secondly he did not write expensive prescriptions.

However, in a short time, he became one of the most popular doctors in the city, especially amongst the common people.

Dr. Perl took an active role in the political and social life of the city, and was elected by the Bund as councilor. He was also one of the most active members of the “Hazamir” organization until the last moment.

In 1943 he was taken together with his wife and child and perished in the gas chambers in Auschwitz.



Herman Szer

by D. L.

Translated by Ricky Benhart (nee Schikman)


He was one of the most popular people in the city, both as a person and as a doctor. He came to Będzin from nearby Sosnowiec, where he had a large practice, particularly amongst the non-Jewish workers population. He declared that he wanted to come to Będzin to breathe in the air of the Jewish city.


Bed-184.jpg [14 KB] - Herman Szer
Herman Szer

He was quickly recognized as one of the best diagnosticians with whom eminent doctors consulted. As a person of the people he used mostly the Yiddish language to speak. As soon as he walked into a patient's room he had a positive affect on the sick person, because of his constant good disposition and sense of humor. He never refused when he called to see a sick person. He was also learned of the Talmud, as well as a Zionist, and a regular contributor to the “Zagłębie Newspaper”, where he would write about medical and social questions and issues.

He was deported with the last Jews of Będzin to Auschwitz in 1943.


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