(Poběovice, Czech Republic 49°31' N 12°48')
by Jar. Polák-Rokycana, Prague
Translated from the original Czech by Jan O. Hellmann/DK.
Edited in English by Rob Pearman/UK
On the western border of Bohemia, in a beautiful valley beneath the mountains of Lyssa (Lysá) and Hirschstein (Jelení Hora), stands the small town of Ronsperg (Poběovice). The Jewish presence in Ronsperg can be traced back to the 16th century.
The first synagogue was apparently located in what had been a gentile part of the town. The second prayer house was in an attic room within the house of the shoe manufacturer, Otto Mandler. A building similar to the Alt-Neu (Old-New) synagogue in Prague was first constructed in 1816. In the same building, there were also rooms for the Jewish school and an apartment for the rabbi.
In the early times, there was a large yeshiva in Ronsperg. A few years ago, on the site of today's synagogue, a mikvah was discovered, together with a large stone bearing a Hebrew inscription. According to this inscription, the famous scholar Baal Schem bathed in this mikvah from the year 1744. In its heyday, the Jewish community of Ronsperg counted some 240 souls. Already by 1893, that number had come down to 130. Today there are just some 50 Jews in this small town.
Today's community is extremely well led by Siegmund Mandler, whose humanity and compassion were clearly shown in the care of refugees. His deputy is Heinrich Lampl, and the committee consists of Richard Österreicher, Siegfried Mandler, Michael Eisner, Rudolf Lederer and Herman Klauber. The treasurer is Adalbert Weil, Chief Inspector of Taxes (retired).
An indication of the popularity of the Jews in Ronsperg is that three Jews are represented on the town council, namely Siegmund Mandler, Michael Eisner and Ing. Moritz Klauber. The chairman of the synagogue is Heinrich Lampl. Among the previous chairmen, the following names can be seen in the records: Bruml, Stern, Spatz and Rabbi Bernhard Glaser (now living in Mies/Měchov).
The Jewish community covers the communities of Ronsperg (Poběovice), Metzling (Meclov), Wassersuppen (Nemanice) and Hasselbach (Lísková). These also have a combined Chewra Kadisha, the chairmen of which have been Hermann Weisshut, Gustav and Abraham Langschur. It is the last named of these that we have to thank for the restoration and cataloguing of the cemetery.
The following outstanding Jewish community members should be mentioned: the philanthropist, Abraham Langschur; the scientist, Professor Dr. Starkenstein of Prague University (one of whose ancestors was Schemen Rokeach); also two industrialists: the late Heinrich Österreicher of Wassersuppen (Nemanice) and Bernhard Wetzler - a leading industrialist in Vienna from Metzling (Meclov). The old community in Metzling also had a prayer room and cemetery, but neither has been in use for the past 50 years. What is today the very poor community of Ronsperg does not have an archive. However, many Jewish documents are to be found in the archives of Count CoudenhoveKalergi.
Abraham Langschur was born in Ronsperg on 22 June 1841 in house no. 45. He had a twin sister (Rosa). After attending the local Jewish and public school, he moved on to the bilingual secondary school in Taus (Domalice). He undertook an apprenticeship with the company of Michael Teller, a sugar factory in Prague. He later had a good job as factory clerk at the company of Jacob Fürth in Schüttenhofen (Suice). Returning to his home town, he married Phillipine, the daughter of Moses Grün from Tauchar on 16 June 1869 with whom he was happily married for 54 years until his death on 3 September 1923. He was for many years the leaseholder of the Ronsperg brewery, which was owned by Count Coudenhove.
He dedicated himself to the Ronsperg Kehilah and to the synagogue, which was close to the brewery. He was the chairman of the community many times and for more than 40 years the leader of the Chewra, and as such was very much concerned with the old Jewish cemetery. He produced many books containing descriptions of the graves and collected a great deal of money for this purpose, especially from America. Although he was not a rich man, he donated many pieces of jewellery to the synagogue.
His marriage produced no fewer than 12 children, of which nine survived into adulthood, including six daughters, for all of whom he was able to find a husband. Of the three sons, the middle one unfortunately died in the war, to Abraham's great sorrow.
Abraham was a punctual participant in all services in the synagogue and, when he was not present, then everyone knew that he was unwell.
He gave his children a good religious education and for many years served as Baal Tekia at Rosh Hashanah. He was also well respected by citizens of other faiths and for many years a member of the town council and member of the board of the savings bank. He brought honour to the name of Langschur beyond the borders of the town. He was, of course, an active member of many Jewish humanitarian associations, and also a member of the Bohemian Jewish Organization. His name will be immortal in the chronicles of this small Ronsperg community.
After his death at the age of 83, his wife continued the charitable work: no poor person ever left her house without a gift. After being a widow for five years, she followed him into her grave on 28 April 1928, having during her life been an 'Esches chajil' ('woman of virtue').
Many historical stories about Ronsperg are to be found in the work of Schön: 'Die Tachauer Judengeimeinde' ('The Jewish Community of Tachau/Tachov'), an interesting historical treatise.
Yeshiva = religious Talmudist schoolLinks
Mikvah (Mikveh) = ritual bath
Chewra Kadisha = burial brotherhood/association
Killah (Kehilah) = community
Baal Tekia = shofar blower
Rosh Hashanah = Jewish New Year
http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pob%C4%9B%C5%BEovice - History of the town (in Czech).
http://www.pobezovice.cz/?module=dokument&action=display_dokument&id=6060 - Pictures of the town.
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