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[Page 225]

Our Landsman Abraham Rosenberg

By Icek Fajgenbaum

Translated by Renee Miller

Edited by Fay Bussgang

Abraham Rosenberg was born in Brzezin. He studied in khadorim [religious schools] and the Hebrew day school “Javneh,” as well as completing the powszechna [Polish elementary] school. He was one of the founders of the leftist Poale Zion youth movement in Brzezin. He was also active in cultural and sport groups. He came to America through Argentina. Here he attended high school and went to work in a women's clothing factory. He became active in the circles of the local trade union movement and became an officer in Local 22 of the “International” [International Ladies Garment Workers' Union], of which David Dubinsky is the president, and participated actively in the cultural work of the organization.

Although he is not among the most active leaders in the local Brzeziner colony, he stepped in, however, when the Relief and Rehabilitation Committee undertook various projects to help the survivors. He became very involved when the Shikkun Brzezin [apartment project] was being built in Israel and gave his enthusiastic support for the work of publishing this book.

Abraham Rosenberg inherited the love of our shtetl from his father. He displayed this affection in his lyrical, nostalgic portrayal of the Brzeziner way of life and his account about sports that are included in our magnificent Yizkor book.

 

brz225.jpg -   From right to left: Lajbus Lerer, Mrs. Lerer, Mrs. Millie Berg, Jacob-David Berg; Isaac Hemlin, leader of the Histadrut Campaign, who is speaking, Joseph Diamond, and Fishel Maliniak
From right to left: Lajbus Lerer, Mrs. Lerer, Mrs. Millie Berg,
Jacob-David Berg; Isaac Hemlin, leader of the Histadrut Campaign,
who is speaking, Joseph Diamond, and Fishel Maliniak

 


Harov Reb Chaim Szotland, z”l

By Icek Fajgenbaum

Translated by Renee Miller

Edited by Fay Bussgang

In the Hague, Holland, at the age of seventy, the Brzeziner landsman [fellow townsman] Harov [Rabbi] Reb [title of respect] Chaim Szotland, z”l [may his memory be blessed], passed away.

The deceased, one of the remaining members of the older generation, was known, while living in Moscow, in religious circles all over Russia. His home was a meeting place for wise men, and ignoring all the exhortations, he provided help to every talmed khokhem [learned man] in need.

After the Second World War, Harov Szotland, z”l, settled in the Hague. There, in Holland, he also opened his home to everyone traveling by, to every emissary from a yeshiva, and to every Jew who wanted to eat kosher. It was quite evident that all these people had found his home to be welcoming.

The Sephardic chief rabbi, Harov Pereira, made a special effort to come to his funeral, and a great crowd of Jews from the Hague and other places participated in it. The deceased [Szotland] had previously given the eulogy at a funeral of the Hague chief rabbi, Harov Dr. Benjamin Ze'ev Benedict Sklita, who, only a short time before, during the end of the reading of a tractate of Talmud, had given Harov Reb Chaim, z”l, the title “moyreynu” [our scholar]. The chairman of the Hague Jewish community, as well as Herr Zadoks, Herr Strykowski, and the khazn [cantor] of the Hague, Herr Mosel, also gave funeral orations.

All of them stressed the great loss that the Jews of the Hague had suffered because of the passing of Harov Reb Chaim Szotland, z”l.

Oh, for those who are gone and cannot be replaced!

Icek Fajgenbaum


[Page 226]

Heartfelt Thanks!

By The Brzeziner Book Committee

Translated by Renee Miller

Edited by Fay Bussgang

We thank the following contributors who have made the publication of this Sefer Brzezin possible:

Jacob David Berg, Abe Fox (New York); M. Winter (Melbourne, Australia); David Grossman, Jan Dymant, the Lachman brothers (Florida), Szymon Lachman (Florida); Abraham-Jacob Gotlieb (California); the Brzeziner-Lodzer Society of California; Fishel Maliniak, Morris Frank, Jehuda Fuks, the brothers Max and Charlie Kalish; Bernard Kujawski (Paris), Szlama Schwartz, and Anna Rosenblum in memory of Isidor Rosenblum.

We also thank all those who made smaller contributions.

The Brzeziner Book Committee


[Pages 227-228]

My Father Chaim-Icek Ajnbinder (Nisenberg)

Jacob-David Berg

Translated by Renee Miller

Edited by Fay Bussgang

I remember my father as an already old man with a stately beard and a large family to care for, in a house with many children. For a very long a time, I had not been in my father's house. When, at the age of four, I became an orphan because of my mother's death, my father's second wife (the first wife was my mother's sister), my father married for the third time a younger widow, a bas Talmud khokhm [daughter of a learned man], and I, at my young age, had a taste of what it is like to have a stepmother. At a very early age, I began to think about leaving my father's house, and when I was barely eleven years old, I left to study in a yeshiva.

One can then say that I saw my father approximately eight years while growing up. However, he has remained dear to my heart and in my memory forever after.

I will describe here in a few strokes, albeit in a lackluster manner, an attempted portrait of my dear father as I knew and understood him with my entire being .

My father, e”h [may he rest in peace], was the only son of his parents. He was born in the small shtetl Ujazd, near Tomaszow.

His father––my grandfather––was an intelligent Vorker (from Warka) Hasid. He had moved to Brzezin when my father was still a young boy. In Brzezin, my grandfather became a malamed [teacher of children] and, as with every malamed in a small Polish shtetl, he had a nickname. They called my grandfather, my father's father, “the yellow [yellow-haired] Izrael.”

My father, probably because he did not want to be a malamed, decided to learn a trade, and he chose the bookbinding trade. So together with his trade, my father was also stuck with the nickname “Ajnbinder” [bookbinder]. It followed him until his last days; although he had not been a bookbinder for a long time, he was called Reb [title of respect] Chaim-Icek Ajnbinder. The actual family name was Nisenberg (it was here in America that our name was first shortened to Berg).

My father became the son-in-law of the Brzeziner Icek Szotland. It turned out that my father was selected to go off for twenty-five years to serve the Russians, as was then the Russian law for military service. But the distinguished businessmen of the town forcefully intervened for the young Hasidic man, and he escaped from the Russians' clutches.

 

brz227.jpg -  Chaim-Icek Nisenberg
Chaim-Icek Nisenberg

 

His [first] wife bore him three daughters and a son, but she died. My father got married again, to the sister of his deceased first wife. The name of the second wife was Chajele. She bore him five children. I was among the first three. After the other two boys, twins, were born, my mother died, at the age of twenty-eight. And I was then barely four years old.

My father, e”h, could not cope with the small children and with his business of selling writing materials and Christian religious books. He got married for the third time to a young widow, the daughter of a learned man. I got a stepmother, and even though I was young, I sensed it right away. It had become crowded in my father's house.

I felt that my father loved me very much. More than once I noticed a tear glistening in his eyes on my account. He showed me his quiet paternal love when he frequently pressed me to his chest, and then he would whisper into my ear the name of my mother who had died young, may she rest in peace. With this, it seemed to me, he wanted to appease me. That has remained in my memory all my life.

My father, who was known to everyone as Chaim-Icek Ajnbinder, was a distinguished resident of Brzezin, and he was treated with honor; they showed him respect. He was the gabe [trustee] of the “Biker-Khoylim Society” [society to visit the sick]; he was an intelligent Vorker Hasid just like his father, my grandfather (after the death of the Vorker rebbe [Hasidic rabbi], my father began to travel to the Alexander [from Alexandrow] rebbe, Reb Jechiel).

As a fair-minded person in town, my father, e”h, was very often asked to resolve disagreements between people; he was often chosen as the arbitrator. He made peace between married couples. They paid a great deal of attention to my father's opinions.

I loved my father, e”h, with heartfelt love; on his part, I felt a quiet pity and compassion for me.

My father was respected not only by Jews but also by Christians and was also highly regarded by the authorities in town. In as much as my father was the owner of a writing materials business, he provided the town hall with various writing materials and thus had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of those with influence. He was friendly with the district doctor, and if one is able to sway the district doctor, one can also do a favor in regard to military conscription and intercede to free someone from having to serve in the Russian army. Because of this, my father's prestige in the town grew a great deal.

My father ran a gracious home. Every Saturday evening after havdole [the close of the Sabbath], the leaders of the town used to come to drink a glass of tea with cookies. His wife had the greatest respect for him, and she took good care of him in his old age.

It happened that a Jew from somewhere else came to Brzezin and opened exactly the same type of shop with writing materials as my father had, so his earnings began to diminish. In his old age, when his earnings were extremely small, my father was not at all ashamed. He bought a horse and a little wagon and traveled around among the German villages (many Germans lived in our area) and sold them books. Once, my father took me along with him to the villages, probably wanting to show his love for me in this way. He took along bread, cheese, and butter as food for the trip and bought milk from the German peasants. I was assigned to stay and watch the milking to make sure that the milk was not, kholile [God forbid], made trayf [non-kosher].

And although the burden of making a living became ever harder for my father, e”h, our home was still run in a nice, Hasidic, genteel manner. The Sabbaths and the holidays brought happiness and pleasure to the entire family. And I, who was always in yeshivas away from home, could barely wait for the holidays, Pesakh or Succos, when I would come home and join my father at the comfortable holiday table.

With pride I would give my father, e”h, the report from the head of the yeshiva, who used to write about my being a good student. This was the greatest pleasure for my father. And although I was away from home, my father's spiritual influence over me was great. I learned a lot from him, from his genteel habits and his good deeds. And foremost, I learned from him the virtue of love for the Jewish people.


After I finally became a young man away from home, having had free board in many homes in various towns in Poland while studying in yeshivas, I ventured out into the great world and by chance ended up in London.

And unfortunately, I did not see my father, e”h, any more.

Shortly before the First World War, my father wrote to me that he would like to come to London to see me. You can imagine my great joy. I prepared for the reunion with my father, but I was not destined to realize this great joy. On the first of August, 1915, the First World War broke out, and our contact was interrupted.

I heard nothing from my father until 1916. Poland was then occupied by the Germans, and I was in England. I actually once wrote a letter to my father through a neutral country, but my letter came back with a notation from the German post office––deceased.

That was a great loss for me. I was by then already the father of two children, but as long as you still have a father, you feel you are still a child. I went around a long time in deep sorrow. I could not get used to the thought that I would never see my father again. I could not become reconciled to the fact that nothing had materialized of the plan for my father to be my guest in London.

I could only take comfort in the fact that my father had died at the dignified age of eighty-two. The news that reached me later, after arriving in America, that the entire town had been at my father's funeral was also a comfort to me. The shops were closed; everyone came to pay him their last respects––which he had earned from the Jewish community in our town by his virtuous and beautiful life and his good deeds.

In the deepest depths of my heart, all my life I have carried the holy memory of my dear, beloved father.He is of blessed memory, specially honored that his yortsayt [anniversary of death] falls on Erev Rosh Hashanah [the eve of the Jewish New Year].

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