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[Page 564]


Portraits

by Cwi Magen (Magerkiewicz) [Kibbutz Ginegar]

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld


My grandfather on my mother's side, Reb Nachum-Dawid Ajzenman, was a hefty sized Jew however, he was wholeheartedly a spiritual man. And in the simple meaning of the word – was very distant from all this world's experiences, and all his attention – was to the holy books. He would always look through them and learn from the Torah whenever he had free time. He was an unpretentious, modest and shy man. He was simple in his ways, without pretension or any sort of aspirations.

He made his livelihood in the slaughter house. He was a “trustee” and supervised the kashrut of the meat. The slaughter house in Dąbrowa was located outside of the town – in “Alt [old] Dąbrowa”, and he had to walk a fairly long distance and pass through fields and desolate areas, walking at night, since the main part of the work was done at night.

My grandfather would get up from his bed in the middle of the night, bundle himself up in warm clothing, wrap a scarf around his neck and head and set out – and more than once – into a raging snow storm, and slowly walked for a long time till he reached the work place.

There was an incident, during one winter, when heavy snow covered the ground, my grandfather fell into an uncovered pit that had filled with snow. He wasn't able to extract himself and his cries continued for a long time till people came to his aid. When they pulled him out of the pit and brought him home, he was weary, despondent and aching, and in particular the terror that he had undergone during the several difficult hours that he was in the pit. After that he didn't go to work at night and continued working in the day only for many years.

My grandfather Nachum-Dawid and his slim wife – Dinale, had five daughters and one son. The daughters established large families, well-known and familiar to every one in Dąbrowa. They were the Chaim Judkiewicz family; the wealthy (well-known cloth trader) Awremele Hirszberg family; the Rotsztajn family, and our family with seven children – the Chaim Magerkiewicz family. The only son was Reb Mosze Ajzenman, known by his nickname “Mosze Fiter [hay, fodder]”. The son, like his father, was a pious Jew from the Gur Chassidim, who would assemble on Sabbaths and festivals to hear biblical discourse and partake in drinks as was the custom.

Only a few – grandchildren and great grandchildren – remained in Israel and the USA, from the widely branched family of Reb Nachum-Dawid. Entire families were annihilated by the Nazi enemy…

My grandfather on my father's side was also a resident of Dąbrowa – Reb Akiwa Magerkiewicz. He was a special kind of character. He was a cultured person with a strong will and a talent for implementation. He was a spiritual and pragmatic man in one. He had the face of a Jewish scholar. He liked music, and he himself went in front of the ark on Sabbaths and Yamim Noraim [the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur] and even allowed one son to learn to play the violin.

In the town he was called “Akiwa Melamed” [Learned Akiwa]. The title “Yeshiva principal” was more suited to him. He never taught young children and when he taught he didn't do this for profit. He would mainly give a “lesson” in the yeshiva next to the Great Synagogue in Miejska Street, and yeshiva students and older adults would come to hear him.

We, his grandchildren, used to come to visit him on Sabbaths, after an afternoon nap, to tell him what we had learnt during the week in Torah and Talmud. Woe to us, if we didn't come, or if we came and weren't prepared and knew the lesson…

He was a public figure, a member of the religious schools committee in the town, Yesodei Torah [The basics of the Torah], and took care of the educational side, the standards of the teachers and so on. When he entered the class – as was customary of the community leaders at the time – horror would grip both the students and the teachers, for fear that he perhaps would want to hear the lesson and perhaps test one of the students.

He was an activist of the Shomrei Shabbat [keepers of the Sabbath] in the town. On Sabbaths in which there were local Jewish theatrical shows, or a troupe of visiting actors had arrived, my grandfather would walk about the street in front of the “Venus” hall, in which the shows took place, turn around and go there and back, and the fact of his presence would turn away a lot of the audience and prevent the desecration of the Sabbath. To his credit it should be noted, that he didn't like “causing scandals”. He would not approach someone and preach morals. He always claimed: I still have a reverent face, and in my presence they will not transgress in public… and this will be my wage for the Torah that I indoctrinated them with when they were still youths…”

I remember my father – Chaim Magerkiewicz as a dream. He died in 1919 at the age of 38, during a typhoid plague that broke out in the later part of World War One. I was the fourth son from amongst seven children and I was only six years old at the time.


[Page 565]


He was tall and slim, nimble and strong. He worked hard to make a living for his large family. He dealt in trade and light industry, the soap industry. Both trade and “industry” were at the time occupations prohibited by the authorities, and involved a great deal danger of fines and imprisonment, and more than once he “tasted” these…

Because of his businesses my father would travel a lot, and when he returned from a journey, before a Sabbath or festival, he would take me for an excursion to the town in order to sort out various matters, or just to visit relatives and friends.

I was very happy about going with my father to the barber shop belong to the Feldscher (medic) Mitelman, in Stacyjna Street. His barber shop was “modern” – clean with large mirrors on the walls and comfortable benches next to the walls. For the most part, the Jewish children of Reden would have their haircut by the limping barber, Kowza, a Gentile, a war invalid who lived with his elderly mother and many cats in a dismal shed, though very clean, and all the walls were covered with pictures of “holy men” and the smell of a church would permeate from every corner of the room. He would sit us, the children, to wait on a rickety bench, and precisely opposite the pictures and he also made us sit with our heads uncovered…The haircut itself was quite terrible, and Kowza was particularly happy to damage the peyot [side locks] that the children asked him to not to touch…

It was indeed further to get to Mitelman and the haircuts were more expensive, however we the children, were calm whilst he worked and not cowering with pain because of the nips from the machine or from the scissors…

From Mitelman we would walk to the mikveh. It was very crowded on Fridays and the eves before festivals. The place was too small for the Jews of Reden, there wasn't even a single space there. Later on the town council built a modern public bathhouse and next to it, a mikveh was built for the orthodox Jews. The building was large and more spacious.

The holy Sabbath was for rest and restoring strength for the new week of traveling and efforts to earn a livelihood for the family. We would step on our tiptoes in order not to disturb father's rest….

My father was a mitzvah [a precept or commandment of the Jewish law] keeping Jew, however together with this he liked a social life, and friends would gather in our home, mainly on long winter nights, to play a game, have a political discussion or some other recreation.

My father died at an early age. He left behind a wife and small children, who grew up and became responsible and independent.

The reaper's hand destroyed most of the family. Only here and there a survivor remained in the USA and in Israel, stubbornly continuing making an existence and rejuvenating the family.





A string of memories of my father, Dr. Szmul Mitelman, z”l

by Dr. Suta Trzebiner (Mitelman)

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld


The character of my father z”l is intertwined in the life of the Dąbrowa community with an unyielding knot. To be exact, two generations of Mitelman family provided medical assistance to the Jewish population in our town.

My grandfather z”l, Reb Mosze Mitelman, who was known in our town as Mosze Feldscher [medic], lived in the center of the town in Poprzeczna Street and later in Łukasińskiego. He passed most of the years of his life in providing medical assistance to the poor people of the town and not only to receive payment, since he also took care of supporting them with money, and more than once he inserted a sum of money under the tablecloth in the patient's room, so that that he wouldn't remain, heaven forbid, without the medicine that he had prescribed him, because of a lack of money. He once met one of his patients in the street and asked how he was and if the medicine had helped him – the embarrassed patient replied that he hadn't tasted the medicine that he had prescribed him, since he didn't have with what to buy it. When Reb Mosze Mitelman heard this he didn't think for a moment, and immediately extracted a sum of money from his wallet saying: “Go promptly and buy that medicine!”

My father z”l was also born in Dąbrowa Górnicza and lived and worked in it all his life, and only left it on the day he made aliyah to Israel and that was in 1957, as the last Jew from the town. As soon as he graduated he began working in our town as the only Jewish doctor. Year upon year, irrespective of holiday or festival, he provided assistance to anyone who approached him. There wasn't a night in which his sleep wasn't disturbed by a call for help to a sick person or a woman giving birth and almost every Jewish child was born with his assistance and in his presence. He always remained with the terminally ill to the last moment when they breathed their last (at the request of the family).


[Page 566]


dab566.jpg [20 KB] - Dr. Szmul Mitelman and his wife z”l
Dr. Szmul Mitelman and his wife z”l
the Jewish doctor in Dąbrowa


Two instances bear witness to the medical assistance that my father z”l provided without any payment. Once there was a clash between communist laborers and the police, who did allow a funeral to be held for one of the victims. At the time several people were injured and my father z”l provided medical assistance. In the second instance the Dąbrowa communists again received medical assistance from my father z”l and even took out permission for one of them and thanks to him the man was released from imprisonment. Amongst others he healed a young boy with a grave illness, who was one of the residents of Będzin (details in the book by Henryk Rechowicz, Rok 1936 w Zagłębiu Dąbrowskim, page 28, page 55). My father z”l was the manager of “TOZ” (“Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia”) [Jewish Health-Care Association]. He was also amongst the founders of Bikur Cholim [Visiting the Sick Society] in the town and would occasionally donate to Keren Kayemet [National Fund].

My mother z”l took a considerable part in this social work and was his assistant. She was active in the WIZO [Women's International Zionist Organization] – she would organize fundraising evenings and collect donation. She looked after orphans, in particular the orphans of the Szapir family, one of whom survived and he lives here in Israel. In addition my father z”l was also a “training” doctor and was allowed to give a medical certificate which allowed pioneers to make aliyah to Israel, and there are those former residents of our town here in Israel who received certificates like this 40 years ago.

During the war period, under very difficult conditions, my father z”l managed to run a clinic, and he provided medical assistance to the Jews persecuted by the Nazis. For a period of time my father was sent to the camp in Annaberg, in which he risked his life to save hundreds of Zagłębie people who fell ill with typhoid and suffered from frozen limbs because of the severe cold that existed at the time during the winter. He also helped and treated Jews that he knew and those that he didn't know in the annihilation camps like Auschwitz, Oranienburg and Dachau.

Here in Israel, which he reached by various means, he didn't sit about idly and immediately began working and intensively studying the Hebrew language and succeeded in mastering it, in spite of the fact that he was elderly, over 60 years old. He worked in Kupat Cholim [Medical fund] till his last day.

On this day the third anniversary of the death of my father z”l begins, and my great desire is that this pure and noble character will remain in the memory of the people of our town, who knew him. He died at the age of 70.

May his memory be blessed!


[Page 567]


Noach Krempel, z”l

by Abram Tenenbaum

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld


He came from a Chassidic family. His father Reb Joszua, or as he was known by the people of Dąbrowa, Reb Joszua Daubenker was named after the Lithuanian town from which he came, and was timid and a Torah scholar. He taught the children of Reden, Chumash [one of the five books of the Pentateuch], Rashi [paramount Bible commentator] and the Bible with a strong Lithuanian accent. Although his Lithuanian accent made it a little difficult on the children's comprehension, in particular when he initial period that he came to the cheder [primary Jewish school], the children liked their teacher Reb Joszua for his humbleness, tolerance and his speaking quietly and pleasantly. Reb Joszua ran the cheder in his small apartment that barely was sufficient for a family of eight. Unlike his elder brother Moti (Mordechai), who was similar in character to his father dealt in private tutoring, and after the First World War emigrated to America, and then came Noach.


dab567.jpg [17 KB] - Noach Krempel z”l
Noach Krempel z”l
a Rightist “Poalei Zion” activist in Dąbrowa


Noach was a dynamic and lively man, with a revolutionary vision, a Labor movement man. At a young age he was thrown into a life of labor and saw physical work as a goal in life, as a worthy aspiration.

Whilst Jewish youths made all kinds of considerations regarding which profession they should choose, from an economic point of view, and what work was “cleaner”, Noach belittled the classic Jewish professions in the Diaspora, and turned to the steel industry. He initially worked for Jakob Gutman in Będzin, and later on with the Klajn brothers in Dąbrowa, where he became familiar with and learned from up close the struggle of the laborer and his difficulties.

In the beginning his organizational affiliation was to “Bund” [Jewish socialist party] but he soon changed to P. Z. [Poalei Zion – Laborers of Zion] , Tz. S. [Tzionim Socialistim – Socialist Zionist] – and within a short time became one of the prominent members of the party.

The “Bund” didn't supply an answer to nationalist questions. Noach did not adhere to a routine. He strove for the truth – the whole truth. He was unswerving and stubborn, he didn't flatter and he didn't pretend. Working together with him was not an easy task. I remember the prolonged meetings of the party executive, which sometimes continued on to the small hours of the night. Noach refused to stop till the last item of the agenda was done. After the meeting, he didn't leave till he had reviewed an additional time with everyone about upcoming activities. These were issues that weren't within the scope of his position, but a feeling of responsibility always hung over him.

He carried a deep concern in his heart. He was concerned about the movement. He was absolutely serious and didn't allow himself to be carefree. He was opposed to receptions, festivities and party excursions. He saw this as a sign of deterioration, a waste of time. He was strict and chastising, he spoke fervently at meetings, excitedly and with all his heart. He achieved respect and admiration in the party and outside of it.

In 1929 during the crisis in the land of Israel he stood up and made aliyah, however he did not break ties with the party. He didn't conceal from us his difficulties in acclimatizing to the arduous conditions in the country, and the backbreaking work that ruined his health in drying up the swamps and in excavations.

His scanty hut, in which he lived during the first years of his arriving in the country and in which his only daughter, Ora, was born, served as the first stop for new immigrants from Dąbrowa.

Together with his wife Rachel, long may she live, they received each new immigrant from Dąbrowa with warmth and a friendly welcome. He took care of their first arrangements, helped them with advice and training and real assistance. He provided bank endorsement in order that unemployed people from our town could receive loans. And if the borrowers weren't able to repay the loan… Noach would come to the bank to receive his paltry wage, and the bank would take hold the money for the endorsement …


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Noach was not bitter. He showed restraint over the deprivation and distress. He was like a good brother participating in the sorrow of friends and encouraging them.

After the Holocaust, Noach was amongst the founders of the Dąbrowa Organization and its activities. He dedicated himself to this task with passion and commitment.

In the last years, till illness overcame him and he felt an approaching danger, he was alert and eager as previously, he would take interest in every Dąbrowa survivor, Noach was like an older brother to us.

May his memory be blessed.


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