Pages 234-235

B. Demblin (Taitelboim)

From “The Lexicon of New Jewish Literature”, 2nd Volume,
Published by the Old World Jewish Culture Congress (together with Tziko),
New York, 1958


Born on the 13th of September 1897, pen name of Yosef-Benyamin Taitelboim. Born in Modzjitz, Poland, studied in heder. At 11 years of age, he went to Radom, apprenticed to a hat maker. He worked from dawn until after midnight. He endured all of the sorrows and blows of an apprentice in that era. After a long day of hard work with just a very faint little lamp, he studied writing and taught himself to write and began to read Yiddish literature. In the days of the First World War, he lived and worked in Warsaw. After 1919, he set out for Paris where he lived for over a year. In January of 1921, Demblin emigrated to the United States and he began to write around the year 1916. At that time, he published as a reporter in a journal of the professional workers' unions of Warsaw.

From Paris he sent a reportage to Life Question [name of a magazine in Warsaw]. In New York he published skits and stories in a variety of magazines: “Gerechtikeis”, “Forsrit”, “Frei Arbeter-Shtime”, “Forward”, “Tzokonft”, “Yiddisher Kemfer”, “Onzer Tzait”, a book of collected work of different writers that was collected and edited by H. Laivik [famous Yiddish poet] and Joseph Opatosho [famous Yiddish writer] and in other smaller journals in other parts of the country. He also contributed his work in the People's Newspaper in Warsaw, the Press in Buenos Aires, and the Latest News in Tel Aviv and other places.

In book form he published “On the Threshold” under the name Binyamin Taitelboim, Warsaw, 1933, 256 pages; “West Side”, New York, 1938, 201 pages; “Two and a Third”, New York, 1943, 195 pages; “Before Night” (the first book of a trilogy), Tel Aviv-New York, 1954, 299 pages (won a prize from the Luis Lomer Fund); “Flickering Candle”, a novel, New York, 1957, 320 pages. “West Side” in 1954 was printed in Tel Aviv in a Hebrew translation by Simson Meltzer. In 1939-1943 he pro-edited the anthology “Continuation of Tradition” in New York.

In Poland he was active in the Bund and in the Workers Union in the needle trades [garment industry]. In 1938 he was the secretary of the Yiddish pen club in New York. In 1939-1946 he participated in “Joint” and worked for the United Jewish Appeal.

His literary name originates from the fact that he was born in Demblin. Other pseudonyms that he took were Y. Burlak and Yosef Warshavsky.

“B. Demblin belongs to the prose writers, who honestly earned their reputation. He possesses unrestrained style. He very seldom falls into the pathetic tone, but his style has temperament.” (Shlome Bikel)

“B. Demblin arrives straight away with a very powerful impression, his own kind of step. From his first book on, he has a very sharp eye for social developments in the broad context of America. He's someone who is a very careful craftsman who takes a great deal of trouble with each sentence.” (Y. Glatstein – [a very famous Yiddish poet])

B. Demblin lives in New York.



[Page 236]

Binyamin Tene

by G. Kersel

Lexicon of Hebrew Literature, Sifriat Poalim, 1967


Tene, formerly Taitelboim; Binyamin, son of Arye-Leiv and Primmet of Licht, Born in Demblin on December 10, 1914.

He studied and was educated in the heder and the Hebrew Academy “Chinnuch” [education] in Warsaw. Graduate of Hashomer Hatza'ir [the young guard socialist youth movement] and trained in Slonim. Emigrated in 1937, joined a kibbutz in Petach Tikvah, and settled with the group in Ayalon in 1938. He lived there until 1948. He was envoy to Poland in 1947. Since 1948, he is editor of Mishmar Liyladim [guard for children, the children's weekly of Al Hamishmar, Hashomer Hatz'ir's official daily].

[See PHOTO-B37 at the end of Section B]

He began publishing his songs in 1933 (In Hashomer Hata'ir in Warsaw), and since then in He'atid [the future] and newspapers in Israel. His poetry books include “Homeland” (1939), “Load in Galilee” (1941), “With the Chisel of Sorrow” (1945), “Yesterdays on the Threshold” (1947), “The Nightingale – Songs from a Forest” (1963). His poetry for children: “Danny Dan” and a “Tricycle” (1952) and “The Wonder Crop” (1957). Translations: “Flames” by S. Bzhezhovski (vol. a and b., 1939-1940), “Hymns” (1942) and “The Best of the Land” by Y. Witlin (1943), “Songs of the Ghetto” (1946), “Songs” (1957), “Ketina and the Whale” (1956) and “Wonderful Wonders by Y. Tovim (1958), “Flames in the Ashes” by R. Korchak-Rozhka (1946), “One from the City and Two from a Family, anthology of one thousand biographies of children in Poland, Holocaust refugees”, editing and translating (1947), “Candles that Ended” by M. Strigler (1958), “The Golden Jug, popular myths and folklore” (1956), “History of One Year” by N. Nossov (1956), “The Great Adventure” (1958), “Hello to the Jungle” by Y. Bzhecheva (1959), “The Eighth Day of the Week” by M. Chlasko (1958), “One Hundred Years of Polish Prose” (with S. Har-Even, 1959), “The Fury and the Heart” (with Z. Arad, 1959), “The Inquisitors” (1961), “Climbing over Mountains” (1964) by Y. Andzhievski, “Tricky Trick” by Y. Bzhecheva (1963), “Sea of Life and Death” by A. Rodnitzki (1964), “Legends by H. C. Andersen a and b 1964), and with H. Peleg: “Half the Way to the Moon” (stories by Soviet writers, 1964). 1967 – “Songs and Poems” – his verse collection for 30 years. 1969 – translation of “Songs and Ballads” by Itzik Manger.

Brother Ze'ev lives in Paris. Sister Rivkah lives in Warsaw. Sister Sarah perished in Auschwitz with the father (transported from Paris via Dransee).



[Pages 237-238]

Chaim Traler

by Wolf Tenenboim, Paris


“To honor a good person” – I believe that Chaim Traler deserves the following little epigraph, when one remembers the great turn out of people who came to accompany him on his last way.

In Demblin he was called Chaim Itche Paisachs [Chaim, son of Itche Paisachs]. Who in town didn't know his father, a man of great learning, Itche Paisachs. He was, after all, one of the most knowledgeable Talmudist in the city, because Demblin in those years was really a center of Torah learning.

When it was necessary to have someone examine a young man, Chaim Traler's father was the one who was called upon, Iche Paisachs. Also, when a young man wanted to receive a religious certification, at that time, there was a yeshiva in Demblin, where a hundred or so men would study. They had come there from a variety of towns. The examiner was Itche Paisachs and his brother Shmuel Paisachs.

Under the influence of his great scholarly father, Chaim studied in the study hall, in the synagogue, until he was 18 years old. I believe that as a result of that he always retained a great love of the Jewish word and Jewish culture.

After, new winds began to blow around and new ideas. Chaim left for Warsaw and began to work. He remained his whole life as a worker.

[See PHOTO-B38 at the end of Section B]

Here, Chaim, you fulfilled the teaching which you learned when you were studying Torah: that when you live from something that you do with your own hands, that is the source of your livelihood, you'll be happy in this world and in the world to come.

You remained true your whole life. To your very last strength you remained a worker and worked.


The Second World War broke out which cost us Jews terrifically. We lost a third of our people. Our town of Demblin was wiped out, the town that Chaim loved so dearly.

At the outbreak of the War, Chaim was in Poland. Fate wished that he should share the road of suffering of our unhappy brothers. From there, he managed to go to Russia where he joined the Red Army and fought against the barbaric Hitler hoards.

But, at the same time, Chaim found time and strength to devote to different social and cultural work. He also found time to give to the Yiddish theater.

Chaim was a profounder of our association of people from Demblin and a committee member.

We remember Chaim's talks, his lectures and his beautiful speeches at our evenings, especially our evenings or remembrance.

He always remembered his childhood years and studying in the synagogue and that gave him strength and courage to work for Jewish culture and for Jewish theater, to which he gave his last strength.



[Pages 239-252]

Of our Personalities

by Benjamin Zilberman, Holon


Yarmeyohu Vanapol (Yarme)

Who even wants to try and take on the task of describing Yarme. He was beloved by all layers of society. He was revered both as a doctor and as a human being. As a doctor he had a reputation not only in Demblin but in the whole vicinity, among both Jews and Christians. There was always before his door a line of peasant men and women from distant little villages in the countryside. They believed in him. They revered him almost as a God because of his medical help which brought them back to health. The fee for his work wasn't something that he collected as you would for most jobs. He knew who he should ask for money and who he shouldn't. He took from people who could afford it without exception and spared others who couldn't, among both Jews and gentiles. Quite often people received treatment without paying a penny.

Thanks to him the town had its clinic for poor people. He gave quite a bit of his strength and time there. In recognition of his dedicated work, he was made honorary president. People in town spoke about his party affiliation, but that didn't in any way stop or interfere with his humanitarian attitude towards every sick person. Nor did it interfere with their feeling comfortable in their going to him. He provided his services to people who were going to Israel without asking for any money. The writer of these lines, before traveling to Israel, received medical treatment from Yarme and he wouldn't take a cent for it. He took an interest in me. He was very curious about the Hashkera Kibbutz and about Eretz Israel. Not withstanding the fact that his father, Zalman Vanapol, was a nationalist Jew [Zionist], the children still loved him dearly, even though they themselves were far from his ideology. Bu they always felt close to his warm, Jewish heart.

Yarmeyohu, or Yarme, as he was affectionately called, was a man of such stature and so valued that we should remember him and honor him for his humanitarian deeds.



Nuach Siegelman

He was a religious man of some property and also a Talmud scholar. It was said of him that when there was a ceremony for a person who had died, his heart felt words moved everybody to tears. He was somebody who was both very astute in matters of the Torah and in matters of business. When you came into his store to buy buttons or things that you needed for writing, pencils and erasers, or little sewing accessories, a little bell would ring in the kitchen. But, Reb Nuach didn't exactly run out of the kitchen and into the store. With very soft and measured steps, he always took his time. He always treated his customers with great respect. The store was big. All of the walls were covered with shelves and they were subdivided into little rows of different kinds of big and small packages. He would take down a little box with buttons in it, or with needles, for a customer. The customer had to have enough patience to wait for this process to take place, because he did everything very slow, very meticulously. He would take off the little binding that held the box together. He wanted to make sure that nothing got rumpled or torn. He was very concerned that he box itself didn't get damaged in any way at all. He was completely oblivious to whether or not the customer was in a big rush, it was not of his concern. He always did his work, very easy going and very careful, in a precise manner. But, the customers, by and large, didn't get insulted, and they always came back to buy something. There were actually hundreds of little boxes and packages on his shelves covered with dust. It had been years since a human hand had touched them. Looking at them all, one could think that they'd actually grown into the shelves, somehow. But, Reb Nuach used to say that, and he was really very proud of it, “There were really true antiques up there.” He didn't use them now, but they had great worth. Most of them were buttons for clothes that our grandmothers' wore and little accessories for the wedding clothes that had been used generations ago and other little antiques like that. Curious people use to come in and look at how Reb Nuach used to stand on his step ladder and sort through and take notes about each little box, whose little labels had become unreadable because they'd been there so long. Everybody was always quite amazed at his slow pace and his great patience.



Moshe Hallelis Anglister

He was a Guerrer Hasid, but not a very ostentatious one, a very simple honest Jew, and not a fanatic. He made a very poor living, but always had a very cheerful attitude. He had a lot of different trades. He could do just about anything, but it was hard for him to make a decent Sabbath for his family. Despite all of that, he was always very cheerful and would tell jokes and was very witty. Actually people didn't realize, most of the time, how poor he was. His chief occupation was to paint signs. But in a town as small as Demblin, that was a very thin kind of source of livelihood. But he lived the whole week in a very spare and frugal way and he put together all of his earnings so that he could make a Sabbath as luxurious as possible.

Besides his work as a sign-painter, he also gave lessons in Yiddish writing and basic arithmetic to those children who did not attend the Povshechne school because of religious reasons. It was his goal that the children would learn no less than the pupils from the Povshechne school. Even the non-religious people had a lot of pleasure in talking to him, not just about the Torah or religious matters, but also about worldly matters. He always could respond in a very matter of fact, to the point, way. He had a very objective way of talking. He wasn't the type of person who would scold or make fun of people who were not like him, that is, very pious, so he could live with everybody. His own sons, who did not follow his path, he understood, and there wasn't a big conflict between them, like one could often find in other households.

[See PHOTO-B39 at the end of Section B]



Hallel Shtamler

A distinguished man of property, a Guerrer Hasid, he rarely traveled to the Rabbi, but he supported him generously from afar. His material situation enabled him to do that. He was one of the wealthy men in the town. People used to say of him that just when you think you know how much he's worth, he's worth even more. Nevertheless, he was a person without any arrogance. He never puffed himself up like other wealthy people in town. His way of conducting himself was with dignity and respect and he never refused anybody who needed help. Many people came to him and he never refused any of them.

His children were Peretz, Chaim-Rueben, Shloma, Shaindel and Lipe. The Jews in town use to say about them that he's going to need to go someplace else besides Demblin to get them mates because in Demblin there weren't enough rich people around to make an appropriate match for his children. Still he did marry off all his sons to rich brides respectable families, and his sons as well, became very rich. The youngest was inclined towards Zionism and he talked about Palestine, but later just thought about it. The grandfather, Biyomele (even his family called him that with affection), died a very good man at the age of 106.

His children inherited the orchard, but fate brought his descendants to nothing. The majority of his children and grandchildren were killed by the Nazis. Whole families were wiped out. Lipe, the youngest son of Hallel, was active in the Zionist organization. He traveled to a “Practice Kibbutz” [in Poland]. As happened to others, he fell into the hands of he Nazis, running along the road to Ryki.



Yankel Perelshtein

Yankel der Ryker – that's the way he was called, because he was from the neighboring town of Ryki. He arrived in Demblin with his brother and he found acquaintances in the synagogue. While founding the Zionist organization, he became one of its most active members. His ability to organize and to speak was quite well known in town. One said of him that he is “someone who speaks to the masses”. He helped his parents in their work. He traveled to country fairs with their little tailor business, but this didn't hinder him from giving a tremendous amount of his time and energy to the organization. He traveled to Warsaw to attend the Tz. K.; he'd been elected as a delegate to attend a conference there. Yankel never refused any mission for the organization, even when it affected his personal comfort. He was in the first of many Zionist actions, at a time when they were associated with getting knocked around. He was afraid of nobody. He used to say that the sacred work which he was involved in would rescue him. Also, after getting married, he and his wife, the active comrade, Rivka Yom-Tov, together formed a partnership and worked very hard for the movement. They were both murdered by the Nazis.



David Goldfinger

He dedicated all of his years to Zionist activity. He spared neither his strength nor his money. Whenever there was a crisis and a lack of money, he was always the first to give generously. When one left a meeting a night, one didn't walk home but one walked to David Goldfinger's door. There, one would eat ices or drink soda water with Halva and there one would continue the discussions until midnight. David was active in all kinds of work and even the thought of getting knocked around by his opponents physically, didn't scare him. He used to brag that his ability to make ices would come in very handy once he got to Israel. Later though, he didn't live to see the dream realized.



Avram Shilinger

One of the founders of the Zionist organization in 1929. Although he was occupied in helping his parents in their bakery, he found time to be active in all sorts of Zionist work. I, every once in a while, would call him to activities for KKL, when, he was occupied in the bakery. He used to say to me, “Look and see if my father's looking”. And when he slipped out of the bakery, his father noticed and screamed after him, “Avram, where are you running? I'm here all by myself and I won't give you any advice her in the bakery.” Avram pretended no to hear him, just as if his father were talking to somebody else completely. He used to say on these occasions, “The actions that we've got to do in the organization can't be put aside, have to happen now, but, I can always help in the bakery”.

There weren't many people who were so devoted in the organization.



Yankel Kamiyan

Better a close neighbor than a distant brother

[Book of Mishlei, Proverbs]


Yankel was employed in providing half of the town with soda water and beer. He used to provide drinks as well to the fortress. Nevertheless, somewhere among all these activities and his professional work, he was able to find time for the Modzjitzer Rabbi. He was a very pious Modzjitzer Hasid. He frequently used to lead morning prayers during the High Holidays. He was very highly praised by the very learned Hasidim and everybody had great pleasure hearing him pray.

The little kids were very delighted by his mountain of ice which grew greater and greater during the winter in preparation for the warm days to come. During the summer, one would chop off pieces of the ice and lay it around the balconies. The little bits of ice would fall down and the children used to catch them and suck on them in their mouths. Yankel used to scream and warn them, not with anger, because he wasn't, God forbid, a mean tempered Jew, but with love, “Children, that stuff, God forbid, can make you sick.” But the little children had no desire to understand what he was talking about. The best Yankel could do was look away as if he'd seen nothing.

His son, Moshe Kamiyan, a Zionist for many years, dreamed for a very long time of taking the whole soda water factory to Israel. But, because of family reasons, he wasn't able to do that.



Nuach Gershons

His wine and liquor store was known way out in the countryside. On market day, Wednesday, the store was full of peasants who bought a little flask of Vodka and right there, on the threshold of the store, emptied it. This is because there was a law against actually drinking inside the store. Quite frequently they would stumble back into the store, quite drunk, wanting to buy another little bottle. When they started to go out again, they couldn't find the door.

Nuach was a very respected Jew. He did many good deeds and gave to charity with a broad hand. He made a very good living, but his wealth didn't turn his head. One used to say about him “a quiet man of wealth”. His good deeds for others were done very quietly.



Motel and Yitzhak Shochet

The two kosher butchers of the town, very dignified and respected Jews who were very learned in the Torah and of aristocratic descent. They were very modest and didn't try to make a lot of themselves. Everybody in town loved them and showed them great respect. Both for their very devoted work, as well as for their very humane way of acting.

I could call forth many, many good Jews with soft and compassionate hearts, always ready to help someone, Demblin had a great many people like that. All of the Jews were destroyed by the hands of the Nazi brutes.



Moshe Aiglitzky

Moshe Aiglitzky was like the leader of the youth organization, “HaShomer Halomay”. He put in a great deal of effort so that he organization would grow and have more and more members. He also was concerned that the youth should receive a worthwhile cultural education, and to be able to enjoy themselves and spend good times together. Moshe was active in the organization, not only at night after his work, but also during the day. One would see Moshe hurrying along like a very pious Jew going to prayer. “Moshe! Where are you running so fast? One would ask him. He answered, “We've got to prepare for the young people a little excursion to Kazjimiyez”. His concern for the group was just like a father's concern for his children. The group was more sacred to him than anything.

Often, he would complain that his father would throw it up to him that he couldn't really work without his help and that the business was getting worse and weaker. Moshe answered that the Zionist work that he was doing was the ideal of his life and without it, his life would have no worth. He didn't even bother to try to respond to the remarks of his detractors and opponents, who would scold him with things like, “You poor drudge. What are you doing working so hard for a bourgeois party? It would be better for you to help your father so at least he'd have a nice coat to wear on the Sabbath.” But, Moshe didn't answer such things. It was enough that his parents understood him. Although his parents were very religious, he spent the Sabbath as well in the Zionist work. They used to have marching drills with the young people in the afternoon. He would take them on excursions outside of town where they would have discussions about Zionism. He wasn't afraid either of his detractors in the Jewish communities or the local Christian boys. All of his official business like “Left-Right-Attention”, all of that was conducted in Hebrew. People in the street were very thrilled when they heard him speaking in Hebrew. When people hear a Hebrew word… “They are really going to take us to Palestine.” Taking the children back from a gathering like this with everybody singing songs did not please his opponents and “Hurrah for the Watchmen”. But Moshe would defend his little flock, just like a bird defending its nest. In a letter to the author of these lines in Palestine, he wrote, “The organization grows. It's always getting bigger, more people are coming in all the time. The desire and the need to travel to Palestine is very great. And when it comes my turn to make Aliyah, I don't know what I'm going to do, because the organization really needs me, so I don't know if I'll be able to make my agricultural preparation.” After, he wasn't able to see his dream realized.


Authorization for collecting coins from the JNF boxes inn Demblin
[Picture of ticket]


Translation of ticket: By this we authorize the member, Benny Zilberman, to collect the contents of the Jewish National Fund coin boxes in Demblin. He should provide Jewish National Fund receipts for the sum collected from the box. Jewish National Fund [seal of the JNF]. Local Committee of Demblin. Licensee: Shalom Posher Bloom, Commissioner of Boxes: Moshe Yaglitzky Tishre 2, 5691 [1931] Translation of the border of ticket: Before collecting the coins, collectors should read the printed instructions on collecting coins from boxes, issued by the National Bureau.




Eliezor Faigenboim

One called him Lozerel. Not because of his small stature, but really out of love and affection for his good deeds. When there was an action taking place at the Zionist organization, was there ever an action in which Lozerl did not take part? Despite the weight of his obligation to make a living for his mother, brothers and sister, his father Yisrael had died before his time. Day and night he devoted himself to Zionist work. When a pioneer or someone who was headed for Israel passed through, on the way to one of these Kibbutzes in Poland, and when they needed a few dollars, the first thing that they would do would be to borrow it from Lozerl, and he would give them money out of his own pocket. Later on people would pay him back and if not, he wasn't mad. It was with love and a little bit of envy that he accompanied the comrades on their way to make the journey to Palestine. Because of family reasons, he wasn't able himself to realize his dream. His detractors and enemies hurt him and criticized him. What they said was, “Lozerl, the poor toiling drudge, you work so hard, give all your time and energy to a middle class organization, you don't get a penny for any of it”. But, Lozerl, with a smile, never really got mad at anybody, no matter what they said. He would answer very calmly, “You'll see, after awhile you're going to belong to the organization too. Your pals, who right now find themselves in Russia, aren't even going to be able to come back.” His words turned out to be very true. Lozerl, with his good heart, wanting to help everybody more than he could, never refused anybody a favor. Everyone of the comrades who made the trip to Palestine promised Lozerl with tears in their eyes that they would always think of him and somehow return his favors. And Lozerl did not forget the comrades after they had traveled away, and he stayed in contact with them. In each letter he would remind people with hope that he would make all possible efforts in order to fulfill his own dream of many years. But like so many others, devoted as he, he was killed by Hitler's murderers.



Sholom Puterflam

Comrade Puterflam was one of the founders of the Zionist organization in 1929. He found himself in Warsaw with a group of friends from Demblin who had left their home in order to find work in the city. He showed them the way to Zionism. After work he would, with them, deal with the question of establishing a Zionist organization in their home town. On returning to Demblin for Shavuoth, he got to work on establishing a Zionist organization. He was elected the Chairman and a delegate from the KKL and he was active for a long time in both offices. For material reasons, he has to go back to Warsaw to work. But, when he came for the holidays, he remained a longer time in town. Neglecting his private work in order to help the organization, especially the establishment of Hashomer Haleumi. He was also an organizer of the drama circle of Hashomer Haleumi and the members used to wonder at the enthusiasm and the ability with which he was able to conduct a whole range of activities and undertakings.

From his childhood, Zionism had interested him. Although he lived in a household with a variety of ideological persuasions, from the right to the left, he remained faithful to his youthful ideals of Zionism. During discussions with his opponents, everybody was always quite impressed by his tactful responses. It was often that he, from his meager wages, would spend far more on the organization than people who really had money in it. Later on, he did not live to see his dream fulfilled.



Zalman Vanapol

Zalman, the folk doctor of the town for many years, enjoyed the trust of people as well being trusted for the remedies that he produced. Every one of us wished him eternal life for his goodness and his warm Jewish heart. He would take stock of the financial resources of the sick people and often provide them his help without asking them anything in return. And this is a quality his sons inherited from him.

Zalman was a nationalist Jew. He prayed in the Zionist synagogue. He interested himself in Zionist work and he financially supported the cause very generously.

Despite his reputation as a folk healer who would use Bankus [glass stuck on the skin that creates suction and draws blood to the spot] and leeches. He also indulged in bleeding people and things of this nature, but he also had a great treasure in real grandmother [folk] remedies.

For instance, spider webs applied to a wound in order to stop blood from flowing, sour milk on a swelling, chamomile for stomach ache, mother's milk for an ear ache.

Religious Jews didn't just rely on Zalman's recipes and grandmother remedies, but they also used their own little means of getting well, like spells against the evil eye, or they would say or sing psalms. They would cry or pray by the open door of the ark. They would leave no stone unturned. They would even travel to the Rabbi with a little order form to beg for a divine remedy.

Zalman, who himself was quite a pious man, succeeded quite a bit in using these religious remedies when his own remedies didn't help quickly enough. Zalman didn't make a whole bunch of money from his medical practice, but he did have a great interest in healing people and he derived satisfaction from that and was happy.

He was a respected person and gave his children a good education and made available opportunities for them to study.



Yoneh Borstein

They use to call him Yonele, the Zionist worker, who was always on the run. He was always running to every action or activity, just like a pious Jew to prayer. Each day he came to the headquarters and took new responsibilities upon himself. That which for another person would have been considered a really difficult chore, he gave himself over to it completely and carried it out with tremendous devotion. He spruced up the headquarters, he put sayings up on the wall and inscriptions. He also took a lot of interest in the little Zionist prayer house. He gave a lot of strength and time, together with Zalman Orlovsky, to this prayer house. He wanted it to look good, to have a pleasant appearance, and he devoted a lot of time to that. Often, with his meager earnings, he would spend something for the improvement of the prayer house. He also devoted a lot of time and energy to making sure that the Zionist newspapers, “Today” or “World Mirror”, should arrive at their subscribers' doors with regularity. Every day he would run several kilometers to the train station in order to pick up the newspapers. That's how he made his paltry living, but always with a smile. He always had a little joke for everybody. Not everybody knew just how hard things were for him, financially that is. He was somebody who always took part in discussions at Joseph Gilibter's store. He was little and weak, but with a tremendous amount of courage and energy. During the election campaigns, he was busy night and day, writing placards and slogans on behalf of the Zionist list. Thanks to his active work, one of his pals, Shmuel-Nachum Luxenburg, was elected Chairman of the Jewish council from the Zionist organizations.

Yoneleh, with great devotion, took on his chores for the movement.



Zalman Orlovsky

Zalman came to Demblin from Shedlitz. He quickly became known for his virtues. He prayed in the Guerrer prayer house with his father-in-law, Avromele Feldfeber. There, they asked him to lead prayers, to read the Torah in the synagogue. The prayer house soon became very cramped because there were so many people coming to pray. The youth, who were not religious, from the Zionist organizations, also came to hear his beautiful praying and reading of the Torah. Zalman was no religious fanatic, but he did know a lot. He really had the learning of a Torah scholar. One used to call him, the silken young man. And Avromele Feldfeber, his father-in-law, really took great pride and relished the fine reputation that his son-in-law had acquired for himself.

The Zionist organization elected Zalman as a Chairman, not because they wanted to bestow honor upon him, but because they saw in him really the most appropriate person for the job, at that particular time. His devotion was amazing. Even though he was occupied with his own business, he never held back his time when asked to participate in some action for the organization. And the organization did, at that time, grow rapidly and in a very positive way, developed further. He was valued and respected, even by people who were ideologically opposed to him. He never tried to insult anybody. He just tried in a very calm way to explain the error of people's thinking about matters. People really understood him because he respected the other person's thoughts and feelings. And so when he prayed with his father-in-law in the Guerrer prayer house, nobody thought any of the fact that he wasn't from that Guerrer sect. He was someone who was very well acquainted with the small letters, just like a Torah scholar, and people really said of him, “to God and to other people”. And there were stories told about him and also his good deeds in the Demblin ghetto.



Yosef Gelibter

Yosef belonged to the old Zionist guard and was an active worker in those days and also during the founding of the organization in 1929 by the younger members. Not thinking of all the energy that he put into it, he served very faithfully and in an admirable way in order to make sure that all of the activities were successful.

His soda water business was a meeting point for the Zionists and also for their opponents. It was kind of a parliament. There people would have debates along party lines and then hear about what was happening out in the world. Yaacov Faigenboim use to lead a lot of these discussions, he was an activist in the Zionist organizations. Thanks to his presence and his influence, the organization grew greatly in just a short amount of time.

Yoseff Gelibter along with Zalman Orlovsky and Yonele Borstein prepared material in the soda-water factory for the lively newspaper, “The Observer” and for the banquet in honor of the departure to Palestine of this writer of these lines in 1933.

Yosef was loved also, by people who were not Zionist. He willingly gave everyone a little bit of advice if they asked. Often he acted as an arbitrator between craftsmen or businessmen. With his keen intelligence, he was always able to come up with some kind of decision or solution so that both sides left feeling content. He was widely respected for his humane way of dealing with everybody. One used to say about Yosef Gilibter in town, that he was the man who was able to come with a compromise. People didn't walk away from his place of business there, dissatisfied, and that's why he was so highly valued.



Yehoshele The Baker (Shtamler)

His bakery was famous for its extremely tasty cakes and bread. Even Christians from the outlying countryside used to come to buy his baked goods. While preparing the braided challah for the Sabbath and High Holy days, Aunt Blume really distinguished herself (Yehoshele's wife). She worked in the bakery together with her husband, my uncle, and often a lot more than him. When Yehoshele finished his work and went to synagogue for morning prayers, she stood around there and continued to tend the oven and take out the last baked bread. They used to say about her that she was one of the truly worthy and pious women. She also distributed bread and challah without asking for money on the Sabbath to the needy. When she did these good deeds she was very discreet.

During my childhood, on hot summer nights, it was a real pleasure to go to Yehoshele's and get an empty sack of flour and lie down on it in his courtyard and go to sleep until midnight. During the winter, when the cold would creep right into your bones, little kids used to climb up on the coal holder. When Aunty pulled out a little bit of cracker, or a roasted potato from the oven, the kids were really in paradise, chomping on it.

[See PHOTO-B40 at the end of Section B]

When the chimney was being cleaned at the bakery by a chimney sweep, we children used to look on with great interest when the chimney sweep would get up on the roof, the rope with the iron bucket wrapped around his neck and one broom in either hand. Yehoshele would stand watching him, very, very frightened, afraid that, God forbid, the man should stumble and fall. After finishing his work, Yehoshele used to invite the sooty chimney sweep into his house and pay him a little tribute with a glass of schnapps. Also, very rare “piyak” [wildberry] which the whole town supplied with white sand on the floor. The custom was that after washing the wooden floor and drying it one would scatter white sand over it. Reb Yehoshele, the baker, would get together in one of his storerooms a whole wagon full of the piyak. Because of this he received, besides money, a good drink of schnapps. He would ask people for it when they were going to bring another wagon load in.

Friday evening, when the cholent was put in the oven, Yehoshele used to hum a little Russian song. He had served in the Russian military for 3 years and even had been in captivity. He was in a much better mood on this occasion. It was a lot easier for him, than when he had to take the cholent out of the oven, on the Sabbath, after prayers, because at that point, all of the children and the women used to come to claim their pots. But all of their little markings and tags, like the color of their paper, or a little piece of newspaper they had attached, or ribbon, had all been burned. So everybody was in an uproar, screaming, and nobody knew which pot belonged to who, nobody could agree, nobody would take any advice, and finally it was agreed that Yehoshele's suggestion should be followed, which was, to lift off the tops of each of these pots and look inside for the real clue to see if inside was lokshen kugel, or challah kugel, or gefillte [stuffed] kishke. Of course when one took the lids off these pots, it was the best opportunity for all of the curious women to see what their neighbors had been preparing. Despite all of the signs and all of this research, people walked away with the wrong pots and soon came back to exchange them. And so, Yehoshele took absolutely no pleasure in the Sabbath meal.

Once, in the middle of putting in the cholent, Moshe Hollels showed up, out of breath, panting, and said, “Yehoshele, do me a favor and lend me, well, how shall I say it…lend me a wheel barrow”. Yehoshele stood by the oven and wanted to finish his work with the cholent. He looked up in great astonishment and asked, “Moshe, are you going crazy? What are you bothering me for? It's Friday evening, I've got to take care of the cholent here, and I've got to go to the bath house, and you come here, acting all crazy, wanting a wheel barrow. What are you doing here? I don't understand this. On a Friday evening!”

“I have to lead in the Sabbath”, he answered.

The yearly feast of the burial society always gave Yehoshele great pleasure and he liked to see it done with a tremendous amount of pomp and ceremony and noise. He worked very hard in the preparation of this feast. He made sure that each member of the group received substantial portions to go back home with him. For this yearly feast, food and drink was prepared in a truly royal manner. Many people looked at these celebrations with a very critical eye. Still, everybody used to pray that there would be more feasts and fewer burials.

On a day like that, Yehoshele shown with the spirit of joy and celebration, because the whole year he struggled hard to make a living and his livelihood had been undermined with Christian bakeries being established in the country side. His children didn't follow the path that he desired and his daughter had to be married off. But on this particular day of the feast of the burial society, he was just as happy as he could be.

With the departure of his older son, Shmuel, with his family, for Palestine, he thought that he would also like to go to the land of his forefathers, but fate had it otherwise. He and his wife Blumela, his son Avrom with his family, Rachel with her family, Raizel and Laibela – all of them were killed by Nazi brutality.



David Wasserman

Reb David – that's how he was called with affection, because he was one of the most beautiful personalities in the town. His appearance and his bearing evoked a feeling of respect. A modest person and a person with self restrain, he was a Modzjitzer Hasid and one of the most learned of them. He prayed in the Modzjitzer prayer house. But on the High Holidays, Reb Gershon Rabinovitch invited Reb Davidel to come and pray at the main synagogue, which at that time would be overflowing because the audience had great pleasure and really loved to hear him sing. His powerful and lyrical voice reached into every corner. The women especially were quite grateful because his singing reached into the balcony where they were singing.

Reb Davide was somebody who was a supporter of the whole Zionist proposition and more than once he would ask the Jewish youth in Demblin, “What are you doing here? Why don't you go to Israel? Live on the land.” And he himself, actually, strove to make Aliyah. When the first group of pioneers from Demblin went to Israel, we received letters from him in which he asked for help.

As I remember, he only spoke Hebrew on the Sabbath. He was also active in the burial society and founded another society of a religious study group. Every Sabbath, before dawn, in summer or winter, Reb Davidel used to be the first one in the synagogue studying. And on Shavuoth, after eating, Reb Davidel would sing in the synagogue the most beautiful melodies by the Modzjitzer Rabbi, and the whole audience would sing along with him.

My father used to tell about how before the First World War, Reb Davidel was the biggest leather merchant in town. He had two houses. But, when hte Russians left the town, they burned everything, including everything he owned.

Davidel's wife, Surela, was well known as being a very kind and wonderful person in the town. She helped out people in need very generously, but she always did it in such a way that nobody knew.

Despite the fact that he himself took a tremendous loss when his business and possessions went up in smoke, the couple, Mr. and Mrs. Wasserman, lived with great hope and faith and prepared for the time when they would make their way to Israel. But, the War broke out on the 1 st of September, 1939, and that shattered everybody's plans.

Reb Davidel also prayed in the ghetto before the Ark. Yom Kippur of 1941, when Reb Davidel cried out Kol Nidre, the congregation was moved and shared the emotion of his prayer. It was a premonition, he felt, that this was the last time he was going to pray. And the holy prayer was conducted with many tears and a lot of weeping.

The 6th of May, 1942, the Modzjitzer scholar shared the tragic fate of the mass of Jews in Demblin and went off in the final road.

Honored be his memory!



[Page 253]

Shmuel (Oralis) Rubinstein

by Arye Buckspan, Tel Aviv

Shmuel Oralis (Rubenstein) was a religious Jew, a scholar and a lover of study. He was interested only in Torah studies. He spent his days sitting at the Guerr shtieble studying, from dawn to evening.

His wife Mechala was old. She worked at home and managed a store for selling lye to support them both. I wondered many times how a sick woman like her, whose hands and head shook in a strange spasm, could control so many customers and manage the store so intelligently. Sometimes on the days of the fair (Wednesdays), I would help her when the store was full. If she became ill, the store would shut down because her husband was absorbed by his studies. Every Friday Shmuel Oralis went to the mikve and prepared for the Sabbath. Since he believed that he should not see the face of a woman, he would turn to the wall and shout, “a shirt, a towel”, until he received what he asked for.

With him we – my brother-in-law Ya'acov Rosenberg, myself and a few other boys – studied Torah. He taught us, because we were known as good students, and belonged to the same Guerr Shtieble. He did not charge us for studying, doing his work as a mitzvah.

His son Alter did not practice Judaism, and according to his father's terms, he was a complete heathen. He was caught in the Communist idea and wanted to bring salvation to the world, while at the same time not bringing salvation to himself. First he traveled to Brazil, where he tried to write for a Yiddish newspaper and held some odd jobs. He did not succeed. He married Chana Ziegelman, an active member of Poale Tzion Left, and with her moved to Demblin.

The Demblin boys had their first Torah lessons with a Jew named Reb Zeidel. He taught using a leather whip and according to the method of putting one to stand in the corner. Later they continued their studies with Reb Leibel. He used to rest his students by bringing them to the town's prominent figures, who would question them. If the boys succeeded, they won much praise. The older kids continued their studies with Reb Sanna the teacher. He would teach the boys Torah, and his wife would take advantage of the kids for helping her at home. All those teachers lived by the Great Synagogue.

Moshe Hillels (Anglister), a pleasant Jew, had talent for everything except for making a livelihood. He was a carving artist, and adept in woodworking in general. He knew how to paint very well, and was even a Hebrew and math teacher. Nevertheless he lived in great poverty. He was lucky not to need much.



[Page 254]

To the Memory of my Near and Dear ones

by Baila Shapiro-Brandshpigel, Paris

Memories about the town mean for me, first of all, memories about her people, the dear, warm hearted Jews who the brutes in Hitler's army killed so savagely.

The following lines I truly dedicate to the memory of my near and dear ones, family and friends from my youth.

My mother, Chana Shapiro, didn't have very much luck in her life. At the age of 30 she was left a widow with 7 children. When the German brutes took Demblin, she had to witness the murder of her children and grandchildren until she alone remained a victim of the beasts. The same tragic fate was shared by my brother and his wife and children and grandchildren. My brother, Moshe, with his wife Blumtshe, the good Golda, as well as my wiser sister, Yehudis with her little boy.

My mother, Chana Shapiro, had very little luck in her life. When I was 30 years old I left Demblin and emigrated to France. Although it was tough to make a living we still felt like free people compared to the way we felt back in Poland. With the outbreak of the Second World War, my husband signed up voluntarily in the French army and he was taken prisoner by the Germans. After he was liberated, he was not with us again for a very long time. The 14th of May, 1941, they took him, along with the first 5,000 Jews from France. After detaining him for 14 months in a camp, the 27th of June, 1942, he was deported to Auschwitz and that's where he died. I remained with my 2 children, one 5½ years old and the other 15 days old. We were blessed with a miracle because all three of us survived after a lot of sorrow and a lot of need and hardship in that terrifying period.

I remember also, so many of the friends from our youth with whom we struggled together, dreamed together, hoped together – in the union of workers and in the library, different kinds of organizations, in the drama circle, Yarme Vanapol, Malka Baitzman, Freida Ainshidler, the Baigelmans, Yisrael Yom-Tov, David Cholevinsky, Yankel Bubis, Hindele Birentzvieg, Avraham Rozenzaft, the Apelhoitz, Shloma Rappaport, Tzaduk Yom-Tov.

Honored be their memory.



[Pages 255-257]

Nuach Ekheizer

by Tzvi Eichenbrenner, Tel Aviv


“Nuach – he was always a saint”. He was thought of among his town's people as on of the most luminous personalities in that dark era of the destruction of our people. His bearing and conduct in the camps in Demblin and in Czenstechov and his readiness to help, demonstrated that even in the most terrible conditions of enslavement and brutality one dare not lose sight of the image of God. The sinfulness of that era did not change him for the worse in any way.

All of the painful pressures and sorrows in the camps moved him very deeply although he personally wasn't the one who was suffering. He felt pain for other people. That's why he attempted to bring about some kind of opposition to comfort those who found themselves in deep sorrow and to encourage with a good word those who were resigned and in desperation.

Whenever he had the slightest opportunity, Nuach would sabotage the work that was being done for the Germans, and he would tell other people to do likewise. In order to rescue a young Jewish boy from a certain death in the camp, he risked his own life. His humane conduct didn't please everybody and his good deeds became known to one of the lower echelon officers, Kattinger. That beast, one morning very early, when the group of workers had already left the gate of the camp on the way to their work place, stopped everybody and went directly to Nuach, and with his whip he began to strike him in the face and on his body. The erect posture of Nuach and his refusal to even blink his eye and his proud silence only drove the German to increase his sadism, which only quieted down when Nuach lay covered with blood, beaten to a pulp, stretched out on the ground. These blows left a familiar mark on the health and mood of Nuach for the rest of his life. He always suffered from head aches.

In Czenstechov I was with Nuach once again. The 15th of January of 1945, the Red Army neared Czenstechov and the Germans began to evacuate our camp. Sick Nuach dared to escape in a terrible frost and 2 days later he was liberated by the Russians.

He made aliya to Israel. When the Germans decided to give reparations to those who had been in the camps for their forced labor and their suffering, Nuach was one of the only refugees who refused to take advantage of German money. He complained that the very name that they'd given to the undertaking, “To Make Good Once Again”, was enough for a Jew to refuse it. It made absolutely no impression on him no matter how much you argued. He remained firm in his decision and never took advantage of the reparations.

The place of his death is also symbolic and appropriate to the place that he occupied in life. He died in the building of the Israeli highest court during a trial in Jerusalem. All of a sudden he felt very sick and died very quickly.

Honored be his memory!

[See PHOTO-B41 at the end of Section B]



Shmuen “The Hoarse One”

Once upon a time when one walked down the long stone paved Warshavsky street which reached from one end of the city to the other, one saw on both sides, little wooden houses as if in a big circle. In each little house, one was able to look in and with precision say in which of them lived the figs, the sourcreams, the petticoats, the rats, the noodles, the matzos, the rattles, the stallions, and so on and so forth. They were all very worthy, honest Jews, working folk, their family names had nothing offensive about them. Basically each person in the town had their family name and that's how you knew them and that's how you called their children and their grandchildren, as well. From where these names came, most of the people had no idea. In the same way lots of the towns and villages didn't know where their names came from. For example, the people in Warsaw were known as “frasers” [people who ate a lot], the people in Chelm were known to be fools, the people in Kotzker – blockheads, Koriv – creepers, Ryki – slurpers, Baranov – made cake in a bad way…

In one of these little houses lived Shmuen, the hoarse one. He was called that not because the Jew was really so hoarse that he actually wasn't able to speak. On the contrary, Shmuen had a clear, beautiful voice. And on the Sabbath when he would pray psalms in the synagogue, it was really a great pleasure to listen to him. He was a very modest man and when people used to argue about something, Shmuen wasn't one to join in. He didn't really like to get mixed up in arguments and discussions. He listened but he kept silent. He would never, with even one word, call attention to himself. That's the way he acquired his name, “Shmuen, the hoarse one.”

Shmuen was blessed by God with three fine sons and a wise wonderful daughter. When she was grown up just a little bit, she would write letters for all of the women in the town to their relatives in America. Her letters were better than the professional letter writers.

But getting a full belly was something that Shmuen couldn't provide for his family. After all, how could he accomplish that since the whole living that he made was from each summer's excursion to a little orchard that he rented from a peasant? He would load up his few belongings on a wagon and sit his wife and children on the wagon and he would go off there for the whole summer. There they lived in a little straw structure and even in the heaviest rains it thundered and there was lightning, they didn't leave that spot until everything had been harvested. That was usually right around the beginning of the High Holy days.

When one would talk to Shmuen, he never complained about his hard life. He had no complaints to God. The only thing that he used to complain about was that he was never able, as he was obliged to do as a Jew, to really pray with conviction, because all the little gentile boys, in the countryside, knew that when this Jew would start praying, the whole world could turn upside down and he wouldn't move from the spot. When Shmuen was standing in his tallit and tfillin, by a tree, and saying the Shemona Esrai [18 benedictions], the gentile boys would appear out of nowhere, like a plague of locusts attacking the orchard. However much Shmuen tried to concentrate on his prayers, his mind would always start to wander and this made him feel very bad.

When his children were grown up and emigrated, when the little orchard which they used to rent had been chopped down, Shmuen remained with his wife and daughter and also without a means of support. Every morning, summer and winter, he and his wife Kraindel went to the countryside to get a couple of big cans of milk, and they took them back to sell the contents of them in town.

Once early in the morning, when they were both passing with their cans of milk through a little forest near the lakes, a Polish officer with some armed soldiers stopped them on a pretext that they were spies. They stripped them naked, searched them, they poured the milk out and they examined the empty milk cans, and of course you understand they didn't find anything. Then they started to beat up the poor couple, sadistically tortured them and abandoned them.

From then on Shmuen became sick and lay in bed until he died. Once his wife, Kraindel, came into our house weeping and called my father to her husband. A group of other neighbors went to Shmuen, who was barely able to talk. With them he said his final prayers and soon afterwards he gave up his pure soul.


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