[Pages 343 and 398]
Until the passing of Rav Ashkenazi, the judge Rav Menachem Mendel Shapira was the second in leadership. He settled in our city in 1903. Before that, he was a rabbi in Yagelnitsa, where his fathers and grandfathers had occupied the rabbinical chair for six generations. After the passing of Rav Ashkenazi, the city was divided into two camps. One camp supported the judge's inheriting the Rav's position; the other camp supported Rav Yechiel Rosenberg who was a supreme scholar with a phenomenal memory, who also seemed worthy of the position. The debate about who should take over lasted many years until it was finally decided not to appoint a rabbi at all. The judge remained in his position and received an additional title of head of the rabbinical court in addition to his previous one of judge and righteous teacher. Rav Yechiel Rosenberg was appointed official legal codifier and received a modest salary.
The family of the departed Rav Ashkenazi also requested continuity to the rabbinical position. After a protracted discussion period, Rabbi Aryeh Leibish, Rav Ashkenazi's son-in-law, was appointed as the second judge and righteous teacher; he remained at his post until the days of the holocaust, when he was killed together with the other holy ones of our city.
The Rebbe was a branch of the dynasty of Vizhnitza and was the brother of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Zaleshchiki and Utiniya who was also his father-in-law. He had two daughters and one son, Reb Baruch'l. After the war, the Rebbe settled in Czernovitz, and there his son Reb Baruch'l became one of the leaders of Mizrachi in Bokovina. During the years of the Holocaust, Reb Boruch'l was exiled to Transendnistria, and there was killed with his family.
The people of the Rebbe's courtyard that were known in the city were the attendants, Reb Pinchas, Reb Moshe Mendel, and the cantor Reb Zalman. The personal attendant of the Rebbe, Lubish, was of short stature, had a yellowish beard, and was a well-known member of the community.
Moshe Pineles stood at the head of the community after the first elections that took place in 1891. The period of his incumbency extended to 1900. After the elections in 1900, Yosef Bozner was chosen as the head of the community. He was an estate owner in the village of Potochishche, but was so involved in the life of the city that he could direct the affairs of the community. He was an enlightened person and was not a member of ultra-orthodox circles.
When Bozner's term was finished, the leadership passed for a few years to the ultra-orthodox circles. In those days the community heads were Jews like Velvel Zeidman and Shlomo Kramer, who were considered among the extremists of the ultra-orthodox. The two of them were among the wealthy, honored and learned scholars in the city, and they placed guards against the incursion of the maskilim and the Zionists, whose numbers were growing into leadership roles. Around the year 1910, there were new elections. The Zionists, together with organizations of workers, succeeded in assisting the more modern candidates in the elections, specifically Berl Shpierer, to be chosen as the communal head.
Berl Shpierer joined a youth a group of maskilim whose members were also students of Chaim Leib Halpern. After his marriage, he was very successful in business and became somewhat involved in the banking business. He was the communal head for a few years before the First World War and continued leading after the War. He was not counted among the organized Zionists, but was among the friends of the Zionist movement. In his days the Zionists attained a significant influence over communal affairs. Even so, he did not hesitate in holding back support from motions that were presented for the sake of the Zionist causes, in order to acquire the support of the Zionist opponents in 1930.
In 1918, with the return of the first refugees from the western areas of the Austrian monarchy, Reb Shlomo Shtreyt took the mantle of leadership during those first difficult intermediate days. After the majority of citizens returned to their homes, it was possible again to reestablish the central community council that had been elected before the World War. Reb Shlomo Shtreyt was among the greatest scholars of the city and an honored merchant; this position gave him authority for the difficult activity of organizing the life of the community during the period of transition from emergency conditions to normal conditions.
As was the customary and accepted practice, there were several cantors in the city, since each synagogue had its own cantor. The most notable cantor, the cantor of the the big synagogue, was Yossi Chazan, Yossi Shapira. In addition to his position as a cantor, a position that apparently did not provide him with a sufficient livelihood, he had a small olive oil press called olinitza in the local tongue. He knew how to polish the compositions of famous cantors and to give them a traditional Jewish flavor. Without knowledge of musical notes, he organized and conducted a choir of about forty men. After the First World War, he immigrated to America and served as a cantor in one of the synagogues there.
The assistant to the city cantor was Shlomo Chaim whose official title was under-chazan. He also needed an additional source of livelihood, and obtained this through a bakery that was established by his wife, Shlomo Chaim'kes. She supported them by baking small loves of bread from wheat flour that was ground together with bran.
A well-known cantor in the city was Reb Shimshele Milnitzer, who was also a teacher of young children. A skinny, weak Jew, he had a pleasant voice, and mesmerized listeners with the sweetness of his prayer. He had an awesome memory for music and a wonderful ear. He collected many tunes that he learned in his visits to the courtyards of neighboring Rebbes.
There were two brothers well known for their singing and praying abilities: Yankel and Motti Falafel. The Falafel family came from Russia; when they came to Austria, they changed their name upon the advice of the rebbe to a Hebrew name, Falafel. They both had joyful temperaments, belonged to the national Jewish troupe, and were experts in Purim spiels and presentations like The Selling of Yosef. Yankel Falafel was a life-member of the Chevra Kadisha and was in charge of the Jewish cemetery records.
Michal Voves (Ivanir), more an amateur than a professional cantor, was a tall man with a pleasant and wide ranging voice; he had a well-developed sense of music. He, too, was from Russia and excelled through the wisdom of experience and love of life. However, economic success seemed beyond his grasp. He was forced to have several different occupations to earn his living; all of them together did not suffice to meet his needs.
Motia Sucher was also an impressive cantor. He was a fine young man who stood out for his good nature and refined manners. He made a living by selling hides in the market square, but generally it was his wife who ran the business while he devoted most of his time to studying in the kloiz.
Another special cantor and a pious Jew was Issac Meltzer, who was a carpenter by trade. He devoted a lot of his time to helping the sick through the organizations Yad Charutzim (the Hand of the Diligent) and Bikur Cholim (Visiting the Sick). In general, he stood out as a person who was good and did well. He was the workers' cantor, and was taken away with them in the first Action.
Other well-known cantors were Zeide Offenberger and Dudia Lazar, both from the new generation, who shortened both their beards and clothes. In his youth, Zeyde Ofenberger was a member of the choir of one the greatest of cantors in his generation, Zalmen Kvartin; he was accustomed to repeating many of the prayers and melodies of his teacher.
Two well-known attendants in the city were Dudia Zellner and Dovid Zerach. Dudia Zellner was a soldier in his youth, and, in the course of his service, he acquired many medals of distinction that he would wear at every festive occasion. With the knock of his hammer, he would arouse men from their sleep and call them to wake up for the service of their Creator. Dovid Zerach was the official attendant of the great synagogue. He collected community taxes and would go from door to door of the residents' homes with his notebook under his arm a notebook that was famous in the city.
A well-known figure in the city was the old attendant known by his nickname, Bundzier. Every Friday, he would walk throughout the city to inspect the eiruv (an encircling rope that allows Jews in a city to carry on Shabbat) with his long measuring stick and role of string to repair the parts that came down. He was extremely old. In the cemetery there was a plot of land, which he had bought and prepared with a tombstone. The only thing that was missing was the date of his passing.
The attendant of the great synagogue and its two adjacent rooms was, during the last years, Aaron Palger, who was invited to all the weddings in the city and was an expert regarding the speech of the dowry. He would exaggerate the praise of every item that was listed, estimating its value at ten percent above its actual worth, and thereby increase the mirth of all the wedding guests.
The members of the Chevra Kadisha were primarily laborers or small store keepers, who volunteered for the holy work that is referred to as Chesed Shel Emes, kindness of truth. They included: Yankel Falafel, Baruch Leib Greidinger, Asher Fetner, Fishel Wasser, Yehoshua Tzumer (Yehoshua Blume Rachels), and Yisrael Meir Tzumer. Yisrael Meir Tzumer was among those who were designated to be hung as tenth in line, in the year 1915. After the first nine Jews were hung, an order came from the Russian officer that this activity was not proper. He issued a command to release those who were still alive, and even to punish those responsible for the hanging of innocent men. The rope was actually removed from the neck of Yisrael Meir. From that time on, he would arrange a yohrtzeit, every year on the day that he was released from the hanging. At the beginning of the Holocaust, Yisrael Meir revealed an uncanny sense of seeing the future. When the Nazis came to take him from his home, he said: If this is how they are starting ... terrible and bitter will be our end, and he climbed up to the attic and hung himself.
The man who was involved in bringing the dead to burial, who was an undertaker for many years, was Avrohom Lipe (Frishling). His helper was Mates-Levi Weytsman, the brother of Eli Weytsman. During the final years, the undertakers were Nechemiah Reys and Mekheh Morgenbesser.
There were several other scholars in the city who learned Torah for its own sake, and were experts in Talmudic and Halachic authorities, but were not officially ordained as rabbis, and perhaps did not even aspire to become rabbis.
Among the outstanding scholars was Reb Shlomo Shtreyt, who was the head of the Talmud Torah Organization. To him the Talmud teachers would bring their students to fahrher, to be tested, and to obtain his opinion about their progress in their studies. Velvel Zeidman was also counted among the scholars, and was among the wealthy and honored of our city. So, too, among the scholars was Reb Leibele Korn, who also sold iron equipment and was also a man of means. However there were also several scholars who fulfilled the Torah in a state of poverty, and didn't allow worries of livelihood to distract them from their studies. Among the latter were Nachum Shpund and Vovel Kimel.
Nachum Shpund was the son of Noson Shpund. He was one of those who prayed in the Bais Medrash where Reb Elimelech Ashkenazi and his son-in-law Reb Chaim Shnitser prayed. There he always found an opportunity to debate Reb Chaim Shnitser in matters of Torah and Halacha.
Voveh Kimel owned a small grocery store that was next to the house of Dr. Kanapas. He was primarily known in the city as a seller of pure honey, without any suspicion of additives. It was also possible to obtain from him beeswax for candles or the beeswax candles themselves. He was a modest Jew with many children and was considered one of the city scholars.
Another scholar worthy of mention was Zelig Alerhand. He was an old bachelor an unusual sight in a Jewish section and a scholar with a brilliant mind. During the days of the second Russian invasion, he was among a group of Jews who were captured and were falsely found guilty of spying against Austria. Among this group that was brought up to the scaffold and hung in the streets of Horodenka were nine men, among whom was Zelig Alerhand, may G-d avenge his blood.
One of the beginning-level teachers was Menashe Melamed (his family name was Horn). He brought his pupils to the point of readiness for Chumash. He was a successful teacher and had many students. Another teacher like him was Mendele Chanafia, whose family name was Shpigler. Mendele Chanafia was a typical cheder melamed; the traditional force of personality completed his cheder image.
The teachers, who taught Chumash and beyond, even up to the Talmud, were many and varied both in qualities and character. The better-known ones were: Avremeleh Melamed, Mordechai Pupic, Yonah Melamed (Liebman), and Yehudah Bashzor (Tuber).
Yehudah Bashzor was well known as a good teacher from the old generation, but also a strict one, who would cast bile into his students and compel them to his will with a stick and a staff. Yonah Liebman was somewhat influenced by the new spirit of the times and introduced recesses between his classes, as well as other innovations. However the most modern was Notah Katz. He also taught Chumash with Rashi and the Prophets according to traditional commentaries, with translations into Yiddish. However, he also taught Hebrew language and grammar.
The greatest and most venerable among the children's teachers was Reb Kalman Shmuel. He was an outstanding scholar and taught not just Talmud, but the difficult commentary of Tosephos. The best scholars in the city, who continued to learn independently, were Reb Kalman's students. It's as if he had a miniature yeshiva, or as was expressed by Dr. Hirsh Blutal, a university course for Talmud.
A unique and wonderful chapter is that of my Hebrew schoolteachers. In the period before the First World War, there was for a long time an impressive teacher by the name of Yehuda Goldstein, and the Horodenka-born teacher, Yeshaya Itzik Boker. From his first activities as a teacher in our city, Boker excelled in his pedagogical skills; he had a great charismatic personality. He continued functioning as a Hebrew teacher in Carlsbad, which was in Tchekia, where he remained at the end of the war. Among his students in that period were many important members and leaders of the Zionist movement; he himself was one of the Zionist activists in the city. After the Nazis conquered Czechoslovakia, he succeeded in escaping at the very last minute before the war broke out in 1939. He reached Tel Aviv, though, to our great sorrow, he did not live long. He passed away in Tel Aviv in 1944.
In the era after the First World War, there was a frequent turnover of teachers in the Hebrew school, and only one remained faithful to it, up to the Holocaust. It was the teacher Binyomin Korn. From time to time his destiny declined and he was pushed out of his position as the headmaster of the Hebrew school. However, he kept his standing in the city and in it he raised his sons. His first-born son Tuvya Korn, may G-d avenge his blood, was an active Zionist and communal member. His entire family perished, along with the other sanctified ones of Horodenka.
The second Hebrew teacher, who established a blood pact with the city and also perished here during the Holocaust, was the teacher and singer Yitzchak Berger, may G-d avenge his blood. In his days, the school flourished greatly. He awakened in the hearts of his students the will to express their thoughts and feelings in Hebrew, in verse and in prose. A few pages that were a testimony to these activities, reached our hands in the form of a published manual illustrated by the schools' students. So, a few leaves remained from the newspaper dedicated to the concerns of Hebrew education, which was published by Berger in Hebrew and in Yiddish. His wife Reva Berger was snatched from the claws of destruction and she now lives in a country across the sea.
The Yiddish school was actually the youngest educational institution in the city. It was founded soon after the First World War, but during the period of its short existence it became an important institution, whose impact was obvious in the life of the city. Its earliest teachers were members of the Bund in our city Isaac Fink, Yosef Katz, and Asher Shtreyt who were conscripted into the holy service of spreading Yiddish culture among the masses. During the last period, the teachers in this school were Weisberg and Boym, who were sent to teach by the Zionist center in Warsaw. There were also two female teachers, Etel Katvan and Kreintze Shteyner, who had been students of this school during the first stage of its existence. They were sent by the administration of the school together with the leaders of the Bund, to complete their Yiddish education in the Yiddish seminar in Vilna. Lastly, we should also mention Yehudah Hirsh Sobel, one of the original Bund members, and one of the founders of the Yiddish school in our city.
The first of the maskilim in Horodenka to express his liberal views, which opposed the beliefs of most of the community, was Chaim Leib Halpern, who lived and worked in our city at the end of the nineteenth century. He gathered around him the initial group of maskilim, who regarded him as their teacher and spiritual leader. Very little is known to us, the children of this generation. It's known only that he struggled to make a living by giving lessons in Tanach and the Yiddish language. Groups of Chassidim and ultra-orthodox hated and pursued him, until he left the city and settled in the village of Rudol'fodorf, whose residents were Shvabim (Germans). There he opened a store to support his family. He died at a young age. Before he died, he was brought to Horodenka, since he wanted to die among Jews; there he died and was buried. In the city various stories circulated about his comments and the various sayings that he would propound on different occasions. He published a book from his own pen according to the spirit of that time, however we presently have nothing definitive about that.
Among the elders of the maskilim in the beginning of this century was counted Reb Alter Zilberg. He was a maskil of broad background, who walked modestly and lived his whole life as a religious Jew who withheld his liberal ideas. Even though he was like that, he was dedicated to national and Zionist causes, and one of the founders of the group Bnei Zion; he sat at the head of this group for many years. He was also among the first to allow his two sons to acquire a broad base of knowledge and to complete formal studies like engineering.
His friend and comrade in the movement, who was slightly younger, was Reb Shmuel Yitzchak Lindenburg. In his youth he was a close friend of Chaim Leib Halpern, however that didn't influence the behavior of his daily life, which remained faithful to traditional forms. He was very talented in art and was involved, among other things, in drawing signs. In general, he experimented in a wide variety of fields, and acquired the nickname, the man of a thousand talents, because of his abilities in all kinds of handicrafts. He was one of the old and respected members and activists of the B'nei Zion group, and one of the regular attendants at the Zionist minyan. In 1910, he was selected as a member of the community council, as a Zionist representative, and continued in this role for many years. Within the framework of Zionist activity, he was appointed to the special role of bearing the yoke of concern for the existence of the Hebrew school, which he helped found in 1907. To his children he gave a complete Hebrew education, and his home was one of the few homes in the city where the spirit of Hebrew dominated. In 1926 he went to Israel on the heels of his son and daughter, and lived there through the work of his hands until practically his last years. He passed away in Tel Aviv at the ripe old age of 89, after living to see the founding of the State.
The friend and peer of S. Y. Lindenburg was Hersh Birnboym, both of whom were counted among the group of Chaim Leib Halpern. They both joined the Zionist movement. He was one of the outstanding personalities in the city, due to his personal style and unique approach to many concerns of life especially his love of nature that was embedded in him and about which he spoke at every opportunity. One manifestation of his love of nature was his commitment to the healing and preservation of natural resources, which he lectured about to all his friends and acquaintances. At the time of the Holocaust, he lived in Horodenka and was murdered with the other citizens.
One of those most loyal and dedicated to the Zionist ideal and to the Hebrew language was Zvi Preminger. He was ten or more years younger than the elder members of the Zionist organization. However, he towered over all of them in his serious and consistent approach to the question of the revival of the Hebrew language. As mentioned in several places in this book, he audaciously attempted to have the Hebrew language spoken in his house. His boldness is not less daringly expressed by his incorporating a Hebrew title on the packaging of his shoe polish. Because of this he earned the nickname of Zionist. (Ten percent of the profits of the factory were dedicated to the Keren Kayemet.) With all this, Zvi was one of the most enthusiastic youth who prayed with the Zionist minyan. He was a man of good conversation and abundant humor, who enjoyed the love and friendship of all who knew him. During the First World War he escaped to Vienna and remained there until he went to Israel. In 1925 he visited Israel and tried to find a position as a Hebrew stenographer, according to the approach that he invented, but he didn't succeed and returned to Vienna. In his last years, he lived in Haifa and passed away there in 1957.
The period after the First World War and the Balfour Declaration was the time when Zvi Yiskar, of blessed memory, was a Zionist leader and activist in all areas of communal life in our city. He was born in Horodenka in 1886. At a young age, he joined a Zionist group called Bnei Zion and was one of its most active members. In 1912 he joined the young Zionist group Tz'irei Zion (youth of Zion), but the war that broke out in 1914 put an end to the activities of this group. In the years after the war, Zvi Yiskar was in the center of the city's Zionist activities and he served alternately as sometimes the leader or the assistant head of the group Bnei Zion, until the day that he moved to Israel with his family in 1936. In the last years before his aliya, he accomplished a lot in the city. He especially succeeded in establishing the guild of Professional Zionists, who were formerly under the influence of the Bund. In 1957, he visited America at the invitation of his sisters and brother-in-law. On this occasion, he was enlisted to actualize the plan of publishing a memorial book. About a year before his death, he continued collecting his portion of the memorial book in the form of memories about the Baron Hirsh School, the community council, and other organizations in the city. When he passed away in 1959, his coffin was placed near the grave of his wife in the cemetery in Hertzelia.
Many members of the Bnei Zion group joined this group even before the First World War; and some of them continued their activities even after the war. A few of them were: Michael Neyman and Abba Kalmus (both of whom died in their youth during the First World War), Leib Kamil, the brothers Hillel and Beynish Koch, and Ben Tziyon Eyzman.
Leib Kamel was active in the Keren Hayesod and Keren Kayemet organizations as a fundraiser. In general, he was known as a trustworthy man, in whose hands were entrusted various communal funds. Beynish Koch was also at the center of Zionist activities in the city. After Zvi Yiskar made aliya, Beynish took over his place in the Zionist organization. When Zvi Yiskar left, several letters remained from Beynish Koch, in which he described in detail everything that transpired in the Zionist organization and the Hebrew school committee.
Ben Tziyon Eyzman joined the Bnei Zion group at a young age, even before the First World War. In 1912, after his marriage with Tzipe Shertzer, he settled in Lvov. However, he returned to Horodenka when the World War was over, and continued living there until the Holocaust. During this long period, he was a member of the Hebrew school committee, and for two years was also the head of the committee. Within the framework of his activities in the Zionist group, he took upon himself to become the assistant to the head of the group and was also one of the Zionist representatives in the community council. In the thirties, together with Dr. Beynish, he helped found the Cooperative Loan Bank. In August of 1942, with the liquidation of the Ghetto in Horodenka, Ben Tzion Eyzman, together with the refugees of the Ghetto, was exiled to the Ghetto in Kolomyja. He remained there a very short time, until he was taken in one of the raids to the extermination camp of Lutz.
Tzipe Eyzman, the daughter of Hertzl Shertzer and husband of Ben Tzion, was also an activist from her childhood, especially in the area of Hebrew education. With the establishment of the first Hebrew school in the city in 1907, she was the first kindergarten teacher, and taught the young ones to converse in Hebrew even before they reached school age. In the period after the World War, she assumed the yoke of responsibility for the existence of the school together with Yaacov Prashel and others, and even volunteered to serve as a teacher without remuneration. At a later time, around 1932, Tziporah Eyzman became a pioneer in the promotion of vocational training for the girls in Horodenka, and together with a group of activists, founded a school for cutting and sewing material. The school was set up under the watch and care of Mrs. Cecilia Clapton from Lvov, one of the most active communal workers in the area of vocational training. The school came to have an outstanding reputation.
Tziporah Eyzman was among the 2500 Jews to be exterminated during the first roundup in Semakovtse, but miraculously she managed to escape from the pit and returned to Horodenka. Like her, another four women escaped. After the destruction of the ghetto in Horodenka, she lived in Kolomyja together with her husband, but she escaped to Lvov and she did hand labor in the Yanovska camp. With the tragic destruction of this camp in November of 1943, all the workers were exterminated, among them also Tziporah Eyzman.
It is fitting to bring up at this point the memory of three people in our city who made aliya among the bourgeoisie to acclimate themselves to the land. Two of them, Yakov Rat and Note Shechter, did not succeed in their efforts and returned to Horodenka. There they were exterminated with the others of the city. The third one, Yaacov Prashel, succeeded in becoming acclimated, but did not live very long.
The son-in-law of Yudel Ekerling, Yaacov Prashel, came to Horodenka in 1922. He participated in all areas of Jewish Zionist activity for all the years that he lived in our city until moving to Israel.
Yakov Rat and Note Shechter moved to Israel, near Petach Tikva, around 1926. They established a brick-making factory, in which they sunk most of their earnings. For different reasons, their factory did not succeed and they were forced to leave Israel after having lost all the money that they invested.
Here we will mention two citizens of our city who functioned as activists on different and separate stages of Jewish history, both of whom finished their lives in a tragic manner: Yaacov Adlerstein, one of the leaders of the Jewish community in Czechoslovakia, who was exterminated with his family in Auschwitz, and Dov Cohen, one of the commanders of Etzel, Irgun Tzava Leumi (Israel defense army), who fell in battle during an invasion.
The movement of Jewish workers known as the Yiddish Arbeiter Ring, or, in short, Der Bund, took root in the city after the First World War. The members that stood out were: Issac Fink, Yossel Katz, Asher Shtreyt, Ephraim Patner, Sheindel Patner (Podvisaker), Baruch Isaac Shpierer, Yehudah Hirsh Sobel, Hirsh Schecter, Avraham Shneiderman, and others. Among the first activists in this movement, there remained only Isaac Fink and Baruch Isaac Shpierer, who are now living in America. They are very involved in the Landsmanshaft organization and the committee to publish the Horodenka book.
The Bund accomplished a lot for the proletariat organization of the city It included small businessmen who were not actually proletariats. It awakened in its members an awareness of their position and broadened their horizons through various cultural activities. But the main activity of the Bund in our city was the Yiddish School of Avraham Reisin that was established from donations by city members with the assistance of American organizations. Asher Shtreyt and Yossel Katz, who were among the founders of the school, were also the first volunteer teachers. (The foundation and development of this school described in the memoirs of Isaac Fink.)
An uncrowned leader of the Jewish workers' movement in our city was Chaim Tauber Chaim Baszur the younger brother of the teacher Yehudah Baszur. He was a tall and broad-shouldered Jew who made a living from selling fish; but he considered himself a proletariat in all matters. He mingled with the poor of the city and he would make a commotion with fiery words about every evil and injustice that affected the impoverished masses or individuals.
In our city there were some maskilim who did not stand out as activists: Meir Shlam, Nachman Shternhol, and Shlomo Heller. Meir Shlam was a sharp-minded man, both learned and wise. He was an expert accountant and managed the books of one of the wealthiest men in the city. He was at home both among the city's most observant people as well as in Zionist circles. When he was among the Zionists, he would extol the virtues of the ultra-orthodox, and when he came among the latter, he would extol the virtues of the Zionists.
Nachman Shternhol was one of the elders of the city. He had a white beard and an aristocratic face; yet at times he functioned like a maskil. Every Shabbos afternoon, one could see him in the Tziyon Farein reading German newspapers, without wearing the traditional shtreimel.
Shlomo Heller was an intellectual Jew who was somewhat scatterbrained. He had no children and it seems like his wife was the primary provider. He himself was involved with giving short-term lessons in Tanach, and in managing accounts. During a certain period he was also a correspondent for the Lemberger Tagblatt (daily) in our city.
Among the scholars and activists of the last generation who achieved a reputation for their activities outside our city, it is worth mentioning Shmuel Abba Sofer. His youth in Horodenka is broadly covered in this book. His activities as a sofer and a journalist in Czernovitz, are treated by Dr. Gelber in the historical journal and in an article by Yitchak Paner, a Yiddish author who lived near him in Czernovitz during the last period of his life.
Horodenka also produced two stage performers with a universal reputation, Rona Pfifer-Laks and Alexander Granach. Rona Pfifer was the daughter of the court accountant Pfeffer and she was an outstanding singer in the state opera in Vienna. In the period between the wars, she visited Horodenka and appeared in concerts in the Sokol auditorium. During a later period, she also visited Israel.
Alexander Granach became famous as an actor on the German and English stage in America in the period between the Wars, and also as a movie actor. He died in New York in 1945, when he was still young, and he left a very literary autobiographical book called A man and his Journeys. The chapters that related to the period of his life in our city are transcribed in this book in Yiddish, and so too is mentioned his visit to our city and his influence on the drama circles in Horodenka.
From among these righteous women, it's valuable to single out di bentzioneche, the wife of the rope maker Ben Tzion Diner, who was well known in the city as a volunteer for charitable matters, especially for the needs of the Mitzvah of Hachnasat Kallah, attending to the bride.
During the period of his studies in Lvov, he met Soloma Kurtzer, the daughter of Dr. Kurtzer, and he married her. Dr. Kurtzer settled in Horodenka and after he finished his studies, he established a medical practice. After his father-in-law died, the patients of Dr. Kurtzer transferred to Dr. Kanapas. He established himself as a successful doctor, became the doctor of the Baron, and the doctor appointed by the government to the court, city, and state pharmacy.
To the Kanapas family were born two sons and one daughter, and they all learned medicine. The first born, Gershon-Gustav, who was for some years a doctor in the city of Tluste in east Galicia, was known for his dedication and good heart, his communal and Zionist activities, and his generosity of spirit. Not only did he offer free medical help to the indigent, but also he opened a special account in the local pharmacy, to pay for medicines to the poor. In 1925, a typhus epidemic broke out in Tluste and surrounding areas, which took the lives of many citizens. Many of those who were able, including the city doctors, left the city from fear of the epidemic. Gustav Kanapas provided medical aid to the ill, made his nights like days, until the disease overpowered even him; all the efforts of other doctors who gathered from various places didn't succeed in saving him. The entire city participated in his funeral and the mourning was very great. People of the city said that the only other person to merit such a funeral and such mourning was the beloved rabbi of the city, Rabbi Pinchas Chodorover, of blessed memory.
A peer and competitor of Dr. Kanapas was Shimshon, who was a doctor by profession but unlicensed. Shimshon the doctor lived as a Jew from the previous generation, and it was easy to call him, and to ask his advice about any slight ailment. His wife was also involved in the medical profession as a midwife for the women of the city. Shimshon the doctor died by a Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of the Name) in 1915, when he tried to rescue a Torah scroll from a synagogue that was enveloped in fire. Russian soldiers, who saw him doing this, threw him into the fire, and he was burned with the Torah scroll in his arms.
In the era before the First World War, there was another Jewish doctor in our city who worked in a special field of veterinary medicine, Dr. Ludvig Bach. Externally, he was no different from other doctors in the city, but his acquaintances said that he was learned and even achieved a level of prominence in scholarship. In the years after the World War, he opened in the center of the city a beautiful clothing store featuring high-class shoes from the Salamander factory. Also, the first pharmacist in our city was a Jew whose name was Meron Luria. The pharmacy was the most impressive building on the main street; the arrangements in the pharmacy were extraordinary.
We should single out two doctors who were in the city during the Holocaust and who were exterminated in the first raid, Dr. Shneyder and Dr. Vassertzveig. Dr. Shneyder was not part of the Zionist group but he happened to visit Israel in 1937 with a group of medical representatives. He was known as a good and kind doctor who healed the poor when they were ill without taking any payment, and even gave them medicine at his own expense, when necessary. As conveyed by the survivors of the Holocaust who got to Israel, his behavior during the Holocaust was exceptional in its ethical level. He and his wife refused to be friends with the Kreizhoftman, the enemy Hak, and this prevented his removal from the rows of those judged for death in the great synagogue on the day of the first extermination. When they removed the useful Jews, they warned them that they should stay away from the central square according to the order of the Germans. However the doctor refused to leave, and chose to be together with all the other Jews in a situation of danger. In the death camp in Semakovtse, he was the only one who dared to lift his voice to protest against the murderers. As a result he was shot right on the spot, even before they got to the ditch that was prepared as a grave for the victims.
Dr. Adolf Alpert came to Horodenka as the son in law of Alter Yungeman, a short time before the First World War. In the brief period of the existence of the West Ukrainian Republic in 1918, Dr. Alpert was the head of the national Jewish committee in Horodenka and joined the national gathering in Stanislav, in November of 1918.
In the last ten years before the Holocaust, Dr. Shlomo Zalman (Zunia) Lagshteyn worked in our city as a lawyer and a Zionist activist. He was the son of Nechemia Lagshteyn from the village of Korniv. He was one of the most active and dedicated in all the areas of Zionist activity and was for many years the head of the Zionist group in our city. He was also one of the Zionist representatives in the community council, and he also stood out in his dedication to the Zionist cause. During the reign of the Nazis, he returned to his village and from there he was sent to the concentration camps together with the other Jews in the village.
Just as at the side of the professional Dr. Kanapas, the non-professional Shimshon the doctor had worked, so too non-professional lawyers worked alongside the professional lawyers. The accepted name of this type of lawyer was the Vinkel Shrieber, the corner scribe. In the generation before ours, Hirsh Fielder was known as master in this arena; he left for America in beginning of this century.
Similar to the position of lawyers were the court officials and other government offices. This group was not all cut from the same cloth. Among them were those who still kept both feet in the traditional Jewish community, like the court clerk Hirsh Weysberg. Others, however, strove to imitate the world of liberal professionals and distanced themselves from any semblance of traditional life. The best known of this group were: Dovid Zeidman, Yossel Geller, Moshe Nafe and Chalzal.
Dovid Zeidman was a clerk in the central government house, and in addition served for many years as a secretary of the community council. Yossel Geller was a court clerk. He was a member of the Bikur Cholim (visiting of the sick) society and for a certain time was even the head of this group. He was also a member of the community council, and for several years served as a vice president to the head of the council, Berel Shpierer. Moshe Nafe and Chalzal were known in the city as court clerks, but they weren't involved in communal life.
A few of these bankers were also estate owners some small and some large but they themselves were city dwellers. In contrast, there were some estate owners who actually lived in their estates. Of the latter sort were Yosel Zeidman in Sarafinitz, Yosef Bosner in Potochishche, Yisroel Goldenberg in Strel'cheye, the Baron family in Rakovets, and the Rubal family in Korniv.
The senior member of the Horodenka storekeepers in the beginning of this century was Itzik Reuven Shor, the owner of an upscale grocery store, opposite Luria's pharmacy. Itzik Reuven was a well-to-do Jew and a scholar. In his older age, he transferred the management of the store more and more to his son-in-law Avrohom Yager, who was very popular and an activist in the Bnei Zion group. Avrohom Yager, with his wife and one of his sons, Miku Yeger, the head of beitar in our city, was exterminated during the holocaust.
The neighbor of Itzik Reuven Shor was Chaim Shuchner, a storekeeper for ready-made clothes for men. Chaim Shuchner was one of the most honored merchants in the city, and was known for his uprightness and honesty. Over the years, he became a member of the committee to evaluate the ability of the city dwellers to pay city taxes, and everyone depended on him and trusted that no one would be short changed through him.
In the market square, there were stores owned by many of the important city merchants. In the square were found the stores of Shlomo Shtreyt and Yanker Haber, who both had high quality grocery stores. However, most of the stores in this row belonged to leather merchants from the families of Berman and Reichman: Moshe Chaim Berman, Hershel Berman and Berel Berman, and the two brothers Anshel and Binyamin Reichman.
Hershel Berman was counted among the honorable young men in the city. (His brother in law, his wife's brother, was professor Fishel Brenner from Czernovitz.) He died in his youth before the First World War. One of his daughters, Dusye, remained in Horodenka and came to her death in the first raid, together with her husband Berish Reichman and their two children. Berel Berman was an active Zionist from his youth. His wife, Miriam from the Shikler house in Gvozdzets, excelled in her deep knowledge of the Hebrew language. Both of them were exterminated in the Holocaust. The brothers Anshel and Binyamin Reichman were considered well-to-do merchants. The sons and daughters of both families actively joined the Zionist groups in our city.
There were in these rows of stores other stores of leather and boots, which did not belong to the Berman and Reichman families. One of them belonged to Chaim Noach Rauchwerger, who died in his youth even before World War One. His widow Yukhbad, her daughter and son-in-law, and their children all perished in the Holocaust. So too did her two sons David and Yehudah perish.
Regarding the significant merchants in the grocery department, Yehuda Wolf
Shuchner should be included. He was primarily involved with selling groceries wholesale to a merchant in one of the nearby villages. His son Milak (nickname for Yerachmiel) was an active Zionist from his youth (even before the World War) and continued to be active throughout his life, until the days of the Holocaust. The oldest son, Boom Shuchner, who was also active in the Zionist organization, moved to Kolomyja after his marriage, opened a wholesale grocery business, and stayed in contact with many of the grocers in our city. The most familiar ones among the storekeepers were: Menashe Bilder, Azriel Fleshner, Yekil Yanekner, Mendel Flohr (before World War I) Feivish Mohler, Yisrael Kramer, Motl Edelstein, Dovid Gluger, Chaim Hirsh Meltzer, Yonah Mayer, and Yonah Kraimer.
A significant number of our citizens obtained their livelihood from hospitality and tourist professions as restaurant, bar and hotel owners. The two best-known inns in our city were that of Shaya Mendel Berg and Shlomo Avraham Shor. The most popular restaurants were owned by Uri Chaim Shartzer, Dudia Shechtal, and Rozenboym, who each had first rights in a specific area of entertainment: Shartzer brought to the city the words of the first song; Shechtel, the first gramaphone; and Rozenboym, the first billiard table. Other well-known restaurant owners were Shlomo Avrohom Kramer, Gershon Shpielberg, Chaim Greyf, and Antshel Reichman. There were also several suppliers of cold drinks, for example, Feivel Lichtenthal (also known as Feivele Kvassnik), Melech Marksheid, and Zeide Rindenoy.
Among the clothing merchants were several cloth merchants and shoe salesmen. Chaim Hirsh Zeidman was the owner of a large fabric store. He was very involved in Zionism. Another large fabric storeowner in the period after the First World War was Shimon Pilpel. The fate of the family of his son Moritz is worth special mention. Moritz and his wife succeeded in being rescued, and in a wondrous manner left Europe on the illegal ships that made their way to Eretz Israel during the turmoil of the War days. Unfortunately their ship was attacked by Nazi pilots. Many of the travelers were killed, including Moritz and his wife, who was from the Shor family. Their little son was given, at the beginning of the Holocaust, to a Polish family who raised him as their son. A few years after the War was over, the Polish family came out, with the son of Pilpel, in Polish territory. After great difficulty, the boy was taken from the Polish family and brought to the family of Fania Shor-Fishof, his mother's sister.
The best-known shoe store before the First World War was the store of Yonah Kramer. In the last years, another clothing store became well known, that of Elimelech and Feige Salpeter, who succeeded in attracting a large contingent of customers because he offered sales on credit.
In the area of metal merchants was the big store of Mordchele Shnitzer, which was inherited by his sons Chaim and Simcha Shnitzer. Other important iron merchants were: Eliezer Friedler, Leibele Korn, and Zundel Shuchner.
The storehouses of wood merchants were naturally outside the city, where there was appropriate land to store their merchandise. There were two main merchants of this profession; the two lived at the crossroads, practically across from each other. They were Hershel Shartzer and Chaim Wolf Diker. In the middle of the Toliki was the wood storehouse of Yaacov Ofenberger.
The Shartzer family was one of the wealthiest families in the city. Hershel Shartzer was one of the first Zionists in the city. (According to Dr. Gelber, he was the first head of the group Bnei Zion.) His daughter Tzipe was the first Hebrew kindergarten teacher.
It's proper to single out the role of women in the economic life of our city. In most of the stores, the women would assist their husbands every day of the week, and of course on market day. However, there were several women who carried the burden of running some big and multi-branched businesses either alone or with the help of their grown sons. The most important among them were Maltzia Bergman, Paya Grapakh, and Chaya Stark.
Maltzia Bergman was the daughter of Shaul Prashel and the granddaughter of Rabbi Yossel Rozenkrantz. Her husband Moshe Bergman passed away at a young age and she remained a widow with six children. Still, she continued to run the large, all-purpose store in the market square. (There was a saying in the city, You can buy everything in Maltzia's store, except for wisdom.) She also continued the legacy of her husband, who was famous for giving charity in secret. More than once he would remove the clothes from his own back to give to the destitute. Besides this store, the family owned a brick factory, and when the sons grew up they also got involved in fishing. The second son Yossel went to a school for fishing in Czernovitz, and became known as alicensed fisherman. He and his brother Leibish would lease the rivers in the area, and would sell fish for wholesale. They were also involved in selling crabs to several royal houses in Europe.
Maltzia Bergman passed away in the beginning of the First World War during the period of the Russian conquest. S. Ansky, the author of The Dybbuk, happened to be in Horodenka then as a member of the Jewish Assistance in Galicia. He was dressed as a Russian officer, took an interest in her, and sent for a Russian military doctor who cared for her during her illness.
Paya Grapakh also managed a general store, specializing in clothes and knickknacks, with the help of her daughters. Chaya Stark was the owner of a big grocery store in the market square, and was known as an honest and diligent businesswoman.
A women's tailor younger than Fink, but no less well known than him, was Moshe Manas Neygiser. He was younger than Fink and known as a modern person. He was one of the first who traveled to America, without their families; but he came back after a few years and remained in our city. In 1907, he was one of the founders of the workers union, Yad Charutzim (the hand of the diligent) and was one of its faithful members. In 1929, his daughters immigrated to the United States; his wife also immigrated and remained there. Only Moshe Manas and one of his married daughters remained in Horodenka and were killed in the Holocaust.
Close to the vocation of tailors was Itzy Issy Hecht, who was one of the respected workers in the city. His work was a shoe cobbler, and like Neygiser, he joined Yad Charutzim, and remained faithful to it till its dissolution. In the craft of carpentry, the familiar people in the city were from the family of Patner. The father, Asher Patner, was an observant Jew, who was involved in communal activities as a member of the Chevra Kadisha and in the group of coffin bearers. His sons Ephraim and Yossel Panter were the heads of the Bundist groups, and were known as activists in the Yiddish school.
Among the best of the furniture builders in the city was Leibele Panter, who also was among the Bundist activists and participated in the movement's drama group in the years 1925-1930. Afterwards he became a member of Ha'ovaid, a Zionist union of workers. This union was organized by Lipa Liser and Sholom Yungerman. He was also one of the members of Tzach, a city government organization to support trade workers.
Gimpel Patner was also a carpenter, and known in the city as the Chevra Kaddisha man, who participated in all funerals, and was also a steady guest at all the happy celebrations in the city. During the Holocaust when deaths were a regular occurrence in the ghetto and there was no one to attend to the burial of the dead, there were two Jews who took upon themselves the responsibility of giving the dead a Jewish burial. The two were Moshe Podvisaker, the father of Abba Podoveh, who was a brenner (an expert liquor maker) by profession, and Gimpel Potner. Every day, these two would be involved in this holy activity; quickly would they transport the departed ones to the cemetery, to give them a Jewish burial. At first they did this in secret, in the darkness of night. However, as time passed it reached the point that even the Nazi oppressors valued this activity and saw them as superior Jews, and therefore didn't harm them until the final raid, when they carried out their purification without any discrimination.
Moshe Podvisaker was for all of his life an activist in the group of Bikur Cholim, visiting the sick, and in the Chevra Kaddisha. He was a very intelligent person and known as a master of advice, and also very familiar with the laws of healing. He was also one of the founders of Yad Charitzim, and also one of the members of the Konsus, a cooperative store.
Another outstanding carpenter was Yisrael Shneyderman, who was a furniture maker. He arrived at our city after the First World War, merited the nickname, the Russian furniture maker, because of his profession, and quickly became famous as a master craftsman of modern, ornate furniture. He employed seven young men, who learned carpentry from him.
Well-known carpenters in the city were also Shikel Kvetsher and his son Shimon. The actor Alexander Granach was the nephew of Shikel Kvetsher. Close to the profession of carpentry were the members of the Kluger family, who thanks to the old patriarch of the family, Yerucham, merited the title Yerushkes. Practically the whole family was involved in making burial coffins from wood of the surrounding areas. They also worked in glass making. The best known among the family were Shlomo Ber and his brother Yisroel Kaneh.
Shlomo Ber was the most methodical and respected among the family members. He was a well-to-do householder and he lived near the large synagogue. Sometimes he leased a part of his house to renters; for a period of time Rabbi Ashkenazi lived in his house. He was known as being very hospitable and the poor would continually eat at his table.
Yisrael Kaneh was a man of stormy character and would tend to get involved in every quarrel. He would especially get involved when he saw unjust activities or deprivation of the weak. More than once he risked his life protecting the poor vagrants in the market who were aggravated by the rekroten, the young men conscripted to the army who would fall upon them and grab fruit from their stands, as well as other objects. Since he was very bold, his fear fell upon both the Jews and non-Jews together. At the time of the first Action, his family was taken out and brought to the central location, but he himself was not disturbed from his hiding place. When Yisrael Kaneh saw that the house remained empty, despair overwhelmed him and he began running around the city streets, until he was captured and brought to the big shul, the place of those who were trapped for slaughter.
Another profession that was prevalent among us was that of furriers; many were involved in it, both in more elegant merchandise for the city dwellers, and also in the preparation of coarse furs for the village and town dwellers. Among the more refined furriers was Avremel Shneur, whose dwelling was opposite the Rutini church, near to the Zion Farein. He was also one of the first emigrants to America but he returned from there. Among the other professionals in this line, we should mention
Yankel Prifer, who was known as an observant Jew, and used every moment of his spare time for saying Tehilim psalms.
There were many butchers in our city. Whole families were involved in this profession, including the Prifer and the Kugelmas families. The Kugelmas family was among the most modern in the city. Aharon Kugelmass and his brother Izzi were both Zionists. In their home was also the headquarters of the Bnei Zion organization.
There were many blacksmiths in the city; they were all concentrated in the rows of small stores in the market square. The outstanding personality among them was Yossi Rozenboym, who was generally known as Yossi Blecher. In his youth he was friendly with maskilim. Eventually he abandoned the profession and was involved primarily in the metal business and with kitchen utensils. He was known for making exaggerated claims and telling fantasies, about what had happened to him in his travels to Lvov and other cities.
The builders of homes and fences in our city were primarily not Jewish. Among those few who were Jews, we should mention Boruch Leib Greidinger, who specialized in installing ovens to warm the dwellings. Boruch Leib participated all his life in the Chevra Kaddisha, and was conscientious in the fulfillment of the mitzvah of true kindness (attending to the needs of the dead.)
The aristocrats among the professionals in the Jewish quarter were, then and always, the watchmakers. There were four watchmakers in our city during the years before the World War: Shnuel Frishling, Meir Frishling, Avrohom Chaim Bartfeld, and Max Greif. In the last years before the Holocaust, the most well known watchmaker in the city was Hirsh Shechter, who was one of the leaders of the Bund, and a representative of this group in the community council.
Questionable workers and independent professionals were the various wagoners. In the city there were two types of wagoners carriage drivers who transported passengers like Kopoleh Zankyeh, his son Henach Neyman, Yisrael Yurman, and Dudik Freidman; and wagon drivers for transporting merchandise from other cities, especially from Kolomyja. The best known among them were: Motya Fenster (Motya Shtroi), his brother Todros, and Yisroel Lichtenthal. The eldest of the wagoners was Shmaria Meltzer, the father of Issac Meltzer. Transporting merchandise involved a great measure of trust, since all the merchandise, and at times even its financial equivalent, was entrusted into the hands of these wagon transporters.
Finally, the best of the craftsmen in our city was Velvel Grinberg, who without any formal vocational training, reached a level of expertise in welding machines,a work that demanded great precision. Practically with his ten fingers alone, he put up a mechanical plant activated by steam, with etchings and other modern gadgets. All his sons inherited his skill and continued in the business with much excellence. His son Arzi, who was killed in Horodenka with his family, was an exceptional craftsman and stood out also as a member in the drama group.
We shall conclude the list with two Jews, who from the aspect of crafts, knew how to dedicate time to Torah and the fulfillment of the mitzvah of And you shall be involved with them day and night, to the best of their ability. These two were the baker Shlomo Rosenberg and the tailor Yitzchok Aryeh Bumberg. Shlomo Rosenberg was not satisfied with fulfilling the mitzvot by himself, but also worked at engaging the masses in this mitzvah. Every Shabbos in the hours after noon, several Jews would gather in his house and study Torah until the departure of Shabbos. Yitchok Aryeh Bumberg would be immersed in Torah even when he was seated in concentration at his work, and he would utilize every opportunity to hear words of Torah while he was working. His youngest son, Meir Bomberg, who was a talented artist and had a natural singing ability, actively joined Gordonia. His second son Dovid reached Israel and died here in his youth.
In this compilation, we wanted to mention and describe several personalities and portraits of people in our city, who stood out in various areas of the life of the community in the last generation. We will not pretend that we satisfactorily handled these descriptions. Without doubt we skipped over people who should have been included in this compilation, and it's almost certain that we have not always succeeded in properly giving credit to those who we have mentioned. Many of the people that we have described here are also described either fully or partially in the last portions of the book, and were also cited here in order to complete the section. We attempted to describe portrayals of those who are not among the living, who were killed in the Holocaust or departed from life in the period afterward. May this section serve as a memorial for their memory and the memory of the community in which they lived and worked.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Gorodenka, Ukraine Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2013 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 1 Sep 2005 by LA>