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[Page 154]

Rabbis, Religious Leaders and Scholars

Translated by Judy Montel

Edited by Warren Blatt

Rabbis of the Kielce Community

The first rabbi and chief of the rabbinical court of the Kielce was the Gaon Rabbi Tuwia Gutman son of Rabbi Dawid, chief of the rabbinical court in the community of Ostrowiec. This rabbi was one of the outstanding Chassidim of Kock. His lineage went back to the Sha”ch [Rabbi Shabtai Kohen] and the Rama”h Z”L [Rabbi Moshe Iserlis].

I will note down here the list of his lineage according to the list of the chief of the rabbinical court in Plonsk, which was printed there entitled “Kontras Beit Tuvia” in his book “Birkat Kohen”.

One) Rabbi Tuwia Gutman HaKohen, chief of the rabbinical court of the holy congregation of Kielce.
Two) son of the Gaon Rabbi Dawid HaKohen Z”L chief of the rabbinical court of the holy congregation of Ostrowiec.
Three) son of the Gaon Rabbi Izrael HaKohen chief of the rabbinical court of the holy congregation of Alexander [Aleksandrow Lodzki] and the holy congregation of Pinczow, the in-law of the Admo”r of Kock.
Four) son of the Gaon Rabbi Zew HaKohen, chief of the rabbinical court of the holy congregation of Szczekociny and Pinczow.
Five) son of the Gaon Rabbi Icak Kac [Kat”z is an abbreviation of “Kohen Tzedek”] Z”L, known as Rabbi Icak Charif, author of the responsa “Keter Kehuna”, rabbi in Pinczow.
Six) son of the Gaon Rabbi Dow Berisz Kac Z”L, son in law of Rabbi Awraham Abele Z”L chief of the rabbinical court of the holy congregation of Pinczow and the holy congregation of Opatow.
Seven) son of the Gaon Rabbi Icak Kac Z”L, chief of the rabbinical court of the holy congregation of Podhajce [Krzemienic], author of the book “Gevurot Anashim”.
Eight) son of the Gaon Rabbi Mosze HaKohen Z”L, son-in-law of the Gaon Rabbi Menachem Mendel Margaliot.
Nine) son of our rabbi, pillar of instruction, author of “Siftei Cohen”, Sha”ch.
Ten) son of the Gaon Rabbi Majer Aszkenazi ZaTZ”L, rabbinical judge in Frankfurt am Main.

This is the lineage of the first rabbi of the holy congregation of Kielce. Also his spouse, the Rebbetzin, was from rabbinical and eternally righteous stock. She was the granddaughter of the Gaon Rabbi Jehoszua Fejwel Teomim, chief of the rabbinical court of the holy congregation of Przemysl, son of the Gaon Rabbi Jona Teomim chief of the rabbinical court of Metz, author of the book “Kikayon deYona”.

Besides his ancestral lineage, Rabbi Tuwia Gutman HaKohen Z”L had his own lineage. He was a genius in the Torah and left behind him many compositions in scriptural casuistry and innovations. He was a favorite of his congregants, and all of them admired him and were proud of this rabbi of theirs. And the elders, who were fortunate enough to know him during his life, said his name with awe and great admiration.

He died and was gathered to his forefathers, 26 Shevat, Friday, eve of the holy Sabbath, in 5662 [February 5, 1902]. Upon his tombstone the following words were engraved:

Aha! We have lost our genius, our wreath has been removed!
Ha! Murder in our bones, our blow is critical.
Trembling in our waists, our glory has descended to the earth!
Pure and upright in the midst of his flock, he was acclaimed.
When the community was founded, he was crowned with the rabbinical crown
by men of character.
Clear faith, straight thinking were matched in his heart.
His voice was like honey from his mouth, sweet to those who visited his
garden.
He set times for Torah study, dove into the depths of its waters,
And the renown of his greatness became known. With your strength you
acquired knowledge in its study
And you inherited your ancestors' genius. Therefore, in the Eden of their
spirits, the Glory of God gathers you up.

After the death of Rabbi Tuwia Gutman HaKohen Z”L, the rabbinical seat of the holy congregation of Kielce was occupied by the Gaon Rabbi Mosze Nachum Jerusalimski, author of several books of responsa: “Minchat Moshe”, “Birkat Moshe”, “Be'er Moshe”, and “Leshed HaShemen”, a commentary on Maimonides.

kie155.jpg [10 KB] Rabbi Jerusalimski
Rabbi Jerusalimski

In this outstanding rabbi the characteristics in which scholars excel were united – love of Israel, love of the Torah of Israel and love of the land of Israel.

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Rabbi Jerusalimski was one of the first “Chovevei Zion” and a fan of political Zionism, however, due to his official position he could not participate actively in the Zionist endeavor, which was considered “not kosher” by the authorities and the Chassidim, who then held the reins of the community authority. But the home of this outstanding rabbi was wholly filled and instilled with the ideas of the rebirth of the nation and the family members held Zionism in esteem and fondness. In general the home of this rabbi was an ultra orthodox, nationalist and intelligent home.

Rabbi Jerusalimski, in his studiousness and the firmness of his opinion exemplified a type of genius himself, one who stands above all the petty affairs that separate people from one another.

All of the various Chassidim, even the Gur Chassidim, who looked suspiciously at every rabbi who was not from their own group, admired and respected him, saw in him a man elevated above the common folk, a strong personality who did not compromise his views, did not know how to flatter the rich or prostrate himself before the authorities as many of the rabbis used to do in those days.

These qualities of his earned him the respect of the authorities as well, their representatives would visit his home at any opportunity, and he too was often a citizen guest in the home of the district governor. From these connections he aimed to gain advantages for the members of his community and to gain respect for the rabbinate. In 1910 he was elected as the representative of the district rabbis at the convention of rabbis in Petersburg, which was called by Prime Minister Stoliapin, at which he defended the national affairs on the agenda with courage, and his name was then acclaimed among the Jews of Russia and Poland.

His excellent sermons filled with Jewish ethics and national content influenced their hearers and entered the hearts of the masses.

On Saturday afternoons, for the third meal, all of the Torah students in the city would gather to hear his sermon that encompassed all the types of rabbinic literature, from the books of the legal arbiters to the books of Kabbala and philosophical books such as “Guide for the Perplexed” and “Kuzari”. In such sermons he demonstrated an amazing expertise.

His essays and responsa gave him broad renown in the rabbinical world and people would send him questions from the ends of the earth in order to hear his opinion, since the conclusions he reached from his various considerations was one they considered to be a deciding opinion.

His heart was alert to every bit of suffering of the individual and the community. He never prevented himself from helping anyone impoverished. His home was open to anyone needy. A preacher or itinerant speaker, the author of a collection would get his signature on his composition, and in general – any person who needed any kind of aid, all these would first turn to the local rabbi, and he received everyone graciously. Everyone left him satisfied, for they had found adequate response to their requests.

However, there were instances, where the goodness of his heart, his excellent qualities caused him unpleasantness sometimes. Many took advantage of his qualities for their own good without regard for the consequences, which could hurt him and cause his honor to be demeaned. I will describe one such incident below:

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During the elections to the third Duma a Jew from Warsaw, practically a Pole, and a socialist named Jagelo was elected as a delegate from Poland's capital, Warsaw, to the Russian legislature. This event angered the Endeks; they were dissatisfied that a “Shabbes Goy”, who was enslaved by the Jews, represented Warsaw. In order to teach the Jews a lesson for their brazenness the Endeks declared a boycott upon them. The Polish newspaper “Dwo Grosza”, which was founded at the time to wage a war against the Jews, publicized the anti-Semitic venom and conducted the “boycott” propaganda against the Jews all over Poland, in the cities and in the towns, in the villages and on the estates. The priests gave especially invaluable aid to the Endeks in this propaganda; they preached hatred and poison against the Jews from their pulpits. The unenlightened masses were aroused when they left the churches. There were incidents of crass assaults upon Jewish passersby as well as upon peddlers who set out their wares on market days. The Jews were beaten with cudgels, and their wares were trampled and destroyed. The Jews in small towns suffered from the anti-Semitic propaganda especially, in places where their Christian neighbors were under the influence of the priesthood.

In those days, the rabbi of the town of Skala in the Olkusz district came to Kielce, Rabbi Icak Natan Sztark, and visited at the home of Rabbi Jerusalimski, in order to ask his advice about the boycott, from which his flock was suffering greatly. With great tears he laid out his tale before the rabbi; he described the series of sufferings his community was undergoing, being beaten and incited against by a new priest, who had arrived in the town and was inciting his flock against the Jews. Under the influence of his incitement not only had the Jews lost their livelihood, but when they ventured out of doors their very lives were threatened, their Christian neighbors showered them with stones and abused their victims.

Rabbi Jerusalimski was moved and horrified to hear these words and immediately called the writer of these lines to be a witness to the words of the rabbi of the holy congregation of Skala, and requested him to translate into Polish a letter that he composed to Bishop Augustin Lusinski.

In this letter, to the head of the head of the church in the Kielce bishopric the accusations of the rabbi of Skala against the local priest were laid out and the Bishop was requested to influence the priest who was under his authority, to stop conducting anti-Semitic propaganda, and it expressed the hope that his honorable reverend the Bishop would, of course, remember his words, which he had delivered to the Jewish delegation, which had greeted him the day he arrived in Kielce to serve in the high position of the shepherd of the community: regarding the words of the rabbi, who had blessed him then upon his arrival, and who had quoted among his other words the verse: “and God will seek out the persecuted” and requested him, to institute peace between the Christian community and the Jewish community and stand at the side of the persecuted, the Bishop had responded: “I respect the man who is created in the image of God and do not discriminate in this regard between a Christian or a Jew”. He promised to always defend those who were cheated, whether they be members of the Christian or Jewish communities.

In this letter of appeal these words were mentioned. And based upon them, the hope was expressed that at a time that a boycott campaign was being conducted against the Jews, he would stand by those being persecuted and would quiet the fire of discord.

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After a few days a response to the letter was received, written very politely and in which the bishop promised to conduct an inquiry in the matter and to report the results to the rabbi without delay. Interestingly, the response letter of the Polish bishop was written in Russian, while the appeal had been in the Polish language.

Several weeks passed – and there arrived a brief letter, written in a dry and official style, addressed to the rabbi, not from the bishop himself, but from his Consistorium, that is, his religious court, in which it said that after a thorough and precise investigation it turns out that the accusations that the rabbi claimed against the priest in his letter were false. Even the rabbi from Skala, the chief accuser, who was summoned to the investigation to the city of Olkusz by Smulka, the local deacon, denied the matter entirely and claimed: “these things never happened”. Noting the results of the inquiry, he finds the matter closed, and need not be dealt with further.

This reply was a serious blow to the reputation of the rabbi. The denial of the rabbi of Skala cast aspersions on the rabbi of Kielce, as if he was informing on the Christian priesthood without sufficient foundation and as if he was inventing accusations against them for some other purpose. Horrified to the depths of his soul by this terrible incident, the rabbi could not let this embarrassment, caused by the rabbi of Skala, pass without mention, and he turned to the rabbi of Olkusz, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Rozensztrich Z”L and asked him to meet with Deacon Smulka and to explain to him that in fact, he had appealed to the Kielce bishop only at the request of the rabbi of Skala, and that apparently, this rabbi had only denied the matter before the committee investigating the matter out of fear, and therefore, the deacon must inform the bishop in Kielce that the words of the rabbi in Kielce were true and the denial of the rabbi of Skala must not be taken into account.

Several days after the aforementioned rabbi met with Deacon Smulka and gave him the content of Rabbi Jerusalimski's letter, the rabbi in Olkusz received a written answer from the deacon, that the Bishop of Kielce understands all the details of the matter and has no quarrel with the rabbi from Kielce. The rabbi from Olkusz passed this on to Rabbi Jerusalimski and the latter wrote a second letter to Bishop Lusinski, in which he expressed his certainty that the bishop understood the motives that caused the rabbi of Skala to deny the accusations he had made and thanked him for responding to his request and dealing with this matter, whose results would no doubt be for the good, and added, that knowing the nobility of the bishop, he was sure that this incident would not ruin the excellent relations that had, until now, existed between the two community shepherds. This letter received a response in the name of the bishop that he too agreed with the opinion expressed in the letter and the friendly relations continued as they had before.

Several months passed, and a letter arrived addressed to the rabbi from the leadership of the Jewish community of Warsaw, signed by Rabbi Joel Wagmajster, which announces that a convention of Christian clergyman is to take place shortly and the question of the “boycott” against the Jews is also on its agenda. The decisions that would be made at this convention regarding this question, would be crucial, for the church still had a lot of influence on the masses of the Polish people, especially upon the peasants, who made up the vast majority. In this letter, the rabbi was requested to intervene with the Kielce bishop, who was to participate in the aforementioned convention, and to endeavor to influence him to express his opinion against the boycott and against the general anti-Semitism that the Endeks spread so energetically among the Polish population. In this letter it also stated that the representatives of the Warsaw community received promises from several leading clergymen that their opinions would be in favor of the Jews, therefore it would be desirable if a large portion of the participants in this convention express their opinion in our favor, and in this way, remove the sting of the “boycott” which was devastating Jewish commerce.

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The day the aforementioned letter arrived was a day of great turmoil in the home of the rabbi: the rabbi was marrying off his daughter, and he and all of his household were preparing for a long journey to the city of Kostopol in the Ukraine, to the wedding of his daughter. The rabbi was greatly embarrassed. On the one had, he could not neglect the matter, upon which the benefit of the community depended, and on the other hand, he must travel to the wedding of his daughter, which could not be postponed to another date. With no choice, he decided to send a letter of petition in the matter to the bishop. The composition of the letter was once again entrusted to the writers of these lines. And since the rabbi did not have time to wait for even a brief time, since all the members of his family were ready for the journey, it was necessary to send the letter to the city of Kostopol, to the address that the rabbi had given him prior to his journey and there he would look over the content of the letter and put his signature upon and from there he would send it back to Kielce addressed to the bishop.

However, a great error occurred here. Such things are always done discretely, in person, and are not put down in writing. Things that are in writing are destined to become known.

The decision of the heads of the Christian church regarding the boycott remains unknown until today. All of their meetings were held behind closed doors, and no political or social decision was publicized. The church periodical “Church News” published the decisions that directly effected the affairs of the church, in which cracks had begun to show. The movement of the Mariovites had begun to have an effect among the Polish population and threatened the unity of the church. But the content of the letter that was sent by the rabbi to the Bishop of Kielce was published later in an anti-Semitic newspaper, “Dwo Grosza”. This newspaper attacked the Bishop of Kielce, Augustin Lusinski, with curses and libels, calling him: “slave of the Jews”, “Shabbes Goy”, who was on the side of the Jews who aspire to take over Poland and who cause many misfortunes to the Poles. And as proof of its claims this vulgar newspaper brought excerpts from the letter, in which the rabbi of Kielce requests the bishop, the friend of the Jews, to support them.

And from that day forward, the relationship between the rabbi and the bishop ceased.

In the event, the rabbi did have to appeal directly to the bishop one more time for the benefit of his brethren, members of his flock.

It was at the start of World War I. In 1914 during the month of Av [July-August] the first Polish legionnaires entered Kielce headed by Pilsudski. A battalion of Cossacks, which was encamped north of the city, chased the legionnaires out of the city. The Russian commander levied a penalty on the city totaling one hundred thousand rubles, as punishment for the gracious reception the city's inhabitants had held for the Polish legionnaires, and threatened to bomb the city if they did not supply him with this contribution within twenty four hours.

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Meanwhile, the Cossacks were set free to entertain themselves “Pogoliati”.

Life was quiet in the city, the shops were closed and shuttered, the gates to the houses were locked. The inhabitants were hidden in their rooms and were afraid to come out.

The Cossacks began breaking the doors to the shops and looting their wares. Polish youths accompanied the Cossacks, in order to show them which shops belonged to Jews, and there they would break in and wreak destruction; they would pass over the shop of a Christian. In this manner the shops of the Jews were looted and the Cossacks did not harm the shops of the Christians.

The Jews were in great distress, since at the beginning of the war the Poles had incited the Russian soldiers against the Jews.

In such a situation the rabbi could not sit quietly hiding in his isolated corner. As the head of the community he felt in his warm heart the sorrow of his congregation, the suffering of each and every individual touched his heart and moved him to action.

When the rabbi saw the next day that the Cossacks' looting, directed by the Poles, were not ceasing, and the shops of the Jews were falling victim one after another, he arose and went, accompanied by a semi-official person, Chwat, the teacher of Jewish Religion at the Russian government Gymnasium, to the bishop to request him to publicize an announcement to the Christian inhabitants, to cease to aid the Cossacks in the looting of Jewish property.

The bishop was upset and emotional to hear the accusations that the rabbi made against the young Polish rabble and promised, that he would order an announcement immediately in all of the churches that every Pole must refrain from such despicable acts, and also influence others, not to abet such criminal activities.

The rabbi did not remain satisfied with the bishop's promise, but also appealed in this matter to the commander of the Russian army and informed him of the looting that was being done on Russian citizens by the Cossacks.

To the joy of the Jews, the Austrians and Germans arrived in town and the Russian army left the city.

The Jews breathed easier, went out of their homes, opened their shops. The Poles didn't understand German; in contrast the Jews, knowing the language of the Germans grew closer to them and did business with them. The Germans knew how to approach the inhabitants of the city. And the Jews were no longer anxious about looting and violence.

However, the Germans did not remain in Kielce for very long. The Russians started a major offensive near Warsaw and the Germans were forced to retreat to Krakow.

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Bad days then began for the Jews of Poland in general and the Jews of Kielce in particular. Deportations from places close to the front began to take place; the Polish informants became worse and worse and the results were very hard on the Jews. Military tribunals were handing down death sentences to innocent Jews every day. The army commanders with great pleasure accepted false libels, that the Jews were busy spying for the enemy, since it gave them an excuse for their failures in the war.

Next to the city park a gallows were set up, and the death sentences were executed there. The rabbi was forced to be present when the executions took place. He knew that the victims were holy martyrs, who were being killed only because they were Jews.

Every time the rabbi returned home after a death execution upon a Jew he was white a chalk, horrified to the depths of his soul. His heart nearly broke to see the disgraceful death that awaited the Jew, who confessed before him in his last moments. If he had only had the opportunity he would have given all he owned and also his soul, just to save the life of a Jew ascending the gallows without having committed a crime. He attempted time and again to endeavor to speak to the general in favor of those sentenced; however, each time he left him in a terrible state. The general yelled at him crudely reprimanded him for this action, for troubling him from his work. Instead of influencing his flock not to aid the enemy, not to spy for them, he came to plead the case of the criminals, who betray their homeland and provide the enemy with knowledge of the movements of the Russian army. At this opportunity he spewed forth a kettle of filth upon the Jews, curses and accusations. The rabbi left him depressed, broken and shattered.

Such horrible sights affected his health, from day to day he became more frail and weak, his strength left him, he could not sleep, he constantly saw the faces of the condemned before his eyes and the question that penetrated to the abyss: why? wherefore? was expressed in their faces.

The rabbi's family began to fear for his life; they knew that if he stayed here in a city close to the front and continued to be present at the executions of innocent Jews, his life would be in danger. Therefore his sons, some of whom lived in Russia, decided to take their father to where they lived, saying that he would find rest for his devastated soul, his nerves would heal. And there he would live until the fury of the war passed.

The rabbi left Kielce with his family and traveled to their in-laws, the rabbi in the city of Churol [Poltava gubernia, now Khorol, Ukraine].

But there too his heart did not calm down nor was he able to find peace. From a distance he saw the suffering of the Jews, the deportations, the death sentences, read and heard the disgraceful conspiracies and the accusations being brought against the Jews. His heart broke, and his soul departed in purity on the 29 th of Sivan, 5676 [30 June 1916].

When the terrible news reached the inhabitants of Kielce of the death of their rabbi and leader, they all felt that their glory had passed, their magnificence was gone. The mourning among the members of his congregation was great. A bitter dirge was held for him in the synagogue in which his exalted sermons had been heard.

His apartment remained in Kielce with its furniture and his rich library for a long time, everyone who passed by it was enveloped in a great sorrow that the place had been abandoned and a great light had been put out, that from that place had shone its glorious rays upon all the members of the community.

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And until today, Kielcers wherever they are remain proud of the man who was their rabbi, of Rabbi Mosze Nachum Jerusalimski Z”L, author of books in scriptural casuistry, a maker of regulations for the benefit of his congregation, a lover of Israel and a fan of the movement of the rebirth of the people of Israel in their ancient homeland.

Rabbi Jerusalimski did not spend a long time serving as the local authority and rabbi of the holy congregation of Kielce; however, his name remained identified with the Kielce community. In the Jewish world, the name is commonly mentioned, Rabbi Jerusalimski, the rabbi of Kielce.

The Rabbinical Writ Appointing Rabbi Jerusalimski as the rabbi of Kielce

We have gathered together, we the undersigned, heads of the congregation of our community, leaders of the city, respected and important as well as those who carry the burden of the taxes of running the city and with the agreement of all the inhabitants of our city, may Zion and Jerusalem be rebuilt, we hereby unanimously elect to set the crown of the rabbinate of this here community of Kielce upon the head of the rabbi who is a genius, a fortress and tower, sharp and expert, Sinai and uprooter of mountains, his good name is known over distances, the glory and magnificence of the generation, veteran and pious, his palate is full of sweet things etc., etc., the honor of the holy name of his glory our teacher the rabbi Mosze Nachum Jerusalimski, may he live excellent and lengthy days, Amen, the rabbi who is currently head of the rabbinical court in the holy congregation of Ostroleka and who was confirmed by the government according to the Ochwola which was on Wednesday, portion of “Beha'alotcha”, the 13th of the month of Sivan of this year, and we allotted in honor of the crown of the Torah a set salary totaling one thousand and five hundred silver rubles aside from rabbi, cantor and “shamash” and all the income from the city which belong to the head of the rabbinical court, rabbinical authority of this locality as is customary in all the cities of the Diaspora of Israel.

And the aforementioned honorable and magnificent genius will accept the position upon his shoulder to administer our congregation and to shepherd the sheep of his flock along the waters of the springs of the Torah and of knowledge to stand the glory of the Torah upon its pedestal and to be well known and glorious.

The court of justice will be established in his home in the company of the arbiter of justice of this here congregation who will come to the home of the crown of the Torah every day at a regular time. And for his eyes to look over all the groups of the city's inhabitants which were already established and which will yet be established in the coming days to guide them in the circles of justice and to tend them in the straight and proper path. The general point of the thing for the genius rabbi aforementioned to be the living spirit in the wheels of all the city's needs according to the Torah and fear of God, to stand in the breach and to strengthen every bolt. And at the end of the first year he will be given two thousand silver rubles every year. This writ of the rabbinate will stand in effect until the time three years from the day noted below, and with God's will when God approves our path may he strengthen our hands to continue this writ of rabbinate for the years that are approaching us for the good and God, may he be blessed, be an aid to him and to us to succeed in all of his paths and our paths to raise our glory in honor and the glory of all the inhabitants of the city may be raised and go forth for a blessing, and for success and for peace unending until the coming of Yinon speedily in our day, Amen.

With all this, we have agreed with a whole heart and willing spirit and all is legal and standing.

Motz'ai Shabbat Kodesh [Saturday night] before the first day of the portion “and who he chooses he shall bring near to him” [Numbers 16/5], 20th of Sivan, 5662 [1902] in this here Kielce, may God protect our city. –

Simcha Bunem Izraelski, Awigdor Rajzman, Eliezer Tenenbaum, Chaim HaKohen; Mendel Ajzenberg, Icak Kaminer, G. Miszpienki, Szmuel Pietrowski, Szmulik Rajzman, Jakob Maliniak, Mosze Jechiel Bester, Mejer Ajzenberg; Dawid Hasman; Jakob Hilel Paserman, Mosze Piotrkowski, Lajbusz Blacharowicz, Szamaj Hakohen Kalichsztajn; Dawid Zylberszpic, Mosze son of rabbi J. Slawatycki, Szlomo Jakob Miodowicz, Mosze Albirt, Josef Szlamowicz, Mosze Lewkowicz; Izrael Szmul Alpert; Joske Fiszman; Baruch Moszenberg; Icak Icza Balicki; Naftali Hakohen Elencwajg, Icak Majer Goldberg, Szmul Aba Balicki, Azriel Pukacz; Mordechai Rozenberg; Fejwel Finkelsztajn; Jechiel Szajnfeld, Dawid Gedalja Szafir, Awigdor Litauer of the house of the wealthy departed rabbi Chaim Tykociner Bosterlenka, Ch. Alter Marberg, the holy Chaim Dow Hirszzon, Cwi Jehuda Abramowicz, Izrael Majer Szafir, Menachem Dow Piekarski, Motel Szafir, Chaim Kaner, Chaim Tencer, Icak Mejer Beserglik, Jechiel Michl Hakohen, Szlomo Cymerman, Icak Cwi Kaminer, Anszel Frajtag, Awraham Isocher Garfinkel; Jehuda Lajb Alpert, Mordechai Bornsztajn, Szymon Sosnowski, Mosze Dawid Ajzenberg, Szlomo Beser; Jehoszua Heszel Cwajgel; Jechezkel Paparsztak, Zecharja Rozenberg, Sz. Ajzenberg; Jakob Icak Grynberg; Mejer Horwicz son in law of Rabbi Chaim Hakohen, Motel Bimka; Josef Zylbersztajn; Chaim Wajntraub; Echezkel Bimka, Baruch Josef Hakohen Elencwajg, Izrael Mejer Cytryn; Aharon Korngold, Szlomo Ajzenberg, Jehuda Judel Rotszild; Aharon Emanuel Goldberg; Josef Grynberg, Mosze Kohen Adler, Josef Szymon Hejn; Szmuel Hagerman; Henich Lewkowicz, Mane Kohen; Awraham Ber Ajzenberg, Jechezkel Partinski, Jona Hakohen Szapiro, Mosze Mordechai Frohman, Michael Mejer Minc, Icak Mejer Kaner, Icak Mejer Beser; Hersz Mazupe; Awraham Josef Bester; Josef Korngold; Icak Icza Ladowski; Pinchas Hakohen Zaherman; Mosze Zew Lipko; Mosze Cwi the ritual slaughterer Recht, Szlomo Rubinsztajn, Motel Feldman, Mordechai-Gimpel Moskowicz, Icak Mejer Elazar Cukerman, Josef Icak Rubinsztajn, Szlomo Zylbersztajn, Jehuda Lajbusz Golembiowski, Dawid Feldman, Icak Gerszon Awraham Bekerman, Alter Dajtelcwajg, Mosze Josef Almer, Jona Wajsman, Fiszel Aszer Kazlowski, Josef Zauerman, Jeszaja Herszberg, Awraham Chaim Bekerman, Chaim Szloma Kohen Adler, Lejbusz Liberman, Szmuel Fejwel Ladowski; Szachna son of Dow Priwlan, Cwi Tenwurcel, Doberisz Bimka, Awraham Icak Zylbersztajn, Mordechai Josef Wajcman, Nota Gotman; Jakob Szlomo Moszkowicz, Jom-Tow Lipa Cwi Kaminer; Hersz Mordechai Granek, Awraham Ladowski, Icak Mejer Szajnfeld, Szmuel Aharon Garfinkel, Elazar Kohen, Berl Elencwajg, Jakob Josef son of the Gaon Rabbi Doidislaw, Cwi Hersz Grinszpan son of Rabbi I., Chaim Jehuda Ajzenberg, Zew Wolf Holejner; Szmuel Jegier; Szlomo Zalman Brak; Cwi Arje Albert; Izrael Mejer Heszel Goldberg, Elimelech Zylbersztajn, Chaim Szydlowski, Chanoch Henich Kaminer, Berl Sztrozberg; Szmul Gat; Nete Zew Wajsbaum, Izrael Ajzik Kind; Jakob Manela; Reuwen Edelsztajn, Dawid Garfinkel, Eli Mejer Chmelosz.

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We the leaders of our congregation, may God protect it, confirm and stand by the signatures of our congregants and with God's will the crown of Torah may it live long and prosperously in our city and his honor will be revealed to us, then all those who have not signed below will come to sign their names. Mosze Menachem Menli Hakohen Fefer, Elija' Naftali Ajzenberg, Mosze Chaim Kaminer, Icak Becalel son of the late rabbi Dawid may the memory of a righteous man be for a blessing, the head of the rabbinical court of here in Kielce.

Formulation of the Regulations Instituted by
Rabbi Jerusalimski
Regulations for “Melamdim” [Teachers of Children]

We the teachers of this community of Kielce accept upon us with an oath and solemn obligation to go about the matters of education with faithfulness as it has been the custom in the Diaspora of Israel from generation to generation and not to combine into any unions or union and not to institute any new regulations that had not been the custom up until now, except if there should be something between us we will bring a witness before the Rabbi, the Gaon, the head of the rabbinical court may he live many long and prosperous years and his court and they will arbitrate between us.

In addition we hereby accept upon ourselves with the agreement of the Gaon head of the rabbinical court may his candle shine, and that of his court that no “Melamed” should go to the householders on matters of education before the holiday, that is, from the interim days of the holiday at all. – All this we accept upon us of our free will without any insistence or force upon us to follow the aforesaid with all our strength.

And the signatories Tuesday, the portion of “Nitzavim-Vayelech” 5666 [Autumn, 1906] here in Kielce.
Hilel Oberman, Jehuda Judel Rotszild, Lajbel Gertner, Jechiel Dawid Chroberski; Simcha Bunem Wirzewa; Berisz Beker, Mordechai Mendel son of the Righteous Arbiter of Chmielnik, Naftali Ajzenberg, Jakob Cukerman, Mordechai Charendorf, Zew Fuks, Menachem Mendel Bornsztajn; Zisza Biderman; Lajbusz Mendel; Luft; Mordechai Goldszmid, Zelig Grinszpan; Baruch Szaul Roterband; Jehoszua Szlomo Leszec; Jedidja Gnat, Motel Szternszos; Wolf Horwicz, Icak Mosze Gut, Baruch Auerbach, Mordechai Malianski, Mordechai Menachem Gepner.

When there were additional “melameds” in our city who had not yet signed the regulation and holy obligation and solemn oath of a letter which had been written on the other side of the page on Tuesday, the portion of “Nitzavim-Vayelech” 5666, they gathered at the command of the rabbi, head of the rabbinical court all of the “melameds” who had been added at the end of Elul in the year 5671 , the portion of “Nitzavim-Vayelech” on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday [Autumn, 1911] to his rabbinical court and they are all the signatories below and they accept upon themselves with solemn oath with all force and authority all of these regulations, which are elucidated on the other side of the page without any change at all and all was done with good will and the agreement of the rabbi and his court.
Signed on this day here in Kielce

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The Baker's Regulation

We the bakers of here in Kielce who have signed below have gathered together in the matter of a mitzvah and taken upon ourselves not to make leavening or dough on the holy Sabbath nor to prepare on the holy Sabbath other needs of baking, such as to heat up water on the Sabbath for baking during the week. The general principle is to be careful in the matter of observing the holy Sabbath in the bakeries even by non-Jews. And only to start the entire activity of the baking on Saturday night after the time of Havdala. And all this we accept with the ban and oath of the rabbi may he live a long and prosperous life and his rabbinical court and it is forbidden to us to do anything underhanded to cause preparation of leavening and any of the remainder of the labor of baking be done on the holy Sabbath, but contrariwise, that we are each obligated to observe one another carefully that each should be careful in the bakeries with regard to the commandments of the holy Sabbath in all of its details.

And this we shall do of our own good will without any release in the world and we have read over the above material and with this we sign below on Wednesday, the 24th of the reckoning of the children of Israel, AT”R of this community of Kielce.

Signature of Mosze Goldblum
Signature of Elazar Godfrid
Signature of Josef Wasser
Signature of Baruch Sternzys
Signature of Izrael Icak Boruchowicz
Signature of Mejer Micnmacher

After the death of the Rabbi Gaon M.N. Jerusalimski Z”L, all the members of the community turned their eyes towards the son of their first rabbi, Rabbi Gutman HaKohen Z”L, Rabbi Awraham Abele, who was a witness to the death of Rabbi Jerusalimski Z”L, head of the rabbinical court in the Kielce community.

The Rapaport family, a rabbinical family, descendants of a line of Gaonim, sent its glories to many communities of Israel, and was a home for Torah and elevated virtues. And without any objection from any side whatsoever, Rabbi Abele Z”L took the throne of the rabbinate in the Kielce community.

All members of the congregation respected and admired their rabbi, Rabbi Abele. He spread his wings over all parts of the community without consideration for their party affiliation. While he himself was pious and strict, he was not a zealot, and would embrace the free thinker with the same affection and love with which he embraced the Chassid and the observant. His method was: “Not by fire, and not with the noise of God, but with a small still voice”.

In these times, he would say, when neglect has grown and the overthrowing of the yoke of Torah and commandments has spread so much, there is no place for zealotry. Zealotry will add strength to the flame, oil to the fire. Therefore he was also non-political; he wanted his influence to reach all parts of the congregation. In fact, his heart leaned also towards “Agudat Yisra'el” and also towards Zionism, especially, to that part of it that rallied to the banner of the Torah. Willingly he allowed every preacher, speaker, propagandist and Zionist activist to speak in the synagogue. There was an incident when even Icak Grinbaum, despite his anti-religiousness, spoke in the synagogue when he visited Kielce.

He didn't want to become involved in the rivalry between the parties who were scurrying around the Jewish streets, and would say: since every party seeks the nation's welfare, this chooses one way and this chooses another; in the end, the ways will unite – and from all of them the people's redemption will come forth. Therefore he was affectionate to everyone; everyone pronounced the name of our Rabbi Abele with a sort of fondness that also had a little pride in it that the Kielce community had merited that such a rabbi, comfortable with heaven and comfortable with people, should stand at its head.

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kie166.jpg [10 KB] HGR' A Rapaport, may the memory of a righteous man
		be for a blessing
HGR”A Rapaport, may the memory
of a righteous man be for a blessing

His sermons and speeches matched the qualities of his soul. In his sermons, he did not preach morality with a voice of fire and brimstone, with threats and punishments; but would spread out the words of our sages like a dress, show, with good taste, the great light that continues to shine forth from our holy Torah; he would reveal the elevated morality that is a part of the practical commandments; he would explain to his listeners the holiness with which the Torah inspires any Jew who studies it for its own sake; he would prove with graceful words that the end goal of the rules of the Torah is to elevate people above materialism and brutishness and to instill good qualities in them.

His words and sermons contained moral notions through which he attempted to influence his listeners, who would arrive at the synagogue in great crowds on the days when he was preaching a sermon to the members of his congregation.

He would appear also as the featured speaker. As the local rabbi, as the spiritual shepherd of his community it was his duty to participate in the prayers that were held in the synagogue on holidays for the welfare of the state and the welfare of its rulers. At these opportunities the rabbi charmed those gathered there, among whom were also representatives of the authorities, with his speeches, which were lovely in form and sublime in content. Among his words one could discern the flowering of elegant style and national pride was also evident.

It was a wonder to many that this rabbi, who devoted all his time to the study of the Torah, found time to also adopt a modern style and knowledge about the world just like the authors and speakers who did this for a profession.

This is the spiritual figure of our rabbi, a figure full of grace and simplicity, with whom people were comfortable.

Also the members of his rabbinical court were suited to his temperament. He influenced them with his exemplary personality. He was their model in the way he behaved towards the plaintiffs and defendants who came to him with their arguments and disagreements. Rabbi Alter Horberg, who was called “Alter who hands down decisions” and was an excellent sermonizer, studious and well versed in the treasures of the Torah, and Rabbi Herszel Grinszpan, a modest Chassid, but full to the brim with the Talmudic discussions of Abayeh and Rava and in halachic decisions were outstanding members of his rabbinical court.

On matters of license and prohibition [heter ve issur] Rabbi Abele Z”L took the part of those who advocated lenience, he took the property of the Jews into account, lest it be lost.

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The land of Israel was his passion; he yearned to send first his son to the land of Israel, so that he might make a place there for him as well and in this matter he contacted the chief rabbi of Tel-Aviv, Rabbi Ami'el Z”L, asking him to aid in obtaining him a certificate. However, in the meantime, the war broke out and the fate of his community was his fate as well. The long chain of rabbis, of which Rabbi Awraham Abele HaKohen was an important link – was terminated.

The Admo”rs of Kielce

The Kielce community grew, developed materially and spiritually. What did it lack? The holiness of righteous men was lacking, heavenly pious men. The community needed the Admo”rs to sanctify the place. And indeed the community began to attract the righteous from nearby locales and they came to instill honor in the growing community and spread the rays of their glory directly upon the members of the congregation and sanctified the place and its inhabitants.

The first to arrive in Kielce was the Admo”r from Checiny, Rabbi Chaim Szmuel HaLevi Horowicz Z”L. I will write down his elevated lineage below:

One) this righteous rabbi was the son of the holy Rabbi Elazar, Z”L.
Two) son of the holy Rabbi Cwi Hersz, who guided the holy flock in Lublin after his father.
Three) son of the righteous and holy rabbi who was well known as the “Chozeh of Lublin” [the Seer of Lublin] exemplar of his generation Rabbi Jakob Icak Halewi Horowicz may the memory of a righteous man be for a blessing. And so on until the family of our rabbi, the holy author of the “Shnei Luchot Habrit” [The Two Stone Tablets]. On his mother's side, the Admo”r of Checiny was a grandson of the holy Rabbi Josef Epsztajn from the new city – Neu Stadt – who was known by the name “the Good Jew” – “Der Guter Jud”, who was the son of the famous righteous rabbi, exemplar of his generation Kalonymus Kalman Epsztajn, who led the chassidic community in the holy community of Krakow, author of the commentary on the Torah called “Ma'or VaShemesh”.

The Admo”r of Checiny had many Chassidim in the cities of Poland who gathered around him. His sons and grandsons as well were crowned with the crown of Admo”r and became famous and well-known Admo”rs in their own right, and hundreds and thousands of Chassidim flocked to them as well.

The Admo”r of Checiny was a unique personality. He occupied himself with the revealed more than with the hidden [mysticism]. He would say: “The hidden things are for God and the revealed things are for us…etc.” [Deuteronomy 29/28].

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He would not speak “Torah” during a meal, as is the custom among the Admo”rs. He revealed his innovations and discoveries in the secrets of the Torah only to special individuals who were worthy of it, whose minds absorbed the hidden aspects of the Torah, and with them he would seclude himself for hours; and they would publicize the greatness of their rabbi among the people. Even to Chassidim whose level was not so high, he was none-the-less a pillar of fire at whose light they warmed themselves. He influenced them with his brief pronouncements that were full of ethics. And in general he taught the paths of worshiping God to his audience of admirers by means of his behavior and habits.

He was fond of Torah scholars with his whole heart; when he saw a young man of talent who persevered in his studies he would make him an intimate and debate matters of Abaye and Raba [talmudic sages] with him as if they were contemporaries.

He was the only Admo”r of his time, if I'm not mistaken, in Poland, who had a subscription to the newspaper “HaTzefira”. Aside from the regular issues of the newspaper he also received all of the supplements: the books of CZ”S [Chaim Selig Slonimsky] and N”S [Nachum Sokolow]. One of his young aides, Motel Pinies, or “Bochur”, as the rebbe called him, brought him the newspaper from the post office everyday at eleven a.m.. His opponents, the Gur Chassidim, gossiped about him, saying that he was bringing heretical words into his home, however he paid no attention to their vexing words, and continued to read the Hebrew press. Those close to him excused this custom of his, which was difficult for them as well – could one read the words of CZ”S and N”S, which were considered heretics, - yet they themselves would open the “Yad HaChazaka” of Maimonides and take out the page on which the proof of CZ”S to a holy chapter was printed this month – but, they would say, the rebbe suffers from constipation and he spends a lot of time in the “house of honor”, and so that he doesn't in the meantime think of words of the Torah, he read the news of the day in the newspaper which occupied his mind and thus he didn't think about holy words in such a place.

Whatever the reason and the explanation – reading “HaTzefira” and intelligent articles of CZ”S gave the rebbe of Checiny information about the world at large and also about the sciences. The rebbe would state in advance, for instance, when a solar or lunar eclipse would be. The innocent Chassidim, when they heard from their rabbi that on such-and-such a date and at such-and-such a time there would be a solar eclipse, or on a certain night – a lunar eclipse, partial or full, were amazed and ascribed this information to the divine inspiration that hovered over their rabbi. These innocents didn't realize that the rebbe drew his information from the newspaper that he read.

The court of the Admo”r in Checiny was notable among the other buildings of the city. Along the southern wall of the rebbe's house there was a garden in which there was hut in which the rebbe would sit during the summer days and learn Torah without being disturbed. The sounds of songbirds would mix with the sound of the Torah, which came forth and went up from within the hut and made a wonderful harmony.

The inner workings of his home were arranged in good taste. The rebbe had a special sense of beauty. The furnishings of the house and the table settings were according to the newest fashion. And in general, his manner, his clothing gave off a special charm.

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His Chassidim, those who lived in his home and his aides knew the attributes of their rabbi who was very strict about the qualities in which Torah scholars excel; therefore they attempted to sooth his mind with a nice apartment, with elegant vessels. They also arranged for him to have a special mikve [ritual pool] in his yard. It was very deep. Fifty steps led down into it. The water in it was clear and cold as ice.

This Admo”r had a magnificent carriage and he drove it like one of the counts.

After the fire that broke out in Checiny and which destroyed half of the houses in the village, including the house of the Admo”r, the rebbe moved his dwelling place to Kielce. However, from that time the breadth of thinking left him. He did not find the comfort, and particularly the quiet and restfulness that he needed in the new place.

Kielce had the honor of housing the Admo”r of Checiny for only a few years. During World War I he passed away. In 5676 on the 18th day of Tevet [December, 1915], his soul departed in purity. Thousands of admirers from the area came to his funeral, among them rabbis, leaders of the community. There was a great mourning in the city. On this day the shops were closed; everyone ceased their labor and came out of respect for their rabbi, who had, in his lifetime, been an advisor, a shield and a patron to them. Over his grave his Chassidim built a “tent” in which they set a memorial stone upon which they engraved the following words [the initial letters in Hebrew spell out his name]:

Hoi, my father, hoi holy trunk, my chariot and knight!
Tens of thousands of Israel will come here and cry out,
With bitter weeping call: Hoi my genius and holy one!
Wailing: Hoi generous one! Hoi our suns have gone out!
Have mercy on the meek, the ill and the distressed.
They despair of life, of every physician and advisor,
They will bring their bones to you, the pressure and the burden.
Hurry to save them from every illness.
Sunk in its abominations, thus begins the illnesses of the soul
Then hurry to come to the shade of his holiness, -
And you will be relieved and drawn out of trembling and filth;
Even washing their foreheads to save them.
To the thousands of Chassidim and those of bitter spirit aside from them
With prayer he offered them redemption, advice and strength;
Try a miracle and a sign and save them from their trouble,
Remove them to well being and turn trouble to redemption.
Many did he turn from sin and return to truth,
To his work, holy worship an enthusiastic soul.
Shot his arrows at them until they went
Until they threw out their abominations and dressed in humility,
Glowing in the light of faith, in the light of the awe of heaven,
He enthused the hearts and souls of Israel and sanctified them.
Righteous Ones are called alive even in death.
To this Tent of Meeting will go forth all who seek God. [TBCV”H]
May his soul be bundled in the bundle of life

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