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[Page 489]

Personalities

 

[Page 501]

Reb Nechemia Steingus

by L. and Ch. Druckman (Steingus), Elimelech and Rachel Livneh (Steingus)

Translated by Jerrold Landau

{Photo page 501: Nechemia Steingus of blessed memory and his family.}

I came to know my father-in-law Reb Nechemia of blessed memory, after I got married at the age of 18. Reb Nechemia was a scholar and a fearer of Heaven who observed both the easy and difficult commandments. My father-in-law was close to the Agudas Yisroel organization in his city and occupied himself with communal affairs for the sake of Heaven. He loved the religious youth, dedicated himself to them, and devoted his life to holy studies. His house served as a guest house for every Jew who requested his physical or spiritual help.

He was a Hassid of Markuszow. He was known and beloved by the community due to his politeness and devotion to everyone. His descendents included many scholars. His wife Miriam of blessed memory was a righteous woman with fine traits. His second wife Nechama of blessed memory was also a good and dedicated woman of valor.

May their souls be bound in the bonds of eternal life.

Leibish and Chana Druckman (Steingus)
Elimelech and Rachel Livneh (nee Steingus)


[Page 501]

Chemyele Ciesler[1] of blessed memory

by Fishel Ciesler (Efraim Charash)

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Chemyele Ciesler, as he was nicknamed, was a known personality in the city. Every broken hearted person who had a problem with the government with regard to payment of taxes, with the local courts, or with the confiscation of merchandise due to the non-payment of taxes – would turn to ask advice of Chemyele. He gave everyone appropriate advice. Chemyele was thereby able to convince people that there was still recourse, and that everything was not lost.

The order of his day started in the morning as he went to the synagogue, with a large satchel under his arms containing his tallis bag, two pairs of tefillin (Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam), and the thick “Chok LeYisrael” chumash that contained chapters of Jewish law and lore in addition to the weekly Torah portion. Each day after services, he would conclude his prayers with the study of chapters of Chok LeYisrael. He regarded this as a custom not to be violated.

His distress was great when he did not feel well and was not able to walk from his home to the synagogue. On Fridays, when the youths of the Beis Midrash would collect money from the worshippers for the honorable poor people to whom the Beis Midrash youths gave private gifts so that they can sustain themselves, he made a supreme effort to go to the synagogue to distribute the charitable donations. There was no pair (the youths canvassed in pairs) who did not receive a fitting sum of money in a pleasant manner.

When he returned from the synagogue after services on Sabbath eves, his joy was particularly great. In the home there was a set table, lit candles, and fine dishes. After the Kiddush over the wine, the entire family answered Amen. Then, after washing the hands for bread before the meal, they would sing the Sabbath hymns of the Rebbe of Markuszow, for Nechemia was one of his enthusiastic Hassidim. On occasion, the Sabbath festivities had to be stopped when government tax officials or local policemen appeared at his table and expressed their desire to eat gefilte fish with challa. My father was forced to sing the Sabbath hymns quietly. This devoted activist would seize the opportunity to request on behalf of a certain Jew the fruit that had been confiscated and was liable to rot, so that he could arrange partial payment for the deputy[2]. Of course, during the eating fest, the gentile would agree to everything, and everything was arranged. My father comforted himself that he received a fitting exchange[3] in return for the loss of Sabbath joy.

One of his most important communal activities was the Linat Tzedek Institution to assist sick people who were lacking in means. He was among its early founders. When he would be woken up from his sleep in the night in order to summon a doctor, find some utensil, or provide some

[Page 502]

other assistance for a sick person, he did not ask or check if the matter was urgent. He was prepared to go and assist at any time.

When Agudas Yisrael, of which he was a member, founded the Fund for the Settlement (Keren HaYishuv – the fund to collect money to redeem land in the Land of Israel), he was among the first to dedicate himself with all his means and soul to this activity. He seized any opportunity to collect money for this holy aim of redeeming the sacred soil. He saw this as the beginning of the redemption, and he had a great hope to make aliya to the Land of Israel one day

He did not succeed in making aliya to the Land. He was murdered by the Germans, may their names be blotted out, during the time of the Holocaust, along with the rest of the honorable people of Krasnik, may G-d avenge their blood.

Fishel Ciesler (Efraim Charash)


Reb Alter Moshe Malka's[4]
(Alter Reuven Ezriel Zisberg)
may G-d avenge his blood

by Shlomo Gelbard

Translated by Jerrold Landau

My father-in-law Reb Alter was one of the Hassidim of Lublin in Krasnik. He was the son of the rabbinical judge and teacher of Lublin, Rabbi Yaakov Peretz Zisberg of holy blessed memory. Only two of the sixteen children of the rabbinical judge remained alive, and of course, he protected them as the apple of his eye. My father-in-law absorbed the love of Torah and its commandments from his father the rabbinical judge. This love accompanied him until his final days. Reb Alter was a diligent Yeshiva student, occupying himself with Torah study day and night. When he came of age, his marriage to Sara Rachel (Ruchtsha) was arranged for him. Among the other conditions, he asked that his father-in-law enable him to continue his diligent Torah studies after the wedding. As was the custom in the towns of Poland, the livelihood of the young couple was the responsibility of the father of the bride for several years. After his marriage, my father-in-law as drafted into the Russian army during the time of the Russo-Japan War. During his four years of army service, he carefully maintained his observance as a follower of the Torah. According to him, non non-kosher food ever crossed his lips – a matter that was very difficult to stand by in the conditions that pervaded at that time.

After several years he returned to Krasnik. Since the family was growing, he had to take upon himself the yoke of earning a livelihood. Nevertheless, he continued with his studies. He would arise each day at 4:00 a.m., and sit in the Shtibel of the Hassidim of Lublin until 8:00 a.m. He continued thus during the time he was ill, when the physicians forbade him to go outside, especially during the winter time. He paid no heed to the words of the doctors, and claimed that people who are performing commandments are protected from harm. When he returned home after the Shacharit service, he also attempted to assist his wife Ruchtsha may G-d avenge her blood with the livelihood of the family, however the bulk of the yoke of livelihood was upon my mother-in-law.

Aside from his studies during the morning, he saw it as his duty to educate the youth in the way of Torah and commandments by giving classes to the Agudas Yisroel youth during the evening hours. As is known, it was not customary to study Gemara and Jewish legal decisions in solitude, so my father-in-law found a study partner who was not himself a great Torah scholar. However, after several years, a great interest in his studies was aroused in him.

I met my father-in-law in 1933 when I came to Krasnik to arrange my marriage with my wife Yehudit, may she live, before we made aliya to the Land. His relationship to me was typical of his character. Despite the fact that he knew that I was among the Zionist pioneers (chalutzim), he requested that I study Gemara with his son Avraham of blessed memory, who later died in Israel. This was the way he wished to test me to determine what my essence was. Throughout the eight days that I remained in Krasnik, I was able to get to know him, and he endeared himself to me.

My father-in-law Reb Alter, may G-d avenge his blood, was apparently also known in the political arena. A few years prior to the war that brought the Holocaust to the Jewish people, he wrote to us that they were living in the atmosphere of impending war. Hitler, may his name be blotted out, was preparing for such, and this was felt as well in the underground factories of the area where weapons were being manufactured. His strong hope to make aliya to the Land was not realized, since my difficult material situation did not enable me to bring over the family and sustain it. My feelings of guilt for this omission never left me for the many years that followed.

My father-in-law Reb Alter and his wife were together in life, and were not separated in death. The Nazi troops, may their names be blotted out, shot them on the same day, on the 25th of Nissan, 5702 (1942). My mother-in-law, who was confined to her bed on account of an affliction of paralysis, was shot in her bed. My father-in-law wrapped himself in a white kittel and a tallis, and lay down on the ground next to the transport wagons, unwilling to board them. The Nazis shot him, and both of them were brought to a Jewish burial in Krasnik on one day.

His daughter Malka and her husband Yaakov Yitzchak Rajdel[5] may G-d avenge his blood, and their children, were murdered in the death camps. His son Yehuda Leib died during the retreat of the Germans from Poland, and his family was murdered in a concentration camp. Five of their descendents lived in the Land Israel: his son Reb Yaakov Peretz of blessed memory who died at work in 1939; his son Reb Avraham of blessed memory who fell at his work in 1951 (and had no children); his daughter Chana the wife of Reb Yehoshua Pinchas Fernes of blessed memory, his daughter Freda the wife of Rabbi Moshe Yitzchak Deutsch may he live long, his daughter Yehudit my wife, may she live long. May their souls be bound in the bonds of eternal life.


[Page 503]

Leibel Brafman of blessed memory

by Shlomo Gelbard

Translated by Jerrold Landau

{Photo page 503: Uncaptioned. Leibel Brafman.}

He was an intelligent youth and a Torah scholar, from a Hassidic family. He was a leader of the Organization of General Zionists and one of the prominent activists of the Zionist Youth (Noar Hatzioni) of Krasnik. He was one of the activists of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet LeYisrael), a spiritual leader, and a cultural activist. The best of the Zionist youth in Krasnik gathered around him. He perished in the Holocaust.

Sh. G.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Danny Shiff, the translation coordinator, indicates that (in other records that he has found (eg. Judenrat records & the Necrology list) the name is referred to as Ciesla) Return
  2. The wording of this sentence is somewhat awkward. It seems that the activist (i.e. Cheymele) would take the opportunity of the visit by the officials to request the favor of the partial return of confiscated goods to some Jew who was in need. Return
  3. Helping a Jew in need. Return
  4. This possessive form of a name is usually a matrynomic nickname – i.e. in this case, indicating Alter Moshe, Malka's son. However according to the translation coordinator, Danny Shiff, who is related to the Zisberg family, Alter's mother's name was not Malka, but rather Chana Frajda. His wife's name was Sarah Rachel. His granddaughter has confirmed that the meaning of this name is “Alter, the son-in-law of Moshe who was the son of Malka.” Return
  5. Danny Shiff indicates that this last name should be Reindel or Rajndel. Return

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