Ostrolenka was without a rabbi for a few years after the departure of Rabbi Mosze Nachum Jeruzalimski from Ostrolenka to his new rabbinate in the city of Kielce. This was due to factionalism and disagreements between the Misnagid balabatim (local heads of households) and the Chassidim, who, for the most part, belonged to Gur, Alexander and Amszinow. Although, at one point, Rabbi Cwi Pinczas was chosen by a large majority, the Chassidim and some balabatim complained to the minister of the Lomza region about his sympathy for Zionism. Because of this sin, the minister did not endorse the appointment of Rabbi Pinczas as Rabbi of Ostrolenka.
The matter reverberated throughout the Jewish public in Poland. Der Friend, appearing in Petersburg at the time, responded with a sharp and stinging article.
After much hustle and bustle, the Rabbi of Piatnica, Rabbi Icchak Bursztejn, was approved as Rabbi of the community in 1905. He was Rabbi of Ostrolenka for
nearly thirty-five years, until he was killed in the great Holocaust of our days, together with his community.
(article from the Morgen Journal, New York, 1.11.1942)
Rabbi Icchak Bursztejn was born in 1869 in Lomza, the son of his esteemed, charitable father, Reb Szlomo. He received his Torah education from the erudite lamdan, Rabbi Szlomo Piotnicki, author of Nachal HaAravim, about the Tractate Aruvim. He taught Gemara, Rashi, Tosfot (glosses) and the commentaries to a group of talented, excellent students from good families. Rabbi Icchak was known in his youth for his outstanding qualities and great expertise, knowing many Mishna tractates with commentaries and Tosfot nearly by heart.
by Rabbi I. Bursztejn, of blessed memory
At the age of 15, he married the daughter of the well-to-do lamdan from Lomza, the generous Reb Cwi Dawid Gielcinski (who passed away at a ripe old age in Tel Aviv). After his marriage, he went to Kutno and served its Av Beit Din, the Gaon, Rabbi Israel Jehoszua Trunk. He continued to study Torah, and before reaching the age of twenty was ordained in pedagogy by the Gaon, Rabbi Icchak Elchanan, Rabbi of Kowna.
In 1894, when he was only 22, Rabbi Icchak Bursztejn was appointed Rabbi of Piatnica, near Lomza (in place of Rabbi Mosze Kotlowitz, who was appointed Rabbi-Av Beit Din of Jedwabne). He served in the Piatnica Rabbinate for 11 years, continually studying Torah. He was close to the great Torah scholars of the Lomza yeshiva and its famous Ramim [heads of its rabbinical academy], and would visit Rabbi Milchael, the local Av Beit Din and author of Divrei Milchael. Even then, he was already writing a complete book of his many responsa on the four parts of the Shulchan Aruch and his new interpretations of the Gemara, Rashi and Tosfot.
At the time he served as Rabbi-Av Beit Din of Ostrolenka, he was known as one of the greatest rabbis of Poland, and answered questions about matters of pedagogy and halacha for expert rabbis from near and far.
In 1840, his book, Meta'amei Yitzchak, on the Shulchan Aruch and Orech Chaim was published. It was widely disseminated in the yeshiva and rabbinic world.
(Morei Tzedek) Rabbi Jakow Szlomo Pizman
Born in Ostrolenka in 1871. Educated in Lithuanian yeshivas and in the Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies (Kollel Perushim) in Kowna. He was ordained to the rabbinate by Rabbi Cwi Hirsz Rabinowicz, Av Beit Din of Kowna, Rabbi Mosze Deniszewsky, Av Beit Din of Slobodka (near Kowna), and Rabbi Milchael Cwi Halewi Tenenbaum, Av Beit Din of Lomza. For a short time, he was a rabbi in the village of Sieradnik in Zamot (Kowna region), and in 1904 rabbi and Jewish law adjudicator in the city of his birth, Ostrolenka.
During World War I, he was expelled as a refugee as were all Ostrolenkans to Russia, where he died.
In 1895, he was already the learned teacher of Ostrolenka, and served in that role for decades during the time of the Avot Beit Din Rabbi Mosze Nachum Jeruzalimski and Rabbi Icchak Bursztejn. Compared to the learned teacher mentioned above, who was a Misnagid, the Rashi was an Amszinow Chassid and frequently visited the Admor, Rabbi Menachem Kalisz. The Amszinow Chassidim in Ostrolenka consulted their Admor as to whether or not to support the candidacy of Rabbi Mosze Nachum as rabbi of their congregation. After the Admor give his consent, through the learned teacher, Rabbi Szlomo Irmijahu, they joined in accepting the Rabbi as Av Beit Din of Ostrolenka.
Through this learned teacher, the Admor of Amszinow sent a letter of congratulations to the new Rabbi of Ostrolenka, in which he wrote, among other things: The great, well-known Gaon Rabbi may the Blessed Lord grant him great success, that he influence the members of his congregation for the good.
Rabbi Szlomo Irmijahu became famous in the world of Torah when he wrote Minchat Yishai (published in Piotrkow in 1912). The book contains two parts: a. responsa about the four parts of the Shulchan Aruch, and b. homiletics in the in-depth study method (pilpul). At the end of the homiletics section, there is a special sermon that he preached in the Chevrat Talmud Torah in Ostrolenka. There are also two others: one that he preached on the Sabbath before Passover (Shabbat HaGadol), and another on the Sabbath before Yom Kippur (Shabbat Shuva) (when there was no Av Beit Din in the city).
Endorsements by great rabbis are to be found in the book: Rabbi Milchael, Av Beit Din of Lomza; Rabbi Eliahu Klatzkin, Av Beit Din of Lublin; Rabbi Josef of Amszinow, Av Beit Din of Ostrow (later the Admor of Amszinow); and Rabbi Jehuda Lejb Gordon, Av Beit Din of Ostrow. Rabbi Milchael wrote about this book: And I enjoyed several issues in his homiletics touching on halacha and its practical application. Rabbi Gordon of Ostrow distinguishes the author as sharp and expert
in Gemara and commentaries, beautifully and clearly penetrating in instruction.
The Rabbi-Av Beit Din of Ostrolenka, Rabbi Icchak Bursztejn, wrote about him: A fortress and tower, sharp and expert in Torah; his writings are pure and clear.
In Section 14, there is an answer from the author to his son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Meir, Rabbi in Lomzica (from the year 1911). It should be noted that this son-in-law, of the Grabie family, was later appointed Av Beit Din of Shiadowa, and died there in the summer of 1918, at a young age.
The book Minchat Yishai has many signatories from Ostrolenka, among them many balabatim of the town.
(Rabbi of Goworowo, Ostrolenka region)
He was the scion of generations of brilliant, saintly Chassidic rabbis, of a distinguished lineage of Cohanim, son after son, from the days of Shimon HaTzadik. His father, Rabbi Cwi Arjeh Hakoen, the Ratzba, author of Tahaluchot HaMayim veHayabasha and other essays, was known as a Gaon and Chassid, and served in the rabbinate of Niemirow. His [grand]father, the holy Rabbi Icchak Ajzyk, known as the Cohen Gadol, was a student of the holy Rabbi Mordechaj of Malkiewicz, and author of the book Shaarei Yitzchak, about the wisdom of the Kabala.
Rabbi Icchak Ajzyk was the son of the Gaon Rabbi Jakow Jehuda Kahana, Av Beit Din of Wolpa, who was the brilliant student of the Admorim, Rabbi Szlomo of Karlin and Rabbi Jakow Josef, author of HaToldot.
In 1879, in his youth, Rabbi Jakow Jehuda Kahana (the family name was Bocian) wrote a book called VeShav HaCohen. He set himself a goal of settling every point where the writers of glosses (Tosfot) on the Gemara encountered difficult questions and left them unresolved (tayma). In his great modesty, he did not publish his name openly on the book's cover, but wrote that I prepared and investigated with my young, modest intelligence, working for our holy Torah and its advocates. From R.Y.Y., son of the Gaon Rabbi, the Ratzba Kahana. At the beginning of the book, which is very astute and profound, are two endorsements, from the Gaon, Rabbi Eliahu Ben Beniamin Szick (Av Beit Din of Lida, Zagra and Kobryn) and from Rabbi Szmuel Zanwil Klopfisz (chief learned teacher in Warsaw).
The second rabbi notes that the author, R.Y.Y. Kahana, is my relative and I knew him several years as a great Torah scholar, an expert in Mishna and the Jewish law adjudicators. The first Rabbi wrote about him: And I saw in him that 'shelo ishtabish kahana', that is, that the Cohen was not mistaken and not confused (according to Tractate Passover 17), and his words are golden and direct homiletic, and the author, out of his great modesty, requested in (his) introduction not to rely on him, only to arouse those who study, who will delve in order to resolve contradictions of the holy Gemara.
Rabbi Jehuda Kahana apparently served as Rabbi- Av Beit Din of Goworowo after the death of its previous rabbi, Rabbi Aron Klopfisz (brother of the abovementioned Rabbi Szmuel Zanwil Klopfisz of Warsaw), and served as rabbi of the community for many years.
Rabbi Jakow Jehuda brings us the matter of a special corrective ruling which was written in Goworowo on matters of ritual slaughter, in the presence of all the important balabatim. The banning writ states that slaughters are not permitted to slaughter large animals independently, but (they) are required to be in one group at the time of the slaughter and the inspection, and to show each other their knives. When slaughtering small animals, they must show each other every morning. If a slaughterer is not at home, the second slaughterer is required to come before the Rabbi- Av Beit Din, to show him his knife before he slaughters, aside from the fact that he is customarily required to show his knife to the rabbi of the town. So each and every one of them must bring the lungs to the rabbi for inspection. The writ of the Relag (this may be Rabbi Jehuda Lejb Gordon, Av Beit Din of Ostrow, later Av Beit Din of Lomza), repeatedly stressed this prohibition and fierce social ban (according to the book Be'er Moshe of Rabbi Mosze Nachum Jeruzalimski, from the period when he was Av Beit Din of Ostrolenka, Warsaw, 1905).
Rabbi Jakow Jehuda Kahana is described in the book Stirat Z'kenim by the Gaon Rabbi Chaim Mordechaj Braunrot, Av Beit Din of Ciechanow and Rabbi-Av Beit Din of Tel Aviv (born in Ostrolenka in 1881) as a Gaon, a saintly man and an exemplary person. (The wife of Rabbi Braunrot was the daughter of a rabbi who was exalted in Torah and Chassidism, of fine character and beloved by all, the well-known Rabbi Szmuel Hakoen Szmuelke Sterdyner, who was the son of the above-mentioned Rabbi Jakow Kahana and educated and raised by his distinguished father in
the town of his birth Goworowo).
The second son of Rabbi Jakow Jehuda Koen was the eminent rabbi and Chassid, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hakoen, who lived to a ripe old age. The Torah was his occupation all his days; he toiled diligently day and night on Torah, work and modesty. During World War II, he, his wife and their family fled for their lives from Goworowo, where they lived, to Bialystok. There they were murdered by the cursed Nazis (according to the above-mentioned book, Stirat Z'kenim).
By the way, it should be mentioned that the sister of Rabbi Braunrot and her husband, Rabbi Szmuel, the son of Rabbi Szabtaj Kuper, who were residents of Ostrolenka, fled from there at the outbreak of World War II and reached the city of Dabrowica in Wolin. They and all their family were murdered there during the Holocaust by the cursed Nazis.
Before Rabbi Jossele the Sharp was selected rabbi of the city of Ostrolenka, he went through a great deal. His parents lived in one of the villages in the area. When his father, the family breadwinner, passed away, he found his way to Ostrolenka. His clothes were shabby, his feet were wrapped in rags, his hair and beard were covered with the dust of the roads and all of his possessions were wrapped in a kerchief held in his hand. The young men who learned in the study hall asked him what he wanted, and he answered them: My soul yearns for Torah. From then on, Jossele sat in the study hall and learned day and night. His fellow creatures took pity on him and gave him teig [days, that is, meals in rotation at the homes of affluent citizens].
You will find no city that loves Torah scholars more than Ostrolenka. Even the rabbi of the city noticed him and found him a suitable match, the daughter of a good family. In time, he became a great Torah scholar. When the rabbi of the city of Ostrolenka died, Rabbi Jossele was appointed in his place. His great reputation spread immediately in the entire area, because he was sharp and expert. Rabbis and scholars knew that when appearing before Rabbi Jossele the Sharp, one had to be very careful in biblical discourse, lest he examine them with acute questions. His fame grew so great that rich communities tried to get him to be their rabbi, but he refused to leave the city where he was drawn near to the Torah. Rabbi Jossele's memory was keen and excellent. The great scholars of his generation said that the angel of forgetfulness had no control over him, and that everything he absorbed was held by him as if actually kept in a box. Rabbi Jossele was also a Chassid. Once, the Rabbi of Gur, may his virtue stand us in good stead, passed through Ostrolenka and stayed with him for the Sabbath. The Rabbi of Gur usually gave a biblical discourse during the third Sabbath meal. This time, however, he asked Rabbi Jossele to tell him of his new Torah interpretations. The latter agreed, and the Rabbi [of Gur] was full of wonder, as he saw before him a gushing spring.
When he asked the Rabbi of Ostrolenka why he withheld such good from scholars and did not spread his words of Torah, Rabbi Jossele told him the following amazing story:
In my wintry days, I was used to debate with rabbis who came to our city. While I was absorbing great quantities of Torah, I wanted things to be clear and resolved. Once, there came to our city Rabbi Jerucham of Shiadowa, who already had a reputation near and far. Because he was concerned that he would be distracted from the world of Torah and wisdom, he refused to take upon himself the yoke of the rabbinate. He wrote a book called Mesilat Chaim and went from one rabbi to another with the manuscript, to get endorsements of his book. Rabbi Jerucham sat opposite me, and began to read from the manuscript. I was young then, and longed to show him my acuity and expertise. When he began to read his new interpretations of the Mishna and the writings of the Rambam, even though it was not polite, I said to him: I see that Your Honor wishes to newly interpret such and such a halacha, such and such an innovation and that, in this tractate, he wishes to resolve such and such a difficulty with such and such a solution, and here in the Tosfot, he wishes to contradict the words of the Rambam in his book, Yad Chazakah
When he heard my words, Rabbi Jerucham said to me: I am now writing my book, Mesilat Chaim but after I have heard your words of Torah and seen that all is already known to you, why should I publish the book?
After a year, Rabbi Jerucham passed away. I approached his heirs, and asked them to find his manuscript, which I would publish for the benefit of many. But it was impossible to find his manuscript. As
his heirs told me, Rabbi Jerucham had burned his manuscript out of great despondency of soul, and because he regretted the years he had spent writing his book. Therefore, because I saddened a Torah scholar and prevented him from publishing his book, I decreed silence on myself.
Since then, the Rabbi of Ostrolenka, Rabbi Jossele the Sharp, did not write any more new interpretations. The only remaining small sparks that flew from his anvil are the endorsements he wrote for other authors. Although Rabbi Jossele's Torah was buried with him, it is known that his spirit abounded like a burgeoning fountainhead, and that he was very sharp. This is clear from the responsa he exchanged with the giants of his generation.
Among the important balabatim who supported the study of Torah in Ostrolenka in about 1839, there appear the signatures of these people on a list of signatories of the book, Shvil HaYosher, of the Gaon Rabbi Szaul Sziskes of Vilna: the philanthropist Tikocziner, Reb Cwi Jakow, the son of Reb Chaim Heisenberg, Reb Jehuda Lima, son of Reb Nachman of Tiktin, and Reb Jehuda Lejb Lifszitz.
Regarding the philanthropist Tikocziner of Ostrolenka, the following should be noted. He was known as Reb Nachman Tikocziner, who moved to Lomza. He was one of the wealthy persons of the city, a contractor and supplier of the needs of the army and the government buildings of the minister of the region and the district. His saintly and very generous wife, Fejga Rejza, was the daughter of the philanthropist, Reb Awraham Frenkel of Lublin. Except for her son, Szlomo Tikocziner, who married into the well-known Efron family of Petersburg, they had daughters: the wife of the industrialist, Adolph Dobronicki of Lodz; Dora, wife of the philanthropist, Faiter Beckerman of Warsaw; the wife of Ignatz Poznansky of Lodz; Alexandra, wife of the merchant, Rozenblat, of Lodz, and one other daughter.
Mrs. Tikocziner passed away in Lodz, when she was there in 1882. After a few years, her husband also came to Lodz from Lomza, and passed away there. The inscription on her tombstone was written by the Gaon Rabbi Eliahu Chaim Meizel, Av Beit Din of Lodz, who knew her from Lomza, and wrote about her: Her modesty and saintliness were known in the gates/She clad the naked and satisfied the hungry without limit/May she be blessed above women in the tent/And may the honor of God shine on her soul.
In about 1895, these balabatim are found on the list of signatories from Ostrolenka in the book, Z'chuta D'Avraham, by the Gaon Rabbi Awraham Landa of Ciechanow (sermons for the Sabbath before Passover and the Sabbath before Yom Kippur, Warsaw, 1895), headed by: Reb Symcha Bunim Szapira, grandson of the holy Rabbi Baruch of Czyzewa, and Rabbi Szlomo Irmijahu, the learned teacher of Ostrolenka.
It should be noted that in the beginning of the book Divrei Negidim (a new explanation of the Torah) by the exalted, elderly Rabbi Dawid Meir Krulawiecki of Lomza, published in Warsaw in 1901, we find letters of praise, and in them expressions of special thanks to Reb Aron Margaliot of the holy community of Ostrolenka, for his help in publishing the book, thus: And may they be remembered favorably the dear and exalted husband of my granddaughter, the philanthropist Aron Jakow Margaliot of the holy community of
Ostrolenka, with his wife, the modest Mrs. Fejga Long live! daughter of the late exalted Rabbi, my son, Icchak Mosze Jakow, of blessed memory, from the city of Kolno, author of Maamarei Kayam, commentaries on my book, Divrei Negidim, who assisted me with a loan so that I could carry out and finish this, the second part. May the good God give them happiness and abundance, and may they see their seed live long and well, and be blessed from the wellspring of blessings. Amen.
While this city does not excel in its many inhabitants, Jews or Gentiles, it is of very great value in the excellent chronicles and histories of this passing century. Many of our kingdom's great army officers excelled here and in the city's vicinity near the River Narew, in their war against the battalions of Napoleon I in 1806-7, in the Polish rebellion in 1831 and at other times.
Many readers of the Chronicles of Russia know its exalted worth in the history of its wars. Monuments to its memories still exist today. There also live among us dozens of people who remember a little or a lot of our armies' deeds and great acts which were demonstrated in the fields of our city on the battleground.
Great was the joy of our townspeople a month ago, when we were officially informed by the regional government that, in not many days, the district will again become an impregnable hill for eventful and unique military exercises, to take place during the second half of the month of August in the Warsaw army region. Besides great army officers and important personages of the kingdom, who will come to command and see the camps march and our armies battle on the western and eastern flanks of the Warsaw region with Vilna numbering 122,000 common soldiers and 4,500 generals and commanders the ruler of our land in person, His Majesty, will also come, accompanied by great princes of his family and exalted guests from abroad, to see the great bravery of his army.
The preparations in our city to receive His Majesty, the Emperor, and the great princes, are coming nearer completion daily. Splendid pillars and an arc of honor, garlanded with plaits of flowering buds and glorious banners, have been erected at the entrance to the city in their honor, so that when they arrive at the gates of our city Our Lord, His Majesty, the Emperor, and the great ministers who will stand before him they may pass through them. The joy of all our city's residents, in general, and our brother Jews, in particular, has no end.
The members of the congregation, and the Av Beit Din at their head, have decided to welcome His Majesty bearing a Torah scroll, and with a greeting of peace in the name of all our Jewish inhabitants.
The streets, passageways and bridges of Ostrolenka are now paved and repaired. The city government, its officials and all its citizens will try to improve and beautify private and public buildings. The local authority will closely supervise the city government and its interests to realize the desires of His Majesty, our King, and the exalted ministers who accompany him on his way.
A few hours walk from the regional city is the district city, Ostrolenka It has a synagogue and a study hall. In the attic of the study hall are the shteblich [prayer houses], a separate shtebl for the Chassidim of each rabbi.
The material situation of the townspeople is not bad. The presence of many army personnel creates opportunities to earn a living from different kinds of contracting and commerce. There are a Talmud Torah and a charitable organization; but the influence of the Chassidim is already recognizable, with all its virtues and faults. There is no public pulse: each is separate, each shtebl is only concerned with its own needs. Also, Zionism, which was at its founding an Ashkenazi custom association, has come under the influence of the Sephardic custom of the surroundings, and has become its own shtebl. In the attic of the study hall, near the shteblich of the Chassidim, a shtebl for the Zionists has also been built. And just as there is, according to the custom of Chabad, a mashpia [spiritual advisor] in every shtebl, so in the Zionists' shtebl there is the teacher in the town , the Jewish heder teacher of the language of the State, which they are required to learn in heders in Poland, and Hebrew in the homes of the intelligentsia. And just as this teacher is alone in his teaching, so is he alone in his Zionism. Although there are other Zionists in the shtebl, and they pray in the minyan, they are only shtebl Zionists and no more. In the market, they do not at all excel in their Zionism, and do not even lift a finger for the benefit of Zionism. All of its work rests on the shoulders of the teacher, who, with all his devotion to our goals, cannot do a great deal, and sold only about thirty shares, and no more. I think that if the shtebl was in a Zionist organization city, and its members met from time to time on weekdays, and tried to
sell a great number of shares and collect contributions of members for the support company, which had twenty people in it two years ago, everything would go well. And now, with the establishment of the shtebl, the organization is idle. The Zionists split from the rest of their brothers and withdrew into their four walls, and they do not meet each other except at prayer times. - - - But the Zionist teacher says that, on the contrary, if not for the shtebl, there would not even be a zecher leZion [a vestige of Zionism] in the town. The organization was idle anyway, because there are no workers. The shtebl gathers and unites them, and if there is a Zionist body in the city in the form of a shtebl, then it is hoped that the day will come and a Zionist spirit will be deposited into this body and it will live and stand on its feet and go out into the city to work So he said. Who is right I don't know. But it is clear that at the time that Morasha in Warsaw influenced it, it had a Zionist organization and worked a bit. Now, under the influence of Morasha, the organization is idle and it only has a shtebl!
The influence of the Chassidim is known in Ostrolenka, and the Chassidim are total Misnagdim [opponents] of Zionism. Among them, there are Chassidim who are great in Torah, and their influence on the public is great. Among the Zionists, there is not to be found a diligent community leader whose influence on the people will be great and weaken the influence of the Chassidim.
The Rabbi of the city is one of the first Chovevei Zion. For many years, in his first city, he was a delegate to the Committee in Odessa, and I suspect that he was a Zionist. He has now has become a sanctimonious Chassid of the Chassid, he has traveled to their holy one and become holy. He does not set store by political Zionism and pays lip service to Chivat Zion [Love of Zion movement], but is not actively involved in it. He pays membership dues when they are demanded of him, but does not stir others to give.
Our city is not large, but has been privileged to have many military personnel in it: the Twenty-first Regiment from Muromski, the Twenty-Second Nizgorodski, as well as the Gluchowski Cavalry Regiment. A large number of our Jewish brothers are in them. Not infrequently, it has happened that they were forced to eat chametz on Passover, until some of the important worthy persons of our city were stirred up. Through their efforts, a soup kitchen, licensed by the chief officer of the Regiment, was established for Passover for our Jewish brothers who are military personnel.
(In HaTzfira, 1914 (No. 105), in the article, Views of Life, signed by Y. Nisenbojm, the following article about the Jews of Ostrolenka appears, in connection with the Illusion (Cinema), which was opened there.)
Several Poles in the city of Ostrolenka opened an Illusion of pure sanctity [taharat hakodesh]. From start to finish, it was run by pure Poles, without any Jewish hands in the middle, so that, God forbid, no Jew would earn a cent
The Jewish youths saw this and said: In the measure by which a man measures, so he is measured. They refrained from being defiled by entering this holy sanctuary. The owners, noticing the audacity of these young Jews, who did not offer their cheeks to be slapped, turned for help to their old Jews, Chassidim and people active in the city, who had not yet worn out their lips singing How Beautiful (Ma Yafit), and asked that they find various means to increase visits by Jews to the patriotic Illusion.
The elders and the Chassidim, those compassionate children of compassionate ancestors, urgently ordered their young sons to visit the Illusion.
The sons pleaded with their fathers: Whenever we have a play to help the city's poor, you hamper us with all your might, and abuse and curse us as Jewish sinners. How has the Illusion merited this mitzvah [religious commandment]?
And the fathers answered their sons: Supporting the city's poor is really a mitzvah. Producing a play for it is forbidden, an absolute violation, a mitzvah brought about by a sin. Here, however, we admit that it is a sin to support the enemies of Israel. Therefore, it is permissible to visit the Illusion, as this is a sin brought about by a sin But the youths were stubborn this time, and said: Whoever eats garlic and the smell is spread, will eat it again and we don't want this! Thus was ignited a wonderful war between the fathers and sons. When the fathers saw that their sons are rebellious and teach their fathers the law, and that outside, the boycotted are angry with the heads of the Jews because the Illusion stands empty, they decided that if the youths do not wish to enjoy themselves, the elders must enjoy the sights of the Illusion. Is it not true that We support the Gentiles and bury their dead for the sake of peace ? When the question arose, Who will go?, it was decided to cast lots. He upon whom the die was cast must wear his velvet hat, silk kapote and Sabbath sash, and go to the Illusion The die
was cast, and the walls of the Illusion in Ostrolenka saw a public that no Illusion in the world had seen the like of a real shtebl of Chassidim on a holiday. All that was missing were the shtreimelich.
Oh, how great and strong is the love of the Jews of Poland for the hand that strikes them!
A short time ago, the opening of the library near our Zionist Association was held in our city. A large crowd came to the opening celebration. The party was opened by Mr. Jeruhamson with a speech about the value of the Hebrew book and language in our history. Mr. Filar lectured about the Hebrew calendar. Mr. Rapaport recited Bialik's poem, If You Wish to Know. The closing speech was made by the Association's Chairman, Mr. Grynszpan. All the speeches were received with satisfied applause from those gathered.
Recently, the Association started giving Hebrew language evening classes in its hall. About one hundred and thirty people came to the opening. Messrs. Jeruhamson, Rozen, Milar, Grynszpan and Gliszinski spoke about the value of our national language. Those gathered thanked them with applause.
The Zionist Association organizes lectures in its hall every Sabbath about our nation's history and critiques of Zionism. Last Sabbath was the first lecture by Mr. Lew about The Basel Program. Mr. Jeruhamson read a report about the Third Conference of Zionists in Poland, which took place in Warsaw. (He was the Ostrolenkan Zionists' delegate at the conference.)
In elections for the community government, the Zionists won a complete victory. Four community leaders were elected, Messrs. Y. Soko (National), Josef Litwer (Zionist), Margalit and Chmiel (non-partisan).
On Saturday night of the intermediary days of Succoth, about one hundred people came to a Zionist meeting in our city. Mr. Jeruhamson of Ostrolenka opened the meeting with a speech about Zionist development and the value of our movement at this time. He called on those gathered to act on behalf of the idea of the revival of our nation.
Mr. Ciechanower was elected Chairman of the meeting. The Chairman proposed a decision to establish in our city, as well, a Zionist association, and to organize night classes for the study of the Hebrew language and lectures about Zionism and various national issues. [He also proposed] organizing a fete, the proceeds of which would be dedicated to establishing an adequate library, the lack of which is now felt in our city. All the suggestions were unanimously accepted.
Messrs. Ginzburg, Ciechanower, Fabrowicz, Mrs. Judyt Rozen, Alik Zlata, Frydman and Trahynowski were elected to the temporary committee.
Awrin and Bonim were elected to the inspection commission.
The Zionist organizations, HaTikva and HeChalutz, were located in the same apartment in Ostrolenka. In recent months, those of a particular court, who are concerned with our welfare, became angered by these two organizations because of their successful activities. They did not look favorably upon the various campaigns of HeChalutz, such as collecting books for pioneers in the Land of Israel, fundraising for the HeChalutz Fund, etc. Therefore, they decided to hinder this activity. In the shtebl, there was a commotion, shouting and threats to break in and destroy everything to be found at the Zionist organization. In the end, they only threatened and did not do anything. The two organizations continued their intensive activity. But this socialist activity was also not to the taste of the government, and it stopped the activity, using various excuses. National Jewish Committee lobbyists and local representatives of the two organizations succeeded in persuading the mayor that his opinion was mistaken, and he permitted their activity to continue.
After a short time, someone informed again, and the government seized the building.
It should be noted that, a short time ago, the government seized the Jewish community building, without any legal basis.
It is not enough that there is persecution from without; destroyers also come from within our people, assisting those who do not wish us well.
In 1922, the sum of 17,600 Polish marks was collected in Ostrolenka for Ukrainian Jews suffering from hunger. This
was released for publication by the Zeitweilliger Yiddishe Natzional Rath in Warsaw (the Temporary National Committee of Polish Jews). The main collector was Mr. Pedowicz.
Heint, 1923: 5th
On the of this month, we held a meeting of representatives from all echelons of the Jewish population concerning future elections to the Sejm and the Senat. Zionists, Mizrachi, Young Mizrachi, revisionists, Shomer HaTzair, merchants, tradesmen, balabatim and nonpartisans participated. Unanimously, they decided to vote for a national Jewish bloc, affiliated with the national minorities bloc. An election committee was chosen, headed by Mr. Menachem Bialy, and his deputies: Icchak Ajzenberg and Icchak Rapaport. Beniamin Gutman and Mosze Litwer were chosen to be secretaries.
A delegation from Keren HaYesod recently visited our city Rabbi Bard and A. Pyotrkowski. Thanks to them, the Permanent Committee for Keren HaYesod was organized: Y. Zylberglajt (Chairman), I. Rapaport, A. Chmiel, D. Chacek, S. Ben-Adam, A. Szperling, M. Sarniewicz, A. Lew, R. Wajsblum, Y. Dyskent, M.A. Kaczor, D. Srebrnik.
Results of the elections for the City of Ostrolenka Community Committee: Agudah 4, religious tradesmen 4, Zionists and Mizrachi one mandate, Leftist Labor Zionist one mandate.
The list of those blessing the College, the Zionist administration and Lord Balfour by telegram
The Greeting of the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael Ostrolenka: Batja Lejzer, Awraham Nowinski, Izrael Esther, Cwi Szuman, Aron Jakow Margalit, Awraham Piaseczny, Mosze Matochomski, Sara Rywka Hochberger, Pesach Hochberger, Szymon Czapnikiewicz M. Holcman, R. Krymkiewicz, Mosze Aron Edel, Awraham Bagatz, C. Bloumenkranz,
D. Wajncymer, Awraham Skrobacz, A. Kamyen, B.R. Asze, Kalman Wajnkranc, Lejba Skrobacz, Zalman Gorzelczany, Shiynak, M. Viszer, M. Nadborny, Efraim Chmiel (Chmiel), Z. Zyskind, S. Izrael, Fajwel Finkelsztejn, Y. Krymkiewicz, Torah Vedaat School (Mizrachi), Jakow Filar, Hersz Nadler, Chana Sztetner, Lea Pshenne, Nowinska, Chana Grodner, Markiewicz, Icchak Rapaport, Szafran, Mosze Aron Kaczor, Szlomo Bomasz, the Hebrew community: A. Milendzewicz, B.G. Rapaport, N. Jabek, Hertz Leszcz.
Ostrolenka. The activities of the Youth of Agudat Yisrael here are expanding. The Youth of Agudat Yisrael Histadrut has developed well recently, and is working in all fields, especially in the field of self-completion. Different classes are taught every evening.
At every opportunity, we conduct discussions, lectures. Every month, we publish a wall newspaper.
On Motzei Shabbat Mishpatim [the Saturday night after the Sabbath when the Torah portion Mishpatim is read], a celebration was held upon the completion of learning Tractate Kiddushin and Seder Nashim. At the celebration were members of the Youth of Agudat Yisrael, the local Beit Din Tzedek, organization leaders, honored guests and others. The Chairman, the young man Awraham Chaim Cukierman, opened the celebration with an enjoyable speech of great content. The choir sang Hekabzu.
Mr. Chaim Szmuel Lewy completed the Tractate. In-depth declarations upon completion [hadranim] were made by the Gaon Rabbi-Av Beit Icchak Bursztejn, may he live a good long life, the rabbinical judge and learned teacher, the Gaon Rabbi Szlomo Irmijahu Grynberg, and the head of the religious high school, Rabbi Israel Dawid Szef, may he live a good long life.
At the end, another Chairman of the organization, Mr. Jakow Nasielski, and a member, H.S. Lewy, spoke about the role of Youth of Agudat Yisrael in the field of continuing education. The celebration ended late at night with traditional religious songs and dances.
The Last Report from Ostrolenka in the Heint Newspaper 1939
On Monday, 22 May, on the protest strike day against the White Book, all Jewish stores and workshops closed for two hours, from two until four in the afternoon.
During those two hours, about 800 Jews gathered in the study hall, and listened attentively to speeches by Mr. Gorzelczany (Mizrachi) and representatives of the Agudah. After the speeches, all those present vowed If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning.
The rabbis of the community also joined the protest.
In Ostrolenka, Labor Zionist caught up with the Bund in elections for the city council. The Bund received two mandates. The same number was won by Labor Zionist (Rightist), Zionists one mandate; Andaks 5, P.P.S., Azan 6, independents 3.
(During the first year of World War I)
The army entered Myszyniec (in the Ostrolenka district) to guard the nearby border. The Polish inhabitants pestered them, and proved to them indisputably that the local Jews were spies. The soldiers were pleased with this information: what they intended to do that was forbidden, they could now do with license! After a few days, a decree was announced, expelling the Jews within twenty-four hours. The Jews began to pack their possessions, and the inhabitants and the soldiers began reaching out their hands to plunder and rob. Once the Jew himself was defenseless, all the more so was his property.
At the appointed hour, all the Jews were assembled in the market square. The soldiers encircled them, escorted them beyond the river, and from there sent them to wherever the wind would blow them, warning them not to dare to return to the city.
One camp of soldiers returned to Myszyniec. A second camp made sure that the Jews went on their way. After the Jews moved on a ways, they ran after them, removed their clothing, searched their bundles and stole all their property that they had taken with them.
Later, the Jews dispersed, walking day and night on different roads: some to Wyszkow, some to Wingrow, some to Poltusk, and some to Makow. They reached their destination The mark of death is on their brows and their hearts are smitten with destruction.
Many of them went to Radzymin.
In the city of Myszyniec (Ostrolenka district, Lomza region), first, because of Polish informers, the rabbi of the city and several other prominent members of the community were arrested. Later, on the 29th of August, an expulsion decree was ordered for all Jews of the city, three hundred Jewish families. In the evening, all the men, women and children went out to the field where the Commandant was encamped. All night, they stood near his tent, shivering from the cold, reading Psalms and begging him to remove the evil decree. But the Commandant did not protect them. The Jews wandered and dispersed to nearby towns and villages.
After a few weeks, the regional minister obtained a license for them to return, but the city was already completely burned down.
A delegation from the town of Goworowo (Ostrolenka district, Lomza region), the local rabbi and a representative of the local community, came to Rabbi Rubinsztejn in Vilna. They came to ask him to lobby on their behalf regarding a trial being held against them. The rabbi told this story: on a certain Friday, after midnight, when the entire town was fast asleep, the army general who resided seven kilometers from the village arrived, together with a company of his soldiers, and set upon a network of iron wires which had been pointed out, doubtless, by local gentiles. The trumped up charges were in connection with the eruv [a fence enabling carrying within its boundaries on the Sabbath], as evidence that the Jews were secretly in contact with the enemy, and passing on military secrets
When they found the suspicious network, the general ordered that all the town's synagogue wardens (gabbaim) be woken, and demanded that they appear for investigation and questioning. Worried and frightened, all of them answered that the network was made according to the rabbi's instructions. The rabbi admitted that he did this according to a religious commandment, but the officer attacked him with threats: You installed an underground telephone, and you are telling me stories about your religion! You can't fool me! You have not found a fool!
Then, seventy Goworowo Jews were imprisoned and expelled in the dark night to the headquarters, seven kilometers outside the town. Because the place was too small to contain them all, they were held for a short time only and then released, but not before they were informed that they could not leave town before clarification of the legal prosecution submitted against them. The administration of the trial and others like it was turned over to the Count Tomanow, who ordered the general to accept Rabbi Rubinsztejn's explanations. Since then, all trials of this sort stopped.
According to the version of the rabbi from Goworowo, the next day, after the investigation, the general arrived in town to examine the matter on the spot. The rabbi, who was brought before him, trembling and fearful, repeated his explanation: This is in accordance with our religion. The general answered: I already know without you that this is according to the religion. He ordered that 11 of the 12 networks be returned to the rabbi, and that one should be sent to Vilna. Because of this single network, the worried delegation came to Vilna.
When it became known in the town that the trial was cancelled, there was much rejoicing a real holiday.
(A forgotten historical episode from the period of Napoleon's travels
in Poland, by Y. Achi-Shem, in the Warsaw weekly, Velt-Spiegel)
Fifty years ago, a French historian compiled a collection of all the events that took place at the time of Napoleon's travels in Poland, Galicia and Russia. In this collection are rare stories giving us a broad picture, from the Jewish viewpoint, of the travels of the great Imperator.
Not much is known about what happened in the Jewish towns during that period. In general, even today, the history of Napoleon's journey to Russia and its reflection in Jewish folklore has not been investigated enough. Here, we find a miracle story about a rabbinical judge from Ostrolenka, Reb Mendele, based on oral sources. This story is connected to espionage activities carried on by Chassidic Jews.
From various anecdotes, a picture is created of how Napoleon was received in Poland's towns, and about opinions for and against the Emperor's victory that were prevalent then. The official history of Napoleon's campaign ignores Ostrolenka, which it does not mention at all. Despite this, stories with a romantic background are etched in the memories of old people of the city, from the period when Napoleon's armies camped there, when he chose Ostrolenka as the location of his general headquarters. (Ostrolenka appears on the Arc of Triumph in Paris, among the names of the cities captured by Napoleon).
This story has already been described by Y. Achi-Shem in the weekly Velt Spiegel (Mirror of the World), published in Warsaw. Despite this, we wish to relate it again here (because the above mentioned weekly is now hard to find). The story is connected to the situation of the Jews in light of Napoleon's victories, after he had already conquered half of Europe.
Napoleon established his headquarters in the center of the city, and also stayed there with his adjutants. In folktales, it is said that Napoleon was nicknamed Sennacherib in Ostrolenka. Reb Mendele, the judge and Miracle Worker of Shiadowa, had moved just then from Shiadowa to Ostrolenka. In his biblical discourses at the third Sabbath meal, he said that Sennacherib had a
great angel in heaven and, therefore, his soldiers were not afraid of the armies of the King of Prussia and of the Russian Tsar, and that no bullet would harm them.
The Miracle Worker of Ostrolenka convinced other rabbis to accept his opinion, including Rabbi Szlomo of Karlin and Rabbi Mendele of Rymanow. The three of them held unifications, rectifications [kabalistic rituals] and prayers against the Ruler of Greece in Russia.
Also prevalent, however, is the opinion that Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Ladi, the author of the Tanya, conducted a mighty struggle against these three rabbis. In Poland, the Magid of Kuznitz, and the famous Chozeh of Lublin also joined this struggle.
And now there appears a Jew from Ostrolenka by the name of Chaiml Reb Hersz Jankels, the owner of a granary in Kadzid.a (near Ostrolenka), who provided fruits and other goods for Napoleon's headquarters. At the same time, he also voluntarily served as a Russian spy. He listened to conversations of Napoleon's soldiers about the defeat of their lord at the Russian front, and immediately passed the information to the other side of the front This aroused a suspicion in Napoleon that spies had penetrated his headquarters in Ostrolenka. Immediately taking action, he disguised himself as a farmer selling chickens and wandered around the markets. Thus, he noticed that Chaiml always listened to his soldiers' conversations about what was happening at the front. After discovering his whereabouts, Napoleon returned to his headquarters and his royal garb, and immediately decreed a death sentence against Chaiml. But the death sentence was not carried out, because of the miracle of Reb Mendele, the Judge of Ostrolenka.
In the evening, when the first stars appeared in the skies, a messenger from the Magid of Kuznitz came to the Miracle Worker of Ostrolenka, and told him that the Magid of Kuznitz, while reading the portion of Yitro, read the words Thou will surely wear away (Exodus 18:18) Napoleon will fall The same messenger also gave the judge of Ostrolenka a small note, on which was written: Chaim will flee. The Miracle Worker quickly sent for Chaim Reb Hersz Jankels, and told him that he was in great danger, and that he must immediately go wherever his feet would take him.
Right after Chaim fled the city, the Polish Marshal, Josef Poniatowski, Napoleon's Chief of Staff in Ostrolenka, came to his house to look for him. He presented the death sentence against Chaim and imprisoned the entire family, who were later miraculously saved.
Chaiml Reb Hersz Jankels disguised himself as a farmer and wandered from city to city and from village to village. His intention was to reach Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Ladi, who was a Chassid of the Ruler of Greece. A similar fate befell him, as well he was also forced to hide from Napoleon, when it became known to the Emperor that he was awaiting his defeat. Chaiml had the privilege of meeting the Rabbi of Ladi the day before the latter died, in a village near the city of Poltawa, on 28 December 1812, when Napoleon fled from Moscow.
In Chassidic folklore, in the books: Eser Orot (tales of saintly persons) Piotrkow, 1899, 1900; Niflaot HaYehudi (tales of the Holy Jew of Przysucza, Warsaw, 1924) and in Ravid HaZahav (tales of the Magid of Kuznitz, Lodz, 1934), there are stories about the disagreements between the rabbis about Napoleon. In Martin Buber's book, Gog and Magog, these facts are presented, in part, in the guise of belles-letters. The miracle tale appears in a more successful manner in the description of Y. Achi-Shem, who tells of this amazing event in a realistic and detailed way.
It is not known when the city of Ostrolenka was built. There are traces of it from the 16th century. Historical sources report that King Boleslaw II divided the area among his sons. From pictures which remain, it seems that the area of Ostrolenka fell into the hands of Zomobytan III.
In 1502, Konrad Mazowiecki established a craftsmen's guild. In 1563, a fire broke out that destroyed almost all of Ostrolenka.
Documents from 1826 indicate that Ostrolenka was a poor city of three hundred and sixteen houses, only fifteen of which were brick. The number of inhabitants
in the city at the time was approximately 2,562. Of them, 480 were Jews. One hundred and forty-two of them worked in agriculture. The rest were tradesmen and merchants. In the city, there was the factory of Bursztejn (amber).
Inhabitants by profession in 1826: 24 bakers, leather stitchers 3, carpenters 17, millers 3, tanners 3, milliners 2, shoemakers 33, butchers 17, tailors 17, tinsmiths 7, welders 3, barrel makers 3, engravers 2, watchmaker 1, rope makers 1, oil makers 8, glaziers 2, merchants 2, grocers 9, etc.
Ostrolenka developed greatly between 1878-1896, when construction began in the city on barracks for three regiments of the Russian Tsar, and additional structures for the army. The construction of the Ostrolenka-Malkin, Ostrolenka-Lomza-Warsaw railway caused even greater development.
According to records from 1860, there were only 192 houses. Among 3,460 inhabitants, 1,130 Jews were found. In 1895, there were 7,760 inhabitants. The number of Jews and the number of houses is unknown because records were lost.
From records of 1826-1860, we see that in 34 years, the number of Jews grew from 480 to 1,130 inhabitants. If these numbers are to be considered accurate, how can the increase in the number of Jews during that period be understood? Questions also arise as to the areas in which they lived and their influence on the building of the city.
There are several opinions about the number of Jews in Ostrolenka (Jews in Ostrolenka and compensation after the war from 1843 Geographical-
Mathematical Dictionary of M. Wizhowski: publication). Among all the data, there is no great difference in the numbers. From them, we derive that the influence of the Jews in the city was prevalent in two periods. A until the Revolution. B after the Revolution.
The period until the Revolution (in 1831) included a long interlude of a few hundred years, although we do not know the number of Jews and their condition at that time. It may be said that at the end of the 18th century, the situation of the Jews was strong, and they were an investment factor in all sorts of construction, dams, water mills, metal work, smithies At the end of the 18th century, middle-class Jews having capital dealt in forest industries, such as tar, potash, coal, transporting wooden beams by river. There is no doubt that this type of Jew greatly influenced the economic life in the city and its vicinity, especially on the right side of the River Narew in the direction of Kadzid.a. There were broad echelons of small grocers and tradesmen in Ostrolenka. Most of the Jews lived in the city. We cannot tell more, despite the number of Jews that were there then.
Based on ethnographic material, it can be confirmed that, at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, the Jews' dealings were both within the city and in the country. Everything that was manufactured, all merchandise, was sold by wandering peddlers or bartered with country farmers in milk and honey.
The increase in Jews after the Revolution was a phenomenon of many forms, and was also connected to the capitalistic method. At any rate, I had particular guidelines, as a result of Ostrolenka's historical past.
It may be added that, after the borders between Prussia and Russia were determined, Ostrolenka was a major center for smuggling people, horses, fabrics and all kinds of industrial products. At the same time, local trade also expanded. Financial volume increased from 1830-1864, and proceeds from smuggling reached such proportions that they appeared in official statistics. It should be noted that during the same period, rustics did not throng to the city to add to the number of tradesmen, small merchants and market merchants. From this, we may derive an impression of the conditions that, in a short time, brought about the increase of Jews in the city.
How did the increase in inhabitants influence the city's construction plans? When a special area was allocated from the municipal area, a special quarter was set aside for the Jews. Was there then an intention to create a partition between the Jewish and Christian inhabitants? We do not know to what extent this was implemented. Relying on documentation of construction in the city at the end of the nineteenth century, and all the city's planning programs from 1878-1886, as well as construction plans today, it may be determined that the Jewish inhabitants lived in a crowded conditions in all the streets between the market and the square where fairs were held, along Kilinskaga Street and in the area of the milk market, except for the same street in the direction of the church. The eastern boundary of the Jewish residents was Warinsky Street. The southern side did not develop by construction, even after the construction of the Lomza-Ostrolenka-Malkin railway line, as well as after the building of the railway station 6 kilometers from the city (pages 32-33).
From 1917-1918, the city acquired an electricity network and a road to the village of Chodak. In 1915, the number of inhabitants was 14,000, among them 6,000 Jews (it is accepted that the number relates to the time before the transfer of Jews because of the battles). These settlements belonged to the city: Wojciechowice, Antonia, Lazy, Byalobel, Lang, Lazek and Pudziechna (page 32).
At the time of the German occupation during World War I, the following schools were in operation in the city: a three class school for Polish children (2 teachers). Another school for Jewish children, 30 heders (see page 33).
The years 1939-1945 brought tragic events in the history of the city's Jewish inhabitants. The murder of nearly all the Jews, the destruction of the economic system, the expulsion of part of the Christian inhabitants and the annexation to the German Reich (Scharfenwissa). The Germans gained control of buildings that served them for governmental purposes. Houses built of wood were all burned (page 33).
|In the new market (now 1st May Square)||(Original from A. Katzina)|
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