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[Pages 113 - 114]

Yisrael Kotzker Goes with
the Rebbe to Find the Snail

Israel Kantor (Haifa)

(Rabbi Reb Gershon Hanoch and the Gabbai (treasurer) Yisrael Kotzker travel to Italy to search for the Tchelet (azure dye) snail-- as I heard about it from my father Yaakov Ben Yisroel Kantor z“l). Yisroel Kotzker HaGabbai (The Treasurer)-that was his nickname and that is what the Chassidim called him because he came from nearby Kotzk. His duties in the Court of the distinguished Rabbi Reb Gershon Hanoch in Radzyn were important and respectable, because in those days the Court was a sort of miniature state in which he filled the jobs of both the Prime Minister and all of the other ministers. First he was the treasurer and responsible for running the money raising campaigns and collecting the money. This was a very delicate task and had to be carried out with wisdom, diplomacy and tact because it was important to know from whom and how much. to take. After all it could not be expected that the Rabbi himself should be involved in such mundane matters. In addition, the Gabbai had to balance the expenses of the Rabbi and his family, maintaining the house and courtyard, receiving guests, etc.

His second function was to act as a sort of Minister of the Interior for both the religious and civil administration. His third function was, what is called, in these days, Chief of Protocol .He was the one who decided who would be first to meet the Rabbi, who would sit next to the Rabbi at the table, and who would be honored by being called up to read from the Torah etc. Tact, diplomacy and good relations with everyone were the necessary characteristics of the person who filled these positions. Therefore, it was not surprising that when the strange idea of going out into the world to search for the “Techelet” snail occurred to the Rabbi, his Gabbai, Reb Yisroel Kotzker, should accompany him.

I do not know how the idea was conceived or how it came to fruition, but one can imagine what a great a stir this daring idea created. It caused ferment and clashes between friends and enemies between Chassidim (Followers) and Misnagdim (Opponents) and even among his own followers. How is it possible for the Rebbe to go out into the non Jewish world, to countries that are strange to him, among peoples whose language is foreign to him and to be absent from his court and from his disciples and from Jews for such a long time? What about observing kashruth? What will he eat and what will he drink? If at least he definitely knew where he could find the snail! On one hand, there was the healthy logic of his Chassidim and on the other, that of the Rebbe who stuck to his plan.

Even today, with the perspective of seventy- eighty years, it is difficult to picture these two Jews going from city to city, from village to village, mostly by wagon, since there were not always railways, dressed in their Chassidic attire, with the Shtreimel (fur edged hat) and black Capote (long garberdine coat). It is hard to imagine their tribulations while searching for places where they could find kosher food and a safe place to stay.

Try to imagine them after reaching Italy, their destination, wandering around morning after morning for many months. How strange they must have appeared to the non-Jews who saw these two going a back and forth along the seashore, stooping down from time to time to search for something, day after day? They ate only bread that they baked themselves and drank water only from their own utensils.

When, after many tribulations they finally found the location of the snail from which the desired Techelet could be extracted, they enlisted the help of the local non-Jews in gathering it up. When they accumulated a sufficient number of sacks, they loaded them onto wagons and returned to Radzyn. That was no small accomplishment going from Italy to Radzyn by wagon, carrying their heavy and holy cargo. Imagine how they looked when they returned to Radzyn after such an exhausting trip and the reception they received from the Chassidim and the reverberations of their accomplishment in the Jewish world.

This however was not the end of the tale. In order to produce the Techelet from the snail it was necessary to perform complicated chemical experiments. For this purpose the Rebbe set up a small factory in his courtyard and he himself found the necessary formulae. There are very few people, even now; who are capable of finding them.

When the Rebbe passed away, people came from far and wide to accompany him to his final resting-place. Reb Yisroel carried out his responsibilities to the very end. It seems that there and then he decided that his tasks in this world were completed. On the day after the Rebbe passed away he too returned his soul to his maker. The Chassidim saw this as sign from heaven and so they buried him next to the Rebbe. There they lie one next to the other Rebbe Gershon Hanoch the discoverer of the Tchelet and his Treasurer Reb Yisroel Kotzker. In life and in death they were never parted.


[Pages 115 - 119]

The Rabbi Who Shook Up Poland

Y.Y. Trunk (The Morgen Journal)

The Radzyner Rabbi, Reb Gershon –Chanoch, carried on a single handed crusade against all the rabbis and respectable Jews of Poland concerning the Blue Tzitzes (ritual fringes} and the Chilazon (snail) fish which he had discovered in the Mediterranean Sea, He was a grandson of the famous rabbi Reb Mordechai-Yosef from Izbitzeh.

Reb Mordechai –Yosef was one of the first and most important of the Kotzker Chassidim. He did something that was very unique in the whole history of the Chassidic Movement. Chassidism was based on the authority of the Tzadik (Revered Rabbi) and the belief in him and his good deeds. On Simchat Torah of 1840, Reb Mordechai-Yosef rebelled openly against his Rabbi from Kotzk. The rebellion took place in Kotzk itself while the Kotzker Rabbi was still alive. Reb Mordechai-Yosef declared himself Rebbe and demonstratively left the court accompanied by almost all of the Chassidim who were in Kotzk for the holiday. They left together without even saying good bye to the Kotzker Rabbi and went to Mordcai-Yosef's hometown Izbitzeh.There he set up his own rabbinical court.

This revolt was shrouded in great mystery, and Polish Chassidim did not stop talking about it. Reb Mordechai-Yosef was of a restless, temperamental nature. The main reason for his revolt was as follows: The Kotker Rabbi carried his individualism to such a degree that he began avoiding people and became unusually scathing. He locked himself into his room and rarely allowed any Chassidim to come in. His words sounded like biting aphorisms that bristled with deep contempt for human wisdom. The wildest rumors spread about the Kotzker's “shut in” years. These unusual contradictions in the Kotzker's ways strengthened his authority and mythical powers among some of his followers. Even the more shadowy sides were transformed into great hidden lights. When they were near him, they felt as if they were in seventh heaven, despite the fact that seven locks closed this heaven to them. They saw in the Kotzker's behavior mysterious holy ways far from the understanding of ordinary mortals but with great symbolic meaning. Some of the Chassidim, however, could not and did not want to understand the secretive old Kotzker Rabbi. They were particularly opposed to his withdrawal from any close relationships with his Chassidim. By his every step he displayed his fear of the wider world. Many of his followers among the Kotzker Chassidim became uneasy. They began to feel sharp pangs of dissatisfaction, as if they were sheep without a shepherd. The essence of Chassidism was based on a very strong feeling of brotherhood.

As I have already mentioned, the Izbitzer (Reb Mordechai-Yosef) was of a restless and colorful nature. On top of that, he was a great conversationalist who loved to carry on discussions preaching Chassidism. He maintained a very brotherly relationship with his fellow Chassidim and was always full of chassidic enthusiasm. He thought that he had been ordained by heaven to leave the Kotzker Rabbi and to become the leader of these neglected Chassidim.

We have very little information about that period and just how this very unusual. Izbitzer's revolution was prepared. This dissatisfaction and the absence of Kotzker hospitality alone were enough to create this revolutionary atmosphere For his part, Reb Mordechai-Yosef did everything he could to make this dismal atmosphere even more depressing. Being a master conversationalist, his discussions with the Kotzker Chassidim, who came to him with curiosity and yearning, had great influence on them.

From the Kotzker study hall came strange undenied rumors that served to electrify the atmosphere and upset his already uneasy followers. Very unpleasant stories circulated that surely did not fit reality since the Kotzker Rabbi, an outstanding scholar, still remained very orthodox.

Whatever the reason, mutiny was in the air. On Simchat Torah, after the meal, Reb Mordechai-Yosef with the congregation that was in Kotzk went down to the Wieprez River that lay behind town. It was here that the Reb Mordechai-Yosef often carried on discussions with groups of his followers. The discussions that Reb Mordechai-Yosef carried on that Simchat Torah on the banks of the river with his followers must have been very pointed and decisive. What was demanded was action, namely breaking all the ties with the Kotzker Rabbi. Reb Mordechai-Yosef was the victor, his demands were met. When he came home with his followers that evening, everyone knew that on the morrow it would happen. The Kotzker would be abandoned and left by himself without a living soul. A new doctrine was kindled in Izbitzeh.

This is how it happened. The next morning, after the end of the holiday, Reb Mordechai Yosef with all of his followers left Kotzk for Izbitzeh without taking leave of the Kotzker Rabbi.

The news of the revolt in Kotzk spread rapidly to all Kotzker shtibles (study huts) in Poland. Almost all of the Chassidim were going over to Izbitzeh. Interestingly enough, the majority of those who left drifted back to Kotzk later, one by one, .It turned out that the daring step taken by the Izbitzer Rabbi had exceeded his capabilities. He became exhausted and began to falter. Those Kotzker Chassidim who had joined him began to desert him. They broke because the Kotzker Rabbi 's renewed internal authority.The majority returned to Kotzk and became even more devout Kotzker followers than they had been before they left. The Kotzker Rabbi's eccentricity now became very attractive to them. The whole revolution resulted in the creation of yet another chassidic sect, Izbitzeh, which later moved over to Radzyn. Mordechai Yosef no longer played the important role he had played in Kotzk, that of being the head of opposition.

When Reb Mordechai-Yosef passed away his son Reb Yaakov took over the Izbitzer throne. He had none of his father's characteristics. Reb Yaakov was of a quiet, lyric- poetic disposition. His book, “Beis Yaakov” is one of the most enchanting books in all the literature describing the spirit of Chassidism.

Much of the characteristics of Reb Mordechai-Yosef reappeared again in his grandson, Reb Gershon-Chanoch. He lacked some of the mystical enthusiasm and the visionary Kabalistic view of everything that characterized his grandfather. He was his antithesis; Reb Gershon-Chanoch was a thoroughgoing rationalist .He did however inherit his very combative nature. Reb Gershon- Chanoch's temperament did not have the proper surroundings for expressing itself and what bothered him most was that he was not equal to his grandfather. He wanted to be new, original and subversive. Gershon Chanoch provoked fierce opposition This, however, did not frighten him. He always undertook audacious projects. For example: As is well known, the Mishnah (a collection of post-Biblical laws) has six Sedorim (the Orders into which the Mishnah is divided) of which only four have their own Gomorra (Commentary) Reb Gershon Chanoch undertook the gigantic task which should have required the work of many generations. He wrote and published one Masechta (Tractate) .The Rabbis admired the audacity of this undertaking.

Then Reb Gershon Chanoch did another thing that exploded like a bomb. In the Talmud there is a passage saying that the blood of the Chilazon (snail}, from which the blue color used in dying only one of the eight Tzitzit (fringes of the prayer shawl), floats up onto the surface of the Mediterranean Sea only once in 70 years. One must have great expertise to know the exact hour of its appearance in order to catch it. This was one of the secrets known only to the High Priests in the Temple and was lost after its destruction. The subsequent generations were forced to do without the blood of the Chilazon in the same way that they had been forced to relinquish animal sacrifice.

The news that a dye producing fish is found in the Mediterranean Sea, especially in the Gulf of Naples, reached Reb Gershon-Chanoch in Radzyn. Nowadays this type of dye-fish is found in every major aquarium. Gershon Chanoch did not hesitate. He betook himself to Naples. There he saw the dye fish and declared that it is the long sought after Chilazon.

Once again Reb Gershon Chanoch caused a great stir. He astonished the Jewish World, this time with something that simply did not seem logical. How could this be the same Chilazon that appears only once in seventy years and that only the High Priests in the Temple knew how to anticipate their appearance and to catch them? Reb Gershon Chanoch showed that the Chilazon fish that he had brought all the way from Italy carried a blue dye in its gills. This would make all the other fringes unkosher. This caused the polemic against the snail to turn loud and acrimonious.

Reb Gershon Chanoch was not the type of person who could be easily frightened off. He appeared in person and in print to defend his daring discovery. He attacked the whole world with erudite casuistry using quotations from the Talmud and from Later Sages and other authorities, to prove that he was correct. A tremendous controversy flared up in the Polish rabbinical world with the followers of Reb Gershon Chanoch on one side and all the other Chassidic and Rabbinical world on the other. On the command of Reb Gershon-Chanoch, all of his Chassidim began to wear blue Tzitzit. They were attacked and even beaten by the other Chassidim, especially by those from Ger who were followers of the Kotzk dynasty and who vigorously opposed Reb Gershon Chanoch. Gloom covered those Polish shtetls where there were followers of Reb Gershon Chanoch. Some were denied a livelihood. Women divorced their husbands and whole families broke up. There was great ferment. The written and vocal diatribes against the Rebbe however, had no effect on Reb Gershon-Chanoch. He remained convinced that this was the genuine Chilazon. He aimed his attacks mostly against the followers of the Rebbe from Ger. The Gerer dynasty was of direct descent from Kotzk. This may have been the psychological motive which drove Reb Gershon Chanoch to take up the struggle so as to be equal to his grandfather.

The only rabbinical authority in Poland that Reb Gershon Chanoch acknowledged as being higher than himself, and from whom he swallowed many a bitter pill, was Reb Yehoshua'le Kutner. He accepted everything from him both pleasant and unpleasant. He would often come to visit Reb Yehoshua'le with respect and circumspection

When travelling to Tshechotshinek for a health cure he would always stop in at Reb Yehoshua'le Kutner. Reb Gershon-Chanoch would not wear the usual fur-lined coat worn by “respectable Jews” but instead wore the plain grey traveling coat. In this too he was different. The Polish Rabbis and “respectable Jews” put great emphasis on the traditional forms of attire.

This was Reb Gershon-Chanoch. He was an individualist who always went his own way. In every detail he showed the uniqueness of his nature and shook up the Chassidic world.


[Page 120]

The Rabbi and the Colonel

by M. Ben-Shmuel (Tel Aviv)

It happened in the time when the Czar of Russia ruled over all of Poland including our shtetl. For strategic reasons the Russians built military barracks to house soldiers. Among them were some thirty Jewish recruits who came from far away Russian districts, some of whom were members of the military band. In their free time some of them would come to the shtetl to spend time among Jews enjoying being in Jewish surroundings. The permanent meeting place was by Yaakov Fligel the Cantor's house.

One time on Passover Eve, when the military authorities released them to spend the holiday among Jews, the late Reb Mordechai Yosef invited them to the Seder with the Chassidim. When they returned to the barracks after the holiday their colonel, the battalion commander wanted to know how they had spent their holiday among the Jews. When they told him that they had all been invited to the Rabbi, where food and drink were plentiful and that they had all sat around one table, he found this very unusual. How could they have prepared food for thirty people in a private home, and what about the cost? The Colonel was so impressed by this unusual event that he immediately ordered the band to go to the Rabbi's court after the holiday to express his thanks for the hospitality extended to the soldiers, and so that the joyful Jews of the town could be entertained by military music!

The colonel accompanied the orchestra as did the officers and their wives and all of them together enjoyed the whole evening. The Chasidim were very excited and Zalmen Dematshever, a happy Jew was especially excited by the unusual visit. In a moment of excitement, he quickly poured a bucket of water on the floor (a way of making it easier to dance on a wooden floor) and broke out gracefully in a dance to the accompaniment of the military band.

From that evening on a friendship was created between the Rabbi and the Colonel and they met often. Through the influence of the Colonel, the Russian priest of the town was drawn into the group. Since the priest knew how to speak Hebrew, the conversations between the priest and the Rabbi took place in that language. When this became known in shtetl the Jews saw it as a sign of the coming of the Messiah. “It is no small matter, that the priest speaks the Holy Tongue!”.

(As told by Henichel Appleboim).


[Pages 122-123]

From Those Days

by M. Ben Shmuel (Tel Aviv)

In the days when Reb Mordechai Yosef lived in Radzyn, his Chassidim who lived there near him and were directly influenced by him were not conspicuous in their zealotry, their outer dress, or their everyday life style as was customary in other places.

This is the way they lived in the town most of the year. However when holidays, especially the High Holidays approached, and Chassidim came to the Rabbi from many other places, they stood out in their dress, their behavior and were more fanatical about everything. The guests usually looked down on the local Chassidim as being lenient in observing the commandments, deviating from straight and narrow path and being undisciplined. On those days in which Chassidim from all over streamed into the city a typical Chassidic atmosphere enveloped the town.

The addition of a large group Chassidim to the town created certain tensions between the guests and the local inhabitants especially between the youth, and the children of the local Chassidim. The visitors queried: How do they dare to make changes in the accepted life style by shortening their earlocks, reducing the length of their long coats and shaving beards that have just begun to grow? The visitors often brought pressure to bear on the Rabbi not to be so lenient toward the youth who visited the Beth Hamedrash of the Chassidim and who had become immoral. This pressure created tension and disorder as well as turmoil in the social life of the young people.

As has been noted, the young local Chassidim began to display signs of slackening in the observance of the accepted customs. However, since they were still tied to their parents, they continued frequenting the Beth Hamedrash on Sabbath and holidays to study a chapter in the Gomorra which began to serve as camouflage for reading the newspaper. (The reading of newspapers was still considered a deviation from the straight and narrow path.) Some of the fanatics could not accept this situation and a violent struggle broke out which even led to blows being exchanged and expulsion from the Bait Hamedrash. (This was a very radical step.) The youth, despite their being freed in spirit from the influence of Chassidism, fought obstinately for their right to frequent the Bait Hamedrash of the Radzyner Chassidim.

With the normal Jewish social development, these young people who were children and grandchildren of passionate Chassidic parents, were captivated by the different youth movements that became the basis of the national and the social movements. They joined them bringing with them their inherited ardor.


[Page 123]

The Golden Chain

by Leib Rochman

The Golden Chain of the Radzyn Rabbinical dynasty that spread over many generations was broken off in the days of Reb Shloime'le, the last of the Lainers.

For three years Hitler's gangs stormed through Poland. In the spring of 1942 the news spread of the destruction of the Jews under all sorts of terrible circumstances.

Reb Shloime'le, the last of the Radzyn dynasty, was unable to rest. He locked himself up and did not allow anyone in. The strange sounds that issued from his room tore the hearts of his household. In a few days he changed so, that he was unrecognizable.

When his beadle opened the door one morning, a resolute Reb Shloime'le stood before him. It was recognizable that the Rabbi had new strength and courage reflected in his eyes. He ordered that some of his closest and most important Chassidim should be summoned quickly. He remained locked up with them for a long time. What they talked about, no one knew. Only later the news flashed like lightning among the Chassidim: ”The Rabbi orders everyone to go into the forest to join the Partisans in their resistance! ”

Special messengers carried the Rabbi's message from settlement to settlement, from ghetto to ghetto. They talked about it in whispered voices and the Chassidim began to prepare secretly. Reb Shloime'le then ordered that all Jews fast, rent their garments, remove their shoes and lament before the Almighty. However the news was leaked to the exterminators that” the Radzyner Rabbi…partisans…fast …etc.” everything that should be said in a denunciation.

The next morning the Chassidim learned that the Gestapo was looking for the Rabbi. In the morning they hired a carriage with a good team of horses and sent the Rabbi, by all sorts of back roads, to Waldawa near the Bug River that divided Poland from Russia. Waldawa was a city in which there were many Chassidim who were followers of the Rabbi. The Rabbi was hidden by one of those followers. The Gestapo searched for him for weeks but could not find him.

Suddenly in the middle of a bright day, a grayish green uniformed gang with wild red faces surrounded the ghetto. They set up machine guns as if preparing for battle. The Jews became alarmed and began to think about hiding in cellars or attics, but before they could do anything, firing started from all directions and dozens of holy Jews were lying dead in the streets. At the same time a fat red face appeared at the Judenrat and announced that if the Radzyner Rabbi was not handed over they would shoot all the Jews. Entreaties would not help. A Chassid came running and threw himself on the floor of the front room of the Rabbi's house and wailed: “For Heaven's sake Jews, we are damned. They want the Rabbi and if they don't get him that will be the end of all the Jews.”

For a moment all were silent, everyone sat stiffly and silently. Suddenly the sound of the voice of the old Reb Yaakov Wolf, the beadle, was heard. ”Silence Jews! Do not speak loudly so that the Rabbi does not hear. I will go. I am now the Radzyner Rabbi!”

No one uttered a word. Reb Yaakov Wolf quickly took out the prayer shawl and robe from the velvet bag and said to the Chassid: ”Go quickly so that they will stop the shooting. The' Rabbi' will come soon.”

The Chassid slipped out of the house and Reb Yaakov Wolf disappeared shortly after him. Later Reb Yaakov was seen on the Mikveh (the ritual bath) street. After he had immersed himself quickly, seven times in the bath, he drew on the prayer shawl with the fringes over his shirt, put on his outer garments, and recited the Vidui (Confession) prayer. Then the old sexton and Chassid Reb Yaakov Wolf went to the market place and turned himself in to the villains.

Laughter echoed through the market. The red faces beamed with satisfaction. Later a single shot announced to all the Jews in the cellars and attics that the Reb Yaakov Wolf had breathed his last breath in purity and holiness.


The secret of Rabbi Yaakov Wolf's tragic death and martyrdom did not reach Reb Shloime'le from Radzyn for many weeks. However the Gestapo's intelligence did find out about it. Suddenly on one clear day the barbarian gangs with machine guns again surrounded the Jewish section of Waldawa by the Bug River. Again there were new martyrs lying in the streets. The Gestapo informed the Yudenrat that they knew about the ruse. They knew exactly what the Radzyner Rabbi looked like and in case of deceit all the Jews would be shot without exceptions.

The town was dark. The Chassidim thought about what to do, but there was little time left. Every minute brought new victims. A group of the older Chassidim got together and knocked on the Rabbi's door, went into his room with fear and trembling and stood there in complete silence.

Reb Shloime'le who was seated with his face to the table turned around to the door and seeing the Chassidim with their pale and darkened faces, jumped up:

” Tell me quickly! Is there more bad news?”

They all sobbed out ”Holy Rabbi, Holy Rabbi”

“Tell me immediately” said the Rabbi as his heart beat quickly.

”Holy Rabbi!” all of them sobbed “We are in gloom “Yankel Wolf's sacrifice was not accepted.”

“What?”

“They want the Rabbi!” the elders sobbed. “They want the Rabbi as a sacrifice.”

“Me ?” The Rabbi barely managed to say.

“Yes. They have been searching for you for a long time here in Waldawa. There have already been victims. So Yaakov Wolf went and told them that he is Radzyner Rabbi. We thought that would bring calm. Now it seems there has been an informer and there are many more victims. They want the Rabbi! If not, they are ready to murder and kill” The old Jews sobbed like small children “Oh Holy Rabbi.”

The Rabbi became white as chalk. He stayed silent for a while and then said. ”I have been ready for this for some time. But Yaakov Wolf…one must be ready for such trials. But Yaakov Wolf …if that is God's will…”.

The Rabbi began to run around the room from corner to corner murmuring to himself: “It is a great thing to be a sacrifice to God. Not everyone experiences it. Our parents never experienced it as my Yaakov Wolf did.”

One of the elders dropped down to the Rabbi's feet- ”Holy Rabbi.“

“Yes“ the Rabbi said as he turned aside “Yes we must go quickly to prevent further victims.”

He ran from corner to corner as if looking for something while mumbling. Was the Rabbi praying, or making a confession, or just telling his forefathers that the Lainers' Golden Chain was severed?

It did not take long .He dipped seven times in the Mikveh, put on his white Izbetzeh linen robe and the prayer shawl with the wide collar and the first blue fringe that belonged to his grandfather and his father's caftan. Then Reb Shloime'le turned himself over to the tainted hands. The sound of a shot announced that the last of the Lainer's Golden Chain had been gathered unto his forefathers.


[Pages 127-128]

The Unbroken Blue Chain

by Mordechai Tannenbaum (Tel Aviv)

When one enters the synagogue during the services one can sometime see among the worshippers some who have a blue thread in the fringes of their prayer shawls. These are the Chasidim from Radzyn, a small town in Poland whose remarkable rabbi, the late Reb Gershon Henich Lainer, was the first to renew the commandment of including a blue thread in the fringes of the prayer shawl. This commandment had been forgotten for most the Exile. According to the laws of the Torah, one blue thread should be included among the eight threads of the fringes. This thread was dyed in the blood of a snail that that is found on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. However, the long wanderings of the Jews from place to place made it very difficult to obtain the snail and the commandment of the blue thread was neglected.

The late Reb Gershon Henich, who was one of the great geniuses of his time and also a man of science with very original ideas, was very doubtful of fringes without a blue thread. He decided to correct the situation. It took a lot of effort until he achieved his goal .He made many trips to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea till he found the snail that is described in the Mishnah and by Maimonides. Once he found the snail many difficulties presented themselves as the blood of the snail was black, and it was not easy to produce the blue dye. Therefore the rabbi set up a laboratory, and after a number of attempts, he succeeded in producing the blue dye. Thousands of his Chassidim began wearing the blue thread in their prayer shawls. Among them were the Breslav Chassidim whose rabbi Reb Nachman foresaw the revival of the wearing of the blue thread and instructed his followers to do so in the writings that he left.

This innovation created a stir in Chassidic and Torah circles, which was echoed in the questions and answers of the rabbis and even reached Hebrew literature. With the outbreak of World War Two and the execution of the last Radzyn Rabbi Reb Shmuel Shlomo z'l (May he rest in peace), the grandson of Reb Gershon Henich z'l, by the Nazis, the source of the blue dye dried up and the blue thread became rare.

Right after the end of World War Two, Radzyner Chassidim in Israel made a serious effort to renew the production of the blue dye. Unfortunately, no one was left alive of those who had participated in making the dye. However, after many attempts, a snail was found on the beaches near Haifa that suited the description in the books by the Radzyner Rabbi However, they ran into many problems. The blood was enclosed in a special sheath and it was necessary dissolve the blood before dying because the blood became hard as stone when removed from the sheath. After it was dissolved it became necessary to boil it with different acids that cleansed it until the blue color appeared. . The Radzyn Chassidim applied to the chemists of the Hebrew University, the Weitzman Institute and other laboratories to accomplish this. Lo and behold! What the Radzyner Rabbi accomplished with primitive methods, these chemists were unable to accomplish with their sophisticated equipment. In the end they gave up and unanimously decided that it was impossible.

The Radzyner Chassidim did not give up easily and eventually achieved their goal when Mr. Shpizeisen, a Radzyner Chassid, immigrated to Israel. He had worked in the dying trade for twenty-five years, had fled to Russia when the war broke out and ran a chemical enterprise. When he arrived in Israel he confidently spent nights and days performing many experiments and finally saw results! At a festive ceremony in which the Mayor of Jerusalem Mr. S.Z. Shragai, himself a Radzyner Chassid participated, he triumphantly displayed the results. The snail was cut open, the blood was boiled and liquefied and after the addition of acids a thread from the fringes was dipped in while the spectators waited very tensely to see the results. Behold! The mayor of Jerusalem removed a glistening blue thread! It is hard to describe the joy of all those present who recited the Shechionu (thanksgiving prayer) and who saw this as a sign that 'the Blue Chain 'remained intact. (From Hebrew daily 'Maariv')


[Page 131]

In Your Streets Radzyn

Yitzchak Cnaanii (Kopeck) (Tel-Aviv)

Seven days of travelling on land sea and a period of over twenty years, that is the distance that separates you from me, Radzyn the place where I was born. Through those 20 years in which men's nations' and the world's fate unfolds, you rise and appear before my eyes in all your clarity, alive- as if I left you only yesterday. It's enough to close my eyes for a moment, to feel you with all my being. The smell of the endless forests, the green fields with the tall grain, the ancient palace with the croaking of the frogs in the ponds surrounding it, the quiet stream, that passed by its side- all this is your exterior fabric, in which your dignity dwells. And inside?

At the crossroads close to the town stands a post and on it arrows pointing in three directions: 27 km to Lukow; 18 km to Kotzk; 1 1/2 km to Radzyn. I will not linger on the rest of the neighboring towns like Miedzyrzec, Czermierniki, Wohyn, Komarowka and others that also contributed their share in shaping Jewish life in the whole region. I will start my tour at the sawmill. Since my late father was a dealer in lumber and wood, I often visited there, and it made a deep impression on me. The two large bench saws swallowed up giant logs and noisily spewed out boards and planks which were sorted into neat piles. Most of the laborers who performed these tasks were non-Jews, but I only remember the two Jews, Michael Rosenfeld and Shmuel Fast who worked there for many years. They typified the hard working Jewish day laborer and played an important role in the slogans about proletarianism, productivisation etc. that so influenced us, the Pioneer Youth of those days.

Mostly Christians populated the outskirts of the town, although there were a few Jews among them. The town itself began with the theater building, which because of its size stood out among the other buildings even though it, too, was built of wood. Inside there was a roomy auditorium with a large stage and backstage area. I remember the first motion picture show after word got around that “at the “Luzion” they are showing snow, despite the fact that today is a summer's day.” The stage was used mostly by school and other amateur dramatic groups. This is the place to mention two very theatrically talented people: Motel Vineapple and Hannibal Appleboim (who is with us in Israel) who showed great initiative in this field. They kept the town in a state of theatrical tension for most of the year. For weeks and sometime for months various parties and groups prepared plays. This was followed by the sale of tickets (the income was devoted to good causes) and finally to the performance itself and the discussions that followed it. They performed Shalom Aleichem, Peretz Hirshbein, Ansky and others. I cannot summarize this section on the theater without mentioning the Purim Shpiel “The Sale of Joseph” which was performed by the shoemakers and of which they were very proud.

The Polish Library was the other institution on this part of the street which attracted young people and some of the Polish speaking Jewish intelligentsia. I remember two small rooms, one of which served as a sort of waiting room with a large picture of Jesus on the wall. The other room's walls were covered with books with black bindings. The librarian, a pleasant looking Christian woman, was dressed in black as if to say: “My books and I are one.”

Across the street and behind the city hall there was a big blue building, the Rabbi's house. Rabbi Fine was a very respectable looking figure in his turban, who, standing next to his short wife who wore pincnez glasses and a long black elegant coat, commanded respect. From here on, the population consisted only of Jews living in small wooden houses on both sides of Warszawska Street. I will point out a few of them. There is the building that housed a mangle. The women would drag heavy bundles of clothes on their backs to be ironed by the heavy weight of a wooden box filled with stones while at the same time exchanging the latest gossip. They told a story about the owner of the house, Reshke'le, whose husband went out one evening to close the shutters and disappeared. A few months later she got a letter from him from America. Her partner in the lot was Eliyahu Haim Tennenboim the builder. Despite the fact that his son and daughters were members of the Bund (Jewish Socialist Party), we respected him for being one of the two or three builders who actually built houses. In the next yard, they produced oil which they sold in a store at the front of the house. Two girls who lived in this house immigrated to Israel. Their brother was the last Jew to leave Radzyn. After experiencing the Nazi tribulations and long wandering, he finally reached Israel. Next to their house stood that of Dr. Petrolivich. This was a villa built of stone and surrounded by a blue fence covered with an abundance of flowers, vegetation, and trees. All this was guarded by a loyal, gigantic dog who reacted to anyone's touching the fence by barking loudly. We, the children of the adjacent house, were attracted to the doctor's yard because of its cleanliness and beauty even though our own yard was wonderful. It contained flowerbeds, young pine trees, and a patch of varied fruit trees all of which played an important part in the memories of my early youth in my father's house. This is the place to mention our neighbor Beryl-Leib Appeloig, a tall and very unusual person, a man of science, a graduate of the faculty of philosophy of Vavelberg Polytechnic School in Warsaw who lived in the other apartment in our house. He was a member of the city council and gave private lessons. His hobby was scientific books which he read even on his way from his house to the store. Across from our house stood that of Michelovsky, a wooden villa of an unusual style with a large garden with an ornamental pool. This house was purchased by a Jewish family from the village of Vela-Savinska who were forced to move to the city because of a pogrom .By the way the, mayor of the town, who was a drunkard and caused great embarrassment to his wife and children, lived in this house.

A printing press was located in a house near ours, and the sound of the machines could be heard from a distance. After every third thump, a poster or copy of a municipal announcement slid out from under the press. The owner of the press, Yaakov Lazer, a very honorable, reserved person, was a member of the city council and an ardent follower of the Radzyner Rabbi. It was told that his son Yoel was a Communist and when the Russians came close to the town he seized the “keys to the town”. Later, when they retreated, he joined the Russians and disappeared into the wilds of Russia .The next neighbor was a non-Jewish industrious peasant and anti-Semite Pruchnitzky. The picture of him, bare footed, with his pants legs rolled up and a scythe on his shoulder going or returning from the fields cast great fear on us children and has remained engraved in my memory. Behind the house, there was a big lot where the horse traders gathered .It was a very lively place on market days. The meeting with the non Jewish buyers and sellers running up and down with the horses to try them out, the hand shake and beer drinking when the deal was closed, were characteristic of this place.

On the steps in front of this house sat Shuchmacher the Communist, a short thin and terminal sickly looking man usually reading a newspaper. Across the way stood a number of miserable buildings whose walls were whitewashed. Behind them there was a U shaped alley. Among those who lived there, I remember two shoemakers the sound of whose hammers could be heard late into the night. One was Shmuel who had a silent look. The other was the father of Hershe'le the Angel who was always annoyed and angry. I also would like to mention Shoshanah the milkmaid who could be seen dragging her heavy milk cans. My late father's lumberyard was opposite the crosswalk to Ostrowiecka St. Behind it stood Yisroel Hersh Kavebloom's bakery from which the odor of freshly baked bread could be smelled from afar. On Saturday morning there was heavy traffic of women and children who came to take their casseroles of cholent (a bean stew for the Sabbath) from the oven. This bakery was in the home of Reb Yaakov Moshe, a shrewd clever witty Jew. Tzvi Koppelman, the founder and a leader of the Hitachdut (Socialist Zionist Party), lived here too. A joke about him and his fellow worker and party member Uziel Wiesman made the rounds. It was said that they prepared themselves for immigrating to Israel by studying bee- keeping, but instead of immigrating they both got married and continued working in the flower mill. “Instead of immigrating and getting themselves black doing agricultural work, they continued working in the mill and stayed white.” Above, in the attic, lived the Patshek family, a mother with five beautiful daughters. One of them married the well-known artist Moishe Appleboim and settled in Katowice. This house was considered very “romantic”, singing, accompanied by a mandolin, could be heard from afar until late into the night.

By turning ninety degrees to the right, you go up an unpaved road that leads to the barracks used by the soldiers in World War I. Later it housed war refugees and in the end it housed the elementary school run by Balshatziac, a non-Jew who was very knowledgeable about nature. He was a good friend to both his Jewish and non-Jewish students and was a “righteous gentile”. His wife however was an Anti-Semite. Beyond the fence that surrounded the barracks stretched the old, abandoned and neglected Jewish cemetery with its rough stone gravestones. Two graves of famous departed, built in the form of small buildings, stood out. This road passed over a stream on a wooden bridge next to which there were usually many women, up to their knees in water, washing clothes. Near the bridge stood a building that served as a public bathhouse during the German occupation and later became a studio for the fireman's band. On summer afternoons, many Jews could be found bathing in that section of the river between the threshing buildings owned by non-Jews. There was always the danger of clashing with the shkotzim (young non-Jews) who would wait and interfere with our getting out of the water. While we stood there naked, they would attack us with mud and stones from the opposite bank. This usually ended up with one of our boys going naked to the other bank and chasing the fleeing shkotzim thus allowing us to get dressed and leave.

On the left of the bridge there was a green meadow maintained by Reb Mendel (Danilak) who was both bookbinder and farmer. I think he was the first Jewish farmer I ever knew. Beyond the meadow, on a ramp located between two frog filled pools, stood a thatched booth where the finest of Jewish youth gathered on summer evenings to sing and discuss books. An intimate and romantic atmosphere was created that served as the basis for a Zionist youth movement. One who stood out from this group was Pearl Kiettelgisser who worked all day in the large garden (the Rabbi's orchard) preparing herself for working in agriculture in the Land of Israel. She was the first of all the girls to immigrate to Palestine paving the way for many more to follow in her footsteps.

At that time, at the end of World War I, there was a group of “Poele Tzion” (“Workers of Zion”) and “Tzeire Zion” (“The Young of Zion”) that spread the idea of cooperatives. They rented a room in Reb Legible Reichenberg's house, and with instructions from a carpenter began to produce kitchen chairs sold to homeowners. Some time later a co-op food store was started in the same room. An adjacent building housed the “Bund” (“Jewish Socialist Party”) center. Among its outstanding members were Shmuel Itzl Meir Goldes (a leader of the fire brigade), Leitzeh Gelibter and Velvel Tennenboim. Later on Pshenitza and others joined. Yehoshua the builder, a very proud proletarian stove repairman, lived some three lots down from there. From there I remember a women with two orphaned children, blind from birth, who aroused great pity in us and for whom we often served as guides. Further down the road, there was a fenced-in empty lot with a very tall post with rungs going up to the top which served as a look-out post for the fire brigade. On the opposite lot there was a stationery store belonging to Pessach Yehoshua. The door would open accompanied by the ringing of a bell, and only after a few moments a salesperson would appear, either Chanoch or Shmuel or their mother. The store was crammed full of books and stationery, and was the only one of its kind in the town.

A few steps down from there stood the Rabbi's house, court and the Beis Medrash (study hall). Behind it stood a blue hut where the Tchelet (a blue dye used for dying the ritual fringes) was produced. “The big house” stood opposite. The old timers told many tales about that house. I will only mention the darkness in the entrance passageway, which forced you to feel around in the dark to find a door for entering. Different craftsmen lived there: Yisrael the building carpenter, a short Jew with a short rounded beard some of whose pupils are now in Israel and are noted for being good carpenters. Opposite and facing it stood Reb Boruch Hersh Appelboim's house. Women and children came there with their fowl to get a “kvittel” (note) to the shochet (ritual slaughterer). Beyond the lane that led to Ostroweicka St., stood Alter Blichovitz's house. He was short, spoke slowly and had a heavy watch chain across his chest. He was a skilled mechanic who educated all of his sons to be workers. It was a pleasure to watch him wholly concentrated on repairing a sewing machine, the peak of mechanical knowledge by the standards of the town at that time.

The house behind that one belonged to Moishe Berman. The house was very low as compared to its inhabitants who were all very tall. He was a tall, well to do Jew with a white beard and looked very patriarchal as he strode leisurely to the synagogue. What was special about his son, Chanoch, was that he wore a black Russian shirt on weekdays and on holidays and led a very modest life He lived in Israel for a number of years and passed away childless.

The city hall stood opposite. This building was very different from all the others: heavy, gray and built of stone with massive windows. Sometimes the representatives of the Jewish community, Lazar, Appeloig, Z'laza, Greenblatt, Kleinboim and others were seen sitting at the tables inside.

The house of Shvalbeh the photographer, who was known to us youngsters from our class pictures, stood near the city hall. He was the father of Nathan Shvalbeh who was a famous journalist in Poland.

Then came the Christian orphanage, the pharmacy, and the church, which stood in the center of the town and was bordered by the three main streets. Behind the church, in the priest's courtyard there was a well (the priest's pump) famous for its good water. People came from all parts of the city to draw water for brewing tea. Then came the “Midlarnia” the home soap manufacturing workshop. It was a very picturesque place, a low sunken building surrounded by some old wooden huts that stood on wooden posts reflected in the water. By the way, the son of the soap maker, Mendel Lichtenstein, eventually became a famous artist who is now in New York. (A number of his drawings appear in this book). This place, between the huts, attracted many bathers in the summer. To pass this part of the river from the huts to the bridge (“between the posts”) was a sort of swimming test. These were burnt wooden posts sticking up from the water that were left over after a fire destroyed the flourmill that once stood by the river.

The “new” cemetery was located about two kilometers from the city along the road that ran from the further end of the bridge to Czermierniki. This was the source of the curse used by the ordinary people “You should go already on the Czemiernicki road,” meaning to the cemetery. Beyond the bridge there were two giant ponds teeming with frogs whose croaking blended well into the surroundings of rows of ancient trees, the old house of the landlord, and the murmuring of young couples who spent the late summer evenings here. The ponds were intersected by two ramps .One was used for learning to ride bicycles, and the other was sort of the end of the world for us young children. The ramps met on one side with the road to the government hospital, and on the other side they connected up to the palace.

Many legends circulated about this palace. No one knew who built it and when. What was known was that its owner was the wealthy Lord Shlibovsky who was often seen riding through the town in an unusual carriage drawn by two glorious horses. My father told us of the impressions he had of his visits to the lord's house where he went in connection with his buying lumber and other business deals. As mentioned, it was a very ancient building built in the old square style with two giant gates. Eventually it was adapted for use as the district offices. Beyond the palace, in the direction of Miedzyrzec, there was a park that covered an immense area surrounded by a high wall. Inside were thick trees with winding paths between them, and a giant pool that attracted many young people and froze over in the winter. Beyond the wall was the road to Miedzyrzec with its promenade on the one side and the “square” (a sort of municipal garden) on the other, with a closed up Orthodox Church in the center. The high school, the post office, Shlomo the Smith's workshop, Leskovsky's machinery factory and a windmill were located here. The big flourmills were also located here. The owners were three rich Jews from whose wealth the poor also benefited.

The busiest spot was the two market places called “The First Market” and “The Second Market”. A lane filled with small stores connected them. On market days peddlers and merchants from the surrounding towns came here with their stalls, as did the peasants from the neighborhood with their wagons. Together, they completely covered the whole area.

This is the place to mention the stores of Moishe Appeloig who sold cigarettes and tobacco, Kiseleh (Yekutiel) Lichtenstein who sat by the door of his hardware store reading a book while waiting for customers, Ahre'le Lurkis who one bright day switched from being a tobacco merchant to being a textile merchant and Mushkat's restaurant which was patronized mostly by non-Jewish porters since no self respecting person would eat in a restaurant. After that, there were a number of hat shops, one of which was known for making the hat fit the customers head by the hat-maker inserting fingers between the head and the hat so that it was always a perfect fit. Here there were also a number of ready-made clothing shops and Shaul Henich's saloon from which the voices of its drunken customers could be heard

Beyond those buildings were those of the Second Market with two wine shops, that of Yossel Zita and that of Beryl Nachman Laizers who kept the peasants supplied with alcohol. Further along in that row, was Yosef Dovid Wolf's haberdashery store and Itshe Meir Rav Azshes paint store.

Here too, were the stores of Chaim Burker, Beryl Shtrik, David Lomka, and Chaim Gelerman who was an official and delegate of the Jewish National Fund for many years. Across the way, were the storerooms and hardware store belonging to David Lichtenstein and Shimon Kleinboim. This was a very fancy store with a telephone, cashier, and bookkeeper. Laizer “the watchmaker's” (Zigelman) shop stood in the corner of the market. Reb Laizer was a short Jew who was considered an expert in his field and was often invited into homes to service large wall clocks. He also gave great pleasure to the congregation when he read from the Torah on Sabbath and holidays.

Kozia, Szkolno, Kotlarska and Kalen Streets were partly paved roads without sidewalks that branched off from the two marketplaces. Ordinary people, mostly craftsmen, shoemakers, tailors, coachmen, owners of vegetable gardens and the like inhabited these streets. The Bais Medrash (study house), the synagogue, the Hassidic study house, the different cheders (the Jewish religious elementary schools), the public bath house, the school and the fire station were all located here.

I remember the bais medrash and the synagogue from the Sabbaths and holidays when Jews would come there to pray. They were both high stone buildings with large windows that stood out among the low wooden houses and were visible from a distance. The western side of the bais medrash served as a center for the ordinary people: storekeepers, artisans, coachmen, porters, etc. who usually prayed in the first shift. The more “respectable” class of citizens, shopkeepers, merchants and observant Jews who were close to the religious officials, could be seen on the eastern side. An itinerant preacher or a Zionist official from the Jewish National Fund or the Keren Hayesod (Palestine Foundation Fund) would appear there and would be seen the next day going from house to house accompanied by a local official to solicit contributions. The synagogue was used mostly for praying on Sabbaths and holidays. The building was clean and well taken care of, and the atmosphere was festive. I remember the very artistic Torah ark, the colored glass windows and the women's balcony from which sighs or sobs could occasionally be heard. It is worth mentioning by name the various “shtibles” (small prayer huts): “Chevreh Mikra Shtibel” (The Bible Reader's Hut) The Bialer Shtibel (The people from Biala's Hut), the “Kotzker Shtibel” (the followers of the Rabbi of Kotzk), the Artisans Shtibel, etc. The public bathhouse and the mikveh (ritual bath), which was used for ritual immersion, were located behind the synagogue. On Friday evening the “everyday Jews” would gather here on the high benches among the steam vapors uttering groans of satisfaction while flogging themselves with the famous “bezemel” (whiskbroom). The Jews would come in here pale and with a bundle of clothes under their arms and leave clean and with pink cheeks, their sidelocks spread out and wrapped in their capotes (long black coats), a feast for the eyes.

The public toilets, not noted for their cleanliness, were located behind the bathhouse.

The area between Kotlarska and Kozia Streets and the Beis Hamedrash was inhabited mostly by coachmen, porters, shoemakers, and tailors It was covered with wooden huts, abandoned old wagons, and a jumble of buildings, horse stables, barns and chicken coops. The place was impassible for most of the year as everything was immersed in mud that surrounded two puddles of stagnant water covered with green muck. Two shoemakers, Hersh Leib Putzig and Tzalkeh controlled this area. They were both tall Jews, excellent craftsmen who marched in front of the fire brigade parade, and played the leading rolls in the traditional shoemakers performance of “The Sale of Joseph”. Liquor was not uncommon in these houses whose windows were almost on the same level as the earth outside .The moving sounds of Jewish folk melodies being sung or played could be heard late at night accompanied by the banging of hammers.

The different “cheders” (Young boys' religious schools) were an important part of this neighborhood. Here was “Lozer's Cheder” for beginners. He was a broad shouldered red faced man with a long beard who terrified us children. Then there were the “Yossel Glutz's, Itche Kune's and Pinchasel Melamed's Cheder” for advanced students. “Hershel Lipe's Cheder” was for even older students, a sort of institution of “higher education”.

The institution that later succeeded in attracting the majority of the youth was the David Lichtenstein School. It was named in honor of a leader who had been the head of the Jewish community for many years. Here there were a number of teachers dedicated to educating the younger generation and whose mission in life was ensuring the existence of the school. Worthy of mention are Blachovitz who was the first zealot for Hebrew in the town and its flag bearer all his life, Yehoshua Freedman, the Bible teacher, Rachlis, p.143 the math teacher and the language teachers Yehudit and Menucha Lichtenstein and others. The school building was made of wood and was located on Skolno Street. It served as a center for youth many of whom, as members of the youth movements, made their way to Israel. Hebrew courses for adults, dramatic groups, Zionist meetings etc. also took place there. Yehoshua Lichtenstein, one of the leaders of the local Jewish intelligentsia, who exemplified the period, lived in that building.

From the corner of Kotlarska and Kozia St., I can see the house where Yosef Dovid Wolf and Itsche Meir Burshtein lived and in which I was born. (We later moved to Warshavska St.) This house was known for its social and Torah activities. On the bottom story, many visitors and family members could be seen around a long table, carrying on friendly discussions and arguments. Above, on the second story, Reb Itsche Meir could be seen bent over a Gemora with his tobacco box next to him. On Kozia Street, I remember Vinderboim's house with its grocery store that was a center for the young people thanks to all of his children, who belonged to “Hashomer Hatzair”. (“Young Guards” a Zionist youth movement.) There too was Hershel Mandleboim's famous grocery store. He later immigrated to Israel together with his whole family. They were followed by the their neighbors, the family of Chanale the Sticher (Adelman). Here is the place to mention the two shochtim (ritual slaughterers) “the Big Shochet” and the “Small Shochet” whose names suited them.

The offices of the Jewish Community were in a building that stood in a large empty lot on the side. This was the realm of the affluent David Lichtenstein. This house was the center of activities for the Jewish community although not always in close contact with it. Worthy of mention were “perpetual leaders” led by Reb Israel Vinderboim (his grandson Levi Vinderboim served as the secretary of the community for many years). Two other buildings that were located at the end of Kozia St. are worth mentioning. First there was the house of Akiva Rubinshtein with its big garden. He was an aristocrat who had little involvement with the people and with community affairs and was only interested matters of culture and education. The second house was that of Motyia Bashes Katznelbogen, a God fearing, Torah learning Jew, who spent most of his time studying the Talmud and educating his children to traditional Jewish life style. When one of his daughters when on Hachshara (a farm where young people trained for life in Israel) he came there and took her home by force.

The end of Kozia St. was connected to Ostroweicka the main street by an alley. Here at the corner stood Leah'le Klayman's house. She was a widow who owned a nice cigarette and tobacco shop. By the way, her son in law introduced the first taxi into the city that competed with the coachmen who carried passengers to the railroad station. I remember very well the coachmen's glee when he did not know how to start the engine and he had to ask the passers by to push him. The adjacent house belonged to Mendel Klayman. It was a two-story building of unplastered red bricks. The bottom story contained a store that sold kerosene and salt. The peasants, who came into town and sold their produce, (butter grain etc.), would come to this store to stock up on its goods before returning home. The next door was the electric company office. Here one could see Lichtenberg the bookkeeper, a feeble looking Jew who sat bent over his ledgers with a colored pencil stuck behind his ear. The entrance to the flourmill was located behind this house. Varied agricultural machinery, remnants of the big machinery warehouse belonging to Yehoshua Lichtenstein, stood in the front part .The entrance to the mill was inside the back of the second lot. People white with flour and the continuous roar the machines were all an integral part of the scenery. All of this bordered on David Liechtenstein's magnificent two-story house with its garden of ornamental and fruit trees.

The owner of the house was the head of the community who had a very keen sense of control of everything. He raised a large family. His oldest son was the first to flee and come to Israel after deserting from the anti-Semitic army. Among his other children it is worth mentioning Michael Lichtenstein, a sensitive and sickly young man, who died while still young. In the evenings, one could see young people sitting on the sidewalks in front of the house and engaging in friendly conversation. Ostroweicka St. continued on from here under a different name “De Kleine Gass” (The Little St.) David Kleinman, the petroleum dealer whose son and daughter came to Israel, also lived in this house. A number of grain dealers lived in this house including Hershel and Henich Punchiak the leaders of the Tzeire Tzion. It is also worth mentioning Shlimak's house. One of his sons was a prominent soccer player and was in charge of activities connected with this sport for many years. His second son was a founder of Hashomer Hatzair (The Young Guards). One of his daughters became the only Jewish teacher in the government school. An unpaved path to Nedzink led from the corner of Lichtenstein's house, passing through an area inhabited by non-Jews, through which we finally reached the soccer field. Nachum Yekel Brezers “the Petition Writer's” house stood not far from here. Yekel Kantor, the bank clerk, lived in the front of the house. He was a Zionist, very devoted to public service who in later years left the city. Across from the vacant lot stood the house of Label Nachtingel, one of the city elders. His son Nissan was an important watch manufacturer in Switzerland. One of his grandchildren was among the first to reach Israel. “The Kugele” a smith standing by his anvil could be seen through the window of a dark room in a dilapidated building. (By the way, his son reached Palestine right after World War I and passed away in Haifa not long ago after having lost his son in the War of Independence). Through another window Yitzchak Butman, with a growth above one eye, could be seen standing by his sewing machine. Behind that is Pincus's house sunk partly into the ground. Opposite was Eliyahu Shteper's (the sticher's) house and Neche Kupliak's small store all of whose goods could be packed into one sack. After that came the house of Reshke who was one of the two or three Christian families on the whole street. (By the way, Reshke's boy Adik spoke an excellent and fluent Yiddish). In the yard was the Herbst family that had the only cowshed in the middle of the town. Opposite was Yekel Gershun's barbershop. He was also a paramedic, who was very proud of his profession and considered himself almost a doctor. He took great pleasure in saying with special emphasis: “In our medical profession”. His wife was Freidel the Midwife and his daughter was Felinda the manicurist. (At present in U.S.) . Yekel Buber's store was in the yard. I remember the lane leading into Warszawska St. and just behind that Yisroel'ke Gottesdiner's store where he sold ice cream and soda. This was a meeting place for the older petite bourgeoisie young people. (“Give me a half of glass of soda water with syrup”). Next to that was another soda shop belonging to Aaron Knop with an altogether different clientele, mostly craftsmen, laborers and ordinary people. Here I should mention their unfortunate, mentally disturbed daughter called “Die Shtumeh” (The Mute) who ran around the streets barefooted and dressed in a sack frightening the children. It was reported that she was the first victim of the Germans when they entered the town.

After that I remember the Feivel'eh “Putter's” (Butter's) store with its primitive scale made from two pieces of board and a rope, with stones that served as weights. His capote, (caftan) the table, everything was soaked in butter. In the adjoining house was the bakery of Greenberg who was a tall thin man whom I remember as the head of the Cohanim (High priests) at the prayers in the synagogue. Itsche Levenstein's “Tsheineh” (teahouse) was located in the same building. Here people stood in line with their kettles to get tea on Sabbath morning or noon. It is worth mentioning his son, Israel, who was one of the strongest athletes in town.

From there we reach the bank which was a large central two-story building opposite the churches. Milson the Christian's pharmacy and Bonk's pork shop were on the first floor. Shimon Kleinboim, the father of Moshe Sneh, occupied the apartment on the second floor. He was an ardent Zionist who served as chairman of the Zionist Organization in the city. He was also a member of the city council and was very devoted to serving the community. The bank, which was located on the same floor, but in the second wing of the building, also served as center for community and Zionist activities. I remember its director Simcha Goldwasser (who succeeded the above mentioned Yaakov Kantor) who was a Zionist activist and a leader of the “Hitachdut”. I also remember Rachel Richter, Menachem Appleboim, Simcha Reichenberg and others. Across the street behind Reshke's house were Kevelboim's bakery, Hershel Yiskar's barbershop and the alley that led to Kozia St.. Here I would like to mention the Goldwasser house with Mattiyahu the Zionist activist and his two sisters Nechama and Freideh who were both seamstresses, and Hershel Tikatchinsky the newspaper distributor. Not far from there stood a number of two-story stone houses with Motel Wineapple's barbershop. Here a number of a certain type of well to do adolescents gathered for a friendly chat and entertainment thanks to the barber shop owner who, as noted, had a strong connection, to the stage. There was a posh non-Jewish restaurant there too, and next to that was Natan Turkeltoib the rich lumber merchant's house. Yakel Nussboim, who was a partner in flourmill, lived on the second story. There was also Nachum Fullman's gas station and the non-Jewish store belonging to the two Letz old maids as well as the grocery store on the corner that belonged to Zalmen Mechel. Then I remember the lane leading to Kozia St. with two butcher shops and the textile shop belonging to Yeshiyah'le Zilberberg and Nathan Turkeltoib. The wine and beer store belonging to Fishke Turkeltoib was located in that same building and further along that row of buildings was the haberdashery store belonging to the fat one-armed man whose son Yechiel Hoftman went to Palestine but later immigrated to America. Then there was Henya'le Bracha's store and Mordechai Kokosh's (Neiman) barber shop that was followed by the shop of Shimon and Elka Kupitz, and Diamant's hat shop. Behind that stood the glassware shop belonging to Zabidovitz and at the end Yeke'le Blumenkop's bicycle rental shop with the big clock in the window.

This clock, together with the pulse of the whole Jewish town, was silenced forever in the light of day by the evil bloody hand.

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