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Landsleit and Friends

Translated by Haim Sidor

While there was an attempt to form a Chewrat in New York before World War I, it was just about the time of the outbreak of the war that the Rozwadower Chevrat B'nei Moshe Horowitz was formed. The purpose for forming the organization was for fraternal, benevolent, religious, charitable, and associated activities. Incidentally, analogous and somewhat older organizations, the “Rozwadower Young Men” now has about 25 members and the “Roswadower Lodge” even less.

In any event, our organization, after its founding, met, prayed, and purchased the property we now own at 91 Attorney Street, New York. The members treated this acquisition with great personal pride, and when an addition was built to the structure, gave financial as well as physical and manual help.

Since the purchase and construction of our home (Synagogue), it has, over the years, served as the center of our fraternal, social and religious life. Initially, when the members lived near the Synagogue, it served as almost the exclusive place of recreation and diversion for them. It permitted for close contacts amongst the members, the sharing of common and uncommon experiences, joys and tribulations. Through the years our members and friends have found in it real warmth, interest and a sense of togetherness.

Through these hallowed halls have passed many of our dedicated brethren. Some of those who have since gone to their eternal rewards are: Moses Borger, Abe Brand, David Goldfarb, Harry Goldfeber, Harry Greisman, Benny Itzkowitz, Sam Kartiganer, Chim Knopf, Harry Korn, Henry Korn, Harry Kleinkopf, Moses Laufgraben, Max See, David Wiesen, Simon Wiederspiel and Meyer Zeisel.

Others, amongst the older members, who are still active in the organization and who have given devoted service are: Benny Ausubel, Isaac Blumengranz, Harry Ende, Sam Leib Glanz, Irving Glanz, Irving Greisman, Charles Kartiganer, Berl Reich, Frank Reich, Isaac Schachter, Rev. Moses Schachter, Moses Silber, Nathan Silber, Benny Wasserstein, Chaim Wittman and Hersch Wiesen.

Our organization, with its continued sense of dedication and conscience,

  1. continues to maintain close ties with our landsleit here and abroad,
  2. has afforded a helping material and financial hand to the needy (including establishing Loan Associations, at one time when needed, here, and now in Israel),
  3. contributes to the foremost Jewish charitable organizations and causes, such as United Jewish Appeal, Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, Red Mogen David, etc.,
  4. participates in the financial efforts to sustain the Israeli economy by the purchase of Israel bonds.

These benevolent and charitable activities are in addition to the continued social, fraternal, cultural and spiritual functions which the organization offers.

We are trying to sustain the life-blood of activity in the organization consistent with our noble purposes. This takes the form of various charitable and benevolent drives and undertakings. It is also evident in our social events. For example, during my recent presidency we have paid due homage to those who have given so much over the years, towards the nurturing of our organization. You may recall these occasions when we honored the late David Goldfarb, as well as Chaim Wittman, Benny Ausubel and the 50th. Anniversary banquet in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kartiganer. Since memory is the father of conscience, we, together with our landsleit in Israel, are compiling for publication this “YISKOR BOOK OF ROZWADOW”.

Our next important goal is to enlist as many of our Rozwadower landsleit and their children to join ranks with us as members of our organization, to maintain the noble traditions it represents and to sustain the exemplary work it has undertaken over the years. But this formidable goal cannot be attained by words alone. It requires DEEDS, deeds by all of us who go forward in the purpose to invigorate and revitalize our organization. Surely, This is A Task Worthy of Us All.

ADOLPH AUSUBEL,
President


Rozwadow


Geography

Translated by Haim Sidor

From the first partition of Poland in 1772 up till its reconstitution, as an independent country in 1918 Rozwadow, on the left bank of the San, had been the northernmost town in Galicia, on the border between Galicia and “Congress Poland.” Here, at the broadest section of the San, the river flows slowly, flooding the low-lying left bank in the late winter months so that the town is surrounded by a belt of marshlands in the east and in the north. The soil is poor, and frequently, the melting of the snows or sudden summer rains further up along the river, had caused its waters to rise and cover the fields, destroying the peasants' scanty harvest. In 1911, to protect the town against the ravages of the river, the Austrians built dykes on the lower parts of the left shore and reinforced the river banks by planting willow trees along its sides. This was the beginning of the famous basket-weaving industry which sprang up in this region, and had its centre at the neighboring town of Rudnik. Generally, however, the land remained barren and unploughed. To the south and south-east, next to the swamplands and forests, extended dry alluvial sandbanks, the only point of access to the river, at the village of Plawo, from where rafts of timber cut in the adjoining forests were sent down on their several weeks' way to the Free Port of Danzig. By the end of the nineteenth century Jewish landlords of the Tarnobrzeg district held title to about 17,000 acres of land out of a total territory of about 175,000, and 14 landed estates, 114 taverns, 12 corn-brandy distilleries, 3 beer breweries, 14 flour mills and 3 sawmills were in Jewish hands. Round the manorial estates gathered tradesmen and merchants who formed the nucleus for the townships which began to be founded along the river in the eighteenth century.

The earliest chronicles in which Rozwadow is mentioned date back to the thirties of the eighteenth century.


History

Translated by Haim Sidor

It is difficult to trace the history of the town in the absence of sufficient source material, but it seems certain that it has grown out of the adjacent village of Charzewice, just as the town of Tranobrzeg had its origins in the village of Dziko'w. For many years the land on which the town was built had belonged to a family of nobles by the name of Roz'ewski, and then in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the area between the Wisla and the San passed into the hands of Princes Lubomirski and Tarnowski. The Lubomirskis built their palace in the village of Charzewice, the site of a small, ancient parochial church. A local chronicle relates that in 1727 the parish authorities petitioned Prince Georg Lubomirski “not to leave the House of God in ruins and that he may for his own sake deign to restore the building which was about to collapse.” In this context mention is also made of Rozwadow, which is stated to number thirty Jewish households. In 1897 the head of the Capuchin monastery distributed a pamphlet calling upon the members of the parish to raise funds for the building of a new church at Rozwadow instead of the ancient church of Charzewice which had been completely destroyed after the third partition of Poland in 1795, and indeed the cornerstone for a new church was laid. It seems, however, that Prince Georg Lubomirski was more interested in developing commerce and trade, and the pamphlet accuses him of undermining the church and being in league with the Jews.


The Jews of Rozwadow

Translated by Haim Sidor

There are no sources indicating the existence of an organized Jewish community before the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century. In the community records of the Council of the Four Lands which functioned until 1746, no mention is made of Rozwadow nor of any other Jewish communities within the area between Sandomir, Lezajsk, and Pzreworsk – either in Tarnobrzeg or in Nisko and Rudnik. This does not mean that there were no Jews or no Jewish community in Rozwadow and in the vicinity. On the contrary, there is good evidence of Jews living in the 20 rural communities of the parish of Charzewice in the words of Bishop Szaniawski who on his visit in 1727 to raise funds for the restoration of the church of Charzewice extolled the devotion of the Jews of Rozwadow to their religion. “Take an example from the Jews of Rozwadow,” he said. “Although there are only 30 Jewish houses in the town, they nevertheless took one, embellished it and converted it into a synagogue. Not only the local Jews but Jews from the entire neighbourhood are coming there for their prayers.” This shows that in Rozwadow there were more Jews than in the adjacent villages, but is no proof of the existence of a Jewish community. However, Rozwadow soon became the nucleus for the formation of a Jewish community and served as a centre for all Jewish settlements in the parish of Charzewice. On the arrival of Prince G. Lubomirskt during the first quarter of the eighteenth century he saw to it that Rozwadow, which lay close to his palace, should become a centre of trade and commerce for the surrounding rural communities within his domain. In this he was aided by the Jews living in the various villages and in Rozwadow proper. Balicki-Lipinski in their History of Old Poland (Vol. III, p. 482) state that “Rozwadow with its Capuchine monastery and parish church belongs to the family or Prince Lubomirski. His forefather, G. Lubomirski, one of the commanders of the Royal regiments, tried to improve the lot of the townsmen – his poor subjects – and in 1714 procured from King August III privileges to hold two market days a week, on Sundays and on Thursdays.” It may be assumed that these fairs attracted an increasing number of Jews, who were the craftsmen and merchants at that time. This development was, however, slowed down by the hostile laws enacted against the Jews during the second half of the 18th century and by the pogroms and persecutions to which they were constantly subjected. By then the church had become aware of the king's crumbling power. The nobles' free veto rights in the royal elections had brought Poland close to political destruction, and its economy had waned to virtual extinction as a result of the constant internal dissentions caused by the warring nobility (szlachta). The Council of the Four Lands, the autonomous administrative centre of Polish Jewry, came to an end in 1764. Aided by the burghers, the church dared to raise its head and a wave of persecutions and blood calumnies was launched against the Jews, sweeping from the Ukraine to the District of Poznan and as far as Przemys'l in Galicia. The chief source of incitement was the church, which looked with disfavour upon the protection given to the Jews by the nobles. In prevailing conditions the nobles, of course, were free to tax both Jews and peasants to the full. In 1772 Galicia was severed from Poland proper, and Rozwadow became border territory between Galicia and the declining Kingdom of Poland, heading for further division in 1793 and 1795. This put a radical stop to the development of commerce and trade. The economic decline of Galician Jewry during 1772-179O was further aggravated by Joseph II's experimental and anti-Jewish policy. In Dubnow's words: “The economic situation of the Jews in Galicia deteriorated tremendously as a result of numerous edicts, at first restricting and subsequently altogether barring them from the liquor trade in the rural communities and from the lease of various farming occupations, in which no less than one third of all Galician Jews had engaged so far. Tens of thousands were shorn of their livelihood and descended into the direst poverty, while the Austrian government expelled to Poland all those too indigent to pay their taxes for three years in a row. In the same year Joseph II's government was also bent on destroying the old self-government of the Jewish communities. Under the pretext of introducing enlightened government regulations he called upon the Jews to engage in agriculture – but gave them no land to do so. At the same time Jewish youngsters were drafted for military service. The situation of Galician Jewry became still worse during the reign of Leopold II (1790-1792), and although during the times of Franz they enjoyed a certain period of respite due to the Napoleonic wars, following the restoration and the Congress of Vienna there began slowly to form the poverty-stricken organizational, economic and cultural picture of Galician Jewry. These conditions persisted right up to 1914.”

The edicts of Emperor Joseph II restricting the marriage of Jews and the sale of alcoholic beverages, and the special taxes such as those on candles for ritual use and on Jewish ritual slaughter of animals of food, remained in force for many years. Yet, while imposing heavy levies on candles and on ritually slaughtered meat and poultry, the reactionary Catholic Austrian regime at the same time used the Jewish community organization to enforce compliance with those Jewish ritual customs without which the taxes could not have been collected. The tax collectors were recruited from among members of the Jewish communities, and a number of these people took extortionate and corrupt advantage of their position.

In his book on the Hassidic Movement and the Enlightenment, Prof. Mahler notes that “the Jewish population of Galicia hardly grew throughout the first half of the 19th century while the Christian population almost doubled during that time” (p. 16).

The poverty with which the Jewish settlements in the vicinity of Rozwadow were afflicted at that time is indicated by the fact that Rabbi Naftali of Ropczyce (d. 1831), the founder of the rabbinical dynasty of that name, made charity to the poor the main subject of his preaching. The heavy taxes and the restrictive measures limiting the sources of livelihood of Galician Jewry continued down to the forties of the nineteenth century. The absolutist policy of the regime designed towards the centralization of Jewish life compelled the Jews to maintain the necessary decentralization through evasion of the law. Unauthorized prayer meetings in “stibl” came to replace the official synagogue; correct names and dates of birth were not disclosed to the authorities; religious marriage was not confirmed by official registration. Persecutions and anti-Jewish legislation were countered by the underground solidarity of the impoverished Jewish masses centering round the personality of the Hasidic rabbi. Local tradition tells of the “Holy Man” – the seer of Lublin – spending some time in Rozwadow approximately in the year 1825, but not staying long, either because of the religious opposition he encountered, or because of the poverty of the Jews in that town. This seems to be the only Jewish source indicating the presence of Jews in Rozwadow during the first third of the nineteenth century, corresponding in date to the tradition of the oldest Jewish families in the town as to the time of their arrival.

No ancient buildings or graveyards were found in Rozwadow and there are no stories about the burning of old synagogues. Apparently most of the Jewish population hailed from the surrounding villages, maintaining close family ties with the relatives who remained there. This state of affairs continued throughout the existence of the Rozwadow community. Often, when some religious requisites were needed, they were brought to the town from one of the neighboring settlements. Before Rabbi Moishele, the grandson of Rabbi Naftali of Ropczyce, was nominated rabbi, the community elders approached Shimon Schochat, the grandfather of Rabbi Shimon Katz of Majdan Kolbuszowski, “to direct his flock” and inspire the community of Rozwadow with his spirit of learning, innocence, and faith. However, he preferred to remain in anonymous poverty and refused the offer. Until the rabbinical dynasty of Ropczyce established its seat in the neighbourhood during the seventies (Rabbi Meyerl in Dziko'w and Rabbi Moischele Horovitz in Rozwadow) the religious leadership consisted of scholars and teachers mostly imported from other localities. Nevertheless the township served as a centre of trade and commerce for the neighboring rural and urban communities. Tradesmen – hatters, tailors, shoemakers and shopkeepers – regularly attended market days held in the vicinity. The growing number of Jewish shops and craftsmen in Rozwadow probably accounted for the prominent role it played in this sphere.

During the last third of the nineteenth century Rozwadow had 2,150 inhabitants, of whom over 1,600 – or 77 percent – were Jews. Despite the accelerated natural increase between 1880 and 1921, the population of Rozwadow made no great strides and after World War I the number of inhabitants stood at only 2,700 while that of the Jews had gone down owing to emigration. In 1880 there were 234 houses in the town, mostly wooden one-story buildings. It seems, however, that towards the end of the eighties, following the construction of the Przeworsk-Rozwadow-Debica line linking Rozwadow by railway with the Lemberg-Krakow -Vienna highway, the economic situation of the townsmen improved considerably, as may be seen from the stone houses which took the place of the wooden huts, standing in four rows enclosing the large “market square.” In the centre of the market place a large two-story municipality building was erected, housing offices, clerks, shops and ordinary poor families. A brick kiln was established to supply building materials for the houses built round the market place. Rozwadow had the advantage over all the other towns in the neighbourhood in that the railway station stood in the centre of town and moreover served as the last railway junction on the northern boundary of Galicia. These direct rail communications, followed by the establishment of post, telegraph and telephone services, became a powerful economic and cultural factor, and brought the Jewish youth closer to the cultural influences of Vienna. Accordingly there arose the need for further consolidation of the municipal, administrative, economic and community structure which made itself felt during the eighties of the last century.

By the end of the century the market place surrounded by a square of one or two-story stone buildings, had already been erected. All these houses belonged to Jews and by a secret ban no Gentile was admitted to ownership-a custom broken only after the First World War. Here lived the wealthier Jews – merchants and other dignitaries – each house serving as both living quarters and business premises. A “house in the market place” was a status symbol. The shoemakers, the tailors, the Torah teachers and all the rest of the common folk lived in the overcrowded side streets. On the outskirts of the town and in the suburbs leading to the adjacent villages lived the gentiles, who engaged in farming or crafts catering to both town and country people – blacksmiths and tinsmiths, and the like. The small houses of government officials, teachers, the doctor, the organ player, the “licensed builder,” the “shkole” the court house and the tax assessing offices also lay on the outskirts of the town, open to the outlying fields. From there onwards started the area considered out of bounds to the Jews, where the most blatant anti-Semitism was rampant.


Occupations

Translated by Haim Sidor

Most of the Jews of Rozwadow were poor – small peddlers and tradesmen – or employed in various religious occupations – religious scribes, Torah teachers, or engaged in connection with slaughter. The few wealthier Jews either held concessions for the sale of tobacco and brandy or acted as commercial agents. There also were two or three moneylenders. There was a large number of tradesmen: carpenters, tailors, shoemakers, plumbers, hairdressers and barbers, bakers, butchers, house painters, watchmakers, hatters, makers of paper bags, bookbinders, matze-bakers (on a temporary basis), semolina grinders, beer bootleggers, soap-makers and shirt-makers. The craftsmen carried on their trade at home, their children and apprentices all working hard towards the weekly market day which provided their income for the entire week. On market days the shopkeepers would also bring out their diverse wares. However, neither trade nor small commerce was enough to earn a decent living. Thc neighboring farmers who attended the weekly fair were also extremely poor and had little to spend on goods They usually bought on credit or borrowed money from the Jews, or merely came to have a drink at the poor Jewish tavern. But towards the end of the nineteenth century the rapid economic development of their country prompted the Germans to look abroad for sources of Limber for their growing industry. German [Austrian] entrepreneurs would come to the neighbourhood of Rozwadow, buy up whole forests and commission the Jewish firm of Fraute-Soehne to tie up the timber into rafts to be punted down the river. With the growing timber trade wholesale merchants from Danzig began to employ hundreds of farmers in cutting down the wood during the winter season and carting the logs down to the banks of the River San, to be dispatched to the Baltic Sea by way of the San and the Wisla. The flourishing timber trade prompted many Jews to open their own business or enter into partnership with German firms, becoming so-called “Danzig merchants.” This trade, however, was bound up with many risks, for sudden floods might at any time break up the rafts and with one fell blow wipe out the family's entire fortune.

Side by side with the timber trade the Jews of Rozwadow and the vicinity organized the emigration of farm labor to Prussia, where they were in touch with agents of German firms looking for cheap labor. The Jewish agents would provide for the peasants' travel expenses and accompany them to their place of destination, where they were hired by the head.

Only a minority of Jewish families engaged in these occupations, while the rest remained in dire poverty. There was one other marginal category of semi-urban and semi-rural Jews, the “Dorfslaeufer” who brought in kosher dairy products from the villages or travelling tradesmen who roamed the countryside to mend the farmers' clothes and shoes, pots and pans and to peddle their wares, consisting of haberdashery, etc. (The “Dorfslaeufer” later settled in a neighboring town and subsequently moved away altogether.)


The Community Leaders

Translated by Haim Sidor

My uncle, Dov Reich, who served as head of the community for over forty years, told me that to the best of his memory Rozwadow had about ten previous community leaders. The first was Rabbi Moske Hirszfeld who from 1868 presided both over the community and over the municipal council for a period of about fifteen years. He was one of the richest men in town, both merchant and moneylender, well versed in the Torah and prominent in social activities. His home was a constant meeting place for all persons of culture, scholars and men of moderate outlook. He never intervened in the disputes between the Chassidim, and brought up his sons as Torah scholars, which might incidentally enable them to marry the daughters of prominent men in the vicinity. In 1882 he was succeeded in the community leadership by Nahum Licht, who remained in this post for a period of four years. Though a devoted, orthodox Jew, modest in his ways, he lacked the required spirit of initiative and his tasks were a burden to him and to the members of the community. He was therefore glad to be relieved of his duties by Rabbi Baruch Borger, who replaced him in 1886. A cultured, warmhearted Jew, Rabbi Borger was, however, too busy to eke out a living. Not overly successful either in his personal life or in his official duties, he soon abandoned his post. In 1888 Shlomoh Reich (Verleger) was appointed in his stead, serving both as mayor and as head of the community. A Torah scholar, highly cultured and a man of moderate views, he brought up his children in the true Jewish tradition. As the holder of a tobacco wholesale concession he was able to make a good living and attain considerable prosperity. One of his daughters was married to Asher Rubin, one of the followers of the “enlightenment” who one day disappeared from town without leaving a trace. Rumor had it that he landed in Berlin, shed all remnants of religion and became a notable scholar.

Shlomoh Reich remained in his post as mayor and community president for almost ten years, until 1896, when he was replaced by a council of three: Anschel Zangen, Meir Lichtman and Haim Karmel. Since Haim Karmel was immersed in his business and Meir Lichtman was occupied by family matters, the running of the community was in fact left to Anschel Zangen. For ten years he managed the community's affairs side by side with his varied private business consisting of land transactions, money-lending and an agency for the transfer of local peasants to Prussia. As the son of one of the older families of Rozwadow and a relation of Leibusch Reich, the largest timber merchant in the neighbourhood, he was highly respected both in the town and in the vicinity.

In 1906 one of the members of the community council – Haim Karmel – went bankrupt and fled the town. The District Superintendent, Count Lisocki, disbanded the council. Anschel never returned to office for two additional reasons – his last illness and the intrigues of Yerachmiel Kanarek. The landlord of a number of estates in the area, one of the largest spenders and philanthropists, who used to ride out like a king in his carriages, Rabbi Kanarek was jealous of Zangen's position and wanted his own son, Moishele, to take his place. With the connivance of the District Commissioner he managed to secure the office for his son.

Moishele Kanarek, however, was too preoccupied with his estates and business affairs to take much interest in his duties, and left the post at the disposal of the District Commissioner, who in 1907 handed it over to Simcha Flomin. That year for the first time the Jews together with all the other residents of Galicia were called upon to elect their representatives to the Landestag in Lemberg and to the Parliament in Vienna. The general national ferment in the Austro-Hungarian Empire also affected the “Jewish Street.” Thc youngsters who were opposed to assimilation put up Jewish candidates and decided to take the fate of the Jews into their own hands, while the slogan of the Zionists to “conquer the communities” found a willing ear among the younger generation. The Jewish public was torn between the pressure put upon them by the Austrian authorities and the community dignitaries on the one hand, and the desire to choose a candidate who would be close to the spirit of the masses, on the other.

Rabbi Gedalia Szmelkes was put up as the opposing candidate to the Polish historian, Prof. Michael Bobrzyn'ski, the official nominee. The mayors and district commissioners were in charge of the elections. The struggle between the community leaders – assimilationists and orthodox alike – and the Zionists first broke out in 1907 and lasted down to the days of Hitler. While the first enjoyed the support of the authorities it was the Zionists who embodied the aspirations of the younger generation for a Jewish revival. In that fateful year the community leadership rested in the hands of an honest, God-fearing Jew, Simcha Flomin, whose innocence was exploited by the district commissioner who was able to interfere freely in community matters and to conduct the canvass for the campaign among the Jewish public at his own will. But already then the young Berl Reich, the son of Leibush Reich, and the brother of the former head of the community, Anschel Zangen, started to gain prominence in the community. Having received his political training in his uncle's home he was able to occupy the posts of community chairman and mayor – both nominated and elected (since 1931) – for a period exceeding the sum of the terms of all his predecessors, from 1907 until 1940. Thanks to his ability, wisdom and energy he was able to withstand all the storms of the First World War, the restoration of Poland and the period between the two World Wars. Exiled to Siberia in 1940, he later became the chief organizer of the return to Poland of the survivors assembled in Walbrzych in 1946, a post he held until his immigration to Israel. Both friends and foes alike admired his public spirit, his good sense and great executive powers. In Ramat Gan, where he finally settled, he lived to a ripe old age, as the last living reminder of the life and history of Rozwadow.


The Rabbis

Translated by Haim Sidor

Rozwadow had no local or appointed rabbis until the eighties of the last century. Learned men and Halakhic judges from outside instructed the community in the principles of law and justice until Rabbi Moishele, the grandson of Rabbi Naftali of Ropczyce, was invited to Rozwadow, and his brother, Rabbi Meyerl the author of “Divrei Noam”, to Dziko'w, during the period when Moske Hirszfeld was in charge of community affairs. With the arrival of Rabbi Moishele Horowitz a “rabbinical court” with all the trappings, after the fashion of the Galician Hassidim, was set up. The rabbinical courts of Rozwadow, Dziko'w and Rymano'w maintained close ties of hospitality with each other. Thanks to its simple, unassuming ways the Ropczyce “dynasty” became very popular and except for a few habitual grumblers and objectors it had no opponents or rivals in the town. On Rabbi Moishele's death in l89l he was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Zvi Herschele Horowitz, who left for Vienna at the outbreak of World War I, and on his return, finding Rozwadow deserted and in ruins, moved to the town of Rzeszo'w. He died in that town, but was buried in the graveyard of Rozwadow. Of his two sons, Ephraim and Menashe, he was succeeded to the rabbinate by ihe former. Rabbi Ephraim had an uphill fight to make a living and to keep his followers strictly to the right path after the general casting off of traditions during the period between the two World Wars, making many enemies due to his uncompromising altitude. His poverty drove him to seek his fortune among Jewish communities in various countries of Europe, until his return to Rozwadow in 1930, where he died young and unmourned. During the stormy period which followed, his son, Rabbi Naftali, filled his seal with circumspection and a liberal sense for contemporary changes. He was dearly beloved by all, and in course of time shared in the general fate. Thus the rabbinical dynasty of Ropczyce in Rozwadow came to an end after four generations only. It has been commemorated by the survivors of the town in New York, who named their organization after its first member, “Association of the Sons of Moshe Horowitz.”


Education

Translated by Haim Sidor

By the time the First World War broke out Jewish education in Rozwadow already had a long tradition behind it. Every parent's ideal was that his son should be a scholar, a “genius” well versed in the Talmud and in rabbinical law, spending his days in the Bet Hamidrash, the “house of learning” and in course of time marrying the daughter of a rich man.

From the early age of three, children were put in the charge of Torah teachers, who succeeded one another until the boy was able to study independently, when he was given a tutor of his own. The sons of the poor were apprenticed to master craftsmen at the age of 13-14. The town boasted a large number of Torah teachers, many of whom had come from elsewhere, some of them full-time and some engaging in additional occupations – mending umbrellas during the lessons, or tying fringes onto the ritual garb worn by Jews next to their bodies, and other occupations to do with Jewish ritual, or working as peddlers on market days, or as marriage brokers, etc. These teachers prepared their pupils for life by teaching them to read and write in Yiddish according to prescribed “letter books” containing forms of letters suitable for all occasions. Special teachers would coach pupils at their homes in the vernacular so that they could at least be able to write an address. These home teachers would also teach girls the Hebrew alphabet, the daily prayers and the Latin script. Girls from better homes could quote verses From Schiller or Goethe in German by the time they became marriageable.

Rozwadow also had an elementary Government school, with four forms, but the Jews avoided sending their children there lest they should learn the evil ways of the gentiles. The situation changed, however, when the Baron Hirsch School opened its gates in 1900. This was a great blessing to the town. The children of the poor were now able to learn to read and write in the vernacular and acquire the fundamentals of arithmetic. Textbooks were given free of charge. The Jewish teachers of the school were imbued with a deep sense of duty and vocation, particularly Spinnrad, the headmaster, and his two assistants, Tewinger ana Komita. Since their livelihood did not depend on the townspeople they were independent of their narrow restrictions and customs and could thus remain faithful to the progressive and enlightened educational principles followed in the rest of the Austro-Hungarian empire. This school, however, was not destined for a long existence and ceased functioning at the outbreak of the First World War. With the downfall of the Hapsburg Empire, Baron Hirsch's projects also came to an end.

Until World War I there was not a single Jew who sent his sons to secondary school, not only because there was none in the town, but mainly because it still seemed inconceivable for Jewish children to attend schools where writing on the Sabbath was compulsory. Secular professional training was regarded merely as a means to an end, but carried no status. Jewish lawyers, doctors, pharmacists or engineers who came to Rozwadow prospered financially, but had no influence over the population and lived on the margins of both Jewish and gentile society. Not they, but internal factors were responsible for the imminent cultural awakening of the town. The expansion of commercial relations and thc spirit of national revival during 1904-1914 helped to open up new horizons and create a new outlook on life, and Rozwadow became the liveliest town in the whole neighborhood.

The “Danzig merchants” brought with them not only the marvels of the new technology - lux lamps, electric bells, etc. – but also copies of German newspapers. Hebrew and Yiddish books published in Warsaw, and the Hebrew papers “Hatzefira” and “Hashiloah.” There also were Jews who, like my own father, a Danzig merchant, brought a French governess for their girls or even a Hebrew teacher. No expense was spared to keep them and provide them with the necessary books, dictionaries and papers. Our house became a centre for all young people who were fond of hooks and folksongs and endowed with aesthetic feeling according to the taste of the times. In homes like these the children were brought up to the true Jewish tradition as well as on Western culture and the romanticism of national revival, long before the Zionist Movement had become a living force and started functioning on an organizational level.

In 1905 the town was overrun by a wave of refugees from Russia- on their way to Western Europe. Though they stayed for only a short time, some of them with their brilliant personalities and revolutionaries past, left their imprint on the perennial Talmud students of the town. Under their influence they started learning the Bible, Hebrew grammar, languages and history. Among the younger generation there were three outstanding talents: H. G. Wisen, the well-known philologist and grammarian; Ajzyk Mandel, the great Talmud scholar – both deceased – and Rabbi Mosze Reich, the present editor of the Rabbi Kook Institute in Jerusalem, and M. Mohr, who has won a prominent place in modern Hebrew literature with his fine felt poems and beautiful translations. The members of this circle imbued the town with their Zionist ideas and love for the Hebrew language, their personal rectitude and upright national spirit, and their influence continued even after they had left Rozwadow to seek their personal future.


Emigration

Translated by Haim Sidor

Even merchants and landlords had no easy time in earning their living. They would heave a deep sigh every mealtime during grace, when coming to the words “lest we need the charity of man or his loans,” and add “and the notes.” Whenever one of the merchants would suddenly disappear and be discovered in Germany or in America, everybody knew that his escape was due to the burden of promissory notes and that he would one-day call for his family to join him. Emigration was rampant to an even greater extent among the tradesmen and their sons. It was the sons of these tailors and shoemakers and “Dorfslaeufer” who first founded the Iandsmannschaft of Rozwadow in the U.S.A., followed by impoverished merchants and their sons. The emigration of a member of the family was considered a disgrace for those who remained. Poverty set in very fast: families who only a generation ago were among the local dignitaries were within the course of a few years reduced to accepting secret charity and Passover donations, and became wandering beggars and peddlers. Summer 1914 saw the end of a long period of consolidation: the inhabitants of the town scattered to all winds and when Rozwadow was rebuilt during 1920-1939 as part of independent Poland it already was a different town preserving but little of its former community structure.


Rozwadow During World War I

Translated by Haim Sidor

Three days after the declaration of war against Russia, Austrian troops already made their appearance because as a frontier town lying on the River San, Rozwadow was evidently destined to be in the frontline of battle. Thousands of soldiers from all nations of the Austro-Hungarian Empire filled the town; flats were requisitioned to quarter the Austrian officers and courtyards to house the soldiers. Foodstores were established to feed the infantry and the picked cavalry regiments. Trenches were dug in a wide circle round the northeastern corner of the town, gun positions were established and miles of barbed wire fences were drawn. Pontoons were commandeered for the Austrian soldiers to cross the San into Congress Poland, and proceed towards Iwanogrod (Deblin), the westernmost Russian fortifications. The presence of tens of thousands of soldiers in the town brought prosperity to the poor, vending cakes, chocolates and cigarettes to the military. All studies were interrupted, both at the official and at the Jewish Torah schools. During the first fortnight the Austrian armies were victorious and advanced into Russian territory, but already by the beginning of September they started to retreat and the Russians closed in on the San, along the entire right bank of the river. The rumbling of cannons was heard from the northeast. The Jews living in the towns along the San were seized by fear of the Russians, especially in view of the rumors that the Russians would take their revenge on the Galician Jews for their subservience to the Austrian Empire or would slaughter them simply for being Jews. Overcome by panic, the inhabitants of Rozwadow fled the town, by cart and on foot, leaving their houses and shops and all their property behind them. Only a few days before the Jewish New Year old and young started wandering in long lines through villages and towns, southwards to the Carpathian Mountains and to Slovakia, or westwards, towards Cracow. Tens of thousands of penniless refugees descended upon Vienna and the various towns of Bohemia and Moravia. The Government of Vienna granted them a tiny pittance while Jewish welfare organizations established cheap cookhouses, and the Jewish community of Vienna organized a drive to provide them with clothing for the winter. Anita Muehler and Robert Stricker played an outstanding role in these rescue activities. Most of the refugees were crowded into the Leopoldstadt quarter, waiting for the moment when Galicia would be liberated from the Russians so that they might return to their homes. It took some two years until Galicia was finally vacated by the Russian armies, when the government allowance was stopped and the refugees gradually returned, while in the West and in the rest of the Russian Empire the war was still going on. On the 14th of September 1914, Rozwadow itself had been bombarded by Russian gunners, when the last of the Austrians retreated and the Russians entered the town. Half the town, in an arc running from east to north, was burnt down. Those of the Jews who had remained sought refuge in the Capuchin monastery or hid in the cellars. The farmers from the vicinity, spurred on by the Russian officers, swept through the half-ruined town to plunder and beat up the defenseless Jews. On the eve of the Day of Atonement a deportation order was issued against the Jews “as an anti-Russian element.” The Cossacks made it their business to round up all Jews, assemble them on the other side of the San and deport them to Siberia, where they remained until the Bolshevist Revolution in 1917.


The Return of the Refugees (1916)

Translated by Haim Sidor

Gradually the Jewish refugees returned from Vienna and Bohemia, finding the town burnt and in ruins, plundered and without possible sources of livelihood. Those who came back were mainly older people and little children, while the younger, able-bodied men remained in Vienna or Bohemia, or as soldiers in the Austrian army. However, the economy of the town revived more quickly than ever before: Rozwadow was no longer a little frontier town, but an important railway junction connecting occupied Congress Poland with Austria-Hungary after the extension of the railway line as far as Lublin during the War. Thus the towns of Congress Poland became accessible to trade while Rozwadow had been turned into a military base and a major line of communication for the armies sent to the Eastern Front. The refugees slowly returned to their homes; the tradesmen and the teachers came back, and everyday life again took its course under the control of the Austrian military governor, Captain Herzog.

In the autumn of 1918 the Austro-Hungarian front collapsed and the Central Powers surrendered. One wintry November day the military rulers left the town and chaos set in. Austria had ceased to be an Empire, but the State of Poland had not yet arisen. In every town provisional “national councils” and “militias” were set up, but in the meantime the farmers from the neighboring country-side were given a free hand to molest the Jews. In their hundreds the peasants of Plawo and Turbia descended on the town, to loot Jewish houses and shops, and to beat up and murder at will. They received their national independence with the cry “Long live free Poland! Beat up Jews!” Throughout the 5th of November, 1918 they continued their wild celebrations, pouring wine bought from Jewish taverns down the throats of their horses – and the rest down the drains – with adjurations to “drink Jewish wine because Poland is ours.” Their women brought sacks and sheets to pick up unpunished anything they might find in the homes of the Jews. The riots continued for eight days, from 5th until 12th November, during which time the Jewish youth organized their own self-defense, headed by Wolf Greisman, an officer of the Austrian army just returned from the front. They got in touch with the Jewish youth of the adjacent towns, and armed with light weapons, were ready to render opposition to the rioting peasants. Knowledge of the existence of this band undoubtedly acted as a strong deterrent in preventing the.hardened Jewbaiters from repeating their acts of violence. However, it took until well into the middle of the month until calm was restored, and until the first signs of the “new order” became visible in the replacement of the arbitrarily nominated national councils by properly elected citizens' councils.


The “Coup D'état” Within the Jewish Community

Translated by Haim Sidor

The transition from the Austrian to the Polish regime did not leave the Jewish community unscathed. With the Jewish refugees from Vienna, Rabbi Dov Reich also came back to lead his flock. But the collapse of the Austrian Empire and the general revolutionary atmosphere which pervaded the Polish population also prompted the younger generation of Jews to get rid of the vestiges of the ancient regime and to replace the traditional community leadership by an elective community council. They decided to wrest and remove the powers of the head of the community from the non-existent Austrian authorities. On the initiative of young Mosze Storch (now Moshe Hassid of Tel Aviv) a strong delegation called on Rabbi Ber Reich, demanding the official seal. A national Jewish council was constituted, headed by Rabbi Jakov Schreiber, an honest and serious iron-merchant, well liked by the community. This council, however, together with the other temporary administrative bodies set up, did not last long, and upon the restoration of a stable Polish government the office of community president again reverted to Dov Reich. Yet times had changed. The general spirit of revolution, and the confidence of the young generation in its own powers, did much to foster the rapid progress of the town. Under the impact of subsequent events the Jewish population rallied under the banner of Zionism, and Rozwadow became a center of revival for the entire vicinity.

The year 1919 witnessed the notorious campaign of General Haller with troops sent from France ostensibly to quash the separatist tendencies of the Ukrainians in Western Galicia, who swept through Poland, throwing Jews out of railway carriages, cutting off their beards and sidelocks, plundering and robbing wherever they put up their camp. Thus it was brought home to everybody that the liberation of Poland was not tantamount to Jewish freedom, and the illusions held by the Jewish assimilationists that Poland was fighting also for the Jews were dispelled once and for all. The Jews had been fighting on all fronts, but the various nations celebrated their liberation on their very bodies. The slaughter in the Ukraine, the wild riots of Haller's troops coupled with news of the Balfour Declaration aroused national aspirations among the Jewish masses. A mass rally at the Rabbi's Talmud school was attended by old and young, men and women alike. Rabbi Wolf Birenbaum, a veteran Zionist, opened the meeting and the author – a mere child at the time – recited Ezekiel's Vision of the Dry Bones as tears rolled down the cheeks of the audience. Tangible results soon materialized: a branch of the Zionist Organization-“Bet Yehuda” – was established and proudly joined by all young Jewish boys and girls in town. A Hebrew library was established and many cultural activities took place, as well as fund-raising campaigns for the Jewish National Fund, and various celebrations of a Jewish national character. Hebrew teachers were invited to the town and a Hebrew school was opened, attended by many dozens of young pupils of both sexes. Its devoted staff of teachers – Jakov Ajzen, Szmulewitz and Kimchi - brought up the new generation on the Bible and on Hebrew poetry. Soon Hebrew became a spoken language. The school, the library and the Hebrew press became the breeding ground for Zionist pioneering movements eager to implement the dream of a Jewish home. Zionism had transcended its romantic pre-War era and entered a second phase of action and realization. The stream of immigrants to Israel – the so-called “third immigration” via Bratislawa or Vienna and Trieste, was accompanied by the anthem of Hechalutz, “The Pioneer,” composed by Yehiel Mohr, the son of Mendel Szochat, the ritual slaughterer of Rozwadow (now living in France). “Here I am a pioneer, a pioneer from Poland” they sang, and for many years this song reverberated through the trains bringing young men and women to their new home in Palestine. Frequently the sons of well-to-do landlords would gather in one of the ample courtyards to weed and hoe and plant, pulling up their shirt sleeves to train in ordinary farm tasks in preparation for their impending emigration, so that the whole town started to breathe of the new homeland. The old pre-War way of life centered round the Talmud school, the rabbinical court and religious studies had disappeared, giving way to Zionist organizations, lay studies, practical ideas, free communication with the modern world and everyday economic problems.


The Economic Situation of the Jews of Rozwadow During 1920-1930

Translated by Haim Sidor

Many of the refugees of 1914 failed to return and settled elsewhere or emigrated at the end of the War to Germany, Holland or the United States. The collapse of the Hapsburg Empire also put an end to the old pattern of trade relations into which Galician Jewry had been integrated for a period of a hundred and fifty years. Europe was split up into separate national States divided by protective tariff walls and a spirit of national fanaticism. During the first post-War years there still were some chances for an economic existence but the sources of livelihood gradually dried up. The refugees returned utterly destitute, here and there helped by subsidies of the Joint American Committee, and all expectantly waiting for a letter from some relative in America who would send them a dollar. Again the goal was emigration, but this time entry to America was barred by the famous quota system. The world had locked the doors behind it by means of passports and visas. Russia was completely sealed off – no one could enter and no one could leave.

Nothing was left to the Jews but to fight on their own ground. This time they had to contend with a new form of planned and organized anti-Semitism, designed to deprive them of their economic position. The Polish government's tax policy left no Jew unaffected. There was no choice but to turn to the liberal professions, but soon the doors of the medical, agricultural and chemical institutes were to be closed as well by means of the numerus clausus – the severe restriction on the number of Jews admitted. In the meantime Jewish children flocked to the secondary schools in the hope of continuing their studies abroad. It was made incumbent on every Jewish child to attend secondary school in addition to the traditional Torah school and the Hebrew school, and during the twenties they all made their way to the “Gymnasia” at the neighboring town of Nisko. Here a nucleus of Jewish youngsters was formed which was to play a major part in the history of the community during its last fifteen years. During the thirties the economic situation of the Jews of Rozwadow was at its worst. There was no industry; trade dwindled while anti-Semitism increased; taxation grew heavier; all outlets for emigration were barred; the economic crisis of 1927 put an end to the Palestinian immigration. Yet these years witnessed a spiritual revival and a cultural Jewish life of a force, intensity and joyfulness as had not been known before or since.

ELIEZER REICH


Former Rozwadower Residents Around the World

Translated by Haim Sidor

U.S.A.

ANHIESIGER DAVID, 146 E 52 St., Brooklyn 3, N.Y.
AUSSUBEL BENNY, 1180-46 St., Brooklyn 10, N.Y.
AUSSABEL FAMILY, 2502 Ave. 1 Brooklyn 10, N.Y.
BENTON F., 3457-82 St., Jackson Heights, N.Y.
BIRNBAUM DAVID, 1124-th St., Brooklyn 4, N.Y.
BIRNBAVM SARA, 82-09 Bell Blvd., Hollis-Hills, N.Y.
BIRNBAUM PHILIP, 55 Nagle Ave., New York E.
FELDMAN ZYSSL, 445 Neptun Ave, Brooklyn, N.Y.
FlNGERHUT 0., 200 W. 86 St., N.Y.
FLUSS HERSCH, 177 Nagle Ave., New York 10034
FROST H., 1112-47th St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
FROST SAMUEL, 667-177 St. W. New York 10033
GELBWACHS HYMAN, 217 Haven Ave., New York 10033
GARTEN HERSCH, 1379 E. 10 St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
GARFUNKEL LOUIS, 180 E. 3rd. St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
GELBWACHs HYMAN, 21 Haven Ave., New York 10033
GLANZ SHMUEL-LEIB, 3111 Brighton 2 St. Brooklyn 35, N.Y.
GLEICHER A., 800 Woo St.,Los Angeles 35, Calif.
GOLDMAN CHIEL, 5000-15th Ave., Brooklyn 19, N.Y.
GRUENBAUM H., 15 Oxford St., Brooklyn 35, N.Y.
GRUENBAUM LAURA and DYDIA, 26 Buchanan St. Beacon, New York
HAGER LEA, 24 Elmcroft Crescent, New York 11, N.Y.
HACKEL HARRY, 127 East, Ninth St., Los Angeles 15, Calif.
HANFLING CWI, 181 E 93 St. Brooklyn 12, N.Y.
KESSLER ABRAHAM, 1726 Union St., Brooklyn 13, N.Y.
LEDERREICH RACHEL, 909-47 St., Brooklyn 19, N.Y.
LORBER-FEUER ETKA, 852 Westminister Ave., Hillside, New Jersey
MOHR MORRISS, 18715 Ohio, Detroit 21, Mich.
NEUMAN RUBIN, 1315-48 St., Brooklyn 19, N.Y.
NOVER JOSEF, DR., 5706 15th Brooklyn 19, N.Y.
NUSSBAUM-HERZIG PEARL, 67-11 Yellowstone Blvd. Forrest Hills, N.Y.
NOVER JOSEF DR., 5706-15 Ave., Brooklyn 19, N.Y.
PERLMAN MAYER, 34 Hillside Ave., New York 40
PERLMAN LASAR, 736 Mamor Court, Brooklyn 35, N.Y.
REICH SYMCHE, 240 Andobow Ave., New York 33
ROSENGARTEN-KUPFERBERG ETL, 750 Driges Ave. Brooklyn, N.Y.
SCHACHTER ISAAC, 140 Mitchel Ave. Long Beach, N.Y.
SILVER M., 790 Concourse Village, W. Bronx 10051, N Y.
SCHWARTZ ISRAEL, 6321 n. Mozart, Chicago, Ill.
SCHACHTER MOSES, 647 West 172 St., New York 10032
STEMPEL CH., 4515-12 Ave., Brooklyn 19, N.Y.
SPIRA DON, 232 E., 4 St., 1491 Carol St., Brooklyn, Lakwood N.Y.
SOBEL SHEINDEL, 763 Harvard P1., Clifside Park, N.Y.
SILVER M., 1027 Walton Ave., Bronx 52, N.Y.
SILBER NATHAN & FRIDA, 4701-12 Axe., Brooklyn 19, N.Y.
SHREIER SANE, 141-41 79 Ave., Flushing 67 L.I. N.Y.
SPINRAD ASHER, 1330-45th St., Brooklyn 19, N.Y.
TANBENFELD E., 108 Ave. D., New York
WAGNER HARRYA 20 Mauter St., Brooklyn 6, N.Y.
WASSERSTEIN B., 3091 Brighton 3 rd. St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
WIESEN ABRAHAM, 1030 Place, Brooklyn 13, N.Y.
WISENFELD NAFTALI, 108 Ave. D., New York 9
WISEN NORMAN, 1645 S. Liwonia St., Los Angeles 35 Calif.
WIESEN MAX-MEYER, 22 Northbrook Road, Spring Valley, N.Y.
WISEN NATHAN, 2410 Barker Ave., Bronx 76, N.Y.
WISEN HERSCH, 1379 E. 10 St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
WISENFELD DAVID. 315 Lott Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.

FRANCE

BEER ARON and MANIA, 7 Rue des Blancs, Monteaux, Paris IV
BIRNBAUM D., Papeterie de Cothiers pour la Couconne, Charente, Paris
GRUENBAUM MAURICE-MOSHE, 37 Chemin de Casselardit, Toulouse, Hte-Gar.
MAHLER-SHER MEILECH, 3 Blvd. Richard Lenoir, Paris XI
MAHLER-SHER JOSEF, 7 Rue Pasteur, Paris XI
MOHR CH., 13 Place Simon Vollont, Lille
SILBER M., 86 Rue Victor Hugo, Lens Pa de Ca

SWITZERLAND

MOHR JACK-JACOB, 8 Ave. Warnery, Lausanne

SOUTH-AFRICA

HARBER ALOC-MOSE (ARIE-LEIB), Vereiniging, Central Hotel, South-Africa

BELGIUM

FRIEDMAN LEA, Van Leer Str. 1, Anvers
HALBERTAL CHASKEL, 61 Belgeley Ave., Anvers
HOLLANDER-SCHREIBER HELA, 43 Rue Quellin, Anvers

CANADA

HOLZER-ROSENBERG DORA, 4156 Cunard St., Montreal 9, Que.

AUSTRALIA

KURTCZ-ELLENBOGEN S. (KLARA), 37 Warners Ave. Sydney-Bondi

ENGLAND

HAGER LEA, 24 Elmcroft Crescent London, N.W. 11
HERSHMAN JAN, 5 Basing Hill, London, N.W. 11
HOFFERT HERSH, 28 Shinhell Lane, London, N.W. 4
NEUMAN A., 10 Hill Cresccent, London 20
ROCKER B., 9 BolderS Manor Drive, London, N.W. 11

BRAZIL

NUESSENBAUM WALDEMAR, Rue de Cuececola 123, Rio de Janeiro

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