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Personalities
and Public Figures

 

Rabbi Arie Leib HaKohen Heller
Author of “Ketzot Hachoshen” (“Ends of the Breastplate”)

Translated by Susan Rosin

Rabbi Arie Leib HaKohen (1745 – 1813) was the third son of rabbi Yosef HaKohen of Kalush (Kałusz) and studied under the outstanding authority Rabbi Meshullam Igra of Tyśmienica. He was the head of the rabbinical court in Rozhniativ (Rożniatów) and then became a renowned teacher in Lvov for a number of years. The famous rabbi Shlomo Yehuda Rappaport (SHY”R) was his son in law.

While the head of the rabbinical court in Rozhniativ he lived in poverty. When the famous rabbi Zalman Margaliot honored him with a visit, rabbi Arie Leib remarked that if the visitor was not such a learned figure he would most likely not stop in to visit him in his humble home.

Rabbi Arie Leib became the chief rabbi of Stryj in 1788 after publishing his work “Ketzot Hachoshen”. He served in that position until 1813 and had many outstanding students in town. Among the most famous were rabbi Arie Leib Lipshitz who became the head of the rabbinical court in Vyzhnytsia (Yiddish: וויזשניץ Vizhnitz) and rabbi Asher Enzel Cuzmer.

Rabbi Heller was a prominent critic of the Hasidic movement, but was still admired by the community. His famous works are a testament to his deep knowledge and expertise: 1. Ketzot HaChoshen (“Ends of the Breastplate”) (Lvov – Part one: 1788; Part two: 1826) is a halachic work which explains difficult passages in the Shulchan Aruch, “Choshen Mishpat”; 2. Avnei Milluim (“Filling Stones”) (Lvov – Part one: 1816; Part two: 1826) is a halachic work which explains difficult passages in the Shulchan Aruch, “Even HaEzer”. Both famous works proposed novel ideas by rabbi Heller. The second book was accompanied by a pamphlet “Meshovev Netivot” which was a rebuttal to the rabbi from Lissa (rabbi Lorberbaum) about his criticism of “Ketzot HaChoshen”; 3. Shev Shema'tata, innovations to seven Talmudic methods. With his logical and clear reasoning he had a major impact on the learning methods in yeshivas especially in Lithuania. He passed away in Stryj in 1813.


Rabbi Asher Enzel Cuzmer

Translated by Susan Rosin

After rabbi's Heller passing, his student, rabbi Asher Enzel Cuzmer became the head rabbi of Stryj and served in that position for forty years with a two year interval. He was born in Rozdół. While still a student under rabbi HaKohen Heller he proof read his teacher's work “Avnei Milluim” and then published in 1826 his notes in Żółkiew.

Rabbi Enzel Cuzmer came from a wealthy family and was the son in law of rabbi Yoseph Aher who was the head of the rabbinical court in Przemyśl. Being a wealthy man as well as a renowned scholar he continued in his business and was not paid for his work as a rabbi. He was well respected among the scholars in town and the authorities gave him the title of Kreisrabbiner – District Rabbi. He was instrumental in building the Great Synagogue, a project he supported financially. He passed away on 21st of Nissan 5618 (April 5th, 1858).

M. Falk


The Rabbi of Lissa,
Author of “Havat Da'at” (The Opinion)

Translated by Susan Rosin

Among the 30 plus places of worship and study in our town, there was one small out–of–the–way synagogue located in an alley between Lvovska and Botorego streets. This was a special synagogue, located in one of the most dilapidated homes in the alley and had an air of by gone times. I happened to be there for the first time in 1921 or 1922 when some Kloiz students were establishing a new group for Gmara studies by the name of “Tiferet Bahurim” and they selected this location – the shul of the rabbi of Lissa.

The rabbi of Lissa was one of the most renowned Torah scholars of his time and our town was very proud and fortunate

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to have him as a rabbi. Rabbi Yaakov son of Yaakov Moshe Lorberbaum, known as the rabbi of Lissa, became the chief rabbi of Stryj in 1930, and passed away on May 25th, 1932 leaving a large family. Among his descendants were the brothers rabbi Yokel and rabbi Mordechai Lorberbaum who were murdered in the holocaust.

History

Rabbi Lorberbaum was the great–grandson of the Chacham Zvi, Rabbi Zvi Ashkenazi head of the rabbinical court of Lvov and Amsterdam and the grandson of rabbi Nathan Ashkenazi, one of the great scholars of Brod (Boród) and the author of the book “Imrei Noam”. His father, rabbi Yaakov Moshe was the head of the rabbinical court in Zborów, but passed away at a young age in 1770 before his son was born. The exact year of his birth is unknown. His mother was the daughter of the famous righteous and wealthy rabbi Elyakum Getz from Lubartów. When he was still young he was taken to the house of his relative, the chief religious judge of Bursztyn rabbi Yosef Teomim (he was the son in law of his uncle Zvi Ashkenazi), who brought him up. When he came of age he was married to the daughter of rabbi Herzl of Stanisławów and started working in the wine business there. From time to time he left the business with his wife and went to study under rabbi Meshullam Igra of Tyśmienica.

While in Stanisławów he started working on his book “Havat Da'at” a commentary on the “Yoreh Deah”. When he lost his fortune in a bad business deal, he was forced to take a rabbi position in the small town of Monasterzyska. He became a qualified teacher and after a while he was recommended by rabbi Igra for the position of head of the rabbinical court in Kalush (Kałusz).

Most of his works were written in Kalush. In 1799 he published anonymously in Lviv his work “Havat Da'at”. This book was disseminated quickly and in 1805 a second edition was published in Poland, followed by a third edition in Austria.

In 1801 he published his book “Ma'ase Nissim” about the Passover Haggadah which was re–published in 1807. In 1804 he published in Lvov “Imrei Yosher” and in 1809 “Mkor Haim”.

At that time, rabbi HaKohen Heller was a rabbi in Stryj and when he published his famous work “Ketzot Hachoshen”, rabbi Lorberbaum disagreed with him and published his opposition in “Netivot Hamishpat”, which was answered by rabbi HaKohen Heller in a rebuttal pamphlet “Meshovev Netivot”.

In spite of their disagreements on halachic matters the two rabbis were friendly and used to visit each other on occasion. When rabbi's HaKohen Heller wife passed away he asked to have a marriage arranged between him and the daughter of rabbi Lorberbaum. When the surprised matchmaker commented on the rivalry between the two, rabbi HaKohen Heller answered that just like in the case of Joseph and Osnat the daughter of Potiphar, if rabbi Lorberbaum “would give me his daughter for a wife he would stop hating me and there would be peace between us”.

At the preface of his book “Havat Da'at”, rabbi Lorberbaum wrote that he meant only to express an opinion and not to teach Halacha (Jewish law). In spite of the fact that the book was published anonymously, he became famous and respected and was asked to become the rabbi of Lissa (Leszno),

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a position that was vacant for 19 years since the passing of rabbi David Tebbelle in 1792. At the time of rabbi Tebbelle's passing the community was in serious trouble due to the fire in the Jewish quarter, and they did not have the means to hire a rabbi. The religious court judge, rabbi Tebbelle's son, Zacharia Mendel officiated. Slowly the situation improved and they started considering hiring a rabbi for their town, which always had renowned scholars. They heard about rabbi Lorberbaum, but did not know where he lived. Therefore they asked two of the merchants who were on their way to Brod to ask around. When they found that the famous rabbi lived in Kalush (Kałusz) they offered him the position of chief rabbi in Lissa, which he accepted.

Shortly after his arrival in town, many became his students, among them rabbi Eliyahu Guttmacher, the tsadik of Graetz (Grodziec), and rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalisher, both famous for their love of Zion.

Although he was not a Hasid, rabbi Loberbaum vehemently fought against the maskilim, the reformers of the Jewish Enlightenment in Germany along with rabbi Akiva Eiger of Poznan and the “Chatam Sofer”, the rabbi of Pressburg (present day Bratislava). In spite of his opposition, the community started to introduce changes that were to his dissatisfaction, and he decided to go back to Kalush in 1822 where he was received with open arms. He brought his entire family from Lissa, established a large synagogue and dedicated himself to study and publishing of his books. In 1823 he published his book “Beit Ya'akov”, a commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer. In 1828 he published a prayer book (siddur) “Derech Haim” in Zolkiev (Złoczów). This prayer book became very popular, and four editions were published in his life time.

He served in Kalush for eight years until a man who felt he was wronged in judgment informed the authorities and the rabbi was forced to leave town.

At that time an invitation was extended to him to come and serve as the chief rabbi of Budapest. On his way there, he stopped in Stryj for the night and to get a travel permit. However, the town's people including rabbi Cuzmer decided to offer him the position of chief rabbi and not let him leave town. In the morning, instead of bringing him the travel documents, they brought him a chief rabbi appointment document and urged him to accept the position. Thus he became the chief rabbi of Stryj in 1830.

The rabbi was very famous in all of Poland, but always acted with humility. It is said that once he needed to pass through the town of Sochaczew (Sochatshev), but did not want a special reception by the town's people. Therefore, he got out of the carriage and started walking through the town. When asked by people if he saw a carriage with the famous rabbi in it he said that he did see a carriage and the people continued walking. He then stopped at a tobacco store, but the store keeper said she cannot sell him any because she had to close to go meet the famous rabbi. And so he was able to slip away with the town's people following him.

His cleverness, sharpness and wittiness were famous.

It was told that once he was travelling on a very cold winter day in a matter related to publishing one his books. He stopped at an inn to rest. At the same time, the shohet from one of the neighboring villages came in to slaughter a cow for the innkeeper. Instead of the warm milk offered to him by the innkeeper, the shohet drank several glasses of brandy and then went out to do his deed. He was followed by the distinguished rabbi who told him that although the cow is destined to be slaughtered

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his sin is that he did it after drinking four glasses (referring to the Chad Gadia in the Passover Haggadah: The angel of death came, and slew the slaughterer who killed the ox) . The shohet understood his meaning and was very embarrassed, asked for his forgiveness and promised to be careful in the future.

When he accompanied his grandson (his daughter's son), rabbi Abraham Teomim to become the rabbi of Zborów, his grandfather told him that in order to be a rabbi he needs two qualifications: he needs to know the calendar to always know the date of the new moon and he needs to be able to swallow needles pointed downwards without moaning or complaining.

This is the list of books he saw in print during his lifetime:

  1. “Chavat Da'at” commentary on “Yoreh De'ah”, nine editions;
  2. “Masei Nissim”, a commentary on the Passover Haggadah, seven editions;
  3. “Imrei Yosher”, an inclusive commentary for the Five Megillot;
  4. “Mekor Haim”, commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, and Passover traditions;
  5. “Netivot HaMishpat” on “Choshen Mishpat”, in two parts;
  6. “Torat Gittin”, innovations on the Talmudic tractate Gittin;
  7. “Beit Ya'akov”, commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, and on the Talmudic tractate Ketubot;
  8. Prayer book “Derech HaChaim”;
  9. “Kehillat Ya'akov”, a collection of discussions and notes on several legal points in the “Even HaEzer” and Shulchan Aruch.
The following scripts were found and published after his death:
  1. “Nachalat Ya'akov” sermons on the Torah Portion, and halachic decisions;
  2. “Emet L'Ya'akov” on Talmudic lore (Agaddah – a compendium of rabbinic homilies that incorporates folklore, historical anecdotes, moral exhortations, and practical advice in various spheres, from business to medicine);
  3. “Milei D'agaggatah” with sermons and innovations on the Talmudic lore.
He passed away on the 25th day of Iyar 5592 (May 25th, 1832).

His headstone said “Keter Torah” (the crown of Torah) and all his works were listed. The other side indicated how much space should be left around his grave per his instructions.

His will, consisting of twenty nine paragraphs, reflected his moral and spiritual character. The will was fist printed in Warsaw in 1872 together with the will of rabbi Akiva Eiger.


Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Ben Yaakov
HaKohen Rosenblum

Translated by Susan Rosin

He was the student and son–in–law of rabbi Asher Enzel Cuzmer and inherited the position after the passing of his father in law with the support of the ultra–orthodox. He avoided the disputes between the orthodox, the maskilim, and the assimilated and devoted himself to the study or Torah and to works of charity. He was the Stryj rabbi for 19 years and passed away on the 28th of Nissan 5657 (April 11th, 1877).


Rabbi Arie Leibish Horowitz

Translated by Susan Rosin

Rabbi Arie Leibish Horowitz was born on the 15th of Av 5607 (July 28th, 1847). In his youth he studied Torah with his father rabbi Isaac and his grandfather rabbi Meshulam Issachar.

At the age of eighteen he married the daughter of the wealthy rabbi Moshe Wax from Seret (Siret). In 1831, when he was 24 years old, he became the rabbi and head of the rabbinical court in his father's hometown of Założce (Zaliztsi). In 1879 he was nominated as the chief rabbi of Stryj and was considered one of the town's most prominent.

At the beginning of his term, there was much anger and bitterness towards him from the family of the previous rabbi. But because of his character and his Torah knowledge

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he soon became liked by all. He was a peaceful and people loving man and eventually endeared himself to the family of the previous rabbi.

His advice and opinion were sought by rabbis from near and far. His answers were accepted as definitive statements on points of the Halacha. He had a brilliant style which enchanted his listeners. He was a brilliant orator, fluent in the German language and therefore appeared as a delegate in front of the authorities. He was well respected by the Austrian authorities and received a medal from the emperor himself, an honor not given to any rabbi before him.

He published his book of responsa “Harei Besamim”, in two volumes. The first volume was published in Lvov in 1882 and the second volume in 1897. He also published the booklet called “Haga Arie” which included his first sermon before the community of Stanisławów after he was appointed as rabbi and head of the rabbinical court there. His third book “Arie Noam” dealing with portions of the scripture burnt in the big Stryj fire of 1886.

He was famous not only as a genius, but also as a righteous man. He leaned towards the Hassidic movement and traveled to the Tzadik Rabbi David Moshe of Czortków. He always prayed passionately and with enthusiasm. He avoided the disputes between the parties and did not even participate in the rabbis' meetings. He donated much money to charity. On market days the famous rabbi could be found talking to the merchants trying to solicit donations.

In Stryj he was one of the founders of the “General Cheder” arousing the anger of the ultra–orthodox. Although he was already a famous rabbi who was respected and admired by his community, there were some who were against this step and he was harassed. The head of the kehilla was even so brazen as to withhold payment of his salary for a period of time.

Rabbi Leibish was sympathetic to Zionism although he was not a Zionist. After the death of Dr. Herzl, rabbi Leibish eulogized him as was appropriate for the visionary of the state of Israel.

In 1904, after the passing of his father, rabbi Isaac Horowitz of Stanisławów, rabbi Arie Leibish was invited to become the chief rabbi there (in Stanisławów) as was the tradition to continue the rabbinical dynasty. Although he liked Stryj, he accepted the new position and moved to Stanisławów in 1904.

Many followed him on his journey to Stanisławów, where he was a chief rabbi until his death on the 21st of Sivan 5669 (June 10th, 1909).


Rabbi Shalom HaKohen Yolles
(Der Mościsker)

Translated by Susan Rosin

Rabbi Shalom HaKohen Yolles was born in 1866. His father was rabbi Uri of Sambor and his grandfather was rabbi Isaac Charif, the head of the rabbinical court in Sambor and the author of the work “Pnei Isaac”. Rabbi Shalom was the student and later ordained by rabbi Yoseph Shmuel Nathansohn of Lvov, the author of “Sho'el u–Meshiv”. In 1884 he was accepted as the rabbi of Neistat ( Nowe Miasto) where he had many students. In 1897 he became the head of the rabbinical court in Mościska and in 1904 he was appointed to the rabbinical court in Stryj (as a deputy chief judge).

Rabbi Yolles was considered one of the most outstanding and respected religious figures of his time. In 1903 he was one of the ten most important rabbis who attended a conference in Sądowa Wisznia to reorganize the financial matters of the Austrian kollel (an institute for full–time, advanced study of the Talmud and rabbinic literature) in Eretz Israel. In 1908 he was among the six greatest rabbis who were summoned before the authorities as the representatives of all Galicia rabbis. Thanks to his efforts a Yeshiva was established in Stryj where students learnt Talmud, Rashi and Tossafot under the outstanding guidance of the rabbi Raphael Kitaigorodsky.

The sons of rabbi Yolles were rabbis Ephraim Eliezer and Yeshayahu Asher; His sons in law were the rabbis Gdalyahu Halevi Gottlieb (son of the rabbi of Ludmir and the grandson of rabbi Shlomo of Karlin), rabbi Haim Abraham Klinghoyft (the son of

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the rabbi of Strelisk), and rabbi Israel Moskowitz (the son of the head of the rabbinical court in Turka). Rabbi Yolles immigrated to Israel and settled in Jerusalem where he passed away on the 9th of Av 5685 (July 30th, 1925). His son, Yeshayahu Asher was elected as a religious judge in Stryj.


Rabbi Shraga Feivel Hertz
(Der Glogover)

Translated by Susan Rosin

Rabbi Shraga Feivel Hertz was the head of the rabbinical court in Głogów, and was appointed to the same position in Stryj following the departure of Rabbi Horowitz to become the chief rabbi of Stanisławów. Since it became clear to the Jewish community in Stryj that replacing rabbi Horowitz with someone of the same stature will not be easy, they took their time and after much deliberation decided to appoint two religious judges: Rabbi Yolles from Mościska and rabbi Hertz from Głogów. Rabbi Hertz was very wise and shrewd and was aware of the events in the Jewish world, followed the trends and grasped the changing attitudes. He found many supporters among the most learned in Torah. His method of studying Talmud resembled that of the Lithuanian Yeshivot – explanation of the topic with the Rashi commentary and then he introduced his students to the argumentations by the early and later authorities.

He was able to show how each Talmudic problem and concept can be adopted to contemporary times. In a short time he gathered around him the young Talmud students who later joined the Jewish national revival movement. His son Shlomo was a genius who studied with Jewish students: they instructed him in secular studies and he taught them Jewish studies. He became the rabbi of Borszczów and perished in the holocaust.

From a historical perspective, the dispute between the rabbis of Mościska and Głogów was futile. The two were two authorities complementing each other. “Both speak the words of the living God”, though they found support among different groups of Jews in Stryj.

As told by Eliyahu Katz


Rabbi Eliezer Ben Shlomo Ladier

Translated by Susan Rosin

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Rabbi Ladier was born on the 3rd of Adar 5634 (February 20th, 1874) in Seret, Bukovina and passed away on the 7th of Tishrei 7 5693 (October 7th, 1932). He was a dignified figure and was one of the greatest rabbis to occupy the rabbinical seat in Stryj. His talmudic research and halachic argumentation dwelt in harmony in his poetic soul.

His arguments were intellectual in nature, he was thorough in analyzing serious topics, yet he was open to seeing the beauty of nature and outpoured his soul in poems in the Hebrew and German languages. His poems were published in various periodicals, but never collected into an anthology.

In his research he sought scientific and historical truth, while in his poems he expressed the love of Zion, the national awakening, and the glory and elation of humanity.

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Midnight

by Eliezer ben Shlomo Ladir

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Stillness unfolds all over the world,
Shrouded in mystery and secrets of night.
From the eyes of stars, wondrous eyes,
Shining beads are dropping like tears.
A cloak of silence spreads on earth –
Even the wings of the wind are asleep.
All sounds and whispers died with a kiss,
A mute kiss of silence.
The birds have forgotten their singing
And the wild flowers have bent their heads.
In the arms of eternity Creation is dreaming,
And a silent elegy flows from the depths of night.
The elegy reaches the ear of the soul,
And paves a road through the sea of silence,
Reaching the heights of Heaven,
Weeping for the light destroyed,
For the Divine Presence in exile.

From 1917 until his death he served as chief rabbi of Stryj, the same position that was occupied previously by his uncle and teacher, the author of “Harei Besamim”. He dedicated himself to serving his community and worked tirelessly to increase its glory and greatness.


The Dayanim

Translated by Susan Rosin

(Dayan is a “Judge” or rabbinical assessor who aided the rabbi in the Bet Din or Rabbinical Court)

One of the greatest dayanim was rabbi Isaiah Yaakov Igra who served during the tenure of rabbis Enzel Cuzmer and Eliyahu Meir in the mid nineteenth century.

Rabbi Isaiah Yaakov was a descendant of rabbi Meshullam Igra known as rabbi Meshullam from Tyśmienica, one of the great authorities of his generation, the author of “Igra Rama”, frequently asked questions about the Mishnah (Shas - an acronym for Shisha Sedarim – the “six orders” of the Mishnah), who was also the teacher of the Rabbi from Lissa and rabbi Arie Leibish Horowitz (the first).

The daughter of rabbi Isaiah Yaakov, Haychi, was the mother of rabbis Haim and Nuta Wolff who frequented the Ziditchev Kloiz and who both perished in the Shoah.

Between the two world wars the dayanim were rabbi Isaiah Asher Jolles, son of rabbi Shalom HaKohen Jolles and rabbi Shaul son of rabbi Yaakov Joseph Lusthaus. Both perished with their community in the Shoah.


Rabbi Asher Yeshayahu Frankel
(Known as the rabbi of Strelisk)

Translated by Susan Rosin

He was the son of rabbi Israel Leib of Przemyślany, the grandson of rabbi Meir'l of Przemyślany, rabbi Naphtali of Ropshits (Ropczyce) and the Baal Shem Tov. His wife, the rebbetzin Bat Sheva was the daughter of rabbi Levi Isaac of Strelisk, the son rabbi Shlomo, the only son of Rabi Uri 'ha-Saraf' from Strelisk.

In 1914, at the start of the war, rabbi Frankel who was 35 at the time and the father of four daughters and two sons moved his family from Sterlisk to Stryj. People flocked to study with him and to listen to his enthusiastic prayers. His son Levi Isaac was a journalist in an orthodox newspaper in Poland. Rabbi Isaac Levi Klinghoyft, the head of the rabbinical court in Otinya (Ottynia) was his son-in-law. The entire family perished in the Holocaust except for one son – Rabbi Dr. Israel Frankel, the author of “Peshat (Plain Exegesis) In Talmudic and Midrashic Literature” and was later the executive director of the Toronto Jewish Public Library.


Rabbi Mordechai (Motel) Druker

Translated by Susan Rosin

Rabbi Mordechai Druker was the student of his uncle rabbi Moshe Enser, an outstanding scholar, intellectual and learned in the Torah. Like his uncle and teacher, rabbi Mordechai Druker was a significant scholar of the Torah, excellent reader (of scriptures) and an expert with regard to Agada, Midrashim and Hebrew grammar.

He started his literary and scientific work by publishing articles in the “Ivri Anochi” (I am a Hebrew) in Brody, “Yehudi” (Jewish) in Pressburg and the “Tor” in Sighet. Later he published a book “Safa Laneemanim” (Language for the Faithful) on the Hebrew verbs (Drohobycz 1883); “Techelet Mordechai”, a commentary on the Pentateuch (Lviv 1894); “Tovim Meorot” (The Good Luminaries), sanctification for the sun and moon (first edition Lviv 1897, second edition Lviv 1928); “Ateret Mordechai” (The crown of Mordechai), a commentary on Midrash Rabba using the approach of Hebrew linguistics; “Divrei Hachamim Ve'Hidoteyhem” (The words and riddles of the sages) on the Torah portions. In addition he participated in writing “Ohel Moed” with rabbi Byk.

From 1891 he was a preacher in Stryj, doing so without pay. He was admired and respected by

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all in Stryj. To enable him teach, he was offered the synagogue minyan “Yad Harutzim” as a permanent location and became the spiritual leader of the worshipers there, who were mostly craftsmen and common folks. The synagogue was called later “The Motel Druker Shul”.

The Zionist youth, interested in the Hebrew language found him to be an excellent teacher of grammar and the bible.

His wife, mother and grandmother were all famous midwives. After the Stryj fire, his mother Esther was able to reconstruct from memory the births books for an entire generation.


Rabbi Isaac Hauptman
(Rabbi Itshe Shub)

Translated by Susan Rosin

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Rabbi Isaac ben Eliyahu Nathan Hauptman was one of the outstanding personalities of our community and talented in many areas. He was very active in all religious matters in our town, head of the Chevra Kadisha, honorary officer of the great synagogue and the Ziditchev Synagogue (the “Blechene Kloiz”) and a devotee of the Ziditchev. He had the privilege to visit with the famous rabbi Yitzchak Isaac the founder of the Ziditchev Eichenstein dynasty.

He was a “Shub” (the initials of “Shohet Ubodek”, Slaughterer and Inspector) and a circumsizer and was considered an authority in these professions. After his father passed away, rabbi Isaac was appointed a Shub in Stryj at an early age although there were others who were more experienced than him. Because of his expertise in slaughtering many butchers preferred to work with him, a situation that caused jealousy and hard feelings among the rest of the Shubs. To alleviate the problem it was decided by the Kehila board to set forth “daily slaughtering turns”. Sometimes there was a shortage of meat because the butchers were waiting for rabbi Itshe's turn.

Rabbi Itshe was a prayer leader, a cantor, musically talented whose singing was delightful. Unlike other cantors at his time, he was proficient in musical notes. He was in touch with other renowned cantors and received from them the melodies which he expertly matched for various prayers. He even used secular and popular melodies for prayers. He worshiped in many synagogues during the morning and evening prayers.

Although he never studied in a secular or technical school, rabbi Itshe was an engineer. He was able to create structural and architectural plans for homes and buildings as well as any certified engineer would.

His talent in this area was so great that the Stryj city engineer Postempski instructed the technical department to immediately send him any plans submitted by rabbi Itshe for approval, whereas plans submitted by certified engineers were many times sent back for revisions.

His character was a combination of the holy and the secular, an orthodox Jew and a Jew who saw national revival in Zionism. Shortly before his death he was nominated as the head of the “Mizrahi” association in Stryj. After the approval of the British mandate in Palestine and after the Balfour declaration in San-Remo by the League of Nations, it was suggested during Saturday prayers to take a collection for the Jewish National Fund. The most orthodox objected, but rabbi Itshe declared that he will call the worshipers for Aliyah (An Aliyah, Hebrew עליה is the calling of a member of a Jewish congregation to the bimah for a segment of reading from the Torah) and elicited donations from them for the JNF. His children, sons Aharon, Eliyahu, Yaakov, Abraham, Menachem, and daughters, Haya Branchi, Fruma, Esther and Sara were all dedicated Zionists and members of Poalei Zion and were active in all areas of Jewish national and communal life.


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Dr. Isaac (Isidor) Aaron Bernfeld

Translated by Susan Rosin

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Dr. Isaac Aaron Bernfeld (1854 – 1930) was born in Tyśmienica, was a Hebrew author and taught Jewish studies in Stryj for 44 years.

His father, Moshe was one of the first intellectuals in Tyśmienica and Stanisławów and both sons Dr. Isaac and Dr. Shimon received traditional and secular education. Their father instilled in them love for the Hebrew language. In his opinions, Dr. Isaac Bernfeld leaned towards Polish assimilation although not to the extreme.

He believed that Jews should learn the Polish language, although he saw Hebrew as an only asset that will sustain the Jewish people and their culture.

During 1881 – 1885 he was the editor of “Hamazkir”, the Hebrew part of the periodical “Ojczyzna” (The Fatherland), published in Lvov by the assimilators Alfred Nossig and Bernhard Goldberg.

While editing the “Hamazkir”, he also wrote articles for the “Hamagid” (the Preacher), “Hakol” (the Voice), “Hamelitz” (the Advocate), “Hazefirah” (the Siren) about Galician Jews and their issues. He also wrote a Yiddish article demanding the establishment of modern Jewish schools suited for the times.

He translated into Hebrew the research book of Abraham Berliner “The Jewish Life in Germany in the Middle Ages” (Ahiasaf Publication, Warsaw 1900). His main scientific interest was the research of Hebrew language. He published a Hebrew-Polish dictionary in 1926, and wrote (in Polish) about the Hebrew grammar. He also translated the Mishnah into Polish, but did not publish it.


Dr. Zvi Diesendruk
(1890 – 1941)

Translated by Susan Rosin

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He was one of the shining stars in science and Hebrew literature of our time. He came from a well-to-do family, and his father Yehuda Leib, a Czortków Hassid, educated him in the spirit of tradition and Hassidism at the kloiz of Stryj's famous scholar rabbi Hirsch-Wolff. However, young Zvi who was a prodigy gradually became less religious, and at night he would conceal secular works under the large books of Talmud. Zionist students helped him prepare for the high school entrance examinations.

When still in Stryj he took part in the activities of the Galician Hebrew Movement, and together with his friend Jonah Gelernter he established the “Ivriya” society. In 1909 he left Stryj and moved to Vienna, where he successfully took the matriculation exams and then studied philosophy and classical languages at the University. He was the student of the two well-known professors of philosophy, Shteher and Jodl. In 1912 he went to Eretz Israel where he spent a year as a teacher. From 1913 until 1916 he taught in Berlin, and then served in the Austrian army. After the end of the war he settled in Vienna, where he became a teacher of philosophy and Hebrew literature at the Hebrew Pedagogical Institute headed by Professor Dr. Zvi Peretz Chajes (Zvi-Peretz Hayot). In 1922 he received his Ph.D. in philosophy. From 1925 until 1927 he taught at the Rabbinical Seminary of Dr. Stephen Wise in New York. In 1927 he was invited to be lecturer of Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University. However, he left Eretz Israel after two years

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because he was appointed a Professor at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, to replace Professor Dr. David Neumark. He was also the vice-chairman of the American Academy of Jewish Research, and editor of the Hebrew Union College Annual.

He had started his literary work before the First World War. His first essay was published in Gershom Bader's journal “Ha'et” (the Time) (Lviv 1906). He contributed to “Hashiloah”, where he published his first philosophical study. He was active in “Revivim” edited by J. H. Brenner and G. Shoffmann in Lviv, as well as “Haolam” (the World), and “Hatekufa” (the Era). In 1918-1919 he published the monthly “Gevulot” (Borders) in Vienna with G. Shoffmann.

He translated into Hebrew Plato's Phaedrus, Gorgias, Crito and Republic (Shtibel Publishing Company).

In German he published Struktur und Charakter des Platonischen Phaidros (Vienna, 1927). In the Israel Abrahams' Memorial Volume he published Die Teleologie bei Maimonides, Maimonideslehre von der Prophetie (New York 1927). In the 1928 yearbook of the Hebrew Union College - Samuel and Moses Tibbon on Maimonides' theory of providence, The philosophy of Maimonides' theory of negation of privation (proceeding t. VI 1934-1935).

Diesendruk excelled in his deep understanding of philosophical issues and his Hebrew lectures were clear and precise. He was one of the prominent researches of our new literature.


Dr. Naphtali (Tulo) Nussenblatt

Translated by Susan Rosin

Dr. Naphtali (Tulo) Nussenblatt was a member of the “Bnei Zion” Gymnasium Zionist circle founded by Dr. Insler. He later joined “Hashomer”, which after the First World War became “Hashomer Hatza'ir”. During the war he was an officer in the Austrian army, was wounded in action and received a medal.

After the War he settled in Vienna, studied law and obtained a Ph.D. He never practiced as a lawyer, but devoted himself to literary and political journalism. He specialized in the period and personal history of Dr. Theodore Herzl. He collected much material and published essays and studies in the Zionist press and other anthologies. In 1929 he published his first book: Zeitgenossen ueber Herzl (Brun) a collection of memoirs by Herzl's contemporaries. In his book, Ein Volk unterwegs zum Frieden (Vienna 1933) he collected valuable archival material regarding the political activities of Dr. Herzl, particularly at the time of the Hague Peace Conference in 1899.

In 1937 he began to publish an annual in Vienna, which was devoted to the study of the history of Herzl and the Zionist Movement, under the title, Theodor Herzl Jahrbuch. However, he was able to publish only the first issue which contained unknown material and historical essays on Dr. Herzl and the early days of the Zionist Movement.

After the Nazis invasion of Austria he escaped to Poland, settling in Dąbrowa Górnicza near Będzin, where his father-in-law lived. During the war he moved to Warsaw and took an active part in Ghetto life and underground activities. In September 1942 he was kidnapped by the Germans, deported to Maidanek where he was murdered.

Dr. Nussenblatt, who was a collector, gathered a large collection of letters and manuscripts by Dr. Herzl. All this material was lost in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Dr. Nathan Ek (Ekron) wrote in his book “Hatoim Bedarchei Ha'et” (“The Lost in the Ways of Time”) (Yad Vashem publication, Jerusalem 1960) about his meeting with Dr. Nussenblatt in 1931 when they sat in the Prückel coffeehouse in Vienna, Nussenblatt told him about the conversations he had with people in Vienna to collect information and memoirs about Herzl. One of them was an older Jew, a Herzl contemporary with whom Nussenblatt spoke at the same coffeehouse. Like many of his generation, this man treated Herzl's ideas with perplexity. He tried to convince Herzl to stop his dreams and to devote himself to more material things to promote his career.

The man remembered that Herzl stopped and told him: “After my passing, a generation of young enthusiastic and patriotic people will arise and they will want to research everything I said and wrote”.

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And here you are, said the man to Nussenblatt, one of these young enthusiastic people who is a Herzl researcher.

When Nussenblatt heard this, he jumped from his seat as did Archimedes in his time and cried “eureka”. “Up until that time, when asked about my profession, I would say:

“historian” or “journalist” or “author”. But now I know – I am a Herzl Researcher. This is a new scientific discipline, my profession…”


Jonah Gelernter

Translated by Susan Rosin

 

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Jonah Gelernter was born in Stryj in 1890. He worked together with dr. Zvi Diesendruk in Stryj and later was active in the Zionist movement in Vienna. He wrote stories and essays for the Hebrew publications (“Hamitzpeh” and “Hayom”). In Vienna he dedicated himself to teaching the Hebrew language. Between 1923 and 1938 he taught Hebrew language and literature at the Zvi Peretz Chajes (Zvi–Peretz Hayot) institute in Vienna. He published a monthly in Vienna called “Devarenu” (Our Word). After the Nazis occupied Vienna he escaped to Paris, but was murdered there in 1944.


Memorial for Yehoshua

by Dr. Moshe Mikam

Translated by Susan Rosin

 

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He was restrained in his behavior. He was more a listener than a talker and he hid more than he revealed. He had sadness in him which was largely a hidden world within him. He had dreamy eyes that were sometimes smiling, sometimes sad and sometimes penetrating. This dreamer became sometimes a sarcastic mocker – but his sarcasm was more of a defense than an intentional disrespect.

He was a believer, but refrained from discussing God and religion. He was observant, but not to the extreme. He hated publicity and exaggeration. He was a soldier during the first World War and was deeply affected by the horrors he was exposed to. However, these experiences deepened his religious beliefs and made him closer to God.

The believer in him was not pushed aside by the intellectual in him, and because of that his outlook on life was true and deep and so was his understanding of literature. He was very familiar with the European literature and its many languages. This familiarity was not dry, but clear and fresh and he was able to combine the Jewish culture with that of the world. In his soul Shakespeare and rabbi Akiva, Plato and the Maimonides lived in harmony.

He was a homebody, but was always willing to join others and to help with advice and assistance. People were drawn to him because of his charming personality. Anyone who had conversations with him never regretted it.

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He was a combination of a child's naiveté and a man learnt in the torah who loathed being prominent and avoided being popular and famous.

He was a very prolific writer, but chose not to write unless he was asked to do so. That was how he came produce the excellent translation into Polish of Shai Agnon's famous work “Vehaya Ha'akov Lemishor” (“And the Crooked Shall Be Made Straight”). In the same way he wrote his brilliant essays about the New Hebrew literature.

He was a unique teacher. He taught with all his being and his radiant personality. He knew how to influence by not conforming to the usual teaching methods, but by his inspired spirit, by the remarks and illustrations, his deep scientific understanding and by insisting on attention to detail. His students adored and admired him because they felt he gave his entire being to educating them.

He was proficient in all high school subjects. If a teacher was absent, he was always a substitute. He could teach math, physics, history, geography and satisfy even the most demanding students.

And last but not least was his relationship with his mother. Once when I stayed at her house I saw the radiant stillness, the serenity and tranquility in her and I realized he had those too. Here I saw the flowing love from a son to the woman most dear to him and I understood that love like this can feed a love of Torah, people and God.

My memories are so precious, but painful as well. I can see the dear and admired close friend, but the pain is so great because this wonderful person did not die a normal death, but was murdered by criminals. And I cannot even go to his grave and say “may you rest in peace”, but I'll pray for you with pain in my heart “may your pure soul rest with the rest of Israel martyrs. Amen”.


Dr. Max Bienenstock (1881 – 1923)

Translated by Susan Rosin

 

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The teacher and author Dr. Max Bienenstock was one of the most outstanding Zionist activists in Stryj between 1912 and 1919.

He was born in Tarnów and completed his studies in Kraków. He joined the Zionist movement in his youth and was active since 1902 in spite of being a government employee. Because of his position he was frequently transferred. In 1912 he was appointed as a German language and literature teacher at the high school in Stryj. In the years before the war he dedicated himself mostly to literary work.

When the Austro–Hungarian Empire crumbled and the establishment of the Western Ukrainian republic in the eastern part of Galicia, hopes were high for establishing a Jewish autonomy

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Dr. Bienenstock joined the Zionist movement in Stryj and became one of its activists. He was one of the organizers of the Jewish council that was established in Stryj. As an educator he was one of the architects of the national education and one of the founders of national schools in eastern Galicia. In 1919 he was a delegate together with Naphtali Siegel to the Stanislawow convention of Jewish communities in eastern Galicia to establish a network of Jewish schools. He was the editor of the newspaper “Volkstimme” published in Stryj which dealt mainly with issues of Jewish education and the self–governing of the Jewish institutions. He signed the articles “Kaveret” (beehive). He identified with the Zionist–Socialist movement and was one of the founders of “Poalei Zion” and later “Hitahadut”. After the Polish invasion of Stryj he was fired from his position but in 1920 became the principal of the Jewish high school in Lviv.

In 1922 he was elected to the Polish senate as a delegate of the Jewish National party. However, he passed away shortly afterwards in 1923.

He was a very prolific author and journalist who wrote many articles in the Zionist–Socialist media. Later in life he learnt to write Yiddish and published articles about the Yiddish literature and theater in “Togblatt”, “Ringen” and “Milgroim”. He also published research articles in Polish and German such as “The Effect of German literature on the Romantic Poems of Juliusz Słowacki” (Warsaw 1909), on Lessing and Hubell (1913). The most famous is his book “Das Judentum in Heines Dichnungen”. He translated into German “Nie Boska komedia” (Non–Divine Comedy) by Zygmunt Krasinski and the “Yizkor” book for the “Shomrim” (The Jewish Watchmen's Organization in Palestine). He also published an article on Henrik Ibsen's artistic opinions.


Dr. Abraham Insler

Translated by Susan Rosin

 

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Dr. Abraham Insler was born in Stryj on November 2nd, 1893, the son of Benjamin Insler. He received a secular education at home. In high school he joined the Zionist group and learnt Hebrew, Yiddish, and the history of the Jewish people. He was very talented and represented the Jewish youth in the national conventions of “Zeirei Zion” (Youth of Zion) that were held in secret every year in Lviv.

After graduating from high school he studied law at the universities of Lviv and Vienna where he participated in Zionist activities. He was one of the organizers of the “Emuna” Academic Society and later became its chairperson. He published many articles in Polish about current affairs in the Zionist monthlies “Moriah” and “Hashahar”.

At the start of the First World War he returned to Vienna and was one of Dr. Nathan Birnbaum's assistants at the periodical “Juedisches Kriegararchiv”. Upon his return to Stryj in 1918 he joined “Poalei Zion”. After three months he helped to organize the Jewish National Council.

In 1921 after the establishment of the daily Polish Zionist journal “Chwila” in Lviv he joined the editorial staff and was also elected as a member of the Zionist board in western Galicia. In 1922 he was elected for the Polish Sejm as a delegate from the Stanisławów– Kołomyja district. He excelled in his brilliant speeches at the Sejm and was especially interested in local city government issues, was a member of the committee of legal and internal affairs and was one of the seven members of the “human rights league”. He joined the faction of Isaac Greenbaum which caused a conflict with the Zionist board in Lviv.

In 1925 he was elected the head of the Kehila in Stryj, but

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resigned because he moved to Lviv. In 1928 he established together with dr. Michael Ringel and dr. Fishel Rotenstreich the newspaper “Der Morgen” and was its chief editor. He was elected for a second term as a delegate for the Polish Sejm and served until its dispersal in 1930.

In 1931 – 1932 he was the chief editor of the “Nowe Słowo” (New Word) Zionist daily in Warsaw. Because of disagreements with the management, he left Warsaw and returned to Lviv where he published the distinguished weekly “Opinia” (Opinion). In 1937 he published a pamphlet “False Documents” (Dokumenty Fałszywe) and “Legend and Facts” (Legendy i Fakty) refuting the Anti–Semitic libels and exposing the part played by the Polish army in the 1918 Lviv pogrom. He also published a dr. Gershon Zipper monograph.

He was in failing health in his last years and passed away at the young age of 45.

May his memory be preserved as one of the leaders of the national revival movements in Stryj and all of Poland.*

*Articles about Isaac Bernfeld, dr. Max Bienenstock, dr. Abraham Insler, dr. Zvi Diesendruk, dr. Naphtali (Tulu) Nussenblatt and Jonah Gelernter were transferred with permission from the article “The History of the Jews of Stryj” by dr. M.N. Gelber.


Dr. Zeev Presser

Translated by Susan Rosin

 

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Dr. Presser was born in Stryj to a progressive family. After graduating from the high school in Stryj, he studied law in Vienna. He married the sister of the renowned Zionist leader dr. Abraham Insler. In addition to his professional education he had extensive general knowledge and lectured and wrote articles about world literature. He was a Zionist from a young age and one of the central figures in communal life and one of the outstanding lawyers in Stryj. He was a pleasant person who was popular in both Jewish and non–Jewish circles. He was elected a deputy mayor of Stryj, head of the Zionist institutions in town and the head of the Kehila. He was a dedicated community leader until its destruction.


Dr. Mordechai Kaufmann

Translated by Susan Rosin

 

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Dr. Mordechai Kaufmann was born in Stryj to a traditional and observant family. He was one of the first Hebrew speakers and after high school in Stryj he studied law in Lviv. During the First World War he served as an officer in the Austrian army. He was one of the commanders of the Jewish self–defense during the Ukrainian rule. In his professional work he contributed to strengthening the status of lawyers in our town. He was an active Zionist from a young age. He played an important part as deputy mayor, head of the community and chairman of the general Zionist party.

He was moderate in his views and had a calming influence on political and public life and was admired and respected by his supporters and even his adversaries. In his approach to issues and his influence he resembled Dr. Presser. He immigrated to Eretz Israel but was sent to Poland on a mission by the JNF and was murdered there with his wife.

 

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