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[Page 5]

Introduction and explanatory notes about the book

Translated by Sara Mages

We, the initiators of this Yizkor Book must commemorate the martyrs of Dubiecko and the surrounding area - to give an explanation to the readers, meaning, the generation born after the Holocaust, the parents, former residents of Dubiecko, for whom this book is especially intended and also give an answer those who ask: why - only fifty years after the end of the war we were overcome by the desire and consciousness to commemorate, in this book, the memory of our martyrs and our town, Dubiecko and give a description of the town and the Jews who lived and worked there. Most of them were murdered there by the Nazis and their henchmen, may their name and memory be blotted out, and we erected a monument in their memory at the cemetery in Holon?

First: after the Holocaust we did not know what to think first, nor did it occur to anyone that everything the Germans did to us - everywhere - would turn, in a period of only one generation, to the pages of the general history of the Jewish people? In other words, that the Holocaust would be forgotten so quickly?!...

Second: all those who went through the Holocaust, those who went through the war, among them those who were born in Dubiecko and the surrounding area, still live in the memories of the past. They remember their parents, grandfathers and grandmothers, and all their loved ones who perished. They see before them the houses, the shops and Batei HaMidrash, the elderly and the children, the Heder and the Rabbi… and when we met, the subjects of conversation was around the town, which was still part of our lives, and therefore, we did not find the need to add more and commemorate!

Since then, years have passed and we, who were once the “younger generation” of former residents of Dubiecko, have grown a little older... and the memory has weakened. A memory of double meaning: personal and also about the Holocaust and the town. Indeed, over the years we have tried to convey to our children a little idea about the town by telling stories about its way of life, about its people and about their actions. About what we went through and about everything that happened to others, how this small community was annihilated among all other communities in Poland. But, unfortunately, we have not succeeded in this and as a result some of the new generation barely remembers the name Dubiecko where their father or mother was born, and some, and perhaps most of them, also do not remember the name of the town…

Therefore, we now see a need, and a duty, to our loved ones who perished so, as long as we live, we must commemorate the town and its institutions and leave, for future generations and history, a memory and a description of the Jews who lived there. Many of them perished there and were buried in a mass grave by the Nazis may their name and memory be blotted out. May the Lord avenge their blood.

We brought to light the figures who worked for the Jews who lived there. Their action was expressed in helping others and in the field of education and culture.

What was given prominently came to testify that even in small towns the order of the life of the Jewish population was incredibly organized. There were also many wise students, Torah scholars and public figures - and we are proud of them to this day.

Here, in Israel, live, with God's help, a beautiful community of former residents of Dubiecko. May they multiplied and succeed. Some came before the war and some - after. They established here a new and beautiful generation. They all integrated into the new life and participated in building the country and the defending the homeland. In this way they attest to the fruits of the education of their grandfathers and grandmothers, our loved ones who perished in the town for the sanctification of God's name .

It is important to us that this generation, and generations to come, will know the memory of the community of Dubiecko, the memory of our loved ones, and everything that happened to them.

We hope, that with the publication of this Yizkor Book - when it is found in every home of former resident of Dubiecko in Israel and abroad - the interest of our community, and its history, will grow in the second generation of Holocaust survivors and the book will serve as a family tree and a source for the roots that will be handed over to future generations.


[Page 6]

Introduction

Translated by Sara Mages

When, after the establishment of the State of Israel Jews from Dubiecko also began to arrive in Israel, they found here a small community of former residents of Dubiecko. Among them was Mrs. Zissel Hoffman z”l, daughter of Pinchas Chaim Wasserstein who was known in town as a great Torah scholar.

Zissel also left Dubiecko as a pioneer. In the 1930s she went through the hard life of the pioneers and in 1950 we found her in Holon. However, it is more correct to say that Zissel found us, meaning, she was very interested in the fate of the Dubieckoim.And here, we have to tell how the organization of the former residents of Dubiecko and the surrounding area was created and mention the names of the initiators and leaders of the organization: Mrs. Zissel Hoffman z”l, R' Yitzchak Melber z”l, R' Chaim Simcha Bock z”l and Mrs. Miriam Rozenblum from the Mund family, may she be set apart for long life!

When awakening began among the former residents of Dubiecko to organize memorials and commemorations in memory of the Holocaust victims from Dubiecko, Zissel headed this organization. First, a committee, which contained the aforementioned members, was organized. They contacted every former resident of Dubiecko that they knew throughout the country and they informed others. When the committee knew the address of each person the organization of former residents of Dubiecko and the surrounding area was created. The committee, headed by Zissel Hoffman, began to operate. At first, they started to organize an annual memorial service in Tel-Aviv, later a commemoration at Yad Vashem and the establishment of a memorial plaque at the Chamber of Holocaust in Mount Zion. They also started talking about the publishing of a Yizkor Book.

The memorial services continued for years until the older generation, including Zissel and members of the committee, passed away. The organization faded slowly until the memorial services were canceled and additional activities have not taken place for many years.

And here came into action a Jew from Dubiecko who was a child at the outbreak of the war and hardly remembered the town. Mr. Moshe Lefler, son of R' Yosef Lefler, a resident of Ramat-Gan, began to reorganize the annual memorial service. At the same time he began to collect material for the publication of a book about the town, which would also be a memorial book for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust from Dubiecko and the surrounding area. The book will also serve as “roots” for future generations, everything that is known about the life of the Jews, how their grandfathers and grandmothers lived until they were expelled from the town by the Germans, as well as personal stories from those who went through the Holocaust and everything they knew about the people who perished in Dubiecko up to the final liquidation. A list of all those who perished in Dubiecko, which was assembled by Tzvi Rift who remembered and knew all the Jews of Dubiecko by first and last name, was also found. He also knew the number of residents in each house. He compiled this list for himself and this list appears in the book.

At the same time the committee organized the establishment of a memorial to the victims of the community of Dubiecko and the surrounding area at the cemetery in Holon among dozens of other memorials. We especially have to congratulate Mr. Kennitle Bezalel, Mr. Moshe Lefler, Mr. Chaim Bruner, Mr. Yosef Harpenist and Mr. Nachum Bock.

Most of the former Jewish residents of Dubiecko participated in the unveiling of the memorial and it was also decided to collect material and publish the book.

It should be noted here that Mr. Moshe Lefler invested a lot of work, time and money in renewing the activities of former residents of Dubiecko, the publishing of the book and erecting the monument despite his poor health.

He should be blessed for his great work and he, and his family, will merit a long and good life.


[Page 7]

We were ordered to remember!

Yehusua Pinchas Spiegel

Translated by Sara Mages

My association with the Dubiecko community - a Jewish town:

The terrible holocaust that afflicted us hurt every Jew. Jews, especially those from Europe, secretly mourn their relatives. They still hear the cry of the six million Jewish martyrs who were murdered by the German oppressors and those like to them.

And in Israel - echoes the song of our psalmist poet: “Much have they distressed me from my youth - but they have not prevailed against me” (Psalms 129:2), and if our enemies are still plotting - we are certain that even in the future they will despair and retreat along with the enemies of Zion wherever they are.

Our generation has been tested in two very extreme periods: a period of concealment - that the words of reproach took place in us: “… and I will abandon them and hide My face from them, and they shall be consumed, and many evils and troubles will befall them…” (Deuteronomy 31:17).

And the period of revelation, when miraculous events occurred from the day of the establishment of the State of Israel to the first day of the War of Independence, when our enemies ambushed us around.

What caused this reversal?

The conviction, that the nations of the world betrayed a terrible betrayal, and because of them six million had been burned at the stake and exterminated with unprecedented cruelty. This persuasion caused and urged us to rely only on ourselves and only trust the Jewish people. The evidence, after the tragic end and after only a few survivors remained, Jews clung to the gates of Israel where a non-humanitarian government ruled in the name of democracy. Their right was to enter its gates and build its ruins with the essence of life. They were cruel to the unfortunate who wanted to come to Israel and find solace for their grief and sorrow. Yes, they, it was they who refused and prevented the miserable to heal their hearts which were broken to pieces by the terrible calamity.

It is proven that their share in the general betrayal - is great...

The prophet defines this attitude of ridicule and cruelty in two words - acts of Satan: “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:2).

Even now, before we have reached rest - our neighbors continue to dream of destroying us with brutal means. We also faced wars we did not want and expanded the borders of the country because the Israeli soldiers conducted a magnificent journey.

Therefore, we must thank the Blessed God for the miracles that came together with the sacrifice of the fighters and devotion.

It is our duty to make all the efforts that the State of Israel, which was established, will embody the best aspiration of the generations, and the spiritual image of the country will shine from the radiance and light of our great heritage.

The souls of the six million, the community of Dubiecko among them, will always be before our eyes. Holy communities were destroyed and whole families wiped out - we will listen to their whisper and the outpouring of their hearts.

Our prayer, that the sounds of life of the State of Israel, and its way of life, will merge into letters and combination of words - to revive the martyrs of the Holocaust in the resurrection of the dead together with all other dead of your Jewish people, with mercy, Amen.


[Page 8]

History of the Jews of Dubiecko

Translated by Sara Mages

The historical background

The town of Dubiecko lies on the San River, a wide river that run through the Galicia region from south to the north and its waters spills into the Vistula – the largest river in Poland (the Jews called it Weisel). During the hot summer days the townspeople flocked to bath and swim in its waters.

To the west, a road from the cities of Rzeszów [Raysha] and Dynów [Dinov] crosses the town and passes east to the city of Przemyśl [Pshemishl]. The town lies on a wide and beautiful plain and on the southeast it has a steep slope that continues to the San River. It gives the town protection against river flooding after continuous rainfall, or from thawing snow, which causes the river water to overflow and flood many areas.

We do not know exactly when the Jews first settled there, but according to the tombstone in the old cemetery, which was preserved because part of it was inside an ancient oak tree, its age is considered to be over 350 years. We do not have any documents, or other records, that we can use to determine the exact date of the arrival of the first Jews to the town, and the history of the Jews over the years since they settled there, but we have what we heard from our grandfathers and grandmothers, meaning – from the last 100 years.

It should be noted, that there are no historical buildings from the 16th and17th centuries that would testify to the life of the Jews. The sole reliance is the old cemetery in which the tombstones remained without inscriptions. The tombstones were of stone and the inscriptions eroded over the generations. Even these tombstones were few and not by ordered rows. The area was relatively large for the few tombstones that were in it. There were also ancient oak trees there.

There were elders in town who remembered the candle and meat tax imposed by the Austrian government. This tax was abolished in 1848. There were some who remembered, to some extent, the 1848 peasant revolt against the landowners.

At any rate, by some signs, it is likely that the number of the first Jews who settled in the town was small. The first sign, as we mentioned, was the old cemetery and also the new. There was only one difference between them, in the new there was already an organized community and Chevra Kadisha. The second sign was the Shtiebel. There was a small synagogue called Shtiebel. It was built of bricks or stones. An old building whose walls were very thick in proportion to its size and sunk into the ground. Such a small house of worship was built for a minyan and a half Jews. By its thick walls it looked like a shelter and it was possible to hide there in time of danger. I don't remember if there were bars in its windows.

Attached to the Shtiebel, on its three sides, was a stone foundation. Maybe it was left from some structure that once stood on that foundation. It is also possible that the Jews wanted to build a big synagogue and stopped at the beginning of its construction. Interestingly, none of the elders knew what this foundation was. Next to the Shtiebel stood Beit Hamidrash Hagadol [Great Study House] which was, indeed, a big building that was built a century ago.

The surnames of all the town's Jews were German, or with a German sound. There was not a single Jew in town with a Polish surname such as: Shmarlowski, Branowski and the like. Of all the above, it is likely that during the Polish rule there were few Jews in Dubiecko, and after the Austrian occupation Jews from Western Europe were added and they began to live there in an orderly fashion in all areas of life. They probably built the big Beit Midrash and expanded the cemetery. It is also possible that they built the houses around the square (rynek), because all the houses around the square, and the main street in the center, belonged to the Jews.

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It was probably at the time when the town began to develop as a town. What characterizes the houses around the square is, that each house, on all four sides of the square, had a narrow piece of land adjacent to the width of the house and was about 40 meters, or more, in length.

 

Rabbis

At the beginning of the 19th century there was already a chief rabbi in the town. In the book about Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech [Shapira] of Dinov, by Rabbi Natan Ortner, it is brought that Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, who became a famous Admor [Hassidic leader], and the first of the Dinov dynasty, served for a certain time as a rabbi in Dubiecko. Although there is no exact date there, it can be assumed that it was immediately at the beginning of the 19th century. In 5591, when he was already known as the Admor of Dinov, he returned to Dubiecko for a short time during the epidemic that broke out in Galicia. When he arrived he declared: “Meshane Makom Meshane Mazal” [Change your place, change your luck].

In the book, “Bnei Yissaschar,” by R' Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, it is mentioned that R' Mechil of Dubiecko was in a friendly relationship with the Admorim. The elders told that they built the ohel on the grave of R' Mechil in the cemetery. It is told, that when he conducted a trial he came to a conclusion that one of the litigants was lying and ready to swear – he responded: “Ribono Shel Olam, why are you lying to the world.” A few days later, he passed away.

The town's chief rabbi before the First World War was te Hasidic rabbi, our teacher the rabbi, R' Menashe z”l.[1] We do not know who, and which rabbis, served from the beginning of the 19th century and up to R' Menashe z”. The previous rabbi, R' Mensch'le, did not leave a proper heir to receive the rabbinate in his place. He came from the city of Ropshitz and after his death, at the beginning of the 1920s, they brought R' Aharon Plas in his place. Apparently, he was a relative of the former rabbi and came from the same city.

This rabbi served wisely and was interested in every person in town. Every gathering for a matter of a mitzvah, like the seventh night of Passover, in a sukkah or on Purim, etc. – took place in his home and he never acted with authority and always made sure to pay homage to each person as he deserved. In this way he endeared himself on all the strata of the townspeople, even on the Belz Hassidim.

We do not know where the rabbi and his wife perished. May their souls be bound in the bond of everlasting life.

In any case, the Hasidic rabbi, our teacher the rabbi, R' Shmuel Aharon Plas hy”d,[2] served as the community rabbi before and after the outbreak of the Second World War.

 

The town and its institutions

At the entrance, above the Dubiecko town council building was an arch–shaped inscription (it may still exist today): the municipal building was erected on so–and–so date, and when Dubiecko was accepted as a town. The council house was built of brick and stone, and from the outside looked like an old building. It is likely that important data on Dubiecko Jews can also be found in their archive.

The castle, which stands inside the town and belonged to the owner of the Krashitsky estate, can attest to the age of Dubiecko as an initial settlement. By the shape of the building it was probably built in the Middle Ages. On one side it stands next to a steep and quite high slope that goes down to the San River, and on three sides the castle is surrounded by a water canal. Over the canal is a chain bridge that can be removed during an attack on the castle. In addition, there is a tower on the castle with cannons.

Not far from the castle was an ancient tree whose branches were reinforced with iron hoops. One of the members of this noble family, a bishop and also a poet, wrote the poem, “In the shade of this tree,” therefore the family made all the efforts to protect it.

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Adjacent to this castle was a large area where ancient oak trees grew. These trees also have a story related to the Jews. The town elders pointed to the place as the old cemetery because Jews, who gave their lives for the sanctification of God's name, were buried there. They told that on Yom Kippur the castle's nobleman invited some Jews and ordered them to plant these trees. The Jews refused because of the sanctity of the day, the nobleman became angry and ordered to smear them with tar and burn them. It can be easily assumed that the town has developed like all the settlements, from the time of the feudal rule of the nobles.

We will return to the description of the town. Its geological structure was like all the small towns that characterized the towns of Galicia. The main road was also the main street with houses and shops on both sides that almost all of them belonged to the Jews. The houses in the center were mostly made of wood. There were also two–story buildings built of brick, but they were built after the great fire of 1929.

At the western entrance to the town, on the left side, we see the estate of the Jewish Kenner family and also the desolated vodka distillery, on the right side the fields that belonged to the estate, further down is the river and above it a wooden bridge. From here the houses are already standing on both sides, and here is another river and another bridge built of stone in the form of a huge arch. The two rivers connect not far from the bridges and spill into the San River. The merging of the rivers is a great sight to see from the second bridge.

After the second bridge – an ascent, and again, beautiful houses and manicured gardens on both sides, the Russian Orthodox Church is also there. Here, the population was mixed: Jews and Christians together. Down the main street, on the left side, Jewish homes and shops, and on the right side, the Catholic Church that the walls around it were relatively ancient. There were also very old trees next to the walls. The church served as a house of worship for all the all villages in the area and on Sunday the town was filled with gentiles who came from all the villages to the church.

The surrounding wall occupied a large area along the street. In front of it, and among the Jewish houses, was the municipality (Gmina in Polish), and the registry office was also there. From here on, all the houses and shops belonged to the Jews. After the church wall was a small garden with few trees and grass, and after the garden it was possible to see houses and shops up to the town square (rynek).

 

The square

The town was mainly used for fair days (market). On such days the entire square was filled with peasants' wagons, various merchants with stalls brought from the villages and neighboring towns, some to buy and some to sell. The farmers came to sell a cow, a calf and products from their farms, and also to buy clothing and footwear. The noise on that day was heard in the distance. Around this square were shops and houses that most of them were made of wood and all, except for a house and one shop, belonged to the Jews.

In one corner of the square stood the general elementary school, in the center of square stood a beautiful three–story building with several Christian shops and the upper floor was used for living quarters. Adjacent to this building were several shops in the form of huts and on both sides were two manual water pumps that provided water to most of the residents of the town center, for drinking, laundry etc.

Further down the main street, on the right, is the castle, hidden by the vast trees that take up space until the exit from the town. At the end of the street, on the left, is the government office building and inside it: the court of law, the post office, the prison and more. Alleys, in which was a mixed population of Christians and Jews, branch out from both sides of the main street. Their neighborly relationship was relatively good until 1933.

[Page 11]

The open anti–Semitism began when Hitler came to power, but still without violence. Meanwhile, the Christians continued to buy from the Jews, and the Jews ordered shoes, barrels, wagon wheels, horseshoes and the like from the Christian craftsmen. The villagers came to the town to sell their produce and in return bought essential supplies and clothing, or came to do all kinds of work for the Jews, such as preparing wood for the winter, whitewashing and more.

 

Jewish life under the Austrian rule

In 1914, when the First World War broke out, Galicia was in the center of the war. When the Russians invaded Galicia, the Jews fled in fear of the Cossacks to Czechoslovakia and Hungary since also these territories belonged to Austria. Those, who remained in the place, suffered greatly from the army. Before invading Dubiecko they fired into the town from the north because this side was high and provided a clear view of the town. One woman, a Jew, was killed.

The Cossacks tormented the town's Jews. They caught the slaughterer's son, a young man who walked on the road. They searched his clothes and in his pocket found a bullet that he just picked up on the way. They put him on trial, accused him of spying and sentenced him to death by hanging. He was hung in the center of town on a lamppost. Two other Jews died a short time after they were severely beaten. A Russian soldier hit R' David Schmaltz with a sword along his arm and he remained crippled and sickly until the day he died. This situation continued until the Austrians expelled them, and then the Jews, who fled to Czechoslovakia and Hungary also returned. Other Jews, who were drafted into the Austrian army, remained disabled and one was killed in that war.

When the war ended, Galicia was transferred to the Polish government and then the new regime began to harass the Jews. The last Austrian emperor treated Jews well, while the Poles are anti–Semitic in nature. Their wars were not over yet, they fought the Ukrainians near Lvov and then the Russians near Warsaw. They recruited Jews into their army and treated them with anti–Semitism. They deliberately suspected that they were communists and the Jews suffered greatly because of it. The economic situation has deteriorated greatly, inflation began and as a result it was impossible continue trading.

 

Immigration

Before the First World War there was a large immigration of Jews, especially of Galician Jews, to the United States. After the war, the influx of immigrants increased considerably because of the unbearable economic situation in all of Poland. Many Jews emigrated abroad from the towns.

Our town also joined the flow and many young men and women immigrated from Dubiecko to the United States. Thanks to them – there is a nice community of Dubiecko's Jews whose number might be greater than the number of former residents of Dubiecko in Israel.

In 1929, a large fire broke out in Dubiecko that destroyed many homes on the main street, all were Jewish homes. Among them were also two–story buildings. Some were rebuilt immediately after the incident and some a few years before the war. But some desolate lots remained.

 

The economic situation

The livelihood of the Jews of Dubiecko, as in all towns, was not found in every home and many lived in great distress. The situation got worse and every year additional families were in distress. The source of livelihood of Dubiecko's Jews can be divided into several types: some who earned their living from organized trade – meaning organized shops, and a second part of craftsmen. Among them tailors who sold their product to the shops and also traveled to fairs in nearby towns. There were also other craftsmen: carpenters, tinsmiths, shoemakers and glaziers.

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Apart from that, there were those who engaged in small trade. They wandered from village to village, bought whatever available from the farmers, anything that was possible to buy before the farmer brought his crop to the town. There were two groups: those who only bought a cow or a calf, and those who bought their produce: butter, eggs, rabbit or mongoose fur, etc. The livelihood of both groups was meager. Every day they walked a great distance carrying what they bought on their backs. When anti–Semitism grew they were the first to be threatened with physical attack. Among the traders was also a group that their situation was good. These were the traders of eggs, apparel and lumber. Among them were also those who were well established and rich in the concept of those days. We cannot conceal that there were also those who earned a living from the few dollars their relatives occasionally sent them from abroad, and that, too, proves something.

In Dubiecko there were five bakeries, four butcher shops and also a number of beer and hard liquor sellers. There were also two hotels (without stars…) each containing several rooms, a Jewish doctor, two lawyers, a pharmacy and a dentist. All were, more or less, the livelihoods of Dubiecko's Jews. This situation forced many young men and women to leave home and seek employment in the big cities – to support themselves and help the family a little.

It should be noted, that some of the Jews in the area made a living from agriculture, they had fields and earned a good living from them. But, when anti–Semitism began, the gentiles harassed the Jewish farmers and forced them to leave the villages. There were also many cases of arson. They simply burn their homes and forced them to move to the town penniless.

* * *

The majority of the youth saw the solution to the Jewish problem – in Zionism. They joined the Zionist movements in the town with the hope of immigrating to Eretz Yisrael. Some also managed to realize their aspiration. They underwent Hakhshara [training], immigrated to Israel and established magnificent families in the country.

 

Houses of worship

Among the important houses of worship were: Beit Hamidrash Hagadol, the Shtiebel and the Kloyz. Beit Hamidrash Hagadol was used for prayer and also for Torah study. The sound of Torah did not stop from early in the morning to late at night, especially on winter nights. Adjacent to Beit Hamidrash Hagadol was the rabbi's apartment and the rabbinical court. Its structure was square and built of wood. It was very tall with large windows on the southeast side, and in the women's section on the northwest side. The floor was of wooden slabs and there was a large stage in the center. Long heavy tables, and heavy double–sided benches, stood firmly in their place. It was very important to purchase a place in Beit Hamidrash since it was acquired forever and also inherited. On the Sabbath and holidays there were not enough seats and the young men had to pray standing up.

The western wall was packed with sacred books and one of the young men, who stood out in Torah study, was in charge of their proper condition. The gabbai, R' Shlomo Bak h”yd, served for a long time in his duty, until he got married and moved to another city. The next gabbai was R' Chaim Rubinfeld shlit”a[3] who lives today in the United States. The gabbaim were always chosen from the elder scholars. The last two gabbaim were: R' Yehusua Repen h”yd, a scholar with in–depth knowledge of the Kabbalah, reader

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of the Torah in the synagogue, a cantor during the holidays and one of the town's dignitaries. The second gabbai was R' Avraham Kanner h”yd, a mohel (in volunteerism and mitzvah even though he lived in poverty). Every Sabbath taught the young men from the weekly Torah portion.

The lighting in Beit Hamidrash, until the early 1930s, was from oil lamps over the tables and also from big copper chandeliers, with 12 candles, that hung on the ceiling. In the early 1930s there were already, on both sides, two kerosene lamps which illuminated Beit Hamidrash. Admittedly, this light was not enough to study the Gemara, and moreover, in Rashi's small letters. Therefore, on winter nights, everyone was able to receive from the shamash an additional candle, or two, so that he would be able to read and study.

There was a nice practice in Beit Hamidrash on the yahrzeit [anniversary of a death] of a great tzaddik: Radzyn, Belz, etc. – a young man took a crate, walked from house to house and said: “tomorrow is the yahrzeit of so and so tzaddik and each person gave several candles as a donation. There were special planks in Beit Hamidrash with holes, that the distance between them was about twenty centimeters and used as candlestick. The planks were connected between one chandelier to the other and formed kind of a chain around. Toward the eve of the yahrzeit all hundreds of candles were lit and created majesty – “To Him that made great lights.” A big inscription above the notice board announced the name of the tzaddik together with the wish: “Zchotu yagen aleinu v'al kol Yisrael.” It was a very, impressive sight.

The teaching in Beit Hamidrash was not by paid teachers. All the teachers taught the boys voluntarily. The older young men, who already knew Gemara and Poskim, also taught the youth. Among the teachers were: E' Shlomo Bak h”yd, R' Pinchas Tzellerkraut z”l, R' Chaim Rubinfeld shlit”a, R' Yitzchak Keil h”yd, R' Baruch Eli Anfang h”yd – we will dedicate a special memory for him. From the Belz Hassidim: R' Mechel Grinbaum h”yd, R' Yudel Melber shlit”a, R' Yakov Leizer Stein z”l. And also: R' Leib Bak, R' Eliezer the ritual slaughterer, R' Moshe Vishni and R' Yisrael Rappaport h”yd.

The most prominent among the cantors: R' Meny Teiser h”yd – a Jewish scholar of the Bukowsko Hassidim who excelled in his beautiful melodies, R' Berel Green z”l, R' Avraham Yosef Rubinfeld z”l who knew to write musical notes and was a cantor during the High Holidays at the Admor of Sadigura – in Pshemishl.

Circumcisions were held in Beit Hamidrash, and also all kinds of sermons in honor of Shabbat–HaGadol [Great Shabbat] and Shabbat–Teshuvah[Shabbat of Repentance]. Lectures and also speeches of the candidates for the Polish Sejm, which were occasionally accompanied by the objections of their opponents, were also heard there.

The Kloyz only served as a place of prayer. The public prayed there every day – morning and evening. In the Shtiebel they also prayed morning and evening and on the Sabbath.

The Jewish population of Dubiecko, as in all Galician towns, was largely religious and Hassidic. The Blazhev and Belz Hassidim were especially noticeable. There were also the Hassidim of Bukowsko, Rzeszow and Sadigura. Almost all of them went to the Rebbe, or especially traveled to him, to pour their heart out. Of course, when the Rebbe was staying in the town for the Shabbat, Hassidim from nearby towns also came, the small town was filled with Hassidim and Beit Hamidrash was full to capacity.

The local ritual slaughterer was R' Gabriel z”l. In the last years the ritual slaughterer was R' Yosef, a God–fearing man, humble and kind, who was involved with those around him and was greatly accepted by the butchers.

 

The community and its institutions

The Dubiecko community, as in each city and town, was the most important institution for the Jews and for government institutions. R' Mechel Baruch h”yd was the community leader for many years. The last community leader was R' Leizer Fajt h”yd.

[Page 14]

The role of the community was to take care of the salary of the rabbi, the slaughterer, the religious ministrants, and sometimes also the widows of a judge or a slaughterer. The community oversaw the slaughtering fees because this income had to cover all the expenses of the above salaries. It also made sure that the mikveh and the slaughterhouse were properly maintained and paid for repairs to Beit Hamidrash when the expense was large. It took care of Kamchha Dapshah [Passover flour] for the needy and flour for baking the maztot, and supervised the registration of newborn and the deceased from the Jewish population. The community was responsible for this registration towards the authorities. Sometimes it had to abolish bad decrees by lobbying by all kinds of means and the chairman, R' Mechel Baruch, was very active in this area.

The community revenue was primarily based on collecting money from slaughtering, from the wealthy and the payment for a grave in the cemetery through Chevra Kadisha. When the expenses were too large, the community was able to impose a one–time tax – in accordance with its powers.

Donations for Kamchha Dapshah were collected through a special method. Since the flour was supervised by the community the members gathered, a month before Passover, and determined the contribution of each person according to his ability, how much he should donate for Kamchha Dapshah. Therefore, when the person came to buy flour, he first had to donate the amount that was set for him, and then they sold him the flour. This sum was meticulously collected, without a waiver, because the poor should not be left without flour for matzot.

The second most important institution was, undoubtedly, Chevra Kadisha [Jewish burial society]. It was possible to be accepted as a member of this society with the consent of its members. It had two functionaries. Some were simply called “Chevra Men,” they took care of the cemetery, the burial, attended the funeral, prepared the needs of the deceased, etc.

The most important were the society elders who were called, “Chevra Mit'askim” [attendants], they prepared the deceased for the funeral and burial. They were educated and important people in the town and considered it a great mitzvah. Among them were: R' Shmuel Bak h”yd, R' Shmuel Leib Schertz h”yd, R' Moshe Polen h”yd, R' Meni Hamel h”yd, and others.

For many years, R' Shmuel Bak, Yakov Pirshet, R' Avraham Rapps, R' Tzvi Rapps z”l, R' Meni Hamel, served as gabbaim.

Once a year Chevra Kadisha held “Kiddush Rabbah” for all members – and it usually took place at the gabbai's home.

The town's elders told of the activities of the Chevra Kadisha during the cholera epidemic in Galicia in 1830, and also during the First World War. The authorities issued an order that the dead should not be buried in the cemetery, only at a place far from the town. Of course, the decree was also addressed to Christians, but it was a very serious decree for the Jews. Chevra Kadisha staged a funeral in the place designated by the authorities… and in the darkness of the night the deceased was brought to the Jewish cemetery. The elders also said that when someone got this disease, several people got together, gave the patient a massage and the patient recovered. The disease was very contagious, and yet, they did not hesitate and risked their life.

Burial fees were used for the cemetery and the community needs. At the meetings of Chevra Kadisha, the regulations were written down in a notepad. By the time the war broke out, three such notepads had already accumulated and from them we can decipher many records: the history of the community at time of peace, its rabbis and institutions, its personalities and dates in order of the development of the town. In short, they help us know something about the life of the town in previous centuries. But, as we heard, the Germans found these notebooks and the records of births and deaths when the search the bridge, and when they crossed the San they threw them into the river.

[Page 15]

Other aid societies, such as “Bikur Cholim” [visiting the sick], were also active in the town. They helped poor patients by paying the doctor and obtaining medication. Talmud Torah and its goal to help the poor, pay tuition to the teachers, and repair books. There were those who were involved in repairing sacred books in Beit Hamidrash as well as buying new books. The proceeds from donations for the aforementioned goals were meager. They were collected from people who pledged to pay every Thursday and constituted an expense of the hostel for the poor (Hekdesh).

Kupat Gemilut Hasdim” was established in later years. The capital for the establishment of the fund was given by former residents of Dubiecko who lived abroad. Twice a year the Rubinfeld family from Switzerland sent a sum of money to hand out to the poor. There was also a Jewish parent committee about which it would be told later. Mutual help was acceptable and necessary, and rooted in the consciousness of all the town's Jews, and it is possible to say that part of the population could not exist without it. It might have owned 3–4 thermometers, a quantity of cupping glasses and also rubber bottles.

When someone got sick and had high fever, sometimes late at night, they turned to the person in charge of the above devices. Sometimes, the devices were passed from hand to hand and it was necessary to search until they were found, and everyone fulfilled his duty with kindness and understanding. When a neighbor was about to give birth, and as usual at home, the neighbors entered and took care of her children.

Interest–free loans between the merchants for a few days, or the payment of a bill – turned into a necessary aid. Apart from these, there were other difficult tasks such as the home of a poor man that tended to fall and was dangerous to live in, or the transfer of a poor patient to the hospital in Przemyśl where they did not accept a patient until his hospitalization was paid ten days in advance. There was also a society “Matan Baseter” [giving charity in secret]. When someone became impoverished and was in distress, but hid his distress, the town's dignitaries asked for a donation but did not say who it was for. The donation was then given to a person in need, as if it was a loan so as not to shame him.

 

Schools

An elementary school of seven grades, over the fourth grade, also served the surrounding villages where there were schools up to the fourth grade. Jewish and Christian students studied there together. In Poland, the Catholic religion was taught at school. When the priest came to teach, the Jewish children disappeared from the classroom. About five years before the outbreak of the war the Jewish students studied, at that time and in a different location, the history of the Jewish people with a Jewish teacher. A significant part of Jewish students did not graduate elementary school.

After finishing elementary school, with the exception of a few, the Jews did not continue their education in high school, not even the outstanding students. In order to attend high school it was necessary to travel to the big city and that involved large expenses, and also, to the Jew, during the period of anti–Semitism, there was no chance of being accepted. It was more difficult to be admitted to the university where severe restrictions were set for Jewish students.

In the last years a school for girls, “Beit Yakov,” was established. The girls studied there in the afternoon and after graduating from the government school. We will talk separately about the importance of this school. We've already mentioned the intelligentsia: one Jewish doctor, two lawyers, a dentist, a pharmacist – son of a lawyer, one landowner and about ten students.

There were also a number of libraries in town. The relatively large library in the Polish language belonged to the municipality. A small library, also in the Polish language, was at school, a library in Yiddish was located in “Mizrachi” and a small library, which also contained several books in Hebrew, in “Bnei Akivah.”

There was not a single Jew in town who was employed by the government. It was off–limits for a Jew in Poland, except for special cases of a teacher or a registrar, etc.

[Page 16]

Zionist Youth organizations

The Zionist movements in our town were: “Mizrachi,” “Akivah” and “Hashomer Hadati.” Only men were members of “Mizrachi.” A minyan prayer was held there on the Sabbath and almost all the young men came to prayer in long black clothes. There were also a few in a shtreimel like R' Berel Broner h”yd who was also a reader and a cantor, R' Tzvi Rapps z”l, and the chairman R' Mendel Reich h”yd. Among the founders of “Mizrachi” were: R' Tzvi Rapps, R' Mendel Reich, R' Elazar Dormbush, and others. For a certain period, R' Chaim Batran taught there a lesson in the Bible to the youth. The founders and activists of “Bnei Akivah” were: Chana'le and Tzeshi, daughters of R' Yakov Meled and also Beni Naftali h”yd. The activist in “Hashomer Hadati” was Ben–Zion Keser z”l who immigrated to Israel before the war and passed away in Safed.

 

Artists and Orchestra

There was also a drama club in Dubiecko. The most outstanding members were: Leibish Ames, Moshe Korenfeld and his wife Ester, Tonya Harfenist h”yd, Chaya Vishner, Eli Schpect h”yd, and more. The shows they presented were always of great talent and very successful. The hall was full of participants. The Klezmer band was composed of: violin players, clarinet, bass and drum. It was a pleasure to hear them play Hasidic melodies and Zionist songs, even though none of them knew musical notes. Besides this there were also municipal singers.

The comedian (marshalek) at weddings, R' Moshe Marshlek, was famous for his excellent talent. If the residents of Dubiecko had a wedding in another city, they took their comedian, R' Moshe, with them because he was a lot better than others. Sometimes our Klezmorim were invited to other cities. There was also a “fire brigade” orchestra.

 

The municipality and its institutions

As in all towns, there was a municipality (city council) headed by a mayor called Burmistrz in Polish, and Jewish representative also sat there. A permanent member of the municipality was R' Meni Tiser, a learned Jew, a Hasid and a cantor, who was influential in the city council. The chairman, a gentile named Dzerzrhinsky, was a supporter of the Jews and the Jews respected him. When he passed away all the distinguished Jews attended his funeral as a separate unit at the end of the funeral procession.

Among the government institutions were: the court of law, the police, the post office, the notary, Bank–Polski linked to the post office, prison, department of health, licensing department and more.

At the southern end of the town, by the slope, stood the bathhouse and the mikveh, both were used on Friday and holiday eve. The men flocked to them to bathe and dip in honor of the Sabbath and also enjoy the sauna (shvitsn). Christians also came to the bathhouse.

Some distance from the bathhouse, also at the southern end and next to the slope, stood the slaughterhouse for slaughtering cows. The Jewish community's took care of its maintenance and operation.

The police, headed by an affable gentile, treated the Jews quite well. During the period of anti–Semitism, which prevailed in recent years, it can be said that the police protected Jewish property and also from anti–Semitic hooligans.

One of the most serious problems of the Jews was the conscription to the Polish army because it was difficult for a Jew to serve in such an anti–Semitic army. They suffered from open anti–Semitism. A second reason for this prevention, which is the main reason, a religious observant Jew fought hard and did not enlist because the food was not kosher and because of the desecration of the Sabbath. But there were those who overcome the problem.

[Page 17]

The Jews tried to do everything possible not to enlist. Some used connections and some lost weight until they looked sick. Still, there were always a number of young men who served in the army. It should be noted that the military recruiting problem existed before the First World War, after it, under the Austrian government, and again under Polish rule.

We are blessed to have a country and a magnificent army – The Israel Defense Forces – in which a religious Jew can fulfill his duties – to the Creator, to his people, and the State of Israel.

 

Hostel for the poor (Hekdesh)

We have already mentioned the poor who wandered from town to town to panhandle, most walked from one place to another and carried their meager bundle (pekl) on their backs. However, there was also another type of poor who wandered with the whole family, meaning, also the wife and the children. They traveled in groups of several families in a horse–drawn wagon, and when they arrived to a town in the evening they had to sleep there. Their “hotel,” in small places, was Beit Hamidrash around the big oven.

In Dubiecko they also had a place to sleep at the home of R' Yona Lustig z”l, a respected Jew, a timber dealer for construction and a philanthropist. His house was at the end of the town at the west entrance. He had a big house and dedicated a big room inside his house to accommodate passing guests and also gave them food. During the winter he made sure that the room was heated since the poor arrived frozen from the cold and also had to dry their clothes which were wet from the snow or rain. It should be mentioned, that some of the children of R' Yona Lustig z”l immigrated to Israel before the war and today they live in Haifa. R' Yona Lustig z”l passed away in 5719 in Haifa, may his memory be blessed.

Most of these poor, who arrived from the east, entered to sleep in Beit Hamidrash and settled on the floor. This matter caused a lot of suffering to the poor, to the worshipers in Beit Hamidrash and also those studying there. Early in the morning, at the beginning of the prayer, the little children began to cry and make noise which, of course, greatly interfered with the course of the prayer because there were also women among them. Great suffering was caused to those who came to Beit Hamidrash from what the poor had left around the oven. Solving this problem was not easy. In the big cities the community already had a special building called “Hekdesh,” and in a nicer name, “Hostel for the poor.” However, in a small town such as Dubiecko they could not dream of such a thing because – “from where will financial help come from?”

My father, Tzvi Rapps z”l, was a public activist in the town and always thought how to solved this problem, but he also knew it was a difficult task for a small town. The opportunity was given when he was elected gabbai of Chevra Kadisha. Chevra Kadisha in Dubiecko was probably the first institution founded in the town and was considered an important and respected institution.

The community's income was generally meager and barely enough to pay the rabbi's and the slaughterer's salaries, and serious expenses such as repairing the mikveh, Beit Hamidrash and the like. The community received donations from overseas and from local donors, but the main income was from the payment for a place in the cemetery. When a wealthy Jew died in the town, or in the vicinity, a sum of money was collected from the family according to ability of the deceased. It was kind of an inheritance tax for the needs of the community.

The village of Nienadowa was near the town of Dubiecko. In this village lived distinguished and charitable Jews like: R' Efraim Licht, R' Yakov of Kaminits and others. Among them lived a distinguished Jew, a timber merchant and also a contractor for wooden construction, a rich Jew named R' Aharon Frenkel h”yd. On Fridays he arrived to the town in a cart to dip in the mikveh in honor of the Sabbath and give charity with a generous hand.

[Page 18]

After my father z”l was elected gabbai, he came up with an idea that might not make sense but, he decided to try. He took a cart and traveled to the philanthropist, R' Aharon Frenkel, and said to him. “I have a strange proposal for you, a proposal that has lumber and construction, but of a special kind.” And my father began to describe before Aharon the situation in the Beit Hamidrash regarding the matter of the poor who slept there. “I am now the gabbai in Chevra Kadisha and I am asking you to build us a hostel for the poor. In return, we will give you, after a hundred and twenty years, two places in the cemetery, wherever you choose. The place for the construction of such a hostel is next to Beit Hamidrash.” The idea found a sympathetic ear with R' Aharon, he immediately agreed and also added and said: “since the ceiling in women's section is very law on one side and on the holidays there's no air there, I declare, on behalf of my wife and I, that we will raise the ceiling in women's section in addition to the construction of the hostel.

And the matter was carried out. Two months later wagons loaded with logs ready for assembly arrived, and after them came the builders who built the hostel for the poor. A nice building that contained four rooms, a big room for men, a big room for women and children, a small room with two beds for the poor who were a little privileged, and a room for the janitor. When the construction ended, my father took on the task of organizing the purchase of beds, mattresses, blankets, pillows and stoves. All this was obtained from donations. There were those who donated an old bed, a blanket and more. He also traveled to the surrounding villages where Jews lived and managed to get everything needed. He operated the Hekdesh to the satisfaction of the poor and the townspeople.

The main difficulty now was the big expense of heating the ovens in the winter. Therefore, on Thursday, a donation for the Hekdesh was added to donations for “Bikur Holim”, book repair etc. Firewood was also donated by landowners in the village of Brezek. My father z”l managed to maintain the Hekdesh until the outbreak of the war.

My father Tzvi Rapps, who went through the war with his family, passed away in the city of Safad. His grave, and the grave of my mother, are there. May their memory be blessed.

R' Aharon Frenkel and his wife, h”yd, did not get the plot of land that they bought for themselves with their beautiful donation for the benefit of the poor and the public good. They perished together with all the martyrs of Dubiecko, may Hashem avenge their blood, and may their memory be blessed.

 

The Jewish parents committee

We must tell, at length, in this Yizkor Book, about the Jewish parents committee that was active in our town. This committee was organized as an answer to open and nasty anti–Semitism by the Christians, and later became a magnificent social institution of the community.

Until about 1935, there was a joint parents committee at school that its members were Jewish and Christian. The composition of the committee belonged to the town's intelligentsia. Every month the children, who had the financial ability, brought a donation of 20 groszy to Beit HaMidrash for the parents committee. Most of those who paid were Jewish students. With this money the committee distributed shoes to poor students before winter, and towards summer dresses to the girls and shirts to the boys. The most important were the shoes for the winter, because without shoes (even torn shoes) it was impossible to visit the school in winter. The Jewish representatives in the parents committee were two women: the wife of Tzvi Kanner who was an estate owner, the wife of the lawyer Schneider and maybe other women that I don't remember.

At the beginning of the school year, when open anti–Semitism began, the Christians said, at the committee meeting, to the two Jewish women: “We do not want you, because we refuse to see

[Page 19]

Jews in a parents committee of a Polish school.” These two representatives, who belonged to the Jewish intelligentsia, were greatly hurt and offended. They were not involved in the life of the town's Jews and did not even come in contact with them. It can be stated, that this anti–Semitic act opened the eyes of the Jewish intelligentsia in Dubiecko and brought everyone back to the sad and bitter reality.

The news spread throughout the town and everyone felt hurt and insulted by this despicable anti–Semitism. When the women told their husbands they decided that there was a need to respond to this insult, and together with the townspeople came to a decision that the Jews could act on their own to help the Jewish students attending the school.

Therefore, a committee made up of the two previous representatives and also Mrs. Ettel (Etzi) Schimmel, Mrs. Sara Hod, Mrs. Bak and the lawyer Schneider, was elected. They composed a list of all the homeowners, including those whose children did not attend school.

Everyone was invited to a meeting held in the empty apartment of the community leader, R' Mechel Baruch, and the apartment was filled with participates. Schneider explained to the audience what had happened, why they were called, and what they decided to do as a response. He read the list of participants, who were willing to contribute every month, in alphabetical order. Each of those present pledged, as much as he could, from 20 to 50 groszy.

The collection was done by Mrs. Kanner and Mrs. Schneider, and everyone, who saw the two women entered their home, did not send them away empty–handed. There were no excuses and evasions from the donors, and the amount was collected with the utmost persistence. Apart from this income, the committee organized a ball every Purim and invited all the young men and women, even those from the distant area. It should be noted, that revenue from these balls was beyond what they expected and estimated. In Chanukah, the town's drama club devoted a presentation to a hall full of participants and all proceeds were given to the parents committee.

The result: before winter the committee distributed to poor Jewish students close to forty pairs of good quality winter shoes. When, in the previous joint parent committee, only one child in the family received a pair of shoes even when three students needed shoes. In the Jewish committee all the children in the family received shoes. By the way, the former shoes were of poor quality, and when the Jewish students arrived at the school in their shiny new shoes both the teachers and the Christian students exploded with jealousy.

Before Passover there was another activity for the Jewish students. The committee gave dresses to the girls and a pair of pants and a shirt to the boys.

Indeed, it was a beautiful answer...a proper response to the anti–Semite Poles... and also nice deeds and a mitzvah for the town's poor. The Jewish committee continued its mission until the outbreak of the Second World which brought with it a terrible holocaust to the world. It ended with the destruction of six million Jews – men, women and children. Earth, don't cover their blood!

God, master of the universe, avenge the spilled blood of your servants – avenge, and your Jewish nation will receive its long–awaited eternal peace – once and for ever!

 

Translator's Footnotes
  1. z”l – zikhrono/zikhronah livrakha – of blessed memory. Return
  2. hy”d – Hashem Yinkkom Damo/dama – may Hashem avenge his/her blood. Return
  3. Shlit”a – Sheyikhye Le'orech Yamim Tovim Amen – may he/she live a good long life, Amen. Return

 

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