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[Columns 65-66]

Two Jews of Hrubieszow
in the 16th and 17th centuries

Translated by Yael Chaver

The Murder of Yehuda, son of Moshe, of Hrubieszow

Referring to the evidence taken at Koshtantzina concerning the murder of Yehuda, son of Moshe, resident of Hrubieszow, two witnesses reported that they saw him dead.[1]

The first witness reported that the robber drew his sword and attacked the head of the above–mentioned Mr. Yehuda, son of Moshe, until he fell down. “I jumped onto the wagon and thought that this Yehuda, son of Moshe, of Hrubieszow, was asleep, until I picked up his head and saw that he was dead; his head was hanging by the windpipe…” When he realized that the robbers had beaten Yehuda, son of Moshe, he jumped off the wagon and ran away. Later, when the robbers were gone, he returned and saw the victim lying whole, and thought that he was alive but sleeping. When he picked up the victim's head, he realized that he was dead.

ResponsaMavhir Einei Chachamim,” by Rabbi Meir, son of Gedalya, of Lublin, known as “Maharam of Lublin.” Born in 1558, died in 1616; query No. 8. From ResponsaBet Chadash Ha–Yeshanot” by Rabbi Yoel Sirkis, born in 1561, died in 1640; query no. 76.


The Agunah Mrs. Perl of Hrubieszow [2]

Concerning the agunah, Mrs. Perl, the widow of Zvi Hirsh, son of Yitzchak (may his memory be for a blessing), who was living with his wife in Hrubieszow. He had come from Germany, where he had married; he died, leaving no offspring. A letter was sent to the brother of the dead man, in Germany, stating that she needed him to release her.[3]

It became known that Tzvi Hirsh, son of Yitzchak, had two brothers, both of whom were deceased. Volf, son of Shim'on, who was Tzvi's brother, reported that his father Shim'on, the brother of Tzvi – the deceased husband of Mrs. Perl, had died on October 3, 1634.

ResponsaBet Chadash Ha–Yeshanot” by Rabbi Yoel Sirkis, born in 1561, died in 1640; query no. 76.


Index of Book Titles

Avodat Ha–Kodesh 26
Ayelet Ahavim 30
Beit Ya'akov 33
Ein Ya'akov 13, 18
Gedulat David Ve–Melukhat Shaul 3
Haggada Shel Pesach 4, 31
Kedushat Levi 19
Kotnot Or 13, 18
Levushei Serad 20
Likutei Halachot 5
Machatzit Ha–Shekel 12
Me'or Einayim 11
No'am Elimelech 6
Peri Etz Chayim 22
Reshit Chochmah Ha–Katzar 23
Seder Keri'at Shema 25
Sefer Hasidim 7
Sefer Ha–Yashar attributed to Rabenu Tam 21
Sefer Zechira 24
Sha'arei Teshuva 34
Shir Ha–Shirim 1, 27
Shivchei Ha–Besht 8
Siddur Tefillat Nehora 10
Ta'amei Mitzvot 6
Tana De–Vei Eliyahu 9
Tehillim 28, 32
Tomer Devora 29
Index of Authors
Azulai, Chayim Yosef David 26
Cordovero, Moshe 29
Eibeshitz, David Shlomo 20
Elazar Rokeach of Amsterdam 4, 31
Eliezer of Worms 27
Elimelech of Lizhensk 6
Gikatilla, Yosef 6
Landau, Yechezkel of Prague 4, 31
Levi Yitzchak of Berditshev 19
Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl 11
Moshe Ben Nachman 27
Naftali Hirsh Ben David 3
Olivera, Shlomo 30
Shaul, Head of the Rabbinical Court of Amsterdam 4, 31
Shmuel Ha–Levi Kelin 12
Shimshon of Ostropol 4, 31
Spira, Natan 4, 31
Vidas, Eliyahu[4] 23
Vital, Chayim 22
Ya'akov of Lissa 33
Ya'akov Haviv 13–18
Yehuda He–Hasid 7
Yonah Girondi 34
Yosef Ha–Efrati of Tropplowitz 3
Zecharya of Plungé 24
Zerachya the Greek 21
Index of Approbators
Aharon Yitzchak HaKohen, rabbinical judge in Hrubieszow 13, 19
David Shalit, Moreh Tzedek in Hrubieszow 12, 13, 19, 20
Yosef Katzenelboigen, head of the rabbinical court in Hrubieszow 11, 12, 13
Mordechai, son of David Shalit, rabbinical judge in Hrubieszow 13, 19
Natan Aryeh Doyer, rabbinical judge in Hrubieszow 29
Shim'on, head of the rabbinical court in Żelichów 13


  1. Translator's note: “Koshtantzina” probably refers to Constantinople, which is usually mentioned in rabbinical sources as “Koshtandina.” The Hebrew script letter for “tz” is a larger version of the script letter for “d.” Return
  2. Translator's note: An agunah is a woman whose husband has deserted her or has disappeared, and who may not remarry until she gives proof of his death or obtains a bill of divorce. Return
  3. Translator's note: This is according to the biblical rule of levirate marriage, in which the brother of a deceased man who has died childless is obliged to marry his brother's wife, or release her from this obligation in a special ceremony (Leviticus 18, 16 and 20, 21). Return
  4. Translator's note: Eliyahu Vidas is not mentioned in the text of No. 23. Return


[Columns 67-68]

Hrubieszow in the Hebrew Press[1]

Translated by Yael Chaver

Notes on Hrubieszow in Ha–Maggid, 1865[2]

My home town, which is small, is shy about addressing your newspaper. I convinced it by the following persuasions: “Awaken, my dear! You, too, should join the community, because you too contain riches that have been hidden away until now. Perhaps you will find favor in the eyes of the newspaper, which will be kind enough to agree to let you show that you, too, have produced fine people and you will no longer be ashamed to join the other towns as their equal.

The great creative man, Avraham Ya'akov Shtern, is one of mine. Although he never went to school, he attained high status, and received 600 rubles annually from the generous government, because he was a member of the Society for the Promotion of Goodness and Justice.[3]

Simcha Ha–Levi (known as Kleiner) is another product. He was well–versed in Hebrew and all its fine points and grammar, wrote a commentary on the book of Job, and published the book Mi–Maleh on the language.

The highly placed Mr. Minister Staszic was another of my products. In addition to being wise and understanding, he helped the residents of Hrubieszow because he purchased the town and ten of its surrounding villages. His instructions were published in the press, and three of our kings made sure to continue them. If a resident of Hrubieszow (Jewish or Christian) should build a new house, and make the roof of copper or iron sheets to prevent being consumed by fire, not only would he receive a loan for twenty years, amounting to half the value of the house, at 6% interest (5% on the principal and 1% on the profit), such that the entire loan be paid off in twenty years; in addition, the builder would receive a gift of one–quarter of the value of the house.

Should a resident of Hrubieszow (regardless of religion) wish to increase and develop his business, or build a modern, well–planned machine, he would be granted a loan according to the value of the business, as well as a loan of half the value for twenty years, with the same repayments.

Should a young man wish to study, he would be supported with 100 rubles annually; if he completes his studies, two young men from the same area will be encouraged to go to other countries to study and enjoy the inexhaustible wisdom of other countries, regardless of religion. Minister Staszic is therefore worthy of praise in Ha–Maggid, so that the people of Israel may know that there are righteous men among the Gentiles, who bestow their goodwill on an oppressed and dejected nation.

I will not conceal the following, either. The righteous rabbi, the deceased Yosef Katznelboigen, rabbi of our town, Hrubieszow, who saw that the poverty–stricken, the starving, the ill, could not escape or heal from their trouble, gathered his strength. In spite of his age and infirmities, he was able to beg like a lion for contributions from door to door, and with soft words entreated donations, which he received one by one, until he had collected a significant sum.

He founded and built an insane asylum, valued at 30,000 Polish złoty. It is a magnificent sight, and consists of six fine rooms, half for men and half for women. When the roof had been covered with metal sheets, the righteous rabbi Yosef Gelernter (impoverished though he himself was) made every effort to collect, one–quarter of the building's value, thanks to donations and gifts, from the generous Staszic. He created a beautiful courtyard for the hospital (hitherto lacking), and spent about 10,000 złoty.

Two years later, he built a new structure in the courtyard, worth about 6000 złoty, as a home for the hospital's doctor.

May God bless the deeds of the hospital's managers and supervisors. Each year, forty to fifty ill people find respite and healing in this hospital. Some do not spend much time there, whereas others might remain there for six months or even an entire year; all their needs are met: clothing, bed, nourishment, and healing.

The doctor sees the patients everyday, but alas! The reserves of money are small. The annual needs amount to 900 rubles, and where are they to be found? It would be fitting if Ha–Maggid, out of the goodness of its heart, would advertise the righteousness of those who carry out this good deed, and would convince the residents of the town and its surroundings, who send their sick to our hospital, to contribute to the hospital generously, according to their means, and may their charitable act stand them in good stead.

And last but not least, the manager of the funds, Tomas Gliszczinski, famous for his charitable work. Though he is a non–Jew, his heart is like ours; he has made great efforts to help the rabbi and all the hospital staff. This gentleman is a member of our charity association and works with all his might to improve the hospital. He spared no pains to complete the building for the doctor's home; and – thank God – the work was done. Therefore, he, too, is worthy of our public praise; he has been beneficent to us, and serves as an example in word and deed.

Written by your faithful servant, who bows to you from afar, Tzvi Hirsh Goldshmidt, Doctor of Medicine.

(Ha–Maggid, 1865, no. 7)


Events in the Jewish Communities in Poland

Before the holiday, I happened to visit the town of Hrubieszow in Lublin District. It is a large town, with many Jews, who are blessed with riches. Most of them are merchants and property owners in the town and the surrounding fields belonging to landowners in the vicinity; they live in large, elegant stone–walled houses. Even the poor have houses with four or five rooms for their own use–they do not have to share with anyone. The community leaders and functionaries also have their own houses. One of the ritual slaughterers has an imposing house, as well as considerable cash, as he has grown rich by disqualifying geese and chickens; their rejected parts have served the slaughterer well.[4]

In general, our brethren of that town cannot complain; but their riches are material, not spiritual. As far as spiritual wealth is concerned, their needs are great, yet they are short–sighted. Their customs and actions are “a land of utter darkness and disorder.”[5] They are far removed from good taste, knowledge, and good manners. Neither are their houses clean and orderly, although they all have spacious houses and courtyards – provided in 1811 through the compassion of the beneficent Staszic (may his memory be for a blessing). Ever since then, they have owned properties in the town and might live comfortably rather than under cramped conditions. Yet they live packed together tightly, crowding each other. Their courtyards and hallways are malodorous and reeking, and their streets are filthy and disgusting. The synagogue in the center of town, which is large enough to accommodate about two thousand people and has many basement halls and rooms, and is surrounded by a large courtyard, is abandoned and neglected, and “the gate is reduced to rubble.”[6]

Few come to pray, even in summer, and it is closed for prayers in the winter; but the basement spaces are open, as they serve to protect the pumpkins, squashes, watermelons, onions, and garlic from the arid summers, and to store them securely during the winter. The large courtyard around the synagogue fills with swamps and pools; none of the community leaders and activists takes steps to clean up the area and fence it against intruders. Two houses of study adjoin the synagogue, and – as their name implies–are meant for scholarship and prayer. The remnants of worn, ripped sacred books are evidence of those who studied them in years gone by; but now, as the Torah says,

[Columns 69-70]

“But where shall wisdom be found?”–there is no consolation from any vision or book.[7] The old books are scattered to the winds throughout the various rooms of study, and can be taken by anyone.

The hospital, which is distant from the town and its residents, and which the founders worked to surround with a wide courtyard and a lovely garden, is now “like a lean–to in a cucumber field after the harvest” in a deserted city, long–neglected, as no one in the town realizes how useful it might be.[8] Those managing it use it only as a means to enrich themselves, and there is no one to help supply the sick with their needs. Therefore, no one comes to the hospital to be cured of their illness, and people prefer to deteriorate in their homes in poverty and starvation, with swollen bellies, rather than come through the doors of this miserable building. The provincial governor visited the building a few months ago. When he saw that it was deserted, he was furious, and immediately fired the person in charge, ordering the district head to repair the building and reinforce it, in order to provide comfort to many.

They have nothing to offer except for this building –– neither compassion, learning, charity for the poor, help for those who have fallen on hard times, nor clothing for indigents, as befits a truly Jewish town. They know, and enjoy, only three houses: slaughterhouse, bath–house, and house of swallowing.[9] I must admit that during the ten days I spent in the town, I saw no beggars on the street–either because there were no beggars in the town, or because the poor knew that their journeys would be in vain. However, let the reader not think that the people here do not fear God or give charity. On the contrary! The entire community is holy and God–fearing. All follow God rigorously, more rigorously than in other communities, and sometimes fulfill the minor commandments more than the major ones. But what are the laws and the commandments, and what is the charity, that they practice? The laws are those of their rabbis and Hasidic leaders; the commandments are carried out automatically; and the charity is money offered at prayer. In spite of our Torah commandments, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart” and “You shall love the stranger,” and the words of our sages, “Love peace, and pursue it,” etc., they hate each other bitterly, and persecute the stranger mercilessly.[10] Their dwellings are not peaceful.

Five years ago, a young man from Zamość came to the town. He had completed his studies in a secondary school in Warsaw, and then studied structural engineering in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, he was too late to register for studies, and returned home. By then, his deferment of military service had run out, and he was drafted into the army. He was posted in his home town, and pleased the commander, who made him the secretary of the battalion–a position in which he succeeded. He then decided not to continue his studies, but to marry and establish a household wherever God would indicate. God first showed him Hrubieszow, which lacked a bookstore even though it had a secondary school. He opened a bookstore in Hrubieszow, for books in Russian and in Polish, according to the requirements of the teachers, and received permission from the provincial governor. But his fate was bitter at first. He was a good person and did not harm the local community, as he dealt in goods of which they had no knowledge. He carried on his business in a place far from the town's center. However, they resented him; most people despised him and called him “an impure German.” The more he tried to approach them, the more they distanced themselves, only because he dressed well. Whenever his wife went to the market, the merchants charged twice the regular amount. If she asked the produce sellers why they were cheating her, they said openly, “We can charge the German stranger whatever we want, because he is not one of us.” But God, who helps the persecuted, punished them. In spite of their despicable jealousy, his business was very successful and he was loved by most of the wealthy landowners in the area as well as by the officials. They supported his business more than that of other people. He bought property among them and became a resident of Hrubieszow; he has now been selected as the official rabbi.

It happened in this way. That year, their rabbi and Moreh Tzedek died, and the position had not yet been filled, because neither a rabbi nor a Moreh Tzedek can be selected quickly in such a community. At the same time, the butchers became the object of anger by the ritual slaughterers, because slaughtering is the main business of the townspeople. It is the living of its practitioners, and all the other community functionaries also prosper. The butchers pay as follows: 70 rubles for each large animal, 40 kopeks for a small animal, and 4 kopeks for a chicken. Many people take their shares from this large sum, thanking God. The butchers, on the other hand, become totally impoverished.[11]

One day, a poor butcher brought a sheep to the slaughterers, but they demanded 10 rubles in payment, and wanted to take the sheep. The poor man wept and begged them to change their minds, because the sheep was his last hope to provide sustenance for his family. Besides, a policeman had come to his home the day before and confiscated his bed in payment for government taxes. The slaughterers were not moved by the tears of the poor man. Only one slaughterer took pity on him, and slaughtered the animal for him at night, for fear of the others. Then, the other slaughterers spread a rumor that he, like Achan, had transgressed the prohibition and taken some of the meat for himself; their agreement stated that no one could act independently without notifying the others.[12] The slaughterer apologized, and proved that he had done it out of compassion for the poor man and not in order to trick the others. But they continued to find fault with him, in order to take his share. In spite of his explanations and justifications, they transferred him to the association's jurisdiction. The decision was hard, as each group wanted to acquire him; it is better to be a slaughterer in Hrubieszow than a rabbi in a different town. If they become short of a slaughterer, two or three are needed quickly as replacements. What a terrible place and time it is, when they all proclaimed war on peace. The disputes between the slaughterers spread throughout the town, including all the synagogues and houses of prayer. They bickered all summer long, and had no meat to eat. The dispute removed the curtain that had concealed ritual slaughtering. The wronged slaughterer revealed association secrets; the butchers complained bitterly that the slaughterers had skinned them alive with their exorbitant rates, and they had no recourse. They would see no profit from their work, and stopped slaughtering. Their complaints and cries reached the provincial governor; with the aid of the officers and the judges, the price of slaughtering was reduced by half. The butchers were able to breathe freely.

While this was taking place, the followers of the Hasidic Rabbi of Belz dared to bring an honest, scrupulous slaughterer from a different town.[13] When the Trisk hasidim found out, they beat up the slaughterer, issued a prohibition on using meat from animals that he had slaughtered, rendered all their instruments impure, and cursed the slaughterer as a trespasser, invoking the biblical prohibition, “Cursed is he who removes his neighbor's boundary markers.”[14] Every time the slaughterer entered the slaughterhouse, he had to be accompanied by ten bodyguards from the Belz group, to ensure his safety. While slaughtering, he trembled with fear of the crowd of Trisk followers who were harassing him. The storm has not quieted to this day, and the city is troubled. Three rabbis have already discussed the situation, but could not determine the truth. Before they could render their verdict, they themselves had to secretly flee from their persecutors, who were threatening them. The situation is unchanged. The rabbis' quandary stands, with no solution, because–as the talmudic sages say – “those who are busy with one commandment are free of the others.” They were very busy with the issue of “Not everyone may slaughter” and were therefore free of the commandment of “Make a rabbi for yourself.”[15]

However, they did not know that the Almighty was safeguarding them, until an order came from the governor of Lublin Province to find a rabbi and reach a decision, or they would meet a grim fate. They now realized that great powers were fighting them; they immediately wrote to all the Jewish communities in the world to find rabbis and halakhic authorities. But no one responded, because the people were wild, and as God said, “there is no peace for rabbis.”[16] Anyone who ventures onto hot coals will be burned. While they were still discussing the issue, the government ordered them to install an official rabbi, with an annual salary of 450 rubles. They sent many telegrams, and some of their members, to the district governor to beg for mercy. The governor agreed to their request and gave them an extension of another month. The extension passed, and there was still no rabbi, because the town was irreparably divided. Now the governor ordered them to appoint the German stranger as official rabbi, with all his duties and regulations. When this happened, Hrubieszow was confounded.

This is the history of ritual slaughtering and the disputes surrounding it in one of the Jewish communities of Poland.

Signed: David Shiffmann

(Ha–Melitz, No. 247, November 25, 1889)

[Columns 71-72]

The Mother of Dr. Leon Pinsker, Native of Hrubieszow (may her memory be for a blessing)

Three months ago, we received the sad news from abroad: Pinsker is no more. Simcha was born in Tarnow, Galicia, in 1803. When he was thirteen, his father died on the ninth day of Av. A few years later, he found a wife in Hrubieszow (on the Polish border), with whom he had two sons: Leon and Yosef. He lost his property and money not long afterwards, and had to move away. He moved to Odessa in 1826; it was at that time that the community's leaders, many of them well known, decided to establish a school for Jewish children. He became one of the teachers, and brought his wife and sons to Odessa. Yet he found the courage to send his older son, Leon Pinsker to study medicine at the univeristy, and Leon Pinsker is now a famous physician in Odessa. (Ha–Maggid, 1865, no. 7)


The Plot to Expel Jews from Villages near Hrubieszow

We received a letter from Nissan Kovalski, informing us that several Jew–haters in the village of Simyatin spoke out at the peasants' meeting, and proposed that the Jews who lived there be expelled.[17]

Even though two or three old, distinguished people opposed them at the meeting, saying, “That cannot be. The Jews live in peace with us, and they have never been expelled from the villages of Poland,” the villagers paid no heed to those who spoke so justly, and decided in favor of an expulsion order. They brought their resolution to the noble who owned the village.

Being an honest man, he chastised them for this evil idea, and ordered them not to make decisions that contravene government policy.

The anti–Jewish journal Wiek discussed the issue, proved that the Polish peasants had the right to make decisions, and reproached the nobleman.

(Ha–Tsfira, 1884, no. 5)


Do Not Be Close–Fisted about Repairs to the Hospital

By Yosef–Ber Brand

Fifty years ago, thanks to the efforts of the late Rabbi Yosef Katzenelboigen and his friends, a hospital to serve the poor who were unable to obtain remedies for their illnesses was established in my hometown of Hrubieszow. The hospital consists of three separate buildings. The first is a large walled structure, with metal facing, alongside the road to Lublin. It includes lower rooms, which serve for cooking and laundry, second–storey rooms for the patients, and third–storey rooms for the pharmacy and office. The second building is made of wood and serves as the residence for the doctor, who makes the decisions about admitting and discharging, and has the expertise to heal any illness. The third structure is also made of wood and serves as a morgue, after the soul has left the body.

The expenses for this institution – for its construction as well as for the needs of the patients – are covered by annual contributions, donated by people according to their ability. However, because over the years the residents have stopped making timely donations, the hospital has declined considerably. Therefore, some God–fearing residents were inspired to meet; they decided that the institution would receive some of the income from the town's bathhouse, as well as monthly payments from the peasants. Other God–fearing folks collected donations to supply the patients with daily tea and sugar, some cooked food, or wine, according to the patient's condition. This building will shelter anyone who falls ill and cannot afford treatment. Occasionally, small towns in the vicinity also sent people suffering from depression for treatment; the fee was 40 kopeks daily.

Three years ago, I was summoned to appear before the justice of the peace at the time, who served as supervisor of the Christian hospital of the town. When I appeared, he told me that while he was checking the accounts of the Jewish hospital (the same office controls both Jewish and Christian hospitals in each town), he noticed that they were out of order, because the hospital supervisor was not cooperating with him. As he considered me trustworthy and capable of carrying out duties in a timely manner, he wanted to appoint me to the position of supervising the Jewish hospital. I responded that, although I was not free (as I was an advocate in the law system), I would not refuse him. When he heard my answer, he took me to the district governor and said, “Look, I have found someone suitable to supervise the Jewish hospital, and I am sure he will be successful.” The district governor proposed it to the provincial governor, and a few days I was authorized to begin the work.

When I saw the patients, I realized that the situation was grave. The wooden beds they lay in had rotted with time, the pillows, blankets, and clothing were all worn and patched. I talked with the district governor; he collected some money from the rich, and I bought well–painted iron beds, cloth shirts and trousers, rugs, shoes, and other necessities. I also inspected the procedures of the institution as well as the patients' food, to make sure it was good. I planted many fruit trees in the garden around the house, instructed that the doctor's residence be repaired – it had collapsed after the doctor left. I leased that building out, and the rent went to the hospital funds. I accomplished everything well and in good time, with minimal expenses. The provincial governor was so pleased that when he visited our town that he shook my hand and thanked me for my work. Now, as the hospital buildings have not undergone repairs for about fifty years, the provincial governor has ordered the town residents to contribute about 1000 rubles for repairs. People who opposed this idea incited the residents against it. They even lied and said that they had called a meeting, in which the community and its leaders wrote and signed a letter stating that they could not afford to support the patients and their needs. And who knows how this will end.

People of Hrubieszow, you are not behaving well. Not only are you not laying in stores of flour for the city's poor, unlike other towns–you are destroying a building that people worked on, and in which your sisters have been striving for years to help the poor and support them in their sickness. “Look, you have evil in mind.”[18] What will become of the 4000 rubles entrusted in perpetuity in the bank for our hospital, with the interest added to the hospital funds? This is the greatest good deed you can do, and it is also beneficial. As our sages said, “One enjoys the fruits of the good deed in this world, and the principal remains for him in the world to come.”[19] Do not close your fist for repairs to the building, and do not listen to those who would turn you off the path of righteousness. You remember, of course, the midrash of our sages: “Tithe – so that you will become rich,”[20] and God will grant you compassion and improve your lives.

(Ha–Tsfira 1892, no. 91)


Jews in Villages of Hrubieszow District are Being Expelled

Word has come from the village of Shpikolozi[21] that – in spite of the order issued two days ago by the officer in charge of the peasants that the Jews must leave – Jews did leave, but returned a few days later to retrieve their belongings from their Christian neighbors where they had placed them temporarily.

The peasants' assembly therefore resolved (on January 25) to expel the Jews. The resolution was sent, with the proper request, to the officer in charge of peasants.

(Ha–Tsfira, February 15, 1901, no. 28)

[Columns 73-74]

Donations by the Jews of Hrubieszow to those Affected by the Kishinev Pogrom

The government commission to support those harmed by the pogrom received the following:

The Tiferet Bachurim minyan from Hrubieszow (Lublin province) sent the following, through Rabbi Shmuel Kligman:[22]

S. Z. Ya'abetz, M. A. Kroingold – 2 rubles each. S. Kligman – 1.5 rubles.
Dov Ef'al, H. I. Perevolotsky, B. Primost. Tzvi Peretz, Levi Goldshteyn – 1 ruble each.
P. Gutfeld, M. I. Peltz – 50 kopeks each.
A. A. Frost, S. I Presser, A. Desatnikov – 30 kopeks each. Yechezkel Shnaiderman, Kalman – 18 kopeks each. Total–12 rubles, 76 kopeks.

Sent by Yerucham Meir Leiner, a Radzin hasid in Hrubieszow:

S. A. Azov of Russia – 1.08 rubles
A. Halbershtadt – 1.05 rubles
Y. M. Leiner, Tzvi Zilberberg, Y. S. Piness, M. Pomerantz – 1 ruble each
F. Zinger – 80 kopeks
P. Zilber – 50 kopeks
M. Dimetman – 43 kopeks
Y. A. Zilberberg – 40 kopeks
Y. Goldhar – 20 kopeks
Gershon Hanoch Leiner (two years old) – 18 kopeks
H. L. Merinshteyn – 5 kopeks
After deduction of p.p., the total is 8 rubles and 61 kopeks[23]

(Ha–Tzfira 1903, no. 145, July 7, 1903)


Robbery and Pogrom of the Jews of Hrubieszow by the forces of Bałachowitz [24]

Back in July of this year, the Peretz, Shturm and Avraham Fogel families of Podhorce (near Hrubieszow) were robbed of all their property; Jewish girls were raped as well (evidence by Regina Shturm).

When the pogromists entered the village of Werbkowice on July 8, they surrounded the house in which Jews as well as Christians were hiding in the basement. The Christians were commanded to leave, and the Jews in the basement were shot; Volf Rozenberg and his son Avraham Ya'akov were killed. They then attacked the Jewish homes and ransacked all seven or eight homes. The peasants protected women whom the robbers sought to rape (evidence by Regina Shturm).

A passing company from Bałachowicz's forces stayed in Hrubieszow for several hours on July 23. They used this time to rob the following Jews: Moshe Shper, Mrs. Rosenkrantz, Mr. Mandelboim and others (evidence by Shper, Ya'akov Peretz, and David Tenenboim). The elderly Sender Groi was robbed and murdered during these robberies (evidence by his son, Leib Groi).

From a query by the following delegates at the Polish Sejm: Y. Shiffer, Y. Grinboim and others, addressed to the President and the Finance Minister

(Ha–Tzfira, November 21, 1920, No. 249)


Concerned about Yisra'el Shuchman

Yisra'el Shuchman, Jaffa

Why are you not writing to us? We are very worried! Write immediately!

Your parents and friends in Hrubieszow

We ask Hebrew newspapers in Eretz–Yisra'el to copy this message.

(A notice in Ha–Tzfira of December 16, 1920)


The Founding Meeting of the Mizrachi Organization

On Friday, December 9, Rabbi Rapoport was in our town, and spoke in the large synagogue about the ideology of the Mizrachi. His speech made a great impression, and a local branch of the Mizrachi was founded that day; it now numbers almost 70 members.

Those present inscribed the rabbi in the Golden Book of the Jewish National Fund.[25] A committee was elected, which included Shlomo Regl, Moshe Shper, Yitzchak Neimark, Zusha Roitman, Yisra'el David Yanover, Yonah Papir, Avraham Brandt, Moseh Yehuda Merenshteyn, Shalom Engelsberg, Efraim Dov Horovitz and Michael Gayerman.

(Hamizrachi weekly, Warsaw, January, 1919)


Activities of the Zionist Organization

The Zion Society, which has existed in our town for more than a year, now numbers 70 members. The Society sponsors a Hebrew library, with 60 readers, and a special Zionist library. We have recently felt a lack of informational pamphlets. The Society holds talks twice a week: on Saturdays, concerning Zionist issues, and on Wednesdays, concerning scientific topics. From time to time, the Society holds festive literary events, to raise money for the national fund. Since the beginning of 1917, the Society has collected 592 złoty.

(Ha–Tzfira, June 10, 1918)


Y. M. Freind Preaches Zionism

Hrubieszow. On Friday, June 6, 1918, Mr. Y. M. Freind came, and gave an excellent talk to hundreds of people about the Zionist ideal and its development. Members of the Bund tried to intervene and create an uproar. But the large audience expressed its displeasure. On Saturday, Mr. Freind spoke in the “Ha–Tikva” hall about the Enlightenment period and the literary works of I. L. Peretz. This was the first time we had heard Hebrew spoken. We decided to plant trees in the Herzl Forest.[26]

(Ha–Tzfira, No. 25, June 20, 1918).

Hrubieszow. The local Ha–Tikva Society is permitted to practice its activities throughout the district. It is therefore making efforts to create a library in the nearby town of Grabowiecz.

During the visit by Y. M. Freind, it was resolved – following his Hebrew talk – to create a Hebrew group in town. At the suggestion of the Jewish National Fund's commission, we decided to inscribe Mr. Freind into the Golden Book, to commemorate his visit to Hrubieszow.

The town's Zionist Committee is now striving to create an elementary school. The required funds are available.

(Ha–Tzfira, No. 28, July 11, 1918)


Activities of the Mizrachi

Two weeks ago, we had a visit from Rabbi Zlotnick of Gąbin, and Mr. Shtzaransky of Warsaw. The esteemed Rabbi spoke in the large synagogue about the mission of the Mizrachi movement. His warm, enthusiastic words impressed the large audience; thanks to his efforts, the local Mizrachi organization was founded. On the same occasion, Mr. Shtzaransky spoke about the Mizrachi Fund.

(Ha–Tzfira, No. 37, September 12, 1918)


  1. Original note: Presented by Baruch Yanover. Return
  2. Translator's note: This section is written in the florid Hebrew style typical of the period, replete with biblical and rabbinic allusions and quotes. I have compressed these in order to transmit the substance, while retaining some of the style's flavor. Return
  3. Translator's note: One of the societies founded in Germany by Jewish intellectuals who sought to spread Enlightenment ideals. Return
  4. Translator's note: The ritual slaughterer checks the slaughtered animals for laws of ritual purity, and rejects parts that he deems impure. Return
  5. Translator's note: Quoted from Job 10:22. Return
  6. Translator's note: Quoted from Isaiah 24:12. Return
  7. Translator's note: These phrases combine several allusions to the Bible and rabbinical sources. “But where shall wisdom be found” is a quote from Job 28:12. Return
  8. Translator's note: Quoted from Isaiah 1:8. Return
  9. Translator's note: The Hebrew term for gullet is “house of swallowing.” Return
  10. Translator's note: The first biblical quote is from Leviticus 19:17; the second is from Deuteronomy 10, 19. The third quote is from the mishnaic “Sayings of the Fathers,” 1:12. Return
  11. Translator's note: The ritual slaughterers are community functionaries, whereas the butchers are commercial operators. Return
  12. Translator's note: The reference is to events in Joshua 7: the Israelite Achan took for himself some plunder that had been dedicated to God, placing the nation in danger from God's wrath. Return
  13. Translator's note: The important hasidic group was founded in the early 19th century, in the town of Belz in Western Ukraine. Return
  14. Translator's note: The Trisk hasidic group was founded in Turyisk, Ukraine. The quote is from Deuteronomy 27, 17. Return
  15. Translator's note: “Not everyone may slaughter” is a discussion of “Everyone may slaughter,” the first phrase of tractate Chullin of the Mishna. “Make a rabbi for yourself” (Sayings of the Fathers 1:2) is often interpreted as “Reach the right decision.” Return
  16. Translator's note: I could find no source for this phrase; the mention of God may be a rhetorical flourish. Return
  17. Translator's note: I could not identify the location of this village. Return
  18. Translator's note: Quoted from Exodus, 10:10. Return
  19. Translator's note: Quoted from Mishna, tractate Pe'ah, 1:1. Return
  20. Translator's note: The midrash is on Deuteronomy 14:22. It plays on the fact that the verb ‘tithe’ appears twice in the verse, in a common biblical combination (aser te'aser) “Thou shalt tithe.” In an unvocalized text, the Hebrew letter shin can be read as ‘sh’ or ‘s’. In the midrash's interpretation, there is no longer only one verb, as in the biblical text, but two (aser te'asher). The first verb uses the ‘s’ sound, yielding “thou shalt tithe,” and the second verb uses the ‘sh’ sound, which changes it to “thou shalt become rich.” Thus, “If you tithe, you will become rich.” Return
  21. Translator's note: I could not identify this village. Return
  22. Translator's note: A minyan is the group of 10 men required for community prayer. Return
  23. Translator's note: I could not determine the meaning of “p.p.” Return
  24. Translator's note: General Stanisław Bułak–Bałachowicz fought against the Bolsheviks during the Polish–Bolshevik war of 1918–1920 Return
  25. Translator's note: The Jewish National Fund was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish settlement. Its Golden Books honor deserving members. Return
  26. Translator's note: After the death of Theodor Herzl (considered the founder of political Zionism) in 1904, a forest was planted in Hulda (in central Israel today) to commemorate him. Return


[Columns 75-76]

Regulations of Four Societies*[1]

Translated by Yael Chaver


Record Book of the Midrash Society

Names of Members

Joined our Society and committed to give 3 złoty weekly– Mekhl the melamed.[2]
Joined our Society, the wife of Rabbi Mordechai Geier, and committed to give 3 złoty weekly.

Additional Names and Commitments

The Midrash Society of Hrubieszow The Midrash Society of Hrubieszow

Those charged with the Torah scroll:

First – Meir, son of Yisra'el Shalit
Second – Volf, son of Zalmen Dov Shach
Third – Binyamin Vagshal

On January 20, 1855, The money donated for a Torah scroll was brought
By the sacred Midrash Society
Of their goodwill will and funds, honoring God,
The names of the donors are inscribed before God.

In commemoration of his soul, charity for the group, which will decide on the sum the maggid will receive, the sum dedicated to purchase books needed by the Society, or anything else he deems necessary, will be given to the managers, and they will do all that is needed to pray at his home for at least the seven days of his mourning, and the managers shall designate one of the Society's members to say Kaddish after studies, for the soul of the deceased.[3]

Every year, on the fifth day of Sukkot, the Society members, headed by the maggid, shall collect the names of all the members in a ballot box. Five names will be selected by lottery; those selected will choose several members as they wish, who will collect the weekly contributions by each person, to pay those studying for the week. The collectors selected must also gather the regular contributions and a Hanukah gift for the maggid. The ones selected will also appoint two managers; these and the maggid will decide as to who may join the group and pay initial weekly dues as they deem fit. Anyone instructed by the managers to go to the home of a deceased person and pray must do so, unless he is incapable of so doing; in this case, he must designate someone in his stead.

All these regulations were created willingly and by agreement of the members, to ensure the continued existence of the Society. It is our desire to study and teach, happily, honorably, and whole–heartedly, in order to help perpetuate the people of Israel, our teachers, and their students. We have therefore signed below today, Friday, January 12, 1849.[4]


Rules of the Society
  1. Each member of our Society, from the moment he resolved to join our holy Society, must commit to contribute a weekly sum, as he is able, to the five collectors designated by the lottery. This will enable the Society to maintain our maggid, who has been selected to teach us the sayings of the sages.
  2. Eight days before each of the main three festivals, the collectors will gather contributions from each member, as he may see fit, to send to the maggid so that he may celebrate the holiday.[5] This will also be done for the festival of Hanukah; each member will contribute as he sees fit, to honor the maggid. Every year during Purim, the managers will go with the collectors in person to gather money for the maggid throughout the town, in a procession led by a drum – as do all the societies of our town, and hand it to the maggid who heads our Society.
  3. When a Society member's son is circumcised, or he celebrates the wedding of one of his descendants, he must give the maggid an honorable role in the ceremony of circumcision, or honor him by having him chant one of the blessings during the marriage ceremony, and to give him a contribution as he sees fit. The maggid will also be asked to write out the Ketubah, and will be paid accordingly.[6]
  4. If, God forbid, one of the members is absent, and is able to designate someone else to continue observing the original regulations, and the person he designates will ask for wages and will receive them. Our sincere contributions will be listed in this book, as each of us undertook to contribute money each week to sustain the maggid, who regales us with words of wisdom. We will beg God to spread blessings and success upon us from on high, to illuminate our darkness, and bring the long–awaited savior – and conduct us to his holy mountain, to proudly arrive in our own land.
This beloved, pure group was founded in 1849.[7]

Happy is the man who listens to me and studies daily; his ears absorb advice and ethics from the wise for a good outcome. Those who live among scholars, listen to me and your souls will revive. Let the learned come and praise God, amen; Man stands upon the earth but his head is in the heavens, sustaining the world and shedding light on the dark universe by studying the holy books that the tribes of Israel have inherited. Knowing God's deeds will preserve them even as they are dispersed throughout the world. All the nations will be affected by the embers of their learning. The souls of the people of Israel will live forever as they shelter under the wings of God and drink of his words. For this purpose, our ancestors placed a scholar as the cornerstone in each town, to be a teacher of the right path. He will teach the Torah, the words of the Prophets, and the wisdom of the Midrash, trickling down from the scholars who taught our brethren, and set times for the uneducated to enjoy the pleasant phrases daily in the houses of study, between the afternoon prayer and the evening prayer, and to study the words of the Prophets and the Writings as taught by the maggid according to the scholarship of our dear sages.[8] The listeners shall pay attention to the teacher, because the Midrash will lead them to doing the proper deeds; they shall listen to the weekly Torah portion with the commentary of Rashi and others. They will joyfully gather on holidays to listen to interpretations of the relevant portions of the Bible. Our ancestors established this custom in Hrubieszow many years ago, but it almost disappeared due to troubles and the passage of time. Therefore, we have risen up and gathered our courage – all those whose names are listed on the next page.

In conclusion: Follow God, fear Him, and fulfill His commandments.


Record Book of the Midrash Society

Hrubieszow Midrash Society Hrubieszow Midrash Society

The Midrash Society
Founded in sanctity
on January 22, 1849[9]

[Columns 77-78]

Record Book of the Ner Kedusha Society

My people, arise,
For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light
May God grant that we have the merit to see the light of God while lighting candles
The lamp is constructed like a canopy, with God's help
At the end of Shabbat, during the portion of Be–shalach.[10]


This is the gate of God; the righteous shall entery

These are the regulations that the members of the Ner Tamid Society agree to.[11]

  1. If the managers select one of the Society's members to collect the money for the eternal light, that person must go immediately and do so, without argument.
  2. When the time comes, the entire group must go to the house of the person who is making the candle.
  3. If, God forbid, one of the members is gone, El Male Rachamim must be said in the synagogue the night the candle is brought; Kaddish for his soul must also be said; a chapter of Psalms must be read, and he must be fondly remembered.[12]
  4. If, God forbid, a member of the group becomes gravely ill, the managers should be informed; they must tell, who shall go to visit the sick member and beg God, blessed is he, to send him complete healing.
In the year 1923 [ ][13]


Record Book of the Society for Writing Sacred Books[14]

Hrubieszow Society for Writing Sacred Books

Good Luck with God's help

  1. We are setting out honest and proper regulations, which all the members accept whole–heartedly and happily. Thanks to this project, may they witness the rebuilding of Zion, and succeed in all that they do; may our Messiah come soon, and we will thank God, our king, for his great goodness.
  2. This society was founded and established in the year 1884, in Hrubieszow.[15]
  3. May the people who made great efforts to realize their idea of creating such a Society be remembered fondly. They fulfilled the command “Write down this song.”[16] Now God has helped them to complete the sacred book; may God's pleasure be upon them, may they be blessed in all their actions, may their descendants succeed, and have long lives and good sustenance. In this Record Book, we write down, for eternal remembrance, the names of the managers and all the participants, the contribution collectors, and the volunteers.
  4. We, the members signing below, agree that when the sacred Torah is completed, on the Monday of the Re'eh portion, each person shall proceed from the home of our Rabbi to the large synagogue.[17]
    The very next day, the sacred Torah scroll must be returned to the location where we pray every Shabbat and holiday, as is our custom. No one may cause dissension and quarreling by taking the Torah scroll to a different site, and to break up the group, God forbid. Even if the majority of the members would like to leave the regular site, and only ten members and the managers will remain at the regular site, and the scrolls are removed, as our sages said, “Customary and non–customary – the customary is sacred.”[18]
  5. The managers and officers cannot say, “This is our Torah scroll” and do anything that the undersigned members disagree with.
  6. Anyone wanting to join our group is obliged to advance a sum of money as set by the managers, in addition to weekly dues. Once he has done that, he may add his name to the list of Society members, and will then be equal to any other member of the Society.
  7. Every year, during Sukkot week, the members shall use a new ballot box to select five honest mediators; they shall appoint three managers, one officer, an accountant, and three dues collectors.[19] The ballot box shall not be operated at night.
  8. These regulations were reviewed and set by the free will of all Society members. So that it shall remain safeguarded and fixed over time, the heads of the Society have signed below.
In 1884 Hrubieszow Good luck

With God's help, a proper ballot box was set up, and five honest mediators, three managers and officers, and an accountant were selected. They have all been named by agreement of all Society members.



Record Book of the Psalms Society[20]

We have had a Psalms Society for a long time. The previous documents have been lost, and new regulations have recently been set out. Characteristically, the new regulations are written in Yiddish. Most of the Society's members are artisans. They have a separate vestibule for their prayers; we call it “the porters' vestibule,” “the tailors' vestibule.”

To this day, the mournful voice of the sexton calling to awaken for Psalms can still be heard: “Wake up, wake up for prayer, you holy nation of Israel, get up, come up.”[21]

Record Book of the Psalms Society of the Large House of Study

David, King of Israel, lives forever[22] Hrubieszow

This is the record book of the Psalms Society.

The Psalms Society has two Torah scrolls in the large House of Study.

  1. If, God forbid, one of the members should be taken ill, it must be reported to the manager, who shall then gather people and say Psalms for him.[23]
  2. If, God forbid, the Society member must stay overnight, he is obligated to do so, and this cannot be prevented.
  3. Saying Psalms is not allowed before 6 a.m., and all the Society members must come to the large house of study, summer or winter.
  4. Speaking while saying Psalms is severely prohibited, and each Society member must pay 20 groschen a month.


  1. Original note *: The regulations of the Societies are explained in an article by Dr. N. M. Gelber and have been presented by Eliyahu Gertel. Return
  2. Translator's note: The Hebrew term is “3 large ones” [gimel gedolim]. I have used złoty, as it was the largest monetary unit at the time. Return
  3. Translator's note: The name of the deceased person is not specified here. Kaddish is the daily communal prayer said during the first week of mourning in the home of the deceased. Return
  4. Translator's note: I have incorporated the eight original footnotes into the translation, as they are acronyms in the body of the text. Return
  5. Translator's note: These three festivals are Passover, Shavu'ot, and Sukkot. Return
  6. Translator's note: The Ketubah is the marriage contract. Return
  7. Translator's note: This section is written in florid rabbinical style, often rhyming, which I have tried to approximate. I was not able to determine the Gregorian equivalent for the details of the date at the end of this section; it is spelled out by the numerical value of certain letters in two phrases. Return
  8. Translator's note: The Writings (Hebrew Ketuvim) are the biblical books that follow the Prophets. Return
  9. Translator's note: I have given the substance of this last section, which is written in a highly allusive, ornate rabbinical style. Return
  10. Translator's note: Denoting dates according to the relevant weekly Torah reading is traditional practice. Be–shalach (Exodus 13:17 – 17:16) is the sixteenth weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading, and usually occurs in winter. I could not determine the Jewish date (see footnote 7 above). Return
  11. Translator's note: “Ner Tamid” is the Hebrew term for the light that is kept burning before the Torah Ark. Return
  12. Translator's note: Apparently, “absent” in this context means “deceased.” El Male Rachamim is a memorial prayer often said at the graveside. Return
  13. Translator's note: I was unable to translate the following section of col. 77, which is a collection of poetic Hebrew phrases that appear medieval. It seems to be an expression of thanks to the members of the Society for their work. The year is presented in the traditional rabbinical form; the original text includes a reference to a footnote 4, which is missing at the bottom of the column (see footnote 7 above). Return
  14. Translator's note: Writing a Torah scroll is an important project that involves the work of a specially educated and trained scribe. Return
  15. Translator's note: I was unable to translate two acronyms in the previous two paragraphs. Return
  16. Translator's note: Quoted from Deuteronomy 31:19. Return
  17. Translator's note: The completion of a new Torah scroll is usually the cause for a celebration. This portion (Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17) is the 47th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading, and is usually read in late August. Return
  18. Translator's note: The concluding phrase gives precedence to the customary. Return
  19. Translator's note: I could not translate the Hebrew word tzrif in this context (it usually means “wooden shack”) and have inserted the general term “officer” instead. Return
  20. Translator's note: This section has been translated from Yiddish, with Hebrew insertions. Return
  21. Translator's note: Psalms are often said before dawn. Return
  22. Translator's note: King David is considered the author of Psalms. Return
  23. Translator's note: It is traditional to say Psalms for the ill. Return


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