by Dr. Yitzhak Schwartzbart
Translated by Susan Rosin
Slowly our state organization became almost a country in itself within the Zionist life.
In the eastern borders of this country was the beautiful town of Jaroslaw. It was a district in our organizational activities. My memories of this town are not necessarily just because I lectured there many times and also participated in meetings that took place there. They are mostly related to my dramatic wanderings after the last meeting of the Sejm in Warsaw. During the first days of the Second World War I stayed in the hell of this town for 26 hours while the German bombs were dropped mercilessly.
The Jaroslaw Zionism was moderate, even-tempered, and completely in tune with the rest of the movement. The Zionist leaders of the town were not quarrelsome people. Therefore the executive felt confident they can leave the Zionist work to the local leaders in town. I remember the names of Dr. Spatz, Yehoshua Potasher, and the lawyer Dr. Rager, whom I met in Jerusalem in the year 1953. At the time he was a night guard on mount Herzl.
The Zionist youth there was amazing. They were amazing with their many problems. Wherever there are problems, there are also arguments and disputes. It was a boiling cauldron of youth.
Occasionally, here on Broadway, in New York, I meet a friend who in my time, was one of the Zionist youth leaders in Jaroslaw, and today he is a well-known scholar in the area of old Yiddish literature. He is an expert in his field, and in my opinion he is also the pride of the city of Jaroslaw. This man is Shalom Spiegel.
Such were the roses in the Zionist life bouquet in western Galicia and Silesia. Is it possible - roses without the thorns? There were thorns and quite a few of them.
During the early years after Poland was resurrected [after world war one], the head of the executive was dr. Shmuel Warhaftig. He was the epitome of a Zionist leader. He was heavy set and was measured in both his personal and public life, but was completely devoted to the Zionist ideas. Because of his dedication to the movement, he sacrificed quite a bit in his professional life as a lawyer. When he passed we followed his coffin in silenced mourning with our heads bent through the historic Grodzka street to the Jewish cemetery.
Excerpted from the book of Krakow, page 214.
by Moshe Kalchheim
Translated by Pamela Russ
[ ] translator's remarks
As soon as the writing saying Mishenichnas Adar marbim besimcha [as soon as the month of Adar comes in, the simcha increases] appears in the courts and in the shteibelech [small, informal synagogues], written in colorful letters and decorated with two, large carp fish, and sometimes also with a bottle and a cup it became festive in the entire city.
The holiday of Purim is arriving!
Even though my fellow townsmen called it a Jaroslawer holiday, and truthfully, whoever spent a Purim in our town could not forget it for a long time, nonetheless, the term Jaroslawer holiday actually had nothing to do with Purim.
Purim afternoon was the time to exchange mishloach manot [gifts of holiday foods], and there was a rushing and lots of action, enough to make one's heart proud. Those who carried the mishloach manot were women, young boys, young girls, and beadles of the rabbis, [rabbinic] court judges, and rabbis of chassidic courts and shuls. And under the covers of the plates that they carried, there sneakily appeared hamantaschen [a triangular pastry symbolizing Haman's hat], all kinds of cookies, and sometimes a bright red orange as well. Shrewd housewives would sometimes intentionally cover the plates with cloths that were too small, so that the neighbors would be able to see what was underneath, and explode with disappointment. And what was heard from the plates was:
So, you see how tastefully we are baked, as if we were just taken out of the oven!
On Purim afternoon, the beggars and wanderers also lived it up. Traditionally, the businessmen increased their regular donations from one coin there were two, and from five there were ten. These beggars went from store to store,
dressed a little better for the holiday of Purim, and were happy with themselves and with the donations.
At the time of mincha [evening prayer], they closed the shops, and the holiday evening of Purim would start with festivities in the streets.
As if under a magic wand, the city changed its normal appearance. The three principal streets, Sobieskiego, Rynek, and Grodzka, were now filled with all old, young, and children. They were all waiting impatiently for the time that the tens of local Zionist youth, who were living there, would show their masks.
For a long time, it was already an established that every Purim the Zionist organizations would put together groups of costumed people who would go from house to house, and then at the festive tables of the hosts, they would perform a brief artistic program and collect money for the various Zionist activities.
They went and suddenly there was a tumult and a cry. Everyone ran over there, where the first group was. People pushed to see them. They were enjoying themselves, and laughing, and mothers and fathers were proud of their young sons and daughters who had suddenly turned into bold cowboys and rich maharajas, decorated with gold and silver, and thieving Arabs dressed in long robes with daggers under their belts.
Oh, what you see here! Wild negroes, yellow Chinese with braids at the bottom [of their heads], Japanese women in floral robes, bold Apaches [Indians] with red scarves around their necks, rich lords in black smocks, Cossacks in flaming red pants, beautifully embroidered shirts, and shiny boots on their feet, and tens of other types from all corners of the world. A real dor haflaga [generation of the dispersed].
It was shining and glimmering from crowns and brooches, white, green, and red, which were taken from the grandmother's dresser, scarves and shawls of all colors an ocean of color.
The greatest applause, though, went to Achashverosh and Queen Esther, Mordechai and Haman, or a different group with a very large pushke [charity box] for the Land of Israel that they wore on themselves, or the Peel Commission [Palestine Royal Commission headed by Lord Peel, 1936, to investigate Palestine] with cylinders and binoculars, which did not stick to the eye but fell down every minute.
And that is how one group went after the other, accompanied by festive cries and amazement from the gathered crowds.
The most important part, however, took place in the homes of the local businessmen, at the festive tables laid out with good food, with drinks and whiskey, festive breads and baked meats, cakes and all kinds of preserves.
A group of 10-15 men would tear into the house with song and an uproar, dance a flaming Hora [Israeli dance], sing a few funny songs, or perform a short or biting sketch of a heimish type [typically of homelife], and soon drink one or two or three cups [of whisky], and with the same liveliness and rush that they had when they entered, they left so that there would be place for the next group that was already waiting at the door, and who sometimes was already impatiently waiting for the room to be emptied.
There were other festive tables where they would stay for longer periods of time, as, for example, by Reb Steinberg, by Melech Reich, Dovid Kramer, by the Belzer Rebbe (understandably, there the women remained behind the door), and by others, where tens of businessmen from the city would gather, and where a greater amount of money would greet those who were in costumes.
That's how they went from house to house, from room to room, rushed and hurried, so that they could visit everyone, and this went on until the late hours of the night.
All sweaty, and with messed up beards, makeup smeared all over their faces, and with blisters on their feet,
the costumed crowd would gather in the streets that were already empty at midnight, and in the glow of the shining moon that lit up Purim night, the crowd would dance in middle of the street until the police came and chased everyone home.
Shushan Purim [the following day] was no longer a holiday. More than one person had his bones aching, others developed a bad cold, and the greatest number of the young performers was so hoarse that no one could hear their voices.
And who took this all in?
by Mundek Hebenstreit
Translated by Selwyn Rose
I cannot pretend to write about the history of sport in our town because I simply don't have the information. I only wanted to convey a few memories of the sports life of Jaroslaw, things that I carry in my memory thirty years after they occurred, from the day the Jewish population was exiled from the town in 1939. That was the day that the sports life of Jaroslaw's Jews died.
Tears fill my eyes when I recall the memory of those days and of the Jewish youth in the period between the two World Wars (1918-1939). This youth was full of life and youthful energy. They filled the Ḥadarim and schools, the youth associations and the sports clubs every day and on Saturday nights, at Hanukkah and Purim. They spent time in the Yad Harutzim Hall or Szkoła Moziczna. This Jewish youth was imbued with ideas, beliefs and ideals, which explains the fact that eighty percent of the Jewish youth belonged to Zionist youth movements and the number of different associations was over ten, in a town that was not so large. The activities of the youth were not confined to the field of idealism alone. In keeping with the saying A healthy mind in a healthy body the youth of our town developed a vibrant life of sports either within an organized framework or even without it.
Groups of boys and girls would go sledding on the slopes outside of town or play ice-hockey on the frozen Zilinski Lake. The truth is that not every boy or girl had skates or other equipment for winter sports training. Quite frequently, a bent wooden stick served us as a hockey-stick or one ski or skate tied to the foot served as two real ones but we didn't let that stop us. The only target was go faster, get further. So far as skating was concerned, some of the Jewish girls at the time, were very capable, especially the sister of D. Hentzel and on more than one occasion we followed her in wonderment as she danced across the ice.
On summer days, we spent our time on the banks of the San. Youngsters were accompanied by their parents. They would simply go to bathe while the older children at the same time would swim in the river; the weaker swimmers swam with the current while the stronger ones
against it or they swam from bank to bank. The older ones rowed up and down the River San. Another branch of sports activities for which the youngsters would train was weight-lifting. More than once a couple of circuses visited town. It was a real attraction for the youngsters to see the trapeze artists training. Every little Jewish youngster wanted to copy the heroes of the circus and try his strength lifting weights or swinging on the trapeze or simply trying to display his physical strength in striving to at least emulate the strength of Zishe Breitbard whose physical strength was equal to our legendary hero Samson.
The youngsters taking part in the various sports programs were members of Jewish sports associations. It was only within the organized framework that they could play football, volleyball, table tennis, participate in bicycle races and also boxing, a sport that was considered to be a gentile domain.
I remember the years we played football on the Mały Rynek Square and afterwards we would go to the Wandoły square to compete in football against the youth teams of Akiva, Betar and Hashomer Hatza'ir.
During that same period, there were competitions against Hapoel, I think on the ground behind the Great Synagogue or in the Targowica, an area close to the municipal park. These were real competitions and the names of the players on these teams were known to the public. Among them were: Siegel, Renner, Lipper, Licht, Aftilon, Kaufstein, Bienenstok, Fogler and others.
Dror also had a football team in those days and its leaders were the Bergerfreund brothers, Krieger, Reich and Sandig. The sportsmen of Dror were the only ones who played tennis. Among them were: Sandig, Krieger, Reich, Rabinowitz and Meister. Tennis practice took place on the grounds of the Casino Oficerska and later on the grounds of the Stadium.
The young sportsmen, who up until now had played only football, yearned to broaden their sporting activities and in order to do so they had to form a new sports organization. The existing Zionist youth organization dedicated all its time and resources to educating the youth and had no spare time to enter the field of sports.
At the beginning of the 1930s a group of youngsters, among them Kalchheim, Fuks, Glatt, Hemmer, Guttman and the writer of this article, decided to create a Sports Association - Maccabi.
Maccabi had a club on Mały Rynek Street and its activities quickly grew.
From right to left: Horn, Kaufstein, Hebenstreit, Rot, Fuks, Krieger, Reinherz, Sprung, Kaufstein
The main sports of Maccabi were football and table-tennis. The organization was equipped with an assortment of sports gear, in spite of the fact that there was no revenue, not from support foundations and not from various other donors. All the necessary equipment was acquired with revenue from the faithful, Maccabi members' dues. Nevertheless, in time, it became necessary to widen the Maccabi club because the framework became inadequate.
At the time, a large sports organization, Dror existed where most of the Jewish sportsmen were active. The Dror club was located on Grodzka Street,
in the Warhaftig building. Its secretary was Manek Fliegel and the football manager was Klang. That was in the early 1930s. Outstanding football players were Alec Lipiner, Nadel and Renner.
We, members of Maccabi joined the Dror club because it allowed us the opportunity to take part in other sports.
And here, I would like to mention a unique attribute of our town Jaroslaw. In other towns the
From right to left, first row: Israel Kneitel, Kaufstein, Moshe Kalchheim, Israel Fuks, Izio Krieger
Second row: Moshe Hebenstreit, Chaskiel Fogel, Siko Gutman
Bottom row: Reuven König, Lonek Pokard
Jewish sports organizations were sponsored by the various political parties or movements. For instance, the Gwiazda [Star], was under the influence of the Bund, Ha-Poel included among its ranks the Zionist Socialist Jewish youth while the ranks of Maccabi and Ha-Gibor had youth from the General Zionists.
Such a schism did not exist in our town. The youth from all the different political persuasions came to our various sports associations without any reference to their political opinions. In that way the sports associations in our town were a unifying factor of the Jewish public.
After Maccabi joined, Dror moved to a large apartment in the building on Dietziusa Street, belonging to Rosenblatt. The Chairman of the organization at that time was Engineer Schneebaum and Mauritz Schneebaum served for many years as manager. For a certain period, Glasberg (now living in Haifa), was the Chairman of Dror and also its patron.
Within the framework of the club, a few other departments operated: At the head of football department was the writer of these lines, table-tennis was in managed by Hendzel and boxing was managed by Dym. Cycling was managed by Fruchter.
The football team trained at the stadium grounds on Kolejowa Street and the trainer was Sh. Kaufstein. For a short time the trainer of our team was Chudzinski. He was well-known as a player with an established football team Ognisko.
The Dror team entered into matches against teams of neighboring towns: Radymno (Redem, Radimno), Przeworsk (Pshevarsk, Pshevors'k), Sieniawa (Shinova, Shenova) and others. Among the outstanding players of the team were: Reinhertz, Metzger, Königsberg, Sprung, Weinberg and Gerblich. I recall that at a few games we were joined by the well-known Polish player Antek Tiszarski from the
A group of cyclists from Dror
Korn, Fliegel, Mundstein, Fruchter (manager of the team), Sh. Kaufstein, Metzger, Friedel
Ognisko football team in our town. The intention was to strengthen the team and to have the Goy, dressed in blue and white, competing against his fellow Poles.
The table-tennis players practiced their ping-pong in one of the club rooms containing a table. Most of the day it was occupied and during the hours Hentzel, Fuchs and Königsberg played they were surrounded by many eager spectators.
Among the well-known boxers were Sh. Dym and Sh. Kolman who more than once demonstrated their capabilities in the ring at the Casino Oficerska.
The cyclists of Dror organized bicycle races to local towns and more than once were seen flying along Grunwaldzka Street, Trzeciego Maja, Rynek and Grodzka Streets.
In the volleyball section, the players were mostly the Gymnasium students and pupils of the Boduwlana school. They trained in the field on Kraszewskiego Street.
It is impossible to write about sport in our town without noting the hundreds of noisy spectators - the fans. They were supporters of the different teams. With them were sportsmen of the past or simply fans whose support for the various branches was enthusiastic. Among many, I remember two who were really crazy about sports. One was Henio Hauben, the games manager of Maccabi. He went to all their matches
Standing from right to left: Sh. Dym, N. Tanzer, Korman
Sitting in the center: Y. Glatt, M. Pasczer
and was the first to enter the ground. Tired, his face covered in sweat, dragging with him suitcases of equipment; complaining about every torn shirt, missing shoe and above all living to the depths of his being his team's victories and unfortunate defeats.
David, the brother of Shimon Dym, was another dedicated supporter. He was nicknamed Goose. He walked by foot to every game, however far; to the town of Sieniawa, or Radymno or even Przemyśl. One would see him walking for many kilometers. He personified the image of the supporter and the walker at one and the same time and there were many like him crazy about the game - in our town of Jaroslaw.
Nevertheless, the sportsmen in our town didn't achieve the levels of ability of the well-known national sportsmen of Poland but everyone in his sport tried to emulate the well-known Jewish sportsmen. The footballers dreamed of achieving the standard of Steuerman or Blatt, the well-known players of Lvov's famous Hasmonea team. Table-tennis players sought to copy the champion table-tennis players of the time, Ehrlich of Hasmonea or Gutek from the town of Tarnow. The famous boxer, Rothholtz, from the Warsaw Gwiazda team, was the ideal of the boxers in our town. Rothholtz was the only Jew in the boxing team to represent Poland in the boxing contest against the United States of America, beating his American opponent. Incidentally, it should be noted that the world champion boxer was the Jew Max Baer, who reached the championship after his victory over Primo Carnera.
The greatest Jewish sportsmen in the world were idolized by the sportsmen in our town in the 1930s.
The HaKoach (Strength) team of Vienna, one of the most famous football teams in the world, was the pride of our generation. I clearly remember the team visiting our town Jaroslaw. It was in 1931. Strength then played against the best team Jaroslaw had, Ognisko. The game ended with the Viennese team winning 6-1. We were then quite young brats and it was the first time that we bought tickets and entered the ground through the main gate. Most of us were gate-crashers and entered the ground through holes in the fencing surrounding the stadium. With obvious pleasure we found ourselves watching the match between the two teams and saw how Ehrlich, Folk or Guttman with their excellent play subdued the champions of Ognisko. With heads held high and with pride we returned home from the stadium and never stopped
talking about the tricky maneuverings of Strength on the field. Even religious Jews that we met on the street asked us: Well by how many goals did we beat the Goyim with? Those were the days!
It seems appropriate to notice that two targets stood out for the Jewish youth in those days: the physical development of their bodies and the development of their intellectual abilities. During the morning hours, the youngsters studied in the high schools or were working, while during the afternoon hours they dedicated themselves to sporting activities. The evening hours were spent in various social and Zionist organizations, discussions, or reading books.
In perspective, these were the lives of sportsmen in our town. The youth of those days was magnificent.
The Holocaust brought an end to that generation of youth in our town and dispersed some of them throughout the world. The majority of the surviving refugees live in Israel and only on a few occasions like memorial meetings or chance encounters do we bring to mind the people of the town of Jaroslaw, who are engraved on our hearts.
by David Isman
Translated by Selwyn Rose
It isn't easy to bring up many memories of the town wherein several generations of my forefathers and I were born. In that town, I lived and grew up until the age of 21. It is now 30 years since I left my town, Jaroslaw.
It is difficult for a man to be objective regarding his way of life in the town, where he was educated to reject life in the Diaspora, for it requires dispassionate judgment to bring up memories objectively in a way that is as close to the truth as possible. Today it seems to me those were days of idealism and romance among the youth, and faith among the adult population who came from different sectors of the population: Ḥaredim, free-thinkers, wealthy and needy. Many dedicated much of their time to the Zionist movement and a significant portion of them prepared themselves for immigration to Palestine in order to take a meaningful part in rebuilding the country. They all took part, either physically or financially in the revival project. As a result public life displayed a noticeable ebullience, hundreds of lectures were presented and arguments took place on ideological topics, both Jewish and general and understandably there were many different points of view and opinions on the present and the future. Every group put greater emphasis on the theme that was closest to its heart and justified developing it. In the end, they all came to terms with each other. The meaning given to the National Home and how to build it also occupied the time and energies of many circles. It is to everyone's credit that can be said that everything possible was done to instill the love of Zion and Jewish cultural values. It was done not only with words but with deeds as well, like: imbuing the youth with a fondness for physical effort, professionalism, military activity, excursions, summer camps and general studies that broaden the knowledge of the youth. At that time there wasn't much work available or significant employment. As a result, for some hours each day they would help their parents, either in their shop or in their workshop (there were professional artisans among Polish Jewry). They remained living with their parents for quite a few years with a very uncertain future.
In the evenings, the youth would gather in their various movements and spend the time in pleasant companionship, reading or listening to a lecture, studying, folk-dancing and so on. All this gave meaning and content to their young lives. Shabbat eves and festivals were particularly notable. Adults also spent their evenings in cultural pursuits: the Ḥaredim in prayer, studying the Talmud, conversations in the Study House on matters of the day,
Part of the Market Square
holidays were spent actively in the organizations on various public affairs (voluntarily and with no thought of reward).
The cultural connections and mutual assistance were well developed. As an example, I can note a specific case: the room used by the Federation where we used to meet for a weekly conversation on Shabbat was at the foot of the high hill. It was one snowy night in winter, freezing cold with strong winds and the approach to the building was very difficult with the added danger of slipping on the snow and breaking bones. Nevertheless nearly everyone came including those who lived at some distance. No one wanted to stay away and miss the meeting with neighbors and friends. Poverty existed throughout the Jewish population, but there was also joy and gaiety in life: there were social and family events. Ways were sought to improve the situation in order to make life more interesting and culture-filled. Each one of us retains some sentiment for those days, especially Shabbat and Festivals, Passover evening and the Days of Awe. Their characteristics were the chief feature for the Orthodox Ḥaredim.
All of them gave content and taste to life and the daily struggle for existence that was by no means easy for most of the Jewish population. We must never forget that thanks to the education we received we have arrived where we are today. From the cultural standpoint as well, we draw on that period; in those days, people were involved with matters of culture and courtesy to others.
As usual, like in every large population group, there were good people and some a little bit less good. I am reminded of someone who appeared to be a little grey to observers. The name of this man was Eliezer the lemon-seller. He would wander round the streets of the town with a basket of lemons in his hand selling them to housewives, barely making a living. But on Thursdays, he would beg for money. I once asked my father (ZL), who knew him well, if he didn't make enough to sustain himself from the sale of the lemons and had to beg for money. My father answered me saying that he begged for money in order to purchase supplies for destitute people and others in the hospital where he would visit them and offer some comfort, adding from his own resources often leaving himself without sufficient to sustain himself or purchase a fresh supply of lemons. He did this for many years without anyone knowing so that the mitzvah would be greater giving to others anonymously.
It is possible to provide a gallery full of such people. Perhaps because people like this, the Jewish people survived in spite of all the suffering.
I am writing these few lines not only for those people who were residents of Jaroslaw for many years and know, more or less, the style of living in the town, but especially for our children. Perhaps one day they will want to know about their forefathers. Then they can open this memorial book, read it and from its pages draw a picture of the life of Jaroslaw's Jewish community their fathers the previous generation, and what happened to them under the Nazis.
by PinḤas Wintgreen
Translated by Selwyn Rose
I recall the incident that occurred at the opening of the new Municipal market Wiata Targowa at the corner of Grodzka Street and the Big Rynek [market place]. The Municipal authorities had deliberately fixed the ceremonial opening for a Sabbath in order to prevent the participation of the town's Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Halevi Steinberg and other Jewish representatives who comprised a major portion of the shop and stall-owners. The senior officials of both the regional civil and military authorities had been invited, as had the heads of the Roman Catholic priesthood and the Greek Orthodox clergy, and also the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community Rabbi Yitzhak Halevi Steinberg. The City Fathers were sure that the Rabbi would not appear because of the sanctity of the day.
That same Sabbath in the Great Synagogue, in which Rabbi Steinberg prayed, tempers raged. The congregation could not be pacified in view of the affront to the community by the town's authorities. After the Rabbi had been called to the reading of the Torah, he addressed the congregation in a trembling voice and briefly explained to those present that he had been invited to be present at the ceremony on that Shabbat. Rabbi Steinberg expressed the view that he should take part in the ceremony in spite of the wrath of the inviters. He asked permission of the congregation to agree to his attending the ceremony in order to sanctify the status of Israel and begged the congregation to delay commencing the Additional Shabbat prayer until his return.
Dressed in his Shabbat finest, he walked the few hundred meters from the synagogue to the site of the ceremony and there, after the opening addresses of the Municipal authorities and assembled clergy, the Rabbi was invited to address the assembly. He ascended the podium and in clear and fluent Polish gave the assembled crowd a brief lesson in the history of Jaroslaw for the last several centuries. The assembled audience stood mouths agape listening to the impressive content of the Rabbi's lecture. Many comments were heard from the audience to the effect that the Municipal representatives and Clergy needed to approach Rabbi Steinberg and learn from him how to conduct a speech.
At the close of the ceremony, the Rabbi returned to the Great Synagogue with a handful of Jews who had taken part in the official opening of the new market, for the additional prayer where the rest of the congregation had patiently waited.
by Erna Zilberman
Translated by Selwyn Rose
The musical and entertainment life in Jaroslaw was, to a certain degree associated with the Geiger Family. The band of David Geiger, his son and Erna Zilberman-Geiger always took part in every theatrical or cinema event in town.
The band performed concerts for the town's residents, and the revenues accumulated were dedicated to the Jewish orphanage situated on Avenue 3rd May under the patronage of Mr. Strisover, the deputy mayor and one of the outstanding community leaders.
The band was known beyond the borders of the town, thus for instance, it appeared on occasion at the court of Baron Potocki and Baron Wettman and even reached Vienna and India where they played before the King in 1938.
The Geiger family also managed a dancing academy where the students from all walks of life in Jaroslaw, Jews and non-Jews, received lessons. The family also ran a school of music where the residents of Jaroslaw, especially children and teenagers learned the basics of music and played violin, viola, saxophone and accordion. As a result, a variety of musicians became available for the musical life of our town and elsewhere.
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