« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 241]

My Environs
Before and After the First World War

Note Koyfman (Acre)

Translated by Tina Lunson

The parallel developments of Jewish political societies and the new Yiddish literature had an influence – well before the First World War – on the cultural renaissance of our youth in Sokolov. Then, the twelfth year of the century was a year of moral pain in the Jewish community due to the blood-libel trial that the “black man” of Russia conducted against the Jew Mendl Beylis from Kiyev.


Berish Apelboym


During that time Hershl Keyt (murdered by the Germans) came from Pulave to Sokolov to work as a typesetter in the new typographia in the front apartment in Meyshe Strag's new building on Dluga Street. Along with friends like Shleyme Hokhberg and others it is important to mention two writers who had spent parts

[Page 242]

of their youth in Sokolov. One of them was Berish Apelboym, who in those days had become a son-in-law in Sokolov. He lived on Sheroke Street, where he wove his first young dreams and prepared himself for his first literary steps. He met with the younger, more enlightened workers on that street and the area around it and also complained about the spiritual narrowness in the small town, and finally ran off into the world, leaving a strong impression on his friends.

The second was the still-young worker Shleyme Sheynberg, who became known in his twenties as an essayist and translator of Yiddish literature.

That young man, Shleyme Sheynberg, then about 17 or 18 years old, carried the moods of the times inside himself. He was also laden with the dreams and longings of a young Jewish writer who sought contact with the Jewish community in his life – especially with the youth.

His first influence was on a small intellectual world, acquainting them with the ideas of the haskole Enlightenment, from which the youth quickly learned. Also he interested them in books and writers of world literature. He read and recited their works, characterized and explained their heroes and ideas. In that he made use of emotional and artistic realities, evoking intellectual respect and love for the literary creator's word, but mostly he exhibited love and enthusiasm, awoke and aroused his friends to the literary creativity of the well-known Yiddish writers.


Khayim Neyekh and Borekh Yedidi Vinagura

The most intellectually successful of the youthful attendees in Hershl Keyt's printing shop, which had begun since his friendship with Shleyme Sheynberg, was Borekh Yedidi Vinogure (killed by the Germans). He was a son of the well-known scholar and teacher of young men, Rov Mordkhe Zalmans. Borekh Yedidi – like many young men of that time – worked, and in the evenings went to the Bialer shtibl to study and afterwards tasted the spirit of heresy from his elder brother Khayim Neyekh Vinagura, who was then already married and was supported by his in-laws in Shedlets.

[Page 243]

At the beginning of 1921, when I was in Russia as an envoy for the Poaley-tsion party and could not travel out, I happened to meet Khayim Neyekh there. He was returning at the end of twenty years serving in the Russian Army just then retreating from Poland. He later played in the Yiddish state theater with much success.


Khayim Neyekh Vinogura


The last time that I saw Khayim Neyekh was in 1939 in Bialystok, where at the time he was director of the state Yiddish theater in the Jewish cultural section, which Russia had sent out into the regions of Poland. He asked me many questions about the fate of the Jews in Poland in general, and specifically about the fate of the Jews in our town. He remembered each person and called each one by his name and wanted to know whether he was alive or had been killed by the Germans. He asked in particular about his parents, who were no longer alive. And he regretted that he had not been in contact with them all the years he was in Russia.

When he heard from me that his brother Borekh had sent them money every month from Paris he was very touched, and it pained him that he had not had the merit to help his poor

[Page 244]

parents, whom he loved very much, and regretted that he had not eased their material loneliness at the end of their lives.

Both Khaym Neyekh and Ayzik Platner, who was also a Yiddish writer, belonged to the Jewish Cultural Section in Biaylstok; both told me at that time that they wrote for the Yiddish theater in Russia.

After that I never heard from Khayim Neyekh again, and today I do not know whether he is alive. I do not know either the fate of the small family: his wife, a capable artist. (They had married in Russia). She had shown talent in the art of painting even in her youth.


A group of writers
Ayzik Platner (first on the right) and Borekh Vinogura (third from the left)


Borekh Yedidi grew jealous of his brother Khayim Neyekh and began posing questions and splitting hairs himself, until he found his way to Hershl Keyt's printing shop, and just as in kheyder and yeshive with the Talmud, so he was in the group conversations about writers and books; he displayed an intellectual sensitivity and wise clarity in evaluating the works they dealt with and their creators. Thus he soon became and remained the initiator of the group discussions and

[Page 245]

casual meetings at the printing shop, both in the times of Shleyme Sheynberg and later when the latter had left our town.

Thanks to Borekh Yedidi, over a few years the printery became an intellectual center, to which were drawn all the youth who were thirsting for knowledge, culture and society. In any case the ideas of his close friends were enriched under his influence, and through their influence cultural and societal consciousness also ripened among certain circles of the youth in our town in general. When the events of the First World War unexpectedly brought about the collapse of Tsarist Russia's occupation of Poland, the possibility for societal and cultural initiative and organization, which had been forbidden for years, was created. While the Jewish masses awakened by the spirit of the time to a cultural and social renewal, needed guiding initiatives, Borekh Vinogura became a social leader and a people's tribune in the town.

His astounding talks fired the consciousness in the hearts of the masses of listeners and called into life institutions that had never before existed in Sokolov: the general Jewish library, reading room and dramatic circles; later, political unions, the “workers' home”, professional societies, a Borokhov school and others.

But Borekh Vinogura did not affect just the small population of Sokolov. Even at his young age he impressed his intelligent social abilities on the tribunes of the town and villages in Kovne, Lithuania, where the restless social spirit of the times had brought him and his two best friends to work.

Just as in his birth town Sokolov, there in Lite the Jewish masses were inspired by his resounding, surprising reports about the theory and progess of the new Jewish workers' party Poalye-tsion. Such organizations were emerging in all the towns of the land and in every organization, and in the cultural, social and professional institutions. I will take the opportunity to mention that at that time, in 1919, all of us in Lite were encountering great stagnantion. No party – Zionist or Bundist or any other – existed. But after the Poaley-tsion organization became popular in the towns and villages, Zionist, Bundist and communist parties were jolted from their sleep.

[Page 246]

His curiosity about writing had awakened in his life at a young age. At eighteen he wrote for the first time about Y. L. Perets, and since then he had written and presented readings on literary themes. After settling in Paris at the end of the 1920s he devoted his free time (by then he was a textile worker) to writing literary criticism about books by Yiddish/Jewish writers in America.

After two years of exhaustion and material need and want, now fully convinced that the worker movement in Lite had already grown to an appropriate level, Borekh Yedidi Vinogura traveled from Lite over to Germany in the industrial center of the country, the Ruhr district, and went to work in a coal mine. He worked there for six weeks. He fainted from the work. The doctor found a high temperature and a stomach infection, and ordered him to the hospital. (A little later a similar fate met his friend, the writer of these lines, with whom he had left Lithuania and went to Germany in search of the “blue bird” of so many in the extolled socialist worker movement.)

On the third day of my hospital stay I saw through the large low window the exhausted figure of Borekh Vinogura stumbling around and searching for the entrance. I called out to him, and he emptied his pockets and laid out around me many sorts of fruits of the most expensive kinds. When I got out of the hospital I found him again, sick in another hospital.

The living individuals, the surviving remnant of the Jewish masses of the towns and villages of Poland, Lithuania and Paris or in the other lands of the world, still certainly remember Borkeh Yedidi as a social-political leader and talented speaker. His literary heritage – criticism of work from Yiddish literature – will hopefully, in time receive its due.

And his wife, the poet and art painter Khane Kovalski (daughter of the Vlotslavker Rov Kovalski) did not make a fuss about her many merits. Her literary knowledge and significant intellect were always brought out in an ordinary, folksy, heartfelt humanity. That was her way, so one never felt her aristocratic origins, and she was idealistic and believing in people and in their future, in the Jewish masses, and always inspired her husband

[Page 247]

to social and literary work, always deciding for the difficult life.

Thus she was Borekh's friend, a benevolent friend, until their tragic deaths by the German murderers.


Khayim-Leyb Hokhberg

Among the young people who drew nearer to us in the early 1920s was Khayim Leyb Hokhberg, the Hebrew teacher who died too young in the border-town Kovel where he spent the last years of his life working as a teacher in the local Tarbus school and at the same was a leader in the Zionist movement in the Volin region.


Folks-school with the teacher Khayim Leyb Hokhberg


I met Khayim Leyb when I studied with his father Borekh Yosef Melamed of blessed memory in kheyder. He was already studying in a yeshive in a larger town and was several years older than I. I remember that each time he came home for a holiday, his parents were so happy because he knew every book that his father examined him in; his warm mother – the good rebetsin Sheyndl – was especially happy. Khayim Leyb was her pride and a comfort in their poor life. “He loves to study,” she used to say with a smile, “and the presence of God rests on his head.” She also said, “I don't know

[Page 248]

which part of Khayim Leyb is more beautiful, his soul or his body”; she only knew that both parts lit up her heart.

In the first years after the great fire he was also among the adult teachers who were forced to seek a station in life. He came home from the yeshives in other places, married and became a modern teacher, an Enlightener, who with his short jacket, shaved face, fine head of hair and European manners, made an impression on the young workers who ran to him to learn to write.

I got to know Khayim Leyb after we both returned from other countries. Just like other former teachers, he was free and often went along the way of Jewish national cultural renaissance and was enthusiastic about every secular cultural event.

We, the group that gathered around him, grew to feel at home with him, his lovely wife Ester and their two fine daughters, Sore'le and Khane'le. He brought us together with the teachers of the Povshekhne School for Jewish children, with which he was working at the time as a teacher of religion.

Writing about teaching I must mention the “Polish Povshekhne School”. From a national standpoint the school was imposed on Jewish children who needed an education in a school in the spirit of the life and culture of their people, taught in their language. The children who went through that school, even the graduates, never gave the impression of mature knowledge, rather the opposite: every time, at every opportunity, they showed themselves insufficient, unversed in the topics that they had studied.


Avrom Simkhe Hokhberg

There were two brothers among the regulars at Heshl Keyt's printing shop, Avom Simkhe and Shleyme Mayer Hokhberg – Rov Borekh Yosef Melamed's two sons, who exemplified the barely-adult young men whose families were impoverished after the great fire, and had to become galoshes-makers. They joined the friends at the printery and showed insights in the discussions about books and writers, collaborating in both the hazardous chess games and the merry-making that went on among the friends. But even more than all the other members Avrom Simkhe showed a quiet

[Page 249]

sentimentality and a little reserve. Avrom Simkhe was jealous of the poets and writers that he read. Reserved and quiet, he collected little pieces of paper in his breast pockets with his own poetic creations. He revealed his secret writings only to Yedidi Segule, and without asking for any opinions he quickly put them away again after reading them.

Soon after Shleyme Sheynberg had left Sokolov, leaving a longing in everyone's heart, and the group feeling that they had completely lost their teacher and support, and the friendship among them had strengthened – and I was also among them – with whom Avrom Simkhe had entrusted his secret. From the many little pieces of paper with small poems scribbled on them, which he used to read to me, I remember certain stanzas that possessed the maturity of a poetic creation:

Here is an example of verses that truly sound like that:

“Why do the stars beam and twinkle at night?
Their illumination – how is it made, how is it made?
The night, the night is just a dark void –
And the stars, who kindles them out there?v And where do the stars get energy to shine,
And not disappear in the dark void?
Perhaps compare Man to the stars,
Each possesses a deep heart.
And each one's heart thinks only of love,
And in love the night is vanquished!”

I recall that all of the poems that he read to me were on romantic themes. The personas were stars and beloveds. As for the want into which he was born and grew up, there was not one line about it.

Because of the poverty that he suffered and the beginning of the First World War, his heart had become weakened. His friends who had themselves suffered from that poverty along with their parents, because so many Jewish livelihoods were decimated, could not help him. He became ill and lay exhausted in bed for some time, and a day before he died his family announced that he “would soon slip over to that eternal sleep”.

That very unjust, strange death of the young Avrom

[Page 250]

Simkhe was considered by his friends to be the “first victim” that the social Moloch had exacted from them.


Beytsalel Fridman And the Yiddish folks-shul in Sokolov

Among the Jews that the tsar's war commander-in-chief Nikolai Nikoyevitsh ordered driven from their settled towns and villages during the First World War many families were homeless, wanderers, some of whom found a place of comfort in Sokolov. One of those families by the name Fridman, originally from Brisk, opened a small teashop in the gateway at Gad Rozenboym's on Dluga Street soon after the German occupation.

The patrons of the teashop – which consisted of poverty-stricken workers and regular folks – had their hunger quieted a little with small portions of black bread, and tea or coffee sweetened with saccharine pellets which people also came there to purchase.

In the teashop or outside near the entrance there was sometimes seen and quickly disappearing, a young man dressed like a student, lanky, darkly handsome, who drew everyone's notice but did not make friends with anyone. This was the son of the owners of the poor teashop. His name was Betsalel Fridman, about whom his father said, he was forced to interrupt his studies in the philological faculty because of the war.

That same Betsalel Fridman who gave the impression of a quiet dreamer and restrained young man was not outside the spirit of those times; the waves of social and political ascent brought the majority of Jewish workers into the rows of the workers' party Poaley-tsion and to its large venue at the Workers' Home. Because Fridman's sentiments were for literature and pedagogy – in which he was an expert – and he showed an ability and enthusiasm, when in the same year 1916 evening courses were opened Fridman was the main teacher. The courses were attended by many dozens of the poorest folk-circles, and in 1917 the party opened, with great effort, the Four Classic Yiddish Writers School for children. At that time there were few Yiddish folks-schools in

[Page 251]

Poland with Yiddish as the language of instruction. Although there were almost no pedagogical handbooks for the Yiddish schools then, there was the modern Yiddish literature, rich with classic and original creativity, and with that they secured the success of the mass education and education for the children of the folks-shul. Also the parents of the pupils were happy with our folks-shul and never refused to pay the small tuition fees.

The financial base of the folks-shul was the subsidies from the central committee of Poaley-tsion and the sale of tickets for theater presentations and concerts by the drama circle, which existed in the Poaley-tsion. Besides Betsalel Fridman, other teachers were sent from the Warsaw Central Committee of Poaley-tsion: students Fayvl Samet and Holtskener, whose families by then had settled in Sokolov.

It is worth remarking that the teacher Holtskener was a student of medicine who because of the war had to interrupt his study, and chose the Zionist movement as his political affiliation.

After the emergence of Independent Poland, Betsalel Fridman traveled back to America, and there became one of the most prominent teachers and activists in the folks-shul system. He wrote and published lyric poems. In the middle of his young and brilliant life he died.

All the teachers had enough understanding and love for the children whom they educated; all without exception came from impoverished Jewish parents, and probably got through their years of study with great difficulties.

Among them were one Zionist (Kezman) and one Bundist (Manye) and the woman teacher Luksenberg and Solovantshik belonged to no party, real children of the folk. The majority of them worked in Sokolov since the existence of the Polisher Povshekhner Shul until the end of June 1939.

Except for the teacher Yakev Grinberg and his wife the teacher Manye Arabtshik who went through the war years in Russia, and also the woman teacher Kezman, it is not known who of the other teachers survived the destruction.

Honor their memories.

[Page 252]

Shleyme Shertsman

There is yet another, a young man who appeared in town in 1915 at the beginning of the German occupation. He usually rushed through the streets like a stranger who did not want to see anything or have to do with anyone, no contacts at all. He was dressed like a student. Not having any special evidence on his long brownish face of a Jewish heritage, local curious “know-it-alls” interpreted him as “a German” who worked in the reberzshe of the provincial governor and was living at Pinye Hersh Leyzer's inn on Vengrove Street.

It turned out that he was a Jew. And that he worked as the first secretary for the provincial governor, had mastered several languages besides “a little Yiddish”. Yiddish culture was foreign to him. He was not familiar with Jewish life-ways, however with his comprehension and curiosity about everything that happened on the Jewish street… that was Shleyme Shertsman.

Apparently the revival of a social life of the Jewish youth in town also came to his attention at that time, and it drew him from the poor, unfortunate rooms of the inn where, with no alternative, he rested after his work. Since he was a passionate chess player he of course sought out someone to share that passion, until he asked around and found Hershl Keyt's printing shop and promptly asked us to play a round, and while playing surprised us with his new approach and genial plans, with which he won our approval. He also won games that he played “blindly”. Shortly after that he came to the Workers' Home in order to play chess – also “blindly” and won while playing several partners at once. Finally he declared that he was captivated by the spirit of the Jewish masses whom he had seen each evening in the Workers' Home; he was excited by the discussions there about literature and political issues, and so asked them to permit him to join as a member of the Poaley-tsion party.

From then on his passion for chess was transferred to social work for the Jewish working class, and quickly reorienting himself to the program of the party he became a passionate speaker.

And although speaking was difficult for him (and he

[Page 253]

struggled a little with the Yiddish language) he nevertheless soon won many listeners. They sat and reverently listened to what friend Shertsman had to say.

Although he held a high position with the county governor he still became a partner in the heaviest conspiratorial plans in the political operations of the party, such as the planning and carrying out of a large workers' gathering in the forest on the First of May in 1917 and others.

He never told us anything about his origins, but chatted about an impoverished well-to-do home in Shedlets where they had distanced themselves from the Jewish environment. His mother, a widow, had striven for her son to finish high school and receive a diploma, which in those days under Russian rule was very difficult for a Jew to achieve. With the outbreak of the world war those hopes disappeared entirely. After driving the Germans out of Poland we thought that we would never see him again because life would carry us in different directions in the world. In my memory each one bears the reminder of life and our birthplace.

But it was destined that I would meet Shertsman again but not in Poland, in Lithuania. In the summer months of 1919 we recognized Shertsman in a sad state: his tall, nonsymmetrical figure in threadbare clothes, his face sickly pale, exhausted, and his eyes without light. It appeared that, just like us, he had lost his homeland and was abandoned to the world searching for the bluebird of freedom. And the local police court had sentenced him to 25 lashes and three months in jail for crossing the border illegally. Because of the torture he became ill from the wounds on his body. Now he worked as a translator in one of the Lithuanian ministries. He was without drive and no longer showed any interest in our party's social work. When his health improved he came to see us a few times in Vilkovishkes where our home was in the main committee of the party.

He married one of our best friends in Lithuania, Eyge Rozenboym, who came from a respectable merchant's home.

[Page 254]

A youth group in 1919


Tarbus School with the teacher Gad Zakukovski

[Page 255]

Houses of Prayer in Sokolov

Pinkhas Rafelovitsh, Tel-Aviv

Translated by Tina Lunson

After the destruction of the Temple, the shul and the study-house (besmedresh) became the intellectual center, the spiritual center of the Jewish folk.

The sages of old call them places of learning, from the verse “and they will have places of learning” and as the Talmud says “houses of gathering and houses of study”.

In the difficulty of the Exile the Jew had in them places of protection against assimilation; they strengthened his connection with the Creator of the world and with Torah, with the feeling of national unity, the foundation of organizing social help for the needy in the framework of the community of Yisroel.

Along with the destruction of Sokolov the following 21 houses of prayer disappeared, in which thousands of Jews had prayed. Among them were large prayer houses where people prayed daily, by day and by night, and the voice of Torah did not stop during any 24-hour period; and also smaller houses of prayer where people prayed only on Shabes and holidays.

* * *

The Great Shul was located in a large beautiful building, built after the catastrophic fire in 1910, on Bizshnitska Street.

A cantor who received a monthly salary from the community council led prayer in that shul. The last shul-cantor was Mr. Asher Mandlboym, the father-in-law of Mendl the rov's. He had lived in Warsaw for many years, was wealthy, and later was financially ruined. He took the position of cantor in the Sokolov shul as a result of his situation. He was well learned in Torah, prayed in a hasidic style, sang melodies of the Vorke and Madzshitse Hasidim, was more of a prayer leader than a cantor; his prayers were full of the awe of heaven. During the Days of Awe he only prayed the morning service in the shul.

Khayim Shmuel Roznboym led the afternoon service for the Days of Awe for more than 40 years. He possessed a beautiful, lyrical voice and prayed Rosh-hashone; and for yom-kiper Khayim Shmuel led the service.

The itinerate preacher from Kozshnitse of blessed memory used to say that in the nigunim that a Jew sings are reflected his deeds in his everyday life. In Khayim Shmuel's nigunim were expressed his noble soul and fine characteristics.

[Page 256]

There were two services in that shul on Shabes. One minyen, called the ha'shkoma, prayed at dawn, and later the second group prayed.

The gabeyim for the hashkoma minyonim were Hershl Reyzman and Peysakh Naydorf.

About gabeyim: The shul did not have any special management. Those praying elected a gabay who would take care of all the needs of the shul. At a larger gathering – for example remodeling and the like – the gabay invited in prominent householders of the shul.

Over that last 15 years before the Shoah the gabeyim for certain periods of time were Itsil Vaysberg (a dairyman), Binyumintshe Rubinshteyn, Binyumin Elinberg and Rubin Fentsik. It is worthwhile mentioning that Binyumintshe Rubinshteyn carried out a fundamental refurbishment of the interior and exterior of the shul during his term in office, and also recruited many sympathizers for the religious Zionist idea from among those who prayed there.

For many years the shul shames was Mr. Ben-Tsion – a sympathetic person with a stately appearance, a legendary figure with great love for his fellow Jews, noble mores, and all, small and great, loved and respected him very much. When Ben-Tsion went into the middle of the market square just before candle-lighting time on Friday and called out with his own original melody “Into shul, Jews!” all the shopkeepers and proprietors immediately closed their shops and hurried home to welcome in the Sabbath. People felt that Mr. Ben-Tsion brought the holiness of the Sabbath onto the town with his “Into the shul!” call.

The shul was the central place for all national, state and Jewish celebrations and mass gatherings.

The old besmedresh If the shul was the central place for prayer, the old besmedresh was the center for Torah and psalms.

From dawn until 12 noon minyonim met there to pray. After a recess of a few hours, afternoon and then evening prayers began. Mendl the ritual slaughterer left the besmedresh late at night, and then the psalm-reciters came, who later prayed with the first minyen. The old besmedresh was warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Inside, people met to sit with the well-known town scholars – Henikh Koen, Yisroel Henikh Shvartsvort, Mordkhe Zalman's (Vinigura), Rov Yankev Karfl, Asher Nelkenberg (Avrom Tsharnitske's son-in-law), Ber Leyb Grinberg (a teacher) – over open volumes of Talmud or to debate over a difficult question.

At the table to the left of the entrance of the besmedresh sat Yekel Broker, Mordkhe Farbiazsh (Likover), Meyshe Kutlarski, Yosef (Mendl Daniel's), discussing a chapter of Guide for the Perplexed or various world political

[Page 257]

issues. Each one of them stated his opinion. The second half of the beysmedresh was occupied by the young men and boys like Feker Note Gorfinkel's son-in-law, the well-known young man Gadliahu the glazer's, a genius who lived in poverty and was physically weak (Yisroel Goland the ritual slaughterer's son). The shopkeepers and proprietors sat by the sides of the cantor's desk, resting from their hard work; resting their weak bones, talking and having no great desire to return to their poor, cold homes.

Gabeyim In the last 20 years before the Shoah the besmedresh had two gabeyim. A long-time gabay was Khayim Rubinshteyn, who later made aliye to Erets-yisroel. After him and until the Shoah Dovid Shidlo was gabay. They concerned themselves with all the needs of the besmedresh and were devoted to their task.

Baley tfilos [prayer leaders] Shmuel Yosl Sheykhet was leader during the Days of Awe. He led the morning service, and Yudl Shvartsbard (Mantsar] led the afternoon service. The main singer was Itsel (Note Koyfman's father-in-law). It was thanks to him the leader could stop praying, since he used to get hoarse in the middle of the service, so Itsel helped him out. In the last ten years the shames of the besmedresh was Khayim Yekel. He was a real scholar and very modest, did not involve himself in disputes, did not want to hear any slander. He used his free time for teaching. You never saw him chatting with anyone if it was not a matter of the besmedresh or about charity. He did not take any money from the proprietors, as did other shameysim. If a proprietor wanted to reward him he did not take it lightly as it was unusual for Khayim Yekel to take anything.

Torah study Much study took place. Many groups were organized, such as the group for Mishnayos, for Ayn Yankev, for Talmud and also the Torah portion of the week.

Mr. Ben-Tsion the shames was the teacher of the Ayn Yankev study group. After his death, Khayim Yekel took over leadership of that study.

The Mishnayos was a group that took turns reading the chapter aloud. The teaching group consisted of Shmuelke Yisroel Mordkhe's, Yisroel Goldfarb, Yehoshe Efrayim's (a teacher), Yekel Rokhl-Hinde's Fridlub (Khayim Fridlub's father) and Yisroel Yeshaye Grinberg (Yankev Grinberg's father). They taught Mishnayos and tried to be the smartest in their learning.

The teachers of the Talmud group were Yisroel Henekh, Shmuelke Yisroel Mordkhe's and the last was Mordkhe Sheykhet (Mendl Sheykhet's

[Page 258]

son). He was a very learned Talmudist with pedagogic abilities. A huge number of attendees were drawn to his place of teaching. Friday evening Yosef Mendele (“the rebele”) taught the portion of the week; he was a brilliant preacher. His teaching of the five books of Moses was brilliant. After teaching the gabay shared beer and chickpeas for the sake of oneg Shabes.

The psalm group consisted of several dozen prayers. I recall only a few of them whom I mention now: Yoel Velvil Ribak, an earnest and observant Jew with a stately appearance. He educated his children well in the religious-national spirit. Shakhne Tshernitski, a learned man, a stalwart contributor to Keren hayesod. Gedalye Meyshe Manka, an activist in the handworkers' union, was a member of the Jewish community council for a period of time. Yeshaye Tame, a shoemaker by trade, a community leader; an active member in the burial society, a member of the board of the Jewish bank. Simkhe Sadovnik, Mendl Kaver, Shmuel Gedaliye, Ayzik Mendl Sofitski, Yitskhak Eleyzer's and other dear Jews whose names I do not remember now.

No rain and no snow stopped them from coming on time as usual to the besmedresh. They innocently executed exactly the first paragraph in the Shulkhan Orekh to rise from sleep before dawn to serve the Creator. “One should strengthen oneself like a lion to get up in the morning to serve his Creator”.

The New Besmedresh stood on Shedlets Street on the front of the town. The entrance was from Malirinek. The building of the besmedresh was one story, on which the women's section was also located.

The chief initiator of the new besmedresh was Meyshe Malka's Birovski. He directed the construction and also gave significant contributions to that goal. He used to say that the besmedresh was a mitsve and his memorial (he was childless).

Meyshe Malka's was one of the respected proprietors in the town, he was not a scholar or an educated man, but he had good standing in the society, was a community activist, a member of the Jewish council, a member of the town council, one of the first of the Khovevi Tsion in Sokolov and later of Mizrakhi.

Those praying in the besmedresh were concentrated mostly from the west side of Sokolov, especially artisans, orchardists and small shopkeepers. In its early days people prayed there during the week and on Shabes. There was no Torah study in it, but in time more learned people gathered there as well and the new besmedresh became a center of Torah and prayer. After the afternoon and evening services

[Page 259]

a large number of proprietors and artisans, familiar with the holy books, sat down at tables and studied until late at night. Among them one could see studying Mordkhe the teacher and rov, Mordkhe Zalman's Vinagura, Shmelke Yisroel Mordkhe's, Yekel Khayim's Adersheyn, Mendele Khayim's Ayzenberg, Alter Shnayder, Zundl Lerman, Avrom Ayzenberg, Menakhem Miendizitski, Avrom Shmuel Grinberg, Hertske Vaysberg, Shmuel Goldfarb, and others. There was also a group of young men who studied in the old besmedresh, who came over at night to study their lesson in the new besmedresh.

Between the afternoon and evening prayers Yosef Mendele (“the rebele”) taught psalms, and some of those people remained in the besmedresh until late and discussed various matters.

On Shabes afternoons Meyshe Kalshiner (a cap maker) studied Midrash raba with a group of Jews.

The first gabay and leader of the besmedresh was Meyshe Malka's, who always strove to beautify and to spread the influence of the besmedresh. After his passing his brother Hersh Ber, a shoemaker, took over his duties. It is worth mentioning that he liquidated his shoemaking workshop and devoted himself entirely to that holy work.

Mr. Hersh Ber, a Jewish craftsman, a simple man, fulfilled his task completely. He was not only a gabay but also a shames. He himself performed all the work of a shames. He heated the oven in the winter, opened the besmedresh before dawn and laid out wood so that those praying would be warm while doing so. His face shone with joy when he saw people sitting and studying at night.

In order to lighten Hersh Ber's work and free him for other tasks – such as representing the besmedresh in certain institutions and collecting money – the congregation elected an administration of which Hersh Ber was chief gabay, and the following proprietors: Mendl Ayzenberg, Meyshe Sheyne-Khave's (Rozentsvayg) and Dovid Mulmutuker (Farbshteyn).

The largest number of various magidim [traveling preachers] spoke at the new besmedresh.

Sokolov had good luck with magidim because the shul and the besmedresh proprietors were pleased to make contributions for the magidim. Thanks to that, magidim stayed in Sokolov for several days and delivered their sermons in the study houses, especially in the new besmedresh. The brothers Itshe and Aba Bikhovski, Shleyme Shtutman, Dovid'l Prezadski (a tailor) and Itsel (also a tailor; he lived in Arun's house), provided for the magidim. They made sure that a magid would have something to take away from Sokolov. When the

[Page 260]

magid stayed over Shabes in Sokolov, especially a good magid, he delivered his sermon in the new besmedresh, in order to reach a large number of listeners. And really the besmedresh was full of men and women who came to hear the sermon. The new besmedresh was also the central place for all Zionist Mizrakhi gatherings, where rabonim from Mizrakhi and Keren ha'yesod, conducted their business of rousing and calling people to work for the rebuilding of Erets Yisroel. The majority of people who prayed there were loyal to the ideal of the return of Jews to Zion, by which the town institutions like the town council or the Jewish council got their vote for the Zionist-Mizrakhi candidate list. The Mizrakhi members, learned men and regular students of Torah who prayed in the besmedresh, had a big influence on those who prayed there.

Simkhas beys-ha'shuava [the well] was celebrated in the new besmedresh with great joy and until late in the night. The rov and judge, a Bratslaver Hasid, danced along with the regular Jews for hours and they were carried away by his ecstasy and inspiration. Mendl Yehudit's went up to the bima with pride, danced several dances along with the children and sang “ani li me li – im lo akhshiv imti”. He brought joy to the broken Jewish hearts.

The Rebi's besmedresh When the Sokolov Rebi of blessed memory had his house built – which stood between Pienke and the big market square – he had a large besmedresh built on the first floor for the hundreds of Sokolov Hasidim who used to come to their Rebi for the holidays.

As is well known, the Rebi had thousands of Hasidim in various towns around Poland.

The old Sokolov Hasidim prayed there on Shabes, and during the week the yeshive students studied there. As is known, a yeshive was founded in Sokolov by Meyshe and Binyumin, the sons of the Rebi of blessed memory.

The yeshive was named after the Rebi's father, the Pilive Rebi Yisroel of blessed memory , author of “Shalom Yerushalayim”. He was one of the Torah greats, called to make progress for settling Jews in Erets Yisroel. He wrote in the above-mentioned book: “Settle Erets Yisroel by the hands of the people of Yisroel, in a world order that behaves to redeem the Land from the hands of the brutes and there will be a sliver of hope for the growth of salvation soon soon”...

Before praying on Shabes the Rebi of blessed memory spoke a deep lesson for the scholarly yeshive students. The old hasidic scholars also attended the Rebi's learned sermon and afterwards prayed, as they said in Kotsk, that since they studied a page of Talmud before praying, they knew what they were praying about.

[Page 261]

In the Rebi's besmedresh on Shabes there were about ten prayer services, among them the following well-known Hasidim, learned men: Mendl Zarembski, a great scholar and hasid who traveled to the Kotsker Rebi of blessed memory and well understood the essence of Kotsker khsidus. He was of modest habits, and he died while cleansing himself in the Sokolov mikve.

Mr. Ayzshe Hendel, a learned man with wide princely Hasidic wealth, was a celebrity among all the Kotsker Hasidim. He was the advisor in the Rebis' court and esteemed by all levels of town society. His house was a community center for Hasidim. Often, and especially on Shabes afternoon, hasidim gathered at Reb Ayzshe's house to drink tea, which had a good taste and aroma. He himself served the tea to the hasidim and got much joy from the mitsve of refreshing Jews with a good glass of hot tea and also talking and learning a word of Torah with sharp-minded Kotsker thinking. He was a merchant, had a shop for manufactured goods, and came to his shop only after he had finished his early morning Torah study and praying in community. At the same time he did a great deal for the existence of the Talmud-Torah in town and also helped the needy. He did all of that with devotion.

Yankev Slavitser, a Jew of the old world. An outstanding scholar with a broad range of learning, he also had a wide knowledge of philosophy. His talks during study were interesting; he loathed falsehoods; his material needs were minimal. He was satisfied with his lot of study and prayer.

Asher Nelkenboym, a son of the Ostrover Rov and son-in-law of Avrom Shernitski, was ordained as a rov; a young man with a keen mind and yet did not seek a rabbinic position, he worked in the soda-water factory with his father-in-law, about which he said, “You shall enjoy the fruit of your labors; you shall be happy and you shall prosper.”

Meyshe Listigman, a great scholar, each evening left the brewery to his wife and went to study his regular portion of Torah. For a time he was chairman of the Jewish Council in town, and an active member of Agudas Yisroel. His leadership was honest and knowledgeable.

Alter Khayim Kapovy and Pinkhas Shternitski, both well-known community activists in town as representatives of “Mizrakhi”. They defended Jewish interests in the Town council with dignity and success, as they also did in other general town institutions. Responsible for the expansion of Mizrakhi in all areas.

Leyzer Sheykhet Galand, the son of Shabtl Sheykhet, a Torah scholar and doer of good deeds. He was very modest. He helped poor people, and was much beloved by all strata of society.

[Page 262]

Mendl Shabtl's Grinberg was one of the old hasidim, a Torah scholar and completely faithful; he reared his children in Torah and khsidus, was one of the prayer leaders for the Days of Awe at the Sokolover Rebi's house.

Yisroel Vaysbard, a passionate hasid, well-learned in Talmud and merited making aliye to Erets Yisroel.

Meyshe Shaulkes, a Torah scholar, made his living as a children's teacher, did not complain about his situation, accepted with love and faith that his fate was as it should be. He created joy and energy from the Kotsker hasidim's spring.

Khayim Neyekh Tukhlender, a proprietor, possessed a natural intelligence, was a councilman on the Town Council, did good for Jews who needed his intervention with the Mayor or with the princes he dealt with.

Yosef Shpiglshteyn and Yisrol'ke Granatshteyn, devoted Sokolov Hasidim. They were the gabeyim of the Rebi's besmedresh and active in the area of finding help when that was necessary.


The Aleksander shtibl

The Aleksander shtibl was located in Pinkhas Ayzenberg's children's house on Rogovski Street. Many people prayed there. In general there were a lot of Aleksander Hasidim in Sokolov, among them learned men, leaders, wealthy and contributors and sympathetic people.

The Aleksander Hasidim were based on the love of Yisroel, did not undervalue anyone, brought everyone closer to God's service, because every Jew is holy and precious.

The great Hasidic personality Pinkhas'l Ayzenberg exerted a huge spiritual and educational influence on his pupils, and they made efforts to stay the path that he had set for them.

It was said that in 1910, after the passing of the famous Aleksander Rebi, the “Yismakh Yisroel”, that some Hasidim wanted Reb Pinkhas to become rebi, but he dismissed that proposal and went himself to the “Tiferes Shmuel”, the brother of the Aleksander Rebi, who became the successor to the Yismakh Yisroel. People came to pray every day in that shtibl for morning and evening prayers, and also some hasidim came every evening to study together.

The mutual relationships of one to another were friendly and full of love. That could be seen most vividly in cases where one of the members needed help. Then it was not necessary to mobilize, as everyone who could give their contributions gave willingly and brought it quickly brought.

[Page 263]

I want to mention just some of the outstanding Aleksander Hasidim:

Yekhezkel Kramarzsh, an old Volker Hasid, physically weak and sickly but spiritually strong, who studied from morning and into the night. For years he was the musaf prayer leader for the Days of Awe in the Aleksander shtibl. His praying was enthusiastic and beautiful. When he stood at the cantor's desk and prayed no one could believe that Yekhezkel was a sickly man.

Mendl Tikulski (Mendl reb Leybel's), a son of the Brak Rov, a great scholar and widely-known hasid; he was an ordained rov but did not want hold a rabbinical seat. His livelihood was from merchandise. He had a large manufacturing business in the middle of the market square. He did not give a lot of time to his business because his wife Libe, who was known as a saint, helped him in the business. He dedicated the majority of his time to teaching young men and boys the way of Torah, in the broad sense.He possessed a great deal of love for Yisroel. During the First World War, when the economic situation for Jews was very critical and many Jews were starving, he shared the anxiety and stinted in order to be able to help the poor people – according to the Talmud in Fasts 11 “When the community is immersed in suffering, a person may not say: I will go to my home and I will eat and drink, and peace be upon you, my soul-Rather, a person should be distressed together with the community.”

He also had a positive approach to building Erets Yisroel. It is worth mentioning that after the Balfour Declaration, when the Jews in Sokolov were demonstrating their joy in the event, Mendl of blessed memory went to the front of the crowd and beamed with joy.

Yankele Shalevitsh, a son-in-law of Mendl Reb Leybel's, a relative of the Amshinover Rebi, a great scholar with many good qualities. He was reared in the study-houses of the Aleksander and Amshinov Hasidim. There he was esteemed
[a line is missing from the text, displaced by a repeat of the line above it]
author of the book Yismakh Yisroel.

And the Hasidim and proprietors in Sokolov also knew the merits of Reb Yankele. Everyone approached him with the greatest respect. He devoted the majority of his time to Torah and worship.

Aleksander Hasidim and ordinary young students of Torah often came to hear his discussions on the Law, which were very interesting. Reb Yankele was also always prepared to listen to all the Jews who came to him to talk about their problems. After such a talk with Jews Yankele often closed his Talmud and went into town to find help for those in need.

[Page 264]

He had a positive relation to Erets Yisroel and was pleased that his sons, established hasidic young people in the town, had joined the Mizrakhi and were fervently participating in the work of development of the land of Torah.

Mr. Avom Koen Batsn, one of Mendle Leybl's sons-in-law.

He was of illustrious descent, tracing his ancestry from Simeon the saint. One could encounter Avrom Koen any evening in the Aleksander shtibl, studying until late at night.

He was very modest and possessed many good qualities, blessed with a “good eye”. He never criticized, but always saw the good in every Jew.His material circumstances were not the brightest, but he never complained about them; rather, he was happy with his lot. He did not strive for wealth, in his life he fulfilled the call of the prophet “He has told you, O man, what is good, And what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice And to love goodness, And to walk modestly with your God.”

Together with his wife Sore Leye – a good-hearted and clever woman – he merited making aliye to Erets Yisroel to their son Barukh and daughter Royze, who went to Erets Yisroel as Pioneers.

Mr. Velvele Halbershtat, the brother of an honored teacher in town, a scholar and a hasid, was unassuming and possessed much tact and belonged to the prominent proprietor-scholars in town.

Velvel and his wife were among the first murdered by the Nazi bombing of the town.

Mr. Meyshe Mendl Arnshteyn, recently joined the Slavitsher Hasidim as a scholar of Torah, was known in town as a wise man and activist in Agudas Yisroel. People called him the minister of the Agudas Yisroel. The party wanted to send him to various institutions as their representative, but he refused. It was an intellectual pleasure to discuss things with him. He thought logically and listened well to the meaning of every side.

Mr. Shakhne Rubinshteyn belonged to the old guard of the Aleksander Hasidim. A Torah scholar and a wealthy man. He spoke sedately and with wisdom,

Was unassuming and honest. He distinguished himself by fulfilling the mitsve of loving kindness. He helped many poor shopkeepers and artisans in their

[Page 265]

livelihoods with the interest-free loans that they received through Shakhne Rubinshteyn. He had a positive attitude to religious Zionism and educated all his children in that spirit.

Mr. Hirsh Tuvye Ber, a proprietor, a hasid, one of the rich people in town, was a community leader, a member of the Jewish Council. He fulfilled his community work faithfully.

Mr. Binyumin Elenberg (he was a relative of the Aleksander Rebi through his first wife), was a long-term representative of the Jewish community in the town council and vice chairman of the Jewish Council administration. Thanks to his business relationships with the princes, he did much good for the poor Jews who dealt with the princes on their estates.

Mr. Yosef Zshitelni, a learned man and giver of charity. Every day at dawn, even before the sun came up, Yosef was already sitting with the Talmud and studying the set verses; he did not mix in the town politics and did not criticize anyone. He had a good heart, and provided charity without publicity.

Mr. Pinkhas'l Ayzenberg of blessed memory, and his children Azrielke, Mordkhe, Khayim Yosef and son-in-law Miadovnik, were all learned and sympathetic people, belonged to the fine and Hasidic young folk in Aleksander, modest and tactfully giving charity from their material possessions.

Mr. Menakhem Miendizshetski, of great learning and intellect, wisdom and sagacity, devotion to every Jew, would leave his business and customers in order to do a favor for a Jew. When it was necessary to collect money to restore a failing shopkeeper or artisan in town, Menakhem was one of the first who took it upon himself to lead the action. Thanks to his tireless energy and understanding most of those efforts were successful. He was one of the most active and adept Jewish representatives in the town council, as well as in the Jewish Council. After the passing of Yekhezkel Kramarzsh the Aleksander Hasidim simply demanded that he lead the afternoon prayers for the Days of Awe in the shtibl. He prayed with heart and with appeal. He was celebrated by the Aleksander Rebi and his Hasidim as an intelligent and wise man.

Mr. Yisroel Yeshaye Grinberg, the last gabay of the Aleksander shtibl, was earnestly concerned with all the needs of the shtibl, knew the material situation of his prayers and perceived the moment when one of them needed some kind of material help. Then he did not lose one minute and delivered the help as a discreet gift. He was also one of the chief gabeyim in the Burial Society, fulfilling the mitsve of complete love in the name of heaven.

[Page 266]

The Amshinever Shtibl. When the new besmedresh was built they also built a small house especially for an Amshinov shtibl nearby, at the same time. The main financial support for that was provided by Pinkhas Futerman and Khayim Leyb Levin, Amshinov Hasidim. Pinkhas Futerman was one of the town's wealthy men with an aristocratic range, Hasidic rich splendor, a member of the Jewish community council and managing member of other institutions in town.

Mr. Khayim Leyb Levin was more folksy, also wealthy and a devoted Amshinov Hasid with a broad hand for charity. There was no larger audience for the Amshinov Hasidim in Sokolov, and people prayed there every day until the last times before the Second World War. If anyone was missing or two people for the minyen were needed they called in Jews from the neighboring besmedresh, which was full of people. On Shabes and holidays many people prayed there who had no connection to Amshinov Hasidim. They were besmedresh prayers. When they were late to services in the besmedresh, they came to the shtibl.

The main personality was Simeon Khutam, a Jew with a patriarchal appearance, busy with study and prayer, who could tell stories about the Amshinov Rebis, whose content was about the love and solidarity of Jews. Simeon Khutam was the only ritual circumciser in town, who had brought thousands of Jewish children into the covenant of Yisroel. Summer and winter in the deepest frosts he would travel into the villages around Sokolov where there were Jews in order to circumcise the new-born Jewish children. More than a few times, the gentile boys threw stones at him, but he still took joy in it, saying that the mitsve done with self-sacrifice, was an enduring one.

He did not take any money for his efforts. When performing a bris for a poor family, he often took cookies and brandy with him in order not to shame the parents who could not offer them.

Mr. Yekel Adelshteyn (Yekel Khayim's), a learned Jew from the main gabeyim in the Talmud Torah. Himself a weakling, he still worked for the existence and development of the Talmud Torah, including providing charity for the needy. His wife Feyge the rov's used to collect alms and distribute the money among respectable families as discreet gifts.

Mr. Avrom Yoel Hokhberg, a learned man. Each day he read the designated verses of Torah in the old besmedresh. He was lame in one leg, but that did not stop him from going to the besmedresh morning and evening. He made a living

[Page 267]

selling metal haberdashery items in the market. He sat at the bench at his little table in the summer heat and the winter frosts looking out for a customer.

Mr. Borekh Sapirshteyn, the great scholar's elder son-in-law, a scholar and clever Jew, had a good heart, provided for his family through a small food shop and was always ready to take in a guest for dinner. He gave charity beyond his material comfort.

Mr. Aron Vans, the Jewish “doctor” in town, a learned man and an observant Jew. He was beloved by all levels of society. He regarded his profession as holy work. For poor families, he left money along with the prescription so they could buy the medicines he prescribed, as well as some foodstuffs for the children in the home.

Yekel Akiva's (Tsekhanovski) had a butcher shop and was a chicken dealer; a simple Jew, but honest and observant. The hasidic Jews bought meat from him, and had full faith in him regarding kashrus. He was a devoted Amshinov Hasid, who tried every day to make a minyen to pray the afternoon and evening prayers together, because that was the will of the Amshinov Rebi.

Mr. Borekh Sapirshteyn and Khayim Rinktski (Yenkel Khayim's son-in-law) were the prayer leaders in the shtibl for the Days of Awe. The former prayed in the morning and the latter, in the afternoon.

Beys tfile d'khasidey Otvotsk (Varke). The Otvosk Hasidim prayed Shabes and holidays in the venue “Soymeykh noyflim” which was located in the basement area of the old besmedresh. The gabay was Fayvish Librakh, the son-in-law of Yesheyahu Shafran, a learned Jew with a wide scope, a prominent hasid to the rebi and one of the finest proprietors in town. He did not mix in the town politics and only participated in very important Jewish deliberations.

He led the morning service during the Days of Awe; the afternoon leader was Yitskhak Mendl Mandelboym (the son-in-law of Mendl the Rov's) a scholar and a hasid. In recent years he was a teacher of older boys and was a talented pedagogue. He prayed with charm, sang beautifully and had extraordinary grasp of it. It was enough for him to hear a tune two times, and he could easily sing it himself. In the last years before the khurbn he led afternoon prayers in the new besmedresh, and Simkhe Lender prayed in his place in the shtibl.

From time to time Khayim Shmuel Rosenboym also prayed here. Meyshe Kotlarski also prayed here. For a few years he was a teacher

[Page 268]

for the Otvosk Rebi, teaching his children. He was very learned and a devoted Otvosk Hasid. With the establishment of the “Yavne” school he was engaged by the

Mizrakhi as a teacher of Talmud in that institution.

Beys tfile fun Bialer Khasidim. A large number of Biale Hasidim concentrated in the above-mentioned house of prayer, who – after the passing of the Biale Rebi Yenkele may his saintly memory be for a blessing – traveled to his sons who lived in Fartseve, later in Shedlits Mezritsh and Lublin.

Disregarding the fact that the Biale congregation was divided among the sons of the Biale Rebi, they all prayed together and love, fraternity and friendship dominated among them. Until 1928 they prayed in a handsome, large venue in Avrom Pasmanik's house on Shedlits Street. After his passing they left that place for several reasons and went to pray in the building of the Talmud Torah on Nove Street.

Gabeyim. For the last 15 years before the khurbn the gabeyim were Yehoshe Efrayim's, and after him Yisroel Goldfarb, and the last gabay was Shabtl Goldfarb (Yitskhak Leybush's son).

Baley tfile (prayer leaders). The Biale Hasidim in Sokolov were not distinguished with any great or talented singers. The prayer leaders were God- fearing Jews who could sing a little, and of course in the customary way.

The Biale Hasidim possessed simplicity and humility. They were deeply permeated with faith in rebis, known from many stories and miracles from the “good” Jews. They repeated the stories and elucidated them with talent.

Among them were rabeyim and teachers, but they never demonstrated their learning and did not create any distance between them and the simple Jews.

The respected, prominent Biale Hasidim in Sokolov were Mordkhe Vinigura (Mordkhe Zalman's), a great teacher and intellectual. He belonged to the teachers in the town. He possessed an inborn intelligence, clear understanding of Jewish history, understood astronomy and had knowledge of technology.

When one of the learned men and teachers of Torah encountered some difficult proposition in Talmud and could not understand the matter, Mordkhe Zalmen's quickly and precisely explained the meaning.

He struggled his whole life with livelihood. For a time his family

[Page 269]

got by on what his wife made baking beans, but that never sufficed for them. For several years he was a teacher for the Mezritser Rebi, teaching the Rebi's sons, planting in them Torah and awe of heaven, love for humanity. In the last years he was preacher of the [Talmud] lesson in the Rebi's yeshive and at the same time the spiritual educator for the yeshive pupils. All the pupils loved him profoundly.

He was clear in all the particulars of Biale doctrines and was celebrated among the Biale congregation. A few years before the khurbn he published a book containing novel interpretations of Torah; some of the book contained an assessment of the dynasty of the lentsne – Biale Hasidim who harken to faith in the way or the faith in saints.

Mr. Yona Likever, a Jew, a learned man and fervent Biale Hasid, generally seen as a bit of a waster but far from a waster, as he also had knowledge in secular matters. He did not wear Volhynian clothes, he made ink for holy books and phylacteries; he lived in poverty and never accepted any help.

Mr. Yisroel Goldfarb, a scholar, a teacher of the Talmud and Mishnayos in the old besmedresh. Gave charity and loving kindness without calling attention. Many artisans and grain buyers had, thanks to his loving-kindness, the possibility of earning what they could to nourish their poor families. He kept a precise account of his earnings and from them distributed a percentage as charity, but in secret. For a time members of the Jewish Council and some from “Mizrakhi” and Zionist representatives designated giving subsidies to “Keren kayemet l'Yisroel”, disregarding the fact that the Aguda representative recommended otherwise. He said: 'I will not and can not be political; redeeming the Land is a mitsve and the Jewish Council must give a subsidy for that holy goal.' And his wife Tsiril, a saint herself, divided money off from the household funds for charitable goals.

Mr. Avrom Rozenband, a learned Jew, a big believer in charity, a practitioner of charity and hospitality to the less fortunate. He usually wore a kipe under his hat, so that even when he went into a government office where he had to take off his hat, he still had his kipe despite the gentiles laughing at him. He devotedly gave out hot coffee with milk at dawn on Shabes to all Jews who came to the besmedresh to pray or study in the early morning. In the frosty days of winter the Jews were simply delighted with Avrom's hot coffee with milk. In the early dawn hours of Shabes his house was full of such Jews.

Khayim Dovid Rozentsvayg, Yitskhak Alieyzer's son, Shabsl Shukht's son-in-law, dealt

[Page 270]

honestly, gave charity, and Jews and Christians were drawn to him in respect, thanks to his solidity and honesty.

Shmuel Goldfarb, a son of Yisroel Goldfarb, one of the prominent young generation in the Biale shtibl, was religious and conscious, a fine scholar, spoke Polish well, an active member of the Tseirey Agudas Yisroel, had a great deal of humility. The party wanted to send him as their representative to the town council and the Jewish Council but he categorically refused, fleeing from the honor and the income.

The brothers Yitskhak and Yehoshua Rozentsvayg, were in awe of heaven, were plain Jews despite their genealogy, [being] the sons of Elieyzer Shakhnas, a well-known personality in Sokolov.

Mr. Hershl Avishi's, a baker of brown bread, a simple Jew, not a learned man, but was tied to the Biale prayer house in every sense.

Mr. Yehoshua Efraym's, a Talmud scholar, taught teachership in difficult circumstances, was one of the preachers of the lesson and of the Mishnayos group in the old besmedresh; he never complained about his material situation, was unpretentious and generally content.

Beys ha'tefilo d'khasidey Ger – The Ger Hasidim in Sokolov had their own shtibl in a small house, that was built especially for that purpose on Shkolne Street. The number of prayers there was comparable to the number in the Aleksander shtibl, as the two prayer houses were the larger Hasidic shtiblekh in Sokolov.

Besides Shabes and holidays people also prayed there at night and in the evenings studied together.

As is known, the Ger Hasidim prayed on their own schedule. On Shabes and holidays they began praying at 7:30 in the morning; after shakhris they took a break for one hour, during which they studied and afterwards finished praying.

In the last years before the liquidation of Sokolov Jewry the gabeyim of the shtibl were Itshe Mayer Goldberg (Mendl Stalas' son-in-law), Mikhel Nosn Likht (Pesl Kheytshe's son-in-law) and, it seems, also Yehoshuele Goldraykh (Botshe's son-in-law).

The prayer leaders for the Days of Awe were Dovid'tshe Rozenboym (Khayim Shmuel's son) and Yisroel Henikh Shvartsbard. The former prayed shakhris and the second, musaf. There were a large number of learned men among those praying, people of deeds, and a few familiar gabeyim. I will only mention a few of them:

[Page 271]

Botshe's estate was very popular in the town. The first donations were collected by Botshe and his children, who all lived together in his house. If someone needed a lunch for a sick poor Jew, the first to go was Feyge Botshe's and her children. He never conducted any discussions with his children, who were active leaders in the area of the settlement in Erets Yisroel, and was very happy with all the donations for building Erets Yisroel that were given by his children.

It is worth mentioning that when the hedge around the old cemetery was broken, and the gentile neighbors pastured their cows there, Botshe installed an enclosure on his own private account, which certainly cost some 8,000 zlotych – in those days a very large sum of money.

Mr. Yeshaye Shafran came to Sokolov from Stanislav near Minsk in 1916. He erected a large mill with an electrical generator which provided light to all the houses in town. A Jew, a hasid, a learned man, he possessed intelligence and tact. He was not an official representative in all the social institutions, but the leaders of them asked his advice in various tangled Jewish community issues and reckoned on his meaning. His house also was a source of charity and loving kindnesses for getting fallen shopkeepers and artisans back on their feet. When the Ger Rebi was once in Sokolov, he stayed at Yeshaye Shafran's.

Officially he belonged to Agudas Yisroel, but at the same time he belonged to Khoveyvi Tsion. He often posed the question, why not join the two religious parties, Mizrakhi and Agudas YisroeI. He visited Erets Yisroel relatives several times before the Holocaust, he remained in Erets for a long time and bought a house in Tel Aviv.

[Page 272]

His many possessions in Sokolov unfortunately fell to gentiles, but his house in Tel Aviv is the only property that remains for his grandchildren. All his children were murdered. His son-in-law and several children saved themselves from Hitler's hands and are now in Erets Yisroel.

Mr. Henikh Koen (Dovid Itsl's) and Mr. Yisroel Henikh Shvartsvort [sic] were proprietors, scholars, and they along with Mr. Mordkhe Zalmen's educated the third line of the biggest proprietor-scholars in town; they were ordained rabonim but remained proprietors and not rabonim.

Mr. Henikh Koen was Head of the Sokolov yeshive . He possessed an in-born strength, his lectures to the yeshive students were architecturally constructed and comprehensible for all the pupils. He was wise in all matters, and also no stranger to secular matters. Rov Henikh was rich and expert, he taught with depth and with talent. All the smart pupils loved to talk and study with R” Henikh, whose interpretations were clear and based in logic. Khayim Leyb Hokhberg was his son-in-law.

Mr. Yisroel Henikh Shvartsvort, the sharp mind and expert, remained a shopkeeper. He established his shop of wall-coverings in the house he had inherited on the market square. He rarely spent time in his shop. His regular place was in the old besmedresh over the big Vilne Talmud and commentators. When the great teacher of blessed memory was not in Sokolov, all the proprietors asked him all their questions.

He also got a lot of information from researching holy books, which he took to be the truth about the faith in a court of law and in the Torah. He was among the first followers of religious Zionism and remained a Mizrakhi sympathizer.

Mr. Ber Leyb Grinberg (the uncle of Yankev Grinberg), an outstanding Talmud scholar and innovator. He taught older boys, sustaining Torah studies in a state of poverty. His wife ran a small shop and provided for the family. He was always sitting, studying, thinking of the Talmud and commentators. In his last years he became blind, and taught from memory.

Mr. Mendl Meyshe Aron's Peshenna, a very diligent student of Talmud and hard worker. After midnight he could be found either in the besmedresh or in the Ger shtibl studying. His livelihood in his later years was from going to the villages selling some manufactured goods and haberdashery items. The village Jews whom Mendl stayed the night with reported that he got up in the middle of the night to study. His material circumstances were difficult, but spiritually rich and strong.

[Page 273]

Mr. Yankele Hershberg, a learned man, spoke little, studied a lot and possessed a good heart. In his difficult material times he shared his meager provisions with poor people. Every Jew was judged leniently, the town appreciated his good deeds and respected him highly.

Mr. Yehoshua Yosl the wagon-driver, a jolly pauper, took holy books on the road with him to study, and he was always happy.

Mr. Avremele Khayim's Ayzenberg, a scholar, was a councilman on the town council and leader in many other philanthropic institutions, chairman of “Soymeykh noyflim”.

Mr. Avremele Ayzenberg, called Avremele Khayim's, a scholar and of aristocratic descent, a grandchild of the Plotsker Rov. He gave a set lesson every night in the Ger shtibl and was well-known among the Ger Hasidim. He was also a community leader in several areas, a town councilman, chairman of the “Soymeykh noyflim” society, member of the administration of the Kupietski Bank and also of the ”Gemiles Hesed” treasury.

Mr. Alter Kats, called Alter the walker, a scholar and a Ger Hasid. All week he roamed through the villages to buy and sell, lived frugally but did not complain. He had modest needs. He lived in the shtibl and was happy.

Mr. Matisyahu Kukaveke, a scholar with many good qualities, lived from his artisanry. He had a bakery at the rebi's estate and got up in the middle of the night to tend to the ovens; in all his spare time his was in the Rebi's besmedresh catching a chapter of Mishnayos or a page of Talmud.

From his hard-earned groshen he also gave charity as he was able.

Mr. Barukh Dobzinski, a scholar and a clever Jew, lately directed the social institutions Bikur-khoylim and the “Gemiles hesed” treasury, concerned with the poor Jew and those suffering with want; so that he could provide loving kindness as quickly as possible when there was no money in the treasury, he managed to get a loan from some proprietors in order to be able to give the needy that loving kindness.

And last but not least, Mr. Menakhem Rubinshteyn, a learned man and one of the big wholesale grocery merchants in town, celebrated in Ger, had a broad hand in giving charity and in welcoming guests. Every level of society in town approached him with great respect.

Mendl the Rov's, a teacher and a very wise man, possessed an iron logic. All the large-scale, entangled controversies were brought

[Page 274]

to him to sort out. Everyone praised Mendl for his astuteness as he reflected on each matter.

Beys tefilo d'khasidey Lumaz [this could also be Lomza, Lumja or Lomazy]

The Lumaz shtibl was located in the right-hand room of the entryway of the great shul. People prayed there only on Shabes and holidays and on the weekdays pupils from the “Yavne” school studied there. In the last years before the Holocaust the gabay was Itsel Vaysberg (a dairyman), a simple Jew. His livelihood was selling kosher butter and cheese. The Rebi of blessed memory used only the butter that he bought from Itsel the dairyman. He had a good heart, and when a poor person bought a few deka of butter or cheese he added another few deka. He used to say, “I will not make him even poorer than he is”. For the Days of Awe the prayer leader was Benimtshe Vishne, a leather-stitcher by trade and at the same time a scholar and a devoted Lumaz Hasid. He came to the besmedresh every day to study. Itsel Vaysberg (dairyman) and later Fayvel Zlatagviazde (Note Gurfinkel's son-in-law), a community leader and giver of alms. He served as a member of the committee for social help in the ghetto to feed the poor and needy Jews. He also was an active member of “Mizrakhi” and glibly threw in to all funds for Erets Yisroel. Some well-known proprietors also prayed here:

Mr. Note Gurfinkel (Fatrikuser), who bought the mill from Khayim Shmuel Rozenboym, a simple Jew, permeated with faith and love of Torah. He gave charity to poor people and to other general Jewish town needs. He took scholarly young men for his daughters and also took them into his business. When the Lumaz Rebi came to Sokolov, he stayed with Note.

Dvetshe Zaltsberg, a fine scholar and a wise man. He well understood the Kotsk Hasidim's ways. He was a sympathetic person, never angry or mean. A smile always spread across his face, despite his livelihood being a difficult one.

Mr. Mikhal Vishne, an artisan, a leather-stitcher by trade, lived honestly from his work and was successful. His faith was rock-solid. He often studied Ayn Yankev and the Shulkhan Orekh. He hated lies or exaggerations, when he hard someone stating an exaggeration he lost his temper and protested. He had an open hand in giving charity warmly.

Mr. Yankele Rozen, a learned man and artless. He wore himself out

[Page 275]

trying to manage to feed his family, but he did not complain about his difficult situation. Despite that, with the help of his intelligent, good-intentioned wife, he made every effort to educate his children in Torah and in wisdom.


Beys ha'tefilo fun Skernevitser Hasidim

The Skernevits Hasidim in Sokolov did not have a steady place to pray for a long time. At one time they prayed at Meyshe Piekorski's, and later at Velvele Bronitski's (Mashanznik); in the end they rented a room at Beril Akiva's on Dluga Street and prayed there until the destruction of Sokolov. In the Skernevits shtibl they prayed Shabes and holidays as well as the weekdays. In the evenings they studied Torah lessons.

The gabay of the shtibl was Yitskhak Uri Fisher. A scholar and a hasid, he saw to it that the shtibl was light and warm. And when it was necessary to provide help to one of the members, Yitskhak Uri carried out the action with devotion and passion.

The prayer leaders in the Days of Awe were Meyshe Piekorski (for musaf), an outstanding scholar. He spent only a few hours a day in his large manufacturing business, and the majority of the 24-hour day he devoted to study. If one went to see Meyshe Piekorski at home, one found him studying. He was celebrated in Skernevits.

Mr. Hershl Zaltsberg also prayed there, one of the respected young men in town, a scholar and a wise man. One turned to him in the event of a difficult and complex arbitration, and he would be the arbitrator. He was an active member of “Mizrakhi” and a member of the board of education for the “Yavne” school.

Mr. Shleyme Ruben Lindenhaym, a son-in-law of Meyshe Piekorski, a learned man and one of the best young people among the Skernevits Hasidim in general. He was celebrated by the old Skernevits Rebi as a scholar and a hasid.

Mr. Velvele Mashanznik, an artisan, a well-read man of holy books. His work prompted him to khasidus and to good deeds. He welcomed guests and gave charity.

Mr. Ruben Bialilev, a scholar and a clever Jew, who traveled to see the old Skernevits Rebi of blessed memory. He came to the shtibl every evening to study. Although not an official member of “Mizrakhi”, he still voted for them in the elections.


Beys Tefilo d'Khasidey Pilev

The Pilev shtibl was located in a large room at Eliezer

[Page 276]

Rendl's house on Dluga Street. The Pilve Hasidim in Sokolov were small in quantity but large in quality. The largest part of them were scholars, with young people among them, great learned men, and skilled prayer leaders and singers such as Mendl Goldzak (the son-in-law of Shmuel Yosl Shoykhet); Yosli Bernblit, son-in-law of Yehoshua Helfman (today a cantor in America); Yehoshua Shtern, son-in-law of Yitskhak Eleyser's and Yosl, the son-in-law of Khayim Dovid Rozentsvayg, a great Talmudist and saint, who was ordained as a rov.

When the above-mentioned sang zmiros at the third meal on Shabes evening, the place was full of listeners. The songs simply sounded like the finest symphony.

The gabay was Leybl Altman, an artisan, a baker, an honest Jew and a truthful man. He gave charity beyond his capabilities, offering warm hospitality to guests. People called his house Avrom avinu's house, as any poor person who went to him hungry came out satisfied. Despite his hard work which robbed him of sleep at night. Because the bakers worked only at night, he also took part in the activities of various Philanthropic institutions, such as the Soymekh noyflim society and the Gemiles khesed fund.

During the Days of Awe, Shmuelke Yisroel Mordkhe's Grinberg prayed musaf; a great scholar, deeply learned, had an extraordinary memory. Study elevated him spiritually and gave him great joy. (He also prayed shakhris in the new besmedresh.)

Avrom Shmuel Grinberg, the father of Shabtil Grinberg, led shakhris; he was a learned and modest man, loved simplicity, did not suffer any criticism about who was a Jew and he dealt honestly. His word was sacred. All the merchants he dealt with in Warsaw praised his honesty. Two of his children survived, his son Shabtil and his daughter Miryam Hirshberg, now in Israel.

On Yon-kiper Elieyzer Hendl led shakhris; he was a learned man, an outstanding hasid, he bore all the debts of the shtibl on his own account and gave the shtibl a room in his apartment at no cost. In times when his economic situation was good he gave charity with a broad hand. He was one of the chief gabeyim in the Talmud-Torah.

Mr. Avrom Leyb Bialistotski, a scholar, shrewd and a lesson preacher in the Sokolov rabbinical yeshive. Later he was a private tutor in Sokolov. He was a proud person and freely said what he thought, loathed falsehoods, and did not favor anyone.

[Page 277]

Yosele Aynbinder, an artless Jew, very poor and bragged about being a Pilever Hasid.

Hertske Vaysberg, born and reared in Sokolov, belonged to the conscious youth. He possessed an inborn intelligence and tact, set aside bread in his home and gave his children a religious and secular education. His sons Yisroel, Mayer, Shimen and Yekele had many achievements. Helping in all this he had his clever and energetic wife Sore, who understood and knew what education was, dedicated herself to giving her sons a religious-national and secular education.

Mr. Dovid Rozenberg, learned and wise, belonged to the prominent young people in Pilev. He had broad knowledge in Talmud, and also in other secular disciplines as well as being a good pedagogue who had a positive effect on the youth to maintain their Jewishness.

Mr. Dovid Tshernitski, a great head on a sick, crippled body. If you asked him about a quote from the Bible he could promptly say exactly what chapter it was found in; he would have been among the champions of the Bible in Israel.


Beys ha'tefilo d'khasidey Parisov

The Parisov Hasidim prayed in their space in the Talmud-Torah on Shabes and holidays.

The Parisov Hasidim numbered about two minyonim in Sokolov, but thanks to the fact that neighbors and regular proprietors prayed with them they had a larger number at services.

The gabay was Alter Shnayder, the son of Shmuelke Khayim's, a scholar and devoted Parisov Hasid. Religious and good, well-intentioned and a lover of Yisroel. He was the foundation of the Parisov shtibl. He was also gabay in the Talmud-Torah and, despite his poor health, took an active part in collecting money for the Talmud-Torah.

Leading musaf for the Days of Awe was Avrom Freylekh, a learned and tactful person, a good prayer-leader and a fine musician. It was a pleasure to hear him pray or sing in the company of his sons. He was also a member of the administration of the Kupietski Bank.

Mr. Shmuel Khayim's Shnayder also prayed there; he was well-read, he studied every evening with the Mishnayos group in the old besmedresh. He reared his children to Torah, to awe of heaven, to love Torah and to give charity.

His son Leybish Shnayder, well-situated materially, one of the wealthy people in town, had a reputation as an honest merchant, known in town as a

[Page 278]

giver of loving kindness. Many Jews came to him for loans, even presented proposals for loans, and also gave charity.

Meyshe Mistavski, a learned and devoted young man.


Kalishner Shtibl

The Kalish Hasidim consisted mostly of honest and ___ [line missing] _______ gave them a room in his apartment for that at no cost. During the Days of Awe they prayed in the shul with the shul congregation.

The Kalish Hasidim consisted mostly of respectable and simple good Jews. They met in the evening to study with the Mishnayos group and in Ayn Yankev, recite psalms at dawn in the old besmedresh. Every year they brought their rebi Rov Naftali may God revenge his blood from Kalush for a few days including a Shabes. The Rebi stayed with Khayim Yekel Shpadel in his house. The Hasidim took leave from work on those days and felt in a holiday mood and close to their Rebi.

At the same time I want to mention that Khayim Yekl Shpadl was the last chairman of the Jewish Council in Sokolov. He fulfilled his task honestly and conscientiously. He gave up a lot of his time to the community work despite the fact that it disrupted his private interests. The brothers of Khayim Yekel Shpadel also prayed there, Avrom and Meyshe Shpadel, Jewish artisans, well-read and good-hearted people.

Mr. Yisroel Rzshefki, a quiet, religious, honest Jew. He gave charity and loving kindness and welcomed guests. He brought up his children to Torah and awe of heaven.

Mr. Yerakhmiel Ribak, a religious Jew, a wealthy man, a member of the administration of the Handworkers' Guild, representative of the handworkers in the town council. He was always ready to give a loan.

And other honest Jews: Meyshe Meyshezon, a ladies tailor and a well-read man, was gabay of the Burial Society, member of the administration of the Cooperative Small-dealers and Handworkers Bank, gave charity and helped the sick.


Radziner Shtibl

The Radzin Hasidim prayed on Shabes and holidays in the building of the Talmud-Torah. They distinguished themselves from the other Hasidim by the blue thread in their tsitsis. As is known, the Radzin Rebi of blessed memory, a great genius in all areas and author of many important Jewish legal books, found the snail[with the reputed dye Transl.] and thanks to that, renewed the mitsve of tkheyles in the tsitsis. There were no wealthy people among them. The majority of them belonged to “Mizrakhi”.

Their gabay was Reb Yankev, the son-in-law of Shmuel Altman, a fine

[Page 279]

scholar and hasid who worked hard for his livelihood. He always said, You shall enjoy the fruit of your labors; you shall be happy and you shall prosper.

The prayer leader for musaf in the Days of Awe was Yekl Kiveyka. A scholar. He used his free time to study or to peer into a holy book and make clarity in the great debate of that time about the tkheyles [thread of blue].

The leader for shakhris was Peysakh Altman, the son of Shmuel Altman. And he, like his father-in-law Yekele was a scholar and a clever Jew, lived in difficult material conditions. But he had hopes that his situation would improve. He educated his children in Torah and awe of heaven and planted in them a love of Erets Yisroel.

Another follower of the Radzin Hasidim was Aron Asher Zayants, a Jew with many merits. Learned in Torah and educated in secular subjects, he had an in-born intelligence. He thought logically. Anyone who had a complicated matter asked the advice of Aron Asher. If someone needed to write a request to the government in Polish, they came to Aron Asher, who accepted them warmly; and that is to say nothing of writing many addresses in English every day for all the mothers and fathers whose children were in America.

Mr. Yisroel Altman, an artisan (a baker), worked during the day and at night; knowledgeable in books and a devoted Jew, he brought up his children in Torah and awe of heaven, gave bread and credit to the poor and unemployed. If someone asked him how they would manage to pay him he answered, “So should they not eat in the meantime? God will help and they will pay me.”


Beys tfilo fun ”Mizrakhi”

In Sokolov there existed a large branch of “Mizrakhi” that numbered some 200 declared members. Among the members there were many scholars and learned men and “Enlighteners”. The “Mizrakhi” branch in Sokolov was celebrated in Mizrakhi for both its quality and its quantity.

Although a significant number of the “Mizrakhi” members prayed in the shtiblekh, a large number also prayed in the branch on Shabes and holidays. On weekdays a class from the “Yavne” school studied there. In the evenings the Mizrakhi youth conducted their organizational activities. The gabay of the minyen for many years was Yehude Hirsh Skzshidlover, who devotedly took care of the needs of the minyen and even for the kidish after prayers for all attendees.

The debt collector for alms and other offerings was Shmuel

[Page 280]

Pasmanter. He was also the gabay for the Third Meal on Shabes. During the “Mizrakhi” Third Meal they presented comments on holy texts, conducted discussions about problems in the movement and also sang together. The parents also brought their small children.

Each Shabes a different member gave the Third Meal. Shmuel Pasmanter, the gabay, worked on that in advance. However it was known that on many Shabosim, and although he was a poor man, he prepared the Third Meal out of his own pocket.

Before praying on Shabes, Leyb Prints (later Mordkhe Kasher, Meyshe Nayman and Meyshe Grinberg) recited a verse of Talmud for the congregation. On summer days Pinkhas Rafelovitsh taught Pirkey Oves to a large number of attendees, even to regular proprietors in town and also young people.

During the Days of Awe the prayer leaders were Leybl Prints and Zindl Lerman and Meyshe Nayman. Leybl Prints led musaf; he was a learned man, taught Khoyves halevavos and Meyre nebukhim; he had a lovely style of prayer and prayed with enthusiasm.

After the passing of Leybl Prints Meyshe Nayman led musaf. He had a printing shop in Sokolov, and had many merits. He was a scholar and had many good qualities. He was always one of the first to come forward for charity goals and also for any Erets Yisroel actions. His praying was very popular with the others. The shofar-blower was Mordkhe Sher, an Aleksander Hasid, but he prayed all year at “Mizrakhi”. He was one of the greatest scholars in town and was a genius. A lover of Yisroel.

Also praying there were the well-known “Mizrakhi” members Sender Rubenshteyn, and Shmuel Leyb Kats, Shmuel Finkelshteyn, Meyshe Grinberg and Shakhne Rodzinski (representative from “Mizrakhi” to the Jewish community administration). He donated much time to community work, and also – may they have good long lives – Leybish Shulevitsh, Ben-Tsion Shulevitsh and Yisroel Ber (now is Israel).


Tsionistisher minyen

The Zionists prayed Shabes and holidays in the venue of the Jewish Small Merchants and Handworkers Bank in Velvel Sapershteyns's building on the side of Shedlets Street.

The main initiators of that minyen were Yenkel Tukolski,

[Page 281]

Khayim Zilberberg, Mendl Lashitski, Yisroel Leybish Teyblum and – may they have a good and long life – Binyemintshe Rubinshteyn, Yisroel Milgrom and Khayim Skatsnadik may he rest in peace. Gabay of the minyen was Elieyzer Elbling (“the grey Leyzer”). In the Days of Awe Yisroel Leybish Teyblum led shakhris. He prayed noisily and sang Hasidic melodies from the time when he was a Skernevits Hasid. Khayim Zilberman led musaf. He prayed slowly and with heart. In his prayers he expressed the knowledge he had attained in the Skernevits shtibl in Shedlets, where he was counted among the good teachers even from his youthful hasidic days.

Khayim Zilberman was one of the leaders and an official of the Zionist organization in Sokolov. A learned speaker who affected all listeners with his lectures, a member of the Zionist Central Party Council, Zionist representative to the town council and chairman of the management of the Jewish Handworkers and Folks Bank. He used to say that he felt spiritually elevated on Shabes dawns by the writer of these lines while studying a page of Talmud.

The minyen helped to activate the members to the benefit of the Zionist funds, and also by spreading the Zionist idea among the wider population in town.


Beys ha'tefilo “Khay Adom”

The prayer-house of “Khay Adom” could be found near the new besmedresh, between Dluga and Shlepe Streets. The minyen was organized by Shleyme Yehude's. He was the rebi of the minyen and every evening he taught the group the laws from Khay Adom.

Mr. Shleyme Yehude's was a simple tailor as well as a respectable Jew and a learned man. He had a large influence on the members of his shul, his guidance and sermons on Shabes after the reading had an effect on the listeners in the New Besmedresh. He also studied Pirkey Oves or Khay Adom with a group of Jews on Shabes after eating.

In the Days of Awe people prayed in the New Besmedresh according to Shleyme Yehude's wish.

The gabay for the little shul was Alter Bekerman, a qualified tailor. He worked for the princes and for the intellectual Jewish young people. After the death of Shleyme Yehude's, Yona Psamantur [sic] replaced him in the prayer house. He taught Khay Adom with the prayers and on Shabes after reading the Torah, taught the haftura. During the week Yone Psamantur taught the children as a melamed, later engaged as a teacher in the “Yavne” school.

[Page 282]

The number of members was not large, but the minyen existed until the destruction of Sokolov.


Der Shnayder minyen

In the entry hall of the Great Shul there was a minyen called the Tailors' Shul. Most of those praying there were tailors and fur coat makers. They prayed separately only on Shabes and holidays and the Days of Awe they prayed together with a large congregation in the shul where Khayim Shmuel of blessed memory had been the prayer leader.

The gabay in the Tailors' shul was Bunem Tsipelevitsh, a simple honest Jew, a wealthy man and an artisan all his years. He practiced praying in community every day, supported the yeshives and Talmud-Torah and loved to give benevolence to Jews.

Mr. Hershl Lopata was the Torah reader. During the Days of Awe he blessed the rain and the dew. Those praying respected him and helped with small loans.

Alter Tsipelevitsh also prayed here with his sons Tuvye, Leybish and Perets. They excelled in the mitsve of welcoming guests on Shabes. Each Shabes Tuvye and his brother Leybish took a guest home with them, and warmly gave them a good Shabes feast. Also Tuvye, like his brother Bunim, used to like to give a Jew a loan.

Mr. Benyemin Shtsherb, a still, quiet person, one of the big sellers of ready-made clothing in town, had a fine shop of clothes in the middle of the market and brought up his children in a religious-national spirit. His only son Kalman was one of the activists in the Tseiri mizrakhi and the handworkers' union in Sokolov. He gave charity within the frame of his material possibilities.

The majority of the tailors and fur coat makers who lived on Shiroko and Netsole Street were regular prayers in the Tailors' minyen. All respectable and dear Jews, who lived from hard work and hoped for better times. Most of them shared their Shabes meals with poor people who had wandered the whole week from town to town collecting alms in order to feed their hungry families.


Beys ha'tefilo tiferes bokhurim

A group of youths headed up by Shleyme Shtutman decided to organize a youth house of prayer called “Crown of Youth”, on the first floor in the venue of the “Khay Adom” minyen. The idea was a success. The number of young prayers grew, so that the minyen had several dozen members, among them good prayer-leaders. There

[Page 283]

was also an interest-free loan office for those praying who needed it.

The first gabay was Shleyme Shtutman. He took care of all the needs of the prayer house and devoted much of his time to it. The second gabay was Alter Feldman, who had a shop for used clothing among the stalls. He helped Shleyme Shtutman a little in his work for the prayer house. Yekel Kagan, Meyshe Fayershteyn's son-in-law, by trade a tailor, was one of the good prayer leaders at the “Crown of Youth”.


« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Sokołów Podlaski, Poland     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2022 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 1 Dec 2021 by MGH