« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 239 - Hebrew] [Page 266 - Yiddish]

Personalities and Figures

 

Personalities and Figures

Translated by Sara Mages

Rabbis

Important rabbis, great in Torah and piety, who were also the sons and great–grandchildren of great and holy, served as rabbis in Tłuste almost throughout the period of its existence.

The community of Tłuste was among the young communities in Eastern Galicia, and it can be assumed that it existed for only three hundred years (5500, by the abbreviated era, is probably the date engraved on the headstone of Sara, mother of Baal Shem Tov zt”l). It seems that for several generations the small community didn't have its own rabbi, or a presiding judge, and was subjected to the district court judge in Chortkov. A Hassidic story tells that, when Baal Shem Tov was still a teacher's helper in Tłuste, he dared to rule on the matter of an abandoned wife, and when it became known to R' Hershel', the district rabbi in Chortkov [Czortków], he was outraged and hurried to Tłuste to scold Baal Shem Tov for his act.

The first, from among the rabbis of Tłuste that we know details about, was R' Dov–Bertsi Shapira, son of R' Meir zt”l from Shepetovka, and grandson of R' Pinchas from Korets. He was the brother–in–law of the Admor, R' Chaim of Kosov, and under his influence he was elected to be a rabbi in Tłuste. The ׆ohel” (shtiebel), in which R' Bertsi and his son, R' Shimon, were buried, is located in the cemetery in Tłuste. R' Alter Shapira, son of R' Shimon who was the presiding judge of the holy community of Vikno, wrote his family's genealogy book. HaRav, R' Yehoshua– Heschel, grandson of the rabbi from Nizhyn zt”l, and grandson of the Admor, R' Chaim of Kosov on the side of his Rebbetzin wife, served as a rabbi after the passing of R' Bertsi,

In 5654 (1894), after the passing of R' Yehoshua–Heschel, R' Pinchas Chodorov was appointed rabbi of our town. He was the son of the rabbi, R' David from Ros–Banila [Banyliv], grandson of the Admorim, R' Pinchas of Korets and R' Chaim of Kosov, and son–in–law of R' Katzenelenbogen. R' Pinchas Chodorov was one of the greatest rabbis of his generation. He perished in the cholera epidemic during the First World War, in the year 5675 (1915).

The last Rabbi of Tłuste was R' Shmuel–Aba Chodorov hy”d, son of R' Pinchas. He perished, together with his family, during the Holocaust. In the aktzya, which was carried out on Yisro Chag of the holiday of Succoth 5702 [October 1941], all of them were sent to Belzec extermination camp. The Rebbetzin, Mrs. Sheindele Chodorov, widow of R' Pinchas, refused to go to the assembly point and was shot at her doorstep.

 

Community leaders

As was customary in most Jewish communities, there was also a fierce war in Tłuste between the various Hasidic camps for the control of the community council. At the beginning of this century the power was in the hands of the Vizhnitz Hasidim and at the head of the community stood R' Chaim Nagler. Later, the Chortkov Hasidim won the election, which took place close to the First World War, and R' Baruch–Izik Vitashka was appointed head of the community. After the First World War his brother–in–law, R' Meir Kleiner, son of R' Shimshon Klein, was appointed head of the community. The members of the community council were: Akiva Langholz, Shmarya Epstein, Shmuel Meltzer, Yakov Pel [Fel], Berel Glik and others.

R' Baruch–Izik Vitashka came to Tłuste as the son–in–law of the master, the estates owner R' Shimshon Klein. He came from a respected family, was an educated Jew and a “maskil” in secret. Later, he left the “Haskalah” [Jewish Enlightenment] because of an event that took place (when his wife had difficulties giving birth). He was a member of “Agudat Israel” together with his brother–in–law and his partner, Meir Kleiner.

Akiva Langholz was the son of R' Chaim Langholz, one of the richest men in town. R' Chaim belonged to the Vizhnitz Hasidic sect and was a loyal friend of the rabbis – R' Yehoshua Heshel and R' Pinchas Chodorov. Together with that he was an educated Jew who knew how to speak in German and Polish with the “Polish landowners” with whom he had trade relations. His son, Akiva Langholz, was considered to be half assimilated. The ruling language in his house was Polish and his four sons hardly knew how to speak in Yiddish. His eldest son, Dr. Leon Langholz, was a scholar and a researcher of the Polish language. His second son, Izyo, addressed the Germans with a rebukeful speech before his death and died on the sanctification of God's name.

R' Shmaya Epstein was the Gabai at the Vizhnitz Kloiz. His father, R' Yosef Epstein, was one of the important Vizhnitz Hasidim in Tłuste and great God–fearing. He prayed with great enthusiasm and was especially enthusiastic with the recitation of “Shirat HaYamAz Yashir Moshe” [Song of the Sea, also known as the Song of Moses].

 

Cantors and prayer readers

For a long period there were special cantors in our town. During the High Holidays the town's rabbi, and several God–fearing Jews who knew how to sing, led the prayers. Professional cantors settled in our town only in the last period and they, of course, needed another livelihood to supplement their income.

The first cantor in town was R' Alter Wasser. His father, Yehoshua Wasser, was a cantor at the court of the Admor, R' David–Moshe, in Chortkov. Apart from his work as a cantor he also engaged in useful drawing and painted oriental pictures, embroidery patterns, and so forth. After he left Tłuste the cantor, R' Yitzchak Wolfsburg, who was also a scribe, settled in the town. After the First World War, R' Antshel Kremer [Anczel Krämer], was elected as the town's cantor.

It is worth mentioning here the many prayer readers in town, who led the prayers on the Sabbath, festivals and High–Holidays, and acquired a crowd of admirers for their pleasant prayers and we should mention them in accordance with the synagogues where they prayed.

In Beit Ha'Midrashe – R' Yakov Schor, the slaughterer R' Feibush [Feybush] Zomer [Sommer], and R' Ovadia Fenster.

In the Chortkov Hasidim “Kloyz”– R' Hirsh–Kopel Rosenkratz, R' Motye Spitzer, and after him his son R' Yakov Spitzer, and R' Moshe Katz.

[Page 240]

In the Vizhnitz Hasidim “Kliezel” – R' Chaim Nagler, R' Shlomo Shy”v [ritual slaughterer] (Schechter), R' Eliezer Valtzer, and R' Yosef Schilder – the last ritual slaughterer in town who perished during the Holocaust.

In the Kopyczynce Hasidim “Kloyz”– R' Feibush Holenberg.

 

Slaughterers

As in each city and town the slaughterers were God–fearing educated Jews who were accepted by the public. Usually, there were two slaughterers in a town, and since the job was generally given as “right of possession,” from father to son or from a father–in–law to his son–in–law, a sort of two “dynasties” of slaughterers were created in the course of time.

One of the eldest slaughterers in Tłuste was R' Eliezer Leiber who was called by all “Leiber shochet.” He originated from Skala, from the Schtuk family. In his old age he emigrated to Eretz–Yisrael and settled in Zefat. In his place he left his son–in–law, R' Mendel Shochet, who was a great scholar (his name is mentioned in the Book of Questions and Answers of Rabbi Schwadron from Brzezany). After the death of R' Mendel Shochet, R' Shlomo Shochet (R' Shlomo Schechter) was accepted in his place. All these slaughterers were Vizhnitz Hasidim and the representatives of the Vizhnitz “Kollel” in our town. After the death of R' Shlomo his son–in–law, R' Yitzchak Glantzer, was appointed in his place. He was one of the students of the Genius Rabbi of Trzebinia who was a follower of the Rebbe of Chortkov. He was a virtuous young man, but little Tłuste was too small for him. He sat for only one year in our town and later was accepted as a slaughterer in Podgorza near Kraków.

R' Neta Shochet, who was a scholar and a “Cabbalist,” served the community as a ritual slaughterer together with Eliezer Leiber. After him, his son, R' Feibush [Feybush] (his wife came from the well–known Nagler family in Tłuste), inherited his place. R' Yisrael Schnitzer, son–in–law of R' Feibush, served after them. Later, he transferred the “right of possession” to his son–in–law. The last slaughterers in Tłuste were: R' Yosef Schilder hy”d, and R' Shalom Lam hy”d. Both perished in the Holocaust.

 

Melamedim and teachers

At the beginning of this century there were two melamedim [teachers in a Heder] for small children in our town: Matiya Gertner (Matiya Katsh) and Aba Melamed. Other melamedim taught Chumash with Rashi up to the study of the Gemara: Kehet Melamed, Naftali Melamed, Birech Melamed, and Mordechai Melamed. Those who taught the Gemara were: R' Velvel Melamed and R' Shmuel Neuman. A teacher of a special kind was R' Shenor Rosenbaum [Rozenboim] who was a Zionist and member of the Haskalah movement. His daughter, Miriam, was the kindergarten teacher in the Hebrew nursery school before the First World War.

Hasidim, the practical men in town, weren't satisfied with the local melamedim and brought melamedim, great in the Torah and piety, from the outside for their sons. Such were R' Zalman Melamed (Kelman), R' Mendie {Mendel} Melamed from Budzanów, R' Binyamin from Uziran [Jezierzany] and R' Yitzchak'l from Yagel'nitsa [Jagielnica].

A teacher for a few was the preacher, R' Pinchas Lapiner, who wasn't a resident of our town. He was called the “the preacher” because he preached twice or three times a year. His livelihood was always insufficient. He used to skip the negotiation in the Gemara and move from Aggada to Aggada [rabbinic literature] to the joy of his students.

In the days of the First World War, approximately in 1916, R' Aharon Goldhaber settled in our town. He served as an excellent melamed and approached the level of a teacher. He was the son–in–law of R' Yedel Shochet from Horodenka. Most of our townspeople who leave in Israel and know Hebrew – were his students.

The study of the Hebrew language was established in the town before the First World War. The first teacher was Mr. Tashlitzki and after him Mr. Zilberhaber. The teacher, Mordechai Spector, settled in the town after the First World War. He and his wife Klara (Nonzia) were saved from the clutches of the murderers and emigrated to Israel after the Holocaust. However, Mordechai Spector died shortly after their arrival to the country. There was another Hebrew teacher in our town, Mr. Yosef Lechter, husband of Rachel Zoibel. For a short period of time a Russian refugee named Meydman (now in Israel), served as a Hebrew teacher. Before him was a teacher named Pigur, also a refugee from Russia who mostly taught the young adults.

Up to the First World War, a general school for Jewish children, which was founded by Baron Hirsch, was established in the town. The principal of the school was Yakov Pel who also managed the loan fund next to the school. The school was closed after the war but the loan fund continued its activities with the help of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. He also managed the registration of newborns and the registration of the deceased.

 

Scholars

There were several high–ranking scholars in town and those, who knew how to pass judgment when the rabbi was absent from the town, were: R' Zalman Kelman who was a teacher, R' Yankel Schor and R' Hershel Meir. To them we should add: R' Yisrael Glik, father of, Dov–Bertsi Glik, who settled in Tłuste in the last years before the Second World War and conducted the daily page studies. He was a fine blend of a significant God–fearing scholar and a well–educated man with progressive and tolerant views. The man who led the daily page studies in our city was R' Efraim Blecher, son–in–law of R' Shmarya Epstein. He was also the organizer of “Agudat Yisrael” in our town.

 

Zionist activists

The first Zionists in our town were Ben–Zion Libman, Aba Gutsman, Yisrael Schechner, Mordechai Mozer, Mager, Luvdig Steckel, and Yakov Schrel. Aba Gutsman was a dignified man that a Herzl beard adorned his face. He immigrated to Israel, lived and died in Haifa.

After the First World War the young Zionists: Avraham Stupp, Mosher Pfeffer, Isador Herman, Mendel Schechter and Yehoshua Sternlib, went into action. Over the years Dr. Avraham Stupp became a wellknown Zionist leader.

In the years between the two wars, chapters of all the Zionist parties and Zionist youth movements, which existed in the Diaspora, were established in our town: Hashomer, Hitachdut, Gordonia, General Federation of Zionist Youth, Revisionist Zionist Movement, Beitar, Hehalutz, Hehalutz Hatzair and Mizrahi.

[Page 241]

tov241.jpg
“Keren Hakayemet L'Israel” committee in Tłuste 5693–1932/3

 

Members of these associations were also active fundraisers for the national funds (Keren Hakayemet L'Israel and Keren Hayesod), “Ezra” – the aid fund for the Halutzim, and “Tel–Chai.” The leaders of these organizations (by alphabetical order) were: Moti Eidelsberg, Meshulam Eiger, Leon Brandes, Berl Hernes, Yosef Lechter, Shmuel Fiderer, Bernhard Pfeffer, Beno Pfeffer, Shmuel Primes, Zechariah Kreizler, Baruch Kritzer, Eliezer Kremer, Yeshayahu Rosenthal, Mager, Karol Roth, Herman Steinig, Meir Sternlieb, and Dudel Schechner. R' Ahron Goldhaber was the leader of “Mizrahi” in town.

One of the young activists, whose leadership was discovered mostly in Israel, was Yosef son of Yitzchak Shechner z”l. He emigrated in the first years after the San Remo resolution together with his young wife. He was the first emigrant from our town after the First World War. He was one of the first Halutzim who paved the roads in Israel and later became a locomotive driver on the Haifa–Zemach line. Later, he settled in Tel–Aviv and worked for “Solel Boneh.” He was elected chairman of the “Tłuste Immigrant Society” when it was established in 1952, and served in this position until 1962, when he suddenly died at the age of 65.

 

Writers and scientists

In the last generation Tłuste provided one researcher, one poet and a Zionist leader. All three are well known and all three became famous after they had left their homeland. This is not the place to evaluate their scientific, literary and public activity, and we will have to be satisfied with some personal details that determine their connection to the community of Tłuste.

Dr. Dov–Ber (Bernhard) Wachstein was born in Tłuste in 1868 to his parents, Moshe and Sara Wachstein. In his youth he studied in Beit Ha'Midrashe and saw his future there. His sister–in–law, Malcha Wachstein, wife of R' Shmuel Wachstein, volunteered to teach him to read and write in Yiddish. He finished high school in the city of Radowce in Bucovina and later moved to Vienna. With the help of Rabbi Gideman, the rabbi of the community of Vienna, he was accepted to the university. Rabbi Gideman also recommended him before the city's rich as a teacher to their sons. When he taught at the home of Weiss, one of the wealthiest members of the community of Vienna and its dignitaries, Weiss' daughter fell in love with the young man from our town and eventually they got married. Later, Dr. Bernhard Wachstein became famous as an important researcher of Jewish history in Western Europe.

At the request of the Tłuste Organization in Israel, the Jewish community of Vienna sent us the following evaluation of Dr. Bernhard Wachstein (signed by V. Krel and Dr. Feldsberg):

Vienna, 21 July 1965

In reply to your letter from 23 June 1965, in which you asked for the details we know about the personality of the former community librarian, Dr. Bernhard Wachstein, we are honored to inform you:

Dr. Bernhard Wachstein was born in Tłuste in 1868. After completing his studies in the Talmud, philosophy, history, and bibliography he settled in Vienna and, as a librarian at the well–known Jewish library of the community of Vienna, he reached an important position in the world of science. His research mainly related to the history of the Austrian Jewry, especially the deciphering of inscriptions on tombstones in ancient cemeteries. These inscriptions also served as a foundation for his research. According to the instructions of the historical committee of the community, which was established to research the history of the Viennese Jewry, Dr. Bernhard Wachstein wrote

[Page 242]

his essay “The inscriptions of the old Jewish cemetery in Vienna” (the old Jewish cemetery is located in the ninth district, in Rossau Street near the first Jewish hospital in Vienna. Later, a Jewish nursing home was built at the same location). In 1917, this essay was published in two volumes. A second essay: “Hebrew epitaphs on headstones” was published in 1907. He also published a collection of “Jewish private letters from 1619.” In 1916, he wrote the book,” Hebrew tombstones from the XIII–XV century in Vienna and surroundings.” In addition, he published a collection of documents from the ancient community of Eisenstaedt named, “Certificates and documents on the history of the Jews in Eisenstadt.” Finally, he also collected in the book, “The epitaphs of the old Jewish cemetery in Eisenstadt,” which was published in 1922. In 1929, he contributed a great amount of material to the book “The history of the Jews in Moravia.”

He wrote his greatest work in three volumes during the years 1922–1930. The name of the essay: “To the bibliography of the memory and mourning lectures in the Hebrew literature.”

Dr. Bernhard Wachstein was extremely humble. He opted to stand in the shade but his essays, especially his great knowledge, shone like stars in the classic period of the Jewish community of Vienna.

Dr. Bernhard Wachstein, who held the title “government advisor,” frequently lectured at the Jewish Theological Institute in seminars and various cultural events at the Jewish community of Vienna. Thanks to his extensive knowledge he always managed to captivate his listeners because he was able to tell unknown events in the history of the Jews of Vienna.

Dr. Bernhard Wachstein died on 15 January 1935 and was buried with great honor at the central Jewish cemetery, entrance 4, section 3, row 4, number 9. The saying “May the memory of the righteous be of a blessing,” which is often said in a memorial service, was realized by Dr. Bernhard Wachstein, thanks for his many activities in the service of the Jewish community of Vienna.

It is our honor to contribute our part to the memorial book in which the memory of the Jewish community of Vienna will also be mentioned.

*

Shimshon Meltzer was born in Tłuste in 1909 to his parents, Shmuel and Sara Meltzer. In his youth he received traditional Hebrew education. At the age of sixteen he moved to Lvov and studied at the teachers' seminar. Among his teachers were also: Dr. Avraham Stupp and Leon Langholz from our town. At the end of 1933, he emigrated to Israel with his wife. Since 1936 he was a member of the editorial staff of “< i>Davar” and later became the editor of “Davar Leyeadim” and “Atidut.” He became famous mostly for his pleasant playful poems which were published in several books. Some of his poems are dedicated to his town, Tłuste, and his life there. He deserves the nickname “Tłuste's poet.” A number of his poems are brought in the Yizkor Book that is before us.

*

Dr. Avraham Stupp was born in Tłuste in 1897. His father, Dr. Moshe Stupp, who was a scholar and God–fearing Jew, was one of the important Chortkov Hasidim in town. In his youth, his son received a traditional and religious education. He finished high school in Lvov, studied history at the University of Lvov and received a doctorate degree in philosophy. Later, he became a history teacher at the Jewish–Polish teachers'' seminar in Lvov. In Lvov he became involved with the Zionist movement and became the secretary of the central Zionist council in Lvov. In 1924, he established the youth Zionist movement “Achva,” and became chairman of the general “Halutz” council in Poland. He served as a delegate to the last ten Zionist Congresses and was a member of the administration of the World Alliance of General Zionists. For dozens of years, since 1935, he has been a member of the Zionist General Council, and for several years he was also a member of the presidium of the Zionist General Council

In 1939 he emigrated to Israel and settled in Tel–Aviv. In Israel, he was the general manager of the Housing Council, and continued with his Zionist activities as a member of the General Zionist Council in Israel. During the years, 1951–1955, he was a member of the second Knesset.

 

Doctors and Lawyers

In recent generations, Tłuste has been blessed with good and dedicated doctors, most of whom were good Jews and loyal Zionists.

The first in this line is Dr. Yeger. He later left Tłuste and moved to Lvov to continue his medical work there. His son, the engineer Moshe Zayad (Marzel Yeger), lives in Israel and works for the municipality of Haifa.

After the First World War, in 1922, Dr. Gershon Kanapas, a native of Horodenka, settled in Tłuste. He excelled in his Zionist activity and his great devotion to the town's residents which was revealed, in all its might, during the typhus epidemic that swept Tłuste in1925. Dr. Gershon Kanapas spent days and nights trying to save the victims of the plague until he also fell ill. To the dismay of the townspeople, all the doctors'' efforts to save his life didn't help.

The brother–in–law of Dr. Kanapas z"l, Yehuda Anosh, who lives in Kvutzat Shiller, is telling:

Dr. Gustav (Gershon, son of Yehoshua) Kanapas was born in Horodenka and was the son of Dr. Oskar Kanapas and his wife, Salomea, from the Shlieber–Kurtzer family. His mother was the daughter of Dr. Gustav Kurtzer who was also a resident of Horodenka in his last years. Gustav studied at the gymnasium in Lvov and was one of the outstanding students. He was in danger of being expelled from school when it became known that he belonged to a clandestine Zionist organization named “Koach.” He completed his university studies at the College of Medicine in Vienna where his older sister, Yula, also studied. After the First World War, during which he served in the Austrian army as a medical officer with the rank of lieutenant, he married his girlfriend, Shoshana Shpitbart from Chortkov, who, in the meantime, changed her medical studies to a musical career (as a pianist). In 1922 the couple settled in Tłuste and in a short time Dr. Gershon Kanapas earned the affection and the respect of all the town's residents.

[Page 243]

In the winter of 1925, a typhus epidemic broke out in Eastern Galicia and caused many casualties. Dr. Kanapas invested tremendous efforts into his medical work that far outweighed his physical abilities (during the war he was stricken with a heart ailment due to a long and exhausting march). He not only provided medical assistance, but also provided material assistance to his poor patients in addition to the free medical help. He also paid for the medicines at the pharmacy (after his death his father paid his remaining debt to the pharmacy).

The struggle to conquer the epidemic took revenge on the young doctor. He contracted the typhus from one of his rural patients and the disease overwhelmed him despite all the efforts of the doctors, who were not local (such as Dr. Manowarda from Zalishchyky [Zaleszczyki]), and despite the superhuman efforts of his parents and his Zionist friends from the town. Half an hour before his death he received a telegram stating that his wife had given birth to a boy. He just had time to say: “I don't have the energy to rejoice”…

It should be noted, out of appreciation, that a number of residents neglected their families and dedicated all their time and efforts to help the revered doctor. The death of a doctor, and a beloved friend, brought heavy mourning to the town. People said: “Since the death of HaRav, R' Pinchas Chodorov, there wasn't such a large funeral in the town.

The circumcision ceremony was held in Chortkov in the presence of the deceased's sister and her husband, and in the presence of several doctors. The child was named Gershon (Gustav) after his late father. Sometime later, the child was transferred to Horodenka, to his grandparents' home, where they cared for him during all the years of his childhood. The widow continued to study music and eventually became the principal of a music school in Tarnopol. When the Second World War broke out, the child was deported, together with his grandmother, to Russia. At the age of fifteen he returned from Russia to Eastern Galicia to search for his mother. And indeed, he found her in Tarnopol and joined her. Both were murdered there at the hands of Hitler's soldiers. The child's grandmother, Mrs. Salomea Kurtzer, survived the war in Russia and at the end of the war came to Israel, to her daughter and son–in–law.

*

In the years prior to the Holocaust there were several Jewish doctors in town. Dr. Shmuel Albin, son–in–law of Yakov Steckel, lived in town until the 1930s. Dr. Albin was one of the first doctors in town and was also an active Zionist. The doctors who were in town during the Holocaust: Dr. Mansberg (lived in Tłuste since 1922), Dr. Grünberg, Dr. Baruch Milch (from Podhajce) and Dr. Bernhard Meltzer. Dr. Meltzer was a native of Tłuste, the son of David Bronstein and Zvia from the Meltzer family. His wife, Rivka, was the daughter of R' Berel Kuttner. They, and their two daughters, were murdered in a forest near Chortkov according to the “efforts” of the Ukrainian doctor, Smetzyczyn.

Also the veterinarian doctors were Jewish: Dr, Shpritzer before the First World War, and in the last period, Dr. Spiegelglass, who was murdered, together with his family, in a Gestapo “special operation.” The pharmacy was also in the hands of a Jew named Emil Titinger. During the Russian and the German occupation there was another Jewish pharmacist, Dalek Falber, son–in–law of Yakov Pel.

*

All the lawyers in town were Jewish. Prior to the First World War the lawyer, Dr. Emil Bleicher, was known in the town. His office was at the home of R' Natan Hikand, and R' Natan was his clerk. Among the first lawyers in town was also Dr. Katzner who, for a certain period of time, was chairmen of the General Zionist Council. There were other lawyers in town: Dr. Safir, Dr. Seiden, Mager, Karol Roth (chairman of the Revisionist Zionist Alliance), Dr. Szmuc, and for a short period of time – the lawyer Mandstein. There was a Jewish judge at the court house named Presler (his wife survived in Russia and emigrated to Israel in 1965).

 

Bankers and estate owners

Some of the town's Jews were engaged in providing of loans with interest, but only one of them, Berel Kuttner, has reached the level of a “banker.”

Greater was the number of Jews who were estate owners or lessees of estates. The prominent among them were: R' Meir Kleiner and R' Baruch–Izik Vitashka owners of the estates in Lisowce and Teklovka [Teklówka], and R' Duvid Merdinger who owned the Worwolince estate, Sigmund Weissglass owned the estate in Shersheniovtse [Szerszeniowce], R' Avraham Pohorles owned the Hinkowce estate.

Several estates in the Tłuste area were the property of the Buber family from Lvov, father of Professor Mordechai–Martin Buber, and were leased to Jewish tenants: the estates of Rozanowka [Rozanówka] and Holowczynce were leased to Yakov Steckel and Kehat Koenigsberg [Kenigsberg], and the estate in Podsniatinka [Podsniatynka] was leased to Osias (Yehoshua) Steckel. In his youth, Martin Buber came sometimes to spend his vacation on one of these estates.

 

Merchants and craftsmen

Most of the townspeople were engaged in trade. Most were small storekeepers or medium–sized merchants. Only a few have risen to the level of large merchants and reached affluence and richness. Many were pious Torah scholars. During the last period, many leaned to Zionism and their sons were active in the Zionist social unions in the youth movements and the Halutz movement.

Some of the town's residents engaged in various crafts and served not only the Jewish population, but also the Christian population. As in other cities in Galicia, there was also an association of craftsman in our town named “Yad Harutzim” which dealt in various forms of help to needy members.

*

We have tried to describe and mention a number of the most prominent figures in our town and to complete the description in the book. There is, of course, no possibility of bringing up the entire life that has been wiped off the face of the earth with cruelty that has no brother and example in the history of humanity. These descriptions will serve, just like the entire book, a memorial to the town and its people whose loving memory is so precious to each of us.


[Pages 244-248]

Seeing Tłuste from afar

by Dov Sedan

Translated by Sara Mages

 

A.

Whenever I remember my homeland in the Diaspora, my travels and my wanderings around the towns of Galicia rise before me, and I see the image and the portrait of each community the way it was drawn to me in the days when I stayed there. I'm troubled for each community that I skipped, usually out of necessity, and mostly if it was close by or exactly in the middle of my way. One of the communities that I yearned to be in, and I was not there – is the town that is called Toist or Tlist in the Jewish language and, in the mouth of the gentiles, Toyst, if they were Cossacks, Tłuste – if they were Poles. The origin of the name is probably from the word fat, referring to the fatness of her soil, or referring to the fatness of her owners. The matter of the different pronunciation of the names by the gentiles was explained to me in my first year of high school in the town of my birth. Our geography teacher, Mr. Kostinovitch, who was an enthusiastic Russian, worked very hard to light our eyes in the doctrine of the map of Eastern Galicia, and repeated the names with us, and repeated them again, out of the assumption of a first–rate educator that those common to the Cossacks were the principle ones, and those common to the Poles were tasteless to him. If my memory doesn't fail me, his lesson was the first to inform me of the existence of that town, since I did not have the opportunity to hear about her before that, despite the fact that I heard about closer and farther towns from her. More than that, since my childhood I was told that many of the surnames of the families in our town derived from the names of towns and cities, and I tried to guess their origin by changing them around. It did not occur to me that this was also the case with the name of the Tauster family who lived in our town. A year did not pass since the teacher's lesson, and I was given the opportunity to hear about this town from a young man, Nachman was his name, who wandered together with his whole community, the community of Dzvinatz Gorni, to our town. I already told at length about this young man in my book “The Circle of Youth,” and now I will bring it in a condensed form: That town was captured by Russian troops and was sentenced to exile, and the location of the exile, Siberia. But when they passed through our town, the members of our town got up and liberated them from their captors. Once they liberated them, they housed them in “Beit Ha'Midrash” which was named after R' Zelig, the son of R' Bezalel. And we, the town's boys, were regular visitors there. We saw that all the members of the town were sad, but he, Nachman, was happy. And what was he happy about! He vowed to be in every place that Baal Ha'Shem Tov was. He had already visited a few places, and now he was rewarded to be in Brody, and he took the trouble to see all the corners that Baal Ha'Shem Tov appeared in, according to the tradition of our townspeople. So I became his guide, and in our many walks, which I already told about in that book, I heard his stories about Tłuste, Kosov and Kitev, and he drew these towns before me, and it was as though the life story of Baal Ha'Shem Tov was weaved in them. Subsequently, when I read stories about Baal Ha'Shem Tov, mostly about the way they were connected to that area and breathing its air. I started with Buber, Reuven Pahan, and S.Y Agnon, by way of Ber Horovitz and Michael Braouer, as far as Stanislav Vintsnz, Yeshaya Tiber and others. That whole area stood before me, settlement after settlement, with their landscapes, the way that young man, who had left in the footsteps of his teacher, drew them before me, and I did not know if he was rewarded to finish what he had started, meaning, if he was able after he disappeared from our town to follow the wandering line from Ostora to Zholutsk. Two years have passed since I met that young man, and the group of towns rose again before my eyes, including the town of Tłuste. Also, this time, from the words of a teacher, R' Meir Balaban, who researched the history of the Jews in Poland. He was my religion teacher in Lwów's High School where I studied. He served as a rabbi in the Austrian army and lived in occupied Poland. During his vacation he came to visit us and honored us with his words. Most of them were about the Hassidut and its causes and even about Okop, the town of his birth, and the nearby town of Tłuste where he grew up. Together with his words he amused us with the interpretation of the name Okop. Some explained that the name originated from the word payment, redemption, as it was a stop where prisoners, who fell captive in the hands of the Tatars or the Cossacks, were released. And there are those who interpreted it from the word Okopi, meaning rampart. Supposedly, it was the location of the three holly ramparts that the Polish poet, Krashinske, placed in his show, “An ungodly comedy,” as Christianity's last defense post. After he brought the two different meanings of the name before us, he smiled and said: and the common side is not before us, but it is a popular saying, and he ended: you heard children, popular.

Apparently, the three incidents were meant to bring me to Tłuste when I left to wander around the towns of Galicia. And, indeed, a number of times I almost fulfilled my wish, and here I was in Mikolintza [Mikolince], and I was in Chorostkov [Chorostków], and I was in Trembowla, and I was in Chorostkov and I was in Kopychintse [Kopyczyńce], and it is not necessary to say that I was a number of times in Chortkov [Czortków], and in Buczacz, and I said and I added, and I said in my heart: now, now I am also going to Tłuste. And I did not go, and surely I had a reason to visit her – I also left in the footsteps of a great man, my landsman Rabbi Nachman Krochmal. I was planning to hunt for shreds of rumors about him, and I investigated him in my town, the town that he abandoned at a young age. Yosef Klosner and Shimon Ravidovitz brought some of it in their books. I was in Zlotshev and I climbed on top of the hill where the same thinker walked, and I was in Tarnopol where he is resting in peace, and in Lwów I even talked to his grandson, the son of his daughter, Mrs. Rieza who was called Rozilia. He is Henryk Biegeleisen who is a great researcher in the books of Poland, and a small researcher of his grandfather's writings. According to him, it was only through the reading of Yehuda Leib Landa's dissertation about Nachman Kohen Krochmal's philosophy, and the articles of Meir (Max) Visberg, and Yermia Frenkel. According to what I saw, strange things were published in the name of this elder, and I need to bring up that, in the midst of our conversations, he asked me: who was equal to his grandfather from among the Polish philosophers? I answered him: Ziskovskei, because both of them took the trouble, one in the modification of a trio and the other in the modification of a quad, and each person to the history of his nation. The same grandson put on an innocent face and said: and I was more modest, and I thought, like all the experts, about Trantovske. He wanted to say, that I, the youngster, saw his grandfather as a lamp, and he, his old grandson, sees him as a candlestick. And here I said in my heart, maybe there were traditions in Tłuste that were based on Rabbi Nachman Kohen Krochmal's son–in–law, he is Wilhelm Biegeleisen, father of the literature researcher, who was a doctor there by the name of Fizikus. Fizikus was the friend of Heinrich Franzos, the district doctor in the nearby city of Chortkov, and he was called Kreiz–Fizikus. His son was the famous author, Karl Emil Franzos, who described the town where he grew up in his stories (he calls it Barnow), and also the towns around it, including the town of Tłuste.

Certainly, it is possible to reflect about the fate of the two area doctors' sons. One of them, the son of doctor Franzos from Chortkov, was attracted to the German culture, literature and language. After he specialized in classic psychology he searched for a career in it, and it would have been open before him if he also added to his composition (a reasonable translation of Vergilius ecology from Theocritus language, meaning in the dialect of my generation) a certificate of conversion from Judaism. But he, whose measure of knowledge in the history of his nation and its literature was the size of a sesame seed, saw it on himself to follow his father's words who told him: you were born a Jew and you must stand for your Judaism, because it is possible that this is what the Lord wants, and because your brothers to faith, who are treated badly by the law, need good and educated people to do them right and protect them. And so he went and studied law against his will, and ended up being an author. The first thing that he wrote, after he and the Christian girl, with whom he fell in love, swore to each other in secret that she would stand for her belief and he would stand for his belief, did not stand to her oath, was an extensive description of life in the ghetto. His work was evaluated differently by the disputing rabbinical religious authorities. The judgment that is closer to me is the judgment that the leader of the Zionists in Galicia, A. Stand, gave when he talked about the deplorable way our image was drawn in the European literature, and the fact that damage that it brought was greater than the benefit, since their blindness was greater than their clear vision. While the other, the son of the doctor from Tłuste, was attracted to the Polish culture, literature and language, and when he specialized in it, he became one of its important researchers. Surely, they would have given him a higher cathedra if he had added a certificate of conversion from Judaism to his essay, but he did not add it, despite the fact that his knowledge of Jewish history and its literature was smaller than a sesame seed. Out of necessity he held the position of a high school Polish literature teacher in the Ukrainian high school in Lwów. He was loved by his students and loved them in return. He was also a close friend and a companion to Ivan Franko, the great Ukrainian author of that generation, and we still remember their last meeting. When Biegeleisen came to visit his dead friend, he found him in his bed covered with an old torn sheet, and his naked body, with blue marks, and his waxen face were visible through the hole. The friend went to his class and told his student about their poet: he was as poor as your nation, go, go, so you will remember the face of this great man to the end of your days. The question, did he feel around him the rustle of the poor and needy nation of his ancestors, is a question. The end of the answer is hidden in the fact, that when he reached an old age he became a teacher in the town's Jewish high school, which was established after the pogroms against its Jews. We said: the end of the answer, because in addition to what I wrote about him, others, who wrote in our language about their meeting with him (Yisrael Viglo, Shelomo Landekotsh–Rechev) said that the old man, even if he wanted to, was not able to catch up with what he was late for, since his sons had already converted and their name was not Biegeleisen, but Zleoinskei, or something like that. According to rumor, one of them, or one of his sons, wandered with the Polish refugees to Tel–Aviv, and was a teacher in one of its high schools. I heard the rumor from Yitschak Lamdan, but I did not want to believe in it, since it is difficult to think: that the great grandson of Rabbi Nachman Krochmal was a convert from Lwów. Why do we need to think such a very difficult thought: the great grandson of Rabbi Nachman Krochmal was a convert in Tel– Aviv? Anyhow, in the words of that poet: this is also the moral of God and there is a lesson in it.

 

B.

Let's us move from the shadows, the shadows of the vicissitude generation, and see the light of the sincere generation. I said: the vicissitude generation despite the fact that it was also the struggling generations, that also, like the ones before them, realized that they needed to break the fence that their ancestors built around themselves with their rules and traditions. And they leave their towns, put Beit Ha'Midrash aside, and go to the cities and to the universities. But now, they choose what they want to study, and the spirit of their studies connects them deep in their hearts to their nation. One of them was Berel from Tłuste, who is called Bernhard Wachstein; and whoever wants to know more information about him can kindly go to the comprehensive monograph of Meir Balaban that was printed at the beginning of Wachstein's book, which was published in 1938 by Yivo [Institute for Jewish Research] in Vilna–, of which Balaban was one of its honorable members. I've already talked about Bernhard Wachstein in the pages of “Davar”, on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, and now I will allow to myself to repeat it and add additional text about my teacher and rabbi, the proprietor of the monograph: at the beginning of his evaluation he brings the chain of fighters and rebels who preceded that wise man, and placed Shimon Bernfeld in the lead. But even this prominent figure is not exceedingly typical, since we know a lot of details from his autobiography, starting from what he published in the memorial book of “Beit Asif” and ending with what he published in “Reshumot” [the official journal of Israel], that his war against the Haskalah lacked the war between father and his son, since his own father, R' Moshe, was a Maskil and a member of the Haskalah movement [the Jewish Enlightenment movement]. I hope to publish two of his documents that were kept in my hands – his diary booklet from Lwów, and also his speeches in the Hebrew club in Stanisławów. It is easy to understand why Henryk Biegeleisen was linked to this chain – since we saw that he did not come from a Yeshiva or from Beit Midrash, and not only that he did not experience what they experienced, it is possible that he did not reach his height from reading a prayer from the Sidur, so how could we include him among the fence breakers when his father already found it broken, since his famous father–in–law opened it widely before the Haskalah. Back to the matters of the others who are included as members of the chain – there is something out of the ordinary also in them, and we need to treat them according to the skipping words of the owner of the monograph. Surely, this kind of writing fit Wilhelm Feldman, who started as an antagonist (or in his words: a little Jew), later in the future he was the lead researcher of Polish literature, and at the end, when he was at death's door, as a convert from Judaism. This kind of writing is also suitable for those who remained in the system, like Shemuel Wolf Guttmann, the son of the bartender from a suburb of Lwów, who ended as its enlightened Rabbi, and also, Yehusua Tahon, who ended as an enlightened Rabbi in Krakow and the captain of Galicia and Poland Zionists.

However, we can't even classify Mordechai Ehrenpreis and Tzvi–Peretz Hayot as fence breakers, because the father of the first who was a publisher and bookseller and the father of the latter who was an eminent scholar, already took a different stand on the bridge that connected tradition and Haskalah, and the passage to the bridge that connected tradition to modernism was not that far. But it is not so with Dov–Ber Wachstein that the definition of breaking and leaping fits him, although it is a different leap and a different break than the one that the Maskilim generation knew – a break out of the traditional Jewish existence, the way it was crystallized in a typical Hassidic town, and a leap into a modern Jewish existence, where the collective historical awareness and its knowledge is the great foundation that unites the old traditions to the new, as one new unit. It is giving us more than we need to see, Wachstein as a young brother to the Jewish historians before him, and we need to see him as the big brother to the Jewish historians of his days and days to follow, mostly the historians that his homeland provided, who came out of the modern Jewish movement and went to her. We are talking about Meir Balaban, Moshe Schorr, Yitschak Shifer, Mordechai Vishnitser, Emanuel Ringlblum, Filip Fridman of blessed memory and Avraham Yakov Braver, Natan Michael, Gelber and Refaell Mahaler, may they live.

It's a pity that the mentioned monograph about Wachstein dealt in short about his life, and did not extend it the way it extended the details of his work. From the few details, we hear that Wachstein came as an older Yeshiva student, bound with troubles behind him and before him, to the secondary school in Bradovitz Bukovina (Galician students were attracted to it because of its German character and its proximity – later also Berel Luker from Kutin studied there, maybe because of its German character and its distance, and eventually Avraham Shvadron, who is Sharot, a native of Zlotshov also studied there). Later on, he went to Vienna where he studied at the university and in a rabbinical Yeshiva. His main interest was in philosophy and history. It is possible that he dreamt about a cathedra in philosophy but, when he was on the crossroad, two events decided his fate – the first event was the position that was given to him in the library of the Jewish community of Vienna, and the second event was his marriage to his student Maria Weiss, whose rich father was the owner of a distillery. Free from worries of earning an income, he sat in his beautiful office in his handsome villa and worked with great dedication that did not cease until his death. He continued to progress in his job – first as a small clerk, later on as a deputy, and at the end as a director. His work revived the institution, widened it and organized it well. These are the main subjects of his research: bibliography, epigraphy (mostly epigraphs on tombstones), genealogy, translation of letters, community registries and such, biographies of great Torah scholars, eulogies and the like, the library catalog, and above all a treasured volume of “Minchat Shelomo” (a gift from the benefactor Sali Cohen) with its five indexes. And the same applies to his index of eulogies and to the important book that he published together with Yisrael Tablicht and Alexander Krixtitbipoler, about the Jewish publicists in Vienna. The book provides a reliable detailed bibliography of all the Hebrew periodicals that were published there. In Wachstein's share fell: “Bikkure Ha–Ittim”, “Kerem Hemed”, “The new Bikkure Ha–Ittim”, “Meged Geresh Yerahim”, “Avnei Neizer”, “Ozar Neḥmad”, “Bikkurim”, “Kohav Itschak” , and the rest were divided between his friends to work on. It is an important reference book, and a researcher of the Haskalah literature in central and eastern Europe can't do his work without it. His greatest work was in epigraphy – the tombstones of the old cemetery in Vienna. Theoretically, the main part was the inscription on the stones, the explanation of the text and its language, but attached to that was an abundance of explanations and the like, that provided the history of the community and details of hundreds of issues and conflicts. The same applies to his book “Stones of fire”, about the cemetery in the historical community of Eisenstadt, and again: theoretically the headstones and, in reality, the history of Burgenland's Jews on all sides and aspects. In the matter of texts – here is the collection of letters from 1619, most of them in Yiddish and a few in Hebrew, which were written on the same day in Prague, Friday before noon, and were designated to Vienna but never arrived at their destination. The messenger was caught on his way (and it was a secret way between the two cities, since the connection between the cities was forbidden due to the stench, meaning the epidemic). The letters were taken and were not opened until they were discovered hundreds of years later, when two wise men troubled themselves with them, Alfred Landa, on the linguistic aspect, and Wachstein, on the historical aspect, and a whole new world was discovered. And it also worth mentioning the publication of letters from later generations, the letters of Velvale Zebrazer (Binyamin Zev Ahronkrantz) to his brothers and his friend Moshe Ornstein, and Ozer Rohatinger (a comedian and one of the first members of “Hovevei Zion” in Lwów) and such. And to the matters of ledgers and archive documents – mostly a book of documents and scripts connected to the history of Eisenstadt's Jews and the seven communities. It is full of issues that split into different directions until it is possible to use it for full essays and, indeed, we already found those who were helped by it. And yet, he did not slow down, he wrote tens of small works, and the equal part in all of his activities: he is not only bringing documents and explanations, allegedly he does not edit the material only compile it, but the person who looks at his order and the energy that was invested to collect it, knows that there is a creation before him, and he feels that the researcher took on himself to bring the full life picture out of the frozen remnants, out of the dryness, but the one who lends a listening ear not only hears the rustle of the life of the investigated material, but also the sound of the researcher's soul who sunk himself into the research. It is pity that, until now, no one came to drink from these wells of life, which looked dry, buried under a layer of sand–parchments and dust, and when he will peel their skin he will hear the sound of a vibrating warm heart.

 

C.

We prolonged a little in the way of life and the activities of our history and literature researcher that Tłuste provided. We saw him exploring the history of community after community, and we hid this question under our tongue: and he did not see to investigate the history of his birthplace? And the answer for this question is clear and unclear. It is not necessary to say, that he, he is the proper address to investigate his own town and know her history, and we found historians from Galicia who wrote books – each person about the history of his own town – Balaban about Lwów, Moshe Schorr about Pshemishl [Przemyśl], Natan Michel Gleber about Brody, Raphael Mahler about Sanz [Tsanz], and so on. But, in this respect, Wachstein is not among them, and we can only talk about two small subjects of study, a direct one, that Balaban is mentioning, and it is his research about the tombstone of Baal Ha'Shem Tov's mother in Tłuste, and an indirect one, that Balaban is not mentioning, and it includes two works. One, a small collection of jokes that was published in German (1929), and the other, a small collection of Yiddish proverbs by the name: “The study of the life work of Ignaz Bernstein” which was published in Yiddish (1936).

In the matter of the first subject, which is directly connected to Tłuste, he brings in his article (Menora, Vienna 1925, booklet 2) the inscription on the tombstone: “Taf Kuf/ by the abbreviated era/on this mound/ this stone is a witness/ Sara B.A. his mother/of Ysr. B. Shem/ died on the day/…/…” In his usual way he initiates a large scale research, and explains that the date Taf Kuf (1740) contradicts the legend that Baal Ha'Shem Tov was an orphan in his childhood, since in that year he was around the age of forty. He interprets the initials B.A. to daughter of Adel, out of the assumption that Baal Ha'Shem Tov's daughter was born close to the death of her grandmother, and was named after her. This assumption does not fit Baal Ha'Shem Tov's biography, which does not mention that a daughter was born to him during his wisdom years. We need to add Balaban's objection that traditionally the Hassidim wrote the mother's name in small notes, but not in the body of a tombstone wording where traditionally the father's name is written. Therefore, he inclines to read: daughter of Aharon, or daughter of Avraham and such, but he agrees with Wachstein's evaluation that the abbreviation Ysr. for Yisrael, is not common, and also the abbreviation B. Shem, for Baal Shem, is also uncommon. Although Wachstein dwells on the question of who wrote the wording and when it was written, he does not come to a conclusion or maybe he does not want to express it, perhaps because of his obsession with the holy tradition of his town. But Balaban, who sees himself exempt from that, assumes that the whole tombstone is apocryphal, and it is possible that it was written many years after the death of Baal Ha'Shem Tov. He even compares it to the imaginary archive of Baal Ha'Shem Tov's letters, whose forgery is recognized from the contents. And, to my opinion, he had the desire to compare similar things and did not distinguish between an act of innocence and an act of deceit, and one way or the other, a small exaggeration.

To the matter of the last subject that links indirectly with Tłuste – it is possible to assume that when he came to collect jokes and proverbs, he was helped with what he personally heard, meaning what he heard during the days of his childhood and his youth, and in his jokes he even mentions names of places around his town. It is fitting that the members of his town, the elderly whose memory kept the tradition of their town, and their sons, who received it from their hands, should read these small researches.

 

D.

We have to admit that, in the matter of the history of Tłuste, we did not gain a lot of wealth from her researcher son, but what her researcher son did not do, her poet son did in days to come, and he is Shimshon Meltzer. I did not hear about him in the days that I longed to visit Tłuste and, for some reasons, I skipped her and skipped her again. To justify myself, I need to say that I lacked the last push to do so – in those days there was not an active chapter of the “Hehalutz” in that town and, in my duty as the leader and administrator of the central office, I visited all the chapters wandering from town to town by train, by cart and even by foot.

It is true that I wondered a little about it, since all the towns around her, mostly Chortkov [Czortków] and Buczacz, were buzzing with the sound of the Halutz movement, and she, Tłuste herself, had a close relation to the Halutz youth movement. When the leader of Galicia's Zionists – Dr. Gershon Ziffer – returned before the First World War from his journey to Eretz–Yisrael, he brought two ideas with him. The first was the building of a Hebrew high school in Jerusalem, and the second was the establishment of a youth movement in the spirit of the “Hashomer” movement in Eretz–Yisrael. And indeed, a chapter of “Hashomer” was immediately established in Galicia, which started as a scout movement in the formula of General Baden–Powell, and continued after it was incorporated with a related movement (the independent Jewish education association of “Zeirei Zion”), as the well known “Hashomer HaZair” movement. The first two chapters of “Hashomer” organization were located in Lwów and in Tłuste. In her first pictures, you find the town's natives: Marzel Yeger, he is Moshe Zayad, who works in the municipality of Haifa, and he is also the son of that town's doctor who later left for Lwów. And you can also find there Ludvig Stekel who went to Dobromil and became a pharmacist in Tel–Aviv. Just as I left Galicia and went to Warsaw to work on the editorial board of “Haatid” I received a letter from Tłuste and, in it, a question from a teenage boy by the name of Shimshon Meltzer, asking about the possibility to study in Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem, and for the school's address. I answered him from the pages of the weekly magazine, and I think that this was the first time that his name was published in public. I remember that I read his words with excitement, since three years earlier I was also planning to emigrate to our country. I was invited by Boris Schatz to practice, as much as I was able in my view and the view of others, the art of letters and labels, drawings and decorations, and I did not respond to the invitation since I turned to another direction – the renewal of the Halutz movement in our region. At any rate, I remember the name of Shimshon Meltzer, as someone with a talent for painting who wanted to practice it, until I received, many years later, a poem signed by him that was published in “Hasolel”, whose editor was my landsman, Yakov Netaneli–Rotman. I thought: are there two Shimshon Meltzers, one a painter and another a poet (since there was also a Shimshon Meltzer in Chortkov who nowadays is a member of Kibbutz Hameshulash, which was founded by Yisrael Cohen, so I wondered and said: there are three of them) since it did not come to my mind at that time that the two talents wrestled each other – from the refusal of Mordechai Tzvi to Asher Barash – and, in the end, poetry won. Although they force our visitors to treat them the way Gottfried Keller, who also knew the same struggle within him, was treated by his visitors. And they will find how the unique quality of painting is rolled up inside the unique quality of poetry and story telling.

What I was not able to know, in the way I was Shimshon Meltzer's patron in a small matter on the pages of “Haatid” in Warsaw, that I would be his patron in a larger matter on the pages of “Davar” in Tel–Aviv, since, as the editor of the literature section, I published his first poem “Mother” in “Davar” and, later, most of his songs and poems. Subsequently, he became one of “Davar's” employees and editors. His poem “Mother” was the first poem that he published in our country, and my memory whispered to me that I saw an earlier poem of his in the “Orha” collection, and from that it became clear to me that the writer was living in our country. I looked for him and I found out from Nahman Bergman, who knew the poet as a teacher in his birthplace Horodenka (after the departure of the previous teacher S.I. Pigles who is Penueli), that indeed it was him. I asked him to invite him to my home and some days later we conducted a long conversation of a thousand canvases and, it is not necessary to say that, since then and until now, the conversations grew to a value of tens of thousands of canvases.

I didn't know what my young friend would be able to learn from me, but if he were to add to his heap of love also a grain of my love to our childhood's district, let us say that I received my payment, since I learned a lot from him and he is the one who raised Tłuste before my eyes, his reader, in a way that I live there the way he lived there, and my sin for skipping her – was fully reformed. I already talked about it at length in my collections of articles in the book “Between judgment and reckoning,” and now I can say in brief to each person who asks about the illustration of Tłuste in his poems, that he is asking to distinguish between those who lived with God and those who live below: where I can find you, and where I can't find you.

 

E.

The townspeople, who survived and found salvation, have done a nice thing when they created a memorial to their place of origin and wrote all that was kept in their hearts, and in their memory, on the pages of a book, and invited a graceful man, my childhood friend, Gabriel Lindenberg, to be their man of action. And if I am allowed to give them, the natives of the town, a word of advice, I will say that they should remember the basic rule, that those who start a good deed must finish it, and in the same way that they awakened the history of their town, maybe they should write about its immigrant sons, mostly about those who immigrated with the pious men of olden days and instilled in us the love of our country…


[Page 248]

The author of “The Dybbuk” under our roof

by Shimshon Meltzer

Translated by Sara Mages

At an early hour of a freezing, snowy winter night, a sleigh stopped in front of our house and the bell on the horse's neck silenced. Father went out to see who had arrived and returned with a tall Russian officer with a small pointed beard. It turned out that the officer, who was dressed in a long military coat, was a Jew, a representative of the Russian committee for the aid of the Jews of Galicia who had suffered from the war. He asked to hold a committee meeting that evening, and the young man who brought the guest to our home left immediately to gather the members of the committee. The “great room,” which we didn't use that winter because we had nothing to heat it with, was heated in honor of the guest, and a number of homeowners gathered there for a meeting. The meeting itself, as it was found out later, was short because there was nothing to discuss. The aid committee had no money and its representative was able to help with only one thing: there were leftovers of clothing and bedding at the committee's warehouse in Kolomyia. The committee was given an order for the storekeeper to issue them to Tłuste's needy. In spite of that, they sat in the great room until the late hour of the night. Why? Because the guest wanted to hear stories and tales about Ba'al Shem Tov and other Tzadikim. Among the participants was R' Avraham Mentschel, the elderly father of R' Mendel Mentschel, and he told wonderful stories, one after the other, and the guest sat and wrote in his small notebook.

After midnight, the question of accommodation arose and R' Avraham Mentschel insisted that the guest go with him to sleep at his son's home so he could tell him more stories about the Tzadikim and their wonders, and the guest left with him. Father z”l was offended and disappointed because there was plenty of room to sleep in our home, and there was no need to move the guest in the middle of the cold night. He also suspected that the elderly R' Avraham Mentschel would finally agree to accept the guest's offer of a payment for his tales– And it appeared that this fear was justified, because the guest finished his notes about our town, Tłuste, in these words: “If one gives, take take” – (see the chapter from “The destruction of Galicia” which is brought in this section, in Yiddish).

The next morning, the guest came to say farewell to my father. This time the conversation took place in the “front room” and I was present. The guest looked around, as if he was trying to memorize the appearance of a Jewish room in Galicia, the home of, so to speak, a “wealthy Jew.” A small “painting” in a thin frame was hanging on the wall and my name was written inside a decoration of flowers. The guest asked, “Who wrote these beautiful letters?” and father said: “My youngest son, the one in front of you.” Then, he turned to me and asked: “Young boy, do you study at the Heder and what are you studying?” I told him, and he asked: “Could you say a sentence from Rashi?” I told him word for word, he patted my cheek and said: “What a fine boy, a good boy,” and I wondered about this “Russian officer” who spoke Yiddish and asked about the weekly Torah portion–

A few years later, the play “The Dybbuk” became famous throughout the Jewish world, and the book, “The Destruction of Galicia,” also arrived in our town. In it was a description of S. Ansky's visit to our town, and I knew that a “real author” had stayed in our home, and a “real author” had patted my cheek and had told me: what a fine boy, a good boy–

The note that Ansky gave father z”l, instructing the storekeeper in Kolomyia to give the leftover clothing to Tłuste's poor, was kept by my father as a souvenir. It was signed by S. Rappoport, and father must have felt that this “officer” was an important man and it was fitting to keep his signature. The handwriting was large and clear, like a child's handwriting, and I especially remember the shape of the letter Tet in this handwriting: The letter Tet should turn upwards and to the right, like an unfinished Shin, but the letter Tet in Ansky's handwriting looked as if it couldn't make up its mind, it turned upwards with a turn to the left.

A few years later, when my time came to emigrate to Israel, father gave me that note and told me: “I am making you a messenger of a mitzvah, take this note and give it for safekeeping to the most important collection of signatures in Jerusalem. There is a possibility that we can preserve it here, and there is a possibility that we will not be able to. In Jerusalem it will certainly be preserved.”

A few days after my arrival in Israel, I gave the note with the signature of S. Rappoport, who is S. Ansky, to Dr. Schwadron's signature collection and it must be kept there to this day.

 

« 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.

  Tovste, Ukraine     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Binny Lewis
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2019 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 28 Feb 2018 by JH