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[Pages 247-248]

Family Chabalok

by Mendel Volkovich, Paris

Translated by Menachem Daum

Many legends have been told by people in our town and surrounding areas regarding the unbridled physical power of Moshe Chabalok and his brothers, about their courage and readiness, their not being deterred by any danger, their acting alone – like the Mighty Samson in his time – against an angry and armed mob, whenever Jewish honor and life stood in danger.

Even today after many decades, whenever the name Chabalok is mentioned, countless facts and events come to mind in which the Chabaloks displayed great heroism defending Jewish honor, taking upon their own shoulders the assaulting Christian hooligans, letting it become known that in Zdunska Wola attacks against Jews are not worthwhile, that there are people there who will repay them measure for measure – sometimes with a considerable surplus.

In all of them, Moshe, as head of the family, was not blinded by his heroism. And literally, just as he was fearless, moving freely without fright everywhere – so also in his own eyes he was small and was full of awe for the religious leaders of the city. In this regard he used to say: “Except for God, I fear only one man” – meaning the sick and weakened from fasting Teacher of the Place[1], the righteous Rabbi Levi Isaac zt”l, a grandson of the Great Righteous one from Berdichev. And truly, merely a wink from the rabbi was enough for Reb Moshe to go for him into fire and water.

 

Tragic Conflicts

It was during the stormy years of 1904 to 1905, years, when large parts of the Russian Empire were, as is well known, caught up in a grave Revolutionary rebellion against Tsarist rule and bloody methods of oppression of the Akrana[2] When the sounds of the Revolution arrived in Zdunska Wola, the Jewish laborers organized the illegal “Unity”[3] movement, and took active steps against the Tsarist might, personified by its local representatives. On the ground, tension arose with the civil and religious segments of the Jewish population that feared repressions and was absolutely opposed to these actions. When the Russian forces later carried out mass arrests among the Jewish laborers the latter accused the Chabalok Family, because of its intensive business contacts with Tsarist tshinavnikes[4], of collaboration with the authorities.

The relationships between the “Unity” circles and other segments of the population became even more critical when a member of “Unity” who hailed from a Hasidic home was suspected by the leadership of provocation and a “comrades court” condemned him to death, a sentence which was carried out. This fraternal murder elicited a sharp reaction in the city. The Rabbi expressed his great pain with sharp words over this tragic incident.

The strained hostile relations between the opposing camps have fouled[5] the air in the city. In the interim a second tragedy occurred that shook up the population. This misfortune happened during one of the big horse–trading markets that often took place in Moshe Chabalok's yard. On a normal day in the midst of the trading commotion in the yard there were as usual many horse–traders from distant areas as well as government authorities and gendarmes. Suddenly shooting broke between the latter and the “Unity” members. As a result of this encounter a Jewish laborer fell, a son of Moshe Chabalok's good friend – Abraham Shlomo Kurtzel.

The disaster has further strengthened the hatred to Moshe Chabalok and his family to whom the “Unity” people ascribe responsibility for this event.

In this way, the Chabalok family – whose livelihood required them to be in frequent contact with those in power – was drawn into a network of intrigues and accusations, even though at the heart of the matter they are not actually responsible.

Over time, the tragic conflict slowly became forgotten. And in the 1930s, even the grandchildren of Moshe Chabalok actively participated in the illegal revolutionary movement in the city. This fact contributed significantly to quenching the poisoned relationships with the local Jewish Labor community, relationships which were built on the basis of misunderstandings and groundless accusations in tense[6] abnormal period.

Translator's footnotes:

  1. Title given to the local rabbinic authority who decided matters of religious law. Return
  2. אכראנע Unclear but context suggests it refers to Tsarist security forces Return
  3. אחדות Return
  4. טשינאווניקעס Return
  5. פארפעסטעט Return
  6. עקזאלטירטער Return

 

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