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[Columns 241-242]

Chapter C

The Social Activities in Zloczow

Translated by Moshe Kutten

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[Columns 245-246]

Zloczow's Rabbis and its Righteous People

by David Imber

R' Yisrael Landau a radiant and colorful figure. He was a descendant of the family of R' Gaon Yekhezkel Landau, ZTz “L, the ABD of Prague, and the author of the responsa books “Noda b'Yehuda” [“Known in Judah”] and “Kamah v'Tninah”. R' Yekhezkel was the grandson. According to tradition, some of the Jewish greats and the Torah pillars served in Zloczow's rabbinates. Rabbi Elazar Rokeach, Z”L, the author of the book “Maasei Rokeach” is considered one of these greats. He became the Rabbi of Amsterdam (and was named after the city – Rabbi Elazar Amsterdammer).

 

Rabbi Mikhel from Zloczow

Rabbi Yekhiel Mikhel was born in Brody in 5486 (1726) to his father, Rabbi Yitzkhak of Drohobitz (R' Itzikle Drobitzer), and died in Yampol on Saturday, 25 Elul 5546, (1786).

According to the Hasidic tradition, he died during the “Third Meal”, when he sat down with his followers – admirers, at the time of the Hasidic ecstasy, which took place, as usual, in the middle of the meal. They tried, for vain, to revive him.

In his youth, he was fortunate to study with the Besht [Ba'al Shem Tov]. The Besht pleaded with him to accept a rabbinical position, but he refused to do it. The Besht scolded him for that and said: “You have lost your world – this one and the next”. However, R' Mikhel continued to refuse. The Besht told him joyfully later on: “You are blessed by G-d and your choice is also blessed. I was only trying you out, to see what was truly in your heart”.

After the death of the Besht, Rabbi Mikhel became the student of Dov Ber, the great Maggid of Mezritch. In Brody R' Mikhel prayed in the special “Hasidic Minyan” (Hasidim Shtibel), where it was allowed to pray in the Sephardic style, using the Siddur [praying book] of the “Ha'Ari”.

In year 5541 (1780/1), after the second boycott of the Hasidim, R' Mikhel witnessed the burning of the book “Toldot Yaakov Yosef” by Rabbi [Yaakov Yosef Katz] of Polonne. R' Mikhel himself also suffered from the persecution of the Hasidim. His friend, Rabbi Pinkhas Horowitz, had to intervene and asked not to sadden him and not dismiss his work since all of his intentions were in honor of G-d.

Rabbi Mikhel was nominated as a Maggid [preacher] in Zloczow and towards the end of his life in Yampol, Podolia, where he passed away. He was the type of a Tzadik [righteous] who taught Hasidism ways to others. He was considered one of the leaders of the new religious movement. He did not author any books; however, his sermons were included in one of the elemental Hasidic books, the compilation “Likutei Yekarim”[“Precious Collections']. On the cover of the book, Rabbi Mikhel was referred to as Maggid Meisharim [Preacher of Righteousness] from the holy community of Yampol. In his sayings, we recognize some of the polemic sharpness of his friend, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Hakohen, the author of “Toldot Yaakov Yosef” [“History of Yaakov Yosef”].

 

The Head of a Dynasty

R' Mikhel was the head of a dynasty of Admors [spiritual leaders in the Hasidic movement]. The Hasidim used to say that his five sons, Rebbe Yosef, Rebbe Mordekhai, Rebbe Yitzkhak, Rebbe Moshe, and Rebbe Wolf, represent the five books of the Torah. R' Wolf of Zbaraz was the most famous. He projected a unique sanctity resulting from his inner moral integrity. [Rabbi Menakhem Mendel Bodek], the author of “The Seder Hadorot Ha'Khadash” ["The New Book of Generations”] who lived in the same period, wrote about him: “His innocence, piousness, and love of people, could not be surmised”.

[People used to tell the following story about him]: His wife once quarreled with her servant and decided to take her to court, to sue the servant for all the things she broke. R' Wolf put on his clothes and also went out to go to the court. The rebbetzin [the rabbi's wife] thought that her husband was going to argue her case in front of the rabbinical judges and told him: “You do not need to dishonor yourself in a financial suit? I would manage by myself”. The Tzadik responded: “I am not going to argue your case in court. I am going to argue for your servant. She is an orphan. It is s a Mitzva to support her, as was said [Job 31:13]: if I have rejected the cause of my manservant or maidservant when they made a complaint against me... [what will I do when God rises to judge me?]".

Another story told about him: His followers sat down with him for the “Third Meal” of Shabbat. Another person came in, sat at the table, took a radish, cut it into small pieces, and chewed on it noisily. The Hasidim, who used to sit in silence and reverence around their rabbi, scolded that person: “You are a glutton. Why are you interfering with the thinking of our holy rabbi?” The person felt ashamed. The Tzadik sensed his embarrassment and said: “I wish to eat a radish. Please hand it to me to eat”.

R' Wolf of Zabraz was also known for his modesty. One time, he traveled on a cart to a meal organized by one of his followers celebrating his son's circumcision. It was in the wintertime and it was freezing outside. In the middle of the meal, the rabbi remembered that the waggoneer stayed outside to guard the horses. He secretly went outside and told the waggoneer: “You go inside the house to warm up a bit. I will watch over the horses”. The meal participants noticed R' Wolf's absence and went out to look for him. They found him standing by the horses, shaking from the cold.

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Rabbi Meshulam Feibush Heller of Zabraz

Rabbi Feibush, son of Aharon Moshe, was the student of Rabbi Mikhel of Zloczow. He was fortunate to meet, in his youth, the great Maggid, R' Ber of Mezrich. However, he received his knowledge of the Torah from R' Mikhel. He participated in the authoring of the great compilation “Likutei Yekarim”. The sermons of the Besht, Maggid Rabbi Ber of Mezrich, and Rabbi Mikhel were included in that compilation.

Rabbi Meshulam Feibush Heller died in 20 Kislev 5552 [16 December 1791], in Zabraz.

 

Rabbi Mordekhi of Niskiz Z”L

Rabbi Mordekhai [Shapira] of Niskiz was the second student of R' Mikhel of Zloczow. He was born in 5502 (1741/2) to his father, Rabbi Dov Ber (the secretary and writer of the “Council of Four Lands”). R” Mordekhai had four sons: R' Yosef, R' Yaakov Arye, and R' Yitzkhak, the author of “Toldot Yitzkahk”[“The History of Yitzkhak”].

Among his students were R' Uri “Hasaraf” [“Angel of Fire”] from Sterlisk and R' Klonimus Kalman from Krakow, author of “Ma'or VaShemesh” [“Light and Sun”].

R' Mordekhai died in 8 Nisan 5560 [3 April 1800].

At the beginning of his career, R' Mordekhai served as rabbi in Leshniv, a town in Brody district. A group of Hasidim was formed there. In 5550 (1789/90) he settled in Niskiz, near Kovel in Vohlyn. He gained fame there as a Tzadik and a “miracle -maker”. He performed miracles on heaven and earth. He revived the dead, healed the sick, provide Heter Agunot. Sick people from many nations came to seek his help. They laid down in their wagons parked in front of his apartment. He used to come out and give them his healing blessing.

Rabbi Mordekhai authored a smell pamphlet, which was later published as “Rishfei Esh” [Sparks of Fire].

The content of that pamphlet includes commentaries on the Bible and the sayings of the Besht.

 

Rabbi Yisaskhar Dov Ber Z”L

R' Yisaskhar Ber, son of R' Leibush, was the grandson of Gaon Rabbi Naftali of Frankfurt, author of “Smikhat Khakhamim” ["Certification of Sages[". In Zloczow, R' Yisaskhar Ber served for many years. Towards the end of his life, he made Aliya to Eretz Israel but did not live there for long. He died in Av, 5570 (1810).

R' Yisaskhar Ber lived at the time of the Besht's students. One of these students was the great Maggid from Merzrich, Rabbi R' Ber. His time was also the period of the great Talmudic scholars who became Hasidic: – R' Shmuel Shmelki of Nikolsburg and his brother, R' Pinkhas, the author of the “Hafla'ah” [“Amazement”], ABD [the head of the rabbinical court] of Frankfurt.

R' Yisaskhar's book, “Bat Eini” [“The Apple of my Eye”], was printed after his death by his son, R' Yehudah Leib, his grandson, R' Efraim Fishel, and his son-in-law, R' Gershon ABD in Skalat. The book, which was published on a one-eighth of a sheet, was printed in Rashi's letters. The book contains 159 pages and has two parts:

  1. New interpretations of the Talmud (pages 1 – 76)
  2. Responsa (Pages 77 – 159)
The new interpretations were about the tractates: Pesakhim, Beitza, Rosh HaShanah, Yoma, Shabbat, Yevamot, Ketubot, Kiddushin, Gittin, Bava Kamma, Bava Metzia, Bava Batra, Shavuot, Zevakhim, Nidah, and others.

Some of the [questions] contain nine answers. Among the answers, there is one to the Famous Gaon Rabbi, ABD, and head of the Yeshiva in Lviv.

Another book - “Mevaser Tzedek” [Heralding Justice] by him was published in a large format using Rashi letters. The book contains 44 pages and its content includes new interpretations of the Torah. R' Yisaskhar's son, R' Yehuda Leibish, R' Yisaskhar's grandson, R' Efraim Fishel, and R' Yisaskhar's son-in-law, R' Gershon Margaliot ABD Skalat, published the book.

 

Rabbi Avraham Khaim, Z'L, Author of Orakh LaKhaim” [A Way of Life]

R' Avraham was born in Zhovkva to his father, Gedalyahu, who was the ABD there. R' Avraham Khaim was a student of Tzadikim R' Shmelkeh of Nikolsburg and R' Shmelk's brother, R' Pinkhas, the author of the “Hafla'ah”, ABD of Frankfurt, Z”L.

The first wife of the author of “Orakh LeKhaim” was the daughter of R' Pinkhas. After ten years without a child, he divorced her. For his second marriage, he married the daughter of R' Yisaskhar, the author of “Bat Eini”, who was a rabbi in Zloczow. When R' Yisaskhar made Aliya to Eretz Israel, R' Avraham took his position as the rabbi at Zloczow. He lived a long life (older than ninety). He died on 26 Tevet 5576 [1816. The date given in the article - 5508-1848 is an error]. He was buried in Zloczow, and the community built a mausoleum (“a tent”) on his grave.

Besides his book “Orach LeKhaim” he authored three more books: [Pri Khaim] about "Pirkei Avot" tractate and [Pri Khaim] about the Haggadah of Passover. He also wrote about the judgments and interoperations of the Rambam.

The book “Orakh LeKhaim” was one of Hassidism's elemental books. The content was about the interpretations of the Torah through the ways of the Kabbalah and Hassidism. The book is divided according to the five books of the Torah. The book contains 199 pages divided according to the following: Genesis - 43 pages starting on page 9, Exodus - 59, Leviticus - 29, Numbers - 37, and Deuteronomy – 31. The title page, Haskamot [approbations], and the introductions are included in the first nine pages. All of the Hasidism's greats are mentioned in the book: The Besht is mentioned without a title and only with the honorific Z”L [of blessed memory] –

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Teachers and Students at the “Talmud Torah”

 

“I heard from the Besht, Z”L.

The Maggid, Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritch, is mentioned on almost every page. The author used the honorifics: “The Holy Rabbi", “The Great and Holy Rabbi”, or other similar honorifics.

The author of “Bat Eini”- the rabbi of Zloczow, is called - The Gaon Hasid” Yisaskhar Ber Z”L.

R' Mkhel of Zlczow is mentioned with the statement - “I heard from the Holy Rabbi Yekihiel Mikhel, Z”L.

The author quoted R' Levi of Bedychiv as - “I heard from Gaon Rabbi Levi Yitzkhak from Berdychiv”.

The author quoted "the Mal'akh" [the angel], R' Avraham, with the words: “I heard from the “Famous Hasid, Butzina Kadisha [holy candle], Rabbi Avraham, the son of the Tzadik, Butzina Kadisha, the rabbi of the entire diaspora, Dov Ber.

He quoted R' Shmelk Horowitz of Nikolsburg – “I heard from “the Admor, Gaon, Rabbi, The famous Hasid Shmuel Shmelik, ABD of the holy community of Nikolsburg”.

The author quoted the RIMENDEL [Rabbi Menakhem Mendel] of Premishlan with the honorifics - “Butzina Kadisha Moh”ar [our Teacher the Rabbi] Menakhem Mendikh ZLL”HH [of blessed memory for the life in the next world] from the Promishlan community”.

The author also mentioned the Greek philosopher Aristo, several times. He gave him the title “the Devilish Greek”.

 

Rabbi Yoel Ashkenazi Z”L

R' Yoel was born to his father, R' Moshe David Ashkenazi, ABD in the community of Tolcsva, Hungary. The father authored two books: “Toldot Adam” [“History of Adam”] about the Mishna tractates and "Be'er Sheva” about the Torah. R' Moshe David made Aliya, towards the end of his life, and accepted a position of ABD in the holy city of Safed, where he was buried.

His son was a colorful figure. Besides his genius, and justness, which went beyond what was customary for rabbis in his days, he excelled in many other attributes. These attributes, typical of the Torah greats of his generation were: extraordinary innocence and frugality. One could get a good picture of his noble soul from his sayings and small talks. He also excelled in writing, which was all in the form of rhymes and poetry. That talent is evident in his book “Responsa by the R”Y [Rabbi Yoel] Ashkenazi”. Usually, other authors did not use poetry in such books. However, the author could not free himself from his flair.

We do not have any knowledge about his childhood. During his youth, he studied with the Gaon Rabbi Yaakov of Lissa, the author of “Khavat Da'at” [an opinion] about Sidur Tefilah and the book “Yoreh De'ah” [by Rabbi Yaakov Ben Asher]. That was how he became the son-in-law of the Rabbi of Lissa.

R' Yoel left an extensive family whose descendants married Tzadikim and Torah greats.

His son, Asher Anshil, married the daughter of the first Admor of Olesk, R' Khanokh Henikh, Z”L, the author of “Lev Same'akh” ["Happy Heart"] about the Torah.

His son-in-law, R' Khanania Yom Tov Lipah Teitelbaum, was the ABD of Sighet, Hungary.

R' Yoel taught many students, who later became rabbis in Jewish communities. Among his great students was the Gaon Rabbi Mordekhai HaKohen Schwadron, Z”L, author of “Mishpat Shalom” [Justice of Peace], about ”Khoshen Mishpat” [the fourth part of By Rabbi Yaakov Asher's book] and some questions about the Maharsham [Rabbi Sholom Mordechai Schwadron], the Rabbi of Berezhany.

R' Yoel died in 5643 (1882) and was buried at the cemetery of Zloczow.

His book “Responsa by R” Y Ashkenazi” is about Halakhah and answers to questions he received on matters of the Halakhah. The book was published in 5653 [1892/3] in Mukachevo [Muncatch], with the effort of the author's grandsons, R' Yisrael Ashkenazi and R' Tzvi Hirsch Ashkenazi.

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The book is divided into two parts: Orakh Khaim and Yoreh De'ah. There are 34 answers in the first book. As indicated above, the style in the book is poetic. Most of the people who submitted questions were from among the author generation's rabbis but some questions came from people who were not rabbis, for example, Siman vav [six] was asked by Zalman Halbertal, the father-in-law of R' Leibel Weinberger.

At the beginning of the book, there is an endorsement by the author's son-in-law, the rabbi from Sighet, and an introduction by the author's son, R'Asher Anshil.

 

Meshamshim Ba'kodesh [Servers in Holiness]

R' Itzik David Shapira, A”H [may peace be upon him], served as a cantor and caretaker at the large synagogue. Since he worked once as a Torah scribe, he was called R' Itzik David Sofer [writer, scribe]. He used to attend weddings and other festive occasions. However, he was also the one who sang the 'El Maleh Rakhamim” at funerals.

He once belonged to the Chortkiv's Hasidim. However, when he became a cantor-caretaker, he ceased going to Chertkov. His son, Hershel Shapira, HY” D, who knew all of the melodies and compositions of Cantor Wineman, directed the chorus.

The synagogue had three gabbais: The first, R' Yudel Mandel was older and short built. He taught little boys. Most of our Jewish townspeople studied with him.

The second gabbai was R' Khaim Perlmutter, a carpenter and an owner of a furniture store.

The third gabbai, was R' Elkanah Fogelfenger. He did not have any children and devoted himself to public affairs. His wife was also active in many of the charity institutions in the city, such as the nursing home, orphanage, and the Jewish hospital.

 

The small Synagogues

Two small synagogues existed in the corridor of the large synagogue. One had its windows directed towards the river, and the other had windows directed towards the street. People who did not want to pray in the large synagogue, for various reasons, prayed in the first one. During weekdays, they prayed there Tefilat Hashkama and during Shabbat, in two minyans: the first at 6 a.m. and the second at 8:30 a.m. Artisans and owners of large wagons prayed in the second one. Wagon owners traveled to Lviv and other places to bring products. They prayed early at dawn so that they could leave earlier. During the evenings, Torah was taught, and on Shabbat – Pirkei Avot in these two synagogues. On Shabbat, they have a person who led the service.

The caretaker in the second synagogue was R' Yerukham. He was a maker of Atarah's for tallits. He used to sit down at the special machine and embroider after the service. During the market days on Mondays, he had a unique occupation. There was always somebody who did not say a “kaddish” prayer in his own town before leaving for the market. R' Yerukham would go to search for people for a minyan and would receive a fee for his service.

It was customary to arrange for a big "Melaveh Malkah” [Escorting the Queen] meal, on Saturday nights. Many guests and the poor attended. The preparation for the “Melaveh Malka” meal began as early as mid-week. People were asked to contribute khallahs, fish, and borscht. The gabbai and a few helpers served the food. After the meal, they used to sing melodies for Shabbat.R' Yehuda Tzvi Fisher, A”H, served as a maggid [preacher] in the synagogue.

 

Folklore in the Kloiz of Zhydachiv [Ziditshov]

The hillula [festive celebration in memory] of the Great Maggid, R' Ber of Mezrich, ZTZ”L [may the memory of the righteous be a blessing], was held annually on 19 Kislev. Large banquets were held, on 3rd Kheshvan, as part of the hillula of R' Yisrael of Ruzhyn, ZTZ”L.

The preparations for an hillula were intensive. They lighted candles in all of the twelve windows and every available corner. Shlomo Kremnitzer, HY” D, took care of that. At times, they constructed a hillula lantern made of pieces of paper of various colors and hanged it in the middle of the kloiz after they assembled a powerful electric bulb in it.

The Hasidim gathered at the kloiz about an hour after the “ma'ariv” [evening] prayer. They set around tables covered with purely white table-clothes and drank “le'khaim” chanting: “May his virtue stand us, and all the Jewish people, in good stead”. After that, R' Mikhel Glazer A”H (named “The Storyteller”) would tell stories about the tzadik, in memory of whom the hillula was held. Later on, they served small khalahs and cooked fish and took another drink “le'khaim” accompanied by the chanting of “May his virtue…”. At the end festivity, they all sang in harmony.

 

Simkhat Torah Night

The Hasidim from the Rozhyn Hassidic dynasty, who prayed in the kloiz used to gather on Shemini Atzeret [a holiday that follows Sukkot and coincides with the holiday of Simkhat Torah]. They gathered at 3 p.m. at the sukkah of the grandfather, R' Khaim Tzvi Friedman. They drank good quality honey-water brought by the young Hasidim. According to the adults, the young, who received the drink from various people in the city, would drink some on the way home. To cover the shortage, they would stop by the spring to add water. The Hasidim suspected as much but did not have any proof.

In the evening they would bless each other by saying: “As we are privileged to sit today in this sukkah,

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we will be privileged to, someday, sit in a sukkah covered by the skin of a whale”. They concluded the evening by singing “The Next Year in Jerusalem” and getting into a circle of a jubilant Hasidic dance.

 

The Kloiz's Worshippers
R' Fishel Reiz, A”H, was a Torah learned person. He liked to study the book “Sifrenu” [“Our Book”] (Torah Interpretation). He was the son-in-law of the Gaon Rabbi Yeshayah Zeev Rosenberg, Z”L, a rabbinical judge in Zloczow. His son was R' Elkana Riez, HY” D, liked to study. He was the son of R' Hirshel Shternberg, A”H.

The second son of Fishel – R' Moshe HY” D, the gabbai of the kloiz of the Admor of Chortkiv, was a Torah learned person. He studied the Torah and was also knowledgeable in German literature. He was able to quote, by heart, whole chapters from Goethe and Schiller's works.

R' Fishel Reiz's son-in-law, R' Volf Yosefsberg, A”H, was an educated scholar with a good heart. He was one of Chortkiv Hasidism greats. R' Fishel's other son-in-law, R' Pinkhas Kanner, HY” D, was a scholar and a pious man. He was diligent in studying the Torah and in his work.

The Schorr family: R' Naftali Schorr, A”H, was a strict Jew but provided his sons with modern education. His brother, R' Yaakov Schorr, A”H, was smart and educated. He liked to read modern Hebrew literature, such as Akhad Ha'Am's “Al Parashat Drakhim” [“At a Crossroad”]. That book was considered “unkosher and forbidden” [among the “Hassidim”]. Later on, R' Yaakov moved to pray at the “Ezart Israel” synagogue. He was one of the “Ha'Mizrakhi”'s [religious Zionist movement] activists.

R' Gadil Pasternak was a scholar and a Belz Hasid. He liked to joke, even about Hassidic matters.

R' Moshe Tanenbaum, A”H, who originated from Chrzanów [Kshanov], in Western Galitsia, was a Sanz Hasid. He was a Torah learned person who claimed that, in his youth, he knew R' Halberstam, ZTZ”L, the Rabbi of Sanz. He liked to “calculate the end” [the time of the coming of the Messiah].

R” Khaim Zeiden, A”H, was smart and a scholar. He was one of Chortkiv Hasidim's greats.

R' Khaim Nagler, A”H, was a Torah learned person and a Chortkiv Hasid.

R' Shmuel Tilles, A”H, – prayed close to the heater. He never had an idle conversation.

R' Shmuel Auerbach, A”H, was a Melamed of children. He was a dear Jew.

Yaakov, son of Eliyahu, served as an assistant caretaker. He had a compelling biography. Yaakov originated in Chernivtsi [Tzernovits] where he studied in high school. He failed the exams, became depressed, and ran away to Zloczow. In the beginning, he was ashamed and did not leave the kloiz. People brought him chicken and soup for him to the kloiz. Later on, he got accustomed to his situation, became a beggar and a caretaker. He made sure that the sink is always full of water. He swept the floor and performed other dirty chores. He was praying, covered with an unusually small Tefillin. For a snack – he made a small hole in the floor of the kloiz and put in it a small piece of bread. He washed his hand, lay down flat on the ground, blessed over food, and took the piece of bread out of the hole with his teeth. All of that was to fulfill the commandment of the blessing: “Hamotzi lekhem min ha'aretz” [literally - “Blessed are You… who brings forth bread from the earth”].

During “Yartzeit” [an anniversary day of a Tzadik's death], when he was called up to the Torah reading, people asked him what was his vow. He would answer: “fifty thousand pails of water”. He slept in the kloiz behind the heater. Years later, he began to gorge himself and drink. He used to sit [and drink] at Mishkovitz's tavern, whose daughter he secretly loved.

He used to keep a picture of emperor Franz Jozef in his pocket, take it out often, and kiss it.

And now, to the rest of the list of Zhydachiv Kloiz worshippers:
R' Medil Reiz, A”H, – an ultra-orthodox Jew who prayed in the first minyan. He lived far from the kloiz but came in daily at dawn. He belonged to the Belz Hasidim. He also served as a gabbai for many years.

R' Meshulam Reiz, A”H, was a Torah learned person who devoted time to studying Torah. He was a respectable and friendly person.

R' Alter Deutsch, A”H, - was an old fashion Jew and a descendant of a family of rabbis. He was one of the most distinguished people in town. He had a wholesale business.

R' Yaakov Shwartz, A”H, was a scholar and intellectual. He knew German literature comprehensively. He also secretly read modern Hebrew literature. He was not one of the Hasidim and liked to argue with them. He brought up some innovative interpretations of the Torah, about the weekly portion, and excelled as a pleasant conversationalist. He possessed pleasant manners. R' Yaakov was the son-in-law of R' Nakhman Gritz, Z”L, one of the city honorable.

R' shalom Imber, HY” D, was pious and G-d fearing to the extreme. He was a Chertkiv's Hasid and one of the activists of “Agudat Israel” [An ultra-orthodox and Hasidic party]. He was one of the founders of the ultra-orthodox girls' school “Beit Yaakov”. His sons made aliya to Eretz Israel. The first son, Avraham, was one of the “Hekhalutz” [The Pioneer] movement firsts. He settled in Eretz Israel as early as during the twenties. The second son, Barukh, was among the founders of the “Torah and Avoda” [Torah and Work] movement in Zloczow. He attracted many students to the movement. In Eretz Israel, he was among the organizers of the

[Column 255]

 

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Laying a cornerstone to the “Talmud Torah” [school]

 

kibbutz “Avraham”. He witnessed the destruction of Etzion Bloc [during the Israel Independence war of 1948]. Today he lives with his family in Jerusalem.

R' Barukh Hirsh Imber, HY” D, was a pious person and a scholar. He would wake up early, go to the Zhydachiv Kloiz, and study Torah for several hours before he turned to his business. R' Barukh was one of Chertkiv's Hasidim, although he did not travel to see the Chertkiv Rabbi as often. In his [book] shop, he used to browse books between one shopper to another.

R' Leizer Bakhunt, HY” D.

Yitzkhak Garfunkel, HY” D, was the son R' Nakhum, HY” D.

R. Shalom Auerbach, A”H, the son-in-law of R' Yehoshua Zeiden, A”H. He was a fan of Chertkiv's Hasidim. He owned a cigarette and tobacco shop. During weekdays, he prayed at the “Ezrat Israel” synagogue.

R' Khaim Pardes, A”H, was a G-d fearing man and an enthusiastic Husiatyn Hasid. He liked to study the book “Toldot [Yaakov Yosef]”, the classic book of the Hasidic literature pioneer R' Yaakov Yosef ben Tzvi HaKohen Katz of Polonne, the great student of the Besht, ZTZ”L.

R' Limelekh Rezen was a learned G-d fearing person and a follower of the Admor from Chertkiv. He served as a teacher in “Talmud Torah”.

R' Shmuel Yitzkhak Imber, A”H, was a scholar. He was among the Chretkiv's Hasidim greats. He devoted most of his time to studying Torah.

[Column 256]
When R' Shmuel Yitzkhak became older and weak, he prayed in the minyan of Rabbi Leizer, Z”L [of blessed memory], close to his home.

R' Hirsh Halberthal, Z”L, was a scholar. He was one of the Belz Hasidim. He used to lead the prayer during Shabbat and holidays. His son, Zalman, was one of the activists of the movement “Tzeirei Agudat Israel” [The youths of Agudat Israel]. The other son was a scholar. He studied at the Zhydachiv Kloiz. The family survived the Holocaust and settled in Belgium.

The Small Kloiz

Near the Zhydachiv Kloiz, which was called in Yiddish “De Groiseh Kloiz” [the Large Kloiz], was another synagogue called “Das Kleineh Kleizel” [the “Small Kloiz”]. “House owners” with a slant towards Hasidism, prayed in that kloiz. Spiritually, they were under the influence of the people of the “Large Kloiz”. For many years, the spiritual leader of the “Small Kloiz” was R' Itzik Friedman, A”H. He was partially educated. He was versed in religious philosophy. Such phylosophy expressed in books like “Moreh Nevokhim” [“The Guide for the Perplexed”], “Akedat Yitzkhak” [“Binding of Isaac”], and Ba'al Ma'alah” [“A Man of Virtues”]. The latter title is what people used to call somebody, like R' Itzik, who could read and lead the prayers, and somebody who could read the Torah.

During the High Holy Days, he always read the “Musaf Prayer”, and on Shabbat, the Torah Chapter and the chapter from the tractate “Avot” preceded by “Midrash Shmuel”.

A short-built Jew, R” Leizer Ekhoiz, A”H, served as the gabbai in the kloiz. I recall that during harsh winters, with minus thirty degrees outside, the gabbai used to come in at 3 a.m. to light the heater. People who came to study at 4:30 a.m. in the “Large Kloiz” stopped by the “Small Kloiz” because it was lighted and warm. When R' Leizer passed away, all the people, from large and the small kloizes came to his funeral. 

R' Tzvi Hirsh, served as a gabbai after R' Leizer. He managed the kloiz forcefully, as he considered the position a big promotion for him. He originated in Sasiv, near Zloczow. He used to host a large banquet on 4 Shvat (on the day of the Hillula of the Tzadik Admor, Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sasiv). R' Tzvi claimed that he had previously experienced a miracle on that day.

 

The Small Kloiz's Worshippers

R' Avraham Tzverdling, A”H, was a wealthy Jew who was the owner of a large iron store.

His son-in-law, R' Yisrael Amrent, A”H, - educated and innovator. He was a scholar and reader of the Torah. He taught lessons about the Torah weekly chapters in the small synagogue.

[Columns 257-258]

His other son-in-law, R' Merkil Smal, A”H, was a pious and G-d fearing Jew. He owned an iron Store.

R' Merkil's son, R' Bentzion Tzverdling - an educated man, a scholar, and an activist who lives today in Haifa, Israel

R' Yisrael Wolfshoit, A”H, - an ultra-orthodox man. He loved music and used to entertain at the “Third Meal” held in the Small Kloiz, singing zmirot [religious songs].

His son, Mordekhai Deutsch, was a scholar and educated man. He was among the best students at Zhydachiv Kloiz. He was the student of Rabbi Shmuel Shapira, Z”L, who was a rabbinical judge and the ABD our city. He married the daughter of R' Henikh Tripp, A”H, from Ternopil, who was a scholar and one of the Husiyatin Hasidim's greats. R' Mordekhai settled in Israel and is managing a CREDIT UNION.

R' Yaakov Nagler A”H - a pious man, a tinsmith, and an owner of a store. He used to wake up early in the morning, pray the psalms, and study chapters of the Mishnah. He prayed in the first Minyan. He was an activist. He a member of the union, “Yad Kharutzim” [a union of craftsmen and academics], and of the bank owned by his union. He was fortunate to make Aliya to Ertz Israel and died there at an old age. However, his wife, Mrs. Tzila, who was very pleasant and educated, died in the diaspora.

R' Avraham Gutman, HY” D, - was a learned man, an activist in public affairs. He was a member of the steering committee of the “Agudat Israel” movement and the steering committee of the community. He provided religious and general education to his son. he made a living from his haberdashery store.

R' Gedalia Printz, A”H. He used to pray in a loud voice and tells stories and jokes. His son, Moshe, was a member of the “Hamizrakhi” movement.

R' Yosef Goldshtein, A”H, was a pious and G-d fearing man and a fan of the Rozhyn Hasidim.

R' Yosef Hollander, A”H, - was a pious man. He was reading from a Torah. He liked to tell stories.

 

Sterlisk-Stratyn Kloiz

Hasidic Scholars prayed in that kloiz. They prayed exceptionally enthusiastically.

Rabbi R' Yisrael Landau, Z”L - He prayed there regularly.

R' Betzalel Apter, Z”L, led the prayer there, during the High Holy Days. He immigrated to the U.S. but returned later on. The cantor was the son of R' Shlomo, R' Shalom Mendel, HY” D. He had an exceptionally pleasant voice, which people liked. He became the cantor in the large synagogue after the passing of R' Itzik David Shapira.

R' Avish[ai?] Tzipper, A”H, one of the Olesk Hasidim greats, served as a gabbai of that kloiz for many years. He used to wake up at two a.m. and go to the kloiz to pray “Tikun Khatzot” [of Midnight Rectification"]. He used to host many guests from among Olesk Hasidim and other guests.

When Stratyn Kloiz became an “Aguda [Association] of Beit Sterlisk-Stratyn” and was registered as such with the authorities. It then became the center of the movement of “Agudat Israel”. Elections were held there for a steering committee and a chairman like in any other association.

Stratyn Kloiz was filled with a crowd of worshippers on Shabbats and weekdays. They excelled in charity activities.

 

Stratyn Kloiz Worshippers

R' Khaim Mikhel Aizen, A”H, was a scholar who devoted much of his time to studying the Torah. He was prominent Olesk Hasid, and among the regular examiners at “Talmud Torah” school and Yeshiva “Orakh Le'Kahim”.

R' Avraham Yehoshua Varim, A”H, was a profound scholar. People called him R' Yehosha'l Batkover because he leased an estate in Batkiv [Batkov]. He used to study thoroughly. He also belonged to the regular examiners' group at “Talmud Torah”. When the student saw him coming, they began to tremble from fear and began to look for excuses not to be tested by him.

R” Mikhel Glazer was from among the strictest testers. He had another custom: he used to ask a question and did not allow the tested student to answer it. He told the student:” I did not ask this question for you to answer, but for you to understand the question''.

Students were happy to see Rabbi R' Shmuel Shapira, Z”L, because he was not as strict.

The students were even happier to see R' Yaakov Shwartz A”H. He used to review the Gemarah quickly and did not test on Rashi.

Other worshippers at the Stratyn Kloiz were:

R' Efraim Shapira, HY” D, was a follower of the Rabbi from Sasiv. He was a public activist.

R' Yehoshua Stertinner, A”H, was a scholar and an enthusiastic Hasid, follower of the Rabbis from Stratyn dynasty. He was fortunate to be able to make Aliya to Eretz Israel with his wife. He lived several years in Jerusalem. He taught Gemarah and Mishnah there. He died in Tel-Aviv and was buried in Jerusalem. He left sons and daughters in Israel.

R' Khaim Katz, A”H - a Torah learned person, was one of the eminent Stratyn Hasidim. He was one of the leaders of the “Agudat Israel” movement in Zloczow and one of the people who formed its image. He was a public activist and charity activist. He was a representative in the community steering committee and an activist for the school “Beit Yosef”. He was fortunate to be able to make Aliya to Eretz Israel with his wife. He passed away in Haifa at an old age.

[Column 259]

 

Zol259.jpg
R' Khaim Katz

 

R' Levi Bukhoit - was a wealthy and respectable merchant, activist, and philanthropist. He was the son-in-law of R' Pinkhas Kener.

R' Elyakim Yeshaya Katz, A”H. He was a great learner. He was one of the Belz Hasidim who belonged to “Agudat Israel”. He owned a leather factory.

R' Yisrael Kener, Z”L , was known to be clever and wise.

R' Uri Shapira, A”H, was a scholar. He was one of the Belz Hasidim who belonged to “Agudat Israel”. On Shabbat, R' Uri prayed with R' Leizer, Z”L. He owned a leather store.

R' Shaul Raller, HY” D. He was an ultra-orthodox Jew who supported several institutions, especially the “Agudat Israel” movement, where he served as a chairman. He was a philanthropist. In 1910, following the death of Rabbi Feivil Rohatyn, Z”L, the city remained without a head of the rabbinical court. Several candidates competed over the position. The candidates came from the “Ha'Mizrakhi” Religious Zionist movement and “Agudat Israel” [Ultra-orthodox movement]. Some candidates were unaffiliated. A fierce battle developed between the Zionists and “Ha'Mizrakhi” on one side, and “Agudat Israel” on the other. As the chairman of “Agudat Israel”, R' Shaul Raller was the fiercest opponent to “Ha'Mizrakhi's” rabbis. His opinion was the decisive one.

R' Elkana Katz was a remnant of the old generation who wanted to preserve public praying and Torah lessons. He was an Olesk Hasid. His son, Zvulun Katz, lives today in Tel Aviv.

R' Mordekhai Tzipor, HY” D, was a Torah learned man. He was one of the heads of “Agudat Israel”, and the chairman of the association “Bikur Kholim”, which helped many poor families.

R' Shmarya Imber, A”H, was a pious man and a Zionist. He liked to argue with anybody whose Zionist views were not as developed as his. He was blessed with “good hands” and used that talent to maintain the holy tools and assist in taking care of the needs of the public. When the water heater broke in the Mikveh [public ritual bath], they called R' Shmarya. He was fortunate to make Aliya with his wife and died at an old age.

[Column 260]

His son, Yekhiel, was considered to be one of the best among the youths of Stratyn Kloiz. He lives now in Israel and is known to be an educated person.

Rinteh Villig, HY” D, was a pious, clever, and moderate man. He was one of the influential leaders and advisors of “Agudat Israel”. He was a representative of “Agudat Israel” in the community steering committee and the municipality. His son, Yaakov Villig, HY” D, was among the leaders of the Zionist movement and its representative at the municipal management team. He was known for his good nature.

R' Nakhman Helbron, A”H, was a slaughterer and an [Kosher] inspector. He was involved in society and welcomed everybody with a smile. His son R' Neteh and his son-in-law R' Frumer reside in Australia.

R' Leibeleh Vielkatch, A”H, was a learned dear Jew. He never raised his voice or was angry with anybody. He ran a kheder in his apartment and taught his student Talmud with interoperations.

R' Moshe Marder, A”H - used to interrupt his work to pray in a minyan.

Yosef Katz, A”H, was one of the Stratyn Kloiz caretakers He originated from a town in the Zboriv District. He did not stay as a guest at someone's home and cooked his meals in a pot. He washed his body, the pot, and his clothes in the spring next to the great synagogue.

R' Shlomo Mandel was a scholar and exceptionally pious. He used to dress in his Shabbat clothes early on Fridays, go out to the city, and walk from one store to the other to warn the owners to close in time before the commencement of the Sabbath. R' Shlomo was an enthusiastic follower of the Stratyn rabbis. On Friday night, he made sure to host the needy, even though he was not wealthy.

R' Arye Leib Berinstein, A”H, was an educated Jew who studied the Rambam daily. He liked to tell that he was among the firsts who read Kalman Schulman's [abbreviated translation of] “The Mysteries of Paris”.

R' David Buterman – was the son-in-law of R' Shlomo Mitis.

R' Yosef Brandeis, A”H, was a Torah-learned man. He studied the “Yerushalmi” [Jerusalem Talmud]. He liked to tease people about their knowledge of “Piyyut Kasheh”[any dreadful poem]. His “hobby” was to play the “devil's advocate”.

The Printz brothers – R' David and R' Moshe. They used to pray enthusiastically in Stratyn Hasidim's style.

R' Yaakov Belzer, A”H, was a slaughterer and inspector. He was one of the old-timers of Stratyn Hasidim. He used to host Admors in his home. His son R' Eliyahu A”H was a slaughterer and inspector as well. His other sons Hirsh Eliezer, HY” D was one of the principal supporters of Rabbi Yisrael Landau, Z”L.

R' Nakhum Garfunkel was one of the city's old-timers. He was an educated and clever person. He was a merchant of construction material.

[Columns 261-262]

R' Khaim and R' Moshe Shapira, the sons of R' Efraim, HY” D, were known for their tenderness and education.

 

“Ezrat Israel' Synagogue

Mordekhai Deutch, A”H, invested all of his fortune and life to establish the synagogue. He was an innocent Jew who prepared his gravestone when he was still alive. The picture of the synagogue was etched on it.

The goal of “Ezrat Israel” was to help people in various areas. For example, they helped a sick person who could not afford to hire anybody, by sending somebody from "Ezrat”. They would also provide teachers to teach “Mishnah', the book “Ein Yaakov”, and other topics. Employees of the court, custom, and even homeowners prayed there.

R' Yehuda Tzvi Zeltz, A”H - served as “Ba'al Musaf” [The leader of the Musaf prayer] during the High Holy Days.

R' Matel Gruber, A”H - served as the cantor and gabbi, and “Ba'al Shakharit” [The leader of Shakharit prayer].

R' Velvel Shapira, A”H, who had an exceptionally good memory, served as the caretaker. He remembered the birthdays and other strange things about everyone.

The number of people who prayed at that synagogue multiplied when most of the members of the “HaMizrakhi” organization transferred to it. R' Yitzkhak Friedman, A”H, the chairman of the “HaMizrakhi” in the city, became the leader of the Musaf prayer, during the High Holy Days. R' Mikhel Kuhan and Moshe Tiekhman A”H became the synagogue's gabbaim.

 

The Worshippers of “Ezrat Israel” Synagogue

Dr. Werpel, A”H - one of the heads and trailblazers of the Zionist movement. He was a leading activist and the chairman of the “Ivria” club (a Hebrew drama club).

R' Avraham Kreger, A”H, and his sons, R' Nakhum Kreger, A”H, and R' Yaakov Kreger, A”H. R' Yaakov was a champion of charity. His wife, Mrs. Rivka, A”H, was an activist who acted for the benefit of the orphanage. R' Yaakov was fortunate to make Aliya to Eretz Israel with his wife Frida may she live long. He died at an old age.

R' Yitzkhak Ruten, A”H - one of the “HaMizrakhi” movement's leaders and speakers.

R' Leibush Fiering, A”H - was a public activist and was influential in matters related to public affairs.

R' Aizik Menkes, A”H - the son of R' Leib Berinstien, moderate, knowledgeable but did not involve himself in politics.

R' Aizik Menkes, A”H - a pious man who taught sections of the Mishnah to the public [the name Izik Menkes appears twice in the original article].

R' Ginsberg, A”H, worked in the court. He loved to listen to leaders of Hasidic prayers.

R' Khaim Leib Klahr, HY” D – was from among the activists of the “HaMizrakhi” movement. He was one of the people who selected the head of the rabbinical court.

R' Meir Leibush Drumer, A”H – an educated Jew. He was from among the people who established the 'HaMizrakhi” movement in Zloczow. He prayed in Kloiz Stratyn on weekdays.

Dr. Shekhtel was a quiet man who did not involve himself in politics.

R' Menashe Groskop, A”H, used to work in the forests. When he got old, he became an inspector of bills, which he listed in his notebook. He lived in the house of R' Yaakov Aharonfries, A”H, opposite of the “Ezrat” synagogue. He liked to tell stories about Hasidim.

 

The “Yad Kharutzim” Organization

“Yad Kharutizim” [“Assiduous Hand”] was an organization of craftsmen whose management was elected democratically. People with free professions were also members of the organization. For example, the engineer Berl, A”H, served as the organization's chairman for many years.

“Yad Kharutzim” was located in a large building. The first floor contained a synagogue, ornated with beautiful pictures. A large hall for weddings and balls was located on the second floor. Many balls were held there to raise funds for the nursing home, orphanage, soup kitchen, and other charities. The “Hand” owned a bank, which provided loans at low interest to whoever needed a loan, including non-members.

 

“Yad Kharutizim” Worshippers

R' Yaakov Rekht, from among the founders of the “Yad” and its chairman for many years. He was active in his community. He frequently participated in activities related to public needs and expressed his views in public. He lives today in the U.S.

R' Leon Nadel, A”H, was a master tailor and a shop owner.

R' Yisrael was one of the leaders of the “Yad”. He was one of the few whose occupation was to saw Hasidim clothing, such as capotes, razubelka's [?], etc...

R' Wolf Rezen, A”H, was a master tailor and an owner of a tailor's shop.

R' Zalman Lifshitz was an exceptional tailor. He employed many assistants.

[Column 263]

 

Zol263.jpg
R' Yitzkhak Schwadron

 

R' Daniel Zvierhoif, A”H, was an ultra-orthodox craftsman. He actively participates in public activities.

R' Hirshel Landau, A”H, was a craftsman of women's clothing. One of the dedicated people of the synagogue and a public affairs activist.

 

The Synagogue Near the Polskikh [Polish Church?]

The synagogue was called the “Cadet Minyan” because veterans probably once prayed in it. That synagogue served anybody who, for one treason or the other, left their previous synagogue. It also served people who liked to lead the prayer or read the Torah. Everyone was accepted with open arms, and the members tried their best to fulfill newcomers' wishes. R' David Tzeidel, A”H, served as the gabbai in the synagogue.

 

The Worshippers at the Synagogue Near the Polskikh

R' Shmuel Pesil, HY” D, - a pious man, wealthy and involved with the public. One of the activists of the “Talmud Torah”. He gave his son a Torah education. He used to lead the prayer. He used to pray in the minyan of R' Leizer. His son, Mordekhai Pesil, was a scholar and educated. One of the best students in kloiz Zydochyv. Mordekhai resides in Israel today. His second son, R' Leiba'le Pesil, HY” D, was a scholar who became a teacher. He was a thinker with refined views and a good soul.

R' Shmuel's son-in-law, R' Moshe Eliezer, A”H, the son of R' Mendel Riez, was a person with a delicate soul and good manners. He died at a young age.

[Column 264]

The second son-in-law of R' Shmuel, Mr. Segal, HY” D, was a Torah educated and one of the prominent members of the “HaMizrakhi” movement.

 

The Synagogue of Rabbi R' Yisrael'tzi, HY” D

The synagogue was called – “the synagogue near the water”. The people who prayed there were the followers of R' Barukh, his son-in-law “der Rabbi Burekh'l” and the followers of the Admor R' Nakhum ZTz”l, of Bilyi Kamin, whom R' Yisrael'tzi was the grandson of. The latter was a scholar who traveled to Chortkiv. He was a fan of the Kloiz of Zhydachiv and Stratyn. On weekdays, when he did not have a minyan, he came to the kloiz and talk to the youths about Torah matters and Hasidic phrases.

Once, a sad incident occurred once to the minyan of R' Yisrael'tzi. On one Friday night, a candle was left burning at the amud [prayer leader podium], near the holy ark. Two Torah books burned in the fire that erupted. On Sunday, a funeral for the Torah books took place, and they were buried in the cemetery.

R' Shalom Toiv[?] Z”L from Sasiv, who came especially for the funeral, gave a eulogy that left a deep impression on people. He gave his eulogy outdoors at the square of the large synagogue. He blamed people who are not diligent about keeping Kosher and about the purity of the family.

 

The Synagogue of Rabbi R' Eliezer Wugschal Z”L

Various people prayed at that synagogue - homeowners as well as Hasidim. The latter came because R' Eliezer was the grandson of Belz and Olesk Tzadikim. He would lead the prayer himself during the High Holy Days. He had a nice appearance and a pleasant voice. He was known to have a kind demeanor and friendly attitude. The synagogue contained a section for women, where the wives of Zhydachiv Kloiz Hasidim prayed. I recall that my grandmother, Mrs. Drezil, my mother, and all of my aunts from my father and mother's families, prayed there during the High Holy Days. Rabbi Eliezer's wife continued to hold the minyan after the rabbi passed away.

R' Eliezer's son made Aliya to Eretz Israel and lived in Jerusalem with his wife. They both passed away during the same period. Another son of R' Eliezer, R' Yekhiel, lived for several years in Argentina, later made aliya tom Eretz Israel.

Another son, R' Shalom, who made Aliya many years ago, lives in Jerusalem.

 

The Worshippers at the Synagogue of Rabbi Eliezer Z”L

R' Aharon Arat, HY” D, a Torah educated person, was a member of “Agudat

[Columns 265-266]

Israel”. He was a moderate who served in the community management team. He often served as a conflict mediator.

His son, Nakhum Arat, HY” D, was one of the best youths of Kloiz Stratyn. He was Torah educated and from among the activists of “Tzeirei Agudat Israel” [The youth of “Agudat Israel”].

R' Leibish Tietil, HY” D, was a lawyer and Torah educated. He was one of Belz Hasidim.

His son, R' Yitzkhak Tietil, HY” D, was Torah educated and enlightened. He woke up early in the morning to go to the Stratyn Kloiz to study. As a member of “Tzeirei Agudat Israel”, he was one of the activists in the cultural and religious area. For a long time, he lectured the “Daf Yomi” [Daily Talmud chapter], for all the members.

R' Yaakov Kahana, A”H, the patriarch of the Kahana family, currently residing in Israel. That honorable person was a Startyn Hasid.

 

The Minyan Of R' Menakhem Mendil Miller, Z”L

R' Miller originated in Tarnów [Ternov], in Western Galicia, a city of scholars and writers. He was a prominent scholar who loved the longwinded debate and the in-depth study customary in Western Galicia. His followers prayed in his minyan. There was also a “women section”. Women whose husbands prayed in other synagogues also prayed there.

R' Menakhem Mendil belonged to Sanz Hasidim. When he talked about the Admor R' Khaim [Halberstam of Sanz], he became ecstatic.

 

The Institution and the Minyan of the “Nursing Home”

That was an institution where older people, who had to leave their homes for various reasons, found a roof above their heads. In their loneliness, they found a shelter filled with love, something that they needed the most. The building was distanced somewhat from the center of town and was surrounded by a tree garden. There were marriages between the instruction's residents. The community established the institution, but there was also the need for donations and charity balls to keep it going. The institution's residents prayed in the synagogue there, but city residents were often invited to solicit donations.

 

The Minyan of R' Yisrael Landau, Z”L

of [Rabbi Elazar Segal Landau] the author of “Yad ha'Melekh”. He originated in Brody. He lived many years in Kyiv as a wealthy man. However, after the war, when his financial situation was not as bright, he settled in Zloczow and served as a rabbinical judge. He was very knowable about the Torah and was G-d fearing man. He was a Sterlisk-Stratyn Hasid. He prayed with great intensity and pleasant voice according to the Startyn Hasidic style, During the High Holy Days, he led the praying. I still recall him praying “Nishmat Kol Khai” prayers and how he managed to move people by singing “ve'Kol ha'Levavot…” [“All hearts shall fear You, and all innermost feelings and thoughts shall sing praises to Your name”].

For many years, R' Yisrael prayed in Kloiz Stratyn. However, in his old age, when lost his vision, he prayed at home.

One of his great supporters was R' Shaul Raler HY” D, who gave the Rabbi a spacious apartment in his big house located on the main street, Ternopoler Shtraseh, and also supported him significantly. R' Yisrael authored a book by the name “Nefesh Khaya” [“Living Soul”] in memory of his daughter, Khaya, A”H. His son, Dr. Landau, A”H, was an ultra-orthodox Jew. He had a noble soul with a heart for charity, suited for such a family.

 

“The Association of the Coffin Bearers”

The objective of this association was to handle all burial matters.

I recall that an epidemic erupted in Zloczow, which caused many deaths. R' Leib Shreiber, from among the best youths of Kloiz Zydochyv who resided for many years in America, returned to the city at the same period. Upon his return, he established the “Association of the Coffin Bearer”. He, himself, was the association's chairman. A nice two-stories house was built for the association not long after that. A glorious synagogue was located on the first floor, and on the second – a large wedding hall. Some people wondered: “What does a wedding hall have to do with such an association?” The association people responded:” We bury on the first floor, and wed on the second”

The management team was elected democratically, an election, which was preceded by a turbulent campaign.


[Columns 267-268]

Zloczow's Poets

By Ron Tzimmer

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Eastern Galitsia was always the land of struggle and unrest. The cultures western and the eastern cultures met there. The land served as the background for a scene of the momentous culture clash between the Russian-Benzathine world and the Western Catholic world.

Various nations settled in Eastern Galitsia: Poles, Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, and settlers from Germany and Czechoslovakia. These nations battled each other about the ruling religion, the language, and the regime.

The major currents of Judaism- Hasidism, Enlightenment, and Zionism, plowed deeply in Galtisia.

Hasidism grew on Eastern Galitsia's border while Brody, Ternopil, Lviv, and Zhovkva [Zholkiv] became the centers of the Enlightenment movement. And so, the youths who live in a compressed atmosphere in those cities and towns absorbed the yearning for changes and a different world. As poverty advanced more and more, the big immigration wave swelled.

During the 19th century, rich Jewish literature thrived. The Jewish authors wrote in German, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Polish. The enlightened people mocked the Yiddish language but needed it to spread their ideas. The Yiddish development accelerated, yielding outstanding results. And so, the Jewish folklore songs and Jewish humor together with the sarcastic political writings and the philosophical and religious thinking flourished.

In Zloczow, the mystic atmosphere, deep religious feelings, and the aspiration for progress all lived side by side.

Naphtali Hertz Imber embodied the character of that period. Born in [Zloczow] in 1856, he lived through the entire spectrum of Jewish fate of that time. A wanderer throughout his entire life he experienced poverty and suffering. He went from yearning for Zion to being a pioneer and a settler in Eretz Israel. He witnessed the doings of the pioneers of the BILU movement, which founded the colonies of Rishon Le'Tzion and Zikhron Yaakov. They aroused enthusiasm and warm feelings in him. He sang the songs of the awakening homeland and its beloved children. He became the troubadour-poet of the First Aliya movement. In his poetry, the memories of the nation's past were carried on the wings of dreams about a shining future.

Hear, oh my brothers in the lands of exile,
The voice of one of our visionaries,
[Who declares] that only with the very last Jew,
Only then is the end of our hope!

To my homeland, I sing, hastening the future,
to me people I chant, astonish their heart.
Jerusalem is in my thoughts and depths of my heart
to Zion-Zion my harp is dedicated!

In my vision, I see - the End of Days,
when my people will rise and endure.
It will round a herd, harrow furrows,
and wonder no more among other nations!

 

The last verse of the poem “After the Destruction”:

And one oath they swore,
the Children of Israel,
relax they would not,
until their homeland is redeemed.

*

Do you remember, mother?
the time I slept in my cradle,
And be thy singing with me
I listened to it coming from your lips.

Under my son's cradle,
a young goat is now standing.
The young goat will trade goods,
and my son will learn Torah.

In almonds and pomegranates
The young goat will trade.
Clever books
my son will write.

[Column 269]

Zol269.jpg
The author Shmuel Yaakov Imber

 

In my ears, they are still ringing
The tones of your singing,
In my ears they are still humming
the melodies of your love.

The almonds and pomegranates
the baby goats have eaten.
Even the clever books
Worn out from old age.

Oh, time has passed so fast,
I growl like a lion,
I became a man
And the baby goat became a billy goat.

 

Shmuel Yaakov Imber, a cousin of the poet of “HaTiqva” [Naphtali Hertz Imber] and the son of the author Shmarya Imber was born in 1889. He was a poet, translator, and a journalist. He absorbed from the Polish, German and Ukrainian literatures. He was modernist who looked for contacts with literature of other cultures throughout the world. He acquired a wide education and had a developed humor, and a refined sentiment. He was a fierce polemicist. He was a pioneer of the modern Yiddish poetry in Galitsia. His first collection of poems was published under the title “Ṿos ikh zing un zog” [“What I sing and say”]. The He authored the poem “Esterkeh” and the travel book about his trip to Eretz Israel “Ain Yidisheh Land” [“In Jewish land”]. He perished in Zloczow's ghetto in 1942.

 

The field wouldn't say anything to me anymore

The field wouldn't say anything to me anymore,
The forest would not sing again,
the songs it used to sing
to a young yearning heart.

[Column 270]

The distance wouldn't say anything to me anymore
nor would the allure of the sky edges,
I would not recognize in the stars,
Your handwriting, oh G-d.

Am I really so close,
Oh G-d to your eternal tranquility,
that I can't anymore see your wonders,
becoming absorbed in them like You?

 

The most tragic figure among Zloczow's poets was Moshe Leyb Halpern, born in January 1866 and died in New York in August 1932. He never found repose. The big metropolis, New York, with its noise and toughness – alienated him. He struggled to survive and did not find any friends or allies.

Tempestuous with a strong imagination, Halpern searched, in his delicate poems, an outlet for his poetic soul. He tended to embrace the sublime but was arrested within the cruel framework of a cynical reality, which destroys the person with his dreams and aspirations towards good and beautiful.

Moshe Leyb's were lyrical, often sarcastic, and sometimes full of mischievous humor. Some poems were melancholic, naturalist, and slight as slightest could be. Some others are filled with an expectation for a miracle, saturated by tenderness, like an old melody. He had everything in his poetry.

 

[“My Restlessness is Like a Wolf's”]

Translated by Kathryn Hellerstein

© Copyright 2021. From In New York: A Selection, Translated and edited by Kathryn Hellerstein (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1982), p. 109.

I am not what I want, I am not what you think,
I am the magician and I'm the magic trick.

I am the fiddle, the drum, and the bass

Of three old musicians who play in the street.
I am the children's dance, and by moonlight
I am the fool longing to enter the blue land.

Now I am a candle lit for a dead soul,


Now I am the sentiment—the sadness in a glance
That longed for me a century in advance.

Now I am the night that commands me to grow tired,
The thick night fog, the quiet evening song.

[Column 271]

Zol271.jpg
[Yosef Kita'ee – The Religion Teacher in Uniform]

 

[“Our Garden”]

Translated by Kathryn Hellerstein

© Copyright 2021 From In New York: A Selection, Translated and edited by Kathryn Hellerstein (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1982, p. 3.

What a garden, where the tree is
Bare but for its seven leaves!
It appears to be amazed:
“Who has set me in this place?”

What a garden, what a garden -
It takes a magnifying glass
Just to see a little grass.
Can this be our garden, then,
Just as is, in the light of dawn?
Sure, it's our garden. What else?

What a bird – quick to forget
All the fledglings in its nest.
Doesn't carry food along,
Doesn't sing their morning song.
What a bird, oh, what a bird –
Doesn't lift a single wing,
Or try to fly, or anything.
Can this be our own bird, then,
Just as is, in the light of dawn?
Sure, it's our bird. What else!

He is the Jewel [1]

 

[“Gingeli” - the original name of the poem]

Translated by Kathryn Hellerstein

© Copyright 2021. From In New York: A Selection.Translated and edited by Kathryn Hellerstein (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1982), pp. 33-35.

Oh, Gingeli, my bleeding heart,
Who is the guy who dreams in snow
And drags his feet like a pair of logs
In the middle of the street at night?

He is that jewel Moyshe-Leyb,
Who will freeze someday
While he fantasizes flowers,
Blossoms in the spring;
He will lie in the snow
And not stir anymore,
And, in his dreams, he will
Stroll through cornfields.

Moyshe Leyb, that jewel, dreams
The watchman sings tri-li-li,
The hobo answers with a sneeze,
The puppy yaps,
The kitten meows.

Oh, Gingeli, my bleeding heart,
Who crawls back and forth in the snow,
And thinks he's by a fireplace
In the middle of the street at night?

He is that jewel Moyshe-Leyb,
Who is too lazy to think.
He freezes in the snow and sees
A palace, closed in every wing;
The palace is guarded by sentries
And he himself is the king,
And all his years pass by
Like the sun in the evening.

[Columns 273-274]

Moyshe-Leyb, that jewel, longs,
The watchman sings tri-li-li,
The hobo answers with a sneeze,
The puppy yaps,
The kitten meows.

Oh, Gingeli, my bleeding heart,
Who curls threefold on himself
And hops in the streetlamp light
In the middle of the street at night?

He is that jewel Moyshe-Leyb,
Who stops in the snow to dance
So his feet won't freeze
Completely in his trance.
He sees snowflakes on his sleeve
Like blossoms in sunlight,
And girls with hair let loose
Adorned with fire-wreaths.

Moyshe-Leyb, that jewel, dances,
The watchman sings tri-li-li,
The hobo answers with a sneeze,
The puppy yaps,
The kitten meows.

 

“The Street Drummer”

Translated by Kathryn Hellerstein

© Copyright 2021. From In New York: A Selection.Translated and edited by Kathryn Hellerstein (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1982), pp. 23-25.

Free and happy, the bird sings.
Trembling on their throne sit kings.
I don't think it's wise to tremble.
I sing like a bird, and nimble
As the wind,
I dance blindly and I spin
Through the streets. I'm sick, old, gray,
Who cares?
For a copper penny
I will play –
Drum until the drum explodes!
Beat upon cymbals!
Round and round I whirl and spin.
Jin, jin, boom-boom-boom.
Boom boom Jin!

Translator's Note:

  1. The word “Takhshit” translates literally as “jewel”. However, the word is also used cynically to describe a trouble maker and a mischievous child return

 

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