by David Imber
Tranaslated by Moshe Kutten
Zloczow people were known to love and be knowledgeable about cantorship and singing. They used to say that even the Shtenders (those who used to stand behind the seats), were knowledgeable in cantorship. The Big Synagogue was old. According to tradition, it was built under the sponsorship of King Jan Sobieski.
An enormous stone was fixed in the middle of the ceiling. According to a legend, the builders could not lift the stone from the ground and put it in its place. That legend stated that one of the Lamed Vav Tzadikim (36 righteous ones) who possessed great power lifted it and fixed it in his place. The following day, the man died. He received great respect at his funeral as he risked his life and sacrificed himself for the holiness of the synagogue and its glory.
The first cantor of the Big Synagogue, who lived about a hundred years ago, was R' Neteh Schorr A H [may peace be upon him]. He was pious and prayed with enormous enthusiasm.
He died in Yom Kippur, at the synagogue, in the middle of his singing of the Yom Kippur's prayer. He received a heart attack out of his enthusiasm. He kneeled down and died on the spot.
After him, R' Avraham Trakhtenberg A H accepted the position of a cantor. He served for several years. Later on, he immigrated to the USA. He acquired many admirers, among them, R' Menly, who was rich and loved the cantor tremendously. R' Menly said that if he would not be able to listen to the cantor during his life, he wished that the cantor would pray El Maleh Rakhamim [literally - Merciful G-d - a prayer sang at funerals] after his death. Years later, after R' Menlhy had passed away, the cantor came to Zloczow before his trip to the USA to say goodbye to his friends. The cantor followers told him about R' Menly's wish. He accepted their request and prayed El Maleh Rakhamim after R' Menly.
My mother was endowed with a pleasant voice and good hearing. She remembered many of cantor Trakhtenberg's melodies and musical compositions and used to sing them often.
After Trakhtenberg, R' Shmuel Vinman A H served as a cantor for several decades. He did not have a strong voice but was a great composer and a talented chorus conductor. Years later, many of his assistants became great cantors. One of them, who sang as an alto was later accepted a position as a cantor in Ternopil.
At the start of the First World War, Sh. Vinman moved to Vienna, and he died there. In his absence, a chorus was organized under the management of R' Tzvi Shapira. The First Tenor was Lipa Schwager A H. He served as the secretary of Agudat Yisrael Youths organization. He wanted to immigrate to Eretz Israel. However, he did not fulfill his wish. He was endowed with a strong tenor voice and was able to overtake the entire chorus. Mr. Yaakov Katz (who is now serving as the deputy mayor of Haifa, Israel) sang as the chorus's Second Tenor. The chorus alto was the author of these lines. Zenville or Zvulun Zaltz sang as the Second Alto's (the latter is currently in Israel and works in the post office). Moshe Vingas - the grandson of R' Mikhel Glazer A H, who recently made Aliya, also participated in the chorus. Shmuel Schwartz (may G-d avenge his blood), the son of the great scholar R' Yaakov Schwartz A H, took part in the management of the chorus for a while. Natan Zaltz, may he live long, also participated in the chorus (he now serves as the manager of one of the post office's branches in Tel Aviv). The following people also served in the chorus (among others): Y. Lerner, Wolf Zindwarm, and Wolf Schwager.
After R' Shmuel Vinman, R' Leib Tzvek AH served as the cantor. He composed melodies for Mizmor Shir LeKhanukat HaBait attributed to King David [Temple Dedication Song, Psalms 30,], and the song HaNerot Halalu [These Candles, a prayer sang after the lighting of the menorah on Hannukah]. Musicians in Zloczow used to sing the songs.
There were also some passerby cantors, who stayed in Zloczow a few weeks and sometimes months at a time. They prayed at the Big Synagogue and often gave concerts conducted in large halls. Among them, cantor David Katzman (currently in Canada) was at the head of the list. He was endowed with a lyrical and delicate tenor and exceptional character. When he prayed at the Big Synagogue, the synagogue filled up with people, including the two women sections. Jews from the various classes and circles in the city stood by the windows and doors to listen to him. When Katzman arrived, the whole city became festive like during a holiday. In all other synagogues, they hurried to finish the praying session to reach the Big Synagogue in time for the Musaf [Additional Prayer] to listen to Katzman praying Yakum Purkan [May Salvation Arise], Av HaRakhamim [Merciful Father], and Kedushat Keter. [Kedushah- Holy prayer - They will give you a crown]. When Dr. Hirshhorn, prominent public and Zionist activist with a pleasant personality, passed away, Katzman came to the city specially to sing the prayer El Maleh Rakhamim and Psalms songs.
The Cantor Mann, a singer in the Polish opera in Lviv, also visited Zloczow. I recall that the two cantors, Mann and Katzman, appeared at a concert a cantorial duet, in the large hall Ulam Ha'Klaim [The Curtains' Hall].
|The Central Synagogue in Zloczow|
One of the songs they sang in the concert was the famous Yiddish song Vas vet zein, az Mashiakh vet kumen [What will happen when the messiah comes].
B. Jewish Folklore in the Synagogues, on holidays, Shabbat Shuvah and Shabbat HaGadol
During Shabbats, the rabbis used to preach a sermon before the crowd. The sermons were given in the afternoon.
They used to divide the sermon into two parts. The first portion was a Pilpul [keen argumentation and debate] and halakha [discussion about Jewish law and jurist prudence] for the interest of the learners and the scholars. For that portion of the sermon, the rabbi would publish a marei mekomot [bibliography and references] for the sugiya [a passage of Talmud devoted to discussing a specific issue] in the Talmud or the Rambam writings.
Then the rabbi continued with the second part. He discussed the weekly Torah portion and the Haftarah [weekly reading from the Prophets]. The rabbi gave the listeners a mellifluent feeling by mixing a lecture, legend, and moral, seasoned with parables and humor.
During my time, the following rabbis divided that task among themselves:
Rabbi R' Shmuel Shapira, who preached in the Big Beit HaMidrash, where he prayed. After he passed away, his son, Rabbi Ben Tzion Shamira, may G-d avenge his blood, gave the sermons.
Rabbi R' Mendil Miller zl was sometimes preaching at the Big Synagogue. Rabbi R' Israel Landau zl was the principal preacher there. The latter prayed and preached at Kloiz Stratyn. After they passed away, Rabbi R' Khaim Yosef Ailenberg, the rabbinical judge from Kosiv who accepted the same position in Zloczow, may G-d avenge his blood, preached at the Big Synagogue.
On 20 Tamuz, the remembrance day for Theodor Herzl, the remembrance day for Max Nordau [6 Shvat], and later on, the remembrance days after the passing of Nakhum Sokolov and Dr. Khaim Arlozorov zl, people gathered at the Big Synagogue for a memorial ceremony. Every prominent figure of the local Zionist movement attended the memorial ceremony. Zionist youth movements members, grouped according to their individual affiliation adorned by their various badges, also flocked to the memorial. The organizers usually invited a speaker from the Zionist movement's headquarter in Lviv, such as Dr. Meir Guyer, Dr. Leon Reikh, or Dr. Fishel Rotenshtreikh. They were tasked with describing the journey and activities of the deceased leader. Before the speech, the speaker was introduced by a local Zionist activist such as Dr. Werpel or the activist of the labor Zionist movement, Dr. Henrikh Teikhman, may G-d avenge his blood. The memorial would begin with the prayer Av Ha'Rakhamim [Merciful Father] and ended with the prayer El Maleh Rakhamim [Merciful G-d].
C. The people who served in the Synagogue.
R' Itzik David Shapira AH served as a cantor and a caretaker in the Big Synagogue. He once used to be a Sofer Satam [a person who writes Torah scrolls, tefillin, mezuzahs, and scrolls] and therefore was nicknamed R' Itzik David Sofer. When the cantor was missing, R' Itzik also served as the prayer leader. He also dealt with all the duties associated with that role (going to the weddings and other festive occasions and praying El Maleh Rakhamim, at the synagogue, during funereal. During wedding ceremonies, he would sing the prayer: Mi adir al hakol [He who is mighty above all beings may he bless the bridegroom? and the bride]. R' Itzik David was once a follower of Chortkiv Hasidim. However, when he became a cantor-caretaker, he stopped traveling to Chortkiv. His son, Hershel Shapira, may G-d avenge his blood, knew all the melodies and musical compositions of Cantor Viman. He managed the chorus.
Two others sang zemirot [a group of praises that may be recited daily during Jewish morning services]:
The first was a very old and short man [the name is not mentioned]. The other, R' Khaim Yoel. He later served as the caretaker of the Big Synagogue.
Two primary gabbai's [administrators - assistants to a rabbi] served in my time. The first was already old when I knew him, the city watchmaker, R' Yekhiel Blumenblatt.
|Beit HaMidrah Stratyn Kloiz|
The second gabbai, R' Khaim Perlmutter, was a carpenter, and an owner of a furniture store. The third gabbai was R' Elkana Fogelpenger, who did not have children. He devoted himself to public activism. He worked in fish retail. He was a philanthropist. His wife was also active in all of the city's charitable organizations, such as the nursing home, orphanage, and the Jewish hospital. When they constructed the new building for the Talmud Torah [Jewish elementary school], R' Elkana contributed 1000 bricks for the building.
The Ba'al Kri'ah [the person who reads the Torah at the synagogue] at the Big Synagogue for many years was R' Moshe Margaliot. He served as the morning prayer leader during The Ten Days of Repentance. R' Moshe who was a grain trader, was an activist of charity and excelled in hospitality. During Friday nights, he prayed Minkha [prayer before sunset] in Zidichov kloiz. Usually, he led the prayer. He made sure to arrange accommodations for every guest (who came from other places) and the poor. He never went home without a guest. When he could not find any, he would go to another synagogue to search for one. After my grand uncle, R' Yehoshua Shleifer A H, who used to read the Torah in Kloiz Zidichov, had passed way, R' Moshe moved to Kloiz Zidichov and became the Torah reader there. R' Moshe educated his three sons to be Torah scholars. The young one, Shimon Yaakov, may G-d avenge his blood was my friend.
D. The people who prayed at the Synagogue
R' Moshe Koifman liked to pass in front of the ark, and show off his cantor skills. He was a fan of the cantors and liked to argue about who was the better cantor.
R' Yeshaia Tenenbaum, a Jew with a warm heart, an activist, and one of the managers of the Folkskikh[public soup kitchen], was also a fan of music and cantorship.
The Folkskikh played a crucial role, distributing two to three hundred meals a day for the poor. That institution played a critical role, particularly after World War I when the middle classes were Impoverished and pauperized.
Other unique figures people who prayed at the synagogue included:
R' Yankel Steinbrukh, loved to argue about various subjects
R' Yekutiel Dreksler was the only scriber in the city
R' Avremale Hochman was known for his butter and cheeses
R' Leizer Bresler, the tinsmith who was blessed with many children
R' Yaakov Nagler
R' Lipa Buchbinder
R' Daniel Zoyerhoif was among the Haredi craftsmen who was a public activist. He also prayed at the synagogue of the organization Yad Kharutzim.
E. 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 at the large synagogue, for various reasons, prayed in the first one. They prayed there 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. The two synagogues employed scholars who taught Torah during the evenings and on Shabbats in the summer Pirkei Avot [Literally Chapters of the Fathers - a compilation of the ethical teachings and maxims from Rabbinic Jewish tradition]. They also employed a person who read the Torah during Shabbat and led the service.
F. The folklore in the second small synagogue and the Melaveh Malka meal
In the small synagogue, which had its windows directed toward the street, it was customary to arrange for a big Melaveh Malkah [Literally Escorting the Queen -Shabbat] meal, on Saturday nights. Many guests and the poor attended. Prominent house owners were invited to attend. The preparation for the Melaveh Malka meal began as early as mid-week. People were asked to contribute khallahs, fish, borscht, and potatoes. The gabbai's and a few helpers served the food. After the meal, they used to sing melodies for Shabbat. The singers were from among the house owners and other guests. An old scholar, R' Yehuda Tzvi Fisher, A H, served as a maggid [preacher] in that synagogue.
by David Imber
Tranaslated by Moshe Kutten
The phrase: A house where people educated about the Torah and praying, was written on the gate of the Big Beit HaMidrash. It was indeed an institution where the students were educated on Torah and Praying. Certainly, youths learned there lesions about the Talmud, Ein Yaakov and Midrash Rabah. My grandfather, R' Yaakov Yehoshua ah [may he rest in peace], was a Torah scholar who allocated time to teach Torah there. He was the grandson of the mighty genius, Gaon R' Yehoshua, author of the book Pnei Yehoshua (about the Talmud). His wife, grandmother Leah, was charitable and hospitable. She once hosted Tzadik R' Israel from Ruzhin z'tzl, who stopped in Zloczow on the way to Lviv to consult with physicians. My second grandfather, the Torah scholar R' Khaim Imber ah, studied Mishnah chapters by heart when he became blind. It was said about R' Imber that he joined the Emperor's army during the war and became his advocate.
Some of the people who prayed in the Big Beit Hamidrash were: Moshe Pundak ah, from the remnants of the old generation, who liked to get involved and raise his opinion on public matters. His son, Rabbi Sender Pundak, was one of those who continuously participated in the chorus. Rabbi Gaon Shmuel Shapira zl, the head of the rabbinical court in our city. After he passed away, his son, Rabbi Bentzion Shapira (may G-d avenge his blood), who also prayed at the Big Beit Hamidrash, took his place. One of the preachers at the religious lessons was Rabbi Bentzion Kaplan ah, a dear Jew who possessed a strong voice. He passed in front of the ark during the Days of Awe. He served as both a cantor and a caretaker.
Rabbi Bentzion's two sons participated in the chorus mentioned above. The older one possessed a strong Tenor voice. R' Shlomo Tenenbaum served as Ba'al Kri'ah [The person who reads the Torah]. He came from Brody, which was the original location for many Ba'alei Kri'ah. He was the son-in-law of Rabbi Yaakov Aharonfriz. His wife was called Roiz Mundles, probably named after her mother. He was the owner of a second-hand clothes store called Tendeit. Rabbi Shmuel Shapira was previously a follower of Zhydachiv's Hasidim, who used to travel to the second Admor, Rabbi Yitzkhak Aizik z'tzl,. After the second Admor passed away he traveled to Chortkiv, to the first Admor, Tzadik, Rabbi David Moshe Zetzikle. R' Shlomo prayed enthusiastically in the style of Zhydachive's Hasidim until his last days.
The people who prayed at the Beit HaMidrash
Rabbi Khanokh Henikh Tzimend was an activist and a philanthropist. He supported several institutions, particularly religious organizations, such as Talmud Torah and Orakh Le'Khaim yeshiva. He was one of the active contributors to the yeshiva who contributed several thousand bricks for the new building of the Talmud Torah.
R' David Shvig, the owner of a flour mill, was a community public affairs activist. His wife, Heg Shvig, was a clever woman who was a charity activist. They managed to make Aliya to Eretz Israel and bought several houses in Jerusalem. They left a family in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Pinkhas Segal was a Torah scholar and clever man. He was a level-headed man and a public affairs activist. He served as a committee member of the Agudat Israel party for many years and one of its consultants whose opinion was valued.
Rabbi Israel Fishel was a dear and honest person. He participated in and supported all public matters, not for attracting attention to himself.
R' Moshe Preger and his son Yitzkhak Preger, a Torah scholar, gave Torah lessons in his free time.
The Small Beit Hamidrash
In the corridor of the Big Beit HaMidrash, was a smaller Beit Midrash. The people who prayed there were the owners of shops or people with other occupations. They employed a preacher to teach religious lessons. The lessons were about the weekly Torah portions and commentaries, Mishnah chapters, Ein Yaakov, and Talmud interpretation. During my time, the preacher was Rabbi Israel Birger, may G-d avenge his blood. He was an outstanding Torah scholar, my teacher, and my mentor. A native of Przemysl, he was the son in law of Rabbi Yitzkhak Shteltzberg ah, a Belz Hasid who prayed in Zhydachiv Kloyz. Rabbi Yitzkhak was the owner of a chocolate factory.
I will expand on my depiction of Rabbi Israel later, as he was the one who taught us the basis of learning.
The gabbai [synagogue administrator] was for many years, Rabbi Nakhum Horwitz, who devoted himself entirely to his role. He was an accountant in his profession. After the death of Rabbi Nakhum Horwitz, Rabbi Getzil Marvitzer, a dear man, may G-d avenge his blood, who owned a paint shop, became the gabbai. His son, Moshe, whom I went to school with, immigrated to the US when he was still a youth.
The people who prayed in the Small Beit HaMidrash
Rabbi Moshe Tenenbaum ah, was a grain merchant. He was trusted and honest. His word of honor could always be trusted. He never went back on his word.
He was a dear man, pure and charitable. He left a daughter who was staying in an institution. He also left a large family, most of whom are in the USA. His brother, Rabbi Israel Tenenbaum, ah, and his daughter the wife of Mr. Kahana lived in Israel.
Rabbi Shmuel Veledniger ah, called Shmuel the Americaner [the American] because he once visited the USA, was a very clever Jew. He served as a mediator of quarrels between people who did not want to go to court or the rabbinical court. He was involved in public affairs, issues concerning a selection of a rabbi, and other issues of interest to the public.
Rabbi Shlomo Weintraub ah, was the owner of groats. He had a pleasant personality and was agreeable to people and heavens.
The Zhydachiv Kloyz was the oldest synagogue in Zloczow. At the location of the Kloyz, there was once a much older Kloyz, which was later on, renovated and rebuilt. Even during our days, the rebuilt Kloyz was quite old itself. Evidence for that can be found in the responsa by the head of the rabbinical court in Zloczow - [Gaon Rabbi Yoel Ashkenazi (1810 1883)] - From Rabbi Yoel (RY) Ashkenazi. In that responsa there is an answer by Rabbi Ashkenazi containing the following introduction: That was how I have sermonized when the Kloyz was rebuilt.
The entire Hasidic aristocracy prayed once in the Zhydachiv Kloyz. The prominent among Zhydachiv Hasidim knew Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh z'tzl, the first rabbi from Zhydachiv and the author of Ateret Tzvi [a commentary on the Zohar], and were also the followers of the second rabbi -Rabbi Yitzkhak Aizik z'tzl. Among the prominent Zhydachiv Hasidim who prayed in that Kloyz was Gaon Rabbi Yeshaia Rosenberg who was a rabbinical judge in our city. He had a pleasant voice and knew Hasidic music well. He led the service during the Days of Awe. Later on, Hasidim, followers of other Hasidic dynasties prayed in the Kloyz, including Hasidim of Ruzhyn, Chortkiv, Husiatyn, Sadigura, and Boyan. At that time, remnants of the Zhydachiv Hasidim, such as Rabbi David Lvov, prayed at the Kloyz. After World War I, when many of the towns around Zloczow (such as Bialokomin) were in ruins, Jewish refugees from these towns settled in Zloczow. They were People with a mentality different from that of the oldtimers. Belz Hasidim also joined the Kloyz. That was an extremely rare event in our place until that time.
My deceased father, Meir Imber ah, was one of the great Chortkiv Hasidim. He was a scholar and a public activist, particularly in the area of Torah teaching. R' Meir was the founder of the yeshiva Orakh LaKhaim [Way of Life]. Later on, he was one of the founders of Agudat Israel [party]. He had a pleasant voice and used to lead prayers, on some occasions, but not regularly, even during the Days of Awe.
The regular Ba'al Tefilah [a cantor for whom cantorship is not his profession], was R' Elkanah Bilig ah, who was once one of the assistants of R' Yeshaya Ze'ev z l. His praying style was almost a complete replica of Meir Imber's style. R' Elkanah was Ba'al Musaf [leader of the Musaf prayer, which is recited after the morning prayers on Shabbat, holidays, and the beginning of each month].
The brother-in-law of R' Elkanah, R' little Fishel (der Kleine Fishel), was Ba'al Shakahrit [leader of the morning prayer].
R' Elkanah Bilig's father was called big Fishel. R' big Fishel ah, was one of the first Husiatyn Hasidim followers of the elder Admor R' Mordekhai Shraga Feibish z'tz'kl [of blessed and saintly (pious) memory]. The latter was the son of the Rabbi of all the people in the diaspora Admor R' Israel [Friedman] of Ruzhyn z'tz'kl [also known as the holy one from Ruzhyn]. When I was a small child, I was fortunate to know R' 'big Fishel. His seat at the Zhydavich Kloyz was on the west side, near the window close to the door, rather than the [the more respecable] east side. He prayed enthusiastically without raising his voice. His face was glowing, like after getting out of a steamy mikveh [ritual public bath], and his eyes were tearing throughout the prayer. He prayed with his entire being, without moving any part of his body. His naturalness and simplicity were endless. He was named after his father, R' Fishel Bilker ah, who died while his mother, Mrs. Miryam Elki ah, was pregnant with him.
After the death of R' Elkana and his brother-in-law R' Fishel, the Musaf prayers were led regularly by the grandson of the Rabbis from Zhydachiv and Belz, R' Yehoshua Heshil Labin, may G-d avenge his blood. He was a Torah scholar, pleasant and sociable. He had a pleasant voice and prayed in the style of the Zhydachov [Hasidim], mixed somewhat with the style of the Belz [Hasidim]. The prayer An'im Zmirot [Song of Glory] at the end of the Musaf was sung exclusively in the Belz's style.
Ba'al Shakharit during the Days of Awe was my great uncle, R' Yehoshua Schleifer ah, the son-in-law of my grandfather, R' Yaakov Yoshia, and a native of Brody. He was Ba'al Kri'ah [Reader] of the Torah in Zhydachiv Kloyz for more than thirty years. He was a Torah scholar, a warm-hearted Jew. Despite being burdened by many children (mostly girls), and a shaky economic situation, he gathered bread and hallahs every week to distribute to needy families. He used to accompany the charity rounds to lend money to others. As I recall, he used to contribute the fee (Megila Gelt) he received for reading the [Purim] Megila to others, as it was customary then. Most of his daughters live in Israel. One of them resides in the USA.
My uncle (my mother's brother), R' Elyakim Fridman, may G-d avenge his blood, led the Shakharit prayer after the death of R' Yehoshua Schleifer.
He was a good-hearted man. He set down the entire day adorned with a tallit and tefillin and studied.
The righteous R' Pinkhas Kanner, one of the prominent Chortkiv Hasidim, may G-d avenge his blood was a native of Buchach. He was the son-in-law of R' Fishel Reiz ah. R' Pinkhas was honest and pious. He devoted his entire life to the Torah, work, and praying. He gave his heart and soul to fulfilling light and severe commandments.
It was told about him that during the days of the Nazi Dictator, may his name be erased, R' Pinkhas stayed in a bunker and could have survived. However, he went out once to find a Minyan. He dressed up in peasant clothing but wore a flat cap and was recognized and was captured.
R' Moshe Margaliot became Ba'al Kri'ah of the Torah after the death of R' Yehoshua Schleifer.
My mother's father, R' Khaim Tzvi Friedman ah, was the reader of the order of the Teki'ot [shofar sounds] on Rosh Ha'Shana. He was a native of Mikolinitz (near Ternopil) and a descendent of an educated family. I recall that his brother, Feivel Friedman ah, was a high-ranked official of the court in Lviv. The entire family was enlightened. R' Khaim Tzvi was caught up in Hasidism, which attracted followers in many Jewish social circles. R' Khaim Tzvi's grandfather, R' Heshil ah, settled at the end of his life, in Zloczow, near his son, and died there. The mother of my grandfather, Mrs. Keilah ah, was highly educated. She knew French and was one of the admirers of the author and historian, Voltaire. R' Khaim Tzvi was one of the most prominent Husiatyn Hasidim, and their uncrowned leader. He used to travel to the first Husiatyn's Admor. He was a friend and Hasidic colleague of R' big Fishel. R' Khaim Tzvi was a pious man who worshiped G-d with joy. He was a good-hearted man who brought joy to people. When he visited somebody who was in sorrow, the whole house would be filled with joy.
I would like to add a few words about his passing:
About an hour before his passing, all the Hasidim, particularly the Husiatyn Hasidim, gathered at his house. R' Mikhel Glaser, who later became the Hasidic leader joined as well. They prayed Minkah [Afternoon prayer] in a minyan. My grandfather prayed in his bed despite being close to death. They heard him pronouncing every word of the prayer Shmonah Esrei [the central prayer in each of the daily services, recited silently while standing]. When he reached the words Ha'El Ha'Kadosh [The Holy G-d], he breathed his last. The phrase: Brought joy to G-d and people is etched on his gravestone.
After his death, R' Mikhel Glaser ah became the reader of the order of the Tekiot in Rosh HaShanah. R' Mikhel was a great Torah scholar. He once studied under the Gaon R' Shalom Mordekhai HaKohen Schwadron zl, the author of Maharsham Responsa. R' Mikhel was one of the great Husiatyn Hasidim. He was involved in public affairs. At one time he served as a member of the committee of Agudat Israel party in the city. He was among those who were authorized to deal with the nomination of the head of the rabbinical court. That issue of the nomination was a controversial issue that resulted in divisions. Divisions occurred not only between the Zionists and HaMizrakhi [religious Zionists party] or between Agudat Israel [ultra-orthodox party] and the unaffiliated Haredim but also within the camps of Agudat Israel and the unaffiliated Haredim themselves. That affair should be described somewhere but this is not to place to expand on it.
Ba'al Tokeh'a [the person who blows the shofar] was, for many years, R' Shmuel Parnas. He was a humble man and made a living from his hard work. His wife Bluma ah, used to bake bread. Her bread was homey and tasted good. She made a name for herself with her bread. Many jokes were composed over that. One of the jokes was about the meaning of the phrase - He suspends the earth over nothing [Job 26:7]. The sages expanded and said that the whole world exists due to and in the city we used to say due to the eating of Bluma's (di bekerin [the baker]) bread. R' Shmuel educated his sons on the Torah and good deeds.
His son, R' Ptakhia, may G-d avenge his blood, was a watchmaker in his profession. He was a pious Jew who followed the commandments meticulously. In particular, he followed the command associated with the commentary by the sages about the phrase This is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will glorify him [ Book of Exodus 15:2]. [To glorify G-d] he purchased a beautiful tallit adorned with a silver fringe, elegant Tefilin, wide sash, and more. The clowns of the Kloyz called him der rabbi [the rabbi]. He was the son-in-law of R' big Fishel Bilig mentioned above.
The son-in-law of R' Shmuel Parnas was a business person, Torah scholar, and educated. He woke up early in the morning to study. He studied and prayed in the Stratyn Kloyz. He was an accountant and worked in the bank of R' Tzvi Hirsch Zeiden.
The Kloyz library and the Tikun Sfarim [Books Fixing] organization
A very large library existed in Kloyz Zhydachiv. It contains books such as the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud's. It also contained commentaries of the Talmud, starting from books by the Rishonim [rabbis who worked between the 11th and 15th centuries] - like the RASHBA [Rabbi Solomon son of Abraham son of Aderet], and RITVA [Rabbi Yom Tov ben Avraham Assevilli] and ending with books by the Akhronim [rabbis who worked in the 16th century and on], like TZALAKH [Rabbi Yekhezkel Landau - author of Nodah B'Yehuda], and [Rabbi Yaakov Yehoshua Falk the author of] Pnei Yehoshua. It contained books of Poskim [rabbinical legal scholars], such as the RAMBAM [Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon], [Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher, the author of] Arba'ah Turim, and [Rabbi Joseph ben Ephraim Karo, author of] Shulkhan Arukh. The library also contained responsa's from the Rishonim such as the MAHARAM [Rabbi Meir ben Barukh Rotehnburg], Berabi [Rabbi Yosi ben Rabbi Yehuda], and others, as well as from the Akhronim, such as [Rabbi Yekhezkel Landau, author of] Nodah B'Yehudah and Kamah v'Tnina, [Rabbi Moshe Sofer (Shreiber), author of] Khatam [acronym of the book's name in Hebrew - Khidushei Torat Moshe] Sofer, and more. There was also a section for theoretical and practical Hasidism and Kabalah literature in the library. Books starting with the RAMAK [Moses ben Jacob Cordovero], HaARI [Rabbi Yitzkhak ben Shlomo Luria Ashkenazi], R' Khaim Vital, [Rabbi Yaakov Yosef HaKohen of Pollonye, author of the book] Toldot Yaakov Yosef, [Rabbi Elimelech Weisblum of Lizhensk, author of the book] Noam Elimelekh, Rabbi Levi Yitzkhak Levi Derbarmdiger, author of the book] Kedushat Levi, and more.
The association Tikun Sfarion [Books' Repair] handled the purchasing of the books from the students of the Kloyz. The association also repaired and bounded the old books.
The Yiddish term kloyz (pl., kloyzn) is apparently derived from the Latin claustrum or clausum, which refers to a building or closed complex of structures connected to a monastery. The term first appeared in Ashkenazic culture in the sixteenth century and referred to a house where scholars assembleda place of study intended for mature, adult male scholars. By the second half of the seventeenth century, there were kloyzn in many centers of both Western and Eastern Europe. The term had by then gradually come to refer to a private house of study, existing separately from the institutions of the community and financed by a patron or a wealthy family. A kloyz of this kind was generally headed by a prominent scholar appointed by the founder, and was frequented by selected scholars
The Yiddish term kloyz (pl., kloyzn) is apparently derived from the Latin claustrum or clausum, which refers to a building or closed complex of structures connected to a monastery. The term first appeared in Ashkenazic culture in the sixteenth century and referred to a house where scholars assembleda place of study intended for mature, adult male scholars. By the second half of the seventeenth century, there were kloyzn in many centers of both Western and Eastern Europe. The term had by then gradually come to refer to a private house of study, existing separately from the institutions of the community and financed by a patron or a wealthy family. A kloyz of this kind was generally headed by a prominent scholar appointed by the founder, and was frequented by selected scholars Return
by David Imber
Tranaslated by Moshe Kutten
It is difficult for me to assess the depth of Zloczow people's knowledge of cantorship as I consider myself almost a layman in these matters. However, it should be said that Zloczow people were enthusiastic fans of cantroship. One example, out of many, serves as proof for that: The famous cantor, Trakhtenberg, lived in Zloczow more than 60 years ago. He and his chorus would astound their audiences, particularly those who considered themselves as knowledgeable about cantorship. It was customary, in many Jewish towns and cities, that cantors would take a vacation and travel around, between Passover and Atzeret [Shavuot holiday], and between Atzeret and the month of Elul [before the Jewish high holidays]. The small Jewish communities could not afford to pay their cantors a satisfactory during the summer months. The cantors covered their deficits by appearing in synagogues outside of their locality. In addition, cantors could gain the fame that way. Also, G-d's willing, a cantor could find a better place somewhere else.
Such an event occurred in Zloczow when its famous cantor went on a tour in other cities around the country. He won the favor of everyone [Book of Esther 2:15] in the town of Przemys, and he also liked the city particularly since the people there offered to pay him twice the salary he was receiving in Zloczow, so he stayed there. The Days of Awe were approaching, and Zloczow remained without a cantor. The cantor's admirers were distraught and refused to be consoled. The fact that the cantor broke a verbal contract was not very important. Their main worry was how to find a new cantor? What community, big or small, would be willing to give up their cantor during the high season? People in the city who considered themselves Knowledgable about cantroship, were the most unhappy. They wondered how could their Trakhtenberg do something like that to them. In the end, they decided to act in an original way. The cantor's family was placed under siege. Shifts of guards were placed to prevent the cantor's wife and children from leaving town. A brisk exchange of urgent letters followed and in the end, a compromise was achieved: Cantor Trakhtenberg and his singers would come to Zloczow for several Shabbats, and the city was satisfied with that. They let the family go. The final farewell was difficult for both sides.
There was a person in the city who refused to be consoled. The compromise did not satisfy him. That person was the iron merchant, R' Menli. With tearing eyes, he said that if heavens would not let him listen to the singing and praying of cantor Trakhtenberg during his life, he wished that the cantor would sing El Maleh Rakhamim after his death so that he would be able to rest in peace in his grave.
Several years later, R' Menli died without hearing the pleasant voice of his beloved cantor again. Cantor Trakhtenberg did not stay long in Przemys America attracted him. However, before leaving on his trip, he wished to silence his conscience. The news about the will of his loyal admirer reached him, and it continued to bother him. So, he and the chorus arrived in Zloczow to wish farewell to the city by praying on Shabbat. On Friday morning, the cantor and his chorus, accompanied by half of the city Jewish population, visited the grave of R' Menli. Their prayer shook the gravestone of the dead in the cemetery, and the crowd rejoiced with excitement.
As discussed, Zloczow people were uniquely enthusiastic fans of cantorship. There wasn't anybody in the city who was willing to admit not being an expert about cantorship. It could not have been proven, however, just the fact that everybody considered themselves an expert, and the fact that the city had that reputation, sufficed as proof. Another conclusive evidence was provided by R' Leizer, the famous cantor of Zloczow, who acquired a name for himself and was later invited to serve as a cantor at the big synagogue in Krakow. He also praised the Zloczow people for their knowledge of cantorship.
To eliminate any doubt among the doubtful and unbelievers,
and to reassure the experts, people used to say that in, Zloczow, the pray lecterns were the most knowledgable about cantorship. In this context, a story was told about the famous cantor, R' Yerukham [Blindman] Hakatan [The Small One - known as such due to his small stature]. He arrived in Zloczow once to euphonize the Shabbat prayer. The organizers assumed that a crowd of people from other synagogues would come to listen to the visiting cantor, so they emptied the Big Synagogue of its numerous lecterns. However, as it may happen to any cantor, R' Yerukham did not shine at that time. Perhaps the reason was that Zloczow people had exaggerated expectations. In short, it was a great disappointment. People who considered themselves knowledgeable had a hard time explaining the reason for that failure and could not bear the defeat. The courageous ones approached the cantor and asked: What went wrong with one of the greatest cantors in the world? According to the story, R' Yerukham responded: It is said that in Zloczow, the lanterns are the ones who are the most knowledgeable about cantorship. In my appearance, the lanterns were taken out. So, there was a lack of knowledge in the audience.
A similar mishap happened to the famous cantor, R' Zeidel Rovner. He also experienced a failure in Zloczow. However, during his appearance, the lecterns were not taken out of the synagogue, so the people could not decide who should be blamed for the failure.
Tranaslated by Moshe Kutten
Rabbi Yekhiel Mikhel, The Maggid from Zloczow
Rabbi Yekhiel Mikhel entered the Hasidic orchard [got involved in the occult], as a Hasid, and became a Maggid [preacher], having a fire in his soul he felt that there was still time left until the end of time. That polymath appreciated music and became a composer without having his name associated with his creations. Besides being a moral and spiritual movement (within Ashkenazi Judaism), Hasidism was also a movement that promoted Niggunim and Zmirot [traditional and religious melodies and songs]. The Hasidic violins introduced the most beautiful tones of soul music, engulfing the listeners with heavenly blessings. When it comes to the Hasidic songs, we could use the verse [ 1 Kings 4:32]: And he spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were a thousand and five since the number of the Hasidic melodies was large. During the first generation of Hasidism, when the movement took its first steps on an unpaved road full of obstacles, R' Mikhel emerged as unique and distinctive among the students of the Besht [Ba'al Shem Tov, Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer]. His influences were notable in the history of Hasidism and even more in the dawn of Hasidic music. He was one of the Hasidic first players and composers.
R' Mikhel was a man with vigor. The BESHT respected him tremendously. The BESHT said that he was given a tiny soul from heaven, as small as anyone can get in his generation, and he elevated it to the level of the soul of the holy Tannai sage Rabbi Shimon Ben Yokhai. R' Mikhel did not author any books. We only know little about his views and opinions from the books written by his sons and his numerous students. We also know things which passed orally from one generation to the other by the elderly.
His father, Rabbi Yitzkhak from Drohobych, was one of the intimate friends of the BESHT. After investigating the essence of Hasidism, he sent his elder son, R' Mikhel to the BESHT. R' Mikhel became the most renowned student of the BESHT. Despite serving in various locations as a Maggid, he was named the 'maggid of Zloczow, a city in Eastern Galitsia, situated near the Wallachia region of Romania. That area served as the source for the first Hasidic niggunim [melodies]. One of its premier types is called Wallachian Niggunim. Despite being named as the Maggid of Zloczow, R' Mikhel spent most of his life at the city of Yampil [Yampol], where he served as a maggid for the Hasidism movement and where he excelled in Hasidic music.
His title was the Maggid from Zloczow. However, based on his knowledge, he should have gained higher positions. According to Hasidic fables, the BESHT pleaded with R' Mikhel to accept a rabbinical position in one of the Jewish communities, but he refused to do it. The BESHT scolded him for that and said: If you do not listen to my plea, you will lose your world this one and the next. However, R' Mikhel did not relent. 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.
R' Mikhel did not want to name the melodies under his name, and they were called the Niggunim of the BESHT.
R' Mikhel was one of the righteous men, the Creator endowed generously from all of His noble and beautiful, good and pleasant treasures. He was blessed with a euphonious voice and a musical talent. Thanks to his talent he became one of the best emissaries for spreading Hasidism and one of the principal assistants of the BESHT, as much as he was the emissary for spreading the first Hasidic melodies.
R' Mikhel traveled, like the rest of the Hasidic emissaries from place to place, preaching and sermonizing about morality and brought the listeners close to him from the pulpit of the synagogues and Batei HaMidrash. He was an excellent speaker who captured the listener with a pleasant song before his speech.
He was modest and ran away from any publicity. However, Hasidism placed him on the stage and knew how to utilize his talents. Hasidism promoted devoutness to G-d, enthusiasm during work and prayer, and joy in life. Most of the virtues of singing and playing music brought joy. The BESHT found a virgin land in music, and Rabbi Mikhel helped him in that.
Chabad Hasidim, including the groups in Israel, still sing today a niggun attributed to R' Mikhel. Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi [The first Rebbe of Chabad], also received melodies from R' Mikhel.
As mentioned, R' Mikhel was influenced by Wallachian music, which was closed to his heart. He knew that music intimately as a result of his continuous contact with it. The Wallachian music expresses sadness and longing in part, but also life and joy.
The BESHT was also influenced by Wallachian music, as he spent his youth in the Carpathian Mountains.
It seemed that he was the one who decided which Wallachian melodies could be brought into the secret world of Hasidism. Based upon the decision of his rabbi, Rabbi Mikhel composed piuts [melodies] for Shabbats and holidays. The use of the Wallachian tunes fitted the goal of the renewal of Jewish music and its revival. Only later on, the Wallachian effect weakened, and the original source, emanating from the prayers, strengthened. Among the piut's (melodies) attributed to R' Mikhel are Maoz Tzur [Hannukah piut - Strong Rock (of my Salvation)] and Berakh Dodi (A Passover song) [make haste my beloved, Song of Songs 8:14].
Chabad Hasidim still sing, until today, with awe of exaltation, a niggun that R' Mikhel used to sing for the BESHT. The BESHT called it Hit'orerut Rakhamim [Evoking Mercy] because that was what he felt while listening to it. Chabad tzadikim [righteous] attribute power to the niggun, and sing it on important occasions.
Tranaslated by Moshe Kutten
The orphanage was established before World War I. The Jewish community, which amounted then to about 7000 Jews out of a total population of 18,000, took on itself a divine obligation: to support, to the best of its ability, the poorest of the poor, which constituted a large percentage of the Jewish population. About 20 boys and girls under the age of 16, were educated at the orphanage. Youths older than 16, were sent to work as apprentices with various artisans. The contacts with the former students were never severed and the graduates came back often to visit the institution after graduation. According to the agreement, the graduates worked as apprentices for about three to four years, and later they would settle down as independent.
Mrs. Belter headed the institution and devoted all of her time and effort to it. She left for London in 1916, where her son lived. However, she never forgot about the orphanage. After a stay of about two years, she collected money and clothing for the institution, and returned to Zloczow. She immediately invited an eminent educator, who took care of the students and elevated the level of the institution to a great level. Mrs. Belter was deeply loved. She managed to instill the need for supporting the orphanage, in the hearts of the residents
it interesting to note that the orphanage existed all these years without any government or municipal support. Except for the perpetual contributions, Mrs. Belter would solicit contributions for the orphanage in every festive occasion such as circumcision, bar-mitzva, or a wedding.
Mrs. Belter passed away in 1935, a few years before the Germans' invasion, at the age of 63. A large crowd of Zloczow residents participated in her funereal to pay her their last respect.
Engineer Berl took over when Mrs. Betler passed away. Together with the educator, the wife of physician Dr. Rozenbaum, he invested all of his effort to maintain the orphanage. The engineer worked tirelessly until the eruption of World war II when he was transferred to Russia. When he returned to Warsaw after the war, he established a active committee that helped Zloczow's survivors. About 150 Jews survived the Holocaust. Most of them survived due to the assistance of residents of Zloczow.
Some people agreed to host the students when they reached 16 years old. Mrs. Kreger, the sister-in-law of Frida Kreger, took a boy and a girl to her home until they learned a profession. The girl later moved to Lviv for further studies, where she learned to build lampshades. Later on, she married and established a family.
Engineer Berl made Aliya and continued his work in Israel as an engineer. He passed away in Israel.
The Municipal Jewish Hospital
In addition to the orphanage, there was also the Municipal Jewish hospital. The hospital had about 14 beds. Dr. Hertznik, Dr. Reikhert, and other physicians managed the hospital. All of the physicians worked there voluntarily.
|The building of the Nursing Home named after Barukh|
|Summer camp for the orphanage students|
The hospital relied on contributions to supplement its public municipal budget for its survival. The hospital was one of the best hospitals in the area and therefore served not only the poor. Unfortunately, all of the physicians that worked at the hospital perished in the Holocaust.
The Nursing Home
The Nursing Home was located near the hospital. It consists of 4 rooms, two for men and two for women. The municipality helped in supporting that institution. Most of the residents in the nursing home were from among the poor of Zloczow, and some were people who did not have children. There were 18 beds in the nursing home.
And finally, we should also mention the Soup Kitchen. The soup kitchen was headed by Mr. Tenenbaum, a merchant and a public activist who devoted himself entirely to that institution. The Soup Kitchen also relied on contributions, which consisted of money and food (mainly meat and bakery items). Mrs. Frida Kreger often took care of supplying all sorts of products to the Soup Kitchen. Some of the needy would come and take the dishes home. Some would eat in the kitchen.
Dr. Heshif's wife, Mrs. Heshif, came to the kitchen every Friday night to oversee the festive meal. The meals began with lighting the candles and concluded with Shabbat Singing.
In the summer, Mrs. Heshif used to manage the transfer of children and adults to neighboring villages of Zetzila and Zhalkovi and ensured to supply all of their needs.
|Summer camp at the building of the orphanage|
by Dr. Yosef Shatkai
Translated by Moshe Kutten
I spent the vacations I received from the high school in Lviv with my family in Zloczow. My parents moved to Zloczow because of their business leasing and building paper mills and sawmills. In my visits, I came to know the studying youth. We found the situation wide open for Zionist activities. These were the years of Zionist mysticism.
If we compare the strength of the Zionist movements between Brody and Zloczow, Brody would come on top. I knew the Zionist movement in Brody well. The Zionist movement in Brody was well organized. It was headed by public figures, famous merchants, respected house owners, and famed Hebrew teachers. In Zloczow, only a small group of house owners were members of the Zionist movement. Among them, Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Kigel, an owner of properties and an enlightened person, Yitzkhak Buchacher, a merchant and a contractor, Tzvi Rosenboim, an owner of a store and an agent for the wines from Baron Rothchild's cellars, Yaakov Reis, a clerk in the large fabric store of Leon Offer, Bentzion Lehrer, Zeev Rosen, and others.
However, most of Zloczow's Jews were indifferent to the Zionist movement. There were a few Jews, here and there, who were attracted to the Zionist idea. However, they hid their views from the extreme assimilators within the community. Many Jews received various licenses from the authorities. A whisper in the authorities' ear could have caused them to lose their livelihood.
I recall a fascinating meeting with the chairman of the community's steering committee, Yosef Guld. We decided to hold a memorial service for Herzl on 20th Tamuz. The most appropriate place to hold the memorial was the large synagogue. We turned to the gabbai, Mr. Yekhiel Blumenblat, and asked to receive the keys. However, he had probably already received an instruction from the chairman of the community steering committee not to hand over the key for any reason. He, therefore, refused and referred us to Yosef Guld. We met with Mr. Guld. He immediately began to give us a lecture and preach to us about morality. He claimed that we were distorting the views of the great leader and dealing with ghetto-like politics. After all of that, we did find a way to get the key for the synagogue. The memorial was held with a large crowd in attendance.
As discussed, the professional intelligentsia people were all radical assimilators or people who were indifferent to their Jewishness. Among the Jewish physicians Dr. Guld, the son-in-law of Yosef Guld, was a radical assimilator. He was elected as the representative to the Austrian parliament in Vienna. He also served as the chairman of the Zloczow municipal management team. He was elected by the majority of the Jewish votes. However, he renounced his Jewishness and served in the parliament as a Polish citizen. He even refused to circumcise his sons. However, in this matter, the older Guld had the final say, as he feared the religious Jews who would not have allowed him to continue in his position
|The Zionist Youth|
|A group of the organization Ha'Noar Ha'Tzioni [The Zionist Youth], 1938|
as the chairman of the community steering committee. Other assimilators included Dr. Mitelman, a lawyer and the vice-chairman of the community steering committee, Dr. Hesel, and others.
The Zionist movement brought about a change in the values. A new generation grew out of the young Jewish intelligentsia. The large organization of Bar Kokhba was established. Its activists began to organize the Zionist operation with a fresh style and vigor.
The youth that studied in high school was organized by counselors. Let us mention some of the names of the students: Yekutiel Shuster, the brothers Zeltkis, Yaakov Vigil, Bentzion Shtriker and his brother Herzl Shtriker, Moshe Schorr, Khanan Deutsch, Shmuel Shirtz and Shmuel Epstien.
The first Hebrew school, Safah Brurah [Clear Language] was established. Its first teacher was Naftali Zigel. Indeed, there was a Hebrew teacher before him, Mr. Broida a Russian native. However, he taught private lessons according to the [old fasion] style of Limud Metukan [Enhanced study or Enhanced Kheder], which was customed in Russia at that time. Trips to neighboring cities, such as Sasiv and Holohory [Gologory], were organized. These trips were accompanied by lectures about Zionism. There were also special clubs for starting students. Dr. Khaim Zelkai, who made Aliya to Eretz Israel, was among these youths. In Israel, he became the editor of the medical journal of the physician union, but he passed away in the middle of his career.
There were families in Zloczow for whom Zionism was the center of their lives. Among them, the family of Rabbi Yitzkhak Beniber Schwadron. He was a pious Jew who dreamt all his life to build a perfume factory in Israel. He owned several large businesses, including the firm Binovka, which was very well known throughout Galitsia and Austria. Despite his profitable businesses in Zloczow, he was keen on building a factory in Eretz Israel. He had the secret of spicing liquor, which made it very tasteful. He sent his son, Avraham Schwadron, to study chemical engineering at a university in Vienna so that he could, one day, manage a factory in Israel. However, World War II broke, Rabbi Schwadron passed away, so the whole idea was never implemented.
In 1914, during my trip to Eretz Israel, I met with Rabi Yitzkhak Schwadron and he told me about his plans. My father, Rabbi David Schweig zl, dreamt about Eretz Israel his entire life. My grandfather was fortunate. He decided one day, to abandon all of his businesses. He followed up on his decision and made Aliya to Jerusalem, bought a property, and lived his last years in Eretz Israel, with my mother.
In Zloczow, Zionism began to strike roots among the house owners and craftsmen. Dr. Aidelberg and Dr. Groskopf, both of them Zionists, were elected to the community committee. From among the young lawyers, Dr. Tzvi Hirschhorn who was an outstanding speaker excelled in attracting people to the movement. The city residents loved him because of his philanthropic attributes. He first demanded more of himself before he did from others. Hebrew speaking clubs were formed. Dr. Vepel and Dr. Simkha Bumim Feldman participated in these clubs. The wife of Dr. Hirschhorn (nee Tratkover), participated in the Hebrew speaking clubs. I devoted a great deal of time to lectures and debates in these clubs.
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