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[Page 547]

My Parents z”l

by Baszka Dafner (Nusbaum)

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

It is difficult to speak about the town that was so close to my heart and where I lived until the outbreak of World War II.

People from our town, do you remember – those who went through the Nazi hell – do you remember Eliezer Dafner's family? My father z”l, my mother z”l, parents that didn't think about themselves rather how to help their fellow man?

My mother z”l was a member of the women's organization, and together with other women of the town like Mrs. Szajnweksler, Sztorchajn, Szpigelman, Lajtner and so on they gave financial as well as spiritual assistance to those that needed it.

Do you remember my father z”l in the metal products store? Or perhaps you remember how you came to my father z”l for him to say a prayer to counteract the “evil eye” and you were certain that it would help a sick person suffering from a headache and you confidently placed the blessed handkerchief on the forehead of the patient?

My dear parents, you educated me to [carry out] good deeds and I try and fulfill this as much as possible, even though I remained a lifelong invalid after the war of destruction. I even forcefully refused to receive compensation from the horrendous Nazis. You my dear parents, who all your life dreamed of Israel that we purchased with our blood, you left a great heritage: a concentration camp will not arise again for those who remained alive.

Now everything is ours: the houses, the streets; not like Hitler's collaborator's shouted: the streets are ours, the houses are ours.

Mendel Grajcer z”l

by Josef Piwniczni

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

Mendel Grajcer z”l was a trader, one of the distinguished Gur Chassidim and the prominent and wealthy homeowners in the town, he was a gentle and easygoing man, with a handsome face and a fine and cared for beard.

His father, Abram, was a confident of the famous Rabbi from Kock and amongst those sat at his table. And because of this he named his son Mendel, after Rabbi Mendli.

Reb Mendel Grajcer was a Torah scholar and yeshiva student. Since he was a student supported by his father-in-law, as far as study and work, and twice a year for Rosh Hashanah [New Year] and the Pesach [Passover] festival he would travel to [visit] the Rabbi from Gur.

When his father-in-law died he was obliged to dedicate himself to the businesses of the bakery and the store. The businesses took up most of his time and he didn't have enough time to study Torah. In the beginning this caused him distress, however over time, out of lack of choice, he reconciled to this. However he endeavored to make up the lack: On Sabbaths and festivals and even during the week, he set apart times for [studying] the Torah. On these days, because of the concern for time, he would travel to the uncle of the Rabbi from Gur, who lived in Pilica, and who was for him, like other rabbis, a replacement for the Rabbi from Gur.

He would lead the worshippers in the prayer house of the Pilica Chassidim and would pass in front of the Holy Ark on the Yamim Hanoraim [days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur] and festivals. This was a privilege and an honor for him to be the prayer leader for the Chassidic community and the religious. He was proud of this and continued doing this for 40 years, and didn't abandon this even on days when he was unwell. Indeed, he deserved this since he was a respectable Jew, had an impressive beard and a pleasant voice.

Reb Mendel was orthodox amongst the orthodox and meticulous with mitzvoth [a precept or commandment of the Jewish law]. He was fastidious about taking part in all public prayer, but waived this in favor of the Sabbath. In later years he didn't go to the prayer house for the mincha [afternoon] prayer and the three meals [obligatory on the Sabbath]. He stayed at home for fear that one of his family would desecrate the Sabbath, if they opened up the store too early at the end of the Sabbath, under the pressure of the Christian customers, who banged on the door of the store and shouted: “Open the door. Its already nighttime and the Sabbath is over”.

He baked the matzot [unleavened bread eaten at Passover] by himself on the evening before the festival, as was customary amongst the Chassidim and the pious. He was meticulous in making sure they were absolutely kosher. For the mitzvah of the four kinds [on Sukkot (Tabernacles)] he didn't spare the cost and made sure that he had a citrus etrog [citron] for him to bless.

As a homeowner he always gave donations to all the charitable institutions in the town. Before the festivals he would go himself to distribute sums of money as a present to those doing holy work: The town Rabbi, the cantor and so on. On the three pilgrim festivals he invited friends to the Kiddush [blessing].

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The Grajcer family - dab548.jpg [40 KB]
The Grajcer family

There was always a guest dining at his table on Sabbaths, and sometimes two. His home, close to the synagogue, was one of the addresses that Bet Midrash [yeshiva] students and poor travelers were sent to, for breakfast or lunch.

He had six sons and one daughter. He endeavored to educate them in the traditional way. After the Balfour Declaration, when Zionism penetrated the Jewish public and attracted the prime of the youth, his sons were also attracted to the Zionist idea. His eldest son Chaim was a Tzirei Mizrachi [Young Mizrachi] activist and later a Zionist Histadrut activist in the town. Indeed this was not his way, but as an easy going and tolerant person by nature and agreed to this.

He was killed in the Holocaust together with all the Jews of Dabrowa, may the Lord revenge his blood.

Reb Mosze Micenmacher z”l

by Josef Piwniczni

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

He was one of the first settlers in the town. Around 1880 he came to live in Dabrowa with his wife Fajgele, bought a plot on Miaska Street and built a house and a bakery there. He himself worked in his trade as a baker, toiled and labored and thanks to his labor and his integrity, he made a living from his baking and he gained a good reputation. Over time he did well in his businesses, opened a grocery store and was a wealthy and respected home owner in the town.

Reb Mosze Micenmacher was a simple Jew, fair and good, hosting the poor in his home and on Sabbaths and festivals he would invite travelers for lunch.

He was a favorite of the Rabbi from Kromolów and sometimes, when the Rabbi came to Dabrowa, he would visit his home. He would donate to charitable institutions. His large donation for the purpose of completing the building of the town's synagogue should be mentioned, since after work on the building of the synagogue was interrupted for an extended period because of a lack of funds, only thanks to his donation was the completion of the building possible. As a token of appreciation he was elected to be the gabbai [beadle] of the synagogue over many years. He was also a member of the Chevrat Kaddisha [burial society].

He married off his daughters to men who were yeshiva students and from distinguished families, and he treated them warmly and with respect. He was particularly proud of his son-in-law Reb Mendel Grajcer z”l. He took him from the yeshiva bench, and as was customary at the time he promised him a dowry, so that he could sit and study Torah.

The following incident is most interesting: At the end of the First World War Reb Mendel Grajcer z”l fell ill with typhoid that was common in the town. When his situation became worse a doctor was called, who determined that his situation was hopeless. He couldn't save him and only G-d could help. The bad news went around quickly. Relatives and friends assembled in his home and read chapters from the Psalms for the health of the patient. After the Psalms were said, Reb Mosze Micenmacher z”l rose, and declared that he would give years of his life as a gift to his sick son-in-law.

[Page 549]

And thus a miracle occurred: The face of the patient began to change, and the doctor who was there all the time was able to determine, that crisis had passed. And indeed, his situation improved from day to day till he was completed healthy.

This event proved his great love of his son-in-law, to the point of laying down his life.

Reb Mosze Micenmacher z”l did not live for long. He died in 1920.

May his memory be blessed.

Reb Israel Mosze Levit z”l

by Josef Piwniczni

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

He was a learned Jew, with complicated and contrasted characteristics. He had a wild temperament and a good heart. He was alert and deep in thought. He was tall and stooped, with an extremely long yellow beard. When he walked in the street, he always had a cane in his hand. He was not afraid of Gentiles, being certain that G-d was with him and he had nothing to fear. He held his learning superiorly, and to everyone he said: “Clear the way – be polite to my page of the Gemara [second part of the Talmud]”.

There were those who claimed that he had a teaching certificate, and indeed his neighbors approached him with questions regarding meat and milk. There is no doubt that he was a yeshiva scholar, learned and educated, acquired a deal of knowledge in the field of Talmud and its commentaries and knew many Talmud sections by heart.

Reb Israel Mosze was an elder Alexander Chassid. He was knowledgeable and familiar with the history of Chassidism, full and brimming with Chassidic stories. He would often tell stories about the Rabbi from Kock, how and on what background the courtyards of Gur and Alexander were founded and about their dynasty. Each time one of his friends came he would hold the lapel of his clothing so that he wouldn't run away, expound him with words from the Torah and stories about the greatness and holiness of the Admorim [Chassidic Rabbis].

He read Torah in the prayer house of the Alexander Chassidim, and during the Yamim Hanoraim [days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur] he would pass in front of the Holy Ark. In later years his voice was hoarse, but he didn't give up his position saying: “There is no looking after a voice, Heaven forbid”. The main implication, words coming from the heart reach the heart.

He was a devout Jew and fully confident in Supreme Intervention. He was always in good spirits and at any celebration or mitzvah banquet he was lively. He said: “There is no sadness in the Chassidic way. Work for G-d with joy”.

He was astute in arguments. I recall that he once argued with Mosze-Icchak Parnes z”l, the shochet [ritual slaughterer]. He yelled at him: “You are a behama [a beast], it is not surprising, since every person is influenced by what he deals in. You have a business with beasts and hence you have become a beast”.

He was one of those who opposed the Rabbi of the town, calling him the Rabbi from Parzynów. Once in a discussion about the book “Ner Lamea” [Candle for the Hundred] that the Rabbi wrote, several people gave a positive opinion about the book. Reb Israel-Mosze rose and said: “Gentlemen, the name of the book hints at the secret of its appearance. The name Ner Lamea comes from an expression in the Talmud tractate on the Sabbath: “A candle for one and a candle for a hundred and its meaning”, he continued mischievously, “Ejn nar macht hundert naronim”. (One fool is capable of making one hundred fools). On a different occasion one of the worshippers had trouble saying the Rabbi's Kaddish. Reb Israel Mosze commented: “It is obvious that someone illiterate in the Torah doesn't know how to say the Rabbi's Kaddish”. Indeed these words are worthy of being written into Jewish folklore.

He made a living from selling yeast, which in the past was a typical Jewish consumer good and the right to trade in it was retained by the rabbis, as a supplement to their meager wages. In Dabrowa the rabbanit [rabbi's wife], who was the wife of the teacher Mosze Rapaport z”l, dealt with selling yeast. It can be perhaps concluded from this, that Reb Israel-Mosze belonged to those with this right.

He educated his only son in his ways. He kept traditions and was a good Jew. His daughters married pious Torah scholars. In particular his son-in-law Reb Dawid Erenfryd z”l should be mentioned, who was a learned Chassid, righteous, na´ve and humble.

He was killed in the Holocaust with all his family. May the Lord revenge their blood.

Reb Hersz Dawid Hajda z”l

by Josef Piwniczni

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

He was a Chassidic man, amongst the distinguished Chassidic rabbis from Radomsk. He was firmly rooted in Jewish values and their implementation. He was a composed and na´ve Jew, lofty, honest, just, spoke the truth and his language was respectful, in spite of the fact that for the purpose of his business he was in daily contact with butchers. He was easy-going in his relationship with others and not ostentatious, and hence was well liked by his friends and acquaintances and the opinion of his fellowmen was that they were relaxed with him. His life style was not written in the Shulchan Aruch [book of Jewish laws].

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He carried out both simple and difficult mitzvoth by himself and with his family, was strict and treated others with forgiveness, according to the rule that each person should be judged on a scale of merit. He was a student of the old generation and together with this he studied foreign languages: Russian, Polish and Gothic German.

His daily routine was full and on rare occasions did he have free time, since there was plenty of work and little time. Each and every morning, at five o'clock, he studied a page of Talmud. He went over a chapter of Psalms with a supplement, and hurried to the prayer house. He prayed with two pairs of teffilin [phylacteries]. He made sure he participated in public prayers.

After breakfast he left for his business, the fur trade, from which he respectably supported his family. In the evening he again returned to spiritual matters. And at the end of the day, he would always have the feeling that he hadn't fulfilled his duty as a Jew. The Sabbaths and festivals were held holy. On these days he was also dedicated to problems of the children's education.

He led the prayers, praying with great emotion, as is said: With all your heart and all your soul. His prayer as a cantor was holy work for him. His voice was pleasant and enjoyable. He would say: If I was given this talent, it is indeed to work for G-d. And proof to this he found in the passage: “Honor G-d with your good fortune” (Proverbs) and according to tradition one should read “From your throat”. Once, after prayers Szlomo Winer z”l approached him and said jokingly: Reb Hersz Dawid, what you don't achieve, as a request, you will certainly not achieve by shouting. When he read the slichot [forgiveness] prayer with the butcher's prayer group, they would leave the synagogue, which was close by, stand and linger about for some time, in order to listen to and be “perfumed” by his prayers.

He was learned. Chassidic students were sent to him, in order that he test them in the Talmud lessons that they'd studied He knew Mishnah and many Psalms chapters by heart. When he walked long distances, like to Bedzin, he would go over them to himself.

Reb Hersz Dawid was short, however his deeds were on the highest level. On one difficult winter's night, he learned from his daughter Chana, may she rest in peace, who was a friend of Berl Jozepower's daughter, that it was terribly cold in their home, since they had no fuel to run the heater. Reb Hersz Dawid z”l got up and took a sack, and without saying a word, went out to the storeroom, filled the sack with coal, and took it on his shoulder to Berl Jozepower's home.

It is doubtful if he ever read a secular book, however this wondrously matches the deeds of the rabbi from Niemirów in Y. L. Pertz's book : “If not above that”. Indeed Reb Hersz Dawid z”l not without reason did he become the son-in-law of Reb Ruwen Lichtcyjer z”l, rather because he was a man of his kind.

His honesty and integrity can be testified by the following event: As mentioned, he was in commercial contact with the butchers. On one occasion, he paid a sum of money to Benjamin Sztrubel z”l to add to his account. After some time it appeared that he had made a mistake and had given him 400 gulden more than required. When he went to him to let him know about the mistake, he didn't find him at home, since in the meantime Reb Benjamin Sztrubel had gone to buy animals. After a couple of days, when Reb Hersz-Dawid told him about the mistake, he replied to him: “I don't know about that. However if you, Hersz-Dawid say so, I believe you”. And he returned the money. This matter proved the level of trust that he had earned by everyone, in particular if we take into account the size of the sum of money.

He had nine children, six boys and three girls. And though he had to work hard to sustain them, his hand was open to help the needy and donate to all the charitable institutions. In particular, he helped his relatives greatly. He dedicated much of his time in activities for clothing brides.

He educated his sons and daughters in a traditional manner. He endeavored to do his best that they follow in his footsteps. His relationship with his children was easy-going and fraternal. He didn't force his opinions on them. He served as an example by his deeds and this was the power of his influence. On the other hand, the relationship of the children to their father was one of respect and courtesy to his traditional personality.

His wife Sarale was a housewife and a mother to his children. As a traditional spouse she stood by him through life's hardships, and helped in his activities and deeds. She was liked by her distant and close acquaintances and neighbors. She also dealt in various charitable activities and was one of the self-righteous women.

Once, on a Friday, his daughter was late in returning home from school, and the beginning of the Sabbath drew close. Reb Hersz-Dawid went to the school and asked the teacher, why he hadn't let her out of school. The teacher explained, it was the history period, that was important from a cultural point of view, and that writing wasn't involved. To this he replied “I waive your culture for one minute of Sabbath desecration.”

His last prayer during Hayamim Hanoraim [days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur] was during the war period, in the home of Icze Zajdband in Lukasinskiegio Street. This was against the law but they still assembled, despite the threat to their lives, in order to hear his warm and deep prayer come from his heart.

He was killed together with all the Jews of Dabrowa, May the Lord revenge his death.

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