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[Page 558]

Chaim Kornfeld z”l

by Kalman Barkai

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

I don't remember exactly when he arrived in Dąbrowa, and I don't know from where he absorbed his great love for the land of Israel and Zion. He was humble in his ways and public activities. He was always hunched over his work bench in his shack, adding one grain of gold to another, till a thought out handiwork emerged. The goldsmith craft by itself was sufficient to prove that he was continuously moving, movement in which all his being was concentrated.

dab558.jpg [20 KB] - Reb Chaim Kornfeld
Reb Chaim Kornfeld
one of the first “Chovevei Zion” [Lovers of Zion] in our town

He didn't see a great deal of joy in this work, since the town of Dąbrowa was a town of workers and her Jews, from the middle class, didn't amass for themselves safes with jewelry. However his home was a respectable home and his wife knew how to manage the finances of a home with many children. No one complained when they left the dinner table, and also their clothing was modest and clean.

When you passed along Sobieskiego Street near his shack, and looked inside and saw this man, his face covered by a grey beard, his glowing eyes and a yarmulke on his head, since he was religious – you couldn't continue walking along without dwelling and continuing to look, and a need arose to get to know this man and converse with him. And indeed he was a pleasant conversationalist.

In his youth he was swept along with the stream of education, was enriched by the beliefs of free thought, he read Mapu and Juda Lajb Gordon, the newspapers that appeared at the time, Mendle's books, and he knew how to integrate the ancient Talmud style with the modern Hebrew language.

When the religious movement “Chibat Zion” [Love of Zion] was founded, established by Rabbi Cwi Kliszer z”l, and later on by Rabbi Elkalaj, he was amongst its enthusiastic supporters.

Life did what it does, the family grew, and he saw himself obligated to their livelihood. Therefore we always found him hunched over his work bench, but his heart burned for Zion, and on his chair was placed a shekel [annual membership fee] of the Zionist movement, a type of payment for his inability to dedicate himself more to this movement.

On the headstone that was erected above his grave is engraved: “One of the first Lovers of Zion”.

[Page 559]

The Klajnman Family of shochets
(Three generations)

by A. W. Werthajm

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Reb Herszl Shochet

Reb Herszl Shochet [ritual slaughterer] settled in Dąbrowa at about the end of the 80's of the previous century [i.e. the 19th century]. He came to Dąbrowa after he had been in the post of Shochet for a few years in one of the shtetlech [plural of shtetl – towns] in the area.

dab559.jpg [24 KB] - Reb Herszl Klajnman
The Dąbrower Shochet, Reb Herszl Klajnman,
of blessed memory

Reb Herszl Shochet was very beloved, not only by the Jews, but also by the Christian population in the area in which he lived, who with great respect gave him the title of Pan Starzec [Mister Old Man], took off their hats for him when he passed them in the street. His first wife, Simele (of the Hasidic Rajch family in Będzin), bore him four sons and three daughters: Josef-Cyna, Israel-Jankl, Mosze-Eliezer and Mordechai; Miriam Glike (the wife of the later well-know banker in Strzemieszyce, Reb Gerszon Horowicz), Chanale (the first wife of Reb Mordechai Sztajnfeld) and Bracha, who married her cousin, Mordechai Winer of Sosnowiec.

Herszl Shochet's first wife, Simele, died in around 1905 and after this, the unmarried children spread all over the world: Israel-Jankl went to Germany, where he was later employed as a Shochet in Karlsruhe; Mosze-Eliezer and Bracha went away to America (incidentally, all three later came to Eretz Yisrael with their families, although not all at one time). The youngest son, Mordechai, went to Belgium. There has been no news from him since after the Second World War; it is likely that he perished in one of the Nazi camps, may the Lord avenge his blood.

Reb Herszl Shochet married his second wife, Rajzele, a few years after the death of his first wife. She [the second wife] bore him two daughters, Perele and Cypora.

Reb Herszl Shochet was a Jew of stately appearance with a wide, reddish-blond beard, nicely dressed. He drew great attention with his appearance. It is correct that, as the Mishnah [Talmudic writings containing the oral religious tradition] says in The Ethics of the Fathers (1, 12), he could be considered “from Aron haKohen's students, a friend of peace and a seeker of peace who loved everyone and was a friend to everyone.”

Reb Herszl Shochet was also a zealous patriot for the building up of Eretz Yisrael. Everyone who came to him for a contribution for Eretz Yisrael did not go away with empty hands. He suffered from many persecutions because of his patriotism from the then extreme religious circles who believed that with his support he was intentionally helping the free thinking circles in their work.

[Page 560]

I was told that in general Reb Herszl Shochet was considered a Mizrachi [religious Zionism] sympathizer in the city and once a communal worker came to him from the Mizrachi party with a complaint: “Reb Herszl Shochet! It is said in the city that the Hashomer Hatzair [socialist-Zionist youth movement] were here and you also gave them money. How is this possible? How come a trifle, for the Hashomernikes [members of Hashomer]! They want to eradicate Mosaic law completely; then you “strengthen the hands of those who violate the law” [Rambam, Laws of Theft 5:1]… Reb Herszl answered him good naturedly: “How can I refuse a contribution to a young Jewish boy who comes to help build Eretz Yisrael? Whoever gives a hand to this should be blessed.”

Reb Herszl Shochet died at the end of 5695 [1935] and had an impressive funeral. His second wife, Rajzele died a few years after him. His two daughters were in Dąbrowa (in the meantime his older daughter married a young man from Sczemieszic – Yehezkeil Wigdurzon and perished at the hands of the Hitlerist gang after the outbreak of the war).

Reb Josef-Cyna Shochet
(the Second Generation)

My father-in-law, Reb Josef-Cyna, of blessed memory, was the Shochet in Dąbrowa during the first years of the [20th] century and was employed by the Jewish community in Dąbrowa during the course of 30 years. That was until the late 1930's when an edict was issued about slaughtering at the initiative of the sadly well known [Madame] Pristerowa. His wife was Gitl Frumet, the daughter of the well known Wolbrom city religious judge, Reb Jukl Gitler, of blessed memory.

Reb Josef-Cyna, of blessed memory, inherited from his father sincerity and kindness in relation to every person. On my first visit to their house, he left a very strong impression on me. Szmuel Herszenberg's picture of Baruch Spinoza hung on the wall. In the picture we see the excommunicated philosopher as the Jews standing around him move backwards with fear and look with disbelief at their former kehila [organized religious community] member.

A tolerant and liberal, but religious spirit that reigned in this house was shown to me in the home of the Dąbrower Shochet.

dab560.jpg [18 KB] - Reb Josef-Cyna Klajnman
The Shochet, Reb Josef-Cyna Klajnman,
the son of Reb Herszl

Yet, my godly father-in-law was a deeply religious man; he was affable and friendly with his children and in the house there was no feeling of a harsh attitude and severity in his behavior and in the upbringing of his children. Once when I stayed there in the house, a well known intelligent young man came to me as a guest. He was given “refreshments” and he ate without a hat. My father-in-law made no mention of this in order not to shame him. But he winked at me, as if to say: why should a young man not know how to behave in a Jewish religious home.

His consistent dream was that he be able to emigrate to and settle in Eretz Yisrael. Shortly, before the outbreak of the war, we discussed a plan of how to make a visit. And then we would see what happened.

[Page 561]

Alas, we were not worthy; and he and his entire family shared the fate of all of the Jews in Dąbrowa at the hands of the Nazi beasts, may the Lord avenge his blood.

I and my wife, Simele, dedicated a Sefer Torah [Torah scroll] in their memory, (donated by us to the “Achiezer” Synagogue in Tel Aviv).

The Third Generation of Klajnmans
(The Children of Reb Josef-Cyna)

Reb Josef-Cyna Shochet, of blessed memory, had two sons and six daughters from his wife. Of them, only my wife, Simele, and her sister, Sara Gledi, who emigrated in 1937 survived. The oldest son, Israel Icchak, had come to Eretz Yisrael at the beginning the 1920s, but returned to Poland because of the great [economic] crisis that ruled in the country. In time he again tried to emigrate in the 1930s, but because of a shortage of certificates he remained in Poland. He married the youngest daughter – Etke – of the esteemed Treper family and she made a very good impression with her tolerant father-in-law, Reb Josef-Cyna, who very much respected her. Israel Icchak was one of the intelligent young men in the city and his lectures on various themes succeeded very well with the Jewish youth in the city. Ideologically, he stood close to the left Paolei Zion movement. Shortly before the outbreak of the war, one of his sisters, Ester'l, received a letter of invitation to emigrate from her mother, Bracha, in America, but the outbreak of the war undid her attempt to wrest herself from the Polish “fatherland.” Mordechai, the youngest of the brothers, studied carpentry to prepare himself for emigration to Eretz Yisrael. But at the first moments of the German invasion he was sent away to forced labor and did not return from there. He perished from hunger in one of the Nazi camps at the end of 1945.

dab561.jpg [19 KB] - Israel Klajnman
Israel Klajnman
son of Josef-Cyna and grandson of
Reb Herszl – with his wife, Etke Treper

And thus was the fate of the large family of the Klajnmans; thus perished the Shochet, Reb Josef Cyna and his wife, Frumet, his son, Israel, and his wife, Etke, and his daughters, Ester'l, Malka'le, Maniele, and Dwora'le.

May God avenge their blood!

Woe for those who are gone

[Page 562]

A characterization of Reb Herszl the shochet, z”l

by Efraim Lenczner

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

He was handsome, with stunning eyes and a pleasant face, who expected good of people and good from himself. He was pleasant in manner and earned the respect of all that knew him. By virtue of his position as shochet [ritual slaughterer] he was under the authority of the religious ministrants in the town, but didn't always agree with their procedures and sometimes he would oppose and rebel against their opinions.

He would stand in the Bet Midrash in his usual place, next to the bookcase in the north-west corner, wrapped in his tallit [prayer shawl] with a slight smile on his face. It was conspicuous that when he had a social or worrying philosophical problem on his mind, Reb Herszl would usually look for someone; to discuss with him the specific current, highly important issue, and pour out in front of him the thoughts that were in his heart. It occurred that I encountered him, myself or another young man. He liked and would associate with the young people, in particular because of their modern and Zionist opinions. And Reb Herszl would continue with his passing thoughts, only vocally. And if you didn't understand something, you didn't dare asking – out of respect for Reb Herszl. Nevertheless, during the high-level discussion you would understand what was being discussed and expressed your opinion as well. His joy was noticeable in his facial expression when you understood his meaning and accepted his views.

Did he like his trade? If to discuss this according to his criticism towards the members of the kehila committee, his “work providers”, he didn't particularly like his business. The question is asked: Why, for all that, did he teach his two sons, Reb Josef Tzina, May God avenge his blood, and Reb Israel Jakob z”l, the practical laws of ritual slaughtering? Possibly because of the difficulty in arranging other livelihoods – as was usual at that time in the towns in Poland – Reb Herszl was compelled to enter his sons into this profession.

Reb Herszl did not manage to make aliyah, to Israel his ideal and died in 5695 [1934-1935] in Dąbrowa. It is a shame that he is no longer but we will not forget him.

May his memory be blessed.


A symbolic headstone

by Cwi Simchoni

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Yizkor [Hebrew – remember],
Gedenk [Hebrew – remember]!

Reb Jakob Szalom Fiszel – the patriarchal personality,
Was the fine heart of the communal workers
Who knocked on doors and called: Jews give money,
Because the unknown sons of the unknown suffer from hunger and cold.
His wife, Toybele, too, the quiet, refined Toybele
One of the righteous females, may her memory be for a blessing.
Carried help to needy, suffering homes, never becoming tired.
Their son-in-law, Reb Szlomo Halpern, the maskil [follower of the Enlightenment] and fervid Zionist.
Was always the first contributor to every fund.
For the sake of Eretz Yisrael, only constructive, both for the right and for the left.


Reb Ruwen Lichtcyer – the noble, holy soul
Was not an usual [person], but a holy, holy one,
A man-angel on the earth, a Tsadek haDor* –
Did not live for himself, for just his own, always
Preached: Maintain a vigil “for others – Give to
Your brother!”

Lived as a holy one
Died as a holy one…
It is worthwhile to remember
His last words,
Which he called out with pride
*[Most important righteous man in a given era]

[Page 563]

The Germans will not have the honor
Of him entrusting himself into impure hands
“Who needs my soul
Knows where I am”
With Shema Yisrael [“Hear O Israel”] on his whispering lips
Thus [he] exhaled his last breath.
Honor his memory!


Reb Szlomo Rozenberg
The good Jew of “speaking”
Who was the first to recognize
His internal call:
Stand up, stand up, to the divine service!
Celebrated the ushering in of Shabbat – a talisman for Mashiach
To have the honor of eating
From the shor habor and the levyosn.*
*[Translator's note: When Mashiach – the redeemer – comes, there will be a feast at which the righteous will eat shor habor – a wild ox or bison – and levyosn – a giant fish.]


Reb Pinchas Jossel –
The simple Tehilim-Yidl*
Called to Psalms day and night
Just a chapter, but thus every day
And you will not know
Of trouble and plague.
*[A man who recites Tehilim – Psalms – usually in a time of illness, death or other misfortune.]


Reb Pinchas Praszowicer
The genteel Jew
Of Mishnius* and Psalms
The three united
To walk and stride
And step very spiritually
In such a manner to serve
The only God.
*[Mishnius – compilation of oral laws of the Torah]


Your fathers, mothers
Sisters and brothers
Close and familiar.
Small, innocent babies
And old people,
Who, innocent, exhaled
Their clean souls
Without a why and without a when.


Who fell by a bullet
On the road, field and forest
Hidden in a bunker
In a cellar or somewhere
In a dark attic.
Who struggled, wrestling
With a wrathful
Uplifted fist.


Who swooning and fainting
In Kiddush haShem* and in deadly danger;
Who simply died
Of hunger and of cold –
So recklessly abandoned in the world
Or simply
Plucked to pieces alive
*[In sanctification of God's name – died as a martyr]


Who exhaled their soul
In terribly great suffering
In the lime ovens and gas chambers,
Or in the flaring flames of fire
Of the glowing ovens
And in Oświęcim [Auschwitz] –
To all our beloved,
And dear, Yizkor!

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