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[Page 30]

Excerpts from my Diary

On Sunday, 7th of Shvat, 1925, Rabbi Klein stayed in our town, and gave a speech at the Beit Midrash.  His goal was to collect donations for the Slozek Yeshiva, which had 200 of its students run away from Russia to Klezk. 

On Monday, 8th of Shvat, the above mentioned speaker spoke at the “Moshe Mazes”

On the 8th of Nisan, 1925, On a Thursday, in the “Pomich” auditorium, took place the celebration of the opening of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  The party opened by Dr. Margaliot, in Hebrew.  There was also a speech by Dr. Lazar from Lvov.  After that there was an art program and a musical performance of a tambourine band. 

On Thursday, 26th of Sivan, 1925, there was an appearance in Grayding by the athlete  Zisha Britbart.  He was invited by “Yad Charutsim”.

On the 27th of Tamuz, 1925, Rabby S. Z. Weiss spoke in the Beit Midrash.  His speech made a great impression.  In addition, S. Z. Weiss also made a speech before of the members of the “Mizrachi”.

The wife of Rabbi Yosef Kaliger passed away, and the Rabbi gave a eulogy for her in the hallway of the large synagogue.

On Monday, the opening of the Hebrew University, as well as life in Eretz Yisrael, was presented in the movie-theater.

This week I took part in the first meeting of “Ha’chaluts Mizrachi” which took place in Lvov in the “Zion Hope” hall.

On Sunday, the 15th of Kislev, 1927, Tsoizmer the lawyer gave a speech on “Esperanto”.

On a Sunday, Dr. Margaliot read the article by Echad Ha’am called “Imitation and assimilation”

On Sunday, the following week, D. Katz will raed the article “Cohen and prophet”

On Sunday, Dov Sternberg read “Half a comfort” by Echad Ha’am

On the 14h of Adar, The youth studying at the Hebrew school presented a play in Hebrew

On Sunday, the 6th of Iyar, there was a general meeting at “Tarbut”

The following Sunday, the continuation of the general meeting at “Tarbut”

On Sunday, since the Mizrachi branch is inactive we decided to temporarily relocate the Mizrachi’s Library to “Tarbut”

In the meeting in “Tarbut”, the chief executive Mr. Glazman announces that he left the election committee because of the decision to give the Zionists only 2 candidates for city council.  Motel Baak suggests to call a protest meeting regarding the lack of proper welcome for the writer Shalom Ash in Israel.  Baak’s suggestion was rejected.

On Monday, the 4th of Tamuz,  elections for the Grayding city council are taking place.  We, the Zionists, are not taking part in the elections because we were approved for only one candidate. 

On a Wednesday, a memorial service for Dr. Herzel took place at the “Pomich” auditorium.  Dr. Brener from Lvov made a speech.

On Sunday, there were elections for the Zionist Congress

On the Wednesday, a closed door Rabbi meeting took place at Mordechai Lang’s house.

On Friday, there is the 9-year anniversary to the free Poland.  Attorney Tsoizmar made a speech at the large synagogue.

On Saturday night, 25th of Heshvan, 1927.  In the “Pomich” auditorium – a celebratory meeting.  Dr. Margaliot opened in Hebrew, followed by Mr. Shachnar from Lvov who made a speech.  A choir sang songs of Zion.

On the 3rd and 4th of Kislev, 1928, I took part in the conference of the Mizrachi Youth in Lvov.

On Saturday night, 24th of Kislev, a new Auditorium  for “Tarbut” was opened, in F. Singer’s building.

On Saturday night, in Hanuka, Dina Karl made a speech at “Pomitch”. Hava Singer recited a poem composed by Motel Baak.

Thursday, 6th of Tevet, 1928.  Rabbi Aharon Rokach arrived in the evening, and stayed at our house for two weeks.

Saturday night, 28th of Shvat, 1928.  An election meeting under the auspecies of the National wing (number 17) took place.  Dr. Moshe Richter was not allowed to make a speech at the Beit Midrash, and it was difficult to get a private hall, so the speech took place at the narrow community hall.  Members of Agudat Israel caused a disturbance.  This week we re-organized the Mizrachi.

Sunday, 25th of Shvat, 1928.  Yesterday the first meeting of the Mizrachi took place at the Rashi synagogue.

Monday, 6th of Adar, 1928, today there was a meeting

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where the Mayor Leventon made a speech.  Among other things, he stated that in the year 1922 when he saw that a Jew will be elected for certain, he did not appear to demand something of the Jews.  But now, when there’s a division between 2 Jewish lists, it is clear to him that none of the Jewish lists will succeed, and therefore he is suggesting that the Jews give their votes to the government list which is number 1.  Later the lawyer Kronenberg made a speech.  On the side of the National wing, Dr. Richman made a speech, but was not allowed to finish.

Thursday, 16th of Adar, 1928, Dr. Feingold made a speech at the Beit Midrash.  As a result of the success of the Zionists’ list (17), the opposition did not dare to disturb his speech at the Beit Midrash.

Saturday night, 18th of Adar, March 3rd 1928 prior to the elections for the Polish Senate, Dr. Rotfeld and S. Z. Weiss made speeches at the Beit Midrash.

Sunday, 25th of Nisan, 1928, a general meeting of the Mizrachi takes place in the new apartment, with the participation of the member Rosner from Lvov.  A new committee was elected, and I was picked to be the new secretary.

Sunday, 28th of Sivan, 1928, a meeting of the Zionists takes place at the Beit Midrash in preparation for the community elections.  Spoke: Dr. Margaliot and the lawyer Kronenberg.  “Agudat Israel” interrupted during the meeting.

Sunday, 7th of Tamuz, 1928, a memorial meeting dedicated to Dr. Herzel in the Pomich hall.  Dr. Datner from Lvov made a speech.

Sunday, a trip organized by the Keren Kayemet Le’Israel took place.  We, members of the Mizrachi, did not participate in the trip (because of the 9 days of mourning).

Sunday, 30th of Tishrei, 1929, I was selling Shekalim.  Today I registered my brother Abali to Hebrew school, which will open tomorrow after a break of half a year.

Sunday and Monday, the 14th and 15th of Cheshvan, 1929, I participated in the Keren Kayemet Le’Israel assembly in Lvov.  Also took part, the poet Nathan Bastritsky, Hertsfeld, and Rabbi Shapira from Eretz Yisrael.

Sunday, the Shavuot holiday was forbidden.  A protest meeting of the youth in our city took place regarding the closure of the gates to Israel. Zisha, Kornboym, Karp and Honigkos made speeches.

Sunday, 28th of Shvat, 15 of February 1931, a craze of proms overtook our youth in the city.

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Wednesday, 15th of adar, 3.4.1931, a performance of humorous readings by Sigmond Shor took place at the “Sokel” auditorium.

Saturday night, 25th of Adar, 1931, I made a speech before students.  The subject was Y. L. Gordon, on his 100th birthday.

Sunday, 24th of Sivan, 7.6.1931, elections for the Zionist Congress took place

Sunday, 4th of Tishrei, 20.9.1936, on Tuesday I will make Alyah to Eretz Yisrael.  Zisha will also do so.  Last week I paid the travel expenses to the Eretz Yisrael office.  Farewell Grayding! Farewell Diaspora!  God willing, I will make it in Israel and build roots there, despite all the obstacles I will find there.

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Facts Sheet

Other names: Gorodok. Also spelled Grayding, Graydik, Graeding, Greiding, etc. Located 26 km SW of Lviv (Lvov). The exact map coordinates are 49 degrees 47 minutes / 23 degrees 39 minutes.


Year Total
of Town
Total Jewish
Population in
Griding District
1880 10,116 2,952 5,495
1890 10,742 3,148 6,175
1910 12,973 3,866 6,882
1914 13,000 over 4,000  
1921* 10,491 2,545  

*Many Jews left Griding following World War I, and did not return.

In the 1900 census, 76.5% of Galicia Jews noted the Polish language as their spoken tongue, while 90% of Jews spoke Yiddish.

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Excerpts of Letters From My Family
on the Eve of the Holocaust

(Excerpts of letters from my family from Grayding on the eve of World War II)

23.8.37 My father told me of the election of the new management for the community, and they are: Haim Klaher, Unger Binyamin, Honigoks, Libish Dorlich, Aharon Katz, David Marbech, Shmai Hoter, Gdalia Elis.  Honigoks was elected as the head.  The "Tarbut" and "Wizo" organizations rented 2 rooms, and their activity is continuing.  On 10.7.1938, I am told that on Saturday, Avchi Mandel, Rabby Pesach Provest, and his son Itshali, were arrested, and transferred to jail in Boba.  This was regarding a snitching about dismissal from the military.  In the letters coming from home there is concern about the security situation in Jerusalem.

12.8.1938 I received a letter from my sister Chayali, her daughter Berta writes in Hebrew and sends regards from her brother's sons and her sister Henchi, who miss me and wait for me to come and tell them about Israel and Jerusalem.

Excerpts of letters from the Soviet period:

6.12.1939 I received a telegram from home, in English.  It indicated that "we are all healthy".

On 21.10.1940 my parents did a Kiddush on Shabat, at our house, in honor of my engagement in Jerusalem.  The members of the Beit Midrash, my friends, and Rabbi Yosef Kliger took part in the Kiddush.

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23.2.1941 Berta Wagner, my sister's daughter writes:  today we performed a play at school and I was successful in acting the part of a Kozak character.  She adds that the city has completely changed.  My brother writes that they live in a free country, they are not being beaten as they did under Polish rule, and they dance and sing like all the other peoples of the free world.  The Jews are studying free at all the schools.  At 5 in the morning they went to cast their ballot in the elections with great joy. 

23.5.1941 I am told that my brothers Dov and Meir are serving in the Red Army.  They write that there is work, but not all is well.

7.9.1941 From home they write that they made a poor match making.  My father writes that the Red Army liberated them from the Poles.  The letter is signed by Moshe Parkart, who asks how I am doing.  The letter also reads that they have an orchestra 3 times a week, and they dance too, the old together with the young.  At the end of the letters they signed Tisha be'Av or Yom Kippur.


Yad Va'Shem
The Holocaust and Valor Memorial Authority

Jerusalem, 3.10.80


Mr. Yitzhak Yehuda Margel
23 Haifa Way
Tel Aviv

Dear Mr. Margel,

Please find enclosed 2 type written copies of the letter sent by your sister from Lvov.

The original letter was registered with us under serial number 5496.  We thank you for your contribution to our archive.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. S. Krakovsky
Archive Manager

[Page 37]

Letter Excerpts from my sister Yafa

On the day I made Aliyah to Israel, I registered my 13 year old sister Shindale to Hebrew teachers' seminary and to the girls boarding school.  In her letters to me you will get to know a young girl fighting for her future.  You will also get to know a Hebrew institution fighting against the rulings of the Polish regime.  The Soviet regime turned the Hebrew seminary to a Yiddish school.  The Hebrew, and later Yiddish, girl has disappeared and is no longer here.  That was the fate of tens of thousands of girls and boys in the horrible holocaust period.

29.11.1936 I am a good student at school, I do not lack in friends, because I know more Hebrew than anyone else.  I have only one book, yet my friends have all the books.  I am concerned because it is difficult for me to pay the tuition at the seminary. 

14.5.1937 Now it is the Shavuot holiday and I am at home.  I tell everything and they think I am in Heaven in Lvov.  On 27.9.1937 I am at home for Sukot.  In Lvov I stay in a public boarding school.  Our school is associated with "Tarbut".  3 years have passed since my stay in Lvov started.  So many surprises, experiences and problem happened to me.

10.1.1938 I studied with enthusiasm and great pleasure.  I studied and suffered as a little girl sadly living alone in the capital.  School gave me great enjoyment.  Tomorrow I am returning to Boba.  I will make the utmost effort to study past midnight to the light of a candle, doing so in fear of the principle seeing me studying at the forbidden hour.  I am happy and laughing, but deep in my heart I am sad because of the bad situation of the Jews and the entire human race. Yafa


Shalom Yehuda:

Thank you for your letter.  You understood me, did not get tired of me and did not laugh at me.  I thank you for the kind words that aroused hope in me.  My parents are making a great effort to come to my aid.  It is difficult for me to see my old parents making such great efforts to help me.  I cannot get students for private lessons.  Tell me, what would you have done in my place?  I aspire to save up some money in order to go to Vilnius and finish my Hebrew seminary there.  I have connections there, because the sister of the boarding school manager where I stay teaches Polish in the Vilnius seminary.  I should add that Faiga, my sister, and Meir, my brother, contributed their entire monthly salary to me.

On 1.5.1938 In the coming Lag Ba'Omer holiday we will have a trip and a prom.  I will sing solo.  At the prom in my organization I will sing solo too.  Yesterday I spent time at "Be'yad Charutsim", where an Israeli evening took place.  There were 2 emissaries from Israel: the poet Nathan Bitsritsky and another one.  I liked their lectures.

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 Grayding.  I am sorry for my long silence.  I did not know how to respond to your letter, which made a powerful impression on me.  As a result of your letter's influence I will not quit my studies.  I will listen to your advice and will continue to live at the boarding school for a modest fee.  I will not write about my troubles any more, only my moments of joy.  I am reading many books in Hebrew.  You will be my role model, and I will not be weak.  I will make an effort and it will surely give me satisfaction.  Shalom, and see you next year in Jerusalem.

Yours, Yafa (Shindale)


You already know my simple life.  School, studies, homework, and the same all over again, continuing with no end.  But I am happy with what I have.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart for getting me out of the house and showing me the right path.  Indeed, there I lived with no burden, but life is empty there.  I do not think that today I would have been able to live there.  Lvov gave me a lot.  I learned to suffer, be happy, to laugh, cry, and be independent.  Life here gave me more than just studying at school.  Troubled times came upon our school.  The government shut it down for a few days, but later the school's gates were re-opened and everything continued normally.  I do not understand the meaning of the events. 



Yehuda my love:

I spoke with Zisha and he is very pleasant.  The school got the same rights as a Hebrew high school.  I will try to save up during the break but it will not make up for the lack of money.  I wrote to a lady today, that I will tutor her son and in return for the private lesson get a place to sleep at her house. 

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. . .I am planning to finish another class and then I will move to Vilnius in order to finish the Hebrew seminary there.  I am eager to learn in the music school in order to improve my voice.  God gave me as present a lovely voice.  In my organization and at school I always sing solo to everyone's satisfaction.  In general, I love music very much.


(The next letter from Yafa, which starts on page 39 and ends on page 40 is in Yiddish, and has not been translated).

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Memoirs of the illegal immigration to Israel operation by young people from Grayding

I, Eliezer Ben Ya'akov (Kampel) from Grayding, my friend Ya'akov Israel Bilig (his memory be blessed) and Chana Mandel met together in the planning of illegal Aliyah, during the month of March, 1939.  In the meeting in Lvov we were informed by the emissary from Israel, Chedva Putshman, about the organizing of a group for the purpose of making Aliyah to Israel.  We decided to join this daring journey.  Preparations for the trip have started.  I received the 600 Polish currency that was required, from Zionist public institutions in Lvov.  Ya'akov Israel got the money from his family members.  To the parents we did not tell at all that this is an illegal journey.  We were 18 years old, and hence had to appear in the Ministry of Security in order to join the Polish army.  We were informed, by the Israeli office in Lvov, that if we give up our Polish citizenship we will be given a release certificate on behalf of the military and we could leave freely.  We all separately contacted the P.K.O clerk, Matskovits.  We were invited to his office for the purpose of signing the documents granting that we give up our Polish citizenship and are released from the Polish army.  I should note that in the above-mentioned endeavor we were aided by wealthy Mordechi Lang, who made an effort to help in our case with great devotion.  The offices in Lvov sent on our behalf a telegram to Warsaw to Makrotskovsky (on behalf of the Mizrachi), who took care of passports for us.  On our passports it was noted that our country of destination is San Domingo, not Palestine.  Makrotskovsky accompanied our transport through Chernovitch all the way to Konstantsa.  

At the Bnei Akiva house in Grayding, on Thursday evening before the big Saturday, there was a goodbye party for us. It was filled with tension, crying, tears, well wishes, and also jealousy, that 2 young pioneers are making Aliyah to Israel.  The journey entailed a great effort.  On the big Saturday evening, all the pioneers congregated at the train station in Lvov.

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All were wearing the same uniform, consisting of a short leather jacket, a gray hat and boots, a backpack, and a patch of the movement's symbol attached to the clothes.  On March 30 we met there with a "shipment" of pioneers that arrived from Warsaw, and together, singing "We are making Aliyah to Israel", we departed on board a special train going all the way to Chernovich, Romania.  We traveled on Saturday, by special permission by Rabbi Haim Ozer Grodzansky, and we arrived at Konstantsa, a Romanian port city, on Saturday night.  There, we went down through a narrow bridge to a side port, and onto the ship.  It was a Greek cargo ship called "Asima".  The first night was Passover night.  Matsa was handed out, as well as water.  I had sausage and a bottle of drink, 96% proof.  We had a Seder.  It was really like a personal exit from Egypt.  We traveled at sea for 7 days, facing troubles, having little food, suffering from sea-sickness, crowded conditions, and anticipation for the day we arrive in Israel.  On the seventh night of Passover we were getting ready to disembark at Israel's shores.  The guide from Israel, called Moshe, told us that first in line for disembarkment were the girls, and among the boys the ones who know how to sail in boats and know how to swim in a river.  Us, the ones coming from Grayding, knew how to sail and swim, so we got up first with a backpack on our back.  We went down a rope ladder from the ship to the boat.  There we crowded approximately thirty to forty people to a boat.  We started sailing, and immediately heard shots coming from the English.  We were ordered to jump into the sea and swim to shore.  All of us, wet, scared, tired, hungry, ran towards the mountains and the orchards.  The "Haganah" people directed us through the orchards, cut fences, and we climbed between trees until we made it to the first Hebrew village.  There we were welcomed by "Gfirim", and we were divided into twos, and were sent to houses of the people of the village.  The name of the village is Kfar Haim near Natanya.  And this is how we made it to Israel.  We were sent to the house of Ze'ev and Bela Margalit.  We were clothed with Khakis and hats, and went out to work in the Fields.

That same night, there were approximately 300 Olim who made it to shore, and another 300 were caught aboard the ship's deck. The ship was sent back out to sea for another 3 months of trouble and hunger, until it again returned after the Shavuot holiday to the shores of Naharia.  Another important detail I should note is that the day when the 300 illegal olim disembarked in darkness, in the morning an article appeared in the newspaper, about a ship called "Asima" with 300 olim on board, which was caught at the country's shores.  The workers at the port of Haifa then announced a general strike in solidarity, and protest against the capture of the ship.  Of course, there came an order from the British government to send away the ship back to sea.  This is how the journey of 3 Grayding residents to Israel had ended.

Eliezer Ben Ya'akov, Jerusalem

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The Large Synagogue (Di Groyse Shul)

By Yehuda Margel and Eliezer Ben-Ya'akov (Kampel)

The large synagogue (Di Shul) was famous for its wonderful paintings, such as Noah's Arc, "two of each bring into the arc", and more.  The way to the Shul was down the stairs, into the depths.  The Shul looked like a fortress and was used as a hiding place at times of attacks on the Jewish town.  The prayers in the Shul were in the Ashkenazi style.  On Saturdays, they used to finish all the Tehilim between the middle of the day and the Mincha prayer.  Rabbi Moshe Wolf Mandel and Red Mordechai were among the regular Tehilim singers.  As a child in the "Cheder" I joined the Tehilim prayers on Saturday at the Shul.

During the days of the Polish Republic, official celebrations used to take place at the Shul.  The Rabbi would talk about matters of the day, and the cantor, Rabbi Abraham Shnor, prayed pleasantly.  During the Yom Kippur period there were many villagers and assimilated Jews who came to pray at the Shul.  Yiddel Shtrom – a tenant at my father's house, cleaned and shined the Shul's bronze Chandeliers in preparation for those days.  It was then that I was given the chance to go up to the Shul's attic and rummage around there.  I used to read through the remains of various books such as "Ha'Me'asfim" and more.  I enjoyed sitting at the honorable seat of my mother, near the bars at the women's section. 

I would see the janitor, Rabbi Abraham Ya'akov, open the Shul and knock 3 times on the entrance gate, using the huge key.  My friends discussed this and agreed that the knocks of Rabbi Abraham Ya'akov cause the souls inside the Shul to leave, and that is why we, the children of the nearby neighborhoods, were afraid to pass next to the Shul during evening hours.

In 1918, during the war between the Poles and the Ukrainians, the Shul was used as a bomb-shelter, and many people stayed there during the times when the town was under bombardment.  For holidays, cantor Rabbi Abraham Shnir would prepare a nice choir.  The melodies written by the cantor would be heard from poets for years.  When prayers were done in synagogues close to the Shul people would come and listen to the singing of Rabbi Avraham.  The Shul was used as a temple almost, there weren't 3 meals organized there, no cigarettes were smoked there, and there was no heater there during winter.  In winter, prayers in the Shul would take place in the cold. 

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I recall that during the First World War, the Rabbi stood at the Shul ensconced in his Talit, and announced an embargo on those who raised food prices unreasonably.  The Chupa of weddings would take place next to the Shul.  There would be a parade where the invited guests would walk together with the orchestra from the banquet hall, and the Chupa would take place next to the Shul.  It was a wonderful experience, and even non-Jews would come to watch it.  Money-collectors at the Shul were Brayer S., and Israel Carp.  When the sons of Rabbi Avraham Ya'akov become wealthy through dealing in wood, they felt it was not dignified for their father to serve as the janitor of the Shul.  In his place was accepted Nathenel Sheininger the teacher. 

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Polish Shulkol

Polish Shulkol was for trades-men, horse and other animals' merchants, and just regular Jews.  The Polish was in the hallway of the Large Synagogue.  During the period of Yom Kippur there was not a separate Minyan at the Polish, but rather, the people would join the praying public in the Large Shul.  Rabbi Zvi Teller read from the Torah at the Polish.  The money collectors from the Polish Shulkol treated him with great respect. 

Every Saturday, the money collectors used to spend time with him between "Mincha" and "Maariv" at the drinking house of Leah and Miriam Mann.  There, people used to sit grouped together according to the synagogue they belonged to.  They would spend their time there over a glass of honey-water, made by Rabbi Alter Winter.  His drink was pleasant to the stomach of all those who drank it.  Rabbi Alter's beverage was especially consumed during Passover.  Its taste and smell would carry far away, and the drink would be a fixture on the tables of princes.  The educated Rabbi Zvi Teller arrived at Grayding from Brody as a refugee during the First World War.  We, the young men of the Beit Midrash, were influenced by Rabbi Zvi Teller.  His store was a house of meeting for young Hebrews.  At his store we got Hebrew newspapers from Israel and from other communities in the Diaspora.  We conversed with him about the most recent Hebrew authors and poets.  One of the most important money collectors at the Polish Israel was the undertaker who was making the tombstones.  The undertaker's father, as a young man, once walked around on Saturday and his boots were shining.  He was subsequently suspected of having shined his boots on the Sabbath.  As punishment, he was sent to the army, and served there for many years.  There are those who claim he was in the Austrian military for 24 years.  The undertaker told that when he was a candidate for the job on behalf of the "Hevra Kadisha" he had to pass a test.  He had to stay by himself the whole night at the house in the cemetery.  During the night he heard knocks, and followed the sound to investigate what it was about.  He then found a piece of tin stuck in the window, which would make the knocking sound because of the wind.  Also, later on, when he was hammering a pole into the ground in the darkness, he did not notice that his clothes were caught under the pole.  When he wanted to walk away he got stuck and got scared, but soon realized that it was the pole that was stuck in his clothing, and not a bad ghost or a dead person's soul that hampered him.  Ever since then, he served as an undertaken at night, with no fear or worry.

Hevre Tehilim and Rashi

The "Hevra Tehilim and Rashi" synagogue (Shulkol).  Rabbi David Wolf Shlaider was a person above and beyond the praying public.  He would give lessons to the public

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during weekdays and on Saturday.  One of his hands was severed at work in Doctor Kolisher's paper factory.  He used to teach the Torah according to the interpretation of Rabbi Moshe Alsheich the Holy.  He also captured the public's heart teaching "Midrash Raba".  For many years, the praying public had fought to re-build the Shulkol.  One of the top figures was Nathan the janitor, the son-in-law of Avtshi Mandel.  Nathan served as the janitor of the Beit Midrash and the court.  His grandchildren, the sons of Avtshi Mandel, and some of his family prayed at the Chevre Tehilim and Rashi.  It was told that Nathan's salary was withheld as a pressure tactic against his fight to build the "Shulkol".  Nathan's grandchildren would call the Shulkol "our synagogue".  When they moved to pray at the nearby Beit Midrash, they still kept their involvement at the Shulkol.  They would appear there for the purpose of performing various actions.  Moshe Shtraich was one of the important pioneers who made Aliyah to Israel in the early Twenties.  He had the privilege of being able to pray at the Shulkol, and told me that his father Rabbi Avrahamchi used to prepare grape wine for the Havdala on Saturday night.  Avtshi Mandel desired that role, but Avrahamchi found strength within his soul to continue making the wine, and not be replaced by Avtshi.  Avrahamchi the builder's strength was in his stories about Chasidim and righteous men, stories which attracted the public's attention.  Avrahamchi would also start the Yom Kippur prayers, and his voice would be pleasant.  Avrahamchi's brother, Pesach Shtraich, was also an important man, and it was told that he hid a whistle in his mouth, just like the famous cantor Nissan Belzer.  My father Zalman Margel, and his sons, would regularly pray at the Shulkol, and his neighbors would be Moshe Mandel and Feibish Tsatenberg.  Next to them sat Zalman Leib Kalt.  During the Yom Kippur period he used to keep a supply of water in a bottle in order to wash his hands following the slightest touch of his body.   Despite his old age and weakness he would seat the entire period at the Shulkol and did not go home to rest during breaks.  My father purchased a seat at the Shulkol for me, and I enjoyed skimming through old prayer books and their interpretations according to Rashi.  Rabbi Itsik Eli Shleider would blow the Shofar.  He would come to the Shulkol with a long white sheet that contained many Shofars, so a replacement would be available if necessary.  Rabbi Moshe Meltsar Melamed Dardakai would read the Torah at the Shulkol, and also took care of other various matters, and not in order to of get a reward.

In the matter of deciding the prayer style at the Shulkol, the praying public was divided, and in order to achieve peace Rabbi Izikel from Komarno was consulted.  He decided on a Western style, and the conflict in the Shulkol was prevented, to everyone's satisfaction. 

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The entire Lidar family also prayed at the Shulkol.  Zalman Fishel Dods, Laba Hess and his son Yechezkel, and Meshulem Meser and his son Izik Leibish also prayed there.

The Beit Midrash

At the walls of the Beit Midrash there were cabinets filled with books of various types.  Many of the Beit Midrash visitors would enjoy looking at the holy books while at the same time listening to the voice of Torah of those reading it.  The Beit Midrash was open day and night.  It was also used as a sleeping place for the homeless and for travelers.  We, the flowers of the Beit Midrash, would serve the travelers the best foods from our home.

There were those who studied somewhere else, but to go over a chapter tastefully, and with a special melody, they would come to the Beit Midrash.  I recall that the Rabbi A. Libas Shalita, as a young man, came to the Beit Midrash, went up from bench to bench, took out books and read the introductions of the books' authors.  He told me that he did this in the advice of his father, in order to acquire a Hebrew style that would be acceptable by the authors of holy books.  All the sufferers during small Yom Kippur would gather at the Beit Midrash.  They were headed by Yitzhak Hirsh Dorlich, who was known by the foreigners of the city and the vicinity as "half a rabbi".  The holiday eve prayers at the Beit Midrash would make a great impression and create an atmosphere of belief and surrender to God.

We shall mention a few of the homeowners who would pray at the Beit Midrash.  Rabbi Fishel Zinger, a money collector at the Beit Midrash.  Rabbi Fishel and his partner were privileged to be laid to rest with dignity in Israel.  Ben-Zion Bar also got to make Aliyah to Israel with his family.  Rabbi Pesach Provest would speak on Saturday at the Beit Midrash.  Izik Eli Shleider taught a group on Saturday afternoon, while everyone would enjoy their Shabbat rest.  He planned all his life to make Aliyah to Israel with his student, Nechemia the tailor, and envisioned their common life together.  Rabbi Yitzhak Eli is a cotton expert merchant, and according to the Midrash cotton grows in Israel.  Nechemia would make clothes for the residents of Israel, but they both did not get to carry out their plan.  Rabbi Leibish Krois also dreamt of Israel, but did not get to make Aliyah.  Rabbi Barish Mizlesh would continuously look through the cabinets at the Beit Midrash.

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Prior to checking our military capabilities, approximately 200 of us young men spent about two months at nights at the Beit Midrash.  We finished the period by saying Tehilim.  I passed near the box, with important friends next to me, and Haim Episdorf captured us in a photo.  For many years I prayed at the Rabbi's Minyan.  The sons of the Rabbi positively influenced me.  I also have good memories of my teacher, Rabbi Shimon Buchner from Auchwitsin.  We studied Gmara and additions together.  His hobby was to discuss Nachum Sokolov's book, "To teachers and Rabbis".  As a student of the Hebrew seminary in Lvov and as the assistant of the Hebrew newspaper's "Ha'solel" editors, I was able, together with Mr. Natheneli, his memory may be blessed, to visit Nachum Sokolov at a hotel in Lvov in 1933.  My uncle Mordechai Margel, my grandfather's brother, was one of the early risers who would come to the Beit Midrash.  He felt sorry that my grandfather did not get to see his grandson studying Torah with consistency.  My uncle was exporting bulls to Vienna in Austria.  Once, a disease was discovered in the shipment of his bulls near Vienna.  Under order of the doctors, they buried his bulls near Vienna.  My uncle lost his assets, and remained poor for his entire life.  Rabbi Anshel Frankel, of the Eastern sitters at the Beit Midrash, was privileged to be laid to rest in Rehovot.  When I came to Israel in 1936 we visited at his daughter's house in Rehovot. 

[Page 48]

The "Oyven Shulkol" or the "Rashi" Group

"Oyven Shulkol", the ascent to the synagogue was up the stairs and through the hallway of the Beit Midrash.  Rabbi Moshe Weiss Ben Avraham Ya'akov would preach, and study at the "Oyven Shulkol".  God will gratefully remember Rabbi Avraham Ya'akov Weiss, his memory be blessed, the money collector of the above-mentioned synagogue, who was influenced by my teacher, Rabbi Mordechi Dindas, to call me up to the Torah by myself, and not with all the other boys, during Simchat Torah.  At this period, my father served in the military. 

When Rabbi Moshe Weiss was discussing a verse once, someone appeared and yelled at him in Ukrainian that he may fool others, but not him.  Rabbi Moshe died of the plague in the year 1915.  The entire city went behind his bed.  When his son, S. Z. Weiss, returned from Vienna, he replaced his father and gave "a regular lesson at the Shulkol".  I enjoyed listening to his son, Yehoshua Weiss, reading the Torah.  The singing of Yehoshua Weiss during Simchat Torah has not yet been forgotten by me.  When Avraham "Lichtermacher", a member of the Chevre Kadisha, fell ill and was about to die, Rabbi Avraham Ya'akov came to visit him.  He joked with Avraham Lichtmacher, asking how could he drink wine by himself?  To this, Avraham Lichtmacher responded that "I will not allow you to drink alone".  And it is told that two weeks later, Rabbi Avraham Yaakov passed away.  Among the important synagogue goers was Rabbi Shmuel Minster, whose arm was severed.  Also prayed here Moshe Glants, a handsome and dignified Jew.  In his conversations with me he said that the Messiah would come naturally.  A daughter was born to Moshe Glants, and he called her Miriam, a name from that week's prayer.  At the Shulkol also prayed Rabbi Moshe Wolf Mandel and his sons, Zvi and Nachum Breer, and the brothers Klaist, Shnaid.  The women's section was also added to the Shulkol. 

Belzer Kloyz

In the new and spacious Belzer Kloyz, which was filled with sunlight, the young and the old would sit and discuss the Torah together with devotion.  The studying was mostly done in couples.  Young men who were seen s studious, gave lessons to those younger than them.  During one period, I took part studying in Aaron Leib Bart's group.  We studied Gmara and additions.  Sometimes I would join Haim Hirsh Klang's group, which studied Gmara.  One winter I studied at Rabbi Yosef Shochat's.  We, the young men who studied with Rabbi Binyamin, were considered special.  The group of young men was lively and energetic.  Among them was

[Page 49]

 Izik  Liabas, whose father, Rabbi Abraham, was witty and very knowledgeable of the Torah, and would teach them lessons.  The veteran Chasidim brought in the young people from all sections and classes of the city.  I recall one night at midnight, while I was studying a question in depth, I was invited to drink L'chaim in their company.  Rabbi Isaschar Dov blessed my father and I, and advised me to continue in studying the Torah. 

The money collector at the Kloyz was Haim Shvitser.  He would hand out candles to the young men studying the Torah.  He also acted as a money collector for Rabbi Meir Ba'al Ha'nes.  He was helped by Rabbi Shamshali Bart, who would knock on people's doors to collect money for Rabbi Meir Ba'al Ha'nes.  Once I visited the "Kolel Galicia" in Jerusalem, where I found letters from Haim Shvitser.  I discovered that even in the year 1939, the number of people who contributed to Rabbi Meir Ba'al Ha'nes was 243.  The sum of money that was sent from Grayding that year totaled 11,185 Polish Zloti. 

At the Kloyz, even the minority of Komrano Chasidim were not discriminated against, and felt comfortable.  They were Moshe Shtobenhoiz, Avraham Keler, and Rabbi Shimon Elazar who taught Gmara.  He was one of the most important of the Komrano Chasidim.  Rabbi Shimon hosted the Admor from Komrano, Rabbi Ya'akov Moshe, at his house, and served him a dairy meal as the Rabbi requested.  Mordechi Lang was a wealthy man, and on Saturdays and during Holidays there would be a parade of poor people walking behind him to his house, where they would eat Shabbat dinner.  M. Lang would try to cancel oppressive regulations by the authorities against people of the Kloyz. 

Rabbi Asher Perger was among the important ones, especially after his daughter married an important man, the Rabbi David Livand, the head of a Yeshiva in Lvov.  The Shochat family was also noted.  Yosef Shochat, Mordechai Shochat, Moshe Nisan Shochat and Matetiau Shochat, whose hobby was discussing politics.  Rabbi Eli Klar would read the Torah in a special Chassidic melody, would not talk much, and was an eager Chassidic figure.  His sons were of the early Zionists, his son Pitchi Made Aliyah as a pioneer, was also recruited as a soldier for the Jewish Brigade, and was captured by the Germans in Greece.  Rabbi Moshe Zolkavar, reticent but influential, should also be mentioned.  Where does the appeal of the Belzer Kloyz come from? Yosel Ginsberg from the mountain's top would pass next to important synagogues on the way, but would not go there.  He would only be attracted to the Belzer Kloyz.

In 1928, at the yeshiva of the Admor Rabbi Isaschar Dov, his son Rabbi Aaron also became an Admor.  While his father was still alive,

[Page 50]

 he would have a separate table for the senior Chasidim.  Rabbi Aaron was also invited by the Chasidim  in our town to visit Grayding, and also take the opportunity to install the Mezuzas at the Belzer Kloyz, which have been waiting for 14 years.  The leaders of the Chasidim in town decided that the house of my father, Zalman Margel, is suited to host the Rabbi and his entourage.  My parents saw this as a great privilege.  They vacated the four rooms, and for two weeks went to live up in the attic.  My dad also waived the Chasidim's promise to pay for the damages to the house.  During Rabbi Aaron's visit, the Mezuzot were installed at the Kloyz.  Rabbi Yosef Kliger was honored with the installation of the Mezozot at the Kloyz.  

Zalman Hochburg created beautiful decorations in the shape of a miniature Kloyz, and a parade of torches and musical instruments was at the train station to welcome the Rabbi.  The town of Grayding was lively and joyous.  Everyday, thousands of the area's Jews would come to the Rabbi's place to get his blessing.

There was more happiness during the eating of the Shabbat meal at the Kloyz.  One of the first ones who were honored was the owner of the house, Zalman Margel.  Also, the son of the owner of the house was named Leibish. 

In 1947 I visited Rabbi Aaron in Tel Aviv.  I was still remembered as the son of the house owner from Grayding.  Rabbi Motali, the Rabbi's brother, as well as the Rabbi himself were very interested in me.  I was allowed to remain alone with the Rabbi

[Page 51]

after midnight, and in his advice I named my new-born son Reuven, after my brother-in-law.  Our tradition in picking names is to prefer someone with a family as opposed to a single man.  The Rabbi was glad to hear that as a teacher in Israel I teach Humash and Rashi and Gmara.  He wished me success in my educational work. 

The Kloyz of Rabbi Zindel Rokach, the successor of Rabbi Shalom Rokach, may his righteous memory be blessed.  The kloyz was built in a spacious yard close to the well and near the Vershitsa River.  The synagogue was on one end of the yard, and the residential buildings on the other end.  The Kloyz was close to the concentration of all the synagogues.  There, the admirers of the Rabbi Zindel and his predecessor would pray, especially on Saturdays and during Holy Days.  During weekdays, Rabbi Zindel, as well as Rabbi Shalom, may his memory be blessed, would pray at the Blaz Kloyz.  They would always be waiting for the Rabbi's appearance in time for the prayer.  The Rabbi's wife, the righteous Shevali, was accepted and loved by all the girls of the town.  My sister in law and Shevali's neighbor, Rivka Kastner, would not stop saying good things about her during meetings with me.  The wonderful Sukah of Rabbi Zindel was visited by many, especially the youth.

Potiker Kloyz

The Potiker Kloyz building was in De-Lawa street, far from all the synagogues, and bordering on the Ghetto.  The name Potiker was named after the big house of Rabbi Israel Merozin, whose followers bought for him so he could get Austrian citizenship.  Across from the Potiker Kloyz lived the butcher and Rozin's follower, Rabbi Yaakov Israel Karb.  My mother told me that as a little girl, when she took part in her relatives' weddings, she was forbidden to eat meat from a butcher who was not a follower of Rabbi Rozin.  Rabbi Yaakov Israel, as a young man, visited Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathanzon, who was Lvov's Rabbi, while staying at the hot-springs named after Gradying in Lubin.  When Yaakov Israel reached old age his, place was taken by his own son, Vlowil Shochat.  My father, may his memory be blessed, bought tfilin from Rabbi Yaakov Israel Shochat. 

At the Potiker Kloyz, all the admirers of the Rozens' Dynasty were concentrated.  Rabbi Yaakov Shapira gave Rabbi Haim Even Atar from Jerusalem a lesson in "Or Chaim" at the Kloyz.   The majority of the young men of the National Religious youth, who were interested in the Hebrew newspaper "Ha'mitspe" came from the Potiker Kloyz.  Regular prayers at the Potiker Kloyz were Rabbi Shraga Faibish Heftler, Rabbi Kalman Meir

[Page 52]

Tampleman, Rabbi Haim Breer, Rabbi Dov Shoval and the Bilig family, who were famous and known as superb prayers.  Rabbi Avish Schnor taught and sang during the Yom Kippur period.  Rabbi Baruch Margaliot, the brother of Rabbi Reuven Margaliot, and so on and so forth.  Also, Abraham Mar, the owner of the flour mill. 

The Moshe Massas Kloyz was situated at the center of town.  There, people who were planning a trip outside the city by train or carriage would come very early in the morning to pray.  Among the note-worthy homeowners at this Kloyz was Rabbi Mordechai Glazer.  At the time there was still no electricity at all the synagogues in town, but at this Kloyz there was electricity after Rabbi Mordechai Belzer installed a cable that carried electricity from his flour mill.

Rabbi Haim David Kats and his son Ahrale, from the "Agudat Israel Youngsters" would sing.  The grandchildren of Rabbi Moshe Massas, Shaul and Moshe Massas, also prayed at the Kloyz.  Rabbi Moshe Koren and his son Leibish, who was noted for his influence at the Agudat Israel Youth, also prayed there. 

Moshe Marbach, who had a monopoly on salt, also prayed there.  The above mentioned synagogue was used as a warm home for all the porters and carriage-drivers who parked in the area with their carriages.  Meir, the janitor, sold wine and cakes to the visitors of the Kloyz.  A special cupboard in close proximity to the heater was used as a kiosk.  There, books' sellers offered their merchandise, which they sold before the Holy Days.  This spot was also used by lecturers, and for public meetings prior to elections.

The "Mizrachi" minyan was at Rozenfeld's house, the owner of the brush factory on Vallawa Street.  This was the meeting place for the supporters and members of the "Mizrachi", and it was also where the activity of the youth organization "Bnei Akiva" was concentrated.  The treasurer was Wilner.  Shimon Kornboin, Barish Shreiver, Yitzhak Shlatiner, and the "Bnei Akiva" leaders Eliezer Kempel, Bilig Yakov Israel and Yakov Shifman, all prayed there.  Haim Burt, his memory be blessed, told me that he visited Grayding in 1938, was invited to pray at the "Mizrachi", and was treated with great respect. 

Samborer Shulkol

This synagogue was where the followers and admirers of the Tsadik Rabbi Orly from Sambor, and his descendants, prayed.  The fact that it was called a Shulkol and not a Kloyz was very telling.  Those who built and established this house of prayer were modest, and did not aspire for greatness or distinction.  They always saw before them their holy and shy Rabbi. 

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The manners and way of life of Rabbi Orly were the model they looked up to. 

The synagogue was established on the eve of the First World War.  The praying public consisted of petty merchants and trades-men who would rise early for first minyan.

I visited the Samborer Shulkol many times with my father, for prayer or to say forgiveness.  I felt very good at that synagogue, as everything was new, renewed and clean.  The sons of Rabbi Orly set their tables at the Samborer Shulkol.  I recall that my father took me to Rabbi Orly's son, so he would bless me and exercise his influence on me so that I did not associate myself with the "Halutz Ha'tsair" (Young Pioneer-Y.W.), and devote myself only to the Torah. 

Rabbi Nathan Baron, who lived across from the Beit Midrash and prayed at the Kloyz, and my father, rented a carriage in order to drive to Sambor on one frigid day.  They did this in order warm under the shadow of Rabbi Orly and his descendants, and get their blessings.  My father told that in every Holy Day, as well as at night, Rabbi Orly the righteous did not sit, but rather stood on his feet.  His followers liked to hear about Eliahu's appearance before the Rabbi.   My father, may his memory be blessed, listened with pleasure to my stories about being employed as a teacher around Turka, where some of Rabbi Orly's grandchildren also stayed.  Among the regular prayers at the Samborer Shulkol were Shmuel Tsviran's father, David Barash, and Yakov the son-in-law of Rabbi Shimon Elazar.

Barzam Shulkol existed in Grayding at the center of town until the year 1914.  It was a private minyan of the Barzam family.  When the First World War broke out the Barzam family left Grayding and settled in Vienna, and ever since then the minyan had been cancelled. 

[Page 67]

Testimony of Pitciha Hochberg regarding crimes
against the Jews of Griding during World War II

(selected excerpts)

During Nazi occupation, the local Ukrainian population committed robberies and murder against the defenseless Jews. In sharp contrast highly noted is the local priest, Father Rozdolsky, who stood up and defended the Jews,

Summary of crimes committed against Jews: Theft of Jewish assets by Ukrainian villagers from around Griding. Beating deaths of Jews by Ukrainians. The banishing of Jews to other districts. Massacre of Jews in August of 1942. Murder of Jews over 50, organized in a camp. Jews wearing a "W" and an "R' sign in Griding. Execution of Jews. The burning alive of Jews in a house.

The Jewish Ghetto of Griding was liquidated in February of 1943. At the time of the war there were approximately 800 Jewish families living in and around Griding. The Germans entered the town at the end of June, 1941 (although they first came in 1939, on the eve of Rosh Ha'Shana. They left, and the Russians took their place. They stayed until 1941, when the war between Russian and Germany broke out. Then, the Germans returned to Griding.) Upon entry, they allowed local criminals to murder Jews and take away their possessions. Peasants started arriving from throughout the district, in order to murder and steal. Jews were killed and thrown in the lake. The Ukrainian priest, Rozdolsky, appeared like a savior angel. He dispersed the mob and told them: "In that fashion we cannot establish Ukraine". He forbade murdering and stealing from Jews. The mob rioted for a day, and even after the Germans entered, Ukrainians beat Jews. Local Ukrainians also aided the Gestapo in finding hideouts of Jews. The Nazis took the headstones out of the Jewish cemetery, and used them to tile the roads. The old Jewish cemetery was turned into a vegetable garden. Synagogues were blown up, and books were stolen or destroyed.

While the Germans were occupying the town, they would take Jews to clean, work on the railway, to load ammunition. All work was done under the threat of yelling and beating. Many of the Jews were sent to death camps, and died there. In August of 1942, half the Jewish population of Griding was taken away. The Gestapo, aided by the Ukrainian militia, closed off the streets and started taking the elderly, sick, and children out of their houses. They put them in cars, and took them away. Previously, during the same summer, all men and women above 50 years of age were taken out of the town. They were forced to lie face down. Then the German commander ordered to shoot all of them. Hundreds of Jews were killed. One woman was not hit. After everyone left, she escaped back to the town, and told of what had happened. She was later caught and murdered. More Griding Jews were murdered in November of 1942. They were taken and sent to camps. The final liquidation was on February 3, 1943, when the rest of the Jews of Griding were murdered.

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