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[Page 187]

Yiddish Section

[Pages 188-189]

R' Leybush Halshtok of Blessed Memory

by Iser Boymfeld, Rio de Janerio

Translated by Tina Lunson

R' Leybush Halshtok z”l of Ostrovtse was my faithful friend, from whom I learned a great deal. In the last days of the year 1916 I left the Ger prayer–room where I had prayed and engaged in serious study for a long time. Having separated from the Ger shtibl, I was in search of a new subject in life.

During that time we founded the “Mizrakhi” in Ostrovtse. R' Leybush may he rest in peace threw himself heart and soul into that work. It was thanks

[Page 189]

to him the “Mizrakhi” in Ostrovtse grew day by day and was admired by all levels of the Jewish population in town.

In the summer months, R' Leybush z”l taught “Pirkey oves” [Ethics of the Fathers] on shabes afternoons with a large group in the local “Mizrakhi” venue, and later also “Ayn yakov” and every Wednesday evening he taught a chapter of Mishne [commentaries]. It turned out, however, that the local “Mizrakhi” was too small and could not accommodate the large crowd that streamed in to hear the lectures.

Without another alternative we had to transfer the lectures to the new bes–medresh [study–house]. But the “Agudas shlomey emuney yisroel” could not tolerate that , and they did everything possible to disrupt his work. They attacked him at every opportunity, everywhere, whenever possible.

R' Leybush z”l was head of the rabbinic court in Ostrovtse – his only bit of livelihood, from which he could barely support his household. Because of the attacks he was forced to resign from his office at the rabbinic court. A few months later they came to beg him to take the post again, and with that they ensured him that the lectures under his leadership, through “Mizrakhi”, could again take place in the new bes–medresh without disruption. And only then was he willing to take up the post as head of the court.

R' Leybush Halshtok was born in Kalish in 1884 and studied for many years in the kheyders and yeshives there. Later he married [a woman from] Ostrovtse and settled there. He was a close relative of the Ostrovtse Rebi, R' Mayer Yekhiel Haleyvi Halshtok z”l. He was known as a great Talmud sage and was called on for difficult decisions. He was secretary of the “Mizrakhi” for a long time and was the head of Jewish education. For a certain time he was also active as a member of the community council as a representative of the religious Jews. He was a social activist, beloved by all levels of the Jewish population and even his political opponents from various camps had great respect for him. He took care to see that his children were educated in the national–traditional spirit.

He was taken away with the first deportation in 1943 and went the last way with all the murdered Ostrovtse Jews.

Honor his memory!

[Pages 189-190]

Ruben and Khay'ele Shpilman of Blessed Memory

by Yehude and Mordkhe Rozenberg

Translated by Tina Lunson

Rubele Shpilman was a personality in Ostrovtse and the surrounding area. Everyone who knew him respected him greatly and he was beloved by all, both Jews and Christians.




Besides being a talented musician Rubele was also a very successful music teacher – among his pupils were great musicians who played in the Warszawa and Lodz philharmonic orchestras. A few of this students were later well–known in other fields in public life, like Minister Berner for example.

On the anniversary of Poland's liberation, Rubele conducted his orchestra along with the cantor and his choir in the great shul, in a performance attended by highly–placed government officials and all were inspired by it.

It was a great honor, really an experience, to be able to have Rubele Shpilman and his sons and grandchildren play for a simkhe.

Although Rubele was beloved in the Christian circles he strictly observed yiddishkayt. It happened more than once that a Christian group waited respectfully for the end of shabes, for the appearance of the stars, for Rubele and his orchestra because they knew that Rubele would not begin playing before then. Sometimes it happened that he interrupted his playing and went to a far corner where he stood praying minkhe or mayrev.

Rubele Shpilman and his wife Khay'ele lived well and modestly until the outbreak of the war and the Nazi murderers marched into the shtetl.

His wife Khay'ele had died before the war. For years before her death she had been secretary of the local women's union, which had very much helped the needy. She was clever and many people went to her to consult her about problems in the family and other of life's questions. With her great wisdom and deep understanding of human life dilemmas, she would help to properly evaluate the situation and so comprehend the background of their problems and somehow find a solution to them.

Here is one of many cases in which Khay'ele Shpilman solved the problems of the needy: On the tree–lived boulevard, near the bridge by the Greletskes, lived a poor and sick tailor, Meyshele, with his whole family in a wooden shack. This was in 1928 during the terrible freezes, and Khay'ele Rubele's – as we lovingly called her – found out about that family's unfortunate situation, and that they were hungry and sat through those freezes in the cold wooden shack. She sent her daughters Rokhtshe and Khantshe to give them fur coats and other warm clothing and told them to bring the children and the whole family to her home. She settled the family in her large salon, fed them and clothed them until after the freezes.

With that gesture of virtuous humanity Khay'ele aroused the pity of a group of people who donated and collected a certain sum of money and rented an apartment for that poor family from Erlikh the photographer. The inspiration was so large that they did not have to hire a wagon to move the family's belongings but carried their few poor possessions on their own backs to their new home.

On the first transport from the shtetl to the gas chambers, Rubele Shpilman and other Jews from the town passed by his fine house on the boulevard; under his arm he carried the violin that had accompanied him his whole life and created so much joy and happiness, and much honor and esteem.

Now that violin is silenced and its player has walked his last path…

May their memory be sanctified!

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The Rise and Destruction of a Family

by Moshe Zaltzman

Translated by Pamela Russ

… Let it be holy,
Not ploughed, not sown,
Let it be holy…

Y.L. Peretz, “The Golden Chain”

This paraphrase of “Let It Be Shabbath” by Peretz's Reb Shloime always comes to my mind when I even insignificantly shift my mind to our great national tragedy and to personal disasters, for which we have accustomed ourselves to use one word: Shoah [Holocaust]. It is unnecessary to underscore that this word and no other word contains even the smallest reference to the events, and does not express the size and weight that presses and squeezes – and will weigh on us to our final breath…

That which happened to our nearest and dearest is a symbolic “something” that does not allow itself to be set within the framework in which it is conceived, taken from the human lexicon, and beyond the human powers to even think about. Death. Catastrophe. Destruction. Loss. Darkness. Wasteland is still not the right shade, the right color of the “picture.”

The crime was of cosmic proportion and – so is the pain for the survivors.

* * *

We call them “sacred martyrs” and we count them in the millions. Yes, we are a nation of millionaires … No nation and language can compare to us … We have plenty of “miracles” and “sacred martyrs,” enough to export. With a light heart, we would gladly cede some of these to our enemy. Let them also save themselves through miracles and be a warehouse for “sacred martyrs.” We tremble, nonetheless, at the memory of each destroyed family.

I wish to tell about one such family, my cousin, a resident of Ostrowiec, Hersh Kleinman and his dear ones.


Hersh Kleinman

The majority of Polish Jews, with their respectful, decent lives and sacred death did not shame humanity … A traditional Jew, somewhat modern, with a neatly trimmed beard, careful with the immaculateness of his clothing, as with his external appearance. Sometimes, his short, so-called European clothing served only for his business trips. On some of those trips, he would also try and catch some time with the Rebbe of Ger. With time, when his children would begin their studies in the gymnasium [secondary education], not without their parents' consent, Hersh stopped going to see the Rebbe, in order not to become conflicted with himself, and mainly, [not to become] hypocritical. He used his Jewish attire from then on only on Shabbat and on the Jewish holidays and at family events.

Hersh Kleinman was not a squanderer; he did not spend his money frivolously … He worked very hard for the money he owned, with a lot of strength and hard labor, and had to provide for his four young children, for their education. But Hersh never forgot about the needy people, about the “help the brother of your people.” Whenever he would meet me in the street or at home, after asking about his parents, about my mother – his aunt, and about the children of his sister Chana'le who died young, he never forgot to give me a valuable coin:

“Here Moshe, give this to them, to the children.”
This was done at every opportunity, in addition to the permanent help that he himself used to send or bring each month.

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* * *

His brother-in-law, the Rosh Yeshiva [dean/head of the yeshiva] Reb Matisyahu Weitzman, may his blood be avenged, used to say about him:

“Hersh is a refined young man.” He would then immediately add: “But his house and even he himself are too fancy …” That meant, that in issues of God and man, he was not particularly careful… Understandably, the idea of the Rosh Yeshiva, who was totally stripped of the materialism [of this world], was that his brother-in-law was insufficiently religiously guarded – too much into worldly materialism… with his shaven beard, the above-mentioned shorter clothing [frock/coat]. Perhaps, those who stood too close inside the house and asked for help, also seemed too fancy through the eyes of the extremely devout brother-in-law.
Truthfully, Hersh Kleinman was [a person] of great detail. He certainly never missed mincha or maariv prayers [for evening and nighttime], let alone other, more profound mitzvos. But in his potential, he was already the new, more modern Jew, with great tolerance, and mainly – he already understood then what other pious Jews, chassidim, and those active in good deeds only began to understand with difficulty before the destruction [of the war]. Perhaps he did not recognize [the advancing of] the physical destruction of our nation; but he understood and openly accepted that without having control in our own country, we would not be able to maintain our own place, our own Jewish face as a nation. He actually belonged to the traditional part within Zionism – “Mizrachi.” But for his brother-in-law, and for his father, the religious Jew and Ger chassid, Noach Kleinman, this was a little too much:
“What does this mean?” they asked. “Are you really going to speed up the coming of Messiah with this? And with whose energy… with the energy of Hertzl? [referring to Theodore Hertzl, known as “the father of the State of Israel”]…
Other than being an active and respectable businessman, Hersh Kleinman was also a scholar [book lover]. He never studied in any yeshiva, and therefore he left home at the age of twelve and came to our uncle, a well-known bookseller and publisher in the Jewish world, Simcha Feder in Lublin. He himself, Simcha Feder, was a Torah scholar and devout Jew with a world-wide known name, and he implanted good character traits into this young boy, as well as a rare refinement. Hersh worked in his uncle's store until his marriage to the wonderful girl, Sarah Meisels. After the wedding, they opened a small book store in Ostrowiec. Thanks to their diligent work with high business standards, the Kleinmans, after a few years, understandably attained a higher level, and with time, they grew the business, and built a two-storey house on Kosczielny Street. That house is still standing, to this very day.


Sarah Kleinman

It is time to dedicate a few words to the other half of the family. The wife Sarah or “Soro'le,” as she was warmly called, Sarah Kleinman Meisels, came from an old Jewish lineage, from the Meisels. Her great-grandfather, Harav Reb Dov Ber Meisels, was the Rav [chief rabbi] and leader of the real Jewish city of Krakow, and later, of the Polish crowning city of Warsaw, and was also a revolutionary and great Polish patriot. The famous Polish patriot (Lubomirski?) said: “The Rav brought to our regions the spirit of the Maccabees…” Her father, Yosel Kowkes, belonged to the most refined Jews of Staszow, with a good reputation in the entire area. Her mother – came from the Halberstams and Eigers [prominent names in the Jewish scholarly world]. Sarah's brothers: Leibish, Itche, Chaim, and Pinye, all prominent Torah scholars with great reputations – with the Poles as well. Not one single decree was carried out as a result of their efforts. A particular thanks to Leibish, who not only was an activist, but an advocate as well. Today, her sisters: Dobra, Freide, and she herself, Sarah – an example of Jewish pride and modesty.


Angie Meisels

Their sister Angie Meisels stands completely on her own. I saw her only twice at the Kleinmans. Oh, and once in her modest, two-room residence in the “Savoy” in Lodz. I don't know why, but along with her beautiful face and name, there comes to my mind names of other famous women: Henrietta Szold, and Angelica Balabanova, without allocating any similarities within this trio. An unusually beautiful face. Her head shone with a white light – a light from other worlds … The same for her eyes – wells of goodness, love, and mercy. In her young years, Angie left the Jewish ways while still in her parents' home.

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During the years of the Russian Revolution, she suddenly appeared in Peterburg and in Moscow, circulating there in the highest circles of the revolution. Angie found herself in the company of [Anatoly] Lunacharsky [Russian Marxist revolutionary; helped establish the Bolshoi Drama Theater 1919], Dzherzhinski, [“Iron Felix”; Bolshevik revolutionary and official], Lenin, [Grigory] Zinoviev [Russian revolutionary and politician], and others.

After the victory of Bolshevism, Angie returned to Poland. Confused, with her humanitarian feelings wounded, she separated herself from people, and spent the rest of her life alone in the Savoy Hotel in Lodz.

Her contacts in Poland – other than the Kleinmans – her sister, brother-in-law, and other relatives – were exclusively with intellectual circles. They knew about her friendship with the progressive writer and thinker Andrej Strug, and about the then young humanities professor [Tadeusz] Kotarbinski [Polish philosopher, logician, ethicist], and others.

During the time of the ghetto, Angie went into a trance of her own individual faith, for example she believed strongly in her own, personal salvation. Her Polish friends made efforts to keep her on the Aryan side, but without success. She was sure that God was with her in every step and move, and with all her 248 limbs, she believed in her own positive fate … Was it really such a deep belief? And maybe – it was an expression of her own deep humanism that did not permit her to trouble others? Who knows…

Very likely, Angie perished in Auschwitz, together with millions of other Jews, may their blood be avenged.

* * *

Getting back to the Kleinmans: It is no wonder that the house of the Kleinmans became a house of scholarship. The leaders of the Ostrowiec Jews gathered there; also the gentiles: professors, teachers, and priests were frequent guests in the house. The Kleinmans, particularly Soro'le Kleinman, showed tact, simplicity, and intelligence in their behavior – their house quickly became an attraction for all those who searched for solutions, comforts during tragedies, or easing of their difficult worries. Later, when the Kleinman's children grew up, the house also became a gathering place for youth.

The first time, I remember the Kleinmans from my sister's wedding. I was eight years old at the time, it was already after the speeches and dances with the bride and groom. I was still under the spell of the dance on the table of 90-year-old Yehoshua Heschel. The old man danced a Chassidic “kozatska” [Ukrainian (Russian) folk dance] between glasses, bottles, and plates of fruit. His left hand was pushed into his gartel [sash] and his right hand – holding his red scarf which he waved in all four directions like a fan…

The crowd clapped their hands and gaped as they watched the old man juggle his old feet between glass and porcelain, not budging one thing.

I too could not tear myself away from the magical show of Arish Klezmer and his sons, and from the show of the great performer, the pious Jew, Meir Volf Levak, who, with his fiddle, created and broke down worlds. I will never forget this vision. I already wrote about Meir Volf in connection with my sister's wedding, somewhere else.[1] But I cannot help myself, so I have to tell about it again:

I still see him right now, Meir Volf, as he closes his eyes, throws away the bow, and as if his fingers were on fire, they run across the strings … Anxious, heavy drops of sweat fall from his forehead, from his cheeks, circling into his dense beard. His fingers run quickly across the strings, as if on hot, fiery coals … You think the fiddle is on fire, as smoke comes out from his fingers…

Suddenly, the wedding guests grow silent. Even children are holding their breath and looking at the fiddle in fear. They look at him, as if at a sorcerer… I look around – everyone is holding their eyes fixed; chassidim, pious Jews, are experiencing Divine revelation, and he himself, Meir Volf, even though I see he is playing among the wedding family, among the guest, you still feel as if he is not here, it is only his shadow that is present … He himself is somewhere distant, in heaven, speaking to the Creator through his fiddle. And he is running – with the consent of God – to greet Elijah the Prophet, who came to announce the news of the coming Redemption.

As mentioned earlier, it was already after the speeches and after the mitzva dance [with the bride and groom]. The majority of the wedding families and guest had already left. Only the close relatives of the bride and groom remained. Hersh and Sarah

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were now the center of the district. Outside, it had already begun to dawn, and the Kleinmans were waiting for the designated wagon that would take them back home to Ostrowiec. They had to leave to go open the store. Meanwhile, they were talking, singing a folksong, and I remember one of them, “Meir'ke my son,” and Frug's song, “The Wine Cup.” Sarah sang with great passion:

God in heaven, have mercy
Drop a tear into the cup!

I thought I saw God's tear in the cup that was almost full, and the next day God's last tear would fill the cup and … the Messiah would arrive. I was still under the spell of Meir Volf's fiddle, and from the unusual dance on the table done by 90-year-old Yehoshua Heschel. This mysterious dance, and the fiddle, carried us to distant, strange worlds.

Suddenly, I feel a soft, warm woman's hand around my neck. I had not completely awakened from my thoughts – a kiss is pressed to my cheek… I look, and it's Sarah. But it's still a woman, I rubbed the kissed spot with my hand as if the kiss burned me…

My mother recognized my fear, and said smilingly:

Moshe, it's only your aunt!

These were the Kleinmans and that's how they remained in my memories and in my heart forever.

* * *

And this is what their two surviving daughters wrote about their parents:

From about the beginning of the war, our house was filled with refugees from Konin, Lodz, and other cities. My parents helped everyone, both materially and morally. Our mother cooked daily for the unfortunate refugees and for those who were sick with their kidneys and with sugar issues – in the hospital, even though often it was very difficult to acquire products. She herself had chronic stomach catarrh [gastritis], yet our mother worked tirelessly in the store and at home, hiding her husband and son from the German “lapankes” [round-up games] for forced labor.

Her older son, our dear brother Yosele, lived in the Warsaw ghetto, worked as a bookkeeper until the war in the public office in the well-known pharmaceutical company Pszczolki. In his frequent letters, Yosele lamented over the forced separation among his dear ones. Regardless of the reassurances of the German “trustees,” that work would save his life, Yosele went to his death as early as June 1942, during the first great evacuation of Warsaw. News of this came to our house like a thunder.

After losing her oldest son, our mother fought like a lioness to save the rest of her children. With her own life being threatened, she put forth great and lengthy efforts to acquire so-called “Aryan” papers for her two daughters and son-in-law, and a work position for her second son, our dear, unforgettable brother Leon.

After a heartbreaking eternal parting, Hirsh and Soroh Kleinman first pushed forward their only, adored grandson, then later us two, their daughters and a son-in-law.

Now they waited with a stoic calm, with resignation, for their own inevitable end…

On the day of the evacuation, they went with stony looks in a row to the wagons, holding their hands. Suddenly, our mother, from among the crowd of curious, Polish neighbors, caught the glance of a Polish neighbor. She threw a package into his hands. “These are shoes for Leon!” This was the sum total of baggage that my parents took with them on the way to Treblinka…

Also, Leon (Leib Ber, who proudly carried the name of our great grandfather, the Rav of Warsaw; Ber Meisels) did not survive the war. In March 1943, he fled from the factory to Warsaw. But it was not for long that he celebrated this freedom. Polish blackmailers informed on him and gave him over into the hands of the German thugs, who shot him in one of the nearby Warsaw forests, May his blood be avenged.

God, where are the gravesites of Hersh, Sarah, Yosel, and Leibel Kleinman?

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Yes, maybe we should not have gone back to a “civil” life…

That is not what happened, but we go on with life: We celebrate a yahrzeit [anniversary date of death], publish Yizkor books, cantors make a living from reciting “El Moleh Rachamim” [prayer for the dead], and others also take compensations…

Maybe it's better like that! Maybe it's a piece of my cousin's “good” nature? Maybe it's better to rejoice with the living? …


  1. See “Sefer Apta” [Memorial book of the city of Opatov (Apt)], pages 328-329 Return

Ostrowiec Medical Practitioners[1]

by Meir Blankman

Translated by Libby Raichman

The Beynerman Dynasty

The first Jewish medical practitioner in Ostrowiec, that I remember, was Alter Bainerman. I do not know why, but in the small town, he was called “Alter Bulyok”.

He was a healthy, broad-shouldered Jew, stoutish, with a fine short beard, and always with a fat cigar in his mouth, and he spoke in a deep bass voice. This image of him, has remained in my memory. The Jews in Ostrowiec thought highly of him, and he was no less popular among the Christian population.

Whatever Alter said – was done, and nothing less. Even when a Jew in the town was already so sick that he had to see Doctor Malinger – Alter was approached first, to ask his advice, whether he should actually take the medicine that Dr. Malinger had prescribed. And there were indeed cases when Alter the medical practitioner ruled: “I am telling you not to take this medicine. I will prescribe another”. His patients would actually put aside the medicines that the doctor had prescribed and take those that Alter Bainerman prescribed. So great was the trust that the Jewish masses in Ostrowiec placed in him, and particularly the women.

And whom did they consult with toothache and a swollen cheek, if not Alter? In Ostrowiec in those days, they did not know about dentists, fillings, or broken teeth. They immediately ran to Alter with a swollen cheek, he did not waste time and gave an order: “Open your mouth!”, took the pliers and pulled out the afflicted tooth.

To this day, I remember when I was lying at home with my face swollen like a mountain, writhing in pain. Reb Alter came to our house, approached me, and sternly ordered: “Open your mouth at once!” He took out his pliers, and with one snap pulled out two of my teeth. I actually saw my great-grandmother standing there. And to this day, a shudder goes through my body when I am reminded of the terrible pain that I endured when my teeth were pulled out, even though it did not take long.

Alter the medical practitioner was particularly popular with the farmers, both male and female, who lived in the surrounding villages.

Twice a week – Mondays and Thursdays – fairs took place in Ostrowiec, and many farmers from the surrounding villages would gather at the market-place, where they sold their agricultural products.

On these two days, Alter and his sons were inundated with work. Every farmer, male and female, took the opportunity and went to Alter the medical practitioner – one with constipation, one a swollen cheek from tooth pain, and one with a pain in the shoulder.

In their work-premises, in a small street, the male and female farmers would spread themselves out on the floor, while Alter and his sons, with sleeves rolled up, would pull teeth, lubricate shoulders, place cupping glasses[2] and leeches, and apply enemas, one after the other.

[Page 197]

Institutions and characters [Title of section]

Reb Alter had his own system of healing the sick. He firmly believed in an enema, and if someone came to him with an injured finger, he suggested first of all, that they have an enema, because he maintained that all troubles and pains – are a result of constipation.

After Alter's death, his son Avromtshe enjoyed from the same trust from the people in the town. The Ostrowiec Jews regarded him more highly than they did all the doctors. If Avromtshe said to a sick Jew: “I am telling you, that you will be fine”, they would become well from this statement alone.

There was often an “epidemic” in the town: children began to cough, had red throats, and diarrhea. At those times, Avromtshe had his hands full with work. He could truly not walk calmly down the street. Women would scream from all sides. “Reb Avromtshe, have mercy, my child is God forbid, going to die!” On such an occasion, Avromtshe would mobilize all his brothers: Shammai, Izik, Eber, and Naftali. They all went to the Jewish homes and painted throats, placed cupping glasses, did dressings, instructed the sick to drink hot tea and take medicines a few times a day.

Exactly like his father, Avromtshe would not tolerate the medications that Dr. Malinger prescribed. The people were told that they should immediately cease taking those medicines, and to take those that he prescribed. “If you want to be well” he would say to the sick person, “do what I tell you, and do not let the doctors confuse you, because they do not understand anything”. And they actually listened to what Avromtshe said.

Avromtshe was also actively involved with the “Linat Hatzedek” [Lodgings for the Poor], where he devoted a lot of his time and energy. He would sit there and attend to poor Jews and women with small sick children who benefited from his free medical assistance. Everyone knew him well because he engaged in conversation with them and spoke to them in their mother tongue, in Yiddish. He was a true people's-person, in the full sense of the word.

Besides this, Avromtshe was active in communal organizations and was head of the left Po'alei-Tzion[3] in Ostrowiec. He generously supported this organization, and maintained it, at his own expense.

On every festival, a magnificent parochet[4] would be hung over the holy ark in the old Ostrowiec synagogue. This parochet was donated to the synagogue by Avromtshe Bainerman and woven into it, in large gold letters was written: “Donated by Avraham Bainerman, the son of Reb Alter, of blessed memory”. I met Avromtshe Bainerman for the last time during the German occupation of Ostrowiec. The German soldiers caught us at work, a large group of Jews, and led us behind the town. There they forced us to clean military toilets with our bare hands, and we were not allowed to use rags and buckets that were there. Later they took us out to a large site that was covered with horse-manure, and we had to clean it within a short time. On his head, Avromtshe wore a large deep hat, and they forced him to remove the hat, put in the horse-manure and carry it back and forth. And they, our Nazi overseers, stood at a distance, splitting their sides from laughter, delighted by the spectacle that was provided for them by the “filthy Jews”.

I also remember the old Mendel Feldsher[5], who wore spectacles tied with string behind his ears. His premises were in Kunaver street, next to Izik Mendel the ritual slaughterer. He earned his living mainly from placing cupping glasses, painting throats and administering enemas. In his later years, he was assisted by his adult son.

And who of the Ostrowiec Jews, of the older generation, does not remember Malye the doctor? In the cold, dark, winter nights, she would walk through the town with a lantern in her hand and visit sick Jewish women. She was a leading specialist in her profession and she knew precisely when Feige Mindel the midwife had to be summoned. Feige Mindel delivered all the children of the young Jewish women in Ostrowiec.

I remember Moshe Bainerman too - also a feldsher. His premises were opposite the church and there were a few steps to enter. As far as I can remember, he was a tall, slim, well-built and handsome man.

[Page 198]

Later Nachman Alman came to Ostrowiec from Tarle – he was the son-in-law of Alter Bainerman. He also became a health practitioner, and very soon became popular in the town with both Jews and Christians. He would walk around with a satchel in his hand that contained instruments and various lubricants to administer injections and medications. In Ostrowiec and in the surrounding areas there was never a shortage of sick people and there was enough work for all the Jewish medical practitioners.

It is interesting that all members of the Bainerman dynasty were either medical practitioners or hairdressers. These two professions were paired, and one complimented the other.

After Alter's death, his sons Shammai and Eber, and later Naftali, worked in his premises in the small street.

Nachman Alman had his premises on Starokunowska street, not far from the market-place on one side, and neighboring the Gorzysta on the other side, not far from the river. For many years, I had my hair cut there, and I remember well this locale. Later, when Izik Bainerman opened premises near us on Drildzsher [Ilzecka] street, at the corner of Szeroka street – I moved over to him and became a regular client.

In these hairdressers in Ostrowiec, one could have a haircut and be shaved, but also enter into a debate about everything and everyone. Passionate discussions would take place there among young people of every persuasion, who came there for a shave and a haircut. There were discussions about Zionism, Communism, the Bund[6], the philosophy of Po'alei-Tzion, about religion - and everything else. Each one defended his party and his beliefs with fervor, from which they did not want to retreat, not even by a hair's breadth. And sometimes they were late going home for lunch because of these discussions.

* * *

With the tragic extermination of Jewish Ostrowiec by the Nazi murderers, the medical practitioners also perished, members of the great Bainerman dynasty, together with their wives and children, who were cruelly tortured in the hell of Hitler's death camps.


  1. Barber-Surgeons. A feldsher, is not a doctor. He is an unlicensed medical practitioner or a public health officer. Often referred to as barber-surgeon. Return
  2. Cupping glasses, “bankes”, were place on the back of a person with a fever, to draw out the fever from his body. Return
  3. Po'alei-Tzion – Labor Zionist movement. Return
  4. Parochet – the curtain that hangs in front of the holy ark in the synagogue. Return
  5. It appears that Mendel took the name of his profession as his surname. Return
  6. Bund – Jewish Socialist Party, established in 1897, prominent in Russia and particularly Poland, before World War 2. Return


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