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[Page 588]

Memories of my town Bukowsk

Written by Yehuda Knebel

Translated by William Leibner

I left Bukowsk in my youth in 1904. Some events have remained inscribed in my memory to today. The place had a population of about a thousand people, mostly Jews. Surrounding the township lived the Polish Christian farming population. The center of Bukowsk was called “miasto “ city in Polish to indicate the centrality of the township. The other areas of the city and the immediate vicinity to the township were called “ wies “ or the village of Bukowsk. The head of the township was the
“burmistrz “ or mayor, Mr. Kornreich and his secretary, Avraham Pinkas

The Jewish population of the township belonged to the three leading Hassidic courts in the region. The leading group was the Zanzer Hasssidic faction that grouped itself around the Zanzer study center in the center of Bukowsk. Next, were the Hassidim of Sadigora and their shul located in the eastern part of the city. Finally, the Dynower Hassidim and the residence of the saint Rabbi Meir Yehuda. This Hassidic group had a compound that consisted of several impressive buildings amongst them; the big study center that contained a large religious library, a mikvah and the residence of their religious leader. The compound was located in the western part of the city along the road that led to Sanok, the big city in the region. Sanok was a lively place, especially on Saturdays and Jewish holidays, when many Hassidim came to visit the Rabbi and ask for his divine intercession on their behalf.

The Rabbi was rather short, large shouldered and had a potbelly. He was known as a wise and clever man. He had a powerful voice and used it when conducting services on Shabbos(Sabbath) and holidays. The tunes and melodies that he used in the services remain with me to today. The Rabbi was very influential in the community. The mayor usually consulted him on many issues. The secretary of the kehillah or Jewish community, Abraham Pinkas prayed at the Zanzer synagogue. There was great rivalry between the Zanzer and Dynower groups in town. But, the secretary of the kehilla also attended the services of the Dynower Hassidim, due to his position in the community.

Bukowsk had three people that practiced medicine. Dr. Atlas was already advanced in age, Reuven, the healer, who was a barber, but also extracted teeth and administered medications. The most important medical person in the township was the Rabbi to whom most Jews turned for help. The three people in question maintained cordial relations and Dr. Atlas was even seen partaking food at the Rabbi's table.

The Jews of Bukowsk earned their livelihood from commerce. They provided the town and the surrounding villages with all their needs. Once a week there was a market in the township. Many merchants and farmers from the area came to the market, which attracted many people. Every March, Bukowsk had a fair that lasted almost a week, from Monday to Friday. At the cattle market or Targowaca, each day of the fair was devoted to another animal – one day for horses, another day for cows and still another day for oxen, and pigs, etc… As opposed to the market or the fair, the stores and the workshops continued their daily activities. The big topic of the day was of course the annual fair.

A good deal of the income of the township was derived from visiting Hassidim that came to see the Rabbi. They came for Shabbos and holidays and stayed at the homes of local Jews. These visitors also purchased items for their homes. Thus, the local Jewish population derived a nice income from the visitors.

I must share with my readers some particular events that took place in the township. As mentioned before, there was a constant feud between the Zanzer and Dynower Hassidim. Once a rumor spread that a Zanzer Hassid made fun of Rabbi Meir Yehuda in the Zanser synagogue. The rumor spread throughout the township and soon attracted the youth who took sides. The Zanser followers concentrated around the Zanzer synagogue and the Dynower around their compound. The bridge on the small river of Patik served as the divider between the camps. At first the youngsters shouted at each other from a distance. But one Saturday afternoon, stones started to fly across the bridge as both camps advanced and threw stones at each other. The battle soon took on the appearance of a serious engagement as the groups reached the bridge and continued to throw stones at each other…

My parents, Berish and Sheindel Knebel, lived in a small house between the city and village of Bukowsk. The house was at a certain distance from the road. The space between the house and the road belonged to the village municipality. A few Polish farmers petitioned the village to permit them to erect a statue of Jesus on this space. My parents were very religious and alarmed by the demand turned for help to Rabbi Meir Yehuda. The Rabbi invited the leaders of the community to discuss the matter. The president of the kehilla, Mr. Kornreich and the secretary, Avraham Pinkas, took the matter to the regional office in Sanok where the decision was made that the space in question belonged to the city of Bukowsk and not to the village. Thus ended the plan to erect a cross in front of my parents' house.

Another episode comes to mind of the life of Bukowsk. A poor Jewish youngster left the place to seek opportunity. After a few years, he returned to visit his parents. He was a tall fellow, well dressed and he wore a modern hat that was fashionable in Budapest where he worked and lived. His appearance impressed Jews and non-Jewish of Bukowsk and the latter even lowered their hats, when they greeted him. The neighbors envied the fellow as well as his parents. This story also had a happy end of sorts. In his numerous conversations in Bukowsk, he made a statement that implied that he no longer believed in God or that there was a God in Heaven... This information soon reached everybody in the township and became the topic of conversation. Soon the Jewish youngsters began to chase after the fellow and shouted that he was a non-believer, they even threw stones at him. The fellow packed his belongings and hastily left Bukowsk.

I visited a few times Bukowsk and saw that the youth was slowly being affected by the winds of change…

[Page 590]

Shabbat in Bukowsk

Written by Yitzchok Zuckerkandel

Translated by William Leibner

The preparations for Shabbos (Sabbath) started already on Sunday. For the average Jew sacrificed a great deal throughout the weekdays in order to prepare everything possible for the Shabbos. People prepared special food delights and purchased fruits for the day. All the clothes were cleaned and fixed for the day.

Women began to order chickens, especially fat chickens for the Shabbos. On occasion farmers from nearby farms appeared with ducks or turkeys that were snapped up by the housewives that had cash on hand. The joy was great if they succeeded to obtain something special for the Shabbos and always added to their purchase the words “in honor of Shabbos”. The same applied to other delicacies that were prepared and stored for the Shabbos. On that day, the delicacies and the fruits were distributed to the children, grandchildren and to the young students that came to be examined on the material studied during the week at the cheder.

During the week, they inquired from Hersh Ber Drucker whether there will be fish for Shabbos. Sometimes he did not have a ready answer. However, as soon as fish made their appearance in the fish store, Jews came from all over to purchase them for the Shabbos. The fish, even a small fish was prepared with spiritual devotion for the family meal. The head of the household, also, took some in a jar to the synagogue for the third meal of Saturday. He also took a challah or a Shabbos bread to the synagogue for the third meal.

On Thursday the preparations for the Shabbos were in full swing. Women purchased flour to bake challot and bread for the week, raisins for wine for kiddush and havdalah [exit of the Shabbos celebration] and many other necessities for the house for Shabbos. Thursday late in the evening, the fire ovens were lit and heated and then filled with the challot, breads and cakes. The men also helped if not by baking or cooking, they sharpened the knives, cleaned the candleholders and prepared the candles for Shabbos.

On Friday, the men went to the bathhouse and received the services of Yonah, the bath attendant. They started with the hot tubs where they sat and soaked in the hot water, occasionally Yonah brought a pail of extra hot water to keep the water hot. Then they went to the steam room and sat on the steps and sweated. Some took with them pitchers of cold water to drink while sweating, towels and small whipping brooms. Yonah attended to all their needs. Indeed, when they left the bathhouse, the Jews were ready to receive spiritually the Shabbos.

The peddlers that were selling goods in distant villages throughout the week, returned home on Friday. They, too, were dressed up and ready to receive the Shabbos. The arrival of the Shabbos was announced by Zelig, the shamash. All the stores closed and the sanctity of the Shabbos descended on the township. Even the non- Jewish sector of Bukowsk felt the holy spirit and few if any activities took place in the Christian stores or in the courthouse or other administrative places. All the Jews attended services and prayed with fervor. All the financial worries and strains were left behind on the Shabbos. Most Jews tried to take home a guest for the midday meal, in order to fulfill the commandment of sharing food with the poor people. Of course. there were plenty of beggars at the synagogues and this was their opportunity to receive a meal.

Friday night services finished, most people came home to well-lit places. The gas lamps and the Shabbos candles gave plenty of light. The white-covered tables with their settings created a spiritual feeling, the holiness of the Shabbos could be felt in every corner. The women blessed the candles and looked contently at their creations. From the open windows, one could hear the Friday night songs of the Jews, as they sat down to their tables. After blessing the wine, the meal started and more songs of praise for God and his World. Then, the people went to hear the holy words of the Rabbi or a simple tale about the saints and returned home at midnight.

Saturday morning, people went to the mikvah to immerse themselves in the ice-cold water and returned home to review the section of the Torah that was read on that Shabbos. They also reviewed other religious texts and then went to the synagogue for the services. They returned home and ate the midday meal with their family. The men usually dosed off at the table for short periods of time and then left for the synagogue to study or recite psalms and to pray the late afternoon service or Mincha. There were also people that took a long nap on Saturday after the meal in compliance with the custom that one must rest on Shabbos.

Following the Mincha services, the congregants partook in the third meal of the day. Songs were sung during the meal. At the Zanzer study center, Yossi Boimehl
[ Yossi Sheindel's], Elimelech Ehrlich and Shaul Noah Markel conducted the singing. While at the shul of the Dynower Hassidim, it was Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, Itzhak Fishel, Michael Tzukerhandel, and Itzhak Gintzburg. Eisik Schwerd conducted the singing at the Sadigora shul. The singing at the synagogues lasted until the Shabbos finished. Most of the participants would have liked for the singing to continue and for the Shabbos to remain.

While the men were at the synagogues partaking in the third meal, the women were at home in total darkness. They exchanged stories with their neighbors and frequently glanced at the windows to see whether three stars were visible. This event indicated that the Shabbos finished. They recited a small prayer that invoked the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and urged them to protect their flock. Whereupon, they lit the lamps, and wished each other a pleasant week. Following the last prayer of the day or Ma'ariv, the men came home, blessed the exit of the Shabbos and celebrated the last meal of the day. They raised a toast to life and sung various Hassidic songs or recited stories based on the life of the saints. They then wished each other a pleasant week.

[Page 592]

Grandmother, possessor of a great soul

Written by Yehuda Shakadi

Translated by William Leibner

As a youngster, my family moved to the city of Sanok, but I always returned to Bukowsk for my vacations, holidays and any occasion that presented itself to visit my grandmother, who remained in Bukowsk. Her name was Feige Arom, she was my maternal grandmother. She was a widow, her husband Eliyahu Zushie Arom died [see description below]. I was born in her house and that is where my parents lived, until we moved. I would like to devote a few lines to her. They called her Feige, the slaughterer, since her husband was the slaughterer in Bukowsk. We will not do justice to our martyred saints if we did not describe some of the charitable activities that this woman performed during her lifetime. In spite of the fact that she was a poor and sick widow that cared for her orphans, she also cared for the poor. There were rich families in Bukowsk that were not interested in the surrounding poverty. My grandmother tended to the poor families. She collected money and clothing for the poor people and seemed dedicated to help the poor.

san592.jpg [17 KB] - Feige Arom
Feige Arom

Feige raised her children to help others and frequently even involved the grandchildren in the task. I remember that every Thursday she prepared small packages of goodies for the Shabbos. She send me with a package to one needy home and then to another and so on. Frequently, there were many needy people and grandmother did not have enough items for packages. She sent me and sometimes even enlisted my friends to help me raise the necessary money to provide everybody with a small package for Shabbos. I still remember her calm and soothing voice, as she explained the need for her actions. I remember one instance that will always remain with me. Grandmother once went to her bed and removed the sheet, perhaps the only one she had, and tore it into diapers to be delivered to a poor woman that was delivering a baby. I carried the diapers and tears always appear in my eyes when I reminisce on the story. This was not her only deed. She provided medical assistance for all those that could not afford to visit the doctor or helped the families that were exhausted from tending to the sick by taking turns in tending to the patient. She never worried about herself and was always content with her lot. She was dedicated to helping the needy surrounding her.

When I left the city of Sanok for Palestine, she left the city of Bukowsk to live with her daughter in an another city. The daughter lived a distance from the city. When I visited my parents in 1937, I also visited my grandmother. She was very unhappy with her location, since it did not enable her to help the people she knew. She felt that she wasted her time. I tried to assure her that there must be needy people in the area in need of help. She replied that she was removed from the needy people. I felt her emptiness and sorrow. At these moments I had a great deal of empathy for this woman that was deprived of her life's avocation - to help the needy.

I shall never forget this beloved person. She will always remain with me.

[Page 593]

Rav Isaac Schwerd

Written by Yitzchok Zuckerkandel

Translated by William Leibner

Eisik, the son of Mali, that was the way his friends and enemies called him. He was always in the center of things, whether in the synagogue, in the street or at a party. People that wanted to listen to his explanations always surrounded him. In spite of his angry look, a warm heart pulsated that was always ready to help with charity, good deeds and good advice.

[Page 594]

He donated and enlisted donors. During the Shoah he helped many Jews to survive by establishing a link in the forests where Jews found refuge.

san594.jpg [14 KB] - Isaac Schwerd
Isaac Schwerd

His deed gave courage to many Jews to follow his footsteps and survive the war. Following the war, he and his family settled in Bratislava [Pressburg] Slovakia. Here he was also involved in helping the needy Jews. He left for New York City in 1950. He was very successful in the jewelry business. He and his sons contributed to charity, especially Yeshivot. Eisik Shwerd died in New York and his coffin was brought to Israel to be buried at the Har Menuhot cemetery in Jerusalem. He purchased the plot while alive. All those that he helped and inspired to seek a safe refuge from the German hands owed him a great deal. They will always remember his memory.

[Page 595]

The family of R' Pesach Dobres

Written by David Dobres

Translated by William Leibner

My grandfather Pesach Dobras was a pleasant man, he was a follower of the Rabbi of Koloshitz and active in the community. He had the salt monopoly for the area from the Austrian Empire. My grandfather rebuilt the destroyed Zanzer study center in town. The place was destroyed during WWI. In the twenties, there was a great fire that destroyed almost half the city. My grandfather rebuilt his home and also built a home for needy transients. My grandmother, Mishkit, took care of the needy transients that visited the city and used the facility. She also provided food and clothing to the needy people in town.

With the establishment of the Polish State, he lost his license and barely made a living. He tried his hand at many activities, including hauling goods from Sanok to Bukowsk. He was a very pious man and even recited the midnight prayers. Shabbos was a holiday and he avoided chatting on this day. If forced to speak, he would utter a few words in Hebrew. Shabbos was devoted to the study of the Torah and to prayers. With the exit of the Shabbos, he would light the candle and recite the appropriate prayers. He then lit his long pipe, opened a storybook and read a story pertaining to the Torah reading of the week. We sat around the table and listened. Grandmother was preparing the meal ending the Shabbos. Visitors started to arrive to the house, including my father. They all partook in the meal, sang religious songs, recited stories about pious men and escorted the Shabbos out.

My grandparents died of old age in Bukowsk. They left two sons and three daughters. The oldest son, Moshe Elimelech, was drafted during WWI and seriously injured. He never recovered. He established his residence next to the entrance door of the synagogue and this is where he spent most of his time. The second son, Haim Mendel absorbed a love for the Holy Land, for the Torah and the Hebrew language from his father. Together with his cousin, Leibish Berger, the son of Mordechai Berger [nicknamed Motele Blecher] they organized a Zionist club to help build Palestine and develop the usage of Hebrew. This uncle married and settled in the village of Krosno where he tended to the farm and used the Hebrew language. The oldest daughter, Feige Leah married Yossef Haim Weinfeld, the second daughter, Hannah Reitze married Yaacov Yehoshua Sopher from Istrik. He was a scholar and involved in the community. The third daughter, my mother, Sarah Miriam married Israel Itzhak Haras from Tirawa Wolska, He was a very pious man, who barely managed to support his family. He sold religious books and also bound books. He was a follower of the Belzer Rabbi and frequently went on pilgrimages to the court of the Rabbi. Sometimes he took me along. My mother passed away before the war. The rest of the family perished during the Shoah.

Eliyahu Posner

Amongst the old congregants of the Sadigora shul was Eliyahu Posner. His faith strengthened by the presence of his father-in-law, Abish, a fervent follower of the Hassidic court of Rijin in Bukowsk. His mother was well-read and spoke foreign languages. Also,he was well-rounded in general knowledge, but adhered to the Hassidic way of life, even after his father-in-law passed away.

[Page 596]

Tuvia Rand

We remember him already retired. His son-in-law, Itzhak [ Itsche ] Irom ran the businesss. This family maintained a patriarchal way of life. The family was always well-provided and well-protected. It was related to Mendel Rand,who was a well-known homebuilder in Jerusalem and to Menashe Irom, a distinguished Hassid in Bukowsk. His son Itzhak married Tuvia's daughter. The latter's house was a well-known and beautiful home in Bukowsk.

Moshe Rebhuhn

Moshe was a religious scholar who continued his studies throughout life. He was a devoted follower of the Hassidic court of Zanz. He observed all the nuances of this Hassidic group with some minor exceptions. He was a quiet person and his behavior affected the entire household. His oldest son Pincus has devoted himself to business and succeeded to a certain extent. He married Hinda Kramer, the daughter of Ephraim, and moved to Sanok. Here they led a distinguished life. His second son Mordechai remained at home for some time. We have received no information about him.

The Stern Family

Itzhak Stern was the father of the family in Bukowsk. His son Haim helped the development of the Jewish society in the city. He adhered strictly to the teachings of the Torah and was a fervent follower of the Hassidic movement. He never revealed the extent of his knowledge until the last years of his life, when he transferred his business to his sons. Haim Stern was involved with forests, trees and his “Tokarnia” enterprise. He devoted himself to the study of the Torah until his last days.

His daily behavior indicated that Haim Stern basically followed the precepts of the Dynow dynasty in Bukowsk. Indeed, he was a member of the group and raised his four sons and daughter, Ita, in the ways of this Hassidic group. As far as we remember from our distant memories, the children followed definite family patterns in accordance with their abilities. The oldest son Elieazar and the next son Pessah continued their religious studies. The former was a very capable student and made great strides in his studies. He was considered a religious scholar. Pessah was also knowledgeable, but not to such extent. He was more involved in the community, in the Hassidic court of Bukowsk. Shimon was involved in the family business of forests and lumber. Two of his sons survived the Shoah. One of them, Shalom reached Palestine and established a family. Ita Stern married Dawid Maltz from Krakow and both perished in the Shoah, but their daughter Mina and her husband survived and reached Palestine. This was all that survived of this large family.

[Page 597]

Yehuda Schpatz

Yehuda Schpatz was a very pious and poor man. Adhered strictly to the rules of the Torah. He stemmed from a distinguished family of saints and pious people. He was related to many Hassidic families through marriage. His daughter Ginana married the son of the Rabbi of Bukowsk, Tzvi Elimelech Shapiro. The Rabbi himself, Dawid Shapiro passed away prior to the war. Yehuda Schpatz lived in abysmal poverty all his life. He frequently lacked food for his children, but refused to reveal his condition in town. He and his family accepted their lot, stoically. Few people knew their real situation. The family hid their poverty and carried themselves with pride.

Commemoration of the martyrs of Bukowsk

In the summer of 1946, Dawid Dobras, a native of Bukowsk [a grandson of Pessah Dobras, who was an old member of the study center of the Zanzer Hassidim in Bukowsk] took it upon himself to memorialize the saints of Bukowsk. The main task was the erection of a memorial tombstone for the martyred Jews of Bukowsk and vicinity at the Mount Zion Memorial Cemetery in Jerusalem, Israel. There were, also, other activities similar in nature to those of other communities, who memorialized the victims of the Shoah.

On the occasion of the erection of the tombstone at the cemetery, Mr. Itzhak Tzukerhandel addressed the assembled mourners as follows, “a number of years have passed, since this terrible disaster struck us. We all lost our loved ones, our dear parents, our brothers, our sisters. It will be superfluous to describe in detail the horrible events to you. Who doesn't remember the Ukrainian robbery, the Slovakian robbers, the terrible winter months followed by the labor camps, Schawne, Trepcza, and Domrowka. The first victims of Bukowsk, prior to the holiday of Shavout of 1942. The mass expulsion of Jews to the death camp of Zaslaw where most of them perished. The city where we were born and raised was also destroyed. All these events remind us of our past. We are assembled here at Mount Zion, a few years late, to honor the memory of the martyred Jews of Bukowsk and vicinity by erecting this tombstone. Today, the 29th day in the month of Adar is also the Memorial Day of the Rabbi of Bukowsk, Dawid Shapiro. His son, Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Shapiro appropriately reminisced about his father and the community of Bukowsk.”

san598.jpg [33 KB] - Memorial tombstone at the Mount Zion Cemetery
Memorial tombstone at the
Mount Zion Cemetery in Jerusalem

In memory to the martyred saints of Bukowsk [Bukowsko] and surrounding areas [in Galicia] that were killed and exterminated by the sword and in the gas chambers by the Germans and their helpers, during the years of the Shoah, 42 [1942 / 5703]. May the names of the perpetrators be erased from memory. The memory of the saints will never be forgotten.
The Memorial Day is 27th day in the month of Elul.
May their souls rest in peace.
Former residents of Bukowsk and vicinity.

Due to the small number of survivors of Bukowsk in Israel and throughout the world, we were unable to establish a landesmanshaft or organization of former residents of Bukowsk. We therefore joined with the organization of former residents of Sanok and vicinity where the martyred saints from our hamlet are memorialized at the annual memorial service of this organization. On the initiative of Dawid Dobras a number of informal meetings of the survivors of Bukowsk takes place each year. In Israel at the home of Mina Schwinger [granddaughter of Haim Stern, daughter of Dawid and Ita Maltz]. At these meetings, the survivors reminisce about the town of Bukowsk. Itzhak Tzukerman presents a specific description of the destruction of our hamlet Bukowsk and the vicinity, as well as a general description of the destruction of Jewish life in the area on page 342 of this book.

Jewish Names in Bukowsk

Alter-Leiz   the bookbinder
Arom Eliyahu Zushe shochet
Arom Feige   wife of Eliyahu
Atlas   doctor
Berger Mordechai  
Berger Leibush son of Mordechai
Boimehl Yossi [ Yossi Sheindel's]
Diller Yossef Leib  
Dobras David  
Dovers Mishkit [wife of Pessah died]
Dovers Feige Leah daughter of Pessah, married Yossef Haim Weinfeld
Dovers Haim Mendel son of Pessah, farmer in village of Krosno
Dovers Hannah Reitze daughter of Pessah, married Yaacov Yehoshua Sopher
Dovers Moshe Elimelech son of Pessah injured
Dovers Pessah salt monopoly died
Dovers Sarah Miriam daughter of Pessah, married Israel Itzhak Haras
Drucker Hersh Ber fish store
Ehrlich Elimelech  
Eisenberg Isser Dayan [religious judge]
Finkelstein Moshe Meir shochet
Fishel Itzhak  
Futernik Chaim  
Ginzburg Itzhak  
Ginzburg Shlomo  
Irom Itzhak [ Itsche ] son of Menashe
Irom Menashe  
Knebel Berish  
Knebel Sheindel wife of Berish
Knebel Yehuda son of Berish
Kornreich   mayor
Kramer Ephraim father of Hinda
Kramer Hinda wife of Pinhas
Langsam Tzvi Elimelech  
Langsam Yossef  
Maltz Mina daughter of Dawid (survived) married Schwinger
Maltz Dawid husband of Ita, from Krakow, Perished in Shoah
Markel Shaul Noah  
Posner Eliyahu  
Pinkas Avraham secretary of the community
Pinter Haim Rabbi  
Pinter Avraham Rabbi son of Haim
Rand Mendel  
Rand Tuvia  
Rebhuhn Mordechai son of Moshe
Rebhuhn Moshe Hinda Kramer Ephraim  
Rebhuhn Pinhas son of Moshe
Shapiro David Rabbi, son of Meir
Shapiro Miriam wife of Meir
Shapiro Tzvi Elimelech son of Dawid, husband of Gnina
Shapiro Dawid Rabbi of Bukowsk
Shapiro Meir Yehuda Rabbi
Schpatz Yehuda  
Schpatz Gnina daughter of Yehuda
Stern Ita daughter of Haim Perished in Shoah
Stern Pessah son of Haim Perished in Shoah
Stern Shalom son of Shimon - Survived
Stern Shimon son of Haim Perished in Shoah
Stern Elieazar son of Haim Perished in Shoah
Stern Haim son of Itzhak Perished in Shoah
Stern Itzhak died
Stern Haim  
Schwerd Eisik  
Schwerd Haim  
Sharbit A.  
Shkedi Yehudith  
Teitelbaum Moshe Rabbi
Teitelbaum Dawid son of Moshe
Tzukerhandel Itzhak  
Tzukerhandel Michael  
Tzuntz David Arieh  
Weissblum Elieazar Rabbi
Wilk Mordechai  
Yonah   the bath attendant
Zelig   Shamash

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