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by Yitzchak Szaransky

{Photo page 510: Uncaptioned. Chava-Itta.}

Who did not know Chava-Itta, the Tzadeket (righteous woman) of Zgierz, the wife of Shalom Henech Bomes? Her equal with regard to modesty and dedication to giving help to the ill or the needy – did not exist in the city.

Herself sickly and week, she had a family with five children. Livelihood was very meager, yet she still concerned herself with making soup for a poor person, a sick person, or a woman in labor who concealed her poverty.

She went to people of means, not to speak evil talk or to spread city gossip, but rather regarding soup with a wing for a poor sick person, but to ask that they include the feet as well.

Chava-Itta did not wait until someone came to tell her that someone or other is lying sick or needs help. Rather, she went to seek them out. When she found such a sick person, she did not rest, but rather ran straight to make something for him.

Her second good deed was to concern herself with Jewish prisoners who were incarcerated in the Zgierz “koze” before arrest. She provided them with some warm food and cigarettes. She would often put in a good word, requesting that the prisoner not be treated badly.

Chava-Itta began her activity sometime before Passover. She did not rest as she searched out Zgierz Jews who were not able to make Passover. She would go to the city administrators and request that they provide those Jews with matzos, potatoes and eggs for Passover.

Her husband, Shalom Henech the coal dealer would remain in the Kloiz for a long time on winter evenings after Mincha and Maariv. During that time Chava-Itta would provide a poor woman with a sack of coal for free. She knew that without coal, the poor woman would not have anything with which to heat her cold house.

Honor to her memory.

Yitzchak S.


Yisrael Weinik

from the Lexicon of the New Yiddish Literature and the Lerer Yizkor Book

(Murdered in the Warsaw Ghetto on August 19, 1942.)

He was born in Zgierz, near Lodz, Poland, and completed higher education. He came to Warsaw at the beginning of the 1920s, and became a teacher. He was the manager of summer colonies for Jewish teachers. He was politically active n the Bund. Later in the Warsaw Ghetto, he became active with “Oneg Shabbat” and the underground Ringelbaum archive.

Until 1939, he published articles, portraits, and travel columns in the “Folks Zeitung” of Warsaw. Later, he wrote reports of ghetto life. A report from 1941 was found in the Ringelbaum archive, called “Leib Demkowski's Departure”, published in the anthology, “Between Life and Death”, Warsaw, 1955, pages 20-23. He was murdered at the time of the first liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto.

“The Lexicon of the New Yiddish Literature”. (Bible.) Y. H., Our time, August 1943; B. Mark, Murdered Writers in the Ghettos and Camps, Warsaw, 1954, pages 56, 67, 109, 129; and “Between Life and Death”, Warsaw, 1955.

Weinik was the husband of the teacher Fela Lindeman. She was born in Zgierz around 1899. She was bound up with the entire school circle in Zgierz. She was the administrator of summer colonies for Jewish teachers. She was involved in other scientific undertakings of the “Culture League”. She was killed in the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Teacher's Yizkor Book. New York, 1952-1954. Page 149.


Pinchas Bizberg

from the Lexicon of the New Yiddish Literature and other sources

{Photo page 512: Uncaptioned. Pinchas Bizberg.}

He was born in Zgierz, on July 20, 1898. He studied in cheder and yeshivas. He went to Germany in 1918, and completed the Gymnasium in Zonenberg and Tiringen. He studied in the universities of Cologne and Bonn. He received a degree in agronomy in 1923. He practiced in Germany, Denmark and France. In 1927, he was sent by Y”Y”K” as an agronomist for the Argentinean Jewish colonies. He was active in the Jewish agrarian bank. He was the founder of a colony near Buenos Aires. He was the technical secretary of the YIVO in Buenos Aires, and the director of Jewish schools. After the First World War, he became the German correspondent of the Warsaw “Heint”. In Argentina, he published stories and articles in the Jewish newspaper, Der Shpigel, Das Neie Leiben, Ofsnei, Pnimer and Pnimlech, and the Colonist Cooperative. For a year, he was the editor of the Neie Tzeit, the Poale Zion organ in Buenos Aires. For three years, he was the co-editor of the Jewish newspaper. He was a member of the editor's college “Argentinean Yivo Writers”, the co-editor of Educational Problems, a member of the Inainem Editor's College (the anthology book of the cultural congress), the editor of Das Yiddishe Vort. He published the following in books: Neie Heimen (New Homes), Buenos Aires, 1939, 278 pages; Miguel Sacharov, Buenos Aires, 1940, 280 pages; Sabbath and Festival Jews, Buenos Aires, 1940, 180 pages; he wrote with a monograph about Dr. Yarchi, Buenos Aires, 1943, 1623 pages; Levi Yitzchak Berditchever, Folksshpil, Buenos Aires, 1952, Chana Senesh, a Jewish Heroin, published in Buenos Aires June 1948. In 1950, he published the play “When Forests Burn” in Buenos Aires, and the dramatization of Yehuda Elberg's story “Agent 838”. In 1948, he produced the drama “Night in the Nurenberger Ghetto”. He lived in Santiago, Chile since 1935

From “Lexicon of the New Jewish Literature”.
Y. Botashanski, Mother-Yiddish;
Sh. Rozanski, The Yiddish Printed Word in Argentina, Buenos Aires, 1941;
Anthology of the Jewish Literature in Argentina, Buenos Aires, 1944.


Pinchas Bizberg – the Writer and the Man

by Yaakov Pilowski

(On the occasion of his 70th birthday.)

P. Bizberg entered Jewish literature with the baggage of higher education, with knowledge of language and literature, laden with deep Jewish knowledge, a master of the old and new Jewish literature, and laden with Hassidic spirit and zeal, with burning enthusiasm. However, more than anything, he brought into Jewish literature his rich bounty and his great command of the Yiddish language, as a supplement to his literary talent.

As almost any beginner, Pinchas Bizberg took his first steps as a writer in poetry. However, these were weak and helpless steps. His poems were barely poetic and greatly narrative, so that they could not be published as appropriate in his youthful mood.

Fortunately, Bizberg soon chanced upon his appropriate genre, which was his true niche within Yiddish literature, for which he as born – prose. He became quickly known in Argentina as a talented writer – as the Argentinean Jewish writer.

Bizberg settled in Argentina in 1927, and he became known as the writer and portrayer of the Jewish colonies in Argentina, which were then in their full bloom.

Bizberg began writing already in Poland, but he became fully engaged in Yiddish literature when he was in Argentina. Aside from his dozens and dozens of professional articles on agronomy, articles about cultural and social problems, essays and satires portraying colonial life, Bizberg produced significant fictional works in the form of narratives that appeared in book form, under the name of “New Home” in 1939. P. Bizberg is also the author of several dramas, including “Hannah Senesh”, which were performed on the Yiddish stage in Buenos Aires. His monograph about the legendary Dr. Yarchi brought to light the generation of Jewish pioneers in the Argentinean “Pampes” (steppes). Bizberg's splendid novel about the autobiographical character “Sabbath and Festival Jews” was published by request of the central committee of Polish Jews in Argentina.

Sabbath and Festival Jews is not only the chant of a generation, as is claimed in the subtitle of the book, but is also the chant of Pinchas Bizberg himself, the chant of his soul and life. It reads as a long chant, a song of life, written in prose. In that work, without doubt, Bizberg reaches the zenith, the pinnacle of his creativity.

Bizberg's subject matter was broad and realistic. His sharp eye penetrated into many hidden corners of life in general and of the individual in particular. Jewish colonization in Argentina was the healthy base of the Jewish community in that land, and the colonial writers were the ground-layers and columns for Jewish literature in Argentina. Bizberg's name is inscribed in the literary and cultural history of Jewish Argentina, together with the names of Mordechai Alperson and Baruch Benderski, with the caveat that Bizberg's place in the literature is broader.

P. Bizberg displayed with his first, strong and fundamental narrative entitled “Under Entreriaser Heavens” in the provincial publication “Entreriaser Grandstand”, a narrative with which he later opens his first book, “New Skies”. This is an ode to the early Argentinean land, which received the wandering and harassed Jews into her arms and bosom. Soon Bizberg became known and was published in all the best newspapers and publications in Jewish Argentina.

Bizberg toiled hard and bitterly through his life.

Bizberg was an employee of “Ika” as an agronomist. There, he was a colonist on his own account, a teacher, and a cultural activist. He became a cultural creator, and went on to become a ripe and fruitful writer.

Bizberg's lineage was from Hassidic nobility and spiritual aristocracy. His grandfather's legacy included a washbasin in which the Gerrer Rebbe washed his hands. His father, Shabtai Nachum's, the Hassidic silken young man, lived for a period of time without doing anything for the world, he was not given over and not bowed under the yoke of livelihood, and he did not let himself be restricted within the four walls of a store. Later, he even took up the pen, and called himself Sawelinomowicz. Later, he served Shabtai Nachum's. When he came from his far-off business trips, he would quickly cast off the “German” and put on the silken kapote of his own “self”.

I met P. Bizberg in 1954 when he moved from Argentina to Chile to edit the new edition of “Dos Yiddishe Vort”, that began to appear twice a week.

From the first day of our working together, I followed Bizberg's every step with devotion. Above all, he was new in Chile, and I had been a resident there for 30 years. He valued my sincerity to him, and treated me with comradely trust and good friendship.

Bizberg was stricken by a hard blow in 1956 – an illness made it impossible for him to work. For the past 12 years, the ill writer has lived in Israel in oblivion. At first, he lived for a decade in Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, and for the last two years, he lived in Jerusalem.

Yaakov Pilowski, “Latest News”, Tel Aviv, December 6, 1968.


Riches is not the Main Thing

by Pinchas Bizberg

An intimate, friendly, and heartfelt letter to a friend from P. Bizberg. It characterizes well the later writer.

Oveshaneda, April 3, 1949

Vove Fisher, my cordial friend of my youth!

Your letter was indeed touching, infused with so much nice happenings. I do not know to whom, but I believe that Zgierz was a wonderfully aromatic town, where we all lived our own peculiar fine lives.

This is already years ago, and we already exchanged the first fifty[1]. The dainty childhood years remain in memory. I know a body of water, a forest, a garden, a girl – and herewith stands a bloody sea of millions of martyrs. Personally, we dispersed ourselves so early. I went away to Germany in 1918, studied agronomy, went to Holland, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland – practiced, worked, later had a possession in France. In 1927, I came to Argentina in the administration of the Baron Hirsch colonies, later became a colonist, had a large tract of my own land, and machines. For fifteen years I was with the colonies, and then finally ended up in the city. I was with the locust infested, dryness, aridity, and various other plagues from which a worker of the land suffers. I lost my means, became a pauper, and lived again in the city, despite the fact that I do not like the city. I experienced a great deal in life. Now I am a bit of a teacher, a bit of a writer, a bit of a dramatist, and now I am trying to be a bit of a merchant. In the meantime, I have not made any America here in America. Many Jews here, generally very coarse Jews, are very wealthy people, millionaires. But I am a writer among Israel (I am reckoned among the best storytellers of the Argentinean Jewish writers, G-d should not punish me for boasting). Lately, I have specialized in dramatic writing, and not with meager success. The critics extol me. But I must do other tasks daily that have no connection to writing. I work 14 to 16 hours daily so that I can write a few hours a week. Thus, the few years have already passed by. I have already published two books. When I received samples of the books, I will send them to you. The book “Sabbath and Festival Jews” which, is partly a reminiscence of my youth, childhood, Zgierz, Lodz, and my small journeys to Polish shtetls, will appear in a few months. You need not ask, for I will certainly send it to you. In six weeks, my new play “When Forests Burn”, will be performed. This work is dedicated to Janusz Korczak, the martyr who was murdered in the Warsaw Ghetto. I have a wife and a child, a daughter Chemda who is fifteen years old. When I have an opportunity, I will send you a photograph. With regard to livelihood, I get by, riches is not the main thing. The main thing is life.

Regarding the book, I have started to do something. Firstly, I have sent a notice regarding this matter in the three local daily newspapers. I had to persuade them, for they prefer paid advertisements to announcements. When the announcement is published, I will send it to you. I do not know if I will have success with my announcement, for if the Zgierzers have no written material or documents, there is nothing I can do about it. I will later send a sample of my book, in which Zgierz is portrayed in fictional form under the name Miechow. Regarding this matter, you must also notify the North American Jewish press. There, there are many Zgierzers. Here there is not a unique Zgierz organization, but only a Lodzer organization, to which the Zgierzers belong.

And you, what are you doing, dear friend? What do you work on? I believe that your father of blessed memory was a contractor for road building. You were a bit of a poet. You wrote short songs with such a fine handwriting – do you still write? From your letter, I see a considerable feeling for writing, and also talent. Write me more about yourself.

My heartfelt thanks to you regarding the birth certificate. If it costs money, I will reimburse you. In any case, thank you very much.

I intend to travel to Israel. I intend to do so a year from now, because one has to expend a great deal of money for this. We are so far, far apart, for an airplane ride to the Land via Europe is a three to four day event, not more – however, we wish to travel by ship. However this will take a year and a half. One must be in Israel, to help build the land, where social justice will be.

With heartfelt greetings, dear friend, from me, my wife, and daughter,

Pinchas Bizberg


Lazo Waszasz-Szaransky

by Ch. L. Fuchs

(Born 1900, murdered 1942)

After she completed the Beis Yaakov women's seminary in Krakow, she became a teacher. She published songs and articles about education, which were translated into Polish as well, in the Beis Yaakov Journal and in other periodicals of Agudas Yisroel.

She was murdered in the Polish death camps.

{“Celestial Lodz”, Ch. L. Fuchs.}


Shia Zaklikowski

by Y. A.

Few people in Zgierz knew Shia's family name – Zaklikowski.

His nickname “Sok”, was inherited from his father, who was called Yosef Sokolower (because he came from Sokolow).

Yosef belonged to the old-time Kocker Hassidim. He was a scholarly Jew, but poor. He put a positive spin on his poverty: “Poverty is fitting for Israel”, he would say.

The only thing that Shia inherited from his father was… poverty.

As a young lad, Shia had to stop his studying and start working in order to help his old father relieve his need.

In 1905, Shia already belonged to the “Achdut” revolutionaries. Zgierz manufacturers trembled at his words. Everyone knew that Shia had a “Shpeier” (revolver) in his pocket. Nobody should issue a decision against Achdut, or else Shia might show what he could do…

When Shia Sok got married, many hoped that he would become a “static” (well-poised person). This hope was not realized. Shia remained a revolutionary, worked in the professional union, agitated the workers and reproved every rich person and his grandfather[2].

In his latter years, Shia Sok used to come every Sunday to the “berze” near the Gmina[3] and preach justice and fairness, thereby getting even with the communal “meddlers”.

Shia had a great deal of contentment from his children. They followed in his path and became active Communists. However, all of them were killed in their “fatherland” Russia. One daughter was saved and is today in Israel.

Y. A.


Yaakov Aharon the Water Carrier

Our sincere common people – a memorial

The water carrier was always the lively nerve of the town, and, as a typical expression of the Jewish manner of that time in the region, he often also served as a popular theme for the creations of the Jewish writers and poets.

The memory of Yaakov Aharon remains in my memory from among the water carriers of the old city of Zgierz. He was a small, thin, lively Jew, with a fiery, ragged face, replete with a black-gray beard and a long disheveled hair under his hat. He knew everybody in the city, and they all knew him, for he was a part of the landscape of the city.

He was not written up in the chronicles, but rather people said of him that he was born orphaned from his father, and when his poor mother died, the community gave him to Fishel of the poorhouse to raise him. The community also paid his Talmud Torah tuition for him, and Yaakov Aharon studied Hebrew. Soon, he started working around the wagon drivers and porters. Thus did he earn his daily livelihood.

Days and years past, until there was a tumult in town: the cholera epidemic, Heaven preserve us, that swept through Poland at the time, also afflicted Zgierz, and took a great toll in the homes. As the situation became very grave, the utilized the last means – the well-known remedy against epidemics: arranging a marriage between two round, unmarried orphans, placing the chupa on “good ground” and – the epidemic ends… Thus did the short Yaakov Aharon obtain a wife, along with a present from the community: a new koromisel (shanges)[4] with a pair of wooden water cans. Thus did Yaakov Aharon, with good fortune, became a water carrier in town.

Industrious and agile in his work, he bore his burden with responsibility. His bakers were never late with their baked good, and his “madames” were never left embarrassed in the middle of a wash. He served everybody honorably and efficiently. Therefore, he also quickly started making the rounds to the wealthy houses of the old city, and later, when Moshe the water carrier gave up his buckets from old age, Yaakov Aharon became the ruler of the marketplace pumps. If someone was blocking the way to the pump for a while and Yaakov Aharon had to wait, the heavens opened up! The voices from the small Jew projected through the entire market and surrounding lanes. He would curse and cause an uproar as he walked with the full cans of water. Things would often come to blows, especially on a market day, when a strange gentile farmer attempted to give his horse to drink. The gentile could not understand how such a small “Zhydek” told off him, the Pole – and then slapped him over the face. However, as quick as lightning, Yaakov Aharon grabbed the pole with iron chains and swung them, like the blade of a windmill, over the farmer's head. The farmer grabbed his head and uttered a bloodcurdling scream , “O, Je-zu!”. A stampede ensued, and Jews were afraid of what was going on around them, a pogrom, Heaven forbid. Soon an official from the magistrate ran out waving a sword to disperse those running: “Ras-cha-di-i-i-s!”. When Yaakov Aharon later walked along the street with the water cans, he stopped everyone: “Did you see how I slapped that Esau?!”[5] He knew nothing of fear. Those in the market wondered: from where does he get such strength, such nerve? Old Jews worried and murmured amongst themselves, “He will cause us to be sent into exile, this Yaakov Aharon”. Only Yisachar Mendele the blind Shmuel's used to stick up for Yaakov Aharon. He would later slap him playfully on the back, “Molodiec Yaakov Aharon, Molodiec!”[6].

Despite the fact that Yaakov Aharon came into many houses and knew what was going on with everybody, he was considered as different, outside the community, for all his days. His face was always sullen, and he would barely answer a friendly “Good morning”. He would even barely talk to his neighbors in the Beis Midrash behind the oven, and he would not answer at all Uncle Falik's jokes.

{Photo page 520: The handiwork of the raffia sculptor Baruch Meirentz: "The Water Drawer".}

Thus did Yaakov Aharon pass his years, summer in the heat, winter in the frost, day after day, from dawn until late at night. When one could hear a tired, weary yawn over the empty market, the women on the steps knew that Yaakov Aharon is ending his day'' work – it is already time to go to sleep.

When Yaakov Aharon reached old age, he remained alone, like a stone. He was without a wife and without a child. When his last energy gave out, he hung the buckets on the wall. Then, the Gabbai of a Hassidic Shtibel took him on as an assistant Shamash. He filled the sink with water, lit the candles, went on errands, and did other such tasks. On winter days, he would stoke the stove, take a nap, or shuffle through the Yiddish pages of a large book of Psalms. Often, he would sit on the bench with both hands in the pockets of his creased overcoat, looking out the window and thinking. Perhaps in his tired head, he was thinking about “practicality”, about his loneliness after such a bustling, life of toil?

One day, a rumor spread through the old city that Yaakov Aharon the water carrier had ordered a monument, and it was already ready for “when the time will come”.

Nobody believed this. What? A monument during one's lifetime? However, when the community went out the cemetery on the eve of Yom Kippur to petition for a good year, Yaakov Aharon was already standing at the open gate with a large paper sack of cut up honey cake and poured a drink to anyone whom Aharon-Yitzchak (Chemia Itzel) called over to see the monument. Silver letters were already engraved upon it, which said in Hebrew:

Here is buried a straightforward and upright man, who earned his living for all his days through the toil of his hands, Reb Yaakov Aharon…”, -- etc. The Jews shook their heads in astonishment, took their glasses and wished Yaakov Aharon a long life and many other blessings.

When Yaakov Aharon remained alone, he went to the monument, looked at the letters and at his name that glistened with gold, and, with an exquisite gentleness, touched the stone and the letters with his toil-weary fingers. A smile of inner joy shined on his disheveled, always cloudy face… and this was the only smile that ever lit up the face of Yaakov Aharon.


Yoav Katz of blessed memory

{Photo page 522: Uncaptioned. Yoav Katz.}

He joined the Hebrew scouting movement in his native city of Zgierz when he was still very young, and was active in all youth activities on behalf of the Keren Kayemet (Jewish National Fund) and the Land of Israel. His love of the Land was fundamental, soulful, and ingrained in his blood. At the end of the First World War, he uprooted himself with force from the city, despite the difficulties that stood in his way, and went wandering along the paths of Europe in order to reach his destination – the Promised Land.

Yoav was not deterred or broken from all of the difficulties and setbacks that he met along his journey. After a half year of wandering on land and sea, he arrived with the well-known Group 105 to the Land.

As one of the first pioneers, the pioneers of the Third Aliya, ingrained with the spirit of work and sacrifice, he went through all of the tribulations of acclimatizing and settling down. He worked in farming, guarding, drying of swamps, and paving roads, from the north to the south, from Ruchama until Degania and the Galilee.

Yoav was one of the first activists who worked at the port. He was one of the first of the Jewish tax workers at the port of Jaffa, and served as the chairman of their union for many years, as well as a member of the business association.

He was an active member in the Haganah and was involved in communal activism. He had pleasant mannerisms, was a good friend, and excelled in his uprightness and dedication.

He was also gifted with the writer's pen, and brought forth the memory of known personalities of our city in newspapers here and in the Land.

He especially excelled in his founding the organization of Zgierz natives, and was one of the heads of the “Committee for the Zgierz Book” until his last day.

He died in Tel Aviv on the 18th of Sivan 5729 (June 4, 1969), at the age of 69. May his memory be blessed.

{Photo page 523: Zgierz natives building up the Land of Israel. Klorfeld, Kuperman, and Yoav Katz paving the road from Tiberias to Tzemach (1920) (They are the second, sixth, and seventh from the right, in the upper row.)}

From the Diary of Yoav Katz of blessed memory:

“The strong desire to make aliya to the Land of Israel burned within me already from the time of childhood, at the threshold of the first decade of my life. The songs of Zion that I sang with the rest of the boys at the modern cheder of my Lithuanian teacher, always served as fuel for the “fire of Zion” that burned in my heart. How jealous was I of my neighbors the Klorfelds who traveled to Israel. My jealousy was particularly ignited for Menachem Berliner, whom I saw as an angel who went before me to show me the way. At my urging, he sent me a detailed description of his travels in the Land. I decided to follow in his footsteps no matter what.

The First World War that broke up thwarted my plans, but I was able to fulfil my vow and arrange my trip immediately at the conclusion of the war. Indeed, in November, 1918, when the Germans vacated Poland, I immediately arranged a group of youths of my age and planned the journey to Israel. We cast lots regarding the day that we would set out. On this day, November 15, 1919, seven youths set out on our unknown journey.

We met our first bitter obstacle when we arrived in Vienna. The Zionist institutions did not permit us to continue our journey. When I asked my eldest brother Yosef, who was a member of the Zionist organization of the city, for help, he showed me the palm of his hand – that is to say, when hair grows here…

We were persistent and continued on our journey. We met obstacles at every step along the way. This was the situation in Zagreb, one of our stops on the way, as well as in Rome. In Italy, groups of clandestine immigrants from all corners of Poland sat and waited. We organized a protest march at the Italian parliament, submitted petitions, but nothing helped.

A ship that sailed from Italy to Egypt, transporting freed soldiers, fulfilled the objective of our hearts. After several mishaps with other ships that came before, we succeeded in boarding the ship through the intercession of Dr. Vigdorchik, who drew us near to him. However, when we arrived in Alexandria, the British refused to give us visas for the land. Only after waiting for several months in Egypt did we finally succeed in boarding a transport wagon, and with the help of G-d, we arrived at the object of our desire, prepared to greet the hardships that would come in the beloved Land.”

{“Celestial Lodz”, Ch. L. Fuchs.}


Menachem Mendel Zakon of blessed memory

Menachem Mendel Zakon was born in the year 5664 (1904). His father, Reb Aharon HaKohen was a learned man and an enthusiastic Hassid of Aleksandrow. His mother Tzipora was the daughter of the shochet Reb Yisrael Yitzchak Gad , an honorable man of the community.

Menachem was educated in an Orthodox home that took pride in its lineage, and placed stringent fences upon him regarding any appearance or event that was not fitting to the spirit of the home. Even though Menachem was very faithful to tradition and cleaved to Hassidism, he always chose to go in his direction without worrying about the opinion of others, even of those who would distribute honor. He was straight in his path, with a strong, powerful personality. He fought valiantly for his opinions when he decided to do something. He would grind down mountains that stood in his path, and was not deterred by any obstacle.

He was one of the founders and activists of the Mizrachi youth of Zgierz, and was dedicated to the national religious movement with all the warmth of his soul. He also participated in collections of money and other activities for the Land of Israel and the Jewish National Fund.

{Photo page 525: Menachem Mendel Zakon of blessed memory.}

He made aliya to the land in the year 5689 (1929) along with his fiancée Chaya Feiga, who bore with him the lot of their joint life with great strength. Even here, in the land, he was dedicated to communal work that was close to his heart, through many difficulties and struggles. His life in the land was not simple. Aside from the difficulties of absorption and concerns about livelihood, he was afflicted with lack of understanding from within his family, which caused difficulties for the life of the couple.

Menachem worked at a regular job in the city council of Tel Aviv, and dedicated his energies to the Mizrachi movement, to religious education, to the founding of a neighborhood for employees of the city council in Yad Eliahu, and especially to the founding of a synagogue in the neighborhood. Despite his meager means, through his energy and faith he succeeded in actualizing his vision – the establishment of the Ramah Synagogue named after Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager of blessed memory[7], whose memory as a leader of the movement he bore with reverence. He was diligent regarding the establishment of the synagogue; he concerned himself with establishing a charitable fund, and did not desist from anything that he felt effective and worthwhile.

Menachem was also one of the founders of the Organization of Zgierz Émigrés in Israel, and a member of the committee of the organization. He worked very hard for he Yizkor book of the community of Zgierz.

He died on the 30th of Shvat 5629 (February 18, 1969). May his soul be bound in the bonds of eternal life.


Leon Rubenstein

by Mordechai Shtrigler and Dr. Sh. Margoshes

… Our member Leon Rubenstein is also already in the club of septuagenarians. His prime activity – despite the fact that he was bound up and involved with all other activities of the movement – was and remains with the education of Jewish children in the nationalist Zionist spirit. This was a great merit, but Rubenstein's merits were greater due to his “chutzpa” and “aggressiveness”. Who knows how many children have received a good Jewish education with us because Rubenstein “threw them” into our schools with all the zeal that he could muster.

{Photo page 526: Leon Rubenstein.}

The Zionist Worker's Movement – mainly from the former Poale Zion and Tzeirei Zion, which were included in the Jewish National Worker's Union – gathered together, here in America members from all corners of Eastern Europe. One can indeed say that the vast majority of them, the first ones, came from the Russian and Lithuanian regions, or at least from the “outlying regions”. Few of them stemmed from central Poland, and absorbed the unique, Polish-Jewish zest. Our member Leon Rubenstein, a native of Zgierz, was one of the exceptional ones. Through the “medium” of Poale Zion, he came very early and took a central place. As the editor of the periodical publication “Farn Folk” (the organ of Tzeirei Zion), he was a co-worker with two such Chaims as Chaim Arlozoroff and Chaim Greenberg, may the later live long. This was in the 1920s. However, Rubenstein later devoted his journalistic career to the benefit of educational and cultural activity. To this he dedicated his fire, passion, and even became impatient; and here, in this area that is often considered as a stepchild, he – with the characteristic manner of a Polish Jew – he did not push it down into some forgotten corner… even when this is what people wanted.

The member Rubenstein has already lived on the American Continent for exactly fifty years. He is one of the activists in the Zionist-pioneering camp. He is a central person, not only in the real of education and culture, but also in all other areas of movement life. Everywhere, he would utilize his strength to exclaim the highest 'no' when he did not like something; and to express the courage to give a bang on the table and demand justice – even when important great and important people are present. The movement even often had need of his “sheigetzvaten”[8] temperament --- in the style of Polish Jews; particularly when they had to send a representative to other “tables”… Member Rubenstein was also on occasion the teacher and guide whom did not give in or bend.

For more than fifty years, member Rubenstein, accumulated a great many roles in the movement and its various institutions. Certainly, his close friends can attest to this. I, from our time, wish only to publish the best wishes to the jubilee honoree an wish him, together with others, that he will maintain his concern for all good deeds for many years to come, and also that he will not let others rest; that he shall be able to very soon realize his literary plans that he has already nurtured for a number of years. Until a hundred and twenty.

Mordechai Streliger (“Yiddisher Kempfer”, New York)

Various people have all sorts of passions in their life. Some concentrate on fame, others on wealth. Certain people have a passion for drinking and card playing, and still others seek a career in social status. Leon Rubenstein has two passions – Zionism and Jewish child rearing.

His Zionism stems from his earliest youth. At the end of 1918, immediately after the First World War, he left his native city of Zgierz and traveled to the land of Israel, as one of a group of leaders and pioneers of Jewish scouting. He arrived in Israel as one of the first of 105 pioneers who were the vanguard of the Second Aliya.

Unfortunately, he was only to remain in Israel for a short time, about a year and a half. He became ill with tetanus, a fatal disease, in the Gan Shmuel group in which he worked. He remained alive through a miracle. He was forced to leave the Land of Israel to go to a land with a colder climate. He arrived in Canada in 1920, and began there a new career as a Jewish educator. He gave himself over completely to the efforts to develop a new school system, where Yiddish and Hebrew would be the languages of instruction. He became known as a teacher in the Jewish People's School of Montreal, and later as the director of the Y. L. Peretz School and the general director of the Jewish People's Schools of the Zionist Workers' Movement in America.

Rubenstein brought an unbounded measure of enthusiasm and pedagogical knowledge to all of those positions.

It is characteristic of Leon Rubenstein that his societal activities went hand in hand with his educational work. School and society were one with him, also – Zionism and Jewish education. It is rare that a Jewish educator finds so much time to be involved in Jewish educational life, as was Leon Rubenstein. He was also active in the Tzeirei Zion movement and one of its founders in Canada. He helped oversee its unification with Poale Zion.

Rubenstein was a delegate to Zionist congresses, a representative of the Zionist Action Committee and vice president of the national fund in the United States. If you do not believe me, Rubenstein spent time and energy to serve as a dynamo for all purposes in which he sends his warm heart as well as his brain, full of plans and ideas.

Dr. Sh. Margoshes (“Der Tag”, February 22, 1967, New York.)


Rabbi Yechiel Zeltzer

by P. Zeev

I had opportunity to look in the book “Ner Lameah”, which was written by Rabbi Yisrael Zeltzer, a native of Zgierz who today lives in the United States.

The parents of Reb Yisrael Zeltzer were the Hassid and scholar Reb Tzvi Yehuda (Reb Hershel), and Chana Leah the daughter of the Hassid, one of the elders of the city, Reb Yosef Ber Lewkowicz.

I remember the Sabbath days, when the students of the Yeshiva Yagdil Torah, myself included, would come to Reb Hershel to be examined on the weekly lesson. He would always greet us pleasantly, and relate to us with love and desire. As such, he reduced the natural anxiety that preceded the exam. We always succeeded in obtaining high marks and words of praise. A warm, Jewish family atmosphere pervaded in his home.

It seems that their son Yerachmiel continued to weave the entire Jewish tradition into his life, with all of its detail. We see that he was not only diligent in his Jewish studies, but he also labored and delved into the depths of Halacha, and dug trenches into the discussions of the Talmud and the halachic decisors. His book “Ner Lameah” on the topic of Chanukah, dedicated to the memory of his parents who died in the Auschwitz camp, testifies to the level of toil and effort that Rabbi Yechiel Zeltzer put into the tents of Torah.

This book is filled to the brim with novellae and citations from the experts of Halacha, and encompasses all of the ideas, expositions of law, responsa and customs associated with the Festival of Lights and its commandments. It contains approbations from the rabbinical greats. One of its approbations, signed by Rabbi Yitzchak Eizik Liebes, the head of the rabbinical court of Grinding, states: “I see a man who hastens in his work and sits before angels (who are the angels, the rabbis), that is my friend the sharp rabbi, who is expert in Torah and the fear of the pure G-d, our rabbi and teacher Rabbi Yerachmiel Zeltzer may he live long, one of the important people of the city of New York, may the Lord preserve it well. In his dear book “Ner Lameah” on the matters of Chanukah, the pure man gathered diligently and expertly material that is full of splendor and exudes glory. No secret is hidden in it. He gathered from all that was brought down by the greats of the generation and the giants of spirit. The aforementioned rabbi continued to add shoots and flowers to our holy Torah, with good taste and proper ideas. May his well flow outside, and may G-d be with him. May he be granted great success, and may it be G-d's will that he succeed in enlightening the eyes of scholars and their students with his candle, so that many will benefit, and knowledge will increase.”

Indeed, Rabbi Yerachmiel is diligent with Torah and Divine service. It is a wonder, after all that he endured in the death camps, that such a man can still have undiminished spiritual strength to grind down mountains and flatten valleys in the wide world of Talmud.

P. Zeev


Pinchas A. Sirkes

from the Lexicon of the New Yiddish Literature and other sources

He was born in Zgierz, near Lodz, Poland in the year 1907. He was the son of the Aguda deputy in the Polish parliament, Eliezer Sirkes. He studied in cheder, Yeshivas and with private teachers. From his youth, he was active in the Orthodox youth movement, and one of its first activists, which preached pioneering of the Land of Israel. He settled in the Land of Israel in 1933. He was the founder of Hassidic agricultural colonies.

His first poems were published in the collection “Unzer Treibkraft”, Lodz 1926. Since then, he took part in: “Der Flaker”, “Der Yiddisher Arbieter”, “Beis Yaakov” Journal, “Undzer Lebn” (as editor) – all in Lodz; “Der Jud”, “Das Yudishe Tagblatt”, “Orthodoxishe Yugent Bleter”, “Darcheinu”, “Dgaleinu”, and others in Warsaw; “Dos Vort”, Vilna; “Hamodia”, “Shearim”, “Eretz Yisrael”, and others. In book form (Under the name P. Sirski) – “Gilgulim”, a Hassidic drama in three acts, Piotrkow, 1929, 144 pages.

“Lexicon of the new Jewish Literature”. Sources: Ch. L. Fuchs, Literary pages, Warsaw, March 15, 1929, New Folksblatt, Lodz, May 12, 1930, in Z. M. B. from the recent past, page 3, New York, 1957, search note; information from Y. Fridenson, New York.

Yehuda Elberg

from the Lexicon of the New Yiddish Literature and other sources

He was born on May 15, 1912 in Zgierz, near Lodz, Poland. His father, Avraham Natan of blessed memory, was a rabbi in Sanok and in Blaszki; his mother's father, Tzvi Yechezkel Michelzon, was a rabbi in Warsaw. Elberg received a religious education. From 1934, he studied as a textile engineer in Lodz, where he worked as a master weaver until the Second World War. He was in Warsaw from 1940 until 1943. He participated in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. He was a founder of the first Jewish committee in Lublin (1944), and one of the initiators and co-founders of the Jewish Press Agency (Y. Y. P. A.) in Lodz, from the Historical Commission (later the Historical Institute), and in the Lodzer Newspaper “Das Neie Leben” (The New Life), of which he served as the editorial secretary from May 1944 until the end of 1945. He wrote correspondences for the “Davar” in Tel Aviv and for “Morgen Journal” in New York. He moved to France at the end of 1946, where he was the editorial secretary of the editorial journal “Kiyum” since its founding in Paris in 1947. He went to New York in 1948 as a delegate to the first convention of the World Jewish Culture Congress. He was a collaborator of the “Histadrut” since 1951. He made his debut as a writer with a story (“Der Lep”) in the Lodzer Folks Blat”, 1932. After that, he published stories, reports, articles and correspondences in “Das Neie Lebn”, “Yiddishe Shriftn” – Lodz; “Morgen Journal”, “Di Zukunft”, “Yiddisher Kempfer”, New York; “Kiyum”, Paris; “Davar”, Tel Aviv, and others.

He published the following in book form: “Unter Kuperne Himlen” (“Under Copper Skies”), a story that was published by the Central Organization of Polish Jews in Argentina, with the help of David Ignatof-Fand in Yew York; by the publishing house “Polish Jewry”, Buenos Aires, 1951, 252 pages (premiered in 1951 from the Jewish Culture Congress in Brazil). The story “873” from the book “Unter Kuperne Himlen” was also made into a play by the writer Pinchas Bizberg and performed by the Young Yiddish Theater in Buenos Aires.

In the collection “Unter Kuperne Himlen”, the artist-chronicler deals with the influence of his painful past in the artistic form of his style. However, apart from dealing with his own self, these are artistic chronicles. They are important in that in them one finds a key to the young writer's leitmotif (Sh. Neiger).

Elberg was active for many years in the Zionist Worker's Movement. He visited Argentina in 1960 on a mission from the “Jewish Histadrut Campaign”. He wrote also under the pseudonyms Y. Bergel, Y. L. Berg. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

(Lexicon of the New Yiddish Literature”. A rich bibliography, beginning from Y. Rappaport, Australian News, Melbourne, June 27, 1947 – From Dr. Y. Shatzki in Jewish Bookland, New York, May 1952 – from Ch. Grade, A. Leieles, Ch. L. Fuchs and others – from (in English) Whose Who in World Jewry, New York, 1955, page 177.


1. I am not entirely sure, but I believe this is a reference to the first 50 years of the 1900s ending imminently. Back

2. Evidently, a form of expression – as in English: everybody and his mother. Back

3. The Berze is a bourse or exchange. The Gmina seems to be a location. Back

4. A water carrying set consisting of a pole with two attached pails. Back

5. A reference to the Biblical Esau, considered in Jewish tradition to be the nemesis of the Jewish people. Back

6. A Russian term for 'brave young man', used as a compliment. Back

7. The name Ramah would come from the first letters of Rav Menachem Hager. Back

8. Gentile-like – although it uses the term 'sheigetz' which is a more derogatory term for gentile. Back

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