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Pinchas Graubard

Y. Frydman

Translated by Jerrold Landau

He was the son of Leibish Graubard, a rich homeowner of Sochaczew. In his younger years, at the time of the revolution of 1905, he was a member of Poale Zion, and he organized a strike of all of the Jewish maids in Sochaczew. The Russian gendarmes began to persecute him, and he had to flee to Belgium. After tribulations in the foreign country, he returned home.

In 1910, he traveled to the Land of Israel and returned from there. He published a book: “Regarding the Ways of the Land of Israel”. He joined forces with Noach Prilucki and Sh. Anszki, and they began to collect Jewish folklore.

After the First World War, he became a patron in Warsaw. He supported Jewish writers and helped many of them to publish their books. Thanks to him, Jewish writers published books that would have otherwise become lost.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, he fled from Warsaw to Vilna, and from there to America.

In his letter from New York, he describes his disappointment with life. He did not see there the beautiful, rich Jewish life that he had seen in Poland. He saw how they would throw pictures of parents with beards and peyos out of the window[1] , or store them in the attic. He saw Jewish books lying around in the rubbish, etc.

Life in America broke him. After a brief illness, he passed away in New York at the age of 58, on December 23, 1953.

{Photo page 275: Pinchas Graubard.}


Pinchas Graubard

A. Alemi

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The death of a close person, a friend or a relative, inspires in us not only sad feelings, but also – as strange as it may sound – happy thoughts. We focus not only on the unavoidable end, but illuminating memories of long ago are awakened in us, of youth, happenings, plans, events, and dreams.

Such illuminating dreams of youth were aroused in me by the death of my childhood friend Pinchas Graubard, the folklorist, the close collaborator of Sh Anszkin[2] , the former book publisher and supporter of literature – in the “green” years of our youth, and of modern Yiddish literature.

Pinchas Graubard was still a youth when he came to Warsaw from nearby Sochaczew – and he came not only with enthusiasm for Yiddish literature and its creation, but also – with money… He received[3] money from his father, the well-to-do businessman and wood merchant, and with that money, he helped in the publication of journals, festival pages, and books, or he simply directly supported a needy young Yiddish poet…

Graubard took an interest in Jewish folklore, and he organized a group of folklore collectors, under the influence and leadership of Noach Prilucki. Aside from Graubard, the members of the group included Shmuel Leman, Miriam Chmielnicki, Yehoshua Perla, Sara Kornbajser (later Perla's wife) and the writer of these lines.

We traveled about through Jewish cities and towns, as well as through the streets and alleys of Warsaw itself, collecting and recording from the sources of such information – from the mouths of the masses. People looked upon as fools[4] : why would older youths be involved in this! … Jewish young men and women, Hassidim and Misnagdim[5], old men and women, and, on the other hand, underworld characters, pickpockets, bearers of knives[6], and prostitutes. They would often shrug their shoulders, but they would give in to the naïve “milkers', as Prilucki called this, often for the price of a few rubles.

People sang for us, told us stories and jokes, sprinkled us with proverbs, charms of exorcism, and “Zabobones”[7]. Old Jewesses, including my grandmother Chaya, my father's mother, recited techines for us,[8] including “Got Fun Avraham” – and we recorded.

Jewish folklore – the collection of folk treasuries – was a new field of knowledge. It quickly became the most popular activity in the Jewish cultural world, not only at the edges of the Czarist Empire, but also in Moscow and Petersburg. Marek and Ginzberg had already compiled an anthology of Jewish folklore. Ignace Bernsztejn in Warsaw did the same. Now, Noach Prilucki and Sh. Anszkin became involved in this endeavor, as did Peretz and H. D. Nomberg. Prilucki made this into an organized movement. He conducted lectures for us on the folklore of the Jews and of other peoples, about the importance of collecting, and also about methodologies of collecting.

However, a rift arose between Prilucki and the group of collectors – with regards to heaven ( h i m l) [9]… Prilucki would talk to us and write exactly “as the people talk”. Not, for example “d o s, v o s, v e r”, but rather “d o e s, v o e, v e i o”, etc. The problem was that Noach was a Volhyner[10], and in his region, they would say “i m l un h e r t” rather than “himel un erd”. He would also hear it as “i m e l” in Poland… he would correct our material, and when he saw “h i m e l”, he would erase it and replace it with “i m e l”.. In truth, Polish Jews, in particular those from Warsaw, do not say either “h i m e l”, or “i m e l”, but rather – “h i m u”…

We protested against Prilucki's “i m e l”. We wanted only “h i m e l”, but Prilucki was stubborn and did not want to give in. Later, other conflicts started. Finally the group fell apart. Shmuel Leman went off on his own[11]. Graubard also went off on his own and specialized in the songs of robbers. Later, he teamed up with S. Anszkin and they became faithful collaborators, companions, and part time patrons. Perla and myself remained with Noach.

In the summer of 1911, Pinchas Graubard had a new plan: to establish a pioneering group and to travel to the Land of Israel to plough and sow… For us, it was a pity to leave behind the “Moment”[12]. I had taken my first steps into journalism – and it was only a few months, since November 10th, 1910, that the first issue of “Moment” was published.

However, the idea of traveling, especially to the land of Israel, did not leave me be. I helped Graubard to put the group together. Members included the journalist Y. Y. Trawka, the young poet A. Y. Krawski, the young storyteller Yosef Rozenfeld (from Radom), and a few others whose names I no longer remember. “Moment” informed its readership that its collaborator – that is myself – is traveling to the Land of Israel and will write about the Holy Land from there.

We set out – with empty pocketbooks, without documents, without a plan, but we depended on our overseer and patron Graubard… It was evening. At every station where the train stopped, we were greeted by groups of young people, particularly girls, with flowers. We sang “Hatikva”[13], we shouted, we were boisterous. At one station, I believe it was in Grodzisk, two particularly beautiful girls, sisters, came forth with flowers. Trawka (who later became a resident of the Land of Israel and the publisher of the large Hebrew Encyclopedia) grabbed me by the cape:

“Come, let us descend, let us go meet the delegation!” … We jumped off the train, greeted the young people, but I could not take my eyes of the two sisters… The group sang. We felt like heroes. We forgot about the train, Graubard, the Land of Israel… The whistle of the train brought us back to reality… But the thick smoke of the train was no longer there… We would have to wait for the next train, but the next train goes in the other direction, to Warsaw. That is to say, we traveled back to Warsaw…

I thought of a justification. Zvi Prilucki, the editor of “Moment” was furious: The readers have been misled!… The anti-Semitic Polish newspaper “Goniec” published a sensation: “Zionism is bankrupt. As a sign of this, two of the collaborators of “Moment”, who set out with a group to the Land of Israel, had regrets in the midst of the journey and returned to Warsaw…”

Oh, the recklessness of youth! At that time, we were only youths of 16 and 18…

Pinchas Graubard returned from the Land of Israel a year later –with great plans, but America was sweet for me at that time, and it was the eve of the First World War[14] . Between the two world wars, Pinchas Graubard became a very well to do man. He founded a book publishing house, and published the large anthology of folklore “Bei Unz Yidden” (“By We Jews”) that was edited by M. Wanwild (Sh. L. Kawe), a book on his reports from the Land of Israel, and a series of works by older and younger writers. However, folklore remained his greatest interest, and he had great plans about a grandiose publishing house that would form a literary bridge between Warsaw, New York, Buenos Aires…

My final meeting with Pinchas Graubard was at Mordechai Dancys' funeral. We shared memories of times gone by. We talked about our friend from our youth Y. Y. Trawka who came to America from Israel on behalf of his Hebrew Encyclopedia, and dropped dead in Montreal. We discussed the Warsaw of times gone by that swims around in the shadow of death, the so close but yet so distant years of youth, the few youths who left for the Land of Israel before the First World War to plough and sow… Above else, Graubard had grandiose plans, plans, plans.

(“Tag Morgenjournal”, January 11, 1953.)


  1. An metaphor for abandoning Jewish tradition. Return
  2. In the previous article, this name was spelled as Anszki. Return
  3. The word used here means more than 'received'. It actually means he 'pulled out' or 'dragged out'. The connotation is not one of conniving, but rather it seems of making use of nagging or pleading to convince his father to give money to this cause. Return
  4. The word here 'mishegoim', has a somewhat endearing connotation here. Return
  5. Opponents of Hassidism. Return
  6. There is a term here 'marevichers'. I am not sure what it means, but it is surely some type of unsavory character. Return
  7. I am not sure what the term 'zabobenes' means. Return
  8. Techine (literally, supplication), is an informal Yiddish prayer, passed down from generation to generation, often recited by women at significant occasions, such as at the time of the lighting of the candles before the Sabbath and festivals. 'Got Fun Avraham' (“G-d of Abraham”) is a well-known techine recited at the conclusion of the Sabbath. Its is one of the few techines still popular, and is published in various modern prayer books, including ArtScroll. Return
  9. The reference here is to differences of opinion on the spelling of Yiddish words. I will spell out the Yiddish words in this paragraph (in parentheses) as best I can, using 'a' for aleph with a patach, 'o' for aleph with a kometz', and 'e' for ayin, and 'i' for yod . There are different ways of spelling Yiddish words – the formal manner and the more colloquial manner. “Himel un erd” means heaven and earth. For those who are not familiar with the nuances of Yiddish spelling and letters, all that is important here is the theme – the group had a disagreement over exact vs. colloquial Yiddish spelling. Return
  10. From the Volhynia region of Ukraine. Return
  11. The Yiddish expression here is “made the Sabbath for himself”. Return
  12. There seems to be a play on words here with the name of the periodical “Moment”. There is also the implied meaning of “missing the moment”. Return
  13. The Zionist anthem, later the national anthem of the State of Israel. Return
  14. There is a play on words here, with the Hebrew word 'erev' (the Hebrew word is used instead of Yiddish). It means both 'sweet' and 'eve' in different contexts and with different vocalizations. Return


Wolf (Vove) Rozenberg

Moshe Szwarc of Chicago

Dedicated to the Memory of:

Bernice Phyllis (Mann) Knee (nee Mittleman)
Beloved Sister of Sandra Mittleman Robinson,
Granddaughter of Sochotzover Society Member Charles Miller

Translated by Jerrold Landau

It is impossible to mention Sochaczew, particularly during the period from 1915 until the beginning of the 1920s, without bringing to light the bright personality that was Vove Rozenberg, who embodied the Polish-Jewish people-intelligentsia. He was characteristic of colorful Polish Jewry.

He did not get caught up in the stream of assimilation. He remained tightly bound to the Jewish people, through Yiddish literature, Yiddish song and Yiddish culture until the last day of his life.

As a close friend of Vove Rozenberg, and incidentally one of the few left of our generation, it is known to me that Vove dreamed and created great plans for many years about perpetuating Sochaczew in the form of a Yizkor book.

He was born in the year 1892 in Sochaczew into an observant, Hassidic household. His father was the eminent Gerrer Hassid Reb Hershel Shochet. He spent his childhood years in the traditional Hassidic home. As an older child, he studied in Yeshiva and became imbued with the Talmudic and old-Hebraic wellspring. Already in his youth, he tore himself away from his home and lived in Warsaw where he was able to become familiar with classical Jewish literature and with world literature. He entered into the circle of Jewish artists, writers and intelligentsia. He began writing Yiddish songs in those days. He became a confidante of Y. L. Peretz and a close friend of Noach Prilucki. He made a name for himself in the Jewish cultural society of Warsaw.

In 1915, when the German army took Warsaw, the Jews who were driven out from the surrounding towns began to return home. The Jews of Sochaczew also returned. Together with the reestablishment of economic life, they began to build the cultural and societal life.

Vove Rozenberg also returned to Sochaczew for a time at that time. He occupied himself with law even though he had not graduated as a lawyer. He was one of the pillars and leaders of political and societal life. His spiritual influence spread over those who were around him, and planted deep roots in several generations.

He went back to Warsaw a few years later, where he was together with the Jewish writers and activists Sh. Stopnicki, H. D. Nomberg, Noach Prilucki, Shlomo Mendelson, and others in the national leadership of the newly created Folks-Party. He visited a number of Jewish communities in Poland on their behalf.

At that time, he held a responsible position with the Joint, which was conducting a large-scale assistance action in Poland.

In 1924, he left Poland and traveled to America for the second time, for he had spent a short time there in the year 1910. This time, he went with his wife Bronka. He became a temporary resident, and settled in New York. He embarked on the difficult path of becoming used to a new way of life and conditions. The disappointment was heavy. He always felt the pain of pining for the former life. He also found difficulties in establishing himself economically.

However, he never was passive to the current problems, and he was always closely bound with Jewish and general life. He lived through this trial and the swift flow of world events with might and life. Despite the fact that his Jewish world outlook was to a large extent conservative, restrained and with an unrealistic hope of witnessing the grand, historical happenings and changes in the world order – he did not become involved in any political party or group during his years in America, aside from cultural work. He always stood at the side of the oppressed and suffering people.

He was a sincere and sensitive person. The Hitlerian destruction, which also killed his relatives in Poland, had a terrible effect upon him, and left deep wounds upon his heart and soul, until the cruel death overtook him at the age of 61.

Vove died in New York in 1953 after a long and difficult illness. Three years later, his wife also went off to eternity, leaving behind their only daughter Nina.

{Photo page 282: Elchanan (Chuna) Libert with his wife.}

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