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[Col. 347]

The shtetl of Ratsk

(Raczki, Poland)

53°59' 22°47'

by Avraham Moshe Kliman, Montevideo (Uruguay)

Translated by Ite T. Doktorski

Ratzk, like most Jewish shtetls, had its own set of respectable family heads that played a key role in community affairs: Yehoshua Margolis (later the rabbi of Michaelove), Menahem Murzhinski, Shimon Hateimoni, Hershel Hateimoni, Ozer Oistern, Yitzhak Leifuner, Pesah Oistern, Shmuel Fridman, Meir Oistern, Avraham Brigman, Avraham Lev, and Eliezer Shapira.

Other family heads from Ratzk that I recall: Haim Gold, a very good teacher with excellent teaching competencies, who instilled in the hearts of local Jewish children the love of torah and emunah. I remember the families Ivashkowski, Shteindam, Rozenfeld, Ribak, Stelmach, Mendel Staviskowski; the prayer leader, ritual slaughterer, and examiner Goldop, Yakov Marianski, Haim Dunski, Yakov Tzirelewitch, Yakov Garfinkel, Arieh Hateimoni, Nete Rozenfeld, Moshe Levitinski, Staviskowski, Rubinshtein, Yehuda Krupinski, Dov Frenkel, Uri Frenkel, Eliezer Nimtzowski, Brener, Lis, Shmuel Leib Vilenski, Moshe Vartelski, Zeidl Berdvald, Yehoshua Margolis, Freiman, Shaul Stalowski, Israel Margolis, Reuben Khamasnowitch, Reuben Stalowski, Motel Karabelnik.

The spiritual guide of the community was rabbi Motel z”l. He was worthy of making is aliyah to Jerusalem. He was a modest man who got very close to the simple people, artisans, workmen, and such, who in turn respected him for his simplicity.

Out of love people gave his son-in-law, rabbi Dov Wein z”l, the nickname “Bertchik”. Although he made a very poor living from stitching, he never abandoned his fixed gemarah lessons and his study of Mishnayot, and he was a honest carer of his community's affairs.

His son, rabbi Ze'ev Wein, is a well-known rabbi in Chicago, and rabbi Ze'ev's son, rabbi David Wein, is the city rabbi of Holon, near Tel-Aviv.

In my time Ratzk had an esteemed cantor, Azriel Aharonson. His heart-felt prayers touched everybody deeply, and both youngsters and respected family heads who used to sit next to the eastern synagogue wall used to sing along. The cantor also officiated as ritual slaughterer and circumciser.

We also want to remember here the tiny neighboring communities.

The leaders of the community of Baklerove [Bakalarzewo, Poland] were Avraham Mirowski, who owned the watermill, Yudel Mirowski, Haim Kasperowitch, Haim Hayat, and Abraham Ratzkowski. The community also maitained a national-religious synagogue.

In my time the rabbi of Filipove [Filipów, Poland] was Joseph Wert. Abraham Zhalkowski was the ritual slaughterer and examiner. The talmud-torah in Filipove was lead by an excellent pedagogue and scholar, H. Doktorski from Suvalk.

In all these communities I was ritual slaughterer and examiner and I lead the prayers.

After I emigrated the post of ritual slaughterer and examiner was taken by rabbi Senderowitch, who later came with his family to Argentina and became the rabbi of Moisesville. From there he later made aliyah to Israel.

All these holy communities, with their rabbis, respected family heads, and distinguished Jews disappeared in smoke and ther is no-one who can take their place.

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