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[Col. 425]

D. Characters


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R'Binyamin and R'Mordekhay Magentsa

Rabbi Aharon Magensa

The righteous rabbi R' Binyamin Magentsa was the Dayan (judge of religious court) in Suwalk at the time when such rabbis as R'Hilel Libshits, R'David Tebele Katsenelenboygn, R'Moshe Betsalel Luria and R'Aharon Baksht served in the chief rabbinate. On a number of occasions, when the position was vacant, R'Binyamin's name was proposed by Suwalk householders, but he always declined.

Rabbi Binyamin Magentsa of blessed memory (illegible) and judge of the religious court of Suwalk,
died Elul 3,585(5) (1925)

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R'Binyamin did not want the great responsibility of being the community rabbi, but he did bear the burden of the entire community. He was not only the Dayan but also the provider for everyone. All the Jews of the town who came into contact with him saw him as a father and friend, who advised and taught them and also comforted and warmed them. It was all done with such simplicity that one did not perceive the saintly man but just the plain, small, thin R'Binyamin.

Full of affection and warmth for the oppressed, he felt close to the common man, the tailor and cobbler, the water carrier and chimneysweeper; and this affection was reciprocated.

In 1931, when the local Talmud Torah was in a financial bind, the Jews of Suwalk had several thousand photographs[1] of R'Binyamin printed as an expression of their feelings for their beloved Dayan. They were for sale in Suwalk and to Landslayt in America and other countries with the profits going to the Talmud Torah.

Every Friday in the late afternoon, R'Binyamin would show up in the market near the “thirteen little stores” to remind the Jews that the Sabbath was approaching. Often, R'Binyamin himself would help a storekeeper roll in a barrel of herring so that he could close his store more quickly.


Translator's Footnote

  1. This must be the photo in column 427 Return


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Portraits of Scholars,
Communal Workers & Philanthropists

Rabbi Yehoash Zavoznitski


The two saintly brothers,
R'Haymin Shlomoh and R'Yisrael Meir Zilberman

R'Hayim-Shlomoh was remembered in Suwalk only from his residence there in later years, even though both he and his father, R'Yaakov, were born in Suwalk. In the introduction to his book: “Or Yaakov”, he writes about his father: “a wise and understanding man, who devoted all of his energies to God's Torah; was R'Yaakov Zilberman, a native of Suwalk, a teacher and preacher”. R'Hayim-Shlomoh was known as “the American” because he had lived in America for many years.

In the introduction to the above-mentioned book, he praised God who had blessed “my older brother, the scholar, R'Yisrael Meir, with a dear son; in response to his constant wish. His name is Yitshak and he is a wise and sweet boy, who when only bar mitzvah, preached a sermon. He preaches well and also fulfils the commandments. When he was only four, he would respond to the blessings with Amen. And now, at the age of 7-8[1], he does not eat until he says a blessing”. He adds; “I do not write this in order to boast about my family but only to show that children can be raised in the Jewish way, even in America, if only one wills it”.

R'Hayim-Shlomoh published a number of books in which he compiled sayings and ethical teachings of the rabbis and added his own opinions about the bases of Judaism, the strengthening of religious observance, and the relationship between man and God, and man and man.

The names of his books are:

  1. Sefer Midrash Rabbah – two volumes translated into Yiddish, with the best commentaries - printed in St.Louis. (5)679{1919}.
  2. Or Yaakov – printed in Jerusalem.(5)659{1899}.
  3. Shulhan Shabbat – in three parts – printed in Suwalk (5)685{1925}.
  4. pamphlets: “Shulkhan Shabbat” on strengthening the Torah. “Shemirat ha-Lashon”, “Bakashat Hafets Hayim”, “Kedushat Shabbat”, “Heshbon me-Haye Adam”, - printed in Suwalk (5)686{1926}.

It is worthwhile looking at the contents of Shulhan Shabbat {quoting from the author's statement on the title page}: “In this book the reader will find many important things that every Jew should know and will find useful in both worlds {i.e. in this world and the world to come}, and will learn why he was put into the

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world. That is why we printed it in a pocket format so that everyone can keep it with him and will know that he should not lose his wits”.[2]

He wrote his books in a folksy Yiddish, seasoned with many true-to-life stories, with one goal only:-

To teach people to observe the Torah. He would often hand-out his little tracts on the street.


Sefer Shulhan Shabbat – part three.
{text of title page is same as that quoted above.}
By R'Hayim-Shlomoh, son of R'Yaakove Zilberman, of blessed memory.
Suwalk (5)685{1925}. Printer A.Y. Genyo, Suwalk.


I once saw a group of Jewish merchants and artisans standing on the corner of Yatke Street and Shul Street, reading small ethical tracts. Where did they get them? R'Hayim-Shlomoh had just walked by on his accustomed route to the synagogue and had handed out his pamphlets so that some Jews could snatch a few moments of Torah study.

R'Hayim-Shlomoh never left the abode of Torah. He sat and studied with great dedication. He also

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taught at the Hevra Medrash kloyz, the Eyn Yaakov kloyz and the Hakhnosat Orkhim kloyz. He often hired teachers to lecture to the various study groups. He was very discreet about his charitable contributions which amounted to thousands {of zlotys}. He was especially involved in building and repairing mikvaot {ritual baths}. According to reports, he had been influenced on this matter by the Hafets Hayim – may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing. Many ritual baths were destroyed at the time of World War I, and R'Yahim-Shlomoh would travel from a big town to a little town, and assist in the building and repairs of ritual baths, often covering all expenses himself.

Thus his name was known far beyond the boundaries of Suwalk. Rabbis from distant places would turn to him for assistance in building ritual baths. Here the whole town of Ozior {near Grodno} awaits his arrival to finance the building of a ritual bath. To get there, he must go via Grodno; at which hotel does “The American” stay? The writer of these lines meets him eating lunch in a corner at the kitchen of the Grodno elementary Yeshiva, where poor way-farers used to get their meals.

R'Hayim-Shlomoh had a tradition of visiting the needs straight after morning prayers, to distribute funds according to his understanding. Whenever people needed money to marry a daughter, for illness or just plain financial problems, he would be there ready to help. He also asked people to investigate cases of needy people who were too shy to talk about their situation. To such a person he would provide help in secret. He would order loads of firewood from gentiles and pay them to deliver the wood to poor families who did not even know who their benefactor was. He would also send bedding to poor expectant mothers and to needy families.

Quite often one would see him walking along at night with his light steps and head bent down, carrying wood and bedding for needy households {on his back}.

He supported all the communal institutions very generously. He bought a house on First of May street in front of Bilkur Holim and Linat Ha-Tsedek. There was the dwelling for the manager, David Bandzeskavski and a large assembly hall. Later he bought another house (on Yatke street) whose profits went to the Linat Ha-Tsedek. A short time before World War II, he gave a thousand zlotys as down-payment for a third house for

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Bikur Holim (the Harlap house on Yatke street) but the purchase was cancelled by the Polish government.

Where did R'Hayim-Shlomoh get so much money for charity? – from his brother, R'Yisrael Meir in America.

Was his brother so wealthy? Far from it. He was simply a poor peddler, very pious and charitable. He chose to live in abject poverty and sent large sums of money to his brother in Suwalk for Torah, charity and good works.

When people came to the Suwalk Rabbi, R'Yosef Yoselevitsh, and asked for his blessing, he would send them as well to R'Hayim-Shlomoh.

R'Hayim-Shlomoh himself lived very simply – in an attic – old and sick, he suffered from malaria, burned pieces of paper in his stove {to heat his room}. On Sabbath and holidays, he was the guest of his good friend, the philanthropist, Shmuel Noah Hapira.

Here are some details of his life and experiences, as told by his relatives in Hazleton, America.

His father, R'Yaakov, had four sons in Suwalk: Yosef, Yisrael-Meir, Hayim-Shlomoh and Shmuel. They all left for America as young men. Two of the, R'Yisrael-Meir and R'Hayim-Shlomoh, settled in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

R'Hayim-Shlomoh's wife died young leaving two young children. He took them along when he immigrated to Palestine. He had to put his children into an orphanage and he devoted himself to studying the Torah and writing his books. He caught malaria and an eye infection {trachoma} and became very ill. In 1913 he returned to Hazleton with his children. There he gave private {Hebrew} lessons, especially to girls, for they would become the mothers of the future. He loved children and was often seen in the company of children. Children returned his affection because he taught them with love. When his own children grew up and lived far away from him, the two brothers, R'Hayim-Shlomoh and R'Yisrael-Meir, entered into a sort of partnership. They agreed that the former would return to Suwalk (in 1922) and devote himself to Torah and good works,

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and the latter would send him money for this purpose.

R'Yisrael-Meir was born in Suwalk in 1853. He studied at the famous Volozhim Yeshiva with the great scholar, the NTSI'V {Naphtali Tsevi Judah Berlin, 1817-1893, head of Volozhin Yeshiva}. Around 1873 he came to America. A few years later he married Hannah, the daughter of R'Tsevi Litvinavski, whom his father, R'Yaakov, brought from Suwalk to New York for that purpose. After the wedding his father returned to Suwalk. R'Yisrael-Meir earned his living by going out every morning carrying a heavy pack of blankets, sheets, cloths, and other things from village to village in the Hazleton area. He was respected by all his customers, even Christians, as a fine and honest man. He spent almost all of his profits on charities in Palestine, Suwalk and America.

He needed very little for himself. He slept on the ground all week long and ate only bread and salt. On the Sabbath and holidays, he slept in a bed and prepared better meals for himself. His whole life was devoted to God. He spent every free moment studying Torah. He would stay up until midnight and would fast every Thursday and Monday. Besides giving away a great deal of his own money, he would leave his family and travel around to distant places to raise funds. During these journeys, he would distribute pamphlets about “family purity”, and the foundations of Judaism.

In 1922 he visited Palestine. On his way back he visited his birthplace – Suwalk – and the Hafets Hayim in Radin, to whom he used to send large sums of money for his Yeshiva. The Hafets Yaim showed him great respect and affection.

In this way he lived out his life. He passed away on the ninth Iyar (5)704{1944} and was buried in the Yeshivat Tiferet Yerushalayim cemetery in New York.

Of R'Yisrael-Meir's children, his youngest son, R'Aryeh, is now in Hazleton. He had studied in Yeshivot in Palestine and had married his wife, Devorah, in Jerusalem. When R'Yisrael Meir passed away[3], his daughter-in-law, Devorah, wrote an article about him which was published in the Morgen Zhurnal {Morning Journal}.

The Torah always returns to its abode. Their three children are outstanding students at the Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland.

R'Hayim-Shlomoh's life was cut short by the Nazis. When the Nazis entered Suwalk, the Jews started fleeing from the city.

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The Suwalk Rabbi, R'David Lifshits, advised R'Hayim-Shlomoh to cross the border to Lithuania. R'Hayim argued that he was too old and weak for such a venture. He remained in Suwalk, helping the needy with dollars which was useful for people wishing to make their way across the border. When the pressure to flee became greater, he allowed himself to be persuaded to cross the border with a group of Jews. He settled in Zasle, Lithuania with many other refugees and continued his deeds of charity for the needy. The Jews of Zasle admired his good deeds and righteousness and considered him a saint.

In the summer of (5)701{1941}, when the Nazis invaded Lithuania, he and the entire congregation of Jews were martyred.

He was a saint during his lifetime and a martyr at his death.

May God avenge his blood and may his memory be for a blessing.


R'Hayim Mendl Fridman

The pride of Suwalk householders and of religious communal workers was, for many years, R'Mendl Fridman. He was the greatest scholar among the city's scholars and the finest merchant and philanthropist among the city's merchants and the finest and most important communal worker among the city's workers for religious and social institutions.[4] He preached well, pearls came from his mouth. He was very clever. He got along well with people and was out-spoken. For years, he served as the president of the Vaad Ha-Kahal {community council}, as head of the Hevra Shas, Talmud Torah and Hevra Kadisha. He was a fervent lover of Zion and worked hard for Erets-Yisrael. Important visitors knew that they should first contact R'Hayim Mendl Fridman. His house was indeed a gathering place for wise men, Torah and greatness, in one place.

In his youth, he studied at the great Volozhin Yeshiva in the period of its glory when, among the teachers, there were men who would later achieve world renown; such as R'Shimon Shkop – head of the Grodno Yeshiva, R'Barukh Ber Leybovits – head of the Kamenets Yeshiva, and others.[5]

The world-renowned Rabbi Naphtali Tsevi Judah Berlin published in his well-known book, “Meshiv Davar”, part two, two responses to R'Hayim Mendl Fridman, where he debates with him on the subject of Halakha {traditional law} and praises him highly.

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He was the glory of the city for many years, outstanding in every way – in scholarship and good deeds

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and symbolized the scholarly type of previous generations. Suwalk was orphaned at his sudden death on the night of the holy Sabbath, the twentieth of Shevat (5)698{1938}.

R'Hayim Menahem Mendl Fridman speaks in the Shulhoyf {Synagogue courtyard}


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R. Naftali Fridlender

Another fine Jew of Suwalk was R'Naftali Fridlender, who filled many vacancies left by the death of R'Hayim Mendl. He became the head of the Hevra Shas and of the Talmud Torah. He had a great reputation as a scholar and preacher. For many years he gave the Talmudic discourse at the annual festival dinner of the Hevra Shas.

He was a man of fine character; bright and steadfast. He was a leading member of the Community Council and was, for many years, active in town affairs. His opinions were listened to with great respect.


R'Eliah Rozntal

He was a tall man of noble appearance. The honour of the Torah was most important to him and he would defend it with pride and energy. What he demanded of others he did himself. He was punctilious in the public study of Torah and in public prayer. He was a member of the respected Rozntal family – famed all over

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the city. For a short time he served as Vice-Burgomeister {vice-mayor?} of the city. At various times he was the head of the Hevra Shas and trustee of various communal institutions. For many years he hosted a Saturday night prayer quorum which was attended by outstanding scholars.

In his later years he was paralyzed. When he died in the winter of 1932, the prestige of the Torah-true community of Suwalk was greatly weakened.


R'Levi Yitshak Gelbard

For many years, R'Levi Yitshak was the glory of the Hevra Torah kloyz where he was the rabbi of the Hevra Shas.

He knew the Talmud thoroughly for he had reviewed the complete Talmud a number of times. He had studied at the Volozhin Yeshiva. His father too was a great scholar; very pious and conscientious about observing the commandments. He used to tell the following story to describe his father's qualities:

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“As a merchant, he often travelled to Christian settlements and sometimes had to spend the night. Naturally, he always brought his own food. He would ask for some water for washing. It happened once that the gentile refused to give him any water. My father announced that if the gentile would not give him water he would so something which the gentile would greatly regret.

The gentile laughed at him and continued to refuse to provide water. So, my father took out of his satchel a bottle of good liquor and poured it over his hands. The gentile was beside himself with remorse. He stooped down and drank the drops of liquor which dripped from my father's gingers…”

R'Levi Yitshak was the mashgiah {spiritual advisor/supervisor} in the Suwalk Talmud Torah and taught Gemara to the highest class. In his later years he was supported by his children, who lived abroad, and devoted all of his to study.

He married his daughter to a great scholar and follower of the Musar Movement[6]; “from the Novogrudok Yeshiva in Bialystok”, who used to sit and study day and night in the Hevra Torah kloys. Later he became dean of the Yeshiva in Krinek.

In the days of confusion during war-time, when he was on the point of fleeing to Grodno, he went up on the bimah on his last Shabbat in town and parted from the congregants with an emotional speech.

His wife died in Grodno. He was left alone, broken hearted until his martyrdom; may God avenge his blood.


Hasadim in a Misnagdic city[7]

Until the First World War, there was only one quorum of Hasidim in Suwalk. They were not natives of Suwalk. After the war, there was not even one quorum left. The remaining two fine Hasidic Jews with their special clothes and appearance were thus even more noticeable.

There were no disagreements between Hasidim and Misnagdim. Both were learned Jews and had the same goals as the other learned Jews in town, especially the members of the Hevra Shas – to study Torah. They participated in all matters connected with strengthening religious observance in Suwalk, but they were closer to each other and somewhat separated from the rest of the community.


R'Hayim Leby Bakhrakh

One of the above-mentioned Hasidim was R'Hayim Leyb Bakhrakh. He was a member of the famous Bakhrakh family mentioned in the genealogy book “Da'at Kedoshim”, a descendant of the famous author of “Havat Yair”.

R'Hayim Leyb studied in Lomza Yeshiva. He was also related to the family of the founder of the Yeshiva – the great scholar and saintly man – R'Eliezer Shulavits. His father, R'Shaul Eilhanan was the son of the Greyeve Rabbi.

R'Hayim Leyb came to Suwalk from Greyeve after marrying. The matchmaker was his uncle, Rabbi Zalmele Birger, who travelled around the Suwalk area collecting for the Rabbi Meir Ba'al Ha-Nes Fund. In the village of Olshanke, where at that time there was a fine Jewish community, he had a friend- a very pious man – R'Efrayim Zavaznitski. R'Efrayim loved the Torah and spent every free moment in study. He sent his son to the Volozhin Yeshiva and his major goal in life was to educate his children in Torah and observance of the commandments. Even the Christians of the village respected him and called him: “Holy Efrayim”. When R'Zalmele suggested that he marry his pious daughter Reyzl to a Torah student, he agreed to the match immediately.

R'Hayim Leyb was close to all the Suwalk rabbis of his time; such as: R'David Katsenelenboygn; the Gaon R'Moshe Betsalel; the Gaon R'Aharon Baksht; and the Gaon R'Yosef Yoselevitsh. He was treated by the latter as one of the family. He believed in enhancing the observance of the commandments and would rise at dawn to pray and study.

His custom of fasting on certain days of the year was not known in town, but his enthusiastic observance of the commandments with Hasidic fervour was known to all.

In 1920, he became the mashgiah in the Talmud Torah and served until he and his family immigrated to Palestine in 1935. There he devoted his remaining years to Torah and he died in Tel-Aviv on the fourth of Shevat (5)697{1937}.

His wife, Reyzl, was exceptional in her piety and good deeds. She died in Israel, in Kfar Haroeh, Menahem Av. (5)714{1954}.


R'Menahem Vaksbloym

The second Gerer Hasid in the Hevra Shas of Bet Ha-Midrash was, for many years, R'Menahem the

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tombstone engraver. He was among the first men to come to the Hevra Shas table to study and he would liven up the discussion with his sharp comments.

He earned his living from physical labour. Others actually hacked out the monuments, but he inscribed them in Hebrew, thus immortalizing the names and good deeds of the deceased. His house stood in the narrow Vesale Street, directly opposite the synagogue courtyard. Everyone who came to pray and study in the large Bet Midrash or in the kloyzn around the courtyard could always see before their eyes the lesson of human destiny – memento mori; but R'Menahem himself was a sweet, merry and sociable man.

He had a sharp mind and much influence in town. He was also a fine preacher and people paid attention to his preaching's.

At the start of winter 1937, he became ill and was taken to Vilne where he lay in hospital for a short time before he died.


R'Mordekhay Kazlavski

He was a merchant, sometimes involved in big business deals, but mostly he aspired to higher matters.

He was a warden and active participant in many communal endeavours, such as, Linat Ha-Tsedek and Bikur Holim, funds for Erets Yisrael and the Jewish Cooperative Bank. A member of the Community Council, he gave charity with a lavish hand.


R'Mordekhay Kazlavski and his wife


For many years he was a warden in the Hevra Midrash kloyz, where he taught Midrash, introducing beautiful commentaries. He would come to study with the Hevra Shas of the Bet Hamidrash Ha-Gadol every evening.

R'Mordekhay lived through terrible family tragedies. Most of his children died young. R'Mordekhay was born in Brest Litovsk. His father, R'Shmuel David, gave him a first class Torah education. He studied in the Yeshivot of Brisk, Telshe and Slabodke.

When he was twenty-one years old, he married a girl from Suwalk – Malkah – daughter of R'Yitshak Ayzik HaLevi Sapirshteyn. She gave much time to charitable works. She used to say: “since I earn money of my own, I have to give charity of my own”. {i.e. aside from what her husband gave}. She was modest and saintly, and never gossiped about anyone. The manufacturers who dealt with the Koslovskis marvelled at their honesty.

They went to Palestine in 1937 and settled in Kfar Saba, where they opened a grocery store. They worked hard to make a living but they also gave a lot of charity. At times of crisis, they distributed food for sick children.

R'Mordekhay's remaining children inherited his honesty and dedication to the common good. He, however, did not live to see his son, Pinhas Sapir, appointed Minister of Commerce and Industry in the State of Israel. He died in Kfar Saba at age 73, 6 Iar (5)713(1953). His wife Toybe[8] died at the age of 76, 1 Shevat (5)712(1952).

R'Avigdor Fayans

He was a brother of the head of the religious court of Bialystok, R'David Fayans. He was a merchant but devoted much of his extraordinary energy to the good of the town. He was a leader wherever he went. He helped collect money for Yeshivot and other communal needs such as campaigns for wood for the poor, money for Passover, etc. He was a bright, down-to-earth person and was often called upon to serve as an arbitrator in complicated cases in other cities. He excelled in his versatile involvement in all communal institutions but was especially active in working for the Talmud Torah. He did not rest until the new two-story building was completed and inaugurated on Hanukkah (5)694(1934).[9]

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At the last elections to the Community Council, R'Avigdor was elected to the Board where he increased his activities for communal institutions and needy individuals. He taught at the Hevra Shas and was the last warden of the Bet Hamidrash Hagadol, to which he was very devoted. He fled to Grodno with his family before the Nazis entered Suwalk, and it was there that he met his painful end.


R'Zlaman Shvarts

He studied in the Voloshin Yeshiva and was ordained as a Rabbi teacher.[10]. Later, he became a merchant. He used to give a great deal of his time to the Talmud Torah[11] and often used to test the students and teach them. From time to time, he would preach about faith and observance. Later, he gave up commerce and travelled around the country collecting for the good of the Kletsk Yeshiva.

While visiting South Africa to collect funds for the Suwalk Yeshiva and Talmud Torah, he was hired to serve as Rabbi in one of the congregations there. He worked there with great enthusiasm until his death a few years later after the Second World War.


R'Avraham Zlavski

R'Avraham was a Hevra Shas member in the Bet Hamidrash Hagado. He was very diligent in his study of Torah. He was by trade a builder and shingle of wooden houses. Full of energy and initiative, he began building wooden houses for rent. Finally, he had seventy tenants, most of them in the poor neighbourhood of Mali-Ratsek. He also owned the communal poultry slaughter-house.

His initiative in furthering his own spiritual development was remarkable. He attained his scholarly status when he was already middle-aged. He started with Mishnah, and with great diligence, studying day and night, became a scholar and important teacher of the Hevra Shas. Even then he did not limit his studies to only appointed times but studied from dawn to late at night in the Bet Hamidrash Hagadol.

His son, R'Moshe Meir, was the image of his father. For many years they could be seen sitting together in the Bet Hamidrash Hagadol, absorbed in study. Although R'Moshe Meir was busy making a living, he had a small grocery store on Vigrer Street; he devoted much time to study of Torah. After his father died he

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continued sitting in the same corner, studying and praying. He used to bring his young children along at dawn to pray. He said that children had to become used to going to the synagogue in the summertime and wintertime from their earliest youth. Indeed, they used to run to the synagogue on their own when they were older, but they were unable to continue the fine traditions of their grandfather and father because the whole family was killed in Lithuania, where they had fled during the Second World War.


R'Leyser Garbarski

R'Leyzer used to sit in the Bet Midrash or at home all day and study. In his last years he was free of the obligation of earning a living, having as his only dependant his grandson, Moshe Panimunski, who was studying at the Yeshivot of Mir and Grodno. He had a bad foot in his old age and would walk with a cane, but, he was energetic in his studies and prayers and in his activities as a long time warden in the kloyz. He was considered one of the town's scholars. He passed away at the age of ninety.


R'Shlomoh Dabkin

He came from Slonim. He had studied at the Slobodke Yeshiva for many years. When R'Aharon Baksht formed his “kibbutz” in Suwalk, R'Shlomoh Dabkin came to study there. He married in Suwalk and opened a factory store {not clear whether goods were manufactured on premises or whether the store sold manufactured goods}. He used every spare moment for study. When the stores were closed, he would sit in the kloyz with Gemara all day long until late at night. He had a very sharp mind and indulged in casuistry with the other members of the Hevra Shas. He also helped collect funds for Yeshivot and other charities. He died with the other martyrs of Suwalk, may God avenge his blood.


R'Moshe Shmuel Aranasvski

He owned a leather business on Yatke Street and a large house on Kosciuszko Street. He had been a student in the Slobodke Yeshiva and knew how to study. He was a member of the Hevra Shas for many years. He would come to study in the Bet Hamidrash Ha-gadol and the Hevra Medrash kloyz very early in the morning and whenever he had some spare time. He married his daughter to an outstanding student of the Novogrudok

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Yeshiva in Bialystok, Rabbi Betsalel Goldberg, expert in Talmud – a profound scholar – later Rabbi in Tshernovi-Bar near Lomza. They were killed along with the other martyrs.

R'Moshe Shmuel's only son, R'Tuviah, studied in the Grodno Yeshiva and later in the Yeshiva in Montreux, Switzerland. He is at present a merchant in London.


R'Hayim Raybman

He was a merchant and owned a large grocery wholesale business on Shul Street. He was one of the fine householders and scholars of the Hevra Shas. He was also familiar with the secular subjects and he worked for Erets Yisrael. He was a very refined character, pursued peace and was well received everywhere in the city. He was a member of the Communal Board for many years and active in all communal affairs. He died with the other martyrs, may God avenge his blood.


R'Zeydl Khvilavski

(He was) a man of fine appearance – one of the scholars of the town. At one time a student at the Radin Yeshiva, he was a regular participant in the Hevra Shas. He had a store in Market Street but he sat until late at night studying in the Bet Hamidrash Ha-Gadol. Even his Christian customers knew this and they respected him greatly, calling him “Rabbin”. He was killed with the martyrs in the Lublin area, may God avenge his blood.


R'Aviezer Zshilkevitsh

He was the agent as well as the Suwalk correspondent for the Warsaw “Haynt”. He was very sociable and studied daily with the Hevra Shas in the Bet Hamidrash Ha-Gadol. He often led the prayers there. He worked for Erets Yisrael and for communal affairs. He died with the martyrs.


R'Velvl Ziman

He was constantly studying in the Bet Hamidrash. He devoted all of his time to collecting funds for charitable causes.


R'Berl Berlin

He was a regular student of Torah at the Bet Hamidrash Ha-Gadol. He was a member of the prestigious family of Rabbi Naftali Tsevi Yehudah Berlin. He was a son-in-law of Elia Rozental. He died with the other

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The Krutsinitski family.

The Krutsinitski family used to occupy an important place at the big table of the Hevra Shas in the Beth Hamidrash. The oldest of the family, R'Tevele, a short man with a long beard, was an integral part of the Hevra Shas. From the day the Bet Hamidrash was built, he missed praying there on only one Sabbath.

He completed nine study cycles of the Mishnah. For a number of years, he served as chief warden of the Bet Hamidrash. He died at the advanced age of 86 in 1937.

R'Tevele's brother, R'Tanhim was also a long-time participant in prayer at the Bet Hamidrash and student of the Hevra Shas. He had a small grocery on Market Street where he stood almost the whole day long in order to make a living. He tore himself away from his shop at every opportunity in order to study in the Bet Hamidrash.

A tragic thing happened to him. One Sabbath he was honoured with an aliyah[12] but when the sexton called out: “Ya'amod R'Tankhum…..”{Arise, R'Tankhum} he did not get up. He tried to stand but could not. He had suddenly become paralyzed. There was uproar in the Bet Hamidrash. He was carried home and a doctor was called, but in vain – in a few days' time he died.

The three brothers; R'Yosef, R'Leyb and R'Aharon Krutsinitski, cousins of R'Tevele and R'Tankhum were also regulars in the Hevra Shas. Even though they were occupied with business all day long, they studied with great eagerness in the evenings. They were charitable and good hearted and leading householders of the city. R'Aharon was the warden of the Hevra Shas for a number of years and would host its celebrations in his home.

They were killed during the war with all of the martyrs of the Lublin region. May God avenge their blood.


R'Binyamin Mints

(He was) one of the rare fine types of Jews – a synthesis of goodness and piety.

R'Binyamin was born in Suwalk to parents R'Shlomoh Leyb and Rahel. According to family tradition, they came to Poland from Germany hundreds of years before. R'Binyamin lost his father when he was quite

[Col. 447]

young but became very rich through his exceptional abilities. He owned the largest factory in town. He was respected by all for his good nature, good character and good deeds.


R'Binyamin Mints


He name was known as far as America. Most of the money collected by the American committees and landslayt was sent to his address. He was a great lover of Torah and a generous supporter of scholars. He was one of the most outstanding philanthropists in town. Twice a year, before Passover and before the High Holidays, he would buy new clothing and shoes for the poor children of the Talmud Torah and the orphanage.

In 1932, when the old building of the Talmud Torah became too crowded, he gave the first and largest donation for the construction of a new two-storey building.

His wife, Hannah, came from Mariampol, Lithuania. She had been orphaned at an early age when her father, R'Yitshak Kaplan, was killed in the Polish uprising of 1863, and she had had a very difficult childhood. She and her husband lived together in idyllic harmony. It was custom to send food and bedding every Friday to all the welfare institutions, such as orphanages, old age homes and the hospital. She helped the sick and gave

[Col. 448]

large donations for dowries for poor girls. Their palatial home on the corner of Kosciuszko and Mutke Streets was always open for guests who were received with warm hospitality.

At the beginning of the war, they moved to Warsaw to their daughter's home. From there they later fled to Slonim where they were both killed in the Slonim massacre at over eighty years old – Shevat 2(5)702{1942}. May God avenge their blood.


His son-in-law, R'Shumel Noah Shapira

The well-known firm – “Mints and Family” – was located in the centre of Kosciuszko Street. One could often see R'Shmuel Noah Shapira go in. But he was not always occupied with business. After closing the shop, he would often go into the Fishersher Kloyzs and sit at the table where the famous R'Hayim Shlomoh led a study group.

What was the link between the rich merchant and the spiritual R'Hayim Shlomo?

R'Shmuel Noah did not limit his philanthropy to the giving of donations to warden who came to collect for various institutions. He also gave money in secret and searched for people in need – so as to give charity not only when it was expected and acknowledged, but also in secret. Therefore, he sought out R'Hayim Shlomoh, the pure fountain of charity.

His father, Rabbi Aryeh Leyb Shapira, was a scholar in Grodno, famous for his scholarship and good deeds. R'Shumel inherited from him, his love of Torah and his refined character as well as his habit of punctilious observance of the commandments.

R'Shmuel Noah was a highly educated man with an engineering diploma from the University of Berlin. He used this status to influence the youth of Suwalk and to draw them closer to Jewishness.

R'Shmuel Noah was also involved in communal affairs. He was a member of the Communal Board and had much influence. Thanks to him, many complex problems were solved.

He was very hospitable, both to important people and to poor wayfarers. He and his family treated all guests with equal respect.

[Col. 449]

He was very close to Rabbi Yosef Yoselevitsh and to his son-in-law, Rabbi David Lifshits. When the latter founded a yeshiva in Suwalk, he {R'Shmuel Noah} covered 50% of it expenses until the last days of its existence. Whenever rabbis came to town to appeal for funds for this yeshivot, he would not wait for them to come to him, but he would go to them first, to refresh himself with their words of wisdom and Torah sermons, and give them the largest donations. Afterwards, he would accompany them on their fundraising rounds to other merchants.

He sent his two sons to the local Talmud Torah and to the Yeshiva Ohel Yitshak, and raised them in his ways.

At the beginning of the war, he and his family went to his brothers in Lida. R'Yaakov and R'Ever were known there as great philanthropists and important householders. Later, the Russians forced them to leave Lida and they went to Slonim where he was killed the massacre of Tuesday the 24th Elul. (5)701.9.16.41. His wife Esther Etl and their two sons, Shlomo 18 and David 13 died a year later – Friday 13th Elul. (5)702. May God avenge their blood.


R'Hirsh Levinson

(He was) a pious Jew with a fine white beard – one of the old style householders of importance. A quiet, modest man, restrained in speech and very charitable. During the week, he prayed in the Bet Hamidrash Ha-Gadol, but on the Sabbath and holidays, he used go to his own kloyz located in his courtyard on Market Street, near his tannery. His son-in-law was the well-known doctor and communal worker, L. Vaysman. He was killed along with the other martyrs of Suwalk. May God avenge his blood.


R'Nahum Sheshupski

He was a good merchant with a very sharp mind whom people sought out for advice on various matters. He was liked by everyone. He studied with the Hevra Shas at the Bed Hamidrash Ha-Gadol and

[Col. 450]

was reckoned among the brightest Jews in town. He died with the martyrs. May God avenge his blood.


R'Leyb Zarembavski

He was an exporter but always ready to volunteer his time and energy for Bikur Holim and Linat Ha-Tsedek. He had a sweet voice and pleased the public when he led the prayers in the big synagogue. He died in the war. May God avenge his blood.


The last town cantor – R'Dov Berman

During the last years of World War II, R'Dov Berman was the Suwalk town cantor. His enthusiastic chanting and beautiful voice made a good impression. He was also the teacher of Ein Ya'akov and Maye Adam in the Hevra Midrash kloyz.[13] Afterwards he would go to the Hevra Hayatim {tailors} where he drew a large audience to hear his meaty sermons. He used to collect funds for the needy; for dowries and for yeshivot. He was very active in Bikur Holim and Linat Ha-Tsedek and would often visit seriously ill people. His son, Shlomoh Zalman, was sent to study first at the Novogrudok Yeshiva and later at the great Lomza Yeshiva. He and his family were killed in the horrible massacres. May God avenge his blood.


[Col. 451]

The ritual slaughterers in Suwalk


R'Hayim Shlomoh Midlinski

R'Hayim Shlomoh Midlinski was a son-in-law of R'Hayim Broyde, the ritual slaughterer. He was a man of radiant countenance, scholarly and pious, who sat and studied for many hours in the Hevra Torah kloyz. He always prayed from the heart. He lived on the outskirts of town, on Windmill Street, but came to the Hevra Torah every day to study.

[Col. 452]


R'Tsadok Rayman

R'Tsadok Rayman was the son-in-law of the famous ritual slaughterer and prayer leader, R'Moshe Leyb Maytkes. His home was distinguished for its hospitality. Almost every fine Jew, who came to Suwalk, would eat and sleep at his home. He prayed at the Bet Hamidrash Hagadol where he would also study by himself. One of his sons, Shlomoh, survived the Holocaust and after much suffering, came to New York where he is the financial secretary of the Suwalk Landsmanshaft.

[Col. 451]

R'Eliezer Kagan

He was the town cantor for many years in the big synagogue and the director of a well-organized choir. He was Torah oriented and would sit for hours at the Bet Hamidrash table, studying with other men, especially R'Hirsh Rubinshteyn, previously mentioned. From him, study and music went hand-in-hand. For a short time, he was the cantor in the Grodno town synagogue. After he left Suwalk, he was cantor-ritual slaughterer in Sventsian. He died young a few years prior to World War II.


R'Shmuel Gradavski

For many years, he was the prayer leader on Saturdays and on High Holidays at the Bet Hamidrash Hagadol, where he also studied Gemara in the evenings. He was a son-in-law of Rabbi Yafe, Rabbi of Lasdai. Of blessed memory, and was in his own right, a kind-hearted man of fine character, restraint and honesty. He owned a clothing store on Klodne Street. His enthusiastic prayers at Musaf, on High Holidays, moved people to do penance. His modest wife, Sarah, was known in town for her goodness and hospitality. They had outstanding sons whom they sent to yeshivot. Their older son, Hayim Zalman, was very active in communal affairs, especially as a leader of various youth organizations. Their other sons, R'Ever and R'Moshe, were students at Lomza Heshiva – distinguished for their Torah scholarship and religious observance. They were all killed. May God avenge their blood.

[Col. 452]


R'Leyzer Zef

He was a very affluent householder on First of May Street. A quorum would pray at his home on Sabbath and on Holidays. It was called R'Leyzer Zef's kloyz. He was a man of warm temperament. He chanting as a prayer leader, especially on High Holidays, was much appreciated. He was already eighty years old when war broke out. He fled to Vilna where he lived for a few years, and was killed when the Nazis captured the Lithuanian capital. May God avenge his blood.


R'Hirsh Rubinshteyn

He was a warden of the Bet Hamidrash for many years and studied with the Hevra Shas. He was a lay leader of prayers on High Holidays, had a fine voice and feeling for liturgical music. The Suwalk congregation enjoyed his sincere praying. He would enliven the Hevra Shas festivities with snatches of cantorial music. He was known for his good heartedness and for his collection of funds for charity. People would give him large donations even before he approached them. He died in (5)692{1932}.

R'Bertsik Rubinshteyn

Brother to R'Hirsh, he was also a student of Talmud – musical and a collector of funds for charities, especially for yeshivot and for purchase of wood, kosher food and Passover needs for the poor. He was a partner in the sawmill and was known as a fine and honest merchant. He was a man of mercy, of refined character and rare good qualities who was beloved by all in town. His older daughter, Golde, was married to Kopl, son of R'Hayim Mendl Fridman.

They were all killed in the Hitler slaughter. His daughter, Pesl, who came from Palestine to visit the family shortly before the war, was also killed. May God avenge their blood.


R'Levi Yitshak Fridlender

He had a haberdashery shop in Yatke Street. He used to keep the place in the Gemara for the Hevra Shas. Even though his business kept him involved in mundane matters, it was obvious that he had more spiritual feelings. When he was in Warsaw on business, he became acquainted with representatives of the Mir Yeshiva. They suggested that he help the yeshiva with his business connections. R'Levi Yitshak forged a “golden chain” of donors – where on man involved another in supporting the yeshiva, and this led to the outstanding success of the fundraising campaign. He had a good feeling for liturgy and often served as lay leader of prayers in various Suwalk synagogues. His chanting was remarkable for its enthusiasm and sweetness. He was a merciful Jew and would collect for many charities. He was killed with his entire family. May God avenge their blood.


R'Avraham Sukhavalski

R'Avraham Sukhavalski, son of R'Shmuel the ritual slaughterer, was a long-time participant in the Hevra Torah – a fine, quiet person. He was one of the town ritual slaughterers for many years.


R'Zalman Kantaravits

He was a ritual slaughterer and town circumciser for the last fifteen years. He was also cantor and for a short time, sang with the choir.

All four of these ritual slaughterers were closely involved with the community because they were responsible for the kashrut of the meat and religious affairs until they were killed along with all of the martyrs of Suwalk.


R'Yosef, son of Hilel Birger

The chief sexton of the big town synagogue was a spiritual person called R'Yosef the Scribe because he was a scribe of Torah scrolls, phylactery scrolls and Mezuzah scrolls. It was known that his phylacteries were the best in town. His father, R'Hilel, had also been a scribe all his life. R'Yosef was a great scholar; a man of wit and of rare qualities. His period of sexton ship raised the honour of the synagogue. He also served as Torah reader, renowned for his beautiful chanting. He was considered the best Torah reader in town. He studied standing on the bimah at his lectern, and his majestic appearance made a special impression on the congregation.

R'Yosef served as sexton for many years. He loved to tell about how important the town synagogue had been in the past – when the first three rows of pews were occupied by the most important men in town – all wearing top hats. In those days, at Sukkot time, the synagogue yard would be full of wagons belonging to Jews who would come in from surrounding villages throughout the night.

R'Yosef was also the chief sexton of the town religious court. He was often able to persuade the litigants to come to an agreement without a trial.

[Col. 454]

At the time of the Hitler expulsions, he was ill. He was nevertheless, sent away with other Jews to Biale. Since he was old and weak, he died there a short time later. His name is honoured and respected by all Suwalk Jews.


R'Hershl the sexton

He was the assistant sexton of the Bet Midrash and the synagogue. He carried out his double duties with dedication and energy for many years. He was also the sexton appointed by the religious court to summon litigants to appear before the court, and to bring people before the Rabbi on other cases. He was close to everyone in town and perished as a martyr along with everyone in the Lublin area. May God avenge his blood.


R'Tsevi Yoel Bakhrakh


R'Moshe Ber Budvetski

He could always be seen bent over his Gemara on the bima until late at night. He prayed with great intention. He was very discreet and careful about refraining from gossip. He also restrained others from gossip.

[Col. 455]

He was a baker by trade. He studied (Torah) in Erets Yisrael for ten years, then returned to Suwalk where he became the chief sexton in the big Bet Hamidrash and distributor of permits for the slaughter of poultry. His home was always available for lodging guests. He gave much charity in secret. I remember that when I came to Jerusalem some time ago, the Radiner Rebbe, Rabbi Kapshteyn – founder and leader of the well-known Jerusalem institution – “Ezrat Rabanim Pelite Rusya ve-sherar aratsot”[14], asked me who was R'Moshe Ber Budvetski who sent in such generous contributions? The committee thought that he must be a very rich man. He died at over eighty years on 10th Adar (5)697{1937}.


R'Mendl Taviskavski

He returned to Suwalk from Germany where he had been a ritual slaughterer in the 1930's. He frilled the vacancy created by the recent death of R'Moshe Ber. His father and four brothers also lived in Suwalk. They were artisans, tailors by trade, observant Jews. Some of them were musical and served as prayer leaders in the Bet Hamidrash and in the nearby kloyzn.

They all died in different places. May God avenge their blood.


Hevra Mishnayot

Opposite the table of the Hevra Shas, on the other side of the Bet Hamidrash Hagadol, there stood another long table. That was the table of the Hevra Mishnayot whose members consisted mostly of hardworking men who came every evening after a day's work to study between afternoon and evening prayers. This group would sit until very late on Saturday nights after Havdalah.[15]


R'Artsik - the potter

He was a man of radiant countenance. He was always overworked, yet he would leave his work to study at dawn and in the evening. He studied Mishnah, Ein Ya'akov and other texts. He was a regular participant in the Nevra Mishnayot. He was hospitable, collected funds for the poor and defended the oppressed and mistreated. He died with all the martyrs. May God avenge his blood.


R'Sender – the carpenter

During the daytime, he worked hard at carpentry and at night he taught Torah as a teacher in the Furmansker kloyz.


R'Kalman- Teper[16]

A regular participant in Hevra Mishnayot. An honest Jew. Whenever he could get away from his hard work in the butcher shop, he would grab a holy book in the Bet Hamidrash.


R'Moshe Raykh – the mechanic

He did not have a mechanic's diploma but was very skilled in mechanical work. The director of the Grodno Engineering School visited his workshop and was amazed at his ingenious inventions. His sons became modern mechanics. R'Moshe Raykh was careful in his Jewish observance and after a hard day's work; he would lock up his workshop and run to the Bet Hamidrash to the Hevra Mishnayot.

They and others of the Hevra were killed by the enemy. May God avenge their blood.


R'Barukh Zilbershteyn

Who did not know R'Barukh – the baker? That dear man with his dear Jewish virtues. His bakery, on Vesale Street, had been in operation for generations. He was known in town not only for his baking, but for his good deeds and charity for the poor and oppressed. He was acquainted with the city “Natshalstvo” (leaders)

[Col. 457]

and would often leave his work and run to plead for someone's welfare to the governor or the chief of police. Everyone knew this, so whenever there was a problem, people would run to R'Barukh for help.

On Saturdays, he would have a teacher and a hevra at his home with whom to study, and it was his custom that after the lesson, he would provide tea and baked goods from his oven. He was a very observant Jew and very close to the town Rabbi – Rabbi David Tebele Katsenelenboygn.

He died at an old age in (5)678{1918}.

[Col. 456]

R'Barukh Zilbershteyn


R'Daniel Lifshits

He owned some houses and a large haberdashery on Market Street. Even though he was very busy, he found time to be a warden in the Hevra Torah synagogue and to come there to study. When the Shas[17] were completed, he would hold the festive meal at his home. He would also host the festive meal of Simhat Torah at his home for the entire congregation. He gave much charity, especially to the yeshivot in Erets Yisrael. He received an honorary wardenship[18] from Jerusalem, because he bought a building for the Meah Shearim Yeshiva.

In his youth, R'Daniel had studied in Grodno at the time the famous R'Nahumke Horodner had lived there. He was very much influenced by R'Nahumke – who used to study with the young students and teach those ethics.

He sent his son Alter to study at the Slobodke Yeshiva. Alter became known in town as a capable worker for Erets Yisrael.

R'Daniel died in possession of a good name in Nisan. (5)691{1939}

His sons-in-law were the two brothers R'Moshe and R'Yhoshua Kravtsinski; both scholars. R'Moshe had a shoe business on Klodne Street. He prayed in the Hevra Torah kloys where he also served as a warden until the last day. R'Yehoshua – very God-fearing – had a food shop in the thirteen little stores[19] and had a good reputation for his honesty as a merchant, even among the gentiles. The third son-in-law was a quiet, honourable man – R'Nahman Lasman, who worked very hard in the lumber business. He would get up very early every morning to say Psalms. The fourth son-in-law – R'Hershl Frenavitsh

[Col. 458]

{Prenavitsh?} was active in communal affairs, especially in Bikur Holim and Linat Ha-Tsedek. He was a member of the last community council. They were all killed by the Nazis in various places. May God avenge their blood.


R'Yosl Zef


Whenever he had a free moment, he would sit in the Hevra Torah kloyz and study. For many years, he studied with the chief warden, R'Daniel Lifshits.

R'Yosl Zef was a merchant all his life. He came from a small town near Suwalk, Ledai. He married a girl from Suwalk and managed a tannery. From time-to-time, he would travel on business but he was closely tied emotionally to the Bet Midrash and to the study of Torah. Even in his last years, when business was bad, and he had many problems and worries, he did not neglect his study. For some years, he was the chief warden of the Hevra Torah kloyz.

He died at age 74, a short time before the war. He was eulogized by the town rabbis, Rabbi David Lifshits (may he live long) and Rabbi Gershon Broyde, of blessed memory.


R'Barukh Lerner

He was truly honourable Jew – very careful in observing the commandments. In his youth, he had studied in Lomza Yeshiva. His two sons, Meir and Hayim were sent to study in yeshivot. All his life he earned his living by his labour. He worked in Smolinski's mill. After the death of the long-time sexton of Hevra Kadisha[20] R'Reuven Leyzer, he took over this community function and served faithfully. He helped arrange meals and sleeping accommodations for wayfarers, collected funds for charity, and aroused people to the observance of the Sabbath. He was especially careful not to gossip and influenced others not to gossip. Every evening he studied at the Hevra Torah kloyz. He died with the martyrs. May God avenge his blood.


R'Alter Staliarski

He was one of the fine scholarly Jews in town. Until his marriage, he studied at the Yeshiva in Telshe.

He excelled in his studies and was ordained to teach, but did not practice. He chose to become a grain merchant. When the town rabbis of visiting rabbis preached on Talmudic subjects, it could be seen tat R'Alter was still a Telshe Heshiva scholar. He would review the passages in the Talmud that the rabbis were supposed to discuss, and after their sermons, he would stay and discuss the finer points of their novella with them. He was a regular in the Hevra Torah kloyz, where he sat and studied with profound involvement.

With the outbreak of World War II, he escaped to Lithuania where he settled in Koshedar. When the Nazis came, he was killed. May God avenge his blood.


R'Aharon Goldshteyn

He was born in Punsk, studied in the Telshe Yeshiva and married a girl from Filipowe. After residing in America for ten years, he settled in Suwalk. He bought a courtyard with houses on Vesole Street and lived from the income. He studied with the Hevra Shas of the big Bet Midrash and the Hevra Shas of the Hevra Torah kloyz. He was very close to Rabbi Aaron Baksht, Rabbi Yosef Yoselevitsh and Rabbi David Lifshits. When war broke out, Rabbi Baksht, Rabbi of Shavel – Lithuania at the time – spent money to bring in R'Aharon and two other householders from Suwalk with whom he was close, but did not succeed.[21]

R'Aharon Goldshteyn used to enjoy getting together with Suwalk Torah scholars for study or discussion. He knew how to recount stories of the many great men he had met in his lifetime. He was also an enlightened Jew; knew the entire Bible[22] and was devoted to Erets Yisrael. He, his wife Sarah Itl and their learned daughter, Rahel, were driven to the Lublin area along with thousands of other Suwalk Jews, where they were killed by the Nazis. May God avenge their blood. Their only son, Moshe, has lived in Tel-Aviv for many years where he occupies an important position in the municipality.


R'Meir Gustman

He came to Suwalk from Wizshan in 1934. He formed a large Hevra Tehillim and, every Sabbath morning, summer and winter, one would hear the sweet sound of the chanting of the Psalms from the big Bet Midrash. This served as an example for other synagogues. R'Meir Gustman fled before the Nazis into Lithuania where he perished. May God avenge his blood.


R'Yehudah Dembovitsh

He had a fruit business on Yatke Street but he was devoted body and soul to Torah. He was the teacher in the Furmansker kloyz. When asked what his occupation was, he would reply that he was a rebe {teacher} in a kloyz, even though he earned no salary from his position. His sons-in-law, R'Mordekhay Fertsavski {or Pertsavski} and R'Moshe Sarakshavel, were scholars and active in religious life in Suwalk. His son was a devoted worker for Erets Yisrael. Another son-in-law, Kayam, had a fruit business on Kosciuszko Street but he died in middle-age. His wife, Ida and their only son, live in Ramat-Gan, Israel where they had found their way after surviving the Holocaust.


The Rebe of the Cobbler's kloyz

The kloyzn met in the anteroom of the big Bet Midrash. One was called the Cobbler's kloyz {Hevrat Sandlarim}. Its' teacher was Sheynhoyz. He was an older man, a great scholar and truly pious and observant. He sat there day and night and studied. Every evening he would teach Haye Adam and EinYa-akov and on Saturdays, he would teach the Pentateuch. His heartfelt sermons influenced the congregation deeply. He died with the other Jews of Suwalk. May God avenge his blood.


The Rebe of the Tailor's Kloyz.

He was formerly the Rabbi of Yelinewe. In his old age, he settled in Suwalk, where he was a private tutor of Gemara by day and in the evening, taught at the Hevra Hayatim, the second kloyz in the anteroom of the big Bet Midrash. He would rise at dawn for the morning prayers and studied a great deal. Every Rosh Hodesh eve he served as cantor. He lived to a very ripe old age.

R'Yaakov Aylender, a member of the Tailor's kloyz, was very famous in town. Every day, after prayers, he would study Mishnah and every evening, after work, he would go to Zilberblat's kloyz to listen to a Gemara lecture. He was a representative of the artisans in the Community Council. He died in his early sixties after a short illness. Adar 5()690{1930}. The city rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Yoselevitsh eulogized him with moving words.

[Col. 461]


The Mularske kloyz[23]

There was a narrow door leading from the courtyard of the Bet Midrash – so narrow that only one person could pass through at a time – which led to the courtyard of Lis – the baker. Behind this little door, there was a tiny synagogue – the Mularske kloyz. Rabbi Katsherovski taught there. The men who prayed there were simple manual labourers, but they were decent and pious Jews. They would listen attentively what the rebe taught Ein Yaakov and codes.


Rebe Ziman

For many years, Rebe Ziman taught in Hevra Midrash without salary. He was a scholar – a fine preacher and attracted many men to study Torah. He died in (5)689{1929}.



He was one of the oldest scholars in town, and was respected by all. He studied night and day in the Hevra Midrash and in his later years, in Ein Yaakov kloyz. He believed in enhancing the fulfilment of the commandments and was known in town for his virtues and especially for his philanthropy.

He lived to almost 90. Once, during the intermediate days of Sukkot, he said the afternoon prayers earlier than usual. He left the synagogue carrying his lulav and etrog and as he arrived home, he fell and died on the spot.


R'Avraham Yehudah Zeligson

He was born in Sapatkin, not far from Suwalk, in 1868. His father, R'Yisrael-Yitshak, was a great scholar and taught Gemara {to a hevra}. In 1891, he married Haya Krutshenitski of Suwalk, the daughter of R'Yehezkel, the well-known scholar and merchant. He had a haberdashery shop on Market Street which he ran quietly and honestly for many years. He was bright and learned. He used to lead the Musaf {additional} prayers in the Hevra Midrash kloyz. He was an exceptionally fine reader. He did a great deal for Erets Yisrael. He was considered one of the important householders in town and had a good reputation.

His wife, Haya, died on the sixth of Tevet.(5)692{1931}. At the end of 1935, R'Avraham Yehudah came to America to visit his oldest son, R'Yehezkel Hayim Zeligson – the well-known communal worker and president

[Col. 462]

of the Suwalk Relief Committee. After a few years in New York, he planned to return home, but, because of the Second World War, he remained with his son. He obtained a position as a supervisor of the kosher slaughtering of poultry through the recommendation of the Rabbi of Gomel – Rabbi Barishanski. He carried out this holy duty with devotion. He studied Torah on a regular basis and also participated in the Hevra Shas in the Bet Midrash of Mount Eden Centre{?} where he also served as a volunteer leader of morning prayers on High Holidays. He was also often the Torah reader. He was active in Mizrahi and was beloved by everyone.


R'Avraham Yehudah Zeligson


On Sabbath eve {when the portion Tazrie-Metsora is read} on the fifth of Iyar, (5)707{1947 he came to the synagogue as usual, but when reading the Songs of Solomon, he suddenly felt ill. His prayer book fell out of his hand and he died sitting in his pew. May his soul be bound to the bond of life.

His sons, Yaakov and David Berl, were solid and honest merchants. They had a haberdashery store on Yatke and Market Streets. They were active communal workers, especially for the Talmud Torah, for Erets Yisrael and the Funds[24]. They were both musical. Yaakov often served as lay leader of prayers at the Hevra Torah kloyz and the Hevra Midrash; he led the additional prayers and read the Torah.

At the beginning of the war, David Berl and his wife and two children, went to Slonim where they were killed a few years later in the infamous Slonim massacre. Yaakov remained in Suwalk until the Nazi expulsion, then fled over the Lithuanian border[25] to Lasdai where he and his wife and three children were killed in the

[Col. 463]

summer of 1941. Their sister, Bashe Faygl, her husband Elia Levontin and their three children were killed in the Kovno ghetto. May God avenge their blood.


R'Hershl Levontin

He himself was from Warsaw, where he had a leather factory and a fulling mill, which is why he was called “the Warsaw fuller”. He was one of the few Hasidim in town. His entire bearing was Hasidic; he wore a long garmet and a Polish Hasidic had. He had the Hasidic fervour. He was a clever, refined man, with a sense of humour and a love of witty sayings. He was one of the chief workers for the good of the Bikur Holim and Linat Ha-Tsedek. He provided medicine and nourishing food for poor, sick people. He would often spend the night sitting up with the sick and he persuaded others to do likewise.

Poor families would mention his name with love. His five sons; Naftali, Avraham Yitshak, Eliyahu, Yaakov and Motl, occupied positions of importance in town. The oldest, R'Naftali, distinguished himself. He was an important worker – an arbiter at the religious court, and a founder and vice-president of the Bikur Holim and Linat Ha-Tsedek. In 1926 he and his family moved to Antwerp, Belgium, where he became a diamond merchant. He was one of the important householders there. He died on Shabbat Bereshit (5)690{1929}.


Rebes and wardens of Hakhnasat Orhim kloyz

The Hakhnasat Orhim {hospitality} kloyz had rooms in which wayfarers were lodged. Every Sabbath, one could see new faces there, but one never knew what sort of people they were. It happened once that a guest there impressed the rabbi – Rabbi Moshe Altman – with his modesty and fervent prayer. He was invited to spend the Sabbath at the rabbi's home but he declined. It was later discovered that the man was no other than R'Yitshak Blazer, later the Rabbi of St.Petersburg.

The warden and head of the Hevra was R'Motye Meir Klayman – son-in-law of the patron of the Hakhnasat Orhim. He had been a baker then opened a restaurant in his home. He would often study in the kloyz. He also served as prayer leader on High Holidays. He lived to a ripe old age of almost 100.

[Col. 464]

For many years, the fine, gentle R'Leyb Kavin served with him as a warden. He owned a shoe store on Market Street. He too was a hearty prayer leader. He was quite old when he died but the suddenness of his death, in the winter of 1927, made a deep impression on the town.

The teacher of the Hevra, Rabbi Avraham Yitshak Polatshok, was a great teacher – a former student at the Volozhin Yeshiva. He also taught Gemara to the highest grade of the Talmud Torah. His main income, however, was from his dry-goods stall in the market.

The Araner Rabbe Blakharovitsh, who also taught at the Talmud Torah, would draw a crowd with his teaching of Ein Yaakov and Pentatuech. He would often sing with his sweet and melodious voice and create a pleasant and lively atmosphere in which to study. He was also a good prayer leader. Two of his sons are famous cantors in Argentina.

R'Mordekhay Segal was a long time reader and sometimes teacher. He was called “Shabsel dem Khosid's eydim”.[26], because his father-in-law was head of the only Hasidic shtibl[27] in Suwalk. He too was Hasid, with a long beard, wearing long old-style garments. He was a clever man and a scholar. Although his private life was troubled, he was always merry and friendly to everyone. He had been a student at the Lomza Yeshiva. He lived at the end of Vigrer Street; near the town slaughterhouse; where he was a supervisor and cashier[28]. He died with the martyrs – may God avenge his blood.

For many years, my grandfather, R'Efrayim Zavoznitski, was the prayer leader of the musaf {additional prayers} on High Holidays in the kloyz. Years after his death, 20th Kislev (5)680{1919} people still talked about the beautiful way he chanted the prayers.

For some time, the teacher in the kloyz was the well-known sage, R'Kalman Tsitsavitsh. He was a scholar and public speaker on numerous occasions. He introduced the custom of teaching[29] and preaching every Friday evening in the winter time. Many people used to come to hear his beautiful sermons. He was known as expert in Hoshen Mishpat;[30] and was a permanent arbiter of the religious court.

The Sabbath on which Vayar {Genesis 18:1-22:24} was read, was very important. The Rabbi and religious court judges as well as leaders of the community were invited to the festivities. The Rabbi would

[Col. 465]

preach about the portion of the week; about Avraham's hospitality and how it should serve as a model for the community to continue this worthy tradition.

In this way and for many years, the Hevra continued performing the great deed of helping wayfarers in the difficult world of the Exile until its members were martyred.


R'Moshe Leyb Grodzenski

He was a nephew of the famous Rabbi Hayim Ozer Gradzenski – of blessed memory – from Vilna. Mostly rabbis stayed at his Hotel Frank. He was an upstanding and observant Jew. He worked for the Va'ad Hayeshivot and other charitable institutions. Some years before the Holocaust, he left for Vilna, where he devoted all his time to collecting funds for the Va'ad Hayeshivot. He died with the martyrs. May God avenge his blood.


R'Yehoshua Glas

He was a pleasant man with a beautiful long beard. He sat and studied a great deal. In his youth, he had studied at the Lomza Heshiva. He worked for the Va'ad Hayeshivot and helped wayfarers that came through the town. He died with the other martyrs of Suwalk. May God avenge his blood.


R'Yehezkel Henigzon

He came from Kalverie. He was one of the well-known maskilim {enlightened} Jews in town. He was especially well versed in Bible and in the sayings of the Rabbis. He had a rare memory. Preachers and public speakers had to be careful with their quotations in his presence for he could immediately point out their errors.

He had a haberdashery on Market Street, but he devoted much of his time to communal affairs and would, sometimes, give lectures. He worked with energy for the Va'ad Hayeshivot and served as its secretary for a short time. Shortly before the Second World War, he and his family left for America – literally on the last ship out. He died in New York on 26 Kislev (5)18{1957}


R'Avraham Yaakov ha-Kohen Kaplan

He was called R'Avremi the melamed {teacher} because he had once taught children sacred subjects. Later, his sister in America, supported him in comfort so that he did not have to teach anymore. He owned

[Col. 466]

many sacred texts and spent much of his time at home studying. He believed in enhancing the commandments;[31] and gave much charity. He was distinguished by his modesty and restraint. When asked why he picked up pieces of wood and shards from the streets, he replied that it was to prevent harm to the barefoot children who played there. His entire demeanour made people imagine that he was one of the “hidden saints”.[32]


R'Yehoshua Mlatik

R'Yehushua, son of Tsiyon Mlatik, was a special type of old-time teacher and religious maskil {enlightened man}.He supported himself by giving private lessons. This was not enough – so he also wrote in his fine calligraphy and on postcards, poems in Hebrew and Yiddish – which he had himself composed on actual events such as family occasions or holidays which he would sell. Many were sent to relatives in America. With his earnings, he supplemented his meagre income from teaching.

R'Yehoshua lived alone and ate his meals at the restaurant kept by R'Yehoshua Mekler, the grocer on Shul Street. He did not belong to the Hevra Shas but he knew how to learn and would often sit with a Gemara with the Hevra Torah of Bet Hamidrash Ha-Gadol. When the Hevra Shas celebrated its seventh anniversary, he considered himself as one of the participants in the festivities and prepared on of his poems for the occasion.

“We have completed the tractate of Niddah and with it the entire Mishneh/Happy is he who has completed this study once, twice or thrice/For the Mishneh is from beginning to end, full of pearls/Long life to those who go right/ Wealth and honour to those who go left/….” {from Hebrew}

I remember some lines from one of his poems for Sukkot. The theme was the lulav, which the Jew shakes in all four directions, and which symbolizes the fate of the Jewish people, which searches for a place in all corners of the world and cannot find it:

“A Jew stands and holds his lulav pointing it to the four winds and he is sad/ Here it is forbidden to dwell, and there it is forbidden to dwell; and at home he cannot earn anything/ Once there good times when the borders were open and entry was permitted/ If I could not make a living here/ I could travel to another state/ Now the ways are closed…”{from Hebrew}.

He ended with a consolation: “Suddenly the Jew straightened out and raised his lulav above and below/ God, my Creator who is in heaven, has sustained me until now and will continue to do so”.

One Sukkot however, in the year (5)700{1939}, people began to run in all directions – this time, to escape death; and this was the last Sukkot for R'Yehoshua Mlatek[33] as for most of the Jews of Suwalk.


R'Tuvyah Sidkavski

For tens of years he served as the distributor of all newspapers in Suwalk. Before radios were widespread, he was the person who bore the responsibility of supplying news – Jewish and general, especially when there were important events in the world. I still remember, during the Polish-Bolshevik War, when newspapers were delayed on Fridays, how people would flock to his home. There would be similar scenes when there were crisis in Palestine – as for example – in (5)689.[34]

R'Tuvyah also had a tobacco and cigarette store. He was considered one of the fine householders in town, especially in Aronson's kloyz, where he was a devoted warden for many years. There he studied a leaf of Gemara daily.

In commerce, he was distinguished by his refinement and honesty. The Polish anti-Semites were a cause of his death. They had put up pickets around his shop to persuade the gentile children not to buy sweets there. They ruined his business and hastened his death from despair a short time before the war.


R'Shlomo Perla

He was one of the important householders in town. He was born in Lomza and studied in the Yeshivot of Bialystok and Grodno. He came to Suwalk in 1890 and was first a teacher of sacred subjects in Daninger's heder. He married Hinde Rivkah – daughter of R'Shimon Elian – member of the well-known Glazhendler family.[35] R'Shimon Elian came from Lyubove near Suwalk, had a brother in Stockkholm, Sweden who had emigrated there with his family and was a gold merchant. He felt the lack of a Jewish environment there and after eight years he returned to Suwalk and

[Col. 468]

opened a dry goods shop on Market Street.


Shlomoh Perla


His son-in-law, R'Shlomoh Perla, became a merchant after he married. He and his wife, who was known for her wisdom and business acumen, developed a fine business with a respectable reputation.

R'Shlomoh Perla was a devoted communal worker, especially for the Ezat Ahim Committee, which distributed funds from America for the needy. He would run around doing favours for people and lending money without interest to those who needed it. He was First Warden in the Hevra Linat Ha-Tsedek Ve-Bikur Holim[36] and in the Free Burial Society. For many years, he would come to the Yeshiva and Talmud Torah on Sabbath to examine the children in their studies. He was a warden of the Talmud Torah. He was a member of the Hevra Shas, a lover of Zion and did much for Erets Yisrael. He had a reputation in town for his sweet voice when he chanted the additional prayers in Zilberblat's kloyz and the Hevra Torah kloyz. The Germans took him hostage during the First World War, because he was an important communal worker and held him hostage for some weeks.

In 1923, he and his family left for America. He and his sons opened a factory in New York. He lived in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn where he became involved in Jewish religious affairs. He helped build the Young Israel mikvah {ritual bath} and was one of the founders of Ohel Moshe Yeshiva in that neighbourhood. He continued his custom of serving as a prayer leader for the additional prayers in the Yeshiva DeBensonhurst and the Tiferet Torah synagogue.

In the summer of 1935, he suddenly became ill and died on 13th Menahem Av( 5)695{1935}.

His wife, the God-fearing Mrs. Hinde Rivka, was also distinguished by her virtues, wisdom and goodness. She did much for the needy and her home was well-known for its hospitality and good deeds. She died on Friday 7th of Shevat, (5)719{1959}.


Dr. Naftali Staropolski

He was famous. One of the most important communal workers. For many years, a member of the Council. A devoted worker for many institutions and respected in all circles. Besides his private practice, he served as town doctor for the Talmud Torah and Government doctor for the Sick Fund. He had a good heart – gave much charity, and treated many poor people without remuneration.

He had studied diligently at the Lomza Yeshiva in his youth and had distinguished himself with his unusual memory. The great Rabbi Hayim Ozer Grodzenski of Vilna had boasted of this youth's phenomenal memory and his knowledge of Bible commentaries and legends of the Mishnah. He could quote many portions of the Tora by heart. He prayed in the Bet Hamidrash Hagadol and he was a member of the big Hevra Shas, where he would come on occasion to study and debate points of religious law. He was a warm Torah-true Jew all his life, very devoted to Erets Yisrael and all of the Funds. He would often appear as public speaker. He was one of the leading workers for the Talmud Torah and would come to examine the students. He was very much at home with the town rabbis, especially the last R'Yosef Yoselevitsh and his son-in-law, R'David Lifshits.

One spring evening in 1936, there was an outbreak of anti-Semitic violence in Suwalk. Jews were caught in the streets and beaten unmercifully. Dr. Staropolski had been called to a sick-bed that evening and as he left his house, he was caught by the hooligans – beaten and stabbed in the head. He was still in town at the start of World War II and helped the rabbi with his communal work until he had to flee to Lithuania, to his

[Col. 470]

wife's family. There, he and his entire family were murdered by the Nazis. May God avenge their blood.


R'Meir Yitshak Bramberg

He was one of the best known leaders and communal workers in town. He served as President of the Council for a long time as well as warden in the Talmud Torah and Yeshiva and leader of the Merchant's Society.[37] He was a pious Jew; knew how to study; was well versed in Bible and was a maskil {enlightened}. A lover of Zion[38] and did much for Erets Yisrael. He was well known for his cleverness, punctuality and practical approach to all problems. His opinion was valued very highly. He had a wholesale haberdashery and was an important merchant. He often served as arbiter in commercial disputes at the religious court.

At the beginning of the war, he fled to Warsaw where he and his wife were killed. May God avenge their blood.


R'Hono Sukhavalski

Son of the well-known ritual slaughterer, R'Shmuel; he was a beloved communal worker. Well educated, a maskil; very pleasant and refined, with a warm heart and sympathy for everyone. For many years, and until his last day, he was a leader in the Council, whose opinion was eagerly sought and listened to.

R'Hono Sukhavalski was a true friend of the town rabbis. Rabbi Aharon Baksht, Rabbi Yosef Yoselevitsh and the last rabbi, R'David Lifshits. He did a great deal to raise the status of the rabbinate. He was active in many town institutions and was one of the main workers for Erets Yisrael. He was a partner in Kunz's brewery along with Moshe Rozntal, Leybe Grovitsh and Finklshteyn. He was also a partner in the well-known “Export” company.

When the Nazis entered Suwalk, he was one of the devoted communal workers who helped the rabbi in the difficult work for the community. He remained loyal to this work until his last day, when he and the remaining Jews were sent by the Nazis in sealed railroad cars to the Lublin area. He died in Biale-Podolsk along with the other martyrs of Suwalk. May God avenge their blood.

[Col. 471


Belitski was the director of the town orphanage for which he worked with heart and soul. He was very careful to keep strict religious observance at the institution, and did not allow other tendencies to be introduced, though he was severely criticized for this.

Belitski was like a father to the children in the orphanage and did not desert them during the critical days of the Hitler invasion. He accompanied his orphans in the sealed railroad cars which took them to Lublin camp where they were martyred. May God avenge their blood.


R. Elkanah Gladshteyn

He was a well-known merchant and communal worker. He had a gold business[39] and was a member of the Council for many years. He was a dedicated worker for institutions. He was a fervent Zionist and worked for Erets Yisrael Funds. A friendly, easy-going person with a good heart, who did many fbavours for people.

He, his wife and his only son and family were killed by the Nazis. May God avenge their blood.

[Col. 472]

R'Nahum Slavatitski

For many years, he was secretary of the Council. A man who handled all of the complex communal affairs. He was closed-mouthed but accomplished a great deal. He prayed regularly in the big synagogue. He was bright, enlightened and well-read. He fulfilled his obligations with great devotion until his fatal illness a few years before the war. He died in Grodno where his daughter lived, but he was buried in his beloved Suwalk; followed in death by his wife, a few days later.


Hono Zilbershtyen

A very capable young man; knowledgeable and efficient. For many years, he held various communal positions in various institutions. He was the last secretary of the Council. He distinguished himself always with his dedication to the good of the community. He remained faithful to his post even during the horrible Nazi reign, suffering greatly as secretary of the Council. Once he was beaten murderously by the Gestapo because he refused to reveal the names of rich Jews. At the end, he and his family were martyred in the Lublin camp, where they had been brought. May God avenge their blood.

[Col. 473]

Three Jewish Ministers from Suvalk


Yehudah Sheynman . Finance Minister in Soviet Russia

He came from the wealthy Sheynman family – bankers in Suwalk. As is well known, the Soviet currency was not stable and was valueless outside of Russia. Sheynman did a great deal to help the finances of the Soviet Union. When the “tshervontses” [script?] were produced and became accepted medium of exchange internationally, the name “Sheynman” was one of the signatures on them. Sheynman's bourgeois background was not a handicap when the government needed his skills. In the thirties, when he was in the United States on a mission, he was suddenly recalled by the Soviet Union. He had his wits about him and he did not obey the

[Col. 472]

order. Thus he avoided the bitter fate of many high officials in the Soviet Union. Later, he went to Berlin where he was rumoured to have committed suicide.


Moshe Bakanovski. Minister in France

This is a wonderful story of a Jewish family who were fortunate to rise from abject depths of poverty to the heights of material and spiritual wealth.

Two generations ago, the Bakanovski family was among the poorest in Suwalk. Moshe's father could not earn enough to support his family. His wife helped him by selling “Rebe nislakh” [nuts?] at open-air cafes.

[Col. 473]

At the beginning of the century, the Bakanovskis immigrated to France and the children were very fortunate through the founding of their first department store; which later became a chain of dry goods stores. They could be found in all large cities in France, with Paris at the forefront, under the firm name “Baka”.

Of all of the children, Moshe (Maurice) was the ablest. While the rest of the family was occupied with business, he turned to politics. He was elected a member of parliament where his freshman speech amazed all present with its content and form.

The famous Premier Poincaré nominated the former poor Suwalk youth as a minister in his cabinet. At first, he was Minister of the Fleet, then Minister of Commerce several times, and finally minister of Aviation. Moshe Bakanovski may be considered the real creator of the French Air Force. He was the first Minister of Aviation in France.

In spite of his spectacular rise, he remained a down-to-earth person; proud of his Jewishness. He enjoyed sitting in his luxurious salon in his Parisian palace telling stories of his childhood in Suwalk.

Moshe Bakanovski once flew to Strasbourg to open an International Fair as representative of the French Government. When he arrived, he discovered that it was Yom Kippur. He immediately went to the Strasbourg synagogue and turned to the rabbi with these words: “Please forgive me, Jews….I had forgotten that it was Yom Kippur and I deeply regret it. How can I repent? Tell me?”

[Col. 474]

Thus the Jewish-French Minister lived with the spirit which was implanted in him in the Hebrew schools of Suwalk.

Moshe Bakanovski was killed in 1928 when his personal plane crashed during Air Force manoeuvres. The French Parliament arranged a royal funeral at which the Chief Rabbi said the “El Male Rahamim”.

Michel Maurice Bakanovski, a minister in the De Gaulle government, is a grandson of the Suwalk immigrant family – Bakanovski.


Pinhas Sapir. Minister in Israel

He is the son of above-mentioned R'Mordekhay Kozlovski – one of the important men in town. As a boy he studied in the Suwalk Talmud Torah. From his earliest days, he threw himself into the halutsic movement. He founded “He haluts” in Suwalk and directed the training farm until he himself immigrated to Erets Yisrael. There he became one of the leading figures in Mapai and distinguished himself in important achievements for the country until he became Minister of Commerce and Industry in Israel.

Pinhas Sapir is considered one of the young Ministers in Israel before whom a shining future beckons. His wife, Shoshanah, is also from Suwalk; daughter of R'Alter Gibianski – one of the important householders. They live quietly in Kefar Sava and are much loved for their simplicity and honesty.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. This passage was very strange. Since there was a description of the young man at bar mitzvah (13), how could he now be 7-8 years old? I went to the original text in the HUC library and discovered that the author had made an error in translating from Hebrew to Yiddish. He must have misread the word “ba-et” (at the time when), as “ka-et” (now). Thus the phrase should read: «at the time when he was 7-8 years old…..”. Return
  2. Punning on similar sounds of words for “to know”, and “wits” Return
  3. The word used, “nistalek”, means vanished and is sometimes used for the death of saintly men as though they had not really died, but disappeared. Return
  4. This is a very awkward sentence but it was the best I could do with the writer's more awkward Yiddish sentence – fulsome in the extreme. Return
  5. In EJ as Sieon Judah Shkop, 1860-1940 and Baruch Ber Leibowitz, 1866-1939 Return
  6. Musar Movement. A movement developed in the late 19th century for educating individuals toward strict ethical behaviour. Special scholar was appointed to supervise this study and example, and precept to stress its importance and strengthen connection between learning and behaviour…Novogrudok was the centre of the Musar Movement. (adapted from Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Judaica)Return
  7. Misnagdim or Mitnagdim. Name originally given to Jews opposed to Hasidic movement; later positively connoted way of life of non-Hasidic Lithuanian type of Jewry, characterized by severe criticism of credulity, disavowal of miracle working leadership, devotion to Talmudic learning and retention in prayer of Polish form of Ashkenazi minhag. (ibid) Return
  8. Name given above was Malkah's second wife? Return
  9. Correct date is 1933 Return
  10. There are two ranks of ordination: lower rank is that of teacher, upper rank is of teacher and judge Return
  11. Type here in text ……… Return
  12. Going up to say a blessing over reading of Torah Return
  13. Ein Ya'akov - Jacob Ibn Habib assembled aggadot of Babylonian and some of Jerusalem Talmud and commentaries in 1516. The book was designed for broad, popular circles. Abraham Danzig wrote the Haye Adam in 1810. It covered all the laws of the Shulkhan Arukh dealing with daily conduct. It appeared in almost 100 editions. Groups called Hevrot Haye Adam were formed for regular study of codes Return
  14. Aid to rabbinic refugees from Russia and other countries Return
  15. Ceremony marking end of Sabbath Return
  16. Teper means potter. It is used here as a family name and the man is described as working in a butcher shop. Therefore I did not translate it. ° Return
  17. Six books of the Mishnah Return
  18. Literally, the diadem of wardenship Return
  19. Name of a shopping district? Return
  20. Burial society Return
  21. Bribed someone? Return
  22. Traditional scholarship concentrated on the Pentateuch and ignored the Prophets and Writings. Thus, someone who had a scholarly interest in the other parts of the Bible was considered something of a maskil – an enlightened one Return
  23. The Yiddish word 'mulier' means mason or bricklayer. Since the other kloyzn were named for a trade, this one may have been the bricklayers' kloyz Return
  24. Probably Jewish National Fund and Keren Hayesod Return
  25. There is typo in text :……(yawn) instead of …….(border). Return
  26. Son-in-law of Shabbetai the Hasid Return
  27. One room synagogue Return
  28. Can also mean treasurer Return
  29. The word cam, means Hasidic leader or teacher. In this context, it means teacher. In traditional Jewish adult education, the teacher is primus inter pares. The mean all sit around the table and study together – with the rebe as a study leader rather than a pontificator Return
  30. Book of Shulman Arukh that deals with civil law, especially business matters Return
  31. I.e. observing the commandments above and beyond requirements Return
  32. Legendary 36 secret righteous men who guarantee the continued existence of the world Return
  33. In column 466, name is written as Mlatek; in column 467 as Mlotek. Mlotek is more common Return
  34. Possibly referring to Hevron massacre in 1929 Return
  35. Not clear whether this is family name or whether they dealt in glass Return
  36. Usually referred to as Bikur Holim ve Linat Ha-Tsedek Return
  37. Chamber of Commerce? Return
  38. The term used, Hovev Tsiyon, Lover of Zion, has a specific meaning: member of Hoveve Tsiyon, or a general meaning, lover of Zion. Impossible to tell which is meant Return
  39. Not clear whether gold exchange or jeweller Return


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