by Yisrael Kelner
Translated by Jerrold Landau
Donated by Bubbles Segall
Three hundred Jewish families lived in Wojsławice, which was located 20 kilometers from Chełm. Jewish life in the town was impoverished, but very pious. There was a Beis Midrash, a synagogue, and Hassidic shtibels. Each Hassidic group had its shtibel. There were Gerrer, Trisker, Radziner, Belzer, Wlodowker, and Kocker Hassidic groups.
Wojsławice had a rabbi who earned his livelihood from the sale of yeast. The rabbi also oversaw shechita [ritual slaughter]. The town had three shochtim, who were scholarly and also served as prayer leaders.
As in all towns in Poland, the Jews earned their livelihoods as shopkeepers, merchants, and tradesmen. There were also orchard keepers in town, who leased orchards and sold the fruit in the surrounding area.
Life in the town after the First World War was calm and idyllic. During the time of the war, Jews of Wojsławice were evacuated to Berdichev [Berdyczów]. In 1918, life changed. New winds began to blow. The youth began to take interest in world problems, and Zionism took root. Organizations and parties were founding, connected with Chełm, Lublin and Warsaw.
Wojsławice was noted for its warmhearted, good Jews, who were connected to each other and helped each other in times of need. The Jews of Wojsławice hurried about and toiled for the entire year, as they concerned themselves with bringing a livelihood to their families and paying tuition. However, whenever a guest, a preacher, or a charity collected came to town, he would be warmly received with a full heart.
Shalom Kelner and his wife Tyba were noted as excelling in the receiving of guests. Their home was open for all in need of lodging, and for every charity collector. The guests would be received in a very friendly manner, and would be given a place to sleep and food to eat.
The connectedness and love to the town is expressed by the strong feelings to the people, to our parents, grandparents, and to their good deeds, to our former homes that bound together generations in a spiritual web. This web was created and took root through Jewish traditions that were brought and strengthened through the course of Jewish life.
There were many such good and warmhearted Jews in my town. Whenever we mention them, our lips murmur: May Gd remember, may the Merciful and Compassionate One remember the pure, holy souls of those good Jews who were murdered in sanctification of the Divine Name.
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Updated 13 Sep 2018 by JH