Among the dozens of shtieblech in town, the four belonging to the Gerer Chassidim were undoubtedly the most prominent. The first [was located] at ul. Nadrzeczna 36, the second at Nowy Rynek 2, the third at Aleja 31 and the fourth, at Aleja 6.
We shall attempt, here, to present memories from these four shtieblech.
The large shtiebel at ul. Nadrzeczna 36 led all the Chassidic shtieblech in town with its size and quality. This shtiebel had the good fortune of being inseparably connected with the two magnificent homes of Reb Chaskel Fiszel and Reb Józef Dziubas owners of the soap factory known as Dziubas & Fiszel. The two houses rose like bright jewels in the crown of the Częstochowa community and were renowned as two fortresses of Torah, Chassidism and spiritual greatness, together with good deeds, [as is said in the Talmud:] Torah and greatness in one place [Gittin, 59a].
These two buildings, which were hidden away on an outoftheway street, were nevertheless wellknown in town as buildings whose gates were wideopen to all sufferers and to those in distress and were rightly referred to as Royal Chassidic Houses.
On the grounds of these two houses, next to the factory, was the beautiful large shtiebel of the Gerer Chassidim, among whose regular members they [i.e., the owners] were. The shtiebel consisted of a large, spacious hall and two other rooms, and it always resounded with the voices of the multitude of worshippers and those studying Torah. [Some] prominent figures from [were] among the city's best Torah scholar. They included the great scholar Reb Henech Bryll, who was astute and witty (the brotherinlaw of the Rebbe of Ostrowiec [Świętokrzyski] ztzl); Reb Menasze Margulies, who was mindful and generous and his soninlaw Reb Bencion (the son and successor of the Rabbi of Otwock), who was deepminded and sharp; the elderly Reb Icze Soifer [scribe], one of the last Vurke Chassidim; Reb Benyumin Melamed, an old man of about eighty, a sharp and witty Kock chassid; Reb Aron Elio Rotenberg, a descendant of the Chidushei HaRim, pleasant in conversation and with a welcoming countenance; the elderly Reb Duwid Szmil Warszawski, who blew the shoifar; Reb Nachman Kryman, wealthy and impressive, who stood a full head above all others; Reb Awrum Henech Finkelsztajn, Reb Józef Dziubas' soninlaw, who was a basket full of books scholarly, enlightened, a thinker and a great man; the respected wealthy men Reb Jankew Hersz Fajerman, Józef Dziubas' second soninlaw; Reb Awrum Mojsze Kuczynski; Reb Mojsze Kopl Koplowicz (my father); Reb Zundel Zultobrodzki; Reb Anczel Warszawski, Reb Chaskel Fiszel's soninlaw, as well as his son Reb Józef Fiszel and, with them, about another two hundred Chassidim, Godfearing and impeccable Torah scholars, with their sons and sonsinlaw.
Apart from the prayers at the shtiebel, which were always carried out [as it is written ] In the multitude of people is the king's honour [Proverbs 14:28; i.e., with a large attendance], the clamour of Torah study was also heard there. Between prayer services, the Chassidim would sit at the long tables and study, some alone and some together, until the echoes were heard from afar. The shtiebel, as mentioned above, stood on the grounds of Reb Chaskel's and Reb Józef's houses. Many threads, both overt and concealed, were spun, woven and stretched amongst the milieu of the shtiebel and that of those houses. Both houses were always open to Chassidim. There they gathered on holidays and for any festive occasion or even to just sit with Reb Józef or Reb Chaskel, where they were guaranteed a drink from the best of the best.
On Shabbes mornings, on their way to the prayer service, the more elderly Chassidim used to stop at Reb Józef's or Reb Chaskel's house for a hot drink before the prayer. The three copper boilers, set permanently in the walls of Reb Józef's kitchen, which were specifically installed for hot water and coffee on Shabbes for the people in the vicinity, both close and distant, worked at full capacity. The household members stood ready to serve the guests and the steaming cups of tea or coffee were passed from hand to hand with incredible speed, so as not to delay the service at the shtiebel. Reb Józef, with his patriarchal features, sat at the head of the table with the elders of the Chassidim around him and shone with pleasure. Between cup and cup, someone would repeat some fine saying from the Sfas Emes or the Chidushei Ha'Rim on the weekly Torah reading.
The quill cannot describe the Purim joy of the Chassidim at Reb Józef Dziubas' house, when Reb Benyumin Melamed, the old Kotzker chassid, would appear in fancy dress with an old flute in his mouth. Reb Benyumin played the flute and dozens of Chassidim cavorted, sang, danced and made merry around him. The lady of the house, the renowned righteous woman Mrs Ester, graciously served pies, jam pastries and drinks, all abundantly, with a joyous and beaming countenance. The Chassidim drank and became inebriated, to fulfil that which is written: [A person is obligated to become intoxicated on Purim] until he does not know how to distinguish between cursed [is Haman] and [blessed is Mordechai; (Talmud Bavli, Megilah, 7b.)].
The large shtiebel was also known for its cantors the distinct leaders of prayer, at the head of whom stood Reb Menasze Margulies, who in all his ways gained the respect and esteem of the entire congregation. Reb Menasze was endowed with a pleasant and soothing voice, which was mainly manifest in his Mysef services on the High Holidays and he served as leader of the prayer at the shtiebel for decades. Reb Menasze's prayers were famous throughout the city and the surrounding area. It was conducted with spiritual ecstasy, an outpouring of the soul and a warming pleasantness. Around him, by the pulpit, stood a choir of assistants. All were wonderful singers, with pleasant lyrical voices and they were directed by Reb Srul Plocker and his son Luzor (in his youth). And whoever has not heard Reb Menasze Margulies' prayer, has never heard a lyrical, sweet, heartening, alluring and uplifting prayer in all his days.
Second to Reb Menasze was the elderly leader of the morning service, the eightyyearold Reb Icze Soifer, who carried out this task for about fifty years. Reb Icze, a typical Vurke chassid, was among the old disciples of the Sfas Emes ztzl. His entire being radiated virtue and purity. In his gait, speech and dealings, he was like a relic from bygone generations. When Reb Icze went before the pulpit, he was as a son pleading with his father. His prayer was all appeasement, mercy and supplication. The words pierced the heavens, penetrated the depth of the souls of those who heard them, softened their hearts and stirred their beings. Reb Icze's prayer was an experience. In his last days, he became blind and prayed from memory, fluently and flawlessly as are the things learnt in one's youth. This prayer carried a special weight, coming from Reb Icze's mouth.
The large shtiebel offered a distinct experience. The atmosphere was encouraging and alluring, which attracted even progressives and youth, who became regular worshippers at the shtiebel.
While the distinctive factor of the large shtiebel on ul. Nadrzeczna was a foundation of fear and love in the service of God, the second shtiebel at the Nowy Rynek 2 was founded on the [study of] Torah.
This shtiebel was called the young men's shtiebel and comprised the sharpminded Chassidic young married men, the scholars and deep thinkers among the Gerer Chassidim of Częstochowa. Among them were also [some] of the sons and sonsinlaw of the Chassidim from the large shtiebel on Nadrzeczna, such as Reb Chaskel Fiszel's soninlaw, Reb Wucze [Uszer Wolf] Piotrkowski a tall scholar; Reb Józef Dziubas' soninlaw, Reb Awrum Naftuli Horowicz great in Torah and Chassidism, a relative and confidant of the Rebbe; Reb Józef's sons, the brothers Reb Simche and Reb Icze Majer Dziubas, and many other young married men, who were great and Torah and overturned mountains with their sharpness, such as Reb Mojsze Bram (Wolbromer), Reb Nuta Rajcher, Reb Mendel and his brother Reb Akiwa Fogel, Reb Herszel Tamar, Reb Herszel Besserglik, Reb Duwid Icchok Edelist, Reb Luzor Horowicz, Reb Noach Edelist (now in Israel) and, above all others, the prodigy famous in the city and country, the Rabbi Reb Wolwisz Borensztajn ztzl, one of the great men of Torah in Poland, a disciple of the Rebbe of Sochaczew, who also set his place in this shtiebel, due to the quality of its congregation. From this shtiebel came the majority of the city's ultraorthodox public figures and representatives, such as Reb Mendel Fogel, Reb Duwid Icchok Edelist and Reb Simche Dziubas, who were delegates and members in the Częstochowa Kehilla. This shtiebel was rightly crowned the glory of ultraorthodox Judaism in town.
In the last years, a third shtiebel was established at Aleja 31, when the writer of these lines was already in the Land [of Israel]. The vast majority of this shtiebel's congregation were progressive Chassidim, merchants and men of action who, due to the atmosphere [of the two other shtieblech], did not feel at home there and founded a third shtiebel for themselves. The leader of the Mysef service on the High Holidays at this shtiebel was Reb Srul Zajnwel Koplowicz (my brother).
A few remaining survivors from this shtiebel are with us now in Israel, such as the Goldberg brothers and others in BneiBrak. Hopefully, someone among them may rise to the occasion and give us a full description of this shtiebel.
And, finally, I should also mention the fourth Gerer shtiebel at Aleja 6. Its gabay was Reb Nuta Klajner and, among the prominent worshippers there, were Reb Icze Majer Krel, Reb Szmul Goldsztajn, Reb Chaim Weksler, Reb Szlojme Rodal, Reb Duwid Markowicz, Reb Herszel Trajman and Reb Józef Blechsztajn.
(Great spiritual treasures, hidden and mysterious worlds were concealed inside the walls of the Chassidic shtieblech in Poland. A great wealth of godly and human wisdom was destroyed, annihilated, has disappeared and is no more. Who could replace them?)
Icchok Majer Katz
Reb Chaim Weksler's shtiebel was in the city centre on the main Aleja at No.6. About sixty people prayed there. There were two minyonim, one in the morning and one in the evening.
The majority of the worshippers were merchants and small manufacturers, who sent their children to the Hebrew secondary school, whose management and teaching staff were staunch Zionists.
This was a progressive shtiebel and most of the congregation were members of the Ha'Mizrachi organisation, who also set aside time for regular Torah study.
Over forty years have passed since I was one of them, but it is impossible not to mention at least some of their names Szmul Goldsztajn, Chaim Weksler, Anczel Warszawski, Becalel Potaszewicz and Reb Herszel Trajman. The first three were members of the Kehillla council. Reb Becalel Potaszewicz was a Jew of the old generation, with a long beard flowing over his garments and a true Gerer chassid. Reb Herszel Trajman held nationalistic values dear and had a known affinity for the Holy Tongue [Hebrew].
In that shtiebel, Talmud lessons were also held in the morning and in the evening, in which around ten youths participated regularly, three of whom I remember Awrum Pik hyd one of the best of Tzeirei Ha'Mizrachi, Mojsze Duwid Kohn, the son of one of the owners of the great Kohn Bros. firm on ul. Ogrodowa and the lad Elimelech (whose surname I do not recall), who was an innocent youth, diligent and who studied Torah for its own sake. He was the brotherinlaw of Reb Jakób Lewit, who is in Israel.
It should also be mentioned that those who participated in those lessons also used to hold halfhour discussions in Hebrew on different subjects every evening. The elderly Reb Herszel Trajman would also occasionally join us in these discussions, in which he proved his expertise in the Hebrew language. He would sometimes say to us, passionately, I believe that you will live to see the State of Israel already established. Whether I shall as well I doubt it. (To the sorrow of our hearts, all perished. Blessed be their memory!)
Mojsze Chaim Tiberg
The Stryków Chassidim established their first shtiebel in Częstochowa back in 5670 , on ul. Garncarska, at Reb Jankel Dawidowicz's house.
The founders and main activists in setting up the shtiebel were my father Reb Berisz Tiberg and Reb Mordche Mendel Kromołowski. They were called Stryków Chassidim after the town where the Rebbe, Reb Menachem Mendel Landau, lived. He was the son of the Rebbe Reb Dov Berisz the First Rebbe of Biała, who was the son of the prodigy, the Rebbe Awrum Landau, the Tzadik of Ciechanów. His grandson, the Rebbe Reb Awrum Landau, who is among the Torah giants in Israel, lives in TelAviv and continues leading the magnificent Stryków dynasty, which is famous within Polish Chassidism.
Many different people prayed at the Stryków shtiebel in Częstochowa, with prominent figures amongst them. Therefore, the shtiebel was crowded even on weekdays, and on Shabbes and holidays even more so. The people gathered there not only for prayer. The Chassidic meetings at the shtiebel attracted people and charmed its visitors. Anyone who came to the shtiebel felt that he had before whom to pour his heart out and receive aid in time of need.
At the shtiebel, there was no difference between wealthy and poor. Inside it, the simple Jew and the scholar walked together, arm in arm. There were no aristocrats and they knew nothing of an Eastern Wall, for everyone could choose to sit wherever they liked, both during prayers and for studying.
Despite the fact that the number of poor people at the shtiebel was larger than that of the rich, they always helped others beyond their means. Those in need were given loans large enough to rebuild businesses and establish them. It sometimes even happened that the debtors pulled through and returned the loans.
On weekdays, following morning prayers, people sat at the tables and studied or recited Psalms, ma'amudes and the like. They also recapitulated the Rebbe's Torah teachings, told Chassidic stories and had friendly conversations. This pastime was very spiritually fulfilling. Sometimes this happened after the evening service and many stayed for a chat and to study Torah long into the night.
The shtiebel members organised rosters for visiting the sick, even to stay overnight. The sick man's household were, of course, unable to do everything for him, and our Chassidim helped them by staying by his side overnight, as well as giving important aid to the family.
All the shtiebel's congregation wore long caftans and the special hats that ultraorthodox Jews use, and were very strict in their observance of all the Halachic laws and traditions. On Shabbes and holidays, they wore Samet hats, shtreimels and silken caftans. Thus the Chassidic garb itself instilled a spirit of sanctity and festivity all around. Both children and adults wore these clothes. It was the custom to also wear these Shabbes garments for religious festive events, such as circumcisions, engagements and weddings.
On Shabbes, the shtiebel took on a distinct festive and warm atmosphere. On Friday, nearing the afternoon service, clean white tablecloths were spread on the tables. The floor was also spotless. The lighting was at its fullest. The gabay, Reb Mordche Mendel Kromołowski, took care that everything should be in its place, and the shtiebel with its two rooms filled up. When the words O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever [Psalm 136] were heard, each and every one felt the spirit of Shabbes inside him.
During the interval between Minche and the Welcoming of Shabbes, some of the Chassidim studied, while others discussed Chassidic topics amongst friends.
They always endeavoured that the leader of the prayer should be a good singer, with a pleasant voice, and the young men assisted him in singing Chassidic melodies.
On Shabbes, in the morning, it was their custom to start prayers later, for all the worshippers had fixed Torah studies before the service, at home or at the shtiebel.
The gabay, Reb Mordche Mendel, also read from the Torah scroll, and led the Mysef service on the High Holidays.
It should be mentioned that, among the youth at the shtiebel, there were also a few from Tzeirei and Ha'Chalutz Ha'Mizrachi, such as Chune Tatarka, Uszer Gotesman [and] Awrum Dancyger hyd who, when called up to the Torah, promised donations to Keren Kayemeth Le'Israel too, which was normally not acceptable among Chassidim. But the Stryków Chassidim usually tolerated this, because they were not opposed to Zionism.
On Shabbes afternoon, they would again gather at the shtiebel for various studies and, after Minche, the Third Meal was held. After the first morsel and drinking le'chaim, came the songs, which followed a predetermined order. They sang the songs with the old, traditional melodies of Vurke, Biała and Aleksander.
The gabay honoured one the boys with the singing of Shir Hama'alos, following which the blessing after the meal was said and, after the Ma'ariv prayer and Havdulah were said, all went home.
On Saturday nights, Melave Malke parties were held. There were also banquets on the yuhrzeits of the Rebbes and, occasionally, on the first of the [Hebrew] month.
They would travel to the Rebbe for Shabbes or holidays and were careful not to go without a shtreimel. Usually, a group of Chassidim would travel together. It was the custom of the shtiebel's welltodo that they would pay for the journeys of the less fortunate. Those returning would describe to those who had remained all the details of the tables and the Torah addresses they had heard.
The shtiebel was also honoured with important visitors, who came on behalf of the Rebbe. The visit from the Rebbe's son, Reb Berisz Landau from Piotrków, made a great impression. He stayed with Reb Berisz Tiberg, and many came to see him and received him with respectful awe.
On the days preceding the High Holidays, prayers were started before sunrise. On the High Holidays, the prayers were always led by Reb Majer Pilcer, who read Mysef, and Reb Mordche Menachem Kromołowski, who led Kol Nidrei and, sometimes, also the Neile. The shoifar was blown by Reb Duwid Majer Liberman and, after he left Częstochowa, Reb Mojsze Leib Birencwajg blew in his place.
At the close of Yom Kippur, after the evening prayer, all parted company with great happiness and with wishes for a good and prosperous year and, immediately after the meal, they began building the sukkah.
Hakufes were held three times on the nights of Shemini Atzeres and Simches Torah, and on the next day. During the Hakufes, the joy at the shtiebel reached its peak and the singing and dancing continued for a long time.
During the First World War, the shtiebel was temporarily moved to home of Reb Michal Bram at Nowy Rynek 11 and, six months later, to ul. Strażacka 8. After the end of the War, an apartment was rented at the house of Reb Mojsze Fajgenbaum and, there, they prayed for about ten years. When the merging with the Zawiercie Chassidim took place in 5687 , they moved to Reb Awrum Granek's house at ul. Warszawska 17. The unified shtiebel was considered one of the largest in town and its custodians were Reb Berisz Tiberg and Reb Chaim Szajn.
Some of the shtiebel's members included Nuta Icchok Tiberg, Szmul Goldberg, Majer Zonszajn (Pilcer), Mordche Menachem Kromołowski, Berisz Tiberg, Szmul Mendel Borzykowski, the shoichet Zajnwel Borzykowski, Szmul Gotesman, Szmul Finkel, Szyja Karmazin, Jakób Kromołowski, Natan Chabinski and his brother Józef, Hercke Herckowicz, Herszel Bialik, Mojsze Aron Przepiórka, Duwid Rapaport, Mendel Lewi, Jechiel Józef Bandet, Srul Ćmielówer, Awrum Fisz, Berisz Zajdman, Judl Aronowicz, Uszer Gotesman, Srul Elio Krymolowski, Nuchem Bandet, Benyumin Karmazin (Yemini), Wolf Zonszajn, Berl Finkel, Mojsze Chaim Tiberg, [and] Srul and Jakób Tiberg.
Before and [sic] after merging with the Chassidim of the Zawiercie shtiebel: Chanoch Leslau, Awrum Granek, Kasriel Lewenhof, Berisz Goldrajch, Duwid Majer Granek, Duwid Józef Brokman, Jona Wajsman, Mendel Pinches Kaufman, Chaskel Samsonowicz, Szlojme Majer Granek, Chaim Szajn, Mojsze Szaja, Leibisz Gnieslaw, Majer Szajn, Wolf Orensztajn, Icyk Ze'ev [Wolf] Niemiec, Chaim Lewenhof, Duwid Fajgenbaum, Jakób Leslau, Awrum Dancyger, Herszel Granek, Jakób Mojsze Gnieslaw, Mojsze Frajlich, Gecel Szczupak, Duwid Weksler, Juda Birenbaum, Zundel Kaufman, [and] Jakób and Reb Icchok Goldrajch.
Mojsze Chaim Tiberg
The shtiebel of Kromołów Chassidim was at ul. Warszawska 22. At first, a group who were called Kruk's minyan prayed there.
The Rebbe of Kromołów, Rebbe NusenChaim Rabinowicz, was one of the four sons of the Chessed Le'Avruhom of Radomsko. After his death (on 13th Elul 5651 [16th September 1921]), his followers travelled to Rebbe Yechezkel Halberstam of Sieniawa. He ordained the Knesses Yechezkel as Rabbi of Novipola [?], from where he went on to become Rebbe, in his father's place.
About two years after the Knesses Yechezkel became Rebbe in Radomsko, his brother, Rebbe NusenNuchem also became Rebbe, and settled in Kromołów. The Rebbe of Kromołów succeeded in pulling many followers to him and opened his own shtieblech in many towns in Poland and Galicia, among them in Częstochowa also.
A small part of the congregation at the Kromołów shtiebel was already then considered progressive in the way they dressed. They wore ironed shirt collars and neckties, did not wear caftans and some even wore short suits.
There were excellent prayerleaders at the Kromołów shtiebel, who prayed according to the rite of the Rebbe of Kromołów, who was also an excellent cantor, like his father the Chessed Le'Avruhom. The most notable among them were especially Reb Zvi Hersz Klajman and his son Reb Awrum Mojsze, who served as prayerleaders on the High Holidays. Reb Fiszel Wajdenfeld, whose reading was particularly pleasant and accurate, read the Torah scroll. Reb Szlojme Zlotnik, who was also nicknamed Reb Szlojme Shoichet, blew the shoifar.
One of the prominent members was Reb Majer Ber Kartuz. When he led the prayer, he was aided by his son Reb Duwid'l. In the last years, the wellknown chassid Reb Srulke Częstochowski also prayed there. He and Reb Majer Ber brought the congregation much pleasure with their tales of Chassidic life.
On joyous occasions, and especially on Purim and other festivities, Reb Mojsze Borzykowski used to particularly delight the crowd with jokes and songs and, on Purim, with his [mock] Purim Torah speech. And when the Chassidims' hearts were merry with wine, Reb Zajnwel Glazer would stand up, put a glass full of water on his forehead, and dance his Land of Israel dances. And how did Reb Zajnwel come to know how they danced in the Land of Israel? Reb Zajnwel recounted that his father had travelled to the Land of Israel together with Reb Mojsze'le, the son of the tzadik Reb Duwid'l of Lelów, when Reb Mojsze'le moved there. And when his father returned, he brought the dance home with him and taught it to him.
Reb Szlojme Józef Fajnsztadt was the shtiebel's gabay for many years.
The same love for the Land of Israel that beat in the hearts of the Rebbes of Radomsko and their followers, beat no less strongly in those of the Kromołów Chassidim, and many among them emigrated to the Land of Israel during the Aliyah years. Two of the Rebbe's sonsinlaw settled in Jerusalem: Rabbi Szaja Szapira, one of the founders of Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi in the Land of Israel, and the Rebbe Reb Chanoch Henech Borensztajn, the son of the Rebbe of Sochaczew.
(With the onset of the last World War, the Rebbe Reb NusenNuchem, already an old man, was forced to seek shelter in the Warsaw ghetto and, together with other Rebbes, was murdered with his family by the Nazis when the ghetto was liquidated. May God avenge his blood.)
The Radomsko Chassidim constituted an important part of the city's religious and Chassidic population. They had eight shtieblech and almost six hundred members. Among them were the Rabbis Reb Józef Prokosz and Reb Józef Klajnplac, the shoichets Reb Szlojme Fuks, Reb Isrulke Borowiecki and Reb Mojsze Zander, and Jews who were great in Torah and Chassidism, such as Rabbi Michal Leib Mindycz (the uncle of the Rebbe of Radomsko hyd, who perished in Warsaw), the Rabbi Reb Jechiel Michal Szwarcbaum (a true disciple of the Rabbi and prodigy of Kłobuck, author of Emes Le'Yaakov [Truth to Jacob]), the brothers Reb Mojsze and Reb Srul Częstochowski, Reb Chaim Berisz Sztencel, Reb Rubin Rechtman, Reb Awrum Isuchor Gotlib, Reb Jakób Grinbaum, Reb Chaim Srul Szthal and (still alive) the Rabbi Reb Ely Nysan Wajsler, as well as simple Godfearing Jews with Torah learning, extremely wealthy individuals and people who earned their livelihood from physical labour and who toiled arduously to make ends meet. All these, together, formed an important congregation the Radomsko Chassidim.
The shtieblech were at the following locations:
Regular lessons on Talmud with Tosafot, Midrash and Ein Yaakov were held in all these shtieblech, from early morning to late at night. The shtiebel was a place where anyone could have a friendly chat, general dealings and pour his heart out about all his concerns, and also the appropriate place to make clear the answer the Rebbe had given when people presented their worries and troubles before him; some concerning their livelihoods and some concerning the marriage proposals for their sons or daughters who had matured.
Every shtiebel set up a fund to grant loans without interest for business etc., to those in need. Special activities were carried out before the holidays and before Pesach, in particular, to provide the needy with their holiday necessities. These activities were conducted in adherence to the custom of the Radomsko Rebbes, humbly, guilelessly and discreetly.
The Radomsko Chassidim appeared on the ultraorthodox list for the elections to the Kehilla council and they always managed to put through two of their own, who stood on guard to protect their religious interests. Reb Michal Mindycz, Reb Icze Piotrkowski, Reb Berl Gwircman and Reb Ajzyk Szternzys all represented the Radomsko Chassidim in the Kehilla at different times and Reb Berl Gwircman was elected VicePresident of the Kehilla.
Due to the Radomsko Rebbe's lack of affiliation to any political party, his followers belonged to all the religious parties Agudas Yisroel, Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel, Poalei Agudas Yisroel, Ha'Mizrachi and Ha'Poel Ha'Mizrachi, as well as to the religious faction of the Revisionist Movement. The Zionist ideal also pervaded the Radomsko Chassidim public, which they also carried out physically by purchasing property in the Land of Israel and there were also those who liquidated their businesses in Poland and made Aliyah, such as Reb Berisz Częstochowski and Reb Aron Kongrecki. Some also made Aliyah and later returned to Poland.
Reb Srul Częstochowski read the Torah scroll and led the Mysef services at the Cossack's Shtiebel. Reb Rubin Soifer blew the shoifar. In 1916, Reb Kalman Rajcher set up a women's section in memory of his deceased wife.
The crowning glory of the Radomsko Chassidim's activities in the city was the foundation, in 5689 , and maintenance of the Keser Torah yeshivah with its two classes, which was mostly funded by the Rebbe, with partial funding from the townspeople. About 150 pupils of our townsfolk and from other cities studied in these two classes. The latter received eating days with the local residents. The heads of the yeshivah were Reb Jechiel Michal Szwarcbaum, Reb Juda Leib Gerszonowicz, Reb Rubin Rechtman and, in the last years, Reb AwrumIsuchor Gotlib from Wolbrom, who was renowned there as an orator and lecturer, who charmed his audience with his lectures on Torah and Chassidism, came to head the higher class. The rabbi Reb Wolwisz Borensztajn, Reb Henech Bryll, Reb Awrum Naftuli Horowicz and Reb Mojsze Wolbromer also participated in examining the pupils before the end of the semester. The rabbi Reb Mojsze Duwid Rabinowicz, the president of the Keser Torah yeshivahs [network], who amazed the listeners with his brilliant questions, also took part in the examinations and the pupils proved their proficiency and memory. Following the exams, mitzvah banquets were held at set tables. The singing and dancing continued for many hours, late into the night.
The board of management of the Częstochowa Keser Torah yeshivah comprised Reb Mojsze Szthal, Reb Kalman Rajcher, Reb Szlojme Ruzewicz, Reb Wolf Landau, Reb Lewi Wargon, Reb Isuchor Moszkowicz and Reb AwrumMordche Kohn.
(With the onset of the Second World War and the horrific Holocaust, an endless stream of refugees came to Częstochowa. They were housed in all the synagogues and prayerhouses, with the Radomsko shtieblech among them, except for the shtiebel at ul. Targowa 9, which continued functioning for a long time, with many youths continuing to study there despite the dangers involved. Despite [their own] difficult situation, the Radomsko Chassidim did not forsake their dear Rebbe and, well aware of his deplorable economic conditions in Warsaw, took it upon themselves to provide him with food and other essential commodities. A committee, which acted selflessly, was organised, which comprised Reb Duwid Kozak, Reb Awrum Gotlib, Reb Rubin Rechtman, Reb Motel Landau and (still alive) Lipman Rajcher and Icchok Zander. The delivery of the parcels to their intended destination presented a very great problem and more than half of the parcels never reached the Rebbe. Nevertheless, parcels were sent to him in Warsaw until his last day.
A correspondence with the Rebbe still existed, and we received letters and Torah innovations from his soninlaw, Rabbi Mojsze Duwid, who, even in troubled times, persevered in Torah study. In his letters, he asked his disciples to study his words well and to keep them until the Redemption came. But the tree was cut down the holy dynasty of the Radomsko Rebbe. The entire family was murdered in Warsaw, when they refused to leave their apartment during the deportation to Treblinka, where they died the death of martyrs from the murderers' bullets!).
One of the shtieblech of renown in our city was that of Radoszyce, among whose members was my father and also, in our youth, my brother and me. This shtiebel and its members had no small bearing on the development of my life and I shall never forget them.
These Jews were almost all craftsmen. Some had relinquished their labour due to medical reasons or because their financial situation had improved and had become merchants in the trade closest to their former profession, barring one large family who had been merchants ever since I had known them, that of Reb Srul Baron zl.
We have no information as to how and when the Radoszyce Chassidic dynasty attained a following in our city. In 1932, when I was already in the Land [of Israel], I heard that intercity transportation to Radoszyce had been instated and that pilgrimages to the Rebbe were occasionally organised. The most prominent among these Chassidim were Reb Srul Baron and his sons Berl, Rubin, Leizer, Leibisz and Hillel (the latter making Aliyah in the 1920's and living in Hadera).
They were nicknamed The Radoszycers. Almost all of them dealt in grocers' goods.
We should also mention Reb Herszel Berliner who, in his youth, had been a tinsmith, from which he had earned his livelihood. He eventually became a wealthy man and traded in tin, iron and metal goods. Reb Herszel was then the one who actually determined the course of events at the shtiebel. Reb Awrum Jochimek had also been a tinsmith in his youth. He was a straight and honest man and became Reb Herszel Berliner's business partner.
One of the good deeds in which the Radoszyce Chassidim excelled was discreet charity. These charming and dear Jews would set aside part of their own money for important townspeople in need and not necessarily members of the shtiebel who struggled financially. There was no special fund, but when someone came and announced that soandso was in need of aid, the sum would be immediately found and given over to the beneficiary.
One of the Chassidim, Reb Aron Stopnicki, who in his youth had been a glazier and later became a trader in glass wares, was the pride of the shtiebel. He was the regular leader of the Mysef service on holidays and the High Holidays and was a great philanthropist who gave to all the different institutions, including the Zionist ones.
He visited Palestine in 1926, intending to settle there but, for some unknown reason, did not fulfil his aspiration (and he perished together with his friends and comrades).
Reb Motel Zuzowski was cabinetmaker. He worked during most of his years at the Crafts School in our city, where he trained hundreds of youths in his profession. He made Aliyah in the 1930's and desired to continue in his line of work. But his wish was not granted and he dedicated himself to Torah study to the end of his days. He died in Jerusalem.
Reb Szlojme Szwarcbaum had also been a tinsmith in his youth. Later, he became rich and opened a factory for knives and steel products.
Reb Hendel Lenczner was a cobbler. He toiled arduously to earn his livelihood and was the shtiebel's first gabay.
Reb Szmul Altman was a melamed at the Machzikei Hadas cheder. He taught for most of his life. A quiet and humble man, he was the shtiebel's second gabay. His livelihood was scarce, which was obviously quite depressing for him but, when he came to the shtiebel, his spirit was revived and he was cheerful and gracious.
Reb Mojsze Diament was a hatter and the shtiebel's neighbour. The shtiebel and his apartment shared a common separating wall. He liked to go before the pulpit on the High Holidays and other holidays. He put his dwelling at the shtiebel's disposal and it served as the women's section. He gave the larger part of the proceeds thereof over to the shtiebel.
Reb Icze Kongrecki was an upholsterer. He was an expert on the Talmud and Midrash and joined the Radoszyce Chassidim late in his life. He was a great zealot in matters pertaining to the Rebbe, taking every opportunity to harangue on frequent visits to the Rebbe and the conveyance of monies to him.
Reb Jakób Hauptman was a tinsmith, from which he earned his livelihood honourably to his last day. He taught his sons to love the People and Land of Israel. He persevered in the service of God, with dedication and spiritual ecstasy. Like many of his comrades at the shtiebel, he gave generously to discreet charity for the needy and Torah scholars. He visited the sick extensively and provided for their families.
These Jews, whom I have mentioned, are just a tiny part of the Chassidim at the shtiebel and the worshippers there and the honour of those whom I have not mentioned here was by no means smaller.
(These Jews and their traditions were destroyed, but their memory shall live forever on and may the Avenging God avenge their deaths!)
Jakób Chune Plai (Filik)
Among the older and more renowned shtieblech in our city, the Szydłówer shtiebel, which was located at the Stary Rynek [Old Market], held a special position. It was especially distinguished for its group of Chassidim exalted men of virtue, among whom were great scholars, who delved deeply into the teachings of the Ba'al Shem Tov.
The Szydłów shtiebel was particularly noteworthy due to its authentic ways and its drawing directly from the Chassidic sources of the Ba'al Shem Tov, as had been the case already with [Szydłów's] First Rebbe, Rebbe Meir'l of Apta [Opatów], author of Or Le'Shumaim [A Light to the Heavens], who was one of the distinct teachers of the First Rebbe of Radomsko, Rebbe Szlojme HaCohen Rabinowicz ztzl, author of Tiferes Shloime, who fervently opposed the methods of Kotzk. [His ideology] was based mainly on the service of God, with innocence and simplicity, and particularly on the boundless love for [the People of] Israel, at whose centre stands the Righteous One of the generation who, besides having a spiritualreligious influence, also draws forth material wellbeing and deliverances for the Jewish People. This ideology was best put to practice by the famous tzadik Rebbe Duwid'l of Lelów and those who followed his ways in Chassidism and the service of God.
We may surmise that, in Częstochowa and its vicinity, there were those who had known and huddled in the shade of the tzadik Rebbe Duwid'l of Lelów. Among others was the renowned Częstochowa resident, Reb Lewi Icchok Gotlib, the soninlaw of the rabbi Reb Nechemie (the son of Reb Duwid'l of Lelów), and the soninlaw of the rabbi Reb Mordche'le of Stobnica, the elder brother of the First Rebbe, Reb Meir'l of Opatów. When the Tzadik Reb Mojsze of Lelów emigrated to the Land of Israel in 5611 , the Lelów Chassidim split into two groups one group travelled to Rebbe Szlojme HaCohen Rabinowicz of Radomsko, the Tiferes Shloime, whilst the second travelled to the grandson of Rebbe Duwid'l of Lelów, the righteous rabbi, Rebbe Jakób of Opatów (the son of Reb Nechemie'le).
Szydłów was actually an amalgamation of the Chassidic methods of Radomsko and Opatów, for Rebbe Szlojme HaCohen of Radomsko was a disciple of both Rebbe Duwid'l of Lelów and Rebbe Meir'l of Opatów. The two dynasties of Radomsko and Szydłów later also became connected by marriage several times, and there were times when people travelled to both Radomsko and Szydłów.
Following the death of the Rebbe Reb Janke'le of Opatów, he was succeeded by his son, the Rebbe Reb Majer Duwid Mordche of Szydłów, the father of the Częstochowa resident Reb Michal Leib Mindycz and of the Rebbetzin Mincze Rabinowicz of Radomsko, the daughterinlaw of the Chessed LeAvruhom (and the motherinlaw of the last Rebbe, Reb Szlojme Chanoch Henech HaCohen of Radomsko hyd, who was murdered, by the Nazis, with his entire family in the Warsaw ghetto).
When the Rebbe Reb Majer Duwid Mordche of Szydłów died, his followers returned to Radomsko, and I remember that the shtiebel's seal was Shtiebel of the Radomsko Chassidim, who are called Szydłówer.
During its final years, the gaboim at the shtiebel were Reb Szlojme Grinbaum and Reb Michail Lipski. Reb Mojsze Chaim Grinbaum and Reb Icchok Honigman led the services on the High Holidays. Reb Meszylem Kolin read the Torah scroll for many years.
Among those who prayed there regularly, we should mention the names of these Torah scholars and men of great deeds Reb Nuchem and Reb Awrum Behm, and Reb Perec Rajch. The latter distinguished himself with his sayings from the teachings of the Sages and Chassidism and had great influence over the youth who visited this shtiebel.
Among the prominent Szydłów Chassidim were the pious Rabbi Chune, son of Reb Lewi Gotlib, the brothers Reb Szmaja, Reb Rachmiel and Reb Chaim Hersz Szthal, Reb Daniel Behm, Reb Aba Kongrecki, Reb Józef Ber Gliksman and Reb Duwid Ickowicz.
The Szydłów Chassidim particularly excelled in their pleasing and impassioned prayers. When they recited the psalm O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good [Psalm 136] in the Minche service at the start of Shabbes, their fervour and passion were extraordinary. I still remember the immense impression that saying the O give thanks unto the Lord made on me, as well as the fiery and radiant faces during Light is sown for the righteous [Psalm 97:11], and then the hymns sung to welcome the Shabbes, and those of the Shabbes morning service, which reached their peak during the Third Meal, which was always greatly prolonged and was therefore called a Szydłówer Third Meal.
The majority of the Szydłów Chassidim, and especially the most prominent among them, were later concentrated in the Radomsko shtiebel on ul. Targowa and, together with the Radomsko teachings, continued in the Szydłów ways. Among the veteran worshippers, there were the elderly vestiges of Chassidism, Reb Szmul Chaskel Kohn, Reb Duwid'l Działoszyce, Reb Ber Szczekacz, Reb Józef Szaja Wargon [and] Reb Duwid Shoichet. Among the married students, Reb Duwid Szthal and Reb Berisz Częstochowski especially distinguished themselves.
At the old Szydłówer shtiebel prayed the Chassidim of the older generation, Reb Mojsze Srul Zomper and Reb Nussen Oderberg, who were renowned for their piety and artlessness.
(This magnificent Chassidic shtiebel continued thus until the Holocaust and the destruction of Jewish Częstochowa.)
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