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[Pages 607-610]

A List of Rabbis and Religious Dignitaries
Until the Holocaust

(alphabetically [in Heb.])

The Book Committee

1) Rabbis and Halachic Authorities:

Rabbi Nuchem Asz, Rabbi Ze'ev–Wolwisz Borensztajn, Rabbi Nachman Grinfeld, Rabbi Mojsze Halter, Rabbi Józef Prokosz, Rabbi Józef Klajnplac and Rabbi Benjamin Rubin.


2) Rebbes:

Rebbe Awigdor Szapira, his son Rebbe Jankew Icchok hy”d (killed in Treblinka), Rebbe Duwid Aron Twerski of Żarki, Rebbe Pinches Menachem Eluzor Justman of Pilica, his son Rebbe Chanoch Henech God Justman of Wieruszów, Rebbe Szulim Rotenberg of Wolbrom, his son Rebbe Jakób Rotenberg of Miechów and Rebbe Waltfried of Rozprza.


3) Ritual Slaughterers:

Reb Srul Borowiecki (the shoichet from Mstów), Reb Szmul Zajnwel Borzykowski, Reb Aryje Bencelowicz (nicknamed “The Shoichet of Pabianice” – perished in Treblinka, hy”d), Reb Duwid Bergman, his sons Reb Srul and Reb Nuchem Bergman, Reb Berl Shoichet from Wyczerpy, Reb Duwid Isuchor Gotlib, his son Reb Nechemie Gotlib hy”d (killed by Haller's troops in 1918, in the yard of the slaughterhouse for fowls on ul. Nadrzeczna), Reb Chanoch Henech Gliksman – the shoichet in Częstochówka (made Aliyah in 5696 [1936] and died in Jerusalem in 5722 [1962]), Reb Mojsze Dzialowski (perished in Treblinka, hy”d), Reb Duwid Wattenberg (nicknamed “Duwid Triskolaser”), his son Reb Jankew–Aron Wattenberg (both perished in Treblinka, hy”d), Reb Bunim–Menachem Wiewiorka (called “The Shoichet of Żyrardów”), Reb Mojsze Zander, his son Reb Wolf–Leib Zander (both died in the Holocaust, hy”d), Reb Ze'ev Taub, Reb Szlojme Fuks, his son Reb Icchok–Jojneson Fuks (both perished in Treblinka, hy”d), Reb Aleksander Ziskind Kaufman, his son Reb Mojsze Kaufman, and his grandson Reb Aba Kaufman (called “Reb Aba'le Shoichet”), Reb Dov–Berisz Kornberg (the son of the shoichet Reb Duwid Isuchor Gotlib; emigrated to the Netherlands in 1903 and served as shoichet in Amsterdam, and later in Antwerp, Belgium), Reb Mojsze Józef Szancer (perished in Treblinka, hy”d) and Reb Leibisz Sztajnfeld.


4) Trustees and Supervisors:

Reb Awrum Granek, Reb Duwid Wajsman, Reb Munysz Jaskel, Reb Szmul Cymberknopf, Reb Duwid Kartuz, Reb Mojsze–Burech Rozenwajn, Reb Aron Elio Rotenberg (made Aliyah and died in Tel–Aviv), Reb Szlojme Chaim Szacher and Reb Szlojme Sztencel.


5) Menakrim:[1]

Reb Aba'le Shoichet (Kaufman) and his son Reb Menachem–Mendel Kaufman.


6) Mohels (Circumcisers):

Reb Jakób Borzykowski, Reb Szlojme Grosberg, Reb Szlojme Wajcman, the shoichet Reb Mojsze Zander, Rabbi Menachem–Mendel Tajtelbaum and Reb Dov–Berisz Sztrausberg.


7) Details on the City's Poultry Abattoirs:

The city's first slaughterhouse was at ul.Targowa 8, at Reb Aba'le Shoichet's house and, for many years, it was the only one. Years later, a large abattoir for poultry was built in the yard of the Old Synagogue on ul. Nadrzeczna. In the 1930's, two more locations were added: 1) at Reb Kalman Rajcher's house at Aleja 21 and 2) at Rzezak's house on Aleja Wolności.

The slaughterhouse for animals was in the city's Stradom suburb.

Translator's footnote:

  1. A menaker is an expert who surgically removes the animal's forbidden suet and sciatic nerve to make it kosher. Return

[Pages 609-614]

A Few of the Rabbi Reb Nuchem Asz's Witticisms

The Book Committee

A) Acts of kindness[1] are greater than charity [Talmud Bavli, Sukkah 49b]

In 1902, there was a pogrom in Częstochowa, during which many Jews suffered, including important people. Money was then collected, in town and in other cities as well, to aid the victims and ensure their further existence. But it was decided to distribute the funds in the form of loans and to take a receipt from each one for the sum he was allotted, so as not to shame the beneficiaries.

One of the victims failed to understand the true intention behind this and asked the Rabbi z”l, who was chairman of the committee, why money that had been collected to distribute as charity was now being given out as loans? The Rabbi z”l answered him jokingly, “The money was really given not to be returned, but being as “acts of kindness are greater than charity”, meaning that a larger reward is to be gained from an act of kindness than simply giving money, we have decided to call [this aid] a “Gmilus Chessed”, and what have you to lose if, for this, we receive a larger reward in the afterlife? You may be entirely at ease – the money is yours to keep!”


B. Man has already been created [Midrash Rabbah, Genesis, ch.8, 5]

Decades ago, the question of appointing a rabbinical judge was being addressed in our city. The Rabbi z”l then called a meeting of representatives – public activists and Chassidim – to take counsel with them regarding a suitable candidate for this position. At the meeting, quarrels flared up amongst the different Chassidim and they were unable to achieve any results. The Rabbi adjourned the meeting and, as closing words, said, “Actually, I already have a judge and all your tearing about is completely unnecessary.” When one of those present asked, “If the Rabbi has already appointed the candidate without us, then what was the need for this meeting?”. The Rabbi replied, “We see that when God came to create Adam, he called together the ministering angels in charge of Kindness, Truth, Righteousness and Peace and asked them whether he should create Adam or not. Kindness said, “Let him be created, because he will dispense acts of kindness”. Truth said, “Let him not be created, because he is full of lies”. Righteousness said, “Let him be created, because he will perform righteous deeds”. Peace said, “Let him not be created, because he is full of strife.” Then God said, “[What can you avail?]Man has already been made!”. “The same question”, continued the Rabbi, “presents itself – If the Sovereign of the Universe had already created Man by himself, why had he called the meeting?

But the explanation seems to be this – God wished to hear the opinions of the most important pillars on which the universe stands and it turned out that each one had only his own unilateral interest in mind. Kindness wanted him created, because he is his follower – “he will dispense acts of kindness”. Truth did not want him created, because he is his opponent – “he is full of lies”, and the fact that Man is full of kindness and righteousness did not interest Truth in the least. Then comes Righteousness and says, “Let him be created, because he will perform righteous deeds” – also his follower, and he cares not that he is “full of lies”. And lastly comes Peace, who wishes him not to be created since “he is full of strife” – he is his antagonist, as he doesn't side with Peace, but is quarrelsome. Then God says, “While you are all arguing among yourselves” – as I see that you have no interest in the virtues of Man, and only care whether he is one of your company – “Man has already been made” – I shall somehow manage without you.”


C. [And he was king in Yeshurun,] When the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together. [Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few. (Deuteronomy 33:5–6)]

Some years ago, a Kehilla budget–meeting was held, during which the Kehilla Council voted against the Administration, which brought about losses to the Kehilla's income. At an meeting of the leaders of the Kehilla, together with the Councilmen, the Rabbi said:

“When Moses our Teacher came to bid the Jews farewell [before dying] and instruct them how to carry themselves in the future, he made it clear to them that, when would there be “king in Yeshurun”? When would the Jews be able to live in peace? “When the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together”, when the leaders of the community become united in one mind with the representatives of the people, the councilmen. Only then, would “Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few”, the Jews would prosper and multiply.


D. Longevity

The Rabbi z”l once went to collect money for the cheder and, when visiting an elderly wealthy nonreligious Jew, asked him for a larger donation, promising him longevity for it. To this, the latter remarked, “I do want longevity, but I am not required to give more than what this–and–that orthodox rich man gave”, naming a local prosperous chassid, a miser. To this, the Rabbi replied, “There are two remedies by which to achieve longevity – the first is supporting Torah students, as is written, “But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day” [Deuteronomy 4:4], and the Sages explained, “Cleave unto Torah scholars”, and thus attain a long life. The second remedy is to go morning and evening to the synagogue and pray – “That your days may be multiplied [and the days of your children,] in the land” [Deuteronomy 11:21] – [which refers to those who] “go early and go late to the synagogue” [Talmud Bavli, Brachot, 8a]. I had nothing to “sell” to that orthodox rich man, because he goes morning and evening to the synagogue to pray and has already found longevity without me. You, on the other hand, need to pay handsomely for it, and must therefore give a large donation to the cheder.


E. One who goes but does nothing[2]

An emissary, travelling for a yeshivah, came once to Częstochowa to gather funds, and agreed with a local Jew to accompany him and show him where the wealthy lived. The latter carried his task out to perfection, going around with the collector from morning till late at night. But some of the rich people were not at home, while others simply refused to give money to that yeshivah, making the venture unprofitable. The envoy, therefore, did not wish to pay him the wages they had agreed upon, saying that his efforts had not brought any benefit. They both came before the Rabbinical Court for a Torah judgement. After hearing both sides, the Rabbi ruled that the man should be paid his wages, because “one who goes”, even if he “does nothing”, “has gained the rewards of going”, i.e., must be paid for the fact that he went.


F. [For length of days, and long life,] And peace, shall they add to thee [Proverbs 3:2]

A burgher came to the Rabbi with a question. His son was terribly ill and, usually, the custom in such cases is to give the sufferer the additional name “Chaim” [Life]. But, seeing that his son's name was already Chaim, what name should be added? The Rabbi said to add the name “Szulim” [Shalom; Peace] and based this on a verse: “For length of days, and long Life [Chaim]”, i.e., in order that Chaim should enjoy a long life – “and Peace [Szulim], shall they add to thee”, the name Szulim is to be added. The sufferer indeed recovered and Chaim–Szulim lived to an old age.

Translator's footnotes:

  1. “Acts of kindness” are called “Gmilus Chessed” in Heb., which is also the name given to a fund for loans without interest. The subsequent pun is based on this term's double meaning. Return
  2. Ethics of the Fathers, chapter 5, mishna 14: “There are four types among those who attend the study hall. One who goes but does nothing–has gained the rewards of going. One who does (study) but does not go to the study hall–has gained the rewards of doing. One who goes and does, is a chassid. One who neither goes nor does, is wicked.” Return

[Pages 613-618]

Some Details Regarding Religious Life

The Book Committee

As late as May 1939 (a few months before the destruction of Polish Jewry), a Częstochowa Jewish weekly newspaper published the following articles:


Up to One Hundred Prayer–Houses in Częstochowa

In connection with the election campaign which is being conducted within the Jewish block, it has emerged that there are about one hundred prayer–houses and Chassidic shtieblech in our city, thank God.

These numbers give us food for thought. On the one hand, we may ascertain that the Jews are very religious. Brand them heretics and Bolsheviks as we may, they attend prayer services, thus expressing their religious convictions. At a time when, in Częstochowa, over 100,000 Christians live and have only 8–9 churches, the 27,000 Częstochowa Jews have almost 100 prayer–houses. On the other hand, we must stress that the vast number of Jewish prayer–houses is a consequence of a lack of unity amongst the Jews. They are divided amongst themselves and this causes different Jews, who think of themselves that “all of us are wise, all of us are sagacious[1], to desire to be all gaboim and all cantors. Above all, there is the fact that Chassidim travel to different Rebbes which, in any case, forces them to set up separate shtieblech.

We shall not judge, here, which of these two standpoints is the more correct. But it is a fact that, in a city of 134,000 inhabitants, over 100,000 residents have less than ten churches, while just 27,000 Jews have almost 100 prayer–houses.

(Alas, Hitler's hordes put an end to the Jewish prayer–houses and their worshippers – whilst the cathedrals have remained standing and the pious Catholics pray there to their god.)


Celebrating the Municipal Study–Hall's 100th Anniversary

On Wednesday night, 7th Adar 5694 [21st February 1934], a grand celebration was held at the municipal study–hall to mark its 100th anniversary.

The study–hall was very beautifully decorated and 345 candles were lit, symbolising the name “Moses”[2] – the name of Moses our Teacher, the first redeemer of the Jewish People, who freed them from slavery in Egypt and also gave us the Torah.

A first–class orchestra played various marches and cheered the crowd, which filled the study–hall.

The assembly gave spiritual honours to Rabbi Mojsze Halter and the Halachic authority Reb Benjamin Rubin, who delivered speeches pertaining to the occasion.

Rabbi Rubin mentioned the renowned scholar Reb Fajwisz Kurland z”l who, for many years, taught the simple people who prayed at the study–hall Pentateuch with Rashi and Midrashim, and he emphasised that he regarded it a great privilege that he was continuing the deceased one's fine custom.

The municipal cantor Reb Józef Badasz sang appealing prayers.


Two weeks later, on Adar 24, 5694 [Mar. 11, 1934], at the initiative of the Rabbi of Częstochowa Reb Nuchem Asz z”l, a larger assembly of public figures and important members of the study–hall was held, at which it was decided to rebuild and renovate the hundred–year–old study–hall and to adapt it to the religious needs of the large Częstochowa community.

A committee, which took upon itself the task of seeing this project through, was immediately appointed, comprising Rabbi Nuchem Asz as Chairman, Leib Sojka, Honorary Chairman and Józef Wajnryb, treasurer. The Construction Committee comprised Henryk Szpaltyn as Chairman, with Mendel Kopinski, Józef Wajnryb, Izaak Ber Rotbart, Józef Krauze and Aron Berkman.

The Publicity Committee comprised Simche Dziubas, Henryk Szpaltyn, Abram Gliksman, Cantor Józef Badasz and Mendel Asz.


The work of rebuilding the study–hall was carried out quite intensively.

Because Rabbi Asz[3] had always distinguished himself with his indefatigable work in aid of the Jewish population and its communal and religious institutions, the Kehilla management unanimously decided, at one of their meetings in 1936, to name the new study–hall after the deceased Rabbi Nuchem Asz z”l.

At the same meeting, it was also decided to hang a picture of the beloved, deceased, spiritual leader in the Kehilla meeting room.


We hereby quote an account that was published in an article from a Częstochowa Jewish weekly journal on how simple Częstochowa Jews once made merry, when they had the privilege of writing their own Torah scroll[4] and with what enthusiasm and happiness they celebrated its completion.

This is something that must be immortalised in the Memorial Book of the Częstochowa community.


Simple Folk Write a Torah Scroll

Say what you may, if we were to tell this to a Gentile, he would not understand it at all. Nowadays, when for Jews icy winds blow from all directions and when the entire world is warned against the “Jew”, and a constant agitation is conducted to annihilate the Jews, these same Jews – and not the prosperous among them, but precisely the poor craftsmen and small tradesmen – write a Torah scroll and celebrate its completion.

As is usual with Jews – and common people in particular – such a celebration is a great joy for them and they make merry with all their hearts. Music plays and they dance with character – with a fire such as only simple people can express.

The completion of the scroll took place on Sunday at the “Hachnoses Orchim” [see earlier article].

The music played and our simple folk, the toil–weary Jews, made merry. We must add that these common Jews, men and women, brought forth very fine donations to complete this Torah scroll. The comedian Monowicz showed his expertise and, we must admit, he is talented and that it is a good thing that he did, cheering the hearts of these unsophisticated, but kind–hearted Jews with his witticisms.

(In the street, our “noble” neighbours embraced Hitler's methods of burning synagogues and Torah scrolls, whilst within the four walls of the “Hachnoses Orchim”, the Jews completed a Torah scroll, thereby dancing to the rhythm of a music that played the tune: “You burn down our synagogues, tear up our Torah scrolls, but you shall destroy neither us nor our Torah, which is forever new, and we shall write everything down and preserve it”).

It was, concludes the editor, a spiritual treat for me, seeing simple folk exhilarated with the joy of having completed their Torah scroll.


“The Society for the Support of Bachelors Studying Torah” of the “Beis Ha'Talmud

[see earlier article]

We hereby announce that, this year too, Erev Pesachsiyemim[5] for the firstborn will be held at the following locations:

  1. Beis Ha'Talmud”, ul. Ogrodowa 4;
  2. “Old Study–Hall” (next to the synagogue)
  3. Machzikei Hadas” study–hall, ul. Nadrzeczna 50.
Take heed, The Administration

Please note: The siyemim will be held between 6:00–9:00 a.m.

Translator's footnotes:

  1. Quote from the Passover Haggadah. Return
  2. Moses in Heb. (משה) has the numerical value of 345 in gematria. Return
  3. Rabbi Asz died on May 12, 1936. Return
  4. I.e., donating money for a scribe to write it. Return
  5. Pl. form of “siyem” or “siyum”, Heb., “completion”; a celebratory meal held upon the completion of any unit of Torah study, such as a tractate of the Talmud. All firstborn males are required by Halacha to fast on the Eve of Passover (in commemoration of the 10th plague, the Death of the Firstborn), but this is traditionally avoided by attending a “mitzve feast”, such as a “siyem”. Return

[Pages 619-622]

Simchas Torah with the Rebbe of Żarki z”l
(from my memories)

Ezriel Ben–Moshe

We called him “The Zhuriker Rebbe”. But this was merely by accident because, in truth, he was originally from the Kresy[1] and he had only lived for some time in the village of Żarki – not far from Częstochowa.

The name stuck and, when he moved to Częstochowa, he was already known as “The Zhuriker Rebbe”.

He was a descendant of the famous Trisker Maggid, but he did not become Rebbe merely due to his lineage, but by his own merits. He was a great scholar [both] in [the Torah that is] revealed and [that which is] hidden [i.e., Kabbalah].

His followers in Częstochowa and throughout Poland bought for him Reb Chaskel Fiszel's house on ul. Nadrzeczna – not far from the Old Synagogue – where he set up his “Chassidic court” and administered Chassidism.

Followers swarmed to him from all corners of Poland. They travelled to him for Shabbes in order to be near him and hear words of Torah and Chassidism from such a fine Jew, a descendant of the Turisk and Chernobyl maggidim. Above all, they visited the Rebbe on the holidays. But, of all the holidays, the largest attendance was for Simchas Torah. The greatness of his joy with the Torah was unheard of. His conduct on Simchas Torah was truly extraordinary.

As is known, the custom among Jews is that, on Simchas Torah, each member of the congregation receives a Torah scroll [to hold] for one hakufe [“circle”], but the Zhuriker Rebbe's custom was to do all the hakufes himself.

His hakufes were so famous that hundreds of people came to see them, [both] religious and secular, for it was a truly glorious and rare occasion.

The Rebbe would enshroud himself in his great tallis [prayer–shawl], with the silver crown[2], and hold the Torah scroll under the tallis, and in this manner he would circle the Reader's Platform with the Torah scroll for hours. A long row of Chassidim stood around the entire length of his large study–hall, who sung and clapped their hands with great fervour. The crowd reached the peak of their enthusiasm when the Rebbe took the Torah scroll out from under the tallis and danced with it, holding it up high the whole time.

It is impossible to describe the passion of those present. The singing and thunderous clapping reached further and further and it seemed as if the enormous choir was singing as one man, as one soul. The entire vicinity echoed. The joy that flowed from the Chassidims' faces and how they shone with contentment could only be described by those who were present.

Following the hakufes, the Rebbe began conducting the traditional holiday Tisch [“table”].

He only tasted from each of the plates and the rest was distributed by the gabay among the Chassidim as “shiraim[3].

In order that each and every chassid should have the privilege of tasting from the “shiraim”, the gabay climbed up on the table and saw to it that no one was left without, heaven forbid.

(Thus events transpired for long years, until the destruction of the Częstochowa Jewry by Hitler's beasts. Eyewitnesses tell that when the Jews were taken to their punishment, the Rebbe went out among the first.


He walked in the lines, enshrouded in his tallis, inspiring admiration with his patriarchal bearing, proud and with his head high, knowing that he was being taken to his death as a martyr and his lips murmured prayers – the pure prayers of a great and holy Jew, who shared in the fate of the People of Israel and his loyal followers. May God avenge their spilt blood!)

Translator's footnotes:

  1. Pol., Borderlands; eastern part of the Second Polish Republic during the interwar period, largely coterminous with the “Russian Pale”. Return
  2. An embroidered strip of material, at times even made of silver or gold, situated where the tallis is placed on the head. Return
  3. Leavings or leftovers; a Rebbe's “leavings” are very highly prized among Chassidim, and are regarded as a remedy for all illnesses, evils etc. Return

[Pages 621-624]

The Gerer Shtiebel at ul. Nadrzeczna 36

E. Ben–Moshe (Jakubowicz)

There were several Gerer shtieblech in Częstochowa, but their shtiebel on ul. Nadrzeczna had a special character – even if only due to the fact that it was located in the poorest area of the Jewish masses.

This shtiebel was, for many years, at Reb Chaskel Fiszel's house (from the Fiszel & Dziubas company), not far from the Old Synagogue and, after the house was bought by the Zhuriker Rebbe, the shtiebel was moved to Kupfer's house, on the same street.

The crowd of Chassidim who prayed there – I mean in the last period – came from the poorer religious strata of the population, precisely the most pious Jews, honest folk, but the majority of them were extremely poor – beggars – petty townsmen and craftsmen, who unwaveringly believed in God and their Rebbe! They were true Chassidim, with particular passion and selflessness. Despite their difficult financial situation and their daily struggle to survive, they were committed with might and main to the Chassidic cause and were always content and joyful with their difficult fate. They sang and danced [and] conducted “Third Meals” and “Melave Malkes” [see earlier article], even if with just a bit of dry challah and herring, but with a constant mystical, spiritual joy and unblemished belief!


Reb Mojsze (Chussid) Jakubowicz z”l


I spent many years at this shtiebel with my blessed father. Although my father was just a craftsman – a gaiter–maker – he was one of the most devoted Gerer Chassidim, and was crowned with the title “Mojsze Chussid[1].

I used to accompany my father z”l to the shtiebel even when I was already far indeed from Chassidism. I did this in order to fulfil the precept of respecting one's parents, and, to this day, I carry with me the Chassidic enthusiasm that my soul lapped up there.

Translator's footnote:

  1. Chassidic–Polish pronunciation of “chassid”, i.e., follower. Return

[Pages 623-626]

Around the New Study–Hall
(Reprint from an old copy of the “Częstochower Zeitung”)

Szmul Frank z”l

We should speak a little about the new study–hall, which has now become, as in olden days, a place of Torah.

I realise, up–front, that some readers will shrug their shoulders and think, “Why is he going on about some study–hall? Who cares how the study–hall looks, whether people study there or only pray?” But, I know that there are readers, in no small number, who will take an interest in the study–hall's affairs and I would, therefore, actually like to expand on them.

In the chronicles of the Częstochowa Jewish community, it is written that a hundred years ago, when Jewish Częstochowa had grown a little, the city's single synagogue became too small. So a study–hall was then also established which served, besides being avenue for prayer services, it was also for Torah study between Minche and Ma'ariv. None of us knows what the study–hall looked like a hundred years ago. My great–grandfather, perhaps, could have told us something of this, but he has been dead now for a few decades. We must, therefore, make do with what we, ourselves, remember from the later years.


Over thirty years ago, this study–hall, which was built according to the old standards, attracted many young men from various cities. Together with the local lads, they all studied in our study–hall fervently and enthusiastically. It is only a wonder how they managed in such a small place. They indeed fought over places and those, who came a little late, were forced to study standing or leaning on a lectern.

The voice of Torah could already be heard from 4:00 a.m. and it echoed late into the night. All kinds of youth studied there – Chassidim of Ger, Radomsko, Rozprza and Sochaczew and, even when it was so crowded that some went for a lesson to a Chassidic shtiebel, they also all studied for a few hours in the morning or evening at the study–hall.

The study–hall possessed a large treasury of books, which were under the custodianship of the lads themselves, who created a committee with gaboim, and also collected kopeks to rebind the books when necessary.

As I have already said above, the conditions were far from comfortable. The cooker, more often than not, smoked continuously and they did not always have the necessary heating materials. The lighting, too, consisted of darkened, sooty lamps and, when someone had a little farthing's–worth of light, he was happy.

Thus things were thirty years ago. How does it look now?


As is known, the study–hall was greatly neglected these last few years. It had become old and dilapidated and, not only did no one study there anymore, but even praying there was dangerous. The windows facing the street were caked with mud for days on end, until we reminded ourselves that a hundred years had passed since its construction and the rallying–cry came forth from our Rabbi z”l: “Rebuild the study–hall, to return it to its former glory, but in a manner that it should meet today's requirements – with comfort!

Among others, a certain study–hall youth, Henryk Szpaltyn, took an interest in this affair and dedicated himself to it with all his spirit of enterprise. He involved his brother Szlojme Szpaltyn, then Rabbi Mojsze Asz and other burghers and the construction of a new study–hall was set upon.

It would take up too much space to describe the birth–pains. I only wish to report on how it looks now. In place of the little, old study–hall, a splendid building has been built – tall, wide, airy [and] hygienic. The gallery is also as it should be – up high. Mr Szaja Mientkewicz donated a magnificent Holy Ark. Furthermore, many electric lights were set up, as well as a modern cooker, the likes of which has not yet been seen in Częstochowa. It warms the entire large building.


Foundation stone ceremony for the new study–hall – Rabbi N. Asz with the committee and our burghers


Once the glorious building was finished, work was started to implement the intention of the Rabbi z”l, that Torah study should be conducted there.

To this purpose, an inspection of the library, which had been kept during the entire period by the Chevra Kadisha, was conducted and it was found that some books were missing, whilst others had been rendered unusable due to age. An appeal was made to the Jewish population – “Donate books!” Our Jews followed suit and gave and will surely continue giving!

[Pages 627-636]

The “Machzikei Hadas” Cheder

E. Ben–Moshe

One of the most important institutions which brought great benefits to the religious education of Jewish children – especially those from the religious and poorer circles – was the “Machzikei Hadascheder, about which we are able to present some interesting things in our Memorial Book.

We have found an original balance sheet (from 1st April 1925 to 31st March 1926), which we print – due to its specific character – at the end of the material, in connection with the “Machzikei Hadascheder[1].

We also reprint an article by E. Ben–Moshe (Jakubowicz), which was published in the “Częstochower Zeitung” No.7, dated 12th February 1937, which contains interesting impressions of his visit there on Sunday, 7th February 1937. He reports:

On a frosty Sunday morning, a few of us journalists went to “Machzikei Hadas” to see how the several hundred cheder children live there.

Once there, we found the manager Mr Zeligman, who sat engrossed in his books, writing and calculating, preparing the balance sheet for the institution's approaching Annual General Meeting.

Mr Zeligman received us very warmly [and] informed us on the cheder's situation.

He tells us that about 400 children study now at “Machzikei Hadas”, the majority of whom come from the lowest strata of the local population. He goes on to tell us that “Machzikei Hadas” is now divided into six classes. The children study in two shifts – those attending “Powszechny” [Public] schools in the afternoon, learn until noon, and those who learn at the public schools in the morning, come in the afternoon.

All the “melamdim” are first–class professionals, with many years of pedagogical experience. For their hard work they receive minimal wages – no more than 120 złotych per month. Yet they work intensively and with great commitment, striving to instil, into the minds of the children, besides Torah, also much knowledge from our ancient repository and good breeding.

When we asked by whom the expenses of “Machzikei Hadas” are covered, Mr Zeligman explained that the budget is covered by various sources of income, such as regular monthly contributions from the members, pledges, donations and other conferrals, as well as special donations made on yuhrzeits and other occasions.

Characteristically, the largest contributors are from the orthodox circles.

We took a stroll amongst the children in the different classrooms and we gained the impression that they come from the greatest poverty and want that prevail in the Jewish street. The majority are the children of porters, cobblers and just paupers.

It is also interesting to mention that many of the schoolchildren's parents are secular people, some are even Bundists, many of them have very radical leftist views – and yet they send their children to the cheder. One wants someone to say “Kaddish” after him, another just wants his child to know some Yiddish and to have a concept of the Jewish People and its past.

Sadly, most of the children only learn up to the first two or three classes. Those who continue studying to the 6th class, remain – in most cases – religious, and go on to study in yeshivot and study–halls.

The operation of feeding the children is a separate chapter. It is no easy feat to feed nearly 400 children!

Mr Zeligman takes us to the first floor, where the kitchen is located. We find some dozens of children eating there, for they do not eat altogether, but in groups. Several women, who do the cooking and serve the children, are around them as they sit and eat. Sadly, they are ragged and tattered. The lacklustre eyes peer out from the pale and withered faces and, although they have no coats, stockings or shoes, we see that here they are somewhat content. After all, it is warmer than at home, where one becomes swollen from cold and hunger. Here, they warm their little insides and a little flame of joy still flickers in their eyes…


[Text on photo: Breakfast – bread and hot drinks for the pupils at the “Machzikei Hadas” cheder, 5677 – 1917. Phot. “Rembrandt”]


As Mr Zeligman informed us, the entire feeding and clothing operation is carried out by the doctor Mrs Lipinska. Nobody knows from where Mrs Lipinska brings the money. There is, of course, a circle of women who help her in her noble endeavour and Mrs D.Sz. Erlich also collaborates extensively. It should be mentioned that, even in the great frosts, when people rarely went outdoors, Mrs Lipinska came running every single day to “Machzikei Hadas”, bringing with her food and clothing for the children.

It is truly a wonder how Mrs Lipinska toils indefatigably, without support from any institution or association (barring some small aid from “TOZ”).

For her superhuman efforts and her great work in aid of the poor Jewish children, this public activist truly deserves our warmest thanks.

Mr Cemach Gonsiorowicz has also taken a fine task upon himself, helping in the kitchen to feed the children, to which he dedicates several hours every day.

At the end, Mr Zeligman also noted that the current administration is one of the most energetic and that, thanks to it, they had succeeded in securing the budget.

The wages for the “melamdim” and the rest of the staff were paid in full.

This year was “Machzikei Hadas'” 25th anniversary. One hopes that such an instrumental Jewish institution, which supports the children of the poor Jewish masses with “flour and Torah ”, should be able to keep up its great work and receive the support of the entire Jewish population.

Ezriel Jakubowicz, in his description of the activities of “Machzikei Hadas”, also mentioned the fruitful work of Mrs D.Sz. Erlich – a member of the management of the “Machzikei Hadascheder in Częstochowa.

We reprint an article of hers, titled “He May Be Redeemed” [Leviticus 25:48], which was published in the “Częstochower Zeitung” No.20, dated 20th May 1938:

He May [i.e., should] Be Redeemed
(On the bailout campaign for the “Machzikei Hadas” cheder)

The name “Machzikei Hadas” cheder is well enough known. All Częstochowa Jews know that there, for over 26 years, Torah education is given to children from the poor broad Jewish strata, who cannot allow themselves to send their children to paid cheders. Without this cheder, these children would have remained in their ignorance for the rest of their lives, without even the most basic Jewish learning. They would not have even been able to say their prayers.

Everyone also knows that in the building of the cheder, there is also a study–hall, where the same poor broad Jewish elements have a place to come to morning and evening, on weekdays as well as Shabbes and holidays, to pray to the “Master of the Worlds”. It is a true joy for every Jewish heart that we have an institution of Torah and prayer for the masses, in our own fine building – large, tall, wide and beautiful rooms. But, not everybody knows that a heavy external burden lies upon this building – a debt of 10,000 złotych, which we owe to the local “Credit Association”, the so–called “Towarzystwo Kredytowe”.

During the years when things were as they should be and the cheder received subsidies both from the municipality and the Kehilla, it was quite easy to pay the half–yearly instalments and, even later, when the subsidies were stopped and paying the instalments became truly like the parting of the Red Sea, we still did not find the necessity to ring any alarm–bells, because we knew that the President of “Machzikei Hadas”, Mr I.M. Krel, was also the director of the municipal “Credit Association”, which gave us the hope that things would not come to foreclosure, as indeed they did not. Each time, the eminent President Mr Krel used his influence and did not allow a foreclosure. We would pay a part and the rest was prolonged without interest, and thus we managed – as one says – to pull through.

But now, this situation, as is known to all, has changed radically. The Jewish influence on the “Credit Association” has been stopped. We may no longer rely on any miracles and, if we do not pay the instalments on time now, our building faces immediate foreclosure.

To avoid this teary event, a decision has been made, at a meeting of the board with the city's notabilities, to conduct a “bailout campaign”, as it says in the current weekly portion: “He may be redeemed”, i.e., that the Częstochowa Jewish population now has the obligation to redeem the building and be rid of this debt once and for all. Each one of us must bring his donation to this “bailout campaign”.

We believe that the local Jewish population, which is renowned for its highly developed social sense – as is proven by the many local institutions they have created, the most recent being the construction of the magnificent building of the Jewish high school – this same population will surely not stand back, when efforts are being made to retain the only Torah institution in our possession in which nearly 400 children study. The Sages teach us that the roof of the synagogue must be higher than all the other private roofs, meaning that we must put the spiritual before the physical and the fact that the local Jewish population has done so much in the material field, gives the best hopes that it will surely value the spiritual – the Torah study for the poor children – highly, and fulfil the Torah's precept: “He may be redeemed.”

We have also received the report of the last “Machzikei Hadas” Annual General Meeting which was held on Sunday, 17th June 1939.

We quote this report here. It was published in the “Częstochower Zeitung” No.25, dated 23rd June 1939:

The “Machzikei Hadas” Annual General Meeting

Last Sunday, 17th June 1939, the “Machzikei Hadas” Annual General Meeting was held on their premises.

The President Mr I.M. Krel opened the meeting, chaired by Mr Isuchor Moszkowicz. Also at the presidential table were Messrs Duwid Pelc and Awrum Częstochowski and, as secretary, Mr Szyja Zeligman.

Mr Krel delivered the Annual Report and the Balance Sheet, which reached the sum of 14,313.23 złotych.

Following the discussion regarding the report, in which Messrs Częstochowski, Moszkowicz, Pressman and others took part, the report was approved, printed and entrusted to the administration.

The budget for the new year, of 18,000 złotych, was unanimously approved.

The following proposals were also approved:

  1. from Mr Klajnman – to introduce teachers for secular studies;
  2. from Mr Tenenberg – to recruit new members;
  3. from Mr Jarkowizna – to distribute “Machzikei Hadas” charity boxes to all Jewish households.
It was also decided to create a sub–committee of ten members to help enlarge the income of “Machzikei Hadas”.

Messrs Jechiel Landau, Menasze Margulies, Duwid Kohn and Herszel Wajnbaum were elected to the new administration, replacing those leaving.

(Three months prior to the great misfortune of the Polish Jewry, Częstochowa public figures were still holding an Annual General Meeting, electing new council members, approving budgets and believing that they would be able to carry out their plans.

The bitter reality destroyed everything! No more “Machzikei Hadas”, no more anything!).

But not only did the Częstochowa Jews know nothing of the bloodbath that awaited them three months into the future. Just three weeks before the outbreak of the bloody Second World War – on the eleventh of August, nineteen–hundred and thirty–nine – a dear Częstochowa Jew – a dedicated “Machzikei Hadas” activist – printed an alarm–article in the “Częstochower Zeitung” (No.32), under the title: “We Must Somehow save “Machzikei Hadas!”, [with] the following passionate words:

Yes, regardless what one's attitude may be to the “Machzikei Hadas” cheder, we must certainly conclude that it is an important institution, which we must not allow to go under!

Up to 400 children, from the poorest elements of the population, study at this institution. One may disagree with some of the teaching methods, but it is a fact that, had this institution not existed, several hundred Jewish children would receive no education at all.

Years ago, “Machzikei Hadas” – through the efforts of its supporters – received its own building. Bur this is not enough for the institution to also maintain itself. The institution is under various debts and there is a threat that the building may be sold at auction to pay off the debts, leaving the energy and efforts of long years in ruins.

The “Machzikei Hadas” administration is doing everything to save the institution, but the entire Jewish population, regardless of ideology, must come to their aid, for “Machzikei Hadas” is a possession of the Jewish folk of Częstochowa and it is the obligation of us all to support it!

Meetings of the town's worthies [and] the “gaboim” of the Chassidic “shtieblach” and “minyanim” were called, at which the “bailout campaign” was planned.

A large sum must be gathered in a short time and a public fundraiser will be held to this aim.

Every Jew is required to pay a one–time toll for the bailout. We must redeem the institution from its debts. The smallest contribution must be of at least one złoty, in order to free the building from its debts once and for all!

Disappointingly, not all parts of the Jewish population have this understanding. Many “gaboim” and public activists, who were invited, did not come. But we think that no one would want to take the responsibility upon himself that, due to his neglect, this important institution should go under!

The campaign for “Machzikei Hadas” is already starting now – may none of you fail to bring your donations!

Yeshivot from various cities and shtetls take enough money out of Częstochowa. We should remember the teaching of our Sages: “The poor of your city take precedence” [Talmud Bavli, Bava Metziah, 71a] – the poor children of our city come before anyone else and we must support them!

“Machzikei Hadas” must not be liquidated – this must be a question of prestige for every Częstochowa Jew.

The knife is on the neck and we must save “Machzikei Hadas”, no matter what!

(A mere three weeks before the disaster, this activist saw that the knife was on the neck of the “Machzikei Hadas” institution. How great is the sorrow and anger that this knife slaughtered almost the entire Jewish People in Poland!

The carers of the small schoolchildren were slaughtered, together with their sinless charges!).

Note from the Editors:

After printing the “balance” from the published “document”, we checked the numbers and found that they are incorrect… we are unable to explain this. We are printing the “balance” nonetheless, as it was published over 40 years ago…

Translator's footnote:

  1. See Pirkei Avot, Ch. 3, mishna 17: “If there is no flour, there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no flour.”] Return


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