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[Pages 681-684]

Reb Abram Ber Birenbaum z”l

M. Sz. Geshuri


Reb A.B. Birenbaum with his family


A great honour befell our city that, within it, were born, or came to settle, outstanding individuals, whose renown progressively grew, until they became famous worldwide – to our pride and glory.

One among this elite was the well–known cantor Reb Abram Ber Birenbaum, who had many extraordinary talents and who was already recognised in childhood as being destined for greatness.

Birenbaum was born on 3rd Shvat 5625 (30th January 1865[1]), in the town of Pułtusk (Warsaw Province). His father, Reb Moszek Lajb Birenbaum, being a great scholar and a sharp Kotzker chassid, obviously desired to bring his son up in Torah and Chassidism, and there was no limit to his contentment upon hearing his son's praises from his teachers.

When Reb Moszek Lajb moved with his family to Łódź, he turned Abram Ber over to the best melamdim in town in order for them to teach him Torah. When he was already of bar–mitzvah age [13], he became a student at the study–hall, where he immediately gained renown for his great studiousness and his phenomenal perspicacity. All those who knew him prophesied that he would occupy an important place in the rabbinical world – among the greatest!

This “prophecy” could have been fulfilled but, together with his diligence in Torah study, a great desire for singing and music also prevailed within this gifted child, so that between lessons – and sometimes even in midst of a lesson – Abram Ber would lift his voice up in song, literally as a nightingale, astounding all his listeners.

There was in Łódź a man, a connoisseur in music, who perceived that, through his singing, this child would not only become a great Torah prodigy, but also a great singer. He brought him before the greatest musician in Łódź, Chaim Janowski, a founder of “Ha'Zamir” [“The Nightingale”; see earlier article], to sing before him.

That musician, after hearing the boy sing, took it upon himself to teach him to play the violin, free of charge. He received music lessons from him over three years, without his father's knowledge.

Whilst Birenbaum continued his musical studies, he also studied the laws of ritual slaughter – with the intention of serving in the future as ritual slaughterer and cantor in one of the Jewish communities.

In 1888, when he was only about 23 years of age, he was engaged as cantor and ritual slaughterer in one of the small communities of Hungary, where he continued studying and developing his voice, as well as taking to writing and publishing different articles in “Ha'Tzfira”.

In 1890, he returned to Poland and was immediately appointed cantor and ritual slaughterer in Przasnysz (Płock gubernia). He also continued writing articles and articles for “Ha'Tzfira”, gaining renown as a talented writer, whose words made sense to his readers.

Three years later, once the New Synagogue building in Częstochowa had been completed, A.B. Birenbaum was invited to serve as Chief Cantor at this modern synagogue, a position which he held for about twenty years – until 1913.

This was the finest period in the musical artist's life. There, in 1906, he founded the cantorial school, which produced many renowned and talented cantors, who held cantorial positions in important communities in Russia and Poland, and even outside the [Russian Empire's] borders.

In 1907, he organised a nationwide conference of cantors, at which the world's first “Cantors Union” was established, of which he was elected Chairman.

At the literary and musical society “Lira” (which was founded in Częstochowa in 1908), Birenbaum organised a choir of men and women, which distinguished itself with its musical level. It often held concerts of Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish songs, which included a rich repertoire of diverse folk songs.

For almost three years (1909–1912), he worked on his great book “Omanut Ha'Chazanut” [“The Art of Cantorial Singing”] (in Hebrew), which was received with great enthusiasm by all music aficionados in the Jewish world.

He also continued publishing articles in “Ha'Tzfira” and “Ha'Olam” [“The World”], as well as in the “Lodzer Zeitung” [“Łódź Newspaper”] (in German).

In 1913, Birenbaum resigned his position and moved to Łódź and, although he was offered distinguished posts in important communities, he did not wish to continue with cantorial singing.

In Łódź, Birenbaum dedicated himself entirely to various literary matters. He did not limit himself merely to the fields of music and cantorial singing, but also published very interesting and valuable articles on Chassidism, Jewish folklore and various scholarly treatises on the differences between liturgical rites of Jewish communities in different lands.

Among the latter, he published a special research paper on the Yom Kippur prayers, as they are recited in each [parts] of the Jewish diaspora.

On Friday, 11th December 1923, Birenbaum came to Częstochowa to visit his married daughter, who lived in our city, and, in the middle of the night, he suffered a stroke. All the doctors' efforts were to no avail and the cherished cantor and artist passed away at just 58. He was laid to rest in our city, which he had graced with his abundant talent over around twenty years.

A large crowd of his supporters and admirers accompanied him to his last resting place.

Translator's footnote:

  1. His date of birth on the JRI Poland database is given as Feb. 19, 1865 Return

[Page 684]

Professor I. Zaks

The Book Committee

The name of Professor Zaks is connected with the musical life of Jewish Częstochowa. He was a pupil of the virtuoso in Jewish music, Abram Ber Birenbaum, and the cantor Abram Fiszel. I. Zaks continued studying until he received the title of Professor of Music.

He acted as Professor of Music at the Jewish high school, where he taught how to play [instruments] and organised a wind orchestra, which became the best in town. He was also an expert in discovering young talents in the fields of instrumentalism and singing, whom he organised within the “Lira” Society and for whom he also arranged public performances, which always met with great success.

Zaks was the best interpreter of his teacher's – the Chief Cantor Birenbaum – creations, especially of the “BaMeh Madlikin[1]” rhapsody, in which he excelled in his stressing of the “yeshivah songs”, which brought his Jewish public great delight.

His concerts featured first–class performances, such as Haydn's “The Seasons” and works by Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn and others. In his last public appearance at the “Luna” hall in Częstochowa, 180 people participated. There were 120 men and women singers in the choir and 60 musicians. Following this concert, Zaks was invited to Łódź, where he directed a good choir, which performed the opera “Carmen” in Yiddish. He attained fame throughout the globe and was invited to take part in a worldwide congress in America.

Translator's footnote:

  1. “With what do we light (the Shabbes candles)”; an excerpt from the Mishna (Shabbat, Ch.2), which is recited at the beginning of the Shabbes prayers on Friday evening. Return

[Page 685]

Sculptor Arnold Monat

The Book Committee

He was born in Częstochowa in 1867.

When he was about 16, he moved to Łódź, where he found his livelihood as an assistant at a printing‐house.

From his youth, he had an inclination for artistic training in sculpture. He had the good fortune to be admitted as a pupil of the famous sculptor Hofman, from whom he was passed on to the skilled hands of the renowned Jewish sculptor, M. Antokolsky, who took him onto his studio and developed his skills.

With Antokolsky's support, he also travelled to Berlin to study with Professor Tandor [?].

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Monat gained renown as one of the world's finest sculptors. He had the honour to immortalise the likenesses of famous figures in his generation's cultural and political life.

[Pages 685-686]

Natan Gerichter


He was practically the first Zionist activist in Częstochowa. Apart from his selfless work for the Zionist movement, he also founded several philanthropic‐social Jewish institutions in aid of the poor Jewish masses.

In our book is published a letter, dating back from 1908[1], which shows that, already by then, Natan Gerichter was Chairman of the Zionist Organisation in Częstochowa.

Natan Gerichter, who came from a very Chassidic family, was a Maskil and lived a modern Jewish intellectual life.

Translator's footnote:

  1. Perhaps the reference is to the letter on p.92, from 1909. Return

[Page 686]

Dr Arnold Bram hy”d

The Book Committee

One of the central figures of the Zionist movement and in the medical life of Częstochowa, who left his mark upon public life, was – without doubt – Dr Arnold Bram.

From the moment he arrived in Częstochowa, the Jewish public liked him. In him, they found, on the one hand, a lively man of action, who acted and prompted others to act and who busied himself with public matters – mainly those of the nationalist and Zionist public, On the other hand, he was an expert physician – a certified radiologist – who was very much trusted, even by the non–Jews.

Dr Bram carried out the medical examinations for Częstochowa and the vicinity on behalf of the Land of Israel Bureau in Warsaw and there is no immigrant in Israel from among our townspeople whose fitness for Aliyah was not checked by him during the time he occupied this position.

For many years, he headed the Zionist Organisation in our city and represented it both in the Kehilla Council and the City Council, as well as in other important public institutions. In all the fundraisers for the National Funds, and especially for “Keren HaYesod”, in which our city always distinguished itself with its practical results, Dr Bram was first and foremost in organising them and in actions to secure the larger donations from the city's wealthy donors.

In his political views, he was a follower of the old Zionist leader Izaak Grünbaum and a friend of Dr Izaak Sziffer hy”d, who both valued him highly and were among his personal friends.

It is no wonder that, over the course of time, Dr Bram became the Zionist movement's go–to person, to whom all turned and whose opinions all accepted. He was also always prepared to listen and respond to those seeking his advice or aid in their personal affairs.

(This idealistic and active man, too, was torn from us in the days of the Holocaust. His memory will endure forever in the mouths of those who knew and loved him!)

[Pages 687-688]

Abram Luzor Szajnfeld hy”d





A young married chassid, he was the son of the wealthy chassid Reb Jechiel Szajnfeld from Kielce – brother–in–law of the Gerer Rebbe, the “Sfas Emes”.

Abram Luzor Szajnfeld was a popular man in town. In his youth, he was known as a quick–witted young man, as sharp as a seraph [a fiery angel]. He wore a black velvet chassidic hat even on weekdays[1]. He was an ebullient type who invigorated others, the living spirit among the young married chassidim at the shtiebel.

A deep emotional crisis struck Abram Luzor, when the Zionist movement arose and the Gerer Rebbe opposed it. He abandoned the chassidic “court” during this crisis. Unlike his brother–in–law Reb Abram Henech Finkelsztajn, who [despite leaving] remained with both feet entrenched in chassidism, in his essence, attire and way of life, for Reb Abram Luzor the crisis triggered a paradigm shift and caused him to gradually distance himself from the ways of chassidism and chassidim. This was also expressed in him changing his attire and way of life.

The lively character's stormy nature made this change drastic and revolutionary. All at once, he embraced the secular world and became a fervent Zionist. When the Zionist Organisation was established in Częstochowa, he became one of its leaders and most prominent activists. Over the course of time, he was elected Chairman of the organisation and, in this position, became a confidante of Izaak Grünbaum and of the other Zionist leaders in Poland. He stood out as one of the most talented figures amongst the city's Zionist activists. He was among the founders of the Hebrew high school. He headed the “Ha'Chalutz–Craftsmen” and many other public institutions in town. He was chosen to represent the Zionists at the Kehilla Council and was rightly considered the leader of the Zionist Organisation in Częstochowa.

His wife, the sensitive Mania, the daughter of Reb Józef Dziubas z”l, died in her prime, leaving him with three daughters. Rywka, who inherited all her mother's fine qualities, was able to emigrate to the Land [of Israel] with her husband Szmul Gordon and their son Abram, after years of torture and suffering in the forced–labour camps. She passed away in Israel, in 1961. The second daughter, Dr Hadasa Birencwajg, was shot by the Nazis in Częstochowa. The third daughter, Sulamita Kagan, lives in Australia [She died in Melbourne in December 2011]. Reb Abram Luzor remarried and had two more daughters, Judith and Ruth, who are both in Israel.

(In the tempestuous years of the Holocaust, Abram Luzor was put in charge of the “Chevra Kadisha”, on behalf of the Judenrat. He remained in the city to the last days before the Liberation and was then transported, together with thousands of other Jews, to Buchenwald, where he survived as a muselmann[2] until the American army liberated the camp. However, the Angel of Death then claimed him and he died of exhaustion, just days after Liberation. He was buried in the cemetery in Buchenwald at the beginning of Iyyar 5708 – April 1945.)

Translator's footnotes:

  1. Doubtlessly due to his lineage. The close relatives of a Rebbe are usually differentiated themselves from “commoners” by their special garb. Return
  2. Yid.; used to describe a near–death prisoner in Nazi concentration camp. Return

[Pages 688-689]

Felix (Fiszel) Szapira hy”d

The Book Committee




He was born in Kielce to Jakób Elio and Arli[1] Szapira, a respected and prosperous family, owners of the “Borków” estate. He studied at the Polish high school in Kielce and, after receiving his bachelor's degree, travelled to Switzerland, where he studied at the Faculty of Philosophy and Political Science in Bern. There, he became acquainted with Socialist circles and, upon his return to Kielce for the summer holidays, he was caught by the Russian police engaging in an illegal activity. He was arrested and sat for a long time in prison as a political prisoner.

In the meantime, his parents moved to Częstochowa. When he was released, his thoughts took a revolutionary turn. He joined the nationalist and Zionist movement and, being a naturally active person, he very soon became rooted in these circles. Thanks to his loyalty and commitment, he became one of the Zionist movement's central activists. He was naturally kind–hearted and sympathetic. He welcomed anyone cheerfully and so found favour with the nationalist public, who placed him in the front row of their activists. He was leader of the Zionist Organisation for some time and represented it at the City Council as ławnik [city councillor]. As such, he was able to protect the interests of the Jewish residents [and ensure] their rights not be violated.

He was also one of the best activists for the National Funds, as well as dedicating himself to Jewish affairs in the city's financial institutions, the administration of the Hebrew high school and the sports institutions.

[Just] before the outbreak of the Second World War, when the occupation of Częstochowa by the Nazis was imminent, his Polish friends within the City Council advised him to flee the city, telling him that the Nazis were sure to take revenge upon him, before all others, for his public appearances against Nazism.

(He left Częstochowa and moved to Słonim, where his brother–in–law's relatives lived. But, when the war between the Nazis and the Soviet Russians broke out on 22nd June 1941, he was unable to flee in time. On July 17, 1941, he was captured, together with his two sons, Józek (aged 19) and Czesiek (aged 17), both pupils of the Częstochowa Hebrew high school and, together with another thousand Jews, were taken to the outskirts of Słonim, shot, and thrown into pits which they themselves had previously dug.

So ended the glorious and very active life of one of our city's greatest activists – together with his sons. His brother–in–law Szmul (Staszek) Brum (his sister Helena's husband) also met the same cruel death.

Felix Szapira's wife, Hala, who was saved by chance, fell ill due to her grief and died shortly afterwards in Słonim.)

His sister, Dr Czesława (née Szapira) Orlinska, who was director of one of the departments of “TOZ” in Częstochowa, and later a paediatrician at the Częstochowa Jewish Hospital, was able – after great suffering – to arrive in the Land [of Israel], together with her husband, the engineer Abraham Orlinski (now Orli). However, a severe illness ended her life and she died on 23rd Adar 5726 [15th March 1966], in Tel–Aviv.

Translator's footnote:

  1. Spelled “ארלי“ in the Heb. original; this name does not exist. Return

[Page 689]

Anczel Warszawski


A respected “Mizrachi” activist, he came from one of the most respectable families in Częstochowa.

He was “Mizrachi's” representative in the Kehilla management, the “Chevra Kadisha” and many other philanthropic institutions.

He was “lucky enough” to die before the Second World War.

[Pages 690-693]

Reb Abram Henech Finkelsztajn

The Book Committee




He was one of the most interesting characters in Częstochowa, whose name is uttered with great respect – even almost thirty years after his death – by our elders, who knew him personally, as well as by all the Częstochowa townspeople – the remaining vestiges – who have heard of him.

Below, we present, in our Memorial Book, an excerpt from an article which was published in the Częstochowa Zionist periodical “Unzer Weg” No.40 (dated 1st October 1937), written by his son Mordche Finkelsztajn – a gifted journalist and a social activist in Częstochowa (who was also a victim of the Holocaust, hy”d).

This is what the paper writes:

Who did not know him in Częstochowa? He was one of the rare Jews who influenced not with his social deeds, but with his profound and new ideas.

He was a social activist, a man of the people, a simple Jew – but a strong individualist.

He had a very complex nature. A deep–thinking mind, teeming with serious thoughts – and yet with an absolutely pure simplicity, with an incredibly sensitive heart. He was a sober, logical–thinking machine – and yet a man with a brazen temperament, feeling and a very strongly developed ear for music. He was a Jewish merchant, who was absorbed in commerce and in reality, a spiritual and scientific man – an academic type.

A Jew seldom seen, he combined Torah and wisdom within himself. He truly dedicated all his free time to study, always holding a book. Never did a day go by for him without learning! He would study a page of Talmud with commentaries; on another opportunity, he would sit over a philosophical work in German. Today, you would find him delving into theology and Kabbalah – tomorrow into a serious, scientific paper on chemistry, in which he had very wide knowledge. He was a great scholar, full and bursting, a keen expert on the Talmud and Halacha, and on the works of the older and newer rabbis. His vast wealth of knowledge was revealed in a crystal–clear fashion, when he once said, “I've studied all the philosophical methods in depth; I've read Spinoza, Kant, Schopenhauer, Darwin, Haeckel, Lamarck, and none of their thoughts are new to me. I find them in the Midrash, in short words, such as “Rabbi [so–and–so] said…and thus it is written…[1]

As a deeply pious man, he was unable to tolerate today's false and numbed Chassidism. Personally, he always used to travel to the Rebbe – as a fervent Gerer chassid – but something came to pass which his honesty could not abide and he completely tore away from this Chassidic group.

The “Orthodox Union”, which was founded during the German occupation,[2] and which was under the influence of the Rebbes, denounced in its first brochure the Jewish revival–work being done in the Land of Israel, as well as the pursuit of National Rights [by Jews] in the diaspora lands.

This was too much for him. His entire being boiled over. With such Chassidism, he had nothing in common – on the contrary, he made it his sacred task to conduct an informational campaign within the pious Chassidic circles, that they should not fall under the influence of the “Orthodox Union”. The ideological battle had begun.

“For me, the only authority is the “Shulchan Aruch” [official Halachic legal code], which explicitly states that the settlement of the Land of Israel is one of the greatest mitzves…”, were the words with which he answered the Gerer Rebbe, who had specifically called him in, to make this “revolutionary” become a compliant sheep again.

As a faithful, committed with his entire heart and soul, religious–nationalistic Jew, he viewed the Zionist movement in our times in the light of Jewish religion and the interests of the Jews as a nation, which he regarded as two manifestations of the same concept. He therefore committed himself unconditionally to the Jewish revival idea, and threw himself into the battle for nationalistic ideals with all his temperament.

The war was difficult and bitter. The persecutions and humiliations which he was forced to endure would have embittered a stronger man's life. Living within a Chassidic environment, which had not developed enough to comprehend him, he was – for many years – alone among his own kind, humiliated and persecuted!

I once asked him what had made him, being completely immerged as he was in Chassidic life, to especially travel (before the War) to the Zionist Conference in Katowice, to which he answered, “What do you mean? It [was about] the settlement of the Land of Israel!”

He was a great Jew and a great man, dreaming of social uprightness, of a better world with justice and honesty. Within his heart dwelt a feeling of deep inner responsibility, which accompanied him during his whole life.

One of his greatest dreams was to settle in the Land of Israel and see it being built with his own eyes. But, sadly, his life–thread was cut off. The great heart stopped beating and he was torn from us forever.

The people who knew him closely as a Jew and as a man, and his rich inner world and fine spirit, are able to assess the great loss and comprehend that one of the best has passed away.

Translator's footnotes:

  1. Typical generic citations from the Talmud or Midrash. Return
  2. Clearly a reference to “Agudas Yisroel”; this party, however, was founded in 1912, two years before the German occupation of Częstochowa in 1914. Return

[Page 693]

Dr Mering hy”d


He was a respected Zionist activist and a fighter for the Zionist cause in the political, social and cultural arenas. He was one of the most revered teachers at the Hebrew high school, together with his wife (née Kohn), as well as a long–standing member of the Kehilla council, as representative of the Zionist Organisation. (He perished in Treblinka.)

[Pages 693-694]

Ze'ev–Wolf Icek hy”d

Yeshayahu [Szaja] Landau

He was the Vice–Chairman of the city's Zionist Organisation, as well as an active member in the administrations of various institutions, such as “Achiezer[1]”, the “Merchants and Manufacturers Union”, the Hebrew high school, etc.

He was a man of unparalleled honesty, who dreamt of the return to Zion and gave his children a nationalistic education. His favourite tune was “Anu Olim Artza” [“We are Ascending to the Land of Israel”], which he continually sang throughout the War period. With great enthusiasm and satisfaction, he told his acquaintances that his daughter had married a young man who knew the Hebrew Bible perfectly and who had been brought up in a traditional Jewish manner!

(During the terrible War years, he revealed great selflessness. He never passed on an opportunity to help, to alleviate or to prevent troubles – even when this caused conflicts with his family, due to the danger involved).

His son Chaim survived the War, made Aliyah and now works in a governmental institution. He has even been sent abroad by the State to perform important duties on its behalf.

Translator's footnote:

  1. See earlier article Return

[Pages 694-695]

Szmul Niemirowski hy”d


Szmul Niemirowski, an active social and political activist, came to Częstochowa in the first years of the 20th century and, together with his wife, opened a hatter's workshop. After the First World War, together with Abram Baum and H. Winer, he managed a large iron business. He took his first steps in communal life early on and he was active in political, financial and sports institutions. Besides this, he also actively took part in the Retailers' and the Craftsmen's unions, in the “Craftsmen's Bank” and especially in the “Craftsmen's Cooperative”.

He was the leader of the Zionist Revisionist Party in Częstochowa. He donated his time and money to communal affairs.

(In September 1939, Szmul Niemirowski was arrested by the Gestapo, together with eight other hostages – members of the Kehilla council and the rabbinate. He was held until November of that year. During his imprisonment, he was ill and was also beaten. Although he was released a little later, the Nazis shortly afterwards sent him to Dachau, where he was tortured to death.

His family also met with a very tragic end. One of his sons was literally beaten to death by the Gestapo. His wife and his only daughter, Mrs Markowicz, were able to hide from the Gestapo for quite a long time and even lived in the “Small Ghetto” under false names. In January 1943, they attempted to leave the ghetto in order to hide in a bunker on the “Aryan side”. They were caught and shot to death by a Polish policeman.

In the summer of 1945, following Liberation, I helped the young Markowicz – who had survived – to transport the bones of his wife and mother–in–law and bring them to a Jewish grave).

[Page 695]

Professor Lauer hy”d

Yeshayahu Landau

He was an excellent educator, who taught Hebrew at our high school in Częstochowa.

He was committed, with heart and soul, to his pupils and remained the esteemed friend of all his former pupils in all the classes. Everyone respected and liked him. He was a sensitive and humble man.

[Pages 695-696]

Dr Hipolit Gajsler hy”d

Dawid Koniecpoler

His surname was actually “Gajfler”, but he was known in Częstochowa as “Dr Gajsler”.

Dr Gajsler was a man of the people and was close to the Jewish craftsmen, although he himself was a medical doctor.

After finishing his medical studies in [St.] Petersburg, he immediately dedicated himself to social work amongst Jewish sportsmen and he particularly endeavoured to organise the Jewish craftsmen, whom he represented in various municipal and financial institutions, whilst also being the Prezes of the union.

Dr Gajsler handled the Jewish craftsmen's problems in the best possible manner. In gratitude, the craftsmen decided to name their library after Dr Hipolit Gajsler.

(On the eve of the Second World War, Dr Gajsler enlisted in the Polish army. His wife and son moved to Lemberg [Lwów]. In the summer of 1942, they returned to Częstochowa in a deplorable state – very ill and having suffered greatly from Nazi brutality and hatred towards Jews.

His wife and son were killed by the Nazi murderers.

We have no accurate details on Dr Gajsler's fate. Jewish expatriates in Russia say that they saw him, at the beginning of the War, at a railway station in Russia. Still others claimed that he worked at a military hospital not far from Moscow. There was also a rumour that he had been killed in Katyń by the German murderers. One thing is certain – Dr Hipolit Gajsler shared the fate of the six million Jewish martyrs!)

[Pages 696-697]

Reb Icchok Majer Krel hy”d

Hala Szapira




People used to call him “Reb Icze–Majer Krel”. He was one of Częstochowa's worthies. He was involved in public affairs, in religious educational institutions and in charitable institutions. He was also Chairman of the cheders [?] and one of those active in the maintenance of the “Machzikei Hadas” school.

Reb Icze–Majer Krel – in whom honesty, wisdom and kindness were combined – was popular not only among the Jewish residents, but also amongst the Gentiles. As head of the municipal Credit Association (“Towarzystwo Kredytowe”), he succoured the needy and saw to it that their possessions not be auctioned off due to arrears in payments.

He was a Torah scholar, the pride of the Gerer Chassidim. He dedicated time to Torah study in public and also gave lessons in these institutions. Reb Icze–Majer Krel served as Vice–Chairman of “Agudas Yisroel” and always knew how to find solutions to its complicated problems. He represented “Agudas Yisroel” both in the Kehilla Council and on the City Council. He carried his duties out in a committed manner and was generally well–liked by the public.

He was also known for supporting the Land of Israel and, on behalf of “Agudas Yisroel”, was a member of the delegation which travelled there in 1925. He was a central figure at “Aguda's” large conferences and participated in the delegation that welcomed the President of Poland, Mościcki, when he visited Częstochowa.

(On his way to the death–train, he took his shoes off and asked those marching with him to say “Sh'ma Israel” together with him, as they were marching to be martyred.)

[Pages 697-698]

Reb Srul Częstochowski

J.C. Plai

Reb Srul was one of the prominent Radomsko Chassidim, but his main activity was in the city's institutions. He was a dedicated member of the “Machzikei Hadas” council, the “Chevra Kadisha” and the “Hachnoses Kallah[1]. Reb Srul was a pious man in all his ways and stood out for his cheerful countenance and warm attitude towards all people. It was evident from his gait and speech that he was a true Torah scholar. His clothes were spotlessly clean. He was a central pillar of the Radomsko shtiebel called “the Cossack's shtiebel” and also did much to propagate Torah in the city.

His wife, Fajga Mincze, was also a woman of valour and a very active public figure, the main caretaker of the women's “Chevra Kadisha”. Many stories were told of her wit and of her being a fine woman, always willing to do her husband's bidding in matters of charity and good deeds.

Translator's footnote:

  1. See above, p.200. Return

[Pages 698-699]

Reb Duwid Icchok Edelist


Born in Pińczów, he was married in Częstochowa to the daughter of Reb Nachman Aron Rozen, the son of the rabbinical judge, Reb Jakób Elio Rozen.

Being a fanatical study–hall lad, he had misgivings about moving to Częstochowa, a city known for its Maskilim and progressives. He only moved to Częstochowa after receiving the approval of the “Sfas Emes”. The great energy of his youth in all matters regarding Judaism and religious education did not weaken to the day of his death at the age of seventy–eight. All his life he acted with the same enthusiasm and commitment he had in his youth.

He dedicated all his time to public affairs and to institutions of education and charity, loyally and with boundless commitment, whilst his wife Rywka managed their business, in order to enable him to dedicate himself to public matters.

He was among the founders of the “Machzikei Hadascheder on ulica Nadrzeczna. Through his efforts, a Jew named Berl Prentki z”l, who was not wealthy, donated his plot to the cheder's building. Reb Duwid Icchok was busy day and night with the construction project and its management. He took care of every teacher and every pupil. He knew all their problems and provided for their necessities.

He was also among the founders of the new mikvah, which gained fame throughout Poland for its beautiful fittings and elaborate sanitary equipment.

He was also a member of the Kehilla Council where, as always, he energetically devoted himself to public affairs in general and to religious matters in particular.

In addition to all this, he was also active in the Jewish “Bank Spółdzielczy” [Cooperative Bank] and was among the founders of “Agudas Yisroel's” “Bank Kupiecki” [Merchant Bank], on whose board of directors he was a member.

[Pages 699-702]

Maurycy Neufeld


On the eve of Rosh Hashanah 5702 (1942), the renowned businessman and public activist Maurycy Neufeld died in Częstochowa. (He had the great fortune to die in his bed, just ten days before the gruesome annihilation of Częstochowa Jewry, for which he had worked long years in various fields – financial, social and political.)

We should present a few details on his rich life over the last years before the Second World War and during the War itself.

Neufeld had his own modern opinions regarding culture and freedom movements. He never supported the ideology of those who oppressed them. When he left the Assimilationist Movement and moved over to the Jewish nationalist camp, he always openly and courageously defended Jewish honour.

When the dark Nazi slogans from Germany began penetrating, Maurycy Neufeld took up arms very courageously. His bold, public appearances were with such disregard for his own life that, very often, the elderly fighter needed to be escorted home from the public meetings, because the Polish hooligans threatened to assassinate him. Even in very old age, Neufeld never wanted to pull back from fighting for a just cause.


(In the first days of the Second World War, when the Nazis had occupied Częstochowa, his large medicine and chemical products business was seized. However, without his expert knowledge, the Nazis were unable to run the business and they forced him to stay on and manage the business they had robbed from him.

On Rosh Hashanah 1939, several hundred Jews from the surrounding area, whom the Nazi murderers had captured on the roads, were brought to Częstochowa and concentrated in the German barracks.

The plight of these poor refugees was a great, with hunger and illness prevailing amongst them. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, Professor Brandlewicz, with two Jewish doctors from this same group, and I, came to Neufeld's establishment and asked for medicines. Upon hearing the situation, Maurycy Neufeld at once went to the German military commissioner and requested the necessary medications. With much effort, he was able to obtain a bit of cotton wool, bandages, iodine, and a few thermometers.


The first Polish mayor to be appointed by the German military was the ethnic–German H. Belcke [?], the owner of a small technical appliances shop. Maurycy Neufeld once requested an “audience” with this mayor. The respectable Częstochowa burgher was forced to wait for two hours to be “admitted” to the “newly–baked” mayor. The visit lasted for only two minutes and he emerged with a face reddened by anger and humiliation.


As is known, the Polish population aided the Germans extensively in oppressing the Jews. It was decided to send a Jewish delegation to Bishop Kubina so that he should convince the Poles to cease. The majority of the Jewish public figures had by then already left Częstochowa and I was sent to M. Neufeld to ask him to lead the delegation. He was then an already utterly broken man and he almost begged to be freed of this mission, saying, “It would be better if you sent me to the Germans instead. To the henchmen I will go, with them I will speak as with our enemies, but not to the criminals, the false Poles, for whom I've done so much in my life”, but he went nevertheless!

In the first days of the Second World War, M. Neufeld headed a committee to create the means to maintain the Jewish Hospital.

In November 1939, some members of the Kehilla Council, together with the Rabbis Klajnplac and Grinfeld, were taken as hostages, until a stipulated contribution was paid. After eleven days of imprisonment in the jail in Zawodzie, the hostages were transferred to the square at the old Catholic cemetery on ulica [Orlicz–] Dreszera, where a few dozen prisoners already sat, including Neufeld. Not looking at his advanced age – he was then over eighty – he was a model, with his proud bearing. When they wished to release him the first, he on no account agreed to be “privileged” and he waited until all the hostages had been freed.

(He lived and suffered together with all the Jews for three years. When he died, his daughter, the renowned musician Mrs Kopecka, was at his bedside. His funeral was held on the first day of Rosh Hashanah 1942. May his soul be entwined in the thread of life!)

[Page 702]

Dr Józef Russ

The Book Committee

Dr Józef Russ, the son of the well–known Częstochowa resident Reb Isser Russ, died in Częstochowa in very old age.

The deceased was one of the first Jewish doctors in town. He practiced in Częstochowa for around sixty years. He had studied in cheders in his youth and he always mentioned his old melamdim.

A very large crowd attended his funeral and Dr Arnold Bram eulogised him by the open grave. He spoke of his conduct in general and particularly of his treatment of underprivileged patients.

Dr Ludwig Batawja

The Book Committee

After finishing high school in Częstochowa and studying medicine at the University of Warsaw, he trained abroad and became a specialist in laryngology.

From 1939, Dr Batawja was the Director and Head Doctor of the Jewish Hospital. He was Prezes of “Dobroczynność” [Charity] and of the scientific division of the Physicians Union, a member of the Combatants union and of many other communal and scientific organisations.

He died at the age of 68.

A very large crowd attended his funeral. The children of the orphanage walked before his coffin and Dr Bram eulogised him warmly.

[Page 703]

Engineer Assoro–Dobraj


He was one of the first headmasters and reformists of the Crafts School in Częstochowa.

Details on his achievements in this field are to be found in our book in the articles pertaining to that school.

Reb Icyk Menachem [Mendel] Epsztajn hy”d

The Book Committee

He was born in Wolbrom to Leibisz Józef and Sura Ettel (née Roterman). He married Frajdla Hinda, the daughter of Abram Zilbersztajn, a diamond dealer, and opened a wine–shop on Old Market Square 14.

Despite his many business preoccupations, he also devoted himself to public affairs. He contributed significant amounts of money to the establishment of the Jewish high school and was chosen as a member of the “Parents' Committee”. Being a religious Jew, he acted extensively for the “Hachnoses Orchim” Society on ulica Garncarska and the mikvah for purification [of utensils] on ulica Garibaldiego. On its 25th anniversary, the institution presented him with an award, he having been its president for many years. He was also among the founders of “Beis Lechem” and its president, and was also active for “Linas Ha'Tzedek” and “Dobroczynność”.

(On Simchas Torah (4th October 1942), the Nazis took him from the “Hachnoses Orchim” premises to a “selection” on ulica Nadrzeczna and, together with his wife, he was sent to Treblinka. Of their six children, Gustaw died of natural causes and three sons were killed: Jakób and Majer Dawid in Częstochowa, and Nachum at the Dora [–Mittelbau] Concentration Camp. The daughters remained alive: Ester Epsztajn, a lawyer, and Tamara.)

[Pages 703-704]

Chaim Wajnsztok hy”d

The Book Committee

He was born in 1881 in Pilica, near Zawiercie. In his childhood, his parents came to live in Częstochowa. He was very well–known in town, especially among the middle class.

In the Russian–Japanese war of 1904, he served in the Russian army as a Second Lieutenant. Upon his return from Japanese captivity, he entered the confectionery business and, at the same time, organised the Retailers' Union.

Over the course of time, he was chosen Chairman of this union. He was also a member of its centre in Warsaw. He served, among other things, both as a member of the Kehilla Council and of the Częstochowa City Council. He was also on the list of candidates to the Polish Sejm, a member of the Zionist Organisation's Central Committee in Poland and one of the activists of its branch in our city.

(During the Second World War, he organised and managed a soup kitchen on ulica Nadrzeczna, at the “court” of the Rebbe of Żarki, until the Jewish population was annihilated in 1942.

In one of the “operations”, he was taken to a concentration camp and perished in the Holocaust.)

[Page 704]

Abram Działowski





He was a devoted activist in the Craftsmen's Union, and its Vice–Prezes.

This same gaiters–maker, from a small village near Częstochowa, already in his youth was an important member of the Social–Democratic Workers Party and was even sent, for a certain time, to the far regions of Tsarist Russia.

He represented the craftsmen on the Kehilla Council and also worked very actively for the Craftsmen's Union, especially during the elections to the Polish Sejm, as well as to local communal institutions. He also devoted much time and strength to the co–operative movement of the Jewish craftsmen.

He had the “luck” to die of natural causes but, with his sudden demise, the organised Jewish craftsmen of Częstochowa lost a loyal activist.

[Page 705]

Dawid Filipowicz





Dawid Filipowicz, a community activist, actively represented the interests of members within their unions, such as the Merchants' Union and other institutions.

His main role was as Vice–Prezes of the Retailers' Union and also as its representative in the Jewish Kehilla.

For many years, he served as Secretary of Poalei Zion – Right.

Józef Goldberg





He was the representative of the Jewish barbers in the Craftsmen's Union. He grew together with his work in the union, earning an important political career.

For many years, Goldberg was Vice–Prezes of the union and, together with Dr Gajsler, was the representative of the craftsmen on the City Council, where he always strived to improve the Jewish craftsman's conditions. Goldberg was also the most active participant in the organisation of the craftsmen's guilds and their cooperative movement.

(Miraculously, he survived the horrors of the Second World War and travelled to his brother in Canada, where he died in 1962. Blessed be his memory!)

[Pages 706-707]

Salomea Sztarke hy”d

The Book Committee

She was a diligent and devoted figure in the field of social work in Częstochowa.

The deceased gave all her time and energy to the Mina Werde Aged Care Home and Orphanage. For a period of very twenty years, she was literally the “mother” of these wonderful institutions. She saw both to their current and future needs, collecting donations to build an additional floor to the orphanage, in which to accommodate more elders and children.

The Kehilla Council and the “Dobroczynność” Society greatly appreciated her actions and marked this at a public meeting, which was dedicated to her name and honour, although Mrs Sztarke herself always avoided honours or anything similar.

The City Council also allotted a monthly subsidy of 2000 złotych, from the municipal budget, in recognition of the institution's importance and the manager's devotedness.

(She perished in the Holocaust, together with “her old folks” and “her children”, may God avenge their blood!)


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