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Parnassim, Benefactors and Public Figures

Aside from Chassidim, studious people, there were benefactors who lived in Kielce who donated a portion of their wealth for the benefit of the public. I will mention the most famous of these here, those whose names were known beyond the bounds of Kielce and were known throughout the country of Poland. And also some of the simple householders, benefactors who were involved in public life, who serve as examples of the average Jew of Kielce.

Rabbi Mosze Pffefer Z”L

Rabbi Mosze Pffefer was in his actions and deeds an outstanding man among his fellow citizens. He stood at the first line in the Kielce congregation with his wealth, with his multi-faceted personality and with his endeavors, at the initial foundation of the of the community the man got up and gave a tremendous push to its growth and development.

He was not an industrialist, but still did much to improve the economic situation of the Jews of Kielce. As a contractor, lumber merchant, owner of the “Nichczyc” estate, he employed Jews from his community in all of his businesses.

This man is worthy of expanding upon also to perpetuate his memory for the coming generations.

Rabbi Mosze Pffefer was a personality which is hard to find today, even among the leaders who have ambitions of standing at the head of the nation. In him, in this exemplary man, Torah and greatness were combined in one place. He aroused respect with his external appearance, his facial expression and the assertiveness of his opinions. Nobility shone from his eyes and his manner of speech. His gestures and manners were those of an aristocrat born and bred. He dressed as one of the Chassidim – and a special charm flowed over his clothing, which gave him additional glory and grandeur.

He had a talent for speaking. He spoke the Polish language fluently and spoke it like one of the Polish nobility; he also spoke fluent Russian. Every opportunity showed him to be a gifted public speaker.

A Jew, who had not studied in school, all of whose education had been received in “cheders” and the study hall, was wise enough during his life not only to amass a great deal of wealth, that was estimated at half a million rubles, a tremendous amount in those days, but also to acquire himself an education to a degree well known, to learn the national languages, which allowed him to appear in polished speeches in public places in front of high level personages.

The Jews, the inhabitants of Kielce, respected him and admired him not only because his home was wide open to anyone needy, or for the donations he scattered about for the general good, but mainly because he was the glory of the congregation. The community glorified in him. It was an honor to the community to be led by such a superior man. Mosze Pffefer, this name was a symbol of nobility, honor and generosity.

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When he started out, he was a contractor, supplied building materials for the building of the Warsaw-Vienna railway line. After that, when he had acquired some capital, he became a lumber merchant. Finally he also bought a large estate “Nichczyc”.

Due to his large business he came into contact with the Polish nobility and also with the district authorities, and in these circles he was respected and taken seriously. The authorities appointed him as a member of the district council.

In his business negotiations he kept his word; his mouth and heart were as one; his spirit was upright without any mental crookedness, without the slyness of peddlers, without hidden agendas, his Jewish mind, mixed with the traditional attitude of respect for the “Poretz”, was attractive to the “Portzim”, the estate owners who included him in their company.

His attitude towards his fellow Jews was devoted and loyal, he was involved with them, participated in their joys and mourning. The masses of Jews considered him their patron, their protector, who had the power to avert an evil decree the authorities were plotting to send against them. And in general, they said of him: “Mosze Pffefer is close to royalty”. And indeed he was active and did much for the benefit of the members of his community. First of all, many families, inhabitants of Kielce, found their livelihood with him. Some of them as clerks and some of them as supervisors in his many businesses. Because of him, the number of Jews in his city grew larger. In his household, “melameds”, teachers, artisans and many of his impoverished relatives whom he supported with regular allowances found work.

Mosze Pffefer was an outstanding type of those Jews, the wealthy, the leaders, who lived in previous generations and used their wealth not only for their own good, but also for the good of their fellows. And it was they who stood by their brethren in the dark days and enabled them to withstand their poverty and trials. Although there were meager, under-funded philanthropic societies like “Bikur Cholim” [Visiting the Sick], “Hachnasat Kalah” [Welcoming the Bride] and others whose entire existence depended upon a miracle and whose aid to those failing among the community was like nothing at all. Wide ranging social aid was not on their agendas nor was it possible.

In those days, the wealthy man was like a solid dike, towards whom all eyes were turned. Also within the home of Rabbi Mosze Pffefer his generous wife Ester'l, may she rest in peace, gave help to all those who turned to her.

However, the generosity of Reb' Mosze Pffefer's heart was not satisfied with petty philanthropy. He had his eye on great endeavors, whose value would not just be for moment, but for generations to come. He saw that the Kielce community was developing and growing and did not have a public synagogue. The members crowded into private apartments, in “shtiblach”, or in the study hall, a low building that was about to collapse of age. Pffefer arose and build upon the community lot a splendid synagogue that would do honor to himself and his community.

The authorities, headed by the district governor, were invited to the ceremony of setting the cornerstone. On this festive occasion, Pffefer gave a speech in Russian. The ceremony made a great impression upon all of those gathered, and the honor of this benefactor went way up.

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On the day of the consecration the joy of the community members was very great. They saw before them a minor temple built with much splendor. An iron fence surrounded it with stone steps by the entrance. The inner organization gave the building an atmosphere of holiness. Everyone who entered was surrounded with a sense of mystery. A sense of awe and feelings of holiness were awakened in him.

Also at this opportunity Pffefer gave a speech in Russian, in the presence of the authorities. In his speech he quoted the words of King Solomon, who spoke before the congregation of Israel on the day of the consecration of the temple. He emphasized in his speech that in this minor temple they would pray for the welfare of the rulers and for the welfare of the country, for that is the commandment from our prophets, and we observe their edicts. From the day we were exiled from our country and were scattered among the nations of the world, we pray for the welfare of the rulers and ask for the good of the country, for peace for them – is peace for us as well. He continued and said: “This synagogue will be open before all people, to Jews and to non-Jews, for one God created us and all of us – our eyes turn to him in our prayers.”

This speech aroused great applause from the entire audience. The district governor shook the speaker's hand and expressed his thanks to him in the name of the government for his generosity.

The Jews, full of joy, returned to their homes, convinced that their community had been elevated by the endeavor of this philanthropist.

Meanwhile, new times came. A new generation arose. New streams conquered the hearts and minds of the young people; and they not only did not give proper respect to this generous man who was elevated above others, but they began to mock him and put down the value of his activities.

The fifth year of the 20th century arrived. The liberation movement, which had made waves throughout mighty Russia, also did not pass over Kielce. Parties and factions arose, and they removed the champions of the people from their elevated positions.

The new generation, Zionists as well as all sorts of Socialists, began to treat people like Mosze Pffefer with scorn and indifference. The early ones called him a “Ma Yafit'nik” for the way he groveled before the “Poretz” and before whoever held authority. The national renewal movement demanded that everyone, first of all, have an erect posture, a recognition of self-value, courage and forthrightness in demanding human rights. Groveling, a justified request that is framed in the language of begging, in weak language, in a low tone, all these attributes of exile were hated by the nationalists.

Mosze Pffefer, who in their eyes was an outstanding example of the older generation, appeared lowly to them, wholly lacking in respect. And on the other hand, the leftists, the revolutionaries, saw him as the representative of the class they hated and fought against, whose time had past and which needed to make way for the working class, and therefore it is a commandment to beat it into the ground.

In order to describe the relationships that formed at this time between the activist elements in the Kielce public and Mosze Pffefer, I will mention on episode here that will show us very clearly the revolution that took place then in the minds and hearts of the younger generation which was educated by the influences of the Zionists and the socialists and which adopted their slogans.

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In the elections to the second Duma [Russian parliament] in 1907, the election battle in Polish society was conducted between two large parties, the Endeks (Nationalist Democrats) and the Progressive Polish Party. The first used anti-Semitic slogans, and had great influence upon the Polish masses, for the Catholic clergy supported this party.

The second had not yet been swept away by the anti-Semitic current and in order to increase its strength, when it went out to campaign, it wanted to draw the Jews into its ranks.

These two Polish parties conducted their election campaigns in Kielce as well. Kielce was a bastion of anti-Semitism. The Endeks found fertile ground for their activities there. The Progressives made up only a small minority. The most notable members of the Progressives were Papiwski, a dentist; Artwinski, a pharmacist; Riger, editor of the newspaper “Echo Kielcka”; and a few others, representatives of the workers party PPS who were simultaneously representatives of the Kielce Progress. With their meager forces they could not go out to do battle against a strong party like the N.D. party, which held most of Poland in the palm of its hand, therefore they turned to the Jews, who also had no chance of winning, with a proposal of campaigning together, united and integrated into a single election list. The mediators between the Polish Jews and Progressives were the assimilated Jews.

An early meeting of voters was called in the hall of the “Achiezer” society that was next to the synagogue, for purposes of public relations and propaganda among the Jewish population. The main goal of the meeting was explaining the topic of the elections to the Jews and to emphasize the advantage that would accrue to the Jews from the cooperation with the Progressive Poles.

Representatives of the Progressive Party were also invited to this meeting. The initiator of the meeting was Mosze Pffefer, who opened it and suggested electing the lawyer Majzel as chairman of the meeting, an extremely assimilated man. (By the way, it must be noted here that this Majzel converted out of Judaism before his death).

Immediately voices of protest were heard from among the audience: “We don't want an assimilated chairman who is distanced from the Jews and their affairs”.

Pffefer was astounded at what his ears were hearing. How many efforts had he invested until he was able to bring this lawyer to a meeting of Jews; the presence of Poles at this meeting was what moved him to come and participate in it; also, the opportunity to be a candidate for a delegate to the Russian Duma tempted his sense of importance and he agreed to honor the meeting with his presence; and suddenly he sees, that in the eyes of the Jews who usually prostrated themselves before him when they came into his office, he was now of little value and not worthy of the respect that even the Poles, in their meetings, did not withhold from him.

Furious from the insult, that the wearers of long “kapotes” [the long Chassidic coats] dared to throw at him in the presence of the Poles, he grabbed his hat and prepared to leave saying: “Apparently I am not wanted here, this is not my place.”

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But Pffefer and the Poles stopped him, calmed him down by saying that most of the audience admire and respect him, and the calls had come from some insolent young men whom the Zionists had confused with chauvinist ideas.

After the voices were quieted, Pffefer gave a fiery speech against those who had disrupted the meeting. He said: “The Jewish meetings were always notable for lack of order, yells and disagreements until they became a fable and a paradigm: 'Jewish Meeting' was a symbol of argument and chaos. However new times have arrived. We the Jews have also received the right to vote from the government. The duty, therefore, is for us to demonstrate to the nations and the ministers that we are worthy of these rights. First of all,” he continued, “I demand manners from you, I invited this guest to this meeting, the respected and admired “Mecnas” who is a glory to our city, and all its inhabitants without any difference in religion hold his name dear. He is my personal guest in my apartment, and I demand that you elect him to the chairman of this meeting, for whatever the 'ba'alhabayit' [owner of the house] tells you to do – you do! I am putting this matter to a vote: whoever wants Mr. Majzel to be chairman, raise his hand.”

Of course, after a speech like that, the assimilated man received an absolute majority.

Consoled by Pffefer's speech and the results of the vote, Majzel was willing to receive this honor from the audience and agreed to lead the meeting. When he took his place, he began to express, as is customary, words of thanks to the audience for the honor they did him. However he was not able to finish his opening words – he was immediately stopped by new voices, more energetic cries than the earlier ones: “Yiddish! Speak Yiddish! This is a Jewish meeting!”

These calls made the chairman very embarrassed and he turned reprovingly to Pffefer for giving him such a burden that he could not bear. Drops of perspiration appeared on his brow and rolled down his face. His expression showed shame. He was at a loss, didn't know how to get out of this uncomfortable situation. He was especially ashamed in front of the Poles, who were participating in this meeting.

However the Poles understood more of this matter than the assimilated Jews. To the Poles, the demand was a legitimate one. At a Jewish meeting the speakers must speak in a language that is understood by the audience. One of them, Riger, the newspaper editor, got up and declared that he also supports this demand that the speeches be in the Jewish language.

The chairman then announced that he relinquishes the honor and is leaving the running of the meeting for the simple reason that he doesn't know the “Jargon”. It was a mistake on the part of the audience who elected him, and a mistake on his part for accepting the role of chairman in a meeting so entirely foreign to his spirit.

Pffefer tried to quiet things down. He again took the floor and declared: “We are Poles of the faith of Moses, and the Polish language is our language, and we must use it in public gatherings.” Such words, coming from the mouth of a Chassidic Jew, who had also not compromised on the kippa and did not sit with his head uncovered, stirred things up even more.

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Only after a compromise decision was reached which stated that every person was given permission to speak in a language that was comfortable and desirable to him and according to the demands of one of the audience that words that are not comprehensible to him must be translated into a language he understands, did the voices quiet down.

The chairman ran the meeting for only a short time. He saw and was confronted with how lowly and scorned was the glorious Mecnas in the eyes of the new generation, which was meeting him for the first time in its life; he could not take the assaults and frequent attacks and the disgraceful names that were the lot of those of the speakers who were assimilated.

After a short time, Majzel left the meeting, and Pffefer conducted it to the end. Jews spoke, Poles spoke. There were no more interruptions, there were no more obstructions, finally a combined committee, Polish-Jewish, was elected to tend to the elections and to conduct propaganda among the population.

Majzel who left this meeting shame-faced and depressed, wanted to restore his dignity, which, from now on, was in danger, he got up and publicized an announcement in the local Polish press that he was retiring entirely from the matter of the elections. The Endeks who wanted to increase their strength put him on their list, believing that he would draw the votes of the Jews in their favor.

The propaganda on both sides was conducted with great energy. On the Jewish street the young people were active with great enthusiasm. Chassidim, assimilated Jews, Zionists and Socialists united in order to defeat the Endeks. In these elections the members of the Hassenbajn family, the father and his son the lawyer demonstrated especially great activism, they devoted themselves wholeheartedly to running the campaign, did not spare effort or money on the elections. They sent special messengers to small villages to bring the Jewish voters to the district capital where the elections took place.

It was very difficult to arouse the village Jew, preoccupied with his own affairs, to treat the matter of the election with anything other than indifference, and he wanted to first of all know what good would come to him from the matter, and if it was worth the expenditure and traveling to the district capital, where the balloting was. And in general, a fear to stick one's head into a dark place, to interfere in a matter that one didn't understand. It took a lot of effort and bribes of money for such a Jew to agree to travel to the city in a farmer's cart to fulfil his civic duty. In spite of all the great labor that the Jews of Kielce invested in these elections, the Endeks won. The Polish Progress was limited in those days to a narrow circle of intellectuals, and their connection with the Jews was to their detriment. By doing so they distanced from their camp also the classes, which were close to them in spirit like the laboring classes. The hand of the Jew in the middle – ruined their list in the eyes of every Pole.

After these elections, Mosze Pffefer saw himself as humiliated and removed from the height of his position and his greatness not only in the eyes of the Poles, who began demonstrating their anti-Semitism and their scorn towards the community leaders, but also in the eyes of the Jews; he had especially lost his appeal with the younger generation. Pffefer's faith in his method, the method of concealment, the method of the assimilated Jews who called themselves “Poles of the Mosaic faith” was weakened.

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He attempted to salvage his standing in the Kielce community. In his desire to demonstrate to the members of his community that he too was aware of the spirit of the times and that nationalism also had a place in his heart, he invited the writer of these lines to teach the son of his old age, Jeszaja, Hebrew language and grammar. This step was supposed to be a sign that he was no longer ignoring the demands of the times.

However, rage leapt upon him from another place, and he could not dwell in Kielce in peace.

As mentioned earlier, Pffefer built the synagogue upon the community lot, and here a creditor found a place to demand his debt.

Between Pffefer and Reb' Mosze Chaim Kaminer there was constant opposition. The reasons for their conflict were varied. Some of them personal and some of them public and some of them due to the hunger for power over the Jewish population of Kielce. The question: “who was ahead?” injected venom between them. In any case, this was not a difference for the sake of heaven.

Kaminer, who was then at the head of the community, brought a legal suit against Pffefer for building the synagogue, which was his private property, upon a public lot and demanded to clear the lot or turn the synagogue over to the community.

The disagreement ignited and had an effect upon the Kielce public as well. The congregation divided into two camps. Each one of the rivals had his own side. Kaminer and his faction looked for any opportunity for excuses to besmirch their rival justifiably or not.

Finally Pffefer grew tired of the squabbling and arguments, which were destabilizing the community, and he decided to leave Kielce. A few years before the outbreak of World War I, he moved to Warsaw.

The matter of the synagogue was settled in favor of the community. The entire building was given over to the congregation on the condition that a part of its income be dedicated to supporting the impoverished relatives of Reb' Mosze Pffefer. Berisz Pffefer, an old man, one of his relatives, came to function as a second “gabbai” of the synagogue with a regular salary.

In Warsaw, Pffefer retired into his own private affairs and we didn't hear about any public activity on his part.

However, at the end of World War I, the name of Mosze Pffefer came up again in the area of political activism; not in the area of Jewish activism, but in broader areas. He entered the royal council as a delegate.

At the end of the war, the Germans seeing that the cycle of battles was not going in their favor, attempted to draw to their side the minorities, which had previously been subjugated to Russia and during the war were under German occupation. To do this, they granted them autonomy and self rule. For the Poles they created a “National Council” whose members were not elected by the people, but appointed by the German authorities according to the lists that they were given by the gatherings of estate owners and by the municipal magistrates of the large cities.

The task of the “National Council” was to conduct the internal affairs of the state.

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A number of Jews also entered this council. Pffefer also became a member of this council for the estate owners wanted to demonstrate their liberalism and decorated their list also with one Jew and they chose Pffefer, who owned an estate and was worthy of receiving a mandate.

In the deliberations of the council, Pffefer once requested the floor regarding an important matter that was then on the agenda. At the start of his words, he apologized and asked forgiveness for allowing himself to express an opinion about a matter of importance to the country in spite of his being a Jew.

His manner of speech and his prostration before the Gentiles in this legislative institution aroused strong protests from his Jewish friends, who saw an insult to themselves in these stammering and defeatist words of a so-called representative of the Jews.

Noach Prylucki, the representative of the Jews of Warsaw, stopped the speaker with a call of protest and requested the chairman to remind Pffefer, that all the members of the council are equal in rights and one must not apologize for the expression of an opinion about any subject.

The attitude of scorn and disdain of the Jewish delegates towards Pffefer embittered his spirit and removed from him the courage to express his opinion and finish his speech.

In addition to this insult that he garnered in the legislative house, an unpleasant surprise awaited him in the street as well. The Jews, who heard his words in the gallery, went out to the street to wait for Pffefer, and when he left they assaulted him calling “Ma Yafit'nik” and “Buz” [Shame]. Hurriedly, he hid in a carriage that was waiting him in front of the legislative house and left the place.

This insult depressed him very much. He took ill from the surfeit of sorrow and did not recover from his illness.

His death did not arouse any echo in the Diaspora of Israel. However, the Jews of Kielce mourned his death. In their eyes, Reb' Mosze Pffefer remained an outstanding man who had with his actions and endeavors given a tremendous push to the rapid growth of their community and left himself a memorial due to the splendid synagogue he built for it.

The Zagajski Family

The Zagajski family belonged to the benefactors of the city who earned a special reputation, who have already been mentioned on earlier pages of this book, and therefore I will not expand upon them here. I will mention only the charitable and merciful endeavors that members of this family founded and which were a glory and honor to the Zagajski family and the Kielce community.

One. An old age home, a charitable institution, which was a blessing for elderly people with no one to care for them.
Two. A building for the orphanage in which abandoned orphans found shelter, education and care and which had existed previously in a rented apartment which was not appropriate for such an institution.
Three. Three.A study hall for the inhabitants of the city – Hawser Square and its surroundings, a place for prayer and Torah.
Four. A road to the Jewish cemetery so that those accompanying the deceased would not sink into the mud during the rainy season.

These were the notable activities of the members of this family, aside from their daily acts of charity and kindness.

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Many other Jews from Kielce excelled in acts of charity and kindness, and it is not possible to list them all; we will mention below several of them who stood out in public life.

GIMPEL MOSZKOWICZ,an ultra-orthodox Jew from those close to the Admo”r of Radomsko, owner of a large business selling flour and very generous with charitable and public needs.

His son AHARON JOSEF MOSZKOWICZ,one of the Zionist activists, member of the Kielce municipality on their behalf, active in many charity societies such as “Linat HaTzedek”, the orphanage and others.

MORDECHAI DAWID KRYSTAL,owner of a factory for wooden flooring, a Chassid who was a well educated benefactor to the public good. His son, Wolf, was a well-known musician in Poland.

His son-in-law AHARON GRANDAPEL,one of the leaders of the Zionists in Kielce, moved to Israel after the war and died here.

MEJER AJZENBERG,the son of Reb' Josele Ajzenberg (Kaczka), a public activist, was especially devoted to the Talmud Torah and the orthodox schools as well as to the mikveh [ritual bath] and public bath in which he invested much of his money and labor for the good of the public.

The brothers ICAK AND JOEL KLAJNMAN,owners of sawmills for lumber and lumber expert, philanthropic Jews who donated generously to public needs and charity.

JOSZKE (JAKOB JOSEF) ROTENBERG,son of the rabbi of Wodzislaw, an authority and arbiter, owner of a wholesale business for kerosene and representative of international fuel companies, a man with a good heart and very generous, a host in the style of Grandfather Israel.

His son MOSZE ROTENBERG,who inherited his devotion to public causes from his father. Regarding his activities in Israel and outside of it we have already made mention in earlier chapters. Arrived with his family in Israel and died here. Also Joszke's daughter, Hena Mincberg and his grandchildren from his son Jehuda who died during the war in Russia, moved and settled in Israel.

JAKOB SZAJNFELD,son of Reb' Jechiel was also a wholesale kerosene merchant, of the benefactors of the city. Two of his sons, Szalom and Aharon moved to Israel before the war and settled there.

JOSEL FRIDMAN,owner of flourmills, of the leading citizens of the city, donated to every charity and public need most generously.

PALTIEL FIRSTENBERG had a large family, known for his public and social activity. One of his sons, a doctor, and his daughter, are in Israel.

SZEFTEL TAUMAN,son-in-law of Jakob Zagajski, great-grandson of the Admo”r of Kock, an educated and well-read Jew, with a sensitive soul and spirit, participated in all of the charitable endeavors of the Zagajski family.

LEON RAJZMAN,owner of a factory for flooring, one of the important benefactors and philanthropists in the city.

MENDEL LIFSZYCZ,from a well-known Chassidic family, owned stone quarries and lime kilns, one of the founders of “Linat HaTzedek”, active in many of the charitable and helping institutions.

DAWID LEWARTOWSKI,one of the important Chassidim of the Admo”r of Checiny, son of a good family and an arbiter, excellent prayer leader, with a warm Jewish heart, he and his wife Chana-Sara excelled in giving charity in secret. He dealt in wholesale commerce in kerosene, pickles and salt. The father of Szmuel Lewartowski and the father-in-law of Icak Kirszenbaum, about whom we spoke in earlier chapters.

kie197.jpg [31 KB] At the consecration of the 'Home for the Aged'
At the consecration of the “Home for the Aged”,
donated by the Zagajski family

Among those present: In the first now: Z. Kluska, B. Lew, the rabbinical judge Reb' C. Grinszpan, Rabbi Rapaport, Rabbi L. Twerski, C. Zagajski, Waldberg; I. Kirszenbaum.
In the second row: H. Goldberg, W. Wajnryb, Icak Klajnman, N. Ostrowicz, M.D. Ajzenberg, Ch. Zagajski; J. Paserman; A.J. Moskowicz, A. Ehrlich.
In the third row: B. Sokolowski, Jechiel Zagajski, and M. Kaufman

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PINCHAS ZAJDE,a textile wholesaler, benefactor and active in all the public institutions. His son Mejer was an active Zionist. His younger son Jehuda – one of the leaders of “Poalei Zion” (left) in Kielce, his daughter Fajga (Fajngold) was a devoted Zionist, his second daughter, Manja, a dentist, lives in Israel.

SZMUEL ABA BALICKI,owner of a textile business, active member of the public and charity institutions. His daughter Casza (Zilber-Ewen) is in Israel.

The brothers MORDECHAI AND SZMARJA MACHTYNGER,lumber merchants, men of excellent characters and fine qualities. Szmarja moved to Israel before the war and built several houses in Tel-Aviv. The son of Mordechai, IZRAEL MACHTYNGER fell in the battle for Gaza in 5717 [1957].

AWRAHAM FINKELSZTAJN,one of the important Zionists in the city, a generous man, comfortable with people and active in many social societies.

ELIEZER TAUMAN,the son-in-law of Eli' Naftali Ajzenberg, owner of a large textile business, one of the respected citizens of the city, donated generously to all of the charitable and social institutions. His son Josef moved to Israel before the war and serves in the navy as an engineer with the rank of major, and is also an assistant-lecturer at the Technion in Haifa.

kie198.jpg [6 KB] Zyskind Herman
Zyskind Herman

ZYSKIND HERMAN, a native of Warsaw, son-in-law of Lajbel and Malka Lea Goldszmid, a Torah scholar with a sharp mind, one of the great textile merchants, manufacturer and owner of a private financial institution, member of the committee of the merchants association and the supervising committee of the Jewish Gymnasium, one of the founders of the Charity Fund to aid the little man, the peddler and the artisan. He visited the land of Israel with his wife Szewa (Batszewa); they bought a house in Tel-Aviv and were getting ready to settle here. They had to travel to Poland and were stuck there when the war broke out. His sons received a Zionist education, studied at the Hebrew Gymnasium in Kielce and continued later at universities abroad. Today they are in Tel-Aviv and work in academic professions: Dr. Awraham Herman, a pediatrician, Jechiel Herman, a lawyer and Dr. Jakob Herman, a gynecologist.

Pinchas Zloto

Among the inhabitants of Kielce who influenced the form of its Jewish life the figure of Reb' Pinchas Zloto stands out.

A native of Wygoda, Kielce District (his father - an estate owner, a descendant of Rabbi Yom-Tow Lipman Heller, author of the “Tosfot Yom-Tov”), in his youth, Reb' Pinchas moved to Suchedniow, near Kielce. Here he worked in trading kerosene and lumber and crowded into the shade of the Admo”r of Suchedniow, Rabbi Elimelech Rabinowicz, ZTZ”L. During the period of World War I he moved to Kielce together with his rebbe. Here he found himself fertile ground for developing economic initiative. First he worked manufacturing whitewash, later as a representative of beverage companies, and finally as one of the directors of a cooperative credit institution.

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The father of a large family (2 daughters and 8 sons) he gave his children a traditional-nationalist education. While he was one of the well-to-do citizens of the city, Reb' Pinchas ran away from honor. He wasn't an active Zionist worker, but his heart and pocket were open to the needs of the Zionist movement, Hebrew culture and the settlement of the land of Israel. It was natural that his son Mejer was one of the outstanding public activists in the city, one of the founders of the Hebrew Gymnasium and more, his son Natan, one of the first young people from Kielce who moved to the land of Israel in 1920 and put down roots there (today, one of the respected citizens of Nes-Ziona), his son Hilel, one of the loyal members of the Union in Tel-Aviv, his son-in-law – Jehuda Kopf – one of the founders of the Revisionist movement in Kielce (today – in Tel-Aviv, a jurist, secretary of the civil branch of the district court).

kie199.jpg [10 KB] Pinchas Zloto
Pinchas Zloto

There was in him a nice combination of assertiveness and gentleness. The man was very strict, both towards himself and towards others. He was strict about physical cleanliness and spiritual purity, and on the other hand, there were not many like him who had pity upon others in distress and who gave charity in secret. He worked his whole life with Christian forest owners and manufacturers, but was not one of those whose stature bowed in the presence of the “Goy”. In his patriarchal figure, his assertive behavior, in his commercial honesty and even in the strict Polish accent – he aroused a feeling of respect in all who came into contact with him.

He made sure his daughters married sons of good families:
His first son-in-law – Rabbi Izrael Feferman, HY”D, was a well-known merchant in Kielce. His second son-in-law, Rabbi Awraham Aba Kopf HY”D, an arbiter, son of a Chassidic family, one of those close to the Admo”r of Modzicz, ZTZ”L. He was granted that his son Jehuda (see above) moved during his lifetime to the land of Israel and settled there.

Reb' Pinchas died during the period of the Shoah (1940), however he was granted a natural death and even a respectable funeral, one of the last in which the inhabitants of the city could give public expression to their sorrow.

May his memory be blessed.

Natan Dawid Zajfman

Many of the veteran inhabitants of Kielce remember the wonderful figure of Reb' Natan Dawid Zajfman, one of the first members of the community in the city. A good Jew, a quiet and modest man, gifted with exalted qualities, he enjoyed learning and working and helping others already in his youth. And even if he was not the wealthiest man, his home was open to anyone needy. This house was full of bubbling life, for there were many children in it and they had many friends from the most excellent families of the city.

Natan Dawid Zajfman owned a large shop for clothing, furs and textiles in the center of the city for 55 years.

[Page 200]

His name was well known as that of an upright man who kept to the tradition and was a loyal Chassid of the Rebbe of Radoszyce. He was a loyal friend to many charity and aid institutions, in which he was active. Towards the end of his life he was granted “nachas” [pleasure] from his sons and family members and was especially proud of his son Jakob who moved to the land of Israel with a group of immigrants from the “Shomer HaTza'ir” and was one of those who built Kibbutz Ein HaChoresh in the Chefer Valley where he still lives today.

kie200.jpg [10 KB] Natan Dawid Zajfman
Natan Dawid Zajfman

Of his other children, his son Mosze Zajfman was notable as a founder of “HaZamir” and “HaShomer” in Kielce, and he was seriously injured in the pogrom in 1918, he devoted much of his time to public activity as a member of the committee of the merchants association and the board of the Popular Bank in Kielce. In 1933, he immigrated to Paris and was very active as the chairman of the organization of Kielce natives in that city until his death in 1954.

His third son, Kalmen Zajfman, an agronomist by profession, excelled in rehabilitating the pioneer farms “Grochow” next to Warsaw, during the war, during the war this pioneer farm supplied vegetables to the Warsaw ghetto. At this post of his he fell together with the rest of the martyrs at the hands of the Nazi murderers, may their name be erased.

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