by Nechama GoldtsveigMendelevitch and Gittel GoldtsveigStavsky
Before our eyes there appears the image of a wonderful Jew, with a long, gray beard, dressed in a beautiful, pressed kapote (long coat). Burning eyes, filled with wisdom and all of the beautiful Jewish characteristics, which he had. Can this figure disappear from our eyes? This is indeed our beloved father.
He was born in Zshelichov, and married young, barely 19 years old. Later he moved from his birthplace to Kozienice with his entire family, and spent almost his whole lifetime there. Like the majority of our good Jews in Poland, he led a religious life. It's interesting to note, that in addition to his religious lifestyle, he was gifted with worldly culture; an exception among Jews of Poland at that time. He spoke and wrote fluent Polish. Our grandmother used to tell how her son learned the Polish language. Every morning, before leaving home to go to Heder, his mother would give him a few groschen, so he could buy himself something to eat. It seems that he didn't spend the money, but saved it, and at the end of the month he would pay a private tutor for teaching him how to speak and write Polish. From childhood on, it was noticeable that he was a child prodigy, and this proved to be the case.
The doors of the highest spheres were not closed to him, in order for him to carry out whatever he was determined to do. He was the secretary of the Jewish Community, a member of the magistrate, where he worked wholeheartedly for his Jewish brethren. He would advise people, give help to the needy and from these activities drew his greatest satisfaction. Jews and nonJews admired his worthwhile activity. Once when the President of Poland visited Kozienice, (his name was Ignacy Moshtzitzki) our father was chosen as chairman of the delegation that greeted the President.
by Meir Zaltzman, Montreal Translated From Yidish
From my place in the valley
My gaze heavenward sunken in thought,
Limeovens, many times
I thought I see.
Set up by devils hands,
In order to rule the world,
And once, it seems at eventide,
And the good Shloimele, the small one,
And from the clouds, like wool,
My father's will and testament:
by Shmuel Reisman, New York
When I was 3 years old I began to study in YisroelMendel's Heder. The Heder was on the street of the bathhouse, Brovarne, in a large uncompleted house, with low benches against the walls. R' Yisroel Mendele was an old, goodnatured Jew, who lived with his daughter, an old maid. With her loud and screechy voice, she helped him in his teaching duties. I remember, when one of my feet froze and I couldn't walk, the rebbe came and carried me on his shoulders to Heder My second teacher was Berele, short, sick Jew with a short scraggly beard, with a pair of broken eyeglasses, tied with a string to his ear. He lived n a small house, near the Maggid's synagogue. In this Heder, I began to learn the Five Books of Moses.
I remember how my mother, may she rest in peace, would come to the Heder with sweets for the Heder boys, and when I stood on the table, the rebbe (teacher) would ask: And what does a young boy learn? And I answered: Vayikrah (Leviticus, the 3rd of the Five Books of Moses). And what does Vayikrah mean? And he called. And so on and so forth, as was the custom in those days. The Heder's neighbor was Shachna, the scribe. When he would prepare the parchment, we would help him in his holy work, and for long hours sit and watch him write Torahs, Tephillin, and Mezuzos.
My Third Heder
The third Heder made a lasting and different impression on me, especially the rebbe, Baruch Shvartzberg, and his family. The difficulties of going to Heder, were unimaginable. We lived at the time in the Rebbe's old house, which stood on Brudne Alley. The Heder was on Koshtshelne, near the water pump. Near the pump, on the way to Heder, I had to pass Yechiel Koshkis' place. He had an angry rooster, who used to attack me daily, bite me and take away my piece of bread, which I used to carry with me. My mother, may she rest in peace, wanted to speak to the owner about tying up the rooster in order to make him harmless, but my father prevented it and said, Why start up with him and quarrel? He won't do it, anyway. Father advised me to go to Heder a different way, even though it was two blocks longer, but I wouldn't have the trouble with the rooster. And so it was. That became my way to go to Heder, until I was notified that the hen was slaughtered.
Learning in the Heder was no pleasure either! If you did something wrong, or you didn't know the lesson, he would punish with the rod on your bare backside. If you unfastened and lowered your trousers yourself, you were hit four times, but if the rebbe had to do it, he would add a few extra!?
For good behavior and diligence in learning, the rebbe would allow you to rock his child in the cradle in the darkened alcove, especially on Thursday, which was market day and the rebbe's wife, Feigele, was busy selling. The summer months had a special significance. The courtyard of the Heder was rife with flies from the surrounding buildings. Besides teaching, the rebbe had several other sources of income. On the High Holidays he would be the cantor in a nearby community. A month before he would already be busy preparing his voice and practicing the blowing of the shofar, and his wife ran the Heder like a tyrant. The other Heders weren't any different, or any better. The Heder, the kitchen and the bedrooms were in the same room, and more than once the rebbe would quarrel with members of his family, and for us it was a holiday. The rebbes knew nothing about pedagogy or childrearing. He who was a ne'erdowell at everything else, became a teacher. This was our education, and this was how we spent our best childhood years. More than once I wonder how from such an education, there grew up such fine young men, who took part in all of the political and community institutions on the Jewish Street. I Can Find No Answer!
by Elimelech Feigenbaum, RamatGan
The cripple, Berish Kronengold, as he was named, was the son of ChayaLeahtshe Kronengold. She had a manufacturing business on Radomer Street, and was the daughter of ChaimYakl and Rivke Rosen, manufacturing merchants on Radomer Street. She was left a widow with five children: three daughters and two sons. When her husband died, she was only 22 years old. One of her sons was the cripple, Berish, whose feet were paralysed. At age 3, he had contracted polio, and that's how he lived out his years. His hands served as feet.
I remember that when he was a small boy, and learned in Heder, we his relatives, would carry him on our shoulders to Heder. He would remain there all week, and for Shabbat we would bring him home. This is how it was during the winter, but during the summer he would move himself, without anyone's help. When he was fullgrown, he married a poor girl from Radom. Her name was Leah. She was from an impoverished family, and very primitive. She couldn't speak Polish, and of course, couldn't write. He divorced her and married a second wife, but they never had any children.
He was truly a scholar, who knew several languages. He taught himself Polish and German, and was the Chairman of the Zionist Org. People would consult with him on various matters. According to some, he became religious in his old age. The Nazi murderers did not give him any special consideration, and he was killed together with all of Kozienicer's Jews.
R' Motl Alter's was dressed like all Jews, in a long kapote, with Jewish headgear. He had a white beard and was a Jew filled with wisdom. He had a bake shop on Radomer Street. His son was the wellknown Shmuel Karpman, who had a beautiful, sweet voice, and was full of life. R' Motl was not foolish. He did not preach to anyone to mend their ways, even though he was a religious Jew, who went to pray three times a day. He understood the younger generation, read a newspaper, and understood world politics. You shouldn't forget that in my time in Kozienice, a newspaper was never brought into a religious home.
I remember an event that occurred in 1917. The Austrians occupied Kozienice. Suddenly Polish legionnaires, under the command of General Haller arrived. They were antisemites par excellence, and also hooligans. They would catch Jews and cut off their beards. R' Motl was caught by them, on his way to Warsaw, and half of his beard was shorn. He was depressed. He was ashamed to appear on the street. If they had taken away his entire fortune, it would not hurt him as much. He couldn't calm himself. My family lived in the same house. We were two brothers, young men.
Our parents were very strict. We weren't allowed out to meet boyfriends, much less girls. We would sit and learn constantly in the study house. R' Motl would say to my mother: Let the boys live, and go out for some fresh air. They're still young, and have plenty of time to learn. You have to understand the younger generation. Let them enjoy the world. It was a pleasure to speak to this Jew, because he was filled with humor and joie de vivre. Let us set up a memorial for our dear friend, his wife and two sons: Hershl and Shmuel and their families, whom the Nazi murderers killed together with all the Jews of Kozienice.
by Yissachar Lederman, Rio De Janeiro
I was tired of sitting at home. It was after the season. The trade in cloth shoes was slow. Merchants didn't go out to peddle leather shoes, it was still too early. Merchants would give long term notes, and traders would extract a percentage and so would Yonah Mintzberg at the bank, so that sometimes only half of the sum would remain. Other merchants would not accept the notes because of the long term.
It's Not Good
In short, it was not good. Wherever you turned you were faced with the same eternal dilemma, how to make a living? I wander at home amongst my wife and children. I hear the wife ask What are you doing at home? What will become of us? Go do something! Times are hard, maybe you'll meet a merchant who has come to buy shoes? Or maybe you should travel around or go to Lemberg?
In Yakl Ring's Shop
With clamped lips I drop in on Yakl Ring. Here I'm free. I meet acquaintances, Chaim Berman, Kalman Berman, Yitzhak Weinberg, Halputer, Yitzhak Milgrom, Bendler, Itshe Mandl and his brother, and a few others, whom poverty drives out of their homes. We talk about politics. Poland has become antisemitic. Grabski will impoverish the Jewish masses. Wages are too high, and the Jewish handworker and small merchant should only be able to pay. A discussion develops about the Bund speaker, who spoke out this past Shabbat against Zionism and Hebrew. I bury myself in a corner and listen to a Bundist, a shoemaker, rise against those who criticized the speaker. Unfortunately, the entire discussion doesn't interest me. I'm worried about making a living, which is more difficult than the splitting of the Red Sea. Times are bitter and winter is approaching. I move to Yakl's corner, where he sits bent over his table, with his nose almost touching the watch that he is working on. His small round beard rolls on the table, and from his creased forehead there sticks out his magnifying eyepiece, like a black chimney. With two fingers he manipulates a small fork. The table is overflowing so that a slight blowing would overturn everything. The shop is small and narrow. The people who stand around his table, or at the sides make it sticky and the small window which illuminates the shop and is part of the wooden door is overhung with a few oldfashioned watches. On the table are wheels, gears, covers, springs, crystals, etc. Everything thrown about and spread out. For Yakl every piece is a treasure. He watches with his eye in his head. We knew that we mustn't touch.
Be Happy, Jews!
Yakl's face can't be seen, but from time to time he hums a melody, for a passage which he alone made up and played on Purim at the Rebbe's feast. He lifts his head, smiles and says: Bundism, Zionism, Hebrew, Yiddish; everything is unimportant. Do you know what the best politics is? A good plate of noodle soup. My wife, may she enjoy long life with me, told me to come home a bit earlier. She's prepared a good meal for me. Let it be like Shabbes, a bad Shabbes but a good weekday.
Everyone starts to laugh. Yakl takes his fiddle from the wall, plays and sings the Purim song Shoshanas Yaakov. Be joyful, Jews! Hainan wanted to do away with us, and we hanged him. Be joyful, Jews! May the antisemites and Germans have a bitter end!
Yakl Ring knew his freewheelers, who worry about the world's problems, but in their own homes it's dark. A dried up potato with a piece of bread on a holiday therefore he cheered up the crowd with his fiddle. In the midst of his playing he remembered that his wife and five daughters are waiting for him at home. They do not go out for they are ashamed of their impoverished appearance. Even though the housework is minimal, his wife must do everything: repair or sew up a dress or a shirt, and prepare food for the children who are returning from school.
His Only Son Doesn't Want to Learn Watchmaking
His only son sits dispirited, because his father wants him to learn watchmaking and he has no desire to. What do I need it for, father? Can't I see how little you have been able to earn from it? He lifts his head from the table and looks at the small window. Outside stand young people, who do nothing and live it up: They eat, promenade, are nicely clothed, have pockets filled with money, and flirt with the young girls. You see, father, people have luck. Their children don't work and have everything.
Yakl Ring glances at his son Why are you looking there like a clay Golem, you fool. Do you envy them? Their fathers slave away. They don't sleep at night, runaround all day like poisoned mice in order to provide their wives and children with luxuries, and worry about dying too soon. Your father, my son, doesn't run, doesn't sweat, doesn't cheat with bankruptcy proceedings, and earns his piece of bread honorably. Better to look at the watch. You'll spoil it. It's time to learn the skill. Wherever life will drive you, you'll have a skill and not die from hunger. Work is a kingdom from which you don't have to depend on others.?
Noodles and Soup are More Important Than All
Even before Yakl finishes his lecture, his wife sticks in her head, and begins to shout: Again with your son, Yakl. Enough of a lecture. It's time to go home to eat something. Who knows how late it is already? You must surely be hungry!
Nu, what do you say about my wife? May she live to a ripe old age! Yakl licks his chops with joy. Surely, my wife, there'll be the Sabbath treat today: noodles and soup! He bends himself even closer to the table, gathers together the scattered watches and their parts and says to his son: Come home, since you don't give a damn for the watches anyway. Eating noodles and soup is more important than everything. If the stomach is full, the heart is overjoyed. A man is not an angel. You must eat in this world, Jews; only in this world! There, there is nothing! As long as the soul is within him, says the commentary. With a full stomach it's even good in the other world. Even there they respect a pot belly. Ask the rich, Shlomo Mintzberg, if he hungers? Or Moshele and his children if they hunger? Jews, go home, because even burnt soup is a treat. Your wives are waiting for you.
We laugh at his jokes and words of wisdom. We go home to our wives and children or to the small stores, where the wives sit and wait for buyers. In the evening, when Yakl Ring closes his shop, he runs up to R' Mintzberg, to hear what's new in town. Or he goes to the Folkist Club, entertains with his jokes and folksy words. That's how Yekl lived out his years as a happy pauper.
Yakl Marries Off His Oldest Daughter
He married his eldest daughter to Nuta, the wagon driver, the son of Lazar Bondol's, who considered it a fitting match. Yakl didn't give any dowry, not even the wedding expenses. After the wedding, the couple went to France. Later on they sent for the other daughters and son and brought them to France. If they survived Hitlerism, I don't know. Yakl Ring and his wife died before WWII, with a good name. May their names be eternalized in'our Yizkor Book!
Yechiel, better known as Yechiel Chaim Meir's, was born in Kozienice, where he lived all of his life. He got his education in Heder and the House of Study, like most young men at that time. And even so he spoke a fluent Polish, which came in handy in his public capacity. He was a tall, strong man with a serious countenance, a dark brown beard and clever blue eyes. He was married young to a daughter of a prominent family in Warsaw, SimchaItshe Reichman's, with whom he had six children: Mirl, Yekl Bruchale, Tsima Baruch and ChaimMeir. He was a religious, progressive person, and as such, he was elected chairman of the Jewish Community. He held this position for two terms. The Community had insufficient funds so that its activities were limited. In spite of this, Yechiel considered it a holy obligation to build a fence around the cemetery, which was outside the city, where hooligans would damage and deface the tombstones. As an only son, he inherited his parent's bakery, from which he made a living for his family. In Kozienice there were 12 Jewish bakeries, and four nonJewish. Unanimously, Yechiel was chosen chairman of the bakers. Often he would confer with the officials about bread prices and other matters. He was also a member of the city council. At age 41, he became seriously ill. They took him to Warsaw to the TshisteHospital, where he lay for almost a year. He came back to Kozienice, but never regained his strength. After a short while he died.
He was born in Kozienice in 1878. He finished the Gymnasia (High School) in Radom, and from 1899 studied at Warsaw University, Berlin University, Breslau University and the University of Paris. He first studied the German language, and afterwards Semitic languages, and even the modern dialects of Abyssinian. He was in prison from 1907 to 1911 for his membership in the Polish Socialist Party. At first he was sentenced to hardlabor, but when he was found to be ill, it was changed. He is the author of great scientific works in Russian, Polish and German. He also authored popular scientific brochures in Polish and other languages, and translated the stories of Oscar Wilde into Yiddish. From 1902, he wrote scholarly articles in the Yiddish Folkszeitung, which was edited by H. D. Horwitz and M. Spector; the Warsaw Letzte Nayes, in the New York Forverts, in Tzukunft, and in a Yiddish library. In 1925 he was director of a private PolishYiddish Gymnasia in Vilna. He also signed the first call to found the YIVO (Yiddish Scientific Institute, which is today called the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research).
by Tzvi Madanes, Tel Aviv
He was not born in Kozienice. He came to us during WW I, as a Russian soldier. After the war he decided to remain in Kozienice. He met here his lifelong companion, and together they built a Jewish home. Materially, he was not too well situated. He was a Jew who commanded respect. His outward appearance was impressive: A straight figure, who walked with an aristocratic walking stick in his hand, with decorated gold eyeglasses, which shone. His beard was trimmed and cared for. His promptness was legendary, and symbolized the Jew of the Enlightenment Era, who adhered to the principle: Be a Jew at home, and a Jew outside your home. Even at that time he was an ardent Zionist, starting with the Lovers of Zion Movement. He participated in many of the Zionist Congresses.
He quickly became beloved by all of the groups in the city. He became the teacher of Kozienice's children, and founded the first modern Heder in the city. The very religious criticized his Heder and wanted to ostracize him and his Heder. The other teachers felt uncomfortable when compared to this aristocrat. Every morning, before the start of class, every child was checked for tidiness and cleanliness. He would start his classes with ethical and moral teachings, and taught beautiful Yiddish penmanship. Among other things, he also taught grammar. With his work, he laid the foundation for the Tarbut (Culture) Schools.
He realized his ideal and sent his oldest son, Hershel to the Holy Land, with the hope that eventually the entire family would join him. This was in the twenties, and a year later he and his wife journeyed to Eretz Yisroel, where he continued his pedagogic work. Later, when the bloody WWII broke out and the Hitlerites exterminated the Jews in the gaschambers, he became weak with longing for his two sons who had remained in Kozienice. Our society members in Israel often visited him, and made him feel that he's not alone, right up to the last moment of his life.
We honor his memory!?
by Yaakov Leibush Eisenman, Bogata
In my memory there lies the image of my fatherinlaw, R' Yitzhak. He was always dressed fine and clean. This was unusual in Polish towns of that time. He wore a dark kapote, a good cloth hat and fine and snug boots. His dark satin beard well combed, with a hard collar and black tie. That's how I remember him during the twenties of this century. He was, of blessed memory, a strict Jewish counselor for 30 years in Kozienice. Everything that took place, or would take place had to get his approval. His word carried weight, and respectfully people listened to him. He would not bow before any man, was always strict, almost cruelly so, and got his way in life. Even at home he was strict. His word was law. Nothing was done without his knowledge.
He was the father of six daughters, each one smaller than the other. I never saw an expression of worry on his Jewish, aristocratic face. He had no appetite for money, as I would notice among other Jews. He never served the clientele of his book and paper business. The children took care of them always. Even for the buying of merchandise, one of his children would travel to Radom. His life and time were devoted to the public and community affairs. He was elected Alderman, and defended, with courage and national pride, the Jewish interests. He opposed the socalled Christian cityfathers, who wanted to exploit the already robbed and poor Jewish workers. With honor he carries forward the Jewish banner, and doesn't let it be lowered. This arouses Kozienice's antisemites. They search for ways to remove him from the council.
If thou seekest, ye shall find! Thanks to a cunning combination, with the help of the religious Jesuit Burgermeister (Mayor), they found an edict saying that an alderman must have an academic background, and since this Jew, Itzik, doesn't have it, he must be removed from office. The protests of the entire Jewish populace were of no avail, and neither was the intervention of a high official from Radom. I recall the first months of 1920, when the Joint Distribution Committee, sent to Poland, to the impoverished Jewish towns, hundreds of wagons of flour, rice, sugar and medical supplies. How devoted and faithful R' Yitzhak Milgrom worked for the benefit of all of the Jewish population. His home became the head office for distribution of the items among the poor and needy.
Being, by nature so strict, he had few friends, but all had to acknowledge his honesty and virtue in the distribution of the products. He had the support of the Yiddish, as well as part of the Polish press.
Every Sabbath morning, his best friends came through the front door of his store to visit him. They were Yaakov Zifferman, with his graywhite beard, Yisroel Yitzhak Frisch, Itshe Noshelski, the town philosopher, and others. At covered tables, they read the newspaper Heint (Today) and drank black chicory. According to reports that I received from the Ghetto, my fatherinlaw conducted himself properly during the German occupation, as suits such a Jew. May God avenge his innocent blood!?
Let us with pleasure relate the beautiful, noble deeds, which our fellow townsman, the righteous convert Leon Kenzsherski, who possesses the Jewish virtue of generosity, was able to do for our Jewish institutions, in memory of his wife, Tovah BermanKenzsherski, of blessed memory, on the first anniversary of her death. With this he eternalized her and his name. Donations for the following institutions:
For the Jewish Help Association and Polyclinic after 120 years (my death) they shall possess forever the beautiful building, with the large business and 2 apartments at 1217 Uranas Street in Leopolddina.
For the Jewish Women's Association and Parents' Home 200,000Cruz.
For the Children's Home 200,000 Cruz.
For the Mendele Mocher Sephorim Jewish School in Leopolddina 200,000 Cruz.
For the synagogue Ahavas Shalom in Leopolddina a large crystal chandelier.
For Jewish National Fund trees in Israel in Tovah's name and the name of her mother Sarah Malkah, of blessed memory, 200,000 Cruz.
We consider it our obligation to tell briefly about Tovah's life: She was born in Kozienice in 1888, to respected parents, Kalman and Sarah Berman. Even at that time her parents understood that it was necessary to give their children a Jewishnational and worldly education. Tovah finished a RussianPolish School in Radom, with a diploma as a midwife. With a Jewish teacher she studied Yiddish and Hebrew, impressed all with her beauty, cleverness and intelligence, and was well versed in Yiddish and Polish literature.
Her Communal Activities
During WWI, Tovah Berman, together with her brother, Chaim, of blessed memory, took part in the organization of the first Jewish Folks Club, which had a drama circle and sports section, which was directed by her brother Shimon Berman, of blessed memory. The drama circle was actually conducted by Tovah and her three brothers, and became well known because of its presentations in surrounding communities.
During WWI, she also participated in organizing the Kitchen for Needy Children, and in the Aid Committee for Jewish Refugees, who came to Kozienice after the Petlura Pogroms. In 1921, Tovah Berman went to Brazil. Her leaving made a deep impression in town.
Leon Kenzsherski Converts
He was an upper class Pole who held a government position and fell in love with the beautiful Tovah. She accepted his declaration of love on condition that he become a Jew. He agreed, left his home, his Christian faith and his career, and the two left for Brazil, where he underwent conversion according to the Jewish Halacha. Also in Brazil, Tovah displayed her love for the Yiddish Theater. Several times she acted with Lubeltshik's Troupe in Rio and Sao Paulo, with great success. The proof we have of this are the critical writings, which are in our possession.
Because of the economic situation in Brazil in 1929, Tovah and her husband left for Belgium. They were there and survived the Holocaust. Since Leon still had his Polish passport, and Polish name, he was able to save himself, his wife and a number of acquaintances from the Hitler murderers. In 1951, they came back to Brazil, where her two brothers lived. Shimon, who was active in the community died in Rio in 1955, and the second one, may he live long, Zelik Berman, was saved from the Holocaust and came to Brazil with his wife in 1949. They had lost two children in the Holocaust. He is active in our town Society.
On December 24, 1960, Tovah died, without leaving any children. The beautiful deed of her husband, the righteous convert, has eternalized the two of them in the above mentioned institutions, forever!
We Honor Her Memory!
by Ber Zilberberg, Tel Aviv
As a Heder boy, I learned with the teacher, Baruch. He was one of the best teachers in Kozienice. In his Heder stood two large tables with benches. At one table sat the teacher at the head, and each time he would call one of the boys, and teach him while all the others listened. Every Sabbath, he would go to some boy's home, to test him and teach him a portion of the Torah, so that the parents should see what the boy knows already. The parents would honor him with some refreshments. He would often be accompanied by his own little boy, Avrahamele.
R' Baruch Knew Everything
He stemmed from a prominent family, who for generations had been scribes. He was very talented. Besides pedagogy, he knew how to prepare parchment, write Mezuzos and the portions that are inserted in Tephillin, the Tephillin boxes themselves, he could also make from leather. He knew how to scrape a horn so it would become a Shofar. He could wind the Tzisis and insert them in a Tallis, and carve Chanukah Dreidles (spinning tops) from a block of wood. He would turn away an evil eye and recite the formula to release people from their vows. He blew the Shofar. Besides which, he knew other things.
Money Becomes Shards
Once he discovered that his wife, Feigele had accumulated some money, tied it in her kerchief, and hidden it in the mattress of her bed. When she went out of the house, he ran over to the bed and began searching. He overturned the bed and there fell out the tied kerchief. Quickly he untied it took out the money, and replaced it with the shards of a broken plate. He retied the kerchief and replaced it, straightened the bed, and again resumed his teaching. Feigele, his wife, returned and he continued to teach in an even louder voice: The Gemara (Talmud) says: That if a wife hides away money without her husband's knowledge, it will turn into shards. The children repeated what the teacher said again and again. When she heard what the children were learning, a fright seized her and she inched over to the bed and withdrew the kerchief. She untied it, looked, and was shocked. No money, only shards, dust as they had been learning. She burst out crying: Oh, woe is me! What a misfortune has befallen me! Hearing her wailing the teacher ran over to ask what had happened. She showed him the kerchief and said: I had money in here and it has turned into shards, just as you've taught the children, and I can see that the Gemara tells the truth.?
The Children Respected the Teacher
They had great respect for him even when he would occasionally hit a boy with a catonine tails. When that happened his wife, Feigele would shout at him: Baruch, you mustn't hit strange children! In the short winter days we would learn until after it got dark. Some of the children made for themselves paper lanterns, in which they inserted candles. More than once, the wind blew the candle and the lantern burned up. Moshe, the teacher's oldest son would escort the children home at night.
On holidays the teacher would travel to the neighboring towns, where he would conduct the prayer services. He would take a Torah scroll with him, a shofar, and his eldest son, Moshe to help him sing the melodies of the prayers. When Moshe got older, he didn't want to help his father anymore. He opened a food shop and became a business man. On Thursdays, when the peasants came to market, and stood in front of Moshe's shop, he would announce in Polish, what he had for sale: Naphta, candy and other goodies, etc.
The Teacher's Wife Gave Birth to Twins
One morning, I came to Heder, and as soon as I opened the door the teacher said to me:
Ber, today we're not learning! Go home and tell your parents that my wife Feigele has given birth to twins, a boy and a girl. With joy I ran home! Wasn't it something, a day off from school. Free as a bird! To be able to go swimming in the river, or run into the forest, which was on the road to Warsaw, near the tall chimney. If you climbed to the top of the chimney, you could see the entire area.
The next morning I came to the Heder. As we sat down to learn, the neighbor, Hershele, the tailor, came in and said to the teacher: R' Baruch, do you know that you have to register the new born children? The teacher dressed himself in his Sabbath clothes, from head to toe, tied his special belt (gartel) around him and left. As soon as we saw the teacher leave, we began to live it up. We began to play all sorts of games, using buttons in place of money. A bone button was worth twice as much as others.
The Teacher Goes to Register the Twins
Meanwhile my teacher is walking the streets and thinking: How do 1 tell them in Polish that my wife has given birth to twins, and I want to register them. He is already standing at the door of Police Headquarters on Varshaver Street. He takes his hat off and wearing his yarmulke, he quickly enters the building. The police officer on duty looks at him and asks him jokingly: What happened? The other policemen laughed and my teacher was frightened. He began to speak in Polish: I want to report that my wife found a gun! (He meant to say gave birth to twins). Hearing that his wife had found a gun, two policemen took their guns and ammunition, lowered the straps of their caps and tied them under their chins and then placed the teacher between them. Come, show us the gun.
The Policemen Laughed Heartily
That's how Baruch, the teacher, was escorted through the streets of the city, by two policemen. Immediately, people began to run and create a commotion. What's happened? Two policemen with guns are escorting Baruch, the teacher! It didn't even occur to anyone that it was Baruch who was leading the police! They came into the Heder. The children got scared and shrunk away in fright, when they saw the teacher and the police. The teacher led the police to the bed, where his wife was lying with the twins, and pointed Here lies the gun! At that moment, the neighbor, Hershele came in and made it clear to the police that all the teacher wanted was to register the birth of the children and by mistake went to the police instead of the town hall. The police laughed heartily and then left.
by Shaindl Baron
He was called Reuben, the barbersurgeon. He had a barber shop and was a devoted Zionist. All of his life he strived to go to Eretz Yisrael, but unfortunately he didn't live to accomplish it. He perished at the hands of the Hitler murderers Kozienice loved him for his fine character and Jewish heart, which could never refuse anyone who requested a favor. He often visited the Rebbe's Court and was beloved by the Rebbe and his Hasidim.
He didn't have any children, but he did a great deal for me. I was his sister's child. My father died when I was three years old. Until this day I miss him, my second father, who raised me with great love, which only a father can give. I am now in America, and I would very much appreciate it if you would publish my few words about Reuben Rozenboim in the Yizkor book of Kozienice.
by Berish Shabason
With reverence and a holy shiver of pain and grief, I'd like to perpetuate the holy memory of my mother, my dear and beloved mother, of blessed memory, LiebeMatl, or as she was called in town, Liebele. She was martyred in Treblinka together with all the other mothers, and shared the bitter fate of death in holiness and purity, may God avenge her blood. Deep in my memory there is engraved the deaths of generations of Jews who lived and wove Jewish life in my birthplace, Kozienice.
Like One Big Family
Dear, cordial Jews, poor and rich. Who can forget the Jewish Sabbaths and Holidays, Jewish sufferings and joys. Merchants, small dealers, handworkers and skilled workers lived together like one big family. Worked hard and bitter to lead a decent life, and hoped for better times. But instead, unfortunately, came the Hitlerflood, which erased everything, and drove to the doors of the Treblinka gaschambers our dear and beloved ones and extinguished their lives, like the lights in holiness and sanctity.
Her Door Was Always Open For the Needy
Among all of the holy figures whose resting places we do not even know, I see the figure of my cordial mother, of blessed memory, who lived a truly righteous and religious life, not only for herself and her children, but also for those who needed her help. Her door was always open to the needy. Our mother always carried the yoke of the housewife. She was, as the expression goes, the head of the household, and helped support the family. She spread her wings over the children, like an eagle over its young ones. She prayed to God for us, the children, that we shouldn't become wanderers, God forbid, that we shouldn't lose our way on strange paths. Not one teardrop fell from her eyes when she prayed or lit the candles.
Shabbat at CandleLighting
When she covered her eyes to light the candles and said the blessing: to kindle the Sabbath Light, we children heard her sighs filled with entreaties. It was quiet, no one said a word, in order not to interrupt mother's candlelighting, in honor of the Sabbath.
On the morning of the Sabbath, while the children were still lying in bed, wrapped in their covers, and dreaming their youthful dreams, my mother would tiptoe through the childrens' room with a light step, in order not to disturb our sleep. She would carry her thick prayer book, with the worn yellowed pages, and covered herself with the beautifully colored Turkish shawl, which she had inherited from her mother, EstherBayle, who had acquired it as an inheritance from her grandmother. And that way treading lightly, she would go summer and winter to pray in the House of Study. When she stepped over the threshold of the study house, she sat at her place religiously, which her father, Godl Dimant, had bought, when they had built the new House of Study, after the big fire, when almost half of the town, together with the synagogue and House of Study were destroyed.
Saturday evening, when the sun was setting, it was my biggest pleasure to hear how my mother bade farewell to the Holy Sabbath:
The beloved week should come,
With health, life, a livelihood and luck,
With peace and good tidings,
And everything good,
And let us say: Amen and Amen!
When she finished her entreaties, she cried out in great joy: A good week, a good week children! She kissed the little ones, and requested of the bigger ones to open the doors of our establishment.
Yom Kippur Eve
Most of all there is engraved upon my memory, my mother's candlelighting on Yom Kippur eve before Kol Nidre. In those moments there was an awesome stillness in the house. No one spoke a word. We only looked into each other's eyes. Father stood sunken in thought, and everyone's attention was riveted on mother, who was preparing in awe and fear for the Day of Judgement, with the lighting of the Yom Kippur candles. We watched as she put four candles in the candelabra, a separate candle for each child, and lights the wicks, which this time seem to be different than at other times. Then her hands were waved around the holy lights, covered her face with them, and in a beseeching tone said the blessing for the lighting of the Yom Kippur candles.
At that moment she asked the Lord of the Universe, that he should have mercy on her husband and children, even if they should transgress; and that he shouldn't judge them harshly, but as a father judges his children. When she finished the candlelighting, she called us to her, and gave us her blessing. I felt her tears upon my face. After the blessings, all of us, together with father, went to the study house, or to the Maggid's Synagogue.
My Mother's Eyes Accompanied Me
It is already 25 years since Poland was destroyed. With my own eyes, I witnessed the destruction of Warsaw. I lived through years of torture and sufferings, wandered for two and a half years among goyim with a false Polish passport, listened to the murderous pronouncements of the Poles, and the words of the good Poles, which tore my pained heart. Often, I sought a place to spend the night, and often sought a place in which to hide my sister and brother at moments when they already had vials of poison in their mouth. At the time of the Polish uprising in Warsaw, I wandered from cellar to bunker and suffered hunger and drank drain water. Every day and every minute, I could see the Angel of Death before my eyes. I also saw eyes filled with murder and evil that followed my every step and movement. And always on the verge of death, I would see my mother, and I was saved from the hands of the murderers. Only by her merit did I and a few others of her children and grandchildren remain alive. How come? We ourselves don't know. A miracle, miracles!
Mother, With Honor I Bear Your Memory
In the last few years, when Yom Kippur comes, before Kol Nidre, I remember my mother's candlelighting and I hear her prayers, her broken voice, and I see the flickering candles of the Yom Kippur lights. I am sure that in the last moments, in the Treblinka gaschamber, my mother shed tears, and accompanied her last steps with prayers for her children: Let my sacrifice atone for my children, and may they be saved to outlive this bitter decree! Mother, dear! With honor and pride I'll carry your shining memory!
How Many Jews Lived In Kozienice
In 1611 There lived in Kozienice 5 Jewish families in their own homes and 10 Jewish families in rented houses.
In 1726 There were 630 Jewish souls living in Kozienice.
by Yissachar Lederman, Rio De Janeiro
From my childhood, I remember three barbersurgeons in Kozienice: Chaim Feldsher, Yidele Zembel and Aaron Bendler. There was also a Polish barbersurgeon, named Pockshevinski, and an old doctor, named Zarzinski. It is understandable that when Jews got sick, they called a Jewish one. The custom was, not to run immediately to the local doctor, or to call upon the doctor from Radom, when one didn't feel well First all home remedies were tried: a wet towel for a headache; quinine for nausea; an enema for bellyache; garlic and pepper for a toothache; incantations to ward off an evil eye and sugar candy for a bad cough or sore throat. When, after all of these remedies didn't work, we would call upon a barbersurgeon to bang away at varicosities, or place heated cupping glasses upon the affected area. And if the ill person did not recover, the women would run to the cemetery to beg the departed to intercede. They would run to the Rebbe to get an amulet or to the House of Study to implore before the open ark a complete recovery for the sick one. Or candles would be lit which the Beadle would extinguish almost immediately, so that he could use them for memorial candles. If all of this didn't help, a rich Jew would call the local doctor or the doctor from Radom. The life of the poor would be extinguished like a candle. This is how it was until WWI.
Now a few words about the last barbersurgeon, Aaron Bendler. He came to Kozienice after WWI. He learned his profession in the Jewish Hospital of Warsaw. He served in the Russian Army, and practiced as an assistant to the military doctors. The Jewish inhabitants trusted him more than they did the Polish barbersurgeons or doctor. He was also a hairdresser. By nature he was a quiet man, who tended towards cultural community activities. His children participated in Jewish cultural life. He very often helped the sick poor, wouldn't take the money from them and loved to tell a joke. He and his family perished in the Holocaust. Only one daughter and a child saved themselves.
by Yitzhak Maydan, KiryatChaim
Our family was manybranched, consisting of five brothers and two sisters, but only two of us, brothers, remained alive.
I want to tell about the family that disappeared and is no longer among the living. In 19411942 we lived in the Ghetto in Magnishev. From there we were driven to Kozienice, and from Kozienice to a forcedlabor camp. My parents and sisters were sent to an extermination camp and since then were never heard of again. My parents were Shalom and Pesia; my sisters: Bella and Leah, and one brother, Moshe, lived in Warsaw and disappeared in 1941. We were two brothers in one camp and the other two brothers in another camp. I went through all the camps with my brother, Leib. For me he was not only a brother, but a caring father. We hoped that when the hell would be over, we would remain alive. But fate was cruel to us and my brother died in BergenBelsen, on April 16, 1945, one day after the liberation. Leib had been the one at home who cared for the family and we all loved him. He was a gentle soul. Of my two brothers, who were in a different camp, Yitzhak remained alive, and Koppel died in 1944 on a transport from Pionek to Auschwitz. Koppel was interested in everything, and wanted to know everything. He had golden hands, and he knew how to do many things in good taste and with charm. The following are the ages of my parents, brothers and sisters:
|My father, Shalom||0|
|My mother, Pesia||55|
|My sister, Bella||35|
|My sister, Leah||25|
|My brother, Leib||33|
|My brother, Moshe||31|
|My brother, Koppel||27|
by Issachar Lederman, Rio de Janeiro
In our town there was an ancient custom from the time of the Maggid that at dawn, and on Fridays at candle lighting time, the beadle of our synagogue would knock 3 times with a wooden hammer on every Jewish door, to awaken Jews to come to the synagogue for services. If there was a corpse in town, he would knock only twice so that the Jews would know that on that day there would be a funeral. It so happened that in town there was a scholarly Jew named Leibush Weinberg (Getz), who was a wealthy Gerer Hasid, but extremely stingy. He would literally skin poor shopkeepers and laborers. He had chests filled with pawn securities and a great deal of rent money, but would never give a contribution. He wouldn't even support needy worthy institutions. He never socialized except on the Sabbath, at services, in the Gerer Shul (Shtibl).
As I've already indicated, the Yeshiva students had established a fund for repairing holy books. Every Friday, two students, carrying collection boxes, went out to collect funds, which were used for repairing and rebinding damaged volumes, and to buy new books from the booksellers who came to town. Understandably, every Jew considered it a good deed to support this worthy project. But this miser, Leibush Weinberg, would not give, even when his wife requested it, under any circumstances.
Teaching Him a Lesson
Even his fellow Gerer Hasidim couldn't move him. I'm not giving! he shouted. They don't want to learn, but only to play cards, and eat lima beans at Leibush Kesil's! The students were disappointed. He not only didn't give anything but also insulted them. They decided that he must be taught a lesson that he would remember all of his life. On Thursday night the students held a meeting concerning Leibush Weinberg. What could be done to such a Jew! Moshe Rabi, who wore long sidelocks, a large ritual belt and was also scholarly and clever, said: I have a suggestion. In the foyer of the synagogue there stand all of the utensils needed for preparing a corpse for burial. Between the afternoon and evening services, one of us will leave the latch of the foyer door open and at midnight a few of us will take the burial utensils and the box for the corpse and place them at the door of Liebush Weinberg's home. One of us will knock on the door of the beadle, Ozer, and tell him that Leibush died during the night, so that in the morning he will knock twice on every door. We all agreed to this plan. The youngsters, among whom I was one, were told to go home and not tell anyone about the plan.
If You Don't Give While Alive…
In the morning, Ozer, the beadle, knocked twice on every door. Who died? Leibush Weinberg! Who? Jews asked, That so and so? The burial society will not gain much from this one. He had sacks of gold and never gave anything. People began running from every direction to Leibush's house. The street filled. The burial society came running. People stood from afar and laughed, because Leibl had opened his window. He became bitter and sour. People guffawed! Leibush have you already returned from the other world? Do they charge interest there also?
Two students, including Moshe, went to his window and said to him: Reb Leibush, if you don't give while alive then you must give after you die. If you won't give 100 Rubles to buy a new set of Talmud these burial utensils will stand at your door until you die! Leibush ran through his house like a madman. He began to tear his hair from his head, and began to bargain, but to no avail. He paid the 100 Rubles and groaned as he did so. Tears poured from his eyes, but he didn't utter a word. The burial society was extremely pleased by the whole thing. The students collected the burial utensils, marched through the streets with them, singing and blessing Leibush, to whom they gave an additional name Getz. My pen is not capable of recording what went on in town at that time. My memory also fails me a bit. This all happened 65 years ago. But I'll try to record the end of the story.
Leibl's wife Chaik'l, was a dear, pious Jewess. She was the exact opposite of her husband. She gave charity, without his knowledge, and suffered in his hell! The townspepole knew about this, but since she was so fine, she suffered in silence. After the above event, she said to the Rabbi: I want to divorce him. As far as I am concerned, he's dead. I can't endure him any more! They were divorced. Her only son, Mottel, she sent to the Gerer Yeshiva in Warsaw. He married a rich Hasidic girl. When he came back to Kozienice, he opened a sewing supply store on Radom Street. Mottel Weinberg was the father of Shlomo and Yoel. He died in middle age before WWI. Both his sons were Gerer Hasidim, businessmen, and leaders of the Agudas Israel movement. They were representatives of the Jewish community, and perished together with all of Kozienice's Jews, even though they were members of the Judenraat.
A few words about their grandmother, Chaik'l. She died of old age with an untarnished reputation. She supported the indigent sick. She would take food to the sick and chicken soup to poor children.
After the above incident, Leibush himself fell into a deep depression. His fortune evaporated. His wife and son took over the debts and the house and had nothing to do with him. Even after he passed away, they wouldn't mention his name. He died alone in a windowless shack, belonging to Nehamale the bagel baker. As the students had said: If you don't give while alive you'll give after you die!?
by Feige Gunik
Chana was born in 1902, into a poor and needy home of 6 children. At age 9, she left home to go to relatives in Warsaw, where she worked hard for her upkeep. She was separated from her home, but never complained. She was always eventempered, but her eyes reflected her despair. At 16 she returned home and began to learn needlework, a popular occupation for girls in Kozienice.
Chana Organizes the NeedleWorkers
In 192223, the workers1 movement in Kozienice was organized. Chana joined and became active. She advanced quickly, was elected a committee member, and afterwards elected to chair the NeedleWorkers section. She helped organize the trade, and it wasn't an easy task. When, after a huge effort it was more or less organized, the first strike was proclaimed. In those days the needleworkers worked from dawn to late at night in very unsanitary conditions. The employers called a lockout. The committee was organized, and we decided to establish a cooperative. A delegation was chosen, with Chana at the head, to go to Warsaw in order to bring back work. The women workers were temporarily employed. I want to note that, at the time, we found ourselves in a private home, and there we worked until victory. But Chana wasn't satisfied. She organized a youth group, and worked actively in it. She read a great deal of literature and held private readings for the youth. They honored and respected her. Her outward appearance aroused trust and all loved her.
Chana Flees to Russia
At the outbreak of WWII, Chana lived in Lodz. When the persecutions and selections began, she decided to flee to Russia. It was a difficult journey, and for weeks she wandered. Finally she succeeded in crossing the border to Russia. There she was sent to a labor camp, where she worked under difficult circumstances. She suffered hunger, lost her husband, and became ill and broken. In 1945 she returned with all of the repatriates to Poland. Kozienice had become Judenrein, and the Jewish repatriates were brought to Shtshetshin. That's where Chana lived. She couldn't make peace with the loss of her family and friends. Her heart ached! Walking on the street one day, she lost consciousness fell and died. Strangers picked her up and carried her home. This is how her pure soul left her body on July 6, 1946, on a Polish street!?
by Esther MidanTennenboim, Kiryat Chaim, Israel
A few words about my dear brother, MeirShalom. He was a communal man of action who was connected with the professional associations. For a longer period of time, he was chairman of the association. In 1925 a strike of shoeworkers broke out. It was a bitter struggle between workers and management. One day his boss came to him and proposed that he should secretly lower the demands for the increase and then they could sign the agreement which would settle the strike. My brother answered that he, as chairman of the association, would not break ranks with the strikers, especially after so many months of hunger and sufferings. Afterwards, the bosses signed an agreement ending the strike, but they all boycotted my brother. Another worker was hired to replace him.
My brother was unemployed for months, until he was forced to sell his apartment and its contents and left for Paris. His wife remained with us for two years, until he established himself, and then he sent for her. For twenty years, my brother lived in Paris, with his wife and grown daughter, until the time of the Nazi occupation. He hid then in a cellar. His wife and daughter were taken by the Nazis during the selection process. They were beaten and the Nazis demanded that they reveal my brother's hiding place. They cried bitterly and loudly. My brother heard their outcry. He came out of his hiding place and showed up for the selection. This is how my brother ended his tragic life together with his family. The others, who had been hiding in the cellar with him, survived. This has been written by his grieving sister.
by Malka Tzemach, Tel Aviv
The manybranched and prolific Tzemach family originated in Spain. This fact was mentioned in the Family History Book which Shlomo Tzemach possessed, and which had been handed down by the Gaon Tzemach of Lublin. Grandfather, Avigdor Tzemach, was a resident of Radom. His son, Yona (Jonas), born in 1871, married a daughter of the Mintzberg family of Kozienice, a family of prominence. After an attempt to manage holdings in the vicinity of Radom, which did not succeed, the family settled in Kozienice, and together with my uncle, Shlomo Mintzberg, bought a beer factory, which supported them until the outbreak of WWII. The children of Yona were Sarah, Chana, Devorah, Hinde, Mendel, Nina and myself, Malka, the writer of these lines. The Tzemach family was known and respected in the entire area. The head of the family was counted among the followers of the Rebbe of Gur, and his righteous wife, Libe, contributed a great deal to the communal life of Kozienice. The family house was hidden among the trees of the forest in a suburb, surrounded by a large landholding and factory, which from 1929 was in the sole possession of my father.
My father, of blessed memory, was a member of the City Council, on the school committee, and employed many clerks and workers. The family was alert to the needs of the public and contributed a great deal to the needy and the poor. My brother, Mendel, was among the founders of the Zionist Organization and Macabee. His aspiration and dream was to go an Aliyah to Israel. To our great misfortune, the health of my parents deteriorated, and the death of mother at an early age in 1929, put an end to his hope for Aliyah. The oldest daughter, Sarah, was married in 1912 to Moshe Ortshtein, and lived in Warsaw with her children: Avigdor, Chaim and Malka. A second daughter, Hinde, wife of the dentist, Michael Shvartzboim, lived in Kozienice. With the outbreak of the war, father was confined to his bed with a fractured leg. In this condition, he and his daughters, Hinde and Chana, left their home and fled eastward. When they heard that all of Poland had fallen to Germans, they returned home. Only Michael and his son remained in Russia.
When they returned home, they found all of their possessions had been looted, and their landholdings in the hands of Christians. Destitute, the family moved in with their daughter, Nina, in Warsaw, and from there to Kreshnik. In May of 1942 the Germans removed the Jews of Kreshnik, and Chana Mondshein, and Hinde Shvartzboim with their children were sent to a death camp. Also, the husband of Devorah, Bernard Weisberg, died in a death camp. In October of 194Z, Yona Tzemach, old and sick, died in the death camp. His daughter, Devorah, succeeded in hiding from the Nazis, and went to Warsaw, armed with forged Polish papers. After everything was stolen from her, she entered the Warsaw Ghetto penniless, where she died during the Ghetto Uprising.
Also the youngest Tzemach sisters, Nina and Malka, lived in the Warsaw Ghetto. They went through the seven sections of hell, hunger, sickness and degradation. In April of 1942 the Nazis removed from the Ghetto, all those who were not employed in essential work. We were able to obtain work in Shuf, and thanks to that we remained in the Ghetto. By a miracle we were saved from two Nazi actions in 1942 and 1943, and several days before the Uprising, we passed over to the Aryan side. At the end of the War in January of 1945, we returned to Kozienice, the last remnant of a prolific family. The factory and family home were destroyed. In 1946, Nina married Dr. Lerner Masnuk, who had also experienced the bitterness of the War and the Holocaust In 1947, the Lerner family and their sister Malka went on Aliyah to Israel. Dr. Lerner was employed as a KupatCholim doctor in Zamenhof in TelAviv. In 1948, a son was born to the Lerner family Jonathan. In 1957 Dr. Lerner died, and in 1965, after a prolonged illness, his wife, Nina died. There remains of the family Malka Tzemach and Jonathan Lerner.
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