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[Page 122]

Torah and Traditional
Devotion in Krynki

 

In Krynki After the First World War

by Hanoch Sorski

Translated by Jerrold Landau

A Community Rooted in Torah and Commandments

The Krynki etched in our memory is not like that of previous generations. Our town was an offshoot of an ancient root, with a splendid tradition of rabbis and righteous individuals, great in Torah. With them was a community of Jews rooted and imbued with truth and faith, with life and ideology in Torah and knowledge, commandments and good deeds.

From time to time, when one would be in the old cemetery of the town, one would stand next to the graves of the greats of Krynki, such as: Rabbi Yosef, a rabbi and head of the rabbinical court in our town, and one of the greatest students of the Gaon Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin; Rabbi Baruch, the head of the rabbinical court of Krynki, author of the books Minchat Baruch and Nachalat Baruch; Rabbi Chaim Tzvi of blessed memory, a Hassid of the Admor of Slonim, author of the book Yesod HaAvoda, and a worker of wonders. Next to them was their flock, spread out around them. The feeling and thoughts one would have was that the inscriptions on these monuments testify to the continuous chain, merging worlds and generations, the world of the living and the dead, the past and the present.

 

Kry122.jpg
The Cemetery

 

Rabbi Chizkiyahu Yosef Mishkowski

by David Mishkovski

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Note: This Hebrew section is equivalent to the Yiddish section on page 163 by the same author (albeit the final paragraph is absent in the Yiddish).

 

Kry123a.jpg
Rabbi Chizkiya Yosef Mishkowski, may the memory of the holy be blessed

 

Kry123b.jpg
The Committee and Workers of the Orphanage of Krynki, 1931

From right, seated: B. Stolarski, Izik Leib Lystokin (vice chairman), V. Weiner (chairman), Baruch Ajon, Zalman Ostrinski
Standing: Sara Lowler, Rishka Mendelowicz, Shmuel Lewski, Zalman Kotler, Reizel Tewel, Itka Sziszlican, Golda Terkel, Fani Cukert, Roza Gel, Lea Logsinski

 

Kry124.jpg
The leader of the General Cheder, and its teaching staff.
Rabbi Chizkiya Mishkowski is seated in the middle.

 

Note: Final paragraph of this section is missing in the Yiddish. It is at the bottom of page 124 in the Hebrew:

A Yeshiva named after his memory, Knesses Chizkyahu, was established in Kfar Hasidim in Emek Zevulun. It is headed by the local rabbi, Rabbi Eliahu Eliezer Mishkovski, son of the deceased.[1]


Translator's Footnote:

  1. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knesses_Chizkiyahu Return


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Rabbi Shmuel Leb, may G-d avenge his blood,
a rabbinical judge and rabbi

by Hanoch Soraski

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The noble image of the rabbinical judge Rabbi Shmuel Leb was full of honor, splendor, purity, and holy majesty. He was head and shoulders above all others, in human height as well as supernal height. He was the central figure and living spirit of the Hassidim of Slonim in Krynki. His entire personality evoked honor and holy awe. Rabbi Shmuel was one of the veteran Hassidim of the Rebbe of Slonim. As per their holy custom, he would worship with wondrous devotion and stormy enthusiasm. He loved all Jews with his soul, and suffered all their pains.

He was quiet and modest, never engaging in conflict or debate. He lived a quiet life, content with his lot. He was involved in communal life, for he founded the Beis Yaakov girl's school that existed in our town at various times. In the ghetto, during the time of the occupation of the Nazis, may their names be blotted out, he discreetly collected charitable donations for Passover [Maos Chittin], and clandestinely baked matzos for the townsfolk. On the eve of Passover 5702 [1942], when he went to kasher utensils from chometz, he was murdered by a murderous brigade of Nazis, may their names be blotted out. Although this was in the midst of the war, he still merited to be brought to a Jewish burial. May G-d avenge his blood.


Hosts of Torah and Religion

by Hanoch Soraski

Translated by Jerrold Landau

As is remembered, a large Yeshiva called Anaf Eitz Chaim existed in Krynki until prior to the First World War. It was founded by Rabbi Zalman Sender Shapira, may the memory of the holy be blessed, the rabbi of our town. Students from the entire surrounding area came to it. That world war shook up the existence of the Yeshiva and destroyed it.

However, after that war, a Yeshiva for youths existed in Krynki as well, as a branch of the Beis Yosef Yeshiva of Novhorodok, founded by Rabbi Yosef Yozel Horowitz, may the memory of the holy be blessed. It was set up in the Chayei Adam Beis Midrash on Garbarska Street.

On some days, as you passed through the streets of Krynki, you would hear the voice of Torah echoing in your ears – the voice of the words of the Living G-d, bursting forth from the mouths of the excited Jews, whose entire life was connected to Torah and Divine service.

 

Houses of Prayer and Study

With trembling and holy awe, I recall the Beis Midrashes of the town of Krynki. Three buildings stood close to each other in the center area of Garbarska Street. First and foremost was the synagogue, “Di Shul” as it was called. According to Jewish law, a synagogue dedicated for worship does not have to have a mezuza on its door, provided it is designated for worship and not for study. The synagogue was founded and built hundreds of years ago with the help of residents of the nearby settlements, who would gather to worship there on festivals. For the most part, ordinary folk worshiped there. It was a gigantic, wide building, built in ancient style. There were two rings [i.e. stocks] at its entrance to punish transgressors and display their shame to the public. There was a large yard in the front, called Shulhoif (the synagogue yard).

The large Beis Midrash stood next to it. The prominent members of the community worshipped there – including the rabbi (who would also give a Talmud class there), the leaders, wealthy people, studying householders, and great scholars.

Next to it stood the Chayei Adam Beis Midrash, in which members of the middle class worshipped. Regular classes took place there morning and evening in all Torah subjects: Talmud, Mishna, Ein Yaakov, Chok LeYisrael, etc. The Novhorodok Yeshiva was also housed there in the latter period.

Further on, on nearby Czysta Street [Street of the Bath] stood Yente's Beis Midrash. It was located next to the building that this Yente built, and housed the communal council, the Hachnasat Orchim [organization for tending to guests], and Linat Tzedek [for providing lodging to poor wayfarers].

Then before us, on Grochowa Street (Paltiel's alleyway) was the Beis Midrash of the Slonim Hassidim, built on the lot that Wolk had dedicated for this purpose. Those who were faithful to Slonim Hassidism in Krynki did not spread out far and wide, but rather laid down deep roots in this location. There, we would find people of spirit, immersed in the service of G-d, regarding the matters of the world as a passing shadow in their eyes. Their connection and love for the customs of the Rebbe of Slonim were without bounds. Hassidism was a candle at their feet and a light for their path. They also made donations to the Slonim Kolel in the Holy Land by selling small packets of its earth.

Skipping over several streets and wooden houses, we would come to the Beis Midrash which was called Kavkaz for some reason. It was on

[Page 126]

Kry126.jpg

 

Houses of worship and regular minyanim in Krynki

The Synagogue
The Kavkaz Beis Midrash
The Large Beis Midrash
The Yenta Beis Midrash
The House of Worship of the Hassidim of Slonim
The House of Worship of the Hassidim of Stolin
The Zionist Minyan
The Minyan of the Tanners / Garbarsker

[Page 127]

Białystoker Street. The wealthy people of the city worshiped there. The Beis Midrash of the Stolin Hassidim on Plantajska (Tepershe) was set up in the latter years.

The vast majority of the Jews of Krynki were Jews of the Beis Midrash.

 

Cheders, Teachers, Personalities, Organizations

The General Cheder [Cheder Klali]

The religious school (General Cheder) was founded in the year 5680 (1920). Until its founding, there was a great lack in the area of religious education for the children of the Orthodox residents of the town. A minority studied with private teachers [melamdim], and dedicated their time solely to religious studies. The teaching was without appropriate order and regimen.

When Rabbi Mishkowski arrived, he immediately became involved with founding the General Cheder, the aim of which was to unite all the private melamdim together with certified teachers under one framework, and to impart religious education on healthy foundations to the young generation. A curriculum of religious and secular studies was established, which would equip every cheder graduate with sufficient knowledge to continue their studies in either a yeshiva or a gymnasja, according to their preference.

First of all, the rabbi concerned himself with finding a spacious premise for the cheder, appropriate to its role. To this end, he sold the house of the old Talmud Torah on Gmina Street, which was too small to house all the required grades. With the help of the townsfolk and donors from the United States, he purchased two large buildings, and renovated them with rooms and halls that would be fitting for their purpose. He also hired and brought in experienced, certified teachers to teach secular studies.

Many of the townsfolk received the foundations of their education in the General Cheder. People even came from surrounding towns to study in this cheder, which gave Krynki positive renown.

 

Melamdim [Religious Teachers]

Several of the melamdim of the cheder, who nurtured the foundation of the towns folk, were especially accepted and revered by the people of Krynki. They were wise scholars, great in both Torah and awe of G-d, connected to their young students with the strands of their soul, with love and great fatherly dedication.

The lion of the cadre of melamdim was Rabbi Yisrael “der Tzigene Berdl” (with the goatee), a teacher of children in our town. Most of the townsfolk of the previous generation studied with him, and revered him. He was a great scholar, dedicated to his young students with his whole heart, and loving them greatly. (In his old age, when his strength waned, his wife, Tsharna the Rebbetzin, assisted him.) When it was time for his students to stop their games and they did not heed his calls, she would warn them and urge them. He was a private melamed, and when the religious school (the General Cheder) was founded, he worked within his rubric.

The other melamdim were the late: Reb Shmuel (The Rebbetzin's), a wise Jew, who could explain things clearly; Reb Shmuel Tencer; Reb Meir (The Sholker); Reb Heshel of Grodno (Grodner); Reb Yisrael Jeruszabski (the father of our fellow townsperson, Chava Jeruszavski, a resident of Israel); Reb Mendel Listukin (the Melamed); Reb Eliuta Szapir; Reb Chaim Yuches; and others whom I did not know and some whom I have forgotten, to my dismay.

 

One of the Hassidim of Slonim

Reb Shmuel Chona Zakheim, may G-d avenge his blood, the baker, was the essence of a beautiful character. He was one of the prominent Sloniimer Hassidim of Krynki. He had a good eye and abundant spirit. He was modest and humble, restricting himself to his four ells, and acting in a straight forward fashion with the supernal worlds.

He never had an argument with anyone, for he loved his fellow, and drew people close to Torah. He toiled hard at his trade, despite his age, and his baked goods (Shmuel Chone's Kuchens) became famous for their excellence, because he added positive flavor to them. He was wise and intelligent, levelheaded, and infused with the joy of life. His melodies added a unique charm of pleasantness. (He was asked to sing: “Bake the buns, chase the flies…”) It was the same with the melodies of his prayers, in their expert, holy manner, as instructed by the Admorim of Slonim to their Hassidim.


Reb Shmuel Glembocki (The Rebbetzin's)

by Chaya Glembutski-Rabinowitch

Translated by Jerrold Landau

My revered father of blessed memory, who was called Reb Shmuel Der Rebbetzin's, was the youngest child of Rabbi Yossele, may the memory of the holy be blessed. He was beloved, honored, and revered by all the townsfolk. He had a splendid countenance, exuding goodness of heart and uprightness. He taught Torah to the People of Israel, and gave a class to the worshippers of the Kavkaz Beis Midrash. He was accompanied with great dedication and reverence to his home

[Page 128]

on snowy, frozen, winter evenings. His sweet voice when studying Gemara alone still rings in my ears to this day. His set place was near the holy ark in the aforementioned Beis Midrash. On Rosh Hashanah, he would blow the shofar blasts in a ringing fashion, with holy reverence..

Mothers would turn to him with requests for a complete recovery for their sick children through incantations (removing the evil eye). He would utter a silent prayer and conclude: “For Recovery!” The mother would believe with full faith that her child would recover.

With our curiosity, we children were anxious to interpret the silent incantation, but Father of blessed memory refused to disclose it on account of the holiness of the tradition from his ancestors. For us, this remained in the realm of a deep secret.


Agudas Yisrael and its Youth in Krynki

by Hanoch Soraski

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Religious Jews in Krynki, headed by Rabbi Mishkowski of blessed memory, were involved in the ideology of the Agudas Yisrael organization of Poland. The chapter of the Aguda in our town was founded in the year 5693 (1933) by the writer of these lines, who forged contact with the Aguda headquarters in Warsaw. Reb Yisrael Dubinski of blessed memory served as chairman of the chapter.

Members of the chapter would send their donations to the Keren Hayishuv [fund for settlement] of Agudas Yisroel, which was dedicated to the fortification of the settlement and the institutions of Agudas Yisroel in the Land. Through the initiative of the chapter, a Beis Yaakov school for girls was founded in our town. It existed for a set period.

The following was etched on the seal of the chapter: “The Agudas Yisrael Organization of Poland, Krynki Chapter.” In the center of the seal was a drawing of the globe of the earth, held up by three pillars, upon which, according to the Talmud, the world exists: Torah, Divine service, and benevolent deeds[1].

The movement that incorporated the religious youth of Krynki was Young Agudas Israel of Poland. Its chapter in our town was also founded by the writer of these lines in 1934. Shlomo the son of Rabbi Mishkowski of blessed memory served as president of the chapter, and Baruch Soraski of blessed memory served as the treasurer.

The youth conducted a class on the Daf Yomi [daily page] of the Talmud in the building of the General Cheder. Some of the members joined Hechalutz Haagudati [the Aguda Pioneers] and underwent hachshara in various kibbutzim to prepare for aliya to the Land.

 

Notable Krynki Natives Who Lived Outside the Town

Krynki had so many notable natives that the page is too short to include them. Some of them represented it in a fine manner outside its boundaries already during the past generation: Reb Chaim Aryeh the son of Reb Asher Handler, the author of the book Kitzur Alshich Hashalem on the Torah, printed in Piotrków in the year Be'et Haketz[2] – 5667 (1907), who lived in Białystok; Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Lider of blessed memory, one of the heads of the Ohel Torah Yeshiva of Baranovichi, the Admor of Slonim. Rabbi Mordechai Chaim Slonim, may the memory of the holy be blessed, the author of the book Maamar Mordechai, who made aliya to the Land of Israel around the year 5635 (1875) with his father Rabbi Yehuda Leib Kastelianicz, and died in Jerusalem in the year 5614 [1954); and many other such people.


Translator's Footnotes:

  1. Pirkei Avot 1:2. Return
  2. In religious writings, Jewish years are often referred to by a fragment of verse, the numerology of which is equivalent with the year. Return

 

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