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[Page 57]

Rabbinical Judges


by M. S. Geshuri

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Rabbi Eliezer Wajnzaft

When Rabbi Eliezer was accepted as a Moreh Horaa in Radom, the population recognized him as great in Torah, and had great respect for him. Many considered him as a righteous person of the generation, told wonders about him, and requested his advice. Rabbi Mohilewer also said that he was a great Gaon. He left behind Torah novellae on the entire Talmud and the four sections of the Code of Jewish Law. He did not succeed in publishing them, and the manuscripts were lost.

It is told that when his four-year-old son became very sick, and the doctors had already given up on his life, Rabbi Eliezer prayed and said: “The Master of the World has given me back my child. Let us drink lechaim because he was saved by a miracle.” The child indeed recovered.

During the final summer before his death, his wife purchased linen for new undergarments. Rabbi Eliezer, however, told her to only get the new undergarments for herself and the children, because he would not be needing them. He died at the age of 60 on 5 Elul 5645 [1885] in Radom.


Rabbi Aharon HaKohen Mildman

He was the son-in-law of Rabbi Gavriel Dancyger. He and his son, the rabbinical judge Rabbi Shraga Feivel, worshipped in the Aleksanderer Shtibel. When he went out on the streets of the city on the eve of the Sabbath, all of the shops would immediately close. Everyone honored him even though he did not pursue honor. He had a great heart for the poor and simple Jews, whom he always sought to help. Anyone's pain was his pain, and he was always lenient in matters of adjudication, lesions on lungs[1], and treifot[2]. Rabbi Aharon and the rabbinical judge Rabbi Mendel Wajngort (whom he praises several times in his books) also bore the yoke of rabbinical matters in Radom.

Several days prior to his death, he requested in writing (he could no longer talk) that they should not trouble themselves with his funeral, and conduct it as quickly as possible. He died on the eve of Shabbat HaGadol 5676 [1916]. There was a heavy rainfall during his funeral, and they had to bring him [i.e. his bier] into the Beis Midrash. The Jews said that the angels in Heaven were weeping over the great deceased man.

Rabbi Aharon HaKohen Mildman left behind a composition on [tractate] Eiruvin. He published his Torah novellae in various Torah periodicals, and also left behind manuscripts.


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Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mildman

Already as a lad, Rabbi Aharon's son excelled as a scholar with a sharp mind. Various cities wanted to take him as rabbi, but he did not want to leave his father. When they wanted to appoint him as rabbinical judge in the year 5670 [-1910], he did not want to wear the uniform of judges, out of respect for his father.

When Rabbi Shraga Feivel became judge, he sat together with his father in the courtroom. However, his livelihood was meager, and he had to sell etrogim and also do business with similar things. During the First World War, he was afflicted with illness. He became sick and died in 1915 at the age of 48, during the lifetime of his father.

His brother Mendel suddenly died on the night following Rosh Hashanah, when he was with the Aleksanderer Rebbe.


Rabbi Chaim Menachem HaLevi Kestenberg

He was called: Reb Mendel Skaryszewer, and his life and deeds were bound with the history of the Jewish settlement in Radom, with its community and its institutions.

He received rabbinical ordination from the Gaonim Chaim-Eliezer Waks, the head of the rabbinical court of Kalisz and Piotrków; Rabbi Yisrael Yehoshua Trunk from Kutno; and Rabbi Yisrael Yitzchak, the head of the rabbinical court of Powązki. He was a grandson of the Even HaOzer, from the Maharsh'al, from the Mahara'l of Prague, from Rabi Shmuel Wohl, and from the author of Panim Meorot. He himself had great pedigree, and he married into pedigree – namely the daughter of Reb Pinchas Margolis, the wealthy Hassid, one of the first Jews in Radom. He was supported at his table for 18 years as he sat, studied Torah and immersed himself in Divine service. For a long time, he resisted the requests that he serve as rabbi somewhere, fearing that the rabbinical duties would lead him to neglect of Torah study, and tear him away from learning for its own sake. However, the situation with his father-in-law became more serious, his own children were growing up, and in 1895, he was forced to become the rabbi and rabbinical judge in the city. They said that he had a polished mind, clear in the entire Talmud and commentaries.

During the year, he lived in the home of Matityahu Kufer on Lubliner 14, His home was a gathering place for scholars.


Rabbi Menachem-Mendel Wajngort (Reb Mendel Bosziner)

Rabbi Mendel was a student of the Sfat Emet of Ger [Góra Kalwaria] and of the Gaon Rabbi Avraham Sochaczewer. He received ordination from Rabbi Yoav Yehoshua, the Kintzker [Końskie] rabbi. He was a descendent of the Maharsha'l Shel'a, and the Teomim family, which later changed its name to Wajngort. Rabbi Mendel himself was sharp and expert, and authored books. At first he was involved with business, but he was not successful. Then he was approached by a series of important householders, including Mordechai Ferszter, Avraham Itche Wyrgyn, and Gerrer Hassidim to become a rabbinical judge in Radom. Having no choice, he agreed, and became a rabbinical judge in the year 5660 [1900].

Rabbi Mendel was among the first rabbis in Poland to approve of machine-made matzos. In his book “Haggada Hamevuar” [The Explained Haggadah], he published his letter correspondence with several rabbis regarding permitting machine-made matzos. He also published there the formula for a contract for the sale of chometz, and the formula for a contract for selling buildings and various other businesses. From this, one can see that he was proficient in business matters. Aside from the aforementioned book, he also published the books Kuntrus Hamevuar, Or Hayesharim, and Derech Hachayim. He wrote I manuscript “The Minority that Holds the Majority” [3], Teshuvot Menachem, and others.

His material situation was never good, and once, when he was with the Gerrer Rebbe and the Rebbe asked him about his situation, he answered that he strongly wanted to doff the “large head covering”[4] and make aliya to the Land of Israel.

Rabbi Mendel died on 23 Tevet, 5686 [1926] at the age of 66. His family and his books were destroyed by the Nazis, may their names be blotted out. His son Yankel (today in Canada) was the only survivor.


Rabbi Shmuel Tajtelbaum

He was a son of Rabbi Eliezer, the Skaryszewer Rabbi, from the well-known rabbinical family of Drildz [Iłża], which stemmed from Rabbi Meirl “Pnei-Nahor.” First, he was designated as the Moreh Horaa in Glinice when he was very young. Later, at the beginning of the 192s, when there was no rabbi in Radom, he took office as the “representative of the rabbi.”

Rabbi Tajtelbaum excelled in his straightforwardness, folksiness, discipline, and understanding of the societal institutions and the societal community that was then significantly comprised of the Kestenberg group.

He was murdered along with his family at the time of the liquidation of the large ghetto during the days of August 1942. May G-d avenge his blood.

His father, the Skaryszewer Rabbi, died in 1941 at the age of 90. Rabbi Shmuel Tajtelbaum, his brother, and sister then left the Radom ghetto, not taking into account the great danger. They went to Skaryszew, and went with the entire community on the foot journey to Drildz, where they were killed in a communal grave.


The Kapiewer Rabbi, the Drildzer Rabbi Nechemele Perkal, Rabbi Yisraelke Lindenbaum, and the Kazanower

The aforementioned were rabbinical judges in Radom during the final period. Each of them took and important place in religious Jewry. They were well-known, and were all respected and esteemed.


Translator's footnotes
  1. Sirchot: lesions on lungs that in some cases may render an animal non-kosher. There are debatable cases, and he would have been cognizant of the monetary loss for the person involved. Return
  2. Treifot: within the laws of kashrut, certain internal damage may render an animal non-kosher. Once again, there are debatable cases, and he would have been cognizant of the monetary loss involved. Return
  3. Complicated concepts in halacha, especially relating to questionable mixtures in kashruth. Return
  4. The rabbinical head covering. Return

[Page 59]

[Ritual Slaughterers]

by Y. L. Cuker, Simcha-Bunim and Yerucham-Fishel

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Reb Simcha Bunim Cuker

A shochet had to be a scholar and a fearer of G-d. However, with us, it was also necessary that he be a fine prayer leader. Our shochtim were indeed sweet singers, with a nice circle of Hassidim and supporters around them.

There were four shochtim in the Cuker family: Reb Simcha Bunim, his two sons, and a son-in-law. Reb Simcha Bunim came from Przytyk, and he married the Radomer Beila-Malka, who died in childbirth. His second wife was Asnat, and his sons were Yerucham Fishel, Yitzchak Mendel, and Moshe. He himself taught shechita to the first two. Reb Simcha Bunim was considered to be one of the Torah great ones in the city (they would say that he knew the Bible and Ibn-Ezra completely), but was simultaneously very familiar with the haskala literature. He researched the philosophy of the Middle Ages, and Mandelkorn's concordance[1]. He was close with Rabbi Mohilewer, who had a strong influence on him, and with Rabbi Yisrael Frenkel, with whom he walked arm in arm on the street, despite the ban upon him. His home was always open to maskilim and studiers. There, people would read the daily newspapers, and dissect pearls of verses from the Bible and Talmud. He spoke a high form of Hebrew, and maintained correspondence with great scholars. When Rabbi Mohilewer left Radom and the heads of the community asked him for his opinion on who should replace him, he said: either Rabbi Mordechai Wajsman the expert scholar, or Reb Bunim Shochet.

His wife Asnat was a righteous woman, with a good heart and a pure soul. She was wise and acted as his helpmate. When opponents stood up against him and even threatened his livelihood, she gave him the energy to follow his path. With her good deeds, she would gladly welcome her husband's guests and friends, and would always offer them a snack. Asnat was short and thin, but she toiled a great deal, raising her sons, six daughters, and many grandchildren. She was also involved in societal life: the world of charity and good deeds. Her food was distributed among poor sick people and women who had given birth.

Reb Simcha Bunim was also a veritable doctor and healed sick people. He wrote prescriptions that were accepted and filled by the pharmacist. As a dedicated Zionist, he raised his children with the love of Zion and [aspirations toward] aliya. All of his children and great-grandchildren followed the way of their great grandfather: the first made aliya in 1912. Today there are over 200 members of his family here in the Land. Many of them are occupied faithfully in communal affairs.

Reb Simcha Bunim died in the year 5665 (1905) at the age of 78. Aside from his three sons, he left behind six daughters: Sheindel married the shochet Yisrael Yitzchak Najdik; Dishka married Chaim Ovadia Margolis – a leather merchant; Yocheved married Moshe Kestenberg, who ran a grocery store; Chaya Itel's husband was the leather merchant Yaakov Goldsztejn; Chana's husband was the merchant Kalman Rojal, a Hassidic Jew; Lea was the wife of the well-known writer Yehuda Leib Wolman.

Two of Reb Simcha Bunim's great-grandchildren fell in the War of Independence. A third great-grandson, Shmuel Noam Cuker, who was set on a mission to Argentina on behalf of the State and Mapai[2], was killed in an airplane crash.

Almost the entire family became rooted in their own Land. They work in the cities and in the fields of the Kibbutz and Moshav. Some work in business, some in industry, some are employed in law, and some in medicine. However, all of them take pride in their grandfather, Reb Simcha Bunim of blessed memory.


Rabbi Yerucham Fishel

He was born in Przytyk in the year 5616 (1852)[3]. He studied with the Kincker Genius Rabbi Yoav Yehoshua, and later with the Gaon Rabbi Shmuel Mohilewer. He was a great scholar and followed in his father's paths. He married, opened a store, and quickly used up the dowry. The Aleksanderer Rebbe then advised him to study shechita. He studied with his father, and received certification as a shochet and examiner[4] from Rabbi Mohilewer. He was occupied in this trade for 45 years. During the period between one rabbi and another, Fishel the Shochet adjudicated halachic questions for several years. Aside from being a shochet and a rabbinical judge, he was also a renowned prayer leader, and had a phenomenal memory. He would conduct services on the High Holidays at the Aleksanderer Kloiz. In his old age, when he lost his vision, he would worship by heart. Thus, he later made use of his knowledge of Bible by heart. He was a talented orator, storyteller and explicator of difficult passages in Talmud and Midrash. Like his father, he also had knowledge of various illnesses, which he was able to cure. The prescriptions that he wrote would be honored by the pharmacist.

He was the shochet in Zamłynie for a certain time. Then he moved to the suburb of Dzierzków, where he served as a shochet and a rabbi, until Rabbi Perlmutter appointed his son-in-law Rabbi Moshe Michel HaKohen there. He gave a class in the Beis Midrash of that quarter every Sabbath and twice during the week. He also loved books of Haskalah [worldly knowledge].

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Not only was Fishel Shochet a pleasant Torah reader and prayer leader, but his children and grandchildren also sang in his choir. When there was a celebration of a dedication of a Torah Scroll in Yoske Teichman's Beis Midrash (according to custom, men and women were there together), Fishel Shochet would begin singing the Vayehi Binsoa Haaron, surrounded by the singing of the entire family. His wife Estherl would then suddenly burst out crying. When they asked her why she was crying, she answered, “II have seen how the gates of the Garden of Eden have opened for my children's song. I am crying from joy and contentment”…

Fishel Shochet lost his sight at the age of 86. His six sons and his daughter were educated in the Zionist spirit and succeeded in making aliya to the Land of Israel with his grandchildren. He himself did not succeed in coming to the Land. During the first months of the Second World War, on the Sabbath of the third day of Chanuka, a Polish low-life, who was a resident of Radom, entered his house to rob. Finding Rabbi Fishel's slaughtering knife, he slaughtered them both.

They were among the last martyrs who merited receiving a Jewish burial. May G-d avenge their blood.

By Yehuda Leibel Cuker


Reb Yitzchak Mendel

He was the epitome of refinement and goodness, but had to earn his livelihood from slaughtering animals and fowl. He was the shochet in the city for thirty years. He slaughtered so easily that Polish veterinary doctors were amazed at his shechita. Later, when the fight against Jewish slaughter began, they would give testimony that the Jewish manner of slaughter is humane.

Even though Yitzchak Mendel was an Aleksanderer Hassid and a studier, he also loved to read Yiddish and Hebrew books that his children brought to the house. His wife, who died young, left behind seven children, and he was a father and mother to them. His oldest son displayed tendencies toward art, and he sent him to the Betzalel School in Jerusalem. Today, he is a talented painter in Paris and New York named Jack Zucker. The other children and grandchildren moved to Paris and the Land of Israel. Yitzchak Mendel himself was a great lover of Zion, and greatly desired to make aliya. However, at that time there was a misfortune with his youngest son from his second wife, who fell in the Spanish civil war. The father became ill from grain anguish, and died a half year later, on Friday night, Iyar 27, 5698 [1938]. His wife Mindel, two daughters, and a son were murdered by the Nazis. May G-d avenge their blood.

By Sh. A. Margolis


Reb Chaim Leibush Hertz

He was a patriarchal personality with a white beard, sturdy with a joy of life. He had a lofty mind, and Hassidic breadth in comportment and speaking. He was a sharp scholar. He could trace his lineage to Rashi, with 27 generation and rabbis and gaonim. He became a shochet in accordance with the stringent demands of the Chidushei Hari'm, the father of the Gerrer dynasty. For him, shechita was a holy service. He was among those who sat close to the Rebbe at the table in both Kock and Ger. He taught a class in the shtibel and was a good prayer leader. He was a shochet in Radom for forty years and died at an old age.


Reb Henoch Hertz

He was called by the name of his father: Henoch Chaim Leibush's. Rabbis and Gaonim were astounded by his scholarship. He wanted to become a rabbi, but he became a shochet of fowl. He sat and learned day and night. The sounds of his Torah study resonated very sweetly in the Beis Midrash or Shtibel. He was a good musician, expositor, and prayer leader. He knew Jewish history and literature, and also wrote, but did not publish. He belonged to the circle of the religious Zionists. He knew Hebrew well and would attend the Mizrachi Synagogue on 10 Rynek. He died on Simchat Torah 5699 [1938].

One of his sons was the editor of “Radomer-Kielcer Life.” A second son was a doctor, and a third is in Israel today.


Reb Yisrael Yitzchak Najdik

He was born in Warka in 1859. He was a student of the Sochaczewer and Kincker Rebbes, and close to the Amshinower (Mszczonówer) and Aleksanderer Rebbes. He was a son-in-law of Reb Bunim Zuker. He was loved by many people due to his humor, ideal comprehension and interesting discussions. He was one of the best prayer leaders in the city (He worshipped mainly in the Amshinower Kloiz, and he blew the shofar). He taught Torah publicly and was always prepared to help the poor. He died at the age of 55 in the year 5674 [1914] during the First World War. Even though his son Shmuel was a young lad, he became a shochet in his father's place. He later made aliya and brought his mother and two sisters to the Land of Israel.


Reb Menashe Zimmerman

Reb Menashe was the son of Reb Avraham Skariszewer and was the shochet in Dzierzków. He was also a good mohel [ritual circumcisor]. He also liked to involve himself in mechanics, and he

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fixed the watches of his neighbors for free. The joke that when one fixes a watch, it stops, and when one slaughters a calf, it walks – was not told about him… for he was a good shochet, and indeed knew watchmaking. He also had a fine voice, and always served as the prayer leader for Musaf on the High Holy Days. The shtibel in which he worshipped was called Menashe Shochet's shtibel. He had six daughters and many grandchildren, who made aliya to the Land of Israel. He died during Chanuka, 5655 [1894].


Reb Mendel David

He was born in 1858 and was a shochet until the end of his life in 1938. He stemmed from scholars and Gaonim, and his pedigree stemmed from Reb Shaul Wahl[5]. Reb Mendel David was Reb Chaim Leibish Hertz's son-in-law. He was a scholarly Jew, who welcomed guests. His wife Chayale the Shochetke performed a great deal of benevolent deeds and was dedicated to the command of helping poor brides.


Reb Shmuel Berman

Hie was the eldest of the Radom shochtim, with a very patriarchal appearance that evoked respect from the Christians as well. He was a scholar, who spent every free minute with a book. He had eight daughters, and two sons who were also shochtim. He was a Kocker Hassid, and the Rebbe found grooms for [his daughters] from among the Hassidim. The Russians and Germans called him “Zaklandik.” During wartime, when the Cossacks entered his house and found him sitting and studying, the did not bother him out of great politeness. The best householders would come to Reb Shmuel Berman for kiddush. Rabbi Shmuel Mohilewer was close with him.


Reb Binyamin Librach

Binyamin Shochet stemmed from the Warker Rebbe, and he was a Warker Hassid. He had a splendid countenance and a clean appearance. He was a scholar with good traits, and was a fine prayer leader.

Regarding his image during the ghetto time, as he was taken out of his Jewish quarter, one could notice the refined features of his face, upon which the Jewish agony of that day was etched…


Reb Shmaryahu Berman

Shmaryahu was Reb Shmuel's son. He was a Torah scholar, and an energetic and popular Jew. He belonged to Mizrachi and strove to make aliya. He even purchased some land in Afula. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be, and he was killed during our great destruction.


Reb Yisrael Yitzchak Hershman

He was one of the eminent Kozienicer Hassidim, and they called him “Malach” [angel] because he was Reb Meirl Malach's son-in-law. He was a G-d fearing and popular Jew with a great deal of humor. He would say: “The joy of the mitzvah, and the mitzvah of joy are the same.” He was a scholar with fine traits. He had three sons: Nachum, Leibel and Zecharia. Zecharia was a scholar, a fine singer, and close with the Białobrzegr Rebbe.


Reb Eliezer Moshe Sofer's

He was a scholar and maskil. He lived on Woel 13. He occupied himself with Torah and Divine service, and his wife worked so that he could sit and learn. He was a pious Jew with fine character traits.


Reb Velvel Kirszberg

He was the son of Elia-Mendel the baker. He was an Otwocker Hassid, a scholar, and a good prayer leader. He would lead the Shacharit service[6] in the Great Synagogue. He was a national-religious, popular, and heartwarming Jew.


The Stotzker

He was a fine, Hassidic Jew of good pedigree, a scholar, quiet and modest.


Reb Kopel Feiwszewicz

He was a son-in-law of Reb Mendel David Shochet. He was a known scholar, the son of the most important Gerrer Hassidim, and the Torah reader in the shtibel. He was “tall like a Tajtelbaum” but refined, with fine manners. He treated everyone with respect, and everyone respected him.


Translator's footnotes
  1. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salomon_Mandelkern Return
  2. The Israel Labor Party. Return
  3. The Hebrew year actually corresponds to 1855 or 1856, not 1852. Return
  4. Shochet and bodek – literally slaughterer and examiner. The examiner checks the kashruth of the slaughtered animal. The two roles usually go together. Return
  5. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Wahl Return
  6. Presumably referring to the High Holy Days. Return

[Page 62]


by M. S. Geshuri and Leibel Richtman

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Reb Yitzchak Rubinsztejn

He stemmed from a musical family, and he himself was quite musically gifted. He played the fiddle and was one of the few cantors of that time who knew musical notes. Before he was accepted a cantor in the Great Synagogue of Radom in 1895, he had to go through an examination by the communal council. This was a concert, and he came through victorious.

Yitzchak Rubinsztejn was born in Lipno. He was involved with music and song from his earliest youth. He was especially involved in cantorial activities, and his talent was expressed as a blend between “emotional cantorial arts” and “orderly music” [i.e. “orderly cantorial arts”]. Of course, his broad knowledge, and his great musical cultural [appreciation] helped him. He possessed a rare, pure tone and a lyrical voice that burst forth from the depths of his heart and soul. He was among the artists who synthesized our traditional and new music. He knew how to modulate his voice and make an impression. The entire city would indeed run to hear him and the youth were amazed by him.

Yitzchak Rubinsztejn was also a scholar, and a Jew with fine traits. He also understood his worth and level and considered himself worthy of an artistic post. Aside from his talent and charm, he also had luck: he won a jackpot of 3,000 rubles, and purchased a house on 20 Szwarlikowska Street. All of his children played [instruments] and sang. He especially gave his sons a musical education. His grandson, Sasha Rubinstein, was a soloist in the Pittsburgh Philharmonic (in America). He also gave lectures on music to our students, and he would also study with the singers in his choir. Music and song always resonated from his house.

Yitzchak Rubinsztejn's choir consisted of 30 singers. Among them were: Binyamin Konsker, Moshe Fiszer (later owned a printshop in Radom), Yisrael Cwajgenberg (currently in Tel Aviv), Yaakov Hechtman, and Isser Lypszyc (later a teacher in the Cold Shul), Yehoshua Flomenbaum (son of Ben-Zion the communal scribe), Yechiel Poper (currently in Canada), Leibche Dan, Motele Kosman (son of the teacher Hershel Kazanower), and Yoshe Den (today in Tel Aviv). The choir was conducted by Cantor Yechiel Unger from Zwoleń, who was the son-in-law of a resident of Radom.

By M. Sh. Geshuri


Gershon Yafa

When Yitzchak Rubinsztejn retired on old age pension in 1910, the community conducted a competition for a new cantor for the Great Synagogue and hired Cantor Gershon Yafa.

He came from Russia, where he graduated from a conservatory, and became an opera singer a short time later. He possessed a fine bass-baritone voice. It was not a “lion's voice,” but it did have a fine, talented resonance.

There was a piano in his house on 8 Circle Market. His children studied music, and his son Miron became a well-known pianist in the city and conducted his father's choir in the Great Synagogue for a short time. There was another conductor, Antimony, who later went to Baku. The conductor from Vilna, Akiva Darmaszkin, took his place.

Cantor Gershon Yafa relied greatly on the choir, for which he attempted to find appropriate conductors.

According to the memories of Shalom Rozenbaum in Radomer Shtima from September 1959, Cantor Yafa's choir consisted years earlier of the singers: Y. Kwirsz (today the chairman of the Radomer Relief in New York.), Wajntraub (in Detroit), the “Small Motele” (printer), Zelicki (today in Israel), Shalom Rozenbaum (Toronto), Yidel Rakocz, the Zuker brothers (Fishel Shochet's sons), Binyamin Konski, Binyamin Fiszer, Yosha Den, Yosef Lewin (Tel Aviv), Shalom Malach (Paris), Shalom Berlinski (today the chief cantor of the Rothschild Synagogue in Paris), and Y. L. Goldwasser (today a cantor in South Africa).

In the 1930s, the following people belonged to the choir, along with me: the brothers Moshe and David Kirszberg (12 Krakowski Street), Shmuel Ringermacher with his brother, and other people who perished, whose names I do not remember. Shmuel Ringermacher used to be called “Jozef Schmidt” due to his splendid lyric tenor. Several members of the choir completed themselves in the Warsaw Conservatory.

Gershon Yafa was the cantor in Radom until the end of 1937. When he retired, the Vilner Cantor Moshe Rontal was hired.

By Leibel Richtman


Akiva Darmaszkin

He was a musician from the womb and birth, a cantor, conductor, composer, and advisor and teacher of cantors. He came from Vilna. He spoke smoothly with a sharp “r.” He had a black beard and wore glasses. He composed recitatives,

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worked on liturgical compositions, and collected a large musical library. He was also a shochet in Vilna for a period of time. He conducted services with a very fine tenor. He was the choir director in the Great Synagogue of Radom from 1913 to 1918, and he earned a good name. People came to him to study musical notes, and to study music and the cantorial arts.

He returned to his hometown of Vilna for a time, where he conducted in the Great Synagogue, in which cantors such a David Katzman and Moshe Koussevitzky led services. There, he taught young cantors, conducted choirs and orchestras, and created music for Hebrew texts. His Shir HaAvoda became famous. He wrote marches, waltzes, songs, and folks motifs.

Akiva Darmaszkin had three children. His son Zeev was a wonder child, and gave piano concerts. He graduated from the Vilna Conservatory, and he used to accompany the concerts of the great cantors.

Akiva Darmaszkin returned to Radom in 1930, and conducted the choir of Cantor Gershon Yafa, who had attained the level of an artist. He transcribed hundreds of Modzitzer melodies from the mouth of the Modzitzer Rebbe.

Akiva Darmaszkin and his talented son Zeev were murdered in the Vilna Ghetto. His two daughters Pnina and Mina were saved. One is a pianist and the other is a singer in America.


The Final Cantor

Moshe Rosenthal was he final cantor of the Great Synagogue of Radom. He was also from Vilna, where he studied in the conservatory and cantors' school. He was hired as the cantor in a Galician town at the age of 21, and later, he became the cantor of the Zangwil-Schul of Vilna. In 1937, when Radom opened a competition for cantor, cantors from the entire country would come to lead services on Shabbat as a try-out. Finally, the vote was narrowed down to two cantorial candidates: Fishele Fiszbejn who later became the chief cantor of the Nozyk Synagogue of Warsaw, and Moshe Rosenthal. The city was then divided not two camps: for Fiszbejn and for Rosenthal. The latter was victorious, and he was accepted as cantor on July 3, 1939. He met with great success when conducting services for his first High Holy Days.

Cantor Rosenthal endured suffering and pain in the Radom Ghetto. His wife and child were sent to Treblinka, where they were murdered. He himself was taken to labor in the weapons factory. Later, he was sent to Auschwitz, and from there, to the German Vaihingen Concentration Camp.

After the liberation, Moshe Rosenthal conducted the first Rosh Hashana services in Garmisch-Patenkirchen, and Yom Kippur services in the Royal Stuttgart Opera House, together with a choir of Radom lads who survived. This was a bizarre picture after all the years of hell: an opera house in Germany which was previously only frequented by Nazis was converted into a Jewish synagogue where thousands of Jewish survivors, together with Jewish soldiers of the American Army, with their officers and military rabbis, came to hear Cantor Rosenthal and his Radomer choir. The cantor led Kol Nidre and Musaf, and was received strongly. However, this was immediately after the terrible years of concentration camps, which left him feeling weakened, and the cantor suddenly became hoarse. One of the members of his choir, Leibel Richtman, filled in for him and conducted Neila. Those two later organized a large choir of Radomers, which performed concerts on the Stuttgart radio and in various D.P. Camps in Germany.

When Cantor Rosenthal immigrated to America at the beginning of 1946, Leibel Reichman took his place as chief cantor of the Ashkenazic community of Stuttgart. He also served in the military rabbinate of the American occupation forces in the region.

Cantor Moshe Rosenthal settled in Chicago, where he was hired by the great synagogue of the Humboldt region. He conducted services there with great success for 14 years. He visited Israel with his family, where he was received by the Radomers, and treated them with his singing.


Radomer Cantors throughout the World

L. M. Goldwasser was born in Białobrzeg in 1898. His father and grandfather were renowned prayer leaders in their city and had an influence upon young Goldwasser. When they moved to Radom, he found the opportunity to develop his musical abilities. He was often invited to sing in front of Rabbi Natan David Rabinowicz, the son of Rabbi Shraga-Meir, who was an appreciator of music and a lover of song. Goldwasser's uncle Reb Yankel Kuper and his sons also had an influence on him. The uncle was a first-class prayer leader. His son Shlomo was a cantor in England, and his second son, Yisrael, was the final cantor of the large Beis Midrash of Radom. Goldwasser was a singer in Cantor Yafa's choir, which was conducted by Akiva Darmaszkin, in which he often performed as a soloist. At times, he filled in for the cantor, and he would also lead services in various synagogues in the city. He got married at the age of 20, and became a brother-in-law to Pinchas Szerman, the famous cantor of the Tłumaczer Synagogue in Warsaw. He was a singer with Szerman and Gershon Sirota. Later, he moved to Łódź, where he studied with Avraham Birenbaum,

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the zęstochower Cantor and received ordination as a cantor from him.

Goldwasser became the cantor in Raizman's Syagogue in Warsaw in 1922. From there, he moved to the High Synagogue of Leipzig. With the rise of Naziism, he moved to Paris, from where he was hired by the Great Synagogue of Zurich, Switzerland. Later, he was hired in South Africa, where he has already served as the cantor of the Muizenberg community for 16 years. He also gives concerts, which have been recorded. Cantor Goldwasser also writes in the Yiddish-English press regarding the cantorial arts and Jewish music. He has also written about famous cantors in Europe under Naziism and portrayed their last days before they were murdered in sanctification of the Divine Name. He has visited his family in Israel several times.

* * *

Shalom Berlinski was born in 1918 in Radom. He was a singer with Cantor Yafa and fantasized about becoming an opera singer. He later traveled abroad and studied singing with the famous La Scala singer Valdernini in Italy, and later with Maurice Franck, the professor of the conservatory and conductor of the opera in Paris until the Second World War.

He became the chief cantor of the Rothschild Synagogue in Paris in 1948, and is considered today as one of the famous cantors in Europe. He made a name for himself in the Gentile world with his concert performances – despite the fact that, aside from the composition of Bach, Handel, Brahms, Liszt, and Bloch… Hassidic melodies, Biblical songs, and Chalutz and folk songs took a conspicuous place in his repertoire.

* * *

Yaakov Berlinski was born in Radom in 1913. He began to study music with Akiva Darmaszkin at the age of seven. Later, he traveled to Paris and studied in the conservatory. He won a prize of $1,000 in a Jewish music contest for his work “Canaan.”

He wrote about problems of music in various periodicals, and especially in “The Cantorial World” that was published in Warsaw, edited by Cantor Szerman. He published an article about Kol Nidre in the Samedi newspaper. His “Death Dance” (words by David Einhorn) also won a prize. His compositions were very often performed by a choir and an orchestra. When he went on a trip to South Africa, where the Jewish community welcomed him with enthusiasm, it was exactly 300 years after the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck from Holland, who settled there as a pioneer. In the celebratory program in honor of that historic date, Johannesburg Radio declared a musical competition in the name of that pioneer. Yaakov Berlinski then composed his “van Riebeeck Symphony” and won first prize. The symphony was played by great orchestras in America and France.

By M. Sh. G.

Cantors in the Large Beis Midrash

by Leibel Richtman

Mosheke Korman

There were more than 1,000 seats in the large Beis Midrash. Even though the worshippers were not those who needed “to be inspired” but rather those who came to worship, they had a self-understood need – the Gabbaim made sure that there would be a fine and worthy prayer leader. Korman was hired as cantor there in 1890. Mosheke Korman was a G-d fearing cantor, and the city especially loved him, for he was a local, a native of Radom.

Korman did not study in any cantorial school and did not study music with any professors. A few Yiddish and Hebrew books about cantorial arts and music were his conservatory. Furthermore, he would travel to nearby places to hear a good cantor and perhaps learn from him. He was not a composer or creator of new tunes and styles, but he had a good ear and a good memory to learn new, fine melodies. He also had friends in various cities who were cantors and musicians who would send him new melodies and styles, which completed, enriched, and beautified his worship. He did not have a choir, but he had talent and a good heart, warmth, devotion, and the Jewish sigh. His style of prayer brought joy to both the Hassidim and Misnagdim.

Given his competitive activity regarding the cantor of the synagogue, he would, here and there “inject” modern

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melodies from Sulzer and Lewandowski. These were high sections which in fact could compete with the cantor of the synagogue, and the worshippers treated this with respect.

Reb Yisrael Yitzchak Najdik the Shochet would lead the Shacharit service on the High Holy Days. The Torah reader was always Reb Shmerel, and in the second minyan – Gliksztejn. Korman's assistant was Nisanke the Litvak, whose Lithuanian melodies and pronunciation were a sensation for the Radom worshippers.

Cantor Korman died in the 1920s. He also led the Shacharit service on the final High Holy Days, and, after the services, he ascended the bima and call out with tears: “What type of good deeds will they account for me in the other world. Perhaps they are saying there that this year, I also led the Shacharit service…”[1]


Yonatan Herman

Yonatan Herman was also a native of the city. He did not know musical notes, and he was comfortable with different styles of prayer. He knew how to collect that which was good and beautiful. He was faithful to the traditional musical style, and he would lead the prayers with his heart. He was a sweet prayer leader, whom the worshippers loved. He was G-d fearing, calm, and good hearted. Everyone respected him. His children were well raised, and his daughter was one of the first teachers in the Radom Folks School.


Yisrael Kuper

He was born in Białobrzeg in 1890, and came to Radom during the 1920s. He was a hearty singer with a fine lyric tenor. He began to function in the Beis Midrash with a choir of the children of the worshippers. He was a wonderful prayer leader, who brought the worshippers to a state of soulful devotion. His own sons were also in the choir. He also gave concerts at various events in the city, singing cantorial pieces and Jewish songs together with his choir. His concerts enjoyed great success in the world. Women especially could not find enough loving words for him.

Yisrael Kuper's brother was a renowned cantor in London, and a personality within religious Jewry in England. Kuper's sons received a musical education, and one of them studied in the Lemberg Conservatory.

Cantor Kuper was murdered during the Holocaust years along with most of his family.


Translator's footnote
  1. On the High Holy Days, the main cantor generally leads the Musaf service, and a different prayer leader leads the Shacharit service. It is possible for one person to do both, but it is very taxing, so it is generally split. Return


by Leibel Richtman

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The great Radomer rabbis would give a class in the Beis Midrash, and study Torah with the Jews. Many lads and young adults studied day and night in the Beis Midrash. Scholarly householders would sit in the shtibels, and the sounds of Torah could always be heard.

The first Yeshiva that we know of was founded in 1908 in Czypte's house on Stara-Krakowa 12 (where the Ostrowiecer Rebbe, Reb Moishele, later lived). Rabbi Meir Laszicer (Rubin) was the Yeshiva head. He was a Lithuanian scholar who published a book called Beit Meir. Tens of lads would study Torah for its own sake[1] in the Yeshiva: Yechiel Rozenblum (son-in-law of Rabbi Temkin, the Piotrków rabbi), Leibish Mendel Ziserman (who later became an Aguda activist and city councilor), Yaakov Richtman (Meir Wolf's son), and others.

A group of activists, including Reb Mordechai Ferster, founded the Yeshiva Ketana [Yeshiva for younger students] in 1916, for 20 selected Torah studiers of age 17 or 18 who were preparing to receive rabbinical ordination. The founders designated a stipend of 600 rubles for every ordination candidate, and 300 rubles for an educator. They studied every afternoon in the Talmud Torah on Wahl 28, under the direction of Rabbi Meir Laszicer. The following people studied there: Yisraelke Lindenbaum, who later became a rabbi in Galicia; Melech Kac (Yisrael Eliezer's), Shalom Zisholc, who was called “Shenner” (fine); Yosef Korman (Bliachsz); Simcha Rozenkranc; Avraham Mordechai Elbaum; Moshe Aharon Ejgner (Shlomo Sofer's); the brothers Pinia and Yisrael Rozenblum; Eliezer Fiszman (today in Tel Aviv); and Yirmiahu Piranka (Feivel Melamed's son). Some of them received ordination from the Kincker Gaon, the author of Chelkat Yoav; and others from the Ostrowiecer Rabbi, Rabbi Meir Yechiel HaLev. Others continued studying in Den's Beis Midrash on Szpitalna 2.

In 1915, during the time of the Austrian occupation, the activists Reb Eliezer Margolis and Reb Yoel Klajnman founded a Yeshiva of four grades in the house of Matityahu Gryn on Lubliner Street 7. The Yeshiva head was Rabbi Eli Kazanower (Farber). Those giving classes included Rabbi Eliezer Yehoshua's and Rabbi Noach Kampel, who was called “Der Schwartzer Noach” [The Black Noach].

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The same activists-founders opened a Yeshiva in 1818 in Itche Fiszman's house in the Round Market. The head was the renowned Aguda activists and religious pedagogue Rabbi David Elimelech Kuper from Grodzisk. A branch was also opened in the Beis Midrash of Yerachmiel Bialski on Skariszewska Street, and also in the suburb of Dzierzków. The regular examiners included Reb Matityahu Kuper – a Hassid, great in Torah and one of the most important householders in the city. The Yeshiva grew and became known in the region. Students came from outside, who partook of their meals with various householders on a rotation basis. The Yeshiva took the name “Torat Chaim” after the Brisker Rabbi, Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, may the memory of the holy be blessed. It was headed by Rabbi Meir Laszicer during the 1920s, and later by Rabbi Noach Kampel, one of the people who gave classes and also taught morality.

The Torat Chaim Yeshiva existed until the destruction, and educated a generation of Torah scholars. Lads from that Yeshiva later moved to study in the famous Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva. Among them were the son of the leather manufacturer Eli Kaner, a son of the merchant Itshele Margolis, two sons of the merchant Najman, and a son of Itshele Zokenmacher.

The rabbis and parnassim [administrators] of the city would come to the Yeshiva and take interest in the order and in the level of the studiers. The examinations used to take place in the presence of scholarly householders. In the final years, two teachers also gave lectures in arithmetic and general studies three times a week.

A council of activists ensured the existence of the Yeshiva. Nevertheless, Moshe Yaakov Davidzon, the editor of the Radomer Geist newspaper, complained in the issue of Shvat 5692 [1932] about the minimal interest of the community toward that Torah institution.

In the final years, the Yeshiva was located in a large Beis Midrash on the Street of the Synagogue. Lads from the upper classes would study an entire night on Thursday night in the Den Beis Midrash. The last Yeshiva head was Rabbi Feivel Bursztyn, Eliezer Leibele Ovadia's son-in-law. His house (Woel 15) was always full of people, including students, who would come to ask for his advice and to hear Torah from his mouth. Some of those Yeshiva students are today in Israel: Avraham Shmuel Katz (Bnei Brak), the shochet Tzvi Feigenbaum (Ramat Gan), Shmuel Neidick, and Aryeh Richtman (Tel Aviv). The lawyer Meir Reicham, the son of Reb Yoel, is in Buenos Aires.

During the 1920s, external emissaries and local activists founded a Novhorodok style Yeshiva. Most of the students came from outside. Some were Litvaks with their strange accents and strange clothing, wearing their tzitzis outside. Householders concerned themselves with their lodging and food.

The Yeshiva left Radom and established itself in a different city during the 1930s.


Translator's Footnote
  1. i.e. without expectation of reward or remuneration. Return

Chevra Kadisha [Burial Society] and Chesed Shel Emet

by Leibel Richtman

Translated by Jerrold Landau

One can surmise that the Chevra Kadisha was founded in Radom when the cemetery was established during the plague years of 1831-1832. The first case of death recorded by the community representatives was recorded in the name of the late Freidel Wolf, age 50, from the village of Kowala (according to material from Leizer Fishman).

The ledgers of the Chevra Kadisha were destroyed during the Holocaust, and we do not know who the founders and first gabbaim [trustees] were. From the documents that we do possess, we learn that at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, the chief undertakers were Avigdor Kirszencwajg and Yisrael Mordechai Kirszberg. The head of the community Yitzchak Bialski was the chairman of the Chevra Kadisha. During the First World War, there was a reorganization of the Chevra Kadisha and the name was changed to “Chevra Kadisha and Chesed Shel Emet”[1],. Yaakov Zamer was among the active members of the Chevra. Previously, the Chevra was located in Shlomo Shabtai's house (Erlich's) on Wahl 15. Later, it was on Zatilna 3, in a large barrack that was set up near the slaughterhouse of fowl.

The cemetery was four kilometers from the city on the road to Kozienice. It was one kilometer off the highway. The route belonged to an anti-Semitic Christian who took legal action against the community for trespassing upon his property. The cemetery occupied a square kilometer, and was surrounded by a stone wall. The entrance was through an iron gate. The tahara room[2] was next to the cemetery, in a single-story house in which the undertakes lived.

The cemetery was a source of income for the community, which had paid for the plots. A deceased person would be taken to the synagogue, where eulogies were delivered. From the synagogue, the funeral passed through the Wahl – the Jewish

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center, until the “three trees” on the Kozienicer road. People accompanied the cortege by foot to that point, and from there, it continued by vehicle.

There was a canopy over the grave of the Kozienicer Rebbe, Reb Shmelke, may the memory of the holy be blessed, who died in the year 5675 [1915], when he was in Radom during the First World War as a refugee. There was fine canopy over the three people who were hanged in 1914: Reb Shraga Feivel Dancyger (son of the Aleksander Rebbe and son-in-law of Meir-Yechiel Rotenberg), Reb Yaakov Ajzman – grandson of Tovala Rotenberg, and Reb Hirsh Mordechai Sankiewicz – also a son-in-law of Meir-Yechiel Rotenberg.

There were fine family monuments over the graves of the Bekermans, Abish Adler, Brams, Klajf, Itche Meir Laslaw, and others.

Activists and members of the Chevra Kadisha and Chesed Shel Emet during the last 40-50 years were: community head Yitzchak Bialski, Meir Wolf and his son Michael Richtman, Moshe and Mendel Rechtman, Meir Neihaus (“Pacziner”), Baruch Kirszencwajg (“Walkasz”), Henech Parnas, Wajntraub, Moshe Bunem Rechtman, Moshe Leib Ostrowiecki, Tanchum Rozenbaum (in-law of Rabbi Pozner from Warsaw), Yaakov Szapir, Bel Rozenkranz, Yitzchak David Pasternak, Yechiel Kuperwasser, Tanzman, Shmuel Baumgarten, Yisrael Birenkraut, Mendel Szajnbaum, Yona Goldberg, Yechiel Litwak, Gedalia Cytrynowicz, Mendel Staszewski, Binyamin Kaufman, Yerachmiel Gutman, Mordechai Gertner (died in Tel Aviv), and many others.

The last undertakers were Baruch Walkasz and Moshe Bunem Kirszberg.

The scholar and public disseminator of Torah, Reb Yerachmiel Gutman, worshipped and taught every evening in the prayer house of the Chevra Kadisha. The Yeshiva head Rabbi Meir Laszicer, in his time, used to come and disseminate Torah in the Chevra Kadisha.

The Chevra Kadisha members especially suffered daily tribulations during the time of Nazi rule. During the time of the ghetto, no day passed without victims of beatings, hunger, epidemics, diseases, and murderous aktions. During that time, the Chevra Kadisha members worked day and night, in three shifts, often risking their own lives.

With the arrival of victims to the cemetery on the death wagon, the Polish hooligans threw stones at the deceased and those who accompanied them. If they encountered Germans, they would be beaten with deathly blows. Thus, the Chevra Kadisha people literally risked their lives as they carried out their mission in accordance with Jewish law, until they themselves became victims, being killed in sanctification of the Divine Name.

During those days, the stone fence around the cemetery was destroyed, and the gravestones were used in the city for sidewalks or cobblestone pavement.

After the war, an attempt was made to collect to one place all the broken gravestones which were spread throughout the city. With the initiative of Leizer Fiszman, they began to re-erect and restore the stone fence. However, in the interim, the initiator made aliya to the Land of Israel, and the work was not completed.


Translator's Footnotes
  1. Chesed Shel Emet literally means “true kindness.” It is a term often used for burial societies, as the kindness of preparing the deceased for burial is a kindness for which any earthly repayment is impossible. Thus, it is a true, altruistic form of kindness. Return
  2. The room where the deceased are prepared for burial. Return

The End of the Talmud Torah

by Melech Guthertz

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The former Jewish commercial center on Woel Street is quiet today. One seldom sees a passer-by. Not far from the priest's park, where the bourse of the leather merchants once was, there is a hill covered with grass. The charming “New Shops” near Chwat's hall have completely sunk into the ground.

The only thing that reminds one of the former Jewish past is the tall, massive building: the Talmud Torah on Woel 28, where the joyous voices of the school children, who ran to study Torah, were once heard.

The building of the Jewish Talmud Torah is currently inhabited by Polish tenants, who are taking advantage of the destruction of the Jews.

The Talmud Torah… how many of its students grew up to be adults who are today spread throughout the world, and take important positions in societal life? Who of you does not remember that building, where your children spent time?

In 1922, the Talmud Torah moved from its former dark room to a modern educational

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Institution, which was managed by Mottel Ajsman, the owner of the tannery; David Koper, the owner of the Nektar beer brewery; and Hershel Zisman, whose wife Sarale Soves helped purchase the building.

Reb Rafael Kozienicer was the leader during the 1920s, when the Talmud Torah was reorganized. Several melamdim [teachers] taught there, such as Reb Leibele Ovadia's and later Nechemia Kazanower and Eliahu Farbman. The folks teacher Goldsztejn taught secular studies. Yankele Rotenberg served as an example, as he sent his children to the Talmud Torah rather than to a private cheder. Many other wealthy people followed his example. Reizel Den and Shmuel Korman served as the guardians of the poor children. The Jewish community always warmly received any activity on behalf of the Talmud Torah, and everyone looked with love at the sign that hung over the balcony, with the inscription “It is a Tree of Life to those who uphold it.”[1]

The pure voices of the Jewish children, accompanied by a choral rendition of “Righteousness goes before Him”[2] wafted forth from those walls.

The popular feldsher [medic] Avrahamele Lewin, who was a father to the Talmud Torah children, was shot in Szydłowiec together with his wife and some of his children. (only one son and one daughter survived). And where are all the activists, doers, leaders, teachers, and the precious students of the Talmud Torah?

Gentiles live in the Talmud Torah building, and the livelily Jewish center is today a desolate desert, with desert-like silence.

Radom 1946


Translator's Footnotes
  1. Proverbs 3:18. Return
  2. Psalms 85:13. Return


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