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[Page 239]

Authors – Torah Commentators


by M. Sh. Gashori

Translated by Janie Respitz


Reb Naftali son of Pinkhas –Zev Halevy

Born on the 14th of Elul 1840, in the city Kolo where his father was a religious judge. His mother was the daughter of Rabbi Khaim Kroner the chief religious judge in Diharnport, Silesia. Both sides claimed great pedigree. Naftali studied with the greatest scholars in town and at the Yeshiva of Rabbi Y.L. Oyerbakh. He received ordination from the greatest rabbis but he did not become a rabbi. He chose an independent path toward writing and scholarship. His articles were published in the Hebrew press as well as English and German. His books captured the attention of great rabbis. He began writing as a young boy. His first works were “Prichei Hamelitza” and “Anochi Haroeh” which were well received. He also studied languages.

In Radom Reb Naftali was a private teacher for the Bekermans and also did some business. At the same time he wrote his first book “Chakrei Kadmoniyut” which was published in Breslau. Among other things there is an important work about the Essenes in this book.

His second book, which he wrote in Radom in 1866 contains poems and verses, observations and a hymn for Alexander II who acknowledged it with a thank you.

Reb Naftali then left for London where he married and continued to write. In 1883 he published his book “Code of Jewish Law –Honour Your Mother and Father” with letters of recognition from Rabbi Berlin from Volozhin, Rabbi Raynes from Lida, Rabbi Tiktinsky from Mir, the great scholar Shloyme Buber, Rabbi Yitzkhak Elkhanan Spektor from Kovno, Rabbi Ezriel Hildesheimer from Berlin, and Rabbi Gdalye Tiktin from Breslau. Then he published “Kadesh Naftali” (About the Tractate Blessings), “Nachalat Naftali” (about the Talmud and Ein Yakov). Rabbi Hildesheimer called him “the rabbi and distinguished scholar who was wonderful at amazing scholars.” Rabbi Y. Y. Raynes wrote the following about him: “Extremely intelligent. His teaching is pure and clear”. Then he published “Naftali and Levy”, “The Treasures of Naftali” and a book about Darwin's theories.

It is interesting to add that Charles Darwin knew the content of Reb Naftali's book about him and his theory and they corresponded. Darwin sent Reb Naftali copies of his books with a handwritten dedication: “To the famous Jewish writer from the author Darwin”. His grandchild has these books until today. Reb Naftali argues with Darwin wanting to convince him that his theory was incorrect and against faith.

Reb Naftali died at the age of 54 and is buried in London.


Reb Meir Halevy Bornshteyn (Meirl the Angel)

He was a writer and a publisher, but not a writer who earned a living writing nor a publisher who did business. In Radom he was merely the supervisor of the charity boxes of Reb Meir Baal Nes. Hasidic literature was his life and he had the drive to read such books and share his impressions with great pleasure with other Jews. When he noticed a book was rare and difficult to find in the book market he would republish it at his own expense as a gift to the Hasidim…

This is how Reb Meirl started his own small publishing house and on the opening page of every little book and pamphlet the name of the publisher was printed: “Meir Bornshteyn son of Mordkhai Halevy from Radom”. It is difficult to know how many books he published. There are four of his books preserved in the library of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

His book “Kitzur Machberet Hakodesh”, about the Sabbath, holidays and seasons contains recognitions from: Yitzkhak Yakov the saintly man from Bialah, Rebbe Meir Sholem head religious judge from Kalushin, Rabbi Tzadok Hakohen from Lublin, Rebbe Meir Yekhiel Halevy from Ostrovtze, Rebbe Avrom Eiger the saintly man from Lublin, Rebbe Yekhezkl Hakohen Rabinovitch from Radomsk, Rabbi Eliyahu Khaim Mayzl from Lodz, Rabbi Shmuel Zaynvl Klepfish from Warsaw, Rebbe Yerakhmiel Moishe from Kozhenitz, Rabbi Yisroel from Stolin and Rebbe Yisroel Yitzkhak Dantziger from Alexander.

He published the writings of Reb Yisroel, the grandson of the Preacher from Kozhenitz called “Ramzei Yisrael”.

In 1898 he published a pamphlet on the Book of Genesis and the greatness of creation. He republished it because it was rare and hard to find.


Rabbi Yehuda (Yudl) Roznberg

Born in 1860 in Skarishev. A great scholar and an expert in Hasidism. He translated the Zohar into Hebrew.

As a young boy he was known as the “Prodigy from Skarishev”. He received ordination from the eminent rabbi Shenour Zalmen Shneerson,

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Reb Meir Yekhiel Halevy and Reb Shmuel Zaynvl Klepfish. He married when he was 17 and became a rabbi in Torle. He would travel to the Lublin Rebbe but Hasidim complained he was studying Russian and reading secular books. Later he became a rabbi in Warsaw, in the Skernievitz synagogue where he published a rabbinic monthly called “The Voice of Torah”. He then moved to Lodz and from there to Canada where he was rabbi in the “Polish Synagogue” in Toronto. He passed away there.

Rabbi Roznberg wrote many books and folksy pamphlets. His book “Yadot Nadirim” was taught in Yeshivas as well as his books: “Mikva Yehuda”, “Maor Chashmal”, “Drash Tzemer Vepshatim” and “Hakrya Hakdusha”, with comments in Yiddish. His book “Ziv Ha Zohar” was considered one of the best explanations. He wrote on the following topics: Jewish law, rabbinic literature, Kabbala, folk – tales in Hebrew and Yiddish about Elijah the Prophet and the Maharal of Prague. He translated a book about medicine by Maimonides with a short biography of Maimonides; “The Book of The Angel Rafael”, a book about the grandfather from Shpol, “The Story of King Solomon”. He wrote in a folksy Yiddish. His book “The Angel Rafael” provides advice on medicine and hygiene and is used by Hasidim until today. He showed a great tendency toward poetry and mysticism.

In 1930 the Montreal Jewish community celebrated the 70th birthday of Rabbi Roznberg and the Jubilee committee, for this occasion, published a souvenir book in his honour, edited by the writer and contributor to the “Forward” Dr. Zvi Cohen. He received greetings and telegrams from great Jewish scholars from all over the world.

Rabbi Roznberg passed away at an old age and his grave is a monument.


Rabbi Eliezer Lipman Perl

He was born in Radom in 1900. His parents, Dovid – Menakhem and Miriam both claim great pedigree: his father from “Tiferet Shlomo” and his mother was the daughter of Shloymele Alter, the brother of “Sfat Emet”.

Reb Eliezer studied in Yeshivas and with Rabbi Alpos. At a young age he displayed a curiosity in folklore as well as a sense of humour. He would speak with Hasidic expressions and loved to tell stories about saintly men and Talmudic scholars. He was multi talented: he painted pictures which impressed the experts, played the violin, and wrote music (he wrote the musical score for the military orchestra when he served). He was also involved in communal work and was one of the founders of “Agudas Yisroel” youth in Radom. He married in Warsaw and worked as a bookkeeper for his father in law Motl Zabladover's business.

When the orthodox newspaper “Dos Yidishe Togblat” was published in Warsaw Lipman Perl became the editor of the humour section where he displayed sharp polemic talent and biting satire. His pseudonym there was “Ipkho Mistabranik”. He was also the editor of “Dos Kleyne Togblat”, the Sabbath eve installment for children. There he used the pseudonyms: Alef Katz, Peleh, and others and contributed until the Holocaust. Lipman Perl translated “The Moment of Despair” by Dr. Meir Lehman and published in book form “Collected Pearls”, a collection of Hasidic teachings. His writings “A Joke”, “Reb Heshele and Reb Fleshele” (in verse), and “A Business Investigation” were included in “An anthology of Religious Poems and Stories” which Moishe Prager published in New York. B. Yeushzohn often used Perl Lipman's Hasidic, folkloric and Torah collections in his feuilletons, Sabbath discussions and other articles.

Reb Eliezer Lipman Perl was killed in the Warsaw ghetto in 1942.


Rabbi Yishaye Zlotnik

He was born in Plock in 1892. His father, Rabbi Meir the Glovatchov rabbi was a writer, critic and corrector of the Talmud. He spent his life writing a book about commentaries and commentators of the Talmud which was lost during the Holocaust when he and his family were killed. (Only two of his daughters survived. One lives in Israel and the other in America).

Rabbi Yishaye Zlotnik received rabbinic ordination at the age of sixteen. He married Freda at eighteen the daughter of Reb Motl Veynrib and began publishing articles in “Moment” and “Express” in Warsaw, “Tog”, “Morgn Zhurnal” in New York, “Keneder Odler”, “Hatzfira”, “Haolam” and the press of the “Mizrachi” movement.

His first books in rabbinic literature were “Yalkut Yishaye” and “Prurei Hashulchan Vehashas”. Later he devoted himself to folklore and published a few books: “Jokes from our Old Treasure”, “Lexicon of Jewish Witticisms”, and “Modern Sermons”. Meanwhile he was active as director of the Mizrachi movement in Radom where he also worked on his crowning work “The Jewish Ethic in our Religious Books”.

Purim, 1948[1] he was murdered, together with his wife by the Nazis at the Shidlovetz cemetery.

By Yisroel Grintz

Translator's note:

  1. The year 1948 may be error.

[Page 241]

Newspapers and Editors

Translated by Janie Respitz

Until the end of the First World War Radom did not have its own newspaper. The town was satisfied with sending its local reports, correspondence and reportages to the Warsaw press. Our correspondents for the newspapers “Hashachar”, “Hatzfira”, “Hamagid” and “Izraelita” were: Yisroel Frenkel, Palti Mushkatblit, Sholem Diamant and Yakov Satshnik. Shaul and Yosef Sokolovsky, Yehuda Milman and others wrote for subsequent Yiddish papers.

The first issue of “Radom Newspaper” appeared in independent Poland, edited by Leyb Malakh and Shmuel Benet. When Leyb Malakh immigrated to Argentina Meir Hertz took over the newspaper.

With the growth of the Zionist movement and widespread activity of the Jewish community our own organ became a necessity. So in 1922 Pinkhas Fogelman opened the “Radom Newspaper” which was well edited. His co-workers were: Shmuel Benet, Moishe Luxemburg, YIsroel Leshtch, Yerakhmiel Kirshenboym (who wrote his successful feuilletons under the pseudonym “Yoshev B'Seter” Sitting in Secret), Khaim Taykhman, and others. Working in the administration were: Mr. Zhabner, Yakov Fridman, and Yitzkhak Veysbord. Of course the newspaper had political opponents who always fought them and pressed charges against the editors. The newspaper existed until 1925 when the editor Fogelman moved to Warsaw. The newspaper was renewed a year later edited by the lawyer Salbeh who was assisted by Simkha Potashnik. Once again it did not last long.

At that time Meir Hertz began to publish a weekly called “Radom Life” which later expanded to “Radom – Kielce Life”. This paper was non-partisan, tried to provide interesting reading material and maintained itself commercially through advertisements, congratulations and obituaries.

Later another weekly was published, “The Radom Voice” edited by Leyzer Fishman. This paper was also non – partisan, however it was neater and on a higher literary level.

In later years a Yiddish – Polish weekly was published called “Tribune”. Its editor was Sh. Goldfarb. Besides reports on communal life and handling of political problems, the “Tribune” published historic summaries about the first Jews in Radom written by Leyzer Fishman and Yuzef Bekerman.

Besides these weeklies and dailies there were periodicals like the literary notebook “New Winds” where talented new writers were featured. Included in the pleiad of writers were: Moishe Teytlboym, Yekhiel Fridman, the teacher Yosef Korman, the Grintz brothers, Shtotvoyner, Tuviya Rotman and Shtreyman (poems), Moishe Rotenberg (municipal problems), Gavriel Vaysman (folklore, songs and reviews), Dovid and Zakhariya Vayntroyb, Solomon Levin, Faygnboym, Finkelshteyn, Yekhiel Frenkel and Dovid Frenkel.

But the pioneer of Yiddish publications in Radom was Avrom Goldberg, who published 12 issues of a newspaper, lithographed. The high school students also published a Hebrew – Polish periodical called “El – Al”.


Shmuel Benet

The son of destitute parents who paved his own path to education and knowledge. He graduated from the Jewish high school in Radom and pursued work as a journalist and researcher, particularly on the history of Jews in Poland. Many of his articles that were published in the Polish and Yiddish press caught the attention of serious Jewish scholars. He later became a beloved student of Professor Meir Balaban. While he was in Warsaw he published his articles and research in “Haynt”.

Sh. Benet was active in the Zionist movement, secretary of “Tachkemoni”, member of the Centre of General Zionists in Warsaw, leader of a Jewish student group and secretary for Professor Balaban who delivered a moving eulogy at his grave.


“Sitting in Secret”

This was the pseudonym of Yerkhmiel Kirshenboym, a wealthy Jew, a Zionist, a businessman who wrote humorous pieces for “Radom Newspaper”. His pertinent, witty and good natured images of individuals and local happenings in Radom were very well received by his readers. Without a doubt, Kirshenboym had the talent of a humourist although he did not want to be a professional writer. When the newspaper closed, he stopped writing and all that remained

[Page 242]

was his pertinent, well suited name “Sitting in Secret”. This is what everyone called him practically forgetting his real name. He was killed during the great “Nazi occupation”.


Meir Hertz

Born in 1897 to a respected Hasidic family. He was raised in Radom where his father was a ritual slaughterer. Until age twenty he studied in the Kotsk Hasidic prayer house and the House of Study. He concerned himself with stories and began writing about the Hasidic past. In 1922 he began to publish his stories, novels, short stories and a serialized novel in newspapers in Lodz, Lemberg, Vilna and New York.

After Leyb Malakh, Meir Hertz took over “Radom Life” which expanded to “Radom Kielce Life” and was published until the Holocaust.


Dovid Goldblat

Born in Radom around 1865. At the end of the 1890s he arrived in South Africa. In 1902 when there was a law that every immigrant must pass an exam in a European language, Dovid Goldblat began to agitate to have Yiddish recognized as a European language. He wrote a brochure about it in English which resulted in the government recognizing Yiddish as a European language: the language of the Jewish people.

From 1904 -1914 Dovid Goldblat edited the weekly “The Jewish Advocate”. He spent 30 years working on a large Yiddish encyclopedia. He came to America in 1916. Later, in 1920 he published “The General Illustrated Encyclopedia”.


Yehoshua Tzuker

Born in 1886, the son of Reb Fishl the ritual slaughterer. As a young boy he excelled in his studies, knew the Talmud well and his father taught him ritual slaughtering. By age eighteen he became a teacher and an enlightened Jew. He was very well read and knew many languages, especially Hebrew. He was proficient in European and Jewish enlightenment literature. He possessed a beautiful voice, loved music and was one of the founders of “Hazamir” (Nightingale) Society in Radom.

Yehoshua was an assistant of Reb Sholem Diamant of blessed memory, the representative of the Jewish National Fund in our town and a propagator of Zionist literature.

During the First World War he moved to Warsaw where he was a contributor to “Moment” until the last day. He founded the publishing house “Old Yiddish” which was active until the Holocaust. He died in the Warsaw ghetto.


Yedidya Berl Shtrayman

Born in 1892 in Godev, a village behind Radom. He was a butcher who bought cows and calves at fairs, then he would slaughter them and sell the meat in his butcher shop. He wrote the following in a poem: “The swallows cried because the cows could not calf”…and later. When “they were cut into pieces on the wagon the roses began to bud”…

He published two books of poetry: “Autumn Suffering” and “In the Flames”, as well as four booklets “New Winds” where he published stories about a butcher's life. He loved to read and grabbed every opportunity to do so. His pockets were always filled with newspapers and journals. He was once seen driving a calf near the “old garden” and when the calf became stubborn and refused to walk he tied it to a tree and lay down on the grass to read “Literary Pages”…

Yedidya Berl Shtrayman was killed in the Radom ghetto.


Moishe Heltzman

He was wronged by nature: deaf, a wandering eye, and a deformed face. For that reason he was withdrawn and avoided people. His only love and joy was the printed word which he would swallow from books, journals and newspapers. He knew the names of all the journalists, all the writers and their works. He wrote for the local press and published letters in the Warsaw newspapers. With veneration and stubbornness he collected all things printed which appeared in Radom in Yiddish. This is how he collected a large archive of material which mirrored every event in town over a few dozen years. He died before the war and his archive was lost.


Hirsh Meir Kirshenboym

Born in 1890 in Lipsk. In Radom he was influenced by Mikhal Veber. In 1913 he immigrated to Canada, settled in Toronto and contributed to the Yiddish press, the “Keneder Odler” and the “Yiddish Journal”.


Shaul Sokolovsky

Born in Radom at the end of the last century. He was a Hebrew teacher and also wrote poetry. He contributed to the local press writing on various literary themes also reacting to various ongoing events.

[Page 243]

The Artist Avrom Rozenboym

by Yekhiel Aronson

Translated by Janie Respitz

I had been friends with the Avrom Rozenboym from Radom for over thirty years. We both studied in the artisan school “Vovelberg” in Warsaw on Stavke Street in the chisel department. He was already a first class engraver but wanted to learn chiseling. It only took a short time for him to learn the trade so well the school took pride in him. I can see him now before my eyes: mid height, a powerful build, a broad forehead and a kind smile. He was a very kind man. I can't say I ever saw him angry. I loved him the moment I met him. He showed me great friendship until the day we parted in 1939 when I left for the army.

Engraving did not satisfy him. He dreamed of becoming a painter or a sculptor and he possessed all the talents: by this time he already drew very well, painted nicely with water colours and attended the night school for art on Khmielne Street where he became the best student of Professor Bronislav Kovalevsky. At the same time he befriended the sculptor Yosef Gabovitch from whom he learned a lot. He wanted to learn everything and know everything about plastic arts. He continued to paint and mold clay, engrave and chisel and also, experimented with photography. I once told him:

My dear friend Rozenboym, one must decide: do you want to be a sculptor? – You have to stop painting, engraving, chiseling and photography for a few years. On the contrary, if you want to become a painter, you must sacrifice all your other occupations…

But he could not be persuaded, besides engraving was his main source of income.

Avrom Rozenboym passionately loved music. While he worked he was always humming operatic arias and cantorial melodies.

He possessed phenomenal artisanal skills and grasped things quickly. When he befriended the sculptor Aron Bzhezhinsky in Paris who worked with wood, Rozenboym was making nice wooden sculptures a few months later. In my opinion, Rozenboym should have dedicated himself completely to sculpture. Perhaps he would have had the Nazi murderers not killed him.

I arrived in Paris in 1927. I believe Avrom Raozenboym had already been there a few months. He went to “Ecole des Beaux Arts” to the engraving class of Professor Lagilermy.

I must tell you an interesting story about my friend Rozenboym. He was looking for engraving work in Paris, but as a foreigner and weak French it was not easy to find. One day he read a notice that an ammunition factory outside of Paris was looking for a precise engraver. He went to the director of the factory and showed him a letter from Professor Lagilermy which said it is hard to find a young person with such extraordinary precision in engraving technique. They suggested he try out by making a stamp with fine Turkish script to stamp the rifles of the Turkish army which were made in that factory. His test proved to be extraordinary and they did not let him leave. The director himself went to the Ministry of Labour and received a work permit for Rozenboym. They were very proud of him in the ammunition factory and were afraid to lose him. It had been years since they had such a precise craftsman. Rozenboym also painted portraits of the director's wife and children and was rewarded. After a year he began to have trouble with his eyes and had to leave his work in the ammunitions factory.

Among his closest friends in Paris were Huberman and Etinger. He was always an optimist even when he did not have a sous in his pocket. His devotion and love to his parents was moving. His many portraits and sculptures were lost in the war. Until my last days I will carry in my soul the memory of this multifaceted, interesting Jewish artist and extraordinary man and friend.

Avrom Rozenboym from Radom belongs to the magnificent personas of Jewish writers and artists which Poland generated.

[Page 244]

Artists, Musicians, Writers

Translated by Janie Respitz

Among the artists from Radom we must mention the children of Mendl Garfinkel, who himself was a talented tombstone engraver. His son Hershl learned this trade and also painted pictures. One daughter made sculptures. His youngest son, Dovid, is a well known artist today in Paris. This year he had a successful exhibition in Israel.

Yakov Tzuker who in his early years studied in the Bezalel School in Jerusalem is today a famous painter. While serving in the Jewish Legion he was tried for hitting a British officer who made offensive comments about Jews.

In 1922 he went to study in Paris, and then to America.

Yakov Tzuker's pictures can be found in exhibitions in New York, Paris and in 1950 he had a beautiful exhibition in Tel Aviv.

Radom also had talented musicians. It is worthwhile to mention separately the virtuoso Shimon Bakman. Today he is the first violinist in the Zurich Philharmonic and the winner of international prizes. He also gave concerts in Israel.

His younger brother Yitzkhak Bakman who was a phenomenal cellist was killed in Russia during the Second World War.

Shamai Goldfarb M.A was the editor of the weekly “Tribune” (in Polish) which was published in the years 1936-1939 by the owners of the publishing house, the Zhabner family.

Gedalya Vaysbord was one of the first journalists from Radom who worked regularly with the Warsaw press, writing articles and correspondence. Later he was the editor of “The Yiddish Word”, “The Immigrant”, “World Mirror”, “Latest News” and others. He was born in Radom in 1989 (Translator's note: this is an error in the book, it was 1889), and was killed with his family in the Warsaw ghetto.

Shloyme Lifshitz is today the editor of “The Radom Voice” which is published in Canada.

We searched and regret we did not find any appropriated bio – bibliographic information about the writer Mikhal Veber. We do know however, that in his day he had a great influence on younger writers in Radom and was known beyond the borders of our town.


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