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Chapter Twelve – Radomsk Region



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[Section TOC - see main page]



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Around Radomsko

by Israel Goren (Green)



Brzeźnica

Images of the Town

Translation by Meir Razy

Donated by Sue Carol Isaacson and Hershel Guttman, Montreal

In memory of the Silbershatz Family of Radomsko and Łódź



Brzeźnica, a small town some 20 KM from Radomsko, was located on the banks of the Fisha River, a tributary of the Warta River.

A Polish tradition talks about Jan Długosz, who was the teacher of the Polish King Kazimierz Wielki (1310-1370). Jan was born in Brzeźnica and so the king granted Jews the right to settle there.

The Jewish community included about 120 families among the one thousand families in the town. Most of them lived near the market. Many of them owned stores that serviced the local Polish community as well as the peasants from the nearby villages. Some of the Jews were “traveling salesmen” – going from village to village, carrying a heavy bag full of their merchandise. Other Jews were cattle or grain merchants.

The economic status of the Jews was depressed. Many young people left the town and even older people looked for work in bigger cities such as Radomsko, Czenstochow [Częstochowa] Łódź, and Warsaw. The Jewish population did not grow due to this migration.

The situation improved during the 1930s after the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) created a small business lending bank. It was managed by its Chairman, Moshe Shmuel Green and the treasurer, Michael Lasker.

The improved Jewish economy had an immediate outcome – increased anti-Semitism among the Polish neighbors.

The Jewish community of Brzeźnica had a close relationship with the community of Radomsko. Its leaders used to go to Radomsko whenever there was a serious problem in their town and received valuable help and assistance (money or communication with the government) that helped resolve their problems. They considered the community of Radomsko as their “Guardian Angel”.

The community of Brzeźnica shared its good times with their brothers in Radomsko as well as its bad times and invited many of them to join in public and private “Simchas”. My family told me about the klezmers of Radomsko. One of the players, Moshe Levkowitch, used to play “Hatikva” (The Jewish song of hope, later the national anthem of the State of Israel) at the end of each performance and his eyes would fill with tears.

The different Hassidic groups respected each other and avoided major controversies. The Gur and the Alexander Hassidim even shared the same synagogue. Another group of Hassidim followed and used to visit Rabbi Yeheskel of Radomsko.

People told this legend about Rabbi David of Lelow [Leluv] who, some people believed, was born in Brzeźnica. According to the legend, he once met a Polish panhandler sitting and playing Jewish Levitical music (the tunes the Levites played in the Temple in Jerusalem). Rabbi David dropped a few coins in the pan and ordered the panhandler to play that music continuously without stopping. Miraculously, the panhandler forgot the tune and Rabbi David continued his journey.

The whole town celebrated whenever someone immigrated to Eretz Israel in the years preceding the Holocaust. This was an uplifting event in the local life and many people accompanied the person to the train station in Radomsko.

The fate of the little Jewish community of Brzeźnica was the same as the fate of the bigger Jewish community of Radomsko. Both were destroyed by the Nazi murderers.

Blessed be the memory of the Jews of Brzeźnica.

Note alternative spelling for Brzeźnica: Bzhezhnitsa, Bernthal, Nowa Brzeźnica, Breznica-Nowa Osada, Berzhnitse



At the Start of the War

by I. Kokchinski


Many people left town at the start of the war. They dispersed in all directions. Some went to Radomsko and found that its streets, too, were deserted. Radomsko was shelled during the early days of the war. A few men including Aaron Kokchinski, Sarechki, and Krakowski returned to Brzeźnica. The town, however, was in ruins and all the doors were smashed. A few families found shelter in the basement of Yaakov-Shlomo Gelster.

The Nazis burned the town on September 3, 1939. A few refugees returned to town and the Nazis then blamed them for burning the town in order to prevent the Nazis from finding places to stay.

The Nazis imprisoned all the Jews and the Poles they found in the town. The Poles demanded to be separated from the Jews and told the Nazis that the Jews were rich, hiding jewelry and gold coins. The Nazis separated them, fed the Poles and gave them hay to cover the floor while the Jews received nothing. Two days later, on September 5, the Nazis marched all the Jews to the village of Ostrów. They killed several Jews in the forest along the way, including Yoseph Sarechki, Avraham Aizner, Yechiel and David Rudnicki, Yaakov-Hirsh Rosen, Israel Lasker, and others. The survivors were marched back to Brzeźnica and found desecrated naked bodies. They collected and buried the dead in the following days.



The Elimination of the Community

by Aliza Besser-Lifshitz


Jews lived in Brzeźnica, a town 20 KM away from Radomsko, for hundreds of years. The houses of the hundred or so families were concentrated in two or three streets. There were grain traders, cattle traders and food storeowners. Others were tradesmen: tailors, shoemakers and the like. A “market day”, where Jews sold their wares to the peasants of the surrounding villages, took place every other week. There was no physician in town and the sick had to be taken to Radomsko. The relationships between Jews and Christians were not good. There was always a Pole who stood in front of the church, calling to boycott Jewish merchants and tradesmen. There was even a small pogrom in 1937 when they beat and robbed merchants in the market. Fires broke out regularly.

Jews tried to manage a peaceful life in their quarters. Rabbi Israel Lasker was the community Rabbi, loved by everyone. After his death, he was succeeded by his son-in-law Rabbi Yechiel Urach. Children played fearlessly in the lot near the school. The forty or so children attended only the lower classes in school. They were usually sent to work to help their families as soon as they could and attended the Cheider and studied Torah only in the afternoons. The first Zionist in town was Nodel Rosen. He raised funds for Zionist activities and distributed “forbidden” Zionist literature.


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He conducted classes of the Hebrew language and Jewish History in his home. Some young people attended training camps that prepared them to live as pioneers in Israel. He also directed theatrical plays.

A “Charity Bank” lent money to people in need. When the war broke out in September of 1939, everyone ran to Radomsko, to Przedbórz or to the surrounding villages. The market area and Jewish homes were set on fire on September 2. On September 5, the Nazis marched all the men to work in the Ostrów forest, no food was provided. The Nazis murdered Avraham Kokchinski, Yoseph Shirecki, Avraham Aizner, Israel and Avraham Lasker, Yaakov-Hirsh Rosen, Yechiel and his son David Rudnicki in the early days.

The Nazis changed the town's name to Bernthal and annexed it to the Third Reich. People of “pure” German blood settled the town. German women hired two or three Jewish women as domestic helpers. They hired Polish women too. Jews needed a special permit to travel out of town, to Radomsko or other places. The situation eventually settled down. Jews found work and engaged in illegal trading between the Reich and the town. However, on the eve of Tish B'Av of 1941, the Nazis gathered all the Jews in the town's square and sent sixty men to a labor camp. Twenty of them returned to town after a few days after being labeled as too young or incapable of working. The rest were sent to work on the railroad in the Poznan Region while their families were left in town without any income. After several weeks, the men sent letters asking their families to mail them food. The families saved the little they could but when they mailed the packages, it was already known that many of the men had died from over-work and torture. The remaining men were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The few who survived immigrated to Israel. In Passover 1942, most of the town's Jews were transferred to the Ghetto at Pajęczno. A few women were kept in Brzeźnica and were worked to death while the Polish residents robbed all the remaining Jewish property. The surviving Jewish women in Brzeźnica were sent to an unknown destination in August 1942.

This was the tragic end of Jewish Brzeźnica. I regret to say that in April 1942 I was the last Jew in Brzeźnica. I saw the last of our mothers, sisters and children. Never will I forgive our Polish neighbors with whom we lived, played and studied at school together. They stood in the streets and watched our demise as if it was a festival. They clapped their hands and laughed while we were marched to our death.

Damn be the Poles and damned be the Germans forever. Respect to our loved ones, the Jews of Brzeźnica. Their memory shall be blessed forever.



Włoszczowa

by C. M. R


Włoszczowa was an old Jewish community not far from Radomsko. Jews had settled there in the second half of the seventeenth century. The 1765 census listed 282 Jews. The 1857 census listed 2,102 residents, 1,257 of whom were Jews. Their number grew to 3,253 when the total population was 4,536 and in recent times, the number had grown to 3,454. Twelve kerosene lamps lit the fourteen unpaved streets. The town was known as a Chasidic center that was visited by the important Tzadikim of Poland. It was the birthplace of Rabbi Shlomo HaCohen, the first Rabbi of Radomsko.

The town was established in the fourteen century and the nearby village of Czarncaáwas the birthplace of Stefan Czarniecki (1599 – 1665), a Polish nobleman who had been a General and military commander.

Additional information: The Jews of Włoszczowa in the years 1867-1942 and Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Poland, Vol. V11(Poland)



Sulmierzyce

by C. M. R


The town of Sulmierzyce lays about 18 KM from Radomsko. This small town had only thirty Jewish families and was older than Radomsko. At the time when Jews were not allowed to form a community in Radomsko, they buried their dead in Sulmierzyce. This small town had a cemetery, a synagogue, a Yeshiva and other community institutions. However, the Jewish population of Sulmierzyce declined while that of Radomsko grew to become the regional Jewish center. The town was established in the eighteenth century. Its most recent population count was 990.

See Siemiatycze, The Scroll of My Life by Michel (Mikhl) Radzinski



Pławno – Gidle

by T. M. Rabinowicz


The town of Pławno

Pławno, near Radomsko, was a typical Jewish town. It had a Jewish community even before Jews were allowed to settle in Radomsko. Moreover – most of the wealthy and respectable people of Radomsko, like the Rozenboim family, had their roots in Pławno.

The town sat in a valley on the banks of the Warta River, on the road connecting Radomsko and Włoszczowa. The latest census counted one hundred Jewish families with 1,709 residents. By the 16th century Pławno had become a Polish village on the outskirt of the town of Gidle. By the 18th century, it was a distinct town. The census of 1827 listed 77 houses with 695 residents. The numbers were 165 houses and 1,583 residents in 1862 and 1,436 residents, 50% of them (752) – Jews, in 1897.

We know very little about the history of the early Jewish settlement of the town but it is assumed to be in about the 17th century. Its famous Rabbis were Rabbi Nota Lerner, Rabbi Israel Yitzhak of Mlawa, Rabbi Avraham Kleinplaz, the author of “Tzeluta De Avraham” (published in 1894) – a new understanding of the book “Yore De-a” (a detailed book of Jewish rules, published in 1563) and Rabbi Berish Patishmacher (= the Hat Maker) who authored the book “The Hand of the Levite”, published 1905. The last Rabbi was the ADMO”R Yitzhak Mordechai HaCohen-Rabbinovitz, the son of the Rabbi of Radomsko, Rabbi Zvi-Meir. He wrote “Shlomo's Tent” (1924), “Shlomo's Crown” (1925) and “Shlomo's Tent (Part 2)” (1935). These three books are the biography of Rabbi Shlomo HaCohen of Radomsko. In addition, he published the book “Shlomo's Home” (1927), which interprets the writings of Rabbi Shlomo of Pintchov, about marriage and divorce. Rabbi Shlomo of Pintchov was the grandfather of the ADMO”R Yitzhak Mordechai HaCohen-Rabbinovitz.



The Village of Gidle [Gidzel]

The Village of Gidle was situated about one kilometer from the town of Pławno. The village was famous in Poland for its Dominican Monastery with its wooden Chapel dedicated to the Miraculous Figure of Mary, mother of Jesus. The 1827 population was 513 and grew in number to 1,132, including forty Jewish families. Tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims visited the wooden Chapel (built in 1059) each year. The kings of Poland visited the Chapel frequently and left expensive golden icons. The economy of the village was based on pilgrims' tourism.


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Jews settled in Gidle at the same time they settled in Pławno. Both communities were known to be learned and G-D fearing. Famous Hassidim lived there. Pławno was the home of Rabbi Shmuel Zeinvil Zvi, son of Rabbi Yehuda Shraga, who was the scribe of Rabbi Shlomo of Radomsko. He wrote the book Tiferet Shlomo (the Glory of Shlomo). Another famous resident of Pławno was Rabbi Yehuda'le Tiberg, a follower of Rabbi Dov Ber of Radoshitz and Rabbi Shlomo HaCohen of Radomsko. One of his descendants is Rabbi Yehuda Moshe Tiberg who today resides in Bnei Brak in Israel. When his son, Rabbi Hersh Zvi Tiberg, got married in Pławno – the ADMO”R Rabbi Yizhak of Warka attended the wedding. This visit was considered an important event in the town.

One of the important Tsaddikim who live in Gidle was Rabbi Hersh of Gidle. He was considered one of the “Lamed Vav (36) Hidden Tzdakim”. His importance was demonstrated by Rabbi Yizhak of Warka visiting his home. Another memorable visit was when Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa and his follower, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, came to see him. Rabbi Hersh went to greet them in Pławno and led them to his home, where he lit Shabbat candles in their honor. He said that a Talmid Chacham (a Jewish Scholar) is considered as holy as the Shabbat according to the ZOHAR Book. Another story about him is that when Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa honored him by suggesting he would talk about the Parasha (it was “Re'e Anochi” – watch, I am …). Rabbi Hersh apologized that as a village scholar he could not philosophize beyond the simplest meaning of the words: one should first observe himself. Rabbi Simcha liked and praised this interpretation. He died in 1831. His followers set a tent over his grave in Pławno and prayed there on his memorial day.



The Jews of Pławno

The Jews of Pławno lived in the center of town around a large vacant plot of land that served as the marketplace on market days. Jewish homes and stores stood around it. Jews enjoyed good relations with the local Polish neighbors but there was some anti-Semitic propaganda against commercial relations with Jews. Jewish life was concentrated in several streets and alleys near the market. The Big Synagogue, a two-story building, stood in one of the streets. Next to it stood the Beit Hamidrash, the house of the Rabbi, the house of the slaughterer and then the Mikva. This street was the center of Jewish life, this was where people came to pray, to hear the news from the world, to join decisions concerning the community and to study Torah.

My father was the Rabbi and the Director of the local Yeshiva. This Yeshiva was closed by the end of WW-1. After that, the yeshiva students studied by themselves or traveled to other cities.

The Zionist movement opened branches in town during WW-1. One of them was the Association of Tzeirei-Zion that sent young people to Pioneer Training Camps. The election campaign for the Polish Sejm brought representatives from all the Polish parties to town. People argued, insulted each other and fistfights broke out even in the synagogue. However, things calmed down after the elections.

The Association of Tzeirei-Zion was very active in Gidle and attracted even the youth of Pławno. Many attended the lectures by David and Nachman Gold of Radomsko, Steinberg and Chaim Goldberg.

The Association of Mizrachi and the Association of Young Mizrachi, two associations that kept the Jewish religion as part of their mandate, were active in Gidle too. Their members were very busy selling SHEKELs and raising donations for Zionist activities.

Only a few families (Rosenboim, Rosenberg and a few more) were wealthy while most of the town's Jews were poor. Many were merchants whose main business was selling their merchandise during “market days” in neighboring villages. Some were artisans: shoemakers, tailors, carpenters… Many were peddlers who would rise early in the morning and after a quick morning prayer would spend the day wandering in the streets of the nearby villages until sunset, calling out their wares. Two Jewish estates were near Pławno. Rabbi Berish Fishman's family lived in Yasin*[Jezow] and the Blumenfeld paper factory was in Rezik*[Rospesha]. A few Jews lived in villages such as the Klomnitz train station. There were even Jewish farmers with a long history in those villages. They used to gather in Pławno for the High Holidays prayers and then returned to their villages.

The Jews of Pławno had different affiliations. Some were followers of Rabbi Chaim Asher of Radoszyce while some were followers of Rabbi Avraham Moshe of Rozprza and his sons. Scholars went to study in Radomsko, Ger, Alexander and other places. The most famous scholar was Rabbi Leibl Bogyer. He later became the head of the Yeshiva of Rabbi Nathan Spilglass in Warsaw. His son-in-law is Rabbi Davis Zvi Zilberstein of the Tel Aviv Council of Rabbis. Another famous person was Rabbi Bunem Tiberg, a scholar from the Alexander Yeshiva.

*not clear, these are nearby shtetls



The Rabbi of Pławno, may G-d revenge his death

by Tz. M. Rabinowicz


My father, the Rabbi of Pławno, Rabbi Yitzhak Mordechai HaCohen Rabinowicz was very famous around Radomsko. People adored him for his wisdom and his moderation and came to him to resolve complicated Halacha questions. He was known as a truthful, polite man who spent most of his time studying and writing many books. People liked him for his modesty. He never boasted about his knowledge and was always friendly, even with people who argued with him.


Rabbi Yitzhak Mordechai HaCohen Rabinowicz
was murdered by the Nazis on the nineteenth day of Elul,
September 3, 1939


He conducted his role as a leader in town with wit and wisdom. A joke sometimes was enough to diffuse an angry argument. I remember an event from the times of high inflation that took place after Poland gained its independence. The Polish currency lost its value and the Rabbi's salary was not enough to support our family. My father went to Łódź and started a manufacturing company with Rabbi Bunem Tiberg. He started working in Łódź and returned to Pławno only for the Shabbat. Women, who looked for the Rabbi to answer their questions were left with no answers!


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The next Shabbat the community called for a general assembly and asked the Rabbi to explain his disappearance. My father stood up and said: “you know the Rabbi is not free to behave as he would like, he must consult with the leaders of the community who donate most of the community's budget. And if Mr. Blumenfeld, the industrialist, pays about one-third of the budget – we must consult with him about the community and the Rabbi.”

The crowd agreed, “The man with the gold makes the rules”.

My father continued, “If someone else is donating 70% of the budget – he must be consulted” and again, everyone agreed.

“Well,” said my father, “I am the one who pays the 70%. I am the one who makes the rules. I am the one who decided to go to Łódź until you will donate the 70% that I am earning.”

The protestors calmed down and started rising donations. They set a tax system which would keep the Rabbi in town to provide for religious services.

My father took care of the poor of the town and also those poor who were passers-by, those who were looking for food and a place to spend the night. Occasionally we had “visitors” in our home and I remember my mother washing pillows and blankets as soon as they left. Some of them were not “models of cleanliness”. Dozens of poor panhandlers passed through our town every day during WW-1. Many spent the night in the local synagogue, a disturbance for the people who came for morning prayers and could not walk in without stepping on sleeping people. One of the wealthy men complained to my father that he should have chased them away. Father, as always, answered softly: “I am one and they are ten or twenty. I cannot do it myself. You and the others should come every evening and chase the poor travelers out to sleep in the cold streets.”

All his days were dedicated to study and to work. He used to get up every morning at four or five A.M. and go to study in the synagogue. After the Morning Prayer, he gave classes to his students until late at night. He wrote many books about the development of the Chasidic Movement and the interpretation of the Torah. Many of the books remained as handwritten drafts. After I left for Eretz Israel, he wanted me to continue studying Torah and his letters included portions of his writings. He instructed me to study his writings as my obligation to “Honor your father and your mother”. He mailed me the books he wanted me to study at home.

Much of his effort was dedicated to educating the town's children. A Polish school was once looking for a teacher of the Jewish Religion and had an applicant who had a questionable character and was not strictly following Jewish Laws. My father opposed this nomination so the candidate threatened to complain about the Jewish leaders to the Polish Police. My father took a great risk and told him that they were all ready to spend years in jail but not to see him as a teacher.

My father was one of the first victims of the Nazis. They killed him on the second day of the war, the nineteenth day of the month of Elul 5699 (September 2, 1939). May G-D revenge his soul.



Przedbórz

Translated by Meir Razy

Donated by the family of Mrs. Ruth Cohen of Montreal

In memory of her parents, Rudja and Chaim Borenstein of Radomsko


Images of the Town


The Jewish community of Przedbórz was one of the oldest Jewish communities in Poland. It was not a large community as, since the time of the Polish kings, the number of Jews allowed to live in town had been limited. Przedbórz was part of the Krakow-Sandomierz District in the sixteenth century. Other towns of this district, not far from Radomsko, were Włoszczowa and Koniecpol. These towns were members of the Va'ad Arba Aratzot. This was the Council of Four Lands in Lublin, Poland and the central body of Jewish authority in Poland from the second half of the 16th century to 1764.

In 1595, King Sigmund the Third set a limit on the number of Jews permitted to live in the town. The synagogue of Przedbórz was built around the same time and the local Community was famous for its highly advanced Jewish institutions and services. The synagogue was burnt in a great fire in 1636 and was rebuilt within two years. However, the Jews lost their right to work as merchants and artisans.

Many Jewish communities were destroyed during the Cossack Pogroms of 1648-9 (Hebrew: Gzerot Tach ve Tat). In 1657, Sweden attacked Poland and destroyed the remaining Jewish communities and the communities that had just started to recover. Rabbi Shmuel Feibish, son of Rabbi Nathan, wrote the history of the region. “The enemies went to the Nowa Brzečnica community, found fifty families and killed most of them. From there they went to Berezne, found one hundred families and killed most of them. From there they went to Piotrków-Trybunalski, found fifty families and killed most of them. From there they went to Przedbórz, found fifty families and killed most of them.” This short list illustrates the fact that the Jewish community of Przedbórz was as big as the one in Piotrków-Trybunalski.

The community of Przedbórz recovered during the years that followed the Swedish occupation. In 1684, the town was the home of the famous Rabbi and Dayan, Aharon of Przedbórz. August III, the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1734 until 1763, allowed 25 families to reside in the town in 1745. Their number grew to 665 residents in 1765. The census of 1827 listed 1,801 Jews among the 2,717 inhabitants (66%), and in 1857 – 1,801 of 4,268 citizens (66%) [The original Yizkor book contains this error]. The 1887 census shows 4,089 Jews among a population of 5,927 (69%) and 3,749 of 5,885 (64%) in 1921. The numbers show that the Jewish community of Przedbórz doubled towards the end of the nineteenth century [it should be “the eighteenth century”. The original Yizkor book contains this error].


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The Jewish community of Przedbórz flourished during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries but did not grow after the middle of the nineteenth century. This is explained by the growth of the community of Radomsko that attracted and absorbed Jews from all the surrounding towns.



Rabbis and Tsaddikim of Przedbórz

Although the Jewish community of Przedbórz was small, it was blessed with many famous Rabbis and Tsaddikim. This section describes some of them.

The earliest known Przedbórz Rabbi is Aharon who used to sign his name as “Aharon who resides in Przedbórz”. This signature appeared on a 1684 letter sent to Rabbi David Lida of Amsterdam.

Rabbi Naftali-Hertz Landa, the son-in-law of Rabbi Zvi Ashkenazi, was the author of the book “Chacham Zvi”.

In 1755, Rabbi Shaul, son of Rabbi Shmuel Landa, signed a letter that called for a boycott of the Shabtai-Zvi Movement.

There exists a 1764 letter in which Rabbi Yehuda-Leib endorsed the printing of Rabbi Yoseph of Tykocin's book “Yoseph's Head”.

Rabbi Nathan-Netta Eybeschutz, the nephew of Rabbi Yehonathan Eybeschutz of Altona, signed a 1783 letter endorsing the printing of the Talmud in the city of Nowy Dwor.

Rabbi Arie-Leib Charif Halpern, the author of “Chidushe-Mahara”, was a Rabbi in Przedbórz at that time and later on was a Rabbi in Opatów and Sochaczew. Two of his students became leaders of the Polish Jewry, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak of Peshischa aka “The Holy Jew”, and his friend, Rabbi Yishaya Waltfried, who later was a Rabbi in Przedbórz. Both were students of Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak HaLevi Horowitz, "Ha-Chozeh Mi-Lublin" (1745-1815). “The Holy Jew” was born in Przedbórz, a son of Rabbi Asher who was the author of “Magid Yesharim”. Rabbi Asher had previously been the Head of the Jewish Court in Grodzisk.

Rabbi Yishaya Waltfried was born in Lask. His father was Rabbi Meir, son of Rabbi Elyakim Getz of Lask. Rabbi Yishaya was known for his sharp mind and had been called “The Prodigy of Lask” ever since his childhood. Rabbi Dan Levenberg of Przedbórz heard about his excellent reputation and married Rabbi Yishaya to his daughter, Nacha, who was only fourteen years of age at the time. He supported Rabbi Yishaya's studies for several years.

In Przedbórz, Rabbi Yishaya found his friend from the Lublin Yeshiva, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak. They studied together and continued at the Yeshiva of Rabbi David Teble in the town of Lissa. When the Rabbi of Lublin heard about these two prodigies, he sent Rabbi David of Lelow to attract them to his Chassidic court. This was a successful endeavor indeed! Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak aka “The Holy Jew” became a famous Tsaddik and created the Chassidic court of Peshischa. This branch of Chassidism focused on studying for the sake of studying and learning the roots of Chassidism. His friend, Rabbi Yishaya, became the Rabbi of Przedbórz. He was known as a Tsaddik and a Torah scholar. “Ha Choze Mi Lublin” said about him that “his understanding of the Torah sheds light on the world from one end to the other”.


The synagogue of Przedbórz, outside and inside photographs


The followers of Rabbi Yishaya of Przedbórz tell that he could never go to sleep before he had given all the money he had to charity. One night he could not fall asleep. He then understood there must still be some money left that he had to donate. He asked his wife if she had received any donations but she had not. He then sent someone to check in the office and found that had there indeed been a donation. He then gave that money to charity and, subsequently, was able to fall asleep.


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His followers told the following story: every Yom Kippur he stayed the whole night with his students in the synagogue, discussing Torah. This particular year, one of Przedbórz's rich men also stayed in the synagogue reciting Psalms. Rabbi Yishaya turned to him and said: You know that if a soldier leaves his military unit without permission he will be deemed a deserter and be executed, even if he only leaves to join another unit. G-D too has many brigades in his army. There is a brigade of Torah Learners, a brigade of Psalms Reciters and a brigade of Charity Givers. You are rich and belong to the brigade of Charity Givers. You cannot join the brigade of Psalms Reciters. Go home and make sure that the poor people in town have what they need for the holiday of Sukkot. Then you will provide them with wood and coal to heat their homes in winter. We will stay here and fulfill our duty as Psalms Reciters [Tehillim Zeiger in Yiddish].

In 1815, after the death of "Ha-Chozeh Mi-Lublin", Rabbi Yishaya became the Admor of a new faction – the Chassids of Przedbórz. Some of his well-known students were Rabbi Moshe, the son of Rabbi David of Lelow, Rabbi Yoseph of “New City”, Rabbi Aharon of Krakow – the son of Rabbi Klonimus who wrote the book “Light and Sun”, and Rabbi Shlomo of Radomsko. The book “The Glory of Shlomo” includes many quotes from his lessons. He died in 1831 at the age of seventy. His followers built a brick “tent” around his grave which many people visited and at which many prayed. He also left numerous hand-written texts that have never been published.

Rabbi Immanuel, the only son of Rabbi Yishaya Waltfried, felt that he was too young to become the Admor of the community. They summoned Rabbi Dov-Ber of Radoszyce to lead the community and he was the Rabbi of both Radoszyce and Przedbórz. Both cities paid Rabbi Dov-Ber his full salary but he kept only his original salary and passed the second one to Rabbi Immanuel. After the death of Rabbi Dov-Ber the community brought Rabbi Moshe, the son of Rabbi David of Lelow. Rabbi Moshe of Lelow moved to Eretz Israel in 1851 and Rabbi Immanuel finally agreed to become the Admor. People loved him for his knowledge and good qualities. He was a friend of Rabbi Shlomo HaCohen of Radomsko. After he became ill in 1865 he sought medical treatment in Warsaw, where he died at the age of sixty-three.

A discord broke out after Rabbi Immanuel's death. One side wanted to choose Rabbi Ber Wajnberg, the son-in-law of Rabbi Yishaya of Przedbórz, as the successor. The other side wanted to choose Rabbi Avraham-Moshe, the son of Rabbi Immanuel. They asked the Gaon Rabbi Chaim of Sanz to help resolve the dispute. Rabbi Chaim endorsed Rabbi Avraham-Moshe in a letter: “while he is still young, his future will light his face with reverence and wisdom”. Rabbi Avraham-Moshe became the Rabbi of Przedbórz. Rabbi Pinchas Zelig Glicksman, who was a writer and a close friend of the family, described him:

“People called the Admor Rabbi Moishe'le. He was a tall man; his face was bright, projecting light, gentleness and nobility. Once I was lucky enough to meet him personally and I was awed by his presence. He was a good man, a Tsaddik who helped many people. Thousands of Jews came to ask his advice and resolve their problems. He was especially drawn to simple people, those who did not want or could not afford dedicating their time to study the many laws of Judaism. These people he guided on how to follow the Laws. He once boasted that he was “the teacher of the sinful people”. According to him – other Rabbis instruct their followers on how to follow little Jewish details while his work is to guide the ignorant on how to follow the important principles. He equated the other Rabbis to those who have the easy work of cutting trees in the forest while he was laboring in digging up the roots. When one of his followers neglected a mitzvah, he calmly warned him and the warning was enough to straighten up that man. His voice, when praying during the High Holidays, touched the souls of the listeners and strengthened their Jewish spirit.

Rabbi Avraham-Moshe'le was the Rabbi of Przedbórz until some of his followers opposed his easy-going ways of Judaism. He left town and settled in Svalyava, where the Christian citizens falsely accused him of a blood libel – a Christian boy had disappeared. This boy was found a few days later but the Rabbi's home was ransacked during this time. He moved to the town of Rozprza where he was known as “The Rabbi of Rozprza”. There, too, he had some problems. He returned to Przedbórz towards the end of his life and was respected and loved until he died in 1918.

The sons of Rabbi Avraham-Moshe were all famous and loved Admors. Rabbi Shlomo-Zalman Waltfried was the Rabbi of Tomaszow Mazowieck (in the Łódź region). His brother, Rabbi Immanuel, was the Rabbi of Pabianice (in the Łódź region), and Rabbi Israel was the Rabbi of Radomsko.

Rabbi Yehuda Leibush, son of Rabbi Dov-Ber Licht, was the Rabbi of Przedbórz and a famous Torah scholar in the last generation. He was born in the town of Bełżyce near Lublin in 1839 and was known as a prodigy from his childhood. He was ten years old when he impressed the Gaon Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Rotenberg-Alter who was the first Rabbi of the Ger. Rabbi Yehuda was ordained as a Rabbi by the Tsaddik Gaon, Rabbi Tzadok HaCohen of Lublin. He became a judge in Kuznitz in 1862, and later moved to Peshischa and then to Piask. He became the Av Beit Din (the Chief Judge) in Przedbórz in 1885. He wrote the book “The Well” which includes comparisons, explanations and interpretations of Biblical and Talmudic texts. He also wrote and edited a four-volume book series about the “Shulchan Aruch” by Yoseph Karo.



The Przedborzer Dynasty


a.

Rebbe Reb Yeshayahule was one of the 18 students of the Rebbe from Lublin (the Prophet) who themselves became rabbis. When he was crowned as a rebbe, he also went in the path of his great Rebbe.

The Rebbe was born in the city of Lask, near Lodz. He was descended from a rabbinical family of great lineage in Poland. His great grandfather, Reb Meir Getz, was the rabbi in Lask and in Piotrkow, and was greatly esteemed in the learned world. His father, Reb Meir, died when [Reb Yeshayahule] was young, leaving no other child but his son the “halo of gold” who was famous as a child prodigy. He was barely 14 years old when a Przedborz businessman took him for a son-in-law on the condition that he would continue to sit and study Torah for its own sake.

In Przedborz, Reb Yeshayahule met the son of the local magid (preacher), Reb Yakov-Yitzhak, who was already called the “Saintly Jew” and both, leaving their wives, traveled to Lithuania to study in the yeshiva of Reb Dovid Tewele, where they lived on “salt and bread,” with a piece of dry bread and with a cot on the pure earth… When they came home to Przedborz after several years studying in Lithuania, they were invited to join the “Prophet” (through Reb Dovid Lelewer).


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