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[Page 491]

Since Reb Yeshayahule was very widely known in the learned world for his brilliance and Hasidus, immediately after the death of the “Prophet” (5575 [1815]), when the public divided the “inheritance,” Reb Yeshayahule was crowned as the Przedbórzer Rebbe. His friend, the “Saintly Jew,” had been elevated while the “Prophet” still lived.

Reb Moishe Lelever, Reb Dovid's son, Reb Yosele Nejsztetiszer, Reb Ahron Krakow, the Tiferes Shlomoh and other great scholars and Tzadekim (saintly men) were Reb Yeshayahule's Hasidim and “hangers on.” All his life, the Rebbe Reb Yeshayahule was a man who stayed at home studying, leading a modest life. And, like all city-rabbis, he received support form the Kehile that was barely enough to be considered austere. He, also, had to take payments for advice, but the money that he had to gather from the poor, from the bitter hearts who came to him, he used for matters of charity. Whoever came to Rebbe Reb Yeshayahule hungry, left satisfied. The city had great veneration for him. Not without reason: He defended his Kehile his whole life.


A very characteristic story was told about him in the shtetl. German cloth-makers came to Przedbórz (so called sukiennikes [Translator's note: Polish for draper or clothier]) and built a cloth factory there near the Pilica [River] that brought prosperity to the city. They mostly employed Jews; while not knowing any language other than German, the Germans could communicate only with the Jews. The middleclass daughters were enthusiastically befriended by the Germans, strolled around with them, free as a bird, along the streets. In Przedbórz, potatoes became expensive as a result [of the increased number of workers], and the poor did not have the means to buy them. Learning of this, Reb Yeshayahule began to storm against the Jewish daughters associating with the Germans. They sent “good friends” to the Rebbe Reb Yeshayahule, promising a large sum of money if he would leave the Jewish girls alone… Although Reb Yeshayahule was then indigent, he, to be sure, refused the proposal with great contempt and cursed the factory that it should sink…

In time, the legend continues, the work in the factory began to decline; the owners of the factory had to end the work. The workers, as a result, dispersed all over the world and potatoes immediately became cheaper… When the Przedbórzer Jews would tell about these miracles, they would add, “You can still today see the ruin that the Germans built and that the Rebbe, Reb Yeshayahule had cursed, with the towers of the cloth factory now overgrown with grass and moss.”

The following occurrence was also told about this Tzadek. When Reb Yeshayahule was Rebbe, the regime ordered that every Jew should choose a family name. The supervisor of the “names,” naturally looked for a bone to lick. When one did not give him any money, he issued an ugly surname, so that the family would be shamed by it…

When Rebbe, Reb Yeshayahule was ordered to choose a surname, he asked that “Weltfreid” (world joy) be registered. The official, who understood well the significance of this expression, did not want to register the name, wanting a bribe for it. However, the Rebbe, a great enemy of unjust rewards, said no money should be given. This official then suddenly became terribly ill and another who represented him registered the Rebbe's name “Weltfreid” without any opposition and without reward.


A whole world really rejoiced with Rebbe Reb Yeshayahule; he had almost no opponents, like other rabbis of the time. With his magnificence, Hasidim say, he discredited many edicts against the Jews. Anyone who crossed his threshold was helped with income and with other salvations.

As long as Reb Yeshayahule lived, the Przedbórzer Jews literally swam in plenty of good things – for example there was an abundance of income was in the city. However he himself was satisfied with his lot in life. When Reb Yekl Widomer settled on the other side of the city (in the village of Widome), beyond the Pilica, and began to act rabbinical, giving blessings and remedies, Reb Yeshayahule made very little of it… On the contrary, let still another Jew, a Tzadek, defend the sinful world… However, when it was brought to him that Reb Yekele Widomer engages in self-flattery, Reb Yeshayahule answered in half-Polish and half-Hebrew: “Tu jak tu, vatam hu omer” – that is, “here, so to say, what does the simple person say?” (In the rabbinical manner, he wanted to give him a jab, calling him “ tam (simple)”).

Reb Yeshayahule died at the age of 75 (4 Elul 5591 [13 August 1831]). At his grave stands an ohel to which the pious public would make a pilgrimage.


The Rebbe Reb Yeshayahule had only one son, Reb Emanuel, who was still very young at the death of his father and therefore did not want to take over the rabbinate in Przedbórz. In the interim, Reb Moishele Lelewer took his place and after his departure for Eretz-Yisroel, the Rebbe Reb Emanuel became the successor to his great father. Reb Emanuel died in Warsaw at the age of 63 (27 Shevat 5625 [23 February 1865]) and was buried there (his ohel is located not far from the Warker's ohel).

His son, Reb Abraham-Moishe Weltfreid, Reb Emanuel's successor went through great trials during his life.

When he lived (in 1872) in the shtetl Sulejów, near Piotrków, he was accused of a blood libel. A young Christian boy disappeared from the shtetl and this was before Passover. The “rabin” (Translator's note: Polish word for rabbi) was blamed; he had slaughtered the child “for blood for matzohs.” The mob attacked the Rebbe at the Seder. Everything in his home was demolished and looted; the floors and the walls were ripped. The young Christian boy was found in the morning rambling around in the city woods.

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After, Reb Abraham-Moishele became Rebbe in Przedbórz. However, for certain reasons the “elite” there persecuted him and chased him from the shtetl. Reb Abraham-Moishele and his court then settled in Rozprza (therefore he was called the “Rozprza Rebbe”). However, here, too, he did not have great satisfaction, although he was well respected in the city itself.

At first he met with this sort of thing: a Shabbos goya (Translator's note: a Christian woman who performs work prohibited to Jews on Shabbos) would come to heat the oven in the apartment of the Rebbe. Once, the rebbitzin, by mistake, treated her to a little glass of layek(a poison with which copper was polished) instead of whiskey, and the goya died as a result. The local Christians immediately attacked the Rebbe's house. However, the Rebbe succeeded in quieting the anger and rage of the mob through various means.

During the First World War, hunger sprang up in the court of the old Rebbe. Bandits attacked his home with guns, looking for money in the armored strong box. The Rebbe then left Rozprza and settled in Radomsk. His Przedbórzer enemies had remorse for their old sin, placated the Rebbe and took him back to Przedbórz. He died there on the 22nd in 5678 [1917] (Translator's note: no month is given) at the age of 78. Although he had worried that he would not be buried in the ohel of his eminent grandfather, the Beis-Din (religious court) ruled that he deserved a holy spot in the ohel.

Flour mill near Kaminsk

The Rebbe Reb Abraham-Moishele was a great sage. A whole world came to him and even Christians thought very highly of him. Turabowski, a certain Lord from another area, did not do anything without first receiving advice from the Rozprza Prorok (Translator's note: Polish for prophet). When conducting lawsuits about inherited estates, the lord, as he would always stress to his Christian friends, in the merit of the Rozprza Rebbe, would win them all. When he lost a lawsuit after the death of Reb Abraham-Moishele, in the greatest excitement he cried out in court after hearing the sentence, “As long as my Rebbe was alive no court had any power over me,” and therefore, he cried passionately. This Lord would often visit the grave of “his Rebbe” and there cry out his bitter heart…

“The Rozprza's” sons were the Pabianicer Rebbe and the Tomaszower Rebbe and the Rebbe Yisroeltce of Radomsk.

Y. Feinkind

[Page 492]


by C. M. R.

Translated by Meir Razy

Jews have lived in Kleszczów for a long time. Many were farmers while others were merchants and artisans. The 1897 census lists 512 residents, 226 of whom were Jewish. The Russian Army expelled many of these Jews during the First World War and robbed them of their properties. However, their numbers once again grew back and in 1917, there were 375 Jews in Klesczczow.

Kaminsk (Kamieńsk)

by C. M. R.

In the eighteenth century Jews were already present in Kaminsk. Oral history tells us about two Jewish brothers who bought a forest in this area. Their name was Kaminsk and they came from Germany. They recruited a “Melamed” for their children and, over time, a town named after them grew around their lumber business. Many of the Jews that are called Kaminsky today are the descendants of those who inhabited this town.

They buried their dead in the cemetery of Rozprza or Sulmierzyce. The local cemetery of Kaminsky was inaugurated later and its oldest tombstone dates from 1831. The “Pinkas Chevra Kadisha” of Kaminsk only goes back to 1845.

Rabbi Chaim of Wolbrom, a disciple of the “HaChoze MiLublin”, was the Rabbi of Kaminsk. He wrote the book “The Memory of Chaim” [a play on the words: The Memory of Life] and was known as the “Ba'al Mofet” – a Tsaddik who possessed supernatural powers. However, the Chassidim of Kock opposed him and he was forced to leave town. He moved to Wolbrom and Rabbi Meir of Opatów became the Rabbi of Kaminsk.

Another famous Rabbi in Kaminsk was Rabbi Israel Stiglitz. Rabbi Israel was known in the region of Radomsko as an astute and wise Rabbi. People came to him to resolve complicated commerce disputes and he served the community for over forty-five years.

In short succession, the three synagogues of Kaminsk burned down. The census of 1856 found 689 Christians and 531 Jews in town. In 1897, the numbers grew to 1,064 Christians and 787 Jews. The 1917 census found 1,143 Jews; most of them were artisans, tailors, shoemakers and merchants. The last Rabbi in Kaminsk was Rabbi Reuven Rabinowicz Midlinski.

Kaminsk My Town

by Pesia Yeshurun (Justman)

Oh my small town, I am not even sure what your true name is. People called you Kaminsk, Wojciechów, Kletnia and Gomunice. Even today, I still do not know how you acquired so many names.

Only a small number out of the six hundred families in town were Jewish. This fact, however, was not visible from the outside. We, the local children, were very self-confident and felt safe. It was as if it were a Jewish town when we mocked the anti-Semites.

The town was surrounded by Christian villages. Although only very few Jews in town were well-to-do, Jews controlled the town's economy. The big lumber mill owned by my parents employed hundreds of Christian workers.

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The Christian workers extended the respect they had for their employers to all other Jews in town. A big furniture factory, Wojciechów, famous in all of Poland, was in town (one of the town's name was Wojciechów after that factory). It employed hundreds of people none of whom were Jewish. Jews did not work on industrial production lines. They were industry owners, clerks, merchants, or melameds (Jewish teachers) for children.

Some of the Jews in town earned income only during the summer. They rented rooms in their homes to the many vacationing visitors or managed guesthouses and hotels. They saved enough money in the summer to support themselves on it for the rest of the year.

Although the Jews in Kaminsk had different economic statuses, this did not cause tension among them. Rich men and panhandlers prayed in the same synagogues, their children attended the same Cheders, and they all met at weddings and funerals.

Everyone remembers the Holiday of Simchat Torah when people drank a lot of wine and danced happily in the streets holding and embracing the Torah scrolls. They danced wildly and enthusiastically wearing their festive silk kapotas (a long black coat worn on certain religious occasions) and their fur hats (shtreimel). This short time of elation helped them forget their troubles of the last year and the difficulties soon to be faced in the approaching winter.

Teenagers, mainly the girls, studied in high schools in Radomsko or even farther away in Czestochowa. A special two-car train made the daily trip to Radomsko and back, carrying the students to school and then back home. Most of the passengers, however, were Christians and they set an anti-Semitic atmosphere during the ride.

There were no Zionist organizations in Kaminsk. The public was quite oblivious to the global trends that were sweeping through the Jewish world in the era of the post Balfour Declaration and the Third Aliya. Girls from wealthier families attended Gymnasiums (high schools) while the boy attended Yeshivas. Children of the poorer families learned trades or commerce and followed in the footsteps of their parents professions.


In the early 1920s, Avraham Anker, a son from a wealthy family, brought a group of Pioneers (Chalutzim) to the large estate near Kaminsk which his family owned. The Pioneers lived in a small building on the estate. Preparing themselves to immigrate to Eretz-Israel, they worked in many jobs that were not typically “Jewish professions”. They cut down trees in the forest, worked in the lumber mill and labored in the fields.

They occasionally visited the town and their presence influenced the town's youth. They sang Hebrew songs. Their suntanned appearance, especially of the young women, excited curiosity.

They tried to establish a branch of the “Poalei Zion” Party in town. The attempt was unsuccessful because that party promoted the Communist principle of “class struggle” and the local people were not supportive of this ideology. The Jewish existence in the diaspora was focused on the daily struggle to make a living and the need to improve its economic situation. Besides, there were no “upper class” targets. We believed that the role of the Zionist Party was to lead the masses in understanding their problems and improving their depressed economic conditions into a better quality of life. This goal would be realized by developing our historic homeland. However, all this political activity opened the door to the creation of a new Zionist Party. Two men from Radomsko, Wolkowicz and Chaszczewski, with a few local activists, started a party called Hitachdut (Confederation) and many people joined as they saw the opportunity to unite Jews, both rich and poor. Most of the young people of Kaminsk joined the local Hitachdut Party or the Polish Gordonia Party. Very few people joined the Communists while the ultra-orthodox established a local branch of the Young Mizrachi Movement.

A disaster hit the town when Avraham Anker, the driving spirit of most of the Zionist activity, was murdered. I do not remember if it happened during a robbery or because he was a Jew. The young people decided to honor his memory by creating a living memorial. They rented a room and dedicated a library in it. Young people from all the different Zionist movements visited the library and used the room for meetings and studying. They learned Hebrew, heard lectures, and conducted discussions. The leading organizer was Mikhael Wajntraub, a member of the Young Mizrachi Movement who treated all the members of all the Zionist movements equally. He was a representative of the Jewish National Fund and a volunteer Hebrew teacher while, at the same time, working at the lumber mill as a clerk and supporting his aging mother. He was an idealist who subscribed to Hebrew newspapers. He followed the news from Eretz Israel as if he was one of its citizens. His Jewish history lectures and those about Zionism took place at the library every Saturday afternoon. His enthusiasm would communicate itself to his audience. Due to his medical problems, he was not granted a certificate for immigration. Mikhael Wajntraub, along with most of the Jews of Kaminsk, ended his life in Treblinka's gas chambers.

He was involved in all the youth activities in town. I remember the speech he gave on the day of the Declaration of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. This excited all the Jewish population, including the ultra-orthodox. Jews placed candles in their windows, the same custom that commemorates the miracle of Hanukkah.

This event emphasized recognition of the fact that the place for Jews was in Eretz Israel. In the long run, people who were able to obtain a Certificate of Immigration were saved. In reality – only one person in a hundred was successful. People accepted this reality and focused on building their lives in the diaspora. Then they were all wiped from the face of the earth.


The young people of Kaminsk devoted themselves to collecting donations for the Keren Kayemet (the Jewish National Fund). Many homes kept a “Blue Box” and deposited their coins in it. We organized “Ribbon Days” (the name for the day in which members of all the Youth Movements used to volunteer to raise and collect donations for the various goals set by National Institutions) and public Conferences for this purpose. The National Leadership of each organization set donation targets for each city and we in Kaminsk exceeded our targets several times over. However, we did not limit ourselves to the Keren Kayemet. We devoted our time and effort to many other organizations.

Some of Kaminsk Jews were anti-Zionist. I am not talking about the few Communists, but the Chassids of GER. They, one of them in particular, interfered with our activities. Rabbi Ahron used to cross to the other side of the street when he approached our club (library) building. He used to say that an observant Jew is not allowed to pass near a “tum'aa” (defilement, a term used for churches). Such behavior did not stop the Zionists from pursuing their goals.

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Girls, too, excelled in Zionist activities. We heard about the Women's Labor Movement in Eretz Israel and we read the book by Ada Fishman-Maimon. We felt this was a dual revolution: transforming “the Jew” into a productive worker and opening and broadening the horizons for Jewish women, those who had once been “kept away from outside eyes” (based upon “Daughters of kings are among you” [Psalms 45, 14]).

A memory I have is of an event during the time just before the election to the Polish Sejm. Many different Jewish factions united to form one Jewish Party. My father thought it was inappropriate for me, a young Jewish woman, to be involved in Polish politics but he was proud that I was concerned about Jewish matters. This was during Passover and my father invited me to join him for a supper in the home of a very religious friend of his. The more traditional men complained about “the inappropriate” questions that their sons are asking, referring to the “Four Questions of the Seder”. My father said: “Girls too are asking questions. This one (while pointing at me) asked many questions when I read the Haggadah.” The most senior attending rabbi admonished him: “is it possible that she learned unholy ideas? It is written in the Talmud that teaching Torah to a woman is heresy!” I will never my father's answer: “It is better for her to learn heresy than not to learn anything at all. Learning Judaism and Hebrew may well prevent the assimilation of many women which we are seeing nowadays.”

In 1937, I visited my family in Kaminsk after I had lived and worked in Eretz Israel for several years. I witnessed the same Zionist desire I had known in earlier times. The economic situation, however, was more difficult than before. The Anti-Semitic atmosphere was rampant and even many of the rich families had lost most of their means. People did not see a way for improvement as the gates to Eretz-Israel were shut closed by the British Government. The Peel Commission (formally: the Palestine Royal Commission), was developing a plan for partitioning the land. People had a faint hope that the result would be the creation of a Jewish State, albeit a very small one. Many people, both old and young as well as children, came to meet me at the train station. They almost worshiped every visitor from Eretz-Israel and I knew they did not come for my sake. They came to keep their hope of leaving Europe alive.

They did not live to see their dream. Mikhael, who instilled the love for the land of Israel into two generations, did not live to see the Declaration of Independence of a Jewish state. Only a few of Kaminsk Jews managed to come before the Holocaust, and a few more survived and arrived later. Most of the residents of Kaminsk ended in Treblinka, along with the residents of nearby Radomsko.

The blessed memory of the Jews of Kaminsk and the blessed memory of my family will be kept in the wreath of life of the State of Israel.


by C. M. R.

Rozprza was a little town near the towns of Radomsko and Piotrków. Its Jewish population of 593 constituted the majority of the 955 residents just before the Second World War. Rozprza was smaller but much older than Piotrków. It was considered a town until 1875, when it was downgraded. Documents from 1065 [the year looks like a typo mistake] mention Rozprza as a “Royal Village”. This status defined its Jewish residents as protégés of the king of Poland and freed them from paying taxes to the local feudal landowner.

It seems that Jews lived in Rozprza before the Swedish-Polish War of 1655. The Jewish cemetery on the road to Piotrków served the community of Piotrków as well. There is the folk story that the ashes of Rabbi Mathityahu Kalahora, who was burned at the stake in 1663 for alleged blasphemy, were collected by his mother and buried in Rozprza.

The oldest tombstone in that cemetery was from 1769.

The Rozprza Chevra Kadisha was formed in 1782. Its Pinkas (logbook) was destroyed in the fire of 1928.

The newest synagogue was built in 1898 on the burned foundations of the synagogue that had burned there in 1884. The synagogue possessed a silver Torah scroll plate (Magen) which dated from 1714.

The position of Rabbi was passed down from father to son. Beginning with Rabbi Elazar of Łęczyca, who passed the position on to his son Rabbi Yechiel Michal (who died in 1831); it then passed on to his son-in-law, Rabbi Elya Ziskind of Chmielnik [Khmelnytskiy]; and then to his son, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzhak, who died in 1913. The last Rabbi in Rozprza was his son-in-law, Rabbi Shmuel Dawidowicz.

In the Pinkas of the Chevra Kadisha we can see that the Rabbi before Rabbi Yaakov Yitzhak of Khmelnytskiy was Rabbi Chaim Menachem Landa of Nasielsk. Someone from the community had informed the Russian Government that he was part of the 1863 Polish mutiny and, as a result, the Government had exiled him. The Jewish community excommunicated the informer and his family from being members of the Chevra Kadisha, excluding them from burial in a Jewish cemetery.

In the eighteenth century, most of the members of the Association of artisans in Rozprza were Jews. The 1829 census of people 14 years old and over listed 204 Jews and 210 Christians.

The 1834 census included 376 residents: 186 of them were Jews including one merchant, four bakers, nine artisans (shoemakers, tailors, hat makers, furriers, etc.), three innkeepers, one saddler, four tanners, three peddlers, one music player, two blacksmiths and one butcher.

Some of the Jews of Rozprza were farmers with a long history of farming.

The population in 1856 included 247 Jews and 166 Christians. The 1897 numbers were 557 Jews and 344 Christians.

The Jewish population grew to 930 in 1917 but declined to 70 families under independent Polish rule.

Several villages surrounded Rozprza: Gorzkowice, Niechcice, Parzniewice and Ręczno among them. Parzniewice was the estate of Zalman Abramson who attracted other Jewish families to the area. Twelve Jewish families remained in the village after he sold the estate early in the nineteenth century.

The 1917 census included 961 Jews in Gorzkowice, 215 in Niechcice and Nyskie, 139 in Parzniewice and 35 in Ręczno.

The 1927 budget for the Jewish community of Rozprza was 5,531 Polish ZŁoty. This money was paid by 175 taxpayers: 65 from Rozprza, 76 from Gorzkowice, 15 from Rantshna and 5 from Myslowice. The 1928 budget grew to 18,000 ZŁoty. In that same year, a fire destroyed all the Jewish homes.

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by C. M. Rabinowicz

Several Jews lived in the village of Szczulkow near the town of PŁawno. The village became known through the following story.

Rabbi Moshe, son of Rabbi David of Lelow, was a Torah teacher for very young boys and before he became famous, he lived very modestly and did not tell people he was the son-in-law of Rabbi Yaakov Yitzhak, “The Holy Jew of Przysucha”. One day his father, Rabbi David, decided to visit him. Rabbi David left Lelow at night and arrived at the village of Podszwierk near PŁawno on a Friday morning. He looked for a Mikveh to wash himself for the coming Sabbath. There was none in the village and, regardless of the freezing temperature, he broke the ice that covered the river and jumped in. Rabbi Yaakov of Podszwierk happened to pass by and saw him. He helped Rabbi David out of the freezing river, put his heavy coat on him, helped him into his carriage and took him home so he could warm himself in front of the warm stove. “Where are you going?” “I am visiting my son, Moshe the Melamed. And what are you doing for a living?” Rabbi Yaakov described his hard work as a dairy farmer. Rabbi David told Rabbi Yaakov: “It is time for you to buy the big estate in Podszwierk and become a landowner.” Rabbi Yaakov burst out laughing as he had very little means.

The village was the property of a rich Polish man who lived in Krakow. That man had a large farm in the village, a farm he visited occasionally to inspect. It happened that the owner had visited his farm on that very Friday and learned that his farm manager was very mediocre and had lost him a lot of money. Very late at night, Rabbi Yaakov was awakened by someone knocked on his door. Scared and fearing for his fate, he opened the door. It was a servant of the landowner summoning Rabbi Yaakov to meet him.

Rabbi Yaakov came to the farm where the owner presented him with an opportunity to purchase the property. He explained he could not trust his local staff as they were losing money for him. Rabbi Yaakov replayed he did not have the means to buy the farm. The owner proposed a payment plan. He instructed Rabbi Yaakov to see him in Krakow and sign the deal. Rabbi Yaakov remembered the conversation he had had with Rabbi David that morning. When Shabbat was over, he hurried to Szczulkow to consult Rabbi David.

He arrived at Rabbi Moshe's home during the “Melave Malka Havdala Meal” when Rabbi David was singing “… (G-D) will multiply our children and our money like grains of sand and the stars in the sky …” and “Do not fear, Yaakov, who believe in me …”. Rabbi Yaakov told Rabbi David about the edict of the landowner and his inability to pay for it. Rabbi David instructed him to agree to the deal and blessed him.

Rabbi Yaakov appeared in Krakow the following Monday and bought the farm for the payment of 1,000 zŁoty a year, every year while the landowner was alive. The landowner died several years later and the Podszwierk farm remained the estate of Rabbi Yaakov and his descendants.

Rabbi Yaakov's descendants were Rabbi Eliyahu of Podszwierk, the family of Rabbi Yoseph Rosenbaum and the family of Reb Berish Fiszman. All of them were Chassidim, practical people and Torah learners. They were rich Jewish landowners who, nevertheless, studied Torah, worked for their living and donated much to charity.

Reb Dovidl Lelewer


Before Reb Moishele Lelewer, the son of Reb Dovidl Lelewer, was elevated to his father's place, he was in the village of Strzalkow. So modest was Reb Moishele that no one near Plawno knew that this poor teacher of the youngest children was a son of Reb Dovidl Lelewer and a son-in-law of the “Prophet” of Przysucha. He sat in the village in the study of Torah, turned from all the desires of the world, and starved there together with his wife and little children.

Once Reb Dovidl Lelewer had a desire to see how his son was doing. At dawn on a winter Friday morning when the frost was cracking, he sneaked out of his home and quickly ran to Strzalkow. The road to this village led through Paderewek and when he arrived there, it was already daybreak. Seeing a river near Paderewek, Reb Dovidl chopped out a piece of ice and immersed himself in honor of Shabbos. Perhaps he would no longer have time to immerse himself [when he arrived] in Strzalkow, a great distance from Paderewek. Just at the time Reb Dovidl immersed himself, the Paderewek “farmer” (the milk lessee) Reb Yenkl drove by with his horse and wagon carrying home a little wood from a nearby woods. Seeing how the old Jew with the ancient grey beard was crawling naked out of the frozen river, shivering with cold, “the farmer” sprang down from his wagon, quickly threw off his Dubielno furs and wrapped the shivering little Jew in them. Throwing the wood off of the wagon, he warmly placed the straw and hay around him and pressed the mare, in order to bring the unconscious man to Paderewek.

In his home, Reb Dovidl Lelewer was warmed with hot water bottles and hot tea. When he came to, Reb Dovidl asked the farm lessee how his income was and so on. “The farmer” forcefully justified himself, explaining that he more or less has an income. However, he must toil very hard and has no days or nights. He must, as G-d gives the day, travel to the city with the milk cans. And he cannot comply with everything the nobleman demands of him.

Reb Dovidl sighing deeply and nonchalantly, said to the arendar (Polish for farm lessee), “It is already high time that you should buy the estate and stop being a “farmer.” Reb Yenkl, hearing these words, laughed strongly. However, he thought to himself, “G-d grant from his mouth into G-d's ears”…

Reb Dovidl took leave of the arendar and his household and went on his way to his son in Strzalkow. He came in time to enter his son's home before candle lighting.


At that time, Paderewek belonged to a great nobleman who lived in Krakow and he had an administrator sitting on his estate. The nobleman would visit his estate from time to time in order to take a look at what was happening there and to go over the accounts with his administrator.

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The story is told that on the same Friday at night, when Reb Dovidl Lelewer was with his son Reb Moishele in Strzalkow, the nobleman actually came to Paderewek. Upon checking his estate, he became very upset because of the bad state of affairs under the administrator and immediately in the morning he asked that the Jewish lessee, Reb Yenkl be called. He approached the nobleman, “broken in three” (bowing), with his hat in his hand. The jasny pan (the noble lord) proposed to him that he should raise the money and buy the estate from him. Reb Yenkl pleaded that he did not have the amount of money that the estate would cost. The nobleman calmed him and said that he should not be so concerned, because he could pay in installments. The nobleman told him to come straight to Krakow on Monday where the sales document could be written.

Leaving the nobleman, Reb Yenkl remembered what the old man had first said on Friday, upon leaving his house. He made havdalah as soon as he saw the first three stars in the sky at the close of Shabbos and left for Strzalkow in his horse and wagon. There he first realized that “the old man” whom he had met immersing himself in the river was the great tzadek, Reb Dovidl Lelewer.


Approaching Reb Dovidl, Reb Yenkl heard him singing “Zareinu wekhaspeinu yarbe kakhol” (“May He make our descendants and wealth as much as the sand”). As soon as Reb Dovidl ended the tune, he called the Paderewek arendar to him and asked him: “Nu, how are you doing with the nobleman?”… Reb Yenkl became very confused, seeing that the Rebbe already knew everything.

The lessee explained the whole story to him and at the end added, “From where does one get the money for that, holy Rebbe; I am only a poor arendar?” Reb Dovidl did not give an answer but pleasantly sang and hummed the tunes of the “full week” with his hands. When he was as far as “Fear not my servant Yakov,” he said, “You know, Yenkl, go to Krakow, buy the estate from the nobleman with mazel (good luck). Do not worry about anything, G-d will help. You have saved a Jew from death!…”

On Monday at dawn, the nobleman drove to Yenkl's house with his coach harnessed with 4 draught horses and took him to Krakow. The nobleman sold the estate to be paid through installments, attested to by a notary according to the precepts of the statute. The nobleman's relatives made a hullabaloo and blamed the Jew that he had gotten the estate by cheating and started a lawsuit against him. Reb Yenkl again ran to Reb Dovidl Lelewer and he assured him that the lawsuit would come to nothing. Reb Yenkl won in all instances and became a very rich man and a greatly hospitable man, too.
M. Feinkind
(From the book, “Estate Jews in Poland”)

[Page 496]

Gidzel (Gidle)

Supplementary Writings to the material on pages 486-487 (Translator's note: which are in Hebrew)

The shtetele Gidzel is found about 12 km. from Radomsk. There, the majority was Jewish – simple, toiling, quiet people. Gidzel was always a source of daughters-in-law and sons-in-law for Jewish Radomsk and a holy place for the Christians from the entire area. In the times of the holy “Jacek,” the Christians traveled together from the entire surrounding area for “vacation” in Gidzel. The women would, as was their way, get very drunk, break Jewish windows and rob stores. Yet the Jews lived there, had income, married off their children.

When the war began, the shtetele received another face, too. The river Warta, which calmly flowed on the west side of the shtetl for hundreds of years, suddenly became a stick in the German's eyes. The regulation of the water was begun with Jewish sweat and blood. The entire shtetele was transformed into one large work barracks. The Jews were driven together from all of the surrounding shtetlekh for this purpose. They were packed into cold dirty stables and used as a labor force.

The first victims from the shtetl, for wanting to help the dejected Jews, were: Leibish Tajchner, Hela Geldbart and Naftali Urbakh. They were sent away to Auschwitz in 1941, from which they never returned.

The Gidzeler Jews lived under constant terror until the 9th of October 1942, when they were driven out of their houses to the Radomsker Ghetto. Later, they were sent away to the gas chambers of Treblinka with all of the Radomsker Jews.

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