Translated by Atalya Buskila Levy
Edited by Yocheved Klausner
Jęzor is located within the imperial triad, on which they said that a rooster's call can be heard within three lands. It is in the Galician territory in Austria, within the county capital Chrzanów, adjacent to the Szczakowa train station. This settlement was located on the sands, which spread until the Biała Przemsza river, and its few houses were scattered upon a large area, with no design or plan and yet the place was considered an interesting travel-spot both for the residents of nearby Mysłowice and Słupna and for tourists coming from afar to buy mead, Śliwowica and Okocim beer in Jęzor. The Biała Przemsza River flowed between Niwka and Jęzor, and the bridge crossing it was used at times for the passage of clients. Hertzke Sapir of Niwka (now residing in Philadelphia after surviving the Holocaust) told me that, even back in the days of the Russian rule there was a bridge on the river, a wooden bridge making it possible to walk from Niwka to Jęzor and back. The bridge was erected at a time when sheds for bathing were located on the Przemsza. Initially, Jews were not allowed to bathe there, and only later were they granted the permission. The sheds remained there until the year 1918. Jews from Jęzor would bring thread and soap and returned with Saccharine, thus making a good living by the mutual trade between Niwka and Jęzor.
Years ago, a good relationship existed also between Jęzor and Modrzejów, mostly based on marital ties. Michael Bester, the senior of the Jęzor Jews, married the daughter of the respectable Scheinwechsler of Modrzejów and settled there for a long while, as long as the Russian rule did not interfere with Galicians' residency within border towns. Upon the issue of the decree for Galician Jews, forbidding them to leave the area of Congressional Poland, many Galician-born Jews left Modrzejów, Niwka and other places and returned to Galicia. Michael Bester was also forced to leave Modrzejów and return to Jęzor where he settled with his family, established a two-story house, opened a liquor store and was successful in his business. He became rich and his pub was renowned in Mysłowice and its surroundings, and guests from beyond the border could always be found in his house. Jęzor had a beautiful landscape. At its edge was a pretty bridge erected over the Przemsza River adjacent to Słupna, and another tall and wide bridge, erected on stone-pillars, on which the Mysłowice-Kraków railroad passed. There were even times when people would travel on special boats from Niwka and Jęzor to Wysokie-Brzegi and beyond, and there was even one Englishman who liked the view and built himself a big boat there for passage and travel.
In Jęzor itself there were no factories and mines. And yet clerks and workers from the industry in Mysłowice and its vicinity settled there, and had to wake-up early in order to hurry to their places of work. The place was also used as a shelter for people having to flee Russia and Poland, as in Jęzor they could stay until the storm subsided.
Michael Bester, owner of winery business, was the Jewish community leader in Jęzor. He had two sons-in-law, one named Hirsh Laufban (whose younger brother immigrated to Israel and was the editor for the Hapo'el Hatza'ir (The Young worker) weekly in Jaffa), and the second one Simcha. Michael had two brothers who resided in the near village of Dąbrówka between Jęzor and Jaworzyna. Both sons-in-law were in the business of schnapps and money-changing. His only son Shlomo, after marrying Sabina, moved to Kraków where he was the leader of the Mizrachi, attended conventions and meetings and was an important part of the movement. His son Israel was one of the leaders of Ha'Shomer Ha'Dati; and recently immigrated to Israel and is a merchant. One of Michael's brothers, Pesach, immigrated to Palestine, stayed in Safed and came back to Jęzor. Christians also resided in the place, all of whom worked in the coal mines of Mysłowice.
In the early days only few Jews resided in Jęzor, and prior to the growth
of the local Jewish community there was not a prayer Minyan there, and the Jews
of Dąbrówka and Wysoki Brzeg would arrive on Saturday and holidays
to complete a Minyan. Eventually the number of Jews has grown and by 1935 there
were already 25-30 families there.
During the days of independent Poland, the Polish rule saw fit to annex the place as a suburb of Sosnowiec, and the Jewish community of Sosnowiec purchased a big area there to be used as a cemetery, after the old Sosnowiec cemetery became full. When they had finished the fencing of the Jęzor cemetery WWII started and the new cemetery remained without use.
In Jęzor resided: Yossel Bornstein, Klimontów native, who married a Bester daughter of Dąbrówka after returning from German captivity during WWI. Also residing there were Chaim-Yitzchak Zilbiger coal merchant, Meir Shimon Brukner son of Reb Yosef Baruch of Dańdówka and son-in-law of Reb Asher Brukner of the same village owner of a grocery store, Simcha Zilberberg, the Farber family a widow and four sons practicing trade and border-smuggling; Neuberg of Będzin who fled the army and settled in Jęzor. A Christian policeman named Dzach of Jaworzno who often helped the Jews smuggling merchandise through the borders; Chaim'l Kurtz and tailor-artisans and many other artisans.
The marital connections between Jęzor and the adjacent Modrzejów,
Niwka and others had caused relatives to seize any opportunity in order to
visit each other. They had to walk from Modrzejów, through
Mysłowice and Słupna in order to reach Jęzor. The political
barriers between adjacent settlements did not impede this, and there were
always helpers to be found, aiding to smuggle the border without extensive
difficulties. Soldiers of the Russian Guard Corps were bribed and did not
disturb the smugglers' work.
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