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The History of the Jews of Stryj (cont.)

Chapter 3


A number of Stryj born Jews made valuable literary, cultural and scholarly contributions to the press, Jewish studies and public affairs during the second part of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

Ephraim Frisch, a noted Jewish author who wrote in German, was born in Stryj on March 1st 1873 and spent his early years there. In the 1880's he moved to Brody, where he attended the German high-school and joined the Zionist student group.

In 1892 the programmatic brochure of the Zionist students was published in Lvov under the Polish title: “Jaki być powinien program młodzieży żydowskiej” (What should be the Jewish youth program) which centered the Zionist activities around work for Eretz Israel. Frisch then published an essay in Dr. Nathan Birnbaum's “ Selbstemanzipation (self emancipation) in which he attacked the “phraseology” of the brochure - which spoke so much of settlement in Eretz Israel, Zion, etc. without recognizing the prospect of redemption and settlement as the final goal cannot be achieved without making far-reaching reforms within the communities. In his opinion it was necessary to understand the fact that steps must first be taken to improve the social condition of the Jewish workers which was growing steadily in Galicia. Because of the growing influence of the orthodox and the assimilationists it was necessary to disseminate education, knowledge and culture among the masses. Despite his opposition to the very approach of the brochure he could not ignore the basic assumption of the plan that was based on scientific and moral foundations and drew the necessary conclusions from the degraded and impoverished conditions of Galicia's Jews. At the end of his essay he emphasized the brochure's positive aspects.

From Brody Frisch moved to Vienna and shortly afterwards to Berlin. He achieved a reputation as a writer and literary critic. In spite of being active as a German writer he always regarded himself as a Jewish nationalist and supported the Zionist movement. In 1902 he published his novel “Das Verlöbnis“ (the engagement) about Jewish life in Galicia. In 1905 he worked for Max Reinhardt as a dramaturge. In 1910, he published “Von der Kunst des Theaters” (From the art of theater). In his 1914 story “Die Kantine” (the canteen) he again described the Jews of Galicia. From 1911 until 1925 he published a political-literary monthly “Der Neue Merkur” (the new mercury) in Munich.

In 1921 he published an article titled “Jüdische Aufzeichnungen” (Jewish records). In 1927 he published the novel “Zenobi” depicting Austrian life in the days before the World War one. His wife, Feiga Frisch (1878-?), who was born in Russia, was also a renowned writer. She translated many works from Russian into German of such authors as Goncharov, Turgenev, Saltykov-Shchedrin, Chekhov, Alexander Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy and others.

The well-known Hebrew writer and educator Eliezer Meir Lipschitz was also a native of Stryj. He was born on November 5th 1879, the son of Yom Tov Lipschitz, one of the first “Lovers of Zion” (Hovevei Zion) in Galicia and the owner of a match factory in Skole. He was educated in both traditional Jewish studies as well as general secular studies. When his parents moved to Lvov he studied under rabbis Isaac Schmelkes and Shlomo Buber. In Lvov he joined the maskilim and Zionist youth circles under the leadership of Mordecai Ehrenpreis, Joshua Tahun, Mordechai Braude and Shlomo Schiller. He was one of the first Hebrew speakers and formed a circle of youth who spoke the language in the Sephardic diction.

After his marriage to Dina Reitzes, who was also fluent in Hebrew he became a merchant. Only Hebrew was spoken in their home and it became one of the centers of the Hebrew movement in Galicia.

With Zvi Karl he established a Hebrew teachers' seminary in Lvov and thanks to his initiative “Ivriya” clubs were established in Lvov and the surrounding towns. He had a major impact in introducing Hebrew as a spoken language, disseminating Hebrew literature and improving its style. In 1904 he published his research on Yaakov Shmuel Buch in the literary calendar “Hermon” which appeared in Lvov and was edited by Gershom Bader. He later published studies on the history of Hebrew culture and literature in the Hebrew monthly “Ha'Shiloah”. His true passion, however, was for pedagogical and literary work. He therefore accepted in 1910 the proposal of the “Ezra” society in Berlin to become a teacher in their Hebrew teachers' seminary in Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem he was active in public life and scientific research, publishing essays in “Hatekufa” and in other journals which appeared in Eretz Israel. He called for the establishment of Hebrew educational institutions based on the traditional “Heder”, centering on Torah learning with secular studies as well.

During World War one he was arrested by the Turks and exiled to Damascus, but was released as an Austrian subject and forced to leave the country for Berlin. There he published his work “Vom Lebendigen Hebräisch” (From the Living Hebrew) in 1923.

In 1919 he returned to Eretz Israel, and was appointed the head

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of the teachers' seminary of the Mizrahi educational network. The institution expanded under his leadership. He established a model elementary school for training the students and graduates of the seminary. Later he also established a high-school.

For a few years he acted as an inspector/supervisor of the orthodox educational system. He was active in developing the educational side of the orthodox system. The essays he published in the press were noteworthy for their sleek style. His better-known works include: A monograph on Rashi (Warsaw 1912); The Mishna (Jaffa 1922), which also appeared in German in Berlin (1919); a study of the “Heder” (“Hatekufa” - Vol. 7); “Conversations” on religious issues under the pseudonym Azariah Ibn Bezalel; essays on educational questions (Ha'Shiloah 22, 37); and on Agnon (Ha'Shiloah, Vol. 22), which was published in 1920 in Berlin as a separate book.

All his life he worked towards unifying the general education based on the Torah. He passed away in Jerusalem on the 24th of Tammuz 5706 (July 23rd, 1946).

Dr. Abraham Jacob Braver, the noted historian and geographer, was born in Stryj on the 4th of Nissan 5644 (march 30th 1884), and completed his high-school education in town. He received a Ph.D. from the Vienna University, and taught at the Tarnopol high-school in 1910-1911. He came to Eretz Israel in 1912 and became a teacher at the teachers' seminary founded by the Ezra society of Berlin (1912-1914). In the years 1914-1918 he taught in Salonika and Constantinople (Istanbul), and in 1920 he returned to Eretz Israel again to teach at the teachers' seminary.

His first research work was on Fergen, the first Polish commissioner of Galicia and was published in the quarterly “Kwartalnik Historyczny” in 1907. In 1910 he published a work in Vienna on “Galizien wie es an Österreich kam” (How Galicia came to Austria) which was received enthusiastically by historical scientists in Austria. He also published a valuable Hebrew study in “Ha'Shiloah” (Vol. 23) on “The Emperor Joseph the second and the Jews of Galicia”. While in Tarnopol, he found a manuscript in the “Perl” Library by Dov Birkental of Bolechów (1723 – 1805) entitled “Divrei Bina” (words of wisdom), about Jacob Frank and the famous dispute between the Frankists and representatives of the Jewish community in Lvov in 1759. He published the manuscript in “Ha'Shiloah” under the title “A new Hebrew Source on the Frankists”.

In Eretz Israel he devoted himself to the geography of the country, and published many studies in this field. His renowned work “Haaretz” (The Land) was published in many editions. He also published a geographic atlas.

His father Michael ben Moshe Braver (1862 - 1949), who was a well-known writer on rabbinical subjects, lived in Stryj between 1882 and 1902 and took an active part in the community life. While in Stryj he contributed to “Ivri Anochi”, “Hamizpeh” and “Mahazikei Hadat”.

1. In 1467 his heirs were appointed to the starostvo:
Chidorowski, Andrzej Ossoliński, Felix Oktus Panjowski, who gave it to his brother Jerzy Panjowski in 1524. The starostvo was then passed to Jan Tarnowski. His heir was his son Jan Krzysztof Tarnowski until his death in 1567. In 1570 it was passed to Mikolai Miniwski and Hieronim Filipowski. After his death in 1587, the starostvo was awarded by king Zygmunt III to Andrzej Tęczyński in 1588. He was succeeded by his son Gabriel Tęczyński . In 1605 the starostwo passed to Adam Stadnicki and then to Krzysztof Koniecpolski and from 1660 Jan Sobieski. In 1701 the starosta was Andrzej Mikołaj Zborowski and in 1710 Adam Mikołaj Sieniawski. In 1728, the starosta was Stanisław Ciołek Poniatowski, the king's father. His son, Kazimierz Poniatowski was the last starosta under the Polish rule.
The starostvo owned the city of Stryj and three suburbs and 20 villages.
The Stryj starostvo brought a nice income to the owners. In 1785, the income from 20 villages was 72,365 zloty and the tax they had to pay to the royalty was 18,341 zloty. From the city Stryj and its suburbs the income was 1,061 zloty and the taxes were 265 zloty. Return
2. The palace had 61 rooms, 3 kitchens, a bakery, a hall with 9 windows and 2 rooms with 8 windows each. The rest of the rooms had 4 windows each. The palace was surrounded by a moat. There was a farm, a brewery, stables and living quarters for the service personnel. Return
3. Wilhelm Sommerfeld: Rozwój m. Stryja (development of the town of Stryj) 1874 – 1924. Return
4. Antoni Prohaska: Historja miasta Stryja (history of the town of Stryj) Lvov 1926. Dodatki Nr. 6 p. 204 Return
4a. Quote: Latin text (Prohaska 1.c. Dodatki Nr. 5 p. 203) Return
5. Latin text(Prohaska, Dodatki Nr. 11 p. 263) Return
6. Prohaska 1. c. p. 104. Return
7. Prohaska 1. c. p. 125. Return
8. Prohaska 1. c. p. 105. Return
9. The entire verdict was printed in Prohaska 1. c. p.
1662 there were 1,466 inhabitants in Stryj: 328 Poles, 1,050 Ruthenians, 70 Jews, and 29 palace people. Return

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10. Mathias Berson: Parlamentarjusz dotyczący Żydów w dawnej Polsce p. 165 Nr. 294. Return
10a. Stryj had a small population of Karaites who appealed to the authorities to be treated better than the Jews. Return
11. Prohaska 1.c. Dodatki Nr. 20 p. 227 – 278. Return
11a. Prohaska Dodatki Nr. 18 p. 224 – 225. Return
11b. Prohaska 1.c. Nr. 22 p. 229 Return
11c. Bolechower, p. 84. Return
12. Prohaska 1.c. p. 109. Return
13. Prohaska 1.c. p. 136. Return
14. Dr. Majer Balaban: Żydzi Lwowscy na przelomie XVI i XVII wieku” (Jews of Lvov at the break of the 16th and 17th centuries) Lvov, 1906 p. 40. Return
15. Prohaska 1.c. p. 110. Return
16. Dr. Ignacy Schipper: Dzieje handlu żydowskiego na ziemiach polskich (History of Jewish Commerce in Polish Territories), Warsaw 1937, p. 44 Return
17. Ber Birkental Bolechower – Memoirs. Published by Dr. M. Wiznitzer, Berlin 1924, p. 73. Return
18. Bolechower, p. 56. Return
19. Bolechower, p. 31 – 32. Return
20. Bolechower, p. 29. Return
21. 800 oaks were cut in 1680 in the Stryj forests by the liquor lessee Mark (Mordechai) who removed them “in modo furtive” (Google translate: “on the sly”). Prohaska 1.c. p. 113. Return
22. The renowned Polish historian of Stryj, Antoni Prohaska shows examples in his book “History of Stryj” (p. 112 – 114) of exploitation and oppression by Jewish lessees (based on documents he found in grad Żydaczów. However, his tone is distinctly Anti-Semitic, comparable to that common in the Polish political journalism after world one and not as expected from an objective researcher. Return
23. Bolechower: Memoirs, p. 38. Return
24. Bolechower: Memoirs, p. 39. Return
25. Prohaska 1.c. p. 19. Return
26. Prohaska 1.c. p. 111 - 112. Return
27. Prohaska 1.c. p. 148. Return
28. In 1683, Stanislaw Ochanski who had a debt was attacked, his property was requisitioned and he was arrested in the Stryj palace. In 1714, after a land owner Wytabicki was attacked, a bloody conflict erupted and one Jew was killed. The Jews armed themselves, chased the attackers and caught-up with them in Korczyna, confiscated the cash and brought them to jail.
Stryj's Jews were pretty aggressive, as can be gleaned from the agreement signed with the Christian butcher's union: Polish text Return
29. Prohaska 1.c. p. 245. Return
29a. Prohaska 1.c. p. 116. Return
30. Prohaska 1.c. p. Return
31. Israel Halperin: Pinkas Va'ad Arba Aratzot (Council of Four Lands), Jerusalem 1945, p.480 Return
31a. Prohaska 1.c. p. 117. Return
32. Prohaska 1.c. p. 116. Return
33. Dr. J. Schipper: German/Yiddish text M.G.W. d.J., 1912 H 7 – 8, p. 467 Return
34. Pinkas Va'ad Arba Aratzot (Council of Four Lands), p. 229 Return
34a. Ossolińskich Library in Lvov, hand written manuscript 279.II Return
35. Prohaska 1.c. p. 917 Return
36. Józef Kleczyński and Fr. Kulczycki: Polish text Return
36a. Protokolle Galizien 1785 p. 5 ex. June p.12 Return
36b. At the time of Galicia's annexation Stryj was a small town. From a report about the sanitary conditions to the authorities in Vienna one can glean the dismal ad poor conditions in Galicia at the time. In the entire region there were 13 medical specialists, 6 of them without academic certifications. There were 19 Christian surgeons and 34 Jewish doctors, 16 pharmacies and 29 hospitals – 5 of them in Lvov. Stryj itself had no doctors, and the sick were treated by a number of Jewish barbers. Sambor had one Christian surgeon (Krzysztof Wauchter). The pharmacy was owned by the protestant Waulenburg, who was forced to sell it to a catholic. The closest hospital was in Przemyśl.
Władysław Szumowski: Galicia Polish text, Lvov 1907, p. 62, 70 Return
37. Archive German text (Vienna) A.M.J. Protokolle Galizien 1776, 74, ddo 25. X Return
38. Protokolle 1775, 81, 31/I Return
39. Protokolle 1776, 81, 14/VIII
Protokolle 1776, Nr. 49, MarchReturn
40. Prohaska 1.c. Dodatki Nr. 28, p. 237  239 Return
41. Prohaska 1.c. P. 70 – 73 Dodatki Nr. 28, p. 237 – 239 Return
42. Protokolle 1785 185, July Return
43. Protokolle 1785 106, August Return
44. Protokolle 1792 19, July Return
44a. On March 2nd, 1788, the commissioner Graff Brigido reported to Vienna that the list contain 41 families from the Stryj district out of 572 families in entire Galicia Return
45. Protokolle 1788 194, April.
M.J. IV Nr. 201 ex. June 1804 German text October 1803
The authorities brought (German) settlers from Germany and German Bohemia. In 1783 the settlement Brigado was established followed by Olkszica Nova in 1786, Stryj in 1800, Grabowiec Srtryjeski in 1830, and Angaberg, Plociantal, and Karlsdorf in 1835.
The other 7 settlement were established in later years. Return
46. A.M.J IV T11 Carton 2658 (1786 – 1792) ad. Nr. 13 Return
47. ex May 1791 Galizien.
Stoeger: Lemberg 1833, Bd. II, p. 70 – 72 Return
48. The letter was published in “ Tzachut Ha'melitza” (“Purity of Metaphor”) of Zeev Wolf Buchner, Berlin 1810, p. 55 – 70 Return
49. Protokolle 1790 33, January Return
50. Protokolle 1793 21, November Return
50a. IV T. 10 Carton 2658 (1786 – 1792) 164, January 1815 Return
50b. Stanisław Schnür-Pepłowski: Galiciana, Lvov 1896, p. 149, 155 Return
51. IV T2 2582 (1811 – 1818) Nr. 14 ex October 1812

In the rest of the towns of the district:

Men Women Total
Skole 146 336 324 660
Bolechów 343 715 676 1391
Żurawno 220 534 447 981
Żydaczów 71 155 149 304
Bukaczowce 63 148 149 297
Kałusz 363 761 735 1496
Dolina 153 305 314 619
Rozdół 149 331 330 661


52. A.M.J IV T8 Carton 2632 (1819 – 1820) Nr. 4357 Return
53. Dr. M. Stoeger 1.c., p.204 par. 127, par. 161 in the Brozany district, 4 in the Sambor district Return
53a. A.M.J IV T1 ad 14688, 1832 Return
54. Dr. M. Stoeger 1.c I, p. 285 Return
54a. Dr. M. Stoeger 1.c I, p. 79 – 81, 85 Return

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55. Szimon Moshe Chanes , Warsaw, 1929, p. 511; A. Walden, Warsaw, 1879, p. 79
Dr. S, Bernfeld: The history of Shir, Berlin 1899, p. 7; Dr. Lois Lewin: Geschichte der Juden in Lissa (History of the Jews in Lissa) Return
56. P. 168 – 169 p. 61, Chanes, p. 100 Return
57. The application and the response A.M.J IV T1 Carton 2583 (1819 – 1827) 113, April 1821 Return
58. The Gubernium report, the communities' and Brody's enlightened memos A.M.J IV T1 Carton 2583 Nr. 192 April, Nr. 162, May 1821 Return
59. Reform der Judentracht (Reform of the Jewish costume) Dr. J. M. Jost: Neuere Geschichte der Israeliten (Modern History of the Israelites); See also Dr. Refael Mahler: The battle between haskala and Chassidut in Galicia, p. 114 – 115 (1810 – 1848), Berlin 1846 III p. 91 Return
60. Koscherfleisch ein patent c.a. 1810 par. 24, 1824 par. 26, Lichtergeffale patent c.a. 1810 par. 30 Return
60a. Menachem Mendel ben Yisrael Yakov Yukel Horowitz (1804 – 1864) was born in Stryj. After his father's passing in 1832, he was selected as a rabbi in Bolechów. He wrote “Shoshanat Yaakov” (about the Shulhan Aruch), parts 1 & 2 (1838, 1859); Pat 3 (Żółkiew, 1863). After 1848, he left Stryj and returned to Bolechów to become the rabbi Return
61. Archiv des Kultusministeriums Wien 1840 ad 33, 183 Return
61a. See my book: Aus zwei Jahrhunderten Wien 1924 p. 104 Return
62. Statthaltereiarchiv Lemberg (Archivum pañstwowe): Fasz 1. Allgem. Sachen Juden 1948 Nr. 48 122 Return
63. A. M. J. 1848 – 1854 Fasz 28 Return
64. IV T2 1863, 15711, 1222 Return
65. IV T2 1862, 22266, 1781 Return
66. IV T2 1864, 7369, 688 Return
67. IV T2 1864, 11569, 765 Return
68. IV T2 1866, 16166, 2108 Return
69. Article in: Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums, 1859, Nr. 7, (7/II) p. 97 Return
70. Hamevaser, Lvov 1863, an article dated February 13th, number 7, page 41 Return
71. Allgem. Ztg. des Judentums, 1866, (15/II) p. 65 Return
72. The protocols of these two yeshivas were published by the Lvov community under the name: Debatten ueber die Judenfrage in der Session des galizschen Landtages vom Jahere 1868. Lemberg 1868 (120pp.) Return
73. “Hamagid” 1869, vol. 2, addendum from January 13th. It is interesting to note that in 1852 there were 93 Jews among the 777 recruits in the Stryj district. Return
74. “Hamagid” 1868, addendum to vol. 40 from October 14th Return
75. Yechiel Meller (1822 – 1893) was a wine merchant from Stnisławów, a typical “maskil” (enlightened) fighting for the haskala ideals especially as it related to radical changes in the education of the young generation.
He published poems, novellas and reviews in “Kochavei Itzhak” and a famous monography about Samson (Shimshon) Ha-Levi Bloch the author of “Shevile 'lam" (Paths of the World). Most of his literary work was dedicated to fighting the Hasidic movement. He translated and edited poems by Friedrich Schiller, Karl Heinrich, Heidenreich and Jean Paul. His work was published in “Nitei Neemanim” (Lvov 1883). Return
76. Published in “Kochavei Itzhak” volume 21 (1856) pages 80 -81 Return
77. In volumes 2, 11, 13, 22, 26, 27, 33, 34, and the last poem in 36 (pages 53 – 54) Return
77a. Samueli also wrote under the pseudonym “Varitas” Return
78. Ha'Ivri 1882, volume 21, page 221 Return
79. Hamagid 1871, volume 4 page 19 Return
80. Allgem. Ztg. des Jdtums. 1873 p. 636 Return
81. Allgem. Ztg. des Jdtums. 1873 p. 808 Return
82. Der Israelit (Lemberg) 1874 Nr. 9, p. 1 Return
83. Neuzeit (Wien) 1880 Nr. 43, p. 350 Return
84. Neuzeit 1886 p. 299 Return
85. Ephraim Ha'Levi in an article about Stryj in “Ivri Anochi” (Brody) 1887, vol. 24, pages 189, 190 (18.3) Return
86. “Ivri Anochi” 1887, vol. 37 (24.6) page 288 Return
87. Dr. Stanislaw Gruninski - Materiały do kwestji żydowskiej w Galicji. Lvov 1919, pp. 17, 23, 26. Dr. Ignacy Weinfeld: Ludnoœć miejska Galicji I jej skład wyznaniowy (1881 – 1910) Lvov 1912, p. 36
87a. Neuzeit 1885 Nr. 38 Return
88. In high school number 1 out of 710 students, 217 were Jewish; In high school number 2 out of 472 students, 230 were Jewish. There are no numbers for elementary schools before 1914.
The students were enrolled in eight schools in 1924 – 1677 were Poles, 448 Ruthenians and 1211 Jews. Return
89. Dr. Gershon Zipper was born July 23rd, 1868 in Monasterzyska and spent his childhood in Podwołoczyska where he was traditionally educated. His father Chaim Ber was an important grain merchant and young Gershon met merchants from Russia who introduced him to the “Hibat Zion” (Lovers of Zion) movement. His father passed away in Mran in 1877 and his mother moved with him to Tarnopol where he was enrolled in the high school. In spite of his talents he was not a hard-working student and had to repeat both the eighth and tenth grades. His teachers predicted a bright future provided he would graduate from high school. From Tarnopol, his mother moved to Stryj where he excelled in his studies Return
90. Hamaggid 1891, volume 28, page 225 Return
90a. Dr. Mordechai Eherenpreis: “Between east and west” Tel Aviv, 1953, page 30. He wrote about Hornstein: “This was an original fellow and we called him 'Pythagoras from Stryj'. Although his occupation was forests, as a typical yeshiva student he could not limit himself to one area of interest and was involved in mathematics. He used Euklides in Hebrew. His studies and business eventually combined when he invented a measuring instrument (to measure the height and width of a tree). This invention was patented in Vienna as it was very valuable in the lumber business. Eventually he became more and more involved in geometric problems. One day, when we were already close friends, he came by and told us about an important geometrical discovery. The square of the hypotenuse of the right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. We felt sorry and embarrassed for the waste of time and had to inform him that although his geometrical discovery is correct, it has already been discovered in 500 BC bt a fellow named Pythagoras”. Return
91. Hamaggid 1891, volume 2 (1.8.1891), page 15, volume 12 (19.3) page 95 Return
92. Hamaggid 1892, volume 5 Return
93. Hamaggid 1893, volume 13, page 104 Return
94. Przyszłoœć 1894, Nr. 15, p. 177 – 178 Return
95. Yiddish Text Return
96. In the first Polish Sejm elections in 1922, the Zionist list received 25,308 votes. Dr. Emil Zomerstein and Karl Eisenstein were elected. Return
97. 1. Dr. Julius Falk, 2. Dr. Ludwig Lidenberg, 3. Dr. Markus Heinrich, 4. Dr. Abraham Firestein, 5. Dr. Nathan Fichner, 6. Dr. Filip Fruchtman, 7. Dr. Emil Polturak,

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Dr. Zygmont Abend, 9. Dr. Heinrich Byk, 10. Dr. Yaakov Rabinowitcz, 11. Dr.Israel Rsenmann, 12. Dr. S. Sternhal, 13. Dr. Nachman Schindler, 14. Dr. Shlomo Goldberg, 15. Dr. Heinrich Goldstern, 16. Dr. Julius Wartzel Return
98. Surgeons: 1. Isidor Kenig, 2. Nachman Rosenberg. Physicians: 1. Dr. Filip Hertz, 2. Dr. Aharon Low, 3. Dr. Yaakov Lissel, 4. Dr. leon Pacnik, 5. Dr. Israel Frei, 6. Dr. Josef Kiczales, 7. Dr. Itzhak Schindler, 8. Dr. Shmuel Schechter. Return
98a. My thanks to Mr. Eliyahu Katz in Tel-Aviv who provided me with these details. Return



Cardinal Jan Dembski's approval to build the synagogue in 1669

Polish text

Agreement by the Town to changes market days and king's approval


Polish text


Polish text

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Polish text continues

Agreement of Stryj's Christian urbanites and the Jews to take away the province from the starosta

Polish text

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At the End of the Nineteenth Century

by Tamar Buchstab – Avi–Yona

Translated by Susan Rosin

I still have pleasant childhood and early teens memories from the nice and tranquil town of Stryj. My family moved in 1883 from Lemberg (Lvov) to Stryj. My father, a government employee was appointed the manager of the railway warehouse in Stryj.

My first memories are probably from age three or four…remembering the area, our first house on the green “Koliovka” avenue near the large bustling train station. Stryj was an important center of the railway network connecting Galicia and Hungary and had great economic value.

The Stryj River was a source of great joy to the children of town, its pure and clear waters flowing slowly among green fields and shrubbery. We played and rested on the banks of the river. A special train took the railway employees and their families to the river in the summer months. Sometimes we swam near the flower mill “Malinovka”, which was powered by a fast flowing mountain spring. This pastoral and idyllic picture stayed with me for a very long time.

At the edge of the open scenery were the Carpathian mountains. I can still recall fondly the beautiful and manicured “Olshina” grove and the public park. My maternal grandfather, Shimshon Goldfarb from Lemberg who loved the outdoors walked with me in that grove. He loved to hear the birds singing and amused me with his broken Polish. In this grove I saw for the first time in my life a public park celebration. A lighted fountain left a deep impression on me. Near the lake was a memorial for the Austrian soldiers who died in Solferino, Italy. The statue of a soldier holding a fluttering flag was my first artistic exposure.

As a scared four year–old I still remember the great fire of 1886, the fire that turned our city into a heap of rubble.

Today, almost seventy years later, I still remember the red flames undulating from the Bencher factory and the thousands exploding windows. Our house was miraculously spared. Fortunately, this catastrophe gave the town a push for quick and planned redevelopment. Donations of money, clothing and building materials poured from all over the Austrian empire. I remember how my mother and her friends of the assistance committee gave out pillows, blankets and clothing to those in need.

The life of my family was different from that of many of the Jewish families in town. Unlike the wealthy families in town, my parents did not go to such health resorts as Karlsbad (Karloy Vary) or Marienbad (Mariánské Lázně). Instead, my mother took her children to resorts in Galicia such as Krynica (Krynica–Zdrój) or Iwonicz. My father, who loved the outdoors, took us on long and tiring hikes. We ventured to the Carpathian mountains, hiking the Hoverla, the Tatra mountains and passed through the Carpathians to Hungary. Hiking was not popular among the Jews in town in those days.

My father, Isser (Isidor) Weinbaum Hacohen was the son of an estate lessee in Podolia. Against his Hasidic parents' wishes he was able to study in the technical school in Lvov with the support of some rich relatives. As much of the University youths in his time, he distanced himself from the Jewish tradition and became part of the assimilated educated crowd.

As a railway engineer in Stryj, he was in contact with the Polish educated and became part of the Polish social democratic camp, the P.P.S.

Because of his position as a government employee, my father became friendly with the merchants and exporters in town. Among them: The Shenfelds, owners of the mills, the Sterns who had the monopoly on liquor sales in town, the Ungers who were travel agents, Mondsheins, the owners of saw–mills and traders of lumber, Maneleses, lessees of the tobacco factory. The banker Mintz employed my father as an accountant – a second job at night to increase his income. Our friend was Miller, the brother of professor David Heinrich Miller, the famous orient scholar from the Vienna university.

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We borrowed books from his book store.

In elementary school and later in the girls' lycée (there was no high school for girls at the time), my friends were the daughters of these families. Some of these friendships lasted a very long time especially with Regina Schiff and Dvora Katz.

The adolescent girls became friendly with the Stryj high school students. The high school was highly regarded and drew students from out of town as well. There I met Dr. Michael Ringel who became later a senator in Poland. My mother was a close friend of his large family. Dr. Emil Schmorak from Szczerzec who became one of the Zionist leaders in eastern Galicia, and the lawyer and author Mark Scherlag from, Wygoda who for a while was the secretary of Dr. Theodor Herzl and later settled in Haifa. Dr. Gershon Zipper, one of the founders of the Zionist movement in Galicia was also a talented student of the Stryj high school.

As family members of a railway employee we enjoyed free travel. We used this perk to increase our education and knowledge. We visited Italy and Switzerland. My father managed to get even to Egypt, but not to Eretz Israel. Almost every year we traveled to the Alps. Sometimes we went through Worochta in the eastern Carpathians and even reached Trieste on the Adriatic.

The way my family lived, distanced us from the traditional Jewish families. We eagerly read literature and as art lovers we visited Lemberg, where my mother's family lived, to see plays and listen to concerts.

In 1897 we moved to Lemberg. We lost the simplicity and friendliness of our lives in the small city of Stryj, but our horizons broadened.


The “Provincial” Life

I would like to describe the special atmosphere of life in the Austro–Hungarian province as reflected in the enlightened circles and in my parents' house in Stryj.

Two factors determined our social standing in town: My father's status as a government employee, a rarity among the Jews in those days, and the tendency of the enlightened and educated Jews to get closer to the educated non–Jews. The language spoken in our house was Polish. My parents spoke German when they did not want the children to understand. Although both my parents came from orthodox and traditional families, both had a complete secular outlook and rejected the Jewish holidays and traditions. My parents preferred to decorate a Christmas tree rather than light the Hanukah candles. We used to participate in Christmas parties and other Christian celebrations.

An interesting and surprising fact was that an orthodox Jew in traditional clothing supplied our family with the ultimate non–kosher foods such as rabbit meat, lobster etc. Because all items could be easily found in Stryj in those days, our cuisine was a combination of Viennese style baked goods and French menus.

We were not impartial to traditional Jewish dishes. We always participated in the Purim parties given by the Mondsheins and enjoyed the delicious hamantashen as well as nuts in honey (makagigi). These parties were a special yearly event. The wealthy did not give public parties or receptions. They lived in large houses surrounded by large yards with fruit trees. They lived there with the children, their sons and daughters in law, their grandchildren and their servants just like royalty in their palaces.

The weddings were very lavish and the invited guests were served various types of wine and liquor and large amounts of food (beef, chicken and goose) and desserts. Klezmer music both joyous and sad was played alternately and the comedian was there to add to the festive mood.

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All this reminded me of a painting in a Rabelais style but with a Jewish character…We, the Weinbaums were unusual among the crowd at the Mondsheins. Good neighborly and friendly relations existed between the rich but likable Mondsheins and the “educated and enlightened” Weinbaums.

When I turned fourteen I was invited to the parties and balls as well. Although I was a happy and outgoing girl I did not dance. My friends thought I was different. At masquerade balls we teased and hinted in good humor, but also discussed matters of art and literature.

Sometimes we had guests from among my father's friends at our house. The railway workers' band played for the guests. Most of the social life was to meet at a small patisserie in the center of town. The center of all social life in Stryj was the restaurant at the railway station which was active all day and night. This restaurant was popular with my mother and her circle of friends. I remember this restaurant as a reason for fights between my parents. My father had to work frequently until late and could to join my mother at the restaurant. However, my mother who grew–up in the big city of Lemberg could not give–up on listening to the music and the romanticism of the small town. So many evenings ended with fights between my parents scaring me, the little girl.

My parents were very interested in the socialist circles that started to appear in those years in Stryj. Lectures on social issues were held in town by some outstanding personalities from Lemberg, increasing the knowledge and awareness of the participants.

We had much free time for reading. Our house had a large library, so all family members were avid readers. We read many works in the German language which had a great impact on my education.

By age fourteen I read all of Shakespeare, Schiller, Heine and works by Goethe. I read (in German) the great Russian novels, Zola, de Maupassant, and Victor Hugo. I also became knowledgeable in the Greek mythology thus becoming interested in Greek art.

Beginning of Zionism (Memoirs)

by Eliyahu Katz

Translated by Susan Rosin

Before the “official” appearance of Zionism in the first congress in Basel in 1897, Jewish intellectuals in Stryj founded a Zionist society called “Agudat Achim” (Society of Brothers) sometime between 1888 and 1890. The first presidents were the banker Dov–Berish Kopler and Moshe Stern (father of Shlomo and Avner Stern) who served as deputy mayor of Stryj for many years. Other members of the society were: Dr. Maximilian Shenfeld (who later was the Lvov community leader), Dr. Norbert Schiff, Dr. Altman and the intellectual book seller Joseph Gross.

Moshe Stern was the first Zionist of Stryj who traveled to Eretz Israel on behalf of the society. An article in the publication “Ha'Am” (the nation) from 17th, of Adar 5652 (March 16th, 1892) stated that: “The “Admat Yeshurun” delegate, Mr. Moshe Stern, visited Eretz Israel to look at our brothers' settlements there and to bring forth his impressions…he wrote his first letter from the holy land on the 13th, of Tevet (January 13th,) saying that: Today I visited the agricultural school 'Mikve Israel' near Jaffa and I will describe what I saw”.

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The Awakening after the First Zionist Congress

In the first congress, Styj's Zionists were represented by Dr. Shlomo Goldberg. Dr. Goldberg became the first Zionist kehila leader after it was won over from the assimilators in 1918.

Dr. Karl Lippa from Stanislawów (who resided in Yassi, Romania) stopped in Stryj on his way from the first congress and brought materials such as protocols, booklets, musical notes, the “HaTikvah” text, etc., a visit that caused much excitement among the residents.

After the first congress, the Zionist society in Stryj was registered as a branch of the “Zion” society in Vienna, a step that eased the harassment by the authorities. Among the first in the Zionist societies were: The fabric merchant Leib Ekart, Mordechai Hochberger, Moshe Schur, Avner and Eliyahu Katz, Berl Stern and Aharon Hauptman.

“Veritas”, a Jewish academic society was established at the beginning of the twentieth century and it contributed greatly to the strengthening of Zionism in town. The founders of the society were: The student Michael Ringel, Avraham Ringel, Dr. Rosenzweig, the author Mark Scherlag, Norbert Schiff and his brother. Michael Ringel left Stryj and moved to Lvov. His cousin Avraham was a medical student in Vienna where he met Dr. Herzl and corresponded with him for years and was active in the Zionist movement there. He had a deep understanding of literature and was also a violin player. He returned to Stryj without completing his studies and with the influence of the Shenfeld – Ringel families obtained a high position as a consultant at the Stryj municipality. Because of his official position he was unable to take part in the Jewish national life in town.

The year 1906 saw another Zionist awakening when Dr. Julius Wurtzel and Dr. Byk (the son–in–law of Avraham Luft) came to town.

Dr. Gershon Zipper came to town at about the same time and he helped to resolve a Jewish–Zionist issue. In 1906 after the Russia – Japan war and after the revolution, many refugees passed through Galicia on their way to western Europe, England and the united states.

For the first time, help for the refugees was organized by the entire Jewish community (and not just by the wealthy families – Shenfeld, Hurwitz, Halpern etc.) proving the compassion and national awareness of the Jewish population. Most of the activities were coordinated by the Zionist youths. A dispute about the wording of the public appeal erupted between the Zionists and the assimilators headed by Dr. Fruchtman and the lawyer Dr. Markus. The Zionists suggested: “To our brothers and sisters” whereas the assimilators wanted the appeal to read: “To members of our faith”. Dr. Zipper was invited to weigh in on the dispute and he lectured at a large gathering at the “dom narodny”. He explained that it was so strange that this question was even raised. No doubt that Israel was a nation and all Jews are responsible for each other. He explained that his opinion was based on historical facts: The Spanish Jews helped the Jews that were expelled from Germany and France. In turn, the Italian and Turkish Jews helped the expelled Spanish Jews. And he added, who knew if these refuges who were helped in Galicia would not help the Galician Jews one day…

The revival of the Hebrew language also started during that period. The first Hebrew speakers were mostly from among the Beit Hamidrash students and many of them were the students of rabbi Shraga Feivel Hertz (Der Glogover). They were: Zvi Diesendruck, Yona Garlanter, Haim David Korn, Avraham Schwartzberg, Menachem Mendel Profest, and the brothers Moshe, Pinchas and Eliyahu Katz.


The Jewish Economy 1880 – 1914 in Stryj and the Surrounding Areas

The 1910 census showed that most of the commerce and crafts were in Jewish hands. In 1890 there were two Jewish lawyers (Dr. P. Fruchtmann and Dr. Altman) as compared to ten non–Jewish lawyers. These numbers did not include judges and other official legal professionals who were all non–Jewish. In the following twenty years Jews gained access to many other branches of commerce and manufacturing and their numbers grew in the professions.

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The number of Jews in agriculture (estate owners), clerical positions and those who provided supplies to the city, government and army (specifically to the three regiments stationed in town) grew significantly.

They supplied meat, hay, oats, bread and other items. The Jews leased the collection of road taxes, and pubs for wholesale of spirits. These were owned in Stryj by the Aberdam family, Moshe Goldberg, Delikatisz, Jekele Shor, and Haim Stern. They employed about eighty families.

During elections, the pub owners were a reactionary force pressured by the owners and the government. The labor P.P.S. party opposed the owners and the pubs lessees who were used by the government against the labor movement.

About 16% of Galician Jews were in agriculture as estate owners, lessees, and laborers. When the Polish and Ukrainian cooperatives (Torhowla Kolko Rolnicze) started marketing the agricultural products and compete with the Jews, many of the villages' Jewish residents became farmers.

The building industry was mostly owned by Jews. Interestingly, Jewish women played a major role in this industry. Hizelkorn built the street next to the court house, Luft built Potocki street and Schiff built the post office and many homes in the town center. Moshe Goldberg built the entire neighborhood from the Ukrainian church to the Stryj river.

The Jews in this field employed Jewish engineers, builders and craftsmen. All building, paving roads and river improvement projects were done by Jewish contractors.

The trade in fruits (Melons, grapes, water melons, etc.) from Hungary increased with the opening of the Ławoczne – Lvov railway. In Stryj, the traders of fruit were the Samet, Win and Bleiberg families. The Rothschild and baron von Offenberg groups that built the Ławoczne – Lvov – Sambor – Sianki – Stryj – Chodorów – Tarnopol railway employed many Jews as sub–contractors. The Jews of Stryj and other locations where the railways and roads were built supplied gravel, sills etc. for the projects.

After the railway became operational, the wagon drivers lost much of their livelihood and many became transportation companies' agents with international connections such as the Weinbach – Engelman, Radler – Leibowitz families and others. The brothers Kaz had a monopoly on the transportation of goods and passengers by buses for the routes Stryj – Lvov and Stryj – Morszyn.

Of the main merchants and manufacturers of note were: Flour mills: Stejerman – Borak; Saw mills: Zelig Borak, Munshein; Matches manufacturing: Lifshitz; Casting: Benczer; Chemicals (export to Russia and Romania): Michael Katz; Furniture manufacturing: the brothers Zalman, Shimshon and Joseph Steiner; Large scale eggs exporting: Insler – Heiber.


Moshe Wunderman

Moshe Wunderman was the son of a cheder teacher from Nadwórna. He arrived in Stryj at about 1904 or 1905 as a Hebrew teacher. At the beginning he wore the traditional clothing and his manner was that of an orthodox Jew.

After hearing that a high–school student failed an exam in the Greek language, he offered his help. Later he tutored additional high school students in Roman, math and other subjects. When the clerk who worked for the Insler – Heiber egg exporters to England fell ill, Wunderman filled–in, proving that he was learned in many areas. But foremost he was a Hebrew teacher. In addition he also conducted classes in commerce in his apartment at the Rynek (Central square).

His house was a gathering place for the well educated and intellectuals of Stryj. He also hosted Zionist delegates and lecturers. His wife was an intellectual as well, participated in the dramatic circles in town and always played the part of the mother.

At the beginning of World War I, he moved to Vienna, studied for the matriculation exams and later received a Ph.D. in philosophy. In Vienna he was a rabbi and a preacher in a synagogue for Jewish emissaries (Dienstmanner) and later he started a prep school for matriculation. When he was asked by a person from his town how he was making a living in Vienna, he responded by saying: If the non–Jew wants to pass the matriculation exams in German, he has to study with the son of a teacher from Nadwórna…

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From the Book “Voices in the Darkness”

by Julian Stryjkowski

This is a part from the book by the Stryj born Jewish-Polish author Julian Stryjkowski “Voices in the Dark”. The book describes Jewish life in Stryj before World War one.

Martin Heiber leaned on the windowsill, watching the guests without even noticing the short and bold Borek who stood next to him and talked. Heiber nodded his head occasionally while smiling mechanically.

“I am not complaining” continued Borek, “no one will declare bankruptcy if they have a solid foundation. Every month someone declares bankruptcy. But that is not the case with Borek's firm. If you ask me, Luft, Heidelkorn, and even baron Gerdel are prone to bankruptcy.”
Martin Heiber was not listening. He was looking at the new arrivals. A beautiful woman wearing a tight-fitting black velvet dress was helping an old stooping woman who was leaning on a cane. The old woman was supported on the other side by a young girl with a white ribbon in her braid. A heavy set man wearing a black coat and striped pants walked behind them.
“This is old Heidelkorn” whispered Borek, “now we will be able to start. This is her daughter, and he is her son in law, the lawyer Rosenberg”.
The old woman took off her silk wrap. The beautiful woman sat at the table and started removing her long purple gloves. Then she glanced at the window and smiled. Suddenly, Heiber noticed that the girl with the white ribbon was standing in front of him. She bowed lightly and handed him three white roses. She looked at him, not understanding why he was not taking the roses from her hand. Then she bowed again and said: “A gift from grandmother”.

This time Heiber heard the girl and took the flowers and gazed in the direction of the beautiful woman. She nodded and Martin Heiber approached her, leaned over and told her his name and then took his place at the table.

Mrs. Rosenberg tried to look for friends. She nodded to Kitczels, then to Miriam who did not acknowledge her. Conversations were heard everywhere from the guests who were gathering in groups.

Baruch jumped on the table and with a long match lighted the gas lamp which spread a greenish light. Clara paled and tightened her lips. Baruch laughed, jumped off the table and embraced his wife, but she stepped away.

“Clara dear are you mad again?” laughed Baruch.

“You know I don't like it” Clara answered angrily.

“Herr Doctor” Baruch turned to Dr. Kitczels who was busy talking to the older and shorter pharmacist Shternbach, “Do you think that gas can harm the child? My wife prefers kerosene lamp”.

The doctor did not respond and continued telling the pharmacist about a sick Jewish patient. “I told him: 'There is no need to over-eat on Saturday and then fast for the entire week'. And he said: 'That's what God commanded'. I asked him: 'Then why did you come to me?' And he answered: 'Where should I go? The shoemaker or the head of the kehila?”

The head of the kehila, Meirson, tall, thin and a little stooped coughed and said: “Oh! Heretics”.

Baruch continued to run between the rooms. Sweat drops appeared on his forehead and his yarmulke fell and covered his right ear. He apologized to Mrs. Heidelkorn as he had to extend the table to accommodate more guests.

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There were only eight armchairs and the rest were chairs set by the table. Baruch blew and put out the kerosene lamp and moved it to the children's room. He then appeared carrying a box with an attached trumpet similar to a large flower.

“Gramophone” cried Mrs. Rosenberg's daughter and clapped her hands. “Mom gramophone, grandma gramophone!”

“Elsa. Come sit here next to me” said Mrs. Rosenberg pointing to an empty seat near her armchair. When Elsa sat down, she whispered: “Don't be silly. So much excitement because of a gramophone?”

Elsa sat with her eyelashes downcast.

Grandma Heidelkorn was listening to old Mr. Goldman nodding her head from time to time. A black lace scarf was fastened to her reddish wig with a large diamond brooch and covered her forehead. She was wearing large earrings and a pearl necklace.

“Why is he not getting married?” she asked pulling up her lower lip and tapped her cane on the floor. “Don't you understand? A thirty year old bachelor? If my Alter Heidelkorn had a son…he has to get married, even to Lusia Borek”.
Goldman looked at Baruch who was sitting to his left and murmured something, but Mrs. Heidelkorn tapped her cane again and continued:
“I would not let Borek into my family. Martin is well educated but still a very observant Jew. That is a good person! In Vienna every stone is non-kosher and the air is tempting to sin”.

“Yes. He is a great scholar. He is a philosopher whose articles are published”. Mr. Goldman coughed. “He even knows Dr. Herzl”.

“Herzl, Shmerzl, but he does not denounce his Judaism. Not so my son in law. His father is so orthodox that he does not even speak on Saturday. The worst are those from orthodox families who denounce their faith”.

Baruch was attending to the gramophone at the time and announced: “Shall we listen for the first time to a Jewish singer?”

A scratch, a buzz and a rustle were heard and then screaming sounds came out of the trumpet.

Miriam was sitting at the table's edge next to Olga and Helena. In spite of the heat her face was pale. She wet her lips and drops of perspiration showed on her dark eye lids.

Olga turned to Lorka's father: “Do you know what is playing Mr. Scheiner?” Mr. Scheiner, a middle aged person wearing the same silk yarmulke as Mr. Goldman and Baruch with a well-trimmed beard motioned with his hands that he did not know who the singer was.

He turned to the jewelry store owner sitting next to him: “Do you know who the singer is Mr. Waldman?” Waldman stopped waving his hard edged hat and put it in his lap. Accidentally he touched Mrs. Findling's elbow. He apologized and put the hat on his head. He did not know the singer either.

It is [1] “דוס פינטעלע יוד” explained Helena, but Olga was not paying attention as she was watching Heiber who was standing behind Clara's chair still holding the three roses and following Mrs. Rosenberg's gaze who was looking indifferently at the turning player.

“What do you think about this free concert?” asked her husband loudly.
The lawyer's wife looked at him and answered: [2] “מיר געפעלט עס גאנץ גוטץ”.

Screeching noises sounded when the song ended. Baruch jumped and started looking through the various records. Clara, who was amused by Kitczels' stories, became serious and coughed lightly. Baruch got the message and moved the gramophone into the children's bedroom.

He returned with the servant and started setting the table with sparkling water bottles and fruit baskets.

“Can we get started?” said Goldman to Martin who was standing all this time.

“What are we waiting for? For the Messiah? Let's get started”.

“Say what may” sounded a thick voice,

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“Gramophone in a small town is still a very important invention”.
Olga's face turned red.

She hid behind Helena's back and said: “Dad, please stop. He always says stupid things”.

However, the thick voice continued: “If people were shown this kind of box a few years ago, they would think it was a miracle. But today – it is nothing. God willing he will sell the restaurant and its concession that his grandfather obtained from the emperor in 1848. With this money he can turn the town upside down.”

“They invented a ball that in addition to rising in the air can also take people with it. However, electricity is better than gas. With the gas, the entire city can burn down. Yes. Some are inventing, and others get rich. Not everyone can be as smart as Edison. But in order to invest, you should be able to distinguish between the truth and the fraud and sometimes you need to take risks. In the middle of the square they already placed a pole. This is the first electrical light in town. From Boryslaw they are already pulling wires. He is waiting for it. He will sell everything”.
Olga's father stopped talking and the room fell silent. He sat comfortably in the arm chair and eyed with contempt the Findlings – a young couple that just arrived from Germany. Mr. Findling held a fat cigar between his lips and his wife with a large diamond on her finger was sipping sparkling water and looking at the sparkling crystal glass. Without moving her eyes she reached and took an apple.

Old Mrs. Heidelkorn asked Goldman: “I don't like it that he is not talking. What's his name? Is he one of the Pferbaums? Which branch?”

“The undistinguished branch. The very undistinguished” answered Goldman.
Mrs. Heidelkorn raised her voice: “Listen Pferbaum, I did not understand all of it, but I am sure that Mrs. Findling understood everything”. Pferbaum winked agreeably.

Mrs. Findling looked up and asked her husband: [3] “וואס וויל דיזער מענש פון מיר?”

Findling removed his cigar and said: “Mr. Pferbaum, I did not get it and I don't understand what is common to you and us” and he added a shoulder gesture indicating “I don't know”.

“A nice question! Our common interest? Photographer. Do you think you are so great with your photographs? Let the first electric street light go on in the square. That will be sufficient for me! Then you will see if we have a common interest or not! You will see the first ad on the street: 'The first Kinomatograph in town or Kino Theater “Edison”. The owner of the Kino Theater – Mr. Pferbaum. The first time admission – free for everyone. And then, you will see – people will fight each other to watch the moving pictures. And who will look at your dead pictures, a peasant from a village [4] “איין געבירגס-באור”
Fildling's narrow face twisted and he laughed.
“You can laugh sir. Do you think I don't know what happens in your business?”

“Mrs. Dora is a smart and shrewd woman. Before the pole was erected in the square, she told you to buy all kinds of wires. And I am asking you – why does a photographer need wires? Crates full of jars? What is this? I asked Mrs. Dora. These are batteries. And why does a photographer need batteries? How did you take pictures before there was electricity? Now the pictures will look more alive Mrs. Dora told me. I set my mind a long time ago on the Kinomatograph. Why would one person swallow everything? One will have live pictures and the other dead pictures. Am I not right?”

“Beautiful story” said Kitczels and pounded on his knees, turning to the pharmacist Shternbach and repeated “beautiful story. It should be published in 'Puchingel'. *Mr. Pferbaum, when are you selling the restaurant? Mr. Meirson, as the head of the kehila you must help him”.

“What restaurant?” yelled Findling. “It is but a small pub in Targowica”.

Pferbaum jumped up and screamed in Yiddish: “A pub? So what? You don't like it? You sell in a pub just like in a store and for the same kind of money!” and he banged his fist on the table.

* A popular satirical weekly published in those days in Lvov.

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The bottles and the glasses clinked on the table. “Is a pub a brothel?”

“Quiet” said old Goldman, “In my house”

“Be quiet” yelled Findling.

Heidelkorn tapped her cane.
“Quiet? Why quiet? Why does the Jew have to be quiet? If he cannot talk, how is a Jew going to cry out about oppression? Let him talk”.
Old Mr. Goldman pulled Baruch's sleeve and whispered in his ear. Baruch approached Pferbaum carefully, but he stopped him with his outstretched hand.
“OK. OK. I knew this ahead of time. Respect? I spit on this respect. Aristocracy”. With that, he pushed the chair with his foot and left the room slamming the door behind him.
The chair to the left of Miriam was vacated and now she was seen by everyone. She glanced in Olga's direction, but that chair was empty too. When did she leave? Perhaps before her father?

How would she leave the gathering without people noticing her?

Martin Heiber was still standing behind Clara's chair and wiped his forehead. He looked at the lawyer's wife who was just gazing in front of her holding a lace handkerchief.

Her husband stroked her arm. “Don't get too excited Tonia. This is a Jewish wedding and things cannot be different in a Jewish wedding.”

Old Goldman sighed. “I can't understand how this happened. It cannot be reversed. I cannot understand how Pferbaum was among the guests. I did not invite him and neither did anyone in my family. Since he was an uninvited guest, we can look at his behavior as rude and vulgar and imposing on the celebration. This can happen anywhere, not just in my house. This is a rude person and he is not welcome.”

“Uninvited?” screamed Findling, “Pferbaum sat here and he was uninvited? Unbelievable.”
Goldman tapped lightly on the table, as was the custom in synagogue and turned to the guests with a trembling voice: “Let's all listen to Martin Heiber, my late wife's brother.”

Heiber stood between Clara's and Baruch's chair, put the white roses on the table, wiped his forehead and started his speech.

His speech was mellow. Occasionally his voice trembled and he covered his eyes. Then, his voice intensified. The faces of those present were blurred by the cigarette smoke that was rising against the green glow of the gas light.

At first, what he said sounded like Shabbat songs, bringing back memories of forgotten childhood, shining melodies of the past. Miriam recovered. This is not a talk, but a stream of pure water.

“The yearnings are carried for thousands of years. My homeland! Zion! You are the prettiest of them all. The coyotes' howl sounds in your deserted vineyards. Your tents are empty. In our forefathers' skies, the sun is covered with smoke. Our palm trees are on fire, the green Jordan River is dying. The drinking stone crumbled, the stone of Judea became so black. Jerusalem, carved from the rock is gloomy.”
Like a flying bird, his voice rose and dived bringing the fresh longings of the audience to a hilly country with palm trees, wide clear skies, our skies, shepherd's tents, sheep herds roaming around covered in white wool.

Miriam covered her ears and closed her eyes. When she opened her eyes, she was shocked to see Heiber's face. His hands were pale and his eyes burning. In one gulp he drank a glass of water.

“The Zionism is the most-noble form of our national pride. This is our protest against the injustice and wrong doings of history and the world.”

[5] “דאס איסט דער קאמף געגען דאס מיטל-אלטר אונד דאס יודישע געטו”.

“Zion is our star”. (or from the Latin – From the East comes light)

“Streams of blood and fires did not conquer this nation. Wrapped in their prayer shawls saying the 'Shema Israel' they jumped into the fire.

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This is a great nation. The bible and the prophets are the inspiration and treasure of humanity. Will this nation be lost? Surrounded by a wall of hatred we are still pure and splendid forever. Today, this is a nation of shopkeepers. We need to cleanse our souls, get them out of the bags of the peddlers like the goblet of Benjamin. Cleanse them from the exile, from the humiliation, from the fear, from the depression, from the corruption of the soul, from the everyday worries.

We will raise the nation. We will bring to the world the new truth. On Mount Sinai, this nation gave the world thru Moses the Ten Commandments and on mount Zion the nation will bring the world the messiah. One law for the entire humanity. The Jewish nation that gave the world God and soul will give the world the justice. We will give the world a new generation of prophets. The Jewish nation had so much pain and suffering. When the enemy set fire to the temple, the angel raised the house keys to the heavens and kept them there for the nation that was tortured by the inquisition, expulsions, slaughter and pogroms.

These keys will initiate the golden age. This is the idea of Judaism. This is the spark from the burning bush spreading the warmth on nursing babies, giving strength to those wandering with their bags. This is the flame lighting the faces of rabbis and their mortified students. These are the kabbalists rising to the upper spheres building worlds out of numbers. This is the devotion dancing of the Chassidim uniting with their God in the fields. The Israel spirit is scattered all over the world.”

Heiber emptied another glass of water.

“The philosophy of Judaism is the monotheism. We never believed in God and Satan. Our ideal is the completeness in the unity. Therefore, our ancient bible is an inspiration for the world. Our prophets – the justice army, believed that their country is the cradle of the good and eternity and they had the world's rage in their bones.”
Tell me, are you Jewish? Miriam had difficulty breathing. She wanted to reach for a drink of water, but did not dare move her hand. She felt like being in a trance.

In Eretz Israel he saw rocky soil and new settlements surrounded by orchards, Yemenite Jews – dark and short of stature, Caucasus natives – sturdy and charming, and Russian natives born after the Kishinev pogroms. All found their homeland there. He was in the new city of Tel Aviv, saw the first Hebrew high school “Herzliya”, listened to the language of the prophets, listened to the songs of revival.

Rocky soil is reborn. Eucalyptus trees are sucking the malaria out of the swamps. Trees and forests are taking roots. Pioneers like these have never been seen before. One hand holds a rifle and the other works the fields. They are building the homeland in spite of the Turkish opposition. In spite of its desolation, they are building their old-new homeland, just as Herzl predicted in “Altneuland”.

Heiber breathed. The guests seemed awake. “Zionism is the renaissance of Judaism. Israel's soil is so dear. It is being conquered by sweat and small coins. This is a very small country. This is the only country where land is not measured by hectares but by meters, every piece of land is bought for gold. We have never gotten anything for free. We, who are seen by the gentiles as the bankers of the world, are a poor nation, and all our lives are a collection of donations. Even in funerals, we walk behind the coffin with a collection box “charity may save life” (צדקה תציל ממוות ). But the Zionist collection box is an elixir. Its color is blue like the skies of Israel, like the flag of Israel. “

The white roses wilted.

Heiber talked about the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, who did not see his dream come-true. Just like Moses who did not enter the promised-land. The ten year anniversary of his passing will be in two years. When he passed away in 1904, it was decided to immortalize him by building a living monument – the Herzl Forest, which requires money.

Heiber slowly removed his glasses. He seemed tired and announced that he completed his speech. He took a seat behind Clara's chair and leaned forward.

The guests, who were listening quietly, started clearing their throats and improving their sitting positions. Some lit cigarettes.

The first to ask a question was Borek.

[Page 61]

“So, how much would it cost to plant such a tree?”
Heiber raised his head and seemed to be deep in thought.

Mrs. Heidelkorn tapped her cane.

“My husband Alter Heidelkorn always said: If you desire something (an item), don't ask for the price. The more you give this item will be more worthy for you”.

Kitczels remarked: “This is phantasmagoria.”

Heiber smiled sadly. “To those that don't have faith, this is phantasmagoria. What can you do? You are either born with the ability to believe or not. It is not something that money can buy.”

Kitczels cleared his throat: “But you sir, have faith. And you have plenty of it. And you want to sell it for money. Look, sir, for the price of one tree I can buy faith from you. Seriously, I don't believe in anything. Everyone here can attest to it, even the head of the kehila. The content is gone. Religion filled the lives of our forefathers and we need to honor them for it.”

The lawyer Rosenberg clapped his hands: “Bravo!”

Mrs. Heidelkorn dropped her cane and said: “Kitczels. Why is this doctor talking? I can pay for him too.

Then she turned to her son-in-law, the lawyer Rosenberg and said: “And you, Kuba, I can pay for you too. It's not the first time I am paying for you.”

She put her cane between her knees, took a ring off her finger and dropped it on the table. “I can afford to donate it. Why are you pale, my dear son-in-law? Ask him how much of my money he lost in card games. He can stop playing!” And with that, she banged her fist on the table.

Mrs. Rosenberg covered her face with her handkerchief and whispered: “Mother…”

The old woman moved the ring closer to the roses and the diamond surrounded by sapphires sparkled.

“Borek, how much are you donating?” she asked.

“I think that twenty Krones is a not a little contribution.”

“Too little!”

“OK. Five more Krones” said Borek, laughing uneasily.

“Too little!”

“Mrs. Heidelkorn. I will go bankrupt. Thirty Krones.”

“Two hundred Krones. Do you hear Heiber? Not a penny less from him. And you, Borek, I wish you long life! And now, you can ask for the price of the tree.”

Goldman said: “Everyone will give as much as they can. Nobody is forced. Although we the old Jews believe in God and not in Herzl.”

Heidelkorn said: “Oh, old man that you are. How do you always avoid everything because of God? Do you want to wait for the messiah? Nobody is stopping you. But Martin does not want to wait. If I had a son, I would be the first one to tell him not to wait. We, the old folks did not get the privilege. And we have been waiting for generations. How much longer? The messiah's honor will not be offended if someone preceded him.”

Borek sighed. “Yes, of course. The parents always sacrifice for their children.”

Kitczels crushed his cigarette in the silver ashtray.
“I remember when I was a little boy I learned in the cheder about the golden calf that the Jews built in the desert. I could never understand why the women would part with their jewelry. And the teacher said: You are silly. They could not buy anything valuable in the desert anyway.”
Rosenberg laughed.
Kitczels handed the ring to Waldman. “I am sure that this is a valuable ring. If we knew its price, we would know its value which is the main content of the Heidelkorn-Heiber deal. Will you agree Mr. Meirson? In Eretz Israel, they will plant good smelling trees and here, the Jews will continue to live in their stench. So, instead of disinfecting the bathhouse, they will build a golden calf. Do you think that with money you can bring back the dead? Play with ideas, children, play with ideas. What do you want, Mr. Heiber to prolong the rotting process? We are rotting, whether we know it or not and we can't see the end. Is not this enough, sir? Whoever can, runs away from here as far away as they can. And you, sir, want to catch them. Why? What for? And you, sir, and people like you. Since religion will not help, you invented some Palestine.”
Translator's footnotes
  1. This is wordplay on the word Yid meaning Jew and the name of the 10th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Yod or Yud (or the Yiddish pronunciation Yid). The literal translation is “the dot Yud” since the letter Yod is very small, looking like a mere dot on the paper (פינטעלע means “little dot”). The meaning of the idiomatic expression is that whatever happens and whatever the circumstances, the Jewish soul is still awake somewhere inside. I think it should be translated “the Jewish spark.” A detailed explanation is at http://forward.com/articles/9020/an-essential-point/. Return
  2. I quite like that. Return
  3. What does this man want from me? Return
  4. A hillbilly, lit. “a peasant from the mountains” Return
  5. This is the struggle against the Middle-Ages and the Jewish Ghetto. Return


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