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From The Legacy
Of The Martyrs


Naphtali the Son of Reb Chaim Mandel…
May G–d Avenge His Blood

Excerpts from Naphtali's letters to his colleague and student, Chaim Mohrer in Eretz Israel.

(First Letter)

Time grabs a person with a strong grip and does with him as it wishes…and only occasionally does a person isolate himself from the tumultuous life into a corner, remaining with his soul, until he feels how much he distanced himself from real life and feels emptiness in his soul. Sometimes his soul cries from the depths of his heart, and laments for its devastation. The latent yearnings attack he person for the times that have passed him by.

And now, my beloved, I came to alert you that being in the Holy Land, the metropolis of G–d's Kingdom, the land that G–d claims to be eternally His…remember, my loveable Chaim, that you left your native land and came into a new environment, between those who call themselves leftists and rightists, where the licentiousness is tremendous. Therefore, Chaim, watch your actions and watch over your soul...Remember how the Talmud comments on the verse, “You created darkness and it became night, : which means, that this world resembles night…Make an effort to set aside time for studying a page Gemara or to read the Books of Ethics. Avoid the crowds who are immersed in emptiness because you are in a place where nobody knows you and the temptations are immense. Therefore, not associate with them, with the people who have o sense to distinguish between day and night.

With me personally, there is nothing new. I study Talmud daily, the tractate of Yoma, and the commentaries, the Bible, and philosophical books, the Rambam, The Obligation of the Hearts. There I find consolation and the healing of body and soul.

Sunday, Chapter of the week, “Bechukatay.” 1936.

(Second Letter)

Here is our shtetl, dear Chaim, everything is the same. G–d continues to lead his world monotonously. The annual guest, the winter, has arrived and, when the people or the animals breathe, a white steam emanates from their mouths. The sidewalks in front of Bunim's candy story is already littered with the shells of pumpkin seeds and inside the store, they are busy studying the game of billiard. Suddenly, tables with six holes, six balls, and long sticks appeared in all the candy stores. The whole game consists of trying to knock the balls into the holes. You cannot imagine what is going on with that billiard. The cursing and foul language of these loathsome creatures, these “scholars.” Their acuteness and proficiency is unimaginable. The noise that is

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coming out from Bunim's candy store can be heard in heaven. G–d shall have mercy and help Nechemiah “Crook” (Felber) learn the game. If not, he may destroy the whole world. The jokes and senseless conversations during the game are worthy of being published in a special edition to show that the existence of this world is justified…

At the other “Rabbi's” store, in the story of Reb Shmuel Rosenbluth, may he be blessed with a long life, the clientele is more revered, and more G–d fearing.” Samuel himself puts together combinations, adds mysterious mathematical ciphers, and the book of “Zohar” is always open on the table in the store. He is deeply immersed in reading a spicy romance.

Saturday night, the chapter of the week, “Miketz,” 1937

Why Did G–d Punish Me So Severely?

by Eta Federbush–Diamand

Oh yes, my dear Liba, it is true. My dear mother, the love of my soul, is no longer alive! The brutal death has snatched away from me my most precious treasure which was concealed deeply in the inner chambers of my heart and soul. The earth has covered my dearest possession in this world. My mother's heart, the heart of an angel, has stopped beating. Is it not awful? Is it possible to describe such a great loss? Can I possibly put on paper what is going on in my heart? In my crushed and broken heart? There was always before my eyes a sacred purpose: “Mother,” to live for her, to look after her, and to watch over her like the apple of my eye. It seems to me that where it concerns reverence for my mother, I did everything possible. I devoted my youth to her. In the last few weeks, I did not leave her for a moment, day and night. I invested all my power and energy to help her, but to no avail. Why had G–d punished me so severely? Apparently, I deserve such a punishment. Well let us not question G–d's ways.

Do you know what my life consist of now? It is a life with the image of my dear mother which is engraved deep in my heart. The only thing that gives me repose are the tears that I shed for her…After my father passed away, she was the father and the mother, the foundation of our house. When this foundation collapsed, what is there left to do? To cry and cry.

Be well and shed tears for the fate of your dear friend who became orphaned.

This an excerpt from a letter written by Eta Federbush to her girlfriend, Liba Tucker in 1934.

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Excerpt From a Letter
Written to Leah Loos in Eretz Israel

by Liba Greenblatt and Sarah Alta Mandel

My good friend!

Many thanks for the warm Mazal Tov that you sent me. You are wishing me that you hope soon to be able to convey these congratulations to me in person over there in “Ha–Aretz.” May G–d fulfill your wishes. Meanwhile I see no hope for the materialization of this goal because my husband's position enables us to make a living and we are afraid that over there, we would not be able to find a livelihood with our meager funds. The needs of a family are bigger than those of a single girl. But still, we are not resigned. Maybe the conditions will improve in the future and we will be able to settle in Eretz Israel.

A few weeks ago your mother told me that you intend to write letters to us. So we are waiting impatiently because we are curious to know how your true spirits are, how your life is individually,, and what the spiritual and material situation of the children of Israel is in general. But your letters have not arrived yet and, in the meantime, I am moving to Rymanow. Therefore, when your letter will finally arrive, I will not be able to read it. I will have to rely on Sarah Alta, to learn the contents of your letter and this will not be satisfactory to me. Therefore, please hurry up and send letters. Maybe I will still be here in Strzyzow and, if not, please write me another letter which would make me very happy.

I will be leaving Strzyzow soon after the holidays and I wish to find in my new life what we all dreamed about–happiness.

Be well, healthy, and write soon.

From your friend who sends regards from myself and my husband whom you never met. He is a good Jew, and he is interested in everything that is happening over there.

Yours, Liba

I too thank you for the greeting card and send my best wishes. I am too busy now to write more because I am preparing the seders for Passover. I am waiting impatiently for your letter. Write soon.

Sarah Alta

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Letter From the Nazi–Occupied Territory

by Eta Falk–Dembitzer

Strzyzow, March 16, 1941

To Sarah and Itzhok Berglass.

My dear friends!

I apologize for not writing sooner, even though I know how important it is to hear from home but I am devastated after the tragedy that happened in my immediate family. Therefore, I could not concentrate my thoughts and sit down to write a letter. This postcard was written two months ago, and I just found it today in a drawer. I decided to mail it anyway.

I am not writing too much news because I do not go outside and nobody comes to visit me. Everyone has his own troubles and does not want to listen to somebody else's troubles.

I have recently seen your entire family. Thank G–d they are all well. Also Chaya from Sanok paid a visit and she is also well. I also heard that Mrs. Gertner had received a postcard from you, and was happy to hear that you are in good health. Please write some more. Kisses from the bottom of my heart.


A Letter to Itzhok Berglass in Pimia, Siberia

From Chaya Feirush–Berglass

Sanok, February 24, 1941.

My dear brother!

A week ago I was in Strzyzow to observe our father's yahrzeit. Nechama and I with David and Elimelech went to the cemetery. Thank G–d, we are all healthy but mother misses you. She carries around in her pocket the few postcards she has received from me.

Did you hear anything from your relatives in the United States? We wrote to them. Maybe they would like to help me emigrate. By all manes. We advise you to go. We advise you to go. But we know that it takes time. We do not hear from you too often. We are well and have had enough food

Kisses for everyone.


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A Letter to Itzhok Berglass in Pimia, Siberia

From Nechama Bernstein–Berglass

Strzyzow, February 25, 1941.

Dearest brother and family!

For some time we did not hear from you nor from Henia. The postcards which you sent through Paltiel Kneller's father–in–law have not reached us. Please write directly to us. Write us a card every week but do not add Yiddish words because it takes long to receive them. Chaya was here to observe the yahrzeit of our father, blessed by his memory. We all went to the cemetery and prayed that we should be together again. Thank G–d we have our health. Sometimes we all regret that we are not together over there with you because togetherness is much better. What is Ryvka studying? She is probably a big girl now. Does Rachel remember us? Bina is always kissing her picture.

Where do you live? In a city or in a village? What is your occupation? Henia lives in a village and her husband Eliezer is a lumberman. Heschel Diamand is also there, somewhere. But he has not written anything. Let Sarah and the children add a few words.

We kiss you all and wish to see you soon.


A Plea for Support to the Secretary of the
Strzyzow Society in the United States

From the Assistant Rabbi in Strzyzow, Rabbi Yacov Shpalter.

To the revered, charming, and generous Reb Samuel Mussler.

Since I had very friendly relations with your father, of blessed memory, I dare to take the opportunity to bother you with my request.

I am and had been the Assistant Rabbi of Strzyzow for the last fifteen years. I was accepted by all parties in town. Even though it is a small town, I still made a meager living because the town was not as poor as it is now. Recently, the town became so impoverished that my income fell to the lowest level, and I do not have any other resources for a livelihood. My salary was reduced. In one word, I am simply broke. I have daughters whose time to get married is long overdue. However, I have no dowry for them, not even a small dowry. Therefore, I decided to present before you, the Strzyzow Committee, my plea. My beloved friends, champions of generosity, look into this matter, look into my bitter situation. It is not in my character to ask for charity. If the problem would be food only, I would be satisfied with bread and water and would not stretch out my hands to ask for charity. But

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A pleading letter for support to Samuel Mussler, secretary of the Strzyzow society in the U.S.A. from the assistant Rabbi Yacov Shpalter

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Letter of recommendation from Itzhok Berglass to the secretary of the Strzyzow society in U.S.A. about help to assistant Rabbi Yacov Shpalter


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the problem is dowry for brides who are long overdue and, therefore, I am forced to do whatever possible. I have lived in Strzyzow for the last fifteen years and worked as an Assistant Rabbi. Therefore, I dared to call on the natives of Strzyzow who are known for their character and merciful feelings. The people from Strzyzow always helped the needy, myself among them. However, the situation in town became so bad that help is not forthcoming. Therefore, I am turning to you, revered committee. Have mercy and contribute to my daughter's dowry, at least a hundred dollars. As a reward for such a great mitzva G–d will bless you with prosperity and success in all your endeavors. G–d will favorably fulfill your hearts' wishes. I am concluding my words with great hope for your help.

I am addressing my plea especially to you Mr. Mussler. I remember your father, of blessed memory, very well, and his gentle personality, and merciful feelings. Surely, the fruit of such a fine tree inherited the same merits. Therefore, consider my bitter situation. I am drowning. I am hopeful that you will help the Committee decide in my favor, and the Almighty will give a helping hand.

The Assistant Rabbi in Strzyzow
Yacov Shpalter

Letter of Recommendation
from Itzhok Berglass

Dear Comrade, Mr. Mussler!

Our Assistant Rabbi, Yacov Shpalter, asked me to verify that what he stated in his letter is true, since only few of the emigrants from Strzyzow know him. I hereby confirm that everything he wrote is true. Rabbi Yacov Shpalter is an old man. He has served us as Assistant Rabbi for the last fifteen years. At present, he finds himself in a critical situation. The reason for it is that the funds of the Jewish Community have decreased for several reasons. Therefore, his salary is very small and it is hard to live on it even by our low living standards. The Jewish population is very poor. The Assistant Rabbi has no other income, and is inconceivable that he will be able to marry off his daughters. He deserves to be given the help he asked for.

Please give my regards to all my friends and to my cousin, Mr. I. Berglass. I conclude my letter with reverence.

Itzhok Berglass

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Letter of recommendation from Abraham Tenzer to the Secretary of the Strzyzow Society in U.S.A. about help to assistant Rabbi Yacov Shpalter.


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Letter of Recommendation
from Abraham Tenzer

To my old and very beloved friend!

Our sages wrote: “The world is based on three principles: Torah, worship, and kindliness.” As you probably still remember, our shtetl is known for its piety. People studying Torah, praying with devotion, but the fulfillment of acts of kindliness comes a little harder because of poverty in our town. Providence wasted the completion of the three above–mentioned merits. Therefore, he made you immigrate to the United States and find there a good, free life. You ought to be thankful and fulfill the great mitzva, doing acts of kindliness. You should express your gratitude for going to the United States, as Joseph did to his brothers for going to Egypt. This should enable you to extend a helping hand to your impoverished brethren of Strzyzow. Dear beloved brothers! You cannot imagine the present situation. It cannot be described on paper. In this case it is a man, a great scholar, who is satisfied with as little as possible. He served us for the last fifteen years, his salary keeps decreasing, and nobody here is able to help him. It is a great merit to help a Jew, especially a great scholar. And in addition, he is also in need of dowries for his daughters which are, as described by our sages, a mitzva without limitations. We should not and cannot permit girls to remain unmarried. I plead with you, do not ignore it. Dear brothers! Make an effort and support this man, Rabbi Yacov Shpalter, and as a reward for your charitable deed, the Creator will help, fulfill, and answer all your prayers. You will become prosperous and live happily and in richness. G–d willing we should be able to convey to you only good news. This is the wish of your acquaintance and best friend. Please give my regards to all our landsleit, especially to Mr. Mussler, and Zalman Berglass who, I heard is very generous.

Abraham Tenzer

Letter from the Free Loan Society in Strzyzow
To the Strzyzow Relief Committee in New York

Strzyzow, March 23, 1939.

Dear Secretary!

We received your letter dated March 14, addressed to Dr. Frenkel and me. I have not responded before today because I waited until my anger subsided. I decided not to mention the other problem again. The fund assigned by you has not yet arrived but we hope to receive them any day. As soon as the funds will reach us, we will immediately call a meeting of the Committee to distribute the funds and send them to Zbonszin. Since your listing was not accurate and addresses were missing, we turned to Shalom Flaumenhaft who sent us an exact list of all the addresses of

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the people from Strzyzow, whereby we found one more person from Strzyzow, namely, Reb Samuel Feit, the son–in–law of Yechiel Rosen. Of course, we will send him some funds also. According to Shalom Flaumenhaft, it appears that only six families live in the refugee camp and the rest live privately.

We will send the money to Zbonszin individually by mail because to send a special messenger would cost us over one hundred zlotys. From Strzyzow to Zbonszin is very far. It takes fifteen hours by express train. An exact list of the recipients will be sent to you around Passover time and also a report about the activities of the Free Loan treasury.

We would like to confirm with great satisfaction that our treasury has received credit of 500.00 zlotys from the Joint Distribution Committee in Warsaw with a long–term repayment plan, which means that the first payment will be due in the years 1947–1948. As you can see, our business with the “Joint” are not too bad. They would even be better if they would give us more money. From the previous credits that we received from “Joint”, we have already paid back one hundred fifty zlotys. The activities of our Free Loan Society are regular, namely, as soon as money comes in, we loan it out. We will send you the monthly balance sheets, and also the minutes of our meetings.

Next month the annual membership meeting will take place, where a new leadership will be elected. It is quite possible that a new committee will be elected and the old one will retire.

Dear friend. Secretary! Since you have helped the poor in Strzyzow and those expelled from Hitler–land, for which you deserve sincere thanks, you should now begin to do something for the Free Loan Society. We need a continuous infusion of funds. The number of applications is increasing steadily.

About Strzyzow, there is nothing important to report, and about what is going on in Poland, you probably read in the newspapers. Regards from the people in Strzyzow who are wishing you and all our friends a joyful Passover.

Abraham Brav


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