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[Page 31]

The Development of Jewish Settlement
in Żelechów and its Religious Life

 

[Page 41]

The Rebbe's Yard

by Majer Wancjer (Bogotá, Colombia)

Translated from Yiddish by David Lukowiecki

The Rebbe Mr. Moshe was a distinguished righteous man. He had Hasidim in whole Poland and was a great donator.

All the poor people knew that in Żelechów, at the Rebbe's house, they were well fed and still got something for the road. He never saved money, everything he had he shared.

When the Rebbe Mr. Moshe passed way, the whole town went to the funeral. Also representatives of the Tsarist authority, two colonels from Garwolin, came to give the last honorifics to the Rebbe. On the grave, his oldest son Mr. Yehoshiale, was appointed as Rebbe. The funeral was artistically immortalized by Itzchak Meir Wajsenberg in his book “Mazal Tov”.

 

zel041.jpg
Majer Wancjer

 

Mr. Yehoshiale did just as his father, helped poor people. The Rebbe was once very sad because for six days no poor people was seen. “I can't make a banquet, food doesn't make good” told the Rebbe to his Hasidim.

Before the holidays, before Rosh Hashana, Hasidim came to the Rebbe in Żelechów from different places in Poland.

In all the streets, they saw new people, velvet hats and fur hats. It was solemn to see how the Rebbe with the Hasidim used to go to tashlich, to the water on the Zadybska Street. All the religious Jews went after them:

girls, boys, women with little children on their breasts, fathers with older children by the hand. All followed to tashlich.

On the way back, the real joy began. All the Hasidim began to sing and to dance with the Rebbe, little children clapped with the hands. Such a joy was made until the Rebbe's yard. On the Rebbe's yard began the real happiness, the Hasidim danced until they got tired.

When Mr. Yehoshiale married his first daughter, poor people from all Poland came two weeks earlier. Every day they celebrated with food for all the countrymen that came.

The Hasidim arrived and together with the Żelechów Jews they organized an “army company”, soldier cavalry. Wooden guns and swords were made. At the tailors they sewed shirts with red stripes on the side and military jackets. Every day the soldiers made repetitions on the Rebbe's yard. The city and the people stood and watched. This “army” was prepared to escort the groom to Gonczyc, which was in the middle of the way to the train station.

The day of the wedding transformed into a general holiday. All the Jews in Żelechów were so happy, that they immediately wanted to marry their children. A whole morning all the “soldiers” were in the market with the horses. An “officer” gave the command in Hebrew, the Jewish soldiers with long beards all mounted on the horses. It looked like we weren't in Żelechów, but indeed in the land of Israel. The whole Jewish population, from small to big, came to see the parade. All the houses were closed. The wives didn't make lunch, all stood and waited for the groom to come.

Suddenly it was heard: “Here they come”. Everyone ran to the bridge on the Warszawa Street, here played Efraim Menaszes band. They began to play a march, forward came the “cavalry”, after a closed carriage with the groom. After the groom, came carriages and mere wagons with guests. They went to the market and drove seven times around the shops in the middle of the market.

At night the wedding took place. The whole yard of the Rebbe was decorated with lanterns. Tables were set from one corner of the yard to the other. The joy lasted two weeks. Every day the bands came to play at the Rebbe's.

When Mr. Yehoshiale passed away, the same ceremony of his father took place. The son of Mr. Yehoshiale was appointed as his successor.

The grandson of Mr. Moshe was a little “modern” but he didn't quite depart from his grandfather's and father's traditions and also had the same Hasidim.

In this way the Rebbe's dynasty continued in Żelechów until the dark Hitler hordes arrived. The last one of the dynasty was killed together with his community.

 

zel042.jpg
The Rebbe of Żelechów and his son–in–law

 

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