the year 1838 there lived in the town of Kalvaria, Suwalki gubernia,
Russia-Poland a Rabbi named, Shlaumi Rienitz Hambourgh,
Malki, and their three daughters.
subsequent research, Schlaumi is actually Solomon REINHERTZ. Why
he adopted the surname Hambourgh/Homburg in England is unknown.
middle name, as shown, was apparently a synonym of sorts of his real
Sheffield, England gravestone (Walkley Cemetery) inscription reads:
loving memory of Rabbi Solomon Homburg. Born in Lebova Poland in
1807. Departed this life in Sheffield 1891.
Tombstone of the Sheffield Community and Head of the Kalvaria
Yeshiva. Like Hillel a modest person. A plain and straightforward
man. The learned Rabbi, Solomon son of Nathan Note (REINHERTZ). The
day of his departure was 17 Adar II, 651 by the small
reckoning. [=26/27 March 1891] May his soul be bound up in the bond
1891 (civil) death certificate indicates he was 'aged 80' at his
death. The 1881 England/Wales census enumerated for Sheffield
shows age 70. While his death certificate and census indicate a
1811 (circa) birth year, Mark Rosenholz, Solomon's ggg-grandson, uses
The Rabbi was a man six feet two inches, spare of build (gaunt from
much fasting), curled side burns (paes), a long beard to his waist, and
a skull cap. In his gabardine kapoti (coat), he made an pressive and scholarly
appearance. He was well known for his sincere piety and great learning,
was beloved by his family and revered by his neighbors. His wife Malki
was a practical peppery and imperative person and his three daughters were
of diversified character (to be seen and not heard), and retiring nature
as was the custom of the times, and of a Rabbi’s daughters.
The town of Kalvaria was the hub of a political center. It had a political
prison, great barracks and with the synagogue (which had been painted by
the yokes of eggs donated by all the farmers of the surrounding area),
made it a conspicuous and notable town. The Rabbi was a poor man, which
was usual in those times of which I speak, and his wife and daughters eked
out a living by baking fancy cakes for the officers stationed in the barracks.
The daily life of the Rabbi was one of consecration. Synagogue in the
morning at six o’clock, breakfast of porridge and goats milk, after prayers
at 10:00 a.m. seated at the table with his few students, the commentaries
and the Talmud were studied. At 4:00 p.m. evensong (sic, should likely
be ‘evening song’) (Mincha), synagogue again, then a simple meal and back
to studies again. At dusk, synagogue once more and again study till late
at night. This routine was a daily occurrence, except for visits to the
prison, to encourage the inmates, and visits to the sick.
The living devolved on the women of the house and they took this as
a natural thing since the Rabbi was devoted to God and the community. This
went on for years without seeming monotony. It was way of life for these
people, but when one of the daughters, Miriam, arrived at 17 years of age,
Malki began to harass her husband as to their daughter’s future. This passed
over the Rabbi with only a cursory thought because he held the divine belief
in events shaping themselves. But his wife was of a more material nature
and she kept harping on the same subject, until he was eventually aroused
to consider what would be the best way to bring about a marriage. As was
the tradition in those days, he considered all the persons who had ancestral
lineage, then as to the learning of their children and decided to visit
a friend of his in Suwalki, a few miles away. Since journeys were made
by coach, passage was engaged for a certain day, and the Rabbi embarked
on his mission of finding
husband for his two elder daughters.
The first family he visited was named Eiger. They had had a martyr in
the family centuries ago. This was a great acquisition (a dead hero) and
made them Aristocrats of the first vintage. They were illustrious and great
scholars and were known internationally to the Hebrew world. They had a
who was known to be a great Talmudist. The son was introduced, he was
examined as to his learning, no mention of bride but a handshake was given
and a time appointed for a wedding. When this was finished the Rabbi consulted
with Eiger as to his knowledge of where he could find another son-in-law.
Eiger told him that there was a young man by name of Lavner who was an
orphan, but of good stock and great attainments, of genius proportions.
The only thing wrong he was inclined to be arrogant but this was considered
by the Rabbi as a minor vice and he went on to meet the Rosh-a-shiva (Dean)
at the Seminary and there arranged the same date for the young man Lavner
to be married to his second daughter, Blume. When this was finished, good-byes
were said and the Rabbi returned home to his wife and daughters.
Eiger walked into the house, he was a quiet scholarly young man. The
boy Lavner was of a more boisterous temperament who, on noticing that the
clock had stopped, climbed on the table to rewind it. This so offended
Blume that she right away felt affronted and declined to have anything
to do with him, but the mother who was of an imperative and dominant nature
and that was law.
Miriam was at once attracted by the quiet demeanor of the boy, Lebel
Eiger, and while she had no say in the matter, was acquiescent. They were
married, there was no question of work for the men. Each daughter was entitled
to live with her parents, the men to continue their studies. After about
a year, Lavner decided to take his wife and go to America, so we will speed
them on their journey for the time being.
The other couple continued to live with the parents. After two years,
Miriam gave birth to a daughter, Schane-Raine. Eiger still continued to
study but one day he approached the Rabbi and said, after hearing from
Lavner, he would like to go to America also. Their being insufficient money,
he ultimately decided to go to England, which would cost less.
He left his wife and daughter with her parents, since he did not have
sufficient means to transport them all. At Grimsby, where he landed, they
advised him to go to Sheffield in Yorkshire. They told him that the best
way for him to make a living, since he had no trade and was only literary,
take a box with brummegan jewelry and sell it on the installment plan
to the colliers in the mines.
He managed to make a short of subsistence for about three months and
was learning the language and wrote that he was looking forward to sending
for his wife and child as soon as he had a home and money to send tickets.
Lebel & Miriam EIGER are the author's grandparents. Deborah
BLOCH's mother's first name was anglicized to 'Jane' circa 1860 in Sheffield.
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