Compilation of Memories (Memoirs)
Nathan Keusch, Oldest Son of Abraham and Father of David Keusch
My son Nathan was born יג ניסן תרנש 1891 in Zablotov in the house of David Sperber and educated in Torah in Cheder. He was a gifted child and I wanted him to be educated in Torah and Haskalah (secular learning). At that time I lived in a village in Bukovina and sent him for German studies in the city of Chernovitz at the house of Uncle R’Shimshon Kahan who was an educator. He promised that he would watch over Nathan and teach him Torah as well. After a year or so, Nathan left this uncle and entered a residential school in Zablotov under Moshe Greif who had two sons there, the same age as Nathan. They were his friends and they all studied general subjects without religion. Socialism was part of what they learned. I did not know what he learned. He neglected his Torah studies but did well in his secular studies.
I pulled him out of there and brought him to study with a relative, Berl Locker, who taught in the college in Sarta, Bukovina. He did succeed there, did not fulfill the requirements and did not graduate in spite of his many capabilities.
I was living in Stanislau, brought him home and found him a job in “Bank Depositin”. After some time, he left the bank and moved to Vienna and became a traveling salesman for undergarments. At the beginning of WWI he went to America. (Note* Nathan did not go to America until 1916/7? RDK) He joined a group of young Zionists to be in the “Jewish Legion” גדוד העברי that was going to fight for the British against the Turkish Government which ruled Palestine. The purpose was to get the Turks out of Eretz Israel. For about eighteen months he was on the Palestine front. After the British took over the country, Nathan and his group returned to America. He and his friends went to battle for the British with the good intention that they would settle in the country. They were promised land and apartments but the British betrayed them and without choice, they returned home. After his marriage to the daughter of R’David Arieh Hager, he did not find suitable work. His political views were not according to mine. He joined the “Progessive” split of the Poali Zion in America which was more left wing. He was one of the founders of Poali Zion in Stanislau. For reasons unknown to me, he left them and broke all contact.
After a number of years he found a job as a bookkeeper and accountant in a factory of undergarments in Fall River, Mass. about 200 miles from New York.
He was outstanding in his work; his employer was satisfied and in time became a partner and manager of the factory. He was active in a Jewish left wing political party. He traveled and spoke at meetings about political and cultural matters. He was well known in the Jewish left wing in Massachusetts.
In the last period he planned to come to Israel and build a factory together with his partner, providing work for several hundred workers. His concept was to have the workers share the profits. He already began to assemble all the documents needed to go to Israel. At the end of November 1948, I received a long letter from him with good news about the impending voyage and the steps he had taken to cash in his share of the partnership. He became sick. My brother David in New York wrote me that it was not serious. He had a “cold” and was expecting to return to himself.
His fate was already sealed and he was taken at the age of 58, left a wife Rivka and two sons. תנצב'ה.
The first born son, David Arieh, was born in 1925 and is 23 years old. The second son, Aaron Joseph, was born in 1928 and is 21 years old.
From the letters I have received from my brother David and my son’s wife Rivka, I now know the reason for my son Nathan’s death. In December he began to have pains in his stomach. He was examined by expert doctors and after many examinations; they could not find a reason for the pain. Only in February 1949, they came to the conclusion that it had to be the disease called “cancer”, that is to say “creps” (scorpions). The doctors and experts had no medicine to cure him or save his life. On February 10th he underwent surgery. February 15, his soul left him, according to my brother David who was with him when he was dying. He asked how things were in Israel and with the word “Israel” on his lips, his soul left his body. (Note* My father died of Pancreatic Cancer, which to this day has no cure. My brother Art “Aaron” and I flew in from New Mexico a few hours before Dad died. He was in a coma and died shortly after we arrived. The only ones there were my mother, Rivka, her sister, our aunt Raisel, Art and I. DK)
Outside what was mentioned above, Nathan was a man of deep human feelings with a good heart. He helped those he knew with an open hand whenever requested. He was a sympathetic older brother to his brother Joseph זל. Twenty years ago, he sent him the means to travel to America. His home was always open to Joseph and Nathan encouraged him to be educated until the very end.
When Nathan was just getting by, he borrowed money and had my brother David join him in sending me money. When he started to earn a good living and making profit from his partnership, he decided to send me $50 a month. I refused to accept this from him but he still sent this money in each letter. I took some of the money to help relatives and the rest of the money, about 300-400 lei is being held by my son David for the family for when they need it. תנצב'ה.
He offered a helping hand to his only sister Taube and to his brother Aaron. A few years ago he sent me papers for me, his brother and sister to immigrate to America, which cost him a lot of money. He promised to take care of us and find us work. For some reason we did not go. The relationship of Nathan to my brother David, who is younger than me by 17 years, was filled with mutual love as a son to a father. David helped him during difficult times especially when he first arrived in America and was always welcome at meal time. When Nathan’s situation improved and his business became profitable, he paid all his debts to my brother David with thanks and blessings. תנצב'ה
Nathan’s share of the business left his widow and his sons with a modest sum. All connections with the partnership were cancelled. His son David offered to take his father’s place but it was refused. He was offered a job as a salesman to sell merchandise to get a fixed salary and commission.
On יד תמוז תשט July 11, 1949 my daughter-in-law Rachel, wife of my son Jacob, gave birth to a girl, מזל טוב. In the Beit Knesset in Geula-Israel, the father Jacob went up to the Torah and called her Batya, after Rachel’s grandmother. After prayers, we sat together with Rachel’s father, Tzvi Alexandrovitch celebrating with a Kiddush and sweets. This was a good beginning for my daughter-in-law and my son, Rachel and Jacob. My first was also a girl. After the Nazi ימש murderer’s wiped all the family of my daughter Taube and my other grandchildren, no one remained alive except the sons of my son Nathan זל and the sons of my son David.
I received a letter from my daughter-in-law Rivka, wife of my deceased son Nathan זל announcing that on א רח חשון תשי 1950 the headstone of my son Nathan was uncovered. He died and was buried in Fall River, Mass. America. Several friends as well as my brother David from New York came to say their last farewells to my son Nathan. His wife and sons shed their tears over his untimely death תנצב'ה.
I wrote about my family in the book “Zohar”, as I had written on page 162 of my diary about my son Nathan זל. In part ז in the portion ויחי יעקב I wrote it this way: The noble R’Abraham HaCohen Kish Keusch whose son R’Nathan HaCohen Kish Keusch’s soul left him, was the son of R’Abraham, may he have long life, and Rivka Edel זל . Nathan was born on ה ניסן תרנא in Zablotov, Galicia. In 1918 he was one of the fighters of the Jewish Legion with his friends under the British flag on the front to liberate Eretz Israel from the burden of the Turks until there was a final victory. He died טז שבט תשט in Fall River, Mass. America. תנצב'ה
The book Zohar was printed in holy Jerusalem. It cost 32 lei to register in the book and I got a reduced cost due to the efforts of Mr. Mordecai Dov Keusch, my sister Elka זל son. I was given the 18 volumes of “The Zohar” as a gift from Mordecai Dov Keusch. It was difficult for me to study them because of my bad eyesight and the explanations were not clear to me. I gave them as a gift to my neighbor the Rabbi R’Aaron Kaminker who studies and understands these books and I hope I will be remembered as someone with a good soul.
In the middle of the month of חשון the devil attacked my left eye and my left leg and I was in bed. I felt that I had fulfilled my days and wrote my will on א רח כסלו. I felt like the end was near but if there is an angel on your side, he will pardon you. The Tzadikim that rose from their long sleep in the book “City of the Dead: Zablotov” asked me for forgiveness and gave me an extension of time. After the doctors took care of me with medicines and electric heat on my leg, I felt better. I still limp on one leg but manage to walk and continue my life as usual.
It is ten months since the death of my son Nathan זל. I finished saying Kaddish in the morning and evening prayers as well as stopping my studies in Gemorra with the teacher R’Chaim Lipkin. I also stopped my individual studies. I had not gone to the Beit Knesset several days after I fell down. From the time my brother David informed me of the death of my son Nathan, which was two months after he died, no day passed without thoughts of him nor did he leave my memory. It is my desire that Kaddish and religious studies will enable his soul to join those of his family who were slaughtered by the murderous killers in the years 1942-1943 in the Diaspora and particularly Galicia, Stanislau and all those other cities. תנצב'ה
The wedding of Leah, the daughter of Tova Flintenstein who is the daughter of my sister Elka זל, took place in the month of שבט 1950. The groom Dov Levy had a good profession and salary. The wedding was lavish in a large hall in Tel Aviv and there were about 400 men and women who attended the joyous occasion. There were long tables, musicians, entertainers and singers. People danced and sang. The meal was fish, desert, wine, nothing was lacking. The Admor of Sadagorra was honored with the seven Brachot under the Chuppah. The Rabbi of Jaffa, the place where the father of the groom Dov Levy lived, took care of the Kiddushin. Another ten Rabbis took care of the other blessings. My part was to give the prayer on the food. I participated in the cost of the wedding with 36 lei. The bride’s father R’Israel Menachim was a victim of Hitler, was caught in France and sent to the gas chamber in Auschwitz.
The long negotiations with the company “Bliss and Clavier” from Amsterdam was ended, when they deposited in my name a sum of 7,200 Dutch Gulden. The money is frozen in the bank and can not be released to our country without a special import license for foreign currency.
On the 25th of Adar, I went to Jerusalem with my son David in a taxi. I had not set foot in the holy city of Jerusalem since the days of HaKahal (הקהל) during Succoth 1946. The purpose was to visit the genius R’David Sperber, a 4th generation relative, born in Zablotov. He came to the country in 1928 and that was the last time that we met. He returned to Europe with R’Chaim זצל and I thought he was one of those killed by the Nazis and was memorialized in the book “City and the Dead: Zablotov”. I was overjoyed to hear the news that he was alive and was coming to settle in Eretz Israel with his family. I found him in the house of his son-in-law, Rabbi R’Yehoshua Segel Deitch, the Rabbi of Katamon and head of the Betz Yeshiva. R’Sperber received me with love and we talked about what he experienced during the war. He blessed me and I gave him the book “City and the Dead: Zablotov”. He gave me his book as a sign of his love, אפראקאסתא-דעניא. This was a book of 156 pages of questions and answers. In the book I found recollections of his father the Rabbi R’Baruch Klonmus and his brother R’Abraham Shraga Feivel and his brother F’Shabbtai who went to America. We visited for several hours with the daughter of the Rabbi’s wife. We parted with love and Rabbi Sperber promised to visit me in Tel Aviv. After several days, I received an invitation to the wedding of the granddaughter of R’Segel and sent a gift of two lei.
I visited some relatives and friends and ate and slept at my relative R’Dov Robinson, son-in-law of Miriam Yenta Blum, an old and good hearted woman who was my age. I stayed in their house until 27th. This was the memorial day of my father R’Aaron זל. I prayed at the Beit Knesset הנביא מלאכי on Rechov Malachi. I studied Mishna, a page of Gemorra, said Kadish to the soul of my father and gave Zadakah. In the evening I came home in the same car and prayed Minchah. This was in the house where they sat Shiva for a friend who died. Rabbi Dr. Aaron Kaminker died on 23 Adar 1950. He was one of my close friends and one of those who gave talks on Shabbat. תנצב'ה
Pesach 1950 was celebrated as in previous years without too much joy. No guests were invited. Even the Admor of Sadagorra did not send his special matzo as in previous years, even though I sent him a gift for the holidays.
My son David and all his family took part in the Seder. This time the four questions were asked by his younger son Aviam and the older son Yair told the story of our people going out of Egypt. My younger son Jacob and Rachele and their daughter Batya took part in the Seder until the end. With the help of God, next year we will be in Jerusalem.
On my birthday the second of Iyar 1950 there was no hint of a celebration. I didn’t tell my sons and they forgot to give me blessings on reaching the age of 84. I overcame my disappointment because I was having trouble with my right leg and it was difficult for me to take my usual two walks during the day. With a feeling of sadness I edited paragraph 14 of my will which I wrote at the beginning of Kislev this year. I tore up the paragraph. The problem of my right leg increased. In the month of Sivan I fell down and could not step or walk on it. The Kupat Cholim doctor who took care of me told me to apply electric heat on my leg, then bandage with the material from the Hot Springs of Tiberias. On the first day of Tamuz I felt better and went to the Beit Knesset of Hapoel Mizrachi to pray.
The wife of R’Isachar Tau זל came to visit me. This is the third time she came to visit Israel from her home in New York. My relative, the writer Getzel Kressel, also came to visit. He had spent about nine months in America in his job as a writer for the newspaper “Davar”. He brought articles from American newspapers that wrote praises about our work on the book that was published “City and the Dead: Zablotov”. This is the first Yiskor of a city in Galicia that was a memorial dedicated to the people and their town that was destroyed. They reported all the details with emotion and praise.
In one newspaper they wrote about the converted Jew, Yehuda Tilinger, who became a Rabbi in the suburb of New York and ran away when they exposed him. He returned to the town where his wife lived and urged her to deny these false accusations. He claimed his soul was clean and he had never converted or changed his Jewish religion. He convinced no one. He appealed to Dr. Avner from Chernovitz, the head of the Zionists from Bukovina, to verify that he was a true Kosher Jew. He wanted to get a job as an educator. Dr. Avner considered him evil and a traitor and would not let him into his house.
I received a letter from R’David Sperber on רח' תמוז, that he was appointed as a member of the Rabbinical Council of Jerusalem at a salary of 10 lei a month. One cannot earn a living from this. He asked me to contact his relatives in America, sons of R’David Sperber, who were born in Zablotov, to help support him. He knew that I was in touch with them. I sent him 25 lei, including 5 lei from my son David. I appealed to Mr. Abraham Clear, the head of the Factory “Argamon”, and he sent me 20 lei and wrote to the sons of R’David Sperber to help this rabbi. Who knows if I will succeed in this work? I wrote to one of his sons Dr. Marcus Sperber who has an open hand and is generous.
The wife of Yisachar Tau זל born in Zablotov, brought me a picture where I was photographed with Tau when they visited the country in תרצז' 1937. He died in 1947/1948 in New York. He was a good man and good to his sons. He gave generously to the city, his family and his friends. תנצבה'
The factory “Argamon” was built by Mr. Abraham Clear. He was the grandson of my uncle and aunt Menachim Itzchak and Rivka Rosenshtreich זל'.
His father was R’ Israel and his mother was Tova, who lived in Kfar Lutz. His family came from Raditch, Bukovina. He was educated in Torah, in Cheder, had a general High School education and went to a German University. He earned a degree in military engineering. He was the first one to set up a successful paint factory in our country. There were 150 workers who earned a respectable living plus part of the profits. A. Clear and his wife were involved in public affairs and gave generously to government and private institutions. His mother Tova, daughter of Rivka, was a widow of Israel Itzchak זל who died five years ago in Ramat Gan. Tova, his mother, lives in the house of her son A. Clear’s. She has a special room and is taken care of with great respect.
My son David tried through a relative Dr. H. Sheiber, an important doctor in the country, to get the expert optometrist Dr. Shtein out of Czechoslovakia, bring him to Israel and get him a position in the army. Because of what David accomplished, this doctor is now taking care of me trying to cure my weak eyes with special drugs and shots. He gave a prescription to the optician Zeidner, a specialist in his field to grind the lenses of my glasses in order to improve my sight while walking and reading. The optician agreed to prepare the glasses but it was very expensive, 40 Li. After a month I received the glasses. They were a very heavy load on my nose. The vision was very good outdoors. It was difficult reading large letters but it was impossible to read small letters like Rashi. According to the promises of the doctor and the optician, my sight will improve in time. I got the glasses in the beginning of Alul 1950. The weight of the glasses was 73 grams and the reading glasses were 55 grams.
My brother’s daughter Devorah (Dorothy) came from New York with about twenty teachers to tour Israel for a month. She was a professional teacher in the elementary schools of New York. They came at the end of the month of Ab and left at the end of Alul 1950. It cost them each $1,500 including first class passage on the boat, hotels, food and traveling all over the country. She brought gifts to everyone in the family. She also brought for me and my sons. Before she left, I made a party for her in my house. I invited all the family, about twenty men and women. For a number of hours we sat talking with food and drink. In a speech she described her work and her pleasure with the success of her trip. She said that she would come next year in 1951, not as a tourist but with her family to settle. God willing.
She took pictures of everyone including my family and my son David’s family. After a period, we received the pictures and letters from her father and my daughter-in-law the widow Rivka. They thanked us for the party we made for her and the gifts to them and my grandsons. We all appreciated my brother sending packages of food for me, my son David and Mordechai Dov, this was very important at this time. The lack of all kinds of food was felt all over the country. There were foods that came from out of the country. One could barely find vegetable like onions and potatoes and only in small quantities.
In the holiday period of Rosh Hashanah 1950, we celebrated as in previous years, prayers in the big “Beit Knesset Geulat Israel” on Rechov Mercaz B’Am together with my son David and his sons Yair and Aviam. We listened to the prayers of the famous Chazan Yehuda Kellman together with a chorus of eight singers.
The Beit Knesset was overflowing with about 500 people. The Rabbi R’Samuel HaLevi Katz was one of them.
As in the past, the tables for the holiday in the Succah were taken care of by a neighbor R’Itche Meir. It was not a big meal. It lacked meat, fish, vegetables (onions and potatoes). This was due to the shortage of foreign currency. Those who had some of that currency could buy from out of the country. Even the usual drinks were expensive. There was just a little wine for the kiddish and some sharp wine (vodka) which was not expensive. This was good for the drunks in the country.
In the beginning of the month of Cheshvan 1950, my son David went to Trieste, Rome and Vienna. I accompanied him to the airport in Lod. He traveled in order to buy a large quantity of white wood for making orange crated for the factory HaArgaz. He was there six weeks and bought 7,000 cubic meters of wood at a satisfactory price. The management was pleased with the successful purchase. The government ministers who regulated the products of HaArgaz were satisfied. This opened up opportunities for HaArgaz to expand.
On January 19, 1951 my son David flew again to buy raw material for HaArgaz. He went to Trieste, Belgium, Holland, Vienna and Italy. He made successful connections in all these places. On March 8, 1951 he returned home. According to David, when he visited the firm of “Bliss and Clavier” in Amsterdam, they arranged a deposit in the bank. They promised to withdraw the money from the bank and send it to wherever we wanted.
Most of my son’s business from HaArgaz was to purchase raw materials for them. A company car was ordered for him and he was to be the driver which was not easy and even dangerous. The car was for his business and personal use. When he returned he was made a manager of the office in the central cooperative in charge of eleven clerks.
On January 2, 1951, my wife Chaya fell sick with a high temperature. There was no way to lessen the strong pains in her stomach or quench her thirst. The doctor came and gave drugs and shots but to no avail. She had no appetite and whatever she ate, she threw up. For eight days and nights we could not ease her pain. One night three doctors came and could not find the reason for her illness. When Dr. Abraham Lavell, son-in-law of Zippora the daughter of R’Shimshon Kahan זל , heard this news, he hurried from where he lived in Ramat Gan. He tried with all his efforts in Kupat Cholim, where he was a doctor, to put my sick wife in Beilinson Hospital. She was examined by specialists who determined that her life was in danger. An operation was urgent. They didn’t even wait for my agreement according to law. The surgery was done that night and Thank God, she was saved. After several days, her situation improved and she was sent to a rehabilitation center in Neve Halel in Bnei Brak. On March 4, she came home healthy and could once again take care of the household as she did before. May the actions of Dr. Lavell be remembered for the good, be blessed and may he succeed in helping the sick and deliver the Jewish people.
Purim of 1951 we celebrated as in days of deprivation. צנע. The family had no meat. (This did not matter to me, since I have not eaten meat in 30 years), also no fish or salted herring. The cost of drink became more expensive. Instead of a big challah of 50-60 centimeters, it was a regular round challah made of a lower quality of wheat, baked like the daily bread. We had no Hamentaschen אזני-המן.
Sarah Alexandrovitch brought some Hamentaschen filled with jam. We received plates of Purim gifts from Mordechai Keusch and the family of my sister Tova Flintenstein and from Tzvi Blaustein. We received wine and cognac from all of them and baked sweets from Blaustein. My son David reciprocated by giving a Purim gifts of wine to everyone.
Pesach was similar to Purim. Each person was limited to two kilograms of matzo, 150 grams of fish per person and a measured weight of potatoes. Wine usually had come as gifts. We received six special Matzot from Meir Shlein. My son David, his wife Rachel and his sons Yair and Aviam sat around my Seder table. Aviam with the help of his brother Yair asked the four questions and the two of them stole the afficoman. They were promised a gift upon its return.
Before the holiday, I and my son Jacob and his wife little Rachel had a fight due to a plot of land on Rechov Mercaz B’Am that I had put in my son Jacob’s name a few years ago. They angered me with their words and I banished them from my table. There was no joy this Seder in most of the houses in Israel, because of the shortages of all kinds of food, especially eggs, oil, etc.
My 85th birthday on the 2nd of Iyar, passed without any spark of joy. I didn’t tell anyone and no one came to wish me birthday greeting. The only one who gave me greetings was Mordechai Dov Keusch. It was not easy for him to travel so he sent a lovely gift, a picture of the Admor of Kosov. The picture was an expensive oil painting on canvas, 46 cm by 31 cm with a gold colored frame.
It is worthwhile to remember how this picture came to me. It was known that Admorim and Chasidim were exact in following the tradition “Do not make any statue or picture of a person”. It was even forbidden to take a photo. After World War I in 1918, there was an order given by all the countries in the world that everyone who traveled from country to country and from city to city had to have a passport or identification papers with a picture. Since most of the Rabbis were traveling from place to place and to foreign countries, they had to take photos to put on the passport.
My old friend and writer Chaim Bloch from Dalatin, who lived for some time in Vienna, wrote to me in 1923 that he found accommodations in his house for the Admor of Kosov R’Moshe Hager. The Rabbi’s followers asked Chaim to take a picture of him but he refused. When the Rabbi had to get a passport, he took a picture. There were several copies made of the photo without his knowledge. Mordechai got a copy when he was in Vienna and brought it to Eretz Israel. There was a copy for me. This is the picture hanging on my wall. Your eyes are looking up on your teacher, he always looking at me and it is his right to protect us and influence us with his spirit. תנצב'ה
My son David traveled to Europe again on June 14, 1951 in order to buy wood and iron for the HaArgaz factory. He was in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and Holland. In Holland he met the people from “Bliss and Clavier” who enabled him to take out the Dutch Guilders that were worth about $284. For that money he bought merchandise for HaArgaz and they would pay him back in Israeli Lirot according to the price of the day. I took 150 Lei to establish a memorial to my murdered children by the Nazis in the year 1942-3 in Galicia. I gave 74 Lei to the old age rest home on Rechov Avoda 9, Tel Aviv.
The names of my children were written in their memorial book as well as on the tablet of the wall of the Beit Knesset to be remembered: Kaddish, Malai Rachamin, etc. The names written were: Aaron Ben Abraham Hacohen, his wife, Zissel Bat Abraham, their sons killed on טז אלול Benjamin Ben Yehoshua, his wife Taube Bat Abraham, and their three children who were slaughtered הושנה-רבה. תצנב'ה
I gave 70 Li to Naftali, the grandson of my sister Elka זל His father was murdered by the Nazis and this was to help him with his wedding. I gave 5Li to the genius Rabbi R’David Sperber.
My son David returned from his travels on August 6. He did a good job in taking care of the business for the firm HaArgaz. The management and friends were pleased and thankful.
The Holidays Days of 1951, I prayed in the large hall of Hapoel Mizrachi on Rechov Achad Haam 108. To my sorrow I left the big Beit Knesset where I had prayed and studied Gemorra under the Rabbi R’Samuel Menachim Hacohen Katz for ten years. It was too far to walk and on returning I had to walk from a valley up a hill. Dr. Shtramwasser from Kupat Cholim who took care of me for many years ordered me not to walk such a long distance. The hall of Hapoel Mizrachi was like the Beit Knesset. I prayed there every day, Shacharit and Mariv, and studied a lesson of Gemorra with R’Lipton. I prayed there all the holy days and hope to pray there on Saturdays because this Beit Knesset is nearer to my house than “Geulat Israel”.
I tried to get gift packages of food to the Rabbi R’David Sperber, Tova Flintenstein and Menachim Rosenbaum, the son-in-law of Mordechai Dov Keusch. I appealed to “Relief Zablotov”, to Zinda Schoenhorn זל and the new secretary Saul Rosenberg. They responded positively and sent each one a certificate for $20 worth of food. I sent blessings and thanks to the secretary and the Relief organization.
Beginning with the portion of “Noah”, we prayed every Saturday with the leader of Agudat Israel R’Jacob Rosenheim. He is a Jew from a well known family in Germany where he lived until he settled in Israel two years ago as an idealistic organizer of Aguda.
His house was opposite the Hapoel Mizrachi building. The people praying were very satisfied with him and his relationship with me was respectful. I left the Beit Knesset of Hapoel Mizrachi because it was difficult for me to go up three flights. The Gabai was not exact in fulfilling the Mitzvot of the Cohen “כה תברכו”and there was no water to wash the hands of the Cohanim before the blessings. In November 195! my grandson Yair reached the age of twelve and I wrote him my blessings hoping that I would be at his Bar Mitzvah. I am very pleased with his studies in the “Bilu” school. My grandson Aviam, Yair’s younger brother reached the age of seven, and I blessed him in writing for the first time. He also studies in the “Bilu” school and hopefully he will succeed in his studies.
On Thursday in the month of Tevet 1952, I did not feel good again and was examined by Dr. Schtrammwasser who gave me some medicine and after a few days I felt better.
A day before I got sick, I wrote a will as I did every time I didn’t feel well from the time of my dangerous operation in Vienna in 1923 and several times after that. May God watch over me and add to my life and health and grant me the right to celebrate the Bar Mizvah of my grandson Yair. May he be blessed with good deeds.
There was a memorial of the people from the town of Zablotov on כב טבת 1952. I tried to find a place for the meeting in the big “Beit Knesset Geula Israel” on Rechov Mercaz Baal Malachi 16 where I prayed for several years. They gave me permission to use the hall. I invited the Chazzan R’Yehuda Kellman who prays in that Beit Knesset.
About 120 men and women from all over the country came to the memorial. An elderly woman presented herself to me as the daughter of the Admor Mendele זל who was the Rabbi of the town. She recognised me after not having seen me for over 60 years. She had read the book “City and the Dead” that I helped write. I wrote about this meeting in a booklet of 6/7 pages. All the details are in my diary. After the service, a new committee was chosen for the organization of Zablotov survivors. I was given the honor being honorary chairman. All those present thanked me for preparing the meeting.
On כט שבת my son David and I visited the wife of the Rabbi Perle, the daughter of the Admor R’Menachim Hager זצל from Zablotov. She lives with her three daughters in Givat Rambam. She had her own apartment which she got from the Suchnut (Jewish Agency) in Shikun Histadrut. She and her daughter greeted us with love and nice refreshments. When we parted from her, I suggested leaving her some money. She refused. I wanted to help her but she said that she refused charity. I told her that I would ask “Relief Zablotov” and my friend A. Tau in Holland to send her a package of food and she agreed. These packages from Relief and Tau were received.
Before Pesach the younger daughter of the Rebbetzin Perle visited me with a request. She worked in a government office as a clerk and supported her mother and widowed sister with her salary. She was now on the list to be fired. The government is letting go thousands of workers due to lack of funds. My son David who has a good heart tried in every way to help. He finally found an influential person to help her. May my son continue healthy and well with a good salary and do good deeds for the rest of his days.
On Pesach 1952 we celebrated as in the previous year. My son David, his wife and two sons, Yair and Aviam came. My grandson Aviam aged seven asked the four questions and stole the afikoman. Mordechai Dov Keusch sent special matzo and my son Jacob did not attend for reasons not mentioned.
כה ניסן 1952, I was invited to attend a conference of the Stanislau organization. About 1,000 men and women from that city, from all over the country came to that conference.
After three years of preparation, the book “City and Mothers of Stanislau” was published and David and I got a copy. Several years ago, David gave 15 Li to publish the book. All the members got a copy. Then they sold the book for 5 Li. At the meeting Berl Locker spoke about the book, love of country and the State of Israel. Abraham Sussman, the head of the organization, Menachim Gelerter, Menachem Kasbinner and others spoke. The meeting ended with the singing of “Hatikva” ten o’clock at night. I was mentioned in the book several times by Menachm Gelerter.
It was not written in the right manner and not totally true. Perhaps after I read the entire book of 404 pages, I will write a sharp criticism. I will approach several writers that I know to print this criticism in the papers. Finally, I did not write this critcism against M. Gelerter. He worked very hard accumulating material, spending a lot of his own money and he really deserves credit and thanks.
Friday evening, Erev Shabbat, כג איר, my granddaughter Batya woke up from her sleep with a 39 degree temperature. The examining doctor said she was sick and gave her medicine. . My son David came in the evening to visit and found that her situation had worsened. He asked no questions but went and brought an ear, nose and throat specialist. Dr. Sacker said she had a serious throat infection and her life was in danger and there was no choice but to take her to Hadassah Hospital. The doctor took the child in his own car to the hospital at 11:00 P.M. When the hospital refused to accept her, Dr. Sacker with his authority insisted and they take care of her that night. After seven days in the hospital, the child returned home healthy on the following Friday evening.
Saturday evening ב איר, on my 86th birthday, the family came to see my granddaughter who had come home healthy from Hadassah Hospital. They took the opportunity to drink a glass of wine and eat some sweets to celebrate my birthday. The following guests came: my son David, his wife and two sons, my son Jacob’s in-laws Tzvi Alexandrovitch and his wife Sarah, Mordechai Shatner and his wife, my sister’s daughter Tova Flintenstein, my wife Chaya and her son Jacob and his wife Rachel. We sat several hours at this family party, giving thanks to the doctors and blessings that I reached the age of 86. I also raised a glass to my granddaughter Batya.
I took this opportunity because this was the same hour of the day that I was born 86 years ago to answer their blessings with a story which I read many years ago. This was about the righteous man called “the grandfather from the town of Shpula” who lived in the year 1700, about 250 years ago. Shpula was a city in Western Galicia or Poland under the Czarist government (Russia/Poland).
This is what happened: grandfather from Shpula loved the Jewish People, especially the children. He did not go to sleep until the last of the Jewish children were asleep in his bed. There were nights he would walk back and forth in his room, singing a song and whispering softly. He lived a long time. He is considered a heroic figure of the Chasidim and Tzadikim of that generation. His students learned from him and their friends visited him on their way to see the Magid of Miztrich. They all came to Shpula to enjoy his presence. They sat at long prepared tables. It was heartwarming to hear those telling stories from the Torah and of Tzadikim.
A person said: no man receives the right to grow old except by praying. A second said: Tzadakah opens the doors and destroys evil happenings. A third man said: there is nothing greater than love of Israel and with that spirit; man will live a long life. Everyone had their eyes on the Grandfather, who all this time sat and listened to them with laughter never leaving his lips. Grandfather’s face glowed with his blue eyes and white beard. He seemed to see the days that passed. It was as if an old man was on his way, in the days of cold winter, who wore one piece of clothing on the other, one fur on the other and when he got to the heated inn, he removed one piece of clothing after the other.
Grandfather Shpula remembered events that occurred in the past and saw himself in those days when he was a Shamash in the Beit Hamidrash in Lustapol. He said that each and every man is allotted a certain amount of days and years from the day that he is born. Only Jews have a specific measured time, then some years are added to their life. I am not a Rabbi, not righteous, just simply a grandfather. What have I done to earn these days? I will tell you.
Many years ago I was in Lustapol working as a Shamash and loved what I was doing. It was my job to care for the smart students as well as the babies of the Rabbi’s house. They would come every Thursday evening to the Beit Hamidrash and go over the portion of the week. It was good to hear their voices and I didn’t push for them to hurry home.
One Saturday evening it was snowing and bitter cold. I was busy with the stove and it was warm and pleasant in the Beit Hamidrash. The children didn’t hurry to their seats because they didn’t want to leave the hot stove. When the time came, I helped them put on their hats and warm clothing and blessed them good night. After I closed the door, blew out the candles, I was ready to go home. It was quiet everywhere. The city was like a bride in white clothing and one saw many sparkling stars in parts of the sky. I heard a thin voice crying with pain. I followed the voice and came to the last house on the edge of town. The cry came from the metal shed of Shlomo the blacksmith, who I knew as a simple Jew, who was quick to anger. The blacksmith was almost deaf from the noise of his hammer and one had to shout to talk to him. He would get angry at people yelling at him as if he did not hear.
Who was crying so late at night in this smithy? With all the dust and smoke, it took me some time to see a small boy covered with dust, standing near the stove and crying.
Who are you my son and what happened that you are crying so bitterly? He told me his name and that he was an orphan without a mother and father. Shlomo had taken him into his house and smithy, ordering him to keep the fire burning hot in order to heat the metal so it would be soft. Because he was not careful, he burnt his hand and is crying not only from the terrible pain but because he could not pump the bellows and the fire was going out. What will the smith say? I saw the swollen fingers and the skin peeling from them. It was heart rendering to see. I took out a bottle of oil from my pocket, which I used for the service of the memorial lamps. I put the oil on his hands and fingers carefully and caressed the orphan’s head. Tears fell from my eyes. With my other hand I worked the bellows and the fire began to glow. I saw the boy’s face with rays coming from his big eyes that a mother would love. When I heard the heavy steps of the smith, I left the boy with a feeling of love and he mouthed: may you have many days and years. Grandfather Shpula ended this story.
In the days of blessings, I forgot the blessing of the boy השילא-דנפחה. Here my days are almost finished. I asked to increase my days and there was no answer. When it came time to end, here came the blessing of the boy with the burned fingers. My blessing was heard and I reached the lengthening of my days and heroism. This is what our wise men said.
Grandfather Abraham finishes his story of Grandfather Shpula and looks up.
I told this story in Yiddish because most of those listening were “Yiddishists”. Grandfather of Shpula earned the lengthening of his days due to the השילא-דנפחה that the orphan left him and these blessing came true.
Why did I, Abraham, earn a long life? I did not get a blessing from an orphan. I have experienced our children dying in their blood, our children murdered in their beds by Hitler and his killers. It’s hard to expect that the days of life have been extended but I am not the only one who suffered the tragedy of the Holocaust. There is no house, no Jewish family in the whole world that has not been touched by these killers. Israel is pure and holy. There no fear that they will sin or commit crimes. One cannot complain against God.
It seems to me that the right to return to Eretz Israel, according to חזל', is my right. The settling in Eretz Israel is more important than all the Mitzvot of the Torah. According to the Talmud, three things will lengthen the days of a man: the value of his goals, the value of his prayers and the the most important is the return to Eretz Israel. I came to Eretz Israel in 1924, alone, not only to take care of business for myself and family, but also to do important work for the community. I was to acquire land to establish a “Mizrachi Settlement” according to the demands of the Mizrachi committee in Lvov. I was chosen together with Dr. Federbush from Lvov and Shimon Bernstein from Petshenishin to buy land for the people of Stanislau and other cities in order to establish a settlement.
Content last updated Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 05:58 PM Mountain Standard Time