Wyszkow, Poland Yizkor Book

Pages 30-31

Institutions (continued)

The Organized Community

The Yeshiva, Synagogues, Study  Places, and Prayer Quorums

from SEFER WYSZKOW, ed. D. Shtokfish, 1964, Tel Aviv, pp. 30-31. Trans. Sheldon Clare

Page 30 (Photo - Shibulim Group - Hashomer Hatzair),  (Photo - Macabee - Vishkov 1931)

...were:  Khaim-Binyomin Vernik, Mordkhe Vinter, Borukh Tzluyak, Yakov-Moshe Plontschak, Khaim-Meier Lis.  Here, there was a “Revisionist-Organization” with a really substantial-effect.  At the top stood the leaders of the revisionists in
Vishkov:  Lipeh Kerner, dentist (Today in Israel) and my cousin (SHTELUNG?) Moshe, may he rest in peace. There was a department of the Women’s Zionist  Organization “WIZO” that assisted all Zionist campaigns.  The leaders were: Brokheh Kalusky (Dr. Leykher’s wife), Rivke Shkarlat, Rokhl Yonish. There was a “Mizrakhi” organization.  They even had their own Gerer study hall (SHTIBL). They participated in all Zionist activites.  Their management was composed of Yakov Levin, Yitzkhok-Meier Visotzky, Moshe Ostry, Leml Rubin. There was an activity led by the “Rightist Poele-Tzion”(Workers of
Zion). They created in Vishkov the “Hakhalutz” and directed the training of groups. They sent a lot of pioneers to Israel, sent others, and also went themselves.  Their leaders:  Yisroel Kalusky, Shmaia Gurney, Khaim-B’nyomin Bruk. (All now in Israel).

Our Vishkover “Hashomer Hatzair” (Guardian of Youth) owned a large meeting hall, their own library with many Hebrew books from which the youth learned Hebrew and prepared to travel to the Land of Israel.  The leaders were: Khaim B’herev, Falek Gurney, Levin, Khanscheh Shapira.  Many of them are actually in Israel now. The leftist “Poele-Tzion” owned (ran)  a “Workers Evening Courses Organization”.  They brought teachers from Warsaw.  Their leaders were: Yisroel-Moshe Tzembal, Yakov Shtelung, Yakov Volman.  They had representatives in all organizations. Vishkov also had a sports-organization “Macabee”, with their own orchestra. Sport-exercise was carried out by Dr. Leykher, dentist Leshchinski, dentist’s wife Gutshtat.  They are all martyrs.

In the town’s “Talmud Torah” (Hebrew School), the children of the less well-to-do parents studied.  They did not have any means to pay tuition for private tutors.  The Talmud Torah took up three homes near the large synagogue.  The budget was put together with the help of the whole Jewish population.  Everyone paid a weekly allowance and the community gave appropriate subsidies.  The leaders of the Talmud Torah were: Morkhe-Mendl Alenberg, Yitzkhok Epshteyn, Yitzkhok-Ber Rozenberg.

The Organized Community

The major institution of the Vishkover Jews was the Jewish organized community (K’hileh). Between the (DOZORES?) representative of all parties was chosen through official election.  On the basis of a proportional system. The community conducted with all the religious (HAKHARKHOTON?) of the Jewish population: Rabbinate, ritual slaughter, mikva, Midrash study (B’tai Midrashim). In the community budget, there was also an appropriate place for social help for the poor.  The budget was put together by the community tax and receipts from the ritual slaughter. This maintained all the communty’s institutions.  The community also had a say with the burial society. In the last period, the head of the community was Yitzkhok Epshteyn. 1st
Vice-President- Henekh Kalusky, 2nd Vice-President- Morkhe-Mendl Alenberg, Secretary-Moshe-Yosef Avramchik,  The budget of the community had to be approved by the “STARASTEH” in Poltusk.  It is interesting to add a small detail.  We Zionists put into the budget to help four pioneers who were travelling to Israel.  The entire budget was approved.  The “STARASTEH” however barred the position of helping the pioneers. For him, Israel was an “unkosher” legal matter.

The Yeshiva, Synagogues, Study  Places, and Prayer Quorums

The Vishkov Yeshiva, “Beis-Yosef”  had a good name throughout the town, and here is the proof: Of the 200 students...

Page 31

...that studied there,  the Rabbi commuted from “outside of town”.  The Yeshiva was above the big synagogue and was led by the spirit of the traditions of the late Rabbi Yosef SalanterRabbi Shimon Khofetz, the Yeshiva head, required nothing.  His total pusuit was to educate the students with Torah. They should constantly learn, day and inght.  He told the young men how to live in the world so that they could enjoy (benefit) from the next world.

The Rabbi of the Yeshiva was Rabbi Avrahom Tzitrin, who later became recognized as a rabbi in a larger city.  Besides this, other Torah readers gave Torah lessons. The Yeshive committee consisted of: The Gerer Hasid Reb Avrohom Lerner, the Hasid Reb Yakov Shmilkis, Reb Eli Rozen, Reb Butcheh the baker.  His son-in-law Alter and other dear Jews, who took upon themselves the concern for the young men to secure a night’s lodging, food, clean laundry, and other needs. An ardent and energetic women’s committee helped the Yeshiva and its students.  While for the older boys, there existed a kitchen.  They used to arrange for the younger ones with different hosts to have “eating days” (GEGES’N TEG) and where they were to sleep.  Our pious mothers did everthing so that the students could quietly study Torah and not worry with the necessities.  The members of the women’s committee were called “The Lady Trustees of the Yeshiva”. Some of them I will mention:  Rivche Astroviak, Khaveh Markuskhamer, Libeh Rubin, Dvorah the knitter, Ruzhkeh Molotek, and others.

One time after Passover, Khaveh Markuskhamer and Rivche Astroviak came into my place of business and asked for places for Yeshiva students to sleep.  I alone studied in the Makover Yeshiva for a period of two years of  “eating days” and slept in someone else’s bed.  Knowing the feeling and taste of a Yeshiva student, I quickly consented to their message (request).  As long as the Yeshiva existed in Vishkov, two Yeshiva students slept at my place.  One of them ate with us every Saturday and another (not one who slept here) ate with us every day. Besides the women’s committee, there were also 20 Jews who were involved in a special Yeshiva-committee.  Voluntarily, they took on the burden of worrying about the Yeshiva’s needs. Although alone, one they did not have much to eat...Both committees created “pocket money” for the Yeshiva students- and alone we were very far from and being able to eke out a living.

Vishkov had 9 houses of worship and two minyanim (prayer quorums).  They were all (distributed ?) at the big synagogue on Warsaw Street.  There was concentrated almost all of the religious life of the town:  The community, the Talmud Torah, that occupied three large rooms, the Yeshiva above, the mikva in the courtyard, the (HAKHNASAT-ORKHIM or visitors place) where every stranger could sleep overnight.

In the synagogue, there were prayers 8 times in the morning.  There were 14 Torah scrolls. All three tables from afternoon to evening services were occupied with learners. At the right table, Reb Khaim-Yehoshua Friedman taught with the “Ein Yakov” group.  In this group were tailors, shoemakers, and other tradesmen.  They put down their scissor and iron, their kaftan and awl, the saw and hammer and came to satisfy their spiritual requirements.  Caretakers of the  “Ein Yakov” group were: Nisen Bzhezhinski, Yehuda-Yosef Malchik, Hersh-Fivl Gershkovski, Yakov Holtzman. At the middle table sat the “M’silat Yishraim” (Circle of Honesty) group where  the rebbe was Reb Shimon Trebernik, the trustees: Fishl Bronshteyn, Khaim Markhevke, Shmuel Brama.  The left side was taken up by the “Mishnaes” group. Trustees in the synagogue were: Yekhiel-Meier Domb, Hershl Holtzman, and the synagogue committee: Yakov Eikenboim, Moshe B’herev, Shmuel-Leib Holland.

The synagogue had two sextons:  One was called Shmuleh, with the nickname “Moov”.  He had a helper Hershl, known with the popular name Hershenkeh and his wife Hinkeleh. Shmuleh’s nickname “Moov” came about in that he was always with the Rabbi. One time, officials came to ask the Rabbi something.  The Rabbi did not know Polish.  In Polish, he asked the sexton Shmuleh (Hershenkeh’s salary came from [DOS RED]?? Doesn’t make sense ???).  Since then, “Moov” remained as his nickname.  His work consisted of sweeping the synagogue, kindling the Sabbath candles, preparing the water for the priestly benediction, bringing the wedding canopy with the poles to a wedding (The wine glass with the bottle of wine was carried by the head-sexton Shmuel).  Hershenkeh’s salary - came about by going to Jewish homes every Thursday and Friday and getting 5-10 groshn.  He existed on this for a whole week and also celebrated the Sabbath- and Hershenkeh used to really celebrate the Sabbath with fish and meat...

Hershenkeh also had an additional-mission.  Every Friday evening at 4 o’clock, he used to every summer and winter, arise and even in the dreadful cold, went through the Vishkov streets and monotonously, but with a wonderfully sweet melody, called out: “Jews, Jews, arise for Community services (L’VODAS HABOORA)! And the Jews obeyed.  They indeed arose and went to the synagogue and collectively read Psalms. That is how Hershenkeh continuously awoke the Vishkover Jews for services for 25 years. Awoke, not always full (foodwise) and without warm clothing. Until one time when he caught a bad cold and Dr. Leykher told him to stay in bed and not to worry about going to awaken for Psalms... For a time, Hershenkeh, did not go out to awaken.  A Jew from Vishkov came to him, a tailor, and gave him 150 zlotys to cede the good deed to awaken the Jews Friday evening for Psalms.  Hershenkeh sold this good deed, but the whole town was convinced that this was surely not Hershenkeh’s “ Jews, Jews...”. At a later time, Hershenkeh became better. He...

Michael Tobin
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