Monday, May 11, 2015

Love letters written by Jacob Fichman to his wife Batsheva During WWI מכתבי אהבה של יעקב פיכמן

I discovered recently a great trove of Hebrew Postcards sent from Jacob Fichman to his wife, after they were separated from each other during WWI. He moved from city to city and from job to job, for a while working for the publishing house Tushiya. She appears to have been in Chisinau and in Odessa during the war.

His letters bear a common theme, he is rather upset with Shevale, his nickname for his wife Batsheva, for not corresponding regularly and never at length. He also writes of his attempts to send her money, but that the war conditions were preventing any such transfer of funds. Much insights can be gleaned from his writings as to what life was like for a famous Hebrew Writer in the early 20th century and their struggles for financial stability.

Yaakov and Batsheva Fichman's joint tombstone

The Jews of Baghdad and the (lack of) books printed in Vilna by Romm

In 1947, Avraham Yaari published the travel diary of Ephraim Neimark , an emissary from Tiberias, to Syria, Kurdistan, Iraq, Iran and Central Asia.

Neimark was a very keen observer and made note of many important observations of the Jewish Communities he traveled through as well as the general population. He also noted in every settlement he arrived, the condition of the Jews and their relations with their gentile neighbors.

In his writing on Baghdad he notes a curious thing; he writes how the worse curse you can give a Baghdadi is to call him a Widow's husband. A widow was considered such horrible luck that people would not purchase any books printed in Vilna by the Widow Romm's press. He writes that if you do not believe him, you can ask Shlomo Hussin, the local publisher and bookseller. He goes on to write "For those of you had did not understand the verse in Ben Sira בת לאביה מטמון שוא ( A daughter to her father is like a false treasure) shall travel to Baghdad and see how all his words were correct."

Article in the Forward Today about Mizrahi Bookstore

The forward today had an article about Mizrahi Bookstore, if you haven't seen it yet, you can read the article here and the Yiddish version can be read here. Many thanks to Batya Ungar-Sargon for the splendid writing, to Marisa Scheinfeld for managing to get great photographs despite the mess and thanks to S. for making it happen.

1948-2015 North Baldwin Jewish Center, an end of a community

The Baldwin Jewish Center moved in to it's magnificent location in 1948. A large and impressive building, it had a large sanctuary and ballroom, classrooms and a library. At it's height, over 1,000 people would show up for the high holidays, overflowing the sanctuary in to the ballroom.

As with many Long Island Jewish Communities, the younger generation often chose to live elsewhere and as the older generation passed on, the synagogue was left barren. The property has since been sold and is now owned by a Catholic Church. Here are some photos of the synagogue that let you imagine what life there was like in it's heyday. Notice the antisemitic graffiti that has now found itself on the announcement board.

A Letter written by R. Avraham Yitzchak Gershonivitz about his future son-in-law R. Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz

Part of a large collection of letters I recently acquired I found this interesting letter written by R. Avraham Yitzchak Gershonovitz to Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin and his org. the Ezrat Torah in 1940.

R. Gershonovitz writes about his financial plight. The Hazon Ish was the shadchan for his daughter, who was engaged to the then young Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz. He describes the many great qualities of the young groom and says that they were engaged for a long time and were unable to make a wedding due to the lack of funds.

It is unknown if and how Rav Henkin responded but the wedding did eventually take place but only on Lag Baomer of the year, many months after the 4th of Kislev when this letter was penned.

Correspondence Between Isaac Leib Peretz and Yehoash

Letters written by I. L. Peretz rarely surface,  thus I was much delighted to find 2 of his letters to Yehoash, which I found good homes for this week. One is in Hebrew and one is in Yiddish, written beautifully, they display his great friendship with Yehoash and his encouragement of his writing as well as Peretz's Zionism. I though it would be of use to post here scans of the letters so they can be enjoyed by a wider audience.

A Book Printed in the Holocaust, and inscribed after redemption

I recently came across a copy of a Shulchan Aruch printed in Budapest in 1941, while the Jews of the neighboring countries were already being massacred. On the free-end of this volume, was an inscription " תש"ח שנה ראשונה למלכות ישראל  יצחק אייזיק כאהן"
"5748 (1948) year one for the kingdom of Israel"
Only a few years apart, a great reflection of the extremes in the condition of the Jews in history.

hat-tip: Shimon Hook