גומבין

Remember Gombin (Gąbin), Poland !

Remnants from the Community of Gombin

Following R' Yehuda Lajb Zlotnik (L.Z. – Avida) Article

 Edited by Rachel P. Cohen

 

1) Pinkas Chevra Mikra of Gombin (Gąbin), Poland

~1840-1876

 

 

With God's help, blessed be He

 

Pinkas of the  Bible Society

 here, the Holy Community of Gombin, May the Lord found it well!

 

 

This Pinkas (ledger, register) was printed from a microfilm held in the archives of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in New York. It was sent to them, together with other Pinkasim, for preservation at the beginning of the twentieth century, by Rabbi Yehuda Lajb Zlotnik known as "El Zet (L.Z.)", who later changed his name to "Avida". Then, after more than 100 years, it was printed from a microfilm by Noam Lupo from the Gombin Society in New York and was sent to me.

 

I discovered the existence of this Pinkas and others (never found though)

and the story of its rescue by Rabbi Zlotnik in my research of the R' Zlotnik heritage, part of my family history personal quest.  I discovered an article written by the Rabbi in Reshumot ("Records"), a collection of Memoirs, Ethnography and Folklore in Israel, published by "Dvir", Tel Aviv 1946, p. 217: "Remnants from the Community of Gombin".

 

In 1911, Rabbi Zlotnik was nominated the Rabbi of Gombin, situated in the Mazowsza region, where he had a sister, my grandmother, Rasza Holcman née Zlotnik. This town was famous in the Jewish world because of its great Rabbi Abraham Abele Gombiner (1637-1683), son of Haim Levi, author of the important halachic book: "Magen Abraham". R' Zlotnik opens the article by describing the stories passed down from father to son about the great Rabbi, and his mother, a native of the town. One of the stories was that behind the synagogue and the Beth Midrash was a well which served many years ago as a "Mikve" for the purification of the daughters of Israel and in it, the mother of the Great Rabbi purified herself as well. Another story R' Zlotnik heard from one elder was that the Rabbi's mother used to come to the synagogue every morning, would sit in the women gallery and pray to G_d: "Gute-Morgen Got'ie" I cannot spend much time here, I have to go home and prepare food for my Abrehmele, so he will have power to deal with your holy Torah, "Gutten Tag Got'ie".

 

R' Zlotnik was a folklorist, and he strived to record and preserve tradition, tombstones and lost Jewish culture which dominated Jewish life in Poland for many centuries. He writes in his article about the   community Pinkasim (ledgers).  One was about the Pinkas "D'Cheva Mishnayoth" (the Sociey for the Study of Mishnayot). He quoted a speech by R' Mosze Lichtensztajn found in the Pinkasim who founded the Society. The years it was active were around 1800-1880. The Pinkas included tax matters, names lists, synagogue kept seats, the erecting of more Beth Midrashim and schools, various payments and many events in the life of the Society. For example, it mentions that in the year of 1821, a new member was accepted into the Society: R' Dawid Tebeli, son of the famous genius Rabbi Szlomo, a rabbinical judge in London.

 

The second Pinkas R' Zlotnik write about in his article is the Pinkas of "Chevra Tehilim" the Society for reading the Book of Psalms. Also, this Pinkas opens with a speech by R' Mosze Lichtensztajn and the years are also in the same range, 1800-1880.

 

What was found in the Schechter Institute was a different Pinkas; although it is not mentioned in R' Zlotnik's article, it was one which he rescued and sent to the institute 100 years ago. This is Pinkas Chevra Mikra - The Society for Reading the Bible in Gombin. The Pinkas constitutes a rare document which revives the life of the shtetl, mainly its religious and orthodox way of life. Reading the Torah, its interpretations and meaning tied the Jews together, strengthened them and raised their spirits above the hardships of daily life. It was all written in Hebrew and it contains protocols, procedures, accounts, details of events, verdicts, rulings, prayers and more. I sensed that the members were totally dedicated to their roles and the Society filled their life with meaning and purpose.

 

For deciphering purposes, I marked the pages from left to right. In part of them, there are pages in which we can identify surnames and in others, only first names and fathers' names, like in page 130:

 

 

Name

Son Of

Dawid

Szlomo Zalman

Naftali

Eliezer (Levite)

Eliezer Zosza

Yosef

Cwi Hersz

Haim Jakob

Dow Ber

Meir

Haim Jakob

Abraham

Haim Yehuda Lajb

Zeew Wolf

Icchak Icek

Yekutiel Zalman

Icchak Icek

Yona

Jakob

Yehuda

Yona

Icchak

Mosze

Icchak Icek

Szmuel Meir

Mosze

Yehuda Lajb

Nachum

Yehuda Lajb

Icchak

Yehuda Lajb

Zeew Wolf

Zeew Wolf

Yehuda Lajb

Zeew Wolf

Mosze


 

 


List of members on page 130

 

But there are many places where the surname already appears and so the Pinkas has also genealogical value. On page 140, I deciphered a summary of the election which took place in order to elect the men for the various roles in the Society and in the Synagogue. The handwriting is sometimes very difficult to read, in view of the time which has passed, the microfilm quality, and the text itself. The language is completely orthodox and religious, full of abbreviations, religious terms and sometimes in Yiddish.

 

Noam Lupo, who should be commended for finding the microfilm in the Schechter Institute, may find his ancestors in the Pinkas: Lajzer Laks… Recently, one Miriam Goldstein from Farmington Hills searched in the Internet Gombin Forum for information about her Gombin family: Wisper. The name was changed during the years and the original name is Wispa. One of the names I deciphered in the Pinkas Mikra was Cwi Wispa, proof that someone with the name of Wispa lived in Gombin in the nineteenth century.

 

One of the names I found to my excitement was Lajzer Holcman, one of my own ancestors, the father of my great-grandfather, Zalman Holcman. He became through this revelation, no more than only a name in my ever-growing family tree, but a real person, a very religious, pious Jew, totally involved in a life of an orthodox community in the nineteenth century, a community which exists no longer, and only remnants of the remnants were left to tell its vanished story…

 

This is the list I have managed to compile from the Pinkas. If anyone is interested in the original page, please let me know and I shall send the relevant page(s).

 

 

Page

Given Name

SURNAME

106,44

Josef

BAJDER or BINDER

71

Dow

BARACZ

63

Yehuda Lajb

BARACZ

142, 143

Mordechai

BARASZ

147

Jakob Lajb

BOHL

118, 142, 143

Mordechai

BOL

106,45

Szmul Jakob

BORENSZTAJN

44

Sender

CHAJA

71

Cwi

DARANOWSKI

69

Zalman

DIAMANT

121, 142, 143

Aron Israel

ETINGER

108

Szmuel Meir

FRENKEL

72

Zalman

FRIDMAN

44

Mosze

GILBAJTER

71,106

Icik

GOLDMAN

118

Yona

GRIN

45, 71

Mosze

HODIS

121

Abraham Icchak

HOLCMAN

96,101

Lajzer

HOLCMAN

142, 143

Szymon

KAC

142, 143, 149

Zindel

KAC

120

Icek

KARPINSKI

157

Szlomo Zalman

KUTNER

71

Lajzer

LAKS

129, 45

Nisan (or Natan)

LOSZINSKI

145

Szmuel Meir

LOSZINSKI

45

Cwi Dow

MAJNCZYK

142, 143

Yudel

NAJMAN

146

Melech

ROZGA

45

Dow

RUSAK

44, 63, 120

Cwi Dow

SEGAL ?

45

Mosze

SEGAL ?

44

Cwi

SZEWCER ?

142, 143

Yehuda Lajb

SZKLAREK

137

Yosef

SZWARCBORD

118

Reuwen

SZYMON

45

Szmuel Meir

T?

149,118,120

Abraham

TADELIS

149,146

Jakob

TADELIS

44

Lajb

TCZAK

142, 143

Abraham

TIBER

142, 143

Gerszon

TIBER

144

Gerszon Dawid

TIBER

142, 143

Israel

TIBER

90

Jakob

TIBER

64

Yehuda

WEKSLER

142, 143

Cwi

WISPA

121, 142, 143

Icchak

WOJDESLAWSKI

147

Fiszel

WRUBLE

146

Israel

WRUBLE

63,71

Zalman

ZAJDMAN

73, 30

Cwi Hirsz

ZARKOWSKI

131

Baruch

ZICHLINSKI

142 & 143

Zalman Lajbusz

ZIELONKA

76

Azriel Szmul

ZILBER

44

Azriel

ZILBERBERG

144

Szaja

ZILBERBERG

142, 143

Yehoszua

ZILBERBERG

96

Icchak Icik

ZILBERMAN

 

An example of a page from Pinkas Chevra Mikra of Gombin

 

 

2) 26 Matzevot (Tombstones) from the Cemetery of Gombin

 

In the article about the remnants from Gombin, R' Zlotnik recorded also 26 tombstones from the Gombin cemetery. He was concerned that the old cemetery and the great synagogue would be destroyed in the days of the First World War (which did happen, but one generation later, during the Second World War). So he photographed the tombstones and the 200-year-old great synagogue and sent them for preservation to his good friend Rabbi Lewin Epsztajn, founder of the famous Publishing House in Warsaw, which later moved to Jerusalem.  R' Zlotnik writes that R' Lewin Epsztajn prepared from the photographs "glass mothers for pictures of light" – probably, he meant "negatives". I have written to the heirs of Levin-Epstein in Jerusalem, but no reply was ever received. The photographs and negatives are probably lost and destroyed, as well as the great synagogue of Gombin and nearly the whole Jewish heritage of Poland, although it may be there as a miracle, and these treasures will be found eventually in a dusty archive or crumbling in a warehouse of one museum or another.

 

In the article, he documented 26 tombstones, the names and the inscriptions. He commented that Gombin was a very Hassidic community and the tombstones prove it. They were ancient headstones from the eighteenth century, but beautifully written in figurative and traditional Hebrew.

 

There are nearly no surnames, but one caught my eye which was an exception, tombstone nr. 17: "The divine philosopher, Rabbi R' Aharon Szlomo the Levite / ETINGER from the family of EITINEGA, natives of  Mäharin (Moravia) the town of Holeŝov, died Kislev 1, 5644 (November 30th, 1883)". Since I knew the late Zelig Etinger from Kibbutz Evron all my life as a Gombiner married to a Gombiner (Rachel Kerber, blessed be her memory), I was astonished to find out that the roots of this family are not from Gombin, Poland, but rather Moravia… The wandering Jew ended up in a Kibbutz in Eretz-Israel… His brother Abraham Etinger z"l from Kibbutz Kfar Menachem wrote about "Hashomer Hatzair" in Gombin, in the Yiddish part of the Gombin Yizkor Book. The Etinger family of bakers was deeply rooted in Gombin, but their real roots were not there.

 

There are other documented tombstones, most of them belonging to Hassidim, Rabbis, and halachic judges, but also to modest and righteous women, young yeshiva pupils and others. Thirty years after R' Zlotnik transcribed the inscriptions of the Matzevot, the Germans invaded Poland and spread death and destruction wherever they were, including Gombin and its ancient cemetery. This enhances the importance of R' Zlotnik's work, and his documentation became the tombstone of the tombstones…

 

An ancient  tombstone in the cemetery of Gombin, photographed by R' Zlotnik

 

Inscriptions of 26 Tombstones in the Old Cemetery of Gombin

 

Here is the data I extracted from R' Zlotnik's article, the chapter about Gombin Matzevot (tombstones).

 

Nr.

SURNAME

NAME

SON OF

HEBREW DATA

COMMON DATE

COMMENTS

1

 

Ozer

Matatyah

5540

1780

 

2

 

Eliezer Lajzer

Yosef

2nd Shavuot, 5553

May 29, 1773

He was probably the Rabbi of Gombin. After him served R' Lichtenstein who founded the pinkasim; the oldest matzeva recorded by R' Zlotnik

3

LANDAU

Icchak Iciek

Yona Hatan

Heshvan 6, 5573

October 12, 1812

Grandson of "The Great Light", President of Halachic Court of Opatow: R' Jakob Simcha

4

 

Yosef

 

Adar II 21, 5573

March 23, 1813

Seg"l  (Segen Levaya - deputy of the Levite).  May be he is the master who engraved during many years with a small  knife the wonderful ornaments in the Holy Ark in the Great (LZ)

5

 

Arie Lajb

Szlomo

Tishrei 27, 5603

October 1, 1842

"A teacher and a judge here, the Holy Community of Gombin"

6

 

Mosze

Katriel

Tevet, 5605

December 1844

"married the tzadikim of his generation" (was a Hassid)

7

 

Cwi

Mordechai

Av 7, 5608

July 24, 1846

 

8

 

Eliezer Lajzer

Icchak

5608

1846

Poetical verses with rhyme:

9

 

Cwi Hirsz

Icchak

Nisan 1, 5610

March 14, 1850

Hassid

10

 

Yhoyda

Chaim

Elul 2, 5612

August 17,1852

Kohen, grandson of the author of the book "Bigdei Kehuna" (clothes of Priesthood)

11

 

Cwi Eliezer Lipa

Abraham

Shevat 11, 5621

January 22, 1861

 

12

 

Abraham Yosef

Lajbisz

 

 

from the town of Sierpc

13

 

Abraham Icchak

Eliezer

Elul 9, 5622

September 4, 1862

One of the most beautiful Matzevot, with remarkable picture of the sacrifice of Icchak

14

 

Dow

Aharon Simcha

Nisan 3, 5624

April 10, 1864

Written in Aramaic / his father was a Rabbi in Gombin, author of "Rimzei Esh" (Allusions of Fire)

15

KAC

Baruch

Chaim

Tamuz 22, 5624

July 26, 1864

Hassid

16

 

Mordechai

Icchak

Tishrei 24, 5625

October 24, 1864

Hassid

17

ETINGER

Aharon Szlomo

 

Kislev 1, 5644

November 30, 1883

From the family of EITINGA, natives of  Mäharin (Moravia) the town of Holeŝov

18

 

Gerszon Icchak

Yehuda

Av 9, 5645

July 21 , 1885

Was a Dayan - orthodox judge in Gombin

19

 

Aharon Simcha

Szmuel

Adar 14, 5648

February 26, 1888

Twenty-nine  years a Rabbi in Gombin, wrote in his will not to praise him on the tombstone, father of nr.14

20

 

Mosze Szohel

Mordechai Menachem

Adar 27, 5666

March 24, 1906

great grandson to the holy and genius Rabbi of Radoszyce

21

 

Chana

 

Tevet 8, 5583

December 22, 1822

Wife of Katriel

22

 

Sada or Tada

Abraham

Tamuz 23, 5591

July 4, 1831

"The modest and  important woman"; father was a Rabbi judge in Plock.

23

 

Chaja Sara

Yosef

Nisan 3, 5593

March 23, 1833

His father  was Seg"l  (Segen Levaya - deputy of the Levite); killed by a gun,  probably a result of a battle between the Russians and Polish rebels, 1833

24

 

Frumet

Yosef

Sivan 11, 5615

May 28, 1855

An old woman

25

 

Czafa

Cwi

Shevat 26, 5622

January 27, 1862

Father was a Rabbi

26

 

Pesa

Dow Berisz

Adar II 22, 5651

April 1, 1891

The righteous, important woman; 53 years old; daughter of  "one of the great men of Israel", grandson of the Tzadik Cwi Hirsz Malach, wife of R' Ziszel, Hassid.

 

These were the remnants of the remnants... Very moving lamentations, lamenting the dead and also the culture in which they were created and which exists no more. Nothing survived, but some very few rare fragments of the tombstones which were removed from the Jewish cemetery and served as curbstones in the streets of Gombin. In 1998 these pieces of symbolic memory were assembled in a monument built in the Jewish cemetery, by the Gombin Jewish Historical & Genealogical Society   ("GJHGS") and the Nussenbaum Foundation.  One of these stones was of my own grandfather, the "Tehilim Zeiger" (as was inscribed on his tombstone) Eliahu Holcman, died in 1922, after an anti-Semitic attack. It is believed that the  Germans built a whole bridge from the tombstones of the destroyed Jewish cemetery... Only some remnants have remained to remind us that once our ancestors graced the earth of Gombin, that far shtetl in Poland…   

 

* * *

 

If anyone ever wishes to see the original   article in Hebrew, please Contact: Ada Holtzman
or another email: ada001@netvision.net.il
 

 

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Last updated June 5th, 2009

 

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