Juda Kaufman (1839-1923), son of Samuel Leib and Gittla from Zborowa, was one of the most respected Bresko Jews. He was a shochet (ritual slaughterer) and a mochel – he circumcised all Jewish boys born in Brzesko during several decades.
We don’t know when he became a shochet, but it took a lot of learning and considerable skills to perform this function. „A shochet is a ritual slaughterer who skillfully practices shechitah, slitting the throat of the animal as per Torah tradition. He does so using a chalef, a perfectly sharp and smooth knife. Before beginning his work, the shochet says the traditional blessing, “Blessed are you … Who has commanded us regarding shechitah [slaughter].”
A shochet must be learned in the laws of kosher slaughter and adept at sharpening and polishing his knives. He also trains under an experienced shochet to learn how to hold the animal firmly, to slaughter it quickly and smoothly. After a rabbi examines a shochet’s knife and is satisfied with his skill and knowledge, he issues him a certificate of kabbalah, attesting to his worthiness.
In the traditional Jewish communal set-up, the shochet is among the most respected members of the congregation. Since the difference between kosher slaughter and non kosher slaughter are often impossible for the observer to detect, the community relies upon the faith and integrity of the shochet, trusting that their meat is indeed kosher.” (https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4302685/jewish/What-Is-a-Shochet.htm )
There exists a beautiful testimony written by the grandson of Juda Kaufman, Samuel Rosenblatt:
„My maternal grandfather, Judah (Idel) Kaufman, the community Shochet, descendant of Rabbi Alexander Sender of Żółkiew, was the acknowledged lay leader of the town, beloved and respected and trusted by everybody, Jew as well as gentile. Whenever a collection had to be made fro some charitable purpose, whether it was that of marrying off an orphan bride, or helping a family whose house had burned down, it was reb Idel Kaufman who was charged with the task of canvassing the community. If people had some extra cash on hand – savings banks were non-existent in small: bardzo dbał o własną hygienę. towns like Brzesko – they would entrust it to Reb Idel to take care of for them. He was a soft-spoken, even-tempered person, who seldom raised his voice except in the enthusiasm of prayer.Scrupulously observant himself in matters of religion, he was tolerant toward others. But what was most remarkable about him was the tidiness of the man. To keep clean in a place like Brzesko, the wooden one-story structures of which had no sewage or sanitary plumbing whatever and the floors of which consisted of hard dirt, was an achievement. Of course there was the public bath house which was frequented every Friday in preparation for the Sabbath. Nevertheless such rules of hygiene as are the current in the modern Western world were either unknown or not practiced in the villages of Galicia at the turn of the twentieth century.’ (“Yossele Rosenblatt. The story of his life as told by his son Samuel Rosenblatt”, Farrar, Straus and Young, NY, 1954; page 61)
Juda Kaufman married Rifka Feigenbaum (1850-1918) from Swoszowa, daughter of Abraham and Chana Reisla. Juda and Rifka got married only in the presence of rabbi (so-called “ritual marriage”), they did not have a civil marriage, so according to the law their children were supposed to have their mother’s surname.
At least ten children were born to them. There is little information about some of them, while a lot can be said about others. But before I go on to describe the fate of the children of Juda and Rifka, let me share a few words about them.
They lived together for 53 years until Rifka’s death in 1918 – she died of heart attack. Juda passed away 5 years later. His matzeva survived at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery, and it’s difficult not to be moved by the inscription:
The rabbinic Chasid anxious and fearful
for the word of God Yehuda son of Shmuel Ari’ known as
Judel kosher meat butcher
died 19 Tevet 5684 [December 27, 1923]
May his sould be bound in the bundle of life
Honest and loyal in worship of God
Praise a kosher and innocent man
Served our town faithfuly
Belonged to the Beit-Din all his days until his passing
Loved by all, modest in worship of God
(translation from Hebrew by Noa Shashar)
And now about the children of Juda Kaufman and Rifka Feigenbaum. Two of their daughters, Chane Bruche (born in 1878) and Sara (born in 1886) died as infants; two sons died at a young age as a result of illness: the eldest Dawid (1866-1887) and Noach Hersch (1888-1907). Other children survived and got married. Some left Brzesko, others remained in the town of their parents.
Malka (born in 1868) married Kalman Bransdorfer. They lived in Brzesko and had 9 children: Gittla (1888), Sender Alexander (1892), Chaim Wolf (1895), Jakob Aszer (1897), Abraham (1900); Samuel Noach (1901), twins Aron and Breindla (1904) and Rifka, who died as a baby(1906-1907). The only fact that I know about this family is that in 1940 Malka, Kalman and their youngest son Aron lived in Krakow at Starowiślna, 65 and were directed to deportation from Krakow. Scans of these documents are available at the Central Judaic Library website: https://cbj.jhi.pl/?q=Brzesko&m=metadata (All subsequent photos except Samuel Leib Kaufman’s picture come from this website)
I also know that one of the sons of Kalman and Malke, Samuel Noach, lived in Gdynia before the war and was murdered in Krościenko on April 28, 1942.
Menasze Kaufman / Feigenbaum (born in 1870) married Małka Hollander, daughter of Chaim and Freida. They lived in Brzesko at Cicha street and were murdered in Brzesko on September 18, 1942.
Rachel Laje Kaufman / Feigenbaum (born in 1872) married Moses Mendel Gaenger. They first lived in Brzesko, then moved to Cracow. They had at least 4 children; Abraham Chaim (born in 1895); Malka (born in 1898), Samuel Leib (born in 1914) and Hela. The family lived in Cracow at Brzozowa, 16. The oldest son Abraham Chaim married Chana Goldstein. Their son Zacharias (Zigmund) was born in Krakow in 1920, and after that the family moved to Antwerp, Belgium, where the second child, daughter Lucie was born in 1926. In 1942 the family was deported. All of them perished, most likely in Auschwitz.
The Gaengers who remained in Krakow, were directed for deportation in July 1940. Moses Mendel and Rachel Laje were murdered in Tarnów in 1941 together with their daughter Malka and her children Chaja (born in 1918), Frida (born in 1923) and Tova (born in 1925). Hela Ring nee Gaenger survived the war and emigrated to Israel
Life of Taube Kaufman/Feigenbaum (born in 1879) deserves a separate story. I encourage you to read the article about Taube and her husband, outstanding cantor Yossele Rosenblat at our website: https://brzesko-briegel.pl/en/2020/04/26/yossele-rosenblatt-and-taube-kaufman-history-of-love/
Rubin Peretz Kaufman/Feigenbaum (born in 1882) got married in 1905 to Ittel Stern, daughter of Elias and Zurtla from Lipnica Murowana. He was a ritual butcher; during the war he was in the Bocnhia ghetto. He and his wife were murdered in Auschwitz in August 1943. Their children also perished during the war: Szlomo Zalman and his wife Zysl; Szmuel Arie and his wife Yehudit; Josef; Feiga and her son Yehuda; Perel; Tzvi; David; Miriam together with her husband Naftali Kuperman and children; Chaja.
Samuel Leib Kaufman/Feigenbaum, born in 1890, married in 1919 Sara Chawe Liebeskind from Cracow. They lived in Cracow at Krakowska, 39. Samuel Leib was a cantor. They had at least three children: Regina (born in 1919); Szymon (born in 1922) and Jehuda (Juliusz; born in 1927). In 1940 they were directed for deportation. Samuel Leib and his wife were murdered in Treblinka in 1942; Jehuda perished in Bełżec.
Such is the tragic fate of the descendants of Bresko shochet Juda Kaufman. But not all of them perished. New trees have grown out of the few surviving branches. And we gratefully remember this family.