Henoch Klapholz was one of the most distinguished Brzesko Jews, city Mayor in years 1898-1906. It’s due to his efforts, that the city was rebuilt after the great fire of 1904. You can read more about Henoch Klapholz and his family in the article at this website.
From the moment we started taking care of the Brzesko Jewish cemetery, I was hoping to find the grave of Henoch Klapholz. In 2019, all tombstones with readable inscriptions were documented by the Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland, but the tombstone of Klapholz was not among them. It seemed that this matzevah was irretrievably lost.
However, in August 2020, conservators from Tarnów, Mr. Dariusz Jaworek and Mrs. Ewa Dagnan-Jaworek, noticed two pieces of an overturned matzevah made of black granite. Absolute majority of matzevot at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery were made of relatively cheap sandstone. We thought that this tombstone might belong to Mayor Klapholz. And indeed, after turning the stones and putting two pieces together, we saw an exceptionally beautiful matzevah with the inscription painted gold. Mr. Yossi Elran helped decipher the entire text. Here it is in Hebrew and English::
חנוך הענך קלאפהאלץ
ב”ר יעקב יהושוע
חבלי חבלי ילילו תוגה עטה
נהי וקינה הורידו ראש מטה
ויי ויי יצריחו יבכיון מר
כליל אנשים גוע חלף ועבר
העיר והמחוזות חברות ואגודות
עטפו אבל העלו אנחות
נלקח נשיאיהם ומנהיגם נעדר
כבודו אחריו מי ימלא ויהדר
בהשכל בדעת ביושר ובתבונה
נהל עדתו מ שנה באמונה
יצא לישע גנן על קהילתו
קרוב לקוראיו הי’ ולדורשי עזר
בשם טוב כתריהו וענדיהו כנזר
יד ושם בין רוזנים ושרים
היה לו ולמשמעתו היו סרים
ורבי מפעליו מי יוכל לספר ומי ימלל
שבע רצון העיר בתיקון עירובין להלל
ימליצו זכויותיו בעדו לפני כס הר(ח)מים
עפרו יחונן אדון העולמים
י”נ א דפסח שנת תרפ”ו
Hanoch Henoch Klapholtz
son of Rabbi Yaakov Yehoshua
may he rest in peace
My pangs! My pangs will wail wrapped in sorrow,
Bemoaning and lamentation, hold your head down,
Woe! Woe! They will shout and cry in bitterness,
The most perfect of people has withered, gone and passed on,
The city and the nearby regions, companies and societies,
Wrapped themselves in mourning, raised groans,
Their president has been taken and their leader has gone,
After him, his honor who will take and bring splendor?
With intelligence, knowledge, honesty and wisdom,
He managed his community 40 years with faith.
He went out to save and defend his community,
He was close to those who called for him and for those who asked for help,
With a good name he should be crowned and adorned with a wreath,
A memorial and a name amongst ministers and counts,
He had, and to his discipline they would heed,
Who could count and tell about his many enterprises?
The city was satisfied with his praised repair of the city,
His merits shall advocate him before His Merciful Chair ,
The Lord of the Universe shall have mercy on his dust.
Died on the 1 day of Pesach, the year (5)686
His soul should be bound up in the bond of life
At this point we are not sure about the details of future renovation of this matzevah. Two pieces of the tombstone were lying on the ground, and therefore we do not know whether it will be possible to determine the exact location of the grave of Henoch Klapholz. Renovation will surely be carried out under the direct supervision of the Rabbinical Commission on Jewish Cemeteries after obtaining all necessary permissions. But perhaps the most important thing is that we will be able to commemorate the man to whom Brzesko owes so much!
© Anna Brzyska, 2020