Although Brzesko was a very small town before the war, there used to be four stone synagogues and a wooden one, and Brzesko rabbis belonged to famous rabbinical families – Lipschitz, Templer and Teitelbaum.
The oldest ancestor of this last family, mentioned on several Teitelbaum matzevot at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery is Moshe Teitelbaum (1759-1841), also known as Yismach Moshe. Moshe was first a rabbi in Przemyśl, and later in the city of Ujhely (Satoraljauhely) in Hungary, where he founded a Hasidic community. This rabbi was the author of several significant works, including homilies on the Torah “Yismach Moshe” (“Moses rejoiced”), and his descendants and followers today constitute the communities of Satmar Hasidim.
One of the sons of Moshe Teitelbaum, Menachem (Nuchim) Tzvi, was a rabbi in Drohobycz, and his grandson Menashe (1841- June 3, 1905) moved to Brzesko, where he married Chana Lipschitz from the Lipschitz family of Bresko tzaddiks (daughter of rabbi Tuvie and Mindel Lipschitz) and became not only a rabbi, but also the chairman of the rabbinical court. Menashe, and later his son Chaim and grandson Menashe (named after his deceased grandfather) were rabbis in the only wooden Brzesko synagogue, which was located between Kazimierz Wielki Square and today’s Jordanowski Garden in Brzesko. Brzesko Holocaust survivors Dov Landau (1928) and Jozef Polaniecki (1924) remember this synagogue; it’s in it that the first cheder of Mr Polaniecki was located. And in the Bresko Yizkor book you can find many testimonies on Teitelbaum rabbis.
In a moment I will return to the family of the chairman of the Brzesko rabbinical court Menashe Teitelbaum, and for now I want to share a few words about another branch of this family, which also used to live in Brzesko. Naftali Hirsch (Tzvi) Teitelbaum (1850 – December 1, 1922; his matzevah has survived at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery) was the great-grandson of the famous Moshe of Ujhely; his grandfather and father were chairmen of the rabbinical courts in Drohobycz and Gorlice, but Naftali Hirsch became a merchant in Brzesko. Naftali Hirsch and Scheindel Teitelbaum had 6 children, most of whom perished together with their families during the Holocaust. Brzesko Holocaust survivor Dov Landau shared about the wedding of his aunt Cyrla Landau and Moshe Teitelbaum. Moshe was the grandson of Naftali Hirsch, he got married on August 18, 1932, and the wedding was held in the tenement house of Dov Landau’s grandfather at the Brzesko Market Square. Unfortunately, Moshe, Cyrla and their sons Naftali (1934) and Berisch (1935) were also murdered.
One of the sons of Naftali Hirsch, Menashe (February 27, 1872 – February 18, 1939), was a member of the kehilla board and a merchant, he ran a fabric shop in a tenement house on the corner of the Brzesko Market Square, opposite the church. He was lucky – he died a natural death six months before the war, and there is a beautiful matzeva on his grave at the cemetery. His wife Lea and children Samuel (1895), Rachel (1896), Leib (1897) and Rifka (1898) were murdered along with their families. Only son Mosze survived – it’s him who submitted testimonies on the fate of his family members to Yad Vashem.
But let’s go back to the family of Menashe Teitelbaum, who was the rabbi and the chairman of the Brzesko rabbinical court till his death on June 3, 1905. The inscription on his tombstone is esceptionally moving:
soul has departed from the people of his grace
What soul shall not be anguished for his light and his righteousness have been extinguished
He sat night and day to ponder his Torah
He taught religion and law for 25 years to the people of his community
The son of earthly Tzadikim and Gaonim, the origin of his philosophy
Tzadikim in the Garden of Eden of Eden will greet his soul and spirit
The honored Chassid Rabbi, son of the Holy men
Menashe of blessed memory, son of the holy Gaon and Rabbi
May his reward be from the joy of the desired Eden,
Menachem Tzvi of blessed memory and grandson of the holy genious rabbi
Author of Yismah Moshe of blessed memory ,
President of the rabbinic court of the holy community of Ujhely
And Grandson to the Rabbi, the Holy Gaon Mordechai David of blessed memory from Dąbrowa
At the age of 68 he rose to his place of rest
On the evening of the first day of Sivan 5665
May his soul be bound in the bond of eternal life
(Translation from Hebrew by Yossi Elran)
Menashe Teitelbaum had seven children, his eldest son Chaim also became a rabbi and rabbinical judge. It is this family that I know the most about. Chaim (February 19, 1882 – September 1942) married the daughter of the rabbi from Limanowa, Ides Horowitz/Wolf; in the years 1909-1919 they had seven children, but one daughter died at the age of 5.
The eldest son of Chaim and Ides Teitelbaum, Yehoschua (Schija) also became a rabbi. He married Jentl (Yetti) Hollander, the daughter of Rabbi from Mszana Dolna. The whole family perished during the war in Mszana Dolna – Schija’s wife Yetti (1904) and the children Chana (1926), Feiwisch (1930), Malka (1932), Chaja Mirl (1936), Blima Roza (1940) were murdered on August 19, 1942, and are buried in a mass grave in Mszana; Schija was most likely separated from his family and worked for some time in a group of about 100 Jews in nearby quarries, where he was shot.
The daughter Rochma Bluma (1909-1942) married in 1935 Salomon Teitelbaum, son of Limanowa Rabbi and nephew of tzaddik Benzion Halbersztam. The tzaddik himself came to their wedding in Brzesko (you can read about this man, for example, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Zion_Halberstam). Dov Landau often recalls how not only Jews but also Catholics came to greet the tzaddik in Brzesko, and the wedding celebration lasted for several days. (Mr. Landau’s father was a student of the Bobowa rabbi, Benzion Halbersztam, and during his stay in Brzesko, the tzaddik lived in their house). The couple settled in Brzesko, their daughter Chane was born in 1936, and two years later – their daughter Hinda. The entire family was murdered in the Holocaust.
The remaining children of Chaim Teitelbaum – sons Menashe (1907, also a rabbinical judge), Naftali Hirsch (1911), Tobias Leib (1917) and Markus Dawid (1919) and their families were also murdered. Chaim and his wife Ides perished during the liquidation of the Brzesko ghetto.
Of the great Teitelbaum clan, descendants of Yismach Moshe, only a few survived the war. May the memory of all murdered in the Shoah be an eternal blessing. We can’t bring them back to life, but we can remember about all of them, starting from the youngest 2.5-year-old Bluma Roza, daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of rabbis, to 70-year-old Brzesko merchant Benjamin Teitelbaum.
© Anna Brzyska, 2022