Merchant Abe Lieber (1843-1921), son of Isaak Leib Lieber and Rifka nee Izbic, lived a long life and was one of the most respected Brzesko residents. He was a member of Brzesko’s town council for over 40 years (1877-1920), and from 1914 to 1919 he was the deputy mayor. He was actively involved in the reconstruction of the town after the great fire of 1904, when most of the town houses burned down, including his shop in the Market Square. In 1907 he supervised the construction of the new town hall and during the construction period he lent two rooms in his house for the municipality office.
Abe Lieber was an educated man. He corresponded in Yiddish and German and also knew Polish and Hebrew.
Being a Jew, Abe Lieber supported Poland’s pursuit of independence. Here is how Brzesko chronicler Jan Burlikowski describes the events of 1918: “A great national demonstration took place in Brzesko in front of the town hall on February 16, 1918 with the participation of delegates from the entire poviat, local intelligentsia and townspeople. The audience covered the market square and the entire street leading to the town hall, all the way beyond the Court building… Representing the citizens of the Jewish faith, Deputy Mayor Abe Lieber publicly sympathized with the demonstration, standing by the side of Dr Brzeski during his speech.” (Jan Burlikowski “Chronicles of the town of Brzesko”, vol II, p93)
In 1920, after Poland gained independence, Abe Lieber became a member of the local county’s State Defence Committee and participated in the rallies and demonstrations that it organized.
Together with his wife, Leah née Klausner (1846-1924), he had nine children. Most of their descendants were murdered in the Holocaust.
The day following his death on 9 August 1921, the town council decided to honour his memory by distributing 1,000 Polish marks to the poor.
The epitaph on his tombstone is exceptionally touching:
Avraham Aba Lieber
Son of our rabbi Yitzhak Yehuda of blessed memory
Deceased 5 Av 5681
Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years [Gen 24:1]
He came to the grave in old age
Most of his days he engaged with the needs of the people
On 5 Av his soul ascended to heaven from ashes
Lament from the depths of your heart
For an innocent and honest man
In faith and great strength he carried his business
May the light of his soul be bound in heaven in the bundle of life
(Translation of the inscription by Idan Livne)
© Anna Brzyska, 2022