30.07.2022 | Redaktor

Residents of the street around Żwirki i Wigury square on the photos by Schaje Weiss

Some time ago we received several new photos from prof. Charles Weiss Jr. These pictures were also taken by his father, Schaje (Charles) Weiss, during his short stay in Brzesko in 1929. Thanks to these photos it was possible to recreate the history of another Jewish family from Brzesko.
The first photo shows a fairly wide street with the Church of St. James in the background. Thanks to this, we can quite precisely place this photo in the vicinity of today’s Żwirki i Wigury square, at a narrow street parallel to Głowackiego, located berween Głowackiego and Cicha streets. Advertisement “Glazier and painter Abraham Teichtahl” is clearly seen on the second building, and the next photo shows a group of 4 men and 7 boys in front of the same house.

Brzesko, 1929. Photo from the family archive of prof. Charles Weiss Jr.

You can see St James church, which allows to locate this photo in the vicinity of today’s Żwirki i Wigury square. The second building on the right has got advertisement of “Glazier and painter Abraham Teichtahl”
There were many Jews with the last name Teichtahl living in Brzesko, but as birth records usually mention the father’s profession, I hoped that I would be able to trace Abraham Teichtahl, who ran a shop in this building, following birth records of his children. And here are the results of this search:
Nisan Teichtahl, son of Samuel Teichtahl and Hinda née Brandstatter, born in 1861, married Chaje Brandstatter. The couple had 9 children born in the years 1886-1901. Nisan was a glazier and starting from 1892 the family lived in the same building # 128 in Brzesko. At least two of Nisan’s sons also became glaziers: Benjamin Jakob (born in 1888) and Abraham (born in 1893). Nisan and Chaje lived in house # 128 until their death. Nisan died in 1921, and his widow a few years later.
Of the 9 children of Nisan and Hinda, at least three were still living with their parents in the same house # 128 after starting their families:

– glazier Benjamin Jakob married Niche Dorflaufer; their children Esther Leah, Nisan, Abraham Abe, Son, and Samuel were born in house # 128;

– glazier and painter Abraham married Dwojre Wasserman; they had at least two children, Scheindel and Szyfre Ester

-Reisel Ester Teichtahl married poultry merchant Mendel Mingelgrun; their sons Nissen and Natan and daughter Scheindl were also born in the house # 128.

“Abraham Teichteil, married, painter and glazier in Brzesko”, fragment from a birth record of one of Abraham Teichteils’ children. The last name “Teichteil”/”Teichtahl” was spelled differently in different documents. Photo from szukajwarchiwach.gov.pl website

So, now we can be certain that several related Teichtahl families lived in that house with Abraham Teichtahl’s advertisement in 1920s-1930s, and in was the house #128. Most likely, some members of these families can be seen in the second photo: they may be glaziers Benjamin Jakob Teichtahl and Abraham Teichtahl, their brother-in-law Mendel Mingelgrun and some of their children.

Brzesko, 1929. Picture from the family archive of prof. Charles Weiss Jr. This picture was clearly taken in front of building # 128 where the Teichtahls lived (second building on the right in the first photo). Most likely, the photo shows the male part of the Teichtahl family. Since the Weiss/Seelengut family lived in the house #129 in the early 20th century, they must have known their neighbours well. And when Schaje (Charles) Weiss visited Brzesko in 1929, he decided to take pictures of his former neighbours and the vicinity of the house where he was born.

Matzevot of two ancestors of this family have survived at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery, those of Nisan Teichtahl (glazier, father of Abraham and his siblings) and Samuel Teichtahl (father of Nisan). Two grandchildren born in the house # 128 in 1922 and 1927 were named Nisan in honor of their late grandfather.

Matzeva of Nisan Teichtahl, son of Samuel and Hinda nee Brandstatter, glazier in Brzesko, who died on April 5, 1921, 60 years old.

“Nisan Teichtahl, son of Shmuel, died on 26 Adar 5681. A man who walked in righteous ways…”

Matzeva od Samuel Teichtahl, son of Jozef and Cywa, former grain trader, who died in Brzesko on February 5, 1902, 70 years old.

“In peace, here lies a man of faith. Until his last days he walked in innocent ways…”

Now let’s go back to the first photo for a moment. Right next to house # 128 there is a low white building that can be seen also on a separate photo. This is house # 129 where the Weiss-Seelengut family lived in the early 20th century, before emigrating to the US. It was here that Schaje Weiss, a future famous scientist, was born. Prof. Weiss shared in his testimony that the entire family, parents and 9 children, lived in one room; he and his brother Ben slept on the same straw mattress on the floor all year round. Once a year, on Pesach, the brothers took the mattress to the banks of the river and burned it to kill the bedbugs. Four children in this family died as infants. At the beginning of the 20th century, Salamon and Chwule Weiss emigrated to the USA with the other 5 children.

Brzesko, 1929. Photo from the family archive of prof. Charles Weiss Jr. House # 129, where Schaje (Charles) Weiss was born. The same building can be seen of the first photograph as the third house on the right. Uncle of Schaje Weiss, Szymon Leib Schindler, stands in front of the house.

In front of this house you can see an elderly man. This is Schaje Weiss’s uncle, Szymon Leib Schindler, born in 1850. His wife and mother of Schaje Weiss were sisters. Szymon Leib Schindler was an “Jewish teacher” – that’s how his profession was referred to in the birth records of his children. Most likely, he taught Jewish boys in one of Brzesko cheders. Szymon Leib also had a large family. He lived to a very old age and perished in Brzesko ghetto during the war.

Szymon Leib Schindler, 1850-1942, Jewish teacher in Brzesko. He and his wife Rechel Curtel née Seelengut had 13 children, five of whom died as young babies. Szymon Leib perished in the Brzesko ghetto in 1942. Photo from Yad Vashem database.

Two photos made it possible to recreate another part of history of Brzesko Jews. We remember.

© Anna Brzyska, 2022