25.07.2022 | Redaktor

Yitzhak Lipschitz synagogue

Over 3 years ago we received 14 photos from the collection of prof. Charles Weiss Jr. These photos were taken in Brzesko in 1929 by his father prof. Schaje (Charles) Weiss. However only recently I have understood what might be on one of these pictures

The photo was originally signed by the author as “Mordechai Einhorn’s big wheat warehouse and small market on Friday”. It seems obvious that this wheat warehouse is the building on the left in this photo.

Photo from the collection of prof. Charles Weiss Jr.
Original caption on the back of the photo

I could find some data about the owner of this warehouse. Mordechai (Markus) Einhorn was born in Brzesko in 1841, he was the son of Wolf and Chaja Cerla Einhorn. In 1869 he married Basche Silberstein born in 1844. The spouses had 5 children:

– Chana Sara, 1870
– Schifre, 1874
– Abraham, 1876-1878
– Chaim Salomon, 1881
– Leibisch, 1882

Mordechai Einhorn was a merchant. He lived a long life: he died on July 20, 1932, at the age of 91. His matzeva has survived at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery. Unfortunately, the marble plaque is no longer there, but it is possible to read the first and last name of the deceased as well as his father’s name.

Matzeva of Mordechai Einhorn at the Brzesko Jewish cemetery

That’s what I could learn about the wheat warehouse owner from this photo. But what about the beautiful white building on the right with large semicircular windows? These windows and very characteristic cornices seem to indicate that the building might have been one of Brzesko synagogues.

Some time ago, Mr. Marek Sukiennik, with the help of an aerial photo of Brzesko from 1915, located the place presented in this photo, which looks completely different today. The wheat warehouse used to stand where pizzeria Bella is located today, and the white building occupied the spot of the PKO bank building, next to the bus square, behind Żwirki i Wigury square.

Area in the vicinity of Żwirki i Wigury square, photo from googlemaps. That’s where the white building from the photo above used to stand.

Jan Burlikowski writes in his “Chronicles of the town of Brzesko”: “The third brick synagogue (apart from the one on Puszkina Street and in front of today’s ambulance building) stood at Żwirki i Wigury square. After the war, the building housed the PZGS warehouse. In the seventies it was demolished when the square was turned into a bus station. “- vol. IV, page 12. Iwona Zawidzka also writes about this synagogue: “Another prayer house and a cheder were located in the area of ​​Zielona Street, near today’s bus station ” (I. Zawidzka “Jewish Cemetery in Brzesko”, page 19). Both sources indicate the same area as the place where that synagogue used to be, and it is this area that is shown on the 1929 photo. These data allow us to suggest that the white building in the photo shows this synagogue. This would be the first known picture of this Brzesko synagogue.

I thought that Dov Landau, one of the last living Brzesko Jews, could help solve the doubts. When I called him, it turned out that he not only remembered the synagogue, but also witnessed the death of the synagogue’s rabbi, Yitzhak Lipschitz:

“This synagogue near today’s bus station, it was Yitzhak Lipschitz’s synagogue. He came from Arie Lipschitz dynasty, people called him Wielopole Rabbi. During the war, he fled to Bochnia. At the time of one of so-called Actions, he hid in the synagogue. I think, it was located at Plac Zgody in Bochnia. I saw how the Germans threw hand grenades into the synagogue. They were all murdered … “

Dov Landau

Arie Lipschitz, mentioned by Dov Landau, was the first of the Brzesko rabbis from the Lipschitz dynasty. He died in Brzesko in 1846 and was buried at the Jewish cemetery at Czarnowiejska street. It is to this tzadik’s grave that chasids from around the world still travel today.

In the Yad VaShem database there are testimonies on the destiny of Yitzhak Lipschitz and his family. Wielopole-born, the “great Hasidic rabbi” (that’s how Yitzhak Lipschitz is described in this testimony), son of Natan Nute Dov Lipschitz, was murdered in the Holocaust together with at least 4 children: Arie Leibusz (who was certainly named after his famous ancestor), Shlomo, Hinda and Sarah. Yitzhak’s brother, Aron Lipschitz, the rabbi in Wiśnicz, was also murdered along with his wife, 10 children and their families. Another brother, Yaakov Lipschitz, who was the rabbi in Kraków, also perished together with his family.

May their memory be an eternal blessing.

Testimony on the fate of rabbi Yitzhak Lipschitz and his family in Yad Vashem

Brzesko Jews are coming back from oblivion. Now we know that they prayed and studied Torah in this building next to the wheat warehouse. One of the windows is open. Hasid is walking along the street, wearing a prayer shawl on his shoulders. Is he coming home after morning prayers? Or maybe vice versa, he is walking fast so that to be in time for the service in the synagogue?…

Yitzhak Lipschitz synagogue on the photo by Schaje (Charles) Weiss, 1929.

© Anna Brzyska, 2022