During the war, the Belzer Rebbe fled to Eretz Yisrael. He made himself a geder not to leave the country. When the she’eiris hapleitah arrived in Antwerp, they built a shul and asked the Belzer Rebbe to come see it. The Belzer Rebbe sent his brother, the Bilgorayer Rav, to Antwerp to relay a message to the Jewish community. This was the message: “There was a gezeirah l’hashmid l’harog ul’abeid; every Yid who remained alive had two malachim watching over him constantly. Without these malachim, no one could have survived this gehinnom.”
I really felt the Belzer Rebbe’s words; the mofsim that I encountered were not regular. I am a living witness to the words of the Belzer Rebbe.
When I look back at my life, I feel that I have had a string of very interesting happenings; it was like a chain of nissim.
Can you tell me where you were born?
I was born in the year 5688/1928, in the town of Maleh Hyndice, located at the foothills of Slovakia. Maleh Hyndice was a very small town; so small that it didn’t even appear on the Slovakian map.
What memories can you share with us about your family?
My paternal grandfather, Avrum Miller, was a blacksmith; he was known as Der Schmidt. My grandfather worked in his workshop beginning at five o’clock in the morning, with his son Moshe. The Zeide Avrum was a Doliner Chassid. He would close his shop for the Yamim Nora’im and walk with a group of Chassidim for three to four days through the woods until they reached Dolin in Galicia to be with the Rebbe. On the way, they would review the niggunim of the Rebbe.
I am named after my paternal great-grandfather Shlomo Leib (Yehudah), the Zeide Avrum’s father. My father was at his grandfather’s levayah in Dubove. The cemetery in Dubove was next to a river. There was a big hill leading down from the cemetery to the river. It was a rainy season and when the chevrah kaddisha dug up the grave they found water. [One may not bury a person in water.] They worked hard to quickly dry the area and bury him. My great-aunt Yehudis did not know this whole story for she was not at the kevurah. However, that night Yides had a dream in which my great-grandfather came to her and said, “Yidesel, ich lig in vasser — Yidesel, I am lying in water.”
My paternal grandmother, Bobba Necha, was a very hardworking woman. I recall how on a freezing day she would go down to the river to wash the linen. Water that dripped from the laundry immediately turned to ice and many times my grandmother would slip on the ice on her way down. The side of her cheek was constantly black and blue from all these falls.
My great-grandmother the Bobba Chayah Surah lived near my grandparents. She was an exceptional woman, an extremely frum and pious person, as was her husband, the Zeide Hersh Tzvi. They had three daughters and two sons. My great-grandparents owned a one-room apartment with a farm. She never complained; she always felt that she had more than she needed. They grew their own vegetables and cut their own wheat; this is what they lived off. They owned a cow from which Bobba Chayah Surah would sell the milk. One time they purchased a cow and a few days later they realized that the cow was sick. They went to a din Torah and were told that my grandfather had to say that he affirms that the reason he bought the cow was for its milk and not to slaughter. Since my grandfather was a righteous person he would not take any sort of oath and therefore he lost the din Torah. The Zeide Tzvi had tremendous agmas nefesh from this and he passed away young.
To be continued…
These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.