3 Stories From Simon Huberband’s “Kiddush Hashem”

Apr 30th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays
In September 1939, the Wicked Ones came to Bendin, surrounded the Jewish quarter and the synagogue in its midst, and set fire to the synagogue and the houses adjacent to it. Any Jew who try to escape from one of the houses was shot. And yet, even as the flames engulfed the synagogue, a number of Jews rushed into it, led by a certain Schlesinger, his son, and his sons in law. They fought their way to the Aron Kodesh, and every one of them succeeded in rescuing two Torah scrolls, one in each arm. When they emerged from the burning synagogue they were all shocked by the Wicked Ones. Thus they died al Kiddush Hashem.

A second story concerns an incident in the city of Piotrkow, where a carful of Nazi officers arrived one day, headed straight for the synagogue, dragged out some 30 Torah scrolls, and dumped them into an open yard, leaving guards on 24 hour duty, lest some Jew “steal” them. After some days, a certain Bundist leader by the name of Abraham Weisshof couldn’t stand the site anymore, so he collected some other Bundists, and by night they crept into the yard and one by one absconded with the Torah scrolls and buried them in the Jewish cemetery. (Mr Weisshof was not a religious Jew. He had in the past prided himself on seeing the Torah as no more than fancy parchment. But he and his men risked torture and death to honor the Sifrei Torah.)

In Radzymin, also in Poland, there lived a Hasid named Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Kaminer. [A complicated story follows, typical of the Nazi ways of amusing themselves by torturing a helpless victim.] Then they forced him to dress up in his shtreimel, tallis, and Tefillin, took him to the town square, shoved him next to a Christian cross erected there, and ordered him to kiss it. When he refused to obey, the policemen threatened that they would not simply shoot him, that they would beat him to death. Kaminer remained unmoved. Then they fell upon him like wild beasts and beat him until they thought he was dead. After the Nazis were through with him and had left, several Jews ran to Kaminer, who was lying on the ground, and lo, he was still barely alive. Quickly they carried him to his apartment and rushed for a doctor, and they managed to save his life. (Simon Huberband – Kiddush Hashem)

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