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I remember when...

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Mr. Yankel Lebovich ob"m

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Pictured above: Our Shammos of Blessed Memory and myself, emulating him in a watch cap

PAYing Tribute to Yankel Lebovich by Arthur Pay

Yankel Lebovich  would wake at 4 in the morning to recite Tehillim. His book of Psalms was colored with the oil of his hands. Then he came to shul to daven Shacharis, with a siddur that was also stained by years of devotion. Minchah; Tehillim; Maariv; He attended, so regularly, we knew him as a fixture. Our Shamos of Blessed Memory embodied the principal of keva, being stationery, stable, and strongly set.

From him I learned the grace and solidity of presence, until I too became part of the furniture at Elwood. Yankel instilled the awe to pay Respect, to Do It Right. And if I did happen to… Read More »

Mr. Soniek Balbin & Dr. Les Erdi ob'm

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They were both long standing members of the Shule.

They were both Cohanim.

They stood next to each other for the priestly blessing, Bircas Cohanim, for many years.

They both carried a Sefer Torah on Kol Nidrei night.
Alas, my father and Les passed away a few days apart from each other. Both had been at Cabrini, and both passed away in their homes.

Mr. David Felzen ob'm

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Mr Felzen ע’’ה seated while dancing at an eynikel's wedding

It has barely been a week since David Felzen’s passing. The Felzens and Balbins have been inseparable family friends from as early as I can remember. His dear wife, Mrs Sally Felzen, may she be spared a long and healthy life, is a powerhouse for WIZO and Magen David Adom. I fondly remember all the functions they arranged and the Tzedoko they were involved in, especially for the State of Israel. Mrs Felzen always called him David, but in our house, he was always Doovid Felzen.


Mr Felzen was different to many of my father’s friends. As a boy, I remember being impressed by his physical countenance. This was not an emaciated shrinking violet. Mr Felzen… Read More »

Mr. Yossel Gelbart ob'm

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Yossel was commonly known by the fond moniker Gandhi. Emerging emaciated from Buchenwald, Yossel’s features resembled those of Gandhi. The nick name stuck. Yossel was born in the famous town of Ostrowice, better known in Yiddish as Ostrovtzer. The town was famous because it was the seat of the revered Rav Meir Yechiel HaLevi Haltzshtok ז’ל, the ascetic Ostrovtzer Rebbe, who fasted most of his life. My Uncle Hershel יבל’ח also hails from this town and both he and Yossel knew each other before the war.

Yossel was fond of describing the scene on Erev Yom Kippur in Ostrovtzer. The Rebbe rarely ventured out in the middle of the day. On Erev Yom Kippur, however, the Rebbe and his entourage walked to the Mikvah, in the… Read More »

Mr. Yankel Sperling ob'm

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Yankel Sperling ע’’ה (on the right)

On Shabbos, my father and I spoke about visiting Yankel. Alas, that was not to be. Mr Sperling passed away this morning. My father was a regular visitor, although of late this was less frequent due to my father’s “on again, off again” colds. I never missed bringing him משלוח מנות and he always obliged with a nice bottle of scotch in return.

Mr Sperling was born in Tomashov Mazowiecka, a sister (and larger) city to my father’s home town of Rawa Mazowiecka. The Sperlings knew the Balbins from before the war. My Grandmother’s brother, R’ Mordechai Amzel ז’ל (Fetter Mordechai) lived near the Sperling and Hoppe families in Tomashov. Fetter Mordechai… Read More »

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