The Arbajter family lived in Płock at 3 Kwiatka Street in the tenement house of Mendel Jakub Perelgryc and his wife Hinda Małka nee Radzik. Hersz Icek Arbajter (1889-1942), son of Mordka and Chaja Hinda nee Żwirek, was a tailor by profession. His wife was […]
At the beginning of the 19th century, the square with a brick house on the property marked with mortgage number 283 belonged to a carpenter Jan Franciszek Frahm (around 1768-1813) from Hamburg. As he had no children, after his death the property was inherited in […]
The empty square marked with mortgage number 256 at the former Szeroka Street belonged to the police director Wilhelm Czarnowski at the beginning of the 19th century. After his death, the property was inherited by his juvenile sons – Juliusz and Henryk Czarnowski. As a result of the auction held at the Municipal Office on June 7, 1825, the square was bought by the merchant Falk Landau Kempner and Jakub Lichtensztajn. Lichtensztajn on his part of the square, henceforth numbered 256 A, erected a brick house, a wooden storage and a woodshed, which were insured for 7,200 Polish złoty. Under the sale and purchase contract of February 23/March 7, 1843, Icek Fogel (ca. 1806–1869) purchased the property from Jakub Lichtensztajn together with his wife Rasza née Marsap. Icek Fogel was a banker, grain merchant, religious and social activist. His son was Gustaw – an industrialist and social activist, initiator of the establishment of the “Zgoda” Cooperative and Loan Fund in Płock. The next owners of the property were Hersz Schönmann and his wife Rozalia née Frankensztajn, who purchased it under a contract of 4/16 June 1865. In 1867 Ludwik Rychter bought the property and in the same year he sold it to Jakub Szulim Altman under a contract concluded on May 10-22, 1867. After the death of Jakub Szulim Altman, the parts of the property were inherited by: Icek Altman (3/8 of the property), Mosiek Altman (3/8 of the property) and Sura Lasman née Altman (2/8 of the property). By virtue of property divisions between the Altman siblings made on November 19/December 1, 1870, Mosiek Altman became the owner of the property. After his death, the property was inherited in equal and indivisible parts by Chaja Frajda Hak née Altman, Ruchla Lebendiger née Altman, and Juda Majer Pszenica – his daughters and grandson. They were registered as owners on the basis of an application to close the inheritance proceedings of November 3, 1909. In 1913, Ruchla Lebendiger, wife of Jankiel Lebendiger, purchased a part of his property from Juda Majer Pszenica. The Altman sisters – Chaja Frajda Hak and Ruchla Lebendiger were its owners until the outbreak of World War II.
The yard connecting 10 Szeroka Street and Sienkiewicza Street was one of the most characteristic places of the Jewish district in Płock. It was the so-called “Altman’s courtyard”, which was brilliantly described by the Jewish publicist from Płock – Natan Lerman:
In Płock, as well as in other towns in Poland, there were courtyards that were themselves like small towns. In fact, they were like closed worlds. In such a courtyard, Jews of all social groups and classes lived their lives: cobblers, tailors, carpenters, plumbers and other craftsmen. In addition, in the courtyard there were Chadarim of the Hassidim, a dancing hall, teachers of Gemara, Torah scribes, porters, peddlers, stonecutters and even criminal lairs. In short, everything from the most holy to complete sin. I would like to describe one of those courtyards.
The place where I was born, in crowdedness and shortage of proper conditions alike other poor children, was called “Altman’s Courtyard”. We were so used to that environment, in spite of all its disadvantages, that sometimes it seemed to us that it was the way things should be. We simply loved the “courtyard” and its small world because we were tied to it with a thousand threads that were inseparable. Only today, when I am so far away from Płock and from Altman’s courtyard, I can see it in a different way.
In Płock there were other big courtyards as well: the ones of Praszker, Bruzda and more. However, not one of them equaled Altman’s Courtyard. Except for it being like a small town, it was the route that connected two streets and through which people went from the synagogue, that was located on Szeroka Street, to the mikvah, which was on Sienkiewicza Street. Well, was there anyone who didn’t cross Altman’s Courtyard? On eves of holidays and especially on Rosh Hashanah and Pesach eve, the poor people used to change the straw in their mattresses. The women, while dragging the bundles of straw and leaving straw stalks here and there, rubbed the pavement so well, that there was no need to sweep it for the holidays. It was a frequent view and therefore I remember it well.
About 250 permanent inhabitants, 40-50 families, lived in the yard. In addition, there were also occasional vagabonds who used to sleep there in the basements. Regular guests in the yard were the Hassidim from the Rabbi of Góra Kalwaria. The three rooms of their house of prayer were always filled with noise and turmoil of more than 100 children, who were studying there. If we add to those mentioned above the customers of the craftsmen and people who came to the dancing hall, sometimes there were more than 1000 people, or even more in the yard.
It is not hard to imagine the noise and the turmoil in the yard when its inhabitants started their daily routine. The first one to announce the neighbors of the beginning of a new day was always the woman who engraved letters on tombstones. She used to cry loudly and mourn her bad fortune, while cursing awfully. She also earned her living by supplying fresh bread to the houses of the rich people every morning. When the heavy steps of the janitor, who walked to the synagogue for his daily chores wearing his heavy boots, were heard, everyone was already awake. Right after him you could hear the cough of Eliasz the carpenter and then the cough of Mosze the plumber, and then of Szlomo the porter, of Hirsz Aron the hatter, of Bejrysz the tombstone turner, of the craftsmen, butchers, the Torah scribes, the cantor. Each one of them coughed in his own style and in this way got ready for Shacharit. Later, the women would come out and their faces looked as if swollen from the night sleep. They would go down, holding kettles, to the basement of Gołda Lea to buy some hot water for the breakfast tea. Then a variety of voices and noises was heard from each place, until twilight. Then the pupils of the chadarim used to fight among themselves, and it usually ended with some broken window glasses.
And so life passed, day after day, year after year, at Altman’s courtyard in Płock.
According to data from 1931, at 10 Szeroka Street 119 people lived in a total of 32 apartments: Gołda Łaja Lemberger, Icek Mojsze Zelwer, Rywka Ruchla Knorpel, Franciszek Sieradzki, Henryk Olszewski, Abram Icek Florek, Czeslaw Myśliwski, Józef Stańczak, Feliksa Multan, Stanisława Cywińska, Józefa Czerniak, Józefa Dylewska, Stefan Bińkowski, Jan Smoliński, Wilhelmina Borowska, Jan Czajkowski, Marcin Figlewski, Gerszon Zielonka, Szlama Szczerba, Jochewet Florek, Ryfka Dwojra Lerman, Hersz Aron Borensztejn, Mojsze Aron Rozenberg, Stanisław Sieradzki, Elja Rozentrejter, Jochewet Łaja Bielmo, Szlama Wyszogród, Jakób Zawadzki, Tauba Gołda Brym, Mojsze Gotlieb, Ewa Bieniewicz, Czesław Jakubowski, Tauba Sochaczewska, Mordka Jochim Lipsztejn, Marjan Kafliński, Izrael Zajde, Janina Wojtowicz, Józef Figlewski and Romuald Jankowski, together with their families.
Before the war, at 10 Kwiatka Street there was a haberdashery store of Icek Zelwer and a grocery store of Gołda Lemberger.
Nowak-Dąbrowska G., Okno na Kwiatka. Ulica Józefa Kwiatka w Płocku od początku XIX wieku do 1939 roku – ludzie i zabudowa, Płock 2019
Plotzk (Płock). A History of an Ancient Jewish Community in Poland, edited by E. Eisenberg, Tel Aviv, 1967
Translation of Natan Lerman’s text from Hebrew to English: Pnina Stern
This Monday, 27 January 2020, marks the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Answering the annual appeal of the Shalom Foundation, let us join the “Light of Remembrance” action that day. Let’s light candles in our windows in Płock at 6 p.m. as a sign of commemoration […]
The tenement house at 26 Sienkiewicza Street in Płock, in which the Private Upper Secondary Art School is currently located, belonged to the Altberg family before the war. Here, on March 15, 1938, Paulina Altberg, née Golde, daughter of Benjamin and Liba Rechla née Goldsztejn, who […]
In 1857, Chaim Rafał Kempner (1817-1870) opened a large bookshop in Płock, where a reading room and a library also operated. The bookstore, which was located at Grodzka Street, recommended all the book novelties, in all branches of science, as well as romance, novels of the best contemporary writers, school and elementary books and those for religious services of various editions and authors, in various bindings or without them; sermon books and dictionaries in all languages; books for children in various languages, which can be used to learn and play with pictures; atlases, maps, handwriting and drawing patterns, and various women’s embroidery; musical scores and sheet music, as well as all stationery and lined notebooks. The bookshop accepted prepayments for all works in the country by subscriptions, for buyers in larger lots, the bookshop offered a certain discount. The shop also had in stock the busts of famous people available at affordable prices.
After the death of Chaim Rafał, his wife Estera Fajga née Erlich (1817-1881), daughter of Mosze and Lipka, who came from Lublin, obtained the license to run the bookstore. Estera Fajga Kempner was also the owner of a pharmacy store, traded tobacco products, and had a lottery ticket office. Her store of sheet music and writing materials offered to clients, among others, religious, musical, economic books, office paper, drawing paper, letter cards, greeting cards, quill and steel pens, Siberian drawing pencils, Chinese ink, French Chenal paints, Parisian designs for pencil and oil drawings, visiting tickets, journal souvenir, photo albums and frames. From 1870, Estera Fajga Kempner was the owner of the property at 16 Grodzka Street (mortgage no. 44), which she purchased from Teodora and Jan Gerber for the sum of 3000 rubles. Thanks to a loan from the Town Fund in 1871, she erected a tenement house in the neo-Renaissance style. In 1881, her son Ludwik (Lejbusz) Kempner (1849-1908) took over the bookshop. Lejbusz was married to Tauba nee Kahan (Kon), born in 1850 in Płock, with whom he had four children: Brana Liba (who married Icek Feinberg), Chaim Rafał, Nachman and Cecylia. In 1883, Ludwik Kempner built a tenement house at 14 Grodzka Street, where he moved the bookshop that existed here until 1914. After the death of Estera Fajga Kempner, the property was owned by her sons – Ludwik and Mosiek Hersz (1832-1904). In 1883, after buying a part from his brother, Mosiek became the sole owner. After his death, the property was taken over by his daughters: Salomea, Felicja, Chana Lipka, Cypra Gołda and Etka. In 1906, Etka aka Justyna Majde bought a share in the property.
In the interwar period, at 14 Grodzka Street, there was a cloth shop of Icek Kowadło, a tailor’s workshop of M. Gutkind and a dental office of Natalia Gutkind. At 16 Grodzka Street, there was the hat studio of N. Szenwic. The last pre-war owners of the property at 14 Grodzka Street were Ludwika Feinberg and Celina Daszyńska, of the one at 16 Grodzka Street – Justyna Majde.
Lejzor Brygart was born on March 13, 1893, he was the son of Szlama (1842-1911) and Iska nee Fibus (1855-1918). Szlama Brygart was a butcher by profession. Lejzor had a younger brother – Dawid (born in 1894). In 1913, Lejzor Brygart married Dwojra Ides Bomzon (born in 1889; daughter of Izrael Abram and Enta nee Szrajber). They had four children: daughters Ruchla (Rushka; 1916-Holocaust), Iska (Irka; 1919-Holocaust) and Chanka (1927-Holocaust) and son Szmyl Szlojma (Sam; 1920-2015 in the USA).
In 1919, Lejzor and Dwojra Ides bought a property at 20 Kwiatka Street in Płock and were its owners until the outbreak of war. At 20 Kwiatka Street in the interwar period there was a shop with kitchen utensils of Hersz Szejnwald, a watchmaker’s shop of Moszek Klajnfeld, a cloth shop of Lejb German, and a leather store of Arje Kossobudzki. Dawid Kryszek traded in crops at this address, and Lajzer Gabes offered glass-making services. According to data from 1931, 141 people lived there, including Basia Brombergier, Icek Lejb German, Dawid Makower, Abram Wajnsztok, Icek Majer Ejlenberg, Dawid Pencherek, Abram Majlech Bresler, Dawid Kryszek, Ryfka Ogórka, Hersz Gabes, Abram Rozenberg, Abram Chaim Albert, Szyja Dziedzic, Moszek Abram Einfeld, Abram Moszek.
Lejzor and Dwojra Ides Brygart were also the owners of a colonial goods store and a bakery in Płock. One could buy candies there, holiday gingerbread, and chulent on Saturdays. Their business was located at Kwiatka 28.
Only Sam Brygart survived World War II and the Holocaust. After returning to Płock, he found employment in a confectionery and bakery cooperative. He married Frymeta Menche (1922-2016), the daughter of the merchant Chaim and Sura née Gutman from Gąbin. Sam and Frymeta emigrated to the USA.
A good story is how my parents came to the United States, Boston to be exact.
Dwojra Ides Bomzon, had a half sister Chena Chaja (born in 1877), daughter of Enta Szrajber from her first marriage with Abram Frydman, who came from the town of Stężyca. In the late 1800s, Chana Chaja Frydman married Icek Chaim Keller. Chana (we know of her as Helen) died in 1911. She and her husband had 3 children, the oldest being Herman Joseph Keller (followed by Eugenia/Gertrude, and Matthew). Icek Chaim Keller (we know of him as Harry) remarried Ester Rotman. There were 2 children born of this marriage in Płock (daughters Teresa and Mildred) . The Keller/Rotman family emigrated to Boston in 1912 and 1913. A 3rd child was born in the United States (a son, Paul).
Herman Keller visited Płock in 1935. He ordered a headstone for his mother Chana Chaja Frydman Keller, and for his stepmother’s mother. He of course visited the family and his grandmother Jenta/Enta Szrajber Frydman Bomzon, who had him promise to come back with his oldest son, Norton Keller. Herman and Norton came to Płock in 1937 to dedicate the headstones, to visit with family and continue to the 1937 Paris World’s Fair and family in England. A film was made during this trip. Herman was a wealthy man and he had a movie camera. My father was 17 at the time of this visit and my father learned Herman’s address. In the film we can see my father interacting with Herman.
When the war ended, an American soldier wrote a letter to Herman on behalf of my father. Herman and his wife Sonia sponsored my parents, who were displaced persons, and Sam and Frymeta emigrated in 1949 from Kaufbueren. And voila, I was born in Boston August 26, 1951.
Herman sent my father to a school to learn to be a baker, figuring that my father knew something about it as Lejzor was a sugar baker. My father then worked as a baker in Boston and my mother worked in a sewing factory, snipping threads.
In 1952 my parents moved to Chicago, where my mother had cousins, Morris and Esther Borenstein. First my father had a bakery (Albany Bakery) with a partner, another refugee from Płock by the name of Lisser, and his wife Fela. My sister Leslie was born June 19,1952. Eventually the partners sold the store and my father purchased Fireside Bakery.This was about 1-1/2 blocks from the Borensteins and we moved to that neighborhood. Winters in Chicago are very difficult (it is called the Windy City for good reason) and my mother especially found the weather very difficult. My father sold the store and January 30, 1964 we left Chicago (in a blizzard) and headed west to California.
We stayed at the home of my father’s best childhood friend, Moniek Zielonka (Michael Zelon) and his wife Cesia (Charlotte) for about 2 weeks and found an apartment of our own. My father worked as a baker for a short time. Then he and another Polish (not from Płock, I don’t think so) refugee, Manfred (Fred) Saltzman, bought a liquor market in El Porto, California (now part of Manhattan Beach, California). In the early 1970s, Fred retired and that store was sold. My father bought another liquor market that was already called Sam’s Liquor, in Lakewood, California, so he didn’t have to buy a new sign. Unfortunately, my father was a “victim of a violent crime” in the late 1970s because of that store and he lost vision in his left eye.
My father sold Sam’s Liquor in 1985, when he was 65. He immediately began walking at the beach every day, going to the gym, taking care of the house since my mother was still working and being an involved grandfather to my son Evan David McMurry (from my 1st marriage, June 27, 1982) and my sister’s children as they came along (Zachary Brygart Ellison, July 29, 1986 and twins Travis Buchner Ellison and Rebecca Rose Ellison, born February 13, 1988). We called father’s car “Papa’s Taxi”.
He and my mother, who had retired in 1988 or 1989, lived a quiet, peaceful life. Sadly my mother began developing dementia (as did her sister) in her mid-80s. At least that is when we began to notice it. And my father developed hairy-cell leukemia in his early 90s, which later progressed to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was his choice not to treat it and June 15, 2015 he went into hospice care, at home. The last few days were horrific as he spiraled into post-traumatic stress syndrome and was reliving the war. We had to keep him sedated to keep him safe. Sam died around 8:30 am August 5, 2015. He was intent on living until he was 95, and he did, plus 1 month and 1 day. Frymeta never could remember that he had died (after 72 years of marriage). She lived 6 months and 10 days longer, until around 6 am February 15, 2016.
Sandra Brygart Rodriguez
Estera Golde-Stróżecka – freethinker, activist for women’s rights, journalist, political and cultural-educational activist, doctor, was born on August 1, 1872 in Płock, as the daughter of Beniamin and Liba Ruchla nee Goldsztejn. Her father was a well-known merchant, industrialist and philanthrope. After graduating from the […]