Chapter 7

Part III – The Next 100 Years


ornamented This is what happened to the Torah Scroll, to Rabbi Shlomo and his son, Rabbi Shmuel and to Pinchas after they left Amschelberg in the year 1845. They returned to their village in Eastern Poland, stopping for a day in Prague to pick up Rifka’s new dress and many other goods that they promised to bring home with them.

Right after the High Holidays, just on schedule, during the eight-day Succoth Festival, Rifka gave birth to a beautiful 8 pound baby boy. They named him Simcha because his bris was just after the holiday Simchas Torah. When Simcha was three years old, he began to write letters on a slate, just like Shmuel had. Everyone in the town was sure that he would become a scribe like his father and grandfather and they were right. Rabbi Shmuel continued to write Torah Scrolls and his work became better and more refined as he got older and more skilled. Every three or four years he took a trip to Amschelberg to check on his first Torah and to make sure that it remained in perfect condition. After about 10 years the Congregation in Amschelberg had grown and they needed a second scroll which Rabbi Shmuel made for them.

Rabbi Shmuel’s father, Reb Shlomo, lived for another 24 years and died peacefully in his sleep in the year 1869 when he was 92 years old. Even though his eyes became a little weak after he turned 85, his hand remained steady his entire life and he continued to write Torah Scrolls until he was 90.

Altogether, Rabbi Shmuel and Rifka had six children. They lived in their village for their entire lives. Shmuel died at the age of 84 in the year 1907 and Rifka passed away two years later. Their daughter Leah married a wonderful and handsome young Rabbi named Aaron from Lublin in 1862. Leah was 19 at the time. She and her husband had seven children and 21 grandchildren. Three of their grandchildren moved from Poland to New York City in the early years of the 20th Century. Every week they sent letters to their parents and also to their beloved Grandma Rifka and Grandpa Shmuel. Two of their great grandsons became scribes and wrote Sefer Torahs for new congregations in America.

Pinchas, Rifka’s younger brother, continued to make a modest living, milking his two cows and delivering milk and cheese and butter to the people in the village. But Pinchas had a yearning to travel. He dreamed one day of going to Eretz Israel and becoming a farmer. He dreamed of growing grapes and tending a whole herd of dairy cows. He saved his money and in the year 1852, when he was 23 years old, he married a beautiful young woman named Hadassah. Right after the wedding, the young couple boarded a train from Warsaw and booked passage on a ship that took them to Haifa in Palestine. They settled in Tiberias and had five children and fourteen grandchildren and thirty-five great grandchildren. Their descendants live in the land of Israel to this very day.

Torah curtain, Prague 1601And what about the Torah? Ahhhh, the Torah. The Amschelberg Torah served its community very well for many years. It was brought out of its Holy Ark week after week and read on weekdays, the Sabbath and holidays. It was loved by the entire community and kept in good repair. Every three years, Rabbi Shmuel made a visit to Amschelberg to inspect the Scroll to be sure that all of the letters were still perfect and that none of the ink had rubbed off, and to see if all of the stitching of the individual sections of the parchments was still strong. When Shmuel’s son, little Simcha, got to be big enough, he went along with his father to Amschelberg to check on the Torah. When he turned sixteen, Simcha was permitted to take the trip to Amschelberg by himself and he stayed for a week to repair and replace several sections that with time had become worn. The town of Amschelberg which was the German name for the town was now called by its Czech name of Kosova Hora.

The people of Kosova Hora lived more or less peacefully for nearly 100 years. Children grew up, raised families and then passed on. Some moved away to the big cities and others stayed in the area. There were greater opportunities for Jews to attend secular schools and many young people went to the universities and entered the professions. Some remained steeped in the Orthodox religious traditions and customs of their ancestors, others became assimilated into the secular social, economic and political lives of the country. For some years the Jewish population of the town increased and then after a while people moved on to other settlements or big cities, to Prague or to the New World in America. In 1939 the Jews who were living in Kosova Hora and the surrounding region were rounded up by the Nazi soldiers and were sent to Terezin, a concentration camp north of Prague. A few survived in Terezin for the war years, but most who were sent there were transported to Nazi death camps where most of them perished.


Chapter 8