Zareby Koscliene

Reb Shimshon (the teacher) & the Midwife by Mendel Kristol

There were outstanding people who lived in our home town of Zaromb. One of the most outstanding persons, as well as our neighbor, was Reb Shimshon the revered teacher of our cheder. His wife, Reba was a midwife. She was my mother's best friend. They both had a strong influence upon my growth and future developement.

Reb Shimshon's personality and his fine character earned him deserved love and respect from all the Zaromber. His high forehead with the deep hairline reflected a world of wisdom. His deep black eyes with their quizzical expression radiated like that of our ancient prophets. His style of speech was so soft and pleasant that it soothed and calmed each person who sought his counsel.

Reb Shimshon was not only a learned Jew steeped in the Torah and its teaching, but he
was unique in worldly leaning and wisdom as well. He was one of the few in town who received two newspapers daily: one in Hebrew and the other in Russian. When anyone wanted worldly news they came to none other than Reb Shimshon. Young people with different political and religious leanings used to come to him for an exchange of ideas. They were elevated by this spiritual experience.

He was involved with many issues that related to the town of Zammb. When a synagogue was to be built, the architect was none other than Reb Shimshon. He drew the plans for the building and then instructed the workmen in the construction of the synagoge. For his total involvement in the project he and his wife Reba were rewarded with a seat on the eastern wall, which, not wanting to take advantage, neither utilized.

He did a great deal to assist the young Rabbis who needed to round out their education to fulfill certain requirements demanded by the Tsarist government. He tutored them and helped them prepare for examinations that would then make them eligible to apply for jobs in certain cities.

Shimshon helped many people in other ways. He signed the papers of guarantee for their loans. When he signed as guarantor they felt particularly secure.

Attacks on Jews at that time were virulent and frequent, and Reb Shimshon was the official correspondent. He knew how and to whom and where to write. When government officials came to town, or some other important person, in order to carry out certain edicts, Reb Shimshon was not only headed the negotiating delegation but was also the spokesperson for the town.

He raised his children in the same spirit and manner in which he conducted his life. The wonderful and legendary stories he told his children resound in my being to this very day. Stories with the highest level of decency. These stories were bound with ethical morals of respect and decency towards 0 people of all walks of life. He loved the worker and always behaved towards him with great respect. He would say to his wife Reba, "When the tailor or shoemaker deliver his work to us for the holidays, never bargain with him and pay him right away, because his blood and sweat are in his work."

Reb Shimshon was a highly principled, religious individual. His personal family life was deeply affected when his children reached the rebelious stage in their development and sought a different life style. His children were more interested in a secular and worldly education. Two of them did break away from their father's religious way of life. His young daughter left for Warsaw without his blessing to apprentice as a seamstress. She was drawn to the big city and what it had to offer as opposed to the town of Zaromb. One of his sons who was studying in the Gerer Yeshiva and promised to become an outstanding scholar, suddenly broke away to seek another way of life, very different from Reb Shimshon's spirit. This was a bitter pill for his middle age and a difficult adjustment for him to make. He remained in Zaromb with his two eldest who continued in his footsteps. It was some compensation but nevertheless not what he had hoped for.

Another side of Reb Shimshon was his devoted interest in community work. This was not an idle pastime. He would often say "How can one live just for himself. " Among the numerous community services he had organized were a loan company that did not charge interest, a nursing home for the ill, and an orthodox organization that devoted itself to all facets of social and spiritual efforts. A ritual he performed on Fridays at 12 noon was to seek out the laborers and remind them they had to prepare for the Sabbath.

Reb Shimshon served his duty in the Russian army for five years. He served his duty as a writer. It was difficult to folow the laws of Kshrat while in the army. He would not eat non- kosher food and he prevailed upon the other Jewish soldiers to refrain form eating the non-Kosher food. When the commander became aware of this he said, "As long as you can hold your rifle with one hand you will not have to cat from the kettle." Shimshon accepted this condition and showed off with various tricks with his rifle. For this accomplishment and for his courage he was given a concession to sell cigarettes. He in turn used this money to provide kosher food for himself and for the other Jewish soldiers.

Unfortunately a difficult and prolonged illness cut his life short. We were saddened at the loss of our most beloved, revered and esteemed Reb Shimshon.

The family of Reb Shimshon's wife, Reba, was similar in character and background. REba's father, Hershl Vicher, was a charitable man, also well respected for his honesty and depth of character. He was a miller by trade. In his old age he suffered a severe financial misfortune and then worked as the bath house attendant in the town of Zaromb.

His wife Reba was, like her husband, beloved and respected in Zaromb and the entire area. She was the daughter of a wealthy miller, Hershl Vicher. He was a good person and a charitable man well respected for his honesty and depth of character. Late in life he suffered a severe financial reversal and then worked as the bathhouse attendant for the town. He was still respected in memory of his honesty and fine character.

His daughter, Reba, aside from her role as wife and mother, devoted herself to healing and tending the sick. She was able to -perform the duties that befitted that of a trained nurse. She ministered to the needs of the sick and helped ease their pain. Reba worked for the doctor in Zaromb. He thought so highly of her work and ability that he trained her as a midwife. Upon the doctor's suggestion, Reba went to Warsaw where she worked at the hospital while taking courses in midwifery. Three years later she returned to Zaromb with her graduate certificate as a midwife.”

Reba was well loved in the town by both Jews and non-Jews alike. They considered her presence as the Midwife a good luck omen because all the babies she delivered were healthy. The Christians were so pleased with her work that they showered her with many special gifts of food. She would never accept money from Jewish who were poor. On the contrary, she would bring them chicken, some soup, apple sauce and other foods of sustenance. Reba was a compassionate and caring and giving person.

Reba had a daughter, Sheva, who was my friend. She was short and very clever.