Yesterday I brought Ezriel Kornmehl, the first subject of this challenge, back to Poland from medical school in Vienna and pondered his war service. I alluded to the fact that he would have met a distressing death had he not fled Jaslo.
Today I start filling in the story of Jaslo, including the question of what brought Ezriel there in the first place, when most of the Kornmehl family, including his father, were from Tarnow.
Oddly — but in a good way — there’s a great deal more information about Jaslo and its Jewish population available on the internet than there is about Jaslo alone. The History of the Jews of Jaslo, published by the Jaslo Society in Tel Aviv in 1953, gives biographies of all Jaslo’s Jews. “Jaslo: The Birth and Death of a Jewish Community in Poland from Its Beginnings to the Holocaust,” by Dr. Jakub Herzig, is a shorter personal memoir but fills in other details of the town’s history and politics.
This second introduces the town as follows:
On Polish soil which was a part of Austrian Galicia, there were two towns in which Jews were not allowed to live: Zywiec (German: Saybusch) and Jaslo. A large number of Jews lived in the surrounding villages: Kolaczyce, Brzostek, Biecz, Zmigrod, Frysztak, and Jedlicze. With the adoption of Austria’s new constitution in 1867, guaranteeing equality to all citizens under the law and permitting freedom of movement as well as domicile, Jews began to move to Jaslo.
It goes on to discuss the town’s most important citizens:
The first Jewish landowner in the county of Jaslo (or one of the first ones) was Isaac Judah Rubel. His estates were located in Sobniow and Laski, but he lived primarily in Sobniow which bordered Jaslo. Isaac Judah Rubel was a pious and devoted Jew who very generously supported all Jewish institutions and provided the building which housed the community’s Talmud Torah. He was also very active in all aspects of Jewish life in Jaslo. On the Sobniow estate, in addition to the large farming area, he had a distillery and brick factory. He employed Jews in all management positions.
Isaac Judah Rubel had four sons and three daughters. His sons-in-law were intelligent and well versed in Hebrew; they were Jewish nationalists and model Polish citizens. As landowners, they were known for their upstanding characters. People used to say that Isaac Judah Rubel’s sons-in-law were three pearls. By a strange coincidence, each of them died of typhoid at the age of 51.
It is the third son-in-law who is relevant to this story:
The third daughter Anna was married to Marcus Karpf. He was the only one of Isaac Judah Rubel’s sons-in-law who lived permanently in Jaslo. He had wide intellectual horizons and was considered one of Jaslo’s most respected citizens. Marcus fell ill for two weeks following a trip to eastern Poland. He passed away in April 1925 in my arms while a physician attempted to give him an injection. His funeral was one of the largest funerals in Jaslo and was attended by thousands of Jews and Catholics. In the midst of a criminal court case, the head of the Court of Appeals requested that the lawyers limit their arguments because he did not want to be late for the funeral.
The same man, under the name Mordechai Karp, is described in the History of the Jews of Jaslo even more effusively:
He was the son in law of the famous benefactor Yehuda Rubel and the bright star that dazzled for many years in the city. As a youngster in Ulanow near Rudnik, he dressed according to the Hassidic manner. He wore a kolpack on Saturdays and holidays. He was a student at the study center and dedicated himself to Talmudic studies. He was also a very sensitive person and gave extensive charity, sometimes beyond his means.
It is said of him that he had large debts due to donations to various charitable institutions and could not settle the accounts. He threatened his father that he will not marry unless all his debts are settled. Of course, his father settled the debts and his son married.
He was very sharp and enlightened person, his ideas were accepted by the public, Jewish and non-Jewish. He was a municipal councilor and a member of the community board for many years. He was one of the finest personalities in the city.
He raised an orphan at his home who later left for Palestine where he settled in one of the kibbutzim He was one of the wealthiest people in the city and lived in a big house on Kazimierz Street. He was a timber and egg merchant who also exported to distant countries. He was also a partner in the spirit distillery in Suwionow.
The signs of spring were in the air, the sun was shining and suddenly darkness struck on Passover of 1926. He passed away instantly at the seder night of Passover. The news shocked the entire Jewish community. He was buried the next day and the Jewish population participated en masse at the funeral that also included municipal officials. Members of the police force carried the coffin to the cemetery. He left a wife and four sons and two daughters. All finished academic studies and received diplomas. They were all active in the Zionist youth movements and were the founders and leaders of the “Hashomer” movement.
The eldest of the two daughters of Marcus Karpf/Mordechai Karp married Ezriel Kornmehl. Which would explain why, when most of his family was in Tarnow, Ezriel moved to Jaslo.
Update: Marcus/Mordechai must also have been known as Moti. Here are the listings of the Kornmehls and Karps in the History of the Jews of Jaslo directory:
KARP Mordechai municipal council member
KARP Lonek son of Mordechai Karp
KARP Moshe son of Mordechai Karp
KARP Moti married daughter of Itzhak Yehuda Rubel [so this must be another name for Mordecai/Marcus]
KARP Yehiel son of Mordechai Karp
KARP Yossef son of Mordechai Karp
KORNMEHL E. medical doctor. married daughter of Mordechai Karp
Lydia Davis says
Another fascinating post full of revelations. The variations on the names alone are so interesting–Markus, Mordechai, Moti… I suppose one person would often have a Hebrew name, a German name, a nickname–just for starters. When I reached the point in your story where Markus died in the arms of the memoirist while a physician tried to give him an injection, I wondered–was that physician maybe Markus’s son-in-law Ezriel Kornmehl? After all, that would be natural, and by then Ezriel was a mature 34-year-old, an experienced doctor.
Edie Jarolim says
What a fantastic thought — why wouldn’t the physician be Markus’s son-in-law? It would be an insult to use another doctor, I would think. And it would explain why the scene seems so intimate. Should the memoirist have noted the fact that he was attended by family? I don’t know. But I like it!
Lydia Davis says
While I was thinking about the possibility that the “physician” might have been Ezriel, I noticed that the memoirist was called “Dr.” Jakub Herzig. I wondered if he was another physician, as well as a friend of the dying man. I thought, hmmm, one physician holding him, another attending him. But then found the memoirist’s name in a list on a Jaslo site describing him as “lawyer” and I realized that “Dr.” does not necessarily mean medical doctor, but can mean doctor of law, etc.–very tricky trap for the unwary researcher!
Edie Jarolim says
It’s bad enough there are so many alternate names and spellings in genealogy — when you get into titles too it really becomes complicated.