Hasidic Jews from Grodzisk

"A Hasidic wedding in Grodzisk. At a tsaddic’s manor in Grodzisk, at the wedding of a rebbe’s daughter. Thousands of tsaddics are waiting outside".

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„A Hasidic wedding in Grodzisk. At a tsaddic’s manor in Grodzisk, at the wedding of a rebbe’s daughter. Thousands of tsaddics are waiting outside. Famous madman Brudasz is imparting his wisdom to the gathered.

18th October, 1925”. 

Only a few photographs of the shtetl in Grodzisk survived. However, none of them depict so many residents. Kipnis wrote that countless thousands had gathered on the square. He finds it, however, hard to believe.

We do not know much about the Hasidic Jews from Grodzisk. Today, we are certain only of the fact that in the 19th century operated there tsaddic Elimelech Szapiro of enviable genealogy. He was a descendant of Magid from Kozienice and Widzący from Lublin. He himself also gained recognition and fame. When the photograph was being taken, Szapiro was already a figure from distant past. In 1925 somebody else was leading the Hasidic Jews from Grodzisk, probably someone not bearing the fame of a miracle-worker. We do not know his name or what he looked like — it is in vain to look for him in the photo. The Hasidic Jews had gathered in front of the manor of the tsaddic. But is this brick, plastered building the manor? Or maybe the neighbouring wooden buildings? Finally, it is possible that while Kipnis was taking the photo, he was standing with his back to the manor. One way or another, we can estimate the location where the photograph was taken. It is today’s 11 listopada street, which at the time served as a town square. In the area stood a wooden synagogue, torn down during the war.

The Hasidic Jews gathered on the day of the rebbe’s daughter’s wedding. We do not know who the bridegroom was. Certainly, the couple was known in the town. The wedding must have aroused genuine interest. Crowds of onlookers came to the manor to see everything themselves and to personally attend this uncommon event. They are standing not only in the square, but also at the windows and on the roofs. Let’s have a closer look at the gathered: children, lads, women and men. They are excited. They are waiting impatiently for the signal from the photographer. Some of them, amused and curious, are casually looking around. The others are looking into the camera, trying to stand better. Distinguishable from this crowd is a dandy, with evenly trimmed moustache, looking at the photographer. He looks as if he had come here by accident.

The Hasidic Jews standing closest to the camera form a semi-circle. In the middle — a meshugenah — a local madman. He is standing like a prophet. According to Kipnis’ inscription he is imparting his wisdom. Maybe he is talking about the marriage, wedding, bride and groom? Or maybe he is talking nonsense? Daily, he remains on the periphery of the world of the „serious” residents of the shtetl. Right now, he is in the centre of it and he is playing the main part. Perhaps, it is only an innocent game, or maybe something else?

Many other questions come to mind. Did Kipnis talk to the gathered? Did he captured any other moments? Did he send a print to someone who he had photographed? Or maybe he sent the photograph only to the editorial office of „Forwerts”?

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