Keeping faith during the “years of madness.” Listen to the podcast about Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro, the tzaddik of the Warsaw ghetto

Written by: Przemysław Batorski
We invite you to listen to the second part of the Oneg Szabat Podcast! The episode “The Life of Kalman Kalonimus Szapiro,” dedicated to the tzadik from the Warsaw ghetto, is now available on your streaming platform.

Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro


Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro was a tzaddik from Piaseczno near Warsaw. The outstanding speaker and teacher gave the other ghetto prisoners strength by preaching during the “years of madness” – as he called it – 1939-1942. Shapira’s war writings have been preserved in the Ringelblum Archive.

Shapiro’s home in the Warsaw ghetto became a meeting place – Jewish holidays were celebrated there in the Hasidic fashion, refugees were admitted, and the tzadik himself gave weekly comments to the Torah.

Shapiro was not only a respected rabbi, but also an important member of the Jewish community. Marta Dudzik-Rudkowska, who prepared the volume of Shapiro’s writings in the full edition of the Ringelblum Archive, tells about his innovative approach to pedagogy:

He also changes the portrait of the typical teacher, because he keeps saying that the teacher must use his students’ own language and he has to treat them as equals. He encourages the teachers to use humor in their teachings and he wants them to teach the students to use imagination: to visualize certain elements and through those visual elements you can introduce particular ideas into the world of the young people.

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One of the pages of the manuscript of “Sabbath sermons”
by Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro. Ringelblum Archive


What was the life of Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro, the tzadik from the Warsaw ghetto?


Sources used in this episode:
Archiwum Ringelbluma, Pisma rabina Kalonimusa Kalmana Szapiry, vol. 25, ed. Marta Dudzik-Rudkowska, JHI, Warsaw 2017

Yaakov Klein’s “Niggun Ash Kodesh – A Tribute to the Piaseczno Rebbe and his Kingdom of Children” can be viewed here: If you would like to learn more about Yaakov and his organization Lost Princess Initiative follow the link:

Professor Daniel Reiser’s analysis of Rabbi Shapiro’s Nov 4, 1939, sermon on Parashat Chayey Sarah is to be published in the article “Sarah Our Rebbe: R. Shapiro’s Feminine Spiritual Leadership in The Warsaw Ghetto” in the academic journal Nashim. A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies & Gender Issues.



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Przemysław Batorski   JHI Web Editor