Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Company

I started a new company where I share different deals that are going on, and also a bit of an introductory into the credit card world. Come check it out @

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Ryspan Family

To the left is a family picture of the Ryshpan family At Uncle Suchie`s Shloshim the other night, I took a picture of this picture, which is why there is a glare. 

On the top right is Uncle Chaim Getzel Ryshpan`s first wife(the second wife was Tanta Deesha), to her right is Uncle Chaim getzel, then is Tanta Toba chaya Lauer then her husband Uncle Yisroel Yitachok Lauer. Those 2 couples were both engaged at the time. Bottom row left is Tanta Chana Golda Diskind, her husband is not in the picture, then is Zaidy Tovia, and his wife Sura Rivkah, then bubshe. 
Intrsetingly Uncle Chaim Getzel did not have kids, after he died his sister lauer named their son after him. This son died as a bochur at 28 years old, he is buried right behind Zaidy Naftli Hirsch in Elmont.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Interview with Rabbi Hersh Diskind

While Searching for something this morning I came across this interview in the "Where What and When" which is a local Baltimore publication, about Reb Hersh Diskend Who is Zaidy`s first cousin.

Rabbi Hirsch Diskind and the Early Days of BaisYaakov
by Eli W. Schlossberg

My enduring drive to acquaint the young generation of Baltimoreans with the history of Baltimore’s Orthodox community led me to delve into the beginnings of today’s major educational institutions. One man who figures prominently in the Talmudical Academy in the late 1940s, and later played a seminal role in Bais Yaakov School for Girls, for decades, is Rabbi Hirsch Diskind. The Diskinds recently traveled from Eretz Yisrael to Baltimore for a simcha, and I had the special zechus to spend three wonderful hours with Rabbi Diskind, in my home, reminiscing about his early life and his days in Baltimore chinuch.
Rabbi Diskind grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Before the First World War, the Diskind family lived in Williamsburg. However, Williamsburg had very few frum families, unlike today. When the eldest child reached school age, the family moved to Brownsville, a half-hour street car ride from Williamsburg. Brownsville was then a strong frum area and had a yeshiva ketana (elementary yeshiva) of Yeshivas Rabbi Chaim Berlin. Rabbi Hirsch Diskind attended that yeshiva ketana until grade eight. Most talmidim would then go learn in either Yeshivah Torah Vodaath, in Williamsburg, or at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), in Washington Heights. But in Elul 1936, Chaim Berlin founded its Mesivta High School in Brownsville with just five boys, and after Succos, there were already 15 to 20 students. Rabbi Hirsch Diskind was a talmid of that pioneering class. He received his smicha from Chaim Berlin in 1944.
The Talmudical Academy Years
Until 1945, the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore only went to the eighth grade. In that year, TA opened a high school, and Rabbi Hyman Samson, the rosh yeshiva, contacted Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner at Chaim Berlin and asked him to send a talented and promising teacher, who would be a rebbe for the eighth grade and, most importantly, a very responsible person to serve as mashgiach of the dorm. Rabbi Hutner was impressed with many Baltimore boys who came to study at Chaim Berlin, finding them to be refined and promising talmidim. He recommended one of his best students, Rabbi Hirsch Diskind.
Rabbi Samson offered Rabbi Diskind the position, and he started by supervising 20 students living in the dormitory, situated above the auditorium at the TA’s Cottage Avenue location. Some of the early dorm residents included Aaron Feldman, Leonard Leib Heyman, Gil Shoham, Harry Hoberman, and from Washington DC, Ezra Novak, and Jason Green. Other classmates living in Baltimore were Harry Rashbaum, Joshua Hertzberg, Norman Nachman Klein, and Shmuel David Siegel. They were the first graduating class was the class of 1947. (In future articles, I will tell stories of the talmidim of that class.)
Rabbi Diskind remembers how baseball dominated the students’ extracurricular activities. The boys were huge fans, following baseball heroes closely, and also loved to play the sport. The most athletic of his dorm boys was Leib Heyman, who would one day become a talmid muvhok of Rav Aron Kotler and, eventually, the Rav of the Gra shul in Bayit Ve’gan. In fact, Rav Aron Kotler was extremely impressed with the talmidim of Rabbi Yaakov Babrovsky, who gave the highest shiur at TA. Many of Rabbi Babrovsky’s talmidim went on to study at Lakewood.
The Car Accident
In 1946, Rabbi Diskind learned to drive a car, and purchased a fire engine-red ‘39 Plymouth. It had windshield wipers in both front and back. It had speakers in both front and back. Two weeks after Pesach, the car had a flat tire on the corner of Violet and Park Heights Avenue. Old TA students who studied at Cottage Avenue will recall the spot: right in front of Kessler’s Deli. Four students fixed the flat tire on a very hot day. To reward those hardworking talmidim, Rabbi Diskind packed his car with the four of them – Zev Hoberman, Ezra Novak, Leib Heyman, and Eitan Green – and they set out, after school, for a country drive way out Park Heights Avenue (probably to exactly where Bais Yaakov is today) for an afternoon excursion. As they returned to school that evening, another flat tire occurred – and now there was no spare! It became very dark, extremely dark, absolutely pitch black. To make things worse, the heater was not working. They were not aware that there was a filling station not far down the road. It was too dangerous to walk, so they decided to stay with the car overnight.
At daybreak, after a chilly night sleeping in the car, they walked and found the filling station, which repaired the tire. Rabbi Diskind’s goal was to get back before davening so as to not alarm the school about the missing bachurim. With the tire fixed, the packed car raced down Park Heights, and right next to the Surburban Country Club, an exhausted Rabbi Diskind hit the side of the road, and the car fell into a ditch and rolled over. Miraculously it landed back on its tires next to a pond at the side of the road. It was truly a nes (miracle) that, except for a few bruises and scratches, all were okay.
Not so the car. It was towed by Klein’s Auto Works, where Mr. Klein, father of their classmate Nachman Klein, was amazed that a living soul could have emerged from that vehicle.
Bruised and bloodied, the group somehow reached TA later that day, where Rabbi Diskind was invited to Rabbi Samson’s office for a debriefing. The following Thursday, each passenger benched gomel. That worked out perfectly, as Zev Hoberman was a kohen, Ezra Novak was a Levi, and Rabbi Diskind was a Yisrael. Leib Heyman and Eitan Green received hagbah and gelilah.
In 1948, Rabbi Hutner introduced Rabbi Diskind to the Kamenetsky mishpacha as the perfect shidduch for their daughter Rivka. In February 1949, Rabbi Diskind married Rivka Kamenetsky. Soon afterwards, his reputation as a wonderful mechanach (educator) spread, and he was offered the position of principal and rebbe of a Cincinnati day school. Mrs. Diskind was also an excellent teacher; before leaving Baltimore in 1949, she substituted for Hebrew teacher Mrs. Blanche Reich, who was on maternity leave from Bais Yaakov.
Rabbi Diskind was at TA from 1945 to 1949 as a rebbe and dorm mashgiach. Years later, Rabbi Boruch Milikowsky came to assume the position of dorm mashgiach.
Bais Yaakov
In 1942 a school for girls was organized and opened in Baltimore. Nathan Adler, businessman and father of Ben Adler, was the first Bais Yaakov president. Nathan Adler was inspired by Rabbi Shimon Schwab, the Rav of Shearith Israel. When I was a child, my dad always told me about Nathan Adler and of his chesed and charitable ways. My father told me that Mr. Adler’s company would give him travel expenses to provide for first class travel. Mr. Adler would go coach class instead and give the difference to tzedaka.
Later, Henry P. Cohn became president of Bais Yaakov. H.P. Cohn, to quote Rabbi Diskind, was a “pillar of honesty and consistency and a true yirei Shamayim.” The vice-president of the school was M. Leo Storch, a promising young attorney and businessman. Rabbi Schwab was head of the vaad hachinuch. Ignatz Davidavitch an owner of European Kosher meats, was the treasurer. Alvin Cohn, brother of H.P. Cohn, was a very active board member. (Years later, Rabbi Ari Neuberger would be president, followed by Leo Storch’s son-in-law, Shlomo Spetner.) These very choshuv Baltimoreans created a Torah school for the girls who would be the frum mothers of the next generation.
Leo Storch, with his tremendous insight and vision, was responsible for the acquisition, in 1948, of a sprawling Greenspring campus for Bais Yaakov, which included a majestic stone mansion, a formal garden where the graduations took place, a barn, and many rolling green acres; it was located next to Cylburn Gardens on Greenspring Avenue. This important acquisition not only allowed the school to flourish but, years later, provided many of the funds needed to relocate to the Park Heights location.
Rabbi Yitzchak Jacobson was the original principal of Bais Yaakov. Mrs.Carolyn Rosenberg, a religious Catholic, was the general studies English principal. Mrs. Rosenberg was known to be quite strict yet motherly, and she often stood next to the water fountain, making sure the girls were saying their brachos. She was also very careful to see that the young girls were dressed in a tzniusdik manner at all times.
After Rabbi Jacobson retired, the board realized that, for future growth of the school, a Torah scholar and professional educator was needed. The obvious choice was Rabbi Hirsch Diskind, and he was summoned back to Baltimore in 1952. With Rabbi Diskind as dean and principal, and Mrs. Rosenberg as elementary general studies principal, the school flourished.
In 1953, Rabbi Joseph Wolk became executive director. He had been preceded by Rabbi Albert Davis, author of the Mesudah Chumash and Siddur. Rabbi Davis later returned as executive director when Rabbi Wolk joined the faculty. All these figures were very important to the school’s development.
A High School
When Rabbi Diskind arrived at Bais Yaakov, in 1952, the student body had grown to 135 students, from first through ninth grade. Only a third of the students were from shomer Shabbos homes. In the 1940s and 1950s, some of the students would leave after completing the sixth grade, but some would stay through ninth grade. Just before his arrival, a class of four girls – Betty Rose Cohn (later Mandelbaum, the daughter of H.P. Cohn), Bernice Stauber, Miriam Samson, and Shirley Shapiro – had graduated from the ninth grade and gone on to Western High School. Betty Rose later attended Bais Yaakov in Washington Heights under Rabbi Shmuel Schechter, and then Bais Yaakov Williamsburg. She returned to Baltimore and taught the Bais Yaakov kindergarten, together with classmate Bernice Stauber, under the direction of Rabbi Diskind and Mrs. Rosenberg. Betty Rose Mandelbaum told me that “Rabbi Diskind was wonderful to work for.”
Rabbi Diskind remembers the ninth graders of 1949, who included the Stauber twins (later to become Mrs. Barbara Shapiro and Mrs. Rhoda Steinberg), and Rebecca Lichtenstein, a daughter of Reverend and Mrs. Mordechei Lichtenstein (the Baltimore kashrus inspector), as well as Rosalie Taragin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. O.D. Taragin (owner of Lombardy Knitware). These girls also finished their high school education at Western public high school, while continuing with afternoon religious classes at Bais Yaakov.
The 1953, there was a movement to create a high school, but it failed. Some students of that ninth grade graduating class were Shulamis Frankel (who later continued in Rabbi Shmuel Schechter’s newly formed seminary in Washington Heights), and students Raisil Chinn, Ellen Judy Zand (who was from Cincinnati and married Rabbi Shimon Hirsch), Bashy Schenker (who married Rabbi Yitzchak Notice of Telshe Yeshiva), and Clarise Klaitman (who married Rabbi Goldfein, rosh yeshiva in Johannesburg South Africa.
The Fire
On June 14, 1955, in the very early morning, a fire broke out in the mansion where the classrooms were located. It was a real setback for the school. I remember my mom’s reaction to the sad news. My sister Aviva was a student at the school. The elementary school relocated for two years to the Issac Davison school on Keyworth, between Park Heights and Reisterstown Road. The junior high relocated for one year to Petach Tikvah Synagogue on Denmore Avenue, between Belvedere and Garrison Avenue, where Rabbi Axleman was the rabbi and Cantor Lipsicus was the chazan. The junior high moved back to the mansion when the lower level floor was restored. The top floors were never restored. Rather, a new one-story building was constructed for the elementary school in 1957.
It was in 1956 that a high school was finally started, with grades ten through twelve. There was fierce debate at the meeting of board members and balabatim over the financial viability of starting a high school, as the funds did not exist. Rabbi Diskind and Henry Cohn were present, as were Charlie and Mildred Newman (parents of Rita Ruth [Wiseman] and Gary), Jay and Sarah Newman (parents of the rosh yeshiva of Lakewood and Ruth Friedman), and the entire board. The clincher was when the students said tehilim during the meeting. Impressed with the girls’ conviction, the board voted to go ahead with the high school.
Accreditation was granted by the State Board of Education, and Rabbi Mayer Moshe Haber joined the staff as high school principal. Rhoda Reznitsky (now Rochkind), Minna Rosenberg (now Menucha Caplan), Esther Sagel (now Kaufman), Minna Herman, Ruth Leiter, and Miriam Berkowitz (married Rabbi Yisroel Belsky) were students in that pioneering Bais Yaakov class, which graduated in 1959.
In 1960 Rabbi Haber was tragically niftar, and in 1961 Rabbi Diskind brought in a Talmudical Academy rebbe, Rabbi Benjamin Steinberg as high school principal. (He had made Rabbi Steinberg’s shidduch with his former student, Rhoda Stauber.) Rabbi Steinberg was an incredible mechanech, a warm friendly person to all with whom he came into contact, and a treasure to all. Together, Rabbi Diskind and Rabbi Steinberg took the school to even greater heights. With the fine education it offered and its tremendous school spirit, Bais Yaakov became one of the finest Orthodox girls schools in the world.
Rebbitzen Kronglas, who had been a student of the first Bais Yaakov, in Krakow, taught at Bais Yaakov at that time. Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Anemer joined the elementary school staff in the 1950s. He and Rabbi Herbert Davis were both Hebrew teachers at Bais Yaakov. Rabbi Davis later became an important fundraiser for the school. Rabbi Diskind told me that, at one point, with a 42-week salary obligation to teachers and school staff, the school was 19 weeks in arrears. I remember a visit from H.P. Cohn and Leo Storch to our home on Jonquil Avenue. They came to see my father to borrow or collect money to help pay the school salaries.
In the 1960s, Rabbi Reuven Savitz was executive director, and Rabbi Ari Flamm was brought in as an assistant executive director. After Rabbi Savitz retired, Rabbi Flamm assumed the role of executive director. Together with Rabbi Herbert Davis, he played a very important roll in the financial stability of the institution.
In 1987, after 35 wonderful years, during which he made Bais Yaakov one of the finest girls day schools in America, Rabbi Diskind and his wife made aliya to Har Nof in Yerushalayim. He kept in touch from afar by visiting the school often. He continued to educate Bais Yaakov students here in Baltimore through his creative use of videos and other audio-visual media. In addition, he met with his former students when they came to study in Israel, and was in contact with former students around the world.
Bais Yaakov and Me
Over the years, I was privileged to interact with many of the personalities who made Bais Yaakov great.
For many years, I sat behind H.P. Cohn in Shearith Israel. He was a model for shul decorum, and believe me, his backward glance on occasion reminded me how one should act in shul! He was a graphic designer and advertising executive, and I worked with him on many events and functions, when he handled the publicity and graphics.
About M.Leo Storch, what can I say? Everyone wanted to be like M. Leo Storch when he grew up. He was a mentor to every future balabos in Baltimore.
Rabbi Ari Flamm and I were neighbors growing up, and he would occasionally challenge me to a game of stickball back on Jonquil Avenue. He was no Babe Ruth but did become a dynamic and very successful fund raiser for Bais Yaakov.
I served for many years on the Bais Yaakov board, under Rabbi Ari Neuberger.
Rabbi Steinberg had a real roshem (influence) on our mishpacha. He learned as a weekly chavrusa with my brother-in-law Steve Storch for many years. When I was much younger, I had the zechus to walk him home each week after davening at the Pirchei minyan at the Adas, where he davened every Shabbos and inspired the young men who davened there. I cherished those walks to Rockwood Avenue, when I used to have long discussions with him. Purim was very special at the Steinberg Purim seuda tisch, where young Pirchei boys would gather to celebrate the chag. I still sing the Shoshanas Yaakov Rabbi Steinberg taught us.
In the mid-1980s, Rabbi Diskind’s son-in-law, Rabbi Mendel Freedman, was brought in as Bais Yaakov’s elementary school principal. And after the tragic and untimely death of Rabbi Steinberg, Rabbi Yecheskel Zweig, who had served for a short time as assistant principal under Rabbi Steinberg, became the high school principal. I had a kesher to both Rabbi Freedman and Rabbi Zwieg. We all learned together in Ner Yisrael Yeshiva, but even more, I was the junior counselor of Reb Mendel’s bunk in Camp Agudah, and Reb Yecheskel was my junior counselor when I was a counselor at Camp Munk.
Many years later, Rabbi Hexter joined Bais Yaakov as middle school principal. My parents knew the Hexter family well from Washington Heights, and Rabbi Hexter’s brother is my sister’s brother-in-law.
Bais Yaakov has always been dear to our family and has done a great deal to provide a wonderful education and hashpa’a (influence). My sister, Aviva Schlossberg Sondhelm, graduated from Bais Yaakov in 1966, and my daughter Michelle, now Walfish, graduated in 1996. My mother led the Bais Yaakov choir in the late 1950s, 1960s, and into the 1970s. She worked very closely with the principal, Mrs. Rosenberg, whose daughter Gene still keeps in touch with me and exchanges a greeting card with my mom every year. Plus, many of my nieces and, now, great-nieces attended the school.
Bais Yaakov is well known for the many wonderful projects its students undertake. Every couple of years the students do an elaborate Torah educational exhibit that is just incredible. The student body is always involved in tzedaka and chesed projects. Today Bais Yaakov operates out of two large campuses and, baruch Hashem, has a student enrollment of approximately 1,400 students.
Rabbi Diskind’s Formula for Success
What was Rabbi Diskind’s formula for making Bais Yaakov such a major success?
Academically, he set the highest standards for both limudei kodesh and limudei chol (Hebrew and secular studies). He brought in talented and creative administrators and mechanchim (educators) to instruct the students. He instilled school spirit and a Torah ru’ach in his students. He built the school on consistency and respect. Bais Yaakov stood on its principles. The school’s decisions were not always popular, but its agenda was free of politics and totally forthright and honest. This was very much due to the tremendous influence of H.P. Cohn. Rabbi Diskind, too, made sure that this was how the school would always operate. He followed daas Torah, often seeking the advice of his father-in-law, Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky.
Rabbi Diskind attributes much of the early success of Bais Yaakov chinuch to the parents’ respect for authority and discipline. He believes that this respect waned after the Vietnam War experience here in America. The turbulent protests and demonstrations were a threat to respect and authority and affected the culture of the 1960s. Back in his day, the parents left discipline to the mechanchim and did not challenge them as they often do today. The parents of that era respected the policies and integrity of the educational institutions. That respect was transmitted to the students.
My interview with Rabbi Diskind was a most enlightening and delightful experience. Rabbi Diskind is a talmid chacham, a master mechanech, and a very humble person, who has accomplished so much in a life of Torah and yiras Hashem. Every time I speak with him, I am spiritually uplifted. I enjoy his sharp wit and humor and am impressed with his sharp recall of the history of Baltimore’s Talmudical Academy and Bais Yaakov. Rabbi Diskind gave his entire kochos (strength) to educate his many students in a life of Torah, yiras Shamayim, and gemilas chasadim. He and his wife built a beautiful mishpacha. When one speaks with Rabbi Diskind, you hear his joy and simcha as he reflects on his wonderful career. His contribution to our town Baltimore and klal Yisrael is truly remarkable.

Thank You to the Author Eli W. Schlossberg for letting me copy it.

Uncle Suchie`s Shloshim

Uncle Suchie is on the left. My grandfather
Reb Avrahom is in the center. 
Last night we had the Shloshim for Uncle Suchie. Last minute I was asked to video everything. Unfortunately the sound did not come out as clear as I would have liked, but I guess it`s better than nothing. We started with Mincha led by Heshy. Then Shea made the Siyum on Shisha Sidra Mishnah.

Uncle Feivel then spoke. The camera unfortunately turned off in middle which is why the video is in 2 parts, and missing about a minute in the middle.

After Uncle Feivel My father spoke.

After that Heshy was maspid his father.

Below is a video of a fellow Reb Elya Kaminsky, who seems like he knew Uncle Suchie really well, from their yeshiva days in Chaim Berlin, and kept up since.

If anyone has anything else that they think might be of interest to the family you can either post it in the comment section or email me, and I will post it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

1940 Census

To the left is a copy of the official 1940 census which Shows Zaidy on line # 72. There is alot of interesting information over there if you can make it out. Below is a list of some of the things written:
  • Address 1568 St. Marks Ave. in Brooklyn NY.
  • They did not own the house, rather they rented, the amount says 36, I am assuming it means $36.00.
  • There was a 26 year old boarder in the house named Murray something(I can`t make out the last name).
  • It says Zaidshe, and Bubishe had both completed as 8th grade, Zaidy 7th grade, Uncle Suchie 6th, Uncle Meyer 1st, and Tanta Rivka who was two at the time did not complete anything. (The lodger that`s listed it says "H-2", which means 2nd year of High School,I guess 10th grade)
  • It says Zaidshe put in a 40 hour work week the week of March 24-30.
  • Zaidshe was an agent for "New York Life Insurance"(most of us have seen those black boxes with his name on it, if anyone has a picture that they can forward to me, that would be awesome).
  • It also says the class worker of Zaidshe was "OA" I did some research apparently that means "Working on own account"
  • The last thing is in Column 33 it says "Did this person receive $50 or more from sources other than money waged or salary"? and the answer was Yes.
  • Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    1568 St. Marks Ave.

    Last week I was in the neighborhood, so I decided to check out 1568 St. Marks Ave which is the house that Zaidy grew up in. Definitly looks redone, I don`t know what year they moved out, only that he lived there in 1940, 72 years ago. I can`t imagine this is what it looked like then.

    Below is a map of the street.
    View Larger Map

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Zaidshe part of the Agudah

    (Click on image to enlarge)After all these years of looking I finally found what I was looking for. Something somewhere That has Zaidshe`s name associated with the Agudah. So here it is, from one of the official logs that lists all the Jewish organizations and board members of the organizations. Zaidshe is proudly listed as the Sec. of Agudah.

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    Mid-Winter Break 2012