Wednesday 27 July 2016


YITSKHOK ZALER (1868-1936)
            He was born in Warsaw, Poland, into a Hassidic merchant family.  He studied in religious primary school, at the Gerer Yeshiva, and with private tutors, later becoming a businessman.  He was an activist in Orthodox education.  He authored a number of works on Torah, such as: Yalkut yitsḥak (Yitsḥak’s satchel) (Warsaw, 1895), 296 pp.; Likute yitsḥak (Gleanings of Yitsḥak) (Warsaw, 1913), 96 pp.; and others.  He was a contributor to Nohkem-Leyb Vayngot’s Dos yidishe vort (The Jewish word) in Warsaw (1916), where, aside from articles on pedagogical topics, he published weekly tales of Hassidic rebbes.  At the time of the German occupation of Poland during WWI (1915-1918), he was a cofounder of the first religious schools in Warsaw and wrote a number of textbooks for them, such as: the reader Sefer shaare yitsḥak, leman tinokot shel bet raban (The gates of Yitsḥak, for the sake of school children) (Warsaw)—“This book is to teach Jewish children how to conduct themselves the entire day from rising in the morning until going to sleep at night, on the Sabbath, New Year, and holidays.  It brings together holy words of the Sages.  This will involve an implantation, like fire in the hearts of the sacred Jewish children, of an eagerness with joy and love to serve the Lord with all of one’s heart, and this will remain with them in their hearts forever” (from the introduction by the author); Minḥat yitsḥak velikute yitsḥak (Offering of Yitsḥak and gleanings of Yitsḥak), with a preface in Hebrew and an approbation from the Gerer rebbe (Warsaw, 1915), part 1, 130 pp., part 2, 84 pp., and an appendix comprised of a short dictionary of words of Hebrew and Aramaic origin translated into Yiddish.  This last book was written in dialogue format between a rabbi and his pupil and was reissued in many editions and translated into Hebrew (used as well in Agudah schools in Israel).  A photographed edition of the Yiddish text, published in New York in 1953, was used in girls’ schools of the Beys-Yankev sort and other religious schools in the United States.  He died in Warsaw.

Sources: Bet eked sefarim; information from Rabbi A. Zemba and Gedalye Meyblat.
Khayim Leyb Fuks and Leyzer Ran

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