22 Shevat 5619 – January 27, 1859
This Shabbos is the Kotzker Rebbe’s 154th Yharzeit. Everyone is invited to the Glenner residence for a Yhazeit seudah this shabbos after minchah. Years ago my father sent me a Cantor Paul Zim tape of Yiddish songs that included the song Takeh – Kotzk. A beautiful song which captured Kotzk, its reverence, its holiness, and its greatness. I received Cantor Paul Zim’s phone number from Seamach Records and called him. Cantor Zim told me although he sings Takeh-Kotzk, it is not his song. The person who knows the song and has “ownership “ is Chazzan Moshele Kraus who lives in Ottawa, Canada.
Cantor Paul Zim is a distant cousin through the Greenwalds, Reb Hershele Dishkis – Greenwald. The Zim family name was Zimelman.
I asked Cantor Zim if he knows Chazzan Wilhelm Silber. He told me that he never met Chazzan Silber, however, years ago Cantor Paul Zim was the High Holiday Cantor at a hotel in downtown Chicago. He walked into Rosenblums and purchased Chazzan Silber’s record. He told me that Chazzan Silber was great. I told Cantor Paul Zim that the day before, Shabbos – Rosh Chodesh Shevat Chazzan Silber put on a Chazzanus concert. He davened Scharis, Hallel, and Musaf at Mishne Ugemorrah
I called Chazzan Moshele Kraus. I introduced myself and the purpose of my call. He gave me permission to use the song. He just moved and cannot find his tapes. He told me to call his good friend in Chicago, Rabbi YMB and Rabbi YMB has the tape. I had a very pleasant conversation with Chazzan Moshele Kraus. He told me that he was a boy wonder Chazzan in Hungary and grew up right outside of Munkcaz. As a child he traveled to Debrecen and ate a meal at Chazzan Silber’s father’s house. I told Chazzan Kraus that Chazzan Wilhelm Silber is the son of person he ate by over 60 years ago lives across the street from me, and he is my regular Chazzan.
I asked Chazzan Moshele Kraus where he heard the song. He was from Hungary and Takeh-Kotzk was a Polish song. Hungarians barely heard of the Polish Rebbes and he would not have heard the song Takeh – Kotzk. Chazzan Kraus told me that he was in Mexico City for a few years and an Israeli diplomat taught him the song. I wanted to call the diplomat’s family, however, he did not remember the name.
I immediately ran over to Chazzan Wilhelm Silber house and related to him all of the above. Exciting. Chazzen Silber told me that his father was considered the father of all Chazzunim in Hungary. His father was a Kodesh and martyred during the war. I spoke to Chazzan Silber for over an hour about his life, his Chazzanus. Chazzan Silber showed me two 1965 posters announcing that Chazzan Silber will be performing a concert of Composer Franz Schubert’s songs. In 1965 Chazzan Silber was invited to Israel for five weeks to sing and teach Chazzanus. It seems that the local Chazzunim were jealous (as I recall the story) and they did not want him to publicly sing Chazzanus. Since they already rented a hall, they had Chazzan Silber do a concert on Schubert.
The next day I called Rabbi YMB who came over and gave me the tape. Rabbi YMB told that Chazzen Moshele Kraus was in Bergen – Belsen. How our holy people suffered. Klal Yisroel must pull together.
Rabbi YMB told me the great sacrifices of Chazzen Moshele Kraus. Rabbi YMB told me a great story of what Chazzen Moshele Kraus did for his family and how he ended up in Ottawa Canada. There is nothing I can add about an angel living in our midst.