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Litman Rosenthal, September 19, 1919 about dr Chazanowicz.

- It was difficult to carry on a calm discussion with Dr. Chazanowicz. He always seemed enraged, particularly at the slowness with which many Jews responded to Zionism.

Once, when I retorted that we were living during an extraordinary time in Jewish history and that to many Zionism was a radical turning point, he hollered at me in his own distinctive way, darting back and forth in his room in an uncontrollable temper.

Because I was so close to him I understood the real reason for his agitation — one of his poor, sick patients had taken a turn for the worse. Under such circumstan­ces Dr. Chazanowicz was the unhappiest man in the world, especially when the patient suffered through a difficult night. I tried to calm him down, but to no avail.

At that moment an elderly woman entered hur­riedly, deeply anguished, with a shriek: “Help, Doctor! My daughter has suddenly become mute from fear!” Chazanowicz immediately grabbed his overcoat and his cane asking, “Who became mute? Your Rywka?” (Cha­zanowicz knew all the names of his poor patients’ chil­dren.) He turned to the disheartened, destitute old woman, asking her apprehensively: “Does she hear? Is your mute daughter still able to hear?” When the mother answered yes, Chazanowicz ran to his desk, opened a drawer, pulled out a pocketknife, checked the blade, put the knife in his pocket, pulled the woman and me into the street and shouted to his buggy driver: “Chaim, Chaim! On to Yeshiva Street.” Dr. Chazano­wicz always knew where his poor patients lived.

Arriving at the house, he said nothing but ran immediately to the room where the mute girl lay, took hold of her chin, and shouted at her, “Quickly, stick out your tongue, Rywka, quickly!”

The young girl, quite confused, stuck out her tongue as ordered. Chazanowicz then took out the open knife from his pocket with one hand, held her tongue with his other hand and declared: “I shall cut out your tongue!” Rywka, pale and half dead, suddenly screeched: “My God, my God, save me!” All who wit­nessed this scene looked at Dr. Chazanowicz affection­ately, declaring: “Doctor, we will always be indebted to you.”

Although he joked that he would rather be paid the proper fee for his services than win his patient’s grati­tude, Chazanowicz discreetly placed several rubles upon the old woman’s dresser, then led me by the hand outside to Chaim’s buggy. As if none of the foregoing had hap­pened, he whispered, “You know, Litman, that cata­logue I received today. In it I found listed a book, about 450 years old. I think I will buy it for our national library in Jerusalem. Such a treasure, such a priceless relic!”

                                                                    *    *    *

On another occasion I happened to be in his home and found a couple of young Zionists sitting at his table. One of them gave him a document, a kind of invitation, declaring: “In the name of the Zionist orga­nization, I inform you of your unanimous election as a delegate to the Second Zionist Congress in Basel.” Quietly Chazanowicz listened to these young men, and in a word answered, “Good.” But I knew he was very moved.

 

When the two of us were left alone, he set his sheepish eyes upon me and with a strange, quivering voice said: “Litman, leave me alone. I am extremely upset. I’m going to my room. You do understand, I am now a representative of the Jewish people.” As he spoke, I could almost hear his heart pounding furiously.

With a few days remaining before his departure for the Congress, Chazanowicz had completely changed. No longer did he scream at anyone. He became as calm as a sleeping baby. After all, it was no mean thing for him to be traveling to the World Zionist convention. But he did not leave me alone. He insisted that my girl­friend (who later became my wife) inspect his clothes, sew on a few missing buttons, and mend his tattered suits. If he was going to the Congress, he must look dignified.

 

DR. JOSEF CHAZANOWICZ

Most popular and beloved of Bialystok's physicians; ardent Zionist; founder of the National Library in Jerusalem, to which he devoted his life and fortune; died in 1920.

 

On the day of his trip he became depressed. In the morning he went to Rabbi Szmuel Mohilewer’s grave and when he returned, tears streamed down his face. Then we went to the railroad station in Chaim’s buggy. I was overcome with emotion when Chazanowicz, before the final “All aboard,” forcefully embraced and kissed his driver, Chaim.

When we arrived in Basel, we went to the hotel in which Dr. Theodor Herzl would be staying. Later we toured the streets of Basel. As we came upon the con­vention hall, we saw the blue and white Zionist flags fluttering above the hall. Chazanowicz paled. I started to remove my hat out of respect for the flags. Suddenly he poked me, yelling: “Keep your hat on. One stands before a Jewish flag with his head covered!”

Then we went into the convention hall. I said to him, “Doctor, today you will meet a great Jew in Herzl.” Annoyed, he shouted: “Litman, you are too easily impressed. Herzl is a Jew like all others.” I dared not speak further. In the meantime, important Zionist leaders greeted Dr. Chazanowicz warmly, as befitted a man held in such high regard. But he was not moved.

We walked slowly to the railroad station to await Herzl’s arrival. All the while Chazanowicz complained: “What will I see in Herzl? Why are you dragging me here? I am not well!”

At the station we found a huge crowd of Zionists. The train arrived. Dr. Herzl got off the train and approached us. Chazanowicz squeezed my hand until it hurt. He trembled, and in a quivering voice shouted to me: “Litman! Litman! That’s him! I’ve been waiting for him all my life. That’s him, God’s chosen one. All my life I have dreamt of him. He has finally arrived!”                                 

                                                                 *    *    *

Afterward we went to a kosher restaurant in Basel. A large group of Zionists was there, staring at Chaza­nowicz. One of them suddenly said to another: “I believe that is the great Dr. Chazanowicz.” Then some­thing remarkable occurred. Everyone shouted over and over again, “Long live the wonderful Dr. Chazano­wicz!” Chazanowicz quickly replied, “My dear Jews, be silent! Better donate books or give money to our national library in Jerusalem!”

At that moment the door of the restaurant flung open and in came Dr. Herzl. Everyone stood up, speechless and in awe. Herzl scanned the room and, noticing Chazanowicz, hurriedly went over to him: “How are you, my dear Dr. Chazanowicz?” The latter, all color drained from his face, extended a tremulous hand to Herzl and collapsed onto a chair. Herzl gave him a fatherly embrace and kissed his head.
 

poniedziałek, 09 maja 2011, saralewa

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