Rabbis and Admorim of Ostrowiec
The following translation is an excerpt of the article Rabbis and Admorim of Ostrowiec by M. Sh. Geshuri
Lacking historical records, we unfortunately know nothing about Ostrowiec’s rabbis during its first period of settlement in the 16th to 17th centuries. The Chmielnicki massacres of 1648-9, as well as the Swedish invasion that followed shortly after, left their mark on the Ostrowiec community. Although its Jews were not massacred as badly as those in present-day Ukraine, many of them were forced to flee Chmielnicki’s hordes and joined the mass of Jewish refugees that flooded the country’s thoroughfares. The town was laid to waste and with it the Jewish community records that contained a list of the town’s rabbis and the years of their service.
All we have are the names of those rabbis who served after the community was rebuilt at the end of the 17th century. Even these were not culled from community records, which are missing from that period as well, but from various sources, mainly rabbinic works that mentioned Ostrowiec rabbis and the period of their activity.
The first rabbi of Ostrowiec whose name is known to us is Rabbi Naftali (alternatively, Rabbi Meir), the son-in-law of R. Hertzke. According to details that appear in Sefer HaChassidim, he was the son of R. Aryeh Leibush of Przytyk, a disciple of R. Yitzchak Yaakov Horowitz, the Seer of Lublin, and R. Yechiel Michel, the Maggid of Zloczow. He was among the pioneers of the Chassidic movement in Poland and responsible for its spreading to Ostrowiec.
Rabbi Yechezkel Margulies was the son-in-law of R. Berish, the renowned rabbi of Brest-Litovsk (Brisk). He was among the most illustrious of Ostrowiec’s rabbis, wielding great influence over broad areas of Poland and Russia. He died in 1890.