Rav Menashe Yaakov Levertov רב מנשה יעקב לברטוב
...know from where you come....
From Brecher, Elinor J. Schindler's Legacy: True Stories of the List Survivors. New York, NY: Penguin, 1994. Print.
His (Fagin) family stayed several days at the factory before heading back to Krakow in a group that included Rabbi Menashe Lewertow. (In Schindler's List, he's the character who makes a hinge for Amon Goeth. Goeth tries to shoot him, but his gun jams. After the war - in real life-Lewertow became Chief Rabbi of Krakow. He died in New York in the 1960's. A car ran him over one Friday night as he left a synagogue.)
"We stopped one night in the Czech woods. One of the fellows went out to look around. He came back and said he found a German army car full of rations. Rabbi Lewertow wouldn't touch it! We were all starved. We lit a fire and he was looking at us. We apologized to him...."
Goldberg was assigned to the building supply warehouse, close to the food storehouse, where he could get a bit of extra nourishment. "When it came Pesach [Passover], Rabbi Lewertow and Mr. Bankier didn't eat any hometz [food forbidden on Passover], and I was cooking for them some rice....We had an oven with a double bottom in the warehouse, heating the room. Schindler knew about it. He would ask, 'What's cooking?"
From Pemper, Mietek. The Road to Rescue: the Untold Story of Schindler's List. Trans. David Dollenmayer. New York: Other, 2008. Print.
Since I was in charge of the work assignments, I was able to give my slightly lame father a job where he didn't have to be on his feet all the time. From then on, he handed out tools. The other two who worked with him in the tool storeroom were Abraham Bankier and Rabbi Jacob Levertow. There was an enormous cabinet full of tools made of expensive Vidia steel. Workers had to sign them out individually. Throughout the day, the three of them sat there in amicable conversation and probably also prayed together. There wasn't much for them to do. One day - I can't remember why - we received a bonus for working "in the arms industry." We were given coupons we could exchange for cigarettes. I gave the three men at the tool storeroom the smallest number of coupons. Two or three days later, Engineer Schoneborn, the technical director, summoned me to his office and gave me a very stern look. "Pemper, there's been a complaint lodged against you. You did not distribute the bonuses fairly." I hemmed and hawed a bit, then said, "I can imagine that a few individuals might feel unjustly treated, but I really did try to be fair." Schoneborn suddenly burst out laughing. "Just imagine," he said in amusement, "your own father complained about you and said that Rabbi Levertow, Herr Bankier, and he had gotten the smallest bonus. The two other gentlemen reasoned that as his son, you wanted at all costs to avoid giving the impression that you were slipping your father something extra. And so your father was complaining that Levertow and Bankier were being unjustly disadvantaged by your exaggerated sense of justice." Since the three of them had hardly any work to do, they had plenty of time to concoct this argument. When I offered to share some of my own bonus with my father, Engineer Schoneborn put a reassuring hand on my shoulder and said, "I know how fair you are. But I just couldn't resist telling you this story!"
From Ferderber-Salz, Bertha. And The Sun Kept Shining. Holocaust Pubns, 1980. Print.
The only place in Cracow where I found a comforting word and some consolation in my loneliness was the house of the Rabbi of Cracow's remaining Jews, Rabbi Menashe Levertov. Each time I felt despair getting the better of me, I hurried to the Rabbi's house to hear some encouraging words. The Rabbi, who was himself a broken man and had lost everything, would find the right words with which to console me. All my life I will be grateful to the Rabbi, that dearest of men, for the help and spiritual support he gave me during that time.
[Bertha Federber-Salz in describing her attempts to get her children's birth certificates made out in their real names so they could take on their Jewish identities again]
My face and shabby clothes indicated quite clearly that I was unable to pay for the service. Nevertheless the man in charge was not ashamed to ask for the certificates, for a sum of money that sounded astronomical to me. "I'm sorry," I said. "I can't pay anything. It hadn't occurred to me that this would involve payment." I added, believing that any Jew would be glad to help children who had miraculously been saved. The man grew angry and shouted, "Who do you think you are, coming and preaching at me? Without money, you won't get the certificates!" With a heavy heart I left the house and went, in my despair, to Rabbi Levertov's house. In tears I told the story to the person who was my only friend and comforter in that city. My tale pained the Rabbi deeply. He advised me to return to the man and tell him that I was entitled to complain about him to the authorities and force him to give me the certificates, but instead I would take him before a religious court. When he heard this he left the room in a rage, telling his secretary to prepare the certificates and take money from me only for the stamps. I brought the certificates to the children, and after that, they were called by their real names again.
[Describing a day of weddings at the Bergen-Belsen camp, 1946] The brides were wearing regular dresses and head scarves; only a few had an especially nice scarf. However, it was not their commonplace clothes that made everyone feel sad on their special day. The souls of parents who had not survived to lead their children beneath the wedding canopy hovered in the air of the camp. On everyone's face one could see grief and mourning and the rabbi's voice was choked with tears as he blessed the couples. After the ceremony each couple went to their own corner to commune with their sorrow, and there was no sound of rejoicing, singing or dancing, as is customary. I went to my nook and sat down to write a letter to my friend, the Rabbi of Cracow [Levertov]. In my letter I described the sad wedding and my feelings of melancholy. Years later, when I met the Rabbie here in America, he told me that he had kept my letter and that when he read it he had heard our tormented people's cry of anguish.
From conversations with Jack Geizhals
Jack Geizhals spoke to Rabbi Levertov's daughter about her father on a number of occasions. (His family had been friends with both Rabbi Levertov and his wife Rachel Kanner before the war in Krakow.) Here is a synopsis of some of the things he related.
In Jack's voice, though not perfect quotes: I remember that it was Yom Kippur in Plazsow. My father and your father were davening. I was a teenager and I stood watch at a window. If I saw an SS, I was to shout "66." There was shooting outside the bunker. They were so engrossed in their prayer that they did not hear the shooting. As a teenager, this made me angry.
After the war, we were all a little wild. Your father tried to support and comfort us. He never had a bad word for anyone.
Now, as I age, I lie in bed at night, often awake, and I think of him.
I saw you wallowing in your blood & I said in your blood live & I said to you in your blood live!