Stories from our Ancestral Homes
Recollections of my Father
CHAIM LAZAR FRIEDMAN HA-KOHANE
by his daughter Rosie Rosenzweig
Chaim Lazar Friedman ha-Kohane was born in Grodno, Poland (now Byelorussia) in 1898 to fairly well to do parents. His father Todres helped build the shul in that city with a very large Jewish population. My mother remembers sitting in a front-row pew in the shul with her father-in-law's name on a plaque or a cornerstone. That synagogue was probably the one that was burned in November 1941.
I still love being part of a minyan that includes this part of the service. Perhaps if there were not so many misfortunes: the loss of his parents; searching for work in Poland and then again in Canada; I think he could have continued his cantorial role from the shtetl that he had to leave in his middle twenties.
My mother tells this story of my father: “One day a poor man was in mourning and could not afford the price of tefillin to perform the year of Kaddish. Lazar searched his tallis bag, found his set of tefillin, and gave them to the man so that he could daven properly.” She told me that story many times to demonstrate unflinching generosity and compassion .
He was an expert card-player and enjoyed pinochle with his sister, who later become the main caterer in town, my birthplace Windsor Ontario Canada.
Poker was his forte, much to the distress of my mother. When he cut the cards, they seemed to fly in mid-air.
father was resourceful and clever, as he pursued many ways to
make a living for his family; formerly a leather finisher in Grodno,
he co-managed various establishments with his family from a butcher
shop in Brooklyn with his cousins to a deli in Windsor with his
sister Becky. Finally he bought a second hand store as his final
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