Leizer Melamed (Melammet in Dutch civil records) was 32 years of age when in 1903 the Jewish community of Oldenzaal appointed him shammes and shochet (see below). For almost forty years preceding the Holocaust he was one of the most visible representatives of the declining number of Jews of the old city of Oldenzaal and in towns and villages in the vicinity. He toured the countryside on his noisy motorcycle, a holdall attached to it carrying the hallaf.
Leizer was born in June 1871 and arrived in Oldenzaal probably in the mid-1890s. On 22 July 1896 he married a local Jewish girl, Hendrika Gobas. He had been trained as a cooper but in Oldenzaal his main trade and source of income was that of painter-decorator. He kept the shul in tip-top condition. After an explosion in the mikwe building in the winter of 1921-1922 the kehilla paid him 147.50 guilders for painting work once the building company from Enschede had completed reconstruction work.
Leizer Melamed probably hailed from the city now named Panevėžys in Lithuania. During the nineteenth century it was part of the Russian Empire. At the time of his marriage in Oldenzaal he listed his parents as Sholem Melamed and Sheine Lewin. Any and all information on Leizer’s whereabouts before he arrived in Oldenzaal is most welcome with the author. It will contribute to a written portrait of the man, his work and the Jews of Oldenzaal. Please leave your comment below.
Hallaf – long slaughter knife, sakin in Hebrew
Kehilla – local Jewish community
Mikwe – ritual bath
Shammes – beadle of a synagogue
Shochet – ritual slaughterer
Shul – synagogue
The Jewish population of Oldenzaal dropped from 246 in 1899 to 145 in 1920 and 116 in 1930.
John Löwenhardt, 24 May 2013