Here (if you read Yiddish), are some things to say at your Seder table. This is another little book by Rabbi Joshua Szpetman, known by his diminutive name “Shiya”. Rabbi Szpetman was a native of Lublin, who had already been a Rosh Yeshiva (Head of a Rabbinical Academy) in Poland when he emigrated to London. He was the Rabbi of the Nelson Street Sephardishe Synagogue in the East End of London from the 1930s until his death in 1964.
Rabbi Szpetman’s background was Chassidic, and he befriended the Chassidic rebbes in London and graced most of their functions. He was a friend and disciple of the author and thinker Hillel Zeitlin, and there is a poignant note about Hillel Zeitlin, who was murdered by the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto, at the end of the book (below).
His rhetoric is quite fiery and challenging. He was sometimes known as the “red rabbi”. According to the late Rabbi Rabinowicz (in his book “A World Apart”), Rabbi Szpetman was not afraid to criticize spiritual or lay leaders. he hated untruths, dishonesty and hypocrisy. He frowned on displays of pretentiousness and was unique in tolerance and sympathy.