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[Pages 301-302]

Memories

by Yona Degani

Translated from the Hebrew by Ann Belinsky

The first years of my life are entwined with depressing events: The First World War was in full force, its front arrived at our town, inhabitants of the town were exiled to other places. We went through three difficult years, suffering hardships and hunger. People's bodies were crushed under the burden of work, but there was still no livelihood.

My father served in the Russian army and fought against the Germans; my mother, on whom our livelihood was dependent, toiled from morning to night and I was left with my grandmother.

I remember the visits to my grandmother's sister. She was a pale woman who lay in bed alone in her house because all her sons were fighting at the front, and her daughters had gone out to work. My grandmother, therefore, was the person who cared for her during her sickness, until one day, when I arrived with my grandmother at the aunt's house, she was no longer among the living.

My grandfather, on my father's side, often came to our house and each time my mother would give him bread and potatoes. There was no other food in our house at that time. One day they were conferring secretly in our house. I was dressed hurriedly and indifferently - our grandfather, too, was taken from us, and an atmosphere of sadness and depression dominated our family.

We returned to the town. The street where we had lived before our expulsion was completely destroyed, except for my uncle's house, but he himself had died in exile and didn't live to see the day of return. When we stood over the ruins of our house, my mother tried to explain to me that the heap of ashes was once a dwelling where our family had lived.

Four families were crowded together in my uncle's house, among them the Leibovitch family. I heard much about their son Alter. I was told many times, maybe seriously, maybe as a joke, that he was destined to be my bridegroom. With our return from the expulsion, we got to know each other. The “groom” and the “bride” ran around the neighborhood all day, jumping in the potholes and pits that had been caused by the falling of bombs. Spring, with it masses of flowers and fragrances, had begun, and we felt ourselves - four-year old children - extremely happy.

My mother harnessed herself to the yoke of earning a livelihood, and I again was left with my aunt at home. Sometimes my mother would bring me to our family who lived in Delatitch, in an area completely surrounded by gentiles.

Once, on New Year's Eve, the gentiles appeared in their traditional costumes, entered the rooms of the house, checked out every corner, while shouting and yelling, and then left. My grandmother locked and bolted the doors of the house, the windows and the shutters, feeling that something might happen during the night.

At midnight, we were awoken by strong knocks on the door, with loud shouts to open up. My grandmother began to call the names of her sons -who were not at home that night - “Itche!, Chaim! David! Moshe! Get up!”, she shouted. After knocking and shouting for a long time, the gentiles, whose aim had been to loot Jewish property, left.

One evening, my mother woke me up from my sleep and with great emotion told me that my father had returned from the war. Father?!! I had not known my father since my birth; he was further to me than a dream. I entered the room where many of the townspeople had crowded together. I knew them all except for one man; precisely this man, unrecognizable and unknown, stretches our his arms towards me and his face lights up - this is Father, the idea flashes through my mind, and immediately I am in his embracing arms, which hug me with tenderness and love. Until the light of the morning, my father did not stop telling our neighbors about what he had gone through in the war.


[Pages 302-303]

My Sister Itka, of Blessed Memory

by Elka Levanon

Translated from the Hebrew by Ann Belinsky

1929: Days of the riots in Eretz Israel, the land was still recovering from the crisis of the Fourth Aliyah, news was received about a lack of work, about many who wanted to leave Eretz Israel, there were also those who left and spread seeds of despair and disappointment.

But after some time, the awakening towards the Fifth Aliya began. From our town of Lubtch a few made aliya; among them was my sister Itka Shmulevitch, a young healthy girl, who knew how to work and with all her heart she adhered to the pioneering ideals. While still a young girl, she was amongst those who started up the branch of “HeChalutz Hatzair” in Novogrudek, whose members went to Hachshara [training farm] on Kibbutz “Tel Hai”, in the environs of Vilna. Itka was one of the strong and industrious workers on the Hachshara; when she returned home - she began to prepare for aliyah to Eretz Israel.

Time pressed and she did not have money for her travel expenses. But Itka succeeded in attaining her desire with the help of various people; mainly members of “HeChalutz Hatzair” in Novogrudek helped her.

She made aliyah to Eretz Israel during the days of the 1929 riots there. When she got off the boat at the Jaffa Port, there was a curfew in the city. Together with a group of other young immigrant girls, she was transferred in an armored police vehicle to the workers farmstead in Petach Tikva, where she spent the first two years of her life in Eretz Israel. Also here she excelled as a diligent worker.

Itka started a family in Tel Aviv. But fate was cruel to her and at a young age she became sick with a malignant disease. After several years of suffering, she died in 1953, aged only forty two.

.ת.נ.צ.ב.ה
May she rest in peace


[Pages 303-304]

To the Memory of My Family

by Chaya Slominsky

Translated from the Hebrew by Ann Belinsky

My grandfather, Faybeh Aharonovsky, “Der Shochet” [the slaughterer], son of a family of slaughterers, was an honest and modest man.; his time was divided between involvement with the Torah, and slaughtering - for his livelihood. He would rise at dawn to do the work of the Creator, and to the light of kerosene lamps, he would sit and learn Torah. After he returned from the synagogue, from his prayers in the first minyan he would go out to his work, but not before he passed by the beds of his grandchildren, covered them with love and softness and put a slice of cake and a sugar cube next to every bed.

My grandmother, Mina Henia, was a modest housekeeper, as well as being a midwife with no salary. She would come to the houses of the birthing mothers and brought them pots of chicken soup, she looked after the babies and washed the nappies, all for the sake of doing a mitzvah.

Their house - a spacious stone house, was surrounded by a park, and stood not far from the Bet Midrash and the market square. In the cowshed was a cow that provided milk for the family. In the courtyard stood a small slaughterhouse where my grandfather worked. My grandparents had three children - two daughters and a son - my father Yitzchak.

My father followed his forefathers, and was both a slaughterer and a mohel [circumcisor]. But his livelihood was only from slaughtering. His activities as a mohel were for the sake of a mitzvah [good deed]. He would also go around to the settlements in the area to perform a circumcision. He brought wine to the poor people, and always left some sum of money for the needs of the new baby that had been added to the family.

My father had five children, four daughters and a son - Eliezer. My brother excelled in his studies and was sent to learn in the Mir and Radon Yeshivot. In the heart of my father beat the hope that his son would receive ordination from the Rabbinic authorities. But the winds of haskalah [enlightenment] also influenced Eliezer. He did not want to go in the way of his forefathers, but headed for Vilna. He passed the matriculation exams and studied law at the University. After he made aliyah to Eretz Israel, he continued his studies and was certified as a lawyer. Eliezer died at an early age in 1964.

I was the oldest daughter. I got married in Vilna to a lumber merchant and we had three sons. In the 2nd World War we were in a Nazi concentration camp. After many sorrows, during which we lost two sons, we were liberated in 1945. In 1950 we arrived in the United States. My sisters Mina and Mirka were murdered in the Holocaust.

From my wide-branching family only a few remained after the Holocaust. The heart refuses to believe the tragedy that struck us, but reality is very cruel. Life continues nevertheless, we continue to strive and hope, but the memory of our murdered ones is forever carried in our hearts.


[Pages 304-305]

My Father, Avraham-Aharon, of Blessed Memory

by Eliyahu Berkovitch

Translated from the Yiddish by Harvey Spitzer

My father, Avraham-Aharon Berkovitch, of blessed memory, was totally involved in community affairs all his life. He used to travel to Minsk and bring back glass lamps for the study hall in the synagogue. He would also worry about getting wood for the bathhouse and for heating the study hall in the winter. On the holidays, he was the steady prayer leader at the altar.

When a dispute broke out in 1913 between the town's Jews and the gentiles, who had seized possession of the Jews' pasture lands, and there was a real possibility of bloodshed, my father, who was very ill, came to me in Vilna and asked me to find a good lawyer to defend Jewish rights of ownership of the pasture lands near the Neiman River.

After receiving a decision from the Vilna district court in favor of the Jews, my father brought the court representative to Lubtch and he carried out the decision, returning the pasture lands to the ownership of the Jews. The rejoicing was unimaginable; it was simply a holiday, another Purim. People drank fiery brandy and ate honey cake and wished that they would live to see our enemies suffer more defeats. It must be known, that nearly every Jewish family in Lubtch had a cow, which was an important part of their livelihood.

When Lubtch was destroyed in the First World War, my father moved to Novogrudek, but he was always drawn back to his beloved hometown. He built a new house and moved back to Lubtch.

My father passed away in 1925 and went straight to heaven. A year later, my mother, Sarah, also died. May she rest in peace!


[Pages 306-307]

Memories from My Father's House

by Aryeh Sivitzky

Translated from the Hebrew by Ann Belinsky

lyu306.jpg
Aryeh Sivitzky

 

The family of my father, Chaim-Tzvi, had lived in Lubtch for several generations. Our family was rooted there, but during the First World War, we left our house and the town. Since my mother's family was in Lipnishuk, they went there for several years. We saw ourselves as refugees and were happy to return to Lubtch at the first possible opportunity.

Since our house had been destroyed during the battles, we found a temporary dwelling until we built a new large comfortable house. There my sister Miriam and my brother Yitzhak were born.

Despite the fact that my parents had a shop in the market, their financial situation was not easy, as they had heavy debts and many worries. My father was forced to travel with a horse and cart to buy merchandise in Lida and in Novogrudek, which took a lot of time, and he would return from these journeys tired and exhausted.

In the township, the financial situation improved, especially due to the trade in logs, which were plentiful in the surroundings. With the economic developments, social life became more alive, and public buildings and the Hebrew school “Tarbut” was established. The Zionist youth movements became organized, and from these we absorbed the love for Eretz-Yisrael and the faith in the Resurrection of the People of Israel [Tekumat Am-Yisrael].

In 1935, a fire broke out in Lubtch and many houses were burnt down, including my parents' house. At this time I was on Hachsharah [Training Farm] at kibbutz “Shechariya” in Baronovitch. When I heard of the catastrophe, I immediately returned to Lubtch.

The sight of the town was depressing, as most of the houses were smoking embers. When I arrived, the family sat as if in mourning by the remnants of the house, next to the possessions that they had managed to save from the flames.

In our house there was a concrete cellar and it had not been damaged; we put the possessions and the merchandise that remained into the cellar, and there, by the light of kerosene lamps, my father continued with his trade. Luckily the house was insured, and from the insurance money received, my father built a new house, and even had enough money to increase the amount of merchandise. When our economic situation improved, I returned to the Hachsharah at Baronovitch, and made aliyah to Israel before the war broke out.

During the 2nd World War, when Lubtch was conquered by the Soviet army, my father and my brother worked as simple laborers and my sister worked as a clerk. During this stage there was a close exchange of many letters between me and my family.

During the German occupation, my family was imprisoned at Varobivitch, and there they were burnt alive by the Nazis and their helpers, inside a grain barn together with all the Jews of Lubtch that were at this camp.

I have remained only with my memories, alone and in pain by the bitter fate of my dear family and the Jews of my town Lubtch.


[Pages 307-308]

Only Letters Remain…

by Haim Sonenzon

Translated from the Hebrew by Ann Belinsky

My mother Taibeh, was a daughter of the Maslovety family - a well known Lubtch family. My father, Moshe, was born in the town of Karelitch. After their wedding, they built their home in Lubtch.

In 1915, after the expulsion during the First World War, we arrived in Ayshishuk where my uncle Shaul Sonenzon, a well-off and established Jew, lived with his large family. In Ayshishuk we grew up and were educated. My grandmother Dvorah also lived with us.

In the summer of 1925 we returned to Lubtch. My father was a tradesman. He was a diligent and sensible man; he was one of the Torah readers and used to stand in front of the Ark, especially during the Ten Days of Penitence and the Holy Days. He was well versed in “the small letters”, in the Jewish customs and in the “Shulchan Aruch” and the Bible. He was also very well versed in Hebrew. Because he was busy making a livelihood, he did not learn Mishna and Talmud.

My mother knew how to run the household and her life calmly, patiently and with forbearance, without anger or irritability. She took good care of us and we were attached to her and loved her very much.

My brother, Shalom, finished his studies at the Teachers Seminary “Tscherno” in Vilna, in 1925. He taught at the “Tarbut” School in Lubtch. During that period he was very active in the social life, organizing shows at the school on Channuka and Purim; he ran the school choir; for a short time he was head of the Hashomer HaTza'ir movement; he was active in the Jewish National Fund and in the League for Eretz Yisrael Haovedet [Workers in Eretz Israel]. He was a talented influential speaker.

My sister, Shlomit, studied at the “Tarbut” seminar in Vilna; she made a living there giving private lessons and was helped by the food parcels which were sent from home.

My sister Golda, married Alter Shmuelevitch and they had a son. She was active with many pursuits, she helped her family with much devotion

I left Lubtch in 1934. From my father's letters, which were written in Hebrew, I knew about what was happening there. To this day I have kept those wonderful letters, from which arise the dear images of my family and the Jews of the town, with their hopes and desires.

My dear family is no more. Only the letters remain, written by a loving father, brother and sister, a memory of a Jewish family in my birthplace, the town of Lubtch.


[Pages 308-309]

My Grandmother Chaya

by Puah Nashkes

Translated from the Hebrew by Ann Belinsky

Memories of my childhood are enmeshed and embroidered with adventures connected to my father, mother, brothers and sisters; the Jewish mother, “Di Yiddishe Mama”, became a symbol of love, good heartedness and boundless self-sacrifice for her children.

From all the experiences of my childhood, many longings and pleasant memories are connected to my grandmother, Chaya, may her memory be blessed! In my heart is engraved the fondness to my grandmother, despite the many years that have passed since then, years of youthful dreams and hopes, years of the struggle to make aliya and settle in Eretz-Yisrael, wars, troubles, hard work and toil; but the image of my grandmother lives in my heart and lights my way to this day.

She was a likeable woman, God-fearing, at peace with God and with man, always trying to make the most of every situation, wisely, with charm and cleverness, with a good-hearted smile on her face. She never knew what tiredness was, and helped my mother who always had small children to look after.

She was a simple woman “from the old generation” who certainly had never read psychology books or those with the latest methods, but despite this, her attitude to a child was full of understanding. With her good-heartedness and well-developed intuition, she knew how to educate and to amuse her small grandchildren, to look after them with endless devotion and love. And we, her grandchildren, returned her love. We were very bound to her.

She had much personal charm. She related with honor to her fellow man, tried to help people with troubles, more than once she brought comfort to a troubled soul, with a good word - thanks to her wisdom of life.

My grandmother is a symbol to me. I try to go in her ways in my relationships to my children. And my wish is that they too will one day understand that the dynasty of generations is intertwined, generation after generation and must not be cut off, because we too, today, are deriving spiritual strength from generations of Jewish mothers and grandmothers.


[Pages 309-311]

My Rebbe, Rabbi Chaim

by Yitzchak Shlimovitch

Translated from the Yiddish by Harvey Spitzer

I was probably seven or eight years old when I was placed in Rabbi Chaim Avraham'che's “cheder” [religious elementary school]. He was the best Bible and Talmud teacher.

As a Jew, Rabbi Chaim was an exception on account of his height and unusual heaviness. He was highly respected in the town for his piety and good teaching ability. In addition, he read the Torah very well, better than anyone in the town.

He was a very strict teacher. He would hit the pupils if they made the slightest mistake in reciting a verse from the Bible or a passage in the Talmud. The children were deathly afraid of him and would beg their fathers to send them to a different “cheder” the following term. The pupils would come to school every day with a heavy heart. A day seldom went by when a few children did not cry from the rabbi's slaps.

It was a little easier for us in the hot summer months. Due to his excessive weight, Rabbi Chaim suffered greatly from the heat. He would then send the pupils to clean out the hall and we would set up the classroom there. The change had an evident effect for the good on his mood and he was, in fact, less strict. As a matter of fact, he would often dismiss us early so that we could go bathing in the Neiman. He himself also liked to swim in the river, but he did so later before it got dark and a little further from everyone where no one bathes, evidently on account of the fact that he was ashamed of his heavy weight. It was said that he was a very good swimmer.

Once, on a summer evening when it was already beginning to get dark, he went out for a swim. This time he was late in coming home. His family was getting nervous. His son, Shlomo, went out to look for him in the study halls of the synagogues, but no one had seen him. There was a commotion in the town. Young and old ran to the river.

People lit lanterns and began looking for Rabbi Chaim at the river's edge and also in the water. Late that night, they found him by the river in his underwear, holding a sock. The doctor who was called to the scene could do nothing more than certify his death, which came about from his being overweight.

Although we no longer had to be afraid of the rabbi's slaps, and besides we were free from going to school for over a month, until the new term, his death made a very strong impression on us. We recited psalms with great devotion over his dead body, until the burial, and we spoke about him with great respect.


[Pages 311-312]

Tuvya the Sexton

by Nachum Shulman (Shlimovitch)

Translated from the Yiddish by Harvey Spitzer

I remember Tuvia the Sexton [“shamesh”] a lot better than I do the other Jews in the town. Tuvia was my father's partner in building the synagogue and was often a guest in our house. Every Saturday night, he would come over to make an account and record in a book the amount of money pledged when one is called up for the reading of the Torah. I also know that at that time he no longer needed to serve as the sexton to make a living. The name sexton remained with him from earlier times because he was a sexton before the First World War.

He was also called “the blind man”. It was told that on the Fast of the 9th of Av, some children - rascals - threw pinecones at him and hit him in the eye, causing the loss of sight in one eye. How much truth there is to that story, I really don't know.

Thanks to the support of his children in America, he began to deal in flax and made a nice living.

Nevertheless, his sole purpose in life was to pray at the altar. He was, in fact, a very good prayer leader for the additional service on the Sabbath and holidays, and to this very day his rendition of “And rebuke the Accuser lest he accuse me” still rings in my ears.

Tuvia paid additional taxes for the re-building of the synagogue after the First World War.

May his name be remembered for good!


[Page 312]

My Grandmother Rivka

by Chemda Simchoni (Movshovitz)

Translated from the Hebrew by Shirley Horwitz

The elders of the town knew my grandmother Rivka as an active woman, tall and erect. But while giving birth to her fourth child*, she became paralyzed and lay immobile for many years, unable to move, until a miracle occurred. At the wedding of her eldest daughter Raizel, she got off the bed and began to walk! Thus, although very bent over, she was able to lead her daughter to the “chuppa” [wedding canopy], on her own two feet. She then made a vow that her life would be devoted to helping the needy.

My grandmother knew all the needy of the town. She would go to homes of the well-to-do and gather penny by penny. At dawn, she would lay food, clothing or firewood at the door of the poor according to their needs. She would leave stealthily in order not to embarrass them.

The townspeople held her in esteem and thanked her for her deeds. She knew how to convince small and big to donate and gave the donor the feeling that he or she had done a good deed. I remember that she convinced me to give charity with the explanation that for every exam I did well in, I had to donate a “zloty”. And that the more I would give, I would get better marks. So when my grandmother asked for a donation, people would respond. Even Gittel, the owner of the hotel who had rich guests and would not allow others to bother them, would herself tell my grandmother when a rich guest was coming in order to get a few “zlotys” from him.

An old woman, bent and weak who, with the willpower and the desire to help the needy, planted in our hearts the idea of mutual help.


* Pasha Malka Levine [S.H.]


[Pages 313-316]

My Father Eliezer, of Blessed Memory

by Danny Aharonovsky

Translated from the Hebrew by Ann Belinsky

lyu313.jpg
Eliezer Aharonovsky,
attorney-at- law,
of blessed memory

 

The family of the ritual slaughterer and the ritual circumciser, Yitzchak HaCohen Aharonovsky, was one of the well-known established families in Lubtch: even in the days of pogroms and war, they did not leave the town. Only during the German occupation, in the First World War, were they forced to move, but returned to the town at the first opportunity.

Yitzchak, slaughterer and examiner, had four daughters: Chaya, Mina, Rivka and Mirka, and one son - Eliezer Layzer.

The only son is a sign of a strange coincidence in the family. In every generation, several daughters were born, but an heir - a son who would continue the family's name - only one. (Yitzchak also was the only son of his father, Reb Faivel, who lived more than 100 years, and had many daughters. Faivel, too, was a single son to his father, R' Eliezer). It is not surprising, therefore, that after two daughters were born Yitzchak very anxiously awaited an heir. When he was born - the house was filled with light and happiness, and Yitzchak knew that when the day came for him to be gathered to his forefathers, there would be someone to say Kaddish at his grave and that the family name would not disappear. The newborn was called Eliezer Layzer after the name of the grandfather, and from childhood, his father destined him to be a rabbi. The child was very spoilt, but already in his childhood, he was good-hearted, sharing his presents with his sisters.

The atmosphere in the house was suitable for his destination; the house was large and spacious, the door was always open to anyone and many came there happily. In the house, the traditions and the religious commandments were kept, but there was no fossilized orthodoxy, rather a deep belief in G-d, good heartedness, humanity and love for others.

In the small town, the way of life was simple - a person was close to nature, honest life and thoughts, his heart close to G-d. The Jews were hard-working and honest, full of joy, slightly innocent, many of the worldly innovations arrived with much delay.

The young Layzer - a real country bumpkin - is strong and powerful, broad-shouldered, unafraid of the river, swimming from shore to shore, even in places where the riverbed is wide and deep. He runs in the forest, which is cushioned with green pine needles, fills his mouth with “yagdas” (wild berries), and rolls in the flower-covered meadows. His loving father gives him a horse as a present, and he gallops on it with unmistakable pride. His face is sunburnt, his hair short. In his strength and mischievousness, he looks like the child of a gentile, Heaven forbid!

During the winter, when the country is chilly and large snowflakes fall, dressing the earth with a white, shining robe, when it bows to the Lord of the Winter, the house is warm. There is a smell of tasty cooking, but the child Layzer is not to be found: he is busy outside with his friends -throwing snowballs at each other, flying like the wind on their skates on the frozen Neiman, tumbling, getting banged, yelling as youth do, and continuing on their way.

Children playing - they are splinters of the Creator's laughter; they are similar in their clear laughter and identical in all nations, but for the Jewish child in exile, there was also a mission - to keep the embers of faith and heritage of the generations burning.

At the age of five, Layzer started attending the “cheder” [religious elementary school] and at fourteen he was sent to the Mir Yeshiva, and after that, to the Radon Yeshiva. Despite the difficulty his father had in being separated from his son, on whose soul he took pity, he did not hesitate to do so, as his hope was so strong to see him ordained as a rabbi, and he was ready to sacrifice everything so his son could acquire knowledge.

The youth turns out to be a wise and studious pupil, and they foresee that he will have a great future. During his visits to the town, they are amazed at his erudition and are eager to hear his words. Together with his religious studies, he finds time to work for the public. He is active in the “Young Pioneer” [“Hechalutz Hatza'ir”] organization in Lubtch. In Lifnishok, where he visited relatives, he made a speech in the synagogue that became famous throughout the town. The very few people who have survived since then have not forgotten this speech till this today. When he was invited to go up to the pulpit, he stood emotionally in front of the large and mainly unknown audience, but when he started to speak, his words burst out in a flow: he stood at the pulpit for hours and spoke in a passionate voice, and none of those present moved from his place.

To his father's great sorrow, the young man leaves the yeshiva, travels to Vilna and enters the secular “gymnasia” [high school]. The father does not give up, sends lobbyists to his son to try and persuade him, request and beg, urge him to return to the yeshiva- but he refuses. He is determined in his decision, his soul is eager for general wisdom and knowledge. The yeshiva cannot satisfy his demands for enlightenment.

In Vilna, he finished his “gymnasia” studies within a year, passed the matriculation exams successfully and registered at the university - in the Faculty of Law.

At the university, too, he excels in his studies. He tutors students who have difficulties in their studies. Now it looks like his way in life is paved, for it is clear he will be a successful attorney.

The Zionist virus that infected him many years previously shows its symptoms. Eretz-Yisrael needs young people who will come and settle there. The best youth of Lubtch, among them his young sister, Rivka, and her husband, Tuvia Shimshoni, have already emigrated. He decides that it is time for him to fulfill his dream. He abandons his studies and joins the pioneers, amongst whom is also Shayna - his heart's love - his wife. His father is very angry; in the depths of his heart he had hoped that he would still succeed in bringing his son back from law to religious studies, but Eretz-Yisrael? There we know there is no need for a rabbi, and there are those that claim that apart from Arabs and malaria, there is nothing more. The energy and youthful passion of his son overcomes his father's anger and he emigrates to Eretz-Yisrael.

In Eretz-Yisrael he serves his old-new homeland faithfully. For 13 years he has a job as a Jewish policeman in the Mandate Police Force and takes part in the most dangerous missions.

During the Second World War, news from his home in Lubtch stopped arriving. The brutal Nazi soldiers and their helpers sent all the Jewish communities in Europe up in flames and smoke. Only “brands snatched from the flames” [survivors] remained from the Holocaust to tell about its terribleness. Despite the fact that Eliezer managed to hide his pain, his closest friends could discern the terrible sorrow that filled his heart due to the murder of his parents and dear ones and the destruction of the community.

The State of Israel arose, a national homeland was established for the Jewish people. Now he turned to completing his studies and indeed became a successful lawyer. Even in his work as a lawyer, his typical character was revealed - the desire to help others, the willingness to support others without any monetary gain.

At the age of only forty-six, he was plucked from the Tree of Life.

Eliezer Aharonovsky left behind a widow, Shayna (née Resnick), and three sons: Dan, Gad and Yitzchak.

Three sons are an exception to the old family tradition in the Exile, but there are those who say that the air in Eretz-Yisrael affected it!


[Pages 316-317]

Their Memory Will Remain Forever in My Heart

by Freda Pintel (Pines)

Translated from the Hebrew by Ann Belinsky

lyu316.jpg
Freda Pintel (Pines)

 

My parents lived in Castle Street - the main street of Lubtch - until the First World War. Our lives were peaceful then and we did not know what it was to lack. On the same street lived my Uncle Itshe (Yitzchak), my Aunt Shayna and their daughters, Meyta and Michla.

After the town was destroyed by battles in the First World War, we moved to Novogrudek. Our economic condition became very bad there. We lived in a basement apartment for about seven years. It filled with water during the autumn and winter, and we had to pump it out with buckets. The mold and wetness damaged my father's health, and he became sick with a serious illness and remained bedridden to his dying day. My mother was forced to shoulder the burden of making a livelihood and bear the worries of bringing up a family.

When the refugees started returning to Lubtch, our family was also amongst them. We set up house and made a living from a small shop that didn't have enough to provide for the family.

Although she wearied herself at work, my mother insisted that we pursue our studies and sent us to the “Tarbut” school. When we finished school, we learnt a trade, integrated into work and helped with the family livelihood.

The social life in the town was spirited: the young people mainly belonged to the Zionist youth movements. In the evening, we would gather together for lectures, reading and trips. We sang folksongs and songs of the homeland and we dreamt of our future in Eretz-Israel.

In 1933 anti-Semitism was keenly felt. The youth knew that there was no other way in front of us other than to “make aliyah” to Eretz-Israel. In Poland, many training groups were set up where the members prepared themselves for work and communal working life in Eretz-Israel.

My sister, Mina, joined the “Shachariya” group in Baronovitch. In 1934 she emigrated to Eretz-Israel, joined the group in Nes Ziona that prepared themselves for settlement in Mitzudat Ussishkin, today Kibbutz Dafna in the Galilee.

After her, I also set out for training. In 1935 I emigrated to Eretz-Israel and joined Kibbutz Ein Harod.

In 1937, a year and a half before the outbreak of World War II, we managed to bring our sister Meyta (Shlomit) over. After our father died, we made numerous attempts to bring our mother and sister Bracha to Eretz-Israel but with no success, and when the war broke out, all communication with them was lost.

The knowledge that our mother and sister were exterminated by the deadly Nazi foes does not give me peace. Their memory is forever kept in my heart.


[Pages 317-319]

An Eternal Light for My Family

by Shmuel Binyamin-Chaim Aronovsky

Translated from the Yiddish by Harvey Spitzer

Although so many years have gone by since I left my little town of Lubtch, it stands before my eyes as though it were just yesterday. I can see its streets and lanes, the river, the castle on the hill, the long row of tall trees, leading to the castle, the green pastures all around and even the people's faces, but their names have gone from my recollection, no longer to be remembered.

However, in this book - the last monument for a whole town of Jews - I will recall some of the members of my family, describing with my modest ability some of their qualities and deeds which were so characteristic of Jewish life in Eastern Europe.

My father was Aharon-Mendel, the carpenter. He had three sons: my older brother, Baruch, Yisrael, and myself. In the town, my father was considered to be an irascible and angry Jew. However, this opinion was not correct. He would, in fact, quickly lose his temper and get angry, but this was only for a few minutes. His anger would dissipate and he would again become all kind and good. He had, as they say, a golden heart. He would “go through fire and water” to do someone a favor. And not just for a good friend, but even for those who were not nice to him. He saved many a Jew from the hands of the gentiles in the town. He also had an open hand for charity. He never refused anyone and gave beyond his means. He was happy that his house was not avoided by charity seekers, and he also taught us this quality.

Poor merchants or peddlers who did not have a few rubles needed for trading used to receive a loan from him, without interest, God forbid.

I never knew my mother, Raize Gitte, may she rest in peace! She died when I was six months old. I was raised by a stepmother, Basha, Berel the “Bricker's” daughter. She was a good, loving mother in every respect. She not only raised us but also brought up my brother's two children who became orphans when their mother died during the First World War and their father (my brother) was held by the Germans as a prisoner of war.

When my father felt that his time to leave this world was nearing, he sent for a few Jews and gave them this order: Since both his sons have gone far away from Lubtch and since the two grandchildren will go to live with their father in France when their grandfather dies, he is leaving all his possessions to his wife and, after her death, everything should be given to the community. Our stepmother, however, had a different, carefully conceived plan. She wrote to us that we, the legal heirs, should write everything in her name. We immediately fulfilled her request. Shortly before her death, she called for her brother, Yisrael-Shimon, and our cousin, Eli-Avraham Shapiro from Pishgas. She handed them the documents, asked them to sell everything and give the money to the two orphans and also see to it that the community did not get anything. They carried out her last wish perfectly.

My oldest brother, Baruch-Shlomo, was taken from his house in Paris by the Nazis with his whole family (except for one daughter with her two small children), and no one know where their bones came to rest. My other brother had a guilty conscience for not having saved our brother Baruch in time. When he came on a visit to America in the winter of 1965, he poured out his aching heart over the fact that he had not taken better care of them. I calmed him as best I could and pointed out that it was almost impossible to escape from the Nazis, but his spirit remained broken. Three months later, the sad news of his death reached me.

May these lines be an eternal light for the rising and bliss of their souls!


[Page 320]

In Memory of My Brother Avraham,
May His Blood be Avenged!

by Golda Kalmanovitch

Translated from the Hebrew by Ann Belinsky

Avraham - a golden-haired and black-eyed youth. Everyone nicknamed him Avrameleh.

Now there is no Avrameleh; he rises from the depths of our memory, as a suffocating and hurtful memory, which is gradually disappearing into the far and distant past.

When did we last see him? Thirty years ago?! What importance is there to dates when one thinks about Avrameleh? For he is in another world where there is no place for the conventional dates, which distance him from us day to day.

On the 15th of May, 1939, we met last. The family stood before separation: the brothers , Reuven and Shlomo, had left to study in a Yeshiva and I planned to make aliyah to Eretz-Israel.

Avrameleh gave expression to the separation in writing, in the lines which he wrote on the back of a photo of the whole family - a photograph of the last time of happiness. This is what he wrote:

“And here is a symbol of friendship
The last photo of brothers
Whom Fate has dispersed
In all directions.

May all the family
Be gathered
Under one roof
In the Chosen Land.”

Avrameleh! You did not have the opportunity to live in “the Chosen Land”, and you did not live to see that your request was not fulfilled. You only succeeded in seeing part of the family again, in the Devoretz Ghetto. Your eyes saw how bestial men tortured Mother, Father, and your sister Nechama.

You got your revenge on the Germans, when you joined the fighting partisans, but your heart could not forget the terrible sights that you saw, you lost your belief in man: with your own hands you extinguished the wick of your life.

You are comparable to the angel who took himself from the hell on earth: a pure soul who left the impurity and the evil and passed on to the Celestial Court.

We will carry your image in our hearts forever.


[Page 321]

Max Shmulevitch, of Blessed Memory

by Yona Degani

Translated from the Hebrew by Ann Belinsky

lyu321.jpg
Max Shmulevitch z”l

 

He was a descendant of a wide branching family in Lubtch.

He walked a long and difficult path during his lifetime. He was a soldier in the Russian Czar's army in the First World War, and in the Second - he suffered like most of the Jews that remained in Europe and went through seven levels of Nazi Hell. During his wanderings from country to country he lost his wife and daughter. Day and night it was possible to sit and hear his outpourings about what he had gone through.

At the end of the war he remained alone and abandoned with no family or friends, although he tried to surmount his sorrows and rebuild his life, and succeeded. His second wife and adopted daughter looked after him with devotion and love all the years of his suffering.

He was a dear man, good-hearted and devoted to his acquaintances and friends. He loved his adopted daughter as a father and took care of her every need. He wanted to help everyone, even though he didn't have the wherewithal, apart from a kind word, a smiling face and a pleasant joke.

He was very happy when he managed to come to Israel, he kissed the ground and wept. He was so delighted when he met his sisters' daughters here. Now we are orphaned, for we became very attached to him during the seven years he was in Israel. He was like a father to us. How sad is our heart that we have lost him!

Those who knew him will remember him eternally.

 

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