By Daniel Ben Nahum
A person always remembers to tell how good his youth was. And more than that, how good his childhood was. I still remember how my heart trembled when I met up with Mosheh Stavi's work Friends of Dumb Creatures (Yedide Ha-ilmim). They were thin yellow booklets published by Moriyah in Odessa. I remember the tears I shed about the cruel fate of Lagan the Aramaite. He was a rebellious and noble horse, which didn't want his owners to shoe him under any conditions. This is a hint to the kind of freedom that rejects the injustice of the Diaspora and to what happened in the Jewish Pale of Settlement. These stories look well when you meet them after many decades. You get a new taste from them and reveal images that have disappeared from the eyes of the child. Some of our great writers have had a lot of love for animals and made good descriptions of them. However, Mosheh Stavi is unique in our literature. He listened so as to speak the language of animals, both domesticated and wild, and to birds and put them at the front of his work. And precisely his stories about animals are very human.
The animals of Stavi have a place of honor in the house, pen, and fenced courtyard. In the stories of what happens to them, there are reflected as if in a mirror clearly the lives of the simple Jews and their gentile neighbors. And on all of them is the image of a blessed childhood, which was poor in events but rich in experiences and adventures. Its spiritual meaning is very out of place of the boundaries in which it occurs and forms a kind of protected corner, from which a person is fed all his life. And the mischievous and wide-eyed child is none other than our author, Mosheh, himself, the son of the owner of the flour mill in the center of Antopol, a small town in Polesia, full of gardens and lawns, whose streets and courtyards open to the wide fields around.
Mosheh Stavi is a realist at his roots, gifted with sharp powers of observation and a penetrating glance, taking in every point and variation in nature, every movement and grimace in the animal and human world. And here are examples: A small weaned calf lay down spreading out its legs. We don't know if it did this because it was taken off to slaughter, or if it did this because it was strong and happy, or if it did this because it was mischievous and lightheaded. Only young animals know to spread out like this. Or A pair of young mules pushed at their bits with their lips as if they pulled the wagon not by their chests but by their lips and they impatiently moved their rumps as if one of the straps of their harnesses had become wrapped beneath their tail, and they were prepared to kick with their legs... Only someone near to the animal world would know to appreciate all the preciseness and vitality in these descriptions.
As one of the classical school writers remaining from Mendele in our literature, Stavi was tied with all his feelings to the ground of reality and his creative imagination was not free forever from its authority. Bialik commented well to him in a letter when he tried as a youth his strength at a modernistic symbolistic style: You don't have power to get into the secrets of the Law. My friend, your foot is a straight foot. And God created you and your skill straight. Why should you look for crooked ways? With love for your healthy ability. H.N.B.
And surely, Stavi's stories are full of health and earthiness, which are rare in our literature. And with this there was a lyrical romantic tone characteristic to Stavi, which raised reality to a symbolic level. Perhaps there is unintentionally recognizable in his way of writing the influence of Perets, Zeitlin, and Frishman, authors from Warsaw in whose company he spent the years of his youth. Some of his first stories excel in poetical sharpness and dramatic plot, in which there was the confrontation with fate just like the grace of love that did not distinguish between higher and lower levels of creation. And between what happens to man and his animal is drawn open and hidden feelings in the secrets and mysteries of life revealed, In the Heat of Summer (Be-hom Kayits) and In the Courtyard of Trees (Be-hatsar Ha-etsim).
Certainly, the permanent foundation in his work with many corners and fronts is the tie and love for the soil. Devotion to the earth, the foundation of the world is the profound line passing in all his literary work like the way he lived. He not only sings hymns in its honor but also is really woven into the life of the earth. The best pages in his works, both those written in the Diaspora and in Israel, are those that are poetically full of the strength and smell of the mother earth up to the point that the senses are drunk and the personality of the author is obliterated: A new sun, fresh and red, as if coming out of the bath, is seen in the firmament of the heavens; from the earth, which just now returns to life, there rises the smell of grass, grass and flowers perfume the air.
There hung from the trees the last pieces of big and clear icicles. They fell to the ground some loudly and some softly. Somewhere, there remained the splinters hanging on the top of a stalk in the hiding place of a leaf and in the cyathium of a flower. They appeared to be pure silver tears in the eyes of an innocent child. The last rays of the sun sinking in the lower parts of the heaven penetrated diagonally from among the branches of the trees and were reflected in the fine silver splinter in a purple red. (Be-Yom Kayits, or On a Summer Day).
It is a well known truth that everyone brings up that we were uprooted from the earth. Certainly, we are missing a wide layer of real farmers, who earn their living from the earth. However, the foundation of the earth was not entirely missing from the lives of our people and their occupations. This was especially true in the case of the inhabitants of the suburbs, who were known to be poor. They needed the produce of their gardens and animals. They kept the backbone of attachment to the earth. They were never cut off in their conversation and in all their
innocent surrounding from the life of the village. And even the high spirits of the Sabbath and holidays, the milieu of the study hall surrounded by the scent of the Torah and holiness of tradition didn't weaken the scent of the field and the stable. Many of the Jewish writers devoted their pen to the simple and their sufferings. However, few brought up the connection to the earth in their lives like Mosheh Stavi. He saw in the love of the simple Jew for his animal (Parah ba-dir-berakahah ba-bayit, or Cow in the pen-blessing in the home) Hu ve-hi [he and it] the tie to the hub of existence, to the origins of language from above and below.
The love or the land is what Mosheh Stavi stood for. After his first stories were published and got him a reputation, he was on his way to Israel to find a place as a worker on one of the distant settlements on the border of the Negev, in Beer Tuviyah. It was there that his life and work were interwoven. Precisely, he, who was so rooted in the earth of the exile and in the rich folk language of the quintessential Jew, accepted for himself the judgment of the Israeli revolution more severely and consistently than other Hebrew writers who arrived in Israel during the Second Aliyah and were more spiritual and ethereal. The nature of the country and its land are not acquired only by intuition and frame of mind. Rather, wholeheartedly by the direct contact of the person struggling with nature as Jacob did with the angel in order to get out of him the strength of his blessing.
The stories of the Israeli village by Stavi breathe the air of the fields in which the plough moves like a candle that won't be extinguished, sweating, moving, above and below, from horizon to horizon (Zaranu be-dimah, or We planted with a tear). The working hand is felt that sows, the body being relaxed and desiring rest. All the acts of creation, the changes of day and night, do not exist for themselves but are connected and united with the work of men. The night is for dreams and watching. The dew is for pasturing cattle. The silence before morning is to bring in from the fields. The wind of morning is to take out the beginning of the soft straw. The clear day is for plowing. The heat of the afternoon is for threshing. The wind at twilight is to plant crops (Le-ahoti Beer Tuviyah, or To my sister, Beer Tuviyah). All the changes of existence here seem to be mirrored in the processes of work: The thick fog begins to retreat, as if they turned it by the work of sowing and dispersed it with hands. Afterwards, when one of the loaded carts brought with it from the field to the threshing floor the gold of the young morning, together with the gold of blessing wrapped between the racks (ha-boker or Early in the morning).
Stavi was the first of Israeli writers who understood with sharp comprehension the vitality and reality of the uniqueness of the 282 country's landscape without transmitting images and memories of other landscapes. His descriptions are apparently realistic and precise to the point of naturalistic exaggeration (Somewhere a cow stirred and loudly urinated water. And immediately, its waste water surrounded all the village). Nevertheless, there is an explanation in all its precision of a living past: The light silk and grey mists, which sent their webs with the beginning of the evening from beneath the heaven sown with stars made the air fragrant with something wet and fresh, fell at midnight to the ground like a thick material, close and full of blessing...The moon of the end of the month came down now red from behind the mountains of Judea, as if ashamed by its late appearance. It looked at the ground with the pre-morning gaze, from behind silver fog, as if full of blood, and for a small moment increased the darkness.
Stavi is the poet of the beginning phase of Hebrew agriculture in Israel, before the all-powerful machine pushed away the labor of the animal and the human hand in milking and shearing, in planting and harvesting. This is a period from which we are separated by only a few decades. Nevertheless, it seems to us distant and forgotten. And not once does Stavi appear as a chronicler of a dear honey moon, a fresh honey moon with the first steps of the
pioneers and settlers. His statements, despite their outer simplicity, are festive like a hymn or prayer: grass, sun and rain, and land and heaven and God.
Even in his stories of the Arab village and its legends, which were written from a deep and penetrating knowledge above and below, there beats the feeling of participation in a covenant of bread and salt for all this family, which gets its bread by its own sweat, a type of peasant cooperation. This is a happiness of rain in its time and the blessing of abundance, and their opposite, the pain of drought and the fear of famine, surround all the living and creeping existence on the face of the earth, without difference of sex and type, family and rank, race and nation, religion and class. Stavi's book ha-Kefar ha-aravi, or The Arab Village, is a basic contribution unique in its type in our literature in the field of Arab folklore before the British conquest and the penetration of modern influences. Stavi's insight into the patriarchal environment of his neighbors, which does not cover up the inner contradictions and deep social rot, is cruel and sober. However the description of the village struck by drought, waiting for the coming of the hot wands, is entirely full of the spirit of revolt and human pride trampled underfoot. These stories and writings are excellent for observing the substance of things, with a farmer's intelligence, rooted in the existence of the world, full of humor, and with a poetic vitality coming from the lines.
Not many guess how difficult are the pains of uprooting and planting anew from one language to another for the author, whose language is not only the instrument of his work but also the oxygen for his creation and the hapr for his inspiration. For a long time the Israeli stories of Stavi were translated from one language to another, from Yiddish to Hebrew (the excellent translation of A. Shlonski and also M. Tyumkin and Y. Kikhtnboim) until it took root in the soil of the Hebrew language. However, even here Stavi digs to roots with the help of his closeness to nature and agriculture, to the conversation of animals and birds, to the milieu of the Arab village, and to ways of agriculture in which ancient ways and customs were kept.
Our author learned about the early life of our language as it grew out of the nature of the land and its landscape and from the lives and work of our ancestors. In Akhilat kurtsa (Eating bread = Slander), kurtsa is the bread of the shepherds baked on cinders of the fire and eaten together and accompanied with slander, obscenity, plots, and gossip (for example, the story of the selling of Joseph). In Hutra (Club), throw a club in the air and it lands on its head (Tanuuma to Balak 17); the reference is to the Nabot, the Arab club, and the shepherd's staff, which has a heavy top, serving as a weapon and always falling on its head because of the weight. After Stavi gave a bill of divorce to the Diaspora, to its landscape, which made a big impression on his soul, he wiped away strongly its impression so that he would be able fully to give life to the land of Israel, to cleave to it completely without other visions and experiences separating him from it and mixing him up. And in this matter that he was severe on himself, he was also severe with others and prepared to rebuke them fully in long and detailed articles stating that our best writers and poets had a baggage of visions of other places and skies and if you this duality is stamped on all our national literature since our nation went into exile. The visions of an early landscape and foreign country are mixed up together.
There was no other writer among our contemporary authors like Mosheh Stavi, who was able to make the beginning of our history come out of the past, taking up the plow for the first time and opening the first furrow in the earth of the homeland after a separation of thousands of years. He is a person of the Second Aliyah, who went like a brother and friend with the Bilyyim in Gedarah and with the farmers of Ekron and Beer Tuviyah, simple people from the old generation.
He was always ready to listen, to learn and teach agronomy, linguistics, and literature, to help and share a burden according to the best of his strength
and knowledge, as one of the family, as an insider, continuing a chain, which was not cut off from then, the chain of pioneering work. This was in spite of the contradictions between generations a heartfelt distance, despite the hard struggles taking place then between the farmers and workers in the centers of the settlement, in Petah Tikvah, Rishon le-Tsiyon and Rehovot. And when he was older, this would happen with the youth of the groups in the valleys and the Falilee. Who still knew, like him, to glean from the sands of difficult life the gold of the vision and from the thorns to gather the refined honey nectar of love. This was just like Rabbi Meir, who revealed from under the peel that was rough and tough the seeds of the inside.
The book First Ones reveals the scroll of the life of our author, who testified about himself: I never knew a greater happiness than this time when one's hands didn't listen to your wish of serving the food to the mouth after a day of vigorous work And when the day will come and my hand will not be able to shear more than one ewe a day, I will not give up shearing one Let one innocent ewe, who is compared to the Congregation of Israel, walk after being sheared by my hand, which when I was a youth tied itself with all the strands of its soul to these clumps of earth and to this land, the land of the country of birth (from a letter).
Mosheh Stavi (Stavski) was rooted in the town of his birth Antopol, which was the source of his inspiration in its workers, simple people, and their customs in which he saw and fixed his world. He gathered from this source a full handful of statements about the Jewish milieu that he melted into the melting pot of his literary work. From it went out shining pearls of the soul of the people, which he engraved on fine silk strings. Antopol was sanctified to him. He saw in it the reflection of the Jew in the Exile and he devoted the best of his works to it (from the introduction to Be-arov Yom, or As the Day Goes on to Evening)
The memories of Antopol accompanied him until his last day and he wanted to memorialize them in a memorial for the town. Therefore, he worked and got people from the town to work in Israel and abroad to put out a memorial book for Antopol. And he himself wrote some chapters for the book from the history of his life and literary work.
Mosheh Stavi (originally Stavski) was born 1884 (1 Adar 644) in the town of Antopol (Polesia). In the late 1890s, he went to live with his father in Kremtsug to help in the grain business. In doing business, he went through most of the Russian cities in the south, and finally he came in 1904 to Aleksandrov, near the German border. It was in this place that he began to write his first stories in Yiddish. From 1907, he lived and wrote in Warsaw. There he met his wife and in 1911 they went together to Israel.
Until the outbreak of WWI, he lived in Tel Aviv and was active in literature, journalism, and also office work (in the Herzelia Gymnasium). With the outbreak of war, he went to work as a farmer and watchman in Beer Tuviyah, Ben Shemen, and Petah Tikvah. In 1922 he returned to Tel Aviv and set up a milk farm on Mendele Street until 1929. In 1930-1932, he made a trip to cities and towns in Poland to promote the Hebrew book. When he returned from the trip, he lived in Tel Aviv until his death in 1964 at the age of 80. He was buried in Binyaminah.
Stavi began to write in Yiddish and continued in it for many years. He only passed over to Hebrew slowly in Israel. His first stories were translated from Yiddish into Hebrew. Among them is his famous story Lavan ha-Arami, or Laban the Aramean.
He increased more strongly and expanded the scope of the animal and nature stories that he began to write in the Exile in a foreign landscape in the landscape of Israel that he loved. The collections of his famous stories include Ha-Boker (At Dawn), Sefer ha-Behemot (Animal Book), Yedidim Ilmim (Mute Friends), Ha-Kefar ha-Aravi (The Arab Village), Be-Derekh le-Erets ha-Osher (On the Way
to the Happy Land), Be-Arov Yom (As the Day Went on to Evening), and Ha-Zorim be-Dimah (Those that Plant with Tears). When he was around all his days in a village and working environment, he worked in his old age on linguistic research and terminology for nature and work. As a result of this research, he published his books: Pirke Teva ve-Lashon (Chapters on Nature and Language) and Geluyot ve-Setumot be-Lashon (Visible and Hidden Things in Language).
Stavi loved three things with all his soul and power: Antopol, his hometown, his dumb animal friends, and the Land of Israel, which was for him his natural homeland. Stavi put down roots in this land. From it, there grew the author, Mosheh Stavi, who gave expression to us of its crop, and fed us from its fruits, and made us full of its goodness.
The Land of Nature and Animal Life in the Exile
Antopol from which Stavi got his types at the beginning of his way in the Exile, was one of the few Jewish towns in the Diaspora in which the Jews were agricultural workers and raised domestic and other animals. It was from this town of birth that he got the inspiration to describe and set up the domestic animals, the household implements and everything concerning village life at home and in the field. Stavi loved animals, specifically, the cow; the horse, the dog, and the chicken are always found in the center of the picture. This is while other types from the world of the wilderness are subordinate to them. As is known, Mendele already put in Susati [My horse] and other animals to our literature.
However, Stavi did great things by opening for us a window to understand what goes on in the soul of the animals and he made the reader participate in the milieu of their lives and experiences, from which we see clearly that the relations of animals among themselves are just like the relations of humans among themselves.
The Animal and Natural World in Israel
Stavi's power is not only to describe spiritual conditions that excite. He also describes peaceful pastoral conditions. Here is a description of a night in Israel in one of the days of harvest:
Somewhere, a cow-finished its second meal, sat down heavily and groaned. Somewhere a horse scratched his hide with his teeth while sleeping standing. And the chains on his neck gave out a ringing sound. Somewhere there was heard the sound of sheep diligently and pleasantly chewing their cud and white foam appeared on their tongues. A big mouse passed by and frightened the chickens. Somewhere at the end of the village a lizard sleepily climbed the fence, moved onto a roof, stirred over the shingles for a moment, passed over the roof, and disappeared on the other side.
Then, there was silence. The dogs had already gotten their first sleep and spread out over the village. One dog went outside the village to listen to what was happening in G-d's world and to see if a wild animal had not sneaked up to the water trough of the well. One dog passed through the courtyard looking at leftovers from today's meal. Another dog joined the watchman making his rounds in the village, following secretly sometimes in front and sometimes behind him. And together with him, he listened silently to the night (ha-Boker or E Before dawn).
Stavi loved the earth, everything that grew from the earth, the wheat, barley, cauliflower, turnip, and carrot and all that it yielded to its workers. He especially loved the land of Israel. And because of this love, he forecast an abundant crop the calves who would die until the end of the summer from a lack of pasture in the fields, will not die anymore. Their hides will almost burst from an abundance of fat. Thus, he describes the great abundance, which the work of the Hebrew worker brought forth. However, there is still a long way to go between the dream of abundance in the future and the present condition. Stavi was not happy about this and writes:
In those days, it was before the Jewish settlement
was able to raise sheep. The Valley didn't exist yet. The isolated attempts to raise sheep in Judah didn't work out well. When I went to work in a group that existed then in Beer Tuviya, the dream of having sheep here was also one of the golden dreams that we would dream in the group. We would dream, consult, speak and argue about in at the evening meal. However, the group split and dispersed and that was the end of the dreams.
Even with the end of the public dream, Stavi didn't give up. He continued to dream his own dream. Certainly, it would not take long to realize it. Meanwhile, he passed a lot of hard changes and moves. From the pruning hook in Petah Tikvah, he became a watchman with a rifle and revolver in Beer Tuviyah. The main thing was to be near to the mother earth, to fulfill in it the commandment of loving one's mother and to diligently guard it until the dream of abundance would take place and become reality.
The Arab Village
Just as he knew how to describe abundance in the Hebrew village, so Stavi knew to describe the life of want in the Arab village and the fear of hunger and terror which hovered over the village. The mothers baked bread to use it sparingly over a day or two. In order to save the bread, they put into it excellent and nourishing grasses. They would also divide the bread into quarters, in order to save it. Then, they would give it to their hungry children.
Stavi knew the Arab village well. He knew its people, customs, and manner of speech. He put his knowledge of the Arab way of life and legends into the 2198 book ha-Kefar ha-Aravi(The Arab village). This book tears open a window into the lives of the male Arab and the female Arabs with their many veils. He put down into writing again the legends of the Arabs in his book Be-derekh lei- Erets ha-osher (On the shy to the happy land).
This book is not only a collection of Arab stories and legends for the child. Rather, it for young and old to share together. The stories contain the wisdom of life with an addition of light humor. They are a kind of Thousand and One Nights formulated by Stavi. He writes in his introduction to ha- Kefar ha-Aravi:
In the Land of the Patriarchs, to which I devoted the best days of my youth, I tasted a second childhood. I absorbed the impressions of this childhood together with the landscape and the nature of life described in it here, from the relations of good neighbors, side by side, furrow next to furrow and plough following plough ... I had to make a comprehensive description of the life of the Arab village in a country very similar to the lives of our ancestors in ancient times. We know still, from the days of the Jewish elementary religious school, about the quarrels of the shepherds of Abraham and Isaac with the shepherds of the foundation of the Arab village. There is no peace and plenty, no life and no fruitfulness without a well.
The linguistic research of Stavi into all that concerns the concepts of the field and everything tied to it is a blessing in itself. Stavi does not come to this area of research as a researcher and linguist, but as one who has contact with the earth and knows and recognizes the land. He explained from his clear understanding of the life of the village and the field some vague sentences. or Biblical and Talmudic expressions, which the commentators had a hard time to explain. In his explanation of Hatsir gagot(Grass of the roof) he says:
The top of the roof is covered with loam and plastered with mud. The thin material is mixed with straw and chaff. All this includes different seeds, which sprout with the first rain and cover the roof with a green covering. This is Hatsir gagog [Grass of the roofs]. Since the layer of loam and mud plaster is really thin and there is no earth under it to feed the grass, it quickly dries and withers. Psalms compares the wicked to this grass, which withers before the stalk and the stem come out. (Pirke teva
ve-lashon, Chapters from nature and language).
This is the way he does it in his last book Geluyot u-setumot be-lasaon (Things that are clear and obscure in language). He digs to the source of a saying until he clarifies and explains it appropriately. He does this with articulate observations from the reality of Israeli life. He is so sure of his observations that he takes to task the great people of Hebrew literature and shows their mistakes in nature, animal life, and the processes of work.
Stavi does not respect even our best writers if they didn't pick up what is true to life. He certainly comes and refutes them if he finds a word or expression which is not according to the spirit of the Hebrew language. However, he especially corrected many mistakes in knowledge about the true feelings of animals, which he knew intimately.
This was written according to the article of Akiva Ben-Ezra in the Hadoar, issue 33 from 15 Av 724 (August 1964) and other sources.
By Rinah Asif
Elhanan Lifshits, the son of Judah and Kiarinah, comes up in my memory from my childhood days as a patron of the youth, as a representative of Hashomer ha-tsair Organization to the Polish government, and as a devoted friend and adviser to all who turned to him. He was an abundantly good-hearted person, a friend and companion to young and old. He would be the first to greet a person and was prepared to help every deprived and poor person. He stood guard and risked his life for the good of the community. It happened more than once that he saved the town from the Petlurav and Belchov rioters during WWI. All the people in the town, both Jews and Christians, respected him.
In WWII when the Russians conquered the region, he was appointed to head the town council. As was always his way, he acted for the public good without getting tired or being afraid. When the conquerors appointed him to divide parts of the forest for the cutting of trees, the gentiles accused him of giving the Jews the best part and that he was a bourgeoisie class and a kulak. They obtained the signatures of the inhabitants of the surrounding villages.
The authorities took him out at night and sent him to Siberia. He passed all the seven departments of Hell: hunger, disease, bodily and spiritual degeneration. He made this passage as a person alone, with all of his family remaining in Antopol. His stories about that period cause the hairs of one's head to stand up. He held himself up and passed all the sufferings, which gave their signs on his body and health, but not his spirit.
He arrived in Israel in 1951. The people from his town, his family in Israel, and especially his sister, Hadasah, received him with love. His sister took care of him like a mother, and he began to return to his strength.
He didn't want to be a burden to anyone. He searched and found work fit for his being an elderly person as a guard in the Alskor factory in Tel Aviv. He recovered and his will to live returned to him. When people visited him at work, which was not according to his previous status, he was proud that he was working and useful. He took care of himself and met with the people of the town, friends and relatives who respected him. As he was accustomed to doing, he became interested in community service. The first assembly of the community in which he lived and worked was held at his initiative. People founded the Organization of the former inhabitants of Antopol, now living in Israel, at this meeting.
There were accepted at the first meeting proposals and decisions to memorialize our martyrs, to publish a memorial book, and to erect a synagogue in their memory. There were divisions of opinion regarding erecting a synagogue or other institution. It was decided under the influence of Elhanan, of blessed
memory, to erect a synagogue in memory of the martyrs. His points were that all the days of the people of the community were spent in the synagogue, in which they poured their soul and bitterness of their heart. The synagogue was their fortress and refuge. They drew comfort and strength to continue to live and to hope for a better fixture.
The organization had ties with former inhabitants of Antopol abroad, especially, in the United States. Elhanan sent letters, answered replies, gave reasons until he received promises that they would give us aid. He took care and worked during the heat and rain. He ran about, influenced and directed. They laid the corner stone for the synagogue in 1956. How his face shone! Such happiness and joy filled him that his desires were going to be realized. On that occasion, he said to us, If G-d wills and we will be able to erect this monument and I will see the synagogue established with my own eyes, then I will be able to die in peace.
The synagogue was magnificently built. However, Elhanan, of blessed memory, wasn't able to dedicate it. He fell down and expired in purity on the anniversary of the death of his mother Karinah, a distinguished woman, a patron, of the orphanage, as he was saying the kaddish for her.
We continued and carried out his will. The years of effort and struggle continued. We are happy in what we were able to accomplish. The magnificent building is standing on its foundation as an honor, glory, and memorial to the names of our dear ones.
We would not fulfill our responsibility if we didn't mention his sister, Hadasah Glazer, of the Lifshits family. The fact is that she and her husband received their brother with boundless love and devotion. Their care returned to him the will live and to feel important again.
Life was cruel to Hadasah and Noah. They had two children die and they remained childless. All of their life in Israel was a continual struggle for a hard existence with weak health. Despite everything, she didn't complain about the bitterness of her fate and was active and interested in all the activities of the organization. She didn't miss a meeting or memorial. She was interested in the welfare of the members of the organization and gave contributions beyond her ability.
By Yaakov Rimon
R. Avraham Yitshak used to walk on the Sabbaths to the nearest neighborhood to complete a prayer quorum. It was a pleasure to him to help establish a prayer quorum in the Jewish neighborhood. At the end of his life he was able to move to Kefar ha-roeh. There his happiness was complete, because he was able to live in a village of pious people. When his modest wife died, he became increasingly lonely. His children put him into an old age home in Jerusalem. He was happy again to live out his last days in the eternal city. The deceased was the son-in-law of Rabbi Shelomoh Fridman, of blessed memory. He left behind two children. One of them, Mr. Joseph Barukh Weinstein, was the secretary of the munici-
pal department of health of Tel Aviv.
The memory of this capable and innocent man, who served G-d in the Holy Land will remain engraved in the hearts of all who knew and cherished him. R. Barukh Yosef Weinstein from Poloshin was the head of the family. R. Avraham Yitshak and his wife Sarah Hindah lived in Israel during their last years and took care of a farm. They died in a good old age in the Sheinkin neighborhood near Tel Aviv.
By Shmuel Dov Hayyim Kris
The town of Antopol did not only issue scholars, rabbis and luminaries who enlightened the world with Torah, both in the town and also in other cities. It also put forth honest merchants and laborers who were Jewish. They were simple and innocent in a period when many families related to physical work with contempt. These laborers were also pious with all their heart and full of love for the Creator of the world and for His people Israel.
One of these laborers was R. Avigdor b. R. Yosef, of blessed memory, who was the mason. He was an oven builder who was the son of an oven builder. He chose this work, because in Russia it is possible to devote oneself to it half a year and spend the other half a year with G-d. He would work in the summer and support himself. When the building season was over in the winter, he would sit in the study hall and study with the righteous person of the generation, R. Pinchas Michael. However, he would also not pass up the midnight prayer in the summer and the shedding of tears for the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem.
He would always make due with little. He would save from his salary to buy a farm in Israel, where he could walk on the land that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob walked. Meanwhile, he raised a family and educated two sons and three daughters. He built himself his own house and lived in honor among his brethren in Antopol.
However, he packed all his belongings and moved with the whole family in 1910 to Israel. Here he bought a plot of land near Tel Aviv. He built a house on it. He and his son Nahum would go out every day to work in the small town of Tel Aviv. Testimonies to their work remain today in the porches and fences from that time.
His wife Lenah Feigel was a proper daughter of Israel and a woman of valor. She did not rely on the acts of charity of her husband and would also donate according to all her means. She would pray three times a day from the prayer book, Korban Minhah Gadol, with the translation from Hebrew into Yiddish.
She would get up early in the morning to bake bread in the oven, which her husband built. She worked with her weak strength and with the small income which her husband brought home to maintain the household. They were a symbol to the honest and faithful people of Antopol.
During WWI, Avigdor and his son Nahum worked for the contractor Wolfson to build fortifications for the Turkish government in Beersheba. When Beersheba was bombed, R. Avigdor was wounded. He died two days later in the Hebrew month of Tevet (1917). His wife Lenah Feigel died a year afterwards.
By Miriam Volodovski
I lost my husband, friend of my youth, the man dearest to me of all. He was an exalted person. He fled honor and hated ill-gotten gains. He was humble and modest, pure in spirit and innocent. He loved nature, the land, and art.
Tsevi Volodovski was born in Homsk, Grodno
province. His father sent him to business school in Brest-Litovsk, with the hope that after finishing his studies he would devote himself to business. However, he was an artist in all his soul and devoted himself more to painting. When he finished his studies in school, he sent his paintings to the Academy of Art in Cracow. He was accepted there as a student.
In 1914, when WWI broke out and the Germans conquered Poland, he immigrated to the Ukraine with his family. The Revolution and the pogroms, which he put on canvas in his paintings, passed over him there.
In 1921, after he was already married, he returned to Poland and worked as a teacher in schools in Pinsk. In 1925, he immigrated to Israel and entered to study in the Art school Retsalel in Jerusalem. In 1931 he went to Kefar Saba.
He had a wonderful mix of a multi-talented artist he played music, painted, sculpted, put on plays, and wrote songs, some of which became folk songs outside Israel. He didn't skip work, even when he was sick, even on the last day before he died. May his memory be blessed!
By Yosef Pen Tsevi
Frumah was born in Antopol to her parents Feigl and Joseph Fridman. They belonged to a large, broad, and honorable family. The children Ezra and Leibl live in the United States while the parents and their children Sheinah, Yentah, Shemuel, Eanah and their families were destroyed in the Holocaust.
Frumah immigrated to Israel in 1936. She married Yosef Ben Tsevi, gave birth to a son and daughter and was an exemplary wife and mother to them. She was beloved and honored by her family, the people from Antopol, and all her acquaintances and people, who esteemed her. She died in 1951 but her blessed memory will live in our midst forever.
By Rinah Osip
Zaidel grew up in a house of Jewish workers, honest and good-hearted people. He helped his father from a young age in the blacksmith shop. However, his heart drew him more to agriculture and he would farm himself their piece of land. He joined the ranks of Freyheyt and he-Halhuts. He became an activist. He always wore an embroidered Russian shirt. There was always a laugh on his face. His eyes showed good heartedness and devotion to his fellow man.
He came to Israel in 1934, after he passed his training in Poland. He was distinguished as one of the best workers. He had a Jewish heart and gentle hands. He was accepted as a worker in a flourmill. He worked patiently and he would put on his shoulders very heavy sacks of flour that were for him the weight of a feather. He added honor and respect to the Jewish worker.
In Israel, he joined the deeply devoted members of Kibbutz Dafnah. No work was difficult for Zaidel who was always healthy and in love with life. His kibbutz was on the Syrian Lebanese border. He would plow on the tractor always with a rifle at his side. He didn't complain even once. He would always care for his fellow man and was tirelessly devoted to his wife and two daughters.
When we last met at Kibbutz Givat ha-sheloshah at the bar mitzvah of his sister's son, he said, I didn't sleep one night without the rifle at my side.
We left him with the idea of meeting at the wedding of his eldest daughter Sarah. He died one week before the wedding. He, who may be compared
to a strong tree, died on his watch, the dear son of our town and agricultural worker, at the side of the tractor which he loved so much.
Esteemed Zaidel, your memory will be kept with us forever.
By Mikhael Kusht
I knew her from her youth in our town of Antopol. She was a daughter in a family that knew want and need. However, her parents knew to give their four daughters an excellent education in the Tarbut and Polish schools in town. The sisters were also active in the youth movement of those days.
When I went to Israel, Vardah was a girl, a student in school. When years passed and I visited town again, I already met her as a young adult. We decided to get married and raise a family. Vardah succeeded in leaving Poland for Israel a few days before the German invasion in 1939.
We built our family during a stormy period followed by one full of action. First we began with the fear of WWII and the Holocaust. This was followed by the struggle against the Mandate Government and the Var for Independence. I was absent a lot from home. The children were little. Vardah, like a typical Jewish mother, devoted her life with great love and continual worry over their health and success.
She stood at my side faithfully during all the changes and struggles in the daily reality of our farming community. This was especially true even in the worst of times. When things improved, we made a determined cooperative effort to build a new farm and group in Kibbutz Yifat.
Vardah was devoted to the cooperative effort. She instinctively loved children and found great satisfaction and substance in her life by continually working with the young. She was full of energy and love for life. She knew how to have sincere relations and friendships. She took an active part in social events especially in readings. Her life was full and complete, especially with the marriages of our daughters (Nitsah and Leah) and the birth of grandchildren. Such contentment is all that simple people wish.
Fate wanted something else. During the Six Day War, perhaps from a desperate jump into a shelter ditch during an alert, she began to suffer from back and leg pains. There followed a long chapter of examinations and hospitalization until she suffered an unsuccessful operation on her spine. Despite her suffering, she continued to struggle with great effort and strength of spirit.
May her memory be blessed!
By G. Nahmani
She died in the middle of her life when she was still thirsty for life, knowledge and activity. All her life was a chain of bettering herself. She didn't make due with her high education and sought to deepen her knowledge and to expand her horizons. She was born into an esteemed Zionist family in Antopol, in Polish Polesia. While she was still young she excelled in her studies and after she finished the gymnasium, she completed a course in pharmacy and attained good results despite difficulties. This was the anti-Semitism that Jewish graduates faced in Poland.
When WWII broke out, her family was broken and split up seeking to save itself. And she, Belah Kletski, wound up alone in Russia. She struggled with the difficult life that was prevalent then in Russian. However, thanks to her profession, she managed to overcome the obstacles and to find a place for herself. When the war ended, she hoped still to find her family or survivors from it. However, all of them died in the Holocaust and she was alone. She left the tragic place and wanted to go to Israel where her
only brother lived as a teacher. After difficult attempts to reach Israel in the days of the Bevin government, she managed to come to Israel a little before the establishment of the State. After struggles to find a place and get used to things, she came to peace and established a family of her own. As she was a wise and sociable person, many people liked her and she had a big circle of friends.
However when she was at the high point of her life, occupation and achievements, she got a mortal disease and passed away to the sadness of her family, friends, and many people who esteemed her.
By Ester Ton (Volinots)
Just like in the children's legend of a person who goes to the bottom of a well and finds there a different world of wonders, so I sink into the recesses of my childhood to find a world of innocence, purity, love, happiness, and beauty. This legend is not topped by a crown. There is only the yellow sand around a big wooden cabin divided in two. The first part has two rooms with a concrete floor. The second part is bigger and lacks a floor. A carpenter's table stands there and doors and windows, which have not been finished are set against the walls. I see my father standing by the carpenter's table and the sound of the saw seems like a choir singing.
There were mornings when I woke up and the carpentry shop had become a dormitory. The doors that stood against the wall had become beds. Mattresses were put on them and guests were sleeping there. These were guests, newly arrived to Israel from Antopol, who had come for the night. They found lodging in the cabin that was our home. It became their house until they made arrangements for themselves. It was natural for my father to find them work although it was hard to get work and housing in those days.
It always seemed that the door of the wooden cabin was waiting for people to enter it. They brought happiness and hope to the house. Their shared conversation them filled the cabin with the clear air of faith and hope for the nation and the individual, which their spirit of pioneering brought and then blew into our hearts.
Not only the carpentry served as a hotel for guests. When I came home, I would also find that the furniture in our small living room had been moved. And in a corner stood an infant's bed. What good fortune! A child was born to a couple from Antopol. However, they had no living quarter to which to bring their infant. So a room was made and their was a place for both the young parents and their infant. The infant brought much joy to the cabin.
There was no time when the living space was too small for the people in the household , the parents, their five children, and the guests, who were considered like members of the family.
My father was full of love for every living creature. He built a birdhouse for doves near our cabin. Once a cat sneaked into the birdhouse and killed a dove. My father was angry and threw a rock at it to chase it away. The cat collapsed and my father's face became immediately pale. And he said to my mother, Who should be separated from a long life? Go to see if the cat is still alive?!
I remember the Sabbaths of the summer. Clean sand was spread on the floor of the carpentry shop. We children sat on the floor. Our fingers drew pictures in the yellow sand and our ears listened to father read from the weekly portion of the Torah.
At the Sabbath table when the newspaper was in his hand, father and his friend Alter would talk about the big problems of the world. Alter was like a member of the family until he went to live in Jerusalem after his marriage.
The ideals of returning to Zion and deep faith in our destiny lived in the innocence of my father's
soul. I remember how happy my father was when the wharf in Tel Aviv was erected during the Arab riots of 1936. Then, he prophesized that there was still for us a great future ahead in Israel. My father was attached with love for Israel. He didn't want to leave it, even in the difficult times. When he was first in Israel, his sisters in the United States sent him all the necessary documents with money, so that it would be possible for him to immigrate to the United States.
He returned to them everything that they had sent and informed them that he would never leave Israel. When our brother, Nahum, of blessed memory, fell in the Arab riots of 1939, he told me, Don't cry; he fell for the motherland! I saw my father many months later holding a child's tooth that had fallen from Nahum in his childhood. He was looking at it and crying.
After all this, the innocence, faith, and optimism that were fundamental to his nature, didn't end. Even when he was in the sickbed in the Hadasah hospital, about a year and a half after Nahum fell, father said, There is a great future in Israel. Medicine in Israel will some day be the best in the world and bring healing to the world.
Father dealt straightforwardly with others, And you should love your neighbor as yourself with all your might and all your soul. Where did my father get his innocence and purity? Is it not the same source from which also drew those good people from Antopol, the friends of our family?
Purity, love and the warmth of eternal life, these things continue to flourish in the legends that feed the soul of mankind and all life. The source of the legend grew in the distant mists of the town of Antopol. The legend is in the personality of my father's mother, Goldah, who died early in life. At that time my father was a small child and his sister Tsirel was younger than him. My father had a marvelous love for his sister Tsirel, who immigrated to the United States. This was based on the longings of love for his mother and the softness of mercy for an orphaned sister without her mother's love. And his sister Tsirel knew how to return this love.
All this became a legend of a distant tune, lost in the mists of the horizon, when they were to be seen orphaned, lost, and confused in Antopol and lost and confused. They held each other hand in hand and supported one another.
A seven-fold wonder was revealed to me in my first meeting with Goldah, the daughter of Tsirel, the sister of our father, who was born in the United States and named after my grandmother Goldah. Despite the distance of our countries, a different education and a different culture, despite the fact that we didn't know her mother and she didn't know our father, we shared the stories about the depths of love that the brother and sister drew out from themselves. And we shared the legend of the innocence, love for every creature, love for life and modesty that grew up in distant times and land, when the seed was implanted in the place called Antopol. Goldah even painted this legend. She called the picture Antopol.
By Vardah Koshet
In memory of our sons,
whom we will not meet more,
in any place.
Because their life has stopped,
And all their beauty has been hidden,
And the bereaved remain.
We remember the young springs,
the shining growth,
the happiness that makes the heart rejoice
and hopes that soar to the heavens
Now there remains the glory of death and destruction.
Tell, why do we need to smile
When our heart inside is exploding?
Why do we need to be silent
When everything is shouting until the end of our strength?
It is necessary to swallow
To swallow until the end of the cup of poison.
It is necessary to stop speaking about the past
And the present is foggy and unclear.
Something great has disappeared and its name is life.
In it there is an unknown substance,
Something not anticipated.
This is what life compels
To walk further on the plowed path.
To continue, so that you may press olives
And to hope for a better day
that will follow.
Because after the night
A new morning breaks out
For the creation that awakes.
By his mother, Fridah Shahor
My dear son Eliezer,
I took upon myself the very difficult goal of writing some lines about you after your death. May you rest in paradise. We should not complain. The Creator of the world leads His world and we should not ask questions.
My dear son! You are my right hand, my teacher and rabbi for good qualities and deeds. You were taken from us at the time when you hurried to give First Aid to a soldier at the time of the Battle of Shaar ha-Gai in May of 1948 (4 Iyar 708).
In the act of doing this humanitarian deed, the arrow of the enemy struck your pure heart and ended your life forever. This good heart of yours, which always beat and worried only to act good towards your fellow man, has stopped.
When you were five and your brother David, may he live, was three and a half, he would be wild and I would want to punish him. Then, you protected him with your body and said to me, Mother, strike me.
When you strike him, I feel hurt. And when you strike me, I don't feel hurt...
When you were about six and your brother David was about four, you used to go with him to the beach and watch carefully and not let him put his hand out of the bus window. When our old relative Mrs. Rozenblum saw what you did, she was so astonished that she came up to you and asked who you were. This was before she recognized you. And when she heard your name, she came to us and proudly told us what sort of a child you were.
When you were seven , you went by yourself to the dentist, because your mother was busy. When you came and saw that no patients were waiting in line, you spoke your heart to the dentist and said to her, Don't worry, today is Friday and no one has the time to go to the dentist. You will still get work.
At about the same age, you once came home from the Bilu School and came up to me with tears in your eyes saying, Mother! Do you know that my teacher apparently doesn't earn enough money and it is necessary to take care that he receives a raise. Why, I asked. You told me that you paid attention during the break and when all the teachers were eating a rich meal of rolls with butter, your teacher was just eating a roll without any spread. This was
because he didn't have enough money to live. Thus from your childhood you cared only for your fellow man.
By Rinah and Hayyim Osip
It has been twenty years since she died. However, it is just as if she stands alive in front of us, goodhearted, with her house open to all those coming from Antopol and Kobrin, the city, where your husband was born.
The day in which Tel Aviv was bombed is unforgettable. The cabins around us in the Nordiyah neighborhood were hit. You put your life in danger when you were in the young days of your life. You visited the burning cabins to see whether or not we had been hit. It was as if an angel from heaven came to visit us. The moment in which you entered will not leave our minds.
You died young and left an orphaned family, a loving and devoted husband, young children, friends, and everything dear to you. And you loved life so much. We will not forget ,you, our dear friend, Frumah. May your memory be blessed!
By Malkah Yentah Shvarts, her daughter
Our mother was born in Antopol, in the year of 1880 (the third candle lighting of Hanukah), to her mother Raizl and her father R . Berish Dov. She died in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, 7th of Iyyar 730. She lived 89 years.
Her father R. Berish Dov was a Torah scholar, knowledgeable in books, wise, with an analytical mind, religious in his faith and just In his actions. Many people rose early to his door to ask advice and help. The grandmother of our mother was also famous for her wisdom and knowledge. She had a religious elementary school for girls in which they studied Torah, writing, laws, and prayers.
The family had a lot of children and lived poorly. Despite this, R. Berish was always ready to give. Our mother continued in this manner as those who preceded her from her glorious lineage. She had a hard childhood. When she was still young, her mother died and she was forced to go to work to help her family. She married our father R. Yaakov- Yosef Shvarts, of blessed memory, when she was very young. His place of origin was from the small village of Osah near to Divin (the forests of Polesia). This region was mainly Christian, with only a few isolated Jewish families.
Our father was the scion of a family of rabbis, scholars, and honorable Hasidim. After the wedding, they went to Warsaw. There were born to them seven sons (today four sons remain alive: Yitshak, Shemuel, Yerahmiel, and Avraham). After living in Warsaw nearly 40 years, the family went to live in Israel in 1925.
It took a long time until we settled in and got a place to live worthy of its name. After wandering from. one place to another to live: a room rented from an Arab on the border of Tel Aviv, a cabin with the first settlers on the dunes of Bat-Yam. Meanwhile, during the struggle for existence and the struggles of the bloody events of 1925, 1929, 1930, our father died. We moved to an apartment in Yad Eliyahu and finally to a big apartment on l King Solomon St., Tel Aviv.
However, to our disappointment, our mother was not able to benefit from this apartment for a long time. Our father died at a relatively young age of 59. He was a clever and good-hearted person, very honest, loving people and also animals. However, his love for his children didn't know any boundaries. Our mother became a widow when she was still 55. She overcame the bitter disaster and continued to run the house and educate the children in a good
way. She was a widow for about thirty-four years of her life. And even though she received honorable proposals for marriage, she rejected them, because she wanted to keep her connection with her children. She never bothered with matters that didn't concern her and she never expressed an opinion that was out of place. She had the understanding to adjust herself to a new period and to understand the new wind blowing. This didn't prevent her from being deeply religious with the commandments of the Torah lighting up her way. These two poles were mixed in her personality. Our mother was a diligent woman, wise and pleasant. She took care to be clean wear clean clothes. She was tall and her face expressed understanding and authority.
The house was warm and open to every needy person. Our mother was respected by all the family and by her friends and acquaintances. During the bad times and disasters, which visited her (first the death of her husband and then of her first-born son Mosheh Dov, of blessed memory) she stood strong and didn't surrender.
People say that our mother died in good old age. However, a vacuum entered the house when she died. Everything which we absorbed and swallowed in the light of her image remained forever within us. Her will to live was strong and she continued to fight with the Angel of Death with all her strength until the last moment. She commanded and instructed how to act after her death with clarity and astonishing logic. We honored her. However, her friends and acquaintances honored her more. They saw the wonderful thing in her, her wisdom, her glory, and her cleverness. Both the old and new generations were folded into her life.
A big crowd attended both her funeral and the ceremony of the unveiling of her monument on the thirtieth day after her death. They remembered during these two times her generous qualities and her personality. Rabbi Yedidyah Frankel, Rabbi Isar Frankel, and Mr. Zalman Shahor gave the eulogies. Binyamin Unger, the head cantor said the prayer.
Nahum, of blessed memory, died before he was very old. He was tall like a pine tree and his spirit wanted to grow. It hadn't finished its development. He was handsome, good-natured, full of humor, and full of the happiness of youth. He was generous and loved to help with the housework. When he was a child, he would run towards his mother and take the basket that she was carrying from the market.
His generosity and love to help his fellow man pushed him to fill a required position in the defense. Who knows if he was then active in the Haganah? Who knows that he was a guard in Ramat ha- Kovesh, which was a point of attack by Arab gangs?
And on the last night, the night of the 24th of January 1940 (Tevet 699) when the took the place of a friend to guard a neighborhood on the edge of Tel Aviv, who knew this?
He died at his post in defense of the nation. This happened before he was fully-grown. Who is able to utter and enumerate the praiseworthy results of his generous soul which should have had the fortune to grow up and have a long life? He was good hearted, honest, and generous beyond all measure. How much happiness could he have poured out on his fellow men as a son, brother, husband, and father?
And he sacrificed all this on the altar of defense of his homeland. His sacrifice was accepted like the sacrifices of many others, whose memory is in our lives, which grew out of their sacrifice and the pain over the victim, who and did not have a chance to live. It is always tied up in the knot of our life. May his memory be blessed in the blessed life for which he gave his life.
He was the son of Alter-Binyamln Tsevi and Ahuvah. He was born in January 1927 in Tel Aviv. When he was one year old, his parents moved to Jerusalem. He was educated in an elementary Jewish religious school and continued his studies in a rabbinical seminary in Rehovot. He began to seek work at a young age, so that he could ease up a little the poverty at home. He learned to polish diamonds in Netanyah. He worked in Peri-mazon (Fruit and Food). He served a year in the Palmah in Givat Brener. He returned to Jerusalem, where he worked in construction and gave all his salary to his parents. He joined the underground movement, Etsel. He participated in actions and was jailed in Latrun. When he was absent, the poverty increased at home. He was aware that his duty was to his homeland, which took precedence to that towards his parents. He returned immediately to underground actions after being freed. However, he asked for and received some small support for his mother.
When the War for Independence broke out, he participated in Tsahal in the framework of Etsel and participated in the battles for Sheikh-Jarah, Har Tsiyon, and in the well-known battle to defend Ramat Rahel. As a saboteur, he marched at the head of the conquerors of the village of Malhah. He was also the first to fall in conquering the village on July 14, 1948. His fiance, Pat Sheva Yom Tov, also a member of Etsel was killed two days after he died on guard in the north of Jerusalem. He was buried in Sheikh on Adar 1, then reburied on September 10, 1950 on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.
He was born in Argentina on December 21, 1931.
He entered the service of ha- Shomer ha-Tsair at a very young age. He received there his first pioneering education. He immigrated to Israel in 1954 together with his group. They were immediately absorbed into the Kibutz Revadim in the northern Negev.
After a short time, he was drafted into Tsahal and served the Nahal. He was killed by Egyptians in an incident on the border at Kisufim on April 4, 1956, two weeks before his release from service. Avraham Kotler was the grandchild of Aryeh Osipovits, who was born to his father Tsevi and to his mother Esther Kotler, who was born in Antopol. May his memory be blessed!
By A. Ben-Ezra
Dr. Fabius (Feitil) Berman was one of the shining stars in the skies of America. He was born in Antopol and was full of the spirit of Antopol until his death. Dr. Berman, who was called Feitil in our town, was born in 1890 in Antopol and died in 1967 in the United States.
His father was Rabbi Mosheh Berman. As fitting to the son of a rabbi, he received a rigorous religious education from the best teachers in Antopol. At a young age, Feitil went to Ruzshini, his fathers' place of birth, to study in its well-known rabbinical seminary. After that, he studied two years in Yanove in a seminary, not far from Antopol.
The young man was not satisfied with Talmud and rabbinical legal authorities. He began to look at books in Hebrew and Russian. He traveled to Pinsk as a result of his great thirst for education. There he studied in the local gymnasium. He finished his studies with excellence and returned to his city of Antopol. He began to study Russian and general sciences.
Feitil was active in the socialist movement, which was well organized in Antopol, together with his profession of teaching. His stormy nature and his thirst for learning brought him to the United States in 1913.
He already entered to study in the University of Southern California in Los Arigales in 1916. He was
also excellent in his studies there. He received a gold medal and a stipend to cover his tuition.
He received the title of Doctor of Medicine in 1919. He fully devoted himself to his subject. He was appointed in 1929 as administrator of the regional hospital in Los Angeles, one of the biggest hospitals in the United States. He continued to lecture in the university in which he had studied, together with his appointment as hospital administrator. The hospital grew under his leadership from 1,000 to 3,800 beds and more than 100,000 patients a year.
He saved the hospital a lot of money with his effective leadership. Some of his discoveries and inventions are used in the field of medicine throughout the world. He retired in 1956 and devoted himself to various activities. However, he continued to be connected with the medical staff and also with everything concerning Judaism and Hebrew.
Dr. Berman was one of the most active when the idea was born to put out a memorial book as a literary monument to our community. He devoted himself to the work with youthful energy. He himself also made a big contribution and also got others to contribute to publish the book. His literary contribution, in the form of articles to the memorial book, is full of deep love for the town of his birth. His wife Mashe (the daughter of Yudel the writer), had a big part in his success in everything which he did. The poet, Pintshe Berman, was his brother, and cooperated with Feitil in communal work. Unfortunately, he didn't live to see the publication of the memorial book. However, his memory will accompany us forever.
By P. Czerniak
The family Valovalski left their house in Antopol on Grushvah Street in 1927, after WWI. The parents with two daughters and two sons came to New York. The elder of the sons was Leibl. He was then in his twenties. He was full of life and plans and memories from the town and people who he had left.
Leibl was a young intellectual, well educated, organized, and very devoted to these things in his life: his family, his town, Judaism, Zionism in general, and the State of Israel after its establishment.
Leibl was especially able to serve as an example to the youth of Antopol, with his goals for advancement and wanting to rise on the ladder of life in the United States. In the process of this, others also grew up as representatives of Antopol, acting on its behalf and for its sake in every place of their dispersion.
As he was the oldest brother, Leibl took care to set up the family in the United States. The family arrived without any experience on how to establish in the United States and, after his parents died, he took over these duties himself. He helped his sisters and younger brother arrange themselves in life and set up families. However, he didn't have time for himself and he left taking care of his own matters to last. Thus, he remained alone all his life. When his sisters and brother left home, Leibl got himself his own apartment. He dealt in business, so that he could work for himself and help, according to his ability, to establish those goals that were important to him.
The second goal in his life was the city of Antopol and its problems. Before WWII, his parent's house was a center for actions on behalf of the orphanage, the Tarbut school, the Library in the name of Perets, the bathhouse, the ice storage and similar institutions of the town. He kept an ear open to listen to the individual requests of people from Antopol, who saw in the United States a financial power able to spread out dollars to needy people. Libel's house was the address for a widow, who didn't have a place to live, and for an old man who didn't have money to live.'
After WWII and the destruction, he began to work to memorialize the community and its people. He
was active in setting up monuments to the murdered people in cemeteries in New York and beginning in 1954 this monument in writing to the town and its inhabitants.
At the beginning of 1953, a group of people from Antopol gathered in a Tel Aviv coffee house on the corner of Frishman and King Solomon streets, with Mr. Stavi, Osip, Elfandshtein, Lifshits, and Tserikover.
They decided to begin the work of gathering material and support to publish a memorial book for Antopol. With the help of Mr. Akiva ben Ezra, who published the book on Horodets, we turned to the United States and there organized the committee for the memorial book. Leibl headed the committee. Being steadfast, energetic, and stubborn, the committee began to collect money and the appointed editor began to collect literary material. Then, we sat and wrote a constitution and chapter headings for this book. In 1966 when I returned from a trip to the Far East, I stopped in New York for a number of days. There took place a discussion and arrangement of the literary material with Leibl and the rest of the members of the book committee. Leibl didn't agree then to spend more than necessary to publish the book. He took good care of the money and trembled at spending every penny of the public money. Each penny was as precious to him as if it were double. Certainly, this approach, perhaps too miserly, interfered with getting on in summarizing the effort.
In 1968, they passed over to Israel the material and the money for the final publication of the book. When I visited Leibl in New York for the last time, I found him old and weak. He still wanted to continue to devote much of his thoughts and his time to the history of Antopol and cared for what happened to the money and material that he had sent over. I always felt him to be a true person of Jewish culture, an honest man, faithful to the beautiful ideals of the Lithuanians from his time.
He had a third goal in his life. This was his activity on behalf of Judaism, Zionism, and Israel. He cooperated with and helped many philanthropic organizations of Jewry in the United States, beginning with the Joint and finishing with local organizations of mutual help. He was a contact person and collected money for the Jewish Foundation Fund and the Jewish National Fund. In later years, he gave money and got others to give money for Israel Bonds. In recognition of his help, he received a number of excellence awards and letters of esteem from the administrators of the philanthropic organizations. However, Leibl didn't take them out of the drawer to show them or use them to boast with. He didn't buy this world with them but kept them for the next world. Similarly with other activists, devoted in heart and soul, Jewish citizens from Antopol and similar towns, Leibl did his work to satisfy his soul, for its own sake. He died in the spring of 1971 leaving an interesting spiritual heritage to those that remained behind. May his memor y be blessed.
By Avraham Barbau
There were thousands of Jewish towns on the map of destroyed European Jewry. However, only a few found someone to memorialize them and to establish for them a spiritual, memorial in writing. The memorial books, which according to their number, leave us with the impression as if they encompass all the towns that were destroyed in the Holocaust, really reflect only those towns that had the good fortune to have a part of their Jewish inhabitants miraculously saved. And among them, there were capable people, who could record the story of their towns. Hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of Jewish towns were completely wiped out from the
map of the living and don't leave after them, to our great sorrow, any remnant.
It is a known fact that as the Nazis approached more to the East in their conquest of Europe, their cruelty to Jews increased. This fact mainly touched Polesia, White Russia, Ukraine, and part of Lithuania. In those territories, the German Angel of Death took bloody account with the Jews, publicly, in front of every one, without any mask. The unfortunate Jews were commanded to dig their own grave pits, and with the help o f the gentile population, hungry for blood and Jewish property, they destroyed them on the spot. This was the fate of the warm Jewish town Antopol.
However, Antopol, the small Jewish town in the district of Polesia (near to Kobrin and about 70 kilometers from the capital of the district Pinsk) was lucky in that many years before the Holocaust, it had youth who maintained a strong nationalist Zionist connection. And fortunate people from its midst were able to immigrate to Israel at the right time before the terrible retribution, and to be among the pioneers who built the land under the difficult conditions of those days and kept the memory of the town in their hearts.
For the sake of the truth, it was not only to Israel that the Jewish youth of Antopol streamed. In its time, many immigrated to overseas lands, and especially to the United States. However, also there they kept in close contact with the town of their origin, with its Jewish milieu, and proudly carried the name of Antopol.
Two gifted people who left Antopol, among the many in the United States, are known to me from reading their books. One of them is Pintshe Berman, a popular lyric poet, about whose books I have published reviews in Israel and abroad. The second author is Avraham Varsha, now a resident of Miami Beach, about whose book, Years of Fire and Blood (published by the Jewish National Farband of Chicago). From his modest introduction, we learn that the skill of a writer took twenty years to come to fruition. During that long period of time, he wrote his stories of Antopol. However, his modesty was so great that he didn't at all think of publishing them in a book and he didn't even think they were worthy of that. He writes thus in his book about that matter, The stories that are published in my book were written during twenty years. The pictures and types come without pretense. The writing was for me a kind of grace, a temporary gift and personal liberation, which immediately compensated me. I never dreamed about publishing a book and was not attracted to the crown of thorns of a writer and nor to the kingdom of Yiddish literature in the United States.
However, people in authority and precisely those at the top of Yiddish literature in the United States, like Dr. A. Mokdoni, and the great popular poet, Avraham Reizen, and also A. Kravits (editor of the Jewish Way) appreciated the literary skill of A. Varsha. They urged him, together with people from Antopol, to publish his big book in the knowledge that with the publication of the book, they were erecting a modest spiritual monument to the holy community of Antopol, whose end was so tragic.
And truly when we read the book, we reveal in it two things: the prose writer, Avraham Varsha, who was refined in spirit and expression, and Antopol, the town and its people. We learn of the simple Jews, who knew how to recite Psalms and the learned Jews, locals and guests, craftsmen and merchants. Sublime rabbis and religious functionaries who could not boast about their genealogy. There were the Lovers of Zion, youth and adults, and on the other hand there were the socialists of different varieties, and even orthodox communities. To make a point, Antopol was alive and busy, before it was destroyed.
The ability of A. Varsha belongs to the type of writers who saw their hometowns with the warmth of their hearts and judged them positively. They described them lyrically. Therefore, there is a sad, poetic tone in all the stories of A. Varsha, although the events themselves are full of shocks and
tragedies. For example, in 1920, when Antopol was caught between Poland and Russia under the attacks and counterattacks of the opposing sides, A. Varsha truly describes the fear and trembling of the Jews of the town:
Day and night the cannons of the enemy thundered, making frightening whistles, and painting the heavens red and blue. Clouds of a green-white color spread throughout the sky. The forest sparkled with its golden yellow leaves in the Fall sun, and answered with an echo to the explosions of bombs that shook up all creation. On the ground that soaked up blood, people crawled frightened in green uniforms like the grass of the field. By way of hidden paths people sneaked into the forest to hide from the eyes of the enemy and his huge airplanes that rained fire and human limbs. Hundreds of human beings in green uniforms like grass were swallowed into the forest, in which there was the echo of steel, fire, and tin, which extinguished tens of souls in a minute.
The Jews of Antopol didn't want either the Russian or the Polish forces. They didn't want the Poles with their poisonous anti-Semitism, who killed and plundered, and they didn't want the Bolsheviks, who also caused fear. Didn't they rise against the Jewish tradition to make it pass from the world, and against religion in general? And they were also against private property. However, it is better that they would come than the Poles. One living Jew is worth twenty murdered ones, G-d forbid.
At first, they were happy for the new Bolshevik rule that temporarily triumphed. However, almost immediately, on the eve of the Day of Atonement, the Jews of the town felt that the Bolsheviks were driving out the Jewish soul and the Jewish G-d. This was the first act that went against their will, followed by other similar and even worse acts. Today we know that was the beginning of the end of the national Jewish life in Russia, with the help of the antireligious phraseology and brutal force.
In the market on a platform-built , for the occasion, speakers stormed against G-d, and ancient customs and practices that covered, in their words, the eyes of the masses, who carried an unjust burden. The voices of the speakers echoed loudly in the evening and broke into the houses of worship as, 'There is a light sown for the righteous and happiness for the innocent' was being said. The people praying looked at each other in astonishment as if they wanted to ask, What is happening here? Are they not publicly desecrating G-d's name?
A. Varsha drew his inspiration directly from the source of love he felt for his town of Antopol. We as small children of Israel listened attentively to the stories of our elders about the greatness of our town. Certainly, these were not just empty words. And where is the list of rabbis that the ancient rabbinical seminary gave to all of Israel and the world? And where are the number of scholars found in one town? All of this poured out over us a feeling of joy and honor.
By Eliezer Leidiger
A young man came to the United States in 1914. He was 17 years old. It took him some years to find his way. He was a peddler and had different factory jobs. He found what he wanted, his way of life, in 1917. Since than, he has devoted himself to Jewish education. He taught in some schools and acquired much experience in teaching the Hebrew language and religious studies in general. His students liked him. He was a successful teacher and had grace in teaching.
When he was still teaching young kids, he researched methods of teaching and published some articles in this field. As he was faithful to everything pertaining to Jewish tradition, he taught his students the laws and customs of Jewish life. In the course of his teaching, he wrote instruction manuals for the students about the laws of Sabbath and Festivals. He
came to recognize the value of prayer while teaching and reading Hebrew. He also researched deeply in this field and brought up in his research principles to teach the prayer book, which he published in articles in the educational press in the United States.
He taught in those years in the Yeshivah Ohel Mosheh in Brooklyn, a position he held for 30 years. He increased his literary activity. He participated in the Yiddish press in the United States on daily tonics and in the Hebrew press in research on language in the Hadoar, Tsiyon, Shevile ha-hinukh, ha-Tsofeh, and other literary venues. He also wrote book reviews. He was also interested in the history of Hasidism and published a book on the Yanuka of Stolin.
His monographs are: R. Pinchas Michael, of blessed memory, R L. Mordekhai-Li of Slonim , and others. Additionally, he wrote information on the literary world. He did not stop publishing his articles on the customs of the Jewish holidays. He summarized these researches and published an important work, Customs of the Holidays.
Ben Ezra writes in the introduction to his book, I gathered into this book the different customs from the earliest times until recent years, inclusively. Likewise, I took time to explain the customs prevalent in different communities. As much as possible, I cast light on them. This book was scientifically written. It is a treasury of notes and bibliographical references. Ben Ezra writes not only for grownups but also for children. He gives them benefit from light stories that draw the attention of the reader. His book, Stories for Children demonstrates his ability.
Ben Ezra had a great deal of love in his heart for the Hebrew book. He loved books. His private book collection numbered in the thousands. From this love, his bibliographical knowledge, he arranged and published bibliographies for a number of authors, like Professor Zevi Scharfstein, Dr. Shelomoh Rubin, and others. He also wrote the bibliography for Shevile ha-hinukh and edited the Hebrew writings of Dr. Morris Robinson.
Ben Ezra was a zealot for the Hebrew language. His friends and acquaintances know this. He does not speak another language except if he is forced to do so. He educated his children to speak Hebrew. The Ben Ezra family is known as one of the first families in the United States, whose children spoke this language. Ben Ezra was able to give his son and daughter a national religious education. They were students of the Flatbush Yeshivah. When they graduated, the son went to study in the Teachers College of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is now a chemical engineer and active in the community of Binghamton, New York. His diligent and capable daughter Miriam studied in the Teachers College Herzeliyah in New York and graduated with honors. She married Professor Hayyim Denburg of Montreal, Canada.
Two years ago, Ben Ezra retired from teaching. He immediately visited Israel in the company of his wife. Here, he made the decision to settle in Israel.
They realized their wish this year (~1972).
Avigdor Varsha was born in Antopol to one of the oldest families in the community. In 1929, he immigrated with his four brothers and parents to Israel. He was then ten years old. He was forced to go to work at the age of 13. First, he worked as a messenger in a law office. He paid for his education with the money that he earned. He was the only member of his family who chose an academic profession. He would visit the court of law during the day and study for his matriculation at night. He began to work at the end of his military service as a clerk in the office of the lawyer, Akiva Persits. He completed his studies in the evening at the College for Law and Economics in Tel Aviv. He completed his specialization in the office of Akiva Persits and afterwards became his assistant lawyer.
When he traveled to the United States, in connection with his business, he was active there in the World Committee for the sake of Israel linked to the Center of Bnai Brith. He also met there his future wife, Avivah, of the Kiev family. He returned with her to Israel, to Kiryat Ono. He began public service in Kiryat Ono together with his professional work as a lawyer. His public service brought him much esteem and support. When he presented himself as a candidate to the city council, he got the support of the majority of the voters and was elected head of the council.
Avraham b. R. Dov Leaf (Lifshits), born in Antopol, immigrated in 1904 to Canada. He received from his parents both a Jewish education and a wide basic general education. When he grew up, he went to work and studied law at the University of Toronto. He graduated successfully in 1926 and began to work as a lawyer.
When he became known as a successful lawyer, he was appointed Justice of the Peace and finally a Supreme Court Judge.
He inherited from his home a big love for Zionism and Israel. He visited Israel, took part in congresses and was active on behalf of various appeals for Israel. He served for many years, beginning in 1947, as the President of Temple Agudat Israel. When he retired and gave this task to his successor, he received a festive reception in which his excellent public service was stressed. There was established at this gathering a fund in the name of A.F. Leaf to bring scholars to Ottawa to lecture on matters of Torah and the Science of Judaism.
Avraham Leaf is the brother of the philanthropist, Louis Leaf, who gave recognizable sums for fellowships to descendants of Antopol, living in Canada, to continue their college studios. He is the son of the uncle of Yisrael Lifshits the well-known teacher in Canada. He is the son of the aunt of Rinah Osip of Tel Aviv. His brother, Morris Leaf, is a Professor at the University in Washington.
The lilac blooms opposite my rooms
Its color Is bright blue
It captivates the eye with its beauty
and makes the heart rejoice.
Why have you bloomed so differently this year
With so pale a color?
My heart trembles
Is astonished and amazed!
In the evening when everything is quiet
I hear a whisper among the branches
Do you remember past days?
I will reveal to you the explanation of the secret.
You had another house and garden
A big lilac tree
There in my shade
You spun your dreams.
You passed boundaries and countries
Years have passed since then
The thin mist that covers your eyes
Has mad my flower pale.
I understand the hint
I answered, You are correct!
The lilac is as beautiful as always
You have not changed
The secret is trapped in me.
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