Translated by Hannah Kadmon
and dedicated to Peggy Milstein, descendent of the Greblovsky family
[Translator's notes in brackets]
Until the end of the 19th century, America was a land to which only adventurers and rogues would travel. Virtuous, decent balebatim [proprietors, landlords] and those who were not forced to flee because of a frame-up or another affliction for them America was not Kosher. Even its stones were not to be touched.
Besides the fact that a Jew could not live as a Jew in America, the mere travel to America was physically quite difficult. First, one had to get a Pass (Passport) - which was not an easy job. One had to go to the authorities to get a kharashe pavedenye (character reference) and send it to the governor. All this takes between a month and 6 weeks. Since not everybody wanted or was able to get a pass, some risked their life and crossed the border illegally.
These were the preparation for the travel: it was necessary to prepare sukhares [zwiebacks] (dried bread) to take along, various brandies or liquors and whiskey to refresh oneself on the ship, and other things that today one does not need. And, when one succeeded to cross the border illegally, it was necessary to go through a bath where one was physically examined. And, if God helped and one got successfully through the bath, it was necessary to wait for a ship. A ship was not available every Monday and Thursday [an idiomatic expression in Yiddish to say often]. Traveling on the ship was not a luxurious cruise. It was more like hell. It lasted between two to three weeks and often even longer when it was necessary to take first a small ship and then transfer to a big ship. And when one lived through the ordeal, and reached the Castle Garden [America's first official immigration center before Elis Island] one did not necessarily lick honey. In short, travelling to America was not a small venture. Not without reason did people say a confession before taking off for such an awful voyage.
The journey from the shtetl was even more difficult. Horodets, for example, did not have a railroad until 1884. Still in the 70th there were several adventurers who travelled to America such as Ephrayim the mason - Shmerl's brother, Natan Yitzkhak - Hersh's son, Aba Tankhum - Ber's son, and Moshe-Ber the tailor. The latter, if I am not mistaken, was the first of Horodets who died on American land.
Moshe-Ber, let us say, was the father of those who reached America later on. He used to host the green newcomers in his house up to a week, advise them how to start doing things, or what kind of trade to learn. When the whole family was brought to America, Moshe-Ber or his wife, Eidel, helped them look for an apartment in the neighborhood, of course, so they could feel at home.
The Horodetsers, like all other Jews, settled on the east side such as Monroe Street, Madison Street and other close by streets. The first Horodetser families felt like a big Horodetser family.
Those who were not tradesmen from home, learned to be tailors, pressers, etc. Others started peddling or became distributers of blocks-of-ice to the houses in summer and coal in winter. That job was very hard but it was satisfying: they could observe the Sabbath and Holidays. The same was true of peddling that did not demand desecration of the Sabbath.
Many of the former peddlers and workers did well in this land of opportunity and today they occupy a distinguished place in American industrial and business-life, such as Akiva Sirota - (The Superior Clothing Company), Aharon Milner's children in big liquor industry and Velvel, Sheikin's son in the production of various machines that were intensively used in war-time.
Not only in war industry are our Horodetser folks involved, nor only in articles of daily use. Proudly we can list the Daitch Brothers who have a chain of milk products grocery shops in the Bronx and in Manhattan (the Daitch Dairies).
In the silk industry, A. Liman holds a high position. He is son of Binyamin Palaener and great-grandchild of Berl Rodetzer. His firm Belvedere Fabric is one of the most famous in the trade of silk. It produces Rayon that is very much in demand and has a good market.
The well known firm Smith's Overalls holds a high position. It is popular all over America. The owners are the two brothers Sam and Izzi Bosnyak, sons of Zelig. The founder of that firm was their father Zelig, who started very small on a side street in Brooklyn and his sons brought it to the present level.
Another Horodetser, a great businessman (real estate) who is very modest in his social work, is Hillel Appleman (son of Leizer Varatinitsher). He is very outstanding in his contributions to the building of Israel. His house in Borrow Park is a real meeting place for scholars. Of a similar type we can add Julius (Yudl) Greenberg, the son of Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg. He came here as a young child and worked his way very well. His firm Perfect Shoulder Company has won a good name in the dress industry. Besides his big business he stands out in his contributions to various organizations, also in a very modest way.
In the realm of inventions the Horodetsers have nothing to be ashamed of. For example, the Eagle Electric Company has its own important invention and is owned by Ludvig (Lewis Grushevsky), son of David Grushevsky the long-time treasurer of the Horodetser Society. Lewis Ludvig is also well known among those who helped the Haganah in the historical years of 1947-1948.
Some Horodetsers, former workers, have reached administrative positions in the workers union. Such is Yehoshua Reznik (Matityahu, son of Filshtshik) who has been for many years one of the leading powers in the Furrier Union. He helps a lot in organizing the workers of that trade to improve their economic conditions.
It is worthwhile to note a project that was very much developed through Shepsel (Shabtai Greblovsky), one of the learned men of Horodetz. That project was trading in lottery cards. In his house they distributed not only lottery cards all over America but also spread Jewish culture and knowledge. It should be noted for history that in Shepsel's house, in the year 1912, the famous Young Israel organization was founded, having its branches not only in America but also in Israel. Thanks to Shepsel's children: Shimon, Max and Bessy who were among the first founders of that organization, new approaches were opened to Jewish American life.
A branch of the Greblovsky family, Naphtali Goldberg, is in Charleston and leads the family tradition. Naphtali Goldberg plays a very active role in the Zionist movement and is very active in religious and cultural work in the state.
In Chicago, Alter Divinsky is very active in the local social work.
One of the distinguished Horodetsers who were active on the American social arena, was R' Aharon-Yosl Zuselman, one of the first Jewish residents of Hartford Connecticut. He came to the States the end of the 19th century and there he dedicated himself to religious and educational institutions. Thanks to him, Talmetoyre [tuition free religious elementary school] were established, and also the society for the Study of the six books of Mishnah [part of the Talmud] and society for the study of mishnayes [collection of post biblical laws; part of the Talmud]. He was one of the first founders of the State-wide Jewish Institutions such as a Committee on Kashrus, Hakhnoses-O'rkhim [Shelter for poor wanderers] etc. He spent the last years of his life studying Ein Yaakov [a compilation of all the legendary material in the Talmud, with commentaries] with the congregation, in between the afternoon and evening prayers.
|R' Aharon Yosef Zuselman|
Besides being active in Jewish matters, his hand was open for all, regardless of religious affiliation. Everybody was acquainted with the beloved Jew with the nickname Yibane Hamiksash [Hebrew: the temple will be rebuilt]. He died in the summer of 1948 at the age of 87.
In the field of culture in America, Rabbi Dr. Yitzkhak Yaakov Bosniak is much esteemed. He was one of the closest pupils of Prof. Solomon Z. Schechter. [Solomon Schechter, founder and President of the United Synagogue of America, President of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and leader of the American Conservative Jewish movement].
Rabbi Dr. Yaakov Bosnyak has been serving as the Rabbi of a center in Brooklyn for already more than 25 years. He is active also outside of his center, writing articles and lecturing about Jewish culture problems. [A. Ben Ezra comments: look up his book Intercepting Jewish Life, 1944].
|Rabbi Dr. Yitzkhak Yaakov Bosnyak|
Akiva Ben-Ezra holds a quite distinct position in the Yiddish and Hebraic literature, especially concerning Jewish education [look up his books Days of Atonement Passover Shavuot and articles in various Hebrew pedagogic Journals.], research of grammar and the Hebrew language [He wrote a lot about these subjects in Bitzaron, Khorev, Talpiot and Ha'doar Hebrew Journals], and Jewish Holidays folklore [read the article Sender the Melamed and The two Bobbes in this book]. He is also the editor of this memorial book of Horodets.
As for the realm of culture and education, Tzvia Greenglass hold an honorable position. She publishes quite often, in Yiddish and Hebrew, plays (dramas) and songs for children. Her songs are heard often over the radio with the music composed by the well known composer S. Golob.
Horodets plays a part in English literature as well. Sidney Schuman, son of Beile-Machle (great-grandchild of Berl Rodetzer) used to write stories in various English journals. He also has in print a book of short stories. Sidney Schuman exhibited fine fictional abilities, but he died very young (end of 1949) and did not live to full bloom.
In the realm of music Horodets has good reason to be proud. Jean Piers, the famous tenor singer in the Metropolitan Opera in New-York who gives concerts not only all over America but also abroad, is the son of Horodetser parents.
Jean Piers, who was called once Pinki (Pinye Perlmuter) is the son of Levi and Henye Perlmuter, quite well known among the folks of Horodets. Henye was the granddaughter of Sender the Melamed and Chaya Zlate the Bobbe in Horodets. [see the articles: Sender the Melamed and Two Bobbes in this book.]
He received his first lesson in singing from Shalom Melnik, the cantor of the Horodetser synagogue. Pinye used to help him during the High Holidays. Even today he is drawn to the cantor's desk/column. He inherited his talent in the art of cantillation, for sure, from his father, who even today recites a whole musef [extension of the morning prayer on Sabbath and Holidays] every year on High Holidays, in the Horodetser synagogue.
Jean piers, though born in America, regards himself as a Horodetser, as if he was born in Horodets. He is a member of the Horodetser Society Yeshu'ot Ya'akov. When he is needed he is there with his heart and pocket.
There is a descent of Horodets, Walter Schuman (Sindney's brother), who writes music for the stage.
Horodets has no reason to be ashamed in the realm of art of painting. We have a really gifted Jewish painter. He is Israel Zussman (son of Itzik), the chairman of the Horodets book-committee and the artistic editor of Horodets.
I. Zussman graduated from the Tzar's school of art in Odessa. Since his coming to America in 1920 he has joined English newspapers and journals as a painter and illustrator. In 1930 he became artistic editor of the big English newspaper The Graphic and was worked for it along the years of its existence. At present he contributes his drawings to one of the biggest English journals in America.
Israel Zusman's painting of president Franklin D. Roosevelt can be viewed in the Roosevelt museum in Hyde Park, and a painting of Albert Einstein is in the Einstein Institute next to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He also drew Senator Wagner and the painting is exhibited in the Senate in Washington. The drawings of Governor Herbert Lehman, Walter Damrash, General Daggles McArthur, General Eisenhower and other famous personalities that Zussman had painted can be viewed in the distinguished American journals.
Besides his outstanding place in the realm of art, he plays an important role in the building of Israel.
|Prof. Herman A. Gray|
Prof. Herman A. Gray plays a prominent role in the American cultural and social life. Prof. Gray is considered one of the greatest specialists in the field of real estate. He is also one of the authors of the unemployment insurance law. He is often called to Washington and other states as a mediator in labor disputes.
In addition to his activity in the general American society, he was very outstanding in the Jewish society, serving it with his expertise and mastery. He heads the committee for foreign affairs of the American Jewish Committee. In the winter of 1946 he was sent to Europe by that organization, to offer legal help to the Jewish survivors to retrieve their property. In the summer of 1948 he was sent to Europe
once again, by the same organization, to help the displaced Jews in the camps not to fall under German custody.
Prof. Grey was born in America, the son of Israel Ephrayim and Henye Greblovsky, a grandson of R' Shalom Kostrinsky. His grandfather's name is very dear to him and with great respect he holds his grandfather's six books of the Mishnah among his various countless law-books.
Horodets has some quite young but esteemed scholars. One of them is Abraham Asler, son of Mendl Hersh and Feige-Chaya Asafsky. He specializes in Bacteriology, and is at present the director of Serum Laboratory in Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md. He writes scientific articles that are highly esteemed in the scientific world.
In the field of medicine, Dr. Saul (Shlomo) Gratzer is acclaimed. He is the son of Yitkhak and Chava Glatzer. He is a diagnostic specialist of internal diseases. Dr. Glatzer also applied his great expertise to the American army, which he joined in time for the Second World War In the army he achieved the rank of lieutenant-colonel.
|Dr. Saul Glatzer|
Another scholar is Dr. Sidney Schmukler, son of Beyle Itzil's. Dr. Shmukler graduated with distinction the University of Wisconsin. He specializes in economic problems. In this field he has contributed articles to various journals. At present he serves as assistant Professor of Economy in Drake University, Iowa, where he is much liked.
|Dr. Sidney Schmukler|
Another gifted young man from Horodets is Shlomo Gar'in (Gara'in), son of R' Mordechai Greenberg. He came to America as a young boy and here he received his academic degree in Law and also graduated from the Seminary for Teachers of Hebrew Hertzeliya. He became one of the missionaries of Hebrew in America and one of the organizers of the Hebrew theatre Pargod in America. Wishing to refine his Hebrew, Shlomo Gar'in traveled to Jerusalem and studied there at the Hebrew University. In Israel he spoke on the Israeli radio: Kol Yerushalyim.
Upon returning to America, Shlomo Gar'in dedicates himself to practicing as a lawyer. He also helped the Horodets book committee with legal advice, free of charge of course.
|Shlomo P. Gar'in|
Horodetsers make headways in South America as well. Also in hot Argentina they participate very diligently in Jewish social life, such as Moshe Vinograd (son of Nisl) and Abraham Tshernik (son of Arye and Shifra) in Buenos Aires.
We should mention that Moshe Vinograd is one of those who initiated the publishing of the book of Horodets. When he visited New York in the summer of 1946 it was decided to publish this book a dream shared by a few Horodetsers for some years to eternalize Horodets in the Jewish history.
There are also Horodetsers in Uruguay Paraguay, Brazil and other South-American countries where they play an admirable role in Jewish social life.
Society Yeshu'ot Ya'akov Support Union of the people of Horodetz
[Yeshu'ot Ya'akov = salvation of Yaakov]
Translated by Hannah Kadmon
[Translator's notes in brackets]
The big tide of Jewish immigration from Russia to America in the last years of the 19th century, did not skip our shtetl Horodets. Many poor inhabitants of Horodets and the villages around it, envisioning no economic future, started their exodus to America. Naturally the first stop was New York. Many came here hoping to earn some money and return to Horodets to try their luck with that money back home. However, most of these people were disappointed when they returned home to Horodets. It did not take long before they went back to America with the scant money left.
Other people came to America with the direct goal of saving some money and sending it to their families. In 1902, about 50-60 families from Horodets and the surroundings were already here. Many of the Horodets folks were already affiliated with various societies of other nearby shtetles such as Kobryn, Antipolye, Drohytchin etc., but most of the folks were not affiliated with any society. So, naturally, when the folks met each other in the street or at someone's house, they hit on the idea that they had to have a Horodetser society. In the beginning the folks met together at R' Yehuda Leib Greblovsky's home. He was living then with his family at 36 Essex Street. Almost every Saturday afternoon, after having discussed the events of the week, or talked about who the new arrivals were that week and who were thinking of going back home, they immediately turned to discuss the founding of a society. So one such Saturday, in Yehuda Leib Greblovsky's house, quite a number of folks from Horodets gathered and decided to call a general big meeting for the following Saturday evening in the synagogue of the European Painters Union. R' Yehuda was a member of that union since he held his kheyder there. The synagogue was on Norfolk Street. That took place in the Fall of 1902. At that meeting, it was decided to found a Horodetser Society. 36 people signed in on the spot and each paid $1. Right after that, they discussed names for the society and its goals. Most of the middle aged and elderly folks, whose leader was Shimon Portnoy, were of the opinion that the main goal was to have a synagogue and cemetery and all other benefits were not necessary. Therefore, the name of the society should be Society Yeshuot Yaakov people of Horodets. However, the younger folks, whose leader was the writer of these lines, Chayim Greblovsky, son of R' Yehuda Leib, argued that they were not against having a synagogue but it should not be the only goal. A more important goal was to have sick-benefits and various other benefits and therefore the name should be Union of Horodets. If not they threatened to leave the meeting and found a separate union. Then, R' Shabtai Greblovsky suggested that if such a thing happened there would be no society and no union, as there would not be enough members for two societies. Therefore, to avoid it, and appease both sides, the society would adopt the goal that with time it would arrange for various benefits like in all other unions, and the name would be Society Yeshuot Yaakov Support Union of the people of Horodets. True, it is quite a long name, but as a compromise all agreed to adopt it.
|R' Yehuda Leib Greblovsky|
They immediately voted for the functionaries and Shimon Portnoy was elected as president, Simcha Rubin as vice president, Michael Kooper treasurer and Chayim Greblovsky as secretary in charge of the protocol. As soon as the Horodetsers heard of the founding of the society, they were present as members in each meeting.
Soon, the society rented a synagogue on Orchard Street and also bought a cemetery on Mount Zion Cemetery. After a while, they set up a committee to work out a constitution.
The constitution took care of many benefits for the members. There was a fund for sick-care, $1 fee for every member of the family - for the dead, and various other big or small benefits.
It is regretful that the log books of the first 14 years were lost probably in the transfer from one synagogue to the other. Therefore it is impossible to list in detail the course the society took and its growth, as the writer of these lines would have liked. He must only rely on his memory. However, 45 years have passed since the foundation of the society and it is impossible to remember everything. So, many first events will thus be lost.
In short we can say, though, that the Horodetser society was a success from its first day, thanks to the dedication of its members. In no time there were more than 100 members and the number grew steadily. Every newly arrived immigrant felt proud when a bit after settling down he was accepted as a member of the family of Horodets. Years afterwards, when the immigration stopped, the members started bringing into the society sons, sons-in-law and brothers-in-law, many of whom were already born in America. Prior to the Second World War the number of the members was around three hundred. With the growth of the society, there were new and bigger benefits for the members. The system of per capita tax had long been cancelled. Instead there was an endowment fund that paid to families of the dead $200 for a deceased man, $100 for a deceased wife and a yearly payment of $84 for sick benefits.
We also have a sick-care fund to help the needy and sick members who have exhausted their benefit payments and an emergency dues loan fund for the occasion that a member sometimes cannot pay his dues on time and can borrow from the fund until he is able to pay his dues. It was understood right from the beginning that the member who took the loan would not be prompted to return the money if he did not repay it.
We also had an old people's fund the purpose of which was to help members who reached 70 years of age, had been dues-paying members of the society for thirty years and reported that it was difficult for them to pay the dues. They would not have to pay dues anymore, except the contribution to the endowment fund.
We are also affiliated with Deborah Sanitarium for the consumptive patients, situated in Browns Mills, New-Jersey, to which we pay yearly dues and where we have obtained a bed for a large sum of money, in the name of our society. We sent consumptive members who returned cured from there. We are also affiliated with Hospital and home for the incurable in Brooklyn, for a yearly fee.
After the First World War we sent to Horodets thousands of dollars to help our wretched brothers.
As for offering support to various social organizations, we do what we can. We support Hayas yearly as also dozens of other smaller and bigger organizations engaged in social and Jewish relief work.
In 1947 we donated $1000 to the United Jewish Appeal. In 1948 our society donated close to $1000 to the UJA and an ambulance for the Haganah. This year, 1949, the society has undertaken to raise enough money to buy two homes in Israel for the holocaust survivors. It is getting off to a good start.
It is worthwhile to note that for many years the society had a Saving and Loan Fund (shares) that was of great help to the folks of Horodets. The bookkeeper of this fund was Yaakov Hersh Kaplansky, son of Aharon Itche Leizer.
Thanks to his knowledge of bookkeeping and his integrity and dedication to the society, he was its secretary for 25 years, until he died in June 1938.
Here are the names of the present functionaries: President: B. Goldberg. Vice president: Moshe Epelboim, secretary of finance: M. Kaplan, protocol-secretary: M. Rubinshtein, treasurer: Benny Palevsky. First trustee: Yona Shmuel Bosnyak, Second trustee: H. Erlich, third trustee: Abraham Bantshok, fourth trustee: Ezra Birenboim, inner-controller; Yosef Korin, hospiteler : Max Bosnyak. Gabai [manager]: Aharon Reznik and Moshe Erlich.
The following are the presidents who were the leaders of the society from the day it was founded until now: Shimon Portnoy, Shmuel Dobin, Eliyahu Grushevsky, Abraham Bogus, Chayim Shimon Portnoy, Dov Dubin, Moshe Erlich, Yosef Rozenbaum, Arye Leib Tshernavsky, Chayim Gerblovsky, Benny Goldberg.
Translated by Hannah Kadmon
[Translator's notes in brackets]
When WW1 broke out, the immigration to America actually stopped altogether. As a result, the help that we received from friends and relatives in America stopped as well. The war period was difficult and harsh. So, as soon as the war ended, all wished to get away to escape from the difficult life of poverty, from the horrible days and nights in which they were attacked by the gangs such as those of the bandits Petlurov* and Makhno.** People lived in daily fear and did not know what the next day had in store for them. The only hope was America. All did whatever they could to leave for America. Upon arriving here, in America, they naturally encountered difficulty in adjusting - An unfamiliar land, a new language, a completely new way of life, people are running, working hard, travel underground and above houses.
* [Petliura was a top Ukrainian commander fighting the Red army, was defeated and his followers, Petliurites -, carried out pogroms against the Jews.]They got to meet other new arrivals friends from Horodets. They talked about the old beloved home which they were forced to desert and about the new home with the new sort of life which they lovingly embraced. They often went to the Horodets Association to get together with the old countrymen they had known or had remembered. Only few young people joined in. They did not find there the warm and friendly atmosphere needed for the newcomers.
** [ the volunteer army of General Bulak- Balakhovitch, the leader of the White Guards fought the Red Army and helped the Poles.]
A place was needed to enable the "green" immigrants to get together and spend time in a more home-like way, and would not draw apart too fast.
The new immigrants saw how other new arrivals from various towns organized auxiliaries, societies and clubs and envied their acquaintances from other shtetls who were as "green" as they were. So, the "green" newcomers decided together to establish a club. Two American "landsleit": Yudl Zussman and Dr. Y Farber lent a helping hand.
The constituent assembly took place in Dr. Farber's house on the 14th of January 1923. It was decided to establish a club by the name of "Young Horodets". The assembly elected a board of nine members: Tzivia Greenglass, Rivka Dyeness, Yudl Zussman, Yisrael Zussman, Binyamin S. Zussman, Yeshayahu Elman, Dr. Y. Farber, Sarah Rodin and Menashe Shvarts. They got down to the task with a great deal of enthusiasm and did their utmost to make "Young Horodets" a place for whoever wanted to join in. They worked out a constitution with a charter and "Young Horodets" became an authorized organization. The main principles of the club where as follows: 1. The club would not assume a political character. 2. It would offer a place where all immigrants from Horodets and their friends could get together and feel at home. 3. It would collect money through various ventures and send it to Horodets for those who need help. In order to realize the above mentioned principles, they organized cultural evenings and discussions of various issues.
At the start, when they did not have enough money, the gatherings took place in Dr. Farber's house. When they already had several dollars, they rented club-rooms on Denlancey Street and it was not worse than anywhere else.
It should be noted that once they organized a ball in a hall, downtown, and so many people attended that some people simply could not get in. The net income from that evening was 200 dollars out of which they sent 150 dollars to Horodets. They organized a Hanukkah and Purim evenings with humorous magazines. They also had lectures. Akiva Ben-Ezra, the editor of this book, gave once a lecture about the Jewish scholar Dr. Israel Mikhl Rabinovits, whose home town was Horodets. Our fellow countryman, Mr. V. Shuman played his violin quite often to the delight of the audience.
The club became popular among the landsleit [compatriots] of other towns and shtetls such as Kobryn, Antipolye and Pruzshine. "Young Horodets" became a center of attraction for all the young boys and girls of those towns and shtetls. They arranged summer journeys, rented club-rooms in Coney Island, thus offering the new young immigrants the opportunity to enjoy a cool place in the hot summer, while sharing a group atmosphere.
The following members were, at times, in the executive board: Yudl M. Zussman, Dr. Y. Farber, Binyamin S. Zussman, Tzivia Greenglaz, Sarah Rodin, Rivka Dyness, Menashe Shvarts, Yisrael Zussman, Yehayahu Elman, David Kaplan, Yosef Farber, Menashe Rodin, T. Valiniets and Yehoshua Reznik (and if we omitted any other names, we should be forgiven because we cannot remember all names).
We can justly say that almost all the work and responsibility for "Young Horodets" was carried by only a few members: Dr. Y Farber, David Kaplan, Yehoshua Reznik, Menashe Shvarts and Binyamin S. Zussman. The club owes its existence to their dedicated work.
After a several years of existence, the club became weaker. Some members got married and did not have the time to dedicate to the club. Others left New York, etc. The fund-money was exhausted, there were fewer members and after several years of activity "Young Horodets" had to shut down, regretfully.
The charter for "Young Horodets" still exists. Maybe there is a chance that "Young Horodets" will be revived? It is worthwhile to look into this matter.
Horodetser Ladies Auxiliary
Translated by Hannah Kadmon
[Translator's notes in brackets]
This particular organization was founded February 1937. The purpose was to extend help to Horodets. The idea that this was necessary hovered on the air for many years. Letters from Horodets reached America, in which they described the great misery and poverty and asked for help. This call for help stroke a cord with many members of the Society Yeshuot Yaakov and a plan emerged to found a ladies auxiliary.
The first founding-assembly was called by Mr. Moshe Erlich. Twenty women participated. The following functionaries were elected: Mrs. Ester Eidelman -chairlady, Mrs. Sarah Erlich - vice chairlady, Mrs. Bertah Volinietz - treasurer, Miss Bessye Grablovsky - secretary, Mrs. Aide Hoyzman- trustee. Within a short time they raised enough money to fulfill their mission. They immediately sent to Horodets $500 to establish there a Gmiles-khe'sed [charitable loan-without-interest], then sent every year for Passover mose-khi'tim [alms for providing the poor with their Passover needs], alms to individuals and to conspicuous New-Yorker institutes and individuals.
In 1946 the Ladies Auxiliary donated to the United Jewish Appeal $300 to support orphans in Europe.
Taking into account the small number of members, Ladies Auxiliary has done a great deal during the last ten years of its existence.
The present functionaries are: Moshe Erlich President, Mrs. Blume Goldberg vice president, Mrs. Bertah Volinyetz treasurer (lately Mrs. Aida Epelboym took over), Mrs. Aida Hoyzman trustee, Mrs. Feigl Greenberg secretary.
The functionaries together with the members, now 50 of them, are dedicated to their assignments; they hold frequent campaigns and recruit new members. They know that they are doing a superior job of which they are proud, and the Ladies Auxiliary is growing and making progress.
At this moment, sorrowfully, Horodets does not exist anymore for Jews. The activity of Ladies Auxiliary is applied to help the Jews of Europe, orphans, Israel, New-Yorker institutes and individuals. All these are in need and the sister-members are determined to carry on their holy service.
Horodetser in Russia
Translated by Hannah Kadmon
[Translator's notes in brackets]
Seventy-eighty years ago [1875 approximately] Russian cities such as Kiev, Yekaterinoslav, Odessa or Baku were not only just geographically far from the Jews of Horodets, but also far in concept. To travel to one of those cities meant for a Jew in Horodets to part from his wife and children, from the tradition of the shtetl, leave behind his talith and tephillin, change his name to sound Russian, wear clothes like a gentile, God forbid, and behave like a Russian.
Still, there were a few Jews from Horodets who accepted those complications and stayed Jews like all the other former settlers from Horodets, without losing any hair because of that. However, they could not forsake Horodets. They longed for Horodets and at least once a year went to see their wife and children and took a deep breath of Horodets with them to suffice for a whole year.
One of those Jews was Hillel, the subsequent gabe [manager of affairs] of Khevre Kedi'she [voluntary burial society]. He used to travel to Kiev for a whole year and come home only for Passover. He did that for several years until he returned to his "roots" and became once again a Horodetser. One trace of Kiev remained with him the Russian hat that he wore to shuffle snow in winter and to sweep the "padvar" (yard) in summer.
What did Hillel do in Kiev? People say that he was there a frikazshtzik (an employee) in a store.
How did Hillel come to be in Kiev? It is probably because he had relatives on his wife's side, who was of the Mazursky family, and that was the reason for his leaving for Kiev.
It looks as though the Mazursky family possessed an adventurous nature which did not let them stay in one place and spend the rest of their life in Horodets.
Another branch of the family, Aharon Shmuel, husband of Hannah, daughter of Pelte, did business all year round in Paltava and came to Horodets once a year. When Aharon Shmuel came for a Holiday, he was the same Karliner Hassid, wearing a long traditional overcoat with the special belt, as if the big city did not affect him at all.
Aharon Shmuel and his family were drawn to the big city and at the end they left for Baku to join Aharon Shmuel's brother, Khayim Cohen who was well known as an oil-magnate. Aharon Shmuel probably helped his brother to develop his brother's oil-well.
Years later, their relatives Motye's - son of Hillel - children and their families left for Baku as well.
The second eminent family, Kostrinsky, also had a stormy blood and left Horodets. Motye Itzik's sisters settled in Yekaterinoslav and little by little other parts of the family followed suit. Still, the emigration to Russia was not big. People married, had children lived and died in Horodets.
In 1915, when the Germans invaded Horodets, the folks of Horodets started looking for a distant relative to whom they could escape. Only then did the emigration deep into Russia start and the farther from Horodets, the better. Almost half the population of Horodets escaped deep into Russia and many of them did not return from there. Among those who did not return: Motye, Hillel's son, Izikl (Izrael) with his family, Itzel son of Shimon'ke (Vinik) with his family, Shmuel Khayim's (Sirota) family, and others. From then on, Horodets had representatives in all the big cities of Russia such as Leningrad, Moscow, Perm, etc., where they helped build and shape the Soviet state. Many sacrificed their life to free Russia from the Nazi occupation. One of them was Hershel, the Rabbi's son. He was the second of R' Yaakov Khayim's sons. Already in his childhood he stood out as wise and talented in general knowledge and was studying to become a dentist.
|Dr. Hershl Greenberg|
Hershel was not happy with his profession and studied further to become a doctor of medicine, practicing in Moscow. In WW2 he was a military doctor in the Russian army and fell on duty - hit by a German bullet. It should be noted that Hershel was also interested in Law, and especially in Jewish law. On the occasions that he visited Horodets, either from the Yeshiva or from the big city, he studied with his father Jewish laws. May he rest in peace.
Unfortunately, the connection with Russia is weak [this was written in 1949]. We have no exact knowledge of the fate of our folks from Horodets. From time to time a sign of life reaches us but it is very weak so we cannot really know the extent of their participation in social, industrial and cultural life of Russia.
I have got word that Yirmiyahu, son of Zlatke (Rubinshtein), has become a professor of Mathematics in one of the Russian universities in Odessa. Is he the only scholar from Horodets in Russia? Possibly not. The people of Horodets were bright enough to show their talents also in other fields of science. Let us hope that it will be possible to approach our brothers in Russia and get more information about our Horodetsers in that land which is now behind an iron curtain. We hope to hear good news from them, as Jews and as humans.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Gorodets, Belarus Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2017 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 5 Mar 2012 by MGH