Yankel Lifshitz was a rebel. He was one of the first to oppose the Shomer Hatzair. He was jailed for six years for being involved in Jewish affairs. They did not break his spirit. His free spirit did not agree with the restrictive rules of the government. He was determined to go live in Israel, but did not want to leave behind those who were unable to make Aliyah. He was a moralistic man and a natural born leader. He was brave and actively involved in communistic activities. He truly believed in liberating the masses. Right before the Holocaust, when I was a guest in Warsaw, he was in the midst of leading a labor strike and was always an enthusiastic and optimistic person.
Aharon Vigodsky was very athletic and strong. He always believed that he could take care of himself.
I remember at times when I used to come late from a Shomer Hatzair activity. I
could hear Aharon walking down the street singing and whistling. When I joined
him, I quickly found out that he was also a very smart person with full
knowledge of current events and a burning ambition to go and live in Israel. In
1939 when I visited my town, Kobrin, I spent long hours talking with him. H was
eager to know about life in Israel. Unfortunately, he never realized his dream,
not wanting to leave his family and friends behind. He perished in the
Holocaust, like many others.
Menashe Vigodsky hailed from a religious background and, to everyone's
surprise, one day joined the secular movements in Kobrin. He was taken by the
dream of living in Israel, although till the end of his life there was a
conflict in him whether to go to Israel or to stay.
Rabbi Ari Par The Physician
Rabbi Ari Dar, the physician, was a dedicated doctor, caring for the poor and needy. If his visits were during Shabbat, he would walk.
Although he was a doctor, he always combined religion with medicine and when
giving medical advice he always gave his blessings as well. One wonders who his
last patient was, or his last blessing before he perished.
Although Yakov Chabubatsky's parents were very sick, and there was sadness in
his home, outside among us he was happy and optimistic. He was very interested
in philosophy and Marxism, but the worries of the family and the meager
livelihood pulled him to more practical thinking. At times he wished he could
leave his sick parents and go to Israel, but he could never bring himself to be
so cruel. So he never fulfilled his dreams. One wonders where and how he was
killed by the Germans.
Asher Kagan was a farmer and very decent man. Although not physically strong,
he used to awake early every morning and walk to the fields and work a full
day. He yearned to leave and work the land in Israel, but he always knew he
could not leave his family behind. He was my relative. Cursed be the hand that
Rachel Broikonkin was the most beautiful among the girls. She was also very
feminine and charming. She had a great impact on all of us. When she graduated
from the Hebrew high school, she decided to become a teacher, a decision she
fulfilled. She was also a good baker. She combined Biblical thought with
secular modern thinking with plenty of charm. She was a very pure and decent
human. Her laugh was contagious. She was also a good singer. We lament the
death of this beautiful woman who was killed by the Germans and we cannot find
Yosele Shwartz was a big and strong man and one of the best young men in the
city. He was filled with dreams. He had an analytical mind, although he
learned, he leaned towards religion. He was always thirsty for learning. He
always held an open book in his hand. I was very proud of him. He took over
theleadership from me of the Shomer Hatzair. He had a wonderful future. Many
times around the campfire I listened to his words and I was sure that he was
going to fulfill all of his dreams and go to Israel soon, but he did not make
it. The German boot killed him first.
Please forgive me for getting personal. I loved Hinda Goldberg. This woman is a
very special woman. A certain sadness lived in her, perhaps because she saw the
tragedy that was coming. She was a delicate person and very intelligent. She
was not lucky enough to accomplish her ambitions. She had to take care of her
sick mother. She saw some happiness, though, through her surviving daughter and
her family who moved to the United States. By profession, she was a
kindergarten teacher. I vividly remember her because I loved her.
Yakov Levinsky was always young in his heart, full of life. He was about to go
and live in Israel. Unfortunately he was killed by the Germans. When I came to
visit Kobrin from Israel, I sensed a sadness in his eyes. His eyes asked, "What
will become of the Jewish people?"
Shlomo and Itshe Stavasky
Shlomo was my first teacher of mathematics. We loved him very much. He was full of life and also serious like his whole family. He wanted to join his students in Aliyah to Israel, but a cruel fate prevented this. He will be remembered forever.
Itshe Stavasky was a good-looking guy with nice manners. He was poor but very
studious. He was also killed by the cruel Nazis. Let both be remembered forever.
Rabbi Chaim Lifshitz
Rabbi Chaim Lifshitz was my uncle. He was a very religious man. He worked as a
baker, but at the end of the day he was always busy with his Talmud studies.
It's sad that his children did not follow in his footsteps as far as religion.
I used to try to talk to him about secular topics and he always remained
unmoved, being deeply involved with religion. Cursed be the hands that murdered
him forever and ever.
Chaim Goldberg was one of the first rebels, a Shomer Hatzair member. Everybody loved him.
He was always helpful to everybody, very decent and optimistic. Life can be very strange and cruel. Chaim Goldberg was a leader in organizing and seeing people off to make Aliyah and was sure that he too would realize his dreams of Aliyah and end up in Israel, but he died before that.
The stories we heard in Israel were that he did not succumb to the Nazis. He
fought back then took his own life. His friends in Israel will always remember
him very lovingly.
Rabbi Zondel was my religious studies teacher, but I'm sorry to say that I did
not adhere to all of his teachings. However, Israel's life is still guiding me.
We detested preaching, but his preaching was different, and so it remained with
us. He taught me the Talmud. The Talmud was a source of courage for him.
Our ship left for a faraway country. Our life changed completely there, but his noble personality and religious chants were always in our hearts. Rabbi Zondel was also among those who were killed by the cruel Germans. Let his soul be remembered among the living.
Rabbi Moshe Chayut
Rabbi Moshe Chayut was the first teacher of modern Hebrew. He instilled the love for the sources of Judaism. He taught us all the major studies, grammar, Rashi. Although sometimes, he used to pinch us, it made us even more studious.
He encouraged us to speak Hebrew. He used to say, Study this language which is
going to be the spoken language of our people in Israel. We were very sad that
he was also among those who perished during the Holocaust.
Yehuda Schwartz was a quiet and humble man. He was a very knowledgeable poor
person. He longed for a life of religion, but his inner thoughts dictated
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