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[Page 223]

Eliezer Dubkirer

Manus Goldenberg

kre070.jpg
Figure 70. Eliezer Dubkirer

Through the mists of the past his form appears: a child of about 11 (he was born in 1901) among children of his age in the Jewish Primary School, careful in his dress, well groomed, and beloved for his straightforwardness, behavior, and trustworthiness in defending the weak. He was one of the students who were ready to escape from the classroom to the nearby woods belonging to the old glassmaker Kvitel to catch the first snowflakes or the first breaths of spring, or to take a long trip on the paths of the Vidomka near the railroad station. Certainly, such behavior led to strong rebukes from Principal Goldfarb, but what poetic soul can resist the siren song of the fragrant fields underneath the silent and proud snow?

In those same Kvitel's woods, the first student group in our town was established at the outset of the Revolution. E. Dubkirer, who was one of the organizers, surprised everyone with a fiery speech calling on the students to organize. This was the first time he had participated in such a meeting, and he showed such bravery at his age that contemporary events left deep impressions on his soul.

He was brought up in his father's house, a textile merchant who was careful to direct him toward becoming a man of means, concerned with providing for his family and his business. He therefore felt the pressure of his parents' strenuous objections when he joined one of the Zionist youth movements nearby.

When he finished high school, he enlisted in the Polish army. When I was drafted into the same artillery unit where he was serving, I heard from his superiors and colleagues that he was an excellent artilleryman. He then told me that he was paying close attention to his training so that he could become an expert artilleryman in the Land of Israel. Despite the anti-Semitic line taken by the Polish army officers and their desire not to give Jews access to training or courses in such materiel, he was sent to noncommissioned officers school, which he completed with distinction. He enjoyed his work with the 155-millimeter cannon, and more than once he said that eventually we would be able to use similar arms for defense in the Land of Israel.

Upon his discharge from the army, he joined Pioneer, which had just been formed. This alone brought him into vigorous conflict with his parents. When it came time for him to immigrate, his parents struggled with him bitterly, which led to a storm in the city. They disowned him and treated him as an apostate was treated in the old days.

After his immigration (in 1925), he joined the Ma'avar group in Petach Tikvah, founders of the kibbutz Givat HaShlosha. Conditions in the kibbutz were very harsh, but a pioneer spirit suffused their rickety tents. The letters we received from him were full of activity, but they suddenly stopped. Some thought that he had lost his spirit and succumbed to his parents' pressure, as well as the pressure of his wife and in-laws. An issue of the Davar newspaper that reached us several weeks later told us the fearful news: Eliezer Dubkirer had died in Hadassah Hospital in Tel Aviv, far from his relatives and friends. He had fallen ill with typhus, and for several days at his tent did not receive the medical attention he needed for his fever. Without a diagnosis, he was brought to the hospital, and he died there.

Even during his final days he conquered his troubles, and his good sense of humor did not leave him until his final moment. In the old cemetery of Tel Aviv, his bones are buried beneath a modest tombstone: an unknown soldier in the battle for our revival.

[Page 224]

The Two Who Fell in Yagur

Ester Fidel (Meshek Yagur)

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Figure 71. Hinde Fishman

Eleven young men and women, members of Meshek Yagur and the United Kibbutz Movement, and one from Kfar Chasidim, returned in the evening on Sunday, 19 Nisan 1931, from the Nesher neighborhood to Meshek Yagur, a 15-minute wagon ride. As they neared the farm, 100 meters along the road to Kfar Chasidim, they saw a few Arabs standing by the road. The Arabs allowed the wagon to pass, and once it had passed, they opened fire with a volley of shots. The first shots came from the left, and the first injured were those sitting on the left side of the wagon: Shmuel Dishel was killed immediately with a bullet to the heart and fell in the wagon, and the wagon driver, Yakov Zamir, a member of Meshek Yagur, was severely injured, fell from the wagon, and died several hours later. The donkeys panicked and ran toward the farm, and the shots that hit the wagon during its escape came from the right side. A member of the Movement, Hinde Fishman, who was sitting on the right side, was killed by a bullet through the heart, and she fell out of the wagon.

The three fatalities and the four wounded had previously been members of Kibbutz Klosova.

(Davar newspaper, April 7, 1931)

 

Hinde Fishman

She came from the Dubna suburb. Hinde did her pioneer training in the kibbutz known as Klosova in Poland. She immigrated in 1929 with the first wave of the Fifth Immigration, and she was sent near the farming kibbutz in Petach Tikvah. Quiet, nice to all creatures, and kindhearted, Hinde dedicated herself with love and purpose to labor. She worked in the orchards of Petach Tikvah and at the farm. After two years of training, she decided to make her permanent home in Meshek Yagur. There was already a group from Klosova there, and Mount Carmel reminded her of the hills of Kremenets, where she had spent her childhood.

In 1931, before Passover, Hinde came to Yagur. She was only with us for one week, because on the evening of Sunday, 18 Nisan 1931, a large group of us, mostly from Kremenets, traveled in the wagon to nearby Nesher (there were still no automobiles at the kibbutz). It was a very dark night, and as we returned, terrorists ambushed us. I will never forget how happy and satisfied Hinde was that evening, as if she suddenly and all at once felt the happiness she had not yet had in her short life. Poverty and an unhappy childhood did not give her much joy during her life, but that night she was very happy. Near her new home, full of dreams and hopes for working and creating her own homeland, she was cut down by an enemy bullet.

[Page 225]

The horses were bewildered by the shooting and reared up, and Hinde, who was gravely wounded, fell from the wagon onto the road. We could hear her final screams of pain and protest at the attackers' unfairness and cruelty. This refugee screamed and then became quiet forever, at the young age of 26. When group members went to search for her, she was dead. Three were killed and five were wounded in the attack. One of the victims was another Kremenets native, Shmuel Dishel, who was killed by a bullet straight through his heart, and he fell without uttering a sound. They found him dead in the wagon. These three martyrs were laid to rest in a common grave underneath a massive stone expertly inscribed with sheaves blowing in the wind. They move (in the wind) but are not broken.

Nor were we broken. Our group of Kremenets natives, a sizable group at our farm, together with the other members, took the yoke of action on our young shoulders, and thereby we fulfill Hinde's aspirations.

Rest in peace, Hinde! You could not fulfill your life's dreams, but we will faithfully and happily continue to serve the homeland. We turned desolate land to fruitfulness, we did our part to create a refuge for our people, and we have built a home – about which you dreamed so eagerly – on behalf of those who wish to serve the people and the homeland.

Rest in peace, dearest one!

Shmuel Dishel

From Davar, May 5, 1931

Age 22. Native of Kremenets. Completed Jewish Primary School and immediately went on to work and pioneer activities. He joined Young Pioneer and learned the tailoring trade. After a while he became an active member – a member of the council – of the tailors' union in Kremenets. He was the only wage earner in his household, but his desire to immigrate prevailed. After two years in the Pioneer organization, he went to a training kibbutz. He spent one and a half years working in the factories of Klosova. He immigrated within a year, joined the Yagur group, and went to work in the factories in Atlit on behalf of the group.

From the time he left his student's desk, he never stopped working and toiling, and when he came home to the kibbutz to rest during the holiday, he fell at the hands of the oppressor.

Dishel's hands paved the road on which he was killed.

The Funeral

From Davar, April 7, 1931

From the Haifa Workers' Council and Meshek Yagur, announcements were put up in Haifa inviting people to attend the funeral, and masses of people streamed to Hadassah Hospital. The funeral procession left there at 3:00 p.m., and at its head was a group of motorcycle riders from The Worker and an honor guard of British “foot-policemen” on horseback and in automobiles, led by Commander Flyer and then Deputy Petroz. After passing through the Technion courtyard, the procession turned to HeChalutz Street and stopped next to the Workers' House. From its balcony, Duvid Ben-Gurion eulogized the victims on behalf of the General Council of the Zionist Organization. From the factory, the procession went to Herzl Street, and next to the Central Synagogue, the cantor sang “God, Full of Compassion.” Next to the Wadi Rushmie Bridge, across from the communal houses, the coffins were placed in hearses, and dozens of cars filled with passengers escorted them to Yagur.

[Translator's Note: The Worker in Hebrew is HaPoel, an Israeli labor organization. “God, Full of Compassion” (El Male Rachamim) is a prayer for the dead recited at a funeral.]

Next to the Nesher factory, inhabitants of the area and of Kfar Hasidim joined the funeral procession. The crowd at the cemetery in Yagur numbered 2,000. Members of the group, the farm, and Nesher placed wreaths on the coffins. At the graveside, Nachum Benari gave a short speech on behalf of the United Kibbutz.

[Page 226]

Yisrael Goldenberg

Manus Goldenberg

In memory of the members of the ranks of Maccabee of Kremenets who were killed in the Holocaust.

kre072.jpg
Figure 72. Yisrael Goldenberg

Above the storefront, an artistic billboard by Liora Gurvits announces with splashes of color a soccer match between the Kremenets Maccabee team and a Polish team from Dubna. The featured soccer player on the billboard, whose leg is raised high, preparing to kick, is an object of amusement for those who pass by. He is the crowd favorite, “the monkey,” Yisrael Goldenberg of the Dubna suburb. With a few strokes of blue on paper, the 16-year-old artist has managed to capture his image, brimming with strength and eagerness.

The pitch, Harkov Field, sits in the shade of the trees that rise around it on descending slopes. The atmosphere is replete with the intoxicating aromas of wildflowers and grass. The match against the Polish team begins to the rhythm of melodies by the Gakman Band.

The Jewish spectators are very excited. The Polish team is strong, and the victory of the Maccabee team is in doubt. The only hope is the runner on the left side. The distinctive darkness of his face contrasts with the white and azure of his jersey as he runs quickly from goal to goal. “Kushi, strike!” the hearty cheer is heard from the Jewish partisans. “Molpe, gol!” that is, “Monkey, goal!” comes the organized cheer from the crowd. Awe-inspiring kicks are directed toward the Polish goal, and every kick brings applause.

With his long limbs, hulking body, wide-open mouth, flared nostrils, and eyes bulging from their sockets, it was impossible not to compare him to a monkey; hence his nickname.

He did not fail in that game. The arms of the cheering crowd carried him high in victory.

A few years later, when a wave of anti-Semitism overtook Poland and our town, Yisrael appeared in a different light. With Moshe'ki Margolis and Dudek Barshap, he fought with Polish students who filled the streets of Kremenets, giving ten blows for every one they absorbed, and more than one of the injured ended up in the Jewish Hospital. A sense of loyalty to his people arose within him. He was blessed with a noble soul and a pure heart.

One day, we learned to our delight that Yisrael had joined Pioneer in Kremenets and had gone for training. We prayed that he would soon immigrate, because we knew how suited he was to working and protecting the Land. And again he did not fail. The story of his life and death on duty, guarding lives and property, was a natural extension of his life story in his hometown.

****

The guard Yisrael Goldenberg, who was wounded on duty next to Moshav Ein-Vered, died of his many abdominal wounds after four days of extreme suffering.

He was a native of Kremenets in Volin, a member of a typical Volinian nationalist merchant family. He came to Zionism by way of Jewish sports youth groups in our city. In 1925 he immigrated to the Land. His years in the Land were a long chain of actions to conquer the Land and settle desolate areas. At first he paved roads and cleared land in the hills of Mount Carmel; he then went to the Nahalal area near Kfar Yehoshue, where he drilled and installed wells. After Kfar Yehoshue he went to Migdal, near Tiberias; he helped lay the cornerstone of Tel Mond, and he worked there until his final days.

[Page 227]

He injured his arm badly three years ago and could no longer to use it for meaningful work, so he became a full-time guard. He found his calling as a watchman in the field. He was brave and fearless. He had great confidence in his own strength, and he was always the first to answer the call whenever and wherever the need arose.

They called him “Johnny,” a term of endearment, because he was loved by all his peers. He was devoted and trustworthy, and besides being strong, healthy, and vigorous, he was straightforward and full of youth, and he was therefore beloved by all.

In Tel Mond he was one of those most involved in security issues. When he died, there was no replacement in the entire region. He was one of the founders and first settlers of the workers' neighborhood in Tel Mond and a member of the Kfar Ziv neighborhood council. He built his home and family there. He left a wife and a one-year-old son.

He was 30 years old when he died. He was brought to burial in the pine forest between Tel Mond and Ein-Vered.

(From Davar LaOleh)

[Translator's Note: Davar LaOleh means Davar (Word) for Immigrants.]

 

Shmuel Koyler

M. A.

The road from Kremenets to Yad Mordekhay in the Negev – the road taken by Shmuel Koyler – is long. Shmuelik took his first steps toward the Land of Israel as a young man, almost still a boy, in Young Pioneer. Even in his childhood, he stood out because of his overwhelming skill, happiness, and kindheartedness. Who didn't know the happy boy, who sang as he went about his many activities? Shmuelik had “golden hands.” While he was still a student at the Jewish Primary School, he was already an instructor of weaving, drawing, carpentry, and the like. When he completed his primary school studies, he practiced weaving in his desire to produce works of art. Before he immigrated, he did three years of training in Lublin, and he was anxiously looking forward to the day when his dream of living in the Land of Israel would be realized. And in the Land itself, he was the first to volunteer for anything: as watchman over the wearied and working and in many capacities as a soldier in the British Army until he joined the Jewish Brigades, with whom he fought on the front lines. When the enemy was beaten and the battles ended, Shmuel continued his dedication and personal bravery. He threw himself into rescuing the remnant of refugees wandering along the borders and illegally bringing them in. The final days of his life: he died in the home he loved, for which he fought, wandered, and toiled, Kibbutz Yad Mordekhay. Shmuelik fell as he attacked an enemy tank, and with his body, he stopped the Egyptian hordes from invading the heart of a country fighting for its survival.

He was 33 when he died, with a wife and two children mourning for their dear Shmuelik.

****

Sh.

During the battles it seemed that our hearts had turned to stone, but it is true that we are still given to fantasy and daydreams. Sometimes I imagine that I am in a dream, that I will wake up in a moment, rub my eyes, look out the window, and find everything in its place, and friends who are actually dead will be sitting on the grass, playing with their children as usual. However, the cruel, painful truth reminds us at every turn of the great losses we have suffered.

I shared a strong bond of friendship and brotherhood with Shmuelik for many years. We shared many common experiences in those years, and I will not soon forget him.

From the first moment I was drawn to him and loved him. In his appearance and his manner, he was truly typical of a member of a Jewish nationalist family from Volin. The grace of a young Jewish man always shone on his face, and he exuded joy and lightheartedness until his final days. His infectious laugh, which came in wave after wave, could be heard from far away.

[Page 228]

He inherited his beautiful voice and talent for poetry and music from his cantor father, R' Moshe Brechye of Kremenets. He would entertain us with Hasidic tunes and folk songs at every kibbutz and army gathering. Every song that he sang would invite you, and you would be drawn to the music. The albums he gave to his friends are a testament to his talent for his job as a bookbinder. He also dabbled in carpentry, and without training, he produced first-rate work. He brought a nice children's cabinet – his handiwork – to his daughter, Mikhal, a gift from the camp in the desert.

When the Brigades were established, he failed his physical examination. Because of his longing for family and the kibbutz, he made sure to learn to be a driver, which allowed him to go to the front lines. Soon he was serving in the security patrol and “flew” along the streets of Italy, with its beautiful scenery. He returned from each sortie full of adventures and impressions. When he returned home, he became a carpenter. During the siege of our kibbutz, when driving on the dirt roads was a daily danger, Shmuelik stood up and announced his desire to sit behind the steering wheel again, as more drivers were needed. Aware of his eagerness and his driving ability, the kibbutz sent him to the Military Transport class. He took great pride in his “Tommy,” his personal weapon. On the first day of battle, in the first hours, he was wounded by shrapnel, but he refused to lie down. He was simply bandaged and took it upon himself to bring ammunition and nourishment to the troops.

Despite his natural happiness, a feeling of foreboding stayed with him, a feeling that apparently came from despair, as if he realized his fate. When the news arrived that tanks had breached the farm's perimeter, he ran with everyone else to the danger zone and attacked a tank with a grenade in his hand. At that time he had no fear of death – the danger to the farm was his single thought – as he went to destroy the tank. A volley of enemy bullets struck him, and he fell in a pool of his own blood. After the invasion was repulsed, we found him right beside the tracks of the tank.

The tears of our distress and grief over the loss of beloved Shmuelik will not stop. However, along with the pain we feel, we are proud of his outstanding bravery during his last few moments. Just as we learned from his tolerance and his songs, his self-sacrifice and bravery should serve as an example.

(From a booklet published by Kibbutz Yad Mordekhay in memory of its defenders who fell in battle: “Yad Mordekhay in Battle”)

 

The Spirit of Two Fighters

Moshe Kremenchutski (Ramat Gan)

English Translation by Aviv Tzur

kre073.jpg
Figure 73. Siunye Keselman and Avraham
Margalit Fell in the Spanish War, 1937

Of all the blessed souls of our community, let us not forget the two freedom fighters who fell in 1937 Spain while fighting for the Spanish National Republic against the Franco regime.

Siunye (Yehoshue) Keselman and Avrasha (Avraham) Margalit were both members of the Youth Guard in Kremenets. Both were honest and dedicated to their view and their life's purpose. Both were humble and followed their vision in life.

[Page 229]

They were some of the first to do “pioneer studies,” working in the forests of Poland during the bitter winters. Shortly after their return, they immigrated to the Land of Israel at the time of the 1929 pogroms. They joined the Youth Guard kibbutz in Binyamina and were among its builders. They never shirked hard labor despite their deteriorating health. They helped drain the swamps of Kabara and contracted malaria. Once they discovered the ideological contradiction between their position on the “Arab question” vis-à-vis that of the kibbutz, they felt that the honorable thing to do was to leave the kibbutz and move into the city, where they worked in construction and joined the Palestine Communist Party.

As the Spanish people began their war of independence, they were some of the first to join the International Brigade. From letters they sent to me, as well as from Siunye's memorial book, I learned that they volunteered to be in the front lines and perished as heroes in the fields of Guadalajara.

 

Shprintse Rokhel

1871–1952

A. Yosef

She was a native of the small town of Sudilkov, which was next to Shepetovka, and came from the Heylprin family, which manufactured prayer shawls, as did most residents of the village.

The family had a love for the Land of Israel even long ago, and one of the family patriarchs, Bukhman, immigrated in his later years and settled in Safed. On her mother's side she was a scion of a rabbinic family that counted 23 generations of rabbis. She received a traditional education. Curious from childhood, she learned Bible and even Talmud with her brothers. At a young age she became attached to the Enlightenment and Love of Zion, reading in Russian and Hebrew, with her favorite poet being Frug. When she married Yehoshue Rokhel and lived in Kremenets, she found herself in a circle that had no love for the Enlightenment, Hebrew literature, or Zionism. As a person with strong convictions, she fought for her philosophy and way of life. Despite the opposition of everyone around her, especially her powerful father-in-law, Hirsh Mendil, she established a strongly Hebrew/Zionist home and taught her children (10 in number) in that manner. It was one of the few homes in the city where the children spoke Hebrew. One of the children was sent to study in the Land of Israel, and specifically not to the Hertsliya High School but to an agricultural school in Petach Tikvah. As the children got older, they came one by one to the Land of Israel, and in 1930 the parents also immigrated.

She had a special interest in medical science. She read medical books, showed an understanding of illness, and served as a health consultant to many families. She taught her large family about Zionism and the Land of Israel. In addition, she always followed current events and Jewish politics. She literally read and studied until her final day.

During her first years in the Land, she lived in Kibbutz Tel Yosef with her son Chanokh. She fit in well with kibbutz life, but not with her position as one of the “parents.” She ate in the communal dining room (she was not devout) and participated as much as possible in all the farming tasks. After that, they went to live in Tel Aviv. She was a member of the Society for Women's Equality. She went to lectures at Ohel Shem. She learned nutrition and improved her knowledge of Hebrew. She also took part in the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants.

[Page 230]

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Figure 74. Shprintse Rokhel in Her Family Circle in Israel

During her final years, she lost three of her children, and her spirit was broken. The first of Elul was the anniversary of the death of her daughter Vitye in Kibbutz Ashdot Yakov. On returning from there to Haifa, her foot slipped on the steps. She fell and broke her ribs, and several days later died in a Haifa hospital. Her husband, Yehoshue, had predeceased her by several years. The two are buried in the cemetery at Nachalat Yitschak near Tel Aviv.

On her deathbed, she told her granddaughter her life story and concluded, “In my youth I recited the poems of Frug, and I longed to see the amazing cypress trees about which he wrote. And now I have had the fortune to see that two cypress trees stand outside my window, and my son Yosef lives on Frug Street, named for my favorite poet.”

Thus she completed the circle of her life, which was full from beginning to end.


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