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Voice of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel and the Diaspora, Booklet 14

 

List of Illustrations

Sketch of a crying woman, by A. Argaman 14
Youth circles in Kremenets I 16
Youth circles in Kremenets 2 16
Professor Opolski 23
Sketch of two men, by A. Argaman 27
Sketch of books, by A. Argaman 35
Sketch of tree, by A. Argaman 38
Utek Biran 42
Irka Biran 42
Dora Ayzenshteyn-Yakobson 44
Frida Rubinfayn 45
Bina Ben-Hari (Blit) 48
Lionya Gokhberg 49
Tsvi Bar-Tana 49

 

Name Index

Achad Haam 6
Alexander I, Czar 26
Alkoshi, Gedalyahu 34
Amburski, Mendel 70
Anders, Władysław, Gen. 43
Apter*, Riva (née Tshudnovski) 65-66
Apter, Shimon 65, 66
Argaman, Avraham iii
Ashkenazi, Lili 37, 38
Avidar, Yosef 41
Avrekh, Hilel 59
Avrekh*, Sosya (née Berger) 59
Ayzenshteyn, Chana 45
Ayzenshteyn*, Dora-Dvora (née Yakobson) 44 (photo), 44-45
Bakimer, Chayim 6, 8
Barak, Barukh 45
Barak*, Sara 45
Barats 53, 69
Barats, Fayvel 53, 69
Barats* (wife of Fayvel) 53
Barenboym, Shmuel 5
Barshap, (not given) 53
Bar-Tana*, Tsipora 49, 50
Bar-Tana, Tsvi 49 (photo), 49-50
Basis, Atara 70
Bat, Chaya 17
Beaupré, Irena 52
Beaupré, Jan 52
Ben-Efraim, Tsvi (see also Rubinfayn) 46, 70
Ben-Hari*, Bina (née Blit) 48, 48 (photo)
Ben-Hari, Tsvi 48
Ben-Yehuda (teacher) 6
Berenshteyn, Chayim Sh. 60, 63
Berenshteyn, Chayim Tsvi (see also Tsvi) iii, 51, 64, 65, 66, 69
Berenshteyn, Tsvi (see also Chayim Tsvi) iii, 51, 64, 65, 66, 69
Bergelson, Duvid 12
Berger (sister of Simcha Berger) 59
Berger* (wife of Simcha Berger) 59
Berger, Atara 59
Berger, Eliezer 59
Berger, Simcha 59, 70
Berger, Sosya 59
Bernshteyn, Aleksander (see also Shalom, Aleksander) 70
Bialer 53
Biberman, Feyge 12 (photo), 12-13
Biberman, Leyb 28
Biberman, Nachman 18
Biher*, Nechama 70
Bilatski (priest) 6
Biran, Ilana 43, 70
Biran*, Irka (née Gindes) 42 (photo), 42-43, 70
Biran, Utek 42 (photo), 42-43
Blit, Bina 48, 48 (photo)
Bochek 49
Bodeker 70
Borokhov 6
Brik, Melekh 21
Byk, Fred (Efraim) 31, 69
Charash, Yitschak 70
Chasid, Avraham 5, 25, 58, 70
Chasid*, Etya 58
Chasid, Nechemya 58
Chasid*, Sara 58
Chasid, Yair Yosef 58
Chasid, Zev 72
Chatski, Leybish 6
Desser, Max iii, 39, 69
Desser, Norman 69
Dobrish*, Ester (née Roytberg) 66
Dorfman, Barukh 64
Dorfman*, Moni (née Kamensheyn 64
Doron, Aviva 35, 37
Egozi*, Bela 70
Elkin, Ilana 70
Epshteyn, Tsvi 69
Eydelman, Feyge 9
Eydelman, Moshe 10
Eydis, Frits 5
Fayer family 64
Fayer, Chayim 62, 63, 64
Fayer, Mikhael (Manuele) 64
Fayer, Moshe 26
Fayer, Tsvi (Enrique) 64
Federman*, Dozya (née Rubinfayn) 23, 46, 70
Fefer, Itsik 12
Feldman 17
Feldman, Dvora 52
Feldman, Malka 16 (photo)
Feldman, Rivka 16 (photo)
Fin, Shmuel Yosef 38
Fishman, Almenat 64
Fishman*, Manya 67
Fishman, Tolye 40
Fishman, Yasha 67
Fridman, Mishe 40
Frishberg 18
Galperson 9
Garber*, Fani (née Reznik) 62, 64
Garber, Yechezkel 64
Gelernt, David 13
Gilboa, Menucha, Dr. 35, 53
Gindes 18
Gindes, Irka 42 (photo), 42-43, 70
Gindes, Miron 43
Gintsberg, Tsirel 59
Gintsburg, Aharon 70
Gluzman 16 (photo)
Gluzman*, Chaya (née Bat) 16 (photo)
Gluzman, Eliezer 16 (photo), 17, 18, 40
Gokhberg*, Gitel 49
Gokhberg, Lionya 49, 49 (photo)
Golberg, Betsalel 58, 70
Golberg, Ilana 58
Golberg*, Irena 58
Golberg, Yehoshue iii, 23, 44, 49, 52, 53, 69
Golcher, Meir 70
Goldberg, Fanya (Feyga) 39-40
Goldberg, Leya 39
Goldenberg*, Chana 41, 51
Goldenberg, Duvid 7
Goldenberg, Liove 18, 19
Goldenberg, Lola 51
Goldenberg, Manus iii, 7, 18, 29, 20, 31, 41, 42, 49, 51, 52, 64
Goldenberg, Pinchas 39, 40
Goldfarb, Moisey Borisovitsh 9
Goldring 7
Gorenshteyn 18
Gorenshteyn, Azriel 32, 70
Gorenshteyn, Shmuel 43
Goretski (notary) 23
Gorinshteyn, Natan 16 (photo)
Gorinshteyn, Pesach 70
Gorngut, Azriel 6
Gruber, Kineret 58
Gruber*, Rachel (née Zalts) 58
Gruber, Yosef 58
Grushko*, Ilana (née Golberg) 58
Grushko, Mordekhay 58
Grushko, Yonatan 58
Gurvits, Chana 18, 19
Herzl, Theodore 36
Hes, Moshe 6
Hofshteyn, Duvid 12 (photo), 12-13, 14
Hokhberg, Yonye 49
Hokhgelernter 16 (photo)
Holkin, Shmuel 12
Horovits, Tsvi 70
Ignatiev the Oppressor, Minister 26
Kaganovits, Malka 59
Kamensheyn, Moni 64
Kaminski, Iser 66
Katsav, A. 47
Katz 17
Katz, Bentsion, Dr. 36
Katz, Marcus iii
Katz, Mark 36
Katz, Meshulam (Maze ben Maze) 36
Katz, Mordekhay 24, 33, 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 69
Katz, Mordekhay Zalman HaKohen 36
Katz*, Tsipora (Tsipa) 61, 62, 63, 64, 66
Kempler, Zushya 51
Kerensky, Aleksander 5
Kerler*, Ana 70
Kesler, Yitschak 16 (photo)
Kindzior*, Shulya 58
Kindzior, Dina 58
Kindzior, Gedalyahu 58
Kiperman, (not given) 62
Kiperman, Nuta 64
Kogan, William iii
Koltun, (not given) 59
Kornits, (tailor) 6, 7
Kotkovnik, Idel 68
Kovel, Shlome, R' 9, 10
Koyfman, (not given) 17
Kremen*, Rivka (née Rozental) 40
Kremen, Berel 40-41
Kremen, Pesach 40
Kremenechka, Shila 70
Kremenetski, Azriel 7
Krilenko, 2nd Lt. 7
Krivin, Ester 70
Kutsher, (not given) 17
Kutsher, Pnina 16 (photo)
Kviska, Leyb 12
Lanchotski*, Dina (née Kindzior) 58
Lanchotski, (daughter of Chayim and Dina Lanchotski) 58
Lanchotski, Chayim 58
Landes, Ester 16 (photo)
Landsberg, Bozye, Dr. 6, 7
Levinzon, Yitschak Ber, R' (RYB”L) 1, 17, 26, 30, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 72
Leviten, Arye (Lionya) 70
Leviten, Moshe 70
Liberman, (not given) 17
Libman, Moshe 64
Liftman, Leya 58
Lirov, Moshe (see also Litvakov, Moshe) 5
Litev, Pesach (see also Litvak, Pesach) 37, 51
Litvak, Tsipora 49, 50, 70
Litvak, Tsipora 49, 50, 70
Litvakov, Moshe (see also Lirov, Moshe) 5
Lvov, Prince 5
Manusovits, Shmuel 70
Margalit, Yisrael 8
Markish, Perets 12
Markus, Moti 26, 27
Markus, Yosef Chayim 27
Melamed, Eli, R' 10
Melder, Morris 69
Nadel, Shalom 9
Nicholas I, Czar 26
Nicholas II, Czar 5
Oks, Velvel 64
Opolski, Danuta 23
Opolski, Grazina 23
Opolski, Metsiek 23
Opolski, Professor 23, 23 (photo)
Opolski, Vitek 23
Paran, (not given) 51
Peles, Yedidya 37, 38
Perelmuter, (not given) 17
Perlmuter, (not given) 16 (photo)
Pesis, Hersh 46
Pesis, Masha 47, 70
Pesis, Rivka 47
Pesis, Zalman 46-47, 70
Petliura, (not given) 7
Petsiukim, family 26
Podkaminer, (not given) 16 (photo)
Poniatovski, Yuliush 53
Portnoy, Yitschak 52, 53
Poskis, Beril 10
Rabinovits*, Sara 70
Rabinovits, (not given) 18
Rabinovits, Yisrael 37, 70
Rapaport, David 30, 52, 56-57, 69
Reznik, Fani 64
Rokhel, Chanokh 6
Rokhel, Hirsh Mendil (see Rokhel, Tsvi Menachem) 36
Rokhel, Tsvi Menachem ben Avraham (Hirsh Mendil) 36
Rokhel, Yitschak iii, 34, 35, 36, 51, 71
Roykhl see Rokhel,  
Roytberg, Ester 66
Rozenberg, Gitel 68
Rozenfeld, (not given) 18
Rozental, Rivka 40
Rozental, Yehudit 40, 58
Rubinfayn*, Frida (née Shchopak) 45 (photo), 45-46, 70
Rubinfayn*, Frida (née Shchopak) 45 (photo), 45-46, 70
Rubinfayn, Dozya 23, 46, 70
Rubinfayn, Tsvi (see also Ben-Efraim, Tsvi) 46, 70
Rubinfayn, Tsvi (see also Ben-Efraim, Tsvi) 46, 70
Senderovits, (not given) 17
Senderovits, Beylke 16 (photo)
Senderovits, Rachel 16 (photo)
Shabtay 44
Shafer, Shalom 59
Shalom, Aleksander (see also Bernshteyn, Aleksander) 70
Shavit, Uzi 34, 35
Shchopak, Aharon 46
Shchopak, Bilha 46
Shchopak, Frida 45 (photo), 45-46, 70
Shchopak, Frida 45 (photo), 45-46, 70
Shikhman, (not given) 17
Shnayder, Velvel 32
Shnayder, Vulf 69
Shnitser, Nachman 70
Shpak, (not given) 62
Shpak, Yitschak 64
Shpal, Aharon Shimon 5
Shpinke, Max 69
Shtern*, Maya 58
Shtern*, Tanya 42
Shtern*, Yehudit (née Rozental) 40, 58
Shtern, Lana 58
Shtern, Lev 58
Shtern, Munya 42
Shteynberg*, Tsirel (née Gintsberg) 59
Shteynberg, Barukh 59
Shumski, Dr. 11
Sitsuk*, Atara (née Berger) 59
Sitsuk, Mikhael 59
Skolski, (not given) 17
Skolski, Brayndel 16 (photo)
Skolski, Shlome iii
Skoropadski, Hetman 7
Slovatski, Yuliush 37
Solzhenitsyn, (not given) 7
Tabatshnik, Hershel 9
Taytelman, Shmuel 48
Toren-Feldman, Dvora 70
Troshinski, (not given) 53
Troshinski, Malka 59
Trotski, Leyb 24, 25
Tsherepashnik, (not given) 17
Tshudnovski*, Brayndel 65
Tshudnovski, Berel 65
Tshudnovski, family 62
Tshudnovski, Riva 65-66
Tsimels*, Malka (née Kaganovits) 59
Tsimels, Victor 59
Tsukerman, (not given) 6
Tsur*, Leya (née Liftman) 58
Tsur*, Osnat 58
Tsur, Lihi 58
Tsur, Omer 58
Vakman, Yitschak 8, 69
Vaynshteyn, (not given) 17
Vaynshteyn, A. 16 (photo)
Vekhetilna*, Brokhe (née Yergis) 67-68
Verthaym, Avraham 6
Verthaym, Yentel 6
Vishner*, Neti 41-42
Vishner, Max 41-42
Vishner, Nachum 41, 42
Vishniov, Hertsel 70
Vishniov, Yair 70
Yakobson, Dora-Dvora 44 (photo), 44-45
Yakobson, Dr. 44
Yehuda Halevi, R' 37
Yergis*, Freyda 67
Yergis, Avraham 64, 67
Yergis, Brokhe 67-68
Yos (Yosl), Mordekhay Chayim 24
Zalts*, Miryam 58
Zalts, (not given) 53
Zalts, Rachel 58
Zalts, Yosef 58
Zinzhirov, (not given) 6
Zuskind, Binyamin 12

 

[Page 1]

Tenth Anniversary of Voice of Kremenets Emigrants

Editorial Board

In the 10th anniversary booklet of Voice of Kremenets Emigrants, published in December 1972, the extensive report on this project gave many details on the content that has been published. We considered booklet 10 an anniversary booklet. Now we celebrate another anniversary of this project: Voice of Kremenets Emigrants has existed for 10 years, and we look forward to the publication of booklet 14 in July 1977. (The first booklet was published in April 1967.) One of our members gave a full report on the activities of the Kremenets organization in Israel, which made it clear to us that each organization has its own way of seeking to preserve the memory of the annihilated community: establishing an institution (which usually has no direct link to the memorialized community), establishing a club, or doing social work, etc. What makes the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants unique is that it concentrates on projects that commemorate the community in cultural arenas o that typify this particular community: a library for Enlightenment literature and an endowment fund for research on Enlightenment literature. Both are named for and in memory of RYB”L (R' Yitschak Ber Levinzon) of Kremenets. The third commemorative project is the publication of the Voice of Kremenets Emigrants booklets, which have appeared for 10 years now. Likewise, in 1954, the organization published a memorial book, one of the first of its kind on this subject. The spirit of RYB”L, who brought the Enlightenment movement to Russia, must be inspiring his former townspeople in the Land and the Diaspora, and when they erected a memorial to their annihilated community, they dedicated the memorial projects to culture and attached them to cultural institutions in the Land: first, to the Kibbutzim College (where our club is still located) and later to the Katz Institute for Research in Hebrew Literature at Tel Aviv University. A Kremenetser who reads the booklet experiences a resurrection of his native town's Jews and their lifestyle on weekdays and holidays and the events the community experienced during peace, war, and changing regimes. While reading chapters about the Holocaust, he aches for the loss of the community. Thirty-five years have passed since the annihilation of Kremenets Jewry. Their way of life and the story of their annihilation were described in two books (one published in the Land and one in Argentina) and in many dozens of articles in our booklets. And the stories of the memories are not yet finished; material in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Polish continues to flow to us. With every new booklet, the Editorial Board has to decide what to include and what to hold for the next issue. As long as the generation of those who were born in this town is alive, it falls to us to tell and record everything, so that we and for future generations can read and know their origins – the life of the previous generation and its annihilation.

But that is not all. The booklet also tries to show the present – what is happening among the remnants of the town in the Land and the Diaspora. The booklet accompanies Kremenetsers in their sorrow (in the case of death) and their joy – on the occasion of a special family event.

[Page 2]

The 14 booklets that have been published contain 202 assorted articles and 127 necrologies and condolences. The Mosaic section reflects mainly the usual happenings among Kremenetsers in the Land, and there have been 120 segments dedicated to a specific event.

This is a “harvest” of the 14 booklets published so far, including the present one, which is more extensive than previous ones. The enthusiastic reactions that reach the Editorial Board from readers in the Land and abroad encourage the workers to continue the project as long as they have the strength. We feel that the booklets help unite Kremenetsers wherever they are as well as preserve the memory of the Kremenets community.


[Page 5]

Kremenets during the February 1917 Revolution

Avraham Chasid

Sixty years have passed since the revolution known as the February Revolution in the history of all nations. I see a need to write down my memories of that year's events as they unfolded in Kremenets. World War I was then at its height. The town was full of soldiers, who were billeted in rooms in civilian homes confiscated by the army. The 11th Army headquarters was then stationed in Kremenets in the many buildings of the Religious Pravoslavic Seminary, which was surrounded by a wall. On February 24, the newspaper with the largest circulation in town, the Kiyevskaya Misl, brought us the news that Czar Nicholas II had been deposed. This surprised all of us, because until then, the newspapers, which had been severely censored, had not reported such events to the public. Before the war, the newspaper's reporter had been the Hebrew teacher Aharon Shimon Shpal, who wrote under an assumed name. One of the paper's writers was the notorious, infamous Moshe Litvakov, who used to sign his name as Lirov and later was executed by Stalin. Kerensky gave a speech at the Duma (Parliament) for the Labor Party and was accused of instigating against the government because he accused it of being incapable of providing food to the population. This was the background. Now the first news of the revolution, called Kerensky's Revolution, arrived. Two days later, Jews spontaneously gathered en masse at the Great Synagogue to elect a community representative to the town's revolutionary board, which included representatives of the town's three religious communities: Pravoslavs, Poles, and Jews. Frits Eydis was elected to represent the Jewish community. I remember the great excitement of the assembled; Frits Eydis was carried up to the acclaim of people cheering in his honor. The news from Petersburg announced the appointment of a temporary government under the leadership of Prince Lvov, with Kerensky as minister of defense. All laws of racial discrimination were abolished, giving complete equality of privileges to Jews and freedom to the newspapers. Everyone's heart was bursting with joy. Crowds gathered spontaneously in the market square, and red flags were carried. Those who made speeches to the thousands of listeners were mostly from army units; they proclaimed the destruction of the evil regime and instilled hope for freedom and democracy. The people began singing the “Marseillaise.” Of the best of the speakers, I remember our fellow townsman Shmuel Barenboym, who was in the army and on furlough. Eventually he became a fervent Communist. One of the first functions of the revolutionary board was to fire the old regime's police commanders and transform the police into a popular militia. Instead of Gordovoy, the old nickname for “policeman,” it was now Militsioner, with a red stripe on his sleeve.

[Page 6]

Many policemen who were known for treating civilians cruelly, as well as those known as bribe takers, were fired and replaced by city residents, a few Jews among them. I remember Zinzhirov, Leybish Chatski, Kornits the tailor, and others. Two citizens known to be liberal were appointed as militia commanders. One was Azriel Gorngut, a veteran Zionist and government-appointed rabbi. In addition to his job as a militia commander, he used to lecture on the Bible on Sabbath afternoon in the Zoviyezda movie theater. It was one of the amazing things about the new era: a rabbi as a militia commander and Bible lecturer. I remember a mass meeting in the Tivoli Gardens (known at that time as Ploshtshedka) in which representatives of all the religious communities made speeches. In his speech, the Catholic Polish representative, the priest Bilatski, who was known to be liberal, noted the suffering of the Jewish people and his hope for the end of discrimination. The May 1 celebration was also held in this park (see Voice of Kremenets Emigrants, booklet 12). Slowly, branches of the various political parties were organized: the Bund and the Jewish Social Democratic Workers Party[1] (before the split into right and left factions). The Zionist Organization developed widespread activities. Avraham Verthaym (kindergarten teacher Yentel Verthaym's brother) played a prominent role in the Kremenets Zionist community at that time. He served as a representative on the government board for war casualties and was also the representative of the Joint. He turned out to be a talented organizer and brilliant speaker. He appeared with Dr. Bozye Landsberg at public assemblies, in which they instilled the Zionist idea among the masses. I remember that at one of those meetings, Verthaym impassioned the audience to such a degree that they all voted to demand the Land of Israel as the solution to the Jewish plight.

In August 1947, the Russian Zionist convention was held in Petersburg. Verthaym and Landsberg were the delegates from Kremenets. One decision made at that convention was to use the Hebrew language in all Jewish schools in Russia. The early meetings of most of the associations took place in the hall called Tshaynaye, previously known as a tea club founded by the Society for Abstaining from Alcohol. It was in Chayim Bakimer's house, near the market. This club was intended for the activities of students attending school in larger cities (Kiev, Odessa, etc.), as no schools were open in Kremenets because of the war. The Zionist Organization branch rented a large apartment in Tsukerman's courtyard. The Zionist library, which had previously been housed in private homes since it was illegal, moved there. Lessons in Hebrew were organized and taught by a young man named Ben-Yehuda, who had studied at Hertseliya High School in Jaffa, Israel. Dr. Bozye Landsberg, Chanokh Rokhel, Sunye Grinberg, and others gave lectures on Zionist topics. I remember lectures about Achad Haam, Moshe Hes, Borokhov, and so on.

[Page 7]

In spite of promises to the Jews of equal rights and the hope for a stable, democratic life, most Jewish people in Kremenets were inclined toward Zionism and saw the solution to the Jewish problem as the establishment of the Land of Israel as a homeland. The Bolshevik party, whose leaders in Kremenets were from the army, was very active then. Second Lieutenant Krilenko, who served in the 11th Army headquarters, stood out as a brilliant speaker who impassioned the masses. In the army, he earned the party many supporters by promising to end the war immediately, which the temporary government decided to continue until the final victory. The soldiers, who were very tired of war and desperately wanted to return to their homes and families, were moved to join the Bolshevik party (at that time, they were not yet called Communists). Krilenko was an educated man. He had been a history teacher at a high school in Lublin. Solzhenitsyn mentions him in The Gulag Archipelago as the lead district attorney against the SS.

He ended up being executed by Stalin. In the mid-August, toward the start of the school year, many young people left town to continue their studies in other cities, as the schools in Kremenets were still closed because of the war. At the same time, a new town council was assembled in Kremenets from the representatives of various parties. The Jewish representative, I recall, was Azriel Kremenetski, who served on the town council for many years. The election “war” reached its height over the establishment of the Constituent Assembly, scheduled to take place October 25, 1917. Party leaders and propagandists scattered to all the cities in Russia, and the leaders of the Bund and the Jewish Social Democratic Workers Party even came to Kremenets, where Dr. Bozye Landsberg debated expertly with them.

But the primary did not take place as planned; on the day of the election, the Bolsheviks broke it up and took over the government. Soon after, civil war began, and anarchy prevailed. There were many incidents of killing and robbery, mainly by bands of soldiers who had deserted the front. A few Kremenets citizens were killed and robbed, and stores were burned (among them the store and house of Duvid Goldenberg, Manus's father). The town's newly organized self-defense group stopped the riots. In Ukraine, Hetman Skoropadski seized the government and installed a dictatorship, which led to political skirmishes. In Kremenets, most community functionaries were arrested, among them Bozye Landsberg, Goldring, and Kornits. They were jailed until Petliura's army took over the town. So ended the year of the February Revolution's spring, which had brought bright hopes for an orderly life in freedom and democracy, hopes that very quickly turned to naught.


[Page 14]

My Heart's Contemplation

Duvid Hofshteyn

My heart's contemplation, my spirit's sorrow – what for?
(If they could only be a labor for enjoyment!)
In every reed basket here – from the Nile of despair, a son,
And each brick – a longing.

Uncorrupted, pure of heart,
Ascending the mountain. Standing in a holy place,
Beating swords into plowshares.
Abandoning songs of combat…

But our memory – a deep cistern
We should not forget:
The universe is a battleground!
Cry…

 

[Page 16]


Boys, right to left: Hokhgelernter, Yitschak Kesler, Perelmuter,
Gluzman, Podkaminer, A. Vaynshtey

 


Girls, seated, right to left: (1) Ester Landes, (2) Chaya Gluzman-Bat, (3) Natan Gorinshteyn, (4) Eliezer Gluzman, (5) Beylke Senderovits, (6) Malka Feldman.
Standing: (1) Rivka Feldman, (2) Rachel Senderovits, (3) Pnina Kutsher, (4) Brayndel Skolski.

 


[Page 23]

A Character Sketch of Professor Opolski

Dozya Rubinfayn-Federman, Pardes Katz

Translated from the Polish to Hebrew and prepared for publication by Yehoshue Golberg

 

A member of the colorful Lyceum staff, he excelled in looks, education, and attitude toward others. Prof. Opolski – son of an aristocratic, estate-owner family – left them, married a pretty woman from a village, and moved to Kremenets to live and teach. They raised their children in a truly democratic atmosphere.

During 1936-1938, when all of Hitler's speeches foretold the coming catastrophe to the nations of the world in general and the Jews in particular, Opolski was the only teacher who had the fortitude to explain to and discuss the coming events with all the Lyceum students, and the students all tried to be with him and hear his comments.

For many months, I worked with him in the Lyceum's biology laboratory, which was very well equipped, thanks to his dedication. I had the use of the biology library for a price – changing the water in the aquarium during the school's summer vacation.

I lived with my parents at the end of Slovatski Street. The Opolski family's small house was near the Lyceum park, surrounded by greenery. I was very close to the family and was friends with his daughters, Grazina and Danuta, and his sons, Metsiek and Vitek. Their house was open to many poor people, and particularly those of our people. In spite of his modest salary, he used to support whole families singlehandedly, particularly neglected children. During summer vacation, when he left Kremenets to climb in the Carpathians, he never forgot to leave support money for those under his protection with his daughter Grazina.

During the riots at the Technion in Lvov[2], as a result of increasing anti-Semitism, he always stood by the Jewish students, supported them, and fought for equal civil rights. He believed in a better humanity.

When the Germans entered Kremenets, they immediately took him and the notary Goretski as hostages.


[Page 25]

Jews Who Settled in Vohlin as Farmers

Avraham Chasid

Many Jews lived in the Kingdom of Poland in 1795, before its final division escaped from Western Europe, persecution by the Crusaders, and later the cruel edicts of ruling governments. They made a living by leasing taverns from landowners and supplying liquor to dissolute farmers and estate owners. A few worked in farming.

[Page 26]

After Russia conquered Vohlin and Podolia during the reign of Catherine the Great, who declared that she did not want any services from the “enemies of Jesus,” the royal government passed punitive edicts against the Jews settled in those regions. In a particularly well-known edict passed in 1804, early in the reign of Alexander I, all Jews were exiled from the villages and strictly prohibited from working the land. In spite of the strict prohibition, a few Jews stayed in the villages, thanks to a special connection to some government officials or by somehow circumventing the law. During the pogrom period in southern Russia, known in history as the Southern Storms, Minister Ignatiev the Oppressor renewed the edict, forbidding Jews who escaped the pogroms to settle in villages and declaring that the west was open to them. Only Jews who had been living in the villages before 1882 were permitted to remain there. Alas, the local authorities did not respect this amendment, and many Jews were cruelly evicted from the villages. I am aware of two cases in which Jews officially lived in a village and were permitted to own and cultivate land.

(1) In Dregny village, Kremenets district, lived a Jewish family named Petsiukim, who worked their land like the other villagers. They were known in Kremenets as suppliers of dairy products, which they brought to town each Sunday. I heard the story of how they acquired this rare privilege from Mr. Moshe Fayer, of blessed memory. In the early 1850s, Czar Nicholas I went on a tour of Vohlin. It was fall when he and his entourage arrived in the area near Dregny[3]. The roads were in bad condition and covered with sticky mud. The carriage in which the czar and his retinue traveled had sunk into the mud, and they could not continue their trip. One of the Petsiukims happened by, and he called some more farmers. With their help, he got the carriage out of the mud, enabling the czar to resume the trip. To thank him and show his appreciation, the czar rewarded Petsiukim with a written document commending the courteous deed. This document gave the Petsiukim family the privilege of residing in the village, owning land, and cultivating it in perpetuity. It is also said that whenever the czar visited Kremenets, he would surprise the writer RYB”L, with whom he corresponded, and when he saw him, he gave the traditional greeting for a ruler: “Blessed is the One who has given of His glory to flesh and blood.”

The second story is that in a region near the border of the Ostrog[4] region, there was a large estate officially owned by a Jewish family known as Markus. My father told me how this family came to own the estate, and here is the story. A Jew named Moti Markus, who made a living by selling land for the local estate owners, lived near the estate.

[Page 27]

One day, a Russian officer with the rank of colonel came to the village and expresses an interest in the history of the village and its residents. After he met the Markus family, it was discovered that this officer was a cantonist[5] who had been kidnapped as a young boy and taken into the army, and that he was Moti's brother. In the army, he converted to Christianity. Being a talented boy, he rose through the ranks of command and reached the rank of colonel. He still retained a spark of Judaism and longed for his Jewish origins and heritage. Now, after investigation and many searches, he had discovered the family from which he had been stolen, and he became close to it; he visited often, spoke with the children, and expressed his praise of the Jewish religion. He urged them to follow all the commandments of the Jewish faith, the simple as well as the difficult ones, and made sure that they prayed by telling them “Molitesi,” which means “pray.” Being well off, he purchased an estate near the village and appointed his brother Moti as administrator. One day while visiting his brother's home, he had a stroke and died. Now Moti had a problem with the burial ceremony. He took the problem to the rabbi, who decreed that it was his duty to accompany his brother to his last resting place. And so Moti walked behind his brother's casket among the priests, holding his hat in his hand, as they sang Pravoslavic burial prayers. As his brother's only heir, Moti became the estate owner, since according to the law, the right of inheritance of immovable property applied to Jews, too, and this privilege was given in perpetuity.

After Moti's death, his son Yosef Chayim inherited and lived on the estate, behaving in every way as noble, aristocratic estate owners do.

When the Riga agreement of 1920 established the borders between Soviet Russia and Poland, the estate was in the Russian area. Yosef Chayim immigrated to the Polish area as a refugee. I remember when he visited us while participating in a convention of estate owners who demanded compensation from the Polish government for their property, which had been given to the Russian government. In spite of all the harsh edicts, there were Jews who held onto the farming life generation after generation and even succeeded in owning large estates.

 


[Page 34]

In the RYB”L Library

Y. Rokhel

Booklet 12 contained a report on the RYB”L Library by Mr. Uzi Shavit, head of the Katz Institute for Research in Hebrew Literature at Tel Aviv University, and by Y. R. in the Mosaic section. Therefore, this report is for the two years 1975-1977. During that period, 70 more books were added, and now the library contains 1,400 books. In all, I£5,627 was paid for the newly acquired books, half by the Kremenets organization, and half by the university. The books are generally very rare, having to do with the Enlightenment period (1740-1900), which is what makes them so expensive. Even so, we see it as our obligation to acquire every book on Enlightenment literature that is available for purchase, as it may be years until that book is found again. At the same time, before a purchase, Professor Gedalyahu Alkoshi scrutinizes the list of books and decides which ones are suitable for purchase.

The RYB”L Library was established in 1964. Its first home was in the clubhouse of the Kremenets organization at the Kibbutzim College, but the books remained in their bookcase, unused. In March 1972, the library was moved to the Ben Tsion Katz Institute for Research in Hebrew Literature at Tel Aviv University, subsequent to an agreement between the organization and the university. Since then, an important development has ensued: the library is managed by the institute's scholars. And, most important, the books are being used by students in the university's Enlightenment Literature Department and by young Hebrew literature scholars at the university.

In October 1976, another change occurred. As it happened, this change caused a dispute between the two sides but ended well: books on Enlightenment literature are found not only in the university's RYB”L Library but in the central library as well, and in a much larger quantity. Having the same type of book in different locations was difficult for those for whom they were intended (students, researchers, librarians). The university rector demanded that the RYB”L Library, which was originally located in the book hall at the Museum of the Diaspora, be transferred to the main library's Hebrew literature section. At a joint discussion on October 21, 1976, the two sides agreed that there was no way to avoid moving the library to the main library's Enlightenment literature section. The uniqueness of the RYB”L Library, though, will be preserved by establishing a Kremenets Corner in that section. They placed a statue of the RYB”L there, with appropriate pictures of life in Kremenets (such as Levinzon Street, etc.) nearby. The decision was implemented within a few months.

[Page 35]

Nowadays, everyone from the wider community who comes to the Hebrew literature section is impressed with the Kremenets Corner. The members who helped arrange the corner – Argaman and the sculptor Yakov Epshteyn – are satisfied.

We take this opportunity to thank sculptor Yakov Epshteyn, a Kremenetser, who voluntarily initiated and executed the statue of RYB”L with great talent. He also monitored the casting. With added expenses, the cost was I£5,700. About I£2,000 was donated by a member who wishes to remain anonymous.

 


Organization of Kremenets Emigrants
Research Scholarship Ceremony, May 2, 1977

Y. Rokhel

The master of ceremonies was Mr. Uzi Shavit, head of the Katz Institute for Research in Hebrew Literature at Tel Aviv University.

 

Dr. Menucha Gilboa

Dr. Gilboa opened the evening with a short review of RYB”L and the Enlightenment period in Russia and ended with words of thanks to the organizers of the Kremenets project:

“And so I want to give thanks to those who gave the prizes and to those who received them. Also, I thank Aviva Doron, who will lecture on an important project of the Enlightenment period. May they all be blessed.”

[Page 36]

Yitschak Rokhel

The thing that makes the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants so unique is that it concentrates on the establishment of two cultural projects that typify this community in particular, namely, a library for Enlightenment literature and a scholarship fund for research on Enlightenment literature. Both are named in honor of RYB”L, who was from Kremenets; it was he who brought the Enlightenment movement to Russia and was called “the Russian Mendelssohn.” Both projects are under the auspices of Tel Aviv University.

In the university library's Enlightenment section, the organization has also erected a statue of RYB”L. This is the third time that the fund has given awards to young scholars who specialize in the study and research of Enlightenment literature. So far the fund has accumulated I£104,000 (including interest and income after the Israel pound was attached to the dollar standard), and the prizes come from the fund's income, while the university invests the principal in securities.

In connection to the RYB”L memorial project, I will talk about two Kremenets Jews, both of RYB”L's generation: one was his student and admirer, and the second was his fierce opponent. I will talk about them and their grandchildren.

Maze ben Maze (Berakhot 28) was the literary pen name of R' Meshulam Katz, which was the acronym of his and his father's names (Meshulam Zev HaKohen ben Mordekhay Zalman HaKohen). He signed his articles in Hamelits[6] and Hatsefira with this acronym. He grew up in the Hasidic movement, but from his youth, he was attracted to philosophy books. He joined Enlightened circles, perused Enlightenment literature, and was a student of and was influenced by RYB”L. At the same time, he was a loyal Zionist, and as soon as Herzl appeared, he joined the Zionist movement and served as a representative to the Sixth Congress. He sent his oldest son to Switzerland and Germany to study – a most daring thing in those days – where he graduated from the physics and mathematics faculties as Dr. Bentsion Katz. Sometime later, he served as principal of the Tarbut High School in Kremenets. Eventually he was killed as a member of the Judenrat. Meshulam's grandson is Mark Katz, a world-famous mathematics professor in the United States and a trustee of the Weitzmann Institute. He donated $5,500 to the scholarship fund, which is about half the amount accumulated by the fund.

In contrast to R' Meshulam Katz, I now introduce R' Tsvi Menachem ben Avraham (that is how he was called when he went up to read the Torah), but the townspeople knew him as Hirsh Mendil. His family name was Rokhel, or as pronounced in Kremenets, Roykhl, and people called his entire family “the Roykhls.” He was very wealthy and owned a paper factory. He was the ancestor of a large family tree, with branches throughout the world.

[Page 37]

His sons-in-law and other relatives all lived on Slovatski Street (named after the famous Polish author); they were a large family with about 40 grandchildren. He was tall and erect, with an imposing, wise, stern appearance. He both worked for the benefit of the community and forced his will on the community. He donated generously to various projects and demanded the same of others. A scholar and learned man who sometimes decided matters of Torah law, he was also a religious zealot who never gave in or compromised. Obviously, he hated the RYB”L, and when someone mentioned the name Levinzon in front of him, his reaction was to say, “The name of the wicked will rot” (Proverbs 10:7). He opposed Zionism and the Bund, as both drifted away from the Torah's strict ways.

The irony of fate is that one of his grandchildren – the one who stands before you – is working to commemorate the RYB”L by developing the library named for him and even helped erect a monument to his memory.

This is the story of two grandfathers, RYB”L's contemporaries – one his admirer, and the other his caustic opponent – and of their two grandsons, who each in his own way is working toward commemorating RYB”L.

I will close by mentioning the names of two of our outstanding members who had a hand in establishing the scholarship fund and raising funds for it: Pesach Litev, who passed away on May 23, 1975, and Dr. Yisrael Rabinovits, who passed away on December 7, 1975. May their memory be blessed.

And to the recipients of the scholarship award, we send our wishes for advancement and success.

 

Mr. Yedidya Peles (scholarship recipient)

I would like to express my thanks and the thanks of my partner (Mrs. Lili Ashkenazi), too, on this occasion. Certainly, each of us will do the best we can – each in our area and time – to prove that the scholarship has not been given to us in vain. And so we are thankful to the board for finding us worthy.

Even more so, it behooves us to thank the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants, which initiated and donated to the scholarship fund. Apparently, I am not mistaken to say that the idea for the scholarship was based on the opinion that encouragement should be offered – particularly in view of the tribulations and Holocaust that engulfed Jewish communities – for the continuation of Jewish culture in all its areas, as it is written, “It is a tree of life it is to those who hold on to it, and her supporters will be happy.”[7]

It is good, then, that the organizers have penciled in for now a lecture by Mrs. Aviva Doron, who will bring together Jewish studies and one of the great Hebrews of the middle ages, R' Yehuda Halevi. Jewish studies tries to collect and store all the treasures of our cultural tradition by approaching it from a distance and with objectivity, which is its strength, but some say is also its weakness.

Jewish studies – the length of its period, the breadth of its scope, and the depth of its perusal – are still in need of much attention.

[Page 38]

There is a wealth of material waiting to be translated so that it can be integrated into the framework of the “Judaism” of our century as it is studied today in centers of learning and research, particularly in Israel and the United States. I hope we will be found worthy to be called “followers of the tradition of Jewish studies” – this time without the quotation marks.

* * *

The winners of the annual scholarships of I£3,000 each were:

  1. Mr. Yedidya Peles for his work “A Scientific Edition of Poems by Bachye Ibn Bakuda”
  2. Mrs. Lily Ashkenazi for her research on the periodical Hakarmel, edited by Shmuel Yosef Fin (1818-1890)

 

Editor's Notes:
  1. In Hebrew, the Jewish Social Democratic Workers Party was Poaley Tsion (literally, Workers of Zion) Return
  2. Lvov, now known as L'viv, is at 49°50' N 24°00' E, 78.4 miles WSW of Kremenets. Return
  3. Dregny may be the town now known as Dragonya, at 48°39' N 24°13' E, 120.7 miles SW of Kremenets. Return
  4. Ostrog, now known as Ostroh, is at 50°20' N 26°31' E, 38.8 miles ENE of Kremenets. Return
  5. Cantonists were Jewish boys who were drafted into military service at the age of 12 and placed in schools for their six-year military education. Return
  6. Hamelits and Hatsefira were Hebrew-language newspapers. Return
  7. This quotation (from Proverbs 3:18) refers to the Torah. Return

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