The three tailors, Barukh, Lemel, and Lelke, were good friends in everything. What does everything mean? A daily drink, or in their language, a glass of schnapps. They prayed in the small synagogue called the Tailor's Small Synagogue. The three of them showed up, invited or not, at every joyful occasion in town. The difference was that when they were invited, they sat together at a table, drank together, joked together, got drunk together, found a victim together, and beat him up also together. And if they were not invited, they showed up at the door and demanded their share of vodka, and alas and alack to the host and his guests when their demand was not met. In this case, it was not the band or the merrymaker who provided the entertainment. It was the threesome who took matters into their own hands. The result was bloody noses, swollen eyes, and torn holiday clothes, all in the name of letting them be happy. But what host wanted such happiness? So, they gave them drinks, and the threesome left quietly and partied by themselves in the synagogue.
Of the threee, only Barukh was called Barukh because it was his real name. The other two were called by their nicknames. Why was Lemel called Lemel? Because he always wore his hat with the visor on the side. And what is the connection between a visor and Lemel? Because Lemel became a concept in our town, and the person who wore his hat with the visor on the side was called Lemel. And if even now the connection between Lemel's visor and Lemel is not clear, you need to accept it as fact.
The meaning of the name Lalke is a lot clearer, because Lalke means doll in Yiddish and Ukrainian. But don't think that a person called Lalke was really as beautiful as a doll; nothing of the kind. A Jew was like any other Jew. Here is the story. When Shalom (his real name) was a baby, his mother used to say that he was as beautiful as a doll, so the name stuck for the rest of his life.
And the third friend, Barukh, was just Barukh, without a nickname. He was an innocent and honest man. He liked his alcohol, was influenced by his friends, and did not deserve a nickname; therefore, his name remained Barukh. The three were family men and homeowners whose children did not mimic their fathers' behavior or manners.
Lalke had a son named Berele. In town, usually a thief or a hooligan was called by that nickname to differentiate him from a scholar. Not Beril or Yankil, but Berele, Yankele, and so on. A mentally challenged person was also called by that nickname, and so it was with Berele. Berele was a good young man, but he was also mentally challenged. He couldn't study to be a tailor, so he had no profession. As luck had it, World War I broke out when Berele was 20, the age when you could be drafted into the army. And who was going to defend the czar's Russian Empire if not Berele? He was drafted and sent to the front, and Berele fell captive into the hands of the Germans.
When he returned at the end of the war, his friends were curious to know how he had fought against the Germans and Austrians, and they asked him, Were you at the front? Of course, was his answer. Did you shoot? Yes, I did. And did you shoot at night? Also at night. It can't be, Berele. When you shoot at night, you can hit someone in the eye. Berele stated that it can't be avoided. You can hit someone in the eye during a war and be exempt from punishment.
Berele became a water carrier in town. And where do you carry water from?
The town residents preferred water from the river, claiming that the water from the well was tasteless. When winter came and the river froze, they broke an opening with an ax and drew water through the hole.
Once, when Berele approached the river with his buckets and pole, he slipped and fell with them into the water. Berele held onto the ice and yelled, Help, help. When people came to save him, they were extremely surprised. Berele held onto the ice and wouldn't let them pull him out unless they pulled out his pole and buckets first. The rescuers had no choice but to promised him new working tools, because it was impossible to jump into the water, under the ice, and pull the pole and buckets out. So Berele received new working tools to replace the old ones. And who could argue that Berele was stupid when he was able to fool his rescuers like that?
When Berele got his new buckets and pole, it was also necessary to find him a bride. Two matchmakers were engaged to take care of the matter. They traveled as far as Kremenets and found a charming, proper bride for him, but she was 20 years older than he was. So what? She was aristocratic and intelligent. Proof of that was the fact that she spoke Yiddish seasoned with Russian words.
From the moment Berele brought his bride from the town of Kremenets to the little town of Shumsk, Nachichke that was her name immediately began to demonstrate her knowledge of the Russian language. She said that she was lovopitna (curious) for herring, and ovzhiyo borsht (respected beet soup), and who could dare to say that Berele didn't have an intelligent bride? And with good luck, he married his Nachichke, and they settled in the town of Kremenets, but not for long. Berele missed his town and was afraid of losing his customers, the homeowners he supplied water to. When the town residents saw him and said that other water carriers had taken over his regular customers, he decided he would get them back or die trying. And Berele came back to town and got back his customers.
Berele and Nachichke had a daughter, whom they named Tsinele. They didn't have a place to live, and the father, Lalke, wouldn't let them live in his home even though he owned two apartments. The younger brother came to their rescue and bought them an apartment. A good deed, according to all opinions, but nobody knew that the brother made Berele sign a document stating that he would give away his right to his father's inheritance unless the father lived more than 120 years. The father did not reach 120, and the brother inherited everything.
But God didn't neglect him, and Berele's home became a hostel for beggars. Each beggar who came to town found accommodation in Berele's home. Among them were the lame, the mute, the deaf, old, stooped-over men with beards and without beards, men and women, singles and couples, all kinds and types. And anyone who was interested and wanted to know about the nation's poverty, the layers of the poorest of the poor, came to Berele's home in the evening to listen to the stories told by the beggars and the hostel owner.
But Berele didn't have an income from this business, and he continued in his duty as a water carrier. His home was near the path leading to the river, so each time he went to draw water, he walked by his home.
In my childhood, I loved to stand close to his home and watch Berele when he walked to the river. When his buckets were empty, he walked by quietly, but when he came from the river with full heavy buckets, he shouted out Nekhe. What do you want, she answered. A strange death to you, Nekhe, may all the troubles of the world drop on your head, may all the diseases of the world find you, Nekhe, may stray dogs attack you and pull you apart. That's how Berele blessed his wife each time he walked by his house with full buckets. Nachichke always answered him with the same blessings. Once when I saw that sight, there was no reaction on Nekhe's side; maybe she didnt feel like exchanging blessings with her husband.
Then Berele reached the height of his anger, went home, took his shovel, put it on his shoulder, and started marching around the house as if he were a soldier marching with his gun. When Nekhe asked him where he was going, Berele continued to march in the mud, in his boots with the crooked heels and his dirty pants, not answering. As he marched, he answered, I'm going to dig a grave for you in the ground. With that, the show ended for that day.
Their daughter Tsine grew up. Tsinele was a beautiful girl. Her father gave her a puppy, and alas to the child who called the puppy. Berele would yell and curse. The children liked this, and every day they repeated the show. They called the puppy, started to run, and the puppy ran after them. Then Berele grabbed his pole and ran after them as if he wanted to kill them.
Nor could he find peace in the small synagogue; everyone bothered him. But he didn't give up. He didn't want to move to another house of prayer, because that was his father's small synagogue.
And wonder or wonders, Tsinele grew up in a filthy house, in the company of beggars and an atmosphere of filth and foul smells, but she was always clean and organized, her hair was combed, and she was beautiful and an excellent student. She was like a real doll. People wondered and asked, how could it be, is this for real, or is it a dream? Fate compensated Berele. For his father, Lalke, who ignored him, for his brother who cheated him, and for the people who bothered him. There's the law, and there's the judge.
In our town, it was customary on the eve of Simchat Torah for all the small synagogues to finish their prayers and circuits early and come to the Great Synagogue to celebrate the circuits with most of our townspeople. On that evening, almost the entire town was there, men and women, young men and young women, boys and girls. Everyone came to rejoice with the Torah on the holiday of the Torah.
Missing from the synagogue's great crowd were the elite of our town. Due to something that had happened in the past, the Torah scholars, the important and the rich, had left the Great Synagogue and established their own house of prayer. According to stories told by the community's elders, there was a special reason for the rift in the Shumsk community. The story was as follows. In those days, a very rich man named Mendel Rozen lived in Shumsk. He was a proud, decisive, and domineering man, and he ruled with a mighty and high hand in the square by the Polish Catholic Church. There he built his home, and there his relatives, the rich Akerman family, built their homes. There were three Akerman brothers, Ikhel, Yankel, and Moshe; all had families and were fathers to sons. The Akerman family was considered the town's aristocrats, and they also carried the first buds of Enlightenment idealism to the area. They educated their children in the Enlightenment slogan Be a Jew at home and a man on the street and preached to them to introduce Yafet's beauty into Shem's tent. Few dared to oppose or revolt against Mendel Rozen and his relatives. Russian was spoken in their neighborhood, and the sound of the piano arose from their homes.
The square next to the Polish Church was called Odessa by the town's Jewish residents. In those days, during the times of the czar, the city of Odessa expressed the height of culture and progress, and the square symbolized what the Kremlin symbolized in the eyes of the citizens of the czar's empire.
There were a few exceptional people that the Akermans, led Mendel Rozen, could not control, especially the town's rabbi, the righteous R' Mordekhay'le. He didn't appreciate them or their wealth and didn't submit to their control. Mendel Rozen decided to remove Mordekhay'le from his office, and he did not hesitate to solicit the help of the czar's servants. To accomplish his mission, he approached the town's Torah scholars and the respected residents who sided with the rabbi. What did Mendel Rozen do? He brought a second rabbi to town, who conducted services at the Great Synagogue and served as his own rabbi.
The synagogue worshipers, who sided with the rabbi, moved to his synagogue and the study hall. Only the simple folk remained in the Great Synagogue the ordinary people, small business owners, grocers, tradesmen, peddlers, and just beggars.
The conflict worsened throughout the years. The rift in the community lasted a long time and lasted through my childhood years, which are carved deep into my memory.
It was said that Mendel Rozen became ill shortly after the dispute started and died after a short, serious illness in Vienna, where he was buried. The town's elders saw it as an act of God, a punishment for his abuse of the rabbi, R' Mordekhay'le. Also, the Akermans lost their assets and died, but the split remained.
The only memorial for Mendel Rozen remaining in Shumsk was a two-sided bench upholstered with velvet and located on the eastern side of the Great Synagogue. The Akermans' descendants sat on it on the Sabbath and holidays. On Yom Kippur, when Dr. Yakobson came to pray at the Great Synagogue, he was given the honor of sitting on this distinguished bench.
I heard the stories about the split with the community's rabbi when I was a child. I was 11 or 12 years old then. As I remember, a guest cantor arrived in town with his son, Hershele, to pray on the Sabbath in the Great Synagogue. Hershele's singing captured the worshipers' hearts. They weren't satisfied with one performance and invited the cantor for an additional Sabbath prayer. This time, not only the regular worshipers but also most of the town's residents came to hear the prayers and singing. It was decided then to invite the cantor to pray regularly at the synagogue. The required amount was collected through a joint effort, and the matter was carried out. The cantor brought his family members and added his second son, Motele, to the choir.
It's difficult to describe how the townspeople enjoyed the singing of the father and his children. The cantor and his choir's melodies were heard for a long time in Shumsk homes. The cantor wasn't satisfied with just two singers and added other children to his choir. Luck was with me, and after an audition, he added me to the choir.
The month of Elul arrived, and we practiced the High Holiday prayers. Again, it was a great success. Encouraged by the praise for his arrangements and melodies, the cantor decided to hold a special singing session in the evening after the end of Simchat Torah. In our town, as in many other towns, Simchat Torah was a merry holiday, and almost all the townspeople came to the Great Synagogue for the circuits. More than once, quarrels broke out in the synagogue on the Sabbath about the right to be called to the Torah, and even more so about how important it was to take part in the circuits. This year, their value increased because of the new cantor and the large crowd that came to listen to him. This year, more than other years, the haggling increased, and the tension worsened. In Shumsk, it was customary for members of burial society to be honored with the second circuit, and every year the argument about this honor was renewed. As usual, the opinions were split, but this year, the arguments worsened, and the open dispute developed into a show of hands. A quarrel broke out between those who agreed to give the Burial Society the second circuit and those who opposed it, such as the horse traders, the peddlers, and the carters, who were led by Yetske Mezhe. And what is a mezhe? It was the name of the border between two plots of land, an unplowed path that marked the border. The local farmers used it as a walkway. And what was the connection between the mezhe and Yetske? Yetske's grandfather lived with his family in a village without a minyan of Jews for the Sabbath and holiday prayers.
For the High Holidays, they came to town or joined Jews from other villages for a minyan in Yetske's grandfather's village. Yetske's grandfather preached to the young people in the area to come to minyan. He counted their punishments if they didn't fulfill the mitzvah of crossing the mezhe to join the minyan and pray with all their hearts in order to be rewarded with another year of life. Since then, Moti, his children, and his great-grandchildren, whose numbers were not small, were called Mezhe and not Gurvits, which was their real name. Yetske claimed that only those with grey hair and a beard have the right to the second circuit, and not Moti Bochkes, who does not have grey hair, is not bald, and does not have a beard. The name Bochke isn't a real name either, only a nickname, because bochke in Yiddish means ramming. And why was the family called by that name? This is a problem for historical research, because the name came to him from his ancestors. Moti was a member of the Burial Society and insisted on his right to the second circuit. Here's what Yetske said: Moti, you're not walking in the second circuit. Only Jews with grey hair, bald heads, and beards have the right to the second circuit, not you. In the past, Moti had been a soldier in the czar's army; he fought in the war and was taken prisoner. He was quick to anger, and when he got angry, his face turned red and the veins on his neck swelled. And he suspected that the pleasure of dancing with the Torah on Simchat Torah would be taken away from him.
When Moti danced, it was not just a dance, but high jumps. His entire body swayed, his face turned red, and he sang in a hoarse voice, heyda Maccabim, not hurrah but heyda, the way you urge horses to move faster. Then he shouted loudly to his listeners, When a man dies and it's raining and snowing outside, who walks in the slush and in the mud to bury him? I, Moti, do it! Yetske, who owed him an answer, yelled at him, And the meal in the small synagogue, the sausage, and the vodka you eat and drink, and the burial fees you extort from the bereaved families also go into your pockets! And then Moti: This is from the rich people. What about the poor? Do you think that they walk to the cemetery after they die? Each poor person and pauper needs to be carried like the rich man. Do you do that, Yetske?
Many joined the argument, including Tselke Kopiko, a solid man with a red beard, a successful horse trader despite his slow speech and stammer. He lived out of town in a non-Jewish suburb. Nobody wanted to receive a gift from him. Once he was attacked by a gentile. Tselke hit him with his fist, and the gentile dropped dead. Later on, he was involved in a complicated trial that cost him a lot of money. On the matter of the circuits, he said, I have a beard, but I don't claim the second circuit. Hertsel Bentsines, also a horse trader, became involved in the argument. When he was a bachelor, he was the town hooligan and was involved in many adventures. Now he was married, a father of children, and a member of the Burial Society, and he also claimed the right to the second circuit. He faced Tselke and said, You need to know that when you stretch out your legs and die, you will lie dead for weeks, and no one will bury you. Do you think it's our duty to drag your body from the suburb of Tserinke where you live, across town to the cemetery? Your son can drag you to the cemetery in his horse cart, as the gentiles do.
Tselke jumped in and yelled, You curse me? I am a father of children, and if today weren't a holiday and we weren't in a synagogue, I guarantee you'd have to collect your bones in a sack. Avraham Boichkes joined in. His nickname came to him from a family of brave warriors. Avraham was a fruit merchant. His younger brother immigrated to America and became a rich man there. Once he came to town for a visit, established the Benevolent Fund, and donated to other organizations. Because of that, he became Avraham Ofer, which was his real name, since a respected homeowner in our town cannot be called Boichkes anymore. Avraham had a great influence on the peddlers and the carters, since most of them were his relatives, his brothers' and sisters' sons.
Avraham said, Friends, you're not the decision makers in the synagogue. The rabbi, the beadles, and the elders (and he was one of them) will make the decisions.
And they indeed decided, and Moti Bochkes danced in the second circuit and sang heyda Maccabim la, la, la. The rivals decided to avenge the insult. The next evening, at the end of Simchat Torah, the beadles and the homeowners led the rabbi, with song and dance, from his home to the concert at the synagogue. The gang waiting for them at the entrance showered them with brooms and rags they'd been holding. Alas to the eyes that saw that. When Avraham saw his nephew, Binyamin the Long, who was also his son-in-law, wielding a broom and hitting his opponents, he remembered the days of his youth. Like a young man, he jumped on top of his son-in-law and Yetske, who stood next to him, and honored them with the gift of his hands. They didn't dare touch him and directed their anger at Zidli Yisrael Meirs, also a member of the Bochkes family, who was his uncle Avraham's favorite nephew and guard.
In the chaos that broke out, it was impossible to see who was against whom and who was hitting whom; confusion ruled everywhere. It was difficult to wage war in the crowded room, and it was even more difficult to raise an arm or a leg. You could see only people squashed against each other, and you could hear only shouts and curses.
Luckily, the cantor and his choir were standing next to the pillar, ready to welcome the rabbi and his distinguished escort. When the noise, panic, and clashes went on, even though cantors are not known for their wisdom, exactly at the time when the noise, panic, and fighting did not stop, the cantor saved the day. He signaled to his singers to start singing Welcome, and an astonishing thing happened. When the melody sounded in the synagogue, people stopped shouting, and everyone sat in his place. After the first song, it looked like a magic wand had been waved. You couldn't tell by the synagogue and the look on people's faces that something had been going on there just a few minutes before. Everyone calmed down, and an atmosphere of holiness and purity prevailed. The lights and singing added festivity to the celebration. The holiday atmosphere came roaring back, with no sign of hatred or anger.
Master of the universe, what kind of a nation did You choose? Aren't all the Mezhes, Bochkes, and Boichkes Your children? They fight for their right to carry Your Torah, and they're ready to beat each other for Your Holy Name, but everything they do is done to fulfill Your words. They are fearful about carrying out Your commandments, and your melodies are important to them. Why, why did You decide to extinguish them from your world?
My beloved townspeople, my brothers, residents of Shumsk: be glad and rejoice on Simchat Torah!
The ORT School in Kremenets
Chayim Livne (Yokelson)
This year, Jewish people all over the world are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Jewish organization that was established to promote education and training among the Jews.
The organization was established in 1880 in St. Petersburg, Russia, by a group of philanthropists and Jewish intellectuals led by Baron Gintsburg and Sh. Poliakov. Its mission was to increase Jewish productivity throughout the Russian Empire. This act also helped Jews throughout Russia, since Jewish craftsmen were allowed to live outside the boundaries of the Jewish Pale.
In 1921, ORT became a world Jewish organization. Today, its headquarters is in Geneva Switzerland. The organization helps to establish workshops and agricultural farms, makes low-interest loans, and provides trade school education.
The ORT School in Kremenets resided in a two-story building on the road leading to Shumsk, facing a government subdivision that housed Polish officials.
Kremenets had a special connection to the ORT organization. Yitschak Ber Levinzon was born in Kremenets in 1788 and died in 1860. He was a Jewish author and father of the Enlightenment in Russia. In his important book, Testimony in Israel, published in 1828, Levinzon explained and pointed out that a Jewish person's duty is to study a trade or a craft for his livelihood. He also pointed out the importance of the Hebrew language and saw it as the foundation of our nation. His ideas served as a basis for the foundation of ORT and later on were integrated into the blueprint for Lovers of Zion.
The principal of the ORT School in Kremenets during 1928-1931, when I was a student, was Mr. Senya Raykh. It is important to emphasize that Mr. Raykh didn't need this job to earn a living. The Raykh family was very rich and owned a large number of flourmills in Kremenets and the surrounding area. Senya Raykh took the job for idealistic reasons, and he was a motivated principal who performed his job with loyalty. The administrator was Mr. Gindis. I remember the teacher Gitil (Duvidovna) Fishman, an enthusiastic member of the Bund movement who terrorized her Zionist students.
In the basement was a large hall where we studied metalwork, engraving, and welding. In the morning, we studied in the workshops, and the teachers were Ukrainian; the engraving teacher was German. Our principal taught us Polish, theoretical subjects, drawing, and metalwork. We also had a Polish teacher who was always dressed in a military uniform, a quiet man who loved music and conducted a string orchestra. Theoretical studies took place in the evenings. There were three levels, and students who completed seven years of primary school were accepted to the first level.
In 1930, classes in sewing and design for girls were added, so the school accommodated both boys and girls. The school also served as a hostel for poor boys from villages around Kremenets. They slept on the desks and received their food in packages sent from home. There was a special atmosphere at the school, a atmosphere typical with boys of different ages, who at that time were members of many different political groups. At that time, we studied for five hours in the workshop and three hours in the classroom. In addition to Polish, we studied Yiddish. Those who saw Hebrew as the language of their future saw Yiddish as the language of the Diaspora and preferred to speak Polish. For that reason, the life of our teacher, Gitil (Duvidovna) Fishman, was difficult. With great stubbornness, she tried to teach us Yiddish from the book The Town by Sholem Asch, the town that we desperately wanted to run away from
Our principal, Senya Raykh, was an interesting character. We liked him for his good heart, direct approach, and honesty. I remember that one morning, our class came to school late. We had stopped by the hotel where a Polish actress was staying and waited for the moment when she would appear.
The next day, all the students were invited to the principal's office. I remember that he approached me with this spech: You stupid boy. Why do you let yourself waste your school hours on a stupid thing like that when your father takes food out of his mouth so you, his jewel, can learn a trade and become a man? Go, get out of here. I don't want to see your face. Next time, I won't give you a piece of my mind: I'll kick you out of school without fail. I don't have room for parasites. When he was done lecturing me in his broken Yiddish, a big smile spread over his wide face. I loved that smile, and I swore to myself that I would never hurt this man again.
I remember well the janitor, Vulf, a diligent, quiet, and modest Jew who worked loyally and heated the ovens in the classroom where the students slept on the desks at night. All the students liked him and considered him their friend. I remember Motel, the Jew who owned a kiosk next the school. He wore a Jewish hat, which was foreign in our area. He was an exotic, dignified Jew with sidelocks who spoke Polish fluently. R' Motel supplied kvas, candy, and buns. Many students who cound't afford them owed him money that they would have loved to repay to this kind Jew. Sometimes, this burden appears in my nightmares The ORT School in Kremenets educated many students, boys and girls. Only a few arrived in the Land. They live in town and on the kibbutz, they use the knowledge that they acquired, and they remember the ORT School in Kremenets with kindness.
In Book of the Ghetto Wars, edited by Yitschak Tsukerman and Moshe Basuk, page 486, I came across a number of lines written about Kremenets. It says that on August 9, 1942, at sunrise, the ghetto was suddenly surrounded by policemen and soldiers, and an unplanned and disorganized battle started. On the first day, 6 German soldiers and policemen were killed, and 10 were killed on the next day. On the third day, the young people set the ghetto on fire, and they continued with their battle and their work of destruction from the fire. The ghetto burned for a week. The flames subsided when the last fighter died. The name Frida Bornshteyn is written at the end. I wanted to verify the authenticity of the information. I called Dr. Frida Bornshetyn-Otsnik, a native of Shumsk and a Holocaust survivor, who studied with my wife at the Lyceum in Kremenets. Actually, she was not in Kremenets' ghetto, and 38 years have passed since that time, but she remembers that after the liberation Poles and Ukrainians told her that there was a revolt in Kremenets' ghetto and that policemen and soldiers were killed there. She could not remember the testimony she gave to newspaper reporters who interviewed her after the war.
Born December 15, 1903; died December 11, 1979
I see him, tall and erect, walking slowly and talking in a pleasant voice. The words of our sages, of blessed memory, were his guiding light, and he loved books.
He tried hard to fulfill the expression Let your friend's honor be as dear to you as your own.
He did not embarrass others and was careful to respect their feelings.
He was a good companion and a loyal close friend.
May it be Your will that the ancestors' deedse are a good sign for the children.
He was 76 years old at the time of his death. He left a wife, a son, and a grandson.
May his memory be blessed.
The Organization of Shumsk Emigrants grieves with parents Vita and Mendel Pelets on the tragic death of their son, Shimon, who died on May 12, 1980, at the age of just 34.
He was a graduate of the Federation of Working and Studying Youth and lived for many years in Kibbutz Gevim. From there, he settled in Pitchat Rafich and was one of the founders of the cooperative village Sdot.
May it Your will that his good deeds serve as a model for his sons.
May his memory be blessed.
I met Mordekhay (Motele, as he was called then) at the school established with the help of American Jews at the end of the war between the Bolsheviks and the Poles. Since regular classes were not held during the war, students were placed in classes not according to their age but according to their knowledge. So I found myself in the same class as Mordekhay even though he was five years younger than I was. We became friends at school, and we played together during breaks. I loved Motele. His face was open and serious, and each passer-by wanted to pet him and pinch his full cheeks. His qualities stood out even during his childhood, qualities that in the days to come made him a good and loyal friend. He treated others not according to their looks or their social status, but according to their personalities.
I remember when a group of boys gathered around a pit that had been dug for the removal of mortar and challenged each other to jump over it. Mordekhay, who happened to be in the area, joined them. Even though he was a lot younger than they were, he said, For life or death! and jumped over it. It seems that this call turned into his motto, as an instructor in Young Pioneer and in quarrels with the Betar members. Once, when they beat him up, he comforted his father, who just arrived, by saying, Father, don't worry. After the beating, I will have a better appetite.
He was a good worker. I remember how he split logs with his ax when he worked as a volunteer for the training kibbutz members. I especially remember when he and his friends worked for an anti-Semitic Polish gentile, who ridiculed Jews and claimed that they not only didn't want to work but also couldn't.
What did he do? He put Mordekhay to work all by himself pulling straw out of the threshing machine a job that was usually done by two healthy gentiles. Mordekhay worked hard, and when he took his afternoon break, this Mozinski (that's what we called him) approached him, patted him on the shoulder, and said, Young man, you deserve a double portion of food because you worked for two. And he was only 16 years old then.
Mordekhay was always obsessive in his beliefs. From the day he made up his mind not to accept life in the Diaspora, when the Jews were humiliated by the Ukrainian population and the Polish authorities, he became a Zionist with all his might and soul. As a friend and a Young Pioneer instructor, he did his job to the best of his ability and with a great sense of responsibility.
The same was true of all the work he did for the rest of his life: his illegal immigration to the Land on the eve of the war; his work in Sdom; the establishment of a dairy barn in his kibbutz, Kibbutz Ginosar; his service as the kibbutz secretary; and especially his return to Poland after World War II as a delegate for the refugees. When he returned from that mission, he dedicated himself to the building of the kibbutz and greatly contributed to the various branches: bananas, construction, carpentry, and dairy farm research as far as his education enabled him.
Mordekhay was a good father and grandfather. He loved his family and was wholeheartedly devoted to them. But he also loved Lake Kinneret. To his great joy, the kibbutz sent him to work for Mekorot on the National Water Carrier of Israel. He was given the opportunity to be near Lake Kineret, in the Kineret, and in the Kineret valley. His great desire was to study what he could about the Kineret: its flow, the springs inside it, the waves, and the winds that touched it. He also investigated the weeds that polluted and caused damage to the lake and the life inside it.
I remember Mordekhay's anxiety when he investigated the rapid spread of seaweed on the lake floor. According to the scientists, the seaweed endangered the lake and everything that lived in it. In spite of his limited knowledge of the subject, he conducted research near his home on the kibbutz and tried to find ways to eliminate this dangerous vegetation. And indeed, he received an excellence award from Mekorot.
In all of Mordekhay's wars for life or death, he always won. He lost his only war for life or death against his terminal illness.
Dear Mordekhay, we miss you. Bitter death plucked you when you were still young, fresh in body and spirit, and you had so many other plans.
We are comforted by the fact that death did not separate you from your beloved Kinneret. Your body lies in its bosom for eternity.
It happened 20 years ago, or maybe more. I was walking on Hillel Street in Jerusalem, and suddenly I heard rapid steps behind me. I turned my head, and before I could recognize the man, he hugged me and with a beaming face shouted, Manus! It was Simchele. I hadn't seen him since he enlisted in the British army. We were very happy to see each other. He pleaded with me, I live on this street. You must come to my apartment and meet my family. It didn't matter when I told him I was rushing to a meeting. I will never forget my experience in his apartment. With his typical passion, which grew as he spoke, he described to his wife and daughter our families' connection in Kremenets from the time when he was a small boy. We brought various memories from our childhood before them, from a period and place that we'll never see again. We also talked about the terrible tragedy in his family, when his older brother, Pinchas, drowned in Shumsk a few days before he was to graduate high school.
I was a partner in that tragedy. I lost two of my best friends, him and Niosha Ovadis.
I spent a more than an hour in the warmth of his family, and today I'm sorry I didn't have a chance to see him again. I saw him only once more, around 10 years ago, during our annual memorial service. Simcha arrived late from Jerusalem, and I had only a few minutes to talk to him about his meeting with his friends from the Youth Guard and the friends he played soccer with in Kremenets.
Simcha played a significant role in the establishment and development of the Youth Guard in Kremenets, mainly after the older active members had immigrated to the Land or joined the Communist underground. At a very young age, when he was only a teenager, he gave brilliant speeches in front of a large crowds for the benefit of the national funds. You stood with your mouth open at the sight of this brave young man.
Simcha arrived in the Land in 1935 to study at Hebrew University. Avraham Golan wrote the following in the Jewish National Fund's newspaper about the time when Simcha was at the university. Simcha belonged to the same 'group' that arrived in the Land in the middle of the 1930s. At that time they were not 'immigrants' or receive 'benefits' In time, his group became the yeast in the dough of Israeli society: in science, literature, political leadership, pioneering all that was needed in a country-to-be
After finishing his studies with a degree in humanities, Simcha was appointed, with others, to work for the Jewish Agency and was the best of them.
When the call came from the nation's organizations to volunteer to the British army, Simcha was among the first thousand sent to fight against the Germans. He was awarded the honor of raising the flag of the first Jewish Brigade with his own hands.
In 1952, the Jewish Agency sent Simcha and his family first to Cuba and later to Mexico and the countries of South America. He finished his mission in North America and Canada. His wife, Zahara, said that in all the countries they visited, he always searched with candles for Kremenetsers.
After returning to the Land and retiring from the Jewish Agency, Simcha dedicated his time to the matters of the retiree community and was the chair of the agency's retiree organization. As always, he managed to continue with his lectures at different social clubs, mostly clubs for the elderly. Among them was a club for Russian immigrants and immigrants from central Europe. His listeners expressed their thanks in heartfelt letters sent to him and his family during his difficult illness and after his death.
Simcha died in December 1979 at the age of just 67. When I read the letters of condolence the family received from various organizations in Jerusalem, I can see how extensive and wide his public work was and how great his talent was. It is pity that our organization, the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants, did not benefit from his help, whicht we needed for many years.
I sit and wonder: maybe it was our fault, or maybe the fault lies on both sides.
Simcha left behind his wife, Zahara; a daughter; and two sons.
May his memory be blessed.
On 3 Heshvan 5740, October 24, 1979, 10 years after the death of Mordekhay (Motke) Barmor, a large crowd of his admirers, friends, relatives, officers, and soldiers gathered around his grave in the military section of Kiryat Shaul Cemetery. Every year on this date, a number of them come to visit Mordekhay's resting place to be with this man, whom everyone loved and admired. The words you hear here uncover new lines in the character of a man who was uprooted from us at the prime of his life. And you always see sorrow in people's eyes at the wrong that bitter fate visited on his family and on them. Mordekhay was only 45 at the time of his death, and what he succeeded in doing is enough to fill a sizable book.
In booklet 6, we dedicated a large section to Motke's memory. Articles by Y. Rokhel, Mordekhay Ot-Yakar, and the writer of these lines covered different periods of his life.
In those articles, we described his parents' warm home, his escape from the Germans, and his volunteering for the Red Army, where he risked his life fighting the Germans. We described his blessed activities for the Haganah in refugee camps in Germany. He enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces right after his arrival in Israel and immediately left for the battlefront. From the rank of sergeant in the Red Army, he reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in the IDF and commanded an anti-aircraft battalion in the Artillery Corps. In the same article, we wrote about his dedication to our organization and his activities. After a long, tiring day in his battalion, he used to take me in his jeep (with the permission of his officers) to collect donations from our members for the RYBL Library. Like his father, Manus Bishbeyn, of blessed memory, he was an exemplary father and husband. He divided his fatherhood between his children and his soldiers.
In a book I've just received, A Sword in a Foreign Land: Clandestine Activities of the Haganah in Europe, 1945-1948, by Yehuda Ben David, published by the Defense Ministry, we read about Mordekhay's part in those activities. On page 53 we read, When Motke Barmor, a sergeant in the Red Army, returned to his home in Kremenets dressed in his uniform, because all Red Army soldiers were welcomed as liberators by the local population, a Christian family that he did not know invited him to their home for tea. He told them that this had been his parents' home before the war, that it was where he had lived during his childhood, and that he had come to search for his family members. They answered him firmly, 'We didn't see a single Jew who returned, and anyone who walked by immediately continued on his way. This home is our home, and it is going to remain ours. We advise you not to argue. There are terrorist gangs around here, and any Jew who shows himself will be murdered by the gangs wandering in the area. This event convinced Motke that he had to leave the army and reach Israel as soon as possible.
In the booklet published in April 1979 by the Antiaircraft School, Words from the Commander, we read, I choose to write about an officer who was the base commander at the beginning on the 1960s and reached higher duties in the Air Force and Artillery Corps. I am talking about Lieutenant Colonel Mordekhay Barmor, who even today inspires those who were fortunate enough to be under his command.
Motke (as everyone called him) had a rare sensitive personality and showed an interest in everyone
Motke's wife, Sara, may she live long, is a graduate of Bar Ilan University. With Mordekhay, she established a traditional Jewish home. After Motke's death, she raised their three children on her own. A son and a daughter are both married, and another daughter is in the regular army. When Motke lay on his sickbed, from which he did not get up, he wrote us a letter in which he apologized for not being able to attend the annual memorial service. A few months earlier, he told me that when he retired from military service, he would devote a great deal of his time to our organization.
Sara, who is not a native of our town, keeps in touch with us and fulfills all the duties assigned to our members. It is sad that with Motke's death we lost the chance to use his help, which we need so much and for many more years.
We will keep his memory in our hearts for eternity.
It is difficult today to write words in your memory. The matter seems strange, puzzling, and odd. I probably need the space of time to digest the fact that you are no longer with us. Your sudden departure hit us like a thunderclap on a clear day. It is difficult for me to write, but it is my duty to write about you, your personality, and your qualities. You were always modest and humble about your activities, and you spoke little. Each time I tried to write a little about your activities in our booklet, you rejected me, saying, It is not important, another time, or just it's not right.
You were a soldier, and you fought against the Nazi oppressors. When the Germans attacked Poland in 1939, you were drafted into the Polish army, and you were drafted again in 1941 when the war between Russia and Nazi Germany erupted. You also fought in the ranks of the Red Army until the end of May 1945. In the Yiddish newspaper, Einkeit , published in Russia by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, there were many articles about the dedication and heroism of Jewish soldiers and officers. One was about your division, and a few sentences were written about you. They wrote that you were the image of a Jewish warrior dedicated, brave, and tall. During August-September 1945, you came to visit me in my small town in lower Silesia near the Czechoslovakian border with the wave of repatriation from Russia. The first delegates from the Land arrived in Poland.
It was the order of the time to transfer wave after wave of Jews who arrived from Russia across the border to Czechoslovakia, where they were met by Haganah people, who smuggled them and transferred them to the Land. Of your own free will and without pay, you harnessed yourself to this dangerous work. You dedicated days and nights to this work. One of your greatest qualities was your ability to listen to people and answer them correctly and respectfully. Your comments always sounded like friendly advice.
You were the symbol of honesty and decency, and above all, your talent for creating a friendly, warm connection with those around you made it a pleasure to be in your company.
You never tried to impress others, and in your behavior you symbolized the famous verse He who walks upright, works with righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart (Psalms 15:2).
We and your family were left dazed and shocked. It is difficult to digest the magnitude of the loss we have suffered. We were left without your magnificent image, which bathed us in pleasantness and innocence.
Your memory will remain in our hearts forever.
To our distinguished townsman, violinist Isaac Stern, on his 60th birthday, may he be rewarded with many more.
To Zahava (Klara) Zats (Eydelman) on her 80th birthday, may she live to be 120.
To David Rapoport, New York, on his 75th birthday, may he live to be 120, and on the marriage of his granddaughter, Dina, to her fiancé, Bruce.
To Liza and Tsvi Bernshteyn on their golden wedding anniversary, congratulations!
To Brigadier (Army Reserve) Yosef Avidar (Rokhel) on receiving a doctor of philosophy degree.
To our friend, Leyb Ayzen, chairman of the Organization of Radzivilov Emigrants, on his 70th birthday, may he live to be 120.
To Bat-Sheva Kantor (Levitin) on the birth of her grandson, Daniel Max, to her son, Ehud, and his wife, Rachel.
To Sara Bar-Mor on the marriage of her son, Amos, to his fiancée, Galit, and on the birth of her grandson, Mordekhay Rom, to her daughter, Shoshana, and her husband, Menashe Manor.
To Chaya and Meir Zeyger on the birth of their grandson to their daughter, Rut.
To Zahava and Yonatan Rozenberg on the marriage of their son, Moshe, to his fiancée, Rachel.
To Shraga and Fanya Ish-Tov on the birth of their second grandson, Alon, to their daughter, Eitana, and Shlomi Shvartsberg.
To the Ben-Yehuda family on the death of Ester (Fira), of the Leviten family, of blessed memory
To Menucha Goldman, of the Pundik family, on the death of her husband, Yosef, of blessed memory
To the Egozi family on the death of wife, mother, and grandmother Bilka, of blessed memory (daughter of Rabbi Senderovits, of blessed memory). Bilka was 73 at the time of her death. She left a husband, a brother, a sister, a children, and grandchildren.
Members' Donations for Voice of Kremenets and Shumsk Emigrants
|Tsukerman David||I£ 200||Kesler Yitschak||I£ 100|
|Shifris Bela||200||Veldberg Dov||100|
|Bodeker Avraham||200||B. Rozenblit||100|
|Shnayder Eliyahu||200||Shrentsel Avraham||100|
|Moshe Kagan||200||Fiks Chaya||100|
|Andzya Rotenberg-Gorenfeld||200||Tsimels-Kaganovits Malka||100|
|Manusovits Shmuel||200||Rozenberg Yonatan||100|
|Gokun Avraham||200||Yashpe Arye||100|
|Moshe Golcher||100||B. Kantor||100|
|Bern Eliakum||100||Rachel Marshak||100|
|Miryam Shnayder||100||Hadasa Goldenberg||100|
|Moshe Stis||100||Ayzinfreser Miryam||100|
|Chayim Livne||100||Kohen Rachel||100|
|Menachem Pelets||100||Amitay Chana||50|
|Leya Ditun||100||Amitay Chana||50|
|Shtern Chayim||100||Bernshteyn Aleksander||50|
|Valkun Pola/Kucher||100||Rachel Seden-Senderovits||100|
|Rachel Nadir/Otiker||100||Sofer Avraham||100|
|Tsireli Shnitser||100||Abir Avraham||100|
|Nachman Shnitser||100||Mochan Shmuel||100|
|Zemberg Yehuda||100||Avidar Yosef||100|
|Gdalyahu Kundzior||100||Spektor Naomi||100|
|Ester Katz||100||Miryam Diament||100|
|Shmuel Rafelovits||100||Gertman Sonya||100|
|Shifra Zinger||100||Sara Rokhel||100|
|Yosef Stoler||100||Moshe Rokhel||100|
|Eliyahu Prilutski||100||Zev Kligman||100|
|Kohen Tsvi Kagan||100||Gluzman Eliezer||100|
|Dvora Barak||100||Moshe Tsur Krementsutski||100|
|Cherlov Batya||100||Sara Magali-Kloyzman||100|
|Atara Sitsuk||100||Moshe Prilutski||100|
|Sara Harari||100||Nusman Aleksander||100|
|Osovski/Galperin Tsipora||100||Etel Isakov||100|
|Rivka Zeyger||100||Rut Halperin||100|
|Moshe Pundik||100||Karkoviak Shalom||100|
|Collected by eight board members while packing the booklet||I£800||August 5, 1979|
|Tsirel Gintsburg, Haifa||100|
|David Bakimer, Kiryat Tivon||100|
|Har-Tsion, Ein Harod||100|
|Mrs. Vanda Ronya, Afula||100|
|Mordish Shmuel, Kibbutz Afek||100|
|Chelben Moshe, Afula||100|
|Sara Fiks/for three booklets||300|
|Adalya Poltorek and Chana Shafir||200|
|Mrs. Heyman Malka||500|
|Dr. Shalom Hofman||200||I£5,650|
|Segal Shmuel||I£ 100||Zev Berg||I£ 100|
|Hadari Pinchas||100||Luba Kravits||100|
|Moshe Golcher||100||Katsman Chana||100|
|Roykhman Avraham||100||Vinder David||100|
|Fanya Valakh||100||Shperber Akiva||100|
|Berger Reyzel||100||Shavit Melekh||100|
|Sela Aharon||100||Simon Gorshteyn||100|
|Yitschak Parnas||100||Bina Vered||100|
|Vishniv Pesach||100||Leviten Arye||100|
|Pesis Dvora||100||Kloyzman Dov||100|
|Velberg Aharon||100||Sara Shteynberg||100|
|Kagan Netanel||100||Eben Yehuda Leviten||100|
|Yitschak Gluzman||100||Vinston Yitschak||100|
|Avraham Fingerut||100||Zitser Shimon||100|
|Sara Milshteyn||100||Leybish Kucher||100|
|Ayelet Yakov||100||Barshap Yitschak||50|
Income and Expense Report for the Memorial Service on August 14, 1979
Membership and Entry Fees
|Table number 1 by Mr. Tsuref Shumsk||I£2,720|
|Table number 2 by Argaman Kremenets||4,050|
|Table number 3 by Goltsberg Kremenets||2,750||I£9,520|
|200 small canteens by Teper||800|
|To Yosef for taking care of chairs, lighting, and speakers||1,550|
|Left in the kitty||I£6,870|
All pages and receipts were checked by the persons who prepared the balance and by members Vaysman and Mordish from Shumsk.
|Koren Tsvi||I£ 100|
|Shvarts Shlome Carmel||500|
|Mrs. Pifman Tsivya Jerusalem||100|
|Pikhovits Yurek Haifa||200|
|Dugi Avraham Haifa by Yitschak Portnoy||200|
|Dr. Shlome Hofman||300|
|Mrs. Poltorek Adina||200|
|Mrs. Mazur Ama||100|
Report on Foreign Currency Account for 1979
Balance sheet created by S. Vaysman and Y. A. Mordish
|1||Balance on January 1, 1979||3,453.30|
|2.||Received as donations||1,944.00|
|3.||Interest from the above||294.01||2,238.01|
|Less for exchange||500.00|
|Balance, December 31, 1979||5,191.31|
|Balance on January 1, 1979||150.00|
|Balance on January 1, 1979||262.75|
|Scholarship Fund for the school in Or Akiva In Bank Hapoalim, Shavit trust fund||74,949.00|
|Collected by William Kogan: William Kogan 8, Sam Fuks 5, Jacques Barshap 3, Jacques Tshatski 3, Helen Vaynberg 3||$ 25|
|Kaplan family, New York||30|
|Chayim Taytsher, by Tsonye Brotski||14|
|Doris B. Gold||50|
|12/15/79 Morris Medler||50|
|Organization of Kremenets Emigrants, Argentina, by Mordekhay Katz||300|
|Yisrael Laybel, Argentina||50|
|3/6/80 Morris Medler||50|
|Total for Voice of Kremenets and Shumsk Emigrants||$674||$ 674|
|8/14/79 Pak Moshe, Argentina, to inscribe his parents' names in the Memorial Book||$100|
|Katia Tsudnovski, Argentina, to inscribe her husband's and daughter's names in the Memorial Book||35|
|Mrs. Reyzel Sher, Argentina, to inscribe her husband's name in the Memorial Book||35||170|
|For the RYBL Library|
|Vulf and Ester Shnayder, Detroit||500|
|Andre Gorenshteyn, Paris||100 French francs|
|7/2/80||Before the issue was delivered to the printer, from Mr. Fred Byk of the United States||$100|
|4/4/80||Morris Desser, United States||25|
|3/13/80||Yitschak Vakman, United States||100|
|5/15/80||Yosef Margalit Winnipeg||$100|
|Mark Desser, Winnipeg||20|
|Max Desser, Winnipeg||20|
|6/25/80||Organization of Kremenets Emigrants in Argentina||$300|
|Mrs. Reyzel Sher, Argentina||50|
|Mrs. Meri Telerman, Argentina||150|
|Chana and Chayim Fayer||200|
|From Mrs. Fanya Ish-Tov, Jerusalem, on the marriage of her daughter and the birth of her grandson||I£ 500|
|From Tsvi Bernshteyn and his wife, Holon, on their golden wedding anniversary||1,000|
|From Mrs. Chasid Etya, Moshav Herut, in memory of her husband, on the first anniversary of his death||500|
|From Mrs. Chana Shafir, Rishon Letsion, in memory of her husband, on the second anniversary of his death||500|
|From Mrs. Bela Mandelblat, in memory of her husband, of blessed memory||400|
|From Mr. Moshe Pak and his wife, Buenos Aires||5,000|
|From Avraham Landsberg, in memory of his pleasant wife, Chana, of blessed memory||I£ 500|
|From Mrs. Tsizin Chana, in memory of her late husband, Shmuel, of blessed memory||500|
|From Yehoshue Golberg, in memory of his late brother Betsalel/Tsalik, the pleasant one, of blessed memory||500|
Income and Expenses for 1979
|2.||Books for the library||1,750||Bank Hapoalim||12,254|
|3.||Assistance to the needy for the holidays and donation to Poland||3,750||Post Office Bank||544||12,798|
|4.||Memorial scrolls||2,000||Collected during the memorial service and miscellaneous listed donations|
|5.||Postage||4,800||2.||A. Bank Hapoalim||19,226|
|Travel expenses||2,000||B. to Post Office Bank||13,250||32,476|
|Telephone||1,275||3.||Exchange of $500||15,078|
|6.||Expenses for the memorial||2,348||Less the above expenses||52,819|
|Organization of memorial service and others||1,199||5,430||Treasury status||7,533|
|7.||Interest and commission fee foreign currency account||2,346||Balance in Bank Hapoalim||7,475|
|Total||52,819||Balance in Post Office Bank||58||7,533|
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