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My Hometown (cont.)



The business people in the community in town were Reb Mendel son of Shimon, who was the son of Meir Freda's Alperovich. Mendel was a very clever and honest man. Before the First World War he had a store in his home that was left for him and his brother Zishka Alperovich by their father. During the First World War he went all the way to the town of Balshov, and I met him there while traveling as a messenger of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to the refugees deep in Russia. I also met there Chanan Itzha's the brother of Mordechai and Shimon Itzha's. After the war, Reb Mendel Alperovich and Reb Zishka Alperovich returned to Kurenets. In the year 1934, when I came to Kurenets he had a hotel where I lodged. A local Polish policeman started bothering me, saying I didn't have permission to stay over in Poland, but Reb Mendel Alperovich quieted him down.


kur027a.jpg [13 KB]
Mordechai [1870- 1954], son of Sarah nee Zimerman and
Zalman Uri [son of Avraham Elia] Gurevitz with
wife Frada [1870- 1938], daughter of Yehuda son of
Meir and Frada Alperovitz


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Children and grandchildren of Mordechai and Frada Gurevitz.
Bitzaron, 1936

Left to right [sitting]: daughter, Batia nee Gurevitz Bender z''l.
Grandson Eli Bender of Kibbutz Einat. Granddaughter, Rachel nee Gurevitz Gordin
of Rehovot. Amnon Yaakobi z''l.Daughter in law; Bela nee Shulman Gurevitz z''l.
Top: Son in law, Krolik Bender z''l. Daughter; Luba nee Gurevitz Bardan z''l.
Son in law; Moshe Lehrman z''l. Granddaughter baby Aliza nee Lehrman Rashish
of Petach Tikva. Daughter; Sima nee Gurevitz Lehrman Herbert z''l. Son; Meir Gurevitz z''l.


kur027c.jpg [24 KB]
The family of Natan,
oldest son of Mordechai and Frada Gurevitz. Kurenets 1935

Left to right: son, Zalman Uri Gurevitz.
Wife, Batia nee Eyeshski, son, Gershon Gorev. Natan. Daughter, Lea Shogol.


Reb Mordechai Horwitz Gurevich was known in town as Mordechai Frada's (his wife was Frada daughter of Yehuda (ben Meir) Alperovich). He was the son of a Hasidic Jew Zalman Uri Gurevich who visited Tzemach Tzedek and the name of his father was Avraham Elia. By the order of Tzemach Tzedek he became a shohet. Even in his last days (ca. 1920) he served as a shohet in a community near Kurenets. His eldest son was also a shohet. His name was Chaim Israel Gurevich (perished in the holocaust in Kurenets). His son Mordechai, on the other hand, had a business selling iron but his soul burnt with the holy fire. In the middle of market day when his store would be filled with Christian buyers, he would leave the store and run to pray with the community in the synagogue. Every evening he would come to our minyan to study.

When Reb Mordechai Gurevich was young he went to study in the town of Labadowa, and was very influenced by Levik Labadower, who was very pure. He made a few visits with his friends at that time to the Koidanov Rebbe, but when he became middle aged, he turned to Lubavitch Hasidut and became a very devout Lubavitcher. He would pray for a long time on the Sabbath, finishing a long time after the rest of the community. A few times he went to the Admor of Lubavitch even when he was living in Rostov on the River Don. In his older years he was blessed to go to Eretz Israel. This took place about 20 years ago (ca. 1933). He settled in B'nei Brak, and after his wife Freda passed away, he moved to a kibbutz near Petah Tikva (Givat Hashlosha) and lived next to his daughter Batia Bender. Every day he would walk to Petah Tikva to study Gemara together with the Rabbi and a few of his friends. He studied the Mishna intensely, and his deepest desire was to learn all the Mishna 101 times. I am sure that he achieved his goal since he was constantly reciting the Mishna. About two years ago (ca. 1952), he passed away.

Amongst the respected men of the community was Reb Leib Motosov, who had a factory for making tar in the area of Kurenets, and after some years he moved to the town and had a pharmaceutical store. He was also very involved in the community. When I was there he took part in all the public funds and when I came to Kurenets in 1934 he was one of the friends I met and I visited him in his house.


Craftsmen



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Rev. Solomon Koor


All the craftsmen were very special in Kurenets. Amongst the shoemakers I must tell about Moshe Kur / Koor the Shoemaker from Dolhinov Street. He was a fervent Jew and would read the Torah with passion. He was also a Koidanov Hasid. His father was Reb Yehoshua, the scribe from Vileyka. The son of Moshe, Shlomo Chaim studied Torah in our minyan, and when he reached the age to be drafted into the army, he escaped and went to London. His last name was Koor and from what I heard he became a Chazzan in one of the synagogues in London, where he later passed away.


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The family of Mordechai Kur
the son of Yehoshua the writer from Vileyka
and his wife Rivka from the Volozhinski / Bunimovitz family of Volozhin.

Left to right: son, Eliezer Kur , daughter, Leyka nee Kur Laptzlter died in Israel,
Rivka, daughter of Alexander Volozhinski from Volozhin and Matya nee Bunimovitz,
daughter, Dishka Kur, Mordechai Kur, [brother of Moshe the shoemaker from Kurenets],
Bronia nee Kur Rabinovitz born in Horodok in 1916, lives in Petach Tikva, son Avraham
Kur born in Horodok in 1910. Mordechai, Rivka, Dishka, Eliezer, Avraham [with wife
Frida nee Drashtzki and son Benyamin] perished in Krasne in March of 1943.


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kur028c.jpg [10 KB]
Left to right: Mordechai Rabinovitz born in Volozhin in 1945, his mother, Bronia nee Kur, Chaim Kur son of Nechemia, Luba Kur widow of Nechemia.   Nechemia Kur son of Pinya grandson of Yehoshua the writer from Vileyka. Perished during the Holocaust.   Malka née Kur daughter of Nechemia, holding her second cousin, Mordechai Rabinovitz

The family of Mordechai Kur the son of Yehoshua the writer from Vileyka
and his wife Rivka from the Volozhinski/ Bunimovitz family of Volozhin



The shomemakers Yerukhmiel were also special people. The son of Yerukhmiel from Kosita Street was called Tanhum and he studied with me in the cheder of Reuven Malisker.

Amongst the blacksmiths, I must write about Leib den Schmidt. Whoever saw him on Shabbat would think that he saw a respected and wonderful Rabbi. He had a long, white beard. His body was tall and strong, and from the top of his head down to his toes was beautiful to look at. He was a Chazzan during the high holy days.

Reb Eliyau the blacksmith was the chazzan on Yom Kippur in the old shtiebel. At one time Reb Shmuel the blacksmith who was a Lubavitch Hasid came to our town. He also knew Torah and was filled Hasidic spirit. In Kurenets there was an old man by the name of Shimsel der Kutler, he was the father of Motke der Kutler. It's hard to describe the charm of his spirit and the essence of his dear soul. Although he wasn't truly knowledgeable in Torah, he would listen to others who studied, but his purity of heart and his spirit were above some who were true scholars of the Torah. In his essence there was the true Hasidic spirit that spread from the well known Hasidic greats of Kurenets down to the simplest people. Once during a Hasidic gathering, Reb Shimshel said, “I deserve to lie on the ground and all the community of the minyan[1] should step on me.”

Amongst the carpenters, I would like to mention Zalman der Stoller. Amongst the people who made the furnaces, Reb Yankel der Moller and Reb Yossi der Moller. Everyone who would meet them would recognize that they were Kurenetsers. The influence of the town also reached the small communities in its area, amongst them Radshke, Nyaka, and Oshtkova. They all belonged to the municipality of Kurenets. In Radshke, the shohet was the well-known Hasid, Yosef Meir Halevi Levin, who was one of the students of the well-known Hasid Hillel Paritcher. He used to go to visit the Rebbe of Lubavitch, he was a lively Jew in every one of his bones. It was such a pleasure to sit with him and listen to his tales of the old days about his youth in the shadow of Hillel Paritcher, repeating the Hasidic tales that he was taught.

The butchers in our town were different from other butchers. In Kurenets the butchers were religious Jews with pure souls. Amongst them there was Reb Avraham David Alperovich and his sons Itzhak Mikhail (who was killed before the war), Israel Alperovich [who perished in the Holocaust]. Although Avraham David was a simple Jew, he was pure and God fearing. To give an example, he would never bless the Etrog in the morning of the first day of Sukkot without waking up very early in the morning when it was still very dark and immersing himself in the Mikveh, where he was the very first to dip. He treated all the scholars and Rabbis with respect and love and I must point out that he never got too upset about huge financial losses that were caused because of religious rules. As one can see in this story. When Israel Itzhak the Shohet passed away, my father the Rabbi said that his son, Reb Gershon, had the right to his job. For many reasons that were known in town, many people were against this decision. Particularly against it were the butchers who didn't want a shohet who was so young and with no experience. At that point in time, Reb Gershon only knew how to slaughter poultry, but my father still stood firm that according to tradition the job should be given to the son of the person who passed away. So during a meeting in our minyan, a suggestion was made that Reb Gershon should go to another town to gain experience and then he should get the job. Reb Gershon was a Kapost Hasid and even used to live there. When the Kapost Hasidism moved to Bobrisk, Reb Gershon went to Bobrisk to study for the job of shohet. After three months he returned to Kurenets with certificates showing experience in his job. My father the Rabbi examined him on the rules of slaughtering, the way you should hold the knife, and gave him permission to take the job. The first time that Reb Gershon worked with Avraham David slaughtering meat, he felt something wrong with his knife. After he checked the meat and didn't find anything wrong, he called Reb Avraham David to a corner and told him that he thought his knife was not right. Although it meant a big financial loss, Reb Avraham David accepted this waste of meat without complaint.

Itzhak Mikhail Alperovitzl, the son of Avraham David, was killed by some Christians while on the way to Dolhinov. The grandson of Itzhak Mikhail, Zalman, studied in Lubavitch ,was an excellent student and became a well known Chabad Rabbi. He later perished in the Holocaust.

His other son, Israel Alperovich, was an observant Jew and died of starvation during the Holocaust after he escaped to the forest but didn't want to eat non-Kosher food. The rest of Israel's family perished except for one son who moved to Brazil before the Holocaust.

Reb Moshe Binyamin, the son of Hendel the Butcher, was a Jew in whom the Hasidic fire burned strongly. During the First World War, he went as far as Rostov by the River Don for a pilgrimage to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The brothers, Israel and Itzha, sons of Chanan from Kosita Street, were also very pure Jews. In Oshtashkova, lived Mikhail Oshtashkover, a very spiritual and pure Jew. I must also mention the village Narutz with the head of the family Reb Shalom Narutzer. This was a place of Torah. All the brothers, Reb Moshe, Reb Chaim, Reb Itzhak and their father Reb Shalom were learned Jews, deep students of the Torah, and very deep thinkers. When I lived in Kurenets, Itzhak Narutzer moved there and he constantly studied the Torah. He was amongst the visitors who would constantly come to our home.

These few passages should give some impression of the essence of the town of Kurenets during those days, her Shabbatot, her festivals, and other special days, saturated with spirituality and purity and excitement of Hasidic devotion that comes from deep inside the soul. May the next generation see the true essence of the roots that they sprung from.



Footnotes:
  1. The community of the most learned Jews. Back


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