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[Page 200]

Eliezer Kopelnitzki

by Leah and Sarah Kopelnitzki

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Much has been written and much more will still be written about the martyrs of our town who were murdered by the Nazi evildoers during the time of the Holocaust. However, who will memorialize those who fell to the hands of other murderers even before the Nazi beast trod the face of the earth? They remain anonymous, and what will the future generations know about them? Let us erect here a monument to some of them, even if this will only be with a few words.

In those days, we lived in a village near Lenin. How great was my joy when one day we moved to Lenin itself, and my feet crossed the threshold of the cheder for the first time.

Our parents were not especially happy to leave the village. They conducted their quiet lives there for many years, among the neighboring farmers with whom a mutual relationship of respect and esteem pervaded. I often heard it said: how good and quiet are the farmers of the village and the entire area.

However, very soon we were bitterly disappointed. Suddenly, rumors spread about killing and murder that had quickly reached the town of Lenin.

The first victim in the town was Yitzchak the son of Aharon Migdalovitch. He was found murdered on the route to Lachwa. The following people fell after him: Yaakov Eliahu the son of Alter Kopelnitzki along with Eliahu Chinitz, Yaakov Rubenstein (“Yakeh”), Uriah (Ura) from the village of Tymoszewicze, Aharon Slutski from Pozheche, Yisrael Aharon the son of Hershel Meir, Shlomo Dolgin, and the two Eisenstat brothers.

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Len201.jpg [15 KB] - Eliezer Kolpenitzky
Eliezer as a child

That year, Eliezer the son of Betzalel Kopelnitzki was also murdered. His death was mourned grievously not only by his family and relatives, but also by all the residents of the town. Fear and terror took hold of everybody. Nobody left the door of their houses, and people avoided traveling on the roads.

Eliezer Kopelnitzki was a young youth, handsome, refined, with a warm Jewish heart. He was connected to the town and its residents. He mastered both Torah and wisdom. He was blessed with artistic talents. His hands took hold of the painter's brush and he would sing with his sweet voice. When he was a student in the faculty of medicine in Kiev, he would return home during the vacations. He would often serve as the prayer leaders in the synagogue on the holidays and enthuse the congregation with his enthusiastic prayers. His heart was always open to give advice and counsel, and his eyes were open to any place that required his assistance. He once assisted a family with many children who lived in poverty. The eldest daughter, aged 14, went without education and any purpose in life. Eliezer started to diligently help this poor family. Along with his friend, he turned to the wealthy residents of the town, and even to the Christian notables, asking them to donate what they could for this purpose. His mother Dina was even asked to exert influence over the parents of the girl to agree to permit her to travel to Kiev with him in order to learn a trade, so that she could support herself. The girl's parents were happy at this advice, and after a few days she set off for Kiev along with Eliezer. He placed her in a business where she also learned the sewing trade. She would study knowledge at night. The girl began to earn her livelihood, and even sent support to her parents. Her parents did not forget what Eliezer did for them, and always recalled that their daughter was saved from degeneration thanks to his dedication.

Eliezer played a large role in the cultural life of the town. He assisted in the organizing of the library, the founding of a choir, arranging plays and all other communal activities. He taught Bible and literature to the youth, and planted the love of Zion in our young hearts. Everyone who knew him knew that he was destined for greatness and prophesied a bright future for him. Indeed, he was a source of pride and glory for his parents Dina and Betzalel, and all the residents of the town.

However, bitter fate decreed otherwise. Eliezer was cut off while still young in years and full of energy, ideas and plans for the future. He was about to conclude his course of studies, and he returned to Kiev at the end of his vacation. Along the way he found out that the Balachovche gang of murderers was approaching Lenin, with their hands sullied with blood and full of booty. Eliezer stopped his journey and remained in the city of Turow, for his conscience did not permit him to continue on his journey when there was the danger of ambush for his family and the residents of his town. He, along with 17 other youths from the region, decided to go to Lenin to protect it. The rabbi of the city warned the youths to refrain from doing so, for there was a great evil in front of them, but they stood by their decision. Along the way they were arrested, accused of espionage, and taken out to be killed in cold blood.

Eliezer was one of the many who fell in sanctification of G-d and the nation, and he is one additional link in the chain of Jewish martyrdom.

May their memories be a blessing!


[Page 202]

Yitzchak Kolpenitzki

by Mordechai Rubenstein (Migdalovitch)

Translated by Jerrold Landau

{Photo page 202: Uncaptioned. Yitzchak Kopelnitzki.} Yitzchak the son of Betzalel Kolpenitzki was a man of action. He was a diligent forestry merchant, upright and pleasant in mannerism. He spoke calmly and in good taste. His family moved to Lenin from the village of Pozheche. About 40-50 years ago, Reb Betzalel sent his sons to schools in the cities of Russia with the intent of imparting in them Torah and erudition. The son Yitzchak mastered general and Jewish knowledge. He studied accountancy at a high level. He was active in the communal arena, and one of those who bore the burden of the maintenance of the Tarbut School in our town, that existed until the time of Soviet rule.

Even though the Tarbut School consumed large sums, remained without any government support, and that in those days a public Polish school existed that did not require tuition payments – 90% of the students of the town found their place in the Hebrew school, which was the glory of our town.

Thanks to the dedication of a number of activists who concerned themselves with the maintenance of the institution, free Hebrew education was made possible for those students who could not afford any tuition at all.

The following activists should be remembered positively along with Yitzchak: Mordechai Borochin, Yerachmiel Dvorin, Tzvi Yekutiel Gelinson, Binyamin Starobinski, Moshe Reuven Zerachki, Yaakov Lezbanik, and others, who did not hesitate to give private pledges in order to ensure that the budget would be covered.

Yitzchak and his co-activists bore the yoke of education with all of its difficulties. They maintained and sustained the school as the apple of their eye. There, children were educated in Zionism, in understanding the values of the nation, and in the Hebrew language. It is appropriate to note that Yitzchak continued to bear the yoke of the maintenance of the school even after his children concluded their studies and transferred to the Tarbut Gymnasium in Pinsk.

Yitzchak of blessed memory served as the director of accounting at a government institution during the period of Soviet rule. He had

[Page 203]

the possibility of leaving along with the army which was retreating from the Germans, and perhaps he might have thereby saved his life. However, he did not agree to leave his elderly parents, his wife and his children behind. He went up in the inferno along with all of his beloved family, and the entire holy community of Lenin.

May his memory be a blessing.


R' Yosef–Noah Rabinowitz
Mrs. Itka daughter of R' David Graeib

by Meir Booktsin

Translated by Sara Mages

 

len203.jpg

 

R' Yosef–Noah, son of R' Yakov, son–in–law of R' David Graeib, was tall, skinny, slightly bent, had a strict expression and bushy eyebrows that underneath them were intelligent piercing eyes which looked with love and mercy. He was articulate and encouraged his listeners with his great charm.

He wasn't a splendid speaker and didn't belong to those who wrapped their intentions with poetic phrases. He expressed his deep ideas with a few logical and sincere words that forced the listener to treat them with dignity and respect and be convinced by him. For that reason he was always invited to be the arbitrator in various financial and family matters – a duty that he fulfilled not for a personal gain.

[Page 204]

These words – “So said R' Yosef–Noah” – were enough to calm the rival sides, to straighten the painful problem between them and bring them to a friendly agreement. Everyone knew that he was an honest man, fair and impartial, loved peace and pursued peace.

Not only the Jews respected him, the non–Jews also greatly honored him: the farmers, with whom he conducted his business, saw him as “Nash Yosel” – our Yosef, because he always treated them with honesty and beyond the letter of the law. Once, one of the farmers lost a promissory note that R' Yosef–Noah gave him against a loan. The farmer came and poured out his heart believing that had just lost his money. R' Yosef–Noah invited him to come with him to the Council House and there he asked him to confirm before the clerk that he indeed lost his promissory note. On the spot he took the full amount of the debt and put it before the farmer so he could take it. Seeing this, the farmer was shocked and amazed and began to cross himself and beg: “Yoskale, take your money and return it to me on the date written on the note.” He no longer wanted another note, he believed his word.

He made sure to fulfill the commandments and prohibitions as written in “Shulchan Aruch.” His flour mill, which supports him and his family, was closed on the Shabbat and on holidays, and even more so, during the week of Passover. The farmers were already used to it, and even though there were many flour mills that belonged to Christians in the area, they didn't want to hand over their grain to others. During Kerensky's days, when food councils were established, R' Yosef–Noah was chosen by the local farmers as director of the local committee because they treated him in complete confidence.

There were also several yearly employees at the mill such as: a miller, mechanic, stoker, etc. R' Yosef–Noah paid their salaries handsomely and they were loyal to him with their heart and soul. When there was work in the mill that didn't require experts, he didn't want to take advantage of his employees and did the work on his own without listening to their requests to go home and rest and they would do the work themselves. He used to say to them “You don't get paid for this work and I don't want you to work for me for free.” Besides the salary, he also gave them a bonus pay at every opportunity. R' Yehusua Tziklig z”l, who worked in the mill as a stoker was, in fact, a member of his family.

All the needy in town knew his kindness. He mostly gave charity in secret so no one would know and not to embarrass the needy. He gave generously to all the needy in town and didn't differentiate between Jews and Christians.

He was always careful to show respect to others without, God forbid, offending anyone. Once, there was an incident, on the Sabbath, after a prayer, when the sons–in–laws of R' David Graeib and their wives, turned, as they usually did, to the house of the aforementioned David to bless on a glass of wine and eat a cake. While they were chatting about this and that – on matters of the place and the problems of the world – Chaim Zelig, grandson of R” David (today Mr. Chaim Shalev) intervened and made a comment during a conversation. His uncles, the scholars, the great intellectuals, and his aunts got angry at him: “how dared he to interrupt such an important conversation about matters of supreme importance!? R' Yosef–Noah interfered in his defense when he said: “Wisdom isn't in the elderly – young people can also think and make sense and we shouldn't defer and embarrass the youth because, after all, they're the foundation of the world.”

Even though he was busy in his busses he always found time for the Torah. In the summer and in the winter, he woke up early and after he washed his hands and said the Dawn Blessing he sat and studied until it was prayer time.

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He had the right to pass before the Ark during the Mincha prayer on Yom Kippur and he didn't give it up when he already felt the terrible disease from which he left the world.

For many years he suffered from stomach pain. This pain, he used to say, came to him from “Achilat Yamim” with different housewives as was the case during his youth, when he was a Yeshiva student. He healed for many years but it became worse during the Russian Revolution and the death of his beloved elderly father–in–law, Ben–Zion Volichkin, who left behind a young widow, his daughter Basha, with five children (the last two – twins – were born after the death of their father). The impact of these events was so intense that he became ill with stomach cancer and died while he was still young – only 54 years old – on 12 Iyar, 5679. May his soul be bound in the bond of everlasting life.

* * *

Mrs. Itka, daughter of R' David Graeib z”l, wife of R' Yosef–Noah z”l, was a kindhearted woman. She, the housewife, was a real help to her husband. She was beautiful, good, clever, and excelled in all the virtues. She ran her household with courage, cooked and baked, washed, decorated and cleaned, guided her children in the ways of the blessed God, and especially excelled with a heart of gold. She distributed alms to the poor generously and walked from house to house, with one of her friends, in all types of weather, to collect donations for the needy. Who was the needy – she never revealed. She used to say – “You want to donate – donate, more than that you do not need to know so as not to shame.” With the arrival of autumn she pickled cucumbers and chopped cabbage in big barrels – especially for the poor. During the days of Hanukkah she mostly fried goose fat. In the summer she made jam from different vegetables so she would have something to revive the soul of a poor woman who just gave birth or a needy patient, and distributed to everyone generously. The desperately poor sat at her table and she always, summer or winter, fed them to satiety.

She was a loyal and compassionate mother to her children and took care of them since birth. When they grew up she was tormented with their torture and happy in their celebrations. She worked very hard to support the family of her daughter, S., who remained with her husband and her children in Poland and she herself traveled to America after the death of her husband in 1920. Not a month has passed without giving her money and clothes. She always demanded her children in America, who send their generous help, to increase the aid to the children and grandchildren who were “suffering in Poland.” She made a lot of efforts to bring her daughter's family, but she was unable to do so. Finally, she convinced her children in America to help to bring their sister, brother–in–law and the children to Israel. She thought to settle in Israel at her old age so she could live among them. But fate decided otherwise. When she learned that they already arrived in Israel, she held a banquet in honor of the occasion and from a lot of joy her heart strings burst. The loving maternal heart stopped beating, it couldn't stand he joy that she had felt when her children finally reached safety.

The memory of our beloved father and mother would never be erased from our hearts! We will always mention them with reverence because they have done the impossible for us, and with their death they ordered life to their children.

May their souls be bound in the bond of everlasting life.


[Page 206]

Yehudah son of R' Shlomo Rubenstein

by Mordkhai Rubenstein (Migdalovitsh)

Translated by Sara Mages

Yehudah, or as we used to call him –Yeedel Chana's – was orphaned from his father, R' Shlomo, when he was still a teenager and a student at the Russian School in Lenin. Honest, shy, was left at a crossroad after his death of his father. Without the means to continue his education he tried, together with his mother, to open a fabric store in their specious big house that later turned into a hotel. However, the special nature of the young man, his excessive honesty on the one hand and the lack of commercial daring on the other, caused a rapid liquidation of the business. Since then, he devoted himself to private studies, almost without teachers, and at the same time engaged in teaching children whose parents couldn't send them to a high–school out of town.

Soon the word had spread that Yehudah is a gifted teacher and educator and invests his heart and soul in his students, especially in literature and reading, and also in all areas of science. In a short period of time he was accepted as a teacher at the local Hebrew School. At the same time he studied in special classes in Warsaw and other locations, especially during the months of summer vacation, until he reached his desired goal – becoming a certified teacher. Since then, new horizons opened before him. The Hebrew Teachers Centre in Warsaw recognized him as a teacher and educator with extensive knowledge who was fit to serve in well known schools, such as the Hebrew School in Kletsk and other locations, until he was appointed director of the school in Ludvipol (Wolyn). At the same time he decided to build a family and tied his life with his friend to the profession, the teacher Rivka Koch from Wlodzimirerz (Wolyn).

In 1939/40, during the Soviet occupation, he was appointed principal of the Yiddish School in Kletsk that contained about eight hundred students. From his letter to me which begins in the words: “I now work as a principal of a Jewish school…” I read between the lines his share of mental torture – a dedicated and loyal Zionist, who educated children to the love of the Hebrew language, the values of the nation and its holiness – fate imposed on him to be a teacher in a Russian school, teach Stalin's doctrine and deny in public everything sacred and precious…

He was taken to hard labor in Hancewicze by the defiled Nazis, but managed to escape from there together with dozens of townspeople. However, the murderers' bullets got him in one of the forests during the first days of the escape, and no one knows the location of his burial to this day.

May the noble memory of the scholar, a good example to justice and honesty, a beautiful spirit and a good heart, will shine to us, and may his pure soul be a torch to all his students, acquaintances and admirers. His wife and his daughter also perished together with all of Lenin's martyrs.


[Page 207]

Moshe Shmelkin

(died 1 Iyar, 5711)

by Yakov Berger

Translated by Sara Mages

 

len207.jpg

 

Six years have passed since we accompanied the beloved and unforgettable Moshe'l on his last journey. From the days, steeped in sorrow and intolerable pain at the beginning of the summer of 1951 when we, members and friends, stood around his bed and witnessed his struggle for his life…

The life, that he loved so much, has been cruel to him. He loved the beautiful, the righteous and the pure – and believe in man.

Since then, the shining image of Moshe'l lives in the hearts of our many close friends with its special and endearing charm.

The stations of his life were memorial stones to his unforgettable image:

Bratislava, 1932: In a student meeting, students of the Faculty of Medicine from Poland, he took the stage to speak and in a moment the packed hall burst into a storm of complaints and a bitter debate of reckoning…

His strength wasn't in words, but – in a shout. In the storm of overflowing emotions those who came from nearby, me included, wanted to know: who is the man? And the answer was given, either seriously or sarcastically: this is a wonderful man who cares for each member, fights for every just cause, a man of the “Lamed Vav” (by the way: it was always possible to get a loan from him, but it wasn't necessity to return it).

And indeed, he knew how to struggle for a just cause with great dedication, to find the human core, the personal and the intimate in every political question and differences of opinion. I remember his war in favor of the students–members who were caught in the communist propaganda. The university authorities demanded to disclose their names as a condition for further studies and the stay of many. In his war against the communist worldview, his struggle for every denial on the state of national revival, he was prepared for any personal sacrifice to ensure the right of those caught in deviation – to continue their studies even if it risked the right to study for approximately four hundred students. “All Jews are responsible for one another.” The secret of national partnership and the lifelong covenant of a persecuted nation, above all differences of opinion and thoughts that divide the nation…

The end of 1933 – the days of the founding of the Academic Association of Socialist Zionist, “Arlosoroffya,” and the power struggle in the student unions “Achdut”[”Unity”] and “Samopomice” [”Self Reliance”] in Bratislava. Moshe'l didn't know tiredness. He was involved in every meeting, discussion, debate and a gathering. His personal identity with the work for the idea, and for the movement, knew no bounds. He gave himself in his entirety…

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From here – to the labor movement, the united party “Poalei Zion,” “HaHalutz,” “HaOved,” and the “League for Working Eretz Israel.” It was natural that he found his way to the Zionist labor movement, to the camp of workers and the fighters for a new society. He, who was close with every fiber of his being to the oppressed, identified with their struggle for a better life. He saw himself as a living limb of the Labor Zionist Movement who fought and built the foundations for a society based on equality and honesty. How great was his suffering when he saw a sign of weakness and deviation from the ideal that he kept in his heart.

However, at that time the disease already showed its signs. He didn't want to acknowledge it, didn't pay attention to its first signs and didn't take care of himself.

In Bratislava, 1935, he had frequent asthma attacks and became very weak. In those days I moved to live with him in one room and saw his suffering and agony closely. However, he knew how to hide its signs, and more than that, his reflections on its future development. Only a little here and there he emitted a comment from which it was possible to see his mental suffering. Sometimes, sadness took over him for short periods, but very quickly he knew how to show restraint and move to his special way of life…

The melody never left his mouth. He sounded jubilant in the morning after a night of breathlessness and recurrent attacks.

Everyone knew him and respected him: the newspaper seller, the waiter, the neighbors, the workers at the institution, one or the other. The lecturers and their assistants, the members – always surrounded him, sought his company, and he knew how to help everyone with understanding, by explaining their situation, with a sound advice and a good word. Many sought his company and told him about their difficulties, disappointments and special problems…

Indeed, a wonderful man who cares for all, understands, explains and advises, but he didn't know how to take care of himself and find advice…

March 1938, the terrible days of the rise of the Nazi oppressor, the occupation of Vienna, the threat to Czechoslovakia, the suffocation and the sense of impending disaster. The days of the rise of the Socialist Zionist Movement, and the masses flow into it. Moshe'l takes part in every consultation, in every discussion and any crucial decision and his opinion is heard – because the members knew that the man is beyond all personal considerations and only the common good and the good of the movement are before his eyes

Munich's days, the threat of war and the changes in Bratislava, the tide of racial hatred and fascism is rising and threatens to flood everything on its way. There are no illusions in the movement's leadership and everyone is ready for the worst, to the disaster that may occur at any moment. Moshe'l doesn't shrink from participating, even though he was a foreign national, in the activities that are now carried underground and indirectly – in the students' summer colony, in the “Halutz” camp, in the “Oved” colony and in the party's conference in Nitra. He participates in all the discussions, vibrant, and infuses from his spirit and enthusiasm on everyone who comes in contact with him.

I remember that one day I brought before him the need to worry about his safety and his life. After all, he has a brother and sister in the United States and he could ask them for papers, for a visa and the possibility of travel for a transitional period to America until the rage of the war will pass, until he will be able to immigrate to Israel. His response was brisk: he wouldn't “immigrate” to America. He wouldn't look for a rescue and shelter with relatives that he loved so much, but he will immigrate to Israel together with the members and only in his own right – as a proud Socialist Zionist fighter!

I welcome him at the port of Haifa. How great was his excitement, how his face beamed when his feet stepped on the soil

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on the homeland… but here he had to struggle for his place at work, in the society, and the struggle was difficult and saturated with great bitterness…

In “Hadassah,” in Tel;–Aviv, in his work as bacteriologist, Moshe'l refuted any doubts in his ability. He was able to contribute a significant contribution to the research of hidden factors in the blood – an important scientific discovery, even if it was made, almost at the same time, in the United States. His friends' joy to his discovery was tinged with a sense of the injustice done to Moshe'l and his grief. One of the head doctors claimed to be the first to discover it. The struggle has just begun and Moshe'l learns the difficulties of life, not from stories and not from friends who come to receive his guidance and advice, but from his flesh… His war is, first of all, to the justice that is trampled before his eyes and then to his personal right…

The municipality of Tel–Aviv gave his a prize for his discovery, and “Harefuah” [a medical–scientific periodic] published the results of the research in his name and the name of his opponent. But Moshe'l didn't hold a grudge at his rival – and out of patience and understanding he also knew how to find the bridge to the man's heart because it was his exalted feature.

The disease started to show its signs, but all the urging of friends were in vain. He didn't know how to take care of himself, to care for his own health. He who cared so much about others his friends and patients in “Hadassah,” treated himself and his health with great cruelty. Any request from a friend, that he should change his way of life, was dismissed by a hand movement, by a melody, a joke or a saying – sarcastically or bitterly – that he has nothing to lose…

We invited him to a Purim party, his last holiday. He promised to come on Passover, for the “Seder,” as he used to do a number of times, but he was unable to fulfill his promise: the disease prevailed and confined him to his hospital bed…

Did he know his condition? In one of the visits I told him that if he cannot come for Passover, he would have to spend the holiday of Shavuot with us. But his only response was an abolition movement of the hand: “Who know where I would be on Shavuot”…

He pure soul left on 1 Iyar.

May his soul be bound in the eternal life of the nation!


R' Yisroel son of R' Menashe Latukha

by Menashe Ben–Yisroel

Translated by Sara Mages

Thirty years ago I said goodbye to my father. Then, I hadn't imagined to myself that we were separating forever. His image is hovering in my imagination the way I saw him on that gray winter morning when I separated from him before my immigration to Israel. He stood still and pale, and the speech was taken from him from excitement. I understood his feelings. It was difficult for him to separate from his only son. His lips moved slowly: “Go in peace and take care of yourself.”

He was an honest Jew with a gentle soul, a specialist in his profession, treated every person, big and small, with friendship and warmth. His talks were accompanied by humor. He read a book every free moment from his work and had a special liking to the Bible, especially – to Isaiah. He always found the current meaning of what was told in the Bible.

In his last letters he expressed his desire to the Torah.

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R' Yisroel son of R' Menashe Latukha

 

And indeed, what he wasn't able to obtain as a young man because of the harsh conditions and the need to take care of his family, he got later on his own. He was God–fearing but not fanatical. Once, when my mother threatened that she wouldn't give me breakfast because of a delay in the morning prayer – he stood beside me and said with a smile: “You cannot explain to the child the obligation of prayer with threats, he should know that there's no existence without the Creator the world and we have to thank him in good faith”… His spoken words, which were said calmly, entered my heart.

He was a national Jew and was devoted to Zionism. He always asked: “Would I be able to see the sun of Eretz–Yisrael and its radiance?

However, fate didn't want him to see the country that he dreamed of. On 9 Av 5692, he passed away in Warsaw after an illness.


R' Yisroel son of R' Menashe Latukha

by Mordkhai Rubenstein (Migdalovitsh)

He was known in our town by the name, “R' Yisroel Hanyes,” after the name of his wife, Hanye may she lives, who lives among us in Israel. R' Yisroel took very little interest in the business of his hostel and the hostess was his wife. He walked as if he was daydreaming, as if he was shaking off the hustle and bustle inside his house. He was surrounded by a storm of noise, masses of farmers from the vicinity, the yard was full of wagons and horses. He lived his life in this atmosphere and not a speck of dust stuck to him. He walked in world of the Almighty with great sensitivity and influenced others with his pure spirit and the look in his eyes that caressed the surroundings.

When the Sabbath and the holidays arrive, when tranquility descended on his house, he walked slowly to the synagogue, curling his blond mustache and greeting every passerby.

I sat next to him in the synagogue. He used to explain to me – according to his interpretation – chapters of poetry with good taste and awe to the beauty of the prayers, and the words were pleasant and convincing.

R' Yisroel was also versed in the ways of the world and knew how to shed light on what was happening in the various socialist movements.

He sent his only son, Menashe, to Eretz–Yisrael when he was still a young boy with the hope to join him shortly. However, he wasn't able to fulfill his desire and was abruptly plucked from the land of life at his prime.

His blessed memory is kept in the hearts of his many admirers and friends.


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The humble of the earth

by Meir Booktsin

Translated by Sara Mages

Among our townspeople, who fell before Hitler's evildoers, were Jews, men and women, who lived their entire life as if they were hidden by a shadow and they deserve that we will bring their memory in the memorial book. They weren't great scholars, weren't known for their piety, weren't among the masters of the town and their place wasn't among the “proprietors.” They were far from national or socialist activity and didn't intervene in public affairs.

They were simple Jews, “ordinary” Jews: shoemakers, tailors, carpenters, etc. who sat all days of the weeks in their homes – next to their working table, or traveled in the neighboring villages and dressed and put shoes on the farmers. They abandoned their work only on Friday afternoon and returned to their homes to bless the Sabbath. By the way, it should be noted that some were engaged in acts of kindness, supported their fellow men and encouraged their health and their livelihood.

 

Leivick Horowitz David Tziklig

Leivick Horowitz the shoemaker and David Tziklig the tailor – or Leivick Zeliches and Dutschke – as the two were known by their nicknames. Both were small craftsmen who suffered a lot of during the First World War. For four long years they were poor unfortunate Jewish soldiers in the Russian Army which degraded the Jews. Every day they faced the dangers of war and humiliation that were their lot. They spent four years in the battlefields under a barrage of shells and exploding mines. In many occasions the Angel of Death stood before them and not once they were wounded and bled. The two – Leivick and Dutschke – vowed that if God would help them and they will return home safely, they will devote their time to help and encourage the poor and the sick with money and food, and provide them with medicines as directed by the doctor. They fulfilled this vow truly and faithfully as stated: “With all your heart and with all your soul.”

Every Sabbath eve and holiday eve, in the summer and in the winter, in the scorching heat, heavy rain or in the frost, you were able to see the two of them, the lanky tall tailor Dutschke and the small shoemaker Leivick, walking from house to house to collect the weekly contributions for the sick and the poor. Our damp town didn't have a shortage of poor patients who needed medical help, nutritious food and even clothing. Indeed, the address for help was with these two. From time to time their friend, Yodel Schuster, participated in this mitzvah work of “Bikur Cholim” and “Linat Tzedek” (the last miraculously survived together with the members of his family and lives in Tel–Aviv).

In every wedding, in every Brit Milah or just a celebration, the three were seen walking among the guests and collecting their donation for “Bikur Cholim.” On Purim, these good Jews had the “right of possession” to hold a “Purim play” with the participation of the children that they trained two months earlier for the presentation of the traditional images of “David and Goliath” or “the sale of Yosef.” They took them to the homes of the rich Jews and collected substantial funds for their goals. Every homeowner and every housewife saw it as their honor to welcome the “Purim players” with a nice coin and Purim sweets.

[Page 212]

Sometimes there were also exceptional cases, when there was a need for large sums than usual and “Bikur Cholim” wasn't able to bear the expenses. Then, these two went after the town's intelligentsia and urged them to stage a play for the benefit of the fund. These responded generously – under the condition that the craftsmen will help with the arrangement of the stage and collect the required clothing from the townspeople. Leivick, Dutschke[1] and Yodel, abandoned their jobs for a few days and did everything they could. Indeed, the revenue from the presentation of the play saved the life of the dying. Many patients, who recovered and live today with their families in various countries, now mention, with tears of thanks in their eyes and a heartfelt sigh, these beloved activists.

 

Miriam Gelman

Another gentle and compassionate soul, who was hardly known in town because her good deeds were done in secret and obscurity, was – Miriam Gelman – the “elderly pharmacist” as she was called by the townspeople. Mrs. Gelman, being an intelligent woman, a city–dweller with a high Russian education, segregated herself, for unknown reasons, from the Jewish population in Lenin. She didn't take part in matters related to the local Jewish population and didn't even make friends with the town's richest women. She had a secret warehouse of clothes and shoes for men, women and children, and distributed them in the strictest confidence by her special messengers among the needy. Every Thursday she baked, quietly and secretly, challot for the Sabbath, cookies, pots full of fish and roast beef, and other delicacies, and sent them on Friday with her secret messengers to the needy in town. Indeed, she was considered to be the greatest righteous in town. She gave free medicines to “Bikur Cholim” under one condition – that her secret wouldn't be revealed. In this manner the rich woman – Maria Gelman, the “elderly pharmacist,” continued to live. Thus, she was – one of the “Lamed Vav.”

 

Chana–Feigel Mednik

In this brilliant group of gentle souls, which were hidden by a shadow in our town, we can also include the elderly woman, Chana–Feigel Mednik – or “Kushiche” after the name of her husband Kushe (or Yekutiel the builder). She was a mother to six sons and two daughters. Most of them were married and parents to children but, unfortunately, she didn't derive pleasure from them. Most of them left the world while she was still alive, some were lost from the world as soldiers in the First World War, some died as victims of malignant diseases, and she herself remained childless at her old age. However, she didn't let fate break her with its heavy calamities and didn't throw herself on the arms of despair. With all the warmth of her heart she devoted herself to acts of kindness and charity, helping the sick and the needy, and encouraging the widows and orphans with her warm and smiles. She was busy, days on end, from morning to late hour of the evening, collecting alms, food and clothing for the poor and the sick. She never asked anyone to help

[Page 213]

her in her good deeds because she has done everything by herself, with her own strength. She ran everywhere and collected alms for the poor: in the cold, snow and heavy rain. She waded in the swamps to visit the sick, encourage them with her warm smile and good words, or helped a woman who just gave birth with good food, washing, the replacing of bedding, took care of the young children, dressed them and sent them to school. She never said a bad word and with her smile and pleasant manners was a mother to poor children and the unfortunates.


Footnote

  1. We received information that Dutschke also survived and lives in Russia (the editorial board). Return


[Page 217]

Reb Avrom-Yitskhok Slutzky

by Mordkhai Rubenstein (Migdalovitsh)

Translated by Sara Mages

 

len217.jpg
R' Avraham Yitzchak and his wife Chava Slutzky

 

R' Avraham Yitzchak Slutzky, one of the greatest and most prominent figures among the former residents of our town, immigrated to the United States decades ago at a young age. He's a gifted man with a beautiful spirit and beautiful soul. He was one of the first founders of Lenin's “Landsmanshaft” in America. The main functions of the organizations were: to submit material and spiritual aid

[Page 218]

to the needy of our town and to the “green” immigrant who arrived to America, by obtaining him a job and a warm corner until he settled.

His hearty attitude to his birthplace in faraway Polesia didn't dim his longing and his love to the Land of Israel, and his soul was full of concerns and anxiety to the country during the War of Independence. It's difficult to describe his joy when the country of Israel was established (unfortunately he wasn't able to visit Israel for family reasons, and I hope that one day we'll be able to see him here among us).

Needless to say, how much energy and initiative he devoted to the realization of the idea to publishing a “Yizkor” book for the souls of our loved ones, who were destroyed and slaughtered like sheep by the Nazi beast. He showed great enthusiasm to the plan when it was just an abstract concept, before the material was in our hands and without the pictures of our loved ones, whose form has been preserved in our hearts and our thoughts. He was the first to provide lists of personalities and figures from our town. Skillfully, and with all the warmth and love in his heart, he included in this book every soul that he had remembered. He was the first to provide us with a collection of photos, with public and social value, that were preserved by relatives and former residents of the town. He made every effort to collect the money needed for the purchase of the printing paper and the fabric for the binding, and also obtained the permit to ship them to Israel. There was no shortage of opponents to this project also there, but thanks to his hard work and the aid of his many loyal friends, like the scholar Kalman son of R' David Temkin HaCohen and others, he fought them and won.

His beloved wife, Chava, who accompanies him in his way of life, has done her best to help the needy residents of Lenin, and to the love of her birthplace. She especially devoted herself to help the Holocaust survivors in Europe. Her house is wide open for parties and receptions for the benefit of the community, and she also helps her husband with his blessed work.

The affection and appreciation of the former residents of Lenin will accompany them in their devoted work, and we wish them that they will be able to continue it for many more years.

[Page 219]

len219a.jpg
The town's elders and the committee activists in Israel
With the participation of the guest Y. Skalier z”l from the United States, on the memorial day for Lenin's martyrs, 5713 - 1952/3

 

len219b.jpg
The Book Committee
Sitting (from the right): Menashe Yulevitz, Chaim Shalev (Nakrycz), Sara Fugelman (Kopenitsky), Ben-Zion Furman,
Standing (from the right): Mordechai Zaytchik, Yitchak Slutzky, Mordechai Rubenstein (Migdalovitsh)

 

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