By Mordekhai Kentsianski (Max Khenchynski)
Photographs contributed by Ilana Milikovski Hochbaum
and Galina Rein (daughter of Abram Rein and Basya Rudnitski)
Translation from Yiddish by Dr. Sonia Kovitz
Donated by Irene Mauber Skibinski
Lintup was a small shtetele in Svintsyan district, where more than 70 Jewish families lived. The shtetl was surrounded on all sides by a large thick pine forest. Most of the bathhouses in the shtetl belonged to the well-known Count Bishevski. He also owned several estates in the region, as well as sawmills, alcohol works, and turpentine factories. He was a liberal person, a serious philanthropist, and a community leader. Just before the outbreak of the World War II, he was 80 years old.
The landowner Bishevski was on good terms with the Jews, and the managers of all his businesses were Jewish. He was therefore sharply criticized by the Polish anti-Semites, but he had few dealings with them. In the Lintup area, all his businesses were managed by Uri Shapiro, a peace-loving man, a generous host, and an outstanding community leader. All Bishevski's Vilna businesses were also managed by a Jew, who hid the landowner during the period of Soviet rule. The Soviets wanted Bishevski in order to send him off to Siberia or even kill him.
The Jewish kehile [community] was not big in size, but it had all the important institutions. In Lintup there was a beautiful beis medresh [synagogue], gemilus khesed [interest-free loan] society, hakhnasas orkhim [hospitality] society, library, and tarbut [secular Zionist school where Hebrew rather than Yiddish was spoken].
|Lintup Drama Club
The Orphan Chasya. Yudel Pamevitsh, Khayah Beynis,
Tsile Tsiblin-Kharmats, Beyle Yavitsh, Berta Strachansky,
Lyuba Mauber, Sholom Shapiro zl, Moshe Mauber,
Abram Sandak, Khayah Shteynhart, Asher Shapiro
Almost all the shtetl Jews were favorably inclined toward Zionism and fervently gave money to be invested in keren kimes and keren hisod [Zionist organizations] and in all Jewish national funds generally. The Jewish young people joined [Zionist groups]: hakhaluts [the Pioneer], hakhaluts hatsair [the Young Pioneer], and tseirei tsion [Young Zion]. The best of them studied in the gymnasia [high school], and one of Shapiro's sons even studied in France.
An ebullient social life pulsed in the shtetl. Almost every Jewish family subscribed to a daily paper and most of the young people borrowed books from the library. A major role in religious, social and cultural life was filled by Rabbi Yudkevski, for whom the entire Jewish population felt great respect and derekh erets. He was highly esteemed by the Christians as well, and was a good friend of the town's mayor, Bielovski [translator's note: alternate spelling used elsewhere by the author is Bialoveyski].
We were indebted to the rabbi for the establishment of the gemilus khesed fund, over which I had the privilege of presiding as chair for many years. In addition to me, the rabbi's colleagues in the gemilus khesed were Dovid and Khaim Katskovitsh, Borukh Matskin, and Uri Shapiro.
|Lintup, 1937 or 1938
Front row, left to right: [unknown boy], Khayele Leyzerovitsh,
Etta Leyzerovitsh (classmate of Boris Mauber).
Second row: Khanah Sarafan (sister of Mirke, Feyge
and Fayvel Sarafan in back row), two visitors from America,
Beyle nee Yavitsh and husband Eltsuk with Feyge Matskin
(sister of Bronya) between and behind, her arms around them.
Back row: Mirke Sarafan, Tsipke from Svir; [two unknown women];
Feyge Sarafan, Fayvel Sarafan (the four Sarafans in the photo are siblings).
Names identified by Bronya Matskin Brauman.
|Lintup, 1937 or 1938
Front row, from left to right: Dvoyrke Katskovitsh, Sheyne Mirke Shapiro
(with the dog), Esther Katskovitsh, Feyge Matskin (sister of Bronya).
Back row: Dovid Katskovitsh, Basya Rudnitski, Zalman Katskovitsh,
Sonya Rudnitski, Moshe Gilinski, [unknown woman], Ruven [no last name],
Names identified by Bronya Matskin Brauman.
In 1924 Dovid Katskovitsh and I established the Jewish town library. I served also as a representative on the City Council, was in the Marske League [?], on the Parents' Committee of the tarbut school, and a member of the Fire Brigade.
One of the main community leaders of the shtetl was Abram Asher Gilinski. In his younger years he studied in the Slobodke Yeshiva [in Kovno] and returned home well versed in talmud and poskim [halakhic decisions]. He was not only an outstanding baal tefilah [prayer leader] and baal kriyah [public reader of the Torah], but a baal tsedakah [leader in charitable works] and a generous host. Every itinerant magid [preacher] and meshulakh [emissary raising funds for Jewish causes] knew that with Gilinski he would find a warm bed and something good to eat.
A fine shtetl householder was Reb LeybYakov Sarafan, who made his living as a butcher. He was solidly built with wide shoulders and he overflowed with humor and witty sayings. Everyone liked to visit his butcher shop because he was always making jokes. On shabbos and yontif he would daven at the omed [cantor's lectern]. He especially liked to be given a juicy aliyah [fete aliyah: to be called up to bless the Torah reading on some special occasion].
The Jewish population depended mainly on small business and crafts for a livelihood. A large number of Jews were engaged in the wood and timber trades. Others were employed in factories and the turpentine works. General contentment prevailed, whether due to economic or to cultural and social conditions.
And so the years flowed by until the cursed and terrible days of June 1941.
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