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Volozhin

Edited by Judy Montel

Read at the Volozhin Memorial inauguration, at Kiryat Shaul Cemetery in Tel-Aviv, 1980 8th May, 22nd Iyar.

The ceremony was attended by many families of Volozhin descendants. The Volozhin Kehila and its Yeshiva were memorialized by Harav Goren-Israel's chief Rabbi, by Harav Zvi Neriya, Harav Dr. Grazh, by the Bar Ilan university rector and by others.



For hundreds of years we lived in Volozhin

Since the day when my Father's Great-Great Grandfather
established his home on the Graf's estate, we nurtured the Shtetl,
We loved its soil, the shallow stream, the green valleys, its bushy forests,
We enjoyed the scenery of the surrounding hills:
Snow white in winter, multicolored in summer.

We suffered countless calamities there: war, disease, plagues, water and flames
After each fire we reconstructed it, our town and its temple.
The hills landscape, its pure “educational” air enchanted us, Volozhin children
And the outlying northern shtetl turned into our home
for a dozen generations and more.

Two hundred years ago, the Rabbi's son asked to leave,
to study Torah in a remote city, abroad.
His father stopped him – a temple was built.
Placing the corner stone – Reb Hayim said:
“Like this stone, you will be held here, Itsele, my son,
Tied to my home, my town, my people and to our holy Torah.”
The son did not leave and the Yeshiva was established!

Generations of Persistence and Diligence, Skill and Obstinacy,
Thinking and Initiating, Energy and Limitless Labor
did our ancestors invest in their monumental Project

And our poor shtetl turned to be the Jews' Academy of the century,
It was the “Sura” and “Pompadita” for Russia and Poland, Ukraina and Lita.
The Volozhin Yeshiva became a lighthouse of Torah and wisdom,
which spread light into the Jewish world,
from the days of Napoleon until the World Wars.

In Volozhin between the World Wars my childhood passed.
Everything related to this period I view through rose-colored glasses:

In my eyes the shtetl flourished:
Industry, labor, commerce,
Zionist youth organizations, Hashomer Hatsayir, Mizrachi and Betar,
Hachshara centers to prepare for ”Aliya”
Dozens of young people went to Erets Yisra'el,
Hundreds were ready to go.

General Education: The Hebrew Tarbut School,
A “small” Yeshiva (for children),
School of commerce and a Gymnasia-High School,
Yiddish kindergarten, chord orchestra and choir.
Winter entertainments: Ice skating on the shtetl's frozen pond,
Skiing and sleighing on the snow covered hills.
Summer: promenade, excursions, bicycling and camping,
Bathing in the pure shallow stream.
a normal life – a happy childhood.

Meanwhile across the border the plot of evil intent materialized.
In June nineteen hundred forty one our town was invaded by the German hordes.
From this moment the Jews, their property, blood and body – became outlawed!
Stained by the yellow path, thrown in Ghetto, famished, beaten and humiliated-
Young and old, men and women, a whole town – sentenced to death!

The German authorities established the town Judenrat.
Yani Garber was chosen to be its head.
October 28th 1941, the S.S. ordered him to assemble three hundred people
in the cinema hall to do some work.

Only when enclosed did Yani discover the satanic plan, he understood the terrible truth:
Not to work were his town's citizens assembled. They were brought for extermination!
In exchange for diligent services he was offered his life.
But his noble soul refused the murderers' payoff,
He did not stain his people and town dignity.
Lowering his head, Yani went to his death,
And Yani Garber's blood mixed with the blood of his kehila members.
God Almighty, Bless their souls!

Close to Mount Bialik passed the dolorous path,
The poet never thought that the “BET HAMIDRASH” village, the town of
“To the Bird” and “HAMATMID,” would become “The Slaughter City”.

On a wonderful blue sky day,
Between our Festival of Freedom and Festival of Torah Giving,
The terrible, enormous slaughter took place.

“When God called for spring and slaughter together,
The sun was shining; the acacias were in bloom,
And the butcher murdered”.

Expelled from the ghetto kennels, jammed, bleeding in the blacksmith's workshop,
Beaten, injured, murdered and burned, the Jews of Volozhin went up in flames!

The Killers were bestially satisfied, the local gentiles happy and drunk,
When our parents, sisters, brothers and children burned in fire!
And the town became Juden-rein.
The yeshiva, the glorious Volozhin Institute turned into an eatery, a “KULINARIA”.
They destroyed the ancient cemetery, demolished the gravestones.
Goyim are living in our homes – they murdered and they inherited.
Not a sign, not a word upon the mass graves.
UNZER SHTETL, our beloved town no longer exists!

In black letters is Volozhin engraved on this memorial stone.
Burning words will engrave its name in our heart
And in the hearts of our descendants, forever!
We shall remember its institutions and scenery:
The Yeshiva and School, our homes and Reb Hayim's house,
the stream and pond, the hills and forest, the fields and gardens.
And like stains that never could be erased,
will be memorized: the sport stadium, the blacksmith's shop,
Bulava's courtyard and the aroptsu ghetto!

I shall remember until my last day
my classmates, Volozhin Tarbut school graduates
All of them murdered at the age of seventeen:
Berl Tsart, my best comrade, killed at seventeen,
Eyzer Finger, an excellent sportsman at the age of eighteen,
Frumke Alperovich the graceful, murdered at seventeen,
Benzike the hearts breaker, the talented Voolke Brudno,
Feygl Kleyn, Sonia Perski both young and beautiful
and many others, may they forgive me for not mentioning their names,
all of them murdered at the eve of their life, slaughtered at seventeen.
Almighty, avenge the pure innocents' river of blood!

I ask your permit to recall in some words my family members:
Rabbi Hirsh and Haya-Riva Malkin-my grand parents,
murdered and burnt in Volozhin.
My father, Yosef, great-great grandson of Reb Itsele,
perished in the Soviet gulag,
My cousins that fell on the battlefield:
Mula Malkin on the way from Krasno to his Partisan unit,
Monia Garber fighting the Germans at Monte Cassino,
Eytan Malkin atYom Kippur war, in the Sinai desert.

Now, a sprinkle of Volozhin remnants,
We are integrated on the soil of our land,
Interwoven in all its life layers:
In industry, construction and farming,
in academy, yeshivot and in the army.

We are an obstinate people.
And as we survived Hitler,
we'll overcome his followers.
as we succeeded in remaining in the far poorer Volozhin,
for a dozen generations, to build and to glorify it
So will we build our old-new Homeland,
nurture it and make it flourish,
for generations, dozens upon dozens.

So help us God!

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