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[Page 365]

Zerach Zaretski

Translated by Dr. Samuel Chani and Jenni Buch

Zerach Zaretski

 

Born in 1891 in Peitrikov, Minsk Gubernia. He was a member of the group “HaTechiya” (The Revival). In 1909 he went to Israel and worked in the orchards of Kfar Saba as a sentry. He participated in the founding of the Gymnasia Herzlia High School in Tel –Aviv. A year later he became very ill with malaria. He returned to Russia and became a Hebrew teacher in Yekaterinoslav. In 1921 he came to Brest and was an active participant in working for the Zionist cause. He was a member of the kehilla council, the board of the Hebrew schools, the Polessie branch of Tarbut, and the board of the Orphanage. During the split of the General Zionists he decided to join “Time to Build' during the elections to the Polish Sjem and to head this second group. This involvement meant that he was in personal danger because of the antagonism of the Polish ruling powers to the minority groups. At the outbreak of W.W.11, he was in Vilna and was active in the activities of the Joint and the kehilla committee. Terns of thousands of Jews, who were saved from the hands of the Nazis, mention his name with great reverence. Through his initiative, the Joint formed a manual workers union to employ the homeless (bankers, merchants, carpenters, etc.) In many other unconventional ways, he assisted them to flee.

Once again, in 1941, he reached Israel. There he was active in the enlistment drive for the army. In his last years he suffered from a severe illness and died in Tel-Aviv in 1947.


[Page 365]

Zev - Dov Begin

Translated by Dr. Samuel Chani and Jenni Buch

Zev - Dov Begin

 

ZEV-DOV was born in Brest, the son of David Eliezer Begin. In his youth he studied in yeshivas and distinguished himself with his sharp intellect. Although fully immersed in Torah studies, but even as a yeshiva student, he secretly studied medicine - but due to the circumstances of those days, he was unable to complete these studies. He was an expert in languages and one of the first public speakers of Hebrew in Brest. An expert in Jewish studies, he was also a skilled community official. He was an orator without equal, and in him was embodied fearlessness, and willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of all.

Already in his youth he entirely devoted himself to community affairs. Through his initiative, the first barracks were built to provide temporary housing for victims of the Grest Fire in Brest. He also worked for the newspapers “Heint' and “Moment” that were published in Warsaw. In 1905, when the Jews of Brest were fearful of the pogroms, Zev –Dov was one of the organizers of the Jewish self-defense. He was forced to hide from the Tsarists police who discovered a cache of arms belonging to the self-defence force. Amongst them were several revolvers belonging to he and his friend Sheinerman. Begin was the living embodiment of the Zionist youth in all it's shades and untiringly preached and was drawn to its ideals.

In 1939 when the Germans entered Brest, Begin, as usual, stood guard and saved the lives of about 300 Polish and Jewish residents of the city from the Nazi murderers…

On the bitter day in July 1941 he was drowned in the river together with 5,000 other Jews, heroic until the end. They say that when the Germans came to take him to his death, he showed exceptional strength, but his weak physical state could not hold out against them, as the Nazis took him on a truck to the river. In his last moments he shouted to his murderers “the day of vengeance will come to you”.

His son Menachem Begin was the commander of the Irgun Tzava Leumi, and is leader of the Likud party and a member of the Knesset.


[Page 367]

Yakov Feinstein

Translated by Dr. Samuel Chani and Jenni Buch

Yakov Feinstein

 

Born in 1861 in Brest, he was one of the original Chovevei Zion. He was active in Zionist causes in Brest and participated in several Zionist conferences. He was one of the initiators of “Menucha and Nachala” which was founded in Warsaw for the establishment of settlements in Israel. In 1895 he sent his oldest son Eliezer to the agricultural school at Mikvei Israel, and also bought land in Rechovot. In 1899 and 1903 he visited Israel. After that, he came with his entire family and settled in Rechovot. The ancient well of the colony was on his land. During the excavations there were doubts about finding water. The future of the colony and its economy depended on it. The laborers did not want to dig in the dark because of fear of being suffocated underground. The old man Yonah Tzvi, the father of Yakov Feinstein, volunteered to go down deep into the well “I'm old and the sacred responsibilty lies on me”. The old man said his goodbyes with great emotion and tears in his eyes and went down the well. Yonah Tzvi worked hard and sent up several buckets of soil until water appeared. He was pulled up intact and hearty. He was greeted with great joy and pleasure with his well that spouted water and watered the orchards of his son and neighbours.

Yakov Feinstein took on much community work. Through his initiative the winery in Rechovot was formed. He was a member of its committee and the first in Rechovot to plant an orchard in Rechovot. He was a member of the winegrowers association and the colony's council; also he was the Gabbey of the synagogue there. He was the brother of the writer Nechama Pochachevski.p


[Page 367]

Shmuel Pomerantz

Translated by Dr. Samuel Chani and Jenni Buch

Shmuel Pomerantz

 

He was born in Pruzhany, and settled in Brest in 1906. He was expelled with all his family by the Russians at the start of W.W.1 – they were amongst the first to return in 1918. He dedicated himself completely to the activities of the Joint and the Jewish self-defence that was organized by the Jews against the pogromchiks. He devoted himself to working for several institutions that were formed for the community's welfare.

The name Shmuel Pomerantz was linked with the vital institution of which he was chairman since it's establishment. This was the orphanage to which he devoted all his time and energy until his last day. With the advent of “Centrum” in Poland, Shmuel Pomerantz was elected chairman of the Brest branch. Later he was the representative for the whole of the Polessie district to its headquarters in Warsaw.

He was head of the community council and gabbei of the Great Synagogue in Brest. Together with the deputy mayor of the city council, Dr. Wilner and Avraham Levinson, he was a member of the city council administration. They struggled against the neglect of the Poles towards the needs of the city's Jews.

He was active in the Merchants' Guild and a board member of the People's Bank, which lent money to all levels of society. With his good nature and charm as well as practical good sense, he managed to solve disputes, and very much liked by the resident citizens of Brest. He made a short visit to Brest in 1937. During W.W.11 he was sent to Kovel and perished there together with the other martyrs of that city.

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