The booklet was prepared by Grade 8A and Grade 8B
Under the guidance of teacher Tamar Amarant
Illustrated by Ganor Atzmon and Levy Zvi
We continue with the holy work of memorializing the Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust.
This time, teacher Tamar Amarant and her students in the History of the Holocaust class chose to memorialize the Latvian community Dvinsk.
Dvinsk, which today is part of the Soviet Latvian Republic, was first settled by Jews in the first half of the 18th century. From a small Jewish settlement of a few hundred souls, the community grew until in 1913 it had reached 56,000 souls. The First World War brought about a reduction in the number of Jews in Dvinsk; by the end of the war they numbered about 13,000. In spite of that, the community flourished economically and was an important cultural center for the Jews of Russia.
The Nazis, who occupied Dvinsk on 28 June 1941, found the Latvian population to be faithful partners in their programs of destruction.
Within a short time almost the entire Jewish population of Dvinsk had been destroyed and another Jewish community had vanished.
You boys and girls, who were born in Israel and did not know the hand of the bitter enemy, recognize what a privilege you were granted, to be born in an independent country, to grow strong there and to protect the Jewish state, to ensure that never again would such a devil arise in the world to destroy the Jewish people.
Many thanks to the teacher Tamar Amarant and her pupils for their devoted work, which was carried out after school hours.
|Esther Weiss||B. Yaffe*|
|Supervisor, Junior High School||Principal, High School|
|Kol Yisrael Haverim|
The Committee for the Memorialization of Communities
To Mrs. Tamar Amarant and her pupils at the Kol Yisrael Haverim School
I feel I have a pleasant obligation to bring to you my thanks for your outstanding efforts in this project, which memorializes the community of Dvinsk.
The memory of the community of Dvinsk is very close to my heart, because I lived in that city for two years when I served as the emissary of the Education Department of the National Committee. This was forty years ago, and they were among the best years of my life. I found there a medium-sized community, but the Jewish cultural life there was a flourishing one. At that time, the Latvian government granted the Jews broad cultural autonomy. Schools operating in the Hebrew and Yiddish languages served the Jewish youth, and they were paid for by the government. There were pioneering and Zionist youth movements from all the various streams and political parties. There were synagogues and houses of study. The cultural life of the Jews of Dvinsk was especially vigorous. Many other emissaries from Israel visited there in Dvinsk during those two years. The visits of Bialik and of Natan Bistritsky to the city left an indelible impression on the Jewish youth.
There was almost not a single young person who did not belong to some sort of movement. Hundreds of the pioneers who came to Eretz Yisrael were students in the schools of the city. Many of them still live on the kibbutzim Giladi, Kinneret, Afikim and others, even today.
The booklet you have published, and your memorialization project, have awakened wonderful memories but also great sorrow that this splendid community was destroyed.
Congratulations on your excellent work!
The school Kol Yisrael Haverim in the city of Haifa in the state of Israel affirms that on the 14th of Elul, 5734 (1974) it took upon itself the sacred mission of memorializing the community of Dvinsk (in Latvia) which was destroyed during the Holocaust at the hands of Nazi soldiers and their followers.
These schoolchildren, together with the educational authorities and community
organizations in Israel and the Diaspora, and with the assistance of the
National Committee for the Memorialization of Communities near Yad Vashem in
Jerusalem, will work to the utmost of their ability, and will continue their
activity which they began in order to bring to the world's awareness the
aforementioned community, as it was during its peak and up until the Holocaust,
and including its suffering, struggle and destruction during the period of
This scroll was received at Yad Vashem to be preserved forever.
With awe and reverence, we continue the holy work of memorializing communities, a project which began in 1964.
This time, we have memorialized the community of Dvinsk, a vital and productive Latvian community before the Second World War which was plundered, anguished and extinguished after the war, whose fate it was to lose its sons. From the few remaining survivors, you attempted to glean information. The communities of Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia fell during the final plot of the Nazis to solve the problem of the Jews by completely destroying them.
The strength that drove the Nazis to carry out this unprecedented crime sprang from their ideology, according to which every Jew was an eternal and powerful enemy. German commandos were assisted by units of locals Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians, Poles and Ukrainians, and by the local police forces in the lands they had occupied. Their systemized camouflage and deceit succeeded in deceiving the Jews up until the last moment of their lives.
Thousands of communities of people, institutions, and culture were destroyed. Through our work in memorializing them, we are establishing a connection and contact between you, who did not experience the Holocaust and the content of Jewish life in the European Diaspora before its destruction. Through your work, you are erecting an eternal monument to the lost communities.
This project illustrates for you the fate of the Jews and provides you with the sensation of partnership and mutuality with them.
May you be blessed, and may this booklet serve as a memorial for those who are no longer with us.
Your teacher Tamar Amarant
The Holocaust what a word monstrous. What a horrific phenomenon, a deep wound in the flesh of our people – and how depressing for humanity.
Children of Israel who were born and grew up on Israeli soil, in the state of Israel, are witnesses to the revival and resurrection and are, in their classes at school, trying to understand the meaning of that same Holocaust.
They are trying to decipher the diabolical mystery, to understand that which is inconceivable.
Occasionally one can reconstruct and revisit the past lives of the sacred communities, may their memories be blessed, which the Nazi ax cut down. Afterwards, the Soviets schemed to extract the roots of their memory.
Blessings and thanks to the pupils of the Kol Yisrael Haverim School in Haifa, who have kindled a memorial candle for the community of the town of our birth, the city of our youth, the city where we buried our dear ones in enormous mass graves.
Congratulations to the teacher Tamar Amarant, the living spirit of the sacred work of memorializing the Jewish communities.
Our heartfelt thanks go to the management of the school for their encouragement and assistance.
Dvinsk Natives in Israel
You delve into the memorialization of a community by studying its life, character, and people. You interview people, the survivors of the community, and you learn of a vital and productive community, one that was active, living and breathing.
A community which developed praiseworthy cultural and social institutions, a community that took pride in its animated daily life, until you reach the period of the terrible Holocaust which consigned the community, and its men, women and children to limbo.
And you stand and wonder:
Is such a horrible thing possible?
Is it possible that people were burned alive in furnaces? That women, infants and children were thrown into mass graves and the world remained silent?
That silence is atrocious in the eyes of a young person like me, who is growing up in this world, who is studying the past of his people and cannot reconcile himself to such a thing.
The horror penetrates my bones and demands: investigate and dig into the roots of this period of time, learn the lesson from the past for the future.
May the memories of the victims of the Holocaust be blessed!
Prepared by Kol Yisrael Haverim Junior High School, Haifa
Levana Hillel Grade 8
Published in Memorial Record #11, Yad Vashem, Ponderings
This year we worked on the memorialization of the community of Dvinsk-Dinaburg in Latvia, delving into the subject of the magnificent communities of Europe which once existed and are now gone. Hatred wells up in me toward the Nazi beast, which was able to destroy one third of our people in such a barbaric and cruel manner. How could a people reach such a loathsome state as to shoot people as they would a stray dog?
My brain cannot conceive of it. More and more I feel that we must not forget what happened: Remember what Amalek did unto you! The words reverberate within me and give me no peace. As I study the community I feel pity for those victims of the Holocaust, who were my brothers and sisters in the Diaspora. I feel I am a link in the chain of our people, who were persecuted only because they were Jews. I feel pity for the small children who barely had a chance to live before the Nazi butchers slaughtered them.
It is as if I am living the life of the community I am studying, hearing about, writing about, and coming to understand. I try to put myself in their places, and think, how would I behave? Would I run away from the ghetto? Would I join a group of vengeful fighters? Would I perhaps attempt to hide, in order to conceal my Jewish appearance from the eyes of the Nazi beasts?
I think that in every school in Israel time needs to be set aside for the study
of the Holocaust so that we will learn, know, and never forget what happened.
Knowledge and awareness will prevent a second Holocaust, God forbid, from
taking place. The fact of knowing and identifying with communities connects us
and proves that all children of Israel are brothers, and each is involved with
We were very excited about appearing on Youth Television. Who wouldn't want to be on television? It's what most young people want most.
For two and a half hours they filmed us. We interviewed people from Dvinsk, asked them questions, and got very emotional.
The director, Leah Byrech, told us exactly when the program would be broadcast and we looked forward to watching it. We were on television for fifteen minutes. After the broadcast, I spent some time thinking about the matter. Would the students who saw us at work memorializing the community of Dvinsk follow in our footsteps one day?
But I realized that I myself had learned a lot from the work, which was done in the after-school hours.
For the most part I went to interview people, survivors from the community. I heard directly from them about the past of the community, and I was amazed: how did the Jews in the Diaspora know how to create such fine cultural institutions in their communities? How did the community know to preserve the unity of the Jews? How did they battle against the foreign rulers for each crumb of autonomy, and win?
The community took care of its own, providing food for widows and orphans, obtaining aid and assistance for the needy, and it seemed to me the warmth enveloped me as I listened to the survivors from the community telling me what life was like in the foreign and hostile Diaspora.
I understood the expression: All Jews are responsible for one another.
I identified with the innocent victims of the Holocaust who were destroyed through no fault of their own, only because they were Jews. The martyrization of the Jews, which can be traced through many generations, instilled pride in me; here I am, a Jew living in my own land, and I want to give her my very best.
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