[photo:] Yaakov Sidorov
Yaakov Sidorov was born in approximately 1880 in Drohitchin. His father, R. Yitzchak was known as the Old Cantor or the Grodno Cantor, and was a cantor and ritual slaughterer in Drohitchin. His mother was known as Chaya Gittel the Cantor's wife. Yaakov Sidorov, or Yankel the Cantor's as he was known, was a famous teacher and devoted person. From early childhood he excelled in his learning abilities. Most of his knowledge was acquired by self-study. From his youth he began to give lectures, and the money he earned was given to his parents to help them with their household expenses because there was little money at home. At the same time he studied on his own, and learned Hebrew and Russian.
Sidorov later opened a school for girls, a Hebrew class for girls, which he ran successfully until 1915.
He spent the War years in the village of Motele (near Drohitchin), his wife's hometown. In Motele, Sidorov was involved in community affairs and served as mayor. After World War I Yaakov Sidorov and his family returned to Drohitchin, where he died in 1919 from typhus. His wife, Esther, and two daughters returned to Motele, and apparently were killed there. May G-d avenge their blood!
Yaakov Sidorov was always an active Zionist, and headed the movement in Drohitchin. Everyone in Drohitchin who knew him liked and respected him.
[Photo:] Yaakov Sidorov and his class before World War I
[photo:] Zvi Schwartz
Zvi Schwartz was born in Drohitchin in 1885. His father, R. Yossel Schwartz, was involved in business. Zvi studied in kheder and the House of Study in town, and later in yeshivas in Pohost, Maltsh, Pinsk, Minsk, and others, where he excelled because of his good skills and dedication in his studies. Later on he studied secular subjects, including languages and Jewish and non-Jewish classics. He especially concentrated on the philosophies of economic and social sciences.
At 18 years of age Zvi became active in community affairs. He established a library in Drohitchin, offered Yiddish and Hebrew courses, and had planned to build a modern school. For this purpose he traveled to Pinsk, Minsk, Brisk and Byalistock, where he collected material and studied methods to realize his dream, which he was finally able to carry out. A couple of years before World War I, Schwartz opened a modern model Yavneh School, which was a success. However, its existence was cut short because of denunciations to the authorities about it.
At that time, Zvi met his future wife, Leah Fanaberia of Brisk, a fiery socialist, who had been in hiding from the Czarist police in Kovel. Zvi taught her Hebrew, and under his influence she traveled to Palestine to the Herzliya gymnasia high school in Tel Aviv. She later became a Hebrew teacher at the settlement, Yavniel.
Before the outbreak of World War I in 1914 Schwartz went with Leah for a visit to Palestine. They then went to Russia with the intention of returning to Palestine to get married. The War, however, interfered with their plans and separated them. Zvi remained in the German-occupied area, and Leah went off to Vitebsk, and then to Odessa, where she studied to be a dentist at Novorossisky [New Russian] University. At the time of the Russian Revolution, Leah was in Moscow, where she worked as a teacher at the Tarbut School. She also worked at the Pedagogical Institute headed by the famous Professor Stanislav Teofilovich Shatsky.
In 1921 Zvi and Leah were reunited in Warsaw and got married and settled there. They remained there until 1936. During this period Zvi visited Palestine twice (in 1928 and 1934). He had previously been there in 1914. In Warsaw Zvi initiated the Palestine Produce Movement, which sought to strengthen and develop industry, agriculture and business in Palestine. Zvi believed this would help attract millions of Jews to Palestine. He wrote articles in the Hebrew journal, Business and Industry, and dedicated a special page to encouraging Jews to buy and use products made in Palestine.
In 1926, Schwartz started the Carmel society, the goal of which was to create consumers of Palestine wine. In May, 1926, Schwartz and his colleagues, Dr. Klumel, Levi Yitzchak Kahanov of Warsaw and Yaakov Shapiro of the Vinyard Association in Palestine signed a contract that authorized them all to be representatives of the wine producers in the settlements of Rishon Lezion and Zichron Yaakov in Palestine. In 1927, Zvi and Dr. Y. Bagalyovsky published a book called Wine as a Healer.
In 1930, Schwartz put out a large anthology called This is the Way, in which he explained the importance of products from Palestine. Others who contributed articles were Ze'ev Jabotinsky, A. Khanin, A. Idelson, Dr. B. Feigin, H. Tcherniovsky, Dr. Yakovsohn, E. Zuckerman, M. Meirovitch, Engineer, S. Yaffe, Dr. S. Stavsky, B. Pinsker, Dr. S, Levenbaum, Rabbi M. Nissenbaum, S. Petroshka, S. Steinberg and others.
In 1937 Zvi and Leah arrived in Argentina to visit a brother, and decided to remain there. The Schwartzes quickly became popular in Argentina, and their house served as a meeting place for writers, leaders and culture activists. Zvi spoke well, and
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