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[Page 463]

Chapter 7

Survivors of Yurburg Perpetuate
the Memory of their Community

 

I vowed to remember it all
To remember - and never to forget!

    Avraham Shlonski

 

The Association of Former Residents of Yurburg
and What it Does to Commemorate the Community

By Shimon Simonov

Translated by Irene Emodi, Tel Aviv

At the initiative of the organizing committee, of which Mordehai Berkover (Ramat Gan), David Levin (Tel Aviv), Zvulun Poran (Jerusalem), Shimon Simonov (Tel Aviv) were members, we convened at the Association of Former Lithuanian's building in Tel Aviv, on Tuesday, 23 Shvat 5725 (January 26, 1965) - about 60 men and women, former residents of Yurburg, situated on both sides of the Naiman river, Yurburg and Shaodina.

It is hard to describe how excited they were, the people from Yurburg, who were unaware of the existence of the others and/or had not seen them for many years. Suddenly they felt how the common past bound them together into one family, and how important it was to them not to extinguish the hidden connection in their hearts.

At that first meeting Lea Most and Yosef Greenberg reported about what was going on among the few survivors from Lithuania, only one woman had returned to Yurburg - Zelda Frank.

A committee was chosen at this meeting, composed as mentioned above, and to this was added Batsheva Ilon (Givat Brenner) and Alisa Porat (Afikim). Shimon Simonov was elected Chairman and committee coordinator. It was decided to hold regular meetings and take action to commemorate the Yurburg community. One of the first actions of commemoration was the planting of the forest in memory of the Yurburg martyrs.

It was agreed upon with the Israel National Fund to plant a memorial forest of 1000 trees, donated by former Yurburg residents. The forest was planted in the Modi'in region, not far from the tombs of the Maccabeans. At the entrance to the forest a statue was erected in memory of the community's martyrs and the following words are inscribed on the marble plaque:

This forest is in memory of
the Martyrs of the Community of Yurburg in Lithuania
it was planted by Former Residents of Yurburg
in Israel and the Diaspora

Israel National Fund

The planting ceremony took place on Wednesday, 28 Iyar 5726 (May 18, 1966) with the participation of over 60 people. Natanel Ben Yosef, of the Israel National Fund, started with Mordehai Gevirtig's song "The town is burning". Shimon Simonov started his speech by pointing out the importance of planting the forest, which would be used as a memorial site for the Yurburg martyrs and be a living tombstone for generations to come. Alisa Porat added emotional words about the destruction of Yurburg. Her words are published in this compilation (see page 473).

Rachel Karabelnik-Niv and Yosef Greenberg had the honor of unveiling the plaque. "Yizkor" was said by Zvulun Poran, "Kadish" by Aharon Samolnik and the "El Maley Rahamim" prayer by N. Ben Yosef. The ceremony ended with the public singing "Ani Ma'amin".

Before the first saplings of the forest were planted Z. Poran read the scroll of planting (see page 472). The following were honored with the symbolic planting of 10 trees: Yosef Greenberg, Yacov Shapira, M. Zarnitzky, Gutshein, Yosef Berkover, Rachel Karabelnik-Niv, Ulya Yasbonski, Zahava Porelevitz, Malca Levin and her husband, guests from South Africa.

On Sunday 28 Adar Beth 5726 (April 9, 1967) a memorial plaque commemorating the Yurburg martyrs was placed in the Holocaust basement on Har Zion (Mt. Zion) in Jerusalem.

The memorial plaque carries the following inscription:

In eternal memory of
the martyrs of the community of
Yurburg and its vicinity- May the Lord avenge their blood-
who were murdered by the German Nazis and their helpers -cursed be they
in the years of the Holocaust
We shall never forget them

Association of Former Residents of Yurburg and its vicinity
in Israel and the Diaspora

After this memorial plaque was installed, former residents of Yurburg, who had arrived on a special bus, paid a visit to the memorial mountain at "Yad Vashem". The ceremony of lighting the torch was held at the "Ohel Yizkor" and the martyrs of the Yurburg community and its vicinity were remembered. It was a very moving and painful moment, and all those who took part will never forget it. Zevulun Poran placed a bunch of flowers on the unknown persons tomb.

The General Zionist Organization in Yurburg - 1934

 

Youth Camp of the Betar Organization in Yurburg
(Zahava Poloritz is in the middle row from the bottom)
Top row, third and fourth from the left: Yacov Chosid (Jack Cossid) and Moshe Krelitz

 

Zevulun Poran reads the scroll of planting in memory of the martyrs of Yurburg.
Natiel Ben-Yoseph said the memorial prayer: Al Molei Rachamim (God of Mercy).

 

Aaron Smolnik recites Kaddish, former residents of Yurburg - Rachel Niv (Karabelnik)
and Joseph Greenberg stand at the Memorial to remember the Community of Yurburg.

Captions Translated by Yacov Sherman of Mexico City

 

The Plaque in the Picture Above Reads:

This Forest is in Memory of the Holy Community of Yurburg Lithuania
Planted by the Emigrants of Yurburg in Israel and the Diaspora
The Jewish National Fund - "Keren Kaymet LeYisrael"

[Page 464]

On Sunday, 21 Tishrey 5732 (September 7, 1971) a special meeting was held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Hebrew Gymnasium named after Dr. Benjamin Zeev Herzel in Yurburg. Memories of the days of study at the Gymnasium were brought up - Rivka Weinberg-Ravitzky (her words are published in the book on page 313). Emanuel Koplov recounted interesting episodes of life at the Gymnasium which caused laughter as well as tears . . .

Since the start of the activity of the Former Residents of Yurburg Association in Israel until 1988, sixteen meetings were held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Givat Brenner and the forest in the Modi'in region. The majority of the meetings were held at the building of the Former Lithuanians Association in Tel Aviv, on 70 Ibn Gvirol street. The meetings were always well attended and very interesting and there were many requests to hold the meetings.

Indeed, the association's committee made countless efforts to satisfy the members' requests to hold the meetings so that the connection among the members would not be cut off. Indeed, almost every year meetings were held to bring up common memories and say "Yizkor" together in memory of the dear ones who had been killed by beastly murderers.

Recently the committee has been trying to approach the second generation of former residents of Yurburg, hoping that when the time comes they will continue the tradition of the meetings and consider it their sacred duty to continue the tradition of their parents.

Today another important item joins the memorial plaque in the Holocaust basement in Jerusalem and the memorial forest at the Modi'in region, namely the Book of Remembrance commemorating the Yurburg community.

We hope the memorial book will serve as an important historical document to commemorate our lost community. We hope that the book of remembrance will be found in every family of former residents of Yurburg and its vicinity, to be perused by our sons and the sons of our sons so that they will become acquainted with the heritage of their fathers and pass it on to coming generations.

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