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PREFACE

Since the year 1942, when the veil was torn off the face of the greatest tragedy ever suffered by our people, in which were killed and destroyed hundreds of Jewish cities and towns in Nazi-occupied Europe, among these our town 'Mezirich-Godol", an ancient Jewish community, which was uprooted and raked into a flood of blood and brimstone, the survivors of Mezirich in Israel have taken it upon themselves to meet once a year every year during "Chol Hamoed Succot" - the "Yorzeit" Day, in memory of the liquidation of the Mezirich Ghetto, in order to raise its holy memory and unite with the souls of our dear holy ones who were murdered by their damned oppressors. However, that is not all the survivors want to do. Their eyes have travelled far, to a place where there is a warm and vibrant Jewish community with a glorious past and where there is now empty space, desolate and destroyed.

And in our saddened hearts a decision was taken to erect a memorial for the Jewish community that was destroyed, and to leave there a name and a memory, for us, for our sons and daughters after us, for generations to come, in the way of commemoration in books in the Hebrew language, in Yiddish, and recently in English, which will serve as an eternal memory and soul candle for the image of the community in life and in destruction of her residents and communal workers, her sons who watch over the embers of the past, and the vibrant youth who trained themselves for the future, on the synagogues, institutions, youth movements, schools and institutions of learning.

For this purpose, the Council of the Mezirichers in Israel has taken upon itself this historic undertaking to carry out what the majority of the people want. All these years, the Council communicates faithfully with the Mezirichers in the Diaspora, especially with the community in Canada. Former Council members deserve to be recognized for their life's work in laying down the foundation for commemorating Mezirich. The people continuing in their ways are the members of the present Council: Israel Zinman, David Kramer, Dina Kurtz Yanai nee Pressman, Mordechai Matzman, Noah Kaminshein, Mordechai Tennenbaum, Mordechai Averbuch. The Council has chosen a Cultural Committee from the Community and the second generation Mezirichers as follows: Ruth Tennenbaum, Margalit Lempel nee Fershtman, Rachel Shalom nee Arion-Upshtein from Mezirich.

We do not come to benefit ourselves for the great labor we invested in carrying out the wishes of the majority. On the contrary, we dearly appreciate the great privilege that has befallen the elected Council members all through the years, in the past and in the present, to do one last holy deed for the Mezirich community.

During the years, a memorial book was written: 'Mezirich-Godol in Building and Destruction". A memorial stone was erected at the Holon Cemetery. Ashes were brought from the mass grave site and buried in the basement of "Yad Vashem" in Jerusalem. We participated in the construction of"Beit Wohlin" and have a room there, the "Mezirich Room" in Heichal Yahadut Wohlin. We commemorated the partisans and soldiers of Mezirich on a Wall near Heichal Wohlin in Givatayim. The "Remez" School in Holon adopted the Mezirich community, where Council members participate every year on Holocaust Day in a memorial service.

After 50 years, in 1992, when relations with the Ukraine were renewed, the mass grave site in the killing valley of Nevirkov was fenced, and a memorial stone was erected, in which a Scroll with all the names of the victims of Mezirich was concealed. In 1995, the site of the Old Cemetery of Mezirich was fenced. The cemetery was completely destroyed and only a few stones were scattered in the field. A memorial stone was erected there too, a symbol for the tents of the Righteous. Every once in a while, the Council organizes visits to Mezirich. The second and third generation of Mezirichers, come to the grave site and unite with the memory of the 3000 Jews of Mezirich who were the victims of the Holocaust.

It is our wish that our children and future descendants in Israel and in the Diaspora shall know their roots and origins. And thus shall be carried out the vision of the Prophet: "And He shall return the heart of fathers onto their sons, and the heart of sons onto their fathers".

In the name of the Council and the Cultural Committee:

Israel Zinman        December 31, 1999




To remember and not to forget!

Greater Mezirich

The Location of Mezirich.

In the middle of the Wohlin Region was centered the Jewish Town of Mezirich, whose name in the Slavic language means "between the rivers".

The Wohlin Region is stretched out in Western Ukraine, a fertile and flourishing area partially covered by forests, and bordering the Polesia District. It has two rivers - one in the east, called Slutch, and one in the west, called Horin. Between these two rivers was the town of Mezirich which was known by the name Greater Mezirich, thus called, to differentiate it from the Small Mezirich near Ostrogh.

The Town of Mezirich occupied a very honourable place in the history of Hassidism due to the Rabbi Dov Beer "The Great Maggid", who was a student and later succeeded the "Baal Shem Tov", the founder of Hassidism. Mezirich was famous as the Center of Hassidism. Her name was mentioned in many sources, in the history of Kabala and Hassidism, and in Russian and Ukrainian Chronicles from the 16"' century.

In the 18th century, about 2000 Jews lived in Mezirich. After the death of the Great Maggid Rabbi Dov Beer, the Jewish population dwindled. In 1932, there were 3000 Jews registered living, in Mezirich, most of whom perished under the Nazis in the Holocaust, and were buried in a mass grave in a brickyard in the village of Nevirkov 4 km. from the town of Mezirich.





Scenes from the Town

Topographically, the town was divided into two heads, and they are: The old town and the new town, which were connected by the "Paved (Brick) Street” from which branched out streets and alleys in which lived Jewish workmen.

In the middle of the old town stood the Great Synagogue, the Schoolhouse of the Maggid, the Polish School, the Church, the Pharmacy, and all the other stores.

In the Hoif Street were the Palaces of Stetzky, who owned the land of the town, hospital, post office, the oil press and barley workshops, etc. The Town of Mezirich was not big but was divided into 3 areas, distinguishable from one another, but all excelled in their special characteristics. The areas were:

The Tile Street which concentrated in it the mud of the town, the level of which rose especially in the Fall and in the Spring, until it became impossible to cross the street. In this street were concentrated all the laborers, merchants and beggars. From all the open windows could be heard sounds of the sewing machines of the tailors, sounds of the shoemakers' hammers, and the singing voices of the artists.

The Marketplace - was the center of daily life, in which Fairs were held, market days, to which arrived the fruit, vegetables, fowl, etc. Wagons loaded with merchandise, merchants, and salesmen.

The back streets were the spiritual center in which gathered the Rabbis, the Slaughterers, the Torah Schools, the Library, and more.

Most of Mezirich's Jews dealt in commerce. Only a small part made their living in labour and worked for local consumption but also for export, such as, rope-making, winter gloves, crates, etc. In the time of Polish rule, the Jews enjoyed a peaceful and serene life. They were allowed to deal freely in commerce, and a number of Jews held government posts. This situation continued until 1937. Then took a turn for the worse on the part of the Polish Authority towards the Jews. The anti-Semitic wave spread and hurt not only Jews but the independent Polish Authority as well. The Jews were removed from their jobs.




EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

Education started in the "Cheder" (The Room).
In the beginning of the 20th century, in 1908, Rabbi Chaim David Glazer opened the first Hebrew School. Russian was also taught there. Later, a Hebrew School was opened for girls. In 1926, the "Tarbut" School was opened, with 7 classes, and was operated until 1939. In the town, there was naturally also a Polish State Public School, in which also Jewish children studied.
Only a small number of Mezirich children continued their education in high school. The Hebrew language was known by all the young people. In Mezirich there was a Zionist Movement which brought spirit and interest to the town's gray life. It especially showed the youth new horizons full of hope for a new life.

MANY YOUTH MOVEMENTS AROSE IN THE TOWN

In 1918, all Mezirich's youth was organized under one group called: "Bnei Zion"', which opened Hebrew night classes. This group taught love for Zion and for the Jewish people's spiritual values. In 1924, a branch of "Hechalutz" (Pioneer) opened. Later, other movements such as: "Hashomer Hatzair", "Hachalutz Hatzair, "Hashomer Hadati", "Beitar", etc. A number of young people from Mezirich who belonged to these youth movements eventually immigrated to Israel and stayed there.

RABBI DOV-BEER, THE MAGGID OF MEZIRICH

Rabbi Dov-Beer, the Maggid of Mezirich, was known in the realm of Hassidism as the brilliant student and successor of the Baal Shem Tov, and as the founder of Hassidism. and spreader of its doctrine. Rabbi Dov Beer was born in the town of Turtchin in 1704 and stems from our Holy Rabbi, the writer of the Mishna, Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi.
Rabbi Dov Beer was a great scholar, sharp and well-versed in the Torah and the Talmud. In his spare time, he studied the Kabbalah, travelled and passed through several cities in the Vohlin Region, preached to audiences in houses of learning. His students were many, and they spread his teachings in many areas of the Diaspora. Following the death of the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Dov Beer replaced him, sitting and working in the Town of Mezirich, spreading his teachings, and thus obtained the name of "The Maggid of Mezirich", having lived in Mezirich. Thus, Mezirich got its name - "Mezirich of the Maggid". Rabbi Dov Beer was a great scholar and well-versed in the literature of the Kabbalah. He became famous as a preacher-Maggid, who by way of his wonderful sermons and the ways of Hassidism, succeeded in making his listeners admire him. He knew the people's way of thinking and their spiritual needs. He had special characteristics, a bright countenance, arousing respect. All these qualities turned him into the head of the Hassidic Movement after the death of the Baal Shem Tov. Rabbi Dov Beer adopted the method of the Baal Shem Tov which is, to worship God in joy. When he became the head of the Hassidic Movements, it was a strong force. Under his influence, many students joined the movement, such as well-known rabbis and geniuses. After his death, his son took his place.

The Main Teachings of the Maggid of Mezirich

The love and worship of God, joy and enthusiasm, prayer and steadfastness, these are the ways of Hassidism. There is nothing below that does not have a root above. What is compassionate, so are you compassionate. Belief is the foundation of everything. Belief is good for man. Prayer is coupled with divinity - thus prayer must be with joy and a great enthusiasm.
Fearing God is uplifting and not fear of punishment. Thus one loves God more. The righteous stirs God's compassion for all of Israel.





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