|Golden Youth of Maytchet|
[Page 152] It is regarded as a wonder that despite the concerns of their own daily existence, and at times, even that of their parents, they took upon their young shoulders the great task of preparing the Jewish generation for a better future.
This is how the Maytchet youth acquired the honorable name of Golden Youth. Not because of yichus [family status] but rather because of what they themselves did. They dedicated their best energy to their holy task, and filled the town with the sounds of Torah and light, and bustling, vibrant life. Their young hearts tasted the content of a life worthwhile living. However, their life was abruptly cut off, and many of them did not live to fulfill their dreams of arriving in the desired Land of Israel and building it up and being built up by it. Many of these youths, who were beloved and pleasant during their lives and were not separated in death, fell under the hand of the destroyer who cut of their heads during the terrible Holocaust. For them, our hearts ache, and we weep in the recesses o our souls.
These are the names of the studying youth of Maytchet, each in his own place and calling, to the extent that we can remember:
|Yeshiva bochars (boys) of Maytchet|
In Yeshiva Baranovichi Gershon Romanovski (who is a Rabbi in New York) Shmerl Abramovski, Yehuda Shvstik, Eliezer Volinsky
In Yeshiva Novogrudok The brothers Shilem and Daniel Rabinowitz, Reuven and Ben Zion Lomshavsky, Mordechai Yoselevitz, David Brishinsky
Yeshiva Lechowitz: Dov and Chaikel Shlomovits, Mishael Ravitz, Nachum Margolin
Yeshiva Radin: Brothers Sholom and Zev Romanovski, and Eliezer
Yeshiva Mir: Yakov Boretcky, David Wilensky
Yeshiva Ruzhany: Gavriel and Meir Lazovsky, Chaikel Shlomovitz
Yeshiva Kletsk: The brothers Mordechai and Yosef Koton
Yeshiva Pinsk: Son of Chainka Zusman
Yeshiva HaMaalot: Yoseph Hassid
Yeshiva Slonim: Eliezar Orzechovsky
The following youth studied in the public high schools and higher vocational institutions: Chaya Sarah Boretcky and Mayer Ginsburg in the Epstein Gymnasium of Baranovichi. Tova Polonsky (today in Israel, her name is Shomroni) in the teachers' seminary of Vilna. Joseph Zusman in the Technion of Vilna. Moshe Margolin in the commercial school of Baranovichi. Nachum Naor in the ORT School in Brisk. Adi Dvorjetski, the son of the pharmacist Yakov Dvorjetski, in the University of Lemberg.
It is important to note the names of the doctors and pharmacists who belonged to the intellectual sphere of the Jews in the shtetl, and they are: Doctors/medics Dr. Kramer and Dr. Kaplan. Pharmacists Yacov Dvorjetski, Leib Romanovski and Shimon Lachovitsky These are the names of the rabbis and the faithful scholars who followed the Torah and traditions, as well as teachers and intellectuals who are mentioned in separate chapters in this book.
Translated by Ron Rabinovitch Molchad Jews began their commercial careers when they settled in the town many years ago. They were permitted to settle here in order to promote the commercial atmosphere of the area which was primarily agricultural. As time went on the business atmosphere improved. They exported agricultural and trade material from this area and imported basic goods and articles for the citizens. The area grew and prospered and the local population was well provided for.
When the Russians ruled this area, the Jews were not permitted to conduct business beyond the parameters of their immediate area. They were allowed to continue trade within the community and thus remained a resource for the citizens of Molchad. With the return of the Polish rule, the freedom to expand the trading area (especially in their early years) when the governing power was more tolerant of Jewish commercial expertise.
But these tolerant years did not last long. After World War I
some of the commercial institutions were able to recover. The blackmail machine of the Polish finance authorities, like the Gravskis, started to operate cruelly. This was the beginning of the bitter struggle between the Jewish tradesmen and the local authorities who wanted to destroy the Jewish businessman and replace him with a local Pole or a local Russian. The struggle between the independent Polish authority and the Jews expanded and this led to the erosion of the Jewish commercial well being.
To the best of my memory, the following is a list of names of the Jews of Molchad that worked in the main commercial branches of the shtetl.
Manufacture Iser Bilas, Alter Abramovitz, Nechama Bardo, Nachum Abramovski, Yona Orzechovsky, Leibel Vinograd, Shalom Rabinovitch, Moshe Belski, Laser Biltzki, Beryl Shmulovitz.
Tailor and clothing Moshe Mendelevitch, Zelig Laserovitch, Moshe Savitzki, Chaim Leib Zimerman, Freidel Belski, Sara Korostovski, Chaya Rachel Kravchok, Hinda Gorski, Tzira Rabinovitch, Rakovitzki, Moshe-Leib, Chaim-Yona, Zimel, Channa.
Fancy goods Mary Volfovski, Michel Stolovitzki, Entzel Belski, Isaac Katan.
Hat makers Monni Rabinovitch, Yaekel.
Leather and shoes Reuven Braski, Noach Goldstein, Eliezer Polonski, Shlomo Shnitzki, Nachum Ravitz, David Mirski, Josef Luski, Moshe Korostovski, Shmuel Korostovski, Tzvi Volochvienski, Chaim-Meir Gorski, Zenbel Der Shuster, Yudel Rabinovitch, Herschel Bronitzki, Moshe Brashanski, Hetzel Brashanski, Isaac Shamshilovitch and sons, Moshe Lemshovski and son, Catriel Likter, Hazel Mordukovski, Herschel Novomisky, Baruch-Joshua Shkolnikovitz, Yehuda-Leib.
Food Beryl Romanovski, Shlomo-Herschel Shlomovitz, Josef and Shimon Gershovitch, Alke-Pearl Gorski, Pearl Rozanski, Chaynke Zisman, Sima Boyarski, Shimon Charborovitzki and son Yudel, Tzira Rabets (Kaplan), Deiche Korostovski, Chaya-Sara Shlomovitz, Esther Rabinovitch.
Restaurants and drink places Leib Chaim Wolinsky, Shemaya Rabets, Leib Margolin, Israel Belski, Herschel Shlovski.
Bakeries Isar Isralvitz, Ytze-Yaekel Shebtzik, Moshe-Yehuda Belski, Chaya-Rachel, Chaya-Cherna.
Grains and flour Isar Epstein, Israel Rabinovitch, Dudze Rabinovitch, Zelig Rabets, Moshe Rabets, Shlomo Bitanski, Leibel Gilerovits, Abraham Serebrovsky.
Home appliances and iron Joseph-Chaim Shapira, Laser Gordon, Hertzel Korlitzki, Michel Shmulovits, Rabbi Asher Orzechovsky, Gedalia Yatvicy.
Mills Moshe-Aharon Boretsky and sons, David Belski.
Grinding mills and oil press Abraham and Yechiel Gorski, Yehuda Rabets and sons.
Tar burning Lozovsky family.
Seltzer Lieb Chaim Wolinsky.
Building Yehushua-Aharon Lozovsky and sons, Michael Shmulovits.
Woods Moshe Shmulovits, Shlomo-Laser Rabets, Robijevski, Leib and his son Yehuda Kravchok.
Doctors Dr. Kremer, Dr. Kaplan.
Pharmacists Jacob Dvorzecky, Shimon Lachovitzki, Leib Romanovski.
Banks Yehushua Novomisky, Mordechai Rabets, daughter of Chaikel Isralvitz.
Agents Chatzkel Rabets, Shmerel Safir.
Transportation Joseph-Eliyahu Plavski, Moshe Shebtzik and sons.
Inns Abraham Shmulovitz
Photographs Tzira Mordkovski
Glazier Mordechai and son Abramovski.
Resort houses Shaina Margolin, Shlomo-Laser Rabets.
The blue Keren Kayemit LiYisrael box was inserted, through the children, into every house. Every wedding and every gathering was accompanied by a bliml (ceremonial planting) dedicated to the Keren Kayemit LiYisrael fund.
I remember how in the Tarbut School a Chanukah evening was arranged with a big bazaar. Every homeowner had to tax himself with something for the bazaar. The money was dedicated to the Keren Kayemit LiYisrael. Naturally, my father, may he rest in peace, ordered that a beautiful big goose be chosen to be donated to the bazaar. We were village Jews. The honor of giving the goose to the bazaar committee fell to my lot. Indeed, I must say, since geese existed in this world, a goose never had such an honor as did that white goose.
She was put into a big beautiful basket dressed up with a blue ribbon, and she had the foremost place. She also participated with her hoarse goose's voice, calling everyone to participate in the bazaar. Thus, many such events were arranged often. This united the youth in one undertaking, living with a goal and an idea.
Remembering the HaShomer HaTsair (a leftist/socialist Zionist organization) from our shtetl. On a hill on Podkritsh Street, this group would meet at the home of Sarah Krovchik (Sarah the Carpenter woman). There in the small house with a total of two rooms, the boys and girls used to gather, singing and dancing, sweet and carefree
|Commissioner of J.N.F. and assistants|
children by nature, with a deep belief in a better, lighter future. They danced hand to shoulder drawing out the circle.
Life, although it was a poor one, and stringent, was still lived with dreams and hopes. The hope gave us a goal and sweetened the lives of our young people. The Molchad youth always felt the merit of enriching their cultural life.
In the shtetl, a drama circle was also founded. It would give performances. The stars of the drama circle were Alte Boretsky, Leibl Gilrovits, and others. The room was in the firemen's building, and when there was a large attendance and there weren't enough places on the benches, we used to sit on the water barrels of the firemen. But this was very pleasant, and it really brought great happiness and enjoyment.
The shtetl lived differently in the summer. Molchad had a reputation as a place for country homes. The dry pine forests attracted the dwellers from the larger cities where the air was dusty. The big-city people used to come to Molchad to heal themselves and revive themselves with the clean pine air. This brought a good income to the shtetl, whether in material or in business connections. Shopkeepers used to take in receipts, the dairy and the meat. The people from the country houses were big eaters. They didn't deprive themselves of the best that Molchad had to offermilk, butter, meat, and eggs, everything was offered to them. And we, the youth, were happy to meet new faces, new people, new songs and new hits, enriching our repertoire with new material. And in the beautiful summer nights, friends would enjoy being with each other.
I would like to write more and more about you, my small shtetl, how much beauty, naturalness, humility and warmth there was in you, but I open my eyes and I see the big mass grave by the green bridge. The earth still wakes fresh from the murdered dead, holy sacrifices.
Translated by Jerrold Landau
In the recent Jewish press
Bafreiung, April 18, 1921 -- On Monday April 4, a meeting took place here with the participation of Mr. Nachimowski from Baranovichi. He spoke about the Zionist Movement and the need for Young Zionism amongst the Jewish working population. He urged activity toward the Keren HaAvoda [Workers's Fund] in the coming work month.
After the meeting, 38 members registered for Tzeirei Zion [Young Zion] and set up a committee to begin the work.
Dos Vort,' Vilna, 19 Shvat 5688 (1928) - The largest contributors to the Committee of the Yeshivas, of 3 zloty and higher, in Maytchet. Yitzchak Novomiski - 8.85 zl; Sara-Rivka Abramovski - 9.60 zl; Moshe-Tzvi Rabinovitch - 5.77 zl.; Leib Novomiski - 5.55 zl.; Yisrael Belski - 35 zl.; Zelik Liubavich - 4.25 zl.; Chaikel Izralvitz - 3.75 zl.; Yehoshua Aharon Lozovski - 4 zl.; Yisrael Chaim (Shinovski) - 3.65 zl.; Refael Stein - 3.70 zl.; Reuven Shevchik - 3.50 zl.; Moshe-Pinchas Shmulevicz - 3 zl.; Shalom Leib Rabinovitch - 3 zl.; Chaya-Eidel Damenichev - 3 zl.; the prayer leader and shochet Gelman - 3 zl.; Naftali Zawolochki - 3 zloty.
Dos Vort, Vilna June 12, 1929 - From Maytchet, the sum of 35 zloty for the saving of the Yeshiva of Hebron has come in to our editor from Rabbi Yitzchak-Naftali Belski
Dos Vort, Vilna, Torah portion of Beshalach, 5698 (1938) -Thanks to the reorganization of the local Chorev committee, the local Chorev School reached a significant height. A first-class teaching personality was engaged, and the religious situation of the school was rectified appropriately.
At the request of the Chorev Committee, a special examination commission consisting of the local rabbi and Gaon Rabbi Yaakov Grinburg, the shochet Reb Avraham Garbarz, and Reb Yisrael Budowla visited the school. The fundamental examinations that were conducted produced gleaming results.
Recently, the ten year anniversary of the local Charitable Fund was celebrated. A special delegate from the Vilna Yekopo was sent to the celebration. Various speeches were delivered. Rabbi Yosef Chasid brought greetings from Agudas Yisroel. The presentation of Rabbi Grinburg, whose speech made a significant impression, was especially impressive.
On Tuesday of the Torah Portion of Vaera, a conclusion celebration [siyum] of the local Chevra Shas [Talmud Study Group] took place in the large Beis Midrash. The teacher of the class, the local rabbi and Gaon Rabbi Yaakov Grinburg, delivered a profound Hadran on Jewish law and lore. Then, the crowd rejoiced at the celebratory meal. Special congratulations are to be given to the local Gabbai, Mr. Shmuel David Rabinovitfch, the initiator and master of ceremonies of the festive meal.
Wednesday, Torah portion of Tzav - A concluding celebration [siyum] of the Order of Nashim was celebrated by the local Chevra Shas. Rabbi Yaakov-Sender Grinburg, may he live long, delivered a content-filled Hadran in front of a packed Beis Midrash. After the Hadran, the gathering made their way to the rabbi's house, where a festive meal was held. In a dignified spirit, the rabbi once again spoke words of lore on the issues of the day. After that, Rabbi Yosef Chasid, a student of the Beis Yosef Yeshiva of Nowogrudek, delivered an emotional speech. Following this, the city's cantor Reb Shmuel Sokolovski performed some cantoral numbers. The gathering celebrated and rejoiced throughout the entire night. That impressive joyous occasion will remain in our memories for a long time.
(A resident of the city)
Translated by Roslyn Sherman Greenberg The strong gray winter goes away little by little. A warm breeze forecasts the beginning of spring. Winter shows its last strength and sends down a white snow that covers our shtetl. The rays of the sun, with its warm breezes, change the newly fallen snow into a brownish thin mud. The mud fills all the streets, lanes, courtyards, and doesn't forget to push into the holes in the houses and shoes. The snow on the roofs is also melting, and the roofs look like a patched garment or a half-shaved face.
It's already after Purim. In the shtetl, we prepare already to bake matzos. In Molchad, as usual, we used to bake matzos in two locations. It was a combined effort; i.e. two or three householders used to gather in one of the designated houses to help each other with their own hands. This, you can understand, was less expensive, just the flour and other ingredients were needed. There were also rented houses that were converted into matzo factories, such as Henya-Basha's, Sheine-Malke's and also one on Shaseiner Street. In Henya-Basha's house the rest of the year there was a tailor shop. After Purim the house was changed into a matzo factory. First we would spread out smooth, white boards from wall to wall, creating a big table for the group. Afterward we used to put aside special places for those who spilled out the flour, the water pourers, the kneaders and rollers, etc. We paid only for the baking. Last of all we used to kosher the oven, carry in Our water, and all who were needy could come, bring his bit of flour and bake. The one who made the holes in the matzo was her son Chaim. (A tool called a reddler was used to make the holes and this job was usually given to a youngster.) Then would come householders with their own water pourers, flourers, kneaders, and rollers, and they paid only for the baking. Those who didn't have all the necessary people would hire helpers.
In a brave, happy mood we would bake the matzos. The spring breeze, which brings with it the smell of the earth freed from snow, would mix with the smell of the matzo baking, which made the senses drunk. It awoke in people feelings of hope and longing for a better and more beautiful life. When the matzo was baked,
each person brought his package of matzos home and put it in a clean corner. In every house in a certain corner, a wooden keg covered with a white tablecloth tied around it stood on a little hay. There, beets were marinated for Passover borsht. Spring and Passover, like indivisible twins, came even closer to our shtetl.
Two weeks to Passover. We carry everything out of the house into the courtyard. We wash benches from the table, cabinets, and shelves. All are scrubbed, polished, rinsed and buffed once again, scoured and washed. The copper pans, basins, mortars, and pots we polish and we scrub up to three times, and they shine as if they were bleached by the sun, saying, Well, tell me which of us shines the most? The spring breeze blows the clothing and other articles in the courtyard. They appear once each year. We have a little happiness together, and both have great pleasure.
One week to Passover. Winter has vanished. Passover and spring in its whole splendor are already on the edge of the shtetl. The houses are ready, like citizens, for a great parade. The white curtains are bright through the clean panes. The scoured yellow-gold tables, benches, etc. are back in their places, covered with white tablecloths. The copper utensils fill the house with reflections from the rays of the sun. Whitewashed walls, polished door hardware, even new sticks for the forks, and brooms from fresh birch twigs, which bring the scent of the woods. The beds are decorated with clean linens. Plumped-up cushions, which were sewn during the long winter evenings, dress up the beds. Every house is ready to welcome the dear, great guestPassover.
A harder question was the clothing for the children. There was a solution. For the bigger children, new clothes were bought. For the smaller ones, the clothes that had become too small for the big ones were taken apart and remade so that each child should wear something new and be complimented. New shoes were bought for each child.
And now it's already the last day before Passover. In the evening, the father searches for chometz. The last bit of chometz gets put into a corner so it should not be seen. In the morning the chometz gets burned, and we bring in the important guest's packagesthe Passover utensils. What magical charm and flavor these Passover utensils possessed. How much joy and enchantment they brought into the hearts of the children. The tiredness and the sadness of the soul from the hard life all vanished.
Hashomer Hatsair after the events of the war and the horrors that followed, the news of the Balfour Declaration was received with very great enthusiasm by the Jewish communities of Poland. However, at a time when the Zionist organizations throughout the country were emerging from the underground and were forced to progress in the face of the great historical event, only weak echoes of the footsteps of redemption reached us from the cities of the interior of the country and broke through the imaginations of the Jews of Maytchet, especially the youth. The area in which they were able to give expression to the feelings of their hearts was through the first Jewish youth movement, Hashomer Hatsair, which was tolerated by the government in the same manner as similar Russian and Polish Boy Scout movements.
The following were among those who stood at the helm of the chapter of Maytchet as founders and counselors: Shakna Gorski, Moshe Epshtein, Sara Boretcky, Chemda Margolin, and others.
With the founding of this youth organization, the foundations of physical and spiritual education, the development of orienteering talent, the nurturing of the traits of helping and benevolence, faithfulness to the state, and love for the national values of the nation were all laid down. Almost all the Jewish youth of the area were attracted to the chapter. Some of them formed groups and brigades. Heads of the groups and brigades were appointed. They occupied themselves with training protocols accompanied by Hebrew marching songs; physical training; listening to lectures and instructional classes on general scouting and the foundations of Judaism and nationalism; song; games; etc. They especially found their place with their impressive parades on Lag Baomer and all other appropriate occasions, when they marched with the permission of the authorities through the streets of the town with their scouting uniforms, waving their flags to the tempo of the Hebrew commands and Hebrew marching songs, on their way to their activities in the nearby forest.
The good name of the new movement spread in a positive fashion through the local community of parents and educators, who encouraged the members and received them politely when they came on Flower Days or on the campaign days for the Jewish National Fund and other Jewish institutions. It should be noted with satisfaction that the Hashomer Hatsair movement, which was the first of the Jewish national movements, implanted feelings of national pride in the heats of the adults, and even provided the impetus to the founding of the Zionist organization of Maytchet.
Summer camps for Hashomer members of the entire region were set up around Maytchet.
General Zionists The Zionist movement of Maytchet arose on the foundations of complete unity and harmony. There was never any divisiveness and fragmentations, as there was in larger cities.
|Summer Camp of Hashomer Hatsair|
Virtually all the Jews of Maytchet were inculcated with the Zionist idea. Whatever the outlook of each individual was, they would all sit together at one table with a single objective before their eyes, namely: national revival and aliya to the Land of Israel, to build it and be built by it. The name General Zionists had no implication of doctrinal factionalism. It would be more accurate to say that the General Zionist organization included Jewish Zionists from all strata and outlooks.
Shmaryahu Sapir a watchmaker and newspaper contractor, served as the chairman of the Zionist organization of Maytchet. The Jews of Maytchet remember well his enthusiastic speech delivered in the Great Synagogue in the year 5689 (1929 or 1930), in which he expressed the mass protest against the bloody events that were perpetrated in the land of Israel at that time. The active, veteran members of the Zionist organization were Chatzkel Ravits, Yankl Gilerovitz, Leibl Gilerovitz, and others.
5. Yosef Lozovsky, 6. Lazar Epstein, 7. Rabets, 8. Moshe (son of the comedian),
9. Moshe Rabets, 10. Shmuel Korisofsky
Their major activity was the registration of as many members as possible into this organization, which was indeed noted as the largest organization in town. They were very active in the national institutions such as the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet), Keren Hayesod, and others. They made sure to send out members to hachsharah to prepare them for aliya to the Land of Israel. The General Zionists were the main source of aliya of the middle class. We must only express sorrow that their successful activities in this realm were interrupted by the Second World War, and only few of them succeeded in their goal. Therefore, the number of survivors of Maytchet is small.
|Evening course for workers. Maytchet, 1930|
Hechalutz The Hechalutz organization first arose through the efforts of the Zionist organization, and with its support as the executive arm with respect to the politics of aliya to the Land of Israel. With the passage of time, and with the work of actualization that they took upon themselves, Hechalutz developed and became a unique entity that stood on its own and was ideologically affiliated with the central Hechalutz organization. From that time, it received its directives and guidance directly from the national headquarters, and was assisted with support from the local Zionist Organization in exchange for recommending its members for hachsharah and obtaining permits for aliya (certificates).
The local Hechalutz sent its members to local hachsharah locations as well as those in the region, and even made sure to support the travel expenses of its needy members from its own funds.
The heads of Hechalutz in Maytchet included Leibl Shmulovitz, Noach Mordukovski, Yosef Lisovski, Alter Ravitz and others
Mizrachi The Mizrachi chapter of Maytchet, which included the Orthodox Zionists who made efforts to actualize the motto of Torah and Work in the building of the nation and the Land, was also prominent, if not in numbers then in quality. It is fitting to note that their organization did not stand in opposition to the spirit of unity that pervaded in the general Zionist organization. On the contrary, it complemented that spirit, for it made it possible to include additional strata of Jewry and join them to the general Zionist efforts.
Hechalutz Hamizrachi (Mizrachi Pioneers), which served as an additional destination for hachsharah and aliya to the Land of Israel, arose through their efforts and their supports.
Mizrachi members included: Reb Yosef Shkolnikovitz, Yisrael Belski, Reuven Borski, Shmaryahu Safir, and others.
Small organizational cells of Zionist and non-Zionists, that arose in Maytchet during a later era included Freiheit (Dror), Tiferet Bachurim, and Bund.
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