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[Page 365]

Remembrance and Perpetuation

 

[Page 367]

These I Remember and I Moan…

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Words of eulogy and lamentation delivered annually at the memorial evening of the Organization of Natives of Maytchet and its Region in Israel

We have gathered this evening, as is our custom every year, in order to reunite ourselves with the holy memory of those dearest to us - fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, good friends and neighbors, along with the memory of all the martyrs of Maytchet and its region, who perished in the Holocaust in the sanctification of the Divine Name and the Nation of Israel during the bitters days of

1 to 3 of Av, 5702 - July 15-17, 1942

The memory and spirit of the dear martyrs flutter in the air of this hall, among us and over our heads, since they were not brought to a Jewish burial. The situation of the Jewish people,, who have suffered tribulations in the blood-soaked exile, that after every attack and disaster in which victims fell from amongst our Jewish brethren, was that it has been possible to bring the victims to a Jewish burial, to supplicate over their graves and to unite with their memory. This is not the case with this terrible, tragic Holocaust, which deprived the victims of the merit of being buried in a Jewish grave, and deprived us of the possibility of visiting our ancestral graves, to pray and to unite ourselves, to eulogize and weep over the victims in accordance with Jewish custom. Therefore, they hover amongst us, demanding restitution, rectification, and the elevation of their souls.

***

We are talking about one third of the Jewish people, two thirds of European Jewry, who perished in the Holocaust. You, the survivors of the destruction of Maytchet and its region who witnessed the great tragedy, are living witnessed that in Maytchet, not one third and not two thirds were murdered, but to our sorrow and agony, the entire community of Maytchet was destroyed. Not even one person of the city and two from a family[1] survived to tell the coming generations about what the enemy has perpetrated. As long as we are alive - and we are alive in the merit of the martyrs for in their deaths, they commanded life to us - we have the duty to carry out the will that they charged us next to the pits: “Remember that which Amalek has done to you!”[2]… This is a charge that is not written in ink, but rather in the blood that is screaming to us from the earth and calling upon us to make a name and a memorial to their souls, and perpetuate them in a memorial book for generations.

***

As is known, Sefer Hachinuch enumerates all 613 commandments in the order of the Torah portions. At the end of Ki Teitzei, we find two commandments among the others. One is the positive commandment, “Remember that which Amalek did to you” - a commandment to remember and to bring to memory, to tell and to repeat

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over in all generations that which Amalek did to us. The second is a negative commandment, namely, “Do not forget!” - to not forget and not to cause to forget. It is said in the sources, “Remember” is with the mouth, and “Do not forget” is in the heart. What can we do to avoid forgetting? How can we ensure that not only ourselves, upon whom the hand of Amalek came to destroy us, but also the future generations will not forget, for they too are obligated in this commandment? The answer to this is found in the Torah portion of Beshalach (Exodus 17:14), also regarding Amalek, “Write this as a memorial in a book!”

***

Is there a man that is a poet, and are their words that can describe that magnitude of the tragedy?! Maytchet is in mourning, having lost all of its Jews, men, women and children, in one day. Were it not that a small remnant remained, we would have been likened to Sodom and compared to Gomorrah[3]. This event occurred thirty years prior to today. The last of the Jews of Maytchet and the region were taken by force from their homes and hiding places. The arm of the murderers even reached them in the depths of the earth[4], and hauled them to pits that were dug in deceit upon the Chwojnik Hill by the victims themselves. There, they were all slaughtered in cold blood and great cruelty. The martyrs - mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters -- stood next to the pits in silence as they accepted the judgment. No cry of wrongdoing or plea for salvation emanated from their throats, for the victims knew very well that nobody would save them. With great spiritual might that is unparalleled among the nations, they went silently to their own funerals, as they recited Kaddish for themselves, as they sanctified the Divine Name and the name of the Jewish people, as they gave up their souls reciting “Echad[5].

***

Not too long ago, we were all witnesses to the great event that was, Heaven forbid, liable to inflict a Holocaust upon the State of Israel[6]. With the assistance of the Rock and Redeemer of Israel, and thanks to the great will to live and the supreme might of the fighters of Israel, a miracle took place for us and we won the war. However, the price of victory was paid in very many houses in Israel, where they are mourning for their loved ones who fell victim on the altar of the native land. Just as in the era of the Holocaust, victims were demanded of the House of Israel to establish the state, and now victims were demanded in the battles to preserve it. Our comfort is that these victims did not die in vain. Both categories of victims[7] are holy and pure as the brightly shining firmament. In their deaths, they charged us with life. May their memories be blessed.

***

For many years, we, the few who remained alive, could not fulfill the charge of the martyrs written with the blood of their hearts, “Remember and do not forget!...” Not only this, but we never rent our garments, we never recited Kaddish, and we did not carry out any of the customs of mourning in accordance with tradition and law, for we were unable to do so. Over the years, we did not even set up a monument in memorial of their holy and pure souls. However, from now on, we need no longer torture ourselves over this omission, for we are now able to carry it out. G-d willing, this very year, an appropriate memorial will be established in the form of a book that will describe Jewish life throughout the generations, the story of the tragic deaths in Sanctification of the Divine Name, as well as the story of the might and greatness of the brave natives of Maytchet who protected the honor of Israel with their blood and brought us to this point.

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Every Maytchet native in Israel and throughout the world should spend some time in solitude with this book, uniting themselves with the memories, and shedding a tear over this monument. Next to the eternal flame that burns in each of our homes as we bring this memorial book into our homes, we can say with a light sigh, “Today, we have pushed aside the disgrace of the years from our hearts.”

***

The Blessings of Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan. Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan was a native of Maytchet, who studied in Maytchet in his youth, then in Baranovichi and Minsk, and finally studied in Jerusalem for two years. From here, he immigrated to the United States in 1909, where he served in the rabbinate for many years. After he retired in the United States, he returned to live in Israel amongst his people in general, and amongst the Maytchet natives in Israel in particular. He lives in Tiferet Banim.

He takes interest in the affairs of the Maytcheters in Israel, and especially in the activities of the organizing committee. He is a faithful member of the Maytchet community in Israel, for he remembers the town from his young days. He participates regularly in the annual memorials, where he discussed memories of the town and its Jewish life. He blessed the book committee for its successful efforts to perpetuate the memory of the martyrs of Maytchet and its region in the memorial book.

From the time he was in Maytchet, he recalls a rare event that was a topic of conversation for everybody. At that time, when he was nine years old, the mother of the “Maytchet Genius” died. They placed the Maytchet Genius on a chair and he eulogized his mother.

Translator's footnotes

  1. A Biblical term for a near total destruction. Here, it is referring to their being no survivors in the final action. Return
  2. Deuteronomy 25:17. Return
  3. Isaiah 1:9. Return
  4. Seemingly referring to underground bunkers. Return
  5. The final word of the first verse of the Shema. Return
  6. Seemingly referring to the Yom Kippur War. Return
  7. Those who died in the Holocaust, and those who fell in the battles of Israel. Return


Memorial for the People who have Gone

Translated by Jerrold Landau

With regard to the holy ones who are in the earth, they are mighty, and they are my desire! (Psalms 16:3)

From days of yore, even before there was a Chibbat Zion movement[1] to inherit the land in general, it was the dream and strong desire of Jews throughout the Diaspora who were faithful to their people, Torah and the holiness of their land to desire the earth of the Land of Israel, and to wish to be buried in its holy soil, and thereby to obtain the great merit of “its land shall expiate its people…”[2].

It was the pleasant lot of the dear residents of Maytchet, who were beloved and pleasant during their lives, and not separated in their deaths[3], who made aliya to the Land either before or after the Holocaust, to live in the Land amongst their people and together with their families. They merited to fulfill the commandment of the settlement of the Land of Israel, to built it up and protect it, in order to bestow it to their children after them as an eternal legacy. When their time came to go the way of all the earth, for they completed their mission, after their eyes witnessed the wonderful vision of the generations of “When G-d returns the captivity of Zion”[4], they passed on to their eternal world full of honor and reverence from their family members and faithful friends and acquaintances.

Let the clods of their earth be sweet for them, and let their souls be bound in the bonds of life.

Translator's footnotes

  1. An early Zionist movement, predating the formal Zionist movement. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hovevei_Zion . Return
  2. Deuteronomy 32:43. Return
  3. I Samuel 1:23. Return
  4. Psalms 126:1. Return


[Page 370]

Memorial Candle for Yehoshua Shomroni z”l

by Shmuel and Amir Shomroni

Translated by Amir Shomroni

Among the names of the holy martyrs of Maytchet carved in this Memorial Book, and among chapters of Memorial stories of the Shoah, we wish to light a candle in memory of our late father – R' Yehoshua Shomroni (Shike Shmerkovitch) z”l.

Our father was born in Voronovo – miles away from Maytchet – a shtetl like the other shtetls in Poland – in the district of Lida. The fate encountered our father z”l with Tova (Doba) nee Polonsky – may she live long – in Voronovo, where she began her life saga and her evolution to becoming a Hebrew teacher.

When they immigrated to Eretz Israel they built – ex nihilo - their home, a source of pride; which imbibed it's culture and spirit from the beautiful and pure life of their two shtetls.

Eventually, when the collection and editing of the two memorial books for the holy martyrs of the two shtetls was commenced (not incidentally the editing of the two books did commence simultaneously,) the home of our father and mother, our home, turned into kind of a holy center for meetings, discussions, taking notes, organizing, correspondence, et cetera; enthusiastic actions of meticulous work of editing the two books – the Book of Voronovo and the Book of Maytchet. Not once, did it seem to us, that our father's enthusiasm in the preparation of the books, as well as the erection of the monuments for both, his shtetl's martyrs and our mother's, had rendered him elixir of life to continue, and to live to see them published.

But before its completion, on a wintry morning, his heart betrayed him. It is difficult for us –as well as his associates, who turned their nights into days in compiling this magnificent collection – to exactly define what his contribution or influence was in this book. But nevertheless it is clear to us that his spirit, enthusiasm, energy, his profound humor, and his personality in general, left his mark on these holy pages.

We are privileged that this memorial book will be an honorable memorial candle to our father, R' Yehoshua Shomroni z”l.

His sons – Shmuel and Amir


Avraham Rimon of blessed memory

by Aleksander Novitz

Translated by Jerrold Landau

He was born to Zev and Genia Rimon (Romanovski) on Kibbutz Yagur on 27 Shvat 5706 (January 29, 1945). Already at a young age, he excelled in his variegated talents, his good heart, his willingness to help, and his positive influence on his surroundings. Among other things, his classmates said the following in their discussions of him: “We grew up together for many years, but the time was indeed too short to understand a small amount of that large, complete world - which was Rimon. He was 'the spiritual father' to all of us. It is impossible to live up to him; it is too complex and cannot be done. He helped us all in extricating us from personal crises. Rimon lives as long as we all live.”

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The soldier Avraham Rimon   Yehoshua Shomroni

 

 
The young girl, Esther Biribis   Moshe Kleinshtov

[Page 372]

Avraham was drafted into the army at the end of 1965 as a reconnaissance officer. During the Six Day War, he was sent with his unit to the Golan Heights to capture the Tel Faher outpost[1]. He was hit by the shooting of a Syrian sniper. His final words were: “I am going to die - continue on.”

Among other things, the members of the reconnaissance unit said the following about Avraham: “He had every good thing in bountiful proportions. But the entire good and the entire truth is that everything that is said of him now - was said of him also when he was alive with us. This is the personal greatness that is very rare.”

Rimon was the best youth in the reconnaissance unit. Everyone said so. In general, when one eulogizes a deceased person, traits that he did not possess are attributed to him. Rimon, however, had all the good traits that are possible to find in a person. I asked myself more than once: How is it possible that he was a person without a taint - perfect in the full sense of the term?

Avraham was praised by the commander of the Northern Command for sticking to the mark and for his self sacrifice. He was 21 when he fell.

Translator's footnote

  1. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Faher Return


Moshe Kleinshtov of blessed memory

by Aleksander Novitz

Translated by Jerrold Landau

 

1898 – 1958

He was a native of the village of Zelanshchivna near Kobrin in White Russia. Upon the completion of his studies, he dedicated himself to agriculture and ran the farm of his parents, who were landowners and farmers for generations. After the Russian revolution, during the era of Denikin and Petliura[1], when he bravely stood up and risked his life for the independent defense of the local Jewish community, he was accused by the hooligans and sentenced to death. There was a hairbreadth between him and death and it was only through a miracle that he escaped the noose. Later he did everything he could to make aliya to the Land, and he arrived in 1923, after the tribulations of the journey. Here he worked for several years at difficult outdoor work at a kibbutz, and then he moved to Tel Aviv, where he was one of the initiators of Hebrew labor for porting at the port of Jaffa, and a founder of the Hachof Cooperative. When the unification, he joined Shalev, and bore his load as a man of rank. He was faithful and dedicated, and always suffered with the pain of the union.

His death shook his friends and acquaintances, for everyone who came in contact with him held him in honor and esteem on account of his good temperament, his readiness to help his fellow, and his boundless dedication to the enterprise.

He was a faithful husband and a good, dedicated father to his four children. With his death, we have lost a good and dedicated friend, and an exemplary head of a family.

May his memory be a blessing.

Translator's footnote

  1. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Denikin and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symon_Petliura Return

Esther Biribis of blessed memory

by Sara Boretsky Biribis

Prepared by Myrna Siegel

She was born in a hospital in Afula, Israel July 1, 1949 to parents Avraham Biribis and Sarah Boretsky Biribis, members of Kfar Yehoshua. There was great love between parents and daughter; especially because of the difficulties of her growth and development from an early age, in spite of the indulgence

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of her devoted parents.

She had very unusual talents; her studies and handicraft, which were wonderfully thought out. She never refused to work in the house and the fields. She was truly a modern version of a woman of valor.

She was also blessed with a beautiful voice and excellent hearing. She filled the house with sounds of joy and happiness -- this was a pleasant reward for parents who had suffered so much in her youth.

And with everything she excelled with a good heart and gentle soul in her relationships with her parents, Rena her sister, to everyone who came to the house, and to children her age. The closets in the house were filled with toys and Purim costumes that she used from time of kindergarten through school. But she never got rid of them. She kept them for those who didn't have. She was very industrious, always offering help for everything, both in the house and outside.

On that bitter morning during the Passover vacation, Esther got up early and prepared to go out with her classmates for an outing from which she never returned. With her death her parents lost a child and their joy and happiness was destroyed. Also her sister Rena and her classmates felt a burning pain of the absence of a sister, comrade and good friend.

The pamphlet “Esther”, which was published at the end of the year of her tragic death, contained her personal diary beginning in the second grade, with lists, poems and letters; reflecting a young and talented author.

Thus the years of her youth passed full of love and joy until the bitter day when the tender flower was plucked and ran it over to death.


[Page 373]

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Reb Yehoshua Aharon Lozovski and his wife of blessed memory - see articles on pages 59, 238

Reb Yisrael Zalman and his wife Zlata Shlovski of blessed memory - see article on page 98.

Reb Aryeh Shmulevicz of blessed memory - Born in 1909 in Maytchet. Made aliya to the Land in 1933. Died in the Land on August 30, 1946.

Reb Avraham Kaplan of blessed memory - Died in Israel on 10 Tishrei 5722 (September 20 1961). (Translator's note: Yom Kippur).

Reb Yisrael Savitzki of blessed memory - The son of Moshe and Sheina Savitzki. Made aliya with his wife Buna as chalutzim in 1925. Died in Israel on 29 Elul 5721 (1961).

Reb Avraham Zev Savitzki of blessed memory - The son of Moshe and Sheina Savitzki. He was born in Maytchet in 1895, made aliya with his wife Sara in 1934, and died in Israel in 1959.

Reb Ezriel Korn of blessed memory - See the articles on pages 61, 256.

Mrs. Sima Ben-Hur - See the article on page 221.

Mrs. Sima Ginzberg (nee Dvorjetski) of blessed memory -- She was born in 1906 in Maytchet, made aliya to the Land in 1946, and died on the 23 of Tammuz 5728 (1968).

Malka Chalamish (Rabinovitch) - She was the daughter of Reb Yechiel Yitzchak and Chana Gela Dvojetski. She was born in Maychet in 1880, made aliya to the Land in 1918, and died in Rechovot on the eve of Chanukah, 5732 (1971).

Elkanah Ben-Hur - -- See the article on page 221.

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Avraham Zeev Savitzki of blessed memory   Yisrael Savitzki of blessed memory

 

 
Malka Chalamish (Rabinovitch)   Sima Ginzberg, nee Dvorjetski

[Page 375]

 
Elkana Ben-Hur   Sima Ben-Hur (Abramovski)

 

 
Leibel Shmulevicz of blessed memory   Reb Avraham Kaplan of blessed memory

 

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