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[Page 269]

People and Images

 

Moshe Ze'ev Even
(Rabbi Moshe Walwel Stein)

Translated by Selwyn Rose

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The Mohel
Rabbi Ya'acov Blumenthal 1849-1931
 
The teacher who officiated until 1908
Rabbi Baruch Hirsch Kaufmann

 

Rabbi Moshe Ze'ev Even (Steijn), the only son of his parents – the son of Leibe Fuczter, A Karlin Hassid whose path in the Hassidism movement, after the blessings of the New Moon for the month of Elul, was to join a group of Hassidim and walk on foot a distance of some hundreds of kilometers, and to arrive at the Rabbi of Karlin. There they would stay until after Simchat Torah. The place where Rabbi Moshe would pray was the Karliner Shtiebel. Rabbi Moshe studied at the Kovno and Vilna Yeshivot and was ordained by Rabbi Yitzhak Elhanan Spector of Kovno and Rabbi Avraham Ozer of Amdur, married a daughter of the village, a colony near Odelsk. Rabbi Moshe Ze'ev refused to use his knowledge of the Torah for gain and in spite of the fact that he was offered a Rabbinate in various places he refused to accept any one of them.

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Rabbi Moshe Walwel Stein Even
 
Rachelstein Even

 

He dealt in skins and leather and through his business dealings was in Germany, England and Belgium. In addition to his erudition in Torah – he also acquired a general education. He mastered French, Russian, German and Polish.

He was accepted by all sectors of the town's society, religious, secular, Zionist and non-Zionist alike. He had a well-developed sense of public duty and was among the heads of the community and its founders and the management of the “Loan and Saving Fund” in town – one of the initiators and founders of the “Heder M'tukan”. At the time of the German capture during the First World War he was head of the community, and with his knowledge of German he represented the Jewish community before the ruling authority. In the state of the liberated Poland, he was a member of the Municipality and represented the Jewish interests before the authorities. After his sons came to Palestine in 1920-22, he too immigrated with his wife and joined his children in Kfar Malal.

He founded a prayer hall; he founded a “Loan and savings” fund and was very welcome in the settlement and its surroundings – and here occurred a tragedy – the tragic death of his son, Eliezer.

How great was his religious and Zionist consciousness is evidenced by the fact that on his son's open grave he, the bereaved father had the strength to encourage and console the members of his settlement who were stunned by the terrible disaster. He died in 1933 and is buried in Kfar Saba alongside his son, Eliezer.

Benjamin Even (Stein)


My Mother, Rachel z”l
(Rachel Moshe Walwels)

Translated by Selwyn Rose

On the tombstone we had placed on her grave was inscribed the verse from the Book of Proverbs: “She looketh well to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idleness,” Thus I remember my mother z”l from the days of my youth:

A village daughter from birth – taken to Sokółka, and there married to my father, and she was to him a faithful helper. I will always remember her working hard in the house at her chores and worrying about her daughter's education, while father z”l, was away from home on business. During the First World War when all business contacts with foreign countries were cut and the economic situation at home worsened – she planted a big vegetable garden behind our house. We immigrated to Palestine and it was as if her youthful vigor returned to her: she helped in the house and on the farm, in the cow-sheds and all other tasks that needed doing. I remember the picture in Kfar Malal, the road not yet paved, electricity not yet supplied, and the milk has to get to Tel-Aviv by 4:30-5:00 in the morning. At midnight she would milk the cows and at 1:00 bring the two urns to the depot – and thus she would walk with two milking pails in her hands and a belted skirt with a torch hanging from it, to light her way in the darkness.

Mother z”l, loved the work. She was devoted to her children, she loved the country and its realization, she went, in effect and built a new Hebrew village in the rebuilt country. 15 years after the death of my father, she was still alive, patiently carrying her suffering. – she told us, that before he died he asked her not to be jealous of families that remained complete – that she should worry about the table she prepared for the family, that there should be peace on Shabbat and during the week and on festivals – we, the children kept faith with his request – we made sure there was peace in the home and round the family table. Mother passed away and was laid to rest to rest in the cemetery of Ramata'im on 29th Adar 1948 five weeks before the founding of the State.


[Page 271]

Haim Leib Reiskind

Translated by Selwyn Rose

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Rabbi Haim Leib Reiskind
Political Inspector after the
German conquest of Sokółka

A veteran Zionist of “Hovevei-Zion” was Haim Leib Reiskind. From within Zionist awareness, he saw as essential the establishment of the “Beit Sefer M'tukan” for the purity of Hebrew, and co-education in which received equal educations.

There were many breakdowns and pitfalls on the way - co-education on one side and advanced activities on the other, interfered with the progress of the idea. But Haim Leib was daring and determined to see it through. After much persuasion a management was elected for establishing the school. Haim Leib was chosen for the mission of seeking out suitable teachers – after all “Karei'ina D'igrata” – “He who makes a suggestion should carry it out!”

Rabbi Haim Leib chose the teacher Kundst, the first of the teachers and the school existed: the “Beit Sefer Ha-M'tukan”. Later the teacher Kaplan z”l joined. The school began to prosper. Every Friday evening there was a Kabbalat-Shabbat to announce the arrival of Shabbat. Every event ended with the singing of Hatikva.

Rabbi Haim Leib was also among the founders of “Leinat Ha-Tsedek” in town and was active in its establishment and expansion.

Rabbi Haim Leib was occasionally elected to the Municipal Council and officiated as Deputy Mayor, and on more than one occasion, together with other Jewish councilors to deflect various edicts and soften instructions.


[Page 273]

Our Our Siblings Schachna
and Sarah Krannt

Translated by Selwyn Rose

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Schachna ben-Avraham

Schachna studied in Yeshivot among them the Yeshiva in Słobódka which is in Lithuania.

He was remarkable for his memory and his other talents. He was ordained and installed to the chair of the Rabbinate. For a number of years he officiated as Rabbi for the town of Must near Grodno. Schachna Krannt collected one cent after another and together with other Jews they built the emergency hostel for poor wayfarers in the town,

As a fervent Zionist he dreamed always of immigrating to Palestine with all the family. The dream was not fulfilled. From all the family and the offspring only one daughter was saved, Baileh Krannt-Kaplan.

Rivka Krannt-ben Haim and Golda Krannt-Gilbowski


[Page 275]

Dr. Ben-Zion Gilbowski

Translated by Selwyn Rose

Ben-Zion Gilbowski was at the head of the “Ken” (movement branch) in Sokółka with great devotion without thought of recognition. Beyond his qualifications he dreamed of immigrating to Palestine and settling as a pioneer.

His dreams of immigration were not fulfilled, after visiting once he decided to go again and try to acclimatize but death came to him first.

Yehuda Gilboa (Gilbowski)


Altear the Gabbai

Translated by Selwyn Rose

The saying goes that a “Cohen is held by an angry man”. Altear – the Gabbai of the “new” Beit Ha-Midrash was not a Cohen but he was blessed with a good measure of anger. Especially with children, because these little ones, bless them, were terribly cheeky to him and would anger him to the limits of his patience both in actions and by the way they looked at him, always laughing in his face, in order to irritate him. We, the children were very afraid of Altear the Gabbai.

With his congregation he knew to act differently, another facial expression, different speech patterns, even laughing together with them.

At a distance of some tens of meters from the new Beit Ha-Midrash stood the “old” Beit Ha-Midrash. In the 'old' one prayed the cobblers, tailors, artisans and all sorts of workers and laborers. The town Rabbi, Rabbi Schuster, was among the worshipers there. He also taught Mishna there, Mr. Koppel, the cobbler was among those who knew well the Torah and Kabbala, “Jacob's Eye” and other tracts, also worshiped there and taught the worshipers Mishna. He was a cobbler but in his life had never made a pair of shoes – just stuck one patch on top of another!

This was an intermediate period, before the start of the new school year in the “Heder”. We decided to organize a night-shift; to sit all night in the new Beit Ha-Midrash to study and go over all that we had learned, because that was the way it had always been. But after a while studying the pages of the Gemara, we needed a break - no one would interfere with us in the middle of the night – everyone was asleep – so we did a bit of re-organizing in the Beit Ha-Midrash. We moved the tables that stood at the end to the center and the benches that had been in the center to the end. And then we went outside to stroll around in the dark. We entered the district of Padół, a poor area with narrow lanes. There it was very dark. The total blackness and their deep sleep helped to hide from the people living there the extent of their poverty, their suffering and their daily cares. These were the happy hours of their lives, angels in the image of shooting stars bringing them on their wings pleasant dreams. We entered Białystoker Lane. Silent and boring. Nisan Aschkawitz came out in his pajamas to check his store-room and called out: “My lads! When you are my age will you still wander around at night? Go to sleep!”

We returned to the Beit Ha-Midrash and still could see light in the windows of the old Beit Ha-Midrash. They sit for years, one says Psalms – that's Mr. Leiv der Taeffer about 70-80 years old. And the second one is Arieh, the blind man, murmuring to himself studying diligently chapters from the Mishna.

In the morning, Altear had to work hard in order to rearrange the synagogue the way it had been and his rage rose within him.

Mr. Altear loved order and he was an angry man.

After a week we again organized a night study group and again we did it in the new Beit Ha-Midrash and rearranged the place; we didn't know that Altear the Gabbai was hiding in the women's section. Suddenly wet towels started flying all over us, thrown by Altear the Gabbai. We ran out of there and returned home. The following day, everyone knew who the little midnight studiers were and how their deeds brought shame on their parents.

Gedaliah Weismann


[Page 276]

The Korekt Family

Translated by Selwyn Rose

In memory of our father and mother, Mr. Asher-Zelig and Rivka, our sister Duva-Keila and her husband Shlomo Aschkawitz and their daughters: Haya-Feigel, Yehudit, Devorah and Malka. Our sister Mascha and her husband Liefa Yassinowski and their children Issk'eleh and Yisroel. The pure-souled Martyrs who were slaughtered at the hands of those terrible monsters.

* * *

The Korekt Family was both traditional and Zionist at the same time. They were quiet, hard-working people. Mr. Asher Zelig Korekt took part in groups studying Torah in the “Shulhan Aruch” synagogue and in our house they would celebrate the “Closure” three times a year.

Mr. Asher-Zelig also had a very pleasant voice and was an accomplished prayer reader and had even composed quite a few pieces himself. When festival days approached - especially the “Days of Awe” we would hear him practicing the prayers. They came from all the synagogues to invite him to pray on those days in their congregation. He would pray not for gain. Whatever he received he gave to the K.K.L.

Everything that came from Palestine was priceless in his eyes and awakened emotion and wonder within him. He and his wife Rivka treated with particular reverence an etrog he had received from their children in Palestine, cigarettes printed with Hebrew letters, he distributed one by one as if they were especially precious, between lessons on the Torah.

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The Korekt Family

Information and the descriptions of simple facts that they received from their children in Palestine, were passed from mouth to mouth as if the simple everyday farm-work they related were miraculous deeds.

The whole family intended to immigrate to the Land of Israel and were preparing themselves to do so. The children were studying in the Hebrew school and everyone looked forward eagerly for the big moment that they could come and join us. But they were unable to obtain the certificates, despite intensive efforts. In the meantime the war came and everyone of them was plucked from the land of the living.

Hanna Korekt-Margalit,
Kfar Malal


[Page 277]

An Unlikely Couple

Translated by Selwyn Rose

Once upon a time there was a couple in our town – her name was Esther-Yankele-Rucheleh-Hannales and he was called Yehoshua Esther-Yankele-Rucheleh-Hannales. Esther, Yehoshua's wife was a seamstress and Yehoshua worked with repairing furs for the farmers. As was usual in those days, they were married when he was 14 and she was 13. I knew them when they were already around 70 or 80 years old and their children had all gone to the four corners of the earth; as far as America they went. And Esther sewed and Yehoshua patched.

One day, Yehoshua became ill, took to his bed and from that sick-bed he never rose again. He died and went to his allotted place in a good old age – over 80 years old.

His wife Hanna sat herself outside on the doorstep of Altear Epstein's mother. “Old Friedl”. Altear's mother heard from inside the shop a conversation on a funeral and called to her son asking him: “So tell me, my son; who died?” The son answered and told her it was Yehoshua who had died in a good old age. Old Friedl moaned to herself and said to her son: I knew it and said so from the beginning – 'They just weren't suited to one another!”

Yitzhak Even


[Page 279]

Kalman ben Yehezkiel Tarlowitz

Translated by Selwyn Rose

Kalman Tarlowitz, who in his last years was called Mr. Kalman of Wallka after the estate where he resided for more than 30 years, was a typical commune farmer type, just like they are described in the literature, a village man, wise scholar, well-mannered and blending together with ease Torah and the need to make a living.

His noble features influenced even the general from whose estate Kalman rented his land.

He was the only Jew in the village.

With the outbreak of the First World War, the general, the owner of the estate, was killed and his sons marched with the general stream of inciting anti-Semitism. Kal-man left the village. He up-rooted his home and removed to Sokółka and here, too, he continued with his studies of the Torah combined with the practical necessities of life' helping all who were weak and in need. His children immigrated to Palestine and his grandson, who bore his name, Kalman, died in Israel's wars.

May their names be remembered for a blessing.

He and his son
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Mr. Kalman Tarlowitz
 
Mr. Yehezkiel Tarlowitz

 

Haya Tarlowitz


Meyer Tarlowitz

Translated by Selwyn Rose

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Meyer Tarlowitz
Secretary to Rabbi Schuster

While a youth he studied in a Yeshiva absorbing Torah and wisdom and by his own efforts he also achieved a respectable level of general education which enabled him to obtain a good position in public and social life. As secretary of the community he managed the books of the com-munity and all its interests with exemplary exactitude. With his special wisdom he won support and affection from all who came into contact with the Jewish community of Sokółka. He was especially dedicated, and gave much help and support to, the Zionist youth, who were on the threshold of immigration. From far and near, from the nearby towns and villages they came to the county-town – Sokółka, in order to arrange all the paper-work needed for immigration and Meyer Tarlowitz ran here and there, writing, filling requests, bringing witnesses, badgering local officials and authorities until he succeeded in obtaining all the necessary documents.

Many young people found in him a secure and reliable port in a storm and thanks directly to him, they succeeded in immigrating to Palestine. He, too, prepared himself and his family for immigration. To our sorrow the hand of the destroyer touched him first and together with his family he found his end in the gas-chambers.

May their names be remembered for a blessing.

Ben Zion Pomerantz

 

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