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[Page 270]

Our Being Saved from Destruction

By Gitl Feldshtein-Czerniak

It was Thursday, October 15, 1942 at 5 a.m. when the frightened shout of my brother Avraham wakened me from sleep: “Gitl, the ghetto is surrounded!” He opened from outside the shutters and disappeared. With him also his voice became silent. His excited shout accompanied me for many years. I did not see him anymore.

My husband and I dressed quickly and entered the nearby room in which we found my mother, Tseviyah, of blessed memory, and the mother of my husband, Shifrah, of blessed memory. They were standing as if frozen by fear and their glances asked: “What should we do? Where should we go?” My mother-in-law gave me a warm wool kerchief. It was a cold and rainy fall morning. The cold was felt in full strength. The potato harvest in the fields was then at its peak.

I remember that the day before then there appeared in the ghetto the German inspector for the agricultural harvest (Kreislandwirt) and he announced that everyone would be able to dig in the field and to harvest three pood of potatoes (a pood is 16 kg). My brother, Avraham, prepared to go to the field, assuming if they allowed us to harvest the potatoes that the winter would pass peacefully and they would not harm the inhabitants of the ghetto. I was not so optimistic. Oppositely, I feared that who knows if we will benefit to taste from them. And thus it was. The Judenrat was arrested by the police on the night after the declaration of the Kreislandwirt. The ghetto was surrounded by the Nazis before morning. Thus, the Nazis and their helpers would trick the inhabitants of the ghetto each time before a criminal action, in order to put to sleep their watchfulness, organization, or opposition. The fact that this time the Judenrat was arrested was severe and gave witness that the intention was to liquidate all of us.

The moments passed. We had to decide on steps to save ourselves. However, no one knew what to do. My husband said, “I will go out and see what is going on.” He quickly returned excited and said that he suspected there was no chance to be saved since the guard around the ghetto was very strong. And then came the thought: “Perhaps, we will succeed to go out by way of the house of the Rimer family, which is on the border with the Christian street.” When we got there running, we saw that many people had the

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same idea. We got there and filled the house. The windows were covered by wooden boards and no one dared to remove them and make an opening to escape.

My husband succeeded in removing some boards and was about to jump outside. I took hold of a corner of his coat and warned him to look if there was no guard. However, the thick mist of that fall morning prevented him from seeing anything. When he jumped and went ahead a few steps, we heard the order of a German: “Stop!”

I was able to see the armed Nazi seize my husband by his shoulder and take him away from the place. Those who remained hurried again to close the opening and leave the house. There passed after a few seconds a group of people going toward the house of Joseph Sirotah, in which dwelt Peltsuk's son-in-law, who was arrested with the Judenrat. They called us to join them. As it seems, however, I did not hear their call because my eyes were turned toward the near fence in the hope that perhaps my husband would see me. However, my mother began to walk in the direction of the group, which was going away, as her look full of despair and sadness rested on me. I will forget the expression of her face in that moment, her frightened eyes, pale face, and embroidered kerchief on her head.

I remember her words after we were saved from the previous Action: “Children, in the future in the time of an Action, do not call and encourage one another. Let each one go her way, as fit to him and may good fortune accompany him.” And thanks to that I was saved and remained alive.

I remained with my mother-in-law, of blessed memory, who, full of mourning and despair, kept on murmuring: “They took Pinchas. Pinchas is no more!” And her voice was full of tears. We felt it dangerous to remain outside at a time when at any moment the gate was going to be opened and the Action begun. We entered a house that was near the fence and hid in the small cellar. The criminal Action began after a short time in the ghetto. We heard in the rooms the steps and shouts of a German: “Out!” We heard in a nearby apartment the crying of an infant. Its parents, the family of Avraham Zaidl, were not able to give it to Christians as we did a month before then. This time the parents left the infant as they fled since there was no other choice for the unfortunates.

The crying of the infant stopped because the Nazi that walked into the house and shouted “Out” took it with him. Immediately after this the cry of a woman outside broke the silence. She tried to convince some Nazi that she could still work and bring value and because of this he should let her remain alive. A shot put an end to her entreaties and life.

Thus, the hours of the day passed that seemed like an eternity. The evening came and with it darkness. The Christian inhabitants began to break into the houses to plunder. The entrance to the attic was found above the cellar in which we hid. We feared that perhaps one of the plunderers would direct to us a flashlight through the opening and reveal our hiding place. In addition to this there were isolated shots that sounded through the air from time to time. They increased the terror that surrounded us. We sat together on the floor and were silent.

Slowly there came the morning light of Friday. We heard the creaking of a board from a nearby hiding place. From it came out our neighbor Rachel Kaplan, from the Hirshenhorn family, with her two children, a son of six or seven and another of about two. To my question through the boards where was her husband and what she intended to do, she answered to me, that her husband was not with her and that she was going to get water and some kerosene for the lamp. When she returned after some minutes, the small child did not want to return to the hiding place after he saw that it was light outside. However, Rachel put him in by force, as the child was crying. When they just managed to get into the hiding place, a strong knocking was heard and the police burst into the house upon hearing the crying of the child.

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One of the police went to the cellar that was in the second part behind the partition of boards, where I was hiding with my mother-in-law. He began to feel the boards. We huddled in these moments in a corner and held our breath.

It is possible that there is not a heavy guard in the boundary of the ghetto and the market place, where there is the police station and the police dormitory (Paltsuk and Sirota's house) because there they secure. And so, it was. By crawling on his stomach between these two aforementioned houses, Pinchas succeeded in leaving. He passed the market place, the rows of stores, reached Visotski's house and from there to the side streets in the direction of the Pinsker farmlands. The streets were dark and abandoned. A light rain fell. Suddenly, he heard the order: “Stop.” Pinchas recognized that the one shouting was York, a local policeman. This policeman wanted to avoid participating in actions against the villagers, who would refuse to collaborate with the Germans. He had come to me and received an ointment to cause an allergic reaction, which he put between the toes of his foot. They swelled up and he was not able to put on his shoes. Therefore, he remained on local guard duty. When Pinchas recognized York's voice, he said, “Don't shoot me. It is I, the doctor Tcherniak.” The policeman put down the gun. He said where the German guard was and left. Pinchas continued on his way beyond the house of the inhabitants and reached the farm of Ivan Raiduk.

We did not speak much at our meeting, Pinchas and I, in our conversation about what happened to us. We were dazed. And to the degree that we were able to concentrate our thought, we were given to plan for our flight because there was not a place to assume that the danger was behind us. And what was the situation at Vera Okhrits? How could we be informed?

We felt that Ivan and his wife disappeared from the farm. They did not take care even to feed their animals. That Sunday passed on us standing guard, looking through the cracks if the police or SS were not appearing. Ivan and his wife returned at night and informed us because of fear that they would be revealed and in this endanger their lives that they could not continue to hide us.

We left about 12 a.m. in the direction of the village of Frishikhvust that was near Antopol. Ivan explained to us exactly the way to the farmer Nastruk, who was one of our patients. We arrived there. We found a place to hide among the pile of clover against the wall of the barn. We spent all the day standing up. We saw early in the morning how Nastruk harnessed his horse to the wagon and went with his wife. When it became dark, we entered the barn and when Nastruk returned my husband approached him and asked for refuge. After advice with his wife, he returned and brought us milk, eggs, and bread. However, he informed us that he could not hide us because his wife had heart trouble and this would endanger her health being in constant fear. We left in the evening.

It was clear that it would be difficult for two people to hide together. Therefore, we decided to split. I would go to Zusyah and my husband would go to Tanyah, two patients of my husband for whom he did a lot. Tanyah agreed and did the best she could She gave food to Pinchas and sought a refuge. She talked things over with her aunt, who lived in an isolated house nearby, not far from the railway tracks to Pinsk. She persuaded her to put up my husband. Likewise, she took it upon herself to provide the food since her aunt was poor. This did not happen for me with Zusyah. When she saw me, she was afraid and began with her old mother to ask that I leave her house. My pleas did not help. Her husband appeared. He explained that the Germans employed him in burying the dead. They were killing all the Jews in the ghetto. And the meaning: what was I doing here? They intentionally raised up the flame of the light in the room and Zusyah opened the door. My condition was very bad. I had to act quickly: I left the house and immediately changed my direction in

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order to disappear from the sight of Zusyah and her husband. I also went to Tanyah. I saw from the window inside her house that she was with a man. I knocked on the door and a man came out, whom I did not recognize. I asked him to tell Tanyah that her friend wanted to see her. She went out, immediately recognized me, and informed me that my husband was with her a short while ago and she hid him with her aunt. At my request, she brought me also to the hiding place of Pinchas.

We spent a few days and nights in the potato cellar and again a few days in the attic of the barn until it became too cold. We persuaded the aunt to let us dig a hiding place under the floor of the house in the entrance beneath the stoke-hold of the oven. There we remained all the months of the winter under inhuman conditions. Even Tanyah's visits became few and the portions of food became more miserable. We had to take care from the oldest son of our host, who would frequently get drunk, and we feared that in his drunkenness, he would reveal us.

Groups of partisans began to operate in the region. From time to time, they mined the railway tracks. The Germans ordered to cut down the forests and to destroy the houses near to the tracks so that they would not serve as a hiding place for those doing demolition. The house in which we were was a distance of about 200 meters from the railway. They were ordered to leave it by May 15 because it would be destroyed by the Germans.

The question arose about what to do with us. If they let us leave, then the Nazis could catch us and then they would hang the participants who had helped the Jews. They began to make plans in the kitchen between Tanyah and her aunt. Pinchas heard the sessions of advice above. He would crawl to the stoke-bold each time that Tanyah would come to the sessions. One evening it was decided to poison us. They put on Kolik to bring mouse poison. The next day Kolik informed that he would not get it since the sale of poison was forbidden by the Germans for security reasons. They came up with a second plan, to kill us by shooting. It was decided it would be carried out by the lover of Tanyah, the policeman Kostik.

We prepared for the developments. My husband got a key to the door and got a hold of clubs so that we would be able to escape in case it was finally decided to execute us. All this was done when the mistress of the house and her small son, a shepherd, were out. In those hours we would go out of our hiding place like mice to get fresh air, to wash, etc. We continued to listen to the sessions of planning that were held from evening to evening in the kitchen. We listened with excitement to the report of Tanyah, who gave the answer of her lover, Kostik. He was shocked at the suggestion of his beloved, and he remembered the help that Dr. Tcherniak gave to her and to him when he was still in the ghetto. Finally, he refused to carry out the plan and suggested to take advice with the Director of the Office of Employment in Antopol, the Pole Artsishevski, who as he knew had saved a Jewish girl during the killing and he assured them that he would agree to help Dr. Tserniak and his wife.

Our hostess told us the next day of the order to leave (she understandably did not know we had heard everything) and gave the good news that Artsishevski was about to visit us and that we should prepare for this visit. She made it possible for us to wash and to go away. He appeared at dark and broke out crying at our poor appearance. Leaving the place was carefully planned. Artsishevski came a second time before evening. I was accompanied by him and my husband was in the company of the aunt. Holding arms, we went in the direction of Antopol by the Pinsk farmland in the evening hours. On the way Mr. Artsishevski greeted acquaintances passing by with a good evening. Understandably, they did not recognize us. We arrived at his house. Artsishevski took care to prepare for us a hiding place in the attic of his granary. His servant took care of our needs.

The activities of the partisans became more frequent in the region. Artsishevski brought us news

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from time to time about that. He also made contact with them. My husband requested him to take from us to the partisans, who were active in the region of Grusheva, the news that we were alive. My husband made contact with this group when he was still in the ghetto when he gave it medical help. It did not take long and we received the news that we were to prepare ourselves for the way to join them.

When the supplies ran out that we brought with us, we began raids on the surrounding farms in order to get food and information about what was happening in the region. In the beginning there visited us at set times contacts from other groups in the region and they instructed us about what was going to happen. They brought us news about organization in a broad scope and promised to give us aid with supplies and arms in the approaching spring. Meanwhile, we sat in the bunker and waited.

A deep snow covered the ground, and from fear of leaving signs from steps that could reveal us, we sat for five days straight without food. On one of these nights when I stood outside on my watch, I heard steps coming close. I entered the bunker and alerted the people of the group. And indeed these were steps but not of people. Rather they were of a horse that lost its way and reached us. Since we were hungry like wolves in the winter, we killed the horse and ate its flesh that was cooked without salt and was tasteless and caused us nausea despite our hunger. From fear of being revealed, we tried to do as little as possible in the search for food from farmers in the region. However, not just once we were forced to endanger ourselves in the search for food from the farmers in the region when we were very oppressed by hunger. Then our youth would raid the nearby farms and bring us some food. We held out all the winter months under these conditions.

From time to time our people would carry out different actions under their own initiative. One of them was carried out by seven youths of the bravest in our group. They attacked on one night the residence of the Gebiets-Kommissar in Pruzani and took him prisoner without firing a shot, so as not to make noise. They covered his mouth, bound him, and managed to take with them all the office equipment with the military documents, all the arms that included a submachine gun and a Mauser, and also all the ceremonial dress of the Gebiets-Kommissar. The documents included very important information, as was revealed afterwards. When they returned from this action, the youth succeeded in disarming a unit of German soldiers that happened upon their way.

Because I could not rest after what happened with the young men, he agreed to my request.When I told him what happened in our group and I asked him to explain the matter, he answered me that certainly a sad incident had happened, that innocent people had died, and those that falsely accused them would be examined when the time came and would get punished. However, I was to be silent until then, or I would endanger my life. In the first weeks when I was in the new camp, I could not relieve myself because of the depression from the tragedy. I would take every opportunity to tell my sadness to people, who came up to me. Those who were guilty of committing the crime did not like this and to get rid of doubts about themselves, they decided to get rid of me so that I would not testify against them when the day came.

There was a Jewish man of middle age, by the name of Misha Moitigski, in the group to which I belonged. One night we were sent out to mine the railway tracks. On the way I felt that Misha was really following my tracks and watching that the distance between me and him would not widen. The matter bothered me and I asked him why he was following me. He answered me in Russian: “It is not your business; it is necessary.” After some time, when I calmed down a bit, the danger passed and the commanders began to relate to me as an active partisan for everything, Misha told me, because on that night the partisan murderers had decided to kill me also, and he decided to frustrate their plan.

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The fate of Misha and another young man from Minsk Sanyah (Shimon) was decided when they returned with their unit from a military operation against the Germans. The house to which they entered to rest was surrounded by Germans. There remained no way out for them to save themselves. They burst outside, threw a grenade against their attackers, and killed some of them. However, this did not save them. The chain around them tightened more. They threw another grenade at the Germans and killed some more. They kept the last grenade for themselves. When the Nazis approached shouting revenge to capture them, they lit the fuse of the grenade that took away the thread of their life. Misha and Sanyah also kept the slogan of the hero Samson – “Let-my soul die with the Philistines” – and their blood was mixed with that of their attackers.

Those who were investigated returned to the group warned not to say anything to their colleagues. They began the preparations for the road before evening. Each of us went out in groups of five with some space to the nearby village. When we were sent away from the place, I remarked to Galyah in whose group I went that for reason we cannot see our youth. She reacted to that with a lack of patience and advised that I should not make a fuss about it because it could be dangerous for me. She also promised to speak with me about it afterwards. Suddenly, I heard shots from a submachine gun and I was very frightened. And as I found out later these were the shots of execution killing our seven brave young men.

When we came to the village, we found in the houses of the farmers a warm meal, which the contact people had prepared for us in advance. And after a light rest, we were called to the gathering point, where wagons harnessed to horses waited to take us to the partisans' camp. Into the house, where I was staying with Galyah, the wife of Yosl Untershtraus, there entered one of the partisans, who had visited our group to mobilize us. He was wearing a man's jacket, which I recognized as belonging to Maitsek. He had the submachine gun and Mauser of Maitsek. When he took off the leather man's jacket because the room was hot, I saw that he had Maitsek's shirt and gold watch from the spoils of the Nazi from Pruzani. I understood at once that a tragedy had happened to our young men and I burst out crying bitterly. All the night on the way to the partisans' camp, I sat in the wagon next to Galyah and cried about the bitterness of the fate of our brave youth, who had been murdered for no reason.

Towards morning we arrived in the partisans' camp in the name of Tseklov, which was camped in the thick forests of Bilovzaskiyah Potshtsah (formerly the estate of the Russian Czars). The camp had tents and different buildings. It was properly equipped. We divided into the tents and after a short while we were called to a census. Each one of us was put into a certain group. At the end of the counting and registration we were freed to rest. Among the people from headquarters who took the count, I saw one man from the underground, Afanasiev, whom I recognized from his many visits to our group. When we were freed, I approached him and asked him for some minutes to speak with me.

There was found an abandoned bunker about 20 km from our partisans' camp. Units used to visit it on their return way from night raids to rest. Once one of those who participated in an action and visited the bunker informed me that he saw there four people, among them a girl that resembled me. He asked me if it were my sister. These were a husband and wife by the name of Shapira, a youth by the name of Roitkopf, and a girl named Nina, whose similarity in appearance to me moved the man to think that she were my sister.

When I was informed that the finding of the people saved was brought to the knowledge of the commander, I asked him to permit me to visit them and bring them to the camp. The commander hesitated and tried to make me change my mind from doing this by saying that he did not have in his possession the weapons needed to outfit them.

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However, he did not stand my great pleading and the next day we went to the place. We didn't find any one in the bunker. Its inhabitants hid in the nearby thickets during the day and would return to it only at night. It was permitted for me to call to them in Yiddish in order to gain their trust and lessen the fear of those hiding. I called to them not to fear and that I am a Jewish partisan. Certainly, they were calmed and came out to us from their hiding place. Their appearance was frightening. They were wearing rags, their hair was not cut, and they were worn out and pale. They told us that one of the farmers from the nearby farm supplied them with some food for the last money that they had. Shapira, whose profession was a carpenter, managed to make the model of a rifle out of a tree. He used it to frighten the farmers to get food.

The appearance of the saved people and my pleadings influenced the commander. He decided to bring them to the nearby civilian camp that benefited from his protection. There were many civilian families in it. Since in one of our successful battles, we got a large spoil of weapons, we outfitted the four and added all of them our partisan camp. All of them are living now in Israel.

The battles became more frequent. Understandably, the Germans opened an action against us and our men had to wander from place to place. During these days one of the units of our group received the order to mine the railway tracks and did not return at the set time. This situation forced all the group to remain in place as much time was possible. The farmers, who came to harvest their crop and were warned not to reveal our place to the Germans, were not able to keep their promise and informed on us. Our camp was found in the cave of a forest surrounded by deep swamps. Suddenly, the man on watch, who sat in a high tree, informed of people approaching. At first, we thought that these were our men from the unit, who were missing from last night and being led by Yashah. However, it was revealed that these were Germans, who were scouting the place, as a result of the information of the farmers.

The commander ordered us to take position and not to fire without command. The group of German scouts had eighteen people. We let them approach to a good range and the submachine gun wiped all of them out before they were able to use their weapons. Three of them, who were wounded, were taken to camp for interrogation. They were also killed when we had to leave. I was chosen to kill one of them. I listened to the laconic comment of my commander, “too bad to waste a bullet”, and I was happy to put an end to one of the monsters in the form of a human with my knife.

The main force of the group approached following the German scouts and the noise of the shots. The commander, Pioter Ivanovits, went together with some partisans towards those keeping watch in order to prepare the battle against the German army that was advancing towards us. The battle developed so that they were able to kill about forty German officers and soldiers. However, they found themselves cut off from us. We thought them to be lost and the subcommander took over command. Pioter Ivanovits and his men returned to us; about after a month, worn out, hungry, and with no weapons. Our happiness knew no boundary.

When the battle was over with the Germans in our victory, we know that additional units of the German army with much more weapons would reach our place in order to gather the bodies of their dead. And certainly it happened like that. Our now commander organized a successful ambush by the dead bodies. When the additional Germans came, we killed about one hundred of them and retreated to another place.

Despite the fact that I had held a weapon, participated in all the daring battles of the unit to which I belonged, and placed my life in danger with them wherever they went, I was severely deprived at the end of the war by my commanders, who wrote on my partisan's document that I was a cook. This burning humiliation was the part of many, very many

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of our boys and girls, who served in the ranks of the partisans. They were motivated by vengeance to endanger their lives. They did not avoid the most dangerous actions. They were always the first to volunteer to carry out dangerous tasks. They put on them false charges with their liberation at the end of the war with the goal of lessening the many merits that they deserved on the field of battle.

 

Mosheh Dor Ber Pomerants, Poet of the Holocaust

Remarks in Evaluating his Poetry

The collection of poems of Ber Pomerants, the new book of poems, which appeared in the framework of the series called Nefesh of the Association of Writers (this time through the means of Masadah – and what a difference to the good in contrast to the two previous books of this type, the collections of David Fogel and Noah Shtern), is almost entirely in the force of a revelation.

I knew until now a total of three poems of the poet (who died at the hands of the Germans in 1942 after his hiding place in a Polish forest was discovered). These poems were included in Mivhar ha- Shirah ha-Ivrit ha-Hadashah edited by Asher Barash, which was published in 698 (1939). Those poems were able to attract attention and more than this: the uniqueness of their author stood out without any possibility of denying it. However now, when we are presented with the complete poetry that he left behind, that is, what he was able to publish in his lifetime, we do not stop to be astonished. The guesses as to what any poet would be able to produce if he had remained alive is an old issue in the history of literature. However, what force it has in the present circumstance. The ability of Ber Pomerants has already come to exciting proof in his poems that were published. Precisely this proof gives a place for exciting speculations. The style, which is the seal of the personality of the poet, is stamped in it to such an extent. It is a sincere, convincing, authentic modernism. At the same time, it is without pretension, because of the modesty of the author, which pours out onto the lines of Polish Hebrew poetry of the 1920s and 1930s. And this is even the poetry of the Land of Israel on its own merit.

And first of all, what is modernism? This is the new cut of speech in faith, the clearly independent point of view, and the wisdom of absolutely individualistic combinations. These are all because they are necessary for the inner development of the poet. Certainly, there are also influences on Pomerants from either poets writing in foreign languages or in Hebrew. However, these influences were forged on the anvil of personal creativity, which is the gland and its seed, originality. It is interesting to compare the poem of Pomerants, “Galshah av agulah adamdemet” (“A round, reddish cloud glided down”) to that of “Mi-tokh viduyav shel huligan” (“From the Confessions of a Hooligan” by Sergei Yesenin). There are some close elements in them.

According to the testimony of those who knew, Pomerants read a lot of Russian literature. However, come and see to what degree each of these two poets have their own clear identity. Yesenin says in the translation of Shlonsky,

Poor, poor farmers!
Certainly, you have become ugly
And you also feared my master and the mud of every swamp
Ha, if you only understood that among you in Russia he is the greatest of poets.
While, Pomerants is above all a Jew: The world?
And I got up in clean cloth with a portion of kosher milk, the gift of an alert mother.

The mother loved her son
who had an ugly nose and ordered the sun to watch his steps,
even if he disobeyed her

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with the guilt of his beauty beneath his flesh;
If he even would go out to move above thorns,
Perhaps, he will be once to justly spread out love.

The poetry of Pomerants is clearly autobiographical. It is possible to reconstruct it according to what is made to speak from it even without the order of a formal life. This is great praise. You learn from it about the personal history of a Jewish youth, born in a village in the depths of a region of forests. He was formerly a Russian and Polish after the change of government. The material condition of his family was difficult. His father died. He had deep emotional ties with his mother. This is a chapter in the study of the poetry of Pomerants, which is worthy of a separate and comprehensive discussion. The displacement makes a comment on everything that is understood from it, whether from the standpoint of the struggle with the new urban landscape or from the standpoint of the longing for the pastoral landscape from which he was taken from its bosom. This is a poem with expressionist resonance. However, it does not shout it but turns it inward.

How nice is the small poem “Hithamek ha kokhav ha-maadim” (“The red star disappeared”). How much of an original point of view there is in it. To what a degree are the images taken from the material world so that it is possible to feel it with one's hands. The star is compared to a debtor, who has lost his wealth. There is no hint here of an abstract typed romanticism. And also the description and the passage in the street in front of it. It is a scene likely to glide into excitement, captivating and noble, quiet inside itself. The milieu of the forest and village, like that of the city, with its drunkards and whores and the cruelty basic to it, both of them real and living.

The poems about the father, whose background is the beloved region of his birth are not an idyll with all the warmth of feeling that comes out of them.

Take, for example the poem, “Al ha-hadom” (“On the footstool”):

And when you return
And a heavy cloud rose above the house
and filled the house with a spirit of great happiness
because beside the joy of life that sang forth
and the goodness of heart promising
Did you not bring a sack of potatoes
and a jug of honey.

There are in the poems of Pomerants, which are mainly written in blank verse out of a refusal to be bound by an ensnaring framework, great gentility but never femininity. They have great pride but are not haughty. They are not arrogant in closed . Rather, they have humane pride, which gathers its strength from the honor of man in the image of God. This is without turning a back to the distortion of this in a cruel, brutal, and inhumane world. They have Jewish pride but clean from a suspicion of chauvinism, which is startling, not just once, in the works of other poets, who needed nationalistic and aggressiveness in order to take a stand in the face of a hateful external milieu and desirous of revenge.

This is pure Jewish pride, which was cleansed by great historical and personal suffering altogether. In his poem, “ha-Sharif ”:

I am judged to hate by those, who inherited the forest desiring to breathe in absolute despair, but proud while the light of day destroys in me innocent trust and I am even without weapons a Semitic hero.

It seems to me that in the case of Pomerants, it is definitely possible to come across the prophecy of a heart growing heavy, of the catastrophe waiting at the gate. This is even if one should be very cautious in distinguishing “prophecies of destruction” in the area of poetry of Jewish writers before the Second

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World War. It is so astonishing for this reason to read the last poem that he was able to publish before the depth opened its jaw. It is apparently the summer of 699 (1939), and in it are the very joyful words of Pomerants to his only young son:

“Sleep, my dear, and be charming to yourself and your mother.
The soft leaves of a tree have gone out from the forest to cover your crib.”

It is really not pleasant in conclusion to comment on the superficiality of the Academy to this wonderful book, to which it had erred in routine language and concept. However, its shallowness cannot cast a cloud over a project worthy of praise, which the Association of Writers did in putting together the work of Pomerants. In the same way, nothing in it can lessen the feeling of happiness, tragic as it is, that Hebrew literature has a unique poet like this.

 

About the Graves of our Dear Ones, Sons of Antopol

Two Invitations in Memory of the Destruction

By P. Czerniak

Being brought to Jewish burial is the holy duty of the one remaining yet alive towards the Jew who died. Thus, the sons of Antopol acted in the time of the 400 years of their existence until the years 1940/41. During that time, there took control of the town beasts of prey and carried out the barbaric executions of infant, women, and unarmed men, innocent of crime. In the sands that face Frishikhvust at the side of the highway to Pinsk, there were dug pits, mass graves, by the gentiles from the nearby village at the request of those who carried out the crime of genocide.

We returned to Antopol on June 22, 1944. The beasts of prey left in haste. The heroes of the murders of unarmed victims feared the terror of death of those returning with arms.

The first invitation. On September 17, 1944, the Isfolkom of the town of Antopol organized a ceremony of opening the mass graves. I received an invitation from Mr. Pastoshenko, the chairman. It was written in it: “We ask you to participate in the sub-committee for 394 opening the graves of the victims, whom the Germans, ravaging Fascists, killed in a bestial manner during the time of occupation.” It was very hard for me to give a positive answer.

I sent in my place the Jewish doctor from Moscow, who was sent to help me. She told me: “It was a terrible scene. Huge amounts of tears fell from our eyes when in the open field, between mountains of sand, they showed the place of burial, dug a little, and there began to appear bones and the poor remains of which were once living beings. It was impossible to identify any individuals. Among those killed from the ghetto, there were also the bodies of a number of gentiles who were killed by the Nazis, who suspected them of treason. Those present heard words of eulogy in Russian, brought up memories, and cursed the accursed Germans. Then they covered with sand the 394 remains of the dear ones, put wire around, and with pain held in that closed the throat from speaking, returned in silence to Antopol.

Second invitation. Twenty-seven years after that there was sent an invitation at the request of the Organization of People from Antopol in Israel to the dear people from our town. This is its content: “By this you are invited to a ceremony of memorial and burial of pieces of soil from the mass grave of our dear martyrs of Antopol, may God revenge their blood, in the cellar of the Holocaust on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, which will take place on Monday, 21 Sivan, June 14, 1971 at 17 hours (5 p.m.) A member of our town Leibl London, who had recently immigrated to Israel with his family from Russia was a messenger for a good deed, and at our

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request traveled especially to visit the mass grave of our dear martyrs in Antopol, whose grave remained open to beasts of the field and humans, so that when he immigrated to Israel, he would bring from their grave soil to the Land of Israel.

In burying the remains of our martyrs in the cellar of the Holocaust on Mt. Zion in holy Jerusalem, there was filled the duty and holy deed to bring them in this form to bring them to Jewish burial.

Rabbi Blau, may he live along and good life, will lead the ceremony of memorial and burial of the remains in the cellar of the Holocaust. Professor Pinchas Tserniak will speak in the name of the Organization of People from Antopol. The participants after the ceremony will all say Kaddish.

We turn to and ask by this of the people from our town to come to participate in the ceremony in the set place and time and to give the last honor by this to our dear martyrs from Antopol, may God revenge their blood.”

Rabbi Blau, may he live along and good life, showed in his words of eulogy that he already knew the good deeds of the Jews of Antopol before the outbreak of WWII. Under the black marble tablet of the black monument that symbolizes the graves of many brethren from the camps of destruction and the ghettos, we put a small bag of remains, of which each grain in it symbolizes a dear person from among so many that are missing now among us, sunk in pain, praying and saying chapters of Psalms. May their memory be holy. The sad and deep voice of the cantor says out the prayer of El male rahamim for them, and those present say aloud Kaddish.

At the symbolic grave in the Land of our ancestors, we take leave from the martyrs of the town, we who remain alive. And here are the words of one of those saved, Pinchas Tserniak: The dear and silent remains of thousands of parents, brothers, and sisters, who were buried on the altar of the nation 30 years ago. The surviving remnant, which fled from the graves prepared to swallow them. The people from Antopol who in their good fortune had left while there was still a chance!

All of us are again united here. Before our eyes are more than two thousand people from the dear town that was and is no more. Behold, in front of us there hover the spirits of the youth and old, pupils and teachers, fathers, and their infants, as the remains of their bodies are laid in front of us, here in the cellar of the terrible Holocaust, the deed of German murderers.

In the years 1940/41, we walked in the streets of the ghetto of Antopol with the sign of a yellow Star of David on our breast and back, just like robots, whose sign of humanity had been stolen from them, the warmth of the heart and the power to think. We listened there day and night to the absurd gentiles, who ruled over us, to their absurd justice. The (accursed) judge Hitler had decreed a death sentence without possibility to appeal over all the people of the Jewish nation. And behold, they were innocent of any crime, except one. That they were born, grew up, and uplifted in their spirit in the times of his Germans, Hitler's before they had been allowed to see the light of day and to be warmed in the Holy spirit. In addition to this, these Jews were always, despite everything, an example for other nations, who learned law and good deeds from them, and not from the hated superman of the executioner.

About these years 1940/42 that came on us in the ghettos and the camps, Ezekiel the prophet has said in chapter 37:11: “Behold, they say: Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.” And so it was.

We did not have then in the ghetto of Antopol any hope to live. There was no hope to live again. We were cut off, cut up without any hope that we could again return to our whole state.

The Nazi decree was carried out with a cruelty without example. And we, who are still alive, ask, and ask again: Why, how did this happen? What will be, what to do, how to suffer? How to act? How can we make it easier for the spirits of the dead that hover here after life were cast out from their bodies in the

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spring of their life?

And here is the answer of the prophet (the following is from Ezekiel 37:1-14). The valley about which the prophet spoke is the cellar of the Holocaust in which we are standing and around us the dead bones, the holy remains from the Nazi Hell that was in all Europe, the remains of 6 million people.

We return to the question asked of Ezekiel: “Son of man, will these bones live?” Is it possible to put the spirit of life into these remains? And the answer that was received: “Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you and you will live. Behold, I will open your graves and bring you to the Land of Israel, my people, and you will live.”

There rises the hope in us. Perhaps our deeds and thoughts will succeed in making live the dry bones seeking mercy for themselves, to continue in their lives, in their thoughts, in their desires, to carry out the plans of their own and children's lives.

Catastrophes similar to ours there were also in other times and places. Tens of thousands were killed, and the only comfort that remained was for the people that the souls of the murdered remained in life. The soul is something that a weapon cannot destroy. It is not of flesh and blood. Therefore, we set up graves and monuments for remains. We dedicate houses of worship and places to come together with the soul.

People who remain alive keep watch on one side over the remains, the dry bones, and on the other side the hovering spirits. They raise their hand and take an oath to do everything to continue the lives and desires of the murdered after the sword has taken the soul from the body.

We swear here that we will give birth to a new generation in a new land, that the dry bones will get skin, that spirit of life will enter people to bring a regeneration and rebirth of this people. In the words of the prophets: “We will come out of the grave and be a very great people.”

Know, our remains and dear souls, that your sacrifice was not in vain, that your dreams fashioned in the Diaspora are being realized. We will do everything to advance them more and more. Rest in peace in Paradise.

Mr. Lifshits, as representative of the people from Antopol in Israel, concluded the day of memory for the martyrs of Antopol in the cellar of the Holocaust, with an instructive story on their greatness, qualities, and adherence to Torah, worship and good deeds by those who are no more.

We left full of sadness with the decision to realize the oath.

 

Activities of the Organization in Israel

The Organization of Former Residents of Antopol in Israel

By H. Osip

The organization was founded in 1951 with the arrival in Israel of the first survivors, who brought the bad news of what happened and the fate of our parents, relatives, and all the community of the martyrs of Antopol.

A deep feeling of being orphaned and loss surrounded us. An inner drive instructed us to establish an organization of Holocaust survivors, the few families, which remained from a community of hundreds of families so that we could have meetings, memorials to mourn together, and to establish an annual memorial meeting in memory of our martyrs. The organization of former residents of Antopol in Israel numbers 70-80 families, who know one another from their days of living in the town of their birth and going back two or three generations.

We maintain connections with the committees of organizations of Landsmanshaftn in the United States and with many families in other countries. We

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succeeded with the help of these organizations in erecting a beautiful synagogue in Tel Aviv to memorialize the memory of our community and our martyrs. The synagogue is called The Synagogue in the Name of the Martyrs of Antopol. It has a memorial hall for meetings and memorials that we make yearly on 4 Heshvan.

The organization established a Free Loan Society in the name of the martyrs of Antopol, which is called The Fund of Harry and Fanny Osipovits, of New York. This fund grew with their help and activity. The fund distributes loans to members of the organization to be paid back in small payments and without interest.

The name of the community was memorialized in the Holocaust Cellar in Jerusalem by the family of Max and Rebecca Futerman of New York during their visit to Israel in 1964. There were also brought to it in 1971 ashes from the mass grave of our martyrs.

Recently there was founded a fund for scholarships in the name of Louis and Jean Leaf. The philanthropist was born in Canada and his parents are from Antopol. The interest, which will build up in the fund will be distributed as scholarships to students of members of the organization.

Understandably, the biggest success is the publication of the memorial book for the martyrs of Antopol, which we were able to see published due to the initiative of the committee of the organization in Israel.

 

Synagogue in Memory of the Martyrs of Antopol in Tel Aviv

By Z. Z. Shahor

R. Zalman Shahor established a temporary synagogue at the end of Elul 697 (August 1937) in the old Lodz Factory on Nahmani Street, which was called afterwards synagogue in the heart of Tel Aviv. The attempt succeeded and the synagogue developed. Some prayer quorums prayed in it on the weekdays and the synagogue was noisy with a throng of worshippers on the Sabbath and festivals. The founder of the synagogue looked forward from the day of its founding to a permanent synagogue on a fitting plot nearby. He called for that purpose to an assembly the congregants and residents nearby. A committee was elected and an association established to build a synagogue in the heart of Tel Aviv. Some years passed and despite the applications of the committee to the Tel Aviv Municipality, no fitting plot to build a synagogue was found. Zalman Shahor applied in 699 (1939) to an inhabitant of Sharonah (which bordered on the streets Yehudah ha-Levi-Koresh, Mazeh). His name was Ginter. He asked him to sell a plot belonging to him and facing the streets, Yehuda ha-Levi on one side and Koresh on another side. A cabin stood on this spot and in it were a grocery and butcher. The German agreed after lengthy negotiation to sell the plot, whose price would be set by an estimator. Zalman Shahor gave him fifty lira as an advance.

At this time, WWII broke and all the inhabitants of Sharonah were arrested, including the abovementioned Ginter. Zalman Shahor did not give up his plan. He applied to the mayor, Yisrael Rokeah, with the suggestion to ask the Mandatory Government to expropriate the piece of land bordering with the streets Yehudah ha-Levi-Koresh, Mazeh so that a central synagogue would be built since there was no synagogue in the neighborhood. Mr. Rokeah asked the Mandatory Government about this, and it expropriated an area of 24 dunams from the land of Sharonah. After lengthy negotiation with the mayor and the director of municipal property, there was agreed to set aside one dunam to build a synagogue in the heart of Tel Aviv.

People from the Antopol community applied in 714 (1954) to the chairman of the association to build a synagogue in the heart of Tel Aviv. He was the son of the luminary Rabbi Yosef David, of blessed memory, the rabbi of Antopol. They sug-

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gested to him that since they had a certain sum of money to build a synagogue in memory of the martyrs of Antopol and since a plot had been received from the municipality to build a synagogue that they enter in a partnership with the association and build together a synagogue in memory of the martyrs of Antopol. After a series of meetings with the committee of the association, it was decided to accept the suggestion of the people of Antopol. On the 23rd day of Shevat 714 (January 1954), there was signed with good will an agreement to build a synagogue in the heart of Tel Aviv. On the day after the signing of the agreement, there began fervent activity by the united committee to create the conditions that would make it possible to lay the foundation stone for the new synagogue. We approached some known architects and requested suggested plans. After precise examination and consultation with the director of municipal property at that time, Dr. Kaduri, the plans of the architect Mohilever and Koifman of Tel Aviv were chosen as the most appropriate.

There took place on 4 Marheshvan 716 (October 1955), which is the memorial day for the martyrs of Antopol, the festive laying of the foundation stone. This took place in the presence of the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Y. A. Herzog, may he be spared for long life; the Chief Rabbis of Tel Aviv, Rabbi Unterman, may he be spared for long life, and Rabbi Toledano, may he be spared for long life; Hasidic Rebbes, city rabbis, the mayor, Mr. Hayyim Levanon, his assistants, Rabbi Abramowitz and R. Avraham Boyer, Director of the Section for Municipal Property, representatives of the engineering division, citizens of Tel Aviv, people from Antopol from all over the country and the congregants from the synagogue in the heart of Tel Aviv. Chief among them was their rabbi, the luminary, R. Dov Rozntal, may he be spared for long life, Rav Ezor Lev, Tel Aviv, and rabbi of the synagogue.

The laying of the foundation stone was celebrated with much glory and dignity. Immediately, we approached the building. We contacted the contractors of the Company Hartsovah. We began to build the first part, the foundations, the shelter and the supporting pillars to a height of 12 meters. We received 9,000 dollars from people from Antopol in Chicago. Mr. Zalman Shahor received confirmation from the minister, R. Mosheh Shapira, to receive a loan from the Ministry of Religions for 10,000 lira. We approached the municipality and Mr. Boyer promised to pay the loan from the Ministry of Religions on the condition that we return to him 4,000 lira that he lacked for the yearly budget of little synagogues, which do not have the possibility of finishing their buildings. In order not to delay the building, we agreed and the Municipality of Tel Aviv paid the loan. We began to raise money from the congregants of the synagogue in the heart of Tel Aviv and also from the few in number of the people from Antopol in Tel Aviv. A member of the committee, Mr. Hayim Osip, who traveled to the United States to visit his family, arranged a meeting of people from Antopol in New York and on his return brought some cash and much enthusiasm, which he planted in people's hearts. We finished with God's help the first stage and were forced to make an interruption since we had no more money.

Since the synagogue building was next to the Yehudah ha-Levi School, its supporting pillars served as a good goal for children to climb and jump from them. This fact forced the principal to come and warn us that if we did not complete the building or at least build a barbed wire fence, we would be responsible for what happened, God forbid, to any child. We faced the choice of completing the building or building a fence around it. Since we didn't have money, the committee decided after some stormy sessions to build a barbed wire fence. This would cost more than 1,000 lira. Zalman Shahor could not sleep that night. He thought that if we fenced the building that we would have peace from the principal of the school and the municipality. However, who knows when we would begin to build again?

We needed to begin building and God would help! In the morning he contacted some members of

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the committee and informed them that he had made up his mind. He replied in answer to the question of from where they would get money: “God will help!” He asked Shemuel Lifshits and Hayim Osip if they were prepared to sing on notes due to the contractors. When he received a positive answer, he called the contractors, new agreements were signed, and building was begun. There began intensive work to get sources of money in Israel and in the United States. Slowly, there began to stream some money from the Untied States through the devotion of Mr. and Mrs. Harry and Fanny Osipovits-Osip, people from Antopol, who themselves gave sizable sums and raised small and big sums from people from Antopol in the United States.

With diligent work by the committee of the association to build a synagogue in memory of the martyrs of Antopol, it was already possible to gather and pray in the new synagogue even though it was not completed. They prayed in the new synagogue during the High Holidays of 719 (1958). They also had prayers in the old synagogue in the heart of Tel Aviv. In 720 (1959), they moved to the new synagogue, whose building was completed, although there was still some work to be done. They continued working on the glorious building all these years and are still doing so up to this day. A monumental Holy Ark was built by the architects Nisim Shtrik and Shelomoh Bernstein. The Holy Ark is composed of marble, wood, and artistic glass. The woodwork was a gift of a congregant of the synagogue, the owner of a carpentry shop, Mr. Pesah Angel, in memory of his son Dan, of blessed memory, an air force pilot who died in the Six Day War.

There prayed in the synagogue daily one prayer quorum after another in the morning and evening. Impressive prayers were led on Sabbaths and festivals by well-known cantors. Spiritual activities of the study of the Torah were led by the rabbi, may he be spared for long life, who taught a daily lesson in Talmud. He gave lectures in ethics of the Fathers and midrashim. Also Rabbi Yekutiel, may he be spared for long life, gave daily lessons in Mishnah between the afternoon and evening prayers. Parties were made for the third Sabbath meal in which Rabbi Yekutiel said words of the Torah. The chairman of the synagogue, R. Zalman Shahor, taught a class in Talmud and the weekly portion of the Talmud. Lessons for young people and youth took place. Thus the synagogue served as a spiritual center for all the neighborhood.

This year we were able to put an advanced seminar of about ten adults completing their rabbinical courses and studying in the synagogue from morning to afternoon. The sound of Torah is heard in the synagogue all day and the doors are open to everyone seeking to quench their thirst for Torah. The people of Antopol managed to memorialize their loved ones' memory in a most sublime memorial by creating a big and beautiful synagogue in a quiet neighborhood in the center of Tel Aviv. The synagogue is surrounded by a beautiful garden and pretty trees, which add to the glory of this holy place.

 

Translation of a Letter

By Isar Yehudah b. R. A. Unterman,
Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv – Yafo and District.

With the help of God, Tel Aviv 2 Marheshvan, 721 (October 1960):

In honor of our dear brethren, immigrants from Antopol, in Israel. Peace and blessing. I heard that you are making today a memorial day for the martyrs of your city, who fell victim by the murderers, may their name be blotted out, during the terrible Holocaust. On memorial days like these we unite with the memory of the martyrs and place in front of our eyes the greatness of the destruction and the depth of the tragedy of European Jewry, which was destroyed with such terrible cruelty.

I think it worthwhile to add some drops of comfort to you because concerning your city of Antopol,

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you have made a fitting memorial by your great participation in the building of a synagogue in the heart of Tel Aviv, in memory of the martyrs of the city, of blessed memory, God will revenge their blood.

I don't know of a more fitting memorial to your city, in which there lived great and famous rabbis and which had a good name for its residents distinguished in Torah, generosity, and devotion to Judaism than the building of a synagogue like this in the Holy Land. It serves not only as a place for prayer but also for permanent Torah lessons to develop the youth spirituality and to strengthen good deeds in the Hebrew city of Tel Aviv.

I have no doubt that this will bring contentment to the souls of the martyrs whose memory will rise up before the public because of this sanctuary.

I cannot refrain from mentioning in this that I had family ties in Antopol because my relatives, the luminary Rabbi Mosheh Tsevi Unterman, of blessed memory, lived there with his dear family. Likewise, when I was a rabbi in Horodna, my friend, the luminary, Rabbi Mosheh Volfson, of blessed memory, was accepted there as rabbi. It is a pity that this tree was cut in the middle of its growth.

I hope your action will serve as a good example to many to show that a memorial to a holy community needs to be tied to the building of a sanctuary, which makes hearts come near to our Father in Heaven and to cling to His holy Torah.

May God cause you together with all our brethren or Israel to merit the complete redemption through the merit of all those who gave their lives to sanctify His name and to see the building of Zion and Jerusalem soon in our days.

With much respect and wishes for comfort,
Isar Yehuda Unterman, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv – Yafo and District

With the help of God – An Invitation

The addressed and his family are invited by this to participate in the celebration of laying the foundation stone for the building of the synagogue, which will take place, God willing, on Thursday, 4 Heshvan 716 (20.10.1955), at 3 p.m., with the participation of the Chief Rabbis of Israel, The Chief Rabbis of Tel Aviv – Yafo, government officials, mayor, and its representatives, rabbis of our city, and cities of our country.

We would like your attendance. Respectfully, the Committee.

There will be no collection. Buses: no. 20. get off at Mazeh Street, corner of Petah Tikvah Street; no. 12, get off at Yehuda ha-Levi Street, corner of Mazeh Street. Enter the campus: from Mazeh Street 77, by way of Petah Tikvah Street and from Olifant Street, corner of Yehuda ha-Levi Street, no. 64.

 

Memories From Erecting the Synagogue

By Shemuel Lifshits

It is my pleasant duty to bring up memories about erecting the synagogue in memory of the martyrs of Antopol.

The synagogue was erected to memorialize the memory of our dear martyrs, God revenge their blood, and to give a fitting expression to those who cling to faith in God and the endurance of the Jewish people. The beautiful building, which is distinguished by the beauty of its style, is located in the center of Tel Aviv. The name “In Memory of the Martyrs of Antopol” was put up at its entrance.

I want to present a shore review on who things developed as one of the many who helped this project and as a person who was always involved in the building work.

R. Elhanan Lifshits, of blessed memory, thought the idea of a synagogue in memory of the martyrs of Antopol and made the basic assumption. R. Elhanan was the son of my uncle, R. Yehuda, son of R. Efrayim Lifshits, of blessed memory, who was

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murdered together with the rest of the martyrs of Antopol in the Holocaust.

R. Elhanan was a refugee from Russia. He arrived in Israel crushed and broken. He began to preach for the idea and to spread it among members of the town in Israel. However, there were also people who didn't accept the suggestion and inclined to other suggestions. Nevertheless, he didn't give up and remained committed to his suggestion and opinion. He directed letters to people from Antopol in the United States and other places. He strongly pushed for the good of the matter until the idea slowly penetrated people's hearts.

Meanwhile, he became weak and one day when he went to pray in his synagogue in Givat Shmuel, he collapsed and died.

May his memory be blessed!

We received the first big sum of money, approximately 9,000 dollars from people from Antopol in Chicago and this was the push to begin the project.

We decided after a lot of struggles and debates to get in contact with the synagogue, Heart of Tel Aviv. The municipality had promised it a big plot in the center of the city. However, they did not have the money to begin building. We agreed after negotiation that we would build the building and that it would be devoted to the memory of the martyrs of our town and would be named after them.

The well-known communal worker R. Zalman Shahor, who was born in Antopol, the son of the luminary, Rabbi David, of blessed memory, who acted as rabbi of Antopol, was the chairman of the committee of the synagogue, Heart of Tel Aviv.

R. Zalman Shahor was the living spirit behind the whole project. He devoted himself wholeheartedly and gave much of his spirit and energy to this matter. The erection of the building was inseparably tied to him. Every matter and action was done with his alert and active participation. People undertook works and decision that it is difficult to imagine would have been carried out without his participation. The project during its erection and afterward under his management became a reason to live for him. His blessed work has continued until this time.

I want to quickly note the alert and diligent participation of my brother-in-law R Avraham, son of R. Efrayim Lifshits. He was intricate with the details of the project and took an active part in it. He devoted much of his time and diligence. He was able to raise money and make the project go forward thanks to his many connections.

We came across different difficulties and delays in the long process of erecting the building despite all the many efforts. We had to stop building from time to time. After the foundation was laid and the walls were raised, no building went on for a long time and this caused a part of the walls to be ruined.

We managed to overcome all the obstacles after a sufficient period of time. It seemed to us sometimes that higher hidden forces helped us to reach the stage of completion.

I would not be fulfilling my responsibility if I would not take care to point out the fruitful activity of the family of Hayim and Rinah Osip. They took an active part from the beginning of dealing with the suggestion of building the synagogue and until its final phase. Their house was the center of activity. Every meeting and gathering of friends and brethren took place in their house. They did everything in a quiet and modest way while the difficult work pressed on them. They also influenced their good spirit on all our friends and acquaintances to participate in this work. When they visited the United States they brought a lot of people over to the project and raised recognizable sums of money. I am not able to describe the great and fruitful work, which they invested and the great value they brought to this matter. It is only possible to mention some of the praise, which they deserve. Their reward will be in their work.

I also mention the activity and devotion to this

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matter of Mr. Yehoshua Varsha. He devoted from his time and energy to the benefit of the project. I mention with blessing the great activity of the family of Harry and Fanny Osip from New York, who gave a lot of money themselves and got others to give money. Likewise, there gave a lot to the good of this matter the families of Max Puterman and his wife Rivkah, Goldman and Aharonski, of blessed memory, who gave a lot money, and also Mirkah Zaidel, the Leaf family from Canada and others.

I want to especially point out the people from Chicago, who helped us a lot, Radil Postol, Pashah Novik, and the families of Zisuk, Vernik, and many others. It is worthwhile to mention here also the Torah scroll, a gift received from Chicago.

All these should be blessed who took part and gave help in this holy project, this synagogue, which is a glory to people from our town and the memory our dear holy martyrs who died in the Holocaust.

 

The Free Loan Association in Memory of the Martyrs of Antopol

By Mosheh Polak

This is the Fund of Harry and Fanny Osipovits and the Fund in the Name of R. Aharon Asher and Tamar Volinets, of blessed memory.

I repeatedly requested my proposal to the members of the committee of the organization of people from Antopol in Israel in our many sessions to be entered into the agenda of the general meetings of people from Antopol taking place every year on the 4th of Heshvan at the time of the evening memorial for the martyrs of our town Antopol. The suggestion was to set up a fund for a Free Loan Association in Memory of the Martyrs of Antopol in order to be able to help people, especially needy people from Antopol in Israel, and to help new immigrants who came to Israel after the Holocaust from Antopol with nothing. However, my suggestion was postponed from year to year so as not to damage our collection to build the synagogue in memory of the martyrs from Antopol, which we built.

When the Sabbath was over in the evening before the coming day of 25 Tishre 721 (October 1960), I brought up my demand again after the synagogue was already completed in our meeting in the committee of the organization that it was already possible to establish a fund for a Free Loan Association.

This time all the members of the committee, Shemual Lifshits, Rinah Osip, Hayim Osip, and myself decided to bring my suggestion to the agenda of the general meeting. On memorial evening on the night before the day of the 4th of Heshvan (October 24, 1960), I brought my proposal to the general meeting of people from Antopol. All the participants at the meeting voted unanimously in favor my suggestion. The fund for a Free Loan Association in the Name of the Martyrs of Antopol was established that evening. Likewise, the assembly suggested and chose me to be the manager and treasurer of the fund. All the participants donated that evening the sum of 1,000 lira. They voted again on a committee for the Free Loan Association according to my suggestion, Rinah Osip, Esther Gamerman, Shemuel Turninski, and Mosheh Alpenshtein. They chose me chairman and fund manager.

The fund began to work in that week. It gave five loans in the sum of 200 lira per family. At the end of 1961 the fund grew by seven times. This was thanks to our honored guests, Harry and Fanny Osipovits from the United States. They visited Israel and gave 3,000 lira to the fund. In addition to this they brought for the fund an additional 3,500 lira, which was donated by their family, relatives, and friends, who were from Antopol and by organization of people from Antopol in the United States. We decided to name a special fund in their name together with that of the Fund for the Free Loan Association for the Martyrs of Antopol because of

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their good-heartedness and their great activity.

Likewise, we decided to register a fund in the name of R. Aharon Asher and Tamar Volinets, of blessed memory. When he was still alive in the United States, he sent me his manuscript from his twelfth book Ve-da mah she-Tashiv (And Know What to Answer). He asked me to devote myself and take care of all the work of printing and binding and to publish it. He devoted all the income from the aforementioned book to the benefit of the Fund of the Free Loan Association in the Name of the Martyrs of Antopol. His son Eliezer Volinets and his family from the United States asked me to continue after their father died and to take care of the printing and binding. They sent 800 dollars for the publication of the aforementioned title. After I sold all the books, this entered into the Free Loan Association a sum of more than 4,000 lira.

When we look and examine the general balance of the fund upon the completion of ten years since its founding, we esteem and value all the people from Antopol wherever they are for their great accomplishment, interest, and contribution on behalf of the Free Loan Fund. This is for the benefit of people from Antopol in Israel who are helped by the aforementioned fun with interest-free loans and with an attitude of friendship and respect, which is fitting for the name of people from Antopol, who contributed to our glory and for the memory of continuing the goodness and beauty of the past when Antopol existed.

When I take a general account now from all the period of my work for this glorious project, I have great satisfaction. I was able by devoting my time and energy to realize and continue a chain to benefit the honor of people from our town of Antopol and in memory of the martyrs of Antopol who perished and in whose name is called the Fund of the Free Loan Association.

Likewise, there is a special fund for urgent help for the needy from our town, which is managed by the managers of the Free Loan Association. This special fund was founded in 1965 upon the suggestion of the friends from our town, Sarah Krum, from the Bronx. When she visited Israel in 1965, she saw a family from people from our town of five to six people living in one room with no toilet and with a leaky roof. Since then, I took an interest in fixing their living quarters. First of all, we collected a goodly sum of money from people from Antopol in Israel, and also Sarah Krum sent a sum of money from the United States, which was enough to add a toilet and fix their living quarters and roof. Since then we continue to give needy a gift of money on the eve of holidays. We have also sent gift packages to Russia for the isolated people from our town, who remain there.

I thank here those individual from our town, who live in the United States. They will be blessed for their generosity and donation to help the needy. Today we have in this fund for help, the sum of 250 lira.

 

Document of Registration of Fund of Free Loan Association State of Israel.

Administrative Offices of the Tel Aviv District no. 2926/99, 14.3.63

Addressed to Mr. Mosheh Polak, Society Chairman and Manager of the Fund of the Free Loan Association in Memory of the Martyrs of Antopol, The Harry and Fanny Osipovits Fund, and the R. Aharon Asher and Tamar Volinets Fund, Holon 13 Feierberg Street.

I have the honor of confirming receipt of your letter from 25.12.62, with the addition of an announcement of paragraph six of the Ottoman Law for Association of 1909 regarding the following association:

Name of the Association: Fund of the Free Loan Association in the Name of the Martyrs of Antopol, and the Funds in the Name of Harry and Fanny Osipovits, and R. Aharon Asher and Tamar Volinets, of blessed memory

[Page 289]

The address of the Association: Holon, 13 Feierberg Street, at Polak, Mosheh, aforementioned office.

The goal of the Association: to help and aid members in the case of a disaster, illness, and in every condition needing help and to develop every form of aid for members, and mutual help to every needy person, who are from the town

All these activities done without expenses.

Sincerely,
Y. Kuperman,
Officer for the Tel Aviv District

 

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