Volume IX, Encyclopedia of the
Jewish Diaspora

Memorial Book of Countries and Communities
(Hrodna, Belarus)

53°41' / 23°49'

Translation of Grodno

Edited by: Dov Rabin, Grodno Society

Published in Jerusalem, 1973 (H,Y, 744 cols pages).

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Project Coordinator

Miriam Margolyes


Jerrold Landau
Batya Unterschatz

Our sincere appreciation to Yosef Struvolski, Secretary of Grodno former residents society in Israel, for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

I want to thank a magnificent volunteer, Linda D. Epstein, from Washington, D.C., who scanned each photo from the Grodno Yiskor Book, thus enabling us at last to see the faces of our long-dead relatives on this website. Her outstanding generosity coupled with her time & skill are outstanding. We are all greatly in her debt. This brings to an end my term as Coordinator of the Grodno Yiskor Book.

Miriam Margolyes

This is a translation of: Grodno, Belarus
Grodno (Grodno; Vol. IX, Encyclopaedia of the Jewish Diaspora; Memorial Book of Countries and Communities),
Editors: Dov Rabin, Jerusalem, Grodno Society, 1973 (H,Y, 744 cols pages).

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
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Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

Encyclopaedia of the Jewish Diaspora

Memorial Book of Countries and Communities

Volume IX



Edited by: Dov Rabin

Editorial Committee:

Itzchak Yellin, Iser Kulik of blessed memory, Shmuel Dimant, Moshe Alperstein, Chaim Pasmanik

Chairman of the "Encyclopaedia of the Jewish Diaspora" Organization
Ch. Berlas, Jerusalem

Published by the "Encyclopaedia of the Jewish Diaspora" Organization, Ltd.

All rights reserved –Printed in Israel, Jerusalem 1973

Publication Committee

Itzchak Yellin, Shmuel Dimant, Moshe Alperstein, Shimon Mass, Moshe Notes,
Chaim Pasmanik, Eliezer Palnitzki, Mordechai Kustin, Iser Kulik of blessed memory.

United Grodner Relief in New York
Grodner Mutual Benefit Organization of America and Canada
Grodner Yizkor Book Committee in New York
Grodner Club of New York
Grodner Organization of Montreal
Landsleit Organization of Grodno in Buenos Aires (Argentina).

"Organization of Grodno Emigres" in Israel

Yellin Itzchak – chairman; Palnitzki Eliezer – vice chairman;
Pasmanik Chaim – vice chairman; Alperstein Moshe; Gershuni Freda; Dimant Shmuel; Zachri Aaron; Mass Shimon; Naor Chaim; Notes Moshe; Menaker Dov; Kustin Mordechai;

Grodner Organization of America and Canada

Jack Kahn – General Secretary, New York;
Abraham Malevitch – Los Angeles;
Abraham Schultz – New York;
Herman Javlokov; Morris Leon; Jack Bendetson; Jack Kei; David Anski – Montreal;
Joseph Kagan – Chicago


History of the Jewish community of Grodno / Dov Rabin

Aleph. The Beginning of the City of Grodno 17

Beit. The Beginnings of the Jewish Settlement 18
         Jews in Grodno during the 16th century, expulsion and return 20

Gimel. Period of Growth (1503-1647) 24
1.         The general and economic situation 24
                           Status of the Jews of Grodno 24
                           The beginnings of oppression by the Christian citizens 27
                           Means of livelihood of the Jews 29
                           Struggles of the Jewish artisans 31
2.         The community 31
                           The controversy in the Rabbinic election process 32
                           The first Rabbis of Grodno 33
3.         Grodno – The main "Vaad Lita" community [1] 35
                           "Vaad Medinat Lita" and its organizations 35
                           The boundaries of the community of Grodno [2] 38
                           The uniqueness of the community of Grodno in "Vaad Lita" 40
4.         The Chain of Rabbinical Succession 42
5.         Beginnings of Aliya to the Land of Israel 43

Daled. Period of Seige and Distress (1648-1764) 44
            Times of trouble for the people of Israel 44
            From war to war 44
            False accusations and blood libels 46
            Economic struggle, debts and taxes 47
            Grodno – a major Torah center 51
            Echoes of the Shabbatai Tzvi Movement[3] 55
            The community "The Other Side of the River" on the other bank of the Neiman 56

He. The Years of the Division of Poland (1765-1793) 59
            Oppression 59
            Blood libel of 1790 60
            The time of the Koschioshkow rebellion 60
            Characteristics of development 61
            The last heads of the Rabbinical court of Grodno[4] 63
            The dispute between the Chassidim and Misnagdim[5] 63
            Men of stature 64
            The social assistance organization 67
            Grodno – the center of Hebrew printing in Lithuania 69

Vav. Period of Economic Instability (1794-1840) 72
1.         Under Russian rule 72
                           A new administration, and new and old troubles 72
                           The opposition of the citizens to Jewish rights in the municipality 73
                           The blood libel of 1816 73
                          The communal activity of Reb Zundel Zonenberg 74
                           The decree of military draft 76
                           Opposition to "education legislation" 77
                           The Jews of Grodno during and after the Polish rebellion 78
                           Russian unrest in 1881 79
2.        The economic troubles of Grodno, and the livelihood of the Jews 80
                           The economic recession of the city, and the status of the Jews 80
                           The means of livelihood of the Jews and their economic situation 82
                           The beginning of the immigration to America 86
3.        City of Torah 86
                           A people who occupy themselves with Torah 86
                           Rabbis and scholars 88
                           The liquidation of the Hebrew press of Grodno 93
4.         The Haskala movement[6] 94
                           Jewish Haskala style public schools 94
                           The secular public library 96
                           The struggle between the maskilim and their opponents 97
                           Maskilim who were writers in Grodno 98
                           Establishment and development of social institutions 109
5.         Love of the Land of Israel 110
                           The first "olim" immigrants to the Holy Land from Grodno 110
                           "Kolel Grodno"[7] 115
                           The beginning of the "Hibbat Zion" movement in Grodno 115
                           The first agricultural settlers from Grodno in Palestine 117

Zayin. The last high point of the Jews of Grodno (1891-1914) 120
1.        The economic status of the Jewish community 120
                           The final period of prosperity 120
                           Against the police and the guards of the oppressors 121
2.         Jewish self defense 123
3.         Jewish economic system 130
                           Sources of livelihood 130
                           Tobacco industry 131
                           The first Lithuanian settlers of Mozesville, Argentina 136
4.         The spiritual and communal picture of the community 137
                           The character of the communal leadership 137
                           Torah, charity, and benevolence 140
                           Beginnings of assimilation 143
5.         The revolutionary and social movements of Grodno Jews 145
                          The budding of socialagitation 145
                           The inception of the Jewish workers struggle in Grodno 146
                           The highs and lows of revolutionary activity 152
6.         Grodno – the center of the Movement of National Jewish revival and Hebrew 158
                           The Chibat Zion movement of the 1890s 158
                           Cultural activity, and activity for Hebrew education in the Land of Israel 160
                           Grodno – one of the centers of Zionism in Russia 161
                          Poale Zion 165
                           Grodno – the center of Hebrew education 173
                           Degeneration of Zionist activity; Jewish literary organization 185
                           "Bereshit" immigrants from Grodno settling in the new Yishuv of Palestine 188

Chet. The First World War (end of 1914 – April 1919) 198
1.         A Year of riots, accusations, and expulsion 198
2.         The German conquest 200
                           The occupying police; Distress and famine; New forms of livelihood 200
                           "Vaad Adat Yisrael" The Jewish Communal Committee comes to the aid 202
                           Jewish cultural awakening 204
                           "Groups" and the "Kibbutz" Jewish artisan organization 205
3.        Russian and German revolutions 213
                           Bad times 213
                           "The Grodno Republic" 215
                           The foundations of the democratic Jewish community 218
                           The elected city council 221
                           Trade unions 223
                           The Zionist movement comes out into the open 225

Tet. The New Polish Regime (May 1919 – September 20, 1939) 230
1.        The beginning of Polish rule 230
                           Attacks and libels against the Jews 230
                           The pushing out of Jews from their economic position, and lowering of their status 232
                           The weakening of the social structure 233
                           Nationalistic Zionist awakening 234
                           Grodno – a center of the third Aliya 237
2.         Two months of Soviet conquest 241
3.         The front of oppression and hatred 243
4.         Slander, attacks, and unrest 247
           Comments, footnotes, and sources of information 256
           Notes and bibliography 258

Aleph. The struggle for survival  
         The Jews of Grodno – their status and struggles / D. Rabin 273
         The status of the Jews in the city 273
         The struggle for survival in the present and the future 275
        Jewish industry (at the end of the 930s) / Wolfe Jalovitz 281
         The Jewish cooperative / Yitzchak Gozansky 286
         The Free Loan Cassa / D. Rabin 291
         The Technical School / the editorial committee 293
         Our Professional school / Benjamin Gordon 295
        "ORT" organization in Grodno / D. R. 297
         Professional and economic activities of workers / Dov Rabin 299
        "Hachshara" of the "Hashomer Hatzair" pioneers[9] / Elimelech Horowitz 305

Beit. Communal Activities  
         Worrying trends contrasted with gladdening revelations / Dov Rabin 307
         Jews from Galicia –their influence on the community/ Yitzchak Soloveitchik 309
         The community – its leadership and institutions 311
                           The community (1919-1928) / Aaron Shulkes 311
                           The community and its institutions (1929-1931)/ Yitzchak Soloveitchik 312
                           The status of the community (end of 1935) / A. Shulkes 316
                           The makeup of the leadership of the community/ the editorial committee 317

Gimel. Torah and Religion  
         Yeshiva "Shaarei Torah" and its leaders / D. Rabin 321
         Synagogues and study and prayer houses / Dov Rabin 329
                           The Great Synagogue "Levush"[10] 331
                           Houses of study and prayer halls 334
                           Synagogues and houses of study in the Forshtot 345
         The old synagogue in the suburbs / Zvi Belko and his students 346
         Rabbinic leaders / Rabbis Yosef and Shmuel Rozovski 349
         Cantors of the city / D. R. 355

Daled. Movements and Trends  
         The Zionist Movement  
         The Zionist Center / Yitzchak Soloveichik 359
        "WIZO" chapter / Sara Soloveichik 361
        "Akiva" youth movement / Pnina Orenstein 361
         "Mizrachi" / the editorial committee 363
         Socialist and Pioneering Zionism  
                           Implements for the workers of the Land of Israel/ David Ben-Dov (Berman) 367
                           Poale Zion = Socialist Zionism (1921-1933) / Eliezer Palnitzki 368
                           "Dror" (Freedom) youth movement / Moshe Melamed 375
                           "Hechalutz Hatzair" / D. R. 381
         "Hashomer Hatzair" movement 382
                          The beginning of the movement in Grodno / Yakov Horowitz 382
                           The core of the movement at its outset / Matityahu Shor 389
                           Against the darkening skies (1934-1938) / Elimelech Horowitz 391
         The Revisionist Zionist movement / Yelin Mor 393
         The mosaic of Grodno Zionism / the editorial committee 395
         "Agudat Yisrael" / D. R. 397
         "Bund" / D. Rabin 397

He. Education and Haskala  
       Community Schools.  
         The beginnings of the Talmud Torah / D. R. 403
        The national school of the communal committee (1924)/ Efraim Neimark 404
         How we were taught at the "Talmud Torah" / Tzila Stein-Tamir 405
         The first Hebrew kindergarten of the "Tarbut" organization / Sara Schlossberg-Rebeikov 409
        The Tarbut school system  
                           The beginning and development of Tarbut in Grodno / D. R. 411
                           Tarbut in Grodno / Yaakov Naor (Feibushvish) 413
                           The Tarbut Gymnasia / Elimelech Horowitz 419
                           The A. D. Gordon teachers seminary / Menachem Zaharoni (Yaroshevsky) 420
                           The balance sheet of the Tarbut organization in its early days / D. R.[11] 425
                           "Tushia" school / Bryna and Elimelech Gornitzki (Goren) 431
         The Orthodox school system  
                           The Orthodox "Yavneh" girl's school / D. R. 433
                           Principals and teachers in our school / Moshe Alperstein 436
                           The Yiddish secular "Zisha" school / D. R. 439
Culture and Society  
                           Jewish newspapers in Grodno / Dov Rabin 441
                           Jewish theatre in Grodno / Shimon Finkel 443
                           A principal city for lovers of Jewish theatre / D. Avitzur 449
                           The Jewish Public Library / D. Rabin 451
                           Jewish sport in Grodno / D. R. 453
                           Touring and environmental club 455
Health and Welfare 457
         The Organization for protection of health ("Taz")/ B. Abramovitz 457
         Medical institutions and shelters / D. Avieli 458
Memories and Stories from Writings of the Old Timers  
         The first teachers / Hillel Iser Janowski 463
         Vilbushewitz family / Nachum Vilbush 466
         Three at the outset of their journey through life / Gedalia Shklarsky 471
         Kahanshtam my music teacher / Reuven Vigdorovich 472
         In the underground – with Leib Yaffa / Moshe Aaron Avigal (Beigel) 473
"Hechalutz" Olim Tell their Stories  
         The first group of the third Aliya from Grodno/ Yedidya Janowski 477
         "Cherut and Techia" youth movements / Yaakov Janowski (Yaniv) 482
         Hachshara in Grodno in 1920 / Yitzchak Amdurski 485
         As we went on Aliya / Dov Rabin 488
Outstanding Personalities  
         Grandmother / Rachel Adiv 493
         My family / Esther Berman-Kopelovich 496
         Danche / Yosef Efraimi 500
The Outbreak of the Storm (September 1939 – June 21, 1941)  
         The end of Polish rule / D. Rabin 503
Two Years of Soviet Rule  
         Temporary salvation and fear / D. R. 503
         The Jewish youth stick together 507
                          Hashomer Hatzair groups / Hassia Belitzka 507
                           Beitar / Moshe Notes 509
                           My visit to Grodno / Tuvia Ezrachi Berger) 510
The Holocaust  
         Destruction and heroism / Dov Rabin 519
         At the gates of Hell 519
         The period of the ghetto 531
         The story of the destruction 547
         Heroism amongst the flames 573
         The community at its extinction 593
Jews from Grodno in Auschwitz  
         In the path of suffering and annihilation / Moshe Notes 607
        Grodno women in Auschwitz / Tzipora Pikovski-Lushovitz 613
         Towards the Valley of the Shadow of Death / Hillel Shklarsky 613
         The beacon of Jewish Grodno / Dov Rabin 617
         Grodno natives in Israel and in its wars / Dov Rabin 619

Translation of photo captions from Grodno Yizkor Book
Photographs from Grodno Yizkor Book
Index of names mentioned in photo captions

[1]   "Vaad Lita" was an umbrella organization of Lithuanian Jewish communities at the time. Return
[2] The abbreviation KK (Kuf Kuf) that appears here prior to the name Grodno stands for Kehillat Kadosh, which means "Holy Community". This is a common notation for any Jewish Community. Return
[3] Shabbatai Tzvi was a false messiah of the mid 1700 s. His movement caused great upheaval in European Jewry for the next century or
so. Return
[4] The acronym alef beit dalet stands for Av Beit Din, the head of a Rabbinical court of a community. The title here implies that from this time, the religious leadership of the community became fragmented, no longer under one head. Return
[5] Misnagdim or mitnagdim are opponents of Chassidism. Return
[6] The Haskala movement was the movement for Jewish modernization in Europe of the 1800s. Maskilim are people who ascribe to the Haskala movement. Maskilim began to release themselves from the strictures of traditional Jewish life and law. Return
[7] A Kollel is an institution where young married men spend their time studying Torah. Return
[8] This appears to be the second main division of the book. In this section, the articles generally list the author's name. The items main items are numbered according to the alef beit (as in the first section); however this numbering stops in the middle, at the Culture and Society section, page 441. There is no consistency as to whether the author's names are in full, or fully or partially initialed (e.g. D. R., D. Rabin, or Dov Rabin). I followed the Hebrew text exactly in this matter. Return
[9] Hachshara is activities meant to prepare members of a Zionist movement for immigration to the Land of Israel. Hashomer Hatzair is a left wing socialist Zionist movement. Return
[10] Levush is an acronym for a well known medieval Torah commentator. The Great Synagogue in Grodno was obviously named after him. Return
[11] The translation of this item is not entirely clear. "Meozno shel mifal 'Tarbut' Mimitpachav". Return

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