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[Page 353]

Personalities

 

Tsvi Prilutski

From Lexicon of Jewish Literature, Press, and Philology,
Zalman Rayzen, 1927, Vilna, B. Kletskin Publishers

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Tsvi Prilutski was born in Kremenets, Volin, to a rich merchant family. His father, a friend of the RYB”L, raised him in the spirit of the Enlightenment movement and let him study foreign languages-Russian, German, and French-in addition to Jewish studies. In 1880, he studied at Kiev University and later at the University of Berlin. In his youth, he was a correspondent for Hebrew periodicals, where he made his debut with the article “Return to Zion” in the periodical Haboker Or[1] in 1880. He took an active part in the Love of Zion movement from the time it was established, and before the elections he traveled a great deal and campaigned for the idea of Jewish settlements in the Land of Israel. He was a member of the Order of the Sons of Moses, and in the 1890s he wrote a regular column, titled Pinkas Katan, in the Hamelits newspaper, where he wrote about the need to settle the Land of Israel. He argued with Moshe Leyb Lilienblum about Jewish labor in the Land of Israel, disputed Ahad Ha'am's impressions of his trip to the Land of Israel in a series of 100 articles, and participated in the newspaper Hatsefira when it was still against “Palestinism.”

In 1900, following a business failure, Prilutski left Kremenets and relocated to Petersburg, and from then on he devoted himself entirely to journalism. Until 1903, he was a member of the Hamelits editorial board and was its political editor for a time. He wrote many articles under various names (Bar Galuta, Ben Terach, etc.) and anonymously. Later, he wrote for the Petersburg newspaper Hazman and the Russian-Yiddish weekly Bodushtshnust, and contributed to the Jewish anthology Yevreyski Yezhegodnik[2], published in 1902, writing articles about Y. L. Gordon and Dr. S. Pinsker, a review of the Zionist movement, etc.

He wrote in Yiddish for the first time in Leon Rabinovitsh's Pages from a Diary. As early as 1902, he began lobbying for a permit to publish a Yiddish newspaper, but he didn't receive the permit until the “political spring” in Russia. He founded a new newspaper in Warsaw; one of the editorial board members was the engineer Y. B. Ipa, who was dedicated to propagating culture among the Jewish people through the Yiddish language. On August 14, 1905, the first issue of the first Jewish newspaper in Poland, Der Weg[3] appeared, with the collaboration of Dr. Eliashev, H. D. Namberg, Dr. Vartman, A. L. Yakobovitsh, L. Shapira, and Duvid Druk and with contributions from famous Jewish writers.

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Due to internal frictions and other difficulties, the publisher, who had added 25,000 rubles from his own pocket to the expenses, withdrew from the enterprise, and Der Weg closed after two months of existence. It had opened again by the end of November, but it still encountered many problems. Prilutski tried to overcome them in various ways, such as by adding an evening edition, collaborating with the Hebrew daily Hayom[4] (the newspaper run by Y. Ch. Zagaradski and partners Mikhel Veber and A. L. Yakobovitsh) and other means; however, the entire enterprise finally ended in 1906. About that time, S. Y. Yatskan began publishing the newly founded newspaper Yiddishes Togeblatt.

As a means of dealing with competition from the first cooperative Yiddish newspaper, Unzer Leben[5], published beginning February 18, 1907, by M. Spektor and S. Hokhberg, Prilutski was hired as the main correspondent, and for four years he wrote general political reviews in his column, Moment. On November 18, 1910, his son, Noach Prilutski, succeeded in starting a new daily, which he titled Moment, with Prilutski as editor-in-chief. This newspaper underwent various changes, adapting to changes in the European world, and became the strongest Jewish newspaper in Poland. In July 1914, a noon edition, titled Radio, appeared as well. In 1921, “Almanac in Honor of the 10th Anniversary of Moment” appeared (Warsaw, 232 pp, with photographs of the newspaper staff). In it, Prilutski published an important work, “The Role of the Jewish Woman in Modern Jewish Civic Life.”


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Haboker Or means Morning Light, and Pinkas Katan means Little Notebook. return
  2. The titles of these three publications are Time, The Future, and Jewish Yearbook, respectively. return
  3. Der Weg means The Way. return
  4. Hayom means Today, and Yiddishes Togeblatt means Jewish Daily. return
  5. Unzer Leben means Our Life. return


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Mikhel Barshap

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Mikhel Barshap, or “Mikhel the Lame,” as he was called, was a unique type. Everybody knew him; if an “organization” was in any measure important, then Mikhel no doubt was its “guiding light.”

Twenty-four hours a day, Mikhel Barshap made his room the center of discussions between parties, as was the custom in many cities and towns.

He came from a respected but impoverished family. He was orphaned as a young boy and was forced to leave the cheder before he even knew the prayers properly. He learned a trade-painting houses. Unfortunately, tragedy struck while he was working: he fell from a balcony, and although he recovered, he remained an invalid. While he lay in the hospital, he learned to read.

In 1904-1905, he sympathized with the Bund, but when the Labor Zionists were founded, he joined. He devoted most of his time, however, to working for the Jewish National Fund.

Since he was alone and an invalid, the community arranged a place for him in the Home for the Aged. There, too, he worked for the Jewish National Fund. The money he helped collect was used to register Yosef Rozenfeld of Berdichev, founder of the first Jewish Workers' Circle, and Yitschak Ber Levinzon in the Jewish National Fund Golden Book.

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In time, his friends took him out of the Home and arranged work for him at the Zionist library, selling cookies and helping out as a watchman.

But for various reasons he was ruined again and returned to the Home for the Aged, nevertheless continuing his work for the Jewish National Fund. He died in 1936.

His funeral was arranged by the Zionist Organization, and his coffin was covered with the Zionist flag.


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Volf Gornfeld

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

kre085.jpg
Figure 85. Volf Gornfeld

 

Volf Gornfeld was active in Jewish civic life. He was a founder of the ORT School and a member of its administration for many years. He was active in the community and Merchants' Union as well. He was president of the Burial Society and helped spread the idea of learning a useful trade among the Jews.

Three of his sons and their families were murdered by the Nazis. The other children survived, including a daughter, who is a music teacher in Haifa.


[Page 355]

M. B. Goldfarb

Kremenitser Shtime, April 11, 1930

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

 

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Figure 86. M. B. Goldfarb in Front
of the Jewish Primary School

 

M. B. Goldfarb was born in Ostra in 1850. After graduating from the rabbinical seminary in Zhitomir, he was appointed teacher in Tshernigov, where he worked for five years.

For the next 14 years, he was director of schools in Zaslav, Rovno, and Radzivilov, and then he was transferred to the Kremenets school, where he served for 26 years. In 1916, he retired with a lifetime pension.

In addition to his educational and pedagogic work, he contributed a great deal to civic life in the community.

In the 1880s, during and after the pogroms, he supported and helped desperate Jewish emigrants-who left their towns in masses and fled wherever they could-and tried, thanks to his good relations with high-ranking officials, to help them cross the Russian-Austrian border at Radzivilov.

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In 1903, he helped establish the School of Commerce in Kremenets. He was a member of the City Council for several years.

Because of all his merits and activity, he was not forgotten in his old age. On the initiative of several of his students, a committee was formed to celebrate his 80th birthday. On March 8, 1930, all his former students gathered in the Zionist Organization hall to honor their great teacher.


Meir Goldring

(1886–1942)

Translated by Steven Wien and Rabbi and Mrs. Ben Zion Friedman

 

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Figure 87. Meir Goldring

Meir Goldring, may his memory be blessed, was one of the most prominent civic activists in Kremenets. For more than a quarter of a century, he held top leadership positions in the Jewish community and served the interests of the Jewish people. A man of character, he fought for his principles and influenced others. He was active in community institutions in all areas and was an active Zionist. The Jewish community treated him with honor and complete trust.

In his writings and in his speeches, Meir Goldring campaigned for the Jewish Community Council to encompass all branches of Jewish life and to become a truly uniting Jewish entity. As the first step toward accomplishing this, he sought to use the full rights allowed by the Community Council regulations, even though those rights were limited to religious activities. He campaigned for confirmation of the Community Council budget to ensure the needed funds and for its takeover of the cemetery.

The following words, with which he ended an article in the Kremenitser Shtime concerning Community Council queries, are characteristic of him. “… The Community Council is the kernel of our self-determination, just as the magistrate is, and if we pay taxes to the magistrate, we must pay taxes to the Jewish Community Council. We will then surely show an interest in how these taxes are being spent. We will also want to ensure that the budget of the Jewish Community Council does not exceed the present financial capabilities of the impoverished Jewish masses on whom we are depending to sustain the budget.”

This was also Meir Goldring's approach to all branches of Jewish and Zionist community work. His concern, first and foremost, was for the Jewish common folk. He campaigned with energy on his views, and it is no wonder that there were unscrupulous people who fought a nasty battle against him. It came to a point that approximately 60 representatives from all the community-based institutions came together in the Community Council and decried these attacks. Special resolutions were then undertaken emphasizing complete loyalty to Meir Goldring, and these were publicized in all synagogues. Also, about 300 people from over 20 organizations participated in a special banquet held in his honor. This banquet was an expression of love and loyalty to Goldring, the honest and energetic community activist. His 50th birthday was also celebrated with great pomp.

The Kremenitser Shtime, of which he was the founder and editor, was an important factor in the lives of Jewish Kremenets. This weekly reflected local character, informed readers about everything that happened in the city and province, and campaigned for Jewish interests. The Kremenitser Shtime was a part of his life and the life of Kremenets. Weekly, he worried about the uninterrupted production of the paper and wrote much of its contents, and he was the living spirit of the newspaper. For years, the newspaper was printed and honestly served the interests of the Jewish people. Meir Goldring died in the slaughter of Kremenets. He served the Jewish people honestly his whole life.


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Avraham Yakov Vaynberg

Translated by Steven Wien and Rabbi and Mrs. Ben Zion Friedman

In 1931, the first head of the newly established democratic Community Council of Kremenets, Avraham Yakov Vaynberg, passed away. He earned that position honestly and upheld it with honor until the Community Council dissolved for various reasons. This caused him great heartache and pain.

A. Y. Vaynberg was a Jew, a scholar with stature and fine character. He was tolerant and almost never reacted to the injustices against him in the Community Council.

An industrialist, he was the proprietor of the famous foundry off the highway near the Vishnevitser city gate, in partnership with Chayim Ovadis and Fishel Perlmuter. A Jew who was an industrialist was uncommon in those days. He was quite knowledgeable about the technical side of production.

A Zionist in his heart and soul, he left all his assets, including his extensive library, to the Jewish National Fund. It is noteworthy that the Jewish Community Council owed him money, and as a result he suffered financially.

He was a fine role model of a Jewish community activist. In Kremenets, they greatly grieved his untimely passing.


 

Chaykel of Kremenets

(Chaykel Bernshteyn)

Yitschak Vakman (New York)

Translated by Steven Wien and Rabbi and Mrs. Ben Zion Friedman

He was a model of a proper Jewish gentleman, full of respect, of medium height with a full beard. He lived in his apartment in Shmoler Street, close to Shimon Beker, on the second floor. His apartment had large rooms that overlooked the Potik. He was a Jew who gave charity anonymously with an open hand. His wife was Chane, Avraham Moshe's daughter. Whoever did not see this couple at a Purim feast has never seen a beautiful sight. The table was bedecked with all kinds of goodies, and all the children, cousins, and grandchildren were required to be at the feast. R' Chaykel had a large golden chain on his vest, and Chane wore a silken frock and a string of pearls around her neck, and her kind eyes sparkled with happiness and joy.

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One morning, after a sleepless night, as R' Chaykel Bernshteyn was sitting at the window and looking outside, he saw the woman who carried milk around to sell. She was pouring some water from the pond into the milk container. About an hour later, she reached R' Chaykel's house, and he said to her, smiling: Until now, I never knew how you made the milk “kosher,” but today I saw how you do it. Please, from now on, bring me the milk and the pond water separately, and I'll “kosher” the milk myself. . . .

R' Chaykel had two sons and three daughters. They and their children all perished. Only five grandchildren survived: Rive and Tsire Bernshteyn in Israel, Beyle Bernshteyn in Argentina, Yitschak Vinshtin in England, and Aharon German in Jerusalem.


 

Eli Chaykel's (Bernshteyn)

Manus Goldenberg

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

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Figure 88. Eli Chaykel's (Bernshteyn)

From time to time, figures from my past float before my eyes, figures whose personalities were warmhearted and sparkled with good humor, Jews who spent their days and nights working for the good of the community without seeking any profit or honor. One of those people in our town was Eli Chaykel's (Bernshteyn).

Somehow, from the time I was a child, I felt especially close to this Jew, with his yellowish beard and shining eyes, and was always ready to forgive him the pinch he gave my cheek… These feelings were no doubt at least in part because Eli Chaykel's was a forest dealer. With his furrowed neck and beard, he reminded me of an old tree somewhere in the woods, where he actually spent most of his years.

In my mind, he was entirely different from all the other Jews in that he earned his living not by studying Torah or selling things in a little store; he was a Jew who smelled of pine trees, and on stormy days as well as in the burning heat, he could be found somewhere between forest and field, under the free sky. He was also trusted and loved by the gentiles, with whom he had business dealings.

Whether in the company of peasants or Jews, he was always ready with a Jewish or Ukrainian saying or joke, which put everyone in a good mood.

Eli was firmly rooted in our town. He had absorbed the town's rich folklore, passed down to him through generations; he always quoted sayings from and told stories about Jews who had lived many years before. His many charitable acts were always accompanied by a joke or a funny saying, which made the situation of the needy, on the receiving end, more pleasant and easier.

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While he worked hard to make a living for his own family, he devoted a great deal of time to helping the poor in town, and he did so secretly so as not to embarrass them. He was the president of the organizations for accommodating guests, helping needy brides, and visiting the sick. He considered sitting up all night by a sick person's bed an important commandment, and every year, on Yom Kippur eve, he would eat the midday meal with the residents of the Home for the Aged. Often he was called to serve as an arbiter in disputes.

His work in distributing matzos for Passover fairly and justly to the needy is especially worth mentioning. To make sure the matzos were of good quality and ready on time, he took an important step: several months before Passover, he and some of his friends signed promissory notes for a great sum of money and bought a matzo-baking machine. In a short time, he opened a matzo bakery, so he was able to provide matzos to all the needy. Many nights, he would go without sleep and supervise the work in the bakery, and his joy was enormous when he saw porters with white baskets carrying matzos to the most remote and isolated corners of the town. Just like the well-to-do, the needy had matzos several weeks before Passover.

He took care of the children of the poor, too. He was like a father to them. Whenever he saw a child without shoes or proper clothing, he wouldn't rest until the child was clothed and had shoes. When the yeshiva in Kremenets was active, he was a member of the management and devoted a great deal of energy to ensure its existence and proper functioning.

He belonged to every charity organization in town. More than once, he had to fight with his wife, who would argue, not without reason, that his limitless devotion to others prevented him from taking care of his own family.

The Kremenets Jews understood and appreciated his activities and helped his causes willingly. His devotion was catching.

But he, too, like all the others, didn't survive the horrible suffering and destruction. His wife, Shifre, his son, Yitschak, and his youngest daughter, Pola, perished with him.


Dr. Arye Landsberg

(Born ?-Died 1932)

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

The Landsberg family was famous in Kremenets. The golden chain of Zionism passed through three generations of the family. The first was Chayim, the father, who was part of the Enlightenment Movement and the early Zionist movement, Lovers of Zion. The son, Arye, studied medicine and was a Zionist with all his heart and soul. As a Jewish doctor, he was devoted to the Jewish people, cherished the Jewish tradition, and contributed to Jewish causes, the first being the Jewish National Fund and United Israel Appeal. He made his contributions modestly, and even his closest friends didn't know that in 1917 he donated 500 rubles to the Jewish National Fund to build houses for Yemenite immigrants in the Land of Israel.

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He was an honorary member of the Odessa committee for Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel.

Professionally, he worked hard and was devoted to his patients. It was no wonder that everybody admired and respected him.

He was a delegate to the Eighth Zionist Congress in Basel, and from there he went on a trip to the Land of Israel. On his return, he inspired the entire Zionist movement in Kremenets and instilled the desire to work for Zionism in everyone.

In times when Zionist activity was forbidden, he would receive Zionist books and journals under the cover of medical literature and then distribute them among the organization members, who worked illegally.

Dr. Arye Landsberg was one of the first to work for the Zionist Organization. His son, the talented lawyer Binyamin Landsberg, was the third in the family to follow this path and dedicate himself to the Zionist movement.

May his memory be forever honored.


Dr. Meir Litvak

1861-1932

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

kre089.jpg

Figure 89. Dr. Meir Litvak

One of the most beautiful personalities in Jewish Kremenets was Dr. Meir Litvak, of blessed memory.

He was born to poor parents, graduated from primary school, went to the Gymnasium in Zhitomir, and studied medicine. After becoming a doctor, he returned to his hometown and settled there. Everybody knew Dr. M. Litvak, who was always ready to help Jewish Kremenets. He was the first chairman of the Lovers of Zion group and took an active part in the founding of the School of Commerce, the reorganization of the Talmud Torah, and the establishment of the cooperatives, the ORT School, and the Hebrew Tarbut School-whenever the community planned to found a new institution, Dr. Litvak was the one to go to for assistance. His influence was a great help when the time came to buy a home for the Talmud Torah. When he was in America, he helped acquire the means to buy a building for the Society for Welcoming and Accommodating Guests. For a time, he was president of the Great Synagogue.

He was a founding member of TOZ, the Polish health and relief society, where he sometimes lectured on hygiene.

He was very active in the field of Zionism, and for many years he was chairman of the Zionist Organization. Here is a characteristic occurrence: in 1904, an illegal Zionist meeting was held, and suddenly some high official appeared and made a list of all those present.

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Dr. Litvak had left the meeting earlier, but when he heard what had happened, he went to the authorities and asked to be added to the list of the persons who participated in the illegal meeting.

He was an upright and honest communal worker. At the end of his life, when he found that he couldn't fully agree with the new ways of the social work organization, he withdrew.

By profession he was a medical doctor, and everyone sought his help. No wonder, then, that in 1904, when he was drafted into the army as a military doctor during the Russian-Japanese war, the Jewish population in Kremenets was distressed and alarmed. He was given five days to get to Harbin. Until day before his departure, he continued his regular daily work and also spent time with his family; he felt that it was his duty to take care of the sick, who came to him up to the last minute.

He left for Harbin and was assigned to a military hospital in Khabarovsk. He served there until October 11, 1905, when he was discharged and sent home.

It is difficult to describe the joy in Kremenets when Dr. M. Litvak returned. The joy of the Jewish population was mixed with pride when it was reported that he had been promoted to the rank of general as a reward for his devoted and professional medical work. The hearts of Kremenets Jews filled with happiness to see him in uniform with the insignia on his shoulders-and all this during the Czar's rule.

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Dr. Litvak at His Father's Grave

Dr. Litvak shortly returned to his professional life and community activities. For many more years, he cared for his patients, who trusted him completely, and served Jewish society and the Zionist movement with deeds and advice.

In later years, he participated in the local press as well, publishing articles on various subjects. He had the courage to fight all the negative phenomena in society and demanded that they be addressed and that improvements be made.

He was an admirer of RYB”L and considered himself one of his students. He devoted his time to the preservation of his memory and helped create the library in his name and preserve the house where he had lived. During his visit to America in 1928, he obtained funding for these purposes.

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As mentioned above, Dr. Litvak was born to poor parents. His father, whose name was Aba, was a tailor who was proud of his profession. Dr. Litvak was called “Abatshe the tailor's son.”

Dr. Litvak was trusted by Jews and Christians alike, and he was employed as the doctor of the Pravoslavic Religious Seminary. Every Simchas Torah, he would organize a special festive morning service for children.

He passed away at a ripe old age.

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Dr. Litvak's Funeral and Monument

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The entire town-young and old, rich and poor, Jews, Ukrainians, and Poles-walked behind his coffin and escorted him to his final resting place. Representatives from each of these three nations eulogized him, and everyone felt Kremenets' great loss. His name will always be cherished in the memories and hearts of everyone who knew him or heard about him.


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Rabbi Shraga-Arye Marder

M. Sambirer, Kremenitser Leben

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Last Thursday, 2 Shevat 5697 [January 14, 1937], Rabbi Shraga-Arye, of blessed memory, rabbi of the Dubno suburb, died at the age of 80 years. Rabbi Shraga-Arye was from the old school of rabbis, the former generation, who excelled in scholarship and Talmud knowledge. As a young man, he was already a Torah and Talmud teacher, and his students occupied important rabbinic posts, such as rabbi of Radzivilov and rabbi of Shumsk, of blessed memory.

Rabbi Fayvish Marder was famous for his great caution and strict judgment in the matter of religious Responsa, astuteness in study, and intelligence and capability when sitting in judgment in the religious court. He was involved in the community and had a great understanding of life and society, and he followed the path of Torah and piety with modesty and determination.

His funeral was on a Friday. In spite of the very cold winter day, a large crowd from the town and the Dubno suburb came to pay him their last respects. The local rabbi, M. Mendiuk, delivered an inspiring eulogy and described Rabbi Marder's personality and character. Addressing the deceased, he concluded with the following words: “You can rest in peace, rabbi of our town, because your Torah and good deeds will be with you in your eternal rest, and your work is carried on by your son-in-law, a Torah scholar, a worthy and talented man, who is appreciated and loved by all.” After Rabbi Mendiuk, the head of the religious court delivered another eulogy.


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Shimon Chayim Moliar (Karsh)

by Yitschak Vakman, New York

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Shimon Chayim was a bricklayer, one of the very few Jews in the community who had this profession.

It was obvious that he would be a devoted Zionist. Somehow “Zionist” and “bricklayer,” or “Land of Israel” and “builder,” seemed to fit together naturally. He joined the movement early, during the period of the Lovers of Zion movement. The members of the Zionist Organization were proud of this productive man, who was a member and a friend.

He was always composed and in a good mood, except when the subject was the Land of Israel. Whenever somebody started a discussion or an argument on this matter, he became another person-unrecognizable. His bearded face would burst into flames, his hands would move up and down, and it was dangerous to be around him.

“Your tragedy is exactly this,” he would argue. “You want to wait until the Messiah comes on his white horse! Until then, who knows what will become of us.”

All week long he was seen in his working clothes, always busy at work.

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He was an expert at putting up chimneys and ovens, and he always had the upper hand over his competitors, the Christian bricklayers. His ovens never smoked. And although his prices were higher, there was a long waiting list-sometimes months long-for his services. He would come with his helpers (his sons), and for few workdays they would bring a Zionist atmosphere to the house: words like shekels, Jewish National Fund, Baron Rothschild, Herzl, etc. filled the air.

At the beginning of World War I, Shimon Chayim was the only builder trustworthy enough to engage in building secret hiding places in houses, where young Jews could hide to avoid being sent to the battlefields. These places were built with such skill that the police very seldom discovered them. He carried out this work with special pleasure because of his limitless hatred for the czarist regime. When the Russian troops began retreating and soldiers were sometimes seen running along the streets, and the Austrian army was heard approaching, he could be seen dancing in the street. He was one of the first to call to the Jews to leave their hiding places and voluntarily join the army after the revolution.

During the Polish occupation, when a strong movement for immigration to the Land of Israel began, Shimon Chayim and his family started to think about immigrating. To begin the fulfillment of this idealist dream, he bought a goat and preached about working the land in the Land of Israel.

Not even one of his family members attained this goal.


Mendel Karsh

by Manus Goldenberg

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

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Mendel Karsh

Looking back at the destroyed past, some personalities stand out, shedding a shining light upon their surroundings. These were the communal workers, always busy and acting for the good of society, simple people about whom the biblical verse “He that has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalms 24:4) is appropriate; they had a deep trust and belief in humanity and the human conscience, and devoted their time and effort to the benefit of others, ready to help their suffering brothers at any opportunity. As we do with rare treasures, we shall always safeguard their memory.

One of these personalities was Mendel Karsh, a “man of the people” in the best sense of the word. The friendly smile on his broad face expressed a warm heart and radiated friendship, trust, and determination. A thin veil of pride grew around him-the pride of distinction, but distinction of a special kind: he was proud of his excellence at his profession, which passed from father to son; he was a member of the only family of Jewish builders in the entire neighborhood.

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His father, Shimon Chayim, would mention on any occasion his connection with “my Mendel.” It was indeed true that Mendel brought his father great satisfaction and happiness during his short life. He was an excellent pupil in the cheder and Talmud Torah. But Shimon Chayim's sons weren't born to be Torah scholars. None of them betrayed their father's profession: they didn't replace the toolbox and the hammer with the yardstick and scales or with the scissors and iron.

Mendel left school in his early youth to help his father. However, he absorbed enough Jewish knowledge to be able to cite, on occasion, a verse from the Torah or a saying from the Talmud. In later years, he continued his self-education by reading and absorbed a great deal of Hebrew and Yiddish culture from the written media of the times.

By 1905, he was one of the most active members of the Labor Zionists in Kremenets. He was so devoted that he and the party were considered one. When the Labor Zionists were mentioned, Mendel Karsh came to mind, and the opposite was true as well: it was enough to mention the name Karsh and the Labor Zionist organization came to life.

Later, during the Polish occupation, when the Labor Zionists ceased to exist and its leading members followed the retreating Bolsheviks, Mendel joined the General Zionist party and was elected to various committees. There he represented the “left wing” of the party. He was particularly active in Jewish National Fund functions, where he was strongly supported by his friend Merel Barshap, who initiated many of the Jewish National Fund meetings.

When the first Pioneer groups were organized in Kremenets, it was clear to everyone that Mendel would be the best leader of the training groups. He employed some of the Pioneers in bricklaying and was himself a candidate for immigration in the second group, which was scheduled to go to the Land of Israel in 1921. Unfortunately, I can't remember what prevented him from carrying out his decision. Perhaps it was family matters, money difficulties, or his illness.

He supported various charitable institutions with the same enthusiasm that he devoted to politics and party activity. When the Jewish Hospital's situation became difficult, Mendel was called on for help, and with his energy and skill, he was able to provide the necessary support. It was the same with other benevolent societies-he would carry the heaviest burden. The people had the greatest respect for him, admired his honesty, integrity, and fine character, and valued his words. Even in the Burial Society, which was continuously plagued with disputes, Mendel's word was enough to help a decision along.

He died in 1931, at the age of 41, at the peak of his activity.


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Rabbi Yechiel Yitschak Rapaport

by K. R.

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

kre366.jpg
Rabbi Yechiel Yitschak Rapaport

Rabbi Yechiel Yitschak Rapaport was born in Lodz in 5656 [1896] to poor parents. As a very young man, he was recognized as a prodigy and was ordained as a rabbi. His scholarship and erudition in Talmud and legal scholarship was admired. He was married at 17 and continued Jewish as well as secular studies. He belonged to the Mizrachi Zionist party and helped disseminate the idea of religious Zionism. He was a brilliant speaker.

His first position as rabbi was in Zhikhlin. He traveled to neighboring towns and villages, spoke about the importance of religious Zionism, and founded Mizrachi groups. At the age of 21, he was appointed chief rabbi in Lutsk. He visited Kremenets, among other towns, and established the Mizrachi organization, with the participation of the chief rabbi at that time, Rabbi Senderovits, of blessed memory.

In 1923, Rabbi Rapaport was a candidate to the Polish Parliament for the “National Block” and conducted an energetic election campaign.

In 1928, the position of chief rabbi in Kremenets was vacated, and he was appointed rabbi. The first year was quite distressing, since his opponents didn't approve of his appointment, but their activity wasn't successful.

Rabbi Rapaport developed a very serious eye illness and was operated on, but his general health deteriorated. He began suffering from heart disease as well and died in the prime of his life-35 years of age-in 5691 [1931]. His death caused grief not only in Kremenets but in all the towns he had visited during his short life.

He had two aspirations in his life: that his son-in-law, Rabbi Mendiuk, would be appointed his successor and that a collection of his sermons and lectures, Or Hayachadut, would appear in print. Both of his wishes were realized.

On his first memorial day, one year after his death, his gravestone was erected. Moving eulogies were held in the cemetery and in the synagogue. A special edition of Kremenitser Shtime was devoted to his memory, with articles by his son-in-law, Rabbi Y. M. Mendiuk; the head of the community, A. Perlmuter; L. Feldman; Dr. M. Litvak; M. Ditun; D. Levinton; and A. Sambarer.

His youngest daughter, her husband, and their child live in Israel.

[Page 369]
kre090.jpg
Figure 90. Anski Expedition in Kremenets (1913)

From right to left: Fikangur, Yakov Roytman (Yoshke Ponimayesh), Sh. Anski, Kompozitor Kiselhof, Fotograf-Moler Yudovin



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