Table of Contents

 

Voice of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel and the Diaspora, Booklet 6

 

List of Illustrations

Mordekhay Barmor (Motke Bishbeyn) 5
Lieutenant Colonel Barmor Reviewing His Troops 10
Installation Ceremony for the Mordekhay Barmor Torah 11
David Rubin 15
Zev (Velya) Shumski 16
Old Houses in the Foundry Neighborhood (drawing by A. Argaman) 22a

 

Name Index

Argaman, Avraham 1, 2, 22a
Avidan, Shimon 7
Bar-Mor, Mordekhay (Motke; see also Bishbeyn) 3, 5 (photo), 10 (photo), 5-11
Bar-Mor*, Sara 7, 11
Barshap, Fayvel 24
Barshap, Sonya 24
Bernshteyn, Aleksander 22
Bishbeyn, Manus 5
Bishbeyn, Mordekhay (Motke; see also Bar-Mor) 3, 5 (photo), 10 (photo), 5-11
Bishbeyn*, Reyzel (née Kopeyka) 5
Breytshteyn, Hela 24
Breytshteyn, Henig 24
Breytshteyn, Rina 24
Brik, Elazar 22
Denikin 5
Desser, Max 1, 2, 4
Desser, Nachman 14
Direktor, Yafa 25
Eydelman (see also Tamir), Yitschak 3, 18
Eydelman, Klara 18
Feter*, Lily (née Goldenberg) 19
Fingerut, (not given) 24
Fisher*, Chaya 24
Fisher, Moshe 24
Gad (husband of Chana Kahan) 25
Gelman, Rabbi 15
Gertman*, Gilah 24
Gertman, Beni 24
Gertman, Moshe 24
Gertman, Sonya (née Barshap) 24
Gindes*, Dvora (née Kugel) 18
Gindes, Fanya 18
Gindes, Irka 18
Gindes, Miron 18
Gindes, Munya 3, 18
Gindes, Tanya 18
Golberg, Yehoshue 1, 2, 16, 22
Goldberg, Leya 19
Goldenberg*, Chana 1, 2
Goldenberg, Elihu 24
Goldenberg, Lily 19
Goldenberg, Manus 1, 2, 3, 14, 18, 19, 43
Gonen (grandson of Avraham and Chana Mordish) 25
Goren, Azriel (see also Gorngut) 15
Gorngut, Azriel (see also Goren) 15
Grinberg, Nachum 25
Hershman, Shraga 5
Heylperin, Slova 25
Irit (daughter of Sara Taytelman) 25
Kahan, Chana 25
Kahan, Moshe 25
Katz, Marcos 1, 2
Katz, Mordekhay 3, 12, 19
Kaufman, Yehuda (Chulio) 25
Kesler, Heynikh 21
Kligman, Miryam Levit 24
Kneler, Pinya 25
Koler, Pesach 19
Kopeyka, Reyzel 5
Kremenchugski, Shila 21
Kroyt*, Chana 25
Kroyt, Shoshana 25
Kroyt, Simcha 25
Kugel, Dvora 18
Kutsher family 24
Likht (teacher and Torah reader) 22
Likht, Nachman 22
Litev, Pesach (see also Litvak) 19
Litvak, Pesach (see also Litev) 19
Mandelblat, Aharon 25
Mandelblat, Pesach 25
Margalit family 24
Margalit, Mendil 24
Margalit, Yosef 24
Menza, Yakov 19
Meyler, Chayim 25
Meyler*, Ita 25
Mordish, Avraham 25
Mordish*, Chana 25
Mordish, Shalom 25
Mordish*, Yehudit 25
Nadir, Rachel 1, 2, 13
Noa (granddaughter of Moshe and Sara Shteynberg) 25
Nusman, Ina 25
Nusman, Moshe 25
Nusman, Sozna (née Rubin) 25
Otiker, Mordekhay (see also Ot-Yakar) 1, 2, 7, 24
Otiker, Yisrael 22
Ot-Yakar, Mordekhay (see also Otiker) 1, 2, 7, 24
Ovadis 22
Pak, Leyzer 22
Pak, Yosef 4
Perlmuter, Fishel 22
Perlmuter, Ruven 22
Petliura 5
Port, Moshe 25
Port*, Yafa (née Direktor) 25
Portnoy, Yitschak 19
Prilutski, Tsvi 16
Rapoport, David 1, 2, 4
Rays, Tovya 14
Robert (husband of Ina Nusman) 25
Rokhel*, Chedva 25
Rokhel, Losa 25
Rokhel, Moshe 25
Rokhel*, Rivka 25
Rokhel*, Ruchama (née Shtemper) 23
Rokhel, Yitschak 1, 2, 3, 10, 15, 18, 19, 20, 23
Rokhel, Yoav 25
Rubin, David 3, 15 (photo), 15
Rubin, Hadasa 15
Rubin, Sozna 25
Rubinfayn family 24
Shafir, Yakov 22
Shapira*, Pinya (née Kneler) 25
Shapira, Shmuel 25
Shapira, Tila 25
Shepsel, Sender 22
Shnayder, Efraim 23
Shnayder, Shmuel 23
Shnayder, Zev (Velvel) 23
Shtemper, Ruchama 23
Shtern*, Yehudit 1, 2
Shteynberg, Moshe 25
Shteynberg*, Sara (née Vaynshteyn) 25
Shumski*, Frida 16
Shumski, Mikhael Duvidovitsh 16
Shumski*, Nadia 16
Shumski*, Neta 17
Shumski, Zev (Velya) 3, 16 (photo), 16
Shvarts, Katriel, R' 10
Shvarts, Sara 7, 11
Slovin, Mrs. 19
Tamir, Yitschak (see also Eydelman) 3, 18
Taytelman*, Bronya 25
Taytelman, Sara 25
Taytelman, Shmuel (Milik) 1, 2, 24, 25, 56
Toren-Feldman, Dvora 19
Tsukerman, David 4, 25
Tsukerman*, Sonya 25
Tsvi (husband of Mira Zilberg) 25
Tsvivel*, Margalit (née Vakman) 21
Tsvivel, David 21
Vakman*, Genya 22, 25
Vakman, Margalit 21
Vakman, Yitschak 21, 22, 25
Vaynshteyn, Sara 25
Vaynshteyn*, Vitya 25
Vaynshteyn, Yitschak 25
Vayntroyb, Chayim 24
Vayntroyb*, Miryam 24
Velberg, Sonya 19
Yampol, Moshe Ben-Meir 18
Yitschak (husband of Sara Taytelman) 25
Yuval (grandson of Yehuda Kaufman) 25
Zaremba, Professor 17
Zats*, Klara (née Eydelman) 18
Zilberg, Mira 25
Zilberg, Sara 25
Zilberg, Yakov 25

 

[Page 3]

Who's and What's in the Booklet?

Editorial Board

We have arrived at booklet 6. When we first published Voice of Kremenets Emigrants booklet in April 1967, we didn't think it would be a permanent periodical, and here we are already on the sixth issue in three years. The positive reactions from all sides and the interesting material that reaches the editors encourage us to continue. The rising demand for subscriptions has increased the number of booklets printed to 700!

Letters to the editors. Many letters come to the editor's desk. They reflect a longing and yearning for a past way of life that is no more and the desire to keep in touch with fellow townspeople in all the countries where they have settled. Some letters that stand out for their expressiveness will be published in a special section of the next booklet.

Not all material is offered in two languages. Because of the large amount of material and the desire not to exceed the optimal length, in this booklet we print part of the material in one language only (the Cold War, Letters to the Editor, Funds Received, Reincarnation of a Torah Scroll, Congratulations and Condolences), and we apologize to members who knowing only one language.

Five who passed away. Between the publication of one booklet and the next, a few of our members passed away. This booklet includes special looks at five of them: David Rubin, Mordekhay Bar-Mor-Bishbeyn, Zev-Velya Shumski, Yitschak Eydelman-Tamir, and Munya Gindes.

Local-color section. In every booklet, we will make sure to include local-color sections that bring back and refresh in our minds memories of Jewish Kremenets. In this booklet, our member Manus tells about the Cold War – the “war of the classes” between the simple, plain people in the old bathhouse and the “fine Jews” of the new bathhouse – a cold war that was not so cold …

Our colony in Argentina. Our member Mordekhay Katz presents a sociological review. Reading it gives us the opportunity to follow the flow of immigration, organizations, mutual help, the switch from crafts to commerce, the distancing of the younger generations, changes in political outlook, and more.

We will make an effort to continue to present such reviews of other Diaspora communities, but first we will cover the (comparatively) large Kremenetser tribe in Israel, as long as we have a member who is willing to take on this honorable job.

Everyday activities. As usual, we will review these in the Mosaic section. This time it is quite large, containing 18 segments collected by member Y. Rokhel.

[Page 4]

Our community approved of the custom of printing congratulations for family occasions, and it is spreading. We may not have successfully covered all events, but that's because we weren't informed of them. Members who would like to have their family events announced are requested to notify the editors early in a detailed letter (including the name of the newborn, the parents, the names of both newlyweds, etc.).

Regards from Kremenets. This section consists of two photographs we recently received as well as a short explanation.

We already have material for the next booklet, as it is said: “They will go from success to success” (Psalms 84:8). The material is the fruit of the labor of David Tsukerman of Haifa, David Rapoport of New York, and our veteran member Yosef Pak of Rishon Letsion, and more is coming.

“… Without flour, there is no Torah”: Our continual request for members to pay for the booklet punctually has brought results, although dozens of members still don't send their payments (which are minute in comparison); nor have we received payments from Canada. Please make sure to pay punctually. So far, we haven't raised the price in spite of cost increases, but this requires punctuality in depositing the payments in full and on time. We remind you again that payments can be made at any bank, including the post office bank, to account 52273 at Bank HaPoalim's main branch in Tel Aviv. You can also send a check to the order of Organization of Kremenets Emigrants.

Looking toward Passover. We send our blessings – the blessing of happy holidays – to all our members and readers.

 

Circulation of Voice of Kremenets Emigrants Booklets

In Israel: to members of the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants 375
In Israel: to assorted libraries, institutions, and individuals 75
In Argentina: through the landsmanschaft 100
In the United States: through the society and directly 75
In Canada: through Mr. Max Desser 25
In other countries: libraries and individuals 25
Total 675 copies

 

[Page 5]

Kremenetsers in Israel's Wars

 

Manus Goldenberg

Mordekhay Barmor (Motke Bishbeyn), of Blessed Memory

 

In this booklet, in the Kremenetsers in Israel's Wars section, we had set aside in advance a large space for our fellow townsman, Lieutenant Colonel Motke Bishbeyn. No one imagined that when the time came, we would have to add “of blessed memory” to his name to mark the end of his 45 years of life. Although these lines express all of our satisfaction and pride in his personality and deeds, the cloud of his untimely death lies heavy upon them.

* * *

It was about 20 years ago, during our organization's annual memorial. A young captain, erect and handsome, stood out among the assembled. When he was introduced to me as the son of Manus Bishbeyn, I was amazed at the close resemblance to his father at the same age; the same face was lit with a wise and lovely smile, and the same pleasantness and goodness shone on it. My mind was suddenly flooded with waves of memories.

In my mind's eye, I saw the days of 1917–1920. These were days of blood and fire – of pogroms and slaughter by the armed troops of Petliura, Denikin, and all sorts of gangs. Manus, Motke's father, was a frequent visitor at our home then. The jewelry and watch store in the house had long been a desirable target for Petliura's ruffians, whose bands roamed the street waiting for a signal. Throughout that time, Manus hardly left our house. It was clear that he was endangering himself purely out of friendship and devotion. Having some practical experience, he guided our friends and us in various ways, particularly in defending against the rowdiness of the young, non-Jewish hoodlums.

Those characteristics of Manus stood out in Motke everywhere and at every opportunity.

Shraga Hershman, a schoolmate of Motke's, a refugee boy who came to Kremenets from German-conquered Poland, told me, “Three wooden steps took my friends and me, all refugees, into the warm Bishbeyn family's home. Behind the door, his parents greeted us with smiles on their faces. The mother, Reyzel (née Kopeyka), wearing a white apron, would serve us hot and nourishing soup – a priceless item in those days. She would mother us, a thing that we really missed.”

Motke's life during that period – under Russian rule after the fall of Poland – was intertwined with an interesting chapter in events in Kremenets. Every one of our townspeople remembers the name “Bielokrinitse”[1] well and all it entails, particularly during the period of Polish rule.

[Page 6]

In Bielokrinitse, 7 kilometers from Kremenets, on the Vishnivetski princes' large estate, there had been an agriculture and forestry college of since the days of the czar, but no Jews were accepted there.

Now, with the Russians entering the area in 1939, the gates to the college and its dormitory opened wide to Jewish students, who now numbered about half of the pupils. Among the students, the youngest one was Motke, who had received his previous education at the Tarbut School. Being very attached to home, he would walk the 7 kilometers to and from school almost every day. Our boys studied there for about two years, and after the German invasion, they immediately decided to escape.

A great panic enveloped the town, and the escape began. Urged on by his parents, Motke was in the first group of students to escape. His road of affliction and hardship then began.

Motke was then about 15 years old. He made his way through life-threatening danger to his uncle's home in Bilotsirkov[2], where he had lived with his family since leaving Kremenets in 1920, when the Red Army retreated from there.

For just a short time, Motke found peace there, as the Germans arrived soon afterward, and during the panic of the retreat, they lost each other. It was 1942, and Motke, now 16 years old, decided to volunteer to join the Red Army. In his diary, he wrote,

“I spent the World War II years in the Red Army. In my unit, I was the only Jew among soldiers of the many nations and languages in which Greater Russia is so rich. To a great extent, my reason for volunteering was the deep contempt many Russians had for the Jews. Most Russian Jews had escaped deep behind the front lines in an effort to save themselves from the Nazis' claws. As a result, all sorts of jokes and amusing stories circulated among the Russian people about the Jews malingering to dodge the front …

After the war, in villages in Lithuania, Latvia, and western Ukraine, I met hundreds of war-disabled Jews who had seen combat and been wounded several times, and I saw Jews with decorations for heroism. But those Jews did not stand out in the eyes of people who saw Jews only 'far behind the front lines.'

During the war, I went through an unusual crisis. In 1944, after finding out that none of my family members had survived, I committed a few acts of revenge, and it was only thanks to my good commander that I was not punished severely.

This and other things helped me resist the enticements to stay in the Soviet Union. My uncle, a veteran Communist who lived in Russia, did everything to make me understand that I must immigrate to Israel, no matter what. From my other uncle, Yehoshue Zeyger, of blessed memory, I received loving letters in which he demanded that I immigrate to Israel, where a warm home awaited me, not to mention that it would fulfill the wishes of my parents, of blessed memory, during their last years.”

Motke took part in heavy combat during the invasion of the Crimea and other détentes, and he came out of it alive and whole. Loneliness lay heavy upon him, particularly since his friends often received letters from their families, while he had no one to write to him.

Page 7]

In 1946, he was discharged from the Red Army and moved to Germany, where he joined the ranks of the Haganah. There he met instructors from Israel and the Jewish Brigade, who aroused his admiration for their energy and organizational ability. He was greatly influenced by Shimon Avidan.

A short time later, Motke was promoted to training course instructor and Haganah commander of one of the camps.

In 1948, Motke arrived in Israel, where I first met him, as I said, at the memorial to the martyrs of Kremenets. Based on the background of our mutual memories, our feelings about the Holocaust in our town, and all that had happened to our families there, strong ties developed between us. Each encounter with him and his wife Sara – who fully shared his feelings – turned out to be a special experience for us.

Motke never skipped any of our memorials, and he participated in other meetings unless his duties in the Israel Defense Forces prevented it. He encouraged us, in writing and in person, at every opportunity. It made him very proud that, with Sara's help, he succeeded in instilling in his lovely son and two daughters his own attitude toward his murdered family and his birth town of Kremenets. Happily, he would tell me that his children read the organization's publications with interest, and, truly, you could see the results of this education during the meetings.

Throughout the years, Motke tried to work for our organization, but he couldn't. I remember very well the evenings a few years back when Motke volunteered to collect donations for the memorial to the martyrs of Kremenets; after a long workday, he would arrive in his jeep to pick me up, and together we would circulate among Kremenetsers' homes for four or five hours each evening. With the warmth that Motke managed to bring with him, it wasn't easy to leave any of the Kremenetser families we visited.

In one of my few meetings with him after the Six-Day War, he told me joyfully, “The day is near when I'll be discharged, and then I'll repay all my debts to the organization.” We waited for him anxiously. He wanted very much to share the impressions he had accumulated during his last years of making war and of other activities, but bitter fate decided differently. A few days before the annual memorial, we a received letter in his clear handwriting in which he expressed his admiration of booklet 5 of Voice of Kremenets Emigrants and apologized for having to be absent from the annual memorial, as he would be recovering from surgery at that time.

We didn't know then – nor did he – that his days were numbered. Only his loyal wife, Sara, who carried her heavy calamity with strength and dignity, knew.

Motke will never return to us; his place in the Kremenetser family is empty, just like a house after the death of a beloved son.

His alluring and charming personality will always be with us.


[Page 8]

Lt. Colonel Mordekhay Barmor,
of Blessed Memory – Man and Soldier

Mordekhay Ot-Yakar

Mordekhay, or Motke, as everyone called him, was an army man most of his life. We say “man and soldier,” and it is clear that there's no contradiction between the two – the way they were formed in him was a wondrous blend that often caused his friends and acquaintances astonishment at the cause the spiritual core from which he derives.

Mordekhay arrived in Israel in 1948, and not long after, he was already taking part in the battles in different parts of the country. “On the eve of the declaration of independence” – he wrote in 1949 to his future wife – “I felt a duty to be among our country's defenders. On the morning of May 14, 1948, I asked my aunt (in whose home I lived at the time) to pack a few military items in my backpack, and that evening, I was already participating in an attack on a village in the Efraim Mountains.” Mordekhay was wounded in one of the battles, and the personal story attached to it is one that he could never forget while in the line of fire: In the Barmor home is a napkin stained with Mordekhay's blood, which flowed out of his chest from a wound right next to his heart, which escaped injury. H kept that napkin with him all through the World War II years and during the battles in Israel in which he participated. His mother had given him this napkin when he left home, wrapping some sugar to for him to eat when hunger threatened to overcome him. This napkin, he believed, protected him from the enemy's bullets …

In Israel, he began from the beginning. Bishbeyn – as his name was then – came to us as a Red Army officer with much hardship and experience behind him, as witnessed by the documents he carried. But he didn't take advantage of them by demanding an officer's rank, and he certainly didn't present himself as an “expert on high strategy,” something we were getting from time to time in those days. It seems that he was one of a few experienced military men from overseas who were willing to start low and climb up the ladder of ranks while participating fully in battles during the War of Independence, the Sinai War, the Six-Day War, and those wars “in between the wars.”

In May 1948, he was assigned to the Fourth Battalion of the Golani Brigade. This battalion played a very important role in the country's liberation and pushed all the way to Eilat. Speaking about that period, with its hardships and achievements, a friend testified that Mordekhay “was found by his friends-in-arms in Golani to be a friend, a devoted comrade, and intelligent, and to have an aptitude and the ability for organization and leadership.”

In 1949, he was already a first lieutenant, moving with his battalion to any of the battlefronts in which the Golani men were called to fight. The battles, the efforts, the fall of close friends, and personal danger – these were his companions, and they left their impression on his personality to his last day.

[Page 9]

Each person has his own special sentimental attachment. Each soldier has a unit or corps to which his first “love” is given, even though he may be moved to a few other corps during his service.

For Barmor, it started at the end of summer 1950. He “fell in love” with anti-aircraft. By chance, he was posted to a battalion whose function was to activate its weapons against the enemy aircraft that visit Israel's sky. There was hardly a task for that battalion in which he was not involved, until he rose to the rank of battalion second-in-command and then – to his pride and joy – to the rank of battalion commander.

His days and nights were completely devoted to his battalion: training, weapons, machinery, improvements of all sorts, and above all, the men – the private that his command could – with love and suffering – change into an exemplary army man. One of his men – one of many to whom he devoted his ability and energy – who was in the United States when he found out his commander had died, wrote to Mordekhay's wife, “I heard the name of your husband, of blessed memory, from other soldiers at the start of my service as a private. The speaker always mentioned his name with a warm glance or a good word. I learned the secret after I graduated from officer training, met him, and was privileged to get to know him. Of all the army officers I have met, I have not found one who could blend commanding with parenting in such a wondrous way.”

In 1951, the Barmors gave birth to their firstborn, a son. At that time, they lived in Jaffa's Menashiye section, and their home was not in the best of conditions. At midnight, during one of winter's raging stormy nights, when Menashiye's roofs were about to come off in the strong wind, the commander remembered his men in the field. What would happen to them in their tents on such a frightful night? Was he just to continue sleeping under “ideal conditions” when his soldiers were wallowing in mud and water? He rushed to his unit, and when he felt reassured, he returned home, soaking wet, before dawn.

The dawning of 1956 found Barmor taking a supplemental course. His heart told him that something was “cooking,” and he was restless. He felt that he should be someplace else. Sure enough, on the eve of the Sinai project, he was summoned to take part in the war against the Egyptians.

We have not listed each and every one of his activities in the army: all the battles, all the courses – learning and teaching – and all his advances up the ranks to second-in-command in the Israeli army, which he loved so much. But we will say that in August 1966 he was appointed second-in-command to the top artillery officer. His friends in his previous unit had mixed reactions to that: sadness over his leaving and gladness over his opportunity to advance toward greater responsibility in the IDF.

Page 10]

The man was 45 years old at his death. Mourning with his family were his friends, pals, and acquaintances, and the many who were under his command, to whom he was not just a commander but first of all a friend, a man!

On the 30th day after his passing, his friends, those in the Organization of Haganah Members in Europe and North Africa, had his name inscribed in the Golden Book[3] and wrote these words:

“Lieutenant Colonel Mordekhay Barmor, of blessed memory, one of the surviving remnants of the Holocaust, who came forward to serve his nation with all his soul and all his being, a man of the Haganah in the Diaspora of Europe and a man of the Israel Defense Forces, who stood guard from the day of his arrival in Israel to the day of his untimely death.”


Lieutenant Colonel Barmor Reviewing His Troops

 

The Reincarnation of a Torah Scroll

Yitschak Rokhel

R' Katriel Shvarts, a resident of Chodorov[4] village in Galicia, left for exile with remainder his villagers during the Holocaust, and they wandered for years through forests and refugee camps. When he left his village, he took the Torah scroll out of the ruins of the synagogue and vowed to bring it to Israel. Throughout his wanderings, he kept the scroll with him, guarding it fiercely. Some say that the Torah scroll safeguarded him and his family. After all their tribulations, they arrived in Israel, the Torah scroll with them. They settled in Jaffa and gave the Torah to one of the synagogues there.

[Page 11]

During the family's wanderings, R' Katriel Shvarts's daughter had met Mordekhay Barmor of Kremenets, and after they arrived in Israel, she married him. R' Katriel lived in Jaffa for a few years and then moved to Tochelet village near Kfar Chabad. When his time came, he went the way of all flesh.

Mordekhay Barmor grew up in Kremenets in a family of Bund members and did not receive with a religious education. But the twists of the war and the Holocaust, and the atmosphere in the Shvarts home, drew him toward Jewish tradition, and when they settled in the officer's town of Neve Magen, their home life had the spirit of the tradition. His wife, Sara, was a help in that, as she had been educated in an Orthodox religious school and later at Bar-Ilan University. On the Sabbath and holidays, Mordekhay prayed at the synagogue in their town, where he had a permanent seat.

After Katriel Shvarts's death, the Barmor family decided to install the Torah scroll in the Neve Magen synagogue. They hired a scribe, who proofread the scroll and repaired the damages, and they made a cover and all the traditional decorations for it. When Mordekhay fell ill and then passed away during that process, Sara decided that the scroll would carry her husband Mordekhay's name as well as her father's.


Installation Ceremony for the Mordekhay Barmor Torah

 

The ceremony, which took place on 26 Shevat, was very well attended. The Torah was carried out of the widow's home under a canopy and accompanied by songs and dancing, with people celebrating – young and old, soldiers and civilians, among them some Kremenetsers – while fire torches were carried on both sides of the parade. The synagogue's seven Torah scrolls were carried to the entrance of the house to welcome the newly arrived member. The widow crowned the Torah with a coronet and trees of life, and that is how the scroll entered the house. Hundreds of local people where waiting there, including many soldiers – Mordekhay's commanders and subordinates. His oldest son, Amos, a new soldier, said the Kaddish prayer. Verses appropriate to the occasion were read from the book of Psalms, and with the reading of the verse “When the ark set out …,”[5] the scroll was put in its place in the Holy Ark in memory of Mordekhay Barmor and his father-in-law Katriel Shvarts, whose names are etched on the cover of the Torah scroll.


[Page 12]

Kremenets Emigrants in Argentina
(A Sociological Study)

Mordekhay Katz, Buenos Aires

Translation from Yiddish [into Hebrew]: Rachel Nadir-Otiker

According to the memorial book of Kremenets[6] published in Buenos Aires in 1965, there were about 70 families there already in 1926. During the 1930s, as result of the economic crisis and increasing anti-Semitism, a, mass exit of Polish Jews began. Our congregation in Argentina received this supplement and numbered about 300 people. That was the number I found when I arrived here in 1937. By then, the immigration gates were closed, but in 1946, we succeeded somehow in bringing about 10 surviving families in via Paraguay. With the horrible Holocaust, all the sources of our life over there were destroyed and buried. I can do nothing more but proceed into the present.

Today, the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants in Argentina lists about 110 families. Besides them, there are about 20 families who don't belong to the organization.

About 40 years have passed since the beginning of emigration from Kremenets to Argentina, and the average age of the people, obviously, is quite high. Of them, 90% live with their children's families (two, three, and four) and their grandchildren, may their number multiply!

But can they be considered Kremenetsers? This is a difficult question to answer. When young, they were close to their parents' daily life and interests. But as they grew up, integrated, and blended into the general flow of life in Argentina, the older generation was left alone on the edge of life's bustle.

A typical fact in the behavior of some of our community's progeny, who grew up with the purism of the Spanish language and culture, deserves mention: that same youth who years later were parents to their own children saw a need to send their children to Hebrew and Yiddish schools so as to draw them closer to their nation's culture. In addition, they themselves volunteered for school board activities and even tried to influence their parents (the grandparents) to join them.

During the first days of immigration, a large number of our people held “Leftist” opinions and ideas and believed “for the Torah will go forth out of Moscow.”[7] Some even brought those opinions with them from home. The economic and political situation at the time helped to develop and deepen those ideas. A certain number of Kremenetsers, who were active in the Mendele Cultural Center, were far removed from Zionism. Only a very small portion were active in the Zionist movement.

After some time, the Kremenets emigrants joined the people from Potshayuv[8] and Vizshgorodok, and together they established a proper landsmanschaft, where they began organizing cultural activities and helping needy members. It was considered one of the best organized in Buenos Aires.

[Page 13]

Today, our people are active in many institutions and in important, well-known organizations like the Jewish National Fund, the Women's Zionist Organization, YIVO, the Bialik School, the Perets School, and others.

The older generation consisted mostly of merchants and manufacturers. They didn't lack for money, and several also managed to become rich. A certain percentage were craftsmen, and their economic situation was also quite good. But as in any group, a number of people did not manage to gain suitable positions, and their economic situation was hard. Of course, they were supported by our organization.

As for education level, most people who came here with a certificate of graduation from primary school, and some with even more than that, did not manage to continue their education. Making a living and taking care of their basic needs occupied all their time and effort. When they were finally settled and ready to relax, the time for higher education had passed. Their children, though, received a comprehensive education, and many of them became physicians, attorneys, engineers, and accountants.

Again, the question arises in all its seriousness: will they continue and stay with us? Will they remember what happened to their parents and families?

To be fair and objective, I have to mention the fact of mixed marriages among our people. It is true that the percentage is small, but we cannot ignore this contagious malady – who can envision its results? But we are happy that most of our youth are proud Jews and anxious to immigrate to Israel. Some of them are already there, and others are getting ready to go.

The revival of the ancient country of Israel, its wars, and the heroism of the nation that is living in Zion brought many who were distant and denied the Zionist idea closer. Suddenly, a feeling of responsibility and self-respect awoke in them and moved them to join our ranks. But the younger generation is attracted only to the glamorous chapters of history – to the victories – and push the Holocaust visited on our nation out of their minds. They don't see any glory and greatness in it, and so it is natural that they can't crawl under our skin and feel and remember as we do. With all the respect, awe, and sadness that they feel toward what happened, they aren't willing to join our Kremenets Diaspora community's activities.

* * *

In sum, I would like to note that as of now, the Organization of Kremenetsers in Buenos Aires and its environs, where 90% of our people are concentrated, is clear of any and all leftist sympathy and political activity (except for a minute number of irregulars). At the top of the leadership are persons from the rank and file, who have an unequivocal and clear understanding of our reality there and in Israel.

Our prayer and desire is long-awaited peace, a true peace, where muses instead of cannons speak.

May peace reign in Israel and the whole world!


[Page 14]

Regards from Kremenets

M. G.

 

School of Commerce

Our honorable landsman Nachman Desser, who lives in the United States, has given us a few photos of public buildings in Kremenets taken in 1964. Each of them awakens memories of the past – especially the one of the School of Commerce. Many of Kremenets' survivors spent their childhood and youth between those walls and in the adjacent park.

Elsewhere in this booklet, Mikhail Duvidovich Shumski is mentioned. He and Yisrael Margalit were linked closely to this school, being its founders and members of its administration. It is no exaggeration to say that this school was their cherished child.

The photo is on page 48 of the Yiddish section.

 

25 Years since Town's Liberation from the Nazi Occupation

One of our fellow townspeople, today a resident of Odessa, gave us the invitation he received from the Kremenets Town Council to the ceremony celebrating the 25th anniversary of the town's liberation from the Nazi occupation.

The invitation was sent to all Kremenets emigrants throughout Russia. This document evoked great sadness in us, reminding us once again that for the Jewish population of the town, liberation came when only about 20 living skeletons, wrung out and starving, crept out of their secret hiding places.

Our fellow townsman Tovya Rays, recipient of the title Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest decoration given for heroism in the Soviet army, received a special invitation to the ceremony.

See the photo on page 49 of the Yiddish section.


[Page 15]

In Memoriam

 

David Rubin,
of Blessed Memory

Translated [into Hebrew] and completed by Y. Rokhel

 

On 23 Tamuz 5729[9] (August 9, 1969), the Kremenetser community in Israel lost one of its honored members. On that day, 87-year-old David Rubin, of blessed memory, passed away after a long life filled with satisfaction and hardship. He was the oldest person from our town in Israel and the Diaspora.

He was born in 1882 in the village of Yampoli[10], near Kremenets. He spent his childhood and youth in the cheder and the small synagogue. Although he rebelled against the way of life of that period, he continued to draw from those same sources; from them, he absorbed, particularly in the cheder and the small synagogue, influences that entered his own original crucible.

In actuality, he was never cut off from the past, either in ordinary discussions or in his literary writings, which are found in assorted publications. During his years in Israel, his works were published mainly in Letste Nayes[11] and Yeda Am. He liked folklore and described with an artistic flair the pre-Holocaust lifestyle in the Jewish village. The memorial book for Yampoli published a few years ago was edited by him, Azriel Gorngut (today Goren), and Rabbi Gelman, who are all from Yampoli.

As soon as he his family moved to Kremenets, the county seat, and settled in the Rovno[12] section, he was integrated into the town's social life. He much favored the Zionist circles in which he functioned, but he was very tolerant of the other factions.

After the destruction of Jewish Kremenets, he went back there to live for a few years. He described his impressions in various articles and in conversations.

From his youth, he attached himself to the Zionist movement. His immigration to Israel at the age of 75, alone (his three daughters were still living in Poland), was a natural continuation of the faraway world of yesterday, which never left his heart.

His love for Israel was deep, and he reacted with youthful excitement to events in the country, both when he felt they were right and when he felt they were wrong.

He was blessed with a clear mind and a wise, practical attitude toward life's events, and at the same time, he was a man of dreams, a farsighted visionary.

His intellectual curiosity about what had happened in the past, what was happening in the present, and what might happen in the future gave him good standing in his struggles with old age. His clear mind and sight stayed with him, bright and whole, until his last moment.

With his passing, one of the most interesting and colorful personalities from the Kremenets of old has left us. He leaves three daughters and their families, among them the poetess Hadasa Rubin. In Israel, he resided in Kfar Chasidim, where one of his daughters and her family live.

May his memory be blessed.


Page 16]

Zev (Velya) Shumski

Yehoshue Golberg

 

You can't talk about Velya Shumski without mentioning his parents' home, where he grew up, and its atmosphere.

The home of Mikhael Duvidovitsh Shumski, Velya's father, was a progressive one, mingling with Russian and later with Polish society, but at the same time adhering to Jewish customs and traditions. On Sabbath eve, the whole extended family – sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren – would assemble at Grandmother Frida Shumski's, light the Sabbath candles, say the blessing over the wine, and have a feast worthy of the Sabbath. Mikhael Shumski was not a religious man, although he did pray in the Great Synagogue every Sabbath and was a member of the Talmud Torah board, the Burial Society, and the Pallbearers. The functionaries of those institutions would meet in his house and discuss their assorted problems, as did the functionaries of the School of Commerce, of which he was a founders and board member for many years.

During the summer months, Kremenets-born Tsvi Prilutski, editor of Moment, would come for vacation in a cottage on Mount Vidomka, and he made it a habit to visit with Mikhael Shumski. While they discussed current world events, young Velya would listen and absorb knowledge about life in the larger Jewish world.

Velya's mother, Nadia Shumski, was an excellent housekeeper, as demonstrated by the good taste and elegance of her home. At the same time, she busied herself with community needs: she organized women from the intelligentsia class into the Women's Club (in Russian: Damski Kriz'ok), which oversaw various relief institutions.

This is the kind of home in which Velya grew up. He was a proud, goodhearted Jew, with tendencies toward helping people and being sensitive to the community's needs. He was associated with Polish high society and was invited to take part in the winter's Grand Hunt. From time to time at a meeting in the forest during the hunt, he managed to prevent an outcry against some Jewish institution. For example, the town decided to close the Talmud Torah for “sanitary reasons,” but Velya's interference during a hunting trip eliminated the threat; matters were taken care of, and the Talmud Torah continued to function.

Page 17]

He also had a great influence on Professor Zaremba of the Lyceum (a great mathematician and a great drunkard), and thanks to that, many more Jewish students were accepted to that school than was the “norm.”

During World War II, I ran into Velya while we were both refugees. He was in a very bad situation then, and I had been lucky. I offered to help, even by way of a loan, but his sense of pride made him refuse.

After the war, he settled in Pozen[13]. His small apartment was always open to any Kremenets survivor, and any former Kremenetser who passed through Pozen had to visit Velya's home, where he and his wife Neta would receive him in a friendly manner. One day I, too, needed his help: while on a trip from Berlin to Warsaw, my truck ran out of fuel. Naturally, my traveling companions and I were invited to stay overnight in their home. The next day, Velya “organized” a can of fuel for me, and I was able to continue on my way; in Pozen, too, Velya had succeeded in making good contacts and helping people. He was naturally excellent at mixing with society, a talent that he inherited from his father's home.

Velya arrived in Israel with his family in 1951. When he could not get settled in a job in his profession of electrical engineering, he accepted the job offered to him without complaining, doing his work with reliability and devotion until his last day. He was a handsome, good-natured, optimistic man who was popular and involved in community life.

His education did not prepare him for Zionism and Israel, but as soon as he arrived, he formed an attachment to the country, adjusting easily to his new environment without complaining or arguing or suffering painful adjustments. He proved his loyalty to the country on many occasions when, more so than many others, who, even though they were brought up on Zionism, when they come to Israel have as many demands as a pomegranate has seeds. He didn't think he deserved anything special and never saw himself as discriminated against.

Velya was active in the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants from the time he came here. He served on the board, worked on Pinkas Kremenets, and performed any job asked of him.

He can be defined as a proud Jew of gracious personality and demeanor. He stood straight and proud, even among non-Jewish anti-Semites. He was a healthy man; he never had a sick day in his life, and at the age of 75, he died suddenly and peacefully. His wife passed away six years ago, and he mourned his loss courageously and privately. He left a married daughter and grandchildren.

May his memory be blessed.


[Page 18]

Yitschak Eydelman (Tamir),
of Blessed Memory

Y. Rokhel

At the age of 74, Yitschak Eydelman, who changed his name to Tamir, passed away. In his youth, before World War I, his father, a staunch Zionist, sent him to study at the Hertseliya High School in Jaffa (before the founding of Tel Aviv).

Because of the war, he spent a few years in Kremenets. His presence there – his appearance, his Sephardic-accented Hebrew, and the songs from Israel that he sang – was an education for the Zionist youth in the town. He also took an active part in developing sports in Jewish Kremenets. When the war was over, he returned to Israel with the first group of pioneers from Kremenets. He resided in Tel Aviv with his family and worked in the offices of the Solel Bone company. In his last years, he suffered from serious illnesses, and as he was getting ready to move into a retirement home, he passed away. He was a very gregarious man, although his interests did not lie within the framework of Kremenets emigrants in the Land. He leaves a wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He also leaves a sister – Klara Zats, née Eydelman.

May his memory be blessed.


Munya Gindes,
of Blessed Memory

M. G.

Kremenetser Munya Gindes passed away a few months ago in Turkmenistan. In Kremenets, he was the secretary of the ORT School until the Russians retreated, and he was active in the community, particularly in the trade union. He had many friends who adored him, thanks to his sense of humor, warmth, and fairness.

We, too, had the opportunity to enjoy those qualities when we welcomed him to the RYB”L Library on his visit to Israel a few years ago. He told us then of his 1961 visit to Kremenets; he went there from Turkmenistan with his wife, Dvora (née Kugel) to spend the summer in a cottage in his native town. At that time, he saw Moshe Ben-Meir Yampol, who had come from Leningrad, and together they went to visit the killing field. He told us how dismal the sights and the things he heard from the non-Jews in the town were; they were completely untouched by the Holocaust.

He left a married daughter (a physician) and grandchildren in Russia as well as his sister, Fanya, and two nieces, Tanya and Irka, Miron Gindes's daughters, in Israel.

May his memory be blessed.

Page 22a]


Old Houses in the Foundry Neighborhood (drawing by A. Argaman)

 


[Page 24]

Condolences

To the Margalit family, of Haifa, and the Rubinfayn family, of Pardes Katz, on the death of Yosef Margalit, 56, son of Mendil Margalit (of the Dubna suburb).

To Chayim Vayntroyb and his children, of Tel Aviv, on the passing of their wife and mother, Miryam Levit Kligman, 59, at Beit Rivka Hospital, Petach Tikva, after an extended illness.

To Chaya Fisher, the immediate Kutsher family, and the extended Kutsher family on the death of the head of the family, Moshe Fisher.

May they be comforted with the rest of the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, and may they no longer be anguished.


Congratulations

To Hela and Henig Breytshteyn, of Haifa, who celebrated the marriage of their daughter, Rina, in Tel Aviv, and the birth of their granddaughter in Kibbutz Yagur.

To Payvel Barshap and his family, of Kibbutz Yagur, who celebrated the marriage of their daughter.

To the Gertman family, Moshe and Sonya (née Barshap), Haifa, Neve Sha'anan, who celebrated the marriage of their son, Beni, to his fiancée, Gilah.

[Page 25]

To Yitschak and Genya Vakman, New York, on the birth of their first great-grandchild.

To Sara and Yakov Zilberg, Haifa, Neve Sha'anan, on the marriage of their daughter, Mira, to her fiancé, Tsvi.

To Bronya and Shmuel (Milik) Taytelman, Bat Yam, on the birth of their first granddaughter, Irit, daughter of Sara and Yitschak, and to grandfather Nachum Grinberg on the birth of his first great-granddaughter.

To Moshe Kahan, Kibbutz Ma'anit (husband of Slova Heylperin, of blessed memory), on the marriage of his daughter, Chana, and her fiancé, Gad.

To Aharon Mandelblat and family, Petach Tikva, on the marriage of his son, Pesach.

To the Nusman Family, Moshe and Sozna (née Rubin), Kfar Hasidim, on the marriage of their daughter, Ina, to her fiancé, Robert.

To David and Sonya Tsukerman, Haifa, on the birth of their grandson.

To Yehuda (Chulio) Kaufman and family, Ramat Aviv, on the birth of a grandson, Yuval, in London.

To the Shapira and Kneler families, Ramat Gan, on the marriage of Tila, daughter of Shmuel Shapira, and Pinya (of the Kneler family, of blessed memory).

To Chayim and Ita Meyler, Afula, on the marriage of their daughter.

To Avraham and Chana Mordish, Kibbutz Yad Mordekhay, on the birth of their grandson, Gonen.

To Shalom and Yehudit Mordish, Kibbutz Afek, on the marriage of their daughter.

To Simcha and Chana Kroyt, Lod, on the marriage of their daughter, Shoshana.

To the Shteynberg family, Moshe and Sara (née Vaynshteyn), on the birth of their granddaughter, Noa.

To Yafa Port (née Direktor), Tel Aviv, on the birth of her first granddaughter, daughter of Moshe, and on the birth of twin granddaughters.

To Vitya and Yitschak Vaynshteyn, Tel Aviv, on the birth of a granddaughter in Nairobi, Kenya, and on the birth of a grandson in Haifa.

To Moshe and Rivka Rokhel, Tel Aviv, on the birth of their grandson, Yoav, son of Losa and Chedva, Jerusalem.

May they all be blessed, and may celebrations be plentiful in our midst.


Editor's and Translator's Notes:

  1. Bielokrinitse, now known as Belaya Krinitsa, is at 50°09' N 25°45' E, 3.8 miles NNE of Kremenets. [Ed.] Return
  2. Bilotsirkov may be the town now known as Bila Tserkva. It is at 49°47' N 30°07' E, 196.7 miles E of Kremenets [Ed.] Return
  3. The Golden Book records moments in the lives of inscribers or those they wish to honor. The books are housed at the Jewish National Fund headquarters in Jerusalem. [Ed.] Return
  4. Chodorov, now known as Khodorov, is at 49°24' N 24°19' E, 79 miles SW of Kremenets. [Ed.] Return
  5. “When the ark set out …” (in Hebrew, vayehi binsoa ha'aron; Numbers 10:35) is the verse traditionally recited upon the opening of the ark in which the Torah scrolls are kept. [Ed.] Return
  6. The memorial book referred to here is Kremenits, Vishgorodek un Pitshayev; yisker-bukh [Memorial Book of Krzemieniec, Vishgorodek, and Pochayev], ed. P. Lerner, Buenos Aires: Former residents of Kremenets and Vicinity in Argentina, 1965, 468 pp, Yiddish. [Ed.] Return
  7. “For the Torah will go forth out of Moscow” plays on the verse ki mitsion tetse Torah (For the Torah [law] will go forth out of Zion; Isaiah 2:3). [Trans.] Return
  8. Potshayuv, now known as Pochayiv, is at 50°01' N 25°29' E, 11.8 miles WSW of Kremenets. Vizshgorodok, not known as Vyshgorodok, is at 49°46' N 25°58' E, 25.6 miles SSE of Kremenets. [Ed.] Return
  9. 23 Tamuz 5729 corresponds to July 9, 1969, so either the Hebrew or the Gregorian date is incorrect. [Ed.] Return
  10. Yampoli, now known as Yampil', is at 49°58' N 26°15' E, 25.4 miles ESE of Kremenets. [Ed.] Return
  11. Letste Nayes (Latest News) is an Israeli Yiddish-language newspaper, and Yeda Am is the journal of the Israeli Folklore Society. The memorial book mentioned is L. Gelman, ed., 1963, Ayara be-lehavot: Pinkas Yampola, pelekh Volyn [Town in Flames: Book of Yampola, Wolyn District], published in Jerusalem by the commemoration committee for the town with the assistance of Yad Vashem and the World Jewish Congress (154 pp., Hebrew and Yiddish). [Ed.] Return
  12. Rovno, now known as Rivne, is at 50°37' N 26°15' E, 42.7 miles NNE of Kremenets [Ed.] Return
  13. Pozen, Poland, now known as Poznań, is at 52°25' N 16°58' E, 410.2 miles WNW of Kremenets. [Ed.] Return

 

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