|Eliezer (Luzer) Brik||9|
|Eliyahu (Eli) Shifris||13|
|Aharonov* (wife of driver)||1|
|Avidar, Yosef (see also Rokhel, Yosef)||15, 17|
|Barats* (wife of Fayvel)||11, 14|
|Barats, Fayvel||11, 14|
|Barats, Yisrael, R'||11|
|Barats, Yitschak (Itsik)||11-12|
|Biberman, Avraham||1, 2, 3|
|Biberman, Yitschak||1, 2|
|Brik, Eliezer (Luzer, Luski)||9-11|
|Brik*, Sara Shurtsa||9|
|Chasid* (wife of Zev)||17|
|Cherpashnik, Shmuel (see also Romanovits)||16|
|Dan (grandson of Eliezer Brik)||10|
|Feler*, Noa (née Avidar)||17|
|Fishman, Yeshayahu||2, 3|
|Geva*, Rachel (née Brik)||9|
|Golberg, Yehoshue||i, 11, 16|
|Goldenberg, Manus||i, 13, 14|
|Gorenshteyn, Azriel||14, 16|
|Hermashevski (not given)||16|
|Katsel, Meir (see also Katz)||17|
|Katz, Meir (see also Katsel)||17|
|Kerler, Heni (née Barshap)||16|
|Kogan, William||i, 15|
|Kohen*, Bela (née Zinger)||17|
|Kornits*, Sara (née Bakimer)||17|
|Krits*, Baba (née Rokhel)||17|
|Lavah (husband of Henya Hamburski)||17|
|Litvak, Meir||1, 14|
|Litvak, Pesach||1, 2|
|Netsits*, Lili (née Vaynshteyn)||17|
|Poltorek, Shlome||1, 2, 13, 14|
|Poniatavski (Lyceum curator)||11|
|Rapoport, David||i, 13, 15|
|Raykhman, Yakov||1, 3|
|Rokhel, Chanokh||1, 2, 6-9|
|Rokhel, Yitschak||i, 1, 3, 6, 14, 15|
|Rokhel, Yosef||15, 17|
|Romanovits, Shmuel (see also Cherpashnik)||16|
|Shafir*, Chana (née Poltorek)||14, 15|
|Shazar, (president of Israel)||16|
|Shifris, Eliyahu (Eli)||13|
|Shkurnik* (wife of Gershon)||14|
|Shor*, Malka (née Biberman)||17|
|Shvartsapel*, Hilda (née Royt)||14|
|Taytelman, Shmuel||i, 12|
|Tsizin, Yakov||1, 2|
|Tsviya (grandmother of Yakov Shafir)||14|
|Vaynberg*, Susan (née Fisher)||15|
|Vaynshteyn*, Vitya (née Karshun)||17|
|Zinger*, Sonya (née Valdenberg)||17|
February 1971 marked the 50th anniversary of the immigration of the first group of Pioneers from Kremenets. Of the 12 members of that group, four are still with us (brothers Avraham and Yitschak Biberman, Shlome Poltorek, and Yitschak Rokhel). This date deserves special note, as they were the ones who initiated organized immigration from our town, and they were followed by hundreds.
We'll let the members of that group speak for themselves and describe the event (with a few omissions), as Chanokh Rokhel (of blessed memory) and Yitschak Biberman did in Pinkas Kremenets in 5714 (pp. 115-119).
Chanokh Rokhel and Yitschak Biberman
In early 1921, 12 pioneers, the first group from Kremenets, immigrated to Israel. With that, sporadic, organized immigration of pioneers from our town began, including hundreds of young people and lasting until World War II. The members of the first group were (1) Avraham Biberman, (2) Yitschak Biberman, (3) Shlome Poltorek, (4) Dina Krivin, (5) Yakov Tsizin, (6) Yitschak Eydelman, (7) Bunim Bakimer, (8) Aharonov, a driver, (9) Aharonov's wife, (10) Chanokh Rokhel, (11) Yakov Raykhman, and (12) Yitschak Rokhel.
The first nine arrived on the ship Avetsia on February 8, 1921, and the next two on the ship Marno on February 20, 1921. The last to arrive was Yitschak Rokhel, on April 4, 1921. Azriel Gorengut and his family arrived with the first group. Three members of the group stayed in Kremenets: (1) Katya, Dr. Meir Litvak's daughter; (2) Sima Raykhman, who got cold feet at the last moment; and (3) Pesach Litvak, who immigrated in 1929.
A certain number of young Zionists in Kremenets felt dissatisfied with their Zionist and community activities in the Diaspora, even though they took a very active part in them. They wanted to personally fulfill what they demanded from others: immigrate to Israel and live a life of working the land there. Fifteen of these dozens of young people formed a group that decided to leave immediately, and they began preparations.
At that time, Pioneer was just being established, and its emissaries had not yet arrived in Kremenets. Our group was established on our own initiative, and we did not even name it Pioneer but rather called ourselves a group of pioneers.
At our meetings, we spoke in Yiddish and Russian, but some of us were Hebrew zealots and insisted on speaking Hebrew, which then took its rightful place in our meetings and private conversations. Our group included most of the young civic activists who gathered around the first Hebrew kindergarten in our town and other general Tarbut projects. In the Land, we did not encounter difficulties in adjusting where the Hebrew language was concerned.
Organizing the group and preparing to immigrate made waves among Kremenets' Jews. The Land of Israel was transformed from an abstract and distant idea to the real thing.
At that time, training operations were not yet established, but in the summer of 1920, two members of the group (Chanokh Rokhel and Yitschak Biberman) went on their own initiative to receive agricultural training at Jewish farmer Itsi Kotitshiner's farm in a village about 30 kilometers from our town. Shlome Poltorek received his training at the Pioneer farm in Grokhov.
Preparations for immigration were starting. After that, in August 1920, we sent three of our members, Avraham Biberman, Chanokh Rokhel, and Pesach Litvak, to Warsaw to explore the possibility of immigration.
In Warsaw, we met delegates from pioneer groups from different cities and towns. At that time, Pioneer and its headquarters were being established. With others, we helped establish pioneer houses and participated in the Palestine Bureau's work, and they demanded that we join their staff for a prolonged period and postpone our immigration. Pesach Litvak gave in to the pressure, stayed in Warsaw, and worked in that office until 1929; the other two refused, and when they had obtained the documents, they returned to Kremenets and immigrated to Israel with the group.
Stealthily, like thieves, we left town. The authorities' attitude changed frequently. First, we received papers clearing us politically. Then they began suspecting and provoking us. One night in January 1921, we took the train to Lvov and stayed there for a day, exchanged our money for dollars, and continued on our way to Vienna, where we spent about 10 days until the date of the ship's departure from Trieste.
We boarded the freighter Avetsia, which carried 70 pioneers. We arrived on the shores of Jaffa after a 17-day voyage down the entire eastern Mediterranean coast. Morale was high, and there was constant singing and dancing.
Then we truly arrived in Israel. On February 8, 1921, nine group members and the Gorengut family disembarked on the shore of Jaffa. We were taken to the immigrant house in the Ajami neighborhood, and 10 days later, we moved to the immigrant house in Tel Aviv.
By then we were out of money, and we needed some so we could buy stamps and laundry soap. We went to Jaffa harbor under Yakov Tsizin's guidance, to the place where lumber was unloaded, and after a long argument with the Arab porters, who were strongly against us, we succeeded in capturing one boat loaded with lumber, unloaded it, and earned 90 cents in hard cash. We were nine men, so each share was 10 cents. Joyfully, we returned to the immigrant house, bought stamps and soap, and quickly wrote letters home. This was the first money we earned in Israel.
Soon after, Yehuda Kopelvits and Yisrael Shochet came to the immigrant house and told us about the Labor Battalion named for Yosef Trumpeldor, which had just then negotiated with the British authorities to build the railroad tracks on the Rosh HaAyin-Petach Tikva line. For that purpose, the battalion formed a new platoon: the railroad-track-building platoon. They suggested that our group form this new platoon of the battalion. After a few discussions, we agreed to do it. The paving work began. By day we worked, and at night we danced. Also accompanying us on the ship was Yeshayahu Fishman from Kremenets, who had immigrated from Horokhov, where he had been living for the past few years.
The Kremenets group made a noticeable impression in the Rosh HaAyin platoon; it was known as a group of good, disciplined workers, and its members were assigned to public roles in the platoon. Our member Avraham Biberman was chosen as a work organizer, Chanokh Rokhel was a member of the platoon board, and Yitschak Rokhel founded the battalion's bulletin, MiChayeinu, which still runs today as the Kibbutz Tel Yosef bulletin.
Our absorption into the Land was easy and rapid. We made sure to speak only Hebrew and set an example for the other groups in the battalion. We integrated very quickly into work and public life. We were happy in our lot and our new life in the country; it may have been the finest period in our lives.
About six or seven months after we joined the Labor Battalion, the first division took place. The Young Worker members fell out and left, and most of the Kremenets members went with them. Some joined the building group in Tel Aviv; others went to Jenin to work in the building trade for the British army and later founded the builders' group Bazelet in the city of Tiberias. The members who stayed in Rosh HaAyin were later among the founders of Kibbutz Tel Yosef: Chanokh Rokhel, Yakov Raykhman, and Yeshayahu Fishman.
Within a short time, the ba'al habatishe kinder group from Kremenets turned into good builders, plasterers, scaffolding erectors, farmers, road pavers, and layers of train tracks. All the rest are deeply rooted in the life of the country and have prospered. There is no doubt that the existence of an established group that put down roots in the country influenced the continued immigration of pioneers from our town. And, indeed, immigration continued constantly, in singles and in groups. They numbered in the hundreds, and most of them adapted well.
Such was the beginning of the immigration of pioneers from Kremenets.
Translated from Yiddish into Hebrew by Yitschak Rokhel
Remember what Amalek did to you.
If the skies were parchment and the seas all ink, as Akdamut says, they would be insufficient to describe the disaster, horror, and degradation the German murderers brought on the world's Jews and the Jews of our beautiful town, Kremenets.
Even after 28 years of writing about and describing the catastrophe, there is still much that has not been said, because even the most talented writer is incapable of articulating and expressing those events.
Who could have imagined that even the bright blue sky would turn black from all the calamities on the face of the earth? Who could have imagined that a sun shining in all its brilliance would simultaneously be obscured by heavy fog for some people below the Jews alone? The sun was shining, the acacia was blooming, and the butcher was slaughtering (Bialik). Who could have imagined that the sidewalks would be intended for all pedestrians except Jews; that the disgusting gentile, Ritsko, the latrine cleaner, would be allowed to walk on the sidewalk while a scholarly Jewish citizen, even the town's rabbi, could walk only in the middle of the street?
All that happened, and all that took place. Since then, a generation has passed. We are now a proud, free nation but we will never be able to forget those days of the Holocaust of the Jews they must be commemorated from generation to generation.
Here are fragments of memories from the first days after the town's conquest by the Germans. Riots in the Dubna suburb. Murder in the prison yard. Jews forced out of their homes and made to run through the streets to the prison while being beaten with any handy implement. If there is a Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, it is nothing compared with the road of agonies the Jews of Kremenets took on their way to the prison, where death released them from their agonies and those who managed to escape emerged with broken bodies and shattered minds.
Life in town was horrible. Each day brought new edicts and more restrictions and humiliations: it's forbidden to step on the sidewalk, it's forbidden to go to the market to buy food, you must wear a Star of David on your sleeve, change that to a yellow patch, now one on the front and one on the back. Unclean, unclean, he shall call. . . .
Each morning, a large group of Jews was taken from Judenrat headquarters to forced labor, and no one knew if they would ever return. Each day, horribly bad news arrived. No telephone and no newspaper but the information got through. Now they've murdered Avraham Brik (our neighbor), and now they've murdered Mr. Rozen, the architect, individual murder and collective murder: they assembled the Jewish intelligentsia in Tivoli Garden, imprisoned them there for few days, and then killed them. That kind of news reached us from time to time and drove us insane. The Tivoli prisoners' families went there every day with food packages and begged the guards to give them to their beloved ones. Can you imagine? The guards took the packages and promised to deliver them long after every last one of the prisoners had been shot to death on Mount Krestova, adjacent to Tivoli Garden. The farmers who came to town by way of Mount Krestova Road brought us this devastating news.
At six in the evening, people would shut themselves into their homes, not daring to leave. Those with a common entrance or stairwell were happy, for at least they could be together. But the ones who lived in apartments with separate entrances were sentenced to stay alone with their fear and horror, listening to the sound of the murderers' boots going by and not knowing if one would feel like shooting through the closed window, which happened almost every night.
And the edicts were renewed: Jews ordered to supply the authorities with 200 fur coats and bring silver, gold, and foreign currency. Jews being terrorized and humiliated to such a degree that they pushed and shoved in line to give away their gold, currency, and furs early, as if those articles were covered in excrement or were stolen goods.
I'll never forget the night of horror when they destroyed and burned the Great Synagogue: the sky was red, and all through the night, sounds of explosives burst out of there. The walls were very strong, and that was the only way they could be destroyed.
The next morning, on my way to work with a group of 40 men, we passed by the synagogue and stopped to cry for the destruction of Kremenets' temple. Even those who never went there when it was standing cried. The sight was terrible: remnants of a roofless building and smashed blackened walls mourning the destruction. The sky was covered with black clouds. The burning of the small temple exposed the deep tragedy of Jewish Kremenets. I had a strong link to that synagogue, since for many years I had sung in the choir with my father (of blessed memory) and some famous cantors.
Life was getting harder day by day. Young people were searching for ways to sneak out of town because of rumors that the Russians were getting closer, but these were false rumors; in actuality, the Russians showed very little opposition. The situation was getting seriously worse. Jews were selling whatever they had for close to nothing just so they could feed themselves and their children. Farmers from nearby villages would sneak into town and buy the best things from Jewish homes in exchange for flour or other food. The Judenrat did much to organize help for the needy: they opened a kitchen and served soup twice a day, which saved many people from hunger.
In February 1942, I was caught in a hunt that took place in the street, and with a large group of forced laborers, I was driven to a work camp in the town of Vinitse, where there were Jews from France, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia. From there, I escaped to an underground organization called Iskra, which executed assorted attacks against the German conquerors in various parts of Russian Ukraine. Dressed up like German soldiers, we were sent to execute dangerous acts for which we received medals from the Russian army. One day, a few friends and I were caught and taken to be hanged, but the partisans who were active in the nearby forests received reinforcements and succeeded in conquering the town of Pavlograd, and we were saved. This town changed hands several times until it was completely demolished by the Germans.
At the end of 1943, I was attached to the Russian army and from there to the fourth division of the Polish army, and I took part in the battle of Berlin.
I described the underground movement's activities later in Russia, in a special booklet called Iskar [words illegible]. Finally, in 1945, I was privileged to see the day of victory over the German murderers.
Compiled by Yitschak Rokhel from the Kibbutz Tel Yosef bulletin
(Sections from the booklet published in his memory by Kibbutz Tel Yosef on the 30th day after his death)
Chanokh was born on 12 Adar 5660 (1900) in Kremenets. He came from a traditional, well-to-do family blessed with many children. He acquired his love for the Land of Israel at home as if by osmosis from birth. The first lullaby he heard in his cradle was sung in Hebrew. Even then, he was told that in ancient times, in a faraway land, there was a city where your ancient forbearers used to live . . . at that time, they were a nation. His mother, Shprintse, became interested in Zionism in her youth and was very passionate about it, and it was she who instilled in her children (11 in number) a longing for the Land of Israel and an awareness of community affairs. Her house was one of two in Kremenets where Hebrew was a spoken noble language, in addition to the everyday language of Yiddish.
What were Chanokh's universities? The Pentateuch with interpretation and commentary by Rashi. He studied that in cheder with Shimon the Teacher, a very learned but strict Jew. He observed the saying, He who spares the rod hates his son and used to beat his pupils with a whip. Once he whipped us, too. Chanokh's anger erupted against the injustice done to him, and eventually he stole the whip and hid it. With this, the first phase of his education ended. After that, he studied at home.
In 1913, Chanokh attended the High School for Commerce, where he studied for two years. At the same time, he studied Jewish subjects with teachers at home. Then World War I began. The Austro-Russian front was getting close, and all the high schools in town were being closed. Chanokh was then sent to Odessa, where he stayed for three years (1915-1918) and graduated from high school with honors. Those three years in Odessa left more of an impression on him than any other period did. At that time in Odessa, the Organization of Zionist Students had developed educational activities in which Chanokh enthusiastically took part. In his final year, he was also accepted into The Friend, a Zionist student organization, and for a while, he was a member of the municipal Zionist board (and he was only 18 years old then). He was a zealous fighter against revisionism and for self-actualization.
Returning to Kremenets in August 1918, he was hired by the High School of Commerce as a religion teacher. According to one of his pupils, he used to digress from the official purpose of this subject and mostly teach the history of Israel and educate his students about Zionism and immigration to Israel, and he was strict about speaking Hebrew. At the same time, Chanokh became deeply involved in the local Zionist Organization, devoting himself mainly to education and sports. He organized youth clubs for the study of Zionism and Hebrew, and on his initiative, the first Hebrew kindergarten was established in town.
During that period, his devotion to the Hebrew language reached its pinnacle, and in mid-1919, he began to speak only Hebrew. Once a Polish policeman came to him with some official matter; Chanokh spoke only Hebrew with him, saying that he knew no other language, so they used an interpreter. Chanokh was sort of the Eliezer Ben-Yehuda of Kremenets.
After that, he established the first group of Pioneers, which began to organize in 1919 but was able to start on its way only at the end of 1920. The group arrived in the Land in January-February 1921. Local conditions did not permit the whole group to receive agricultural training together, so Chanokh and another friend worked one summer on a Jewish farmer's ranch in the nearby village of Kotitshine, doing whatever was needed in the fields. In mid-1920, Chanokh and two other group members went to Warsaw as delegates of the Pioneer group to arrange for immigration permits and stayed there for a few months.
The people in charge of immigration quickly realized Chanokh's qualities, and they asked him to postpone his immigration for a time and join the Pioneer center in Warsaw, but he rejected their suggestion and immigrated with his group from Kremenets at the designated time.
Immediately upon his arrival in Israel on February 20, 1921, he joined the Labor Battalion named for Yosef Trumpeldor and, in it, the Rosh HaAyin platoon, which built railroad tracks.
From his first days in the battalion, he stood out as a dignified man with an analytical mind who could analyze any problem and its various components. His goal was clear, and his appearances in public attracted much attention. When he talked, people listened attentively, and his powers of persuasion were great. No wonder, then, that he very quickly rose to an important position among the leaders of the Labor Battalion. He was assigned central roles in different areas, often conducting board meetings and leading various institutions with great talent and understanding.
Just as he excelled in disseminating information with great logic in speeches and discussions, so he did in writing. Dozens of his articles on different subjects were published, mainly in the Labor Battalion's bulletin, MiChayeinu. His chapter in the collection on the Labor Battalion's history about the battalion's basic ideologies, economic and organizational system, and functional roles and areas is the most extensive ever written about the battalion's essence and ways.
Chanokh was involved in three serious controversies during his years in the Labor Battalion: (1) Kfar Giladi-Tel Chai: Ein Harod's board decided to merge the two kibbutzim, which was counter to Federation policy. As a result, Chanokh was kicked out of the Federation for a time. (2) Polemics of Ein Harod-Tel Yosef: The members of Ein Harod demanded severance from the Labor Battalion, of which they were a part. (3) Ideological arguments against the Labor Battalion's left-wing members resulted in their leaving the battalion and immigrating to Soviet Russia, but also in the ethical/moral healing of the kibbutz movement.
Being loyal to the basic doctrines of the Labor Battalion, Chanokh took an active part in those struggles. He headed the opposition to any deviation from its original ways. At the same time, he won the respect of his opponents, even the strongest ones. They all recognized that he was fighting for truth and his conscience.
These were the main stations of his life in the Land: the Labor Battalion's Rosh HaAyin platoon, the jeep platoon, the Tel Aviv platoon, Ramat Rachel in Jerusalem, Kibbutz Kfar Giladi, and Kibbutz Tel Yosef. All were within the framework of the Labor Battalion, and when this organization was dismantled, they fell under the Union of Kvutsot and Kibbutzim. Outside his kibbutz, he took on roles as coordinator of educational activities for the Union of Kvutsot and Kibbutzim, as a representative on a mission to Lithuania for Pioneer in 1935-1936, and as a delegate from Lithuanian Jews at the 20th Zionist Congress in Zurich. In 1942-1943, he was secretary to the Jerusalem Labor Council for a year and a half, but he refused to continue in spite of the Federation heads' requests. In 1933, he joined the Associated Workers Party. He served as a delegate to many conferences of the party, the United Kibbutz, and the Union of Kvutsot and Kibbutzim, and participated in the second conference of Israel's Knesset. In 1932, he married Rachel Reznik, and, as Kibbutz Tel Yosef members, they had a son and daughter.
In his kibbutz, Chanokh was involved in everything; he was the kind of person who was concerned about and cared about everything. He was ready to take on any role or task requested of him. He played a big part in the different areas of the farm: he was one of the first shepherds for the flock of sheep, a farmer riding high on a tractor day or night, and a plantation worker. But his main activity in the kibbutz was in the field of education. He was a designer and builder of the education system in our kibbutz and the kibbutz movement. He had the right temperament for educating the younger generation, studied the education of the child from infanthood to maturity, and fought for higher education for the children of the kibbutzim.
Chanokh, who had a deep passion for the kibbutz way of life, did a great deal to impart kibbutz values to the next generation. At the same time, he was not touched by conservatism, surprised us with his modern attitude toward the problems of education, and was open to understanding the younger generation's desires. He listened, was interested, and questioned more than he lectured and quoted traditional rules. He was a wise man; his words were measured and calm. And the bright wisdom shining in his eyes expressed more than words could.
In 1965, Chanokh visited Soviet Russia. This prolonged trip included visits to secondary and higher education institutions in the Caucasus as well as meetings with Jewish and non-Jewish writers and leaders of Soviet agriculture. He observed and learned much. In addition, he tried to explain to the Russians about working Israel and the kibbutz movement, and his words were received with attention and respect. After his return, he spoke about that visit on various occasions, including in the assembly room of the RYBL Library to a group of Kremenetsers who were interested in such subjects.
His attitude toward Holocaust victims was expressed in his eulogy for Chayim Charodi, a young member of Kibbutz Tel Yosef who was murdered by British soldiers on the kibbutz premises. In his words, Chayim was 'gathered to his nation' it may be so. The millions of the nation were gathered there. Young like him, robust like him, pure like him, guiltless like him, they were eager for life. They were killed because they were holy Jews. Chayim was gathered to them.
We see, then, that he saw Holocaust victims as standing in one line with the conquerors of the homeland who fall on their shift. They were cut down because they were holy Jews.
Chanokh passed away on December 21, 1970, after a malignant illness. With his passing, we lost a veteran member who molded our social life, designed means for our children's education, and guided and educated many.
With his death, the community of Kremenets emigrants in Israel has lost one of its best sons, a distinguished personality. In 1921, when Chanokh's first letters arrived in Kremenets from Israel, his grandfather said, If a Jewish country is really established during our lifetime, it's for certain that Chanokh will be the minister of education there. And maybe the old man was right. Chanokh was deserving of such a post, but his way was to be modest, the way of self-actualization.
May his memory be blessed.
Eliezer (Luzer) Brik,
of Blessed Memory
Rachel Geva-Brik Sdot Yam
I can't tell about my father, Luzer Brik, of blessed memory, without going back to his native town, Kremenets, the source of all he had. There he acquired a love for work, joy, and love of life. And from his stories about Kremenets and those of his many emigrant friends who used to congregate often at our house in Tel Aviv, we, his daughters, absorbed their affection for the town and its people and knew them as if we had lived among them. Our home was an open one, and Kremenetsers used to visit and stay with us a relative, a family friend, or even just someone who had heard about us.
Eliezer was born in Kremenets on January 12, 1888, to his father, Beyrish-Beyle-Berkes Brik, and his mother, Sara Shurtsa.
His father, Beyrish, was an artisan ironsmith, a master craftsman. His workshop was on Sheroka Street, where he earned a good living.
He was a learned man who knew how to study, and he especially loved to study the Mishnayot. He was an excellent reader in the synagogue and had a pleasant voice and an unusual musical sense. On the Sabbath and holidays, he used to read at the lectern at Tsvi Menachem Rokhel's synagogue, where members of the young generation were brought up on his melodies.
Luzer (or Luski, as he was called in his youth) was the younger son and the family favorite. He was a mischievous practical joker who loved to laugh and entertain. When he was a boy, he studied in the cheder, but did not continue his studies; his mind and hands were occupied with work, and at a young age, he began to work in his father's workshop, where he learned the profession and absorbed a love of work. From his youth, he lived by the saying, Love your work. When he grew up, he opened his own workshop, where, among other things, he manufactured children's sleds. Many of his customers were young gentiles, and when he handed a sled to a young gentile, he would teach him a song prankster that he was as a charm for a good, fast ride:
Goyim makis (Gentiles plagued)
Iden brokhis (Jews blessed)
Goyim kaduchis (Gentile's fever)
Without understanding the meaning of the words, the gentile would leave with his sled repaired and the song on his lips.
The workshop was always full of children from the courtyard and the neighborhood, who were attracted and attached to it. They enjoyed watching him at work and seeing how he changed a length of iron rod into wonderful shapes.
In 1923, father immigrated to the Land with his family and settled in Tel Aviv. He did not need to receive aid, as he acclimated easily and without any problems. Not only that, but his home was a sort of absorption center; dozens of new immigrants used to stay there, and he would help them get settled.
He opened a workshop and was always self-employed. He used to say, I can't work for anyone else and relied only on my two famous hands, which would always make a living for him. His work brought him pleasure, in the sense of Good is the one who enjoys the fruit of his labor when a job was done, he was sorry to hand it over to the customer; it was hard for him to part with it: In the morning, I get up and pet my handiwork. Like his father, Berish, he was an artisan and master craftsman. Whether he made an iron grill for a window or an iron fence, he did not just make it but always added an artistic touch, like a flower, a leaf, or another decoration, according to his creative imagination.
He was not a learned man. He did not even learn the Hebrew language properly, but he loved to sit and listen to the lessons and fulfill the commandment Sit in the dust of scholars' feet. But at the same time, he would quote verses and spice his words with them, like Tevye the dairyman. When his youngest grandson, Dan, received Chanukah money from his grandfather Brik and was in a quandary about what to buy with it, he said clearly and directly, Go buy yourself a friend.
He was a devoted family man. His grandchildren loved him, and he would melt with pleasure in their company. All three of his daughters joined kibbutzim, and although he himself was far removed from the kibbutz outlook on life, he accepted it with understanding and did not protest. He visited them from time to time and felt quite good, even in the midst of kibbutz society.
He always sang while working, and liturgical music was his favorite. He admired certain cantors, and on the Sabbath, he would walk all the way to Ramat Gan and even Petach Tikva if a good cantor was singing there. On Sabbath afternoon, he would go to Ohel Shem to listen to the cantors and their choirs.
His sense of humor did not leave him even when he became completely blind in his last days. He always joked and wisecracked. He was a companionable, talkative man and a joyful one.
All the children in the neighborhood knew him. On his way to the synagogue where he went every day until his last the children would stand in front of him, knowing that he could not see anymore, and tell him their names: I'm Dany, I'm Yosi . . . and he would offer them candy. They would help him cross the road and clear the way for him.
I saw father cry three times: when mother died, when the radio announced that Kremenets had been conquered by the Germans, and when he had to sell the anvil that he had brought with him from Kremenets. For his friend the anvil, he sat and cried.
He passed away on Purim 5731.
May his memory be preserved and blessed.
One evening, we gathered at the RYBL Library with the Barats brothers, Yitschak and Fayvel, on the occasion of Fayvel and his wife's visit to the Land from Toronto, Canada. We passed a pleasant hour in this gathering of townspeople from far and near. That was Thursday, June 3, 1971, and on Saturday morning, Yitschak was no longer with us; he died of a heart attack. His sudden death shocked all of his many friends.
Itsik Barats was born in the Dubna suburb of Kremenets in 1909. His father, R' Yisrael, was a well-known lumber merchant who was popular in the Jewish community and ruling circles. The Polish Lyceum which owned a great deal of land, forests, estates, and a large sawmill (Tartak) in Smiga, which is between Kremenets and Dubna gave R' Yisrael Barats an exclusive franchise to sell the sawmill's products. The anti-Semites resented it and complained, but the Polish curator of the Lyceum, Poniatavski, replied that Barats was a decent and honest Jew and that since he had received the franchise, the Lyceum's income had increased. The Barats family home was open to guests, who were received pleasantly and generously. All the sons used to help their father manage and build the business.
When World War II began, Yitschak escaped to Russia, and after a great deal of wandering, he arrived in Alma Ata (in Asiatic Russia), where he met his future wife. After the war, they returned to the town of Shchechin, Poland.
In 1948, they immigrated to Israel and settled in the village of Yehud, where they were among the original settlers. Itsik wanted to start a lumber business and found that Yehud was the right place for it. He purchased a ruined structure with a large yard at the entrance to the village, and thanks to his diligence, business sense, and knowledge of the field, within a few years he had achieved a great deal. The ruin had become a spacious, lovely house, and the yard, a large lumberyard.
Itsik was loved for his friendliness, open heart, and generosity. He was always ready to help people with advice or by guaranteeing a bank or personal loan, or even as an anonymous donor.
His funeral became a day of mourning in Yehud. Spontaneously, all the merchants shut their places of business. The head of the local council as well as all the workers, bank clerks, police, and many other people accompanied him on his last trip.
His sudden death shocked the Kremenets emigrant community. He left a wife, a married daughter, and a son who is serving in the army.
May his memory be blessed.
Passed away March 19, 1971
She was a prominent figure in Kremenets's Dubna suburb. The wife of Moshe Shnayder, the wealthy grain exporter, she was involved with the local people and did much to help the needy in Kremenets.
Their home was open to the refugees who streamed into Kremenets after the revolution without any possessions or means, and Klara took care of their needs.
During World War II, when they themselves were refugees in Russia, they tried to help others as much as possible.
When they arrived in the Land, they settled in the town of Rechovot, where Klara continued her charitable activities. Her daughters-in-law and grandchildren loved Klara, and Kremenets emigrants in the Land treated her with honor.
Her death was sudden; she left a son and daughter-in-law, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
May her memory be blessed.
On January 26, 1971, Eli Shifris died in a fatal road accident in which the car he was driving was completely crushed. He was 22 years old at the time of his death. Eli was the son of Guta and Yosef Shifris, who immigrated to the Land from Poland in 1958 with their two children Eli and his younger sister.
When Eli finished high school, he began working as a mechanic at a car dealership. Then he joined the army and took part in the battles for Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
When he was discharged from the army, he returned to his previous place of work, where he was later promoted to sales manager. His tragic death occurred while he was on the job in one of the company's cars.
Eli was to be married soon, and he had purchased an apartment in the town of Ra'anana, where he planned to settle.
With his death, Guta and Yosef lost a devoted, goodhearted, and decent son. His sister lost a caring brother and loyal friend.
May his memory be blessed.
To dear David Rapoport on his arrival in the Land a heartfelt welcome. He has not yet decided whether to settle down here or just enjoy an extended stay. Nevertheless, he has already harnessed himself to work editing Voice of Kremenets Emigrants, and we're sure that readers will enjoy the fruits of his ability and experience. As you will remember, our member Rapoport was active in the Society of Kremenets Emigrants of New York for a several years as secretary of the organization. He also worked on the distribution of the booklet, encouraged us in his letters, and donated his writings from time to time. We take him in with open arms as a fellow worker and wish him good health and a rapid adjustment to the Land and its residents.
After staying in Kibbutz Ma'anit for few weeks, Rapoport settled in Tel Aviv. On June 3, 1970, a warm welcome reception was arranged for him in the RYBL Library, and he read some of his writings, to the intellectual pleasure of the assembled.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the immigration of pioneers from Kremenets, those remaining of the first group, their families, and friends and relatives from Kremenets gathered on February 8, 1971, in Shlome Poltorek's apartment in Tel Aviv to reminisce and talk about life in former times.
Our member Rokhel read to the assembled from a letter he had sent to his parents in Kremenets in April 1921 after a week's stay in the Land impressions of a young pioneer and descriptions of his first steps in the Land and his thoughts about the future.
Our member Poltorek entertained the assembled with jokes and songs from the old days, and our member Manus vented the grudge he had carried all those years: that because of his youth, he was prevented from joining the first group. As a result, he stayed in Kremenets for a long time and immigrated only in 1933.
And we say to our veteran members, Blessed is your old age, which did not shame your youth.
(See the article Anniversary of the Immigration of Pioneers from Kremenets.)
Guests from Abroad
Several former Kremenetsers from abroad have visited us recently: (1) Azriel Gorenshteyn, Paris; (2) Anshil Zilberg, Winnipeg, Canada; (3) Hilda Shvartsapel née Royt and her husband Avraham, New York; (4) Fayvel Barats and his wife, Toronto, Canada; (5) Gershon Shkurnik and his wife, New York; (6) Yitschak Vakman and his wife, Genya; (7) the famous cantor Kraulnik-Radzivilover, New York; and (8) Avraham Barshap, Los Angeles. Here they saw family members and friends, Kremenetsers, one after the other. The Barats and Shvartsapel families held parties in the RYBL Library reception hall, and as is the custom, memories were brought up, interspersed with humor, that depicted life in Kremenets. Mutual acquaintances were identified in assorted photographs, and sections from Book of Kremenets from Argentina were read. A warm atmosphere of true friendship filled the room.
The golden wedding anniversary of Yakov Shafir and his wife, Chana, née Poltorek, was celebrated in January 1971 with an extended family party. Recounting a bit of his history in the old country and the Land seems to be the proper thing to do here.
In Kremenets, he was a pillar of the Zionist Organization, being one of the activists from the successor generation, along with his brother-in-law, Bozye Landsberg. He was born in Dubna. After his father died when he was young, he was brought up in his grandmother Tsviya's home in Kremenets, where he experienced poverty and suffering. Thanks to his talent and energy, he made his way in life and reached the government institute for teachers in Vilna, which supplied teachers for government Jewish schools. For a few years, Shafir taught in the government Jewish school in Kremenets and gave private lessons. When the Tarbut network of schools was established, he transferred to work in that system, first in Kremenets and then in Zveyrtsi and Ostrov Mazuveytsk, where he was the principal. During World War I, when he served in the Russian army, he was a member of the regional board of Zionist soldiers in Minsk. When he returned to Kremenets, he was active in Zionist causes and public life in general. He was arrested a few times, together with Bozye Landsberg, Dr. Litvak, and other Zionist leaders, during the days of Petliura and the Bolsheviks. He immigrated to Israel in 1938, settled in Tel Aviv, and immediately began teaching special classes for retarded children. It was he, with Riva Bernshteyn, of blessed memory, who laid the foundation for the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants.
For a few years afterward, he was an active member of the organization. As his health began to fail, he retired from that but continued to follow the organization's activities with interest and attention. Shafir was a gifted orator in three languages Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian as well as a writer. In Russia, he served as a correspondent for the liberal newspaper Ruskoya Slovo, published articles in Kremenitser Shtime, and in the Land he has published (and still publishes) articles on educational subjects in the newspapers Davar, Lamerchav, and Davar Layiladim. He has had his 80th birthday, and we wish him and his wife, Chana, much contentment, health, and long life.
What's Happening in the New York Society
A change of personnel recently took place in the society: David Rapoport, the secretary, retired, and the post was filled by William Kogan. We congratulate both of them. We expect that member Kogan's activities will be fruitful, as his predecessor's were, and that he will succeed in expanding the circle of our booklet's readers among the society's members.
A festive party was held in honor of member Rapoport's retirement, his devoted and successful activity was praised, and he received wishes of success in settling in Israel.
Helen Vaynberg, the poet from Kremenets, and her husband, Yakov, celebrated the marriage of their son, Aharon, to his fiancée, Susan Fisher. On January 10, 1971, the society held a party in their honor. Our best wishes to the Vaynberg family and to the young couple, whom we hope to see among us sometime. Now and then, Helen publishes poems in Yiddish, which are suffused with longing for the atmosphere of the old home. Her creations were published in Pinkas Kremenets and in the Book of Kremenets published in Argentina.
A description of our veteran, honorable, warmhearted friend Binyamin Barshap appeared in the previous booklet (p. 41) as the minister of absorption for Kremenetsers in the United States in the early years. Since then, word of his passing has reached us, and we send our condolences to and share in the sorrow of his family and friends, Kremenetsers in New York. (See the article in his memory in the Yiddish section of this booklet.)
Within two weeks, between 18 Iyar and 1 Sivan 5731, they celebrated their birthdays: (1) 65 years for Yosef Avidar-Rokhel; (2) 70 years for his brother, Moshe; (3) 75 years for Yitschak, the firstborn son; and (4) 80 years for their sister, Sara. On the initiative of the next generation the sons and daughters the four birthdays were celebrated on June 22, 1971, at the home of Eldar Ben-Yitschak in Bet Zayit village near Jerusalem. In attendance were generations of family members and family friends close to a hundred celebrants. The guests were surprised to hear of the ancient ancestry of the family: on the father's side, Rokhel, from the days of the Second Temple, and on the mother's side, Heylprin, descendants of King David. Written documents were introduced, and who would believe that . . . Yakov Tsur, a brother-in-law, tried to prove that according to a genealogical document of his, the Tsur family is also descended from King David. Well, we don't begrudge him, so on this occasion, we crown as princes of the house of David all those proved to be as such . . . .
Purim in Haifa
As they do every year, this year Kremenetsers in Haifa celebrated Purim with a joyful party. This time as well, our members knew how to inspire good feelings and a pleasant atmosphere during this get-together. Among the celebrants were members from Tel Aviv and elsewhere, as well as our member Azriel Gorenshteyn, who lives in Paris, France. As the mood moved them, some of the members showed up masked in costumes representing current events.
Polish Emigrants from Kremenets Write from London, England
London, April 8, 1971, Dear Mr. Yehoshue Golberg!
Although we received your letter of January 15, 1971, we are replying only now because of the post office strike. We thank you for the two Voice of Kremenets Emigrants booklets that you were kind enough to send us, and we are filled with wonder and appreciation for your devotion to the memory of the town of Kremenets and the endless work that you invest in the publication. It's a pity that we don't understand Hebrew and cannot fully enjoy the material. We thank you for the short addendum in Polish. We request that next time there be more extensive translations.
Soon we will forward some material from our collections to you, and you may use it for your booklets.
We wish you all the best and send regards to all the loyal Kremenetsers in Israel.
Chalina Chernotska, Chairman of the Board
The Kerler family. The poet Yosef Kerler and his wife, Heni née Barshap, have arrived here from Soviet Russia. Kerler participated in the Sovietishe Heimland paper published in Moscow and was incarcerated in Siberia for a few years. The family was greeted joyfully in the Land. President Shazar had a party in their honor, and Yosef was awarded the Itsik Manger prize.
Shmuel Cherpashnik and his wife immigrated to Israel many years after their daughter, who is a kibbutz member. They came from Cordoba, Argentina, and settled in Hertseliya. Member Cherpashnik (who changed his name to Romanovits in Argentina) is of retirement age, and his occupation in Israel has not yet been decided.
Our blessings to them for a speedy and comfortable settling-in and for integration into Israeli society and with Kremenetsers in the Land.
Since the previous booklet was published in December 1970, beloved friends of Kremenets emigrants have passed away. Here are their names (in alphabetical order):
Chayim Braytman, Bat Yam
Shaul Burshteyn, Winnipeg, Canada, son of Yosef Burshteyn, the teacher
Professor Zev Chasid's wife, Berkeley, California
Meir Katz (Katsel), Kfar Sirkin
Borya, son of Leyb Pesis, Beersheba
Moshe Vayner, Tel Aviv
Sara Kornits, née Bakimer, Tel Aviv
David Shor, Netanya, husband of Malka née Biberman
We share their families' sorrow and mourning. May their pain end.
To Yosef and Yemima Avidar, Jerusalem, on the birth of their fifth granddaughter, Noa, daughter of Dana and Mike Feler, Bet Zayit.
To Chayim Zinger and his wife, Sonya née Valdenberg, Tel Aviv, on the marriage of their daughter Bela to her fiancé, David Kohen.
To Meir and Mara Hamburski, Ramat Gan, on the marriage of their daughter, Henya, to her fiancé, Lavah.
To Yitschak Vaynshteyn and his wife, Vitya née Karshun, Tel Aviv, on the marriage of their daughter, Lili, to her fiancé, Boaz Netsits.
To Yosef Krits and his wife, Baba née Rokhel, Haifa, on the birth of their grandson, Ohad, son of Penina and Binyamin Krits.
May they all be blessed, and may celebrations be plentiful in our midst.
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