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Voice of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel and the Diaspora, Booklet 16

 

List of Illustrations

Photo of the Tarbut School in Kremenets 6
Drawing by Zina Steshnik 7
Sketch by Avraham Argaman 9
Leyb the Ritual Slaughterer 16
The New Market 16
The Water Drawer 16
Avraham Chasid 19
Pesach Lerner 22
Pola Krayzelman 30
Shmuel Tsizin 30
Yitschak Biberman 31A
Chana Landsberg 32
Yitschak Navon and Yehoshue Golberg 38
Lusi Garber de Vaynshteyn 45
Pinchas Tshudnovski's daughter 45
Menya Bleykh Libman 45

 

Name Index

Abir, Avraham (see also Biberman, Avraham) 31A, 31B
Abramovich, Sholem Yakov (Mendele the book peddler) 4
Oks*, Bronya 41
Oks, Velvel 41, 48
Alterman 28
Amburski*, Mara (née Krayzelman) 51
Amburski, Mendel 51
Amiel, Maya 39
Amiel*, Odeda (née Goldenberg) 39
Amiel, Ruven 39
Argaman, Amichay 39
Argaman*, Ani 39
Argaman, Avraham i, 39
Argaman*, Dina 39
Atsmon*, Dora (née Leviton) 47, 52
Avidar, Yosef (see also Rokhel, Yosef) 42, 52
Ayzenferser (not given) 52
Bakimer, David 52
Barmor*, Sara (see also Bar-Mor*, Sara) 52
Bar-Mor*, Sara (see also Barmor*, Sara) 52
Barshap, Bronya 51
Barshap*, Masha 52
Barshap, Yitschak 52
Bar-Tana*, Tsipora (née Litvak) 51
Barushek, Yenti 48
Basis, Barukh 30
Basis, Bela 30
Basis, Pola 30 (photo), 30
Berenshteyn, Tsvi i, 51
Berenshteyn, Yonye 24
Berger, Dvora 51
Berger, Sosya 52
Bernshteyn, Aleksander 52
Bernshteyn, Bume 48
Biberman, Avraham (see also Abir, Avraham) 31A, 31B
Biberman, Feyga 52
Biberman, Moshe 31A
Biberman, Noa 31B
Biberman*, Riva 31B, 52
Biberman, Shimon 31A, 31B
Biberman, Yitschak 31A (photo), 31A, 31B, 51
Bieluz, Shmuel 50
Bina, Vered 52
Bleykh, Mordekhay 45
Bleykh, Sheyndil 45
Bodeker, Avraham 52
Boris (husband of Leya Chmerinski) 39
Brendels, Yeshaye (Idel) 8
Brunfeld, Emanuel 50
Byk, Efraim (Fred) 17, 18, 39, 50
Byk, Eitana 39
Byk, Fred (Efraim) 17, 18, 39, 50
Byk, Veynes 39
Chasid, Avraham 19 (photo),19, 21, 51
Chasid*, Etya 20
Chasid, Mordekhay 20, 21, 51
Chasid, Nechemya 21
Chasid*, Shprintse 20, 21
Chasid, Yakov 21
Chasid, Zev 20
Chernovska*, Alina 1, 36
Chmerinski (husband of Dvora Pesis; see also Tsmerinski) 39
Chmerinski*, Dvora (née Pesis; see also Tsmerinski, Dvora)  
Chmerinski, Leya (see also Tsmerinski, Dvora) 39
Dagim, Avraham (see also Dugi, Dugim) 51
Desser*, Beyla-Rachel 26
Desser, Max i
Desser*, Miryam (Manya) 26, 28
Desser, Nachman 26 (photo), 26-29
Desser, Stanley 26
Desser, Yoel 26
Diment, Miryam 52
Egozi*, Bela 52
Eilat, Yakov 52
Elchanen (grandson of Chayim and Feyga Nudel) 46
Eli (son of Motsi) 7, 8, 9
Engelman*, Baba (née Nudel) 52
Epshteyn, Yakov 52
Etkes, Emanuel 10
Fayer, Chayim 48
Fayman*, Miryam (née Shtern) 39
Fayman, Moshe 39
Federman*, Dozya (née Rubinfayn) 51
Feldman, Godel 52
Fisher*, Chaya (née Kutsher) 52
Fishman 52
Fishman, Dvora 52
Fishman, Rusya 47
Fridel, Avraham 52
Fridman, Hadasa 47
Fridman, Rachel 47
Frolik, Amrik, Dr. 39
Frolik*, Ava (née Shtern) 39
Fuks, Sara 35
Galperin (wife of Osovski) 51
Garber, Fani (née Reznik) 45, 48, 50
Getsig-Tshudnovski, Feyga 48
Geva, Avraham 40
Geva*, Pnina 51
Geva, Tsila 40
Geva*, Tsipora (née Landsberg) 40
Gil (son of Mira Gokun) 40
Giladi*, Edya (née Skolski) 39
Giladi, Yisrael 39
Gilboa, Menucha, Dr. 1
Gintsburg, Aharon 52
Gitele (aunt of Betsalel Goren) 7
Giterman*, Rusya (née Fishman) 47
Gluzman, Eliezer 52
Godovits, Amos 40
Godovits, Atar 40
Godovits*, Tsila 40
Godovits, Uri 40
Gokun, Avraham 40
Gokun, Mira 40
Gokun*, Shoshana 40
Gokun, Yosef 52
Golberg, Yehoshue i, 32, 36, 38 (photo), 38, 49, 51, 52
Golcher 52
Goldenberg*, Chana 39
Goldenberg, Hadasa 51
Goldenberg, Manus i, 1, 13, 17, 19, 23, 26, 29, 30, 33, 37, 39, 49
Goldenberg, Odeda 39
Goldring, Meir 5
Goltsberg, Tali 40
Goltsberg, Yitschak 40, 51
Goren, Betsalel (see also Gorodiner, Alter) i, 1, 3, 4, 7
Gorenfeld-Rotenberg, Ana 52
Gorenshteyn, Azriel (see also Gorin, Azriel) 33-34, 51
Gorenshteyn, Pesach 50
Gorin, Azriel (see also Gorenshteyn, Azriel) 33-34, 51
Gorin*, Liontin (see also Gorinshteyn, Liontin) 33 (photo), 33-34
Gorinshteyn*, Liontin (see also Gorin, Liontin) 33 (photo), 33-34
Gorngut 5
Gorodiner, Alter i, 1, 3, 4, 7
Grinberg*, Bela (née Basis) 30
Grinberg, Betsalel 49
Grinberg, Nachum 49
Gun* (wife of Shmuel) 47
Gun, Shmuel 47
Gurvits, Mordekhay 22
Gurvits*, Rachel (née Fridman) 47
Harari-Berger, Sara 52
Har-Tsion 51
Hofman, Malka 52
Hofshteyn*, Feyga (née Biberman) 52
Horovits, Tsvi 52
Ichilov*, Chana 40
Ichilov, Eliyahu 40
Ichilov, Hadar Ezra 40
Ish-Tov*, Fanya 52
Kagan, Netanel 52
Kaminski*, Ester 43
Kaminski*, Feyga (nee Roytblat) 41
Kaminski, Iser 41, 42, 43
Kaplan, Mola 51
Katsman, Chana 51
Katsner 6 (photo)
Katsner, Pola 47
Katz, Arnon 40
Katz, Marcus i
Katz, Mordekhay 1, 13 (photo), 14 (photo), 13-15, 37, 42, 43, 48, 50, 51
Katz, Munik 40
Katz*, Rut 40
Katz*, Shlomit 40
Katz*, Tsipora (Tsipa) 1, 13 (photo), 14 (photo), 13-15, 37, 42, 43, 48, 50
Katz, Yosef 40
Kedem, Yehudit 52
Kerdon, Leonard 50
Kerdon*, Lina 50
Keselman, Sunya 24
Kesler, Yitschak 52
Kiperman*, Chaike 46
Kiperman, Nuta 46, 48
Kiperman, Sara 46
Kiperman, Silfia Lorena 46
Kiselevski*, Felisa 46
Kiselevski, Natalio 46
Kiselevski*, Roksana 46
Kiselevski, Ruven 46
Kligman*, Rachel 52
Kligman, Zev 52
Kogan, William i
Kohen*, Rachel (née Kligman) 52
Kolten, Dov 52
Kopika, Moshe 52
Kornits 5
Kornits, Shraga 52
Kotkovnik*, Gitel 46, 50
Kotkovnik, Idel 50
Kozin, Moshe 52
Krayzelman, Liova 30
Krayzelman, Mara 30, 51
Krayzelman*, Pola (née Basis) 30 (photo), 30, 51
Krementsuski, Sima 52
Kreymer, Avraham 51
Kucher, Leybush 52
Kufman, Chulio 52
Kvetsch, Avraham (see also Zak, Avraham) 7, 8, 9
Landau, Arye (Leyb) 34-35
Landsberg, Avraham 33, 40
Landsberg, Binyamin 5
Landsberg*, Chana (née Medler) 32 (photo), 32-33
Landsberg, Tsipora 40
Laybel, Yisrael 48
Lerner, Pesach 22 (photo), 22
Levinzon, Yitschak Ber, R' (RYB"L) 10-12
Leviten, Arye 51
Leviten*, Batya 40
Leviten, Ilana 40
Leviten, Moshe 40, 51
Leviten-Kitur, Bat-Sheva 51
Leviton, Dora 47, 52
Leviton, Monya (see also Liviatan) 47, 52
Leyb the Ritual Slaughterer 16 (photo)
Libman, Asher Zeylik 45
Libman, Barukh Moshe 45
Libman, Manya 45 (photo), 45
Libman, Moshe 48
Libman*, Sheyndil (née Bleykh) 45
Libman, Yakov 48
Libman family 50
Likht, Nachman 51
Liten Roykh, family 50
Litev, Mikhael 51
Litev*, Pola 51
Litvak, Tsipora 51
Liviatan, Monya (see also Leviton) 47, 52
Makagun 37
Malke (see also Motsi) 7
Mandelblat, Aharon (Munya) 23 (photo), 23-26
Mandelblat*, Bela 25
Mandelblat, Pesach 23-25
Mandelblat*, Reyzel 24
Manusovits, Shmuel 52
Margolis, Avraham 24
Margolis, Yosef 50
Medler, Chana 32 (photo), 32-33
Medler, Menachem 32, 33
Medler, Miryam 33
Medler, Morris 50
Medler*, Tsiril 33
Mendele the book peddler 4
Miler, Chayim 52
Mordish, Arye i, 44, 53
Mordish, Avraham 44, 47
Mordish*, Bernarda 44
Mordish, Chayim 44, 47
Mordish, Gitel 44
Mordish*, Mia 44
Mordish, Rut 44
Mordish, Shalom 44, 47
Mordish*, Shoshana 44, 47
Moti (husband of Ilana Leviten) 40
Motsi (see also Malke) 7, 9
Navon, Yitschak 38 (photo)
Nudel, Baba 52
Nudel, Chayim 46, 48
Nudel, Feyga 46
Nudel*, Sara (née Kiperman) 46
Nusman, Aleksander 52
Osovski*, Tsipora (née Galperin) 51
Otiker, Shalom 52
Otiker, Yisrael 42
Pak, Moshe 48
Peker, Meir 48
Peker, Moshe 48
Pesis* (née Makagun) 37
Pesis, Dvora 39
Pikhovits, Yurek 52
Poltorek, Shlome 52
Portsya*, Monya (née Leviton) 47, 52
Pundek, Moshe 52
Pundik, Arye 39
Pundik*, Berta 39
Pundik, Shlome 39
Pundik*, Shula (née Rozen) 39
Rabinovitsh, Misha 24
Rapoport, David 50
Reviv, Shimon (see also Biberman, Shimon) 51
Reznik, Fani 48, 50
Rokhel*, Beba 51
Rokhel, Yitschak i, 31A, 51
Roykh, Yisrael 50
Roytblat, Feyga 41
Roytblat, Hersh Vulf 41
Roytblat*, Risel 41
Rozen, Shula 39
Rozenberg, Yonatan 51
Rozenblit, Fayvish 26
Rozenblit, Leyki 26
Rozental, Leybke 5
Rubinfayn, Dozya 51
Segal, Beyle 48
Sekel/Krivin, Ester 51
Shachar (son of Ilana Leviten) 40
Shafir, Yakov 5, 6 (photo), 51
Shavit*, Hinda (née Shufman) 52
Shekhterman, Chasya 52
Sher (husband of Reyzel Sher*) 50
Sher, Ester 48
Sher*, Reyzel 48, 50
Sheyndil (daughter of Motsi) 7
Shikhman Rekhes, Chana 48
Shikhman Royt, Mani 48
Shimon (son-in-law of Chayim Mordish) 44
Shmitenka, Masha 52
Shnayder, Reya 47
Shnayder, Sara 52
Shnayder, Tsipa 48
Shnitser, Nachman 52
Shpak, Yitschak 48
Shtern, Ava 39
Shtern, Boris 39
Shtern, Miryam 39
Shtern*, Vera 39
Shteynberg, Bronya 52
Shufman, Hinda 52
Shur-Biberman 52
Shvartsberg*, Eitana (née Byk) 39
Shvartsberg, Shlome 39
Shvartsberg, Yoav 39
Shvartsman, David 48
Sietsuk*, Atara 52
Skolski, Edya 39
Skolski*, Lusi 39
Skolski, Shlome i, 39
Sofrin*, Veynes (née Byk) 39
Sofrin, Yoram 39
Spektor*, Naomi (née Fridel) 52
Steshnikh, Zina 4
Stoler, Yosef 52
Sudman, Yisrael 22
Tamri*, Chava (née Taytelman) 49
Taytelman, Chava 49
Taytelman, Shmuel 10, 49
Teper*, Chana 40
Teper, Fishil 40
Teper*, Leya 40
Tkatshinski 41
Trumpeldor, Yosef 31A
Tshatski*, Udya 50
Tshudnovski (daughter of Pinchas) 45 (photo), 45
Tshudnovski, Katia 48, 50
Tshudnovski, Pinchas 45
Tsizin, Avshalom 31, 40
Tsizin*, Chana 31, 40
Tsizin, Lipa, R' 30, 31
Tsizin*, Miryam 40
Tsizin, Oded 40
Tsizin, Shmuel 30 (photo), 30-31, 40
Tsizin, Yehoshue 31
Tsukerman, David 52
Tsvi (husband of Mira Gokun) 40
Tuker, David 52
Vakin, Pola 52
Vakman, Yitschak 26, 29, 50
Vaynshteyn, Lusi 45 (photo), 45
Vaysman, Shraga i, 34-35, 53
Vaysman*, Tsipora 35
Vender, Ronya 52
Vermus, Alon 40
Vermus, Amir 40
Vermus*, Tali (née Goltsberg) 40
Verthaym 5
Vinston, Yitschak 52
Vishniv, Pesach 52
Yadishliver, Yasha 48
Yaron*, Sima (née Krementsutski) 52
Yergis, Avraham 48, 50
Yergis, Brokhe (Porota) 50
Yergis*, Freyda 50
Yisrael the tailor 8
Zak, Avraham (Avraham Kvetsh) 7, 8, 9
Zak*, Avromkhe 7, 8
Zalmanovits*, Klara 32
Zalmanovits, Yitschak (Izi) 32
Zaytler, Barukh 48
Zemel, Asher, Rabbi 21
Zeyger*, Riva 40
Zinger*, Shifra (née Freylikh) 49

 

[Page 1]

A Word from the Editorial Board

At a meeting on March 21, 1979, after previous negotiations, representatives of the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants and the Organization of Shumsk Emigrants decided to merge the two organizations into one body called the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants and Shumsk Emigrants in Israel. The extended organization will include around 600 members – so far, 400 plus 200. As of now, the annual booklet will be called Voice of Kremenets and Shumsk Emigrants. Two members of the Shumsk organization were added to the Editorial Board and the organization board. The treasuries will merge, and the assets of both organization will be held in one account in Bank Hapoalim. This booklet already reflects the addition of Shumsk members (see “Wonders of the Town of Kremenets,” a review of the book Pathways to the Sky, by Betsalel Goren of Shumsk, which was published two months ago; to our sorrow, see also In Memoriam). We would also like to take this opportunity to mention that emigrants from towns in the vicinity of Kremenets – Shumsk[1] and others – are members of our organizations in Argentina and New York. Let's hope that the merger is successful and the extended organization opens the door to a wide range of activities.

In February 1979, Mordekhay Katz and his wife, Tsipa, came for a visit from Buenos Aires. Both are leaders of the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants in Argentina. They were welcomed by a large, high-spirited crowd at our club and our branch in Haifa. The couple traveled throughout the country. Short articles by member Manus and member Katz give full descriptions of the visit.

In Voice of Kremenets Emigrants, booklet 15, pages 36–38, we told you about the Organization of Polish Kremenets Emigrants in London and its close connection to our organization. Some time ago, Mrs. Chernovska, one of the organization's leaders, visited Israel. She was received in our club, heard about our activities, and told us about her organization's activities. Yehoshue Golberg, the liaison between the two organizations, presents a detailed article on this interesting meeting. He visited them a few months ago while he was in London.

In the next few days, the short novel Don't Scorn a Thief, from the Enlightenment period, will be published by Tel Aviv University. The manuscript was discovered in Warsaw not long ago. The design and introduction are by Dr. Menucha Gilboa. The book contains around 100 pages, and its publication will cost £40,000. The Kremenets Scholarship Fund donated £20,000 toward this target, with the other half covered by the Katz Institute of Tel Aviv University. This is the first grant of this scope given by the fund.

Starting with this issue, our annual booklet will be printed in larger quantities, enough for our Shumsk members.

Also, this booklet includes one article in English. We believe that we should continue this practice in the future to let the young generation of Kremenets emigrants in the United States know about our organization's activities.


[Page 3]

Pathways to the Sky

In Word from the Editorial Board, we mentioned the book Pathways to the Sky, by Betsalel Goren, a member of the board of the Organization of Kremenets and Shumsk Emigrants.

Below is a short review of this book, signed by S. We note that the book received good reviews in the newspapers, especially by people from Israeli Aerospace Industries.

[Page 4]

Betsalel Goren's Pathways to the Sky (Review)

Betsalel Goren is Alter Gorodiner, a native of Shumsk, near Kremenets. In his book, Pathways to the Sky (Bronfman Publishing, Tel Aviv), he places an interesting life story before us: on one hand, the typical lifestyle of members of his generation and, on the other, his own life story. As an emigrant from a Ukrainian-Polish town, he tells us in simple, clear, and picturesque language about his childhood and upbringing in difficult, degrading, and humiliating surroundings. His description of his “family home” is not Mendele's[2] “dark and gloomy” description of his Jews from Kiselin, Matelon, and Kavtsiel. The writer describes them with openness and honesty, telling us how he was able to struggle with this gloomy way of life. In the difficult period between the two world wars, he learned to find his own path and overcome circumstances until he reached the same “pathways” – meaning effectiveness and spiritual loftiness – that many children from these small towns encountered when they joined a Zionist youth movement – in this case, the Pioneer movement. After arduous efforts, they immigrated to Israel, the same “pathway” lived by the 1930s pioneer-builder in the Land. The pioneer-builder believed that, with each day of his life and each small deed he performed, he was doing something for his nation's revival in his homeland. And the last “pathway” – the path of the nation's air force – became the legacy of the founders of the Israeli Air Force.

However, in his book, the author does not mention another stormy period of his life: the Holocaust and heroism.

In a letter to the reader, he explains his reasons for writing the book:

“To bring to the public, the young generation, the powerless, and numerous families authentic facts about the thousands of Eastern European Jewish children of his generation …” And he briefly enumerates the difficult and oppressive financial conditions and sociocultural milieu in which they grew up and how they managed to row toward 'the peaks' in spite of it all.”

Indeed, this is one of many life stories written by the children of the destruction-and-revival generation. Yet the one before us also has a goal – not only a strong educational goal, but a goal of proving what a man with vision and belief can do.


[Page 5]

In Memory of Y. Shafir

Manus Goldenberg

In a number of Voice of Kremenets Emigrants booklets, we have published articles about the meetings in Yakov's home. Each one left a deep impression on us. His lamentation poem about our destroyed town was published in booklet 13, and to our great sorrow, we mourned him in the last booklet.

But that is not enough. For us, he was not only an educator, Zionist leader, and rousing speaker. Shafir identified himself with a unique era that was full of extraordinary events – our town's golden era. His name is linked with the young, enthusiastic, vigorous leaders of the town's national movement: Binyamin Landsberg, Meir Goldring, Gorngut, Verthaym, Kornits, Leybke, Rozental, of blessed memory, and others.

In this booklet, we were planning to publish a comprehensive piece on him and the other personalities who stood with him at the center of our town's civic life, but for a variety of reasons, we did not have time to do so. We hope to publish this work in the next booklet.

Yakov was a founder of our town's Tarbut Hebrew School and its leader for many years. His talent, educational experience, and organizational skills helped him establish an educational institution in our town, the magnificent Hebrew workshop known as the Tarbut School.

It is worth mentioning his brave, tenacious struggle against the harassment of Polish authorities who wanted to close the school.

Here we present excerpts from journals published by his 10- and 11-year old students under his guidance.

[Page 6]


Tarbut School in Kremenets, on the Steps of the Institution
Adults in the photo, on the right: Shafir in the front row, and Katsner, the teacher, in the second row.
Some of the children are no longer alive, but a good number have survived, and they will recognize themselves.

 


The Passover Festival

Zina Steshnik

The Passover festival is the festival of spring,
it is very good and pleasant.
We eat a lot of matzah,
drink wine and beverages.
The children, who are happy with the guests,
go outside to play.
Outside the sun is shining
and the flowers are starting to bloom.
Spring is already here
and summer is coming.

 

Passover Eve

When you walked down Jewish streets in the middle of the month of Nisan, you saw an amazing sight. There was not a single house that wasn't tidied up, painted, scrubbed, and washed. Obviously, a good question came to mind: What was all this work for? And if you had an appetite for knowledge and asked one of the Jews, he would no doubt answer you, “Surely, any small Jewish child should know that the Passover festival is coming: that's the answer to your question.”


[Page 7]

The Wonders of the Town of Kremenets

Betsalel Goren

My family, relatives, and neighbors told many stories about the town of Kremenets and its wonders: Sheroka Street, the Bona, the Potik, and the Dubno[3] and Vishnevets suburbs. Every month when my aunt Gitele returned from Kremenets, where she received her monthly pension as the wife of a soldier killed during World War I, she retold the stories about the wonders of the town of Kremenets. And when her sons grew up, they visited Kremenets to look for brides there. And, thank God, there was a good selection of Jewish girls in the Polish Kingdom, which was blessed with girls, a lot more than there were boys. And I, the boy, listened and swallowed the stories about the town of Kremenets and its wonders, and my soul longed to go there for a visit, just once. But who could travel for no reason to see a town without having something to do there? Where would I get the money to travel? And with whom would I go? Surely, a boy couldn't travel on his own, without an adult. All my thoughts centered on the town of Kremenets and its wonders, and I nearly became despondent. In two years, I would already be a bar mitzvah, and I had not seen Kremenets. In every case of lost hope, salvation suddenly arrives – and so it happened to me.

Fate saw to it that the Motsi family started an argument with Avraham Kvetsh's family, because they were neighbors. This is the tale of how it happened.

For many years, Mr. Avraham Zak – that was his name – was a leather merchant and respected homeowner in the large Jewish community of Shumsk. His nickname was Kvetsh – may that not happen to us – because he had a hernia. Apparently, he used to press his hernia, and “press” is kvetsh in Yiddish, so he was called Avraham Kvetsh in Shumsk. Motsi was Avraham Kvetsh's neighbor. Her name was Malke, but they called her Motsi because she was short. Her husband had traveled to the United States before World War I and left her with two children: a son, Eli, and a daughter, Sheyndil. Motsi supported her family by selling the milk produced by her two cows, and Eli, the son, who was lame, cared for the cows and took them out to pasture during the summer. Then World War I ended, and the father began to send dollars. Eli, who meanwhile was growing up, wanted to do something with the money. And what was easier than trading in leather, like his neighbor Kvetsh? And so a competition arose and accelerated between them, until a fight took place. The dispute started between Avromkhe, Avraham Kvetsh's wife, and Motsi's daughter, Sheyndil. Maybe at that time Eli was praying the morning prayers, and maybe he was wrapped in his tefillin.

[Page 8]

To support his mother in the battle, he jumped on his one good leg until he collided with them. Meanwhile, Avromkhe was also getting reinforcement from her daughter, who appeared with a broom, which she brought down on Eli's head, causing his tefillin to fall on the ground. In a way, it was a defamation of God's name. Then the neighbors became involved and separated the disputers. Eli was apparently the only man who had taken part in the battle, and Avraham Kvetsh pressed charges against him for attacking his wife. Eli searched for witnesses to prove his “alibi.”

Fate saw to it that I, a child of 10 or 12, witnessed the battle. And who is more credible in a court of law than a child? So I became a witness at the trial between Eli and Avromkhe. On those days, there was no courthouse in Shumsk, only in Kremenets, the district seat.

Salvation came, and I traveled to Kremenets testify in the trial and, at the same time, see the town and its wonders. The trial took place in the winter, when it was cold and snowy outside. Although Eli wrapped me in a sheepskin, I did not enjoy the trip, but the thought that I was traveling to Kremenets and would very soon see all the wonders of the world helped me cope with the cold. And then we arrived in town – going directly to the courthouse. We waited all day until they informed us that the trial had been postponed.

Before evening, we arrived at Shumsk Station, as they called the old building with the big stable. They left me at the station while the rest of the witnesses went to run their errands in town. Against their instructions, I left the station and went to see the town that my soul was longing for. First of all was Sheroka Street. It was already evening, and there was daylight in the town, electric light, and people were walking on the sidewalks as if it were a festival. Was today a holiday? What were we celebrating? I didn't stop; I continued to wander. There was a man walking on the other side of the street with a paper trumpet in his hand. He was singing in a pleasant baritone voice, and the people in the street greeted him with “silver horn.” I saw the town's crazy man. Surely, each town has its own crazy man … I returned to the station, and the people were angry at me: “A boy walking alone at night in a big city that he doesn't know, and he's not afraid?” But what was there to be afraid of? There was light in the street, not darkness.

We traveled back home. On the way, the winter cart turned over twice. Yisrael the tailor, the second witness, sprained his hand. Yeshaye – Idel – Brendels, the third witness, swore at the coachmen. I was the only one in a festive mood. I was in Kremenets. Surely, I did not see the Bona, the Potik, or the suburbs, but there was a chance that I would see them, because if the trial were to be postponed, then it would take place in a few months, in the summer. And, indeed, we traveled to Kremenets for the second time on a spring day. How beautiful! What a pleasure to travel on a spring day to see the wonders of Kremenets.

[Page 9]

This time the trial took place, and I excelled in my testimony. I saw all the wonders of Kremenets and returned to Shumsk, my town, as a hero, because the news passed from mouth to ear that a child had been a witness in court, that he had testified without awe or fear, and that the judge had been impressed with his testimony. I succeeded in everything: I was popular, and I also traveled to the town of Kremenets twice.

Certainly, you want to know the verdict. The two sides reconciled, God willing. So who profited from the trial? Without a doubt, it was I who benefited from Avraham Kvetsh and Motsi's trial, and Eli didn't limp to jail. And you should also know that Shumsk didn't have a prison: it was located in Kremenets, the town of wonders.

* * *

How sorry I am that you were destroyed and that you are empty of Jews.

We will remember you, Kremenets, to the end of our days.

 


[Page 10]

Testimony in Israel and Its Writer – A New Evaluation

Shmuel Taytelman

Summary of the Introduction by Emanuel Etkes*

*[note in the original] This is a summary of the introduction to the photocopied edition of Testimony in Israel, by RYB”L. Mr. Emanuel Etkes is blessed, and we thank him.

In 5737, the Zalman Shazar Center published a photocopied edition of Testimony in Israel, by RYB”L, the Vilna-Horodna 5568 edition, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the book's publication. An introduction by researcher Emanuel Etkes, “Testimony in Israel[4] – Between Changes and Tradition,” was added to this anniversary edition. In it, the researcher places before us a renewed evaluation of the contribution of RYB”L and his composition to the history of Jewish culture.

Due to the length of the review, we bring you here only a collection of quotations, with the assumption that those who came from Kremenets, the birthplace of RYB”L, who is also known as the “Russian Mendelssohn,” will take a great interest in this research, mostly because of its renewal and the significance of its deep glimpse into the past. It examines and clarifies RYB”L's influence on the many changes in East European Jewry's cultural life since then.

RYB”L, R' Yitschak Ber Levinzon, worked to change the image of Russian Jews from the spiritual point of view of the Enlightenment movement. During his congregational activities, two of his objectives worked side by side: one was his literary propaganda, which tried to convince readers themselves to adapt Enlightenment views. This literary preaching was nourished by the typical intellectual belief and the hidden influence of the literary application. But RYB”L was not satisfied with literary propaganda. From the beginning of his congregational work, he approached different individuals within the Russian government with letters and memos, asking them to use the kingdom's power to bring the necessary changes to the Jews' lives …

RYB”L was of the opinion that Jewish society in Russia was in a state of distress from which it could not extract itself under its own power. He saw this in the Jews' legal status, the tall partition that separated them from the country and society around them, and mostly in their severe economic distress, with its social results. He wanted to find the roots of evil not in the authorities' restrictive and punitive policies but in the failure of traditional Jewish education and the shortcomings of traditional leadership and its distorted attitude toward productive ways of earning a living. RYB”L was convinced that the medicines that could cure the troubles of Russian Jewry were to be found in the Enlightenment's bag.

[Page 11]

However, the intellectual class in Russia was a small minority, and there was only a slim possibility that the Jewish community would accept its methods. Therefore, the only solution was to approach the monarchy. Probably, the sense that there was no other alternative caused RYB”L and many other Russian intellectuals like him to create for themselves the image of a monarchy inspired by their desires and supported by a model of absolute culture in the light of the monarchy's treatment of the Jews.

… The place of the book Testimony in Israel in the history of the Enlightenment movement in Russia is determined first of all by the fact that it is this movement's first programmed composition. To a large extent, this composition represented the Enlightenment's direction in Russia until the second half of the 19th century.

At first glance, the cultural program that RYB”L outlines in his introduction to the book centers on five questions: (1) Is it necessary for a Jew to study the correct grammar of the holy language? (2) Is he allowed to study the languages of other nations? (3) Will he study the traditions of others? (4) What are we going to gain by knowing these languages and wisdom traditions, if they are allowed? (5) And if we are to benefit, maybe the gain is not worth the damage that these studies will cause to our religious beliefs …

Frankly speaking, the program presented in Testimony in Israel aims for far-reaching change in three areas of Russian-Jewish life: (1) spiritual and cultural life, (2) economic activities, and (3) the relationship between the Jews on one side and the authorities and society on the other.

The educational reform outlined by RYB”L is not limited to changes in the goals and method of studying the subjects included in traditional education; it also demands the addition and inclusion of new fields of study.

RYB”L explains the importance of studying fields of scholarship and science and their benefits. These fields form an important tool for teaching an understanding of the Bible and the literature of Jewish law, while the laws of nature enable the person to recognize the greatness of the Creator. This pragmatic standpoint approves of the use of scholarly learning as an aid in the service of traditional values, even if they are not common in Orthodox society and are foreign to its spirit. Yet RYB”L brings up additional reasons that reveal his hidden, nonsecular outlook. These scholarly traditions are a source of usefulness and happiness in the life of the individual and society. Their meaning is meant for the general population and is not limited to the boundaries of religious life.

[Page 12]

Testimony in Israel was intended to serve as a defensive manuscript for intellectuals and the Enlightenment in the eyes of the local conservative society of the time. The document mainly was intended to address opposing forces in society. RYB”L could not foresee that Hasidism would change its stand toward the Enlightenment and intellectuals. But he made an effort to present the Enlightenment in a formula that would speak to the hearts of those who opposed it.

It appears to us that there is an additional factor in the foundation of RYB”L's composition. That factor is different from the tactical defense of the Enlightenment in the eyes of traditional society. In Testimony in Israel, RYB”L laid a detailed base for an assumption that played a great part in his spiritual world: that there is no contradiction between the purpose of the Enlightenment and the purpose of tradition! RYB”L rejected the allegation that learning and science are foreign plants in the Jewish vineyard. The opposite is true; Judaism is the source of wisdom, and the Greeks borrowed it …

At this point, an additional clarification is needed: the justification of the Enlightenment before tradition and, at the same time, the justification of tradition before the Enlightenment. In other words, in Testimony in Israel, RYB”L draws out an image of “tradition” that those loyal to the Enlightenment can identify with and of which they can see themselves as loyal followers.

* * *

Without a doubt, the four editions awarded to Testimony in Israel between 5585 and 5561 are witnesses to the part it played within the intellectual class. As a result, the book was selected as a teaching tool in a number of the schools established in the spirit of the Enlightenment. But it looks as if the greatest mission of this work by RYB”L took place in the years just after it was published. Therefore, those years were when the Enlightenment movement in Russia took its first steps, and the book Testimony in Israel increased the confidence of those few lonely intellectuals and strengthened of their position.


[Page 16]

Images from the Old Home


Leyb the Ritual Slaughterer

 


The New Market

 


The Water Drawer

 


[Page 17]

Letters from Our Fellow Townspeople[5]

[Page 18]

… And when nature grants you her most precious gift, and this is life itself, you would want to reflect on your childhood, good or bad. These are the best recorded experiences in our minds. It is impossible to comprehend these experiences without being part of them. By telling my children about the mountain called Bona or our Parade on the third of May, Constitution Day in Poland, or the dances in the different halls, or the overflow of the Potek in the spring and in the fall, or the long three mile walk to school in the bitter cold, or the fine Jewish Wodwill with the plays like a Yiddishe Mama[6] or kim-arois-mein-shane-Kalah, or the rivalry between the Hashomer-Hazair and the Baitar, and the filled synagogue on the High Holidays, or the natural beauty of the town itself. They may visualize it all. But we who lived it will not forget it till the last day of our lives. But the years in between, when we started to scatter all over this planet, with the large percentage of our brethren who were so bestially destroyed and the remnances whose determination was to never again turn our cheeks to the enemy of our people. And this has been accomplished.

How grateful I am to G-d for granting me years to witness the fall of our enemies and be privileged to make my small contributions in many ways. My wish is that hopefully our children and our childrens' children shall experience their lives with vast possibilities to reflect on their childhood saying, "Lets go visit places of our past and brothers and sisters and cousins," and relive days of their past and, perhaps, the past of their fathers and forefathers whereever they took place.

These are blessed wishes that I wish on all of our future generations.

Fred Byk

Translator's and Editor's Notes:

  1. Shumsk is at 50°07' N 26°07' E, 17.8 miles E of Kremenets [Ed.] Return
  2. Mendele mocher sforim (Mendele the book peddler) was the pseudonym of Sholem Yakov Abramovich (1836–1917). He is considered the grandfather of modern Yiddish literature and the father of modern Hebrew literature. [Trans.] Return
  3. Dubno is at 50°25' N 25°45' E, 21.9 miles N of Kremenets, and Vishnevets is at 49°54' N 25°45' E, 13.9 miles S of Kremenets. [Ed.] Return
  4. In Hebrew, Testimony in Israel is Teuda BeYisrael. The years 5737 and 5568 correspond to 1977 and 1828. [Trans.] Return
  5. This letter is in English on the original booklet. [Ed.] Return
  6. “Yiddishe Mama” and “kim-arois-mein-shane-Kalah” (“Jewish Mother” and “Come Out, My Beautiful Bride” are Yiddish songs of the vaudeville era. “Hashomer-Hazair” (Hashomer Hatsair, or Youth Guard, was a socialist-Zionist youth movement, and Baitar (Betar) was a revisionist Zionist youth movement. [Ed.] Return

 

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