|Sketch of a Mother||16|
|An Organization Hanukah Party in Tel Aviv||36|
|Yosef Shvartsapel (Sharon)||50|
|Leya (Mordish) Efrat||57|
|Bronya Karpel (Barshap)||61|
|Boris (Berel) Shtern||64|
|Abir, Avraham (see also Biberman)||39, 48 (photo), 48-49, 70, 80|
|Abir*, Miryam (Manya; see also Biberman)||18, 48, 49, 70|
|Alima, Ori||67, 68|
|Alima*, Rut (née Vishniov)||67, 68|
|Avidar, Yosef (see also Rokhel, Yosef)||48, 67, 78|
|Bankir*, Ariela (née Mordish)||68|
|Barshap, Bronya||61, 61 (photo), 80|
|Barshap*, Chana (née Kupershteyn)||78|
|Barshap, Sonya||61, 78, 79|
|Ben Dov, Ela||78|
|Berenshteyn, Tsvi||ii, 76, 83|
|Berman, Yakov||58, 79|
|Berman, Zhenya||58, 58 (photo)|
|Bernshteyn, Riva||1, 65|
|Bernshteyn, Sara||53 (photo), 53-54|
|Beylin, Y. B.||7, 10|
|Beznoski, Brayna||1, 52, 52 (photo), 65, 80|
|Bialik, Chayim Nachman||42|
|Biberman, Avraham (see also Abir)||39, 48 (photo), 48-49, 70, 80|
|Biberman, Bronya||36 (photo)|
|Biberman, Leya||49, 80|
|Biberman, Leyb||17, 18|
|Biberman*, Miryam (Manya; see also Abir)||48, 49, 70|
|Britshteyn*, Bela (née Zeyger)||68|
|Brustin*, Zhenya||58, 58 (photo)|
|Chagall, Marc||10, 26-29|
|Charash, Moshe||47, 47 (photo)|
|Chasid, Avraham Dimona||68, 78, 80|
|Chasid*, Etya (Eti)||68, 78, 80|
|Cornbleet, Harry F.||37|
|David (brother of Rivka Mochin*)||70|
|Desser, Mark||77, 82|
|Desser, Max||ii, 77, 82|
|Dorfman, Bernardo||73, 76|
|Dugim , Avraham (see also Dagim, Dugi)||79|
|Efrat*, Leya (née Mordish)||57, 57 (photo)|
|Epshteyn, Yakov||68, 78|
|Fakher, Chayim (see also Fayer, Chayim)||71, 72, 73, 75, 76, 82|
|Fayer*, Chana||72, 75, 76, 82|
|Fayer, Chayim (see also Fakher, Chayim)||71, 72, 73, 75, 76, 82|
|Fayer, Fegya (Felisa)||72|
|Fayer*, Fufi||72, 76|
|Fayer, Moshe-Avraham (Alfredo)||72|
|Federman*, Dozya (née Rubinfin)||70|
|Fefer, Itsik||6, 7, 10|
|Fiks*, Sara (née Bernshteyn)||53 (photo), 53-54|
|Fiks, Yehoshue||55 (photo), 55-56|
|Finkelshteyn, Sonya||50, 51|
|Fisher*, Chaya (née Kutsher)||79|
|Fishman, Yeshayahu||70, 74|
|Frenkel*, Vitya (née Kirshon)||71|
|Frug, Y. B.||10|
|Gal, Chen (see also Liberman)||78|
|Garber*, Fanya (Fani; née Reznik)||31, 33, 75, 76, 77|
|Garber, Yechezkel||74, 75|
|Gertman*, Sonya (née Barshap)||61, 78, 79|
|Gibelbank, Chayim||7 (photo)|
|Gintsburg*, Naomi||63, 80|
|Gintsburg, Yitschak||63, 63 (photo), 80|
|Gletshteyn, Aharon (see also Sela, Aharon)||79|
|Gokhshteyn, Chantse||74, 76|
|Gokhshteyn, Yisrael (cantor)||76|
|Gokun, Avraham||36 (photo), 78|
|Golberg, Yehoshue||ii, 58, 68, 77, 80, 83|
|Goldenberg, Manus||ii, 6, 11, 26, 29, 38, 40, 44, 46, 47, 58, 59, 65, 69, 76|
|Gordner, Leon||77, 82|
|Goren, Betsalel (see also Gorodiner, Alter)||13|
|Gurvits, Mordekhay||19 53, 55, 79|
|Gutman, Rachel||70, 79|
|Heshkel*, Tsivya (née Shafir)||80|
|Hofshteyn, Duvid||6, 7, 10|
|Horovits*, Miryam (née Diment)||78|
|Ish-Tov*, Fanya||67, 79|
|Karasik, Gershon, Rabbi||40|
|Karpel*, Bronya (née Barshap)||61, 61 (photo), 80|
|Katz, Mordekhay||69, 74, 75, 76|
|Kaufman, Chulio (see also Shikhman)||31, 36 (photo), 68|
|Kesler, Yeshayahu (Shaye)||71|
|Kesler, Yitschak (Itsik)||71, 78|
|Kiperman*, Chayka||72, 76|
|Kiperman, Nute||32, 33, 34, 72, 76|
|Kogan, William||ii, 82|
|Kotler, Arye (Leyb; see also Kotliar, Kotlir)||1, 52, 65, 80|
|Kotler*, Brayna (née Beznoski; see also Kotlir, Kotliar)||1, 52, 52 (photo), 65, 80|
|Kotler, Gidon (see also Kotlir)||65, 80|
|Kotliar, Arye (Leyb; see also Kotler, Kotliar)||1, 52, 65, 80|
|Kotliar*, Brayna (née Beznoski; see also Kotler, Kotlir)||1, 52, 52 (photo), 65, 80|
|Kotlir, Arye (Leyb; see also Kotler, Kotliar)||1, 52, 65, 80|
|Kotlir*, Brayna (née Beznoski; see also Kotler, Kotliar)||1, 52, 52 (photo), 65, 80|
|Kotlir (see also Kotler), Gidon||65, 80|
|Krasnisier, Chayim, R'||23|
|Kremenchugski, Moshe (see also Tsur, Moshe)||78|
|Kremenchugski, Sima||70, 78|
|Krementshugski, Dov||11 (photo), 11-12|
|Laybel*, Rakel||74, 76|
|Laybel, Yisrael||74, 76|
|Lerner, Berniv, Rabbi||20|
|Levi Yitschak, Rabbi||55|
|Liberman, Chen (see also Gal)||78|
|Mandelblat, Aharon (Munya)||68|
|Manusovits, Brakha||62, 80|
|Manusovits, Dov||62, 62 (photo), 80|
|Markish, Perets||7, 10|
|Marshak*, Rachel (née Gutman)||70, 79|
|Medler, Morris||41, 82|
|Metiuk*, Leya (née Biberman)||80|
|Meyler, Y.||36 (photo)|
|Milgrom*, Cherna (née Shkurnik)||70, 77|
|Mordish, Arye||ii, 57, 81, 82, 84|
|Mordish, Leya||57, 57 (photo)|
|Nadir*, Rachel (née Otiker)||78|
|Oron*, Shoshana (née Mandelblat)||68|
|Otiker, Rachel||36 (photo)|
|Otiker, Yisrael||36 (photo), 70|
|Ot-Yakar, Mordekhay||ii, 64|
|Patishi*, Sara (née Bat)||78|
|Poltorek, Adalya||36 (photo), 46|
|Poltorek, Chana (Chanulya)||2|
|Poltorek, Shlome||46, 48, 79|
|Rabin, Aharele, Rabbi||20|
|Rabin, Yosile, Rabbi||20|
|Rapoport, David||34, 40-42, 43, 77, 82|
|Reznik, Fanya (Fani)||31, 33, 74, 75, 76, 77|
|Rokhel, Yosef (see also Avidar)||67|
|Rokhel, Moshe||67, 71|
|Rokhel, Sara||67, 79|
|Rokhel, Yitschak||ii, 67, 84|
|Roshtin*, Tova (Gitele)||32|
|Rosye (sister of Sore Shafir*)||9|
|Rozenblit, Bernard (Bentsi)||77, 82|
|Rozenblit, Mina||77, 82|
|Rozhdestvensky, Robert||26, 27, 28|
|Rubin, Hadasa||30, 35, 36 (photo), 68|
|Segal*, Beylke||74, 76|
|Sela, Aharon (see also Gletshteyn, Aharon)||79|
|Shafir, Avraham||3, 36 (photo), 45 (photo), 45-46, 80|
|Shafir*, Chana (Chanulya; née Poltorek)||2, 3, 45, 46, 70, 80|
|Shafir*, Rivka (née Hauzner)||45, 79, 80|
|Shafir, Yakov (see also Sheyfer)||1, 2, 6-10, 6 (photo), 7 (photo), 11, 36 (photo), 45, 65, 70, 80|
|Sharon*, Sonya (née Finkelshteyn)||50, 51|
|Sharon, Yitschak||50, 80|
|Sharon, Yosef (see also Shvartsapel, Yosef)||50 (photo), 50-51, 80|
|Sher, Ester||73, 76|
|Sher, Reyzel||73, 76|
|Sheyfer, Moshe Duvid (see also Shafir)||7|
|Sheyfer*, Sore (Sonya; see also Shafir))||9, 10|
|Sheyfer, Yakov (see also Shafir)||1, 2, 6-10, 6 (photo), 7 (photo), 11, 36 (photo), 45, 65, 70, 80|
|Shikhman, Avraham (see also Yardenski)||59 (photo), 59-60|
|Shikhman, Chulio (see also Kaufman)||31, 36 (photo), 68|
|Shkurnik, Cherna||70, 77|
|Shpak*, Ester||72, 76|
|Shpak, Yitschak||72, 76|
|Shtern, Boris (Berel)||64, 64 (photo), 71|
|Shtern*, Itke (née Rozental)||34|
|Shtern, Munya||67, 71|
|Shvartsapel*, Hinda (née Royt)||44|
|Shvartsapel, Yosef (see also Sharon, Yosef)||50 (photo), 50-51, 80|
|Skolski, Shlome||ii, 23, 29, 67, 79|
|Sobol, Yitschak||ii, 22, 29, 78|
|Sofrin*, Ora (née Ish-Tov)||67|
|Spektor*, Naomi (née Fridel)||78|
|Taytsher, Chayim||32, 67, 77|
|Taytsher, Rachel Tema||67|
|Teren, Yehoshue (see also Toren)||24|
|Toren*, Dvora (née Feldman)||24|
|Toren, Yehoshue (see also Teren)||24|
|Tsizin*, Chana||78, 79|
|Tsmerinski*, Dvora (née Pesis; see also Chmerinski)||79|
|Tsur, Moshe (see also Kremenchugski, Moshe)||78|
|Tsvivel*, Margalit (née Vakman)||67, 77|
|Vakman*, Genya (Glikel)||39, 67|
|Vakman, Margalit||67, 77|
|Vakman, Yitschak||2, 38 (photo), 38-39, 40-42, 43, 77, 82|
|Vaysman, Shraga||ii, 81, 82, 84|
|Vinik, Duvid||37, 37 (photo)|
|Vinik*, Golde-Yente||37, 37 (photo)|
|Vinik, Shlome||37, 37 (photo)|
|Vinik, Sosi||37, 37 (photo)|
|Vinokur, Moshe Halevi, R'||20|
|Vinshteyn*, Vitya (née Kirshon)||71|
|Vishniov, Hertsel||67, 68|
|Vishniov, Rut||67, 68|
|Vishniov*, Shifra||67, 68|
|Yardenski, Avraham (see also Shikhman)||59 (photo), 59-60|
|Yaron*, Sima (née Kremenchugski)||70, 78|
|Yisrael Shlome (husband of Rachel Tema Taytsher)||67|
|Zaytler, Barukh||74, 76|
|Zaytler*, Chantse (née Gokhshteyn)||74, 76|
|Zaytler, Ite||74, 75|
|Zaytler, Mendel (the teacher)||76|
|Zeyger, Akiva||36 (photo)|
|Zeyger*, Chayka (née Buts)||70|
|Zeyger, Meir||70, 78|
|Zeyger*, Y. (née Meyler)||36 (photo)|
|Zinger*, Shifra (née Freylikh)||71|
|Zshitnitski, L., Dr.||6|
Our beloved fellow townspeople, this summer we mark our organization's 35th anniversary.
It was 1946 when we discovered the hazy but horrible news about what had happened to our old home.
The initiative to establish the organization came from a number of Kremenetsers under the leadership of Riva Bernshteyn and Yakov Shafir, of blessed memory. The founders' first meeting, at which the organization was established, took place at the Shafirs' apartment. Impromptu meetings of a number of board members took place at Brayna and Arye Kotlir's home in central Tel Aviv.
A few of our founders are already in the next world. Others have stopped being involved for various reasons. Those who have remained on guard are doing everything possible to ensure that Jewish Kremenets lives in the hearts of our fellow townspeople, wherever they are.
When we look back and see everything we have done to reach this goal, those of us who have invested so much time and energy can silence their consciences, which every so often ask why we are better off than our loved ones and were fortunate enough to avoid their bitter fate. This guilt exists in each of the survivors and every year brings many of our fellow townspeople from all corners of the country to our memorial service at the college, in the summer heat. There, for a few hours, we release the nostalgia we have lived with all year long. Even though this phenomenon takes place during the annual memorial services of other organizations, our longing for our old home, our youth, the simple way of life, and the simple working people who lived there is strengthened by the Voice of Kremenets Emigrants booklets, which we have been publishing for the past 14 years. These booklets help us maintain a close connection between our fellow townspeople here and abroad. The responses we receive from our members, here and abroad, after the arrival of each new booklet are exciting and encouraging. They help us overcome the obstacles and stress associated with publishing each new booklet.
In booklet 3 and those that followed, we could include only a few excerpts from the responses submitted by our members after they received booklet 1. They sent more responses after subsequent booklets.
One response was from our beloved member Y. Vakman, may he rest in peace.
Yes, my beloved townspeople!
As soon as I saw the title Voice of Kremenets Emigrants, I had a vision of our Kremenets, with the golden letters above our Great Synagogue, House of Our Holiness and Glory; the other synagogues and all those leaders who worked for the community; the Jewish Primary School; the steps of R' Nachman Zeygermakher's (the watchmaker's) house, which were the wagon drivers' favorite resting place, where they felt comfortable; and many other places close to my heart.
This new booklet carries the title Voice of Kremenets Emigrants 18.
May the symbolic number 18 protect us and prevent the great losses we experienced last year.
To all our members and to the entire Jewish people Happy New Year!
This booklet was intended to be published on Rosh Hashanah eve 5742. Eight months have passed since then, and we are only now taking the final steps to publish it. The long, unfortunate delay was not our doing. We were powerless when faced with the reason. We cannot provide the details, and we can say only that it weakened our hands, disrupted our work, and caused us a great deal of worry and anguish.
To our sorrow, a number of our fellow townspeople passed away during that time. We will publish their obituaries in booklet 19, as we note in the Condolences section of this booklet. But we must mention here Chanulya Shafir (Poltorek), of blessed memory.
On various occasions and in our publications, we have mentioned the important part played by Yakov Shafir, of blessed memory, in Jewish society in Kremenets, mostly in the spring of the Russian revolution and later at the beginning of Polish rule there.
Chanulya was a partner in those activities. The meetings of the Jewish student movement took place in the small apartment above the store run by her father, Itsi Poltorek, of blessed memory.
There, we organized meetings and parades tied to historical events, which were so plentiful then in the Zionist movement.
At all those meetings, we were warmly welcomed by Chanulya, and her homemade refreshments gave them a festive atmosphere.
Kremenets' Youth Guard chapter was established on their narrow balcony overlooking Sheroka Street.
And here, many years later, when we received the news about our town's holocaust, we sat on the Shafirs' balcony, but this time it overlooked not Sheroka but Karmiya Street in Tel Aviv, next to Habima. That meeting was emotional and tearful, and the great tragedy that had befallen our town's Jews was still alive in each of our hearts. That same evening on that balcony, in summer 1946, we decided to establish the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants. It was the beginning of 35 years of existence, as we mentioned at the beginning of our note.
In the early years, we met at the Shafirs' home. There, too, Chanulya created a homey atmosphere that reminded us of the warmth of their home in Kremenets. She continued to do so when Yakov was confined to his home due to his long illness, and Kremenetsers from here and abroad came to visit him.
The writer of these lines and his wife saw Chanulya for the last time at the hospital. Confined to her wheelchair, she welcomed us. It was only a few weeks after the death of her only son, Avraham, of blessed memory, whom we memorialize in this booklet. Her welcome was the same in the past years .
May her memory be blessed!
It is morning. Mama has already awakened but has not yet gotten out of bed. She is lying on her back with a four-year-old boy lying on one side, and on the other side is a sweet baby under the age of two who sometime sleeps with Mama. His regular bed is the twig cradle that hangs on a rope from the ceiling, and as babies do, he occasionally cries during the night from discomfort or from pain, and then Mama transfers him to her bed and nurses him, no matter the hour.
A third boy older than two is sleeping in a bed whose legs are fixed on two half-bows, like the base of a rocking chair, so that they rock the bed and to encourage the baby to fall asleep. In the morning hours, he usually sneaks out of bed and lies down next to Mama. Mama is lying between the babies. Her bright face is that of a queen with a big, satisfied smile. Her long golden hair isn't arranged in a bun, the way it is all day, but is scattered around her bright face.
I love looking across the dark corner at Mama's face. It looks like a painting of a queen's head in a golden frame. On either side of her face are two miniature heads with bright faces and hair; what a vision of divine creation! The picture and the silence are so different from what is happening around the ruins of the room, which tightly accommodates nine children. Now, in the morning hours, they're all enjoying their sleep; they're not aware of the bad smells, the filthy linens, and the dirty gowns they wear. Nobody who has not been in the room during the morning hours can enjoy the beauty of this supreme image, because anyone who opens the door from the outside encounters the stale air and bad smells that emerge; his senses become dull, his eyes cloud, and he can't t distinguish the divine beauty from the ugliest place on the face of the earth.
Mama gets out of bed, and the picture of a queen in a golden frame with two bright, miniature heads disappears; the picture is changing now. Mama is dressed in a faded, patched dress and paptsis (the bottom cut from a pair of discarded boots or shoes) without socks. She rolls her hair into a bun, puts a scarf on her head, and takes the smallest baby in her arms, with two or three children of various ages dragging behind her holding Mama's dress in their hands. Mama is rushing to the market to buy a bottle of milk and a few half-rotten apples for the children's breakfast. This is the daily mother, the mother who gives birth, raises her children, nurses them, feeds them, bakes, cleans, spanks, heals, and is diligent and busy from morning to evening.
And in the evening, when her legs hurt and the blisters from wearing paptsis burn her feet like fire, Mama sits on the padded sofa made out of thick, rough wood planks with two supports on the sides. Her body and her feet are on the wide sofa. The baby in her arms is nursing or just playing with her breast, two or three toddlers cling to her knees, and the older ones push to her side and try to grab a place closer to Mama's body, that soft and warm body, to be rewarded with a pat, a kiss, a hug, and a word of affection.
This isn't a mother who looks like a queen's head in a golden frame. This is the mother who runs to the market with paptsis on her feet. This isn't the mother of the whole day. This is a mother with a scarf tied at the back of her head. Now her bright face is reddened, her blue eyes are dim and seem tired or kind, or maybe both. This is a picture of a mother protecting her tender chicks, who spreads her wings to warm them in the evening chill. Slowly, slowly, they stop laughing and playing games and fall into a peaceful sleep, and then she moves them to their beds. And so the second part of Mama's workday starts. She prepares food for the next day, repairs, patches, does the laundry, and cleans, and in the late hours of the evening, she doesn't lie down to sleep but falls on her bed, asleep.
It was summer, when Petliura's gangs spread destruction and ruin in Jewish towns throughout Ukraine and Galicia. They robbed and burglarized, oppressed and murdered. People were afraid to leave their homes for fear that the murderers would appear on horseback at any moment. Under those conditions, people could not endanger themselves by traveling on business or taking care of even the most basic necessities.
It's been more than a week since Mama has baked bread, because she doesn't have any flour. Nor has she rushed to the market with paptsis on her feet, a number of children holding her dress and dragging behind her, because she doesn't have the few small coins she needs to buy a bottle of milk and rotten apples. This is a different mother, not the one from the morning hours who lies in bed, not the one who rushes to the market, and not the one who sits on the sofa in the evening. This is a mother with a pale, thin face, her wet eyes half-closed, her back bent, making her look shorter than usual. Her voice is different, too. It isn't the clear, commanding voice she used to have, but the voice of a broken person. To the children's demands of Mama, food, and Mama, bread, she answers in a pleading voice, What will I give you, my soul? For two days now, the children have been lying in their beds, unable to walk and weak from fasting. Mama gathers her courage and goes to the market. It's cherry and plum season, and the market is full of fruit that the gentile women have brought to sell. People buy, eat, and spit the pits out of their mouth onto the ground in the Russian way. The gentiles' pigs wander around in the market, and they collect the pits, crack them loudly with their teeth, and eat their contents. Mama returns home, outfits the children with pots, and orders them to collect the pits from the ground. Before evening, whole families are sitting in a circle on the ground, cracking the pits with hammers and stones, and eating their contents. Encouraged by this idea, she goes out with the older children and, under cover of darkness, they dig in the ground with their hands and fingernails to find a potato, a beet, or any vegetable, without fear or fright. Mama breaks wood planks from the fences to cook the vegetables. She's fighting like a lioness protecting her cub; she's fighting the enemy of hunger, and she succeeds in keeping her children alive except the nursing baby, who cannot eat the contents of the pits and cannot nurse because he's sick.
Mama draws milk from her breast and gives it to him to drink, and keeps him alive. She saves them from death by starvation, one day at a time, until rescuers arrive. A committee established by the community to help the hungry distributes a few kilograms of flour to each family. The smell of baking fills the room again, a tempting smell that lures the heart and tempts the senses and the appetite: the smell of bread baking in the oven. This is a different mother. In place of her tired, pale face is a serious one, full of energy and decisiveness. Her speech is clear and strong, with the ring of command. She looks like she's ready for battle: her body and back are straight, and she's no longer bent over. This is the mother lioness ready for battle to protect her cubs' lives.
Years pass, and times change. Polish rule is established. The children are getting older, and the eldest son is getting married. What a pleasure, what bliss, to lead her son to the wedding canopy. Blessed is the mother who is so fortunate. She even has a long black dress, fit to her body, a lady's dress in 19th-century style that her brother sent in a package of old clothing from America. Wearing the dress, Mama stands before the mirror, which is covered with black stains. This isn't the fighting mother lioness; this is a woman from a noble family with a firm body, a lean back, a long black dress, a clear noble face, and a high golden bun. Only the feet don't match the body; she's wearing fabric shoes since she doesn't have the money to buy a pair of the leather shoes that would be appropriate for the dress and the wedding. As luck would have it, it rains during the wedding, but her eyes are dry, not crying. Only her feet are wet and crying. This is a mother who's enjoying her child, and most of her children are older now.
World War II has erupted. The Kingdom of Poland has ceased to exist, and the town is under Soviet rule. The family's economic situation has improved. The older boys are working, the little ones study, and two of her sons are gaining respect in the Soviet regime. Now Mama is a mother of the working class. She's dressed in a clean dress made out of simple fabric without patches, and she wears a pair of simple leather shoes, not paptsis. Now her eyes and feet are dry. She's tranquil and secure about her family's future, so she thinks, and then a tragedy happens. Nazi Germany attacks Russia. Mama begs her sons to run away with the Russians and not to fall into the hands of the Nazis. She doesn't want to see how the Nazis murder them, as if her heart predicts what's going to happen. Two of the sons escape and save themselves. The rest of the children stay. All are led to the pit that serves as a mass grave for the whole town. After they remove their clothes, as they're ordered to by their murderers, Mama turns into a lump of clay. She loses her mind, her senses, and the ability to move her limbs. The Ukrainian murderers, the Nazis' helpers, order them to get closer to the pit. Mama doesn't respond or move, so her daughters drag her with them to the gaping pit to save her from the agony of torture in the hands of her killers.
No, enemies of Israel, you didn't murderer a mother. You shot a lump of clay, a naked statue of a woman. You, murderers of Jews, enemies of mankind, you can't murder a Jewish mother.
The Jewish mother is alive and will exist forever.
(There was much light there; the light faded, and the shadow inherited its place.)
The town of Shumsk was mentioned for the first time in 1149 (Encyclopedia Povshekhna, 1867 edition). It lies on the bank of the Vilya River, which empties into the Horyn River. To the northeast, pine and white birch forests stretch as far as the suburb of Ostrah and the town of Rovne, and on its southwest side are the Ukrainian plains, which are blessed with wheat, sheep, cattle, creeks, and fish.
Around the time of the Holocaust, the town's population was around 5,000. Most of the residents were Jews, and the rest were Ukrainians and Poles.
Small groups of Jews lived in the nearby villages, among them the large village of Rachmanov, which had a synagogue and a slaughterer (there were rumors that the reason for the large number of Jews in the village of Rachmanov was that it was established before Shumsk).
The main source of income for Shumsk's Jews was small trade. There were a small number of medium-sized factories, such as those for coarse wool (the Buder family), bricks, and cement tiles; two water-operated flourmills; textile factories; grain production; a leather tannery; and a sawmill owned by the authorities and located on the road to the village of Surazh.
The weekly market (fair) day (Monday) provided the stores, restaurants, and teahouses with their main income. Local farmers came with their agricultural produce and purchased their families' basic necessities with their profit.
Also, Jewish merchants from cities near Shumsk, such as Kremenets, Ostrah, Vishnevits, Lanovtse, and so on, offered their products during market day, and some of Shumsk's merchants traveled with their merchandise to the nearby towns.
Like all the towns in Volin, Shumsk experienced a change in power in the years after World War I. When the borders were set in 1919-1920, the town was transferred from Russian to Polish rule (during the Pilsudski period), and the population began to rebuild the ruins and rehabilitate themselves economically and culturally.
The Jews did not recover fast enough from World War I, and the economic situation was not good (Shumsk was also an annex town, located 5 to10 kilometers from the Russian border). The situation worsened during the 1930s with the heavy tax burden (the period when Gravski was the treasury minister) on one side and the establishment of Polish cooperative food stores on the other.
Anti-Semitism, which had been asleep and wrapped in a soft cover, woke up in Europe with the election of Hitler as the chancellor of Germany and the dissemination of his Nazi doctrine around the world. It was mostly accepted by the Ukrainian population, which waited impatiently for the arrival of the savior who would rescue them from the burden of the Poles and Jews.
With the restoration of the ruins and the economy came the restoration of society and cultural life. This was expressed in the establishment of the Tarbut Hebrew School. The Polish authorities caused many difficulties, and studies took place in secret (by the teacher Safir books) in the women's gallery of the Great Synagogue. After a great deal of lobbying by community leaders, a license to operate the school was granted under the condition that the school's director be a teacher certified in the Polish language.
Graduates of those classes turned to high schools in Lvov and Rovne, and some to the ORT school in Kremenets or yeshivas in Vishnevits and Korits.
With the establishment of the school, the traditional Jewish cheder started to fade away.
While the Jews were occupied with organizing their community and their leaders, one of the town's spiritual leaders, Rabbi Berniv Lerner, may the memory of the righteous be a blessing, passed away. This canvas is too small to list all the wonderful things he did to benefit others, especially sacrificing his own life to save Jews from the hands of their murderers. His home was a gathering place for scholars and was open to all.
Rabbi Yosile Rabin, son of Rabbi Aharele of Lanovtse, took his place on the rabbinical seat, and a second rabbi by the name of R' Moshe Vinokur Halevi also served the community. With the establishment of the community, various religious programs were organized and functioned under its patronage. The community delivered food to the needy, and charitable funds were established: a homeless shelter, visits to the sick, and a Talmud Torah, where the students received a free hot meal every day.
In addition, a merchants' union and a trade union were established, and their representatives brought members' problems before the local and district authorities.
The Zionist ideal and the national funds were established and developed in Shumsk, and very quickly, a local leadership was formed, including H. Milman, the movement's ideologue, Mordekhay Segal; Kopel Tsoref; Yokelson; the Akerman brothers; Neyman; Kanfer; Lerner; Roykhman; and Bernshteyn.
The Zionist youth movement was active in the movement's projects and the national funds. A magnificent library opened. It was housed at the Roytmans' home and contained a rich collection of books in Hebrew and Yiddish. A drama club was also established, and later on a theater. The most outstanding, important personalities in the theater were members of the Mirmelshteyn family.
One of the most beautiful and thrilling chapters was written by the Pioneer movement, which was legally established in 5684 (1924). The Pioneer movement was a guiding light for Shumsk's young people, who hated their lives in the Diaspora and wished for a productive life and immigration to Israel. To achieve their vision, the young members left for pioneer training camps before immigrating to Israel.
Everything mentioned and described here took place before the eruption of World War II, when the sword was raised against Shumsk's Jews.
For that I cry; my eyes shed tears.
I have tried to describe the image of our town and her Jews, their activities, and their way of life. May their names remain in our hearts for eternity and their memory be written in our nation's book of life, because with their death, they ordered our lives we are sorry for the loss and we will not forget.
I say to the revival generation: remember, and don't forget what Amalek has done to us.
Literary Gazette, No. 42, 10/15/1980
|He is old
still in his solitude.
He does not feel like
talking about the weather.
Immediately he starts with a question.
Aren't you from Vitebsk?
The lapels of his old coat are rubbed.
No, I am not from Vitebsk.
A long pause.
And after that these words,
which are monotonous and melancholy:
I work, and I am sick from time to time
An exhibition in Venice
So you are not from Vitebsk!
No, I am not from Vitebsk
He looks to the side.
He is not listening,
he is not listening.
He is distant, out of place,
he is breathing.
As he tries to connect with his childhood, carefully
Cannes and the blue coast vanish.
And the glory of the present
is bright and confused.
He is drawn to Vitebsk,
like a plant
To his Vitebsk,
which is dusty and hot,
and attached to the ground,
near the firehouse tower.
There are weddings and funerals over there,
prayers and fairs.
Apples are ripening over there,
they are especially big.
And a sleepy carter
gallops in the square.
So you are not from Vitebsk
He is silent,
and suddenly he announces,
as if it is the most important thing,
the names of the streets:
as in Volga.
He praises the river in Vitebsk
waving like a child
with his transparent hand.
So you are not from Vitebsk
We need to separate.
Return home quickly
The trees are standing at attention
along the way.
It is getting darker
what a pity, I am sorry
that I am not from Vitebsk.
Seated, from right: Adalya Poltorek, Avraham Shafir (Yakov Shafir's son), Bronya Biberman, Y. Meyler (Akiva Zeyger's wife), Akiva Zeyger, A. Gokun, Ch. Kufman (Shikhman), Hadasa Rubin, Yisrael Otiker, Rachel Otiker and her husband.
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