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[Page 245]

Reb Zvi-Hirsh Aharonovitz

Translated by Chaya Horwitz Turin

Reb Tzvi Ahronovitz

 

From my memory as a child I can envision a visit with my grandfather Reb Tzvi Ahronovitz of blessed memory and my grandmother Shaina Cheisaha of blessed memory. We traveled from the city of Baranovichi to the village of Sirotva next to Maytchet. We were welcomed at the railroad station in Maytchet with a horse and wagon. While my mother and her five children were in the wagon we could not wait to see the faces of our grandmother and grandfather.

We came for the holidays. It was late in the afternoon and we came to the place where they were excitedly waiting for us. Here they were, our grandfather with his beard and strong body like a farm worker. He joyfully welcomed us and took us into his house. And right in the entrance of my grandfather 's house we see a few Jews eating and drinking. We ask, "who is in the next room." Our grandfather explained to us that it is a mitzvah to help the poor and we have to do it all year round, not only on Purim. And he did this mitzvah not only in theory but also in practice. And this is

[Page 246]

what the rabbi in the cheder in the city taught the students in addition to learning the Torah. And here we see our grandfather performing the mitzvah in the full meaning of the word, as our forefather Abraham did. In his house he provides two rooms, one is for prayer. I remember how happy my grandfather was to have prayer in his house. We grandchildren always remember how joyful it was in the house of our grandfather at holiday time.

Grandfather was a misnagid. He likes to learn the Torah and it was deep in his heart. And the love of Eretz Yisrael, our nation of Israel, the Torah of Israel was embedded in his blood. He would always tell us that Eretz Yisrael was a very far place. Every child from childhood should wish that one of his days he will be able to live there. And we saw in his fact the sadness that he could not fulfill this. But he merited at least to see his daughter, my dear mother, with her children emigrate to Eretz Yisrael and this made him very happy. To watch her pack all her belongings and accompany her to the train to make aliyah to the Holy Land, I don't ever remember seeing a happier face. His love for Jews was unbounded. I think he fulfilled the saying of Rabbi Akivah that you should love your neighbor as yourself. Whenever he could help someone, it would make him very happy to do that. His love and learning of the Torah was unbounded.

His sons were sent to the Yeshiva to study Torah and the daughters married learned men. And my grandmother, she should rest in peace, she went to yeshivas to find for her daughters the best husbands. And nothing was spared to accomplish this task. This was the only house that all the daughters were married to scholars. Their daughter Michlah married one of the greatest scholars known as "The grandfather of Novogrudok." When he died she married again to the Rabbi from Dabrowice. The daughter Channa married Aaron Pinchuck and he was the head of the Yeshiva in Kletsk.

The daughter, Zipora, married a Rosh Yeshiva from Novogrudok. And the youngest son remained in the house to help all of them with their families. They all perished in the Holocaust. Another son, Rabbi Pesach Aronovitch was able to go to South Africa before the war. There he started a family and studied Torah. He passed away a number of years ago in Johannesburg from a heart attack.

Our mother Fruma Bracha, may she long live, she married our father Yitzchak Aaron Ha Levi Horowitz and he was a descendant of the Shiloh Kadosh. He was an important Chassid from Slonim. In Eretz Yisrael he whole-heartedly engaged in public works until the day of his death. He was an overseer of giving poor people loans interest free and he died the 4th day of Av 5729 in Kfar Saba, Israel.

[Page 247]

Some relatives of our dear mother also emigrated before the Holocaust. We children, who emigrated to Eretz Yisrael in the year 5694, were raised in the secular environment that permeated Kfar Saba. Nevertheless through the influence of our parents, we and our parent's grandchildren remained religious and followed the laws of the Torah. We had love for Eretz Yisrael and some of us served in the underground and the army. For the

Love of the land for our fellow Jews we served in the army and the underground. There is no doubt in my mind that through the influence of my parents and with G-d's help that the Torah should never cease from the lips of our children and descendants.

Yakov Horowitz
One of the grandchildren

 


[Page 248]

Reb David-Hershel Novomiski and his family

by Sara Aharonovsky

Translated by Jerrold Landau

Reb David-Hershel the son of Reb Leib, a splendid branch on the Novomiski family tree, was a scholarly Jew, a Hassid, and well educated. He would get up every night for chatzot[1], immerse in a mikva [ritual bath] prior to the prayers, etc. Since he excelled with his exceptional intelligence and his expertise in worldly affairs, the rabbi would include him in rabbinical judgments among disputing merchants. He would come himself before the rabbi with great modesty in order to avert a summons from the beadle, which would have an element of presumptuous.

He was a third generation, famous mohel [ritual circumcisor]. This was a holy tradition of service that he had received from his father and grandfather. He ran a leather goods store, from which he sustained his large family with comfort. As a maskil, he took an interest in modern sciences, especially physics. It was said that when he was lying on his sickbed, he debated a physical law regarding when ice would float on water. He managed to prove his point on the basis of words of Torah.

His wife Nechama-Dvora was known in town as a righteous woman, who was the helpmate of her husband in acts of charity and benevolence, in running a Jewish home immersed in Torah and tradition, and in educating her children to Torah and commandments in the best tradition of the Novomiski family, whose name was known in a praiseworthy fashion in Maytchet and other places. She died in 1918 of the typhus epidemic ,which spread after the First World War.

Reb-David Hershel and Nechama-Dvora had many children. They raised a righteous generation of seven children - five sons, and two daughters. They are as follows:

Avraham-Yosef was the eldest son, who was ordained as a rabbi at the age of 18. He studied shechita [ritual slaughter] and immigrated to Argentina. He raised a family there and works as a shochet. He visited Israel in 1965.

Meirim-Max is a journalist who also immigrated to Argentina. He visited his sister in Kfar Azor, Israel in 1966.

Yehoshua is a confectionary merchant who immigrated to Argentina, where he established his household and family.

Meir received a national Hebrew education in the Tarbut School. He lives in Argentina.

[Page 249]

Pua (Poya) studied in the Tarbut School and married a refugee from Germany. She perished in the Holocaust with her husband and their two children Chana and Feitel, along with our father and his second wife Esther-Rachel.

 

Pua (Poya) Novomiski

 

Sara is the writer of these lines in memory of her family. She married Aryeh Aharonovsky who came from Eretz Yisrael to visit his family in Mir. There, they met, got married in father's house, and traveled to Eretz Yisrael in 1935. They are among the first who settled the land in Kfar Azar. They established a home and ran a farm. They have a son and a daughter.

Sara Aharonovsky (nee Novomiski).

Translator's footnote

  1. Tikkun Chatzot is an optional, private prayer service recited at midnight by especially pious people, in commemoration of the destruction of the Temple. Return

[Page 250]

Sheine Rachel Simkof-Bader

by Moshe Zinovits

Translated by Roslyn Sherman Greenberg

A Maytchet-American Jewish Writer

Sheine Rachel was born on September 18, 1899 in the town of Maytchet which is in the Province of Grodno in Russia/Poland. Her father was a teacher and her mother ran a cheder for small children. Until the age of nine she learned from her mother and after her mother's death, she studied to be a seamstress and was raised by relatives.

At the age of 17 she joined her brothers and sisters in America, where she worked days in a shop and at night she studied further in school. In her early years she wrote songs and short stories, but her works were not published until 1925 in the “Free Workers Voice,” New York. She authored a succession of pieces that were staged in Yiddish theaters in various countries since 1916.

Through the years she published songs, childrens' stories, in America in the following publications: “Free Workers Voice”, “Yiddish Day Page”, “The Day”, “Morning Journal”, “Forward”, “The Future”, “The American”, “Childrens' Newspaper”, “Childrens' Journal”, “New Yorker Weekly”, and others in New York; “The Yiddish World”, Philadelphia; “The Yiddish Courier”, Chicago; ” Canadian Eagle,” Montreal; “The Yiddish Journal” Toronto, as well as in the Yiddish newspapers in South America.

In book form were printed: “In the Struggle of Life”, two volumes of stories with a prologue by Gershon Bader. Volume I, New York, 1943, 253 pp.; Volume 2, 1949, 287 pp. With reviews by S. Niger, Z. Shniourk M Vities, A. L. Baron, A Almi and Abraham Reisen. Of her 25 plays the following were performed on the stage: “Victims of Love” (1916); “A Name after my Mother” (1918); “Open Your Eyes” (1920); “Before the Wedding” (1924); “Secrets from Every House” (1926); “For Parents' Mind” (1927); “Girl of my Heart” (1930); “Why Girls Run Away” (staged by Ludwig Zatz in 1932); “Hello, Molly” (staged by Molly Picon

[Page 251]

in Argentina in 1932); “The Lucky Widower” (1964) performed in Israel. Ready to be published now are two volumes of prose, titled “My Life in the Theater.”

Until 1930 she worked in a dress shop. Later she supported herself through her plays that had been performed. She lived in New York. Her husband was Gershon Bader. Her descriptions of her childhood are fraught with idealism and with drama. (S. Niger) “She portrays her old poor home faithfully and honestly.” (Abraham Reisen). For a rich bibliography, see : Lexicon of the New Yiddish Literature, sixth volume, New York, 1965.

 

Maytchet Zionist Association

From top right: Wolf Rabinovitz, Chana Berman, Golda (Rabbi Belski's daughter), Moshe Leberman
Second row: Yaakov Ginzburg, David the son-in-law of the shochet, Baruch Roses (Razovski)
Sitting: David Volinski, Noach Goldstein

 


[Page 252]

The Polonsky-Edlin Family

By Tova Polonsky Shomroni

Translated by Amir Shomroni

My family has deep roots in Maytchet for many generations. My paternal grandmother Libe is the oldest member of my family that I can recall. She was blessed with many children and unfortunately became a widow at a comparatively young age. Only two of her many children remained in Maytchet; my father Avraham Polonsky and his sister Sara Melnikovsky; the remainder of the children emigrated to the New World. Their descendants have integrated themselves into the new life in America and in the summer of 1966 I visited them in their homes.

My father Avraham Polonsky was attracted to Mushe Edlin and not long after their meeting, they married. My mother Mushe was the daughter of Hinde and David Edlin, my maternal grandparents. My grandfather was a committed Jew and and a Torah scholar. From my birth both my maternal grandparents sheltered me and were intimately involved in my early upbringing offering wise consul. In my early years we lived together with them and although I do not remember exactly how long, I do remember I was attending school. My younger brother Pesach had difficulties distinguishing between an Aleph and a Bet when he started school and my grandfather would belittle him as he watched me trying to help him learn. Comments from my grandfather such as “Er hot a farshtopte kop, zi haut a kop” (he is thick headed and she has a good head). My memories of my maternal grandparents are vague because they unfortunately passed away when I was a child. My paternal grandmother Libe Polonsky lived a longer life and I was a married woman when she passed away.

The relationship between my immediate family and my aunts and uncles on both sides were strong. My maternal grandparents, Hinde and David Edlin, had seven children; four girls and three boys. Haya Perl, Sara Malke,, Hana Ida, my mother Mushe, Haim Yehoshua, Avraham Yitzhak and Yehuda (Yudil). My aunt Haya Perl emigrated to the U.S.A. and married Margolis. My aunt Hana Ida married Yehoshua (Yoshe) Polonsky who was my paternal uncle. They prospered in the U.S.A. and I am in close contact with their descendants. My aunt Sara Malka got married in Tiktin. Their son Yehezkel and daughter Shoshana live with their families in Israel near us; their other daughter live in the U.S.A. My uncle Haim Yehoshua settled in a shtetl near Warsaw. My uncle Yehuda (Yudel) emigrated to the U.S.A.

My uncle Avraham Yitzhak's journey from Maytchet was more twisted and he ended up living in Glasgow, Scotland where he became actively involved in the Jewish community.

[Page 253]

When I was a student at the Teacher's Seminary I lost contact with him and he died in 1930. 40 years later, with much research, my youngest son Amir succeeded in locating all of my uncle's six descendants, their children and grandchildren. They were living in the British Isles in various cities, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Manchester. I only had vague knowledge about them and they knew nothing about me. I was thrilled to discover first cousins and they were no less excited to find me, a cousin living in Israel!

 

 
Avraham-Abba and his wife Mushe Polonsky

 

My father and mother were the loving parents of seven boys and girls. Their first born was my elder sister Freidl. While she was still in diapers, my brother Moshe Haim was born. Not too long after his birth, the cries of my brother Yehezkel filled their home. It did not take long for my parents to be blessed once again with my birth and they named me Tova. Along came another brother, Pesach followed by my youngest sister Peshe and then David who was the last child to be born. In our house on Beit Olam Gass (the Cemetery Road) all seven of the children, mom, dad, grandma and grandpa Edlin and later on my grandma Libe.

In 1928 I was studying in Vilnius where I had completed my first year of studies in the Dr. Tcherno Hebrew Teacher's Seminary. I received the news of my father's death and returned to Maytchet. My mother was left a widow with four children who were still living at home. My older sister Freidl had already married

[Page 254]

and my brother Moshe Haim was living in Argentina. Because of difficult circumstances at home it was agreed that my brother Pesach would emigrate to Argentina to join Moshe Haim. I would return to Vilnius to complete my studies and Peshe and David would remain at home with our mother. For some unknown reason Pesach's departure to Argentina was delayed and the ship he was supposed to be on sunk in the Atlantic Ocean. He eventually made his way to Argentina, married and raised a family. In 1965, after many years of separation, we had a reunion in Israel; two years later I visited the family in Argentina.

After my father's death life was very difficult for my mother. I completed my studies in Vilnius and in 1936 I made aliyah to British Mandate Palestine with my late husband Yehoshua Shomroni (of blessed memory). Our son Shmulik was born in 1939 and when he was 6 months old, at the request of my mother, I mailed her some of his curls and tiny cut fingernails. After the war our neighbor in Maytchet, Freidl Margolin, who now lives in Kibbutz Negba in Israel, told me that my mother died from a disease and was buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Maytchet. I never will know if my mother received the package I sent her.

Yehezkel and his wife Menuha (nee Mordokovich), and their daughters, Esther, Sarah., Dvora, Freidel and her husband Israel Moshe Izralevich, Reizelle and Asnale, their daughters and their son Issar, Peshe and her husband and my brother David who was still a young boy, were all murdered, holy and pure. May the Lord revenge their blood.

Oh Maytchet, a little piece of land, forgotten by G-d, on the highway between Baranovichy and Lida, in between the windings of the Molchadka River and the Blotes (Swamps). A shtetl bustling with Jewish life and activities; what has remained of you? A foaming grave in the “Chaboynik” or perhaps only a holy memory that urges us to praise you on the leaves of the Memorial Book.

Tova Shomroni (Polonsky)

 

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