.Russian school and the Polish gymnazia which were established during German rule, as were the two Jewish cultural schools, and were under government control. The parties continued to exist. The Bund and Poalei Zion, which supported the new situation, participated in the government institutions and mobilized their members into the militia. The Tze'irei Zion [Zion Youth] managed their organizational and cultural activities and were satisfied with administering the Folks Shul [Hebrew Cultural School] and library. However, in general, community life was basically paralyzed.
The Soviet authorities didn't have sufficient resources to finance their
activities in town, and therefore imposed a kind of "contribution", a special
tax on the bourgeoisie. This was administered in an original way: one morning
the Cheka (the secret police) arrested a few dozen merchants. They
were asked to pay a special tax amounting to a few thousand zlotys.
The merchants didn't take the decree seriously, and sat down together, prayed together in a minyan, and even started laughing at the new administrators who they said couldn't even sign their names correctly and didn't know how to manage a city. The arrested merchants were guarded by the militia members of the Jewish parties and they were permitted to visit their relatives. After keeping them in custody for a week or so, the merchants paid the tax and the Jews were overjoyed.
In the meantime, the Polish army started chasing the Bolshevik forces back to Russia. The Poles in Nyesvich, who were quite numerous, heard that the Polish forces were approaching the town, and started organizing their own forces to assist the Polish army to liberate the town. A group of armed Poles took over the town council [Soviet], and in the struggle two militia members died: the communist Tatur and Catriel Greenblatt of Poalei Zion. The rebels immediately took over all Soviet institutions in town. The Soviet authorities escaped from Nyesvich to the Horodzy [City] train station. From there they got in touch with Minsk. To their great disappointment they found out that the Polish army was actually far from the city. The next evening the Red Army recaptured Nyesvich. The Russians began to arrest Poles, five of whom were shot. The Jewish community was almost untouched by the events.
At the end of the summer, the battles intensified and in October 1919 the Polish army marched into town.
Under Polish Rule (1919-1920)
The Polish takeover of town took place peacefully. Along with the Soviet army, whoever worked under their administration departed together with them. The Polish authorities put themselves in place and were tolerant to the Jewish community. There were a few incidents where the police didn't control anti-Semitism. In their opinion, the Poles considered all Jews to be Bolsheviks. There were occasions when the Jewish community suffered from the hallertshikas and poznanchikas (military units headed by General Haller and Poles originating from the Posnan region). The hallertschikas would cut off beards of Jews.
After administrative order was restored, business started functioning
again, which improved the economic situation, even though many members
of the community were in need of assistance. Links with the United States
were restored and many residents received assistance from there. International
aid organizations also worked in town and set up a soup kitchen for needy
children who would receive a glass of cocoa from conserved milk and cooked food. A number of Zionist activists came to Nyesvich: Yoel Rozovsky, Baruch Shmushkovich, Dov (Boris) Meisel, Aharon Goldin, Pinchas Bumstein and
Binyamin Eisenbod. Religious volunteers were also active: R. Yerachmiel Bergman, Moshe Lachavitsky, Mordechai David Alperovich, Shmuel Kravets and others.
The left-wing parties, such as the Bund and Poalei Zion, cut back their
activity because many of their active members left for Russia. Those who
remained got involved in the activity of the Jewish Cultural School. Among
the activists it's worth mentioning Leibel Eisenbod, Moshe Arke Shkolnik,
Avraham Eliyahu Lieberman and Golda Halperin. The Tse'irei Zion continued
their activity and continued running the library and the Tchlenov Hebrew school. Among their active members were: Binyamin Eisenbod, Moshe Melnick, Zalman Shifres, Moshe Rabinovich, Binyamin Yevelevsky (Yoely), Avraham Tsudik, Elisheva Kaplan-Eshkol, Moshe Steinhaus (Ben-Artzi), Lippa Brevda (Levi Ben-Amitai), Shmuel Eisenstadt, Yaakov Andrusyor, Aharon Heller and others.
The Jewish Community Council was established at that time, and was the
central body that dealt with the community, cultural and social issues,
and had a significant impact on the Jews in town. The Community Council
also represented the Jewish community in dealings with the Polish authorities,
and supervised the work of the Zionist activists whose activity in Nyesvich
was greatly respected.
At the end of 1919, an election committee was created that included representatives from ideologies, and democratic elections were held at the beginning of 1920. The following groups participated in the elections: General Zionists, Ze'irei Zion, Poalei Zedek, Tiferet Bachurim, Mizrachi, and the congregants of various synagogues. Only the "Left," who were affiliated with the Folks Shul didn't participate in the elections.
Twenty-three members were elected to the Community Council: Yoel Rozovsky, Boris Meisel and Baruch Shmushkovich from from the General Zionists; Binyamin Eisenbod, Rabinovich, Shifres, Yevelevsky (Yoely) from Tse'irei Zion; Bumstein and Alperovich from Poalei Zedek; Rabbi Yerachmiel Burgman from the Old Synagogue; Rabbi Yitzchak Davidovich from Mizrachi; R. Yochanan Molovitsky, who later became rabbi in Lachavits, from the Chassidic synagogue; Aharon Goldin and Mendelevich from the merchants; Yehoshua Bashinevich from Tiferet Bachurim, and others.
At the first meeting, Yoel Rozovsky was elected chairman, and a presidium [executive council] was established, as was a charity committee, a finance committee and an audit committee. The Jews showed interest in community meetings. The minutes of the meetings and bookkeeping were written in Hebrew.
The community supervised and maintained the social and educational institutions
in town: the Talmud Torah, the public bath, the Guest House, funds for
communal religious purposes, the charity fund, the burial society and community
outhouses. The council imposed a special tax the Jewish residents had to
pay. The community also remained in contact with immigrants in America
and requested assistance from them. Nyesvich immigrants in New York sent
two of their representatives, Dr. Mogalensky
and Landau, to Nyesvich with financial assistance for the various institutions.
The events in Eretz Yisrael, the battle in Tel Hai and the pogrom in
Jerusalem during Passover 1920, gave an impetus to the Tse'irei Zion movement
to organize a group of pioneers to emigrate there. The aliyah committee
was affiliated with the regional committee in Minsk. The Nyesvich members
were: Hirsh Nota Eisenbod, an old Zionist who had visited Eretz Yisrael
before the First World War, Yoel Rozovsky, Binyamin Eisenbod, Zalman Shifres,
Binyamin Yevelevsky (Yoely) and Moshe Steinhaus
(Ben-Arzi). The pioneers decided to emigrate before the city fell to the Soviets. The following pioneers actually emigrated: Sarah Leah Angelevich, Shraga Feivel Levin, Moshe Menker, Shaul Meckler, Yosef Sirotta, Mordechai Krepach, Yosef Kirszner, Meir Shabbat, Moshe Steinhaus (Ben-Arzi), Zalman Shifres, Elisheva Kaplan-Eshkol, Lippa Brevda (Levi
Under the brief Soviet rule (1920)
When the Poles started to leave Nyesvich because of the oncoming Soviet army, the Jews began to face awful times. Their businesses were robbed and women had their jewelry stolen. In addition, other horrid acts were committed by the soldiers of the Polish army. Eliyahu Kirzner was killed when he was shot by Polish soldiers as he protested their robbery.
Thanks to the intervention of the chairman of the community, R. Yoel Rozovsky, who had put himself in danger when he appealed to the Polish gendarmerie for help at the most critical moment, some huge tragedies were prevented.
Therefore, the Jewish community was overjoyed when the Soviet army marched
into town and treated everyone with respect. At that time a revolutionary
committee was created in town and became involved in town affairs. Various
individuals became involved as officials in social affairs, regardless
of their party affiliation. Members of the left-wing parties such as the
and Poalei Zion assumed responsible positions. At that time, the Communist Party was being organized, and attracted many Jewish members.
At the time a general mobilization was announced, many Jews were mobilized into the Red Army. A state of military preparedness was declared in town and a night curfew was imposed. The economic situation deteriorated and businesses were empty. Farmers didn't bring any produce into town.
All schools approving of the new regime were able to provide normal classroom studies. The Hebrew school was turned into a Yiddish one, and community and Zionist activity was discontinued. The communist youth organization, Komsomol, was established in town and opened an unsavory social club furnished with furniture from Radziwill's castle. That club attracted many Jewish youth who wanted to spend their time there and read newspapers.
Soviet rule in Nyesvich didn't last long. The Soviet retreat from the Vistula resulted in the surrender of Nyesvich by the Bolsheviks.
The chairman of the Jewish community
R. Yoel Rozovsky
Independent Poland (1920-1939)
The Jewish community had mixed feelings about the independence of Poland. On one hand, they hoped that the economic and social situation would improve, however, on the other hand, they feared anti-semitic outbreaks by the Poles, who were well-known for their hatred of Jews. Thanks to chairman of the community, Yoel Rozovsky, the situation of the Jews in Nyesvich was relatively good, because he knew how to develop relationships with the ruling regime and soften its dealings with the Jews.
The Community Council was connected to the.....
[end of page 293]
DOCUMENTS TELL THE STORY
Hebrew Kindergarten in Nyesvich named after Chaim Nachman Bialik. A celebration was held in honor of the opening of the Chaim N. Bialik
Hebrew Kindergarten. The kindergarten was established thanks to the active involvement of WIZO, which during its entire existence has always been seen at the forefront. The example should be followed in other towns as well.
A. Mutter (Heint newspaper, 1934, no. 218, 17th Tishrei 1934).
The kindergarten in Nyesvich with the teacher,
Yamima Angelovich (Left, below).
Above right: Chiuta Blatchinsky from the Land of Israel during her visit to Nyesvich.
Regional Conference of the Tarbut teachers in Nyesvich
At the initiative of the central committee of Tarbut [Culture], there will be a regional conference of the Tarbut teachers held on Shabbat and Sunday, the 13th and 14th of this month in Nyesvich, with the participation of the Tarbut visitor, Mr. Avraham Einstein. At the conference participants will include the school and teachers of the schools in Baranovich, Horodzy, Lachovits, Malzads, Nyesvich, Stolptsy, and Kletsk. The conference mainly will deal with issues relating to Hebrew studies and organizational problems of the Tarbut movement. During the conference, there will also be practical lectures at the Nyesvich school that will provide the basis for the discussions of the participants.
(Moment, Warsaw, 2/14/1937)
Nyesvich Hebrew Community Council
February 23, 1926
To Mr. Eisenstadt
In Petach Tikvah
I very much wanted to write you, my dear friend, but I didn't have a chance. And if I am do not deserve to call you friend, then at least "my dear one"! I read your wonderful letter with great excitement. First of all, because it was written in the land of my hopes, and second of all, and this is the main thing, that it was written in clear, living Hebrew, and in detail, and also because it contains information about the "wild" children, who are called pioneers. What can I say, and what I tell? I am beginning to believe all the old wives' tales about the 36 righteous men, that an angel came each night to each of the righteous men and taught them 70 languages on one foot! You must have learned the language so beautifully and yet so simply at night! Maybe [letter ends here]
A letter from Rabbi Yoel Rozovsky, the chairman of the Nyesvich community,
to Shmuel Eisenstadt in the Land of Israel.
[continues on page 308]
Fundraising for the Refugees from Germany (42nd List) Nyesvich: At the initiative of the chairman of the Jewish community, Mr. Yoel Rozovsky, a large fundraising meeting of the representatives of local businessmen, political organizations, etc. was announced. An Aid Committee was selected and was made up of the following members: Chairman - Mr. Yoel Razovsky; Vice-Chairman, Rabbi Isaac Rabinovich.
Members: Mrs. Frumma, Benharav [Son of Rabbi or just a name] Segal,
Dr. Yaakov Ginsberg, Dr. Binyamin Eisenbod, Dr. Nachman Kagan, Dr. Eliyahu Zecharyavich, Dr. Yeshayahu Kessel, Yosef Vasilevsky and Meir Tennenbaum. The following persons made contributions:
Dr. Yaakov Ginsberg, Dr. Nachman Cohen, Shlomo Greenwald, Shmuel Neifeld, Moshe Shereshevsky,
Yosef Cohen - 20 zlotys.
S. Itskovsky, M. Slonimsky,
T. Skokolsky - 18 zlotys. Tarbut Hebrew Culture School teachers - 16.5 zlotys.
Dr. B. Eisenbod, S. L. Danielovich, Dr. E. Zecharyavich, the Charlap brothers, Y. D. Levin, Attorney M. Messita, Dr. S. Kessel, A. Kaufman, L. Kaufman - 15 zlotys.
Y. Vasilevsky, R. Svidsky, the Farfel brothers - 12 zlotys.
Mrs. H. Baumstein, A. Glass, Mrs. Kreina Meisel, Avraham Yitzchak Malyer, Y. Nun, Leib Kaufman, A. B. Katzanovsky, Hirsh Rodstein, Wolf Schwartz - 10 zlotys.
David Altman (and son-in-law), S. Albensky, Baruch Ardzyansky, Wolf Gorion, Ber Gurwitz, Binyamin Gurwitz, M. Donyetz, Yisrael Weingrad, Yaakov Waxberg, N. Zaturensky, David Charlap, Shmuel (Ben-Aharon), David Lipovsky, Avraham Lipovsky, Mrs. Chana Lifshitz, Mordechai Mendelowitz, Leib Enstein, Aharon Zinman, Shmuel Kletzkin,
Pesach Schwed - 6 zlotys.
Aharon Leib Angelowitz, Mrs. Rachel Eisenstadt, anonymous, M. M. Bashinkewitz, Shlomo Goldberg, Chanan Goldin, Chanan Greenwald, Yaakov Yereshevitz, Moshe Lusky, Aharon Landau, Mrs. Sarah Molovska, Isser Meritsky, Yosef Svirschek, Yerachmiel Soltan, Yitzchak Sragovitz, Moshe Fayaness, Hirsh Kalmanovitz, Miss Rachel Shriftzetser - 5 zlotys.
[Bottom of handwritten letter:] Request for a loan from the Jewish
Cooperative National Bank dated 8/20/1925 signed by L. Werzel.
Menachem Polliak, Shmuel Perlman, Aharon Zitterman, Mrs. Hinda Kaufman, Hirsh Klitienick, Yisrael Kabrinsky, Yoel Rozovsky - 4.5 zlotys.
Mrs. Fruma Eisenbod, Reuven Bliatsinsky, Mrs. Golda Kilievitz - 4 zlotys.
David Aginsky, Yosef Isaacov, Yosef David Alperin, Meir Alpert, Yosef Bliacher, Avraham Bratkovsky, Mordechai Gurwitz, David Gabrelyov, Shlomo Gabrelyov, Yehoshua Meir Goldberg, Yaakov Dovavsky, Yitzchak Heisenblazen,
Yechiel Hungeriker, Yosef Witzig, Brother [sic], Leib Zmudchak, Naftali Chayutin, Abba Tennenbaum, Avraham Turtsin, Yeshayahu Tarn, Yaakov Levkovitz, Yosef Lipkovsky, Mordechai Lekech, Mrs. Bracha Rivka Landau, Michel Leit, Lippa Yerenberg, Yerachmiel Malyavsky, Yaakov Selibovsky, Mrs. Tsesha Svershtsik, Mrs. Tsira Pollack, Morris Pentsovsky, Yitzchak Farber, Yitzchak Baruch Tsechanovitz, David Koliesh, Kiel-Sorovitz [sic], Yehoshua Kravitz, Eliezer Katzanovitz,
E. Rozovsky, Zelig Remez, Moshe Aharon Shkolnick, Mrs. Ch. Spielberg, Hirsh Shklyar, M. Lyachovsky, Chaim Zvi
Rabinowitz - 8 zlotys.
Leib Hertz Davidovsky - 2.5 zlotys.
Mrs. Chana Alpert, Leib Eisenbod, Yosef Izraelite, Mrs. Itka Berkovitz, Mordechai Beneroff, Chaim Brock, S. Gabrelov, Leib Gelfand, Charny [sic], Mendel Tennenbaum, David Lemud, Notta Livshitz, Yaakov Leit, David Meir Lubetsky, Aharon Eliyahu Margolin, Yaakov Mendelowitz, Mordechai Menker, Beinish Mandel, Hertz Sragowitz, Yitzchak Sragowitz, Avraham Svirshtsik, Yisrael Sirkoy, Dvozsha Svirshtsik, Yitzchak Pialka, Moshe Frank, Avraham Pomerantz, Yitzchak Kreps, Sarah Kravetz Dunsky, Mrs. Bracha Steinhaus, Wolf [sic], Shmuel Kravitz, Chaim Remez, Mrs. Z. Roshuster, A. Puchovsky
and his son Yosef. - 2 zlotys.
Rabbi Isaac Rabinowitz, Yaakov Blyacher, Yaakov Blumess, Avraham Reitman, Shmuel Bergman, Yehoshua Bashenkevich, Koppel Berkowitz, Meir Ginsberg, Ozer Garfinkel, Moshe Gabrelyov, Yaakov Gass, Mrs. Zlata Deretsinsky, Moshe
Vinakur, Moshe Zuback, Shlomo Chalavsky, Koppel Turzin, Peitel Tsechenowitz, Mrs. R. Reinstein, Ber Shmerkowitz,
Chaim Shifres, Baruch Shapiro - 1 zloty.
Jewish National Fund Committee in Nyesvich Celebrations Album Dept.
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand wither
REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE No. 390
IN MEMORY OF HIS VISIT TO HIS HOMETOWN,
THE SUM OF 5 [currency covered by stamp] FOR OUR FUND.
[Stamp of the Keren Kayemet (JNF) and illegible signatures].
Registration certificate in the Celebrations Album in memory of Zvi
Potashnik's visit to his hometown dated Lag BaOmer, 1938 [May 19, 1938].
My first exposure to Nyesvich took the autumn of 1909 when I was called for military service in the 40th artillery brigade, which was stationed there. Since I knew Russian well, the commander of the artillery, Pestov Polkovnick, appointed me as a writer in his office. (At that time it was customary to appoint a Jew as a writer in army units).
My first meeting with Nyesvich Jews was in my official capacity. Polkovnick used to frequently send me to sign Goldin's accounts. The contractor Chalfin and his son-in-law, Zuber, used to come to the office also. They would get meat, grain, animal feed and other products for the brigade.
At that time I also became friendly with Mr. Eisenstadt and his wife, as well with the elderly Kaplan, who had a writing instruments business. I would but writing materials from him for the office.
Until today, I can still see the image of my wife's uncle, R. Bentshe Goldin. He was a devoted community leader in town. He was always concerned about the Nyesvich Jews. I remember the Passover seders he used to arrange for the Jewish soldiers in his brother Feive Goldin's woodshed. Once he even invited Supreme Commander General Romanovsky from Minsk to the seder. At that seder a Jewish soldier greeted everyone in Russian on behalf of the Jewish soldiers. The general gave him a kiss on the forehead. The next day the Russian newspapers gave extended coverage to the participation of General Romanovsky at the Passover seder, and called him "the Jewish general."
Using my position as a writer in the offices, I would do favors for the Jewish soldiers. I would assume responsibility for releasing them for the Jewish holidays, and Jewish soldiers would thank me for the release papers which enabled them to enjoy the holidays with the householders of Nyesvich.
In 1917, during the Bolshevik Revolution, I was chosen for revolutionary
[end of text on page 348]
Jewish soldiers from the 27th cavalry regiment invited
for Passover in
1925 with Tiferet Bachurim, headed by the rabbi of the town, Rabbi
Yerachmiel Burgman and Community Head, R. Yoel Rozovsky.
First Row (right to left):
Zalman Shifres, Chaim Berzin, Leibe Farfel,
Yehoshua Kravetz, Mordecai Mendelvich, Yoel Rozovsky, Rabbi Yerachmiel
Burgman, Lieutenant Yisrael Horngrick, ..Zaretsky, Yosef Lipovsky,
Yehoshua Beshinkevitz, Yehuda Gavrielov, Michael Kuritsky.
Second Row, first on right: Yaakov Blumess, far end ..
Third Row, first onright: Yisrael Beshinkevitz, far end: Feivel Zeitz.
(Photo: Moshe Fayaness)
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