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[Page 123]

Images of Yampoller Society

by Ezriel Goren

Chapter one

It is difficult to eulogise a friend and a relative but it is much more difficult to eulogise a whole community that has painfully perished. It seems that they were all born here in the four or five parallel streets, all learned Aleph-Bet with the same Menashe Melamed (Menashe the Teacher), and still what a difference there was. Everyone had his own ways, his own feelings his own way of life. I feel that we must, at the least, erect a small monument for the dear little town with its four or five parallel streets, with the nice cold Shul, with the Prayer House, with the old Trisker Study House. We must issue a small memorial book, like the small town where we first saw G-d's world. A person's memory is weak. During his speedily passing life he sees so many places, meets such a large number of people, hears and survives so many events, that in the end he experiences such a mix of dreams and reality that it is very difficult for me to concentrate my thoughts on the true picture of my little town as it truly reflected in my young childhood soul.

The small houses were almost all built in the same style, nobody could see through the windows what was happening at his neighbor's. A high wall without windows separated one house from the other. The streets were aligned like strings on a violin. The houses were crowded, one next to the other, but every home was a private castle. If I want to describe individual types of the now dead and poor little town, I must refer to the prayer houses. My father was a member of the Trisker Synagogue. Childhood and boyhood impressions have remained in my memory, even though a little cloudy, but still deep enough to be able to be refreshed. At the first place among the stands at the East Wall corner of the South side, prayed Rabbi Shimele, a short thin Jew, always immersed in the Holy Book, who did not speak to anyone, was not even diverted for one minute from the prayer book or the reading of the Torah. In my youthful fantasy he used to appear like a disciple of Rov Liebush. In reality there was something similar between the two - a deep spirituality. Also, far from the everyday, there was something of a certain calm which was expressed in their faces.

When I now want to refresh my memory I can say that at the time the Rabbi's eyes were full of worry, even with a bit of pain. Reb Shimele's appearance always remained calm. I could even say a bit childish. Reb Shimele served G-d with great conviction, whatever he did was in G-d's name.

Chapter Two

Reb Israel Feivishes

Reb Israel was the Gemorra teacher but it was not only Gemorra that we learned in his Cheder but also Tanach and Rashi. We learned the Sedra for each week. I must truthfully say that the first year was taken up with getting used to the Rebbe's hoarse voice. Reb Israel had a very hoarse voice. We, the pupils, got the meaning of his explanations through the sheen of his big black eyes much more quickly than when his voice strolled through his atrophied throat and mouth. We surmised more than we understood. In the course of two or three years that we learned in his Cheder we managed to at least accumulate some ideas in Gemara, Tanach and Yiddishkeit.

At the gentile's New Year, when the study of Torah was forbidden, Reb Israel used to pull out the big drawer of the table, searched for and was able to find a yellowed sheet of paper, written on both sides, and read through the biography of “that person.”[*7]

His oldest son, Reb Itzi, so went the rumor among the pupils, lost his mind from deep and prolonged study and ended his life tragically. Reb Israel had pleasure only from his son Ben-Zion and his daughter Rachel, a girl with two beautiful eyes and a thick braid. On the eve of Passover, when the Rebbe reviewed the Song of Songs with us, many of us looked with longing at Rachel, the Rebbe's daughter, when she ran through the Cheder.

Reb Israel also led the worship service from the pulpit. On the Days of Awe, he used to participate in the “King Sat on His Throne” [*8] I will never forget his rapidly rising from the table in the Trisker Synagogue with the traditional chant of the Days of Awe, strolling and singing the whole way until he reached the pulpit. He, himself, could hardly make a living but on the Sabbath or before a Holiday, he used to collect from the more affluent citizens their contributions for all the poor families.

While speaking of the Yampoller teachers, I must add something about Reb Yosel Berishes' Cheder. I attended his Cheder to listen to his singing on Holidays, especially on Simchat Torah. I still sing his Gentile-Chaddisic song: “Marku, Marku, Shah, Ti Robit Na Yarmake Ni Kupiuesh, Ni Turuish, Tilko Rubish.” The translation is clear: “Yid, Yid, what do you do and what do you buy at the market place? You do not buy, you do not sell, you only make fights at the market place.”

Yosel Berish had a hard life. His wife, Chasie, was a little weak in the head and the children ran off to the big cities but he took the pain with dignity. I must mention another teacher, Reb

Zinvill - a quiet, small Jew. unassuming, without much wisdom. He used to sit at a table with his pupils, holding forth, straining his heart, not sparing his strength, His wife, however, a big, heavy woman, a store keeper, pursued everything possible - she ran to the market place and tried to trade. With regard to his daughter, Udel, I do not know what happened to her.

Chapter Three

The Three Bigger Houses

At the west side of our town, near Tekhemlye, three nice houses stood out. In one big house lived the aristocratic Jewish family of Reb Michel Yaolam, a rich Jew, dressed in the European fashion. His children studied in the Gymnasium and in the Music Conservatory. He had the first place at the East Wall on the left side of the Sanctuary. We, the cheder boys, went wild when the family Yaolam used to go out with their own horses and coach and their own coachmen. I do not know much about this family. I only recall that the Rebbe Israel used to reproach us and show and point out Michel Yaolam's brother used to study music and eventually became a klezmer at weddings in the United States. Michel Yaolam's children left the town and settled in other countries.

The second house belonged to the second rich man, Reb Dovid Kertman, a rich Jew who dressed in the European fashion, had his own horses and coachmen, a big house made of red bricks and a big stable for horses, coachmen and coach. He did business with the wealthy Polish gentry and was friendly with Graf L. In his home the Maskilim [enlightened people] of the town used to gather, played cards quite often and occasionally drank alcoholic beverages. His wife, from a big city, never left the house to go outdoors and disdained the other Jewish women.

The third house belonged to Berish Boruch's (or Berish Kniff's.) About this Trisker Chassid it can be said: “Whoever honors his wife also honors his children, his neighbors, all residents, as well as the people in the nearby towns that he visits.” This was a clever, quiet Jew, a Chassid only two or three levels below the Trisker Rabbi. His older children married well. His son, Itzik, studied without a teacher and knew French perfectly. He was also a good violinist His younger brother, Yudl, also played the violin. This was a very respectable and fine family. If I were to make a comparison between the two rich men, Berish Kniff and Dovid Kormman, I must note that Berish Boruch's was embraced by all the inhabitants of the town. He was, as it is said.[fulfilling his obligations] “To G-d and to people.”

Chapter Four

Reb Yisroel Shoichet

While talking about Chassidim, I must say something about Reb Yisroel Shoichet. Reb Yisroel Shoichet was a Staliner Chassid, a teacher, a pious man with a good talent for telling various Chassidic tales. Reb Yisroel also possessed a remarkable memory. He remembered all familial events of all the saintly and good men, starting with the Maggid [preacher] and ending with the youngest grandchild of the Staliner Rabbi.

I am reminded how on a holiday evening, a substantial group of Jews used to gather around him and even we boys used to 'lend an ear' to hear his remarkable stories as well as his personal memories about Rabbis, saints and Chassidim. His older son, Reb Lieb, from his first wife, would also join in after completing his studies. He learned Tanach with Ibn Ezra.

With his second wife, Fruma, I also remember the daughters, Chaya and Tzirl, who were ardent followers of Shneir and Dinezon's novels. Shneir novels, in those good times when every writer and critic poured angry criticism about Shneir novels, I must and will justify his novels and point out two positive sides of his writings; first, he taught Jewish daughters to read and second, he opened a wide window to the new rich country America, and that way helped the emigration of the small Jewish towns in Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine. At the end of the 19th century, the economic situation worsened from year to year and those grown Jewish girls began to influence their parents towards emigrating to America. A free, rich and secure life smiled at the avid young readers of Shneir novels. More than a Jubilee year passed by those youthful years when on holidays before evening prayer, a sizeable group of Jews dressed in their black holiday caftans, would surround Reb Yisroel and he with his sweet voice would tell of miracles, legends from the Ruziner Rabbi Yisroel or from the Staliner Rabbi with his royal court. We, a small group, would listen from the side to the beautiful stories until the very end.

Chapter Five

The Other People Who Prayed

The other people who prayed at the Trisker Synagogue have dried up and vanished from memory in the course of approximately sixty years and many times I stretch my memory and run through the occupants of these benches. East, south, west and north and the middle benches, on both sides of the platform - all occupied by rugged Jews, teachers and others. The picture reflected in my mind and my memory is hazy and overflowing, cloudy and full of despair.

I owe a debt and feel like erecting a small memorial on my father's grave: “Reb Boruch, son of David Garingut,” born in a village settled by German colonists not far from Lutsk. He studied Tanach and Talmud with a relative, a well-known teacher, in Baremel. Between the ages of 17 and 18 he married Pearl Yachtzes of Yampol, where he continued his studies. I did not fully understand him but my father's serious tone made a big impression on me, it evoked a spiritual thirst to understand and feel more deeply..

I recall one episode; my father and another of the students, as well a I (a young lad) walked together. The conversation and discussion was about two giants, Reb Eliezer Mitoar and Reb Yoshua. Reb Eliezer shouts, “The walls of the Prayer House will show who tells the truth.” Then Reb Eliezer calls out in a voice from above [akin to prophecy] which confirms Reb Eliezer's opinion. Reb Yoshua, however, is not fearful and says that some rabbis are against Reb Eliezer's judgement. My father, Reb Boruch, investigated and explained the miracles of Reb Eliezer as a mark of Reb Eliezer's strong belief in the true law according to his own judgement. My father, Reb Boruch, died and is buried in the old Haifa cemetery.

Chapter Six

Other Yampoller Types

Like a fresh spring wind that blows through G-d's world, here it shakes the trees as if it is whispering some secret to them: “Arise to do the Creator's work. Enough of shaking and fearing the raging winds and the cold snowy clouds.” Spring has come, the wind is still blowing and whispering a message to the sleeping peasant that it is time to harness the oxen, get out to the open field, plow the cold soil and hide the beautiful golden seeds in its lap. The refreshing wind, however, has its own laws. It does not blow wild and raging. It passes through quietly and calmly and only the tops of the taller branches, those who dared and stretched out to the sun in order to catch a ray of sun to see the world of light, those were the spiritually rich Jewish youth. This awakened Jewish youth from whom later developed the stormy thirst for cultural and national aspirations.

I catch a neighbor and ask a question: “How is it, for example, that Reb Doody Dayan got up and left for Israel at age 70 and set up a homestead and even bought a little house in the north?” How did it come to Reb Alter, a Maskil [intellectual] who always dressed well, with a big shiny forehead, who was into deep speculative thinking but also had golden hands for various delicate metal and wood work? I was told that in his last hours, he screamed from fever: “I need tools and instruments for my work.” He used to complain to me that his memory had weakened and insisted that he must review the Tanach and Rashi as this would remind him of his younger years and it might strengthen his memory.

How did young people appear, as for example Edel Becker, who used to come to the Synagogue on Saturday, put on his prayer shawl, and read through the Sedra of the week using his new pointer, and Motel Gasses who found it his responsibility to lead us to philosophy and ethics?

That is how Yampoller types were.


[Page 129]

Yampoller Holy Men

by Hershel Zuckerman

With G-d's help. Rosh Chodesh Sivan 5722 [1962], Chicago

Dear Mr. A.L. Gellman, Shalom!

Dear Friend, I received your letter while I was in the hospital. I first returned home last week, even now I lie in bed more than I walk and I find writing a little difficult. I am certainly in agreement with the idea of memorializing the memory of the Yampoller Holy Men, but regretfully I do not know how much I can contribute. I did not even know my own father well enough, which means that I simply did not have the power of observation to study his personality. Though two things, which are almost the same, made a special impression on me when I was quite young. They happened when we still lived in the house that belonged to Litman.

On Friday evening, just before nightfall, a telegram came from Ludmir saying that his 36 year old daughter had died. He removed his shoes and sat Shivah for a short while. He then put on his shoes and left for the Synagogue to pray. For the whole Sabbath 24-hour observance he did not show any sign of mourning. Only after Havdalah did he break out in heart-rending sobs.

Something similar occurred a few years later when a boy of eighteen died on Friday night. Early on Saturday morning, his sister Teme, who lived by Natan Melamed, came to the house sobbing. He did not let her into the house saying that it is forbidden to cry on the Sabbath. This is Jewish strength. This is almost everything I remember that has made a strong impression on me.

A scene I witnessed at Reb Osher Moishes' when he was my teacher. First, he was a miser and when the forever needy person Motl Gassus came to him to beg for a loan, no sooner did he say what he wanted than Reb Osher Moishes fell upon him with the worst expressions: “You imposter, you so-and-so, you have the nerve to come for more loans? You haven't even paid the last installment, get out of here!” Poor Motl got out meekly. As soon as Motl left the house, Reb Osher started to speak to himself: “Nu, what can he do? After all he is really a poor man and he has to support his wife and children, he must really have this loan, he has to buy goods at the marketplace.” Then he asked me to run and call Motl back. When Motl returned to the house Reb Osher started to lecture him and asked him to swear that this time he would pay him on time, and gave him the loan. Reb Osher's piety won over his miserliness.

Another scene that was impressed on my memory is of Reb Yisroel Feivishes. On one of the festive occasions, Reb Yisroel was a bit late in the Synagogue, drinking a L'chayim a few times until he started to see visions. In the meantime his son who was a groom to a Wishniever girl, came and asked him to come home because the Mechutan had come. The son was a bit unhappy with his father's appearance. Reb Yisroel noticed this and remarked to his son: “So you are ashamed of your father the Shikor? So let us see - choose any Tosaphot and I will tell you the Commentary.” That is how Yampoller teachers are - Reb Osher Moishes and Reb Yisroel Feivishes. My hand refuses to write more, so I will make this short. I thank you very much for your very much appreciated gift of the book.

Hershel Zuckerman

Shalom Dear Reb A.K. Gellman,

In this letter I will write about the Yampoller Reb Leibish Lerner. Leibish Lerner came to Yampol from Brody. He was one of the best students of Reb Shlomo Kluger, who is renowned as the Broder Maggid. Reb Leibish Lerner was not a great orator and I never heard him deliver a sermon for the people, not even Shabbath Shuva or Shabbath HaGadol. He was, however, considered by the Rabbis in the community to be a deep scholar. The Chassidim considered him to be a Kotsker Chassid. In his later years he was almost totally blind. I remember that when his son Meyer studied with him to become a Rabbi, I was then already participating in the slaughter and inspection ritual and I often studied in the Rabbi's house together with Meyer. We studied the laws pertaining to forbidden foods and other laws that local Rabbis had to know. We used to sit at the table and the Rabbi used to listen to how well we did and he relied on his memory. When we learned something that was incorrect, the Rabbi used to get angry: “Peasants, peasants, you are not learning correctly, there is a period!” As a matter of fact, the Rabbi's Meyer used to go with me to the slaughterhouse, especially when it was to slaughter non-kosher. In order to study the appropriate laws, he wanted to learn the practical applications not only the theoretical.

The Rabbi was not pleased with the politics that the Rebbetzen carried on with the help from the rich. He was helpless against them. This is all I can remember about the great and respectable Rabbi Leibush Lerner.

Now the week of Tammuz (June/July) is the memorial for Reb Yosef, or as he is known, the grandson of Rebbe Yi'vi, the founder of the Ostra Dynasty. His eternal place is on the New Yampoller cemetery. In the Chassidic world, Yampol was called “The Small Eretz Yisroel” because of the great men who rested in the Yampoller cemetery.

Many old Ostra Chassidim used to come to honor his memory on his memorial day. The day did not consist only of drinking. Among them was always the Charner Rabbi, Reb Itzi and his brother Reb Chaiml, the Kornitzer Rabbi, Simcha and Reb Aba Kominker, and sometimes also my uncle Reb Berl Klinger, and many others. Ours was the designated house. The schedule for the day was as follows: quite early everyone went for Tfilah and everyone studied his daily early morning lessons. Around nine o'clock we were together at the Ostra Synagogue for open prayers. After prayers, we went to the cemetery. We said various prayers until almost dusk and then came back to our house where a fine feast had been prepared. In order that it be called a true “Mitzvah Feast” a bottle of whiskey was put on the table, as well as the big Passover samovar. With every l'chayim an “ocean of Torah was spoken.” When we departed the bottle of whiskey was only half empty, but the scent of Torah was felt for many days afterwards.

With this I close writing my recollections because my doctor has forbidden me to write even a few lines. Heartfelt regards to Reuven and to all the friends who are participating in this holy work.

Comradely blessings

Hershel Zuckerman.

With G-d's help, Monday, [the week of the Torah reading of] Chukas, 5722 [1962], Chicago

Greetings my dear and important friend Mr. A.L. Gellman,

Dear Friend, you have given me a hard task. First to write and second to write about the honor and people in the town. But I have to fulfill your request. First of all there is a mistake about Yossele Bereshis as a partner to Israel Feivishes. It was not Yossele Bereshis but Reb Yossele Chasan who was Israel Feivishes' partner. They always went together and even studied together in Shul. They were called the dress with the undershirt. I will tell you a secret. The two friends studied together at midnight Nigla and Nistar [*9] It happened once that I was late in Shul and came home after midnight. I noticed a light in Yosele's Chasan's room. Out of curiosity I looked more closely and saw the two friends absorbed in study. Naturally I told my father, who has since passed away. It was no surprise to him but I had to promise my father not to reveal the secret. Naturally the circumstances are different now. I can be a witness that Reb Yossele Chasan, may he rest in peace, was constantly sitting and studying Torah except when he was scribing the Sefer Torah and a Torah he wrote with sacredness and purity. He was Rabbi Israel Feiwishes' partner. 'Woe to that which is lost and cannot be found.'

Yossele Bereshis, with whom I studied for two seasons, inaugurated the system of distributing “Uraken” [homework] when he returned from Odessa. From him I learned the Blessing of the Moon. Psalms Chapter 110 he knew by heart. Among the scholars was Rabbi Aaron - David Gasson's son-in-law. He was a learned scholar. When he was not teaching he traveled to the markets, going from one market to another and when he returned on Thursdays very tired, especially in the winter, his best relaxation was to come to the kloiz and learn with a young man for several hours.

From Rabbi Yankel Zalman I learned grammar. He was a learned scholar in the subject of grammar and very knowledgeable in the Bible. Even though he was a great scholar he was afraid to mention the words Tanach and Grammar in front of the Trisker Chassidim and their leader Rabbi Barash Knif. Only when the first rays of wisdom started to shine in the Yampol houses did he overcome his fear of the Trisker Chassidim.

Rabbi Eliyahu Weisstraub, the watchmaker, was very knowledgeable about Hebrew writings. He was a rare bible student, very humble and on top of it all, very poor. Being a regular guest in our home (when he was in Yampol) he once asked my father for advice. He was offered the position of Rabbi in Kaltschin(?) but he was afraid to take it because he did not know how to negotiate. I was not his pupil but we once studied the Torah reading of Haazim together for a few weeks and I have not forgotten it to this day.

A Butcher Was Reprimanded Because He Insulted the Slaughterer (Shochet)

The story was the following: There was a tradition in Yampol that both slaughterers used to go together for the Saturday [probably Saturday night]and Sunday slaughterings. Between them they used to divide the weeks. That is, when a butcher needed something slaughtered, whichever shochet was on that shift would take care of it. Once it happened that the butcher, Alter Avrahameles needed something slaughtered, and it happened to be AharonShmuel's week. Under the store where the animals were slaughtered - before there were slaughterhouses - there was a bathroom. Aharon Shmuel had to use the bathroom. The butcher's son, named Avraham Alter Avrameles, a really impudent and arrogant fellow, started banging on the floor, yelling “Shochet, go faster!” This really seemed funny to the onlookers. Aharon Shmuel did not hurry, and went down to the river to wash his hands.

When the young fellow took hold of the head of the animal, Aharon Shmuel put away the knife and struck the younger man a couple of times, and did not want to slaughter the animal. Alter Avrahameles, Avraham's father, went to get my father to do the slaughtering. When father asked him where Aharon Shmuel was, he started to stammer. Father could tell something was not right, and refused to go until Aharon Shmuel came over. When Aharon Shmuel arrived, he told him what had happened, and about the insults he suffered. Father still refused to slaughter until Alter and his son reconciled with Aharon Shmuel.

Instead of apologizing to Aharon Shmuel, they started to insult him even more. To make a long story short, three weeks went by when the butcher had nothing to sell. He then went to the Police Commissioner in town, who was unable to help him. Finally the butcher and his son had to go to the Ostra kloiz (small shul) in stockinged feet and in public be reproached. They finally apologized to Aharon Shmuel, who forgave them. This all happened around 1901 or 1902.

Hershel Zuckerman


[Page 134]

My Childhood Friend

by Aryeh Leib Gellman

And very, very great is the pain,
There was a man and they saw: he is no more,
Before his time did this man die,
And the song of his life stopped in the middle

by H.N.Bialik

I want to shed a few tears into the glass of sorrows filled by the sudden death of the friend of my youth, Horzshach, who emigrated to Argentina in 1920 and died suddenly in Buenos Aires on October 15th 1961.

It is difficult to come to terms with the idea the cruel death was so brutal as to rob us of the best, dearest and most ideal friend that we had. It is hard to think about it but sad reality slaps one in the face and reminds one constantly that the dear close friend, whom I met four years ago in Buenos Aires, is no longer among the living. The good learned friend Jacob Horzshach is dead.

We did not see each other for fifty years but we kept in close contact by writing. Despite my troubles I wrote to him from time to time and he, the good Yankel, answered much more often. In his letters, which unfortunately I did not keep, I always found valuable thoughts. I remember only a small part of them. His mind did not know any limitations. In the small chambers of his thought process unfolded wide horizons and wide thoughts which encompassed the entire world.

In one of his letters he wrote “Man has to be free, think freely. The brain is the highest authority of mankind. This is the greatest gift of man and nobody has the right to take it away from him.” For many years he was upset about our shtetl Yampol. Life in Buenos Aires obviously did not change him. He remained the introverted Yankel. He remained the man of the book. The same was as during our youth in Yampol, he was drawn back to “The Strong Hand” of RamBam. During my visit to Buenos Aires I had to promise him to send him the “The Strong Hand” His heart and his brain drew him to the old sufferings. I kept my promise. I sent him the gift but unfortunately death took him too soon, before he could enjoy the great books. In one of his letters he wrote to me: “I study “The Strong Hand” every day, just as we did once in the Yampol Shul and when I open “The Strong Hand” you are standing in front of my eyes and I mention it to my wife and children.

The tens of years that he lived in Argentina did not diminish his quest for learning. He knew Hebrew and Hebrew Literature well. He knew many languages, Russian, German, French, English and Spanish. During my visit to Argentina, I admired his knowledge of world literature.

As a learned man, he thought seriously and deeply about social and philosophical problems.

In one of his letters he expressed the following thought which, it turned out, bothered and hurt him a great deal. “The individual,” he wrote, “becomes ground between the risks of life in this modern society. We put too much emphasis on collectivism. We forget the individual. Who cares these days about an individual? This is the cause of many tragedies in life because we push the individual into a corner. Collectivisim will never be cured if the individual stays in his misery and helplessness.”

The idea of communism, which penetrated so deeply in many countries, did not impress him. He was not the only one who thought that way. Deep in his heart he carried the tragedies of communistic destruction brought upon this world.

Yankel Horzshach was blessed with wonderful spiritual modesty, quiet and calm. That cost him a lot in his social life. He could have played a great public role, be it as a writer or in public service, but the aforementioned characteristics held him back. Therefore he remained closed up within his own private domain.

I quote a few sentences from a eulogy which his friend Mr. Wolf Schweizer gave in Buenos Aires at the unveiling:

“It was once said that a human being resembles a tree - yes - to a tree Yankel was compared. A palm tree - tall and slim with a crown of white on his head …”

“Yankel Horzshach was not in public service and therefore was not known publicly. Many lesser people than him were more popular. Why? Because Yankel did not want to stop learning. In the last months of his meaningful life he was very busy, with great perseverance he again studied the works of RamBam. And when he was not learning by himself, he would study with others, friends, children and grandchildren who carried on his reverence for learning.

When Jacob Horzshach received an impressive letter from his friend A.L.Gellman, a new book or the newspaper “Hatzofeh,” he used to take it to the Knesset Israel Shul so that other Jews could enjoy it. Jakob Horzshach's memory will be etched for many years in the hearts and minds of those who knew him and his family will find consolation in his good reputation. That is the way his new friends in Argentina thought about him.

But besides the aforementioned spiritual characteristics, deep in his heart he loved the Jewish people.

The land of Israel, Zionism and Hebrew were the Holy of Holies of his life. Talking to him I felt the holy fire burning in his heart. Every one of his letters was glowing with love for Israel and ended with heartfelt greetings for the old-new Jerusalem. “Shalom Jerusalem our old and holy city, blessed that you were privileged to live there and breath its air” was the ending of his letter to me.

With regard to Hebrew, it is really a pity that he neglected to participate in the Hebrew press. The difficult economic conditions he endured in Argentina were actually the reasons. His Hebrew letters contained a wonderful style as well as content. I submit that Yankel Horzshach was a great expert on the Hebrew language and literature. With him a brilliant Hebrew writer was lost.

The light of a dear friend was snuffed. The warm Jewish heart stopped beating suddenly.

Lie in peace, dear friend, may the earth be sweet to you.


[Page 137]

An Evaluation of my father

(Of Blessed Memory)

by Sonya Horzshach

Mr. A.L. Gellman, Shalom,

My mother and I were extremely concerned a few months ago when Mr.Finkelstein told us about your health situation. Unfortunately, it wasn't possible for him to personally send you the news, the grievous news, about which you now know. We read your first letter both with apprehension and with relief. Thank G-d you all arrived in peace. Mother has answered you. She got the letter that you mentioned. Now, a little belatedly, let me respond in my poor Yiddish to try to briefly characterize the personality of my dear father of blessed memory, who passed away in Buenos Aires, Argentina on the 5th of Cheshvan 5722 (October 15, 1961.)

The books you recently sent are right in front of me on my desk, as well as a letter you gave me a couple of years ago, when you were vacationing in Buenos Aires. It is dated in 1911, and is fifty years old. Your friend from your youth sent it to you to New York from Yampol. When I compare the handwriting with that on the letter you have in my father's handwriting, it seems as if it were just yesterday. I am absolutely positive, without any hesitation whatsoever, that this is the same hand that started writing fifty years ago, and nothing on the paper is missing. The youthful grace and elegance remained to his last years. My father's moral personality comes across clearly on paper, as well as his firm, strong and sure philosophical principles. Goodness and integrity and grace are three fundamental aspects of his character. I don't think he ever had an evil memory. Jabotinsky once wrote about people with “black memories” and people with “white memories.” Father belonged to the latter; never did anything evil stay in his memory. He always would remember all the good aspects of every person and every situation.

With regard to his mastery of Hebrew and his capacity to learn, an acquaintance of his, Wolf Switzer, is going to write to you about this, since I am not equipped to give my opinion and am not familiar with this aspect of my father. I often remember, however, how he would frequently come to my rescue when, as a university student, I had a difficult problem in advanced mathematics. In his final years he used to have a wonderful simplicity in his way of thinking. He considered money and personal profit to be of little importance, something that is certainly not a contemporary idea! Father was a tolerant person, however, and perfectly understood the practical needs of others. He was perhaps an overly modest person. He was often invited to take a leading role in various national organizations, credit cooperatives or Talmud Torah schools; he always refused. This wasn't, heaven forbid, because of some inferiority complex. He always stayed away from controversy and stayed close to his family, children and books.

Mr. Gellman, there is much that could be written about my father, and yet I find it a bit hard to write easily about the past. The memories run into each other, as if each one would like to be the first mentioned. They dull my mind and keep me from writing. Your were a real member of our family, and father mentioned you often, on many occasions. You can be sure that you had a great and true friend who has now so suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.

Yampol is a separate chapter in my father's life, something that you certainly know more about than I do. Yampol, a strange word, the name of a small forgotten and ignored town; I can connect very closely to the sound YAMPOLE. It tumbles out of my mouth every time I hear the name. It is remarkable how often my lips murmur the word Yampol. Yampol …and tears flow slowly together. I should mention that fact that I was born there, and on the same letter that you gave me is inscribed my grandfather's name, which is my name.

You asked me, Mr. Gellman, whether anything about Father has been written in newspapers. Let me answer you by saying that a number of friends have asked the same question, and as far as I know, someone had wanted to print something, but nothing came of it. In my opinion, it is better that way!

The newspapers are full of 'necrologs,' the 'eulogy-makers,' who used to be around in Jewish life, are still around today, and will probably be around tomorrow - they specialize in writing about the dead.

Their whole job only revolves around those who have already breathed their last. Such necrologs usually get excited and empowered from exaggeration. The dead who are written about appear as great bright figures, with all kinds of great qualities, fine qualities and nobility, which they use to describe every person who qualify to be a dead person. According to their style you notice only a conventional and formal approach. I ask myself: Who knew Father so well and thoroughly to be able to permit something about him to be written? In my opinion, you are the only person capable of doing this. All of us who loved him so much and who feel his unforgettable loss at every moment would be grateful to you for doing it. We are thoroughly convinced that you alone are capable to describe a person “who was respectable with himself, who did not fool himself about what he felt in his own heart, who started crying only when tears made him cry, and who concealed his grief. This is the kind of man he was, if not a saint; he was a truly honest person.”

Yours truly,

Sonia Horzshach


[Page 141]

Notations

May G-d Remember…

by David Rubin

the souls of our brothers, sisters and relatives in the town of Yampol (Volhyn region) who died, were murdered, and who sacrificed their lives for the sanctification of G-d's name, during the Holocaust and Annihilation in 1943-1944 under the accursed murderers, may their names and memory be obliterated.

May the souls of the holy and pure ones be bound up with the lives of the nation, together with the souls of all the righteous men and women. May G-d remember them for goodness among the rest of the holy ones, the murdered of the Jewish People, and may He take revenge for the spilled blood.

The list of the dead and murdered families has been compiled by David Rubin


[Page 150]

Letter to World Union of Emigres

WORLD UNION OF VOLHYNIA EMIGRES
Office in Israel, Tel Aviv, Antokolsky Street 15, Apartment of Zvi Berger,
POB 242.

To all Volhynia emigré organizations ['Landsmanshaften']:

In a great period in world history and during the revival of the Jewish People in our generation, we turn to you, the Volhynia emigrés, worldwide, and call upon you from Israel. Be bold, and stretch out your hand to join with our Volhynia World Union to erect the monument to the memory of the destroyed Volhynia communities, their leaders, heads, thinkers, poets, rabbis, activists, politicians, and all Jews who lived, and worked in the once ardent homeland - in Volhynia.

We are trying to build a monumental culture center “Heichal Volhynia” [Volhynia Center] in which we can collect all the products of intellectual life of Volhynia Jewry for around 1000 years, until the Nazi Destruction.

Heichal Volhynia should serve as a center for all Volhynia Jews and their emigré organizations. It should serve as the repository of the past, of the golden Jewish bonds of Volhynia and the priceless output for our People and our country, for our generation and generations to come, who will be able to find in it a source of education and development.

Heichal Volhynia will be used for social and cultural activities, by academies, exhibits, libraries, archives, seminars, artistic activities and courses, performances, sports and other activities.

Heichal Volhynia will manage the worldwide Volhynia file system by which anyone interested may look for relatives and friends from Volhynia, and thereby enable them to search for lost siblings, acquaintances and others,with information about them.

Heichal Volhynia will house the appropriate monument of our martyrs of the 160 Volhynia communities and the heroic resistance in some of them. It will be possible to make dedications to emigré and other organizations, groups and individuals in various ways, and to have them published in a special dedication book, etc.

A Volhynia encyclopedia will be published by the World Union, which will collect the Yizkor books of the communities as well as other works published by historians.

A worldwide congress of Volhynia Jews from the entire world will be held in Heichal Volhynia as soon as the appropriate accommodations are arranged.

The Union is currently preparing a collection of memoirs about Volhynia culled from historical announcements and notices, which would be of interest to every emigré.

We are aware of the many memorials already dedicated in various places, which are sacred and priceless. Our undertaking is for the entire Volhynia emigré community with the possibility of making special provisions for particular communities here in Israel, including the aforementioned memorials.

Our call has been warmly received by Volhynia emigré organizations. Their tangible assistance and cooperation gives us the hope that our project is proper and necessary.

Friends, get involved in our sacred task.

With friendly greetings,
The World Union of Volhynia Emigrés

 

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