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[Page 186]

Former residents of Dubossary in Argentina

by L. Rubin (Buenos Aires)

Translated by Sarah Faerman

On the 25th of July, eleven Dubossar Landsleit (people from the same town) gathered together in the home of Bernardo Gurevitch, z”l, to meet with our guest from New York, Moshe Feldman, z”l, who just recently passed away. We heard his impassioned description of the destruction of the Jewish community in Dubossar and the terrible bloodbath carried out by the Nazi murderers against our brothers in our home town.

After hearing the tragic details, it was decided to establish an emergency committee that would immediately contact all the Dubossarites in Argentina and mobilize material aid to the survivors of what was once our community.

The elected committee consisting of Bernardo Gurevitch, Moshe Winokur, Hershl Yerusalimsky and the author of these lines, immediately got busy. Although we lacked the addresses of many, in a short time we were able to locate them and we overcame other difficulties as well. We launched the campaign and very soon were able to send funds to our friend Moshe Feldman in New York who was in contact with those Dubossar Jews who had miraculously managed to survive in Europe.

After the first spontaneous aid was sent out, it became clear that we needed a permanent and intensive organization that would address the following issues:

First: We needed to be in direct contact with the survivors in order to provide supplies according to their needs; Second: We wanted to let them know that we, their brothers in Argentina, would neither abandon nor forget them; Third: There was a need to create locally a permanent body to carry out in an organized fashion the above two objectives but also, in order not to neglect the local Dubossar Landsleit in Argentina, it was important to develop cultural activities and to create a family atmosphere that would reflect the spirit and traditions of our old home. This home-like environment would also help to stem the winds of assimilation that were blowing toward the Jewish homes.

As is typical, all beginnings are difficult. It was not easy to gather together all the Landsleit and to unite them after the passage of so many years, especially when each had his own struggles in adapting to the new land. We had to resort to all types of tactics. We appealed to the conscience, we played on sentiments, we recalled memories that over the years had dimmed and slowly, slowly, thanks to the diligent work from a couple of the activists, most of the Dubossar Landsleit responded and together we accomplished the creation of the Dubossar Landsleit Association as well as the Relief Committee.

We obtained the list of survivors from Moshe Feldman. They were spread out throughout Russia and to each address we sent packages of food, winter and summer clothing, various house-wares and also medicine for which we received heartrending, emotional letters of thanks that underlined the great importance of our work.

When the needs of the Dubossarites in Russia were alleviated, we decided to devote our efforts to helping needy Landsleit in Israel. We contacted our friend D. L. Granovsky in Tel Aviv and requested from him a list of those Landsleit of ours that needed some assistance. We then sent them dozens of parcels also.

With our actions, we realized the wisdom of the saying that the satisfaction is greater in the giving than in the receiving. You would have had to observe with what joy and enthusiasm the men and women threw themselves into the work for the Relief Campaign, with the buying of the goods, packing the parcels and sending them off with no regard for cold in winter or heat in summer, in order to demonstrate the strength of our brotherly solidarity and the happiness of one's soul to be able to help. In our case it also expiated some of the guilt we felt because we were the lucky ones who had managed to escape in time and had been spared the terrible catastrophe that our unfortunate brethren had lived through in our old home.

As usual, one good deed causes other good deeds. The Relief Committee revitalized our Association and fostered the desire to meet more often for cultural programs because of the convivial atmosphere we had created. We often gathered for lectures and concerts which were on a high level. We started to celebrate holidays together as well as remembrance events for both Jewish and gentile personalities. In general we used every opportunity possible to “Shevet Achim Yachad” ( sit together with our brethren).

I must laud the exceptional and unstinting efforts of the Women's Committee that was formed within our Association. They made sure that our gatherings were always cozy with a family-like ambience and often with tables laden with refreshments prepared and served by the women. These gatherings were always a great success both from the point of view of our objective goals and also for the high morale generated.

Throughout its existence, our Association has had a dual purpose – the Relief component and the cultural programs which encompassed national (Jewish) and local concerns. Never was there a meeting without a collection for the Jewish National Fund. Our Dubossar Association was also registered in the Jewish National Fund's Golden Book.

The Jewish community of Argentina erected a monument in the cemetery in Tablada (a suburb of Buenos Aires) to memorialize the six million martyrs annihilated by the Nazis. The Dubossar Association placed a panel on this momument in the memory of our destroyed home town. Every year, the Dubossar Landsleit gather there with their families for the Yorzeit (anniversary of death) of our 18,000 martyrs that the Nazis murdered in Dubossar. We end the ceremony with a eulogy and a collective Kadish (prayer for the dead).

When the idea was initiated by the Dubossar Landsleit in Israel and Diaspora to create a memorial for our martyrs by planting a grove in the “Forest of the Martyrs” of the Jewish National Fund near Jerusalem, we undertook the mission to participate in this initiative. I hope it will not be considered boastful if I mention that when the world wide Dubossar Landsleit were discussing in what manner to commemorate our destroyed community, the idea of planting a forest of 10,000 trees in the “Martyrs' Forest” was the suggestion of the Argentina Relief Committee. And, at the end, when it was decided to publish this Yizkor Book, the Argentina Dubossar Society immediately supported the project and did its share in making it a reality.

With the passage of time, the Relief Committee's work lessened and the cultural programs of the Association required better facilities than those used in the early stages. At that point, the activists in the Association decided to establish a Credit Union which would provide the financial base for us to obtain a centre of our own that would have the necessary facilities for broader cultural activities and could also serve as a “home” for the Dubossar Landsleit and their families who could then enjoy its special close and traditional atmosphere.

In 1955, at a well attended meeting, the foundation of a Credit Union was established. An executive was elected consisting of Shimon Greenberg, Hershl Yerusalimsky, z”l and the writer of these lines, as president, treasurer and secretary respectively. The president, Shimon Greenberg, was not even from Dubossar but his wife Dvorah was. He feels, however, as close to us as if he had been born in Dubossar. Because of his experience and knowledge of co-operative ventures, he was invited to head our newly created institution. Thanks to his expertise and the co-operation of the board that worked tirelessly with him, in a comparatively short time we had our own “home” that was equipped with the facilities we needed to carry out our cultural activities. In time, we attracted new members, not necessarily people who had lived in Dubossar. Their relationship with the others in our Association has been a very positive one and the organization has continued to thrive both financially and spiritually.

I believe that this is perhaps the first time that a financial-economic institution (at least in Argentina) was not created for material considerations but rather because of our desire to help the survivors of the great catastrophe that befell our people during World War Two. The result was an ongoing Association of a group of Landsleit bound together because of common memories, traditions and the desire for a rich cultural life. The Credit Union was not established to increase the number of Jewish financial institutions in Argentina but rather as a support for the Dubossar Landsleit Association which itself is an intensive cultural corner of Jewish life.

* * *

The following Argentinian institutions participated in creating the funds for the Dubossar Yizkor Book:

Credit Union “25th of May” President – Simon Greenberg
Credit Union “Palermo” President, Natalia Aidner
Credit Union “Cangallo” President, Natalia Nigeles
Credit Union” Buenos Aires” President, Israel Davidovitch
Credit Union “Bessarabia” President, Davla Derky
“Flores Norte” Society President, Israel Lyezhin

Our friend L. Rubin worked endlessly to raise funds for our Yizkor Book as did Israel Gurevitch, Vice President and Orlando Melman, Secretary of the Dubossar Association in Argentina.

[ Page 192 ]

A plea to my fellow countrymen in Argentina

by Bernardo Gorevitch

Translated by Sarah Faerman

As we were preparing the materials for this book, I received a letter in the mail from Mr. Bernardo (Berl) Gurevitch, who has been living in Argentina since the early 1920’s. The letter contained a newspaper clipping from “Di Yiddishe Tzeitung” (The Yiddish Newspaper) in Argentina, dated September 17, 1926 – between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur – relating to a request from the Jews of Dubossar to their Argentinian Landsleit (fellow townspeople) for help in erecting a new fence around the cemetary.

We had had very little information about the period of the Communist regime’s stranglehold on Ukraine until the invasion of Hitler in 1941. This letter, undersigned by respected people in Dubossar – the Rabbi and the Shochtim (ritual slaughterers), in spite of its brevity, provided a glimpse of the life and hardships of the Jewish community under the Soviets in the 1920’s.

The original letter had been written in Hebrew but as we do not have access to it, we are reproducing it here the way it appeared in the Buenas Aires Yiddish newspaper – in the Yiddish translation. The appeal was addressed to Messrs. B. Gurevitch, Bendersky and Yitzchak Dayan:

“We the undersigned inhabitants of Dubossar beseech you to gather
donations for a new fence for our cemetary. Since these days of hunger,
our town has become impoverished and we do not have the possibility
to provide everything that is necessary for our cemetary. Because of many
deaths, the cemetary filled up and we had to enlarge it. God will enter your
name for life for your generosity. We request that you send the money to
the address of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Rabbi of Dubossar and in
the names of Reb Dovid Tobin and Dovid Lifshin.
Shmuel Pinchas Rabinovitch,son of Rabbi Chaim Shimon teacher and instructor;
A. Kramer- Shv’B (Shochetand inspector); M. Z. Bronfman,
Ben-Zion son of Efraim, z”l, Shv’B. Greenblat; M. son of Elkana, Shv’B;
A. Plchikov, Z.Bendersky, D. Lifshin, D. Rabinovitch, A. Miyuches, S.Volovig,
Y. Melamed, H. Sadetsky, V. Kurvitz, Y. Koifman, Z. Shdenkin,M. Rivilis

As a result of this plea, B. Gurevitch placed the following appeal in “Di Yiddishe Tzeitung” to all people from Dubossar in Argentina and in other countries:

“We the undersigned beg you to permit us, via “Di Yiddishe Tzeitung” to appeal to our fellow townspeople of Dubossar as well as to all Jews who hold dear the Mitzva of “Chesed Shel Emes” (commandment of true grace for burial). May all who read the following request from the citizens of our town Dubossar, remember in these High Holy days their own dear departed loved ones for whom they can no longer do anything other than a “Chesed Shel Emes. On Yom Kippur when we recall the departed souls, let every person vow to carry out the good deed by helping our poor friends on the other side of the ocean and by virtue of this, the blessings that they send us for the New Year will be realized.
Bernardo Gurevitch”

This campaign was carried out by B. Gurevitch and Nachum Feck and the sum of $180.00 was collected and sent to Dubossar for the erection of a fence around the cemetery.

[Page 193 ]

Episodes from my youth in Dubossar

by Louis (Eliezer) Tchernik

Translated by Sarah Faerman

As I recall, in the first ten years of the 1900’s, a theatre troupe was founded in Dubossar comprised of local talent. The ‘father’ of the troupe was Budeinsky – a Jew, a dreamer, an idealist with the soul of an artist. Actually, by trade he was a wall and sign painter at which he was very skilled. I don’t know of any prior involvement he had with theatre, I only know that one fine day, he gathered together the youth, mainly shop clerks and suggested that they form a theatre troupe for the Dubossar Jewish community.

I remember with what great enthusiasm we embraced the idea and with all of our youthful energies we devoted our evenings to rehearsals. First of all he taught us what exactly ‘Theatre’ was and gave us guidelines about acting. Then we applied ourselves to the work.

We performed various plays, even attempting Gordon’s:”God, Man and Devil” as well as plays by other playwrights. Our performances were successful and we brought much joy and celebration to the Dubossar Jewish community.

The main actors were Hershl and Shmuel Postalov, Jacob Novimay., Neche Berkovitch and Averbach.

* * *

For my first contact with a political organization, I have to thank Zerach Flam, a shoemaker by trade. As it turned out, he was an activist in the Bund (Socialist organization) in our town and it was in his house that I attended for the first time in my life a clandestine meeting of the Jewish Dubossar Socialists. I came thanks to his younger brother who was a schoolmate of mine and he actually dragged me to this secret meeting. They made proposals that I partly understood and partly had no clue what they were talking about. Zerach also had a projector and showed pictures of various animals accompanied by explanations. As I understood it, this was a popular lecture about nature. This meeting made a powerful impression on me, perhaps because of the atmosphere of conspiracy, perhaps because of the projector. For whatever reason, that first meeting that I attended at a political organization was a great event for me.

* * *

In Dubossar, there was a Jewish doctor- Laybele Polinkovsky – a diamond of a man. He healed the poor without takingany payment and the people, particularly the poor, loved him. As a government doctor, one of his duties was to protect the town from epidemics. This Laybele Polinkovsky would often go out in the mornings to the market together with Nikita the policeman who carried with him a can of kerosene. They would go from stall to stall and wherever he would see rotten fruit or other spoiled products (i.e. baked goods) covered with flies and worms, he would immediately instruct Nikita to pour kerosene over the food. Then, even the destitute would not purchase these goods. Who knows how many people – children and adults - Polinkovsky protected from infectuous diseases with his original campaign tactics.

* * *

There was a Jew, Chaim Finkelstein in our town. Actually, in Dubossar he was only a part-time inhabitant. He was a merchant of the “Fur Guild” (a prestigioua guild which enabled Jews to live outside of the pale of settlement) and lived in Petersburg. He spent a lot of time in Dubossar, however, where he was the owner of the big Tobacco Factory “Loffers”. Chaim Finkelstein was a Jew with a stately appearance and it was rumoured that he had access to the Petersburg high society. Chaim Finkelstein employed many people, both Jews and gentiles. A special position in his factory was held by Yosef Visoky, his bookkeeper.

Yosef Visoky was a great idealist and the virtual Zionist leader in Dubossar. When the followers of the Haskala (Enlightenment) movement began to establish their classes in the Jewish towns and villages in Russia, Visoky convinced Finkelstein to help establish a modern school in Dubossar where, along with Yidish studies and Hebrew as a spoken language, there would also be Russian and General studies. With Finkelstein’s help, the first modern Hebrew/Russian school was founded in Dubossar. The school was located in the lovliest part of town, opposite the boulevard. It was housed in a sparkling clean building with spacious, airy rooms. There was a fine yard for gymnastics and games. I had the luck to be one of the first students.

The first director and teacher was Abraham Isaac Yogalnitzer (Golani), a God – sent pedagogue that was greatly loved by his students. He treated each one of us with such affection as if we were his own children. In no time at all, we achieved wonderful results. Particularly outstanding was our usage of Hebrew as a living language. When Yagolnitzer decided to leave Dubossar to make his home in Eretz Yisrael, we had very mixed feelings: We were happy for him as he would be realizing his dream but we were very sad to lose such a good and dear teacher.

Our second teacher was Israel Greenshpan. He was a gifted pedagogue and he thoroughly taught us Hebrew literature and Jewish history. He was also our guide in later years when the organization “Hatchiya” (Revival) was founded, attracting all of the best youth in town as members.

Under the leadership of Yosef Visoky, we the members of “Hatchiya” initiated many practical Zionist activities such as raising money for “Keren Kayemet” (organization for buying land and trees in Eretz Yisrael). The “Hatchiya” period was one of the nicest and most productive epoch in the lives and developement of the Jewish youth in Dubossar.

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