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[Page 149]

In Memory of the Departed

 

Yakov Moiseyev z”l

by Dr. Yakov Kostrinski

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

He was a native of Ekaterinoslav, a son of assimilated parents, far from the Zionist Movement – yet Yakov Moiseyev was attracted, at the young age of 16, to the Zionists. It was at the time of Lenin's “New Economic Policy” (NEP), which brought a great change in the character of the cruel dictatorial rule in Russia, and opened, among others, a certain new horizon for some public activity in the Jewish Street as well, where the Yevsektsiya [Evsektsiya = Hebrew Section] was the only public Jewish authority recognized as the representative of the Jews.

The Zionist movement, which up to that time was forced to act under difficult underground conditions and devote most of its activity to cultural and ideological topics, turned then into a movement of a social–political character as well.

The Zionist youth movements (Tzeirei Zion, the legal and illegal Hechalutz, Hano'ar Hatzioni, Hashomer Hatza'ir) managed to break through the narrow cracks of the underground and reach the Jewish Street in the towns of Russia and Ukraine. They began spreading information to the public, orally and in writing, about the general and Jewish questions, as seen by the Soviet regime. Oral information was given on every occasion and where it was possible – in the framework of institutions, synagogues etc. Parallel to that, a ramified written activity developed as well, in the form of brochures and newspapers (“In this Hour,” “Land and Work” and others).

Distribution of the brochures was made – facing mortal danger – by sending them through the government post offices to personal addresses, posting them on the walls of the houses, or placing them on the chairs and benches in the synagogues. The Zionist movement came out of the underground and turned into a lively public movement, arousing enthusiasm among the Jewish people; thus it became a serious and dangerous rival to the Yevsektsia.

In this lively and active atmosphere, Lusia (Eliezer) Tripolski (now in Israel) began his visits at the home of the assimilated parents of the talented, quiet and modest Yakov Moiseyev. As a member of the “Organization of the Zionist Youth” Tripolski, who was aware of the personal qualities of the young Yakov, tried to make him join the Zionist movement. At first, Yakov's parents welcomed him heartily, but when they realized what the purpose of his visits was, they began treating him with reservation, even with open mockery. However, in spite of his parents' opposition, in 1921 the young man joined the Techiya [Revival] circle and devoted himself with all his warm heart to the activity of the group: he persuaded friends to join and guided them, and was lecturing among the activists. After a short time, in 1923, he joined the national Hashomer Hatza'ir, where, thanks to his talents and punctuality, he became in a short time the leader.

By the testimony of his friend and fellow student, Zvi Bukerinski (now in Israel), he excelled in his studies as well. Arguments and disputes occurred between him and the management of the school, regarding his Zionist views – the result being his expulsion from the school. His friends mentioned that he was also writing poems on national topics. His fine human qualities – “of a lively character and a warm soul,” as related by his eulogizer in the book In Klem [“In the clamp”] published by A. Tzantzifer – helped him increase the scope of his Zionist work under the cruel underground conditions in the Soviet regime. Moiseyev was one of the most liked activists among the Zionist youth and was loved and much appreciated by his friends.

The arrests in Ukraine on 2 September 1924, disrupted his activity – and he never resumed it, since “the gates of the prison are wide when one enters it, but too narrow to let one out” (In Klem). On 28 February 1925 he was exiled to the village Oritzkaya in Kirgizia (not far from the town Kostanay), where he was together with his friend Yosef Singer, who was also deported there for his Zionist “sins” (to this day we have no knowledge about the fate of this dear friend). In the fall of that year he became ill. For lack of a doctor in the village he did not receive medical help of any kind, and died a few days later, in great pain, without even having been diagnosed.

Since there were no other Jews in the village, the body of Y. M. was brought to Kostanay by his devoted friend Yosef Singer and was buried in the local cemetery. A small Jewish community was in town (mostly refugees from WWI. Yakov was buried on a snowy day,

[Page 150]

4 November 1925, at the age of 21. Several Zionist exiles were present at his funeral. Shortly afterward these exiles made Aliya to Eretz Israel, according to the agreement with the chairwoman of the “Committee for the aid of political prisoners and exiles” Mrs. Pashkova (former wife of M. Gorki), which stated: “in order to replace the three–year–exile to the far areas of Russia with the deportation to Palestina.” After the grave was covered, the writer of these lines recited the Kadish (as remembered by my friend Eliyahu Moravski [Mor, now in Israel]). We parted with our friend z”l with a broken heart and the song “The Oath.”

It was rumored later, that among the people present were also members of the GPU, posing as Zionists…

May his soul be bound in the bond of the living.


Zalman Yupit z”l

by Chanania Reichman

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

 

Zalman Yupit

 

Zalman ben Nechemya–Leib Yupit was born in 1885 in Piryatin, Poltava district. In his childhood he received a traditional education – Cheder and Yeshiva – and then he continued his general secular studies.

In 1905 his family relocated to Nizhnidnieprovsk. He was recruited to the Russian army, fought in WWI and was wounded. After he recovered, he continued his service and in 1917, after the “revolution spring” he was elected and sent by the Jewish soldiers as one of their representatives to the Congress of the Russian Zionists in Petrograd.

When he was released from the army he went home and continued his activity in the Tze'irei Zion movement. He also participated in the Jewish and Russian press – he wrote feuilletons about current subjects. In addition to this activity, he was one of the senior employees of the “Joint” in Ekaterinoslav and in Charkow.

During his activity in the Zionist underground, 1922–1924, he was arrested several times. In 1927 he was arrested again and released by the end of 1929. In 1939 he was arrested again and deported to a desolated place in the Russian regions in Asia. He died in exile on 25 May 1944.

*

I met Zalman Yupit (Ziama) in 1922 in the underground Zionist movement in Ekaterinoslav. I had just joined the committee of the Tze'irei Zion party and Ziama was also a member of the committee, already a veteran and respected member of the movement.

He was a brilliant newspaperman, and excelled in particular in the area of humor and satire. He was fluent in the three languages of our world at that time: Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian. He was also a virtuoso in writing verse and light poems. He was “the living soul” in all parties and festivities organized secretly in our movement. He edited the “Live Newspaper,” recited feuilletons and his own verses on various subjects, improvised and composed a wealth of brilliant jokes and witty sayings.

Sometimes I think with great sorrow about his talents that were untimely lost during in exile. Had he not perished in a strange and desert land, had he been able to make Aliya, who knows what new spring of creativity would have sprouted from his heart and what blessed harvest of humor and satire his pen would have created in the reality of the homeland!

All his friends who surrounded him and enjoyed the sparks of his many talents and the treasure of his sharp mind – shall never forget his most original and special figure. May his memory be blessed!


[Page 151]

Moshe Rissin z”l

by Dr. Yakov Kostrinski

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

 

Moshe Rissin (1889 – 1962)

 

A righteous and honest man, speaker of truth, “pure of hands and pure of heart”, innocent, modest and of many deeds – this was the spiritual figure of Moshe Rissin.

He was a well–known personality in Zionist Ekaterinoslav, in particular in the Tze'irei Zion club, and was totally devoted to it. He would pay special attention to organizing regular lectures given by well–known writers as well as by local members, performances by local artists and courses in the Hebrew language, the Bible [TANACH] and Hebrew literature. He would take care also of the material needs of the club: cleaning, lighting and firewood to heat the rooms in the winter evenings. This was important, in particular in the view of the fact that it was so difficult to obtain firewood during the years of hunger and suffering in the “intermediate” period between the regimes in Russia, as well as during the first years of the Soviet rule.

The Tze'irei Zion club, half legal, attracted not only Zionists, but a large part of the Ekaterinoslav Jews as well, since this was the only place where one could listen to “a Jewish word” – a lecture, poetry reading, singing, a Yiddish or Hebrew play – and feel the surrounding national–Jewish atmosphere.

Considerable financial means were needed for the maintenance of the Club and M. Rissin managed to obtain them from various sources – public (the Joint and the like) and private (well–to–do people who were still in town) thanks to his many personal connections.

He paid not only the writers and artists who appeared in the Club, but tried as best he could to improve their general material situation during the years of hunger and need by various financial contributions. He kept in close personal contact with the intellectuals who were permanent members of the Club and was aware of their family and financial situation. When he gave the “celebs” financial help he was very careful to preserve their dignity, by charging an official of the party with the task of delivering the money and so give the procedure a public, rather than personal nature. For example: he gave the writer Y. Fishman (who was one of the frequent lecturers at the Club) a “note” to buy matzot for Passover rather than give him directly the matzot, or a check to Dr. Y. Chazanowitz (delivered by the writer of these lines).

He talked very little about his private life, even with his close friends. It was not known in what government office he worked, since he was so totally devoted to the community. All his free time, after finishing his regular work, was devoted to children and adults. During the cold winter evenings he would invite to the Club some of his friends – for example Mr. Levinson from Po'alei Zion Left, former resident of Ekaterinoslav, who had arrived as an emissary from Eretz Israel after the October Revolution. He lit the stove himself and prepared tea and refreshments.

He was devoted with all his heart and soul to the Zionist ideals. He was an enthusiastic follower of Achad Ha'am and considered Eretz Israel as the spiritual center [merkaz ruchani] for the Diaspora and as the salvation of the Jewish people. He was very hurt by the split that occurred in 1920 in the Tze'irei Zion and would say: Is there a difference between me and the member who left Tze'irei Zion? Both of us are slaves of the Yevsektsia and the communist regime.

After the Club was closed by the authorities, Moshe devoted his energy to developing a secret web of Hebrew courses for young people and adults and took upon himself the responsibility of its maintenance and collection of contributions for this purpose.

[Page 152]

In 1922, Moshe Rissin was a delegate of Ekaterinoslav to the third All–Russian Congress of Tze'irei Zion in Kiev, was arrested and tried together with all the delegates of the Congress – and was several months imprisoned in the well–known Kiev prison Lukianovka. After his release he returned to active work in the committee of Tze'irei Zion in Ekaterinoslav until his Aliya at the beginning of 1925.

After several years of separation, I met him in our country. When he made Aliya, he came to visit me in the agricultural experiment station of Kibbutz Gevat near Nahalal, where I worked in the research of grain cultivation as the chief assistant of Y. Vilkenski z”l. It is difficult to describe in words the joy of our meeting. His face was radiant with the happiness of having reached Eretz Israel, and especially since he managed to find good work in the main office of the Survey Department of JNF [Keren Kayemet]. This work – preparation of the soil for Jewish agricultural settlement in Eretz Israel – was his desire and aspiration while he was still living in the Diaspora. It demanded much travel during the week, sometimes to dangerous places that were far from any Jewish settlement, but he would say that the salvation of the land demands devotion and sacrifices, and he did that with much love and a feeling of fulfillment.

He was devoted to his faith and kept the commandments. His private life and his home were religious–national in character and he went to the synagogue in his neighborhood, especially on the Sabbath.

Sometimes (especially in his later years) he would volunteer to be the cantor in his synagogue and the people came to like him and his pleasant voice.

By the way, his voice was already famous during the underground years of the Zionist movement in Ekaterinoslav. Moshe Rissin was a lover of song, played with the military orchestra as a soldier in the Russian army during WWI and studied music. He was the living spirit in the underground parties, led the public in song and helped create a warm atmosphere of original Jewish and Hebrew folklore.

Moshe Rissin, of the smiling eyes, a goodhearted man, always ready to help his fellows, departed from us.

Woe for those who are lost and cannot be found.


Dr. Moshe Ofir (Zolotrevski) z”l

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

He was a member of the young generation of the Ekaterinoslav Zionists. He was born in 1901, his father was Naftali Zolotrevsli. As a high school student he was attracted to the Zionist movement and after the 1917 revolution he began to take an active part in the Zionist organizations in town. He was active in Tze'irei Zion, was one of the founders of the Maccabi organization etc. His talents, his personal qualities and warm–heartedness made him popular and loved by his friends. He continued his Zionist activity even after the Soviet regime stabilized, and finally he managed to leave Russia and make Aliya, at the beginning of the twenties.

On his way to Eretz Israel he made a stop in Istanbul and worked in the Eretz–Israel–Office, which had just begun operations there. At the same time he began studying Law at the Istanbul University and received the degree of PhD in Law.

In 1934 he made Aliya and here he continued his work. As a member of the Haganah he was the commander of Jaffa during the War of Independence. He was the chairman of the Israel philatelic association, was one of the founders of the organization of the former Ekaterinoslav Residents, as well as one of the first writers for this book.

He died on 29 January 1962, after a long illness.


Zvi Sheftelson z”l

by Chanania Reichman

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Zvi ben Chaim Sheftelson, one of the active members of the Zionist underground in Ekaterinoslav, born in the early eighties of the 19th century, was an interesting and noble figure of a taciturn man, a philosopher of a beautiful soul and delicate feelings.

Fate allotted him, since his youth, a life of distress, hard work and suffering. He grew up during the great social turmoil that preceded the first revolution in Russia (in 1905). As a result he became a revolutionary – and as I was told he was a member of a military organization that fought against the Czar regime by means of terror. Very soon, however, perhaps under the influence of the wave of pogroms in Russia, Sheftelson, disappointed by the aid of strangers, turned to Zionism.

[Page 153]

 

Zvi Sheftelson

 

Due to his material situation he could not study during his youth – and he satisfied his great hunger for an education by reading during nights, after a day of hard work from dawn to evening. This way, after years of effort, he became knowledgeable in many areas – in particular humanistic studies. He also amassed a treasure of choice books: all the money that he managed to save from his meager salary was devoted to acquiring books.

In 1922, when I met him the first time, Sheftelson was already an educated man, with knowledge in Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian literature – and the only piece of furniture in his room was a huge box full of books in these three languages.

His work–room served as a meeting place for the members of the underground organization of Tze'irei Zion. In the evenings, important official meetings as well as meetings of friends would take place there.

His home served also as an underground “postal office” for the party: written “notes” and oral messages were exchanged, since all active members would often come to the place, to hear “news.” The constant movement to and from his apartment finally aroused suspicion – and the secret police entered his name on the “black list.”

However, his turn to be arrested and exiled came much later, during one of the later waves of pursuing Zionists in Russia. He was arrested and sent to Asia and his wife Lidia went after him – to share with him his suffering in exile. His valuable treasure – his library that had taken him years to collect – was lost.

He never complained; not when he worked so hard, not when he was in danger while active in the underground Zionist groups, not in prison and not in exile.

After many tribulations, in 1935 he was allowed to make Aliya together with his wife. They found a room in Tel Aviv, near the “Ohel Shem” theatre – and even before he found work he found a source of learning: He visited every week the “Oneg Shabat” meetings [Friday night gatherings in honor of the Sabbath, lit. Shabat pleasure] and participated in lectures and lessons in TANACH [Bible] and Talmud, which took place at Ohel Shem.

After he found work and was able to make a decent living, he began to buy books again – and in the course of the 20 years that he lived in our country he succeeded to collect a substantial library, this time mainly in Hebrew.

In 1958 he died, at the age of 77. He worked almost to his last day. How happy he was, that he had the privilege to live in the country of his dreams, working and studying the Torah, listening every Shabat to the words of sages and spending his few free hours among his books!

Zvi Sheftelson, taciturn and of deep thought, was, as by the words of the poet Bialik “one of the modest and humble people, short in words and rich in splendor.” His friends engraved these words on his tombstone – not in vain. May his memory be blessed!


Avraham Gutman z”l

by Chanania Reichman

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

He was one of the devoted, loyal and active Zionists during the difficult years of the early Soviet rule in Ekaterinoslav.

He was born in 1873 in the town Vorchanidnieprovsk (Ekaterinoslav District) and there he has received his traditional Jewish education and general education (in the municipal school).

After he married, he relocated to the near–by town Buzhidarovka and opened a lumber store. At the same time he began his public Zionist activity.

From 1907 to 1919 he headed the local Zionist association (80 members out of the 130 Jewish families in town).

[Page 154]

 

Avraham Gutman

 

Several institutions, as the “Modern Cheder” [cheder metukan], the Jewish library and its reading hall etc. were registered in his name (due to the limitations imposed by the police in those times). He was arrested and kept in prison for a short time. In 1917 he was elected delegate to the Petrograd Congress, but because of the bad roads he could not reach it.

After the revolution, as civil war broke out in Russia, gangs of hooligans operated in the area, and in 1919 Gutman relocated to Ekaterinoslav. Immediately after his arrival, he resumed his Zionist activity, in spite of the restrictions by the authorities. He was an active member in the “General Zionists” organization and helped, in their behalf, the Jewish institutions that were still active in Jewish Ekaterinoslav, as Hebrew courses, Zionist youth organizations etc. His home served as a meeting place for Zionists and he also hosted festive parties and Zionist banquets. He worked as the secretary and assistant of Rabbi Immanuel Bronstein, who served, before the revolution, as the “rabbi appointed by the authorities” and later was the head of Social Aid of the Jewish community in Ekaterinoslav.

In 1925 he made Aliya to Eretz Israel (after his son went in 1921 as “the pioneer of the family”) and settled with his family in Tel Aviv.

Here, as well, he soon started Public and Zionist activity. He was member of the councils of the General Zionists party [Brit Hazionim Haklali'im] and the “Association of the Russian Jews,” member of the management of the Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv and the management of Oneg Shabat and Ohel Shem, active in Brit Rishonim etc. His devoted activity continued until his death in 1942.


Dov Admoni z”l

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

 

Dov Admoni

 

Dov ben Yakov–Nathan Admoni (Boris Krasni) was a proud Jew and a devoted Zionist. I met him in 1922, in the days of the underground Zionism in Ekaterinoslav. He was about 50 years of age, member of the “General Zionists” in town, and, among others, was active helping the “Prisoners of Zion.”

Since his youth he was concerned with spiritual matters, but he gave up his studies in order to start making a living, to help his family and enable his young brothers to acquire a high education.

Indeed, his sacrifice was not in vain. One of his brothers, Gregory Krasni (Admoni) became an important writer and scientist (Oriental Studies and Law) in Petersburg, wrote review articles about Hebrew and Jewish literature in the monthly “Voshod” and other Jewish journals in the Russian language, edited the TANACH [Bible] section in the “Great Jewish Encyclopedia” (16 volumes, in Russian), and after the revolution was professor of Oriental Studies at the Leningrad University.

Dov Admoni excelled in diligence and perseverance and in time became well established economically, but the October Revolution destroyed his position.

[Page 155]

In 1925 he and his wife made Aliya to Eretz Israel, where he had many family relatives. He lived in Tel Aviv and in his old age made a living working with his hands (as an artist creating stamps). But even then, his life and spirit were devoted to Zionist matters. He was a great admirer of Zev Jabotinski – and was attracted to the Revisionist Movement.

His delicate character and noble spirit made him beloved by all those who knew him.

His personal charm may perhaps best be described by the eulogy–poem that I wrote after his death in 1952.

(A poem by Chananya Reichman)

Dov Admoni, a friend, a most honest man!
Your noble heart burst and was suddenly silent.
But the memory of your shining figure
Will never leave our hearts.

You were not a poet, ruler of words,
Nor a singer, commander of sounds.
But your beautiful heart would secretly sing
The greatest of all songs: the song of love for living things.

You never knew hatred, and you lived your life
In the light of love: love of your fellows,
Love of your Nation, love of your homeland,
Love of the children, love of the Torah…

How you loved books! But you gave up
The beauty of study for the benefit of your brothers –
And you devoted your time to keep them away from need
And to pave the way for them, a spiritual way of light.

Your property in the Diaspora was destroyed.
Here you earned your sustenance by making seals.
But our heart is a witness: you left on it your mark,
Which Time will never erase or spoil.

Slowly you paced the paths of life,
Satisfied with little and generous to your fellows –
Forgiving, and careful not to disturb, God forbid,
Or to become a burden to a friend or acquaintance.

No blows of fate, no evil of man
Have extinguished the holy innocence of your heart –
That gentle and splendid light
Which spread around a blessed kindness of the soul.

Your shining light had a secret brilliance:
Educating, calming, refining, purifying…
And your life – an example for the near and far,
Better than one hundred preachers of morals!


Yehuda Avisar z”l

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Yehuda Avisar (Kozlovski) was born in 1895. He spent his childhood and his youth in Nizhnidnieprovsk. At the time of the change of regimes in the Ukraine, after the 1917 revolution – a time of anarchy and activity of hooligan gangs – he was part of the Jewish self–defense in town.

In 1919 he married, and the young couple went to live in Ekaterinoslav. There he acquired his technical education and worked as an engineer in various plants – but at the same time he was active in the Zionist underground movement Tze'irei Zion.

His activity was intensified in the days of emergency, days of mass–arrests of Zionists. At first he could not devote much time to his Zionist work, due to his heavy load of professional work, but when most of the committee members were arrested he volunteered to help and was part of the committee until the day he made Aliya with his wife and children, in 1925.

He worked in the Tel Aviv city Hall and at the same time was active in the Haganah in the Tel Aviv area.

[Page 156]

 

Yehuda Avisar

 

Later he worked in Jaffa as deputy city engineer, and during the bloody riots in 1936–1939 he risked his life day by day as he continued to go to his office in Jaffa where Arab gangs rioted in sight of the British authorities. The Jewish institutions were reluctant to give up any position they held in Jaffa – therefore Avisar continued his work.

In 1942, at the age of 47, he joined as a volunteer the British army – to fight against Hitler, went through difficult training in Egypt, received a Sergeant Major degree in the “Royal Engineers Corps” and fought on the Italian front.

In 1945 he was released from service in the army, and returned to his old post as deputy city–engineer in Jaffa – and at the same time returned to his activity in the Haganah as head of the “Engineers Company.” Later he worked in the Tel Aviv City Hall, about one year, and in 1948, when the Israel State was established he went to work with MA'ATZ [the Section of Public Works], first in Tel Aviv and later as the District Engineer in Jerusalem.

His hard work in his last position weakened his health, and in 1950 he died suddenly of a heart–attack, to the shock of all his friends. He was only 55.

*

Yehuda, of great personal charm, pleasant and polite, was loved by all his acquaintances. Several years ago I had the opportunity to remember him in a letter in rhyme that I sent to his grandson Niv. I would like to conclude these lines with a few lines from this letter, remembering his special figure.

(A poem by Chananya Reichman)

My eyes remember a smile full of splendor
The smile of Yehuda, whom I knew
And loved, and admired
Since my youth, my age of spring.

His good and wonderful heart
Was courageous, noble and charitable.
His life he sacrificed
For the light of Zion – an exalted and glorious vision.

In the Diaspora he was the keeper of the spark –
And in Tel-Aviv he was a defense man;
He fought in battle against the evil destroyer –
And yet he was a man who built, programmed, planned…

He volunteered – without setback
Ready to stand against any danger or foe:
Always pacing to the end of the road
To the target that he had set.

Even when the situation was difficult and painful
He remained strong, tough and stable –
And he always found the words
Of joke and courage, good sayings and proverbs.

He was polite with his subordinates;
He guided, encouraged, stimulated…
The new recruit regarded him as his father
And the veteran – his brother.

In every answer and reaction
He was wise, moderate and consistent.
Never offended his adversary
But tried to convince him respectfully.

Was kind to all his friends,
And his friends appreciated him.
His life was a magnificent example
Of a struggle that showed to others the way.


[Page 157]

Daniel Wechsler z”l

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

He was born in 1893 to his father Jonah Wechsler, a teacher and owner of a private school (pre-high-school) for Jewish children in Ekaterinoslav.

In his home, national-Jewish spirit reigned, and in this atmosphere was the young Daniel raised. Contrary to many of his young friends, who were assimilated, Daniel served as messenger in the Jewish defense groups during the 1905 pogroms and was wounded by army bullets.

In school he was one of the founders of the first Zionist association in Ekaterinoslav, Nechdei Zion [Zion grandchildren] and for several years he headed the group. At the time, the group was the center of the national and Zionist education, and most of the young people in town were members. Thanks to Daniel, the Zionist ideas spread among the Jewish high-school students in Ekaterinoslav, and they liked him for his personal qualities, his warm heart and his readiness to help his fellows.

He was one of the first members of Tze'irei Zion in Ekaterinoslav and participated in 1912 in the first Congress of Tze'irei Zion as a delegate of the movement. There he was arrested and released after a short time. He was active in the general Zionist movement in Ekaterinoslav.

As he completed his studies at the School of Mining and received the title of Engineer, he worked in Mariopol (now Zsdanov) on the Donetz River, where he acquired experience and also helped spreading the Zionist idea among the Jews in the region.

In 1924 he made Aliya, worked several years as an engineer, then worked 23 years in the Government Survey Office. During the last years of his life he worked in the Office of the Interior. He was one of the active members in the organization of former Ekaterinoslav residents and one of the originators of this book.

He died 18 August 1964 in Tel Aviv.


Asher Pevzner z”l

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

Asher was one of the members of the young generation of the Ekaterinoslav Zionists.

He was born in 1920 to his father Menachem-Mendel Pevzner, a veteran of Hovevei-Zion. He visited with his father in Eretz Israel when he was a young boy of 8.

In 1917 he joined the movement of the “Jewish Zionist Students” in Ekaterinoslav. As a young talented man of speaking ability, he soon stood out among the movement members and became one of its main spokesmen and organizers. With the help of his friends, he managed to unite the national Jewish young people in town and turn them into an active and activating power. He appeared on their behalf before the local Zionist organizations and the various youth congresses. He was also an active member of Tze'irei Zion in Ekaterinoslav.

In 1919 and 1920, during the Civil War he was in Crimea and was active in the central offices of the Hechalutz organization that had just been established, and managed the Aliya office which helped people who gathered there on their way to Eretz Israel. He invested in this work most of his strength and energy.

He relocated from Crimea to Istanbul – on his way to Eretz Israel; he was asked to remain there and continue his work in the Hechalutz office and in the newly opened Aliya office.

After completing his work in Hechalutz, he moved to Prague, where he completed his studies in the School of Economics. In 1928 he made Aliya and worked in his profession of accountant. In 1945 he died after a severe illness.


David Izraeli (Rubin) z”l

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

He was born in 1886, to his father R'Binyamin the scribe [sofer STAM] and cantor. In his childhood he received a traditional education, and was a member of the synagogue choir. He was an active member of the Go'alei Zion association in Ekaterinoslav, founded by M. Ussishkin.

In 1908 he made Aliya and worked in agriculture in Menachamiya. He was also a member of the “collective” in Segera, where he worked together with Ben Gourion. From there he relocated to the Kineret colony [moshava] and there he built his home and his farm.

When he reached middle-age, he began composing. He was a working-man, who knew how to combine labor with song. He composed music for chapters of the Book of Psalms, Song of Songs [Shir Hashirim] and Israeli songs.

His melodies were well received by the public and his songs were sung by various song-groups as well as on the radio.

His compositions were published by the Center of Education and Culture of the Histadrut.

He died 12 June 1965 in Kineret.

(From Tidhar Encyclopedia, Volume 13).


[Page 158]

Photocopy of a letter (in Yiddish) written 6 October 1969 by Jonah Radinov in Riga to Dr. Z. Harkavi in Jerusalem, and the translation of the letter to Hebrew, in print

 

To Dr. Harkavi, Jerusalem

Dear friend Dr. Z. Harkavi

I was informed that you are editing the book “The Jews of Ekaterinoslav.” I would like to advise you to include the matters concerning the heroes of the Jewish partisans, who fought the Nazis in Ekaterinoslav – now Dniepropetrovsk – as well as in the forests around the town.

Two companies if partisans were organized: one was headed by the Ekaterinoslav resident Binyamin Sachanowitz, who fell in battle as a hero. The Ekaterinoslav Jews took part in all battles against the Nazis.

It would be a crime, if they were not mentioned in this book. I have a great deal of material on this subject. I am now sending to Yad Vashem a book that appeared in Dniepropetrovsk in the Ukrainian language: R. Chumiakova, Soldiers without uniform.

See also the book by Dr. Y. Karmish (at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem) and you will find there “USSR Heroes” about the Ekaterinoslav Jews.

  Please write to me,
Write! I wish you good health!

In friendship
Jonah Radinov
Riga, 6 October 1969


[Page 159]

Mark (Mordechai) Schaechter z”l

Dr. Zvi Harkavi

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

The poet Mark (Mordechai) Schaechter was born in 1911 in Ekaterinoslav, to his father the doctor, Prof. Anani (Chananya) Schaechter. Until the age of Bar Mitzva he learned Hebrew with the teacher and writer Arash, the father of the Habimah actor Avital. When he grew up he studied Medicine and in WWII he volunteered to the Army, was wounded and received a medal (War of the Homeland, Grade A).

As a young man he began publishing poems and translations of poems from Russian; 9 collections appeared during his life and three after he died.

The poet A. Pen who met him in Moscow, described him as “a distinguished lyric poet, of a quite respected position in USSR; a tall man, wearing glasses, sharp-spoken and tending to use biting humor. His creations are extensive, although sometimes restrained.” Mr. S. Even-Shoshan, who spoke with him in Moscow, writes about him: “The subjects of his poems are varied, and rich in descriptions of the mood and frame of mind of the Soviet person of his generation and environment. In his letter to me he testifies that philosophic lyricism is characteristic to his writing, which also includes poems about the Russian landscape, which he loves very much. The titles of the sections in his last collection are characteristic as well: Adulthood, Poems about my Town of Birth, Nature, Latvian Diary. In this collection he included also translations from the languages spoken in USSR: Ukrainian, Georgian, Ingush and Kalmyk languages, as well as Czech and Yiddish.”

According to Even-Shoshan, Schaechter was one of the 'old guard” of Russian poetry. He wrote poetry in the course of 30 years, and the collections he published were “Days and Years,” “A Good Word,” “Noon,” etc. The collection “A Lyric Weather” appeared in 1963. A volume of his assorted poems is now in print – he prepared the collection but didn't live to enjoy the completed work.

He devoted several poems to Ekaterinoslav; the Jewish motif is felt, in spite of his restraint.

M. Scaechter showed much interest in the translation of his poems to Hebrew.

Following are excerpts from his letter to me:

1. Moscow, 12 June 1963.
… It is good that the writers in your country decided to take interest in the works of Russian poets, in particular my own work. However, it seems to me that the matter is somewhat biased, and this is expressed in the choice of the poems for translation. If the work of a poet is of interest, it is important to present it in its entirety.

Concerning the plan to publish my poems in Hebrew – I would like to express my appreciation and thanks. However, as you write, you have in your possession only two of my books: “Noon” and “A Lyric Weather.” I think that in order to present a complete picture as a Soviet poet, it is important to wait for the volume of a selection of my poems, to be published in the autumn of this year by the National Publishing House (in Moscow).

I would be pleased, if other poets in your country, who have in common sympathy for the Soviet poetry, would be invited to translate the poems of the collection.

Concerning the “Author's Preface” – I think it is not really necessary, although I would be glad to write a short address to the Israeli readers. I could do that in September, after the summer vacation.

2. Moscow, 3 July 1963.
… You are asking, whether to send to me the translations of “A Good Word” and “My Father's Grave, which were published in your press.” This would please me very much…

My late mother loved poetry with all her heart, and was happy knowing that her son was a poet… Until her last moments she held in her hands the collection “A Good Word” and we buried her with this book on her chest…

In my work – as you write – Jewish motifs occupy a very insignificant place, compared to other subjects that are of interest to me…

Following, from his work:

My Father's Grave (excerpts) and Baby Yar

(Hebrew; from Russian: David Yosifon)

Only an intoxicating smell of wood
And odds-and-ends, and pits to no end…
But where is the Jewish cemetery,
Where my father is buried?
We are looking for it, three days…

Therefore, Father, not a hand of metal, nor of rock
Shall guard thy peace in the grave…
But the spoils of war from the King of Demons:
A Nazi cannon I shall place in the valley
In your memory, for generations to come.

 

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