by Efrayim Shtikh, Advocate, Tel Aviv
Translated by Yael Chaver
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Jewish population of Hrubieszow produced outstanding university graduates, true gems. I cannot supply precise numbers; please forgive me if I have missed someone, not intentionally (God forbid) but out of mere forgetfulness.
During the Congress Poland period, there were very few Jewish professionals in the town: Dr. Grinshpan, Dr. Moshe Perets, Kraytser the pharmacist, and several physicians and dental technicians. The situation was similar throughout Congress Poland. After World War I, the number of Jewish intellectuals increased and reached a considerable size by the outbreak of World War II in 1939. This was especially noticeable in Hrubieszow. The local Jews went to great pains to supply their children with a high-school education; and they, for their part, continued on to academic education, usually thanks to their own efforts. Only a few students were supported by their parents; most made a living by tutoring and working at various jobs. I must point out that their spare time was devoted to studies.
Though these university graduates had differing worldviews, they maintained proper, friendly relationships. Naturally, people who had the same profession and were connected with the same university had closer relationships. The students would come home for summer vacation and meet near the shop of Hubel the goldsmith (may his memory be for a blessing), where they were also greeted by the local passers-by. Most of the students studied in Warsaw, others in Lvov and a few abroad. The latter were mainly medical students, who were limited in Poland by a quota system. They enjoyed friendly conversations, the jokes of Rotnivski, and the sharp tongue of Adamshak; and would stroll on May 3 Street as well as visit friends. At the end of summer, they were happy to return to their universities and continue their studies.
After graduation, they found positions as physicians, advocates, engineers, and teachers. Let me mention several remarkably gifted professionals, as far as I recall. The best of them were killed during World War II; only a very few survived.
Avraham Regel (may his memory be for a blessing), the son of Me'ir Regel (may his memory be for a blessing) was especially gifted. He had a discerning mind, extremely cultured, a fine stylist, and a remarkable expert on Polish language and literature. He was especially good at analyzing phenomena and events.
Avraham Hubel (may his memory be for a blessing) was an exceptional architect, who was admired by all his fellow professionals. It was no surprise when he became employed by the town authorities as the city engineer. He was the son of a jeweler who barely made a living, and made great efforts to provide his sons Avraham and Shmuel with an academic education. Simkha Brandt (may his memory be for a blessing) was an outstanding physician, who had studied in Switzerland. His family was relatively better off: his father, Shmuel Brandt, was a wealthy merchant, who also enabled his daughter Pola Brandt to study philology at the University of Warsaw.
The excellent, promising advocate Yo'el Rabinovitch was a schoolmate of the present writer, who learned to appreciate his talents and qualities. He had the ability to rapidly analyze any complicated legal issue, and find a suitable, good solution. This talent, combined with his wonderful memory, promised him a brilliant future, even though he was not a great orator. In 1938, he was the only Jew who passed the official examinations of the Advocate's Association in Lublin, which was known for its anti-Semitism and exclusion of Jews. The examiners had no choice but to let him pass the tests; even the most experienced members could not fail an advocate of his caliber. However, the catch was that he was not allowed to practice law anywhere but in the small town of Lubartów, and not in Lublin or any other city in the province.
As I knew, Yo'el Rabinovitch was the son of a petition writer, who barely made a living, and placed all his hopes for the future in this son. Yo'el was attached to his family and thought of it constantly; his goal was to improve its lot. When I fled Warsaw at the outbreak of World War II, and reached Chelm, I met Yo'el Rabinovitch in his office. I begged him to join me and leave Chelm for Rivne, as the German were nearing fast. His answer was, "How can I leave behind files and documents, and clients' deposits? I'm sure the British will help us and all will turn out well. I'll stay here, and even if I have to suffer, I'll suffer with my nearby family and my clients." Yo'el Rabinovitch was murdered in the Hrubieszow ghetto, together with his family.
Yuzek Adamshek (may his memory be for a blessing) was also murdered during the Holocaust; he was an advocate in Galitzia. Yuzek was pleasant company, smart, and talented.
I also want to mention Shmuel Hubel (may his memory be for a blessing) and Shturm (may his memory be for a blessing), two teachers who were greatly admired in Hrubieszow; they could connect with everyone, regardless of class or social group.
Berger (may his memory be for a blessing) was an unusual person, modest and retiring, who was a gifted mathematician and scientist.
All the Jewish university graduates distinguished themselves in Gymnaziya in Hrubieszow, and were awarded the best grades. Three Jews -- Avraham Hubel (may his memory be for a blessing), Shtikh, and Orenshteyn -- were the best musicians in the small five-man band that formed in the Gymnaziya. They were violinists who later, even as university students, found the time to perform for the benefit of the orphanage or other cause.
I'm aware of the fact that I have no details about some of the students, such as Fayl; may their families forgive me.
During my Gymnaziya studies, the girls Zusya Manikov (may her memory be for a blessing), Pola Brandt, and Riva Finkelshteyn were fellow students.
University graduates who survived were Dr. Rutnivski (a physician in Mexico), Dr. Orenshteyn (a physician in the United States), his two brothers Shmuel Orenshteyn (an advocate) and the younger Henik, a successful businessman.
Several university graduates from Hrubieszow are living in Israel. Among them are Dr. Matityahu Shtikh, a well-known gynecologist, who left Hrubieszow at age 12 and emigrated to the Land of Israel. His history is very interesting, but cannot be gone into in detail here. He completed his medical studies in Vienna.
Efrayim Shtikh, the present writer, is an advocate in Tel Aviv.
These are the few university graduates in Israel and abroad who survived. It is difficult to grasp that dozens of university graduates who were the pride of the Hrubieszow Jewish community died young in the Holocaust.
May their memory be blessed forever!
by Moshe Rapoport, Tel Aviv, Israel
Translated by Yael Chaver
|Dr. Shlomo Rapoport|
Dr. Shlomo (son of Khayim Shalom) Rapoport was born in 1883, in Petrikov, Minsk province, Russia. He received a traditional Jewish education in kheyders, and excelled in his knowledge of Bible and Talmud. At age 14, he began studying in the school of the Society for the Promotion of Culture among the Jews of Russia, in Slutsk. A general curriculum was taught there in addition to a Jewish curriculum.
Young Rapoport graduated with distinction, and prepared for the entrance examinations at the State rabbinical school, in Vilna. He was turned down. Why? The school's administration required each applicant to submit a written statement of his history and social views. Rapoport's statement was found to contain Zionist ideas that ran counter to the assimilatory trend supported by the rabbinical school. He could not attend the school.
Dr. Rapoport left Vilna disappointed, and went to Kiev. He took examinations as a non-university student, succeeded, and was permitted to work as a pharmacy apprentice. For four years, he worked in a pharmacy in the remote town of Saratov. When he completed his apprenticeship, he took examinations again and was awarded the degree of pharmacist's aide. However, he was not satisfied with this, and began studying on his own again, hoping to be admitted to university. He encountered many difficulties. In addition to the quotas for Jewish students, he was persecuted for his Zionist views, which he expressed in public. But his high grades swept the objections aside, and he was admitted to the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Kazan.
During his years at the university, he was active in Zionist student circles, and worked to disseminate the idea of Zionism. Word of this reached Zionist activists in Warsaw. When the Hrubieszow Zionist figure Shmuel Brand (may God avenge his blood) asked the central Zionist committee in Warsaw to help him find a Zionist physician who would agree to settle in Hrubieszow, the members recommended Dr. Rapoport, who had graduated with distinction from the University of Kazan. Thus, the town of Hrubieszow was able to bring in Dr. Rapoport.
Dr. Rapoport examined his patients long and thoroughly. He would listen calmly to the patient, whom he would console and encourage. Any payment he received, even the smallest, was sufficient. He required no payment from the poor; furthermore, he would often enclose money as he placed the prescription under the patient's pillow, and left quickly, before the family could find the money.
It was not long before Dr. Rapoport became known as an expert physician and a generous, honest person. Every morning, he would wend his way through the town's alleys, to visit the sick. He walked slowly, leaning on his cane (he was nearsighted). Jewish women would come out to their doorways, watch him affectionately, and greet him with Good morning, Mr. Doctor in Yiddish. He would reply with a nod of the head and a fatherly smile.
World War I broke out in 1914. The German armies and their Austrian allies progressed through Russian territory, taking one town after another. The defeated Russian army retreated; on their way, they carried out pogroms on Jews, without opposition. The Russian authorities considered every Jew to be a German spy. Jews were expelled from towns near the front line, and Jewish property was free for the taking.
There was a steam-powered grain mill in the Christian suburb of Pobrezhen, adjoining Hrubieszow. The mill employed dozens of Jews from Hrubieszow. The flour they milled was sold in Hrubieszow and the nearby towns, enabling them to make a living. The Christian residents worked at the mill, and transported the flour. When these Christians saw the hostile attitude of the Russian authorities towards the Jews, they robbed the grain and the flour in the warehouses - goods that belonged to their employers. The robbery was in broad daylight and fearless, in full view of the Russian police. The roads were crowded with deserters and hoodlums, and the Jews stayed secluded, not daring to go out of town.
In the meantime, the Germans arrived at the gates of Hrubieszow. The Jews awaited their arrival, hoping that they would establish order and maintain security. At this unsettled time, a rumor spread that Dr. Rapoport was leaving Hrubieszow. His numerous friends begged him not to do so, as he was putting the lives of his wife and children at risk, and advised him to wait until the Germans came and order would be restored. Although Dr. Rapoport listened to his friends, he did not change his mind. He said that his conscience would not let him stay under German rule, as he had been educated in a Russian university, and it would be ungrateful of him to live under German rule. The Germans would certainly force him to serve in the enemy German army.
It was during this period that he parted from his many friends and admirers, and set out with his wife and children for his distant birthplace, along uncertain roads. After a dangerous journey, he arrived at his destination, and settled in the town of Mozyr, near his hometown of Petrikov. In Mozyr, he practiced medicine once again, and became renowned as an excellent, devoted physician. The peasants called him to their villages, and paid him in crops. He packed the goods in sacks, and sent them to the town for distribution to needy families.
While he was in Mozyr, a delegation from the Jews of Petrikov arrived and informed him that a typhus epidemic had broken out, and there was urgent need of medical help. Dr. Rapoport returned to Petrikov with the delegation. He attended to the patients day and night, until the epidemic subsided.
At that time, the white Russian forces were rampaging in the vicinity of Mozyr. They were notoriously known as General Blakhovitch's gangs. These forces entered Mozyr and wrought havoc among the Jewish residents. They arrested Dr. Rapoport and threatened to murder him. When the peasants found out, they hurried to aid their revered healer, saved him and his family from the murderers, and brought them all to safety in Pinsk.
Pinsk was then a center for thousands of Jewish refugees who had fled the danger of murder at the hands of the Blakhovitch gangs. The refugees suffered for lack of food. Dr. Rapoport became a social activist: he turned to the committees of former residents of these towns now living in the United States, received large sums of money, and used it to purchase food for distribution among the refugees. He also established a splendid orphanage in Minsk for children who had lost their parents.
In 1920, a delegation from the town of Limishkevitz, near Pinsk, arrived to tell him that there was an epidemic of meningitis in the town, and his help was needed urgently. Dr. Rapoport knew that he was in danger of being infected. However, he joined the delegation and worked with his characteristic devotion until he fell ill. Knowing that his end was near, he said farewell to his family - his wife and three children - and told his wife that it was his deathbed wish that she make every effort to emigrate to the Land of Israel. She fulfilled his wish, and emigrated with her three children.
May the memory of Dr. Rapoport be blessed!
by Shemaryahu Mintz, Tel Aviv, Israel
Translated by Yael Chaver
David Tenenbaum was born in the town of Orla, Bielsk County, on August 18, 1889. His father, Yeshayahu Tenenbaum, and mother Peshe (née Shumakher) gave him a traditional education, as was customary in the Jewish communities of the towns in the Pale of Settlement at the time.
By 1904, he was a Zionist activist, a member of the Hovevei-Tziyon movement¸ and agitated for Zionism. The Czarist Russian authorities harassed him for his activities, and he had to flee to the United States. He became a university student, alongside the Zionist judge Louis Brandeis. In the years 1904-1914, Tenenbaum was active in various committees then created in the U. S. to raise money for Hovevei Tziyon in Russia. At that time he also met Nissim Behar, the chairman of Alliance Israélite, and together they founded the National Liberal Immigration League. They added Dr. David Bluestein, Judge Rozelski, and Edward Lauterbach.
Young Tenenboym was becoming famous for his oratorical talents. He was appointed the information manager of the National League, and agitated against the prohibition of immigration of Russian Jews to the U.S. Together with Italian immigrants, he organized weekly Sunday demonstrations across the country. With the aid of public opinion, he was able to open the gates of the country to Jewish immigrants from Europe.
Along with his general community activity in the U.S., he took part in organizing institutions of the Zionist movement. He met with Joseph Brandeis, whom he influenced to cooperate with Po'aley Tziyon; they both worked with the fund-raisers for the Odessa Committee until the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
When David Tenenboym came to Hrubieszow in 1916, he was a veteran community activist and Zionist agitator in Europe and the U.S. Hrubieszow was severely damaged in the wake of the war; typhus and cholera had taken many lives; and the remnants of refugees who had fled to the surrounding villages were destitute. The Jews of Hrubieszow were not acquainted with David Tenenboym, and secretly said that the Litvak had been sent by the Joint to help them.
Herr Tenenboym, as he was called, was tall, heavy-set, and round-faced, and had the appearance of a Lithuanian Jewish religious scholar. His clothes were European: dark suit, silk shirt, and bow tie. With his Lithuanian Yiddish, which was peppered with English words, his common touch and friendly approach to people, he managed to set up order and gain the trust of the residents. He was instrumental in creating an aid system, opening a folk kitchen that distributed hundreds of meals daily, handing out shoes that were sent by the Joint, and helping in all possible ways.
David Tenenboym was the champion and the savior of the Hrubieszow Jews.
By the end of the war between Poland and Germany, when Jewish life began to return to its normal course, Tenenboym was well liked and beloved by everyone in the community. He set up committees, looked after children primarily orphans and was able to obtain the building of the Jewish hospital and the auxiliary structures in its courtyard. One of the structures was earmarked for the orphans in Hrubieszow. He organized a women's committee, which helped him make the orphanage an institution that served as a model for the entire vicinity. Thanks to David Tenenboym, the atmosphere in the orphanage was Zionist, as was the children's education. The housemother was dedicated and devoted, and made sure that the children had all they needed.
On Shabbes and holidays, especially Peysekh Seder night, Tenenboym required the women's committee to participate in the orphanage Seder. He would always arrive early, dressed formally, and made sure that every detail was in order. While reading the Haggada, he emphasized the constant aspiration to return to the Land of Israel and revive the nation in its homeland. The parties and events held in the orphanage became famous; the local Jews crowded at the windows to peer in and enjoy a true national experience.
David Tenenboym was active not only in Jewish affairs, but in town affairs as well, and was recognized by the Poles as the representative of the Jewish population. He was also known in the central committees of institutions, in Warsaw, as one of the main activists of these institutions. At that time, he was active in the Supreme National Council of Polish Jews; a member of the central committee of the Auxilium Academicum Judaicum (Association to Aid Jewish Students); a member of the committee that set up professional schools in Warsaw and Petrikov; a candidate for the Polish Sejm; an authorized representative of the Jewish National Fund [JNF] and Keren HaYesod; a member of the city council, where he headed the Zionist faction; a member of the Jewish community committee; chairman of the Zionist organization; a member of the town's supervisory council of parents for the education of the Jewish students; the organizer and principal of the Zionist synagogue and the Oneg Shabbat society; chairman of the People's Jewish Bank; and the editor of a Zionist newspaper (together with the Zionists of Chelm).
He initiated, led, or participated in nearly all community activities in town. He was always the main speaker and decider, true to his vision of boosting Zionism, convincing the Jewish community, and increasing its influence in the town council. Besides his work in the Jewish organizations, he was also a prominent speaker at public gatherings and national celebrations.
David Tenenboym was one of the important propagandists in the Sejm election campaigns. He was an inspiring speaker who drew large crowds. People listened to his talks with great interest. He would start by settling political accounts with opponents of Zionism, without personal attacks but using persuasive methods. He ridiculed diasporic theories, and immediately switched to descriptions of Zionist activities in the town council, the community leadership, aid and economic institutions, and mainly in the Sejm.
In the summer of 1934, word spread that David Tenenboym had decided to emigrate to the Land of Israel. No one was surprised that the great Zionist enthusiast planned to realize his vision. The town's institutions organized farewell parties, which included many complimentary speeches. A special scrapbook with a decorative silver cover was ordered from a local artist. The book contained tributes from all the institutions in town.
David Tenenboym arrived in the Land of Israel on October 17, 1934, accompanied by his wife and small daughter. He was warmly greeted by earlier arrivals from the town and the orphanage. Continuing his work, he began activities in the local organizations, and was one of the founders of the organizations of veteran community activists.
He headed the campaign to ensure the rights of the few veteran Zionist activists who were in the country. He organized meetings, sent memos to the various institutions and the leadership bodies of the JNF and Keren HaYesod. His activity ensured the special rights of these activists. He endured personal hardships, because he gave all his time to community work. He came to the Land of Israel with no property and no opportunity to participate in economic activity due to the ongoing economic crisis. Only in his last years was he aided by the organization of veteran activists and enjoyed a measure of economic security.
David Tenenboym died in Tel Aviv on July 14, 1944.
Natives of Hrubieszow everywhere will remember him with appreciation and respect. He was honest and decent; his achievements were above and beyond. He introduced the Jewish residents of our town to normative, honorable community life; worked for Zionist education; and was a model of dignity. We shall remember him forever. May his soul be bound up in the bundle of life of the nation!
by Yosef Chrost, Netanya, Israel
Translated by Yael Chaver
In Hrubieszow, a town with a hasidic tradition, the Zinger home was one of the few that had not abandoned tradition and yet was open to new trends in the Jewish world, first and foremost among them Zionism.
David Tevel Zinger was born in Hrubieszow, to a family that followed the Radzyn hasidic dynasty; his wife, Tsertl (née Krongold) came from a hasidic family that followed the Przysucha hasidic dynasty. The family was religiously observant, and made its living from the oil press that had been in the family for years.
It is difficult to say which of the parents introduced the home, with its seven children, to Zionism; but they both certainly participated in the change. They began contributing to the JNF after World War I, with the agreement of the grandfather. Tsertl was one of the first women who contributed to Keren HaYesod during its first fund-raising campaign in Poland.
Mrs. Tsertl Zinger was renowned for her energy. A typical modern Jewish woman, she contributed to the family finances, and influenced her children's education, along with her husband. On the other hand, she was less observant than her husband, and may have led to the fact that the children received a general education alongside a traditional one. Her friends called her the Revisionist Clara Zetkin, after the socialist leader who was popular at the time. Tsertl, whose name was similar, had some of the energy of the socialist leader. Thanks to her, the home became a true Zionist-Revisionist one, and even served as a temporary hostel for Zionist movement emissaries, especially on behalf of Betar, as well as young men and women who came to Hrubieszow during their Zionist training, and were friends of the Zinger children (four sons and three daughters). They would all come to the Zinger home. The kitchen was constantly active, and Mrs. Zinger enjoyed her guests. Over the years, the oldest son, Aharon Me'ir, left Hrubieszow, and the second son, Bunim, emigrated to the Land of Israel. The home maintained the tradition throughout its existence.
Bunim's emigration was somewhat problematic for the family. The parents did not oppose this step, and the mother overtly encouraged him. The grandfather was also in favor of this step, but asked Mrs. Zinger to travel to the Rebbe with him (this was the young Rebbe of Radzyn, who was later killed with the partisans under the German occupation), to ask for his opinion. Naturally, the mother hesitated, not knowing what the Rebbe would say. But she breathed more easily when she heard him say, I wish you all the best. You should emigrate to the Land of Israel. Bunim emigrated in February 1933; he later brought over his mother and her three children. David Zinger died in Hrubieszow that year; the grandfather lived for many more years.
The oldest son, Aharon Me'ir Zinger, founded the Betar movement in Hrubieszow, and was its first (and last) commander. He was a certified public accountant. During the German occupation, he was in Ludmir. After the first expulsion at the hands of the Germans, he decided to return to Hrubieszow to save his family; that was when he was murdered.
The mother's spiritual strength was most evident during the period of British rule in the country, when she found out that her two sons (Bunim and Betzalel) were active members of the Irgun. Bunim moved to Netanya in 1936, and was later joined by his brother, Betzalel. In 1940, when Irgun members began to be arrested, Mrs. Zinger also moved to Netanya, to be close to her sons. She never complained about the fact that, as members of the Irgun, they were endangering themselves. She knew that this was their national obligation. Bunim was first arrested in 1941 for a period of six weeks; later, he was arrested and incarcerated in the Mizra prison for an entire year.
After the first arrest, Mrs. Zinger decided to return to Tel Aviv. One evening, Bunim was arrested at Café Atara. It was his second arrest, but the detectives who arrested him did not know where he lived. When he was asked about his home address, he said that his mother was ill, and that he was prepared to take them to his home, if they would leave then and there. The British detectives had no choice, and agreed. Bunim arrived at his home, and managed to tell his sister to warn Betzalel, who was about to return. Meanwhile, he hastily set up a code with his mother, under the watchful eyes of the detectives. That code was very useful to the family later, and even helped the mail contacts between the detention camp and outside members.
While the house was being searched, his sister Sarah was able to warn her brother Betzalel, who had arrived home. She was arrested in his stead, and was placed under house arrest, on condition she present herself at the police station. Later, when Jewish collaborators with the British police came searching for Betzalel at home, his mother, with her quick wits and firm stance, saved him. She was able to warn Betzalel in time; he eluded his pursuers and slipped out of Tel Aviv.
She was extremely brave, yet very warm-hearted. She was always stalwartly opposed to the British police and the collaborators. They never frightened her, not even when she had to trudge through the halls of the police station or to the detention camp in order to see her son. The members of the underground, who were mercilessly hunted, knew -- like the Betar members in Hrubieszow years ago - that the small house on Vilna Street, Tel Aviv, would provide a refuge where they would always find an open heart and a soft caress.
However, the years of suffering left their mark and were too much for the brave woman, who fell ill, recovered, and fell ill again. Her son Bunim was exiled, along with hundreds of other prisoners, to remote locations in Africa. Mrs. Zinger traveled to see relatives in America in April 1947. Her son was placed on a different ship, to continue his exile in Kenya. He was returned to the Land of Israel in May of that year, and they were not parted again.
The noble mother of the Zinger family died in Tel Aviv on April 7, 1955. Her sons and those who admired her will always remember the mother of the fighters.
by Shmaryahu Mintz, Tel Aviv, Israel
Translated by Yael Chaver
|Shlomo Aharon Royter|
Shlomo Aharon Royter, a native of Hrubieszow, was a powerful man, an artisan, and an unusual community activist. After World War I, when the Jews of the town returned from the surrounding villages and towns, they began reorganizing economically. Aharon Shlomo was a young, energetic construction expert. He would be invited to repair a house that had been damaged in the war, or to add a wing somewhere, as well as to erect new structures. He was also a specialist in setting up heating ovens: he would plan their front wall, and make sure that the entire house would be heated. Such a stove would often be decorated with an artistic cornice, and would be a beautiful feature of the home.
At that time, many artisans returned, starving and penniless, with no work, tools, or money. Aaron Shlomo and his friends came to their aid, and created an artisans' committee
to aid the needy. In the evenings, Aharon Shlomo would convene meetings to make plans to help the Irgun members to increase their strength. He would also aid members personally. Simultaneously, he joined the managing committee of Linas Tzedek (which helped the sick). As someone who was a community activist, he naturally noticed the damage to the large synagogue, which had been bombed and shot at several times. All the colored windowpanes were broken, the plaster had fallen off, and the bricks were bare. The synagogue looked as though it had been destroyed.
This was one of the most beautiful synagogues in Poland. According to the inscription on the façade, it had been completed in 1873. The interior decorations were magnificent. Long-time residents recounted that a world-renowned Italian painter had been asked to complete the ornamentation and coloring of the synagogue. The paintings and inscriptions on the ceiling were especially noteworthy. The verses Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; praise Him with stringed instruments and organs; praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals were painted in a circle on the ceiling. An outer ring depicted the twelve months of the Jewish year, accompanied by the signs of the months.
After the war, the artistic ceiling proved heavily damaged. Aharon Shlomo organized a committee, and repairs began. He himself would climb the scaffolding with materials, carry out repairs and do plastering without damaging the intact paintings. Once the scaffolding was removed, the darker patches among the colorful images seemed like wounds in a living body, or scars that would never disappear. Afterwards, Aharon Shlomo was invited to become the manager of the great synagogue. He held the keys, and took on the sole responsibility for cleaning and internal arrangements.
In 1932, he wrote to his older brother, Ya'akov Shalom Royter, who was already living in the Land of Israel, and inquired about immigration. They started a correspondence, and one day the town discovered that Aharon Shlomo had already immigrated and was living there. He wrote to his fellow artisans, describing life in the land, and said that anyone willing to work could make a fine living there. Before too long, Aharon Shlomo returned to Hrubieszow, closed down his business affairs, and prepared his family for immigration. In 1935, he, his wife Dushka (may her memory be for a blessing), their three daughters, and the son (long may he live) all immigrated to the Land of Israel. He taught them all to live a productive life.
In the Land of Israel, too, he dedicated time to teach construction to new immigrants, help the needy, and be active in the organization of natives of Hrubieszow, to the end of his life. Zionist activists of all persuasions, immigrants from Hrubieszow, their children and grandchildren, will always remember the friendly Aharon Shlomo Royter, who was ready to make every effort in order to help others.
May his memory be for a blessing!
by Me'ir Holtzer, Tel Aviv, Israel
Translated by Yael Chaver
He was totally dedicated to the Zionist funds JNF and Keren HaYesod. Each fundraiser was a holiday, as far as he was concerned, and his enthusiasm was boundless. For many years, he was the JNF representative. When funds were being raised in the main synagogue and the small synagogues, he would meet with the fundraisers and inspire them with his ardor. Moshe Yehuda Mernshteyn fed the enthusiasm of the young volunteers for these causes. He often neglected his own shop and the needs of his family, in favor of national projects. Naturally kind, he helped the religious scholars of Hrubieszow. After he and his family immigrated to the Land of Israel, he retained his vitality and enthusiasm for Zionism.
by D. Aharoni
Translated by Yael Chaver
Ya'akov Royter was the secretary of the community committee in Hrubieszow. Community leaders would come and go, but he remained in his position with its community responsibility, and maintained continuity in that body.
In theory, he was only the secretary; in actual fact, he took care of all the issues that plagued the community. He did not enjoy dealing with the petty quarrels that were common in Polish Jewish communities, but had no choice. Ya'akov Royter was short of stature, yet extremely intelligenta typical Polish Jew: alert, fresh, nimble in thought and in movement. He infused those around him with energy and vitality, and was passionate about Zionism. Royter was one of the Zionist activists in the town, and appeared at every meeting. His passionate speeches roused the listeners.
When the end came for Hrubieszow, and its Jews were cut down, Ya'akov Royter was among the casualties. His memory will live among the survivors of Hrubieszow.
by Golda Ader-Lerer, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Translated by Mira Rivka Blum
To my great sadness, I cannot put up a monument and lay down roses on the young grave of my dearest, unforgettable brother, Meir Ader. As such, I hope that these poor words will sanctify the memory of my dear brother, who was killed during Hitler's mass murdering, along with all the other artists who were lost in the actions taken against the Warsaw intelligentsia.
And now I will share a few words about this young talent.
Starting in school, it became clear that he had an extraordinary artistic talent. Thanks to the efforts of Director Vietrovski, he received a scholarship from the council (seimik) and he entered the secular arts school of Lublin. After three years he graduated from the school with honors.
In 1930, he returned to Hrubieszow for a year. His days were packed with artistic activity. He painted oil paintings, and sketched a great deal from a different theme: the Jewish shtetl, in its beauty and shadows. The riverside and the baths were so poor, and yet so rich with honest, folksy characters, like Chaim the fisher and Eliezer the water-carrier.
He loved our town, knew every nook and cranny, and he poured his feelings for the town into his pictures. He gave himself completely over and put his heart and soul into the work.
In 1932, he had an exposition in Warsaw, and the press highly praised his work. The great young artist from little Hrubieszow was embraced by the family of Jewish artists in Warsaw, and together with them, he was murdered by the Germans.
Honor to his memory!
|The musical Gertel Family Mechel, Sheyndel, Shoshe, a native of Chelm, and Feyge|
by Eliyahu Gertl, Ramat Yochanan, Israel
Translated by Mira Rivka Blum
I want to place a memorial plaque on the unknown grave of my dear brother, Mechel. We learned together in school with the same teachers of Jewish Studies, Shimen Moshe Brunhirsh, and others. We also had the same teachers of secular studies, starting with Gravich, Machever, and ending with different students.
I can just see him now: sturdily built, lonely eyes, with a loving smile that shone with the joy of being alive. The spirit of the Haskalah created somewhat of a clash between parents and their children. The parents always wanted the children to follow the ways of their forefathers get married and open up a shop.
For a long time during our childhood years we used to help our parents with their business. Our parents were happy and proud of us. They gave us everything they had, and even allowed us to learn how to play the fiddle. But we were unable to agree with continuing on their path. We were enamoured with Zionism, particularly labor-Zionism.
My brother was merely sympathetic to labor-Zionism. Not having any free time to actively participate in the work of the party, because he had to spend so much time helping in our store, he preferred to unwind by playing the fiddle. His knack for singing and playing was extraordinary.
On more than one occasion, he lent his musical ear to assist the cantor in our local shul. He really stood out as a lyrical tenor. Being sympathetic to the party, he gathered some members from the organization Freiheit (Freedom) and created a mandolin orchestra, which helped raise a great deal of funding for our Tel Chai School and other institutions.
The mandolin orchestra helped the youth develop their musical sensibilities. Many fondly remember the concerts that the orchestra organized. I recall the 8th grader Tuchschneider, who significantly contributed in aiding the orchestra's success.
Oh those last years before my emigration to Israel, when my father died and the entire burden of responsibility for generating income fell on his (Mechel's) shoulders, even then he tried his hardest not to tear himself away from his music.
Around that time he started to build a family life with Yentl Kahn. He was interested in our life in Israel he had many questions about what it was like to settle there and wanted to assist my sister with her emigration as well.
When I recall my dear sisters, Feyge, Sheyndel, and Shoshe, I can't forget the winter evening when it was freezing cold outside and snowing there was a blizzard outside, but inside we were all sitting together and playing Jewish and non-Jewish melodies. This camaraderie raised our spirits during those gray days.
The evil actions of the Nazis destroyed my family. Except for my father, whose grave I know the location of, I do not know where my mother, brother, sister, or brother-in-law David are buried.
Translated by Mira Rivka Blum
After we became Canadian Eagles in Montreal, the Jewish writer and teacher, Avrom Eisen, died suddenly on the 25th of December, 1957, on the train to Calgary, on the way to his niece's wedding.
Avrom had survived the Vilna ghetto, originating from Rubishiev (Hrubieszow) in Poland, and taught in the Vilna teacher's seminary. After the war, he was in Poland for a short time, and from there he left for Mexico, before finally arriving in Canada.
His book, People of the Ghetto (1949) won a prize from the Kessel Foundation. In 1950, his book The Spiritual Face of the Ghetto was published. Before the war in 1938, his first book Stam un Tsvaig was published in Vilna. He left several manuscripts behind.
For three years he was the leader of the Borochov Shul in Toronto, Montreal, and later in Winnipeg. He was born in May of 1909. His pseudonym was A. Tonis. His dissertation from YIVO in Vilna in 1938 was about young Yiddish prose between the two world wars in Poland. The handwritten documents can be found in the YIVO archives in New York. It would be just if YIVO would release this work for public access.
Translated by Yael Chaver
Kopel was a gifted student in the Tel-Chai school in Hrubieszow, beloved by friends and teachers alike. During his training as a Zionist pioneer, in Kutno, he came to love gardening, and continued his studies in this field in Warsaw. Before World War II, he lived and worked in Bukovina, and started a family there.
He became a communist, but was always independent-minded and critical; he left (or was expelled from) the party as a Trotskyite. His family was lost in one of the ghettos of Bukovina, while he was serving in the Soviet army during World War II. He underwent much physical and spiritual suffering in the army, in captivity, and in the U.S.S.R. after the war.
He finally returned to Hrubieszow, emigrated to the Land of Israel, and participated in the War of Independence. He was able to withstand all his trials thanks to his strong spirit and endurance, but was unable to create a new life for himself in the Land of Israel, due to his sensitivity.
by Simkha Dantsiger, Rishon Le-Tziyon, Israel
Translated by Yael Chaver
The village of Skryhiczyn is about three miles from the town of Dubienka, on the road to Hrubieszow. The village includes large tracts of forest, which stretched for miles, and that were owned by Jews. The brothers Shmuel and Khayim Rutenberg were the original purchasers of these forests. Over time, they had sons and daughters. The Rutenberg family ramified into many secondary families: Rutenberg, Shidlovski, Halprin, etc.
The Jews of Skryhiczyn were famous throughout Poland for their generosity. People in need came to the village, talked with the residents, and received ample aid. The Jews of nearby Dubienka were special recipients of such aid. A Jew of Dubienka who wanted to marry off his daughter and needed help for her dowry would come to Skryhiczyn, describe his need to the local Jews, and receive the aid he needed with a smile -- either as charity or as a loan to be returned when conditions improved.
Over thirty years ago, a HeHalutz training camp operated in Skryhiczyn. The trainees received much help from the village Jews, especially Mordekhai Shidlovski. The Jews of Skryhiczyn are worthy of mention in the Hrubieszow memorial book. Below are a few of their names.
Khayim Yosef Halprin
Khayim Yosef Halprin was born in Chisinau, and lived in Odessa for many years. He was a descendant of the Anshel Halprin family, which was at one time renowned throughout Russia. He fled to Poland during the Bolshevik revolution, and came to Skryhiczyn, where he became a farmer and worked in the fields. He decided that Hebrew would be the language of his home. He was very charitable; when the young people of Dubienka wanted to collect money for a national institution, they would come to his house and be given a contribution as well as words of encouragement. He was murdered by the Nazis, along with his son-in-law Shlomo Goldberg (may his memory be for a blessing).
Mordekhai Shidlovski was a religious scholar, with an impressive appearance, clever, who had a secular education, and was a model businessman. After a full day of working at his business, he would spend the evening at home with people who sought knowledge, and would teach them Bible or read a poem by Bialik,
Mordekhai Kalman Rutenberg
He was called Motele (Khayim's son). A humble religious scholar, he followed the Gora Kalwaria Rebbe; at the same time, he was pleasant company and found time to listen to anyone who was suffering, and helped them as best he could.
Henekh Rutenberg was a religious scholar, well versed in traditional texts, and a farmer. Every morning, before leaving for work in the field, he would sit at the window and recite a page of Talmud in an enthusiastic, plaintive chant that could be heard throughout the village.
Miri was an upstanding woman, educated, kind-hearted, and generous, who led a simple, modest life. She would take her flock of geese out to pasture every morning, and sit there, wearing a white kerchief and reading a Hebrew book. She would come to Dubienka with her young girls, and visit the stores with them while carrying on a lively conversation in Hebrew; the young Zionists of the town listened avidly to the sounds of Hebrew.
The Jews of Skryhiczyn were remarkable models, seekers of knowledge, and open hearted.
May their memory be blessed!
by Dov Aharoni, Tel Aviv
Translated by Yael Chaver
(may his memory be for a blessing)
Yitzkhak was notable among the young people of Hrubieszow. He was born in Berzets, a suburb of Kremenets, during World War I. His infancy was marked by all the difficulties, upsets, and terrors of that war.
His father, Aharon, was a great religious scholar, who was famous for his Talmud lessons. He was a follower of the Rebbe of Turisk, and was renowned as a person devoted to other Jews and an enthusiastic lover of the Land of Israel. His mother, Rakhel, was a typical Jewish mother, with a tender heart, who extended help to anyone in need. She passed these fine human and Jewish traits on to her son. Yitzkhak began to learn about Judaism in his father's house, which was open to all Jews. It was the foundation of his education. He began his schooling in the Hebrew school in Kremenets, where he learned Hebrew and general culture; his father taught him Torah.
His family moved to Hrubieszow in 1925, while he was still a child. He had few friends, and found it difficult to make connections. Language also posed a problem: he spoke Volhynian Yiddish, and Hebrew. His eyes seemed sad. He read every Hebrew book he could find. His ideal was to devote himself to knowledge, particularly Jewish scholarship. As the Midrash comments on Leviticus 26:3, ‘If you follow my decrees’ means ‘be busy with studying Torah.’ This became a feature of his personality.
After his Bar-Mitzvah, he went to Bialystok and began studying in the advanced Takhkemoni house of study, where he was taught by Rabbi Barukh Eli Heilprin (may God avenge his blood). He was learning the highest values of Judaism, and was inspired by his teacher's Kotsk hasidic tradition. He stayed in Bialystok for four years, and graduated from high school. However, he did not want to make a living from his expertise in religious scholarhip. He would say, I am a doer.
Yitzkhak planned to emigrate to the Land of Israel, his long-standing dream. He went to a training camp, where he accepted every job that would further his desire. However, he was suddenly drafted into the Polish army. His emigration was postponed, to his sorrow and to the sorrow of his family, which had already emigrated.
When World War II broke out, Yitzkhak was sent to the front at Bydgoszcz. He sent a single letter, dated August 26, 1939; sadly, this was also his last letter.
He was one of the best of Hrubieszow youth, rich in good qualities and love of the people of Israel and the Land of Israel. He seemed to be one of the group; in actual fact, he was in a class of his own.
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