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[Sixth unnumbered photo page]

What is the joy? They escaped from class:
Yitzchak Solsky, Netanel Shapira, Mordechai Yaffa; Hirshka Yudfas, Zeev Opnik


Elimelech Perchik, Yudel Katzenberg, X., Avraka Unterschatz


Rachel Burstein, Shimon Rubinstein, Feicha Levin, Yitzchak and Miriam B.[urstein], Eliezer Goldshmid, Chaya Zuchovsky, Apatkina

[Seventh unnumbered photo page]

Various groups of youths:

Velvel Sesitsky, El.[iezer] Goldshmid, Yona Saltuper, Grunia Kaplan, Yitzchak B[urstein], Grundman;
Bluma Pogirsky, Shimon Zak, Sara Burstein, Rachel Levin. Mitzel P.[ogirsky], Roza Kagan
Zelig Epstein, Moshe Solsky, Mitzel Pogirsky, Menashe Wiener, X.
Lula Wilkomirsky, Yosef Rikliansky, Yudel Winitzky, Moshe Lantzman;
Yosef Levin, Hershel Levin, Avraham Zuchovsky


Elka Namiot, Zamka Kaplan, X., Elka Fridman; Lula V.[ilkomirsky], Moshe Baron, Nisan Goldshmid, Yitzchak B.[urstein], Shmuel Goldshmid, David Fridman

[Eight unnumbered photo page]

Boys during the years of youth:

Yitzchak Solsky, Velvel Abramovich, Mordechai Yaffa, Yechezkel Kotler; Shimon Gorfein, Yitzchak Nochimovich, Baruch Shabtai's, Eliahu Koper, Yaakov Katzav; Chaim Teitelbaum, Yisrael Shneid, Alter Chasid


B. Shabtai's, Avraham Levitz, Y. Kotler, El. Koper, M. Yaffa, Hirshka Jozefs, Hirshke Parbozhnik, Ch. Teitelbaum, Y. Nochimovich, Y. Solski, Sh. Gurfein, Pinchas Shapira, Baruch Jalinovich, A. Chasid, V. Abramovich, Y. Schneid, Netanel Shapira, Zelig Yudelevich


Y.[itzchak] Nochimovich, Shmuel Teper, X., Avraham Portnoy, M.[ordechai] Yaffa, Elimelech Perchik, Perchik, X., V.[elvel] Abramovich, Y.[echezkel] Kotler, Y.[aakov] Katzav, X., X., B.[aruch] Shabtai's; Z. Yudelevich, Tzvi Yudfas, Ch.[aim] Teitelbaum

[Page 33]

Yitzchak B.[urstein] and Zelig Epstein.
The wooden bridge is in the right background.


The wooden bridge took the place of the ferry.

The corner of Kovno Road and the Street of the Road served as a center and meeting point for the common folk. The wagons parked there. From among their owners, Leiba Gershovich (the “Turk”), Shlomo Dragatzky and others stood out.

Here is Itzka “Bul”, tall, physical, and a porter. When a guest appeared, two people would take hold of his suitcase -- one would pull one way, and the other would pull the other way. The Dragatzkys and Leiba Gershovich became bus owners. They continued to transport passengers from the train station to town.

Another group of wagon owners was involved in hauling merchandise on the Kovno line, especially iron cargo for Pogirsky, and furniture. They would set out at night and sleep on the platform. One could depend on the following people: Hirshe Fridman and his son Reuvke, Moshe Handler and his sons Leizer and Yisrael, Berl Sesitsky, Abba Wender, Yisrael Wender, Abake, Yosa Leizer and Hirshe Leizer Manosovich, and the sons of the latter -- Yisrael and David -- who later became drivers.

Those who lacked vehicles, the porters, “street men” with muscles also gathered on that corner:

Moshe Itzka Bauer, Alter Zilber, Alter Gershon Itzikovich, Walza Shoub, Feiska, and others. They always wore sackcloth belts and sacks over their heads and backs, covered with flour dust and permeated with the odor of herring.


Kovno Street

Here is the butcher shop of Itzik Nochimovich, strong and mustached. The farmers were afraid of him. In his neighborhood was the butcher Shlomo Yudelevich the Muscovite. He was also strong.

Here is the barber shop of Chaim Kobliansky -- a meeting place for the leftist circles, thanks to his bookish, prima donna daughter who was a member of the dramatic club of the Yiddishist cultural league.

Here is the wholesale store of Liber Farber, a general Zionist and philanthropist.

Here is the iron shop of Shmerl Stern. There is a small flour mill in his yard. He was the agent of “Di Yiddishe Shtime” (The Jewish Voice). He was an intelligent scholar, and a Mizrachi activist. Glasses were always perched at the tip of his nose. He would frequently peer into a book. He had three sons and a daughter: Eliezer is in Kibbutz Netzer Sereni. There was also Leibel, Noach and Liba-Chana, who was married to the artist Kagan, who was also a teacher in the Yavneh School. Noach the poet died in the Land. The others perished.

Here is the inn of Alter Zuchovsky, permeated with the smells of liquor, herring, and onion. Drunks would sleep by the tables. Reb Alter was a Hassid who was able to study Gemara. He was blessed with a pleasant voice and was sought after as a prayer leader. He had two sons and a daughter, Meir, Avraham and Rivka. Rivka made aliya to the Land and established a family. Avraham is also in the Land.

Here is the store of Chatzkel Fried. He was able to study, but he was a miser. The store was filled with sacks of flour, sugar and salt. His wife was a greater miser than he was. This is what the neighbors would hear:

“My wife, please give me a bagel with sausage to eat.”

“Bundles of sorrows are upon your head. Is this all that you are lacking. He always complains that he has pressure from under his heart -- and now he desires a bagel with sausage!”

“If that is the case, then please give me a cup of tea with jam.”

“A sickness I will give you. An entire night, he does not stop running to the ...”[7]

[Page 34]

Their son Moshe was active in Maccabee and Gordonia. They all perished.

Here is the barbershop of Nachum Vidutzky. He had a Yiddishist outlook. He would put makeup on the actors.

A bit further on is the building of Mina Wilkomirsky, the daughter of Menda Tzemach's. They had two sons and a daughter: Lula, who was a Maccabeeist, Yosha, and Freda, who was a member of Hashomer Hatzair.

Here is the two-story house on the corner of Kovno Street and the Street of the Shore, belonging to Shlupsky the strong. He owned an electrical goods store. His wife was sickly, and walked with a cane. They perished.

The manufacturing shop of Zelig Kapol and his wife Chaya was in that shop. He sported a mustache, and there was always a smile on his face. He had a proud gait, dressed impeccably and was therefore nicknamed “the Lord”. Their daughter Feiga arrived in the Land at the end of the war as a concentration camp survivor. She built her family here. Their son Yosef is in South Africa. Another daughter Dina, as well as the mother, perished.


The Street of the Shore

In that same building, on the side of the Street of the Shore, was the pharmacy of Chaim Levin. Do you remember the peal of bells when the door opened? As you entered, you would be awestruck from the aromas that reached your nose from the medications and perfumed water. The shelves were laden with plates with etched letters. With the ring, Chaim appeared, wearing gold spectacles. He was a Yeshiva student and an autodidact. He was a Zionist activist, who was involved in the communal institutions. He was the first mayor during the German occupation at the time of the First World War. Later, he ran the Oren match factory, even after it passed over to Kriger's concern. He had a pleasant character. He was an initiator in the establishing of the hospital and the modern bathhouse. He was known as a Don Juan. His wife Hashil was also a Zionist activist, who concerned herself with orphans, widows, and the poor. They had three daughters and a son: Sheina, Rachel, Feicha, and Hershel. The son was married to Miriam Burstein. He survived in the city of Frunze in Russia. Today he is in the Land.

Yosa Levi Itziks's and Tzipa (the epicene) were their neighbors. They were both intelligent, and got along well with people. They were willing to give assistance to others, but... with interest.

A bit further on is the house of Meita Levin the baker and her son Leizer the intelligent, a member of Poale Zion. He got along well with people and was a bachelor for many years. He later married Tzipa Leah, the sister of Yona Katz, who was a shoulder length taller than he was. They perished.

Here is also the large store of Moshe Zak and his wife Feiga. The haberdashery store was always clean and well ordered. Reb Moshe had a small, gray beard, and always sported a collar and a necktie. Both of them had an easy disposition, and were prepared to help those in need. Yisrael Pogir of America describes him as he knew him in 1913, as follows:
“Avraham of Shaty had a son, Moshe Zak, who owned a paper store. I loved to buy from him notebooks with Yiddish poems printed on their covers. These poems included: A Letter to Mother and G-d is True and His Judgment is True. He dressed splendidly. My father would send me to purchase buttons, needles and a stamp from his store, all for one kopeck.

At night I would see them strolling, he with a proud gait, and she waddling like a duck. In 1963, when my sister Sara came to Moscow from Israel, we went to look for their daughter who remained there. We had not seen her in 48 years. We did not find her at home, so we waited for her arrival. We saw from afar a woman approaching, waddling like a duck, similar to her mother. We realized that this was her. Indeed, this was their daughter.”

Here is the house with green shutters and the large iron shop with a sign above, belonging to Reb Avchik Pogirsky and his wife Sarahl. Reb Abba was tall, proud, with a small beard, a mustache, and spectacles. He knew Torah, Russian and German. He had nationalistic sentiments, but he was not involved in communal affairs, aside from charitable activities.

About his wife Sara, people used to say: A woman of valor who can find. She had a good heart, and gave many donations to orphans and windows. As opposed to Abba, she moved gracefully. She ran the business, and purchases would come from afar. They raised four daughters and two sons: Freda (who died recently in the Land), Tania and Bluma -- who live in Lithuania, Mitzel -- who lives in the Land, and enlisted in the British Army as a doctor during the Second World War, from which she did not return. Davidl, who ran the store along with his brother-in-law the engineer Yosha Epstein, perished with his wife in the Kovno Ghetto.

[Page 35]

The Street of the Market and the Street of the Fishermen

Here is the large house of Leiba Opnitzky. Before my eyes, I see the owner of the house standing bareheaded, with a pipe, and wearing a belt below his belly. The house attracted many young people. There were four sons and a daughter, and the pioneering spirit pervaded in the house.

On Vilna Street, on the other side of the market, lived the family of tailors -- Naftali Senior and his sons. He was thin, and his glasses were at the tip of his nose. He had a sense of humor, and was always smiling. His sons Tovia and Chaim were jokers. Tovia excelled in the dramatic club of the culture league. One could hear the latest jokes in their house.

In their neighborhood, near the market, was the workshop of Chone Strum and the two Baron brothers -- Leibel and Hershel. Leibel immigrated to South Africa, and Chone ran the sewing workshop.

Itzik Dembo lived in the front of the market. He was a wood engraver, as well as a barber. A bell would ring as the door opened. Itzik would then leave his engraving and start cutting hair. One profession

[Page 36]

was not sufficient to sustain the family. Many pieces of furniture that were manufactured in Jonava were adorned with his engraving. He was expert in Hebrew and Yiddish literature. He was a popular man, with a sense of humor, who wrote many verses. His son Yankel had broad education, and knew Esperanto. His daughter Pesele concluded gardening school in Riga, and set up a kindergarten along with Batya Zandman. The younger son was Moshe. They all perished.

The owner of the lemonade enterprise, Moshe Yalinovich, lived in their neighborhood. He quenched the thirst of the residents on the hot summer days.

Moving on -- is the two-story house of Silberman. As far as I recall, the two brothers Efraim and Shlomo, and their sister Sara lived there. Since the parents were no longer around, the Maccabee youth ruled over the house. They would come there straight from the meeting place. The sports counselors also lived there.

Opposite was the large house of Meir Goldshmid. He had three daughters and a son: Liba, Sara, Chana, and Leizer. The haberdashery store was in the hands of the men. Meir, who limped, was a scholar and lover of Zion. He excelled as the Torah reader in the large Beis Midrash. The son Leizer obtained higher education. He studied chemistry at the University of Strasbourg. He married the teacher Beila Apatkina. Chana arrived in the Land. The rest perished.

At the side of Kovno Road, opposite the market, stood the house of the government appointed rabbi (in his time) Rabbi Shneur Sesitsky. He was intelligent and sharp. After his death, the house served as a meeting place for the Zionist youth: Maccabee, Young Zion, Tz.S. Hashomer Hatzair, and Gordonia. All of them remained in harmony thanks to Rivka Sesitsky, who inherited the traits of her father. You could have a conversation on any topic with her. She was active in Young Zion. She was intelligent, understood innuendoes, was pleasant, and had beauty marks. She set the tone at meetings. Velvel Sesitsky, who was Pogirsky's bookkeeper, had leftist leanings. He was a good friend to everyone. The house was full of youth, and people who arrived late had difficulty finding a seat. Matches were made there: Rivka got married to Yerachmiel Teitelbaum (the “lantern”), Velvel married Pesil Kerzner, and the youngest, Chana, married Leibel Stern.

Moving on from there is the home of Eliahu Frakt. He was a grain wholesaler, and a former Yeshiva student. He would talk on the telephone in Lithuanian, of course with a Gemara melody: “Fanile, Fanile, Dakit Devinta.” His son Efraim, a member of Maccabee and Tz.S. had a weakness -- to stroll until 2:00 a.m. Leah Kerzner ensured that he had a group to walk with when they left the Sesitsky house. Due to his nighttime strolls, he would often sleep for an entire day. The situation was as follows: The siren at Itzik's sounded at 4:00 p.m. He got up and thought that it was 7:00 a.m. He turned over to his other side, and woke up the next day.



Here is the house and the carpentry shop of Yankel Leib Landman in the alley that leads from Kovno Road. Yankel Leib attained the status of a wealthy man. He was not a great scholar, but was haughty. He was attracted to leading prayer services, either Shacharit or the Welcoming of the Sabbath. He was broad shouldered, always with a pipe in his mouth, blowing smoke incessantly. He donated generously to the funds and charities. His two sons David and Menashe, and his three daughters Sheina, Marka and Hindaka received a Zionist education. They all perished.

Here is the alleyway that leads from the Market Square to the Synagogue of the Merchants on Breizer Street. On that alleyway, Rabbi Chaim Yitzchak Silman lived and adjudicated matters of Jewish law. He, the genius of Siesikai, is before my eyes. Short in stature, thin, with a long beard, wearing a long frock. He was full of Torah and rabbinic decisions. He never stopped learning. You could always find him sitting with an open Gemara, Mishna, or Ein Yaakov in front of him. The house was full of bookshelves with religious books. He was modest, and charitable. He was stringent in his rabbinical decisions. The court of law (Beis Din) was in a small room. Monetary and business issues were debated there, and issues on kashruth were decided. His enterprise was also there: a charitable fund and bank for widows and orphans, who entrusted him with their few coins. He would speak quietly, with a hoarse voice, but his influence was great. He would lead the Neila service on Yom Kippur in the large Beis Midrash. It was an unforgettable experience to hear him. It seemed that he stood with his full authority before the Creator of the World in order to earn a good verdict for his community and the entire Jewish people. When the prayers and supplications would reach their summit, he would bang his hand on the podium and call out “And Seal!” His helpmate in his good deeds was his modest wife Chana Leah.

A party of carpenters

X., Chasid, Kaminsky, Meniuk, X., X., Mongin, -- the murderer of the Jews, Tovia and Chaim Kobliansky, X., Chana the wafer maker, Rivka Kobliansky, Aharon Tovia, X., Avraham Pimstein, Rachel Kolbiansky, Yitzchak Dembo, Fancevich, Mashil Kobliansky, Daniel Ricklis, Zeev Opnik, Yaakov Dobiansky, X., Binyamin Kopilansky, David Garber

[Page 37]

The families of Meir Riklis, Baron, Desent and David Ginzberg after his marriage also lived nearby on that lane.

Shlomo the Shochet, tall, and with a black beard similar to that of Herzl, lived on the continuation of the Synagogue Street. He excelled as a prayer leader. He was literally like a cantor, with a sweet voice. The youth would come from all of the Beis Midrashes to hear his Musaf services on the High Holy Days. He was very careful with his voice. It was said that if anyone opened a window on the street, Shlomo would freeze on the Street of the Synagogue.



I loved to wander on the alley of the blacksmiths. I would go to the smithy of Yisrael Kremenitzin. He was of strong build, and his face was covered with sweat and soot. His muscular hands would hold the smoldering iron anvil as he would forge an image with a heavy mallet. He had leftist leanings, and loved to converse about politics.

Here is the large smithy of the brothers Yudel and Yitzchak Beten. Its yard is filled with wagons, winter carriages, and wheels. The two brothers belonged to Young Zion.

Similarly, I remember the smithies of Lande and the Winitzky brothers. The latter was one of the largest. The wagons that were manufactured were sold in Kovno, Žasliai and other cities. The brothers immigrated to the United States. Only Yudel remained, and he also immigrated there in 1935.


Vilna Street

Here is the red brick building on the corner of Vilna Street and Shore Street, where our family lived. Here is the balcony on the second floor, surrounded by flower pots that were tended to by Mother. Here is the doorbell on the entrance, which was an innovation at that time. As children passed by, they could not restrain themselves from ringing and disturbing the residents of the house.

Nearby was the house of Zelig Kapol. Chaya, a widow with three sons and a daughter, remained. She had a difficult life. A son immigrated to South Africa. Two daughters survived the Holocaust and are in the Land. The rest perished.

Here are the two two-story red brick buildings of Shimon Wiener the builder. We lived on the second floor for more than a year when we arrived from Kaplice. His son Menashe Wiener graduated in chemistry from the Lithuanian University and married in Kovno. There were two daughters, Tzipa-Leah and Yehudit. They all perished.

The dentist Eida Katz and her lame husband lived and worked in that building. They were nice people.

Further on is the house of Leibka Gershovich (the “Turk”).

Here is the house of Mendel Gorfein. He was of medium height with a small beard. He had a calm personality. He was modest and scholarly. He would sit for long periods writing his impressions about the wide world, and express his opinions about important matters. This was a sort of diary of intimate matters, and was like his friend. His back was slightly hunched from all the writing. He was active in the general Zionists and in the parent committee of the Tarbut School.

Leizer Levitt and his wife Chaya-Bayla lived across the street. He was a raft floater, and she was a seamstress. They were quiet, upright, working folk. These traits beamed forth from their faces.

Here are the houses of Kopel Reznik. The Wolfovich family used to live in one of them. Later, the carpentry shop moved there, equipped with new machines by Kopel and his son Hershel. Kopel was a member of the town council during the 1920s. The mayor was Dr. Reiles. Kopel would doze during the meetings. When the chairman would ask for his opinion on a matter, he would wake up and say in Polish, “Niech bedzie jak pan doktor mowi”. Let it be as your words.

I left Jonava forever with a broken heart. I traveled to Kovno, and from there to central Asia, where I tarried for a number of years in the city of Frunze in Kyrgyzia.

I lived and worked there until November, 1965. At my mother's sickbed in 1964, I promised to fulfill her last wish before her death - that I would do everything in order to get to Israel. I fulfilled that promise on November 11, 1965.

On the way, I visited my sisters in Vilna and Kovno. I met Jonava friends and acquaintances who arranged a fine farewell party for me. In December, I arrived in Vienna after taking a train through Minsk, Moscow, and Warsaw[8]. From there, I arrived in Lod by airplane on December 23.

My arrival here has enabled me to put my thoughts and feelings in writing for the book of Jonava. If someone is disappointed about my article, I offer my apologies.

Translator's Footnotes

  1. Probably Young Socialists. Return
  2. I am not sure of the implication of this sentence. I suspect it means that they played “hard to get”. Return
  3. An alternate spelling of Henia. Return
  4. Since it is forbidden to cook on the Sabbath, the Sabbath daytime meal is generally left in the oven or on the stove from the preceding late afternoon. This hot dish is often a stew called 'cholent'. In many locales, the town baker would keep the cholent pots of all the townsfolk in the baker's over until noontime on Saturday. Return
  5. “Noach Pandre” is the lead character in a five volume epic of the same name by the beloved Yiddish author Zalman Schneor, published in 1938-1939.
    http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Shneour_Zalman. Return
  6. “Come My beloved to greet the bride, let us welcome the Sabbath.” -- the refrain from the main hymn of the Friday evening service. Return
  7. It seems that the missing word here, of which only the first letters are given in the Hebrew, is the “washroom”. In this conversation, it seems that the wife is talking to her husband in the third person. Return
  8. The unusual sequence of cities could be explained by the need to visit the Israeli embassy in Moscow prior to departing. Return


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