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[Page 21]

During the First World War

by Aharon Zisla-Gazit of Ramat Gan

The First World War broke out on Tish B'Av, the day designated for disasters.

I was then a 14 year old lad, a student of the Yeshiva in Jonava that was headed by Rabbi Yehuda Gorfinkel of blessed memory.

My elder brother Dov of blessed memory had studied in that Yeshiva earlier. The Rosh Yeshiva was a genius in Talmud and didactics, an exacting teacher, but not an obscure fanatic. He dreamed and desired to go the Land of Israel. His wife was from a family of rabbis and Torah scholars to whom Zion was at the head of their dreams. Her father Rabbi Nisan Ovadia Rosenson served as the rabbi of Wendziago³a [Vandziogala]. Her eldest brother Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Rosenson of blessed memory was born in Jonava and made aliya to the Land already prior to the outbreak of the First World War. However, after the outbreak of the war he returned as an alien citizen, first to Egypt and then to Russia. He was exiled to Siberia during the era of the revolution. He returned to the Land after many tribulations.

He served as a successful teacher in the Tachkemoni School of Tel Aviv. His son David who was born in Smargon arrived along with his family when he was approximately three years old. He later became well known as David Raziel, the commander of the Etzel[1].

Rabbi Yehuda Gorfinkel and his second brother-in-law Tzvi Raziel also succeeded in coming to the Land after the First World War.

At the time of the declaration of war, many of the youth of Jonava were drafted into the army as well as a significant number of heads of families who were called to the reserve army. At that time, a senior cutter and two young apprentices worked in my parents' hide shop with the adjacent sewing shop. One of them was drafted immediately and the second was in danger of being drafted. My father decided to stop my Yeshiva studies and take me on as an assistant in the store and sewing workshop. Even though I was not as studious as my brother Dov, I regretted the cessation of my studies. However, the contingencies of the times were decisive.

The chief commander of the Russian army, Nikolay Nikolevitch, blamed the Jews for the failures in the battlefield by accusing them of spying for the benefit of the Germans. Approximately ten of the community notables of Jonava were imprisoned as guarantors for good behavior of the Jews. My father and my uncle Eliezer Judelevitch of blessed memory were among the imprisoned.

In the meantime the front approached. The city was filled with fleeing soldiers. Many began to uproot themselves and move in the direction of Vilna and its surrounding towns.

My mother, who was responsible for the family, decided to move all of our family to ¯asliai. Only I remained with her to guard the store and to wait for Father's liberation.

Two days before the Festival of Shavuot 1915, the chief command issued a decree of the expulsion of the Jews from the Kovno region within 24 hours. This decree caused a great panic. We had some relief, since on account of this Father was freed from his imprisonment along with the rest of the prisoners.

[Page 22]

{There is an interlude of a poem on page 22, and the above article resumes on page 23}


by Noach Stern

{Photo page 22: Noach Stern}

(In memory of the disturbances of 1919)

The vision of wandering still poisons my blood,
Its grey flags still hover over my head,
Oh, orphanhood, oh, the cry of hearts that are bound
Between the cruel vistas, closed and clouded –

… The last bird of the area in the leaden sky already melted away..
And in the desolation a train wailed the howl of a bereaved mother,
Burning up in despair in the deep, opaque vista,
To provide escape from the yawning abyss for desperate people…

-- -- And once again the smoke of the trains enveloped me with the odor of fire and exile
billowing with steam before me, as the furrows in the autumn fields.
Oh, my self, my soul, once again wings hasten you
On your great journey…

5693 (1933)

[Page 23]

The decree of expulsion came so suddenly that people were at a loss as to what to do. My mother demonstrated at that time that she was a woman of valor who controlled her nerves. She encouraged my father to start packing the merchandise from the store and the most necessary clothing and belongings. She got in touch with farmers who were our customers, and obtained wagons to transport the merchandise, sewing machines, and many belongings that remained.

Thus did thousands of Jews, uprooted from Jonava and its environs, set out to wherever fate would take them. Our family traveled to ¯asliai to join up with the rest of the family. Along the way, in the forest, we stumbled into bands of Cossacks who beat the travelers to the left and the right and tortured some of them – in one case to death. Beaten, persecuted and frightened, we arrived in ¯asliai for Shavuot. We celebrated the festival in a crowded environment and with tears, but also with thanks that we succeeded in arriving in peace and being all together. After the festival we moved from ¯asliai to Vilna, where my parents opened a hide shop with the merchandise that they had brought with them.

Vilna was crowded with tens of thousands of refugees. Its citizens were drafted to take care of those who came almost empty handed. My brother Dov and I volunteered to take turns guarding the mentally ill people who gathered together from all the towns and were concentrated in a large yard until they were able to be placed in closed quarters. We also volunteered for other acts of assistance.

As the front approached Vilna close to the time of the High Holy Days, my parents decided to travel to the interior of Russia after the holidays, to the family of my uncle and grandmother. We sent a portion of our merchandise there. In the meantime, the Germans decided to bombard Vilna, and they conquered it on the night of Yom Kippur.

Their relationship to the Jews in those days were particularly good, for the Jews were the only people with whom they were able to communicate.

After the Festival of Sukkot, several heads of families of Jonava gathered together and decided to travel to the city [Jonava] to see what the situation was there. Due to the mass movement of the army on the roads, we were permitted to travel only by river. There were no steamboats. Therefore it was decided that at first only the men would travel in ordinary boats. Among them were Leib Opanitzky, his son Eliahu, my father and I. I seem to recall that Eliezer Judelevitch was also with us. We hired gentile boat owners, and with their assistance, we floated along the current of the river. Along the way we stumbled upon bridges sunken in the water that had been bombarded by the retreating Russian army. We carried the boats over land to the other side.

This journey lasted a few days until we succeeded in arriving in Jonava. The city appeared dead. The houses and the streets were quiet. The farmers of the region avoided coming to the city for fear of confiscation of their merchandise and animals by the army.

The arrival of the first Jews was received in a friendly manner by both the Germans and the gentile residents, except for those whose houses were filled with the property of the Jews who left. Slowly, the Jews began to return. Life began to organize itself. The distress was great due to the lack of merchandise and foodstuffs. Most of the merchandise was rationed, and the military government forbade free trade.

Since the sources of livelihood were virtually sealed off, a black market began to develop, in which most of the residents worked. They purchased goods from farmers in the villages, and brought them to town, under the constant danger of fines and confiscation. As is said in the prayers of Yom Kippur: “He earns his bread at the risk of his life”.

Coffee and tea houses were opened for the soldiers by proper families who had charming daughters. Through the connections with the German soldiers, they succeeded in purchasing from them leftovers or merchandise that could be obtained from the military canteens.

The rest of our family returned along with all those who retuned from Vilna, except for my brother Dov, who remained in Vilna to study at the teachers' seminary in the conditions of lack that pervaded then. My parents once again opened the hide shop with the sewing workshop. The cutter remained in Russia, so one young person worked there along with me as the assistant.

Houses of prayer were opened. The returnees did not have intellectual prowess. A unique personality who stood out was Nathan Janosevitch, the son of well-to-do parents, with a pleasant appearance and general education, a Zionist by conviction, and concerned about raising the cultural level. Through his initiative, the library in the Wiener house was reestablished. When my brother Dov returned from Vilna, he was appointed along with Nathan and the teacher Joselovitch to open up the Tzeirei Zion hall as well as the Hebrew public school, in which Dov served as the principal and teacher along with his friend Joselovitch who was brought from Wilkomir [Ukmerge].

At that time, a young actor from Vilna, Germanisky, lived in Jonava. With his help and initiative, the play Yankel the Smith was performed, in which among others, Rikla Janosevitch and my sister Rachel of blessed memory performed. Later, with the expansion of the activities of Tzeirei Zion, plays on Israeli topics were performed, and the income was donated to the Keren Kayemet.

Translator's Footnote

  1. Irgun Tzvai Leumi (often known by its acronym Etzel) – a pre-1948 Zionist military faction. Return

[Page 24]

Tours of our Town in Reality and Imagination

by Yitzchak Burstein of Neve Sharet

{Photo page 24: uncaptioned. In the photo list, it is captioned, 'the cemetery'.}

Already from my early childhood, Jonava was like a major, central city for me. I was born and raised in the village of Kaplice, 17 kilometers north of Jonava. The 15 families were tightly tied to Jonava in their cultural, religious and material life. From there we brought study textbooks, books to read, the mail, and merchandise. We turned to the rabbi of Jonava with questions on kashruth, and the dead were buried in the cemetery there. We would travel there in festive clothes for theatrical performances. In 1916, when I studied in the Carlebach Hebrew Real Gymnasium in Kovno, I would pass through Jonava, sleep over there, and continue the next day to Kovno.

In 1922, we moved to the town itself, as residents in the house of Wiener the builder. I lived there until 1940 with brief interruptions when I studied in Vienna. In 1941, a short time before the war, the Soviets deported me to Siberia. I returned to Jonava for a visit 16 years later, on my long journey from the city of Frunze, through Siberia and Central Asia, in the autumn of 1957.

A group of Jonavers traveled from Vilna for a memorial day. We arrived at the edge of Wilkomir and entered the Girialka grove. This was the place where dancing parties took place in the spring, and now it was the resting place of our martyrs after the mass slaughter. The Jonavers from Vilna and Kovno set up a large monument with an inscription in Lithuanian and Yiddish next to the main mass grave. The monument was enclosed with a chain.

Behold, here was the recognizable grove. Here were the fir trees, trees that bore silent witness to the days of atrocities. We were together -- some in silence, and some with sighs and tears. We were photographed, and then we saw the old cemetery before us. From it remained


{Translator's note: At this point, there is an interlude of unnumbered photo pages, that are not listed in detail in the “List of Pictures and Drawings”, but are noted with a single entry in “List of Pages of Pictures and Drawings.”}

{First unnumbered photo page}

{Top photo: The Market Street.}

{Middle photo: Jonava in 1914.}

{Bottom photo: A general view from the roof of the church. 1, 3 -- The Great Synagogue and Beis Midrash. 2. Goldman House and the “Maccabee” Hall. Right background -- Har Hascharchoret.}

{Second unnumbered photo page}

{Top photo: Vilna Street -- Granevich's house and the public bank.}

{Middle photo: The second side of the street.}

{Bottom photo: A section of Kovno Street.}

{Third unnumbered photo page}

{Top photo: On the Vylia: The ferry.}

{Middle Photo: The wooden bridge.}

{Bottom photo: “The water men” on the rafts.}

{Fourth unnumbered photo page}

{Translator's notes -- the photo captions assume that the page is flipped 90 degrees clockwise.}

Scenes on the Vylia

{Left photo: Shimon Gorfein (Noy), Leah Yudelevich, Zeev Opnik, Rachel Lipschitz, Shifra Stoller, Izak Reibstein, Tzvi and Levi Perevoznik.}

{Center photo: Shimon Gorfein, Yitzchak Nochimovich, Eliahu Koper, X., Yitzchak Solsky, Chaim Teitelbaum, Zeev Opnik, Yehuda Zopovich, Baruch Shabtai's, Tzvi Perevoznik.}

{Right photo: Yosef Riklansky, Chana Davidovich, Golda Sirek, X., Shlimovich, Libertal, Aryeh Stern, Tzipa and Leah Wiener, Yerachmiel Teitelbaum, Miriam Nochimovich, Shlomo Meirovich.}

{Bottom photo: Yitzchak B.[urstein], Shimon Zak, Sara Burstein, Efraim Frakt, Miriam Burstein, Tzvi Levin, Mitzel Pogirsky.}

{Fifth unnumbered photo page}

Groups of bathers (1927-32)

{Series of 5 photos, all captioned together -- the names going from left to right, top to bottom.}

{X, Grunia Kaplan, Yitzchak B.[urstein], David Pogirsky, Roza Kagan, Alter Sandler, Moshe Baron; X, Sheva Segalovsky, Bluma Pogirsky, Chana Segalovsky, Yesha Epstein, Yaakov Miltz; Zelig Epstein, Moshe Miltz.
Zeev Kerzner, Moshe Baron, Eliahu Kagan, Chaviva Goldshmid, Efraim Frakt; Mina Zak, Rachel B.[urstein], Shifra Lomiansky; Leva Koper, Yitzchak B.[urstein], Batya Zandman, Aryeh Stern, Yosef Fridland, Pesia Dembo, Miriam Levin, Yaakov Dembo, Chana Goldshmid.
Mitzel Pogirsky, Miriam B.[urstein], Tzvi Levin, Sara and Yitzchak B.[urstein], Shimon Zak;
Efraim Frakt
Yosha Epstein and Yaakov Dembo
Rachel Levin, Mitzel P.[ogirsky], Roza Kagan, Feitza Levin, Miriam Nochimovich; Tzvi Levin, Sara Burstein, Sheina Levin, Efraim Frakt; Anna Kagan, Rachel and Miriam B.[urstein], Bluma Pogirsky.}

{Sixth unnumbered photo page}

Bridges and Youths

{Top photo: Dvora Zelonker and Miriam Nochimovich.}

{Middle photo: Mendel Dobiansky; Hinda Perlstein, Chana Davidovich, Chaya Katz; Dina Perlstein, Charna Baron, Liba Stern. Yaakov Dembo, Shlomo Perlstein, B. Kremenitzin; Dvora Goldshmid.}

{Bottom photo: The Segal family next to the train bridge.}

{Seventh unnumbered photo page}

{Top photo: The post office.}

{Bottom photo: On Lithuanian Independence Day.}

{Eighth unnumbered photo page}

{Top photo: The Great Beis Midrash.}

{Bottom photo: The Synagogue.}

{Ninth unnumbered photo page}

{Top photo: The train bridge “Tshigunka”.}

{Middle photo: With scenery in the background: Yaakov Klibansky, Chasia Fridland, Malka Unterschatz, Chana Goldshmid, Shifra Lomiansky, Shmuel Goldshmid.”}

{Bottom photo: The train bridge.}

{Tenth unnumbered photo page}

{Top photo: Next to the Flaks home on the Street of the Road (1925): Moshe Solsky, Rachel Levin, Mitzel Pogirsky, Malka Kaplan, Sara Burstein, Eliezer Goldshmid, David Pogirsky.}

{Middle photo: Walking on the road (1928): Nisan Burstein, Rachel Burstein, Tzvi Levin, Miriam Burstein, Eliezer Goldshmid, Rachel Levin, Yitzchak Burstein.}

{Bottom photo: Next to the “Kemach” (1932): Levi Koper, Chasia Fridland, Shifra Lomiansky, Malka Unterschatz, Chana Goldshmid, Yaakov Klibansky, Avraham Zuchovsky, Shmuel Goldshmid, Moshe Baron.}

{Eleventh unnumbered photo page}

{Top right to left: Izak Segalovsky and his wife Chaya. Chana Segalovsky, Sara and Yitzchak Burstein, Masha Segalovsky.}

{Bottom photo: Beila Apatkina, Menashe Wiener, Surka Ziman, Etka Segalovsky, Yona Saltuper, Chaya Morr, Rita and Esther Bulnik, Chaya Kapol; Meir Zopovich, Pesach Shachor, Eliezer Goldshmid, Moshe Epstein, Sheva Segalovsky, Tzipora Kapol, Breina Yaffa, Sonia Epstein.
Yitzchak B.[urstein], Dina Kapol, Sheina Segalovsky, Berl S., Ruth Hencha, Chaya Segalovsky, Alter and Mina Sandler, Zelda Solsky, Moshe Bulnik, Slumin, Henia Segalovsky, Chana Sandler, Blima Pogirsy-Epstein, Grunia Kaplan, Moshe Miltz.}

{Twelfth unnumbered photo page}

{Page rotated 90 degrees.}

{Top right photo: Yaakov Klibansky, Yehuda Katzenberg, Rachel Unterschatz and her sons Binyamin and Menashe.}

{Top left photo: The cart from 1920. Tzvi Liberman, the lawyer Avraham Yudelevich, Tania Yudelevich, Ela Pogirsky (Segalovsky), Binyamin P. On top -- Shlomo Dragatsky.}

{Bottom photo: In the yard of Abba Pogirsky. Next to the scale -- Avraham Liberman and Zalman Abramovich.}


[Page 25]

only a small part that was opposite the water mill, as well as the stone fence in its foreground. Here is the monument atop the grave of Rabbi Silman, and here are the graves of Itzik Segalovsky and of many others. The fence was broken on the other side, and the monuments were scattered. Cows and horses were milling about.

A few days later, I returned here from Kovno. I continued to the city of murder. The town went up in flames and was destroyed along with its Jewish residents. As you come from the direction of Kovno, there is an iron and concrete bridge before your eyes. The road is covered with a wide layer of asphalt. Here is the post office building, remaining as it was, a reminder of the days of Nikolai. From both its sides and the center -- everything is empty. I can only identify with difficulty the place where our two-story house stood at an intersection. There is no sign or remnant of the houses. The only identifying landmark is the Catholic church. Houses remain on the continuation of Kovno Street behind the market square; on the right is the alley where Rabbi Silman lived. They appear poor and abandoned, and strange faces peer from their windows. I move over to Breizer Street. On the right is an empty field, and on the left the street remains whole until Keidain Street, which was also not harmed. The two synagogues at the edge of the Synagogue Street have turned into warehouses, and stand desecrated and defiled. Thus was also the appearance of the Synagogue of the Merchants (Krabliniks). The alley that leads from the market square to the Street of the Fisherman was also burnt. No remnant remains of the home of the Opnitzky family.

I wend my way through the road. No remnant remains of the Segalovsky house as well. All of the houses along the road were consumed by fire. Only the house of Yitzchak Levin remains. The sawmills of Opnitzky and “Madis” have disappeared from the horizon. New, gentile houses have taken their place. The foundations were built from the monuments of the cemetery. The building of the cooperative remains standing. The new marketplace and all of its houses remain intact, as they were. As you pass below the railway bridge (Tshigunka) and move further along, it becomes clear to you that no remnant remains of the Kemach enterprise. The “Oren” match factory remains. The cooperative of the furniture manufacturers also remains. The train station -- has passed through a furnace. On the left is the house of the Kaplan family. Next to it is a kiosk. I tarry there for a moment, drink something, and snatch a conversation with the woman, a survivor of the family. Her eyes exude deep sadness.


Jonava in the years 1916-1920

Let us present the Jonava of bygone days, as is etched in our memories. Many people, myself included, remember it from the time of the German occupation during the First World War. As I passed from Kaplice through the Markortishk estate, I would meet Jonava women who were walking to go to the German commander who lived there “for assistance”. When the Jonava refugees who were deported returned to occupied Jonava, Chaim Levin was appointed as the mayor. A Jewish police force was put at his disposal, whose members included Chone Katzenberg, Chone Perevoznik, and others. Do any of you remember that the first modern coffeehouse was opened by the daughters of Itzik Segalovsky?

Do you remember the smugglers, the malinshitzikim, of those days? Shmerl, Bina and Avraham Shapira, Itzik Nochimovich, Itzik Dans, the Gershoviches (the “Turks”) and others. They smuggled everything, especially grain, and caused a grain shortage in town. Therefore, Rabbi Silman imposed a ban of excommunication upon them. There were some brave, strong, and energetic Jews who would sneak away from the German guard at night, setting out for Kovno and Vilna. They were considered to be the wealthy people of the town. A smuggler with a leather coat was a desirable guest during parties of that time, which included confetti, buffets and “air mail”. They scattered money right and left at the buffets, and with raffles.

Do you recall the vehicles, the diliznases, on the road to Kovno? The monopoly was held by Shulem with the long, white beard, who was nicknamed “Methuselah”, the son of Avraham Lukman, Gershon Asher Itzkovich, and the three Yudelevich brothers -- Izka, Hirshka and Shaulka. Shmerl Dragatzky held an important place. They would sit at their stalls like angels on their thrones. Important and honored travelers would sit inside on soft seats. Those less important sat opposite them, and next to them at the stalls were the simple folk. If a very important traveler came at the last minute, Shmerl would not be embarrassed to ask one of the travelers to give up his space.

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No protests would help. They would go out at night in order to arrive in Kovno in the morning. First, they would recite the wayfarers prayer (Tefillat Haderech). When the wagon reached the forbidden forests that stretched for 10 kilometers on both sides of the road, they would awaken from their sleep and recite verses of Psalms as a protection against demons. They would reach the inn at Davalgonys, about 12 kilometers from Kovno, early in the morning. The family of Uncle Rom was there. They would drink a hot drink and eat fresh rolls that had just been taken out of the oven.


Jonava 1922-40

I once again ascended the mountain and turned my head toward the mass grave in Girialka. Jonava came to my memory, full of vibrant Jewish life.

The “Gaguzina”: parties took place in that grove. People would dance to the sounds of a military band. Our acquaintances Puzitzer and Abramovich would bring cold lemonade and soda in a wagon. Yisrael Namiot, Persky and others would set up buffets. Hundreds of youths would be attracted to the direction of the grove. At midnight, they would descend the mountain, some alone and some with their partner, full of impressions from the party in the bosom of nature. The echoes of Hebrew and Yiddish songs filled the air of the warm summer night.

Now we pass by the “Kemach”, a combination of a sawmill, a flour mill and parquet factory. The enterprise occupied both sides of the street. Its owners David Burstein and Leiba Wolfovich were nationalist Jews. The name of the enterprise attests to this. Fifteen Jews worked there as experienced officials: Yona Saltuper, Grinblat-- avowed bachelors during the 1930s and active members of Young Zion; Moshel Beker the hunchbacked bookkeeper -- a great joker, with whom one was always happy in his presence; Moshel Baron -- a young sportsman and member of “Maccabee”. The work in the mill went very quickly under his hands. However, at the end of the workday, he would suddenly appear clean-shaven, dressed in etched trousers, a silk shirt and a tie, as he hurried to spend time in the company of women; the brothers Leibel and Pinia Burstein of Wilkomir -- one of them was a member of Young Zion, and the other, with peyos, was a Revisionist; Hershel Wolfovich, short, was also a Revisionist. He was the first person in town to own a radio. He played the mandolin in the Maccabee band, had a sense of humor, and played comic roles in the Maccabee dramatic group; Shmuel Bulnik of Siesikai appeared on Sundays from the forests. His penetrating gaze would quickly attract the attention of anyone standing next to him, who would then successfully imitate him; Shimon Murbiansky -- with left leanings, who found favor among the women of the town; Micha Baron -- approximately 55 years old, the lessee of the mill, with a small beard and mustache. He was a great expert, with a sense of humor. He was always covered in flour dust; Dovil Dudak -- who would cook for the bachelors, and do her work quietly and with dedication.

All of them were like a collective unit, and they were bound to each other in life.

You can imagine for yourselves the attractive force that this enterprise had for the youth of the town, especially of the prettier sex. Toward the end, two lovely girls worked there: Masha Namiot and Chana Sesitsky. On Sabbaths, the youths would literally lay siege at the enterprise. The Grossman family lived close by in the house of Petrosovich. He was a grain merchant. Both he and his sister Rivka were members of Young Zion. Due to their proximity, they were also numbered among the “Kemach” collective. On the other side was the granary of Nachum Blumberg and Grossman. On market days, Nachum would stand on the road and examine the wagons of the farmers to find out what merchandise they were bringing with them.

Here are the railway tracks. We would walk along the railway tracks on Sabbaths and festivals, and thereby shorten our journey to the mill. From there, we would go to the Geizon station and eat to our fill in the restaurant, especially on Yom Kippur.

The sawmill and flourmill of Leiba Opnitzky were before the train station. A large staff also worked there. Leiba's four sons worked alongside him: Eliahu, Abba, Tzvi, and Ezriel. The first were members of Young Zion and the latter was a Revisionist. Eliahu and Abba were among the first pioneers in the “Achva” group who made aliya to the Land. At the request of his father he returned from there after he got married, and brought his two young Sabra sons with him. They all perished.

Here is the “villa” of Leiba Wolfovich -- a wooden structure with a garden in front and a fruit orchard in the back. He was nicknamed Leiba Taroker since he was born in the Tarok inn between Kaplice and Siesikai. He had a calm personality, was always satisfied

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and was slightly haughty. I see him in the eyes of my spirit sitting with a pipe in his mouth, playing a difficult game of chess with his neighbor Yitzchak Levin.

Here is the house of Yona Katz, the grain merchant. He was an intelligent Jew, a scholar, and a Zionist. He was tall, with glasses, spoke with pathos, was a general Zionist, was never satisfied, always imbued with discomfort and trembling. He conducted a battle against the bank and its director Chaim Abramson. His wife Ethel was the opposite. She was calm and deliberate. Her maiden name was Stern. Their daughters Tikva and Chaya, educated in a Zionist home, made aliya to the Land as chalutzot, and work today for Kupat Cholim. Yona and Ethel also came to the Land, where they died and were buried at a ripe old age.

Here is the house of the grain merchant Abba Solsky and Gordon. They were considered to be the largest of the grain merchants. They would purchase geese and export them to Germany. Opposite this is the house of the grain merchant Yisrael Buz. There is a field next to the granary, which the Maccabee rented for light athletics. Yisrael would intermingle with the landowners and the farmers, and his appearance was like one of them. His daughter Lipsha, one of the prettiest girls in the city, was active in Gordonia.

Here is the wooden house and granary of the grain merchant Chaim Perlstein. He was tall, quiet, intelligent, and a scholar. It was not easy for him to compete with Abba Solsky, Chaim Blumberg, and others. His intelligent son Yosef was the best chess player in Maccabee, and won games against the chess players of Kovno. There were three daughters in the household: Chaya who was married to Meir Zuchovsky, Hinda who was married to Mendel Dobiansky, and Dina who was married to Daniel Riklis, an activist of Tz.S.[1]. The two latter made aliya to the Land, as well as his brother Shlomo Perlstein. They were the only survivors of the family.

Here is the house and granary of Mota Feliks the miser. The house stood out with its unique shape, its garden, and the well in the front -- definitive signs of being well off. Reb Mota was one of the wealthiest of the grain merchants. He also engaged in profiteering. He refused to give donations and gifts. It is said that he was once asked to give a gift to a householder who had lost his means, and who had been a great philanthropist in his day. Mota turned to his wife with the following statement, “Did you hear what has happened to so-and-so, who used to be prominent among his people, and used to disburse many gifts?!...”

Opposite it stood the house of the Sluman family, with its blue shutters, and surrounded by a garden. Shlomo Nota was tall. He always went on trips for the purposes of the grain trade, and he befriended the landowners of the area. His wife was short and always sickly. The porch of the house served as a meeting place for the youth. The sounds of the piano and mandolin could be heard from the house. The three daughters, Shifra, Yentl and Sara, played the piano, and Chaim Moshe the dwarf and hunchback played the mandolin. He played music to accompany the silent films in the movie theater of Tovia Yaffa Wasgal. The sisters would sing romances to the accompaniment of the mandolin. Shifra and Yentl made aliya to the Land, and Sara immigrated to South Africa. After time, the house and the porch were abandoned.

Here is the house of Yerachmiel Shachor, the tall cobbler. He was a lazy person who earned his livelihood with difficulty. His son Pesach became a student in the Lithuanian university after he concluded his studies in the Hebrew high school of Wilkomir. He was active in Maccabee, and participated in the string instrument band and the dramatic club. Later he was active in Tz.S. His younger sister Sara was a member of Hashomer Hatzair.

Here is the hotel and tavern of Yisrael Rikliansky. His son Yosef married Rashel Davidovich, the writer and member of Young Zion. The stepdaughter Roza lives in the Land. She is married to the Jonaver Yerachmiel Garber.

Here is the first enterprise of Jonava, the flour mill, sawmill and electric station of Itzik Segalovsky. The house and garden are in the front, and next to it are two houses for officials and their families. For years, the mill provided electric light for the town. At midnight, the light would slowly dwindle. People would rush to find matches, “Hurry, hurry, Itzik is crushing!” The siren of the mill would announce the advent of the Sabbath. Itzik was handsome, and hard hearted, but treated his employees well. He had eleven daughters and one son from his two wives: Ella, Sheina, Esther, Pesil, Feiga, Henia, Sheva, Chana, Masha, Ethel, Saraka, and Berko. One daughter was prettier than the next. Masha

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was once crowned as the beauty queen of Lithuania. Many boys were attracted to this house. However, most of the daughters would be “Yatzuh”[2]. They would play cards and social games, and dabble in love.

Before the outbreak of the war, Ethel, Genia[3], Chiletz and Berl, who was married to Leah Burstein, remained in the house. The only one who tied her lot to the Land was Chana, who married the teacher Alter Sandler. They lived in Tel Aviv, where they died. Ella, who married Binyamin Pogirsky, also made aliya to the land with him. The mother Chaicha with the two daughters Ethel and Genia perished in the Kovno ghetto. Four daughters survive, two in the Land and two in the Diaspora. The official Grundman who worked in the factory for many years and fell in love with all the daughters, also arrived in the Land.

Here is the post office, which was already in existence in the days of the Czar. There was a building such as this every few kilometers. They would exchange their horses and continue hauling the mail. At holiday times, the mail would distribute letters that included checks from America and South Africa.

Opposite is the house of Chaim Goldshmid with its hide store. He was learned, bespectacled, and blessed with three sons and a daughter Dvorale. The eldest Shmuel, a graduate of the Hebrew gymnasium, worked in “Di Yiddishe Shtima” (The “Jewish Voice” newspaper). Nisan and Moshe Yitzchak were members of Beitar. Nisan was deported to Siberia and died in a camp there. Moshe escaped to Russia, enlisted in the Lithuanian division on the Kursk front, and died from an enemy bullet.

Here is the bench in front of the house. On summer evenings, this served as a place to idle away time, headed by Shmuel Goldshmid and Pesach Shachor. They would sing songs in Hebrew that were composed in the tune of the opera Rigoletto, “Tempo Allegreto / Figure Nito / places at his own pace / to the maiden Shmukleretto.”

From the corner of the house, a lane leads to the mountain, on the old path to the train station. There is a basketball court there. Opposite it was the house, called Beit Hechalutz, where the chalutzim from Jonava and other towns were housed. They received their training through working in the enterprises and workshops, and prepared themselves for aliya. The cultural activities were helped by Moshe Ivensky, Menachem Mines, the teachers Shaul Keidiansky, David Rosenberg, Leibel Stern, and others.

Here is the building of Yankel Weitzstein, who was a partner in the match factory. He would drink cups of liquor before the meal. He would face the mirror and say, “Lechayim, Reb Yankel!” He got married late and took pride in his two daughters.

Here is the new two-story building of Chaim Dobiansky. This was a family of builders. Whoever did not see Chaim and his sons at work, with their mastery of the plastering tool and the level, and with no compromise on speed or quality -- would not know how to appreciate this. His wife Sara-Eidel and his son ran a grocery store. The three sons were members of Maccabee. Mendel excelled in light athletics.

Here is the house of Reb Shlomo Zisel Blumberg, who was tall, thin and handsome. He had four sons like cedars, and a beautiful daughter Henia. Dov was one of the first chalutzim. Moshe, Chaim and Henia were active in Young Zion. Nachum was a Revisionist. Dov is in Africa, and Nachum is in the Land.

The Lopianski house was next to Blumberg's. One daughter was married to Mula Shpilansky, and their second daughter Perla, a graceful Maccabeeist, was married to Petrikansky from Kozlowa Ruda. Mula was a joker and a cynic, but was always ready to help anyone in need.

Going further, there is the house of Lipa Klotz, a nice man, who was a baker and store owner. On the eve of the Sabbath, he would take the pots of hot victuals from the housewives and place them in the oven[4]. Their daughter Feiga who was active in Young Zion and their son Alter both perished. Menachem Mines inherited the house and set up a wholesale store there.

Menachem was a political person, one of the heads of Young Zion in the town. He was active in the community, in the public bank, and the national funds.

Here is the building and store of Reb David Ginzberg and his two unmarried sisters. He was a measurer and later a treasurer at Kemach. He got married at a late age to Malka Wolfovich. He was a miser like Mota Feliks.

Here is the house of Nathan Wolchokovsky. He was short. He was active in the communal institutions, from which he earned his livelihood. He was active in the national funds, and served as director of the bathhouse and slaughterhouse. The young couple Chaya and Meir Zuchovsky lived with him. The four eyes of Chaya and Mrs. Wolchokovsky would peer out from the open door. From them, one could hear the latest news on matters between them.

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Here is the house of Yudel Rashkes, a scholar, maskil, and active Zionist. He was a member of the directorship of the public bank and the gabbai of the new Beis Midrash in Lipniak. For a time, his house served as the meeting place of Hashomer Hatzair. His son Mordechai made aliya to the Land. His daughter Shoshana survived the Kovno ghetto. She lives in the United States today, where she is a Hebrew teacher.

Here is the wooden, two-story house of Gershon Kagan. His daughter Rachel and her husband Moshel Kolbiansky lived on top. Gershon was tall, a scholar, intelligent, and cynical. On Simchat Torah he would be jubilant, drink, sing and dance. He was a kerosene merchant.

On the other side of the street is the house of Nusoviches. He was a merchant of forestry products. The teacher Rosenberg, who married Yosef's daughter Zlata, lived there. The house was full of books. The three daughters received a Jewish and general education. The son Nathan, who was active in cultural life, moved to Kovno and served as the secretary of the community. He founded the ethnographic-historical society.

Now I am tarrying next to the houses of my acquaintances Yechiel Davidovich and Yosef Munitz. They were cobblers. Yechiel's son Moshe-Hirschka, a member of Maccabee and Tz.S., helped him with his work. As has been previously noted, his daughter Chana was active in Young Zion and the Library. Even Feiga, the daughter of Yosef the cobbler, was active in Young Zion. The son Alter was active in Tz.S. Feiga was deported with her family to Siberia. All the rest of them perished.

Here are the wooden houses of Avraham Lukman and Shmerl Dragatzky, which served as class 3 inns. Since they were owners of carriages, they concerned themselves with hosting travelers. Entertainment groups that came to play in the town were forced to stay there due to the low prices.

Shmerl, broad shouldered, fat-bellied, red faced, would walk like Noach Pandre[5], with his hands behind him, giving instructions to his sons Shmuel and Shlomo as they were hitching and unhitching the horses. On warm summer evenings, after he ate fat, tasty tzimmes to satiation, he would lie down to rest in the fresh air in front of his house. His snoring, carried by the wind, could be heard from afar.

When the wagons went out of style and the pace of life quickened, Lukman and Dragatzky were the first one to obtain buses. They operated the Jonava-Kovno route.

The home of Reb Moshe-David Morr, with its large porch, stood out on the opposite side. Merchants, agents and matchmakers would come there. The house was clean and first class, all thanks to his wife Sara Batya. Moshe David was large in stature. He was formerly a “water man” who floated rafts. There was always a pipe in his mouth. With his black pipe, he always looked like the captain of his ship-home. He excelled as a host. He knew how to tell stories and tall tales to the satisfaction of his guests. The stories of Moshe David accompanied them as they ate their gefilte fish with fresh rolls. A home-style atmosphere existed. Moshe David himself had a large appetite. At night he would polish off the roasted ducks and leave money on the table. Sara Batya wondered:

“Moshe David, where did the ducks and fish disappear?”

“There were guests here at night. Here is the money that they left.”

I remember their two sons and two daughters. Yosef built a workshop near the grove and later sold it to Wolfovich-Burstein, who set up the “Kemach”. Their daughter Chaya graduated from the Carlebach Hebrew gymnasium in Kovno. She studied in a university in Germany and married the son of Intriligator from Kovno. The sons are in the Diaspora. The daughters Chaya and Reizl perished.

Yisrael Namiot lived near the banks of the Vylia after he gave up the inn on the other side of the river. He was brave. There was a bus stop in his yard. Jewish refugees from Poland were put up in his inn. Yisrael and Petrosovich received a permit to construct a wooden bridge on the Vylia in place of the ferry. They put up the bridge when the ice melted, and took it apart when the first ice blocks appeared. The buses from Ezsharni to Kovno would stop there for a light meal and to pick up passengers. The gefilte fish of Yentel Namiot and her sister Shula was well known. Shula, who married Manosovich, would treat us with roast ducks, potatoes, and sauerkraut that restored the soul. There was a smile on her face, and it seemed to us that the ducks were also smiling at us. Her husband Yisrael also smiled a lot. Their daughter Masha survived and lives in Vilna, and their daughter Leah lives in the Land.

[Page 30]

Opposite was Avraham Persky's inn with the billiard table. The youth would come there to enjoy a light beer after bathing in the Vylia. They would lick their fingers from the fresh buns that were filled with lung, the splendid handiwork of Frumel Perevoznik. Their daughter Chaviva is in the Land, as well as a son who has recently arrived from Vilna.

Next to the Vylia is the large house in which the sisters Zelda Solsky and Chaya Dina Epstein, two widows, lived. Zelda had a lovely daughter and three sons, Moshke, Itzke, and Leibka. The latter lives in Israel. Chaya Dina had three sons like cedars. She lived in the Land with her son Zelig, but returned and perished with her family.


The Vylia, Water Men, Raft Floaters

The Vylia played an important role in the life of our town. The fishermen, headed by Yosef Katzenberg and Suntochky (“Garbatzki”) earned their livelihood from the river. Carp would appear on the tables of the wealthy every day, and of the regular people only in honor of the Sabbath. The gentiles would mine rocks from the bottom of the river with pans. Earlier, Jewish quarriers would earn their livelihood from hewing rocks for various purposes. They even set up a synagogue of rock hewers.

“Water men” with long rafts would float with the current. This was a group of strong men. The rafts would float to Kovno, and even to the descent of the Neman. They would spend days and nights on the rafts, in the rain and the wind. They would light bonfires at night. The typical command was heard from afar:

“Father, break your head in the direction of the shore!”

“Shimon-Feitel, strengthen the rear in the direction of Skrol!”

Here is the gallery of the raft floaters:
There were four strong brothers, Nachum-Leizer, Shmuel, Yankel, and Yona Berzin. The four sons of Nachum-Leizer were Arka, Shlomoka, Luka and Lipaka (even their sister, who was a Maccabeeist, was nicknamed Marka Kozak). Yechiel (the Turk) Gershovich, David Kagan, the brothers Leizer and Lozer Levitt, the brothers Mendel and Shimon Suntochky, Avraham Morr, Chaim Kapiner, Moshe Yaffa, Koshka Snunit-Zelmanovich, Binyamin Kapliansky, and Yisrael Handler.
You certainly also knew the two brothers Hirshe and Abba “Veriker” Fridman, who were expert at riding the rafts. They would float on isolated blocks of wood and transport them to designated places on the raft. Outside, they would break apart parts of the raft and bring the parts to the ground. Then a group of wagon drivers would appear who would load the blocks with the help of cranes and their muscles, and bring them to the rafts. Everything was done quickly, and if you stood on the side, it would seem to you that it was even done with ease. However, their shirts were dripping with sweat, and droplets dripped from their foreheads. Before us is: Hirshe Klotz with his beard, the son of Menda with the long hair and strong body, Itzka Dudak, Hirsh Leizer Micha's Alter Micha's, Shepsl Droskin, Yudel Bereznikov, Nachum “Aho”, Chaim Elka Steinkert, Shaya Leib Heiman, and Leizer Shabtai's the “Kushi”.

Before there were connections with buses, steamboats would float on the Vylia. The travelers would enjoy the scenery. The boats would transport bricks from the brick kilns of Perevoznik, Meirovich, and Ricklis to Kovno. The boards from the “Kemach” would be transported by large boats to Tilsit.

On Sabbaths, the youth would sail on sailboats and sing songs of Zion accompanied by the mandolin.

They enjoyed bathing in the river, especially on the beach at the downstream of the current, between the willow trees. Persky's cabins were there. Some people would show their prowess by swimming to the other side, demonstrating various swimming strokes. At times there were competitions with lengthy immersions...

Images from those days, when there were still ferries, pass before my eyes. They would gather on the shore in order to cross to Namiot and Itza-Meir the Warsawer and arrange the “Drala” -- parties gluttony. However, the ferry was on the other side. They would shout loudly:

“Rafael, Davai Parum!
The ferryman finally woke up. After some time, they already saw the flickering of the lantern from the ferry. We would go aboard and disappear into the darkness of the night.

(continued on page 33)

[Page 31]

Sabbath Eve on the Vylia

-- A poem of memories -

The Vylia was proud on Sabbath eves
Its thin belly rose up
Without a sound, the water flowed through the entire breadth,
Very easily,
Touching -- and not touching the high shore, strewn with houses,
The houses of the fisherman
Who know the life of the river.

As the day ends, to greet the Sabbath
The Vylia silences,
Its breathing stops,
A veil of silence falls upon it.
It was enveloped with the soft beauty of the Sabbath eve.

... And a child who would then wander to the high bank of the Vylia
(Far off, opposite, between the fields, the dirt path leads,
To the abandoned white palace,
Linked in its paleness to the horizon),
Would hear in the silence the advent of the ministering angels.

[Page 32]
(Was this light melody actually heard,
Or just imagined?)
He would see the celestial brilliance kissing the Vylia:
Wonderful Sabbath
The holy Sabbath of the river of childhood
Enveloping the Diaspora
With the light of the far-off Holy Land --

... From the house of prayer hidden somewhere
Among the trees in the fields, in another moment
The sound of the hymn will be heard
“Come my Beloved...” (Lecha Dodi)[6]

5718 / 1958


{Translator's note: At this point, there is an interlude of unnumbered photo pages that are not listed in detail the “List of Pictures and Drawings”, but are noted with a single entry in “List of Pages of Pictures and Drawings.”}

{First unnumbered photo page}

Various generations of youth:

{Top photo: Tz.[vi] Perevoznik, Y. Kotler, Tzvi Ulpasky, N. Shapira, M.[oshe] Yaffa, Rivka Simkovich; Itzik Reibstein, Batya Gorfein, Dova Dobiansky, M. Kremenitzin Reuven Yudelevich, Levi Perevoznik.}

{Bottom photo: A. Chasid, Y. Teitelbaum, Sara Shachor, X., Perchik, X., Eliahu Baron, Breina Reibstein, Leah Klibansky, Rachel Rashkes; B. Gorfein, Yenta Nochimovich, X., Esther Novichovich, Yaakov Dembo, Ruda Klibansky, Chasid.}

{Second unnumbered photo page}

{Translator's notes -- the photo captions assume that the page is flipped 90 degrees clockwise.}

{Right photo: X,. X., X., Elimelech Klotz, Avraham Pimstein.}

{Left photo: Yaakov Yaffa, Moshe Slomin, Tzvi Suntochky, Moshe Segal, Tovia Kolbiansky, Shmuel Klotz; Meir Wolfovich, Zelig Wender, Moshe Shapira, Yerachmiel Garber, Reuven Yonatan, Hirsh Yankele Stein.}

{Third unnumbered photo page}

{Top photo: Moshe Yaffa, Y. Kremenitzin, Meir Pogir, Asher Gorfein; Notake Fridman, Fridman, Yaakov Grun.}

{Bottom photo: Zelig Abramovich, X., Tzadok Yudelevich; Moshe Klachman, Motel Yudelevich.}

{Fourth unnumbered photo page}

{Translator's notes -- the photo captions assume that the page is flipped 90 degrees clockwise.}

Generations of Students:

{Three photos, assumed captioned from top right to bottom left:
Mina Zak, Nadia Granevich, Feicha Levin, Chasia Fridland; Shifra Lomiansky, Chana Goldshmid, Malka Unterschatz, Lena Kagan.
Hadassa Fridman, Henna Granevich, Sara Goldberg, Leah Yudelevich, Pesia Kazansky; Rachel Rashkes, Gita Felkser, Bunia Wolfovich, Rachel Lipschitz; Sheinka Klibansky, Leah Grodsky, Shifra Stoller.
Batya Gorfein, Esther Shaposhnik, Sheinka Fridland, Anna Kagan; Rachel Lukman, Freda Wilkomirsky; Leah Klibansky, Sarka Segalovsky, Chaya Dobiansky, Yenta Nochimovich.}

{Fifth unnumbered photo page}

{Top photo: Chana Marka Unterschatz, Moshe Chaim and Batya Novichovich, Sheina and Mirka Landman, Leah Kronik; Etka and Freda Landman, Binyamin and Rachel Unterschatz, Leah Landman, Feiga Klibansky.}
{Middle photo: Tzipa Leah Wiener, Moshe Baron, Nadia Granevich, Pesach Shachor, Shmuel Goldshmid, Meir Wolfovich, Rachel Burstein, Chasia Fridland; David Pogirsky, Shifra Lomiansky, Miriam Nochimovich, Yitzchak B.[urstein]; Leva Koper, Feicha Levin.}

{Bottom photo: Zelig Epstein, Shifra L.[omiansky], Yitzchak B.[urstein], Reizel Aronovsky, Leah B.; Levi Koper, Rachel and Miriam B.[urstein], Mordechai Wolfovich.}

{Sixth unnumbered photo page}

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

{Middle photo: Elimelech Perchik, Yudel Katzenberg, X., Avraka Unterschatz.}

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

{Seventh unnumbered photo page}

{Translator's notes -- the photo captions assume that the page is flipped 90 degrees counterclockwise. There are three photos on top, and one on the bottom. It is assumed that the single caption runs from top right to bottom.}

Various groups of youths:

{Lula Wilkomirsky, Yosef Rikliansky, Yudel Winitzky, Moshe Lantzman; Yosef Levin, Hershel Levin, Avraham Zuchovsky.
Zelig Epstein, Moshe Solsky, Mitzel Pogirsky, Menashe Wiener, X.,
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.
Elka Namiot, Zamka Kaplan, X., Elka Fridman; Lula V.[ilkomirsky], Moshe Baron, Nisan Goldshmid, Yitzchak B.[urstein], Shmuel Goldshmid, David Fridman.}

{Eighth unnumbered photo page}

Boys during the years of girls:

{Top photo: 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.}

{Bottom photo: 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]

{Photo 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.

{Unnumbered photo page}

{Photo: 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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