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[Page 176]

Yosef Oheli (Vayl)

by Ida

Translated by Elizabeth Kessin Berman


Yosef Oheli


Yosef Oheli was born in November 1887. His father was liberal minded, but he nevertheless gave his son an enlightened education as well as a traditional one. So Yosef received a basic traditional education until he was 14, and those years instilled a great love of Israel in him. After his finishing his certificate of studies with honors at the Tikhon school, he studied at the technical school for a year and a half, but his studies were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. He enlisted in the Austrian army and was injured while serving.

During his entire career as a student, he did not abandon his study of the Hebrew language. Having learned the fundamentals, he sought to supplement and expand on his knowledge of the language and, in particular, Hebrew grammar, which he loved, even as he had excelled in his studies of the natural sciences and mathematics.

After World War I, Yosef devoted himself zealously to Hebrew education and instruction. His first job was in the Czech Republic. He taught there for three years. After returning to Poland, he was invited to serve as the principal of the school in Berestechko, a village in Volhynia, whose Hebrew school predates the foundation of the Tarbut School movement in Poland. Yosef introduced Sephardic pronunciation to his school and created a Land–of–Israel–like atmosphere into a foreign environment. He was not only imparting the Hebrew language to his students, but also immersing them in its culture and in Judaism.

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The second place where Yosef advanced his work in education was Radzivilov. The first year the school was open, he and I worked with some 70 students, and until we immigrated to the Land of Israel, we taught nearly 300 students and the teacher roster was always full.

Yosef was completely devoted to educating children. He had a natural ability for instruction and extraordinary patience, answering every question or problem put to him. He was a quiet man, and he adhered to the saying of R' Yehoshue son of Perachia, “Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.” He often said with a smile, “I don't care if someone insults me, but I'm extremely sorry if I learn that I've insulted someone.” He had a good temperament and was always content with his lot, especially after we immigrated and he was able to continue his pedagogical work.

At first, after immigration, we were in the Merhavia settlement, but after that we went to Beit She'arim, where he lived for 22 years, until his death.

Yosef was very involved with the Esperanto club, and he loved to investigate the international language because he believed that it encouraged a greater understanding among nations. He could read this language and spoke fluently with other club members.

He was very sociable and always participated in all the parties and meetings thrown by the veteran teachers and village residents. On March 22, before he left for a party organized by veteran teachers at the Teachers House in Haifa, I asked him, “Maybe you shouldn't go?” He laughed and answered, “Don't you known how much I love to be around people?” He left the party happy–but suddenly fell down on the street and died.

He used to say, “I'd like to die in good health.” He achieved this and made the proverb come true.–Ida

From “small things great glory emerges,” for just 50 years ago there was no comprehensive lesson plan for teaching Hebrew throughout the Diaspora. So for those of us whose hopes were bound up in the redemption of bringing Hebrew education out of its fog, we will always think of and remember Yosef. In Berestechko, a town in Volhynia, which is known for its pioneering in the Second and Third Immigration, Yosef Oheli–Vayl set himself up less as a prophet, but more as a representative of the yet–to–be–established Hebrew state. There the people withdrew from the reality that surrounded them and sowed the belief and their yearnings to journey to this longed–for land, even though they had been speaking another language from their infancy. With every fear that I entertained on my way to this town on a peasant wagon from the train station, I was drawn into a deep darkness, but in my first meeting with the principal of the Hebrew school (which predates the foundation of the Tarbut Association in Poland), a brilliant light was illuminated, and so it was in every hour that I was there.

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Ah, how the questions multiplied as I was challenged to answer them, and how the number of words grew and grew in a place that was insulated from the affecting currents of the outside world, particularly during the many changes of regime after World War I. He was one of the very first who were forced to create teaching materials almost by himself, with whatever he had and whatever he didn't have. And so there he was, a Hebrew teacher in Berestechko, between Lutsk and Brody. With his fundamentals and broad knowledge, Oheli was perceived as the supreme leader of the effort, and although he participated in everything related to pioneering in the town as an educator unlike any we had ever seen before, that was not his goal. It was to enrich and oversee; those were his guiding intentions, to spread his consistent philosophies.

He immigrated after having gone from a one–room house of his own, having only a well–packed knapsack and a sanctity in his heart. It wasn't long before he joined a settlement and saw rewards in spreading his talents until his retirement. Even in his retirement, he did not stop delivering his teachings and his vigilance until his sudden death.

The funeral procession drew near the valley, was saddened for a moment, and then stood in silence near Beit She'arim, where Yosef Vayl, nicknamed Oheli, may his name be blessed, lived, worked, and is buried.–Sh. Rozenhek

How do we account for a man from Berestechko in Radzivilov? The truth of the matter is that it is due to the character of Yosef Oheli, who first worked as an educator after he came from Poland to Berestechko, a town in Volhynia that was once considered the “Jerusalem of Volhynia.” During the same era, at least 40 years earlier, it was a remote town without even a passable road or a train station, and to go there, you had to drive dozens of kilometers in a horse and wagon. It had about 5,000 inhabitants, half of whom were Jews. And I must note that Berestechko didn't even have a modern school until a few “crazies” decided that the town needed a Tarbut school. This school is described in the Berestechko yizkor book:

“We saw results immediately, as many children came to the school when it was established because there was no other school teaching Hebrew in town. Most of the children had attended a Russian school. A committee was elected to run it, but it was not easy for them, and there were many doubts whether they could rise to the task. So we turned to the central Tarbut organization in Rovno and told them we were planning to open a school. We requested financial support, especially the authority to hire teachers.

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Tarbut School with Teacher Vayl and His Wife


We received an affirmative answer: although the funds available were minuscule, that was no reason give up or despair. And so we persevered, and we finally established the school. The teachers' agency sent us teachers that matched our ambitions, and they all had connections to the pioneering movement.”

One of the first teachers to come to the town was Mr. Perech Tsvi, who in the same yizkor book describes the conditions he found when he arrived:

“Finally, we reached Berestechko just before sunrise, covered with mud, but that very day my companion and I met with the committee and we were briefed on the work. At first, I assumed that everything was organized and ready to go, but immediately it became clear that nothing at all had been done. There was no building, no furniture, no teaching materials, and not a cent to begin to do anything. But I did find one important thing–a strong desire to work toward and sustain the ideal of education and our redemption through it. These good Jews were imbued with this lofty ideal in their souls, their deeds, and their great ambitions.”

Their perseverance was great because of their determination to complete the work.

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In the meantime, more teachers came: Yosef Vayl, of blessed memory, who shared his long life with Ida Chereg (Oheli), and others. They all began working like ants, full of equal strength to create a Hebrew school that was beautiful in form and full of content with the aim of establishing strong foundations. There was an effort to have the Poles recognize it and a great desire to change the Berestechko school into an example of learning for the whole area. This handful of teachers from the Berestechko Tarbut school, under the direction and leadership of Yosef Vayl, made the effort into a celebration. Yosef Vayl was a teacher, a trainer, and a miracle worker, and when he came to town, he brought a wellspring of positivity with him that made an impression on the students. With his explanations, his way of interpretation, and his easy temperament, he had a great impact on the children. And furthermore, we must add that Yosef Vayl changed the lives of not only those children who were already students in the school that he was developing, but also others as he put a stamp on their lives.

We would go for tours outside the town to get a break from the close quarters and congestion of our daily lives. We would breathe the fresh air of the wide–open spaces. There we would also hear our teacher Yosef lecture on his passion for the future of a Jewish world, Zionism, pioneering, working with our hands, the development of agriculture in the Land of Israel, and the farming life of pioneering, this new type of Hebrew man who implants his vision to revive a newly awakened homeland, and the joys of the creativity that accompanied him and in his work.


Tarbut School of [illegible] Sukkot 1936


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These were exciting lectures that implanted in us the deep feeling that we ourselves could experience everything going on in the land of our fathers. And so it developed in us the desire to go out to work, to make something out of nothing, to make an effort to get pioneer training in order to prepare for immigration to the rebuilt Land of Israel. Under our teachers' inspiration and Yosef Vayl's leadership, we believed that “a new song will make us joyous,” and we did not see any alternative other than to go up to the Land of Israel and to participate in rebuilding the homeland.

His uprightness, frankness, love of man, and devotion to his educational and behavioral work with the students made such an impression on us that many from our town who are in Israel now are members of kibbutzim or settlements or members of the Labor Movement.

The teacher Yosef Vayl was a friend and good mentor to all of his students. His gracious humility and love of peace will never fade from our hearts, and his memory will forever be preserved in us.–Aharon Kahana

In Memory of Our Teacher

by Chave Zilberman

Translated by Elizabeth Kessin Berman

On the day of the commemoration of our town's martyrs, I went to the cafi in which the descendants of Radzivilov were going to meet. I knew I was late right away, because I saw a long procession moving slowly and people talking with one another, using every possible moment of their yearly meeting …. They had just returned from the cemetery, honoring the stone monument dedicated to the martyrs of the Holocaust who fell for the Jewish people, …

I went into the crowd in the large hall and a found myself a place a near a long table so I could see the faces of the people from my birthplace, my people, who had shared a large part of my life… Someone was drinking a cup of tea next to me and reminded me of someone…. Everyone had changed since then; like me, they had matured, and I felt as though I had not been separated from them for all these years, until I started to ask a friend of mine from school, and behold! None remained except for a few who could be counted on the fingers of my hands….

I sat and listened to the traditional speeches, and suddenly I raised my eyes and I saw two people I recognized sitting in the corner. I immediately got their attention and signaled my greetings and deep respect, and they reciprocated with deep affection. Who were those two people?

In a second, memories of my childhood in Radzivilov appeared before my eyes. The person sitting in the corner with his wife was Mr. Vayl, the principal of the school, and I knew both of them for their strength and dedication, their focus, and their devotion to this school.

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They did not just teach their students, but rather they also instilled a new sense of awareness in them, very different from what one can acquire in the Diaspora: an awareness of Israeli nationhood and a love of our ancestors' homeland and the Jewish life to rise from within it. Mrs. Vayl was my teacher. She knew how to make an impact on children's hearts. And everyone listened intently to her.

I recalled the time when we celebrated Purim, my first at the school, when I saw Mr. Vayl and his wife standing near their house, their eyes filling with tears. All the schoolchildren, in costume, were heading toward their house, me proud in my long white dress and golden crown shining on my head. I was Pharaoh's daughter; my brother Sunye, next to me, was dressed as Ahashueros, holding my hand with noise and a bright stream of colors surrounding us. The Vayls were overjoyed to welcome their students in costume to their home. And they seemed well satisfied with their work.

And then came their departure. If I am not mistaken, it was in 1936 when the Vayls decided to immigrate in order to do themselves what they had been preaching to others–to participate in the building. It was difficult to part from these beloved teachers, and all the people in our town were saddened to learn of their departure, but they very much supported their decision and their courage in making such a move. Everyone knew that love of the homeland was what drew them to decide to leave the Diaspora and join those builders. I stood among the hundreds of people who went to the train station to accompany the teachers as they made their ascent to the Land of Israel. It was a day laden with heavy rain, clouds hid the sky, and only from time to time did rays of sunshine appear between the clouds and darkness. I had the feeling that this was some sort of sign–light emerging from darkness …

This was no time for thoughts, for reflections–the solemn sound of “Hatikvah” broke into our thoughts, and then we heard Mr. Vayl's slightly hoarse and emotion–filled voice giving his parting speech…

Slowly, the train left the station, as if it were accompanying the hands that were waving and hats heralding–shalom, goodbye….

And then years passed, and so we met once again at a memorial service for our townsfolk in mutual respect, with deep acknowledgment in our hearts for their influence on us.

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R' Moshe Duvid Balaban

by Aleksander Balaban

Translated by Elizabeth Kessin Berman

My father's house was used as a meeting place for civic gatherings, but most of all for Zionist activism. I remember when about a dozen Zionists gathered in our house and decided to improve the Talmud Torah because the learning standards were low. A committee of three men was elected to immediately begin hiring teachers, including a teacher for the young children, and of course Hebrew, Russian, and mathematics teachers. This angered many members of the religious leadership, and they put pressure on R' Shmuel Mes, the famous Moshe–Mendil Mes–Ginzburg's brother, so that he withdrew his support of the institution. This caused a difficult financial crisis, so the committee decided to attract students from the affluent classes to the Talmud Torah and charge tuition. The committee members set an example by sending their children to the Talmud Torah. Among the first to do so was my father, of blessed memory, who sent his sons Avraham, Shimon Diniuk, and others. After a while, a teacher named Avraham Yehuda appeared in our town; he was recruited because of his Zionist activism. He recommended the founding of a Hebrew school, and father helped him toward that end. After a while, there was a push to create a Hebrew kindergarten, and again our father's influence was essential to its establishment.

I also remember well the town's Zionist meetings, in which they debated the possibility of a cooperative to acquire land in the Land of Israel to plant vineyards. After these vineyards indeed began to give fruit, members of the cooperative immigrated to Israel in their respective abilities.

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But many could not go.


Moshe Duvid Balaban and His Family


It was already customary in our time to sell shekels to collect funds for the Land of Israel and place containers for them in the synagogues on Yom Kippur eve. There were still towns in which the rabbis were opposed to this practice. Kozin was one of the last of these towns. But father was able to convince the town's rabbi to agree to allow the containers to be placed to collect funds for the Land of Israel.

Although my father was a “progressive Zionist,” he continued to observe his father's traditions of hosting the Ostra rabbi and his disciples in our house.

With the outbreak of World War I, most of the Jews of the town tried to leave and began to return only in 1918. When we came back, we found many of the houses destroyed and blown up, and the few Jews who remained were mostly poor.

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A few families were living in the fire department stables. Some were living in the school or in some of the synagogues. They had no beds or bedding. They wrapped themselves in whatever they had carried with them.

Then a community committee formed that included representatives of all the parties of those days. My father was its chairman. The committee's major activity was to organize social aid and administer support to the many who were in need.

During the change of regimes, when the Petliura government broke up and the Poles were advancing on the town, the gangs disappeared, and the town was left with no governing body. The Poles began to bomb the town. Suddenly, a Pole appeared in our house and announced that if we didn't immediately tell the Polish army that the town was undefended and that there would be no opposition to its entry, the Polish army would blow up the entire town. So my brother Yisrael, who was a member of the town council, volunteered to go with the Pole to the Brody forest waving a white kerchief. The Polish guard apprehended him and ushered him to the command unit. After it was verified that that no army remained in the city, the bombing ceased, and the Poles entered the town.

A Polish commander entered our house and demanded that our father give him a large amount of flour and barley without any promise of payment. During those early days, it was still possible to gather the amount he demanded. But afterward it was difficult for my father to do so. Even so, the commander threatened my father with death if he failed to gather enough. My father tried to escape to Brody on foot in the dark of night. But luckily the commander was soon replaced, and Father was able to return home.

As the flourmill manager, Father tried to engage in pioneer training. And so a unit of the pioneer training program was created in the mill. He also exposed his sons to the spirit of Zionism. It was also so for my sister Sore, who founded a committee for orphans and worked to found an institution to teach sewing, called ORT; and also my sister Bronye, who was a certified kindergarten teacher, having trained in the Alperin School in Odessa. After the war, a Hebrew kindergarten was established in Radzivilov, and she was its headmistress.

With the beginning of the Third Immigration during the 1920s, three members of our family immigrated to the Land of Israel. In the ensuing years, Father visited the Land of Israel three times, and the third time, he brought Mother. He bought agricultural land with the hope of returning and settling as a farmer. In the interim, he helped establish his children there.

When Father returned to Radzivilov from the Land of Israel, he was accused of transferring a large sum of money from Poland to the Land of Israel.

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To bring him to trial when they couldn't prove this, they plotted and schemed against him: near the outside porch of his house, they planted a few counterfeit coins. The police appeared and began to search for a coin–minting machine in our house. They found the counterfeit coins and accused Father. To our great relief, several respected Poles, including the Polish priest, argued on his behalf. It was clear that he could not have done this, and they succeeded in freeing him even before he was brought to a judge.

Of our scattered family, only those who immigrated to Israel during the 1920s, settling and raising families there, survived World War I. My oldest brother, Yisrael, the firstborn, was exiled to Siberia by the Russians at the beginning of the war and vanished there. His wife and children, who survived the Holocaust, immigrated to Israel and settled there.

It is written: “The righteous are taken away from the evil to come” (Isaiah 57:1).

So this can be said of Father when he died of natural causes. But he died without a penny, because Soviet rule had taken everything he owned. Mother and the rest of the family were consumed in the flames of the great Holocaust. May their memory be a blessing.

R' Shmuel–Zev Vaynshteyn

by Yitschak Vaynshteyn

Translated by Elizabeth Kessin Berman

R' Shmuel–Zev Vaynshteyn was born in Kremenets, a district in Volhynia, in 1879, at the same time that his mother departed from this world.

Shmuel–Zev grew up in the home of his deceased mother's parents, the Nagid R' Avraham Moshe Rozenfeld, where he and his friend Noach Prilutski were ordained as rabbis at the age of 16. But neither of them was to take advantage of their training. R' Avraham Moshe Rozenfeld soon died, and at age 17, Shmuel–Zev began managing the affairs of a lumber– trading company.

In 1900, when he was 21, he married Rachel, daughter of R' Chaykel and Chane Bronshteyn of Kremenets. From then, on he began to work on his own in the lumber trade, exporting timbers to build ships in Germany. Gradually, his family grew: in 1901 his first son, Avraham Moshe, was born; in 1902, his second son, Yitschak; and in 1910, the third son, Eliezer (Siunye).

R' Shmuel worked away from home eight to nine months out of each year.

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He would spend the summer in Kremenets. But with the outbreak of World War I, all of his capital was drained because the Germans did not pay for the timbers he had sent to them. Instead, they sent him bills like IOUs instead of bank drafts. He would give them to his wife, Rachel, who could turn them into cash with Ayzik Kranz, nicknamed “the key,” and she would deposit the money in the Russian–Asiatic Bank.

In 1914, the Russian army became fully entrenched in Galicia and conquered the Przemysl stronghold. At that point, R' Shmuel took up a commercial endeavor, in which R' Yitschak Vakman partially participated, as well as Matus Chazan and others, with the intention of trading with the defeated Galicia.

In 1916, R' Shmuel was drafted into the army, and with the turning in 1917, he was in a military hospital in Moscow. When he returned home, R' Shmuel again went into partnership with his brother–in–law, R' Shalom Krivan, to trade in hides that were stripped off horses that were killed during the war. These hides were sent to Redichev for processing at the tannery there.

In 1919, R' Shmuel organized a cooperative to the salvage machinery from the flourmill in the village of Sapanuv near Kremenets, much of which had been badly burned. Among the participants in this cooperative were R' Moshe–Duvid Balaban and R' Shlome Viser, both from Radzivilov. They salvaged the machinery from the middle of the Ikva River and sent it for repair. They sold part of the wheels and the sawing mechanisms, but then it occurred to one of the participants to bring the machines from a large factory to Radzivilov and set up a flourmill there. In Radzivilov, they bought an old furniture factory on Lipobov Street and a spacious house next to it. They set up the machinery they had brought from Sapanuv. They acquired a millstone and then a filter to strain the crushed flour. The peasants from the surrounding area would come to have their wheat ground. The work was carried out in two stages. Because the peasants had no cash, they paid with goods, that is to say, they paid for the grinding with a portion of their wheat. As production grew, they acquired an additional grinding wheel and produced bran and semolina from the shaft. At that time, there weren't many other mills, and the flourmill on Lipobov Street flourished. It employed a large number of people in many different positions that were essential to its development. The partners divided up the various management tasks. R' Moshe–Duvid Balaban was associated with technical affairs, R' Shmuel Vaynshteyn was involved in administration, and R' Shlome Viser was devoted to commercial affairs.

The production grew to two and two and a half wagons of grain per each working day, which had three shifts.

In 1921, R' Shmuel moved his family to Radzivilov, where they settled in a large house near the mill.

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In 1925, he married off his oldest son, Avraham Moshe, while his second son, Yitschak, finished high school in Kremenets and was accepted at the university in Lvov, but then transferred to the university in Krakow. But his father called him back to help him work at the mill.

Even though he was busy with his own affairs, R' Shmuel always found time to be involved with community affairs and in communal conflicts that required arbitration, serving in the arbitration hearing as the guarantor between the opposing sides.


The Vaynshteyn Family


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In this capacity over the years, R' Shmuel represented the General Zionists in the town and the local community during the appropriation for the administration of the Talmud Torah. His help was also enlisted whenever a resolution was necessary–whether acting aboveboard or “under the table.” His wife, Rachel, was his helpmate in all of these endeavors.

With the Russian conquest of Radzivilov in 1939, the mill was confiscated. Everyone who was living in the large house or in the capacious buildings attached to the mill was evicted and had to find other living quarters. R' Shmuel and his family moved into one room across from the Great Synagogue. As the mill owner and a past employer, R' Shmuel now became a second–class citizen, namely, a citizen who had liabilities, and was prohibited from leaving the town, finding suitable work, and the like. His family members were also reduced to the same status, except for his son Avraham, who found work as an electrician. Because of this, R' Shmuel was not deported to prison in Siberia. Others, including Yisrael Balaban, Shlome Viser, Bukshteyn, Yakov Boym, and Yehoshue Halbershtadt, were deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan. They vanished, and nothing has been heard of them to this day. Only their family members returned.

With the German conquest in 1941, all of R' Shmuel's family members were in Radzivilov. Siunye, the youngest son, was sent for a few months beforehand to work far away from the city, but as the Germans were entering the town, he returned to share his fate with all the other victims. When the ghetto was divided between the useful and the non–useful, R' Shmuel and his wife fell into the latter group. Their sons Yitschak and Siunye worked in the sawmill, so they were counted among those in the first ghetto.

When the “non–useful” were marched to their deaths, R' Shmuel Vaynshteyn was seen marching with Rabbi Itsikel and Fishel Margulis in the first row… . May his memory be a blessing!

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A Portrait of My Father

by Tsvi Sley

Translated by Elizabeth Kessin Berman




R' Yosef–Mendil Sley (Grubshteyn) was the youngest of three pairs of kosher butchers in Radzivilov: R' Hershil and his brother, Yosef; R' Bentsion and his brother–in–law, Yosef Tsurf; and my father and his older brother, Yechiel–Duvid. My father was younger than they were, but he was nevertheless mature, perceptive, and dedicated to public service. Our house was always open to any foreign visitor, whether a preacher, an interpreter, a representative of a yeshiva or some institution, or even a delegate from the Holy Land–they all received a warm welcome and were offered enough money to support their cause by R' Yosef–Mendil the butcher. And even more so, the young Zionists regarded him as one of them. He helped them collect Jewish National Fund donations on Yom Kippur in the Great Synagogue, placing the Jewish National Fund collection box among the other charity boxes, even though many of the Hasidim were opposed to Zionism. He was committed to trying to persuade them that they were wrong and to convince them of the wisdom of Zionism and the restoration of the Land of Israel. He praised the quality of the etrogim from the Land of Israel; even if the etrogim from Corfu were more perfect, father stressed, we should use the ones from the Land of Israel because they came from the Holy Land, for they were certainly preferable to other etrogim.

As a Zionist, Father concerned himself with giving us, his children, a Hebrew education. In Kivertsy, where we once lived, he brought a Hebrew teacher from Lutsk to teach Bible and literature to a group of children, thus supplementing their Talmud studies. Afterward, he sent me to the yeshiva in Kremenets even though I had dreamed that he would send me to Mikve Israel to train in agriculture so I could join one the collective farms in the Land of Israel. My yeshiva studies did not inspire me as did the creativity of Bialik, Mapu, Smolenskin, and other Enlightenment writers.

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It is important to note how my father related to the socialist movements that flourished among Jews in those days. As a man with incredible foresight and understanding, my father approved of the labor unions, and at that time no one dared to speak against the rich and powerful, who thought, habitually, that because they were the lords of the era, they were the protectors of knowledge. Oh no, not even a butcher or one single Jew whose livelihood was so dependent dared to challenge the powers that were.


R' Yosef–Mendil Sley (Grubshteyn) and his family


Once, a Zionist film about Jews' life of in the Land of Israel was shown in Radzivilov. Father brought the entire family to see it. It was an extraordinary event because no Jew there had ever gone to see a film. However, this event was seen as a threat to traditional life in the town. And certainly in regard to a kosher butcher! Father put his livelihood at risk because he could have been rendered “unqualified” as a butcher. But Father did not give any credence to this belief, and the community understood his foresight and his Zionism.

After the World War I, and after I decided to immigrate to Israel, Father spoke to me of the difficulties that awaited me: “Transportation was not yet organized, railroads were not laid out, war was still smoldering in parts of the world. How would I ever get there?”

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Nevertheless, because he believed I was right and knew I would go anyway, he added, “My son, here are 300 rubles for the journey. You should know that you have burned all the bridges behind you, and ahead of you lies only your determination to achieve your goals.” By the way, this money was all that he had. He blessed me in the belief and hope that he would follow me. After a year, he also sent my sister Rivke to the Land of Israel, as in the prophesy “He prepared the way.” And a year later, he immigrated with Mother and the rest of the family. It was a daring thing to do in those days, to uproot a large family and commit them to a journey to a country where acclimatization would be endless.

He did not leave his optimism behind when the difficulties of adjusting to life in the Land of Israel exhausted him. To build his home, he had to overcome every obstacle. He built a beautiful house in Hadar HaCarmel, Haifa; raised and educated all his children; and fully believed that he was living in the “days of the Messiah.” He went to his eternal rest two years before the establishment of the State of Israel. May his memory be blessed.

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Profile of Dvore Likhtman

by Tsvi Sley

Translated by Elizabeth Kessin Berman




Dvore Likhtman's father and I were childhood friends. We attended primary school together, and after we came home from exile after World War I, we renewed our friendship. We went into business together and continued thus for 15 years until I immigrated to Israel in 1935.

Dvore's mother, Leye Beynish, was also her father's childhood friend, and around town they were considered destined to be together, Mr. and Mrs. Right. So, in 1924, they married, and a year later, Dvore was born. She was the most beautiful and sweet–tempered child. She was very much a part of my family, having a strong, loving connection that was common among Jews. When she was in kindergarten, she would come to our house instead of going home. Once she got lost, and when asked where she was going, she said that she was going to her uncle Menashele's house.

When I set out for the Land, the entire Likhtman family accompanied me to Lvov. At my departure, I saw tears in their eyes. I knew that they were not crying because I was leaving them. These were tears of worry for me, for my journey to a faraway, desolate place where life would be difficult–all the good food they were blessed to have was to be found the Polish heavenly “garden of Eden” on earth.

How can we remember what we understood as the Polish “garden of Eden” before the war with Nazi Germany? The new laws imposed on the Jews, forbidding the Jewish rite of slaughtering animals, the “quotas” in the high schools, and many, many more … that changed the “garden of Eden” into hell for the Jews.

[Page 194]

Thus, through the conquest of Poland by the Nazis, it became a place for the fundamental annihilation of Jews throughout Europe.

In 1947, I received a letter from Dvore, who was in Italy, telling me that she and her sister Yafe had survived and that they intended to come to Israel. When I found out that Dora (as we had called her for so many years) was coming to Israel with her husband and baby, I hurried to prepare a separate room for them so they could stay with me. I didn't want them to be sent to a resettlement camp. After a month, her husband managed to get them an apartment in Jaffa. And so they settled there. He worked in the military. But this work caused him a lot of suffering because he contracted a serious illness. In the meantime, another child, Shmuel, was born. They decided to buy an apartment with a store in Ramat HaHayal, and they moved there. Everything seemed fine, but suddenly Dora became gravely ill, and after a short time, she died.

You could write an entire book about her ordeals in the ghetto. But I relate only a very tiny version here. Her father, Binyamin, died in Brody during the first year of the German occupation. And her mother was shot by a peasant in an open field as she carried her daughter Yafe. How the two girls, Yafe and Dvore, survived is a miracle. They were finally able to immigrate to Israel after wandering around for a long time, but even here in Israel there was no rest for Dvore and no time when she was granted a reprieve. May her memory be a blessing!

In Memory of the Shif Family

by Buntsye

Translated by Elizabeth Kessin Berman

When World War I ended, the Yosef Shif family made its way back from exile to the town. Life there was very difficult; it was hard for the family to earn a living, and a serious illness claimed the life of the head of the family after much suffering, leaving a wife, a son, and three daughters.

Yosef Shif's house was a Zionist household, and it housed one of the largest nationalism and Zionism libraries in Russian and Yiddish in the town. The son was very intelligent and was constantly reading. But he was very sickly, and there was no cure for him. And he also passed away.

The mother and her three daughters toiled in poverty. They got meager aid from time to time from their relatives in America. But they somehow got along.

When the Pioneer movement and Young Pioneer were established in our town, the family got a breath of life.

[Page 195]

They envisioned the sparks of future new beginnings through immigration to the Land of Israel–for their renewal and also to rebuild the land there! Sore, the middle child, went first for training, immigrated, joined the labor movement, and was very content as she reached her goals.


Teme Shif


The youngest daughter, Teme, went the route of a training camp organized by Pioneer in Gorokhov, near Warszawa, and then immigrated to Israel. After she, too, was settled in her work, her mother's two sisters immigrated, along with the oldest daughter, Pesye, and they all lived together, working and hoping for better days.

But a bitter fate befell this family. It wasn't long after the mother set out that Teme married, found work, and was content… . But suddenly she became ill, and she did not rise from her bed. Sore married a man who was also a Holocaust survivor. He lived in bitterness. Finally, he succumbed to despair: one night he took his own life… .

And the oldest daughter, Pesye, who never married, had a lonely, miserable life, laboring in sorrow in difficult jobs. She fell out of bed and, after suffering and great pain, also died.

This is the story of one of the finest, humblest families of our town, who yearned for a life of work and honesty. They suffered all their lives and never found peace. May they all be remembered as a blessing.

[Page 196]

Mikhael Prochovnik

by Ch. F.

Translated by Elizabeth Kessin Berman




As the news spread in Radzivilov that the Germans were advancing to Brody and that many local young people began to flee toward Russia and Romania, Leybish said to his only son that in spite of his family's wishes, it was the right time for the family to scatter and divide to avoid the imminent danger. He knew that his son, Mikhael, did not want to wander alone and leave his family, but regardless, he fled to Shumsk with his youth group friends. When the Russians captured the town, Mikhael came home, but he was immediately conscripted into the Red Army. He was sent to Siberia and lived there under extremely difficult conditions–work, hunger, and cold, without proper clothing. It was an inhuman existence. But while he was there, Radzivilov was conquered by the Germans, and his entire family was destroyed along with the other Jews of the town.

Mikhael survived his sufferings and the torments he endured, and in 1948 he came to Israel. There he planned to begin a new life: technical school for the future. But suddenly he grew ill, and on April 12, 1961, he died.

[Page 197]

Bat–Sheve Nir (Strumin)

by Sh. N.

Translated by Elizabeth Kessin Berman




Humble in her ways, delicate in her features, and refined in her spirit, she was a person who adopted her parents' Jewish traditions and their love of mankind. She was a dedicated and beloved teacher who strove to impart the fundamentals of Judaism to the children of Israel. This was our Bat–Sheve, who was plucked from us prematurely. She dedicated her talents and charm to the public benefit, and she did this without help or assistance, secretly or openly.

Her greatest success was her organization of a club to teach Bible each week, and through this she supported those who were thirsty for spiritual learning.

In satisfying work, in her enlightened work, she was our friend, and so she will ever be remembered.


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