Volume IX, Encyclopedia of the
Jewish Diaspora

Memorial Book of Countries and Communities
(Hrodna, Belarus)

53°41' / 23°49'

Translation of Grodno

Edited by: Dov Rabin, Grodno Society

Published in Jerusalem, 1973 (H,Y, 744 cols pages).


Project Coordinator

Miriam Margolyes


Jerrold Landau
Batya Unterschatz

Our sincere appreciation to Yosef Starowolski, Secretary of Grodno former residents society in Israel, for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

I want to thank a magnificent volunteer, Linda D. Epstein, from Washington, D.C., who scanned each photo from the Grodno Yizkor Book, thus enabling us at last to see the faces of our long-dead relatives on this website. Her outstanding generosity coupled with her time & skill are outstanding. We are all greatly in her debt. This brings to an end my term as Coordinator of the Grodno Yizkor Book.

Miriam Margolyes

This is a translation of: Grodno, Belarus
Grodno (Grodno; Vol. IX, Encyclopaedia of the Jewish Diaspora; Memorial Book of Countries and Communities),
Editors: Dov Rabin, Jerusalem, Grodno Society, 1973 (H,Y, 744 cols pages).

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
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Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

Encyclopaedia of the Jewish Diaspora

Memorial Book of Countries and Communities

Volume IX



Edited by: Dov Rabin

Editorial Committee:

Itzchak Yellin, Iser Kulik of blessed memory, Shmuel Dimant, Moshe Alperstein, Chaim Pasmanik

Chairman of the “Encyclopaedia of the Jewish Diaspora” Organization
Ch. Berlas, Jerusalem

Published by the “Encyclopaedia of the Jewish Diaspora” Organization, Ltd.

All rights reserved –Printed in Israel, Jerusalem 1973

Publication Committee

Itzchak Yellin, Shmuel Dimant, Moshe Alperstein, Shimon Mass, Moshe Notes,
Chaim Pasmanik, Eliezer Palnitzki, Mordechai Kustin, Iser Kulik of blessed memory.

United Grodner Relief in New York
Grodner Mutual Benefit Organization of America and Canada
Grodner Yizkor Book Committee in New York
Grodner Club of New York
Grodner Organization of Montreal
Landsleit Organization of Grodno in Buenos Aires (Argentina).

“Organization of Grodno Emigres” in Israel

Yellin Itzchak – chairman; Palnitzki Eliezer – vice chairman;
Pasmanik Chaim – vice chairman; Alperstein Moshe; Gershuni Freda; Dimant Shmuel; Zachri Aaron;
Mass Shimon; Naor Chaim; Notes Moshe; Menaker Dov; Kustin Mordechai;

Grodner Organization of America and Canada

Jack Kahn – General Secretary, New York;
Abraham Malevitch – Los Angeles;
Abraham Schultz – New York;
Herman Javlokov; Morris Leon; Jack Bendetson; Jack Kei; David Anski – Montreal;
Joseph Kagan – Chicago


History of the Jewish community of Grodno / Dov Rabin
Aleph. The Beginning of the City of Grodno 17
Beit. The Beginnings of the Jewish Settlement 18
        Jews in Grodno during the 16th century, expulsion and return 20
Gimel. Period of Growth (1503-1647) 24
1.        The general and economic situation 24
                        Status of the Jews of Grodno 24
                        The beginnings of oppression by the Christian citizens 27
                        Means of livelihood of the Jews 29
                        Struggles of the Jewish artisans 31
2.        The community 31
                        The controversy in the Rabbinic election process 32
                        The first Rabbis of Grodno 33
3.        Grodno – The main “Vaad Lita” community [1] 35
                        “Vaad Medinat Lita” and its organizations 35
                        The boundaries of the community of Grodno [2] 38
                        The uniqueness of the community of Grodno in “Vaad Lita” 40
4.        The Chain of Rabbinical Succession 42
5.        Beginnings of Aliya to the Land of Israel 43
Daled. Period of Seige and Distress (1648-1764) 44
           Times of trouble for the people of Israel 44
           From war to war 44
           False accusations and blood libels 46
           Economic struggle, debts and taxes 47
           Grodno – a major Torah center 51
           Echoes of the Shabbatai Tzvi Movement[3] 55
           The community “The Other Side of the River” on the other bank of the Neman 56
He. The Years of the Division of Poland (1765-1793) 59
           Oppression 59
           Blood libel of 1790 60
           The time of the Kosciuszko rebellion 60
           Characteristics of development 61
           The last heads of the Rabbinical court of Grodno[4] 63
            The dispute between the Chassidim and Misnagdim[5] 63
           Men of stature 64
           The social assistance organization 67
           Grodno – the center of Hebrew printing in Lithuania 69
Vav. Period of Economic Instability (1794–1840) 72
1.        Under Russian rule 72
                        New administration, old and new problems 73
                        Citizens scheming against Jewish rights in Grodno 73
                        Blood Libel in 1816 73
                        Communal activities and pleadings of Zundel Zonnenbergg 74
                        Military Service Decree 76
                        Opposition to the Education Legislation 77
                        Grodno Jewry during and after the Polish Rebellion 78
                        Period of Riots in Russia, 1881 79
2.        The economic troubles of Grodno, and the livelihood of the Jews 80
                        Backwardness of the city economy and the situation of the Jews 80
                        Jewish livelihood and their economic situation 82
                        Industry 84
                        Beginnings of the emigration to America 86
3.        City of Torah 86
                        A People Occupied with the Torah 86
                        Rabbis and Scholars 88
                        The liquidation of the Hebrew printing shop in Grodno 93
4.        The Enlightenment (Haskala) Movement[6] 94
                        Jewish schools for general education 94
                        Public Atheistic Heresy – The Public Library 96
                        The struggle between the Maskilim and their opponents 97
                        Maskilim Authors in Grodno 98
                        The Founding of Social Institutions and Organizations 109
5.        Love for the Land of Yisrael 110
                        The First Olim to the Holy Land from Grodno 110
                        Kolel Horodna [7] 115
                        The beginning of the Hibat Zion movement in Grodno 115
                        First agricultural settlers in Eretz Yisrael from Grodno 117
Zayin. The Years of Recovery of Grodno Jewry (1891–1914). 120
1.        The general condition of the Jewish community 120
                        The Period of final glory 120
                        Facing animosity and an oppressive regime 121
2.        Jewish Self Defense 123
3.        Jewish economic system 130
                        Sources of Income 130
                        The Tobacco Industry 131
                        New Immigrants from Lithuania in Mozesville, Argentine 136
4.        The Spiritual Social Category of the Society 137
                        The Character of the Leadership of the Kehila 137
                        The Kehila Leadership 137
                        Torah, Charity and Benevolence 140
                        Beginnings of Assimilation 143
5.        The Revolutionary and Social Movement among Grodno Jewry 145
                        First revolutionary Seeds 145
                        The Beginning of the Jewish Workers Struggle in Grodno 146
                        The Revolutionary Activity – Ebb and Flow 152
6.        Grodno– Center for the Rebirth of Nationalism and Hebrew 158
                        The Hibat Zion movement in the nineties 158
                        Cultural activity for Hebrew education in Eretz Yisrael 160
                        Grodno – One of the Zionist Centers in Russia 161
                        Poalei Zion 165
                        Grodno – Center of Hebrew Education 173
                        Various Zionist Activities: Jewish Literary Society 185
                        Bereishit immigrants from Grodno for settlement in Eretz Yisrael 188
Chet. The First World War (end of 1914 – April 1919) 198
1.        A Year of riots, accusations, and expulsion 198
2.        The German conquest 200
                        The occupation regime; Distress and famine; New forms of livelihood 200
                        “Vaad Adat Yisrael” The Jewish Communal Committee comes to the aid 202
                        Jewish cultural awakening 204
                        “Groups” and the “Kibbutz” Jewish artisan organization 205
3.        Russian and German revolutions 213
                        Bad times 213
                        “The Grodno Republic” 215
                        The foundations of the democratic Jewish community 218
                        The elected city council 221
                        Trade unions 223
                        The Zionist movement comes out into the open 225
Tet. The New Polish Regime (May 1919 – September 20, 1939) 230
1.        The beginning of Polish rule 230
                        Attacks and libels against the Jews 230
                        The pushing out of Jews from their economic position, and lowering of their status 232
                        The weakening of the social structure 233
                        Nationalistic Zionist awakening 234
                        Grodno – a center of the third Aliya 237
2.        Two months of Soviet conquest 241
3.        The front of oppression and hatred 243
4.        Slander, attacks, and unrest 247
          Comments, footnotes, and sources of information 256
          Notes and bibliography 258
Aleph. The struggle for survival  
        The Jews of Grodno – their status and struggles / D. Rabin 273
        The status of the Jews in the city 273
        The struggle for survival in the present and the future 275
        Jewish industry (at the end of the 930s) / Wolfe Jalovitz 281
        The Jewish cooperative / Yitzchak Gozansky 286
        The Interest free loan fund / D. Rabin 291
        The Technical School / the editorial committee 293
        Our Professional school / Benjamin Gordon 295
        “ORT” organization in Grodno / D. R. 297
        Professional and economic activities of workers / Dov Rabin 299
        “Hachshara” of the “Hashomer Hatzair” pioneers[9] / Elimelech Horowitz 305
Beit. Communal Activities  
        Worrying trends contrasted with gladdening revelations / Dov Rabin 307
        Jews from Galicia –their influence on the community/ Yitzchak Soloveitchik 309
        The community – its leadership and institutions 311
                        The community (1919-1928) / Aaron Shulkes 311
                        The community and its institutions (1929-1931)/ Yitzchak Soloveitchik 312
                        The status of the community (end of 1935) / A. Shulkes 316
                        The makeup of the leadership of the community/ the editorial committee 317
Gimel. Torah and Religion  
        Yeshiva “Shaarei Torah” and its leaders / D. Rabin 321
        Synagogues and study and prayer houses / Dov Rabin 329
                        The Great Synagogue “Levush”[10] 331
                        Houses of study and prayer halls 334
                        Synagogues and houses of study in the Forshtot 345
        The old synagogue in the suburbs / Zvi Belko and his students 346
        Rabbinic leaders / Rabbis Yosef and Shmuel Rozovski 349
        Cantors of the city / D. R. 355
Daled. Movements and Trends  
        The Zionist Movement  
        The Zionist Center / Yitzchak Soloveichik 359
        “WIZO” chapter / Sara Soloveichik 361
        “Akiva” youth movement / Pnina Orenstein 361
        “Mizrachi” / the editorial committee 363
        Socialist and Pioneering Zionism  
                        Implements for the workers of the Land of Israel/ David Ben-Dov (Berman) 367
                        Poale Zion = Socialist Zionism (1921-1933) / Eliezer Palnitzki 368
                        “Dror” (Freedom) youth movement / Moshe Melamed 375
                        “Hechalutz Hatzair” / D. R. 381
        “Hashomer Hatzair” movement 382
                        The beginning of the movement in Grodno / Yakov Horowitz 382
                        The core of the movement at its outset / Matityahu Shor
                        Against the darkening skies (1934-1938) / Elimelech Horowitz 391
        The Revisionist Zionist movement / Yelin Mor 393
        The mosaic of Grodno Zionism / the editorial committee 395
        “Agudat Yisrael” / D. R. 397
        “Bund” / D. Rabin 397
He. Education and Haskala  
      Community Schools.  
        The beginnings of the Talmud Torah / D. R. 403
        The national school of the communal committee (1924)/ Efraim Neimark 404
        How we were taught at the “Talmud Torah” / Tzila Stein-Tamir 405
        The first Hebrew kindergarten of the “Tarbut” organization / Sara Schlossberg-Rebeikov 409
        The Tarbut school system  
                        The beginning and development of Tarbut in Grodno / D. R. 411
                        Tarbut in Grodno / Yaakov Naor (Feibushvish) 413
                        The Tarbut Gymnasia / Elimelech Horowitz 419
                        The A. D. Gordon teachers seminary / Menachem Zaharoni (Yaroshevsky) 420
                        The balance sheet of the Tarbut organization and its promoters / D. R. 425
                        “Tushia” school / Bryna and Elimelech Gornitzki (Goren) 431
        The Orthodox school system  
                        The Orthodox “Yavneh” girl's school / D. R. 433
                        Principals and teachers in our school / Moshe Alperstein 436
                        The Yiddish secular “Zisha” school / D. R. 439
Culture and Society  
                        Jewish newspapers in Grodno / Dov Rabin 441
                        Jewish theatre in Grodno / Shimon Finkel 443
                        A principal city for lovers of Jewish theatre / D. Avitzur 449
                        The Jewish Public Library / D. Rabin 451
                        Jewish sport in Grodno / D. R. 453
                        Touring for acquaintance with the vicinity club 455
Health and Welfare 457
        The Organization for protection of health (“TOZ” (Towarzystwo Obrony Zdrowia))/ B. Abramovitz 457
        Medical institutions and shelters / D. Avieli 458
Memories and Stories from Writings of the Old Timers  
        The first teachers / Hillel Iser Janowski 463
        Vilbushewitz family / Nachum Vilbush 466
        Three at the outset of their journey through life / Gedalia Shklarsky 471
        Kahanshtam my music teacher / Reuven Vigdorovich 472
        In the underground – with Leib Yaffa / Moshe Aaron Avigal (Beigel) 473
“Hechalutz” Olim Tell their Stories  
        The first group of the third Aliya from Grodno/ Yedidya Janowski 477
        “Cherut and Techia” youth movements / Yaakov Janowski (Yaniv) 482
        Hachshara in Grodno in 1920 / Yitzchak Amdurski 485
        As we went on Aliya / Dov Rabin 488
Outstanding Personalities  
        Grandmother / Rachel Adiv 493
        My family / Esther Berman-Kopelovich 496
        Danche / Yosef Efraimi 500
The Outbreak of the Storm (September 1939 – June 21, 1941)  
        The end of Polish rule / D. Rabin 503
Two Years of Soviet Rule  
        Temporary salvation and fear / D. R. 503
        The Jewish youth stick together 507
                        Hashomer Hatzair groups / Hassia Belitzka 507
                        Beitar / Moshe Notes 509
                        My visit to Grodno / Tuvia Ezrachi Berger) 510
The Holocaust  
        Destruction and heroism / Dov Rabin 519
         At the gates of Hell 519
        The period of the ghetto 531
        The story of the destruction 547
        Heroism amongst the flames 573
        The community at its extinction 593
Jews from Grodno in Auschwitz  
        In the path of suffering and annihilation / Moshe Notes 607
        Grodno women in Auschwitz / Tzipora Pikovski-Lushovitz 613
        Towards the Valley of the Shadow of Death / Hillel Shklarsky 613
        The beacon of Jewish Grodno / Dov Rabin 617
        Grodno natives in Israel and in its wars / Dov Rabin 619
Translation of photo captions from Grodno Yizkor Book
Photographs from Grodno Yizkor Book
Index of names mentioned in photo captions

Translator's footnotes
[1]   “Vaad Lita” was an umbrella organization of Lithuanian Jewish communities at the time. Return
[2] The abbreviation KK (Kuf Kuf) that appears here prior to the name Grodno stands for Kehillat Kadosh, which means “Holy Community”. This is a common notation for any Jewish Community. Return
[3] Shabbatai Tzvi was a false messiah of the mid 1700 s. His movement caused great upheaval in European Jewry for the next century or
so. Return
[4] The acronym alef beit dalet stands for Av Beit Din, the head of a Rabbinical court of a community. The title here implies that from this time, the religious leadership of the community became fragmented, no longer under one head. Return
[5] Misnagdim or mitnagdim are opponents of Chassidism. Return
[6] The Haskala movement was the movement for Jewish modernization in Europe of the 1800s. Maskilim are people who ascribe to the Haskala movement. Maskilim began to release themselves from the strictures of traditional Jewish life and law. Return
[7] A Kollel is an institution where young married men spend their time studying Torah. Return
[8] This appears to be the second main division of the book. In this section, the articles generally list the author's name. The items main items are numbered according to the alef beit (as in the first section); however this numbering stops in the middle, at the Culture and Society section, page 441. There is no consistency as to whether the author's names are in full, or fully or partially initialed (e.g. D. R., D. Rabin, or Dov Rabin). I followed the Hebrew text exactly in this matter. Return
[9] Hachshara is activities meant to prepare members of a Zionist movement for immigration to the Land of Israel. Hashomer Hatzair is a left wing socialist Zionist movement. Return
[10] Levush is an acronym for a well known medieval Torah commentator. The Great Synagogue in Grodno was obviously named after him. Return

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