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The Holy and the Pure

God Will Avenge Their Blood

 

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The People of the Book

By Zvi Resnick (Secretary of the Organization)

Translated by Ala Gamulka

After two years of constant and hard work we were successful. We created a memorial for our holy community of Kovel.

We brought back the splendor, the beauty, the nobility for which our home town was so well–known. We did not spare any effort and we did all we could to collect and edit the material for memorializing our town.

The idea to publish the Kovel Memorial Book was born as the battles of the World War II died down. It was after Hitler was defeated. There was no doubt then that the end had come for the Jews of Kovel, as we had feared.

Previous Executive committees of the Organization had dealt with the publication of the book. These were our comrades Eliahu Mendel, Pinhas Drori, Baruch Avivi, Yeshayahu Avrech and the late Dr. Avraham Gorali, z”l.

Two years ago, the Executive Committee invited our friend Eliezer Leoni–Tsuperfein to become the editor of the book. His enthusiasm and diligence must be recognized. He infused wind into our sails, invested his literary talents and his invaluable experience. Night became day as he collected material, put it together and prepared it for publishing. He met with Holocaust survivors, wrote their stories in proper Hebrew and smoothly edited everything. He proofread every page and checked every letter for accuracy. He treated even small errors seriously and made sure the exterior of the book matched its content. It is thanks to him that the skeleton of the book received a body and became a reality.

Our editor wanted the book to be successful and he recognized the heavy task with which he was entrusted. For that reason, he sought counsel from our illustrious teachers and Rabbis: M. Fishman (principal of Herzliah School in Kovel), Z. Ariel–Leibovitch (principal of the Bialik School in Tel Aviv), Y. Rotman–Netaneli and Dr. R. Ben–Shem (principals of Sokolov–Laor School in Jaffa), Yaakov Kobrinsky (principal of Klomel School in Kovel) and Mr. Yaakov Teitleker, a veteran teacher from Kovel. He listened to their intelligent advice and their remarks are reflected in the pages of this book.

The members of the Book committee must be recognized for their dedication: teacher Tuvia Veisbrott; the founder and director of the Hebrew studio “Habima” in Kovel, our friend Shalom Kolonymus–Klonitsky; our friends Luba Goldberg and Eliahu Mendel listened to the editor's reading of the material. He heard their comments and he directed his work accordingly.

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The members of the Association who should be congratulated are: Luba Goldberg, Bluma Shapiro, David Blitt, Sima Pentorin, Noah Bein, Leah Fidel, Tuvia Fried and Tzvi Resnik. They participated in all the committee meetings and checked the content. They also made corrections when necessary. They did not spare any effort and dedicated their time and involvement. They also worked hard to collect funds and they realised the dream that previous committees had begun.

It is our pleasant duty to mention the financial assistance given to us by the Ministry of Education and Culture of the State of Israel– still headed then by the late David Remez. It is thanks to the former secretary of the Ministry, our friend Yeshayahu Avrech that all this happened.

A special thank you to our fellow townswoman, Mrs. Gutchia (nee Rubenstein) and her husband Mr. Boris Goldstein (Honduras), Mr. Verba (Uruguay), Haim Vinter and Yaakov Flederman (Argentina), Mr. Greenberg (Mexico), Mr. Meir Rosenblatt (France) and to the organization of former residents in Argentina. They all contributed considerable sums towards the publication of the book.

A heart–felt thank you to all our former townspeople living in Israel and abroad who helped the editor in many ways to ensure publications. Also, those who, with great difficulty, wrote their memoirs for the book.

Our special thank you to the libraries and the individuals who assisted in the collection of historical material: Mr. Lachover (Barzilay library), Mr. Ungerfeld and Mr. Rogoff (Beit Bialik library in Tel Aviv), Mr. Lavi (Shaarey Zion library in Tel Aviv), Mr. I. Pogrebinsky (Beit Achad Ha'am in Tel Aviv), Rabbi Margaliot (Rambam library in Tel Aviv) and Mr. Morgenstern from Tel Aviv who allowed the editor to use his rich private library.

Last, but not least, our thanks to the respected historian Dr. Raphael Mahler who wrote the history of our town and saved, from oblivion, important material for the historiography of Kovel.

The book must belong in every single home of our former residents because in it are embedded the town and the souls of its Jews. The book breathes the air of our fathers, mothers and all those dear to us. They were all taken from us with such cruelty.


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Testimony for the Generations

By Eliezer Leoni

Translated by Ala Gamulka

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For Future Generations; Children Will Be Born and They Will Tell Their Children
Psalms 78:6

 

Such a sad melody emanates from these pages. It is the voice of the blood of our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, wives and children that is shouting to us.

The book was sculpted by hands that were cut, legs that were severed, eyes that were torn out, hearts that stopped beating. The song is over and the violins are silenced– all because of the blood that flowed like water.

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It is not a secular book. These are pages of prayer. Everything in them, every letter, is washed in tears. The book was formed by these tears. It is a book of lamentations, of mourning the destruction of our town.

We were unable to list names of all our dear ones who were victims due to lack of space. However, they are all etched in the scrolls of our memory. This is a collection of the precious souls of our beloved townspeople and it is found deep in our hearts and that of the entire nation.

These scrolls are arteries through which streams the blood of the sainted, pure angelic children of Kovel. They were slaughtered and burned. It is also the blood of our holy souls. The hearts of all those who were so dear to us and left us forever are beating in these scrolls.

This book is a permanent memorial to the soul of our town. It will never be forgotten. The embers of our town will remain until the coming of the Messiah. The book will be handed over to our descendants and to all coming generations as a memento of our town.

The book reflects only a fraction of the cultural and moral wealth with which our town was blessed. There was a large Jewish community in Kovel. It was honest, good, and God–fearing. This wonderful community was filled with strong sources of life. It is difficult to describe their depth and breadth. Even if our days are filled with rivers of ink and our heavens and earth are complete with scrolls, our people would all be authors– it would not be enough to fully describe the town. Our sorrow and despair are so deep because the treasures of humanity that were destroyed are endless.

Our violin is weak and not sufficient to mourn our great destruction. In the Temple there was a special musical instrument, called a rake, and it produced one hundred songs. Perhaps this magical instrument could have been used to accompany our deep sorrow.

Our literature is rich in lamentations. It begins with David's mourning of Saul and continues to our times when many more have been written. These dirges reach heights of human genius, but they cannot describe the horrors that occurred in our time. Our horrors were outside the normal laws of man and nature. We are waiting for an outstanding poet who can aptly describe what happened. It will be someone who will use special, noble language to write about our terrible losses.

Our dear victims are waiting for a Jewish Homer, and perhaps even someone superior to him.

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This will be someone who will author the great ballad that will shake the world.

The great destruction of our days has created a background for the growth of legends, similar to the legends in the Talmud. In our book there are chapters about the destruction which should be placed together with the legends in the Talmud about the razing of the Temple. I must say that these legends are even more frightening than those of the Talmud.

The completion of the book is now a gravestone for a great community that is no longer here. The sun has set on our town. Our dear people are gone. Everything is now covered in ashes–. There are now sandhills where our homes stood and lives are snuffed out. All signs of life are erased. Trees that had grown for centuries are cut down and the shadows of death are hanging over the ruins. Our town had existed for over five hundred years.

All the families of Kovel that had lived and rejoiced together are now gone, destroyed. The nests with their birds and goslings are ruined. The world continues as before. The stars in heaven are still shining. The fields of Kovel are still producing and blossoming. The birds are singing, the streams are flowing slowly. At night there are still boats with riders. However, the voices have changed. We no longer hear the sounds of our young men and women. Our children do not sing magnificent songs. The bones of our youth are rotting in the cemetery on the other side of the river. Young hearts have stopped beating and young people no longer eye the blue sky as they sing. Our laughter and happiness are snuffed out forever.

The roads of Kovel are in mourning. The atmosphere is filled with sadness and sorrow for the beautiful people that were felled by the murderers. There is no God in this place. The heavenly spirit has been exiled together with its Jews. Gone and destroyed are the numerous houses of learning that were full of this exalted essence. The Torah scrolls are burned and have disappeared with their letters.

Where are our dear mothers who loved us so much, who did not take care of their health and who sacrificed themselves for our sake? Is there really not even one left? Not even one that turned to stone when viewing the terrible slaughter, the killing of children, big and small? Is her stony figure not standing in the market or in the cemetery or any other corner of the ruined town? Are her frozen eyes not shedding a river of tears?

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She cries about her children, all the children of our town and the tears sting and continue to flow. They do not stop– just like Zacharias' blood that boils and flows. These tears will flow forever because there is no comforting her. Who will give her back her children? Who will elate her with the sounds of her frolicking young children?

In these times of sadness and of unity with our town and her saintly victims, we hear from afar loud sounds. These are the sounds of the waves of tears of this unfortunate mother. Our tears mix with hers. The number of letters in this book is equivalent to the number of tears that I shed when I understood the extent of the Holocaust. Who knows if we will ever really understand it. There has never been such sorrow as ours. Who can understand the despair of these mothers whose children were slaughtered in front of their eyes? Who can understand the pain of the brides whose grooms were murdered near them? Who can fathom the hurt of the fathers whose blood was mixed with that of their children?

In these scrolls we built a new holy gravestone and we will thus fulfill the commandment of “you will elevate my bones from here”. We raised the spiritual bones of our dear ones and we have placed them in the pantheon of our nation. The bones will be in the shadows of the heroes, those killed for the sake of their religion. It begins with Rabbi Akiba and Rav Hanania Ben–Tardyon who were garrotted with irons. With each passing of the garrottes they would say:” The flint will be intact”.

The names of our fellow townspeople are listed in the memorial book of the Creator and each one of our dear ones has been stamped there. Their names will shine like the stars in the sky and will be embroidered in the shield of Israel and its redeemer.

The day we publish the book is difficult and terrible. On this day we bring into our homes the box of ashes of all the Jews of Kovel. We remember all those who are no longer with us– those who were taken like sacrificial lambs to the cemetery and all others. Their souls are shaking and hovering. On every page there are groups of gentle and innocent souls who did not live and were not redeemed. Our hearts are full of mourning over them. Our tears are flowing. May their souls rise and their names be sanctified!

 

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