|Sketch of trees, by A. Argaman||5|
|Teaching staff of the High School of Commerce||39|
|R' Nachum Grinberg||40|
|Tsipora Bar-Tana (Litvak)||43|
|Dr. Mikhael (Mikha) Litev||50|
|Leon (Liova) Goldenberg||51|
|Almog, Yehuda (see also Kopelevits, Yehuda)||8|
|Apter, Shimon||55, 64, 65|
|Atsmon*, Dora (née Leviten)||67|
|Ayzenshteyn*, Dora (née Yakobson)||66|
|Bar-Tana*, Tsipora (née Litvak)||43, 43 (photo), 66, 67|
|Bar-Tana, Tsvi||43, 66|
|Barushek, Yenta||62, 64|
|Bat*, Manya||42, 42 (photo)|
|Ben-Hari*, Bina (née Blit)||66|
|Berenboym*, Nechama (née Kucher)||58|
|Berenshteyn, Tsvi||i, 65, 67|
|Bezpoysnik, Shmuel||42, 42 (photo)|
|Biberman, Feyga||55, 56|
|Bronfeld*, Malka (Manya) (née Lerner)||45|
|Broytman, Yasha||29 (photo)|
|Burshteyn, Yosef||34, 52|
|Byk, Fred||26, 27, 28, 65|
|Chasid, Avraham||3, 34, 67|
|Chasid, Yakov||29 (photo)|
|Chazan, Matus, R'||10|
|Czacki, Tadeusz||24, 36|
|Czartoryski, Adam, Prince||36|
|Eini*, Merav (née Yaron)||57|
|Fayer, Chayim||61, 64|
|Fayer, Hinda Etil||61|
|Federman*, Dozya (née Rubinfayn)||67|
|Feldman*, Adeyla (née Yergis)||62|
|Gal*, Mira (née Holinski)||57|
|Gindes, Tovye, Dr. (see also Hindes)||23|
|Gintsberg, Pinye||29, 30|
|Gintsberg, Tsila (Tsirel)||43, 66|
|Gintsburg, Yosef||29 (photo), 49|
|Gluzman, Eliezer||42, 52, 59|
|Golberg, Yehoshue||8, 57, 65|
|Goldenberg*, Chana (née Gurvits)||52, 59|
|Goldenberg, Lion (Liova)||51 (photo), 51-53, 66|
|Goldenberg, Manus||i, 9, 10, 12, 20, 29, 29 (photo), 43, 46, 48, 51, 54, 59, 66|
|Gordon, Y. L.||34|
|Gorinshteyn, Azriel||29 (photo)|
|Gotvirts*, Bunya (née Koyler)||58|
|Grinberg, Nachum, R'||40, 40 (photo)|
|Gurvits, Chana||52, 59|
|Hindes, Tovye, Dr.||3|
|Hofshteyn*, Feyga (née Biberman)||55, 56|
|Husid family (see also Chasid)||27|
|Ikhilov*, Chana (née Teper)||57|
|Ilan (son of Shoshana Mandelblat)||57|
|Kantor*, Batsheva (née Levitin)||57|
|Katz, Mordekhay||64, 65, 67|
|Katz*, Tsipa (née Roytberg)||59, 64|
|Kiperman, David Yechezkel||61|
|Kiperman, Nuta||61, 64|
|Kopelevits, Yehuda (see also Almog, Yehuda)||8|
|Landsberg, Yashke, Dr.||15|
|Lantsitski*, Dina (née Kindzior)||58|
|Lerner, Malka (Manya)||45|
|Levinzon, Yitschak Ber, R' (RYBL)||20-25, 27|
|Litev, Mikhael (Mikha), Dr.||50 (photo), 50-51|
|Litev, Pesach (see also Litvak, Pesach)||50|
|Litvak, Pesach (see also Litev, Pesach)||44|
|Litvak, Tsipora||43, 43 (photo), 66, 67|
|Malakhi, Tsvi, Dr.||28|
|Margolis, Yisrael||24, 39|
|Medler, Morris (see also Melamed, Moshe)||10, 11, 65|
|Melamed, Moshe (see also Medler, Morris)||10, 11|
|Melamed, Shimon, R'||10|
|Mendel, Yisrael||13, 15|
|Moti (husband of Ilana Leviten)||57|
|Nadir*, Rachel (née Otiker)||67|
|Oks, Velvel||64, 65|
|Otiker, Leyb, R'||10|
|Ovadis, Niosha||29, 30|
|Pak, Bravtsye (Berta)||62|
|Peker, Moshe||61, 64|
|Pundik, Shimon||29 (photo)|
|Rapoport, Meir||31, 32|
|Rokhel, Yitschak||i, 3, 6, 66|
|Roykh, Avraham (Adolfo)||62, 63|
|Roykh, Neli||62, 63|
|Roykh, Yisrael||62, 63|
|Roykh, Zeylik (Luta)||62|
|Rozenfeld, Avrasha||29, 30, 35|
|Rozental, Leybke||23, 26|
|Shafir*, Chanulya||47, 58|
|Shafir, Yakov||46 (photo), 46-48, 67|
|Sher, Reyzel||63, 64|
|Shnayder, Vulf||25, 65|
|Shpak*, Ester||61, 62|
|Shpak, Yitschak||61, 62, 64|
|Shtern*, Itka (née Rozental)||66|
|Shteynberg, Barukh||43, 43 (photo), 66|
|Shteynberg*, Tsila (Tsirel; née Gintsberg)||43, 66|
|Shvartsapel, Yosef||29 (photo)|
|Spektor*, Naomi (née Fridel)||49|
|Spektor, Bunim-Simcha||48, 48 (photo)|
|Studinker, Leyb, R'||10|
|Tal-Or (husband of Shoshana Mandelblat)||57|
|Tamri*, Chava (née Taytelman)||46|
|Vakman, Yitschak||10, 48, 65|
|Veksler, Sioma||29 (photo)|
|Vilderman*, Leya (née Barshap)||41|
|Vishnier, Max, Dr.||66|
|Vysotsky, Brigadier General||34|
|Yaron*, Sima (née Kremenchutski)||57|
|Yisrael ben Yakov Hakohen||32|
|Zeliane*, Bravtsye (Berta) (née Pak)||62|
This 15th booklet appears in the 30th year of Israel's independence. We celebrate this distinguished occasion with the nation. Quite a number of Kremenetsers arrived in Israel before its establishment as an independent state and, each through his own skill, had a hand in establishing and developing the nation. For that reason, we feel that it is fitting to recall the first emigration from this town to Israel and the way people adjusted to and established themselves in the Land. The first section of this booklet is dedicated to the third wave of immigration, the first in which our town participated.
A few months ago, a new immigrant arrived in Israel directly from Kremenets to settle here. We talked with her at length and have printed the contents of the conversation in this booklet for our readers.
We received a booklet written in Polish in which we discovered that, at the beginning of the 19th century, Polish immigrants from Kremenets settled in Paris. The reasons for their immigration, their lifestyle there, and their struggles are recounted in Kremenetsers in Paris during the 19th Century.
Kremenets emigrants, both in Israel and in other countries, remember the town where they were born and grew up, and miss the past that is no more.
Two 80-year-old Kremenets natives met in the United States and reminisced with longing, and they relate those memories to us.
Not to be overlooked, of course, is the regular Argentina section, which comes from the most active Landsmanschaft. In addition to contributing printed information, they have immortalized the memory of some members in our Memorial Book, the fruit of our member Tsvi Berenshteyn's initiative.
As a result of high printing costs and the large amount of material, we have decided to print the Mosaic section in Yiddish only at this time.
In addition, there are the usual sections, which we have not reviewed above; readers will not fail to see them even if we have not pointed them out.
Last but not least, our clubhouse, which is located at the Kibbutzim College, is 14 years old and was in need of improvement, and, indeed, the college shared in the expense of renovating the building that houses the clubhouse. The layout of the pictures and photos, which have all been framed, has changed. Members are invited to visit the clubhouse during the annual memorial and on any other holiday to experience memories of Kremenets.
Now that we have reached the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel, it is fitting to review the involvement of Kremenetsers.
Kremenets emigrants in the Land today number about 400 families, or about 1,000 people. They arrived in stages and waves. In particular, the third wave of immigration (1919-1923) laid the foundation for the following waves.
In the first wave of immigration, from 1882 to 1902, only one person immigrated to Israel. This was Dr. Tovye Hindes, who arrived in 1893 and settled in Jerusalem, where he worked as a physician until he contracted malaria and was forced to leave. He settled in Vienna. He was therefore the first immigrant from Kremenets.
In the second wave of immigration, from 1904 to 1914, there were no immigrants from Kremenets. However, four boys were sent by their parents to study in Israel: Yitschak Eydelman, Zev Chasid, Shmuel Pundek, and Avraham Chasid. Two young men, Moshe Biberman (who lives in Moscow today) and Yakov Tsizin, worked as hired agricultural laborers in the settlements and returned to Kremenets before World War I.
Immigration 1 lasted about 20 years and brought approximately 25,000 Jews to the Land. Immigration 2 lasted about 10 years and brought approximately 35,000 Jews.
In the third immigration, 35,000 arrived over five years. Jewish settlement in the country grew 60 percent, but we have to note that the number of returnees from the first two waves was very large. There were also many older immigrants who came to live here during their last years and find peace in the Holy Land. The third wave of immigrants had a completely different composition: most were young, unmarried men and women of the most desirable age and family situation for a country under construction, fit and able to work and defend. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 gave rise to a wave of enthusiasm, and the best Jewish youth readied themselves for immigration and tried to immigrate at the first opportunity.
After that, it was not the movement of a few, but a mass of immigrating Jews. Their goal was not only the conquest of workplaces in the settlements but also the establishment of a homeland. The trademark of the third wave was that it was organized in large part by Pioneer, which trained its members, in body and spirit, for their destination in the Land.
The large concentration (for those days) of laborers, never seen in the Land until then, broadened horizons, strengthened solidarity, and nourished ideas about labor. The large contract jobs that the laborers received demanded a collective organization. Certain jobs were given to organized groups; the hundreds of laborers who worked on paving roads formed small and large groups. Everyone aspired to a collective lifestyle, and the conditions were right to fulfill their aspirations.
First in size and productivity was the Labor Battalion named after Yosef Trumpeldor, which was formed in 1920. It started with the Tiberias-Tsemach road and in time branched out into several platoons: Rosh HaAyin, Jerusalem (Ramat Rachel), Tel Aviv, Kfar Giladi, Ein Harod, and Tel Yosef. The battalion members understood that it was important to combine defense with labor and that the most efficient way to achieve this was through a kibbutz lifestyle. The article Row 4, Tent 6 is about the atmosphere in the Labor Battalion, particularly the Rosh HaAyin platoon, where Kremenetsers occupied an important place (in quantity and quality).
The first group of pioneers from Kremenets included 12 people. In time, additional members joined them. From 1922 to 1924, 15-20 pioneers per year came from Kremenets, as did other groups of middle-class immigrants, such as those from the Dubno and Vishnevets suburbs. We can assume that the total number of immigrants from Kremenets pioneers and families during the third wave of immigration reached 150-200. At the beginning of the third wave of immigration, people from the same town established several agricultural settlements: Gevat by immigrants from Pinsk, Kiryat Anavim by immigrants from Kamenits Podolsk, and so on. The number and strength of the people from Kremenets was insufficient to establish their own settlement, but they took an active part and much initiative in the establishment of several settlements and enterprises: in the early period of the Labor Battalion and its platoons and afterward in the establishment of Tel Yosef, the Binyan company in Tel Aviv, which built the housing for the homeless (today Bugrashov Street) that was conferred on those evicted from Jaffa because of the 1921 riots. That company and the Avodah Company eventually formed the Solel Boneh Company. Kremenetsers helped establish Herut in Jerusalem, a plumbing cooperative, and many other projects. In later years, the pioneers who immigrated from Kremenets were concentrated in Kibbutz Yagur and Kibbutz Givat Hashlosha, and their effect is seen even today. It should be noted that some of the pioneer youth and middle-class families in the third wave of immigration, such as the Shnayder, Litvak, Bat, and Gluzman families, as well as others, helped establish the town of Afula.
This is the history of the third wave of immigration from Kremenets, an immigration that was not large in numbers but stood out in its quality in many areas. Here they went through a blessed process of productivity, settled in the Land, and are playing a large role in building and developing the state of Israel.
Immigration to Israel from our town started with very few only a dozen daring individuals, and now we are a mass of a thousand townspeople whose influence is seen in many areas.
Our company was like a nomadic troop, a camp that moved from place to place with its tents and its meager possessions. The first place we stayed was by a brook at the ancient Antipatris fortress on the top of the hill in Ras-el-Eyn (Rosh HaAyin, near the Petach Tikva settlement), though we did not stay there long. After the May 1921 riots, our platoon moved to another place near Petach Tikva, also in tents.
Our job was to pave a narrow railroad track from Rosh HaAyin to Petach Tikva. The letterhead on the official correspondence read Yosef Trumpeldor Labor Battalion, Railroad-Track-Building Company, as if to say we were constructing not one track but many. One day it was a short, narrow track, just a few kilometers long, and the next day, it was a different one wide and large. In addition, the Labor Battalion had various companies. Ours was but one of them, and the construction of railroad tracks was our permanent occupation.
Everything was new, romantic, and glowing; we were young dreamers who had come to our dream Land with fierce yearnings. On the ship, we sang, When the Lord restored the return to Zion, it was as if we were in a dream.
Those were not just empty words; there was no division between talking and doing, between dream and reality. With every step and deed, we wanted to see the dream fulfilled. We did not impose demands.
We did not feel hardship. We accepted everything as part of the new Israel's reality and adjusted easily to all hardships.
Before daylight, we got up for work, had a cup of cocoa and a slice of bread, shouldered our tools, and went out to work. The walk on the lanes among the orange groves by the village Mir at sunrise was pleasant; the charming view, the intoxicating aroma of the groves, and the leisurely and friendly talks all bestowed the sense of a dream fulfilled on us.
Most of the men had never tasted labor, not to mention the construction of railroad tracks, and before long, they tired. It was embarrassing to admit weakness we had taken it upon ourselves to build the Land with our hands, so we had to go on with our mission and not bow to obstacles. They worked in the burning heat up to the limits of their strength, nearly fainting, but did not give up; with perspiration, aching backs, and buckling knees, they persevered and succeeded. Indeed, before long, the children of Jewish towns turned into true laborers; the palms of their hands hardened, their muscles stretched and strengthened, and their backaches disappeared. Work turned into part of their nature, as if they had come from generations of laborers, railroad construction workers always.
When evening fell, we would march home in a long line, feeling satisfied and tired but undefeated. We were building the Land, just as we had said, with our own hands. Even in one day, we advanced the building of the Land a little, we did as much as we were able, and the satisfaction was great. In the evening, there was dancing until midnight, and on Sabbath eve, until daylight. Our hearts were full of yearning and emotion and with longing and dreams, and sometimes doubts gnawed. We were overwhelmed by all the happiness bubbling within us, our mouths tired from proclaiming, and unwinding was a necessity. Breaking into dance brought release. The circle inflamed and swept everyone up; we danced El Yivne Hagalil, Shivkhu Shivchey Tsedek, Di Mame Kokht Varenikes, Shir Bli Milim, and many other dances, again and again, endlessly, until the point of exhaustion.
With the arrival of the Sabbath came rest: getting up late, stretching out and lolling in the tents, reading, talking, visiting friends in other tents, visiting the adjacent settlement of Petach Tikva, or just roaming around the area.
One of the guys had an attack of homesickness. He took a Pentateuch out of his suitcase and after some hesitation (worrying that his friends made fun of him), he started reading the weekly portion aloud in the traditional melody of his town's reader. His friends did not make fun of him; indeed, silence fell in the surrounding tents. Lying on their beds, hearts pounding, they listened. Then, one by one, the guys came up to the tent, stood by the opening, and listened to the reader. He lifted his eyes, saw the minyan around him, and was embarrassed, but he continued to read with more power and self-assurance.
Then it was time to write home; each one reread the letter he had received during the week and got ready to reply. In his mind's eye, his parents' home stood before him as if it were real. Affection and longing reawakened in his heart and sometimes even hidden anger, because they had tried to prevent him from immigrating and now were trying to persuade him to return. The letter to dear father and mother flowed, describing all the news in the Land, all that was good and beautiful in it. How good I feel, how good! He tried to describe this new life in a way that would be understood there, but it was difficult because reality here was different from reality in the village. In particular, it was hard for him to describe the kibbutz and the battalion. It's something like a labor collective, but at the same time, it's also a contractor, podriatshik, for the railroad. But we are not working for the podriatshik but for ourselves. In short, the battalion is a sort of a very large business, but with many partners, and I am one of them. True, we live in tents, but they are organized inside and out, standing in rows with paths between them.
My address is Row 4, Tent 6. Don't worry. We will build houses yet! But in the meantime, this is how to address letters to me: Railroad Building Platoon, Row 4, Tent 6. This is my place. This is my address in the Land.
Hebrew was spoken during meetings and in the dining room; the village people adjusted quickly to the new language, but the Russian-speaking Kremenetsers had a hard time adjusting. They, too, spoke Hebrew, but their speech was ludicrous, like a non-Jew speaking Yiddish. Among themselves, they spoke Russian and sang Russian songs. In the shower, the others followed their example, and Russian was dominant there. The women loved Russian and the tall and daring men who spoke it and sang in it
There were veteran workers among us not many, only about half a dozen, but their influence was felt, and everyone admired them: their spoken Hebrew was natural and spiced with Arabic idioms, they worked confidently and well, and they were suntanned. Because they were veteran workers, we saw them as models and examples. We made an effort to emulate them, to follow in their path. However, sometimes they were haughty, speaking with a touch of mockery about the pioneers (ridiculing their imperfect accents), but we accepted their mockery with forgiveness they were allowed, they had been first, they had preceded and paved the way for us. In the evening, we listened to stories about their early days: the Galilee and the collective farms, the Watchmen and their white horses, the Bedouins and their ways, the Arabs and their customs, the owners of the orange groves and their behavior, the pretty farmers' daughters, what was and what never was. And legend was woven into reality.
The office was housed in one of the tents. That was where you found Yehuda Kopelevits (Almog) and his friends, the leaders of our community. That was the location of the administrator, the treasurer, the person in charge of the job roster, and others in charge of roles or assignments. Obviously, the work couldn't have been done without these jobs, but, among us, this was indolence, all that business and writing. So Yehuda Almog had to work hard to persuade one of the guys to take on one of those jobs. Deep inside, the guy saw his office job as a betrayal of his pioneering destiny.
It was a new world, an evolving world, but not chaos. Indeed, there was organization and order in the camp's work and life. The rows were set, and the young pioneer's place in the camp was Row 4, Tent 6.
Two months ago, we were informed that a woman had immigrated to Israel directly from Kremenets. This is the first and only such case since the Germans were ousted.
Yehoshue Golberg and I went to meet her at her temporary residence, her uncle and aunt's spacious home in Hadera. We were received cordially, and soon Sonya entered, carrying a bundle of books and notebooks under her arm as she returned from the ulpan where she had been studying for the last two months.
Sonya sat at the table, her bright eyes watching us with joy and trust. She seemed much younger than her age of 50, her movements exuding abundant energy. Her speech, in Ukrainian and Russian, was full of charm and humor. It was hard to think that this woman had suffered so many dangers and troubles in her childhood and youth.
She was 13 when she escaped from Mizvoch village near Rovno, after her parents and family had been killed along with all the Jews there.
In the village next to Mizvoch, none of the residents would let her into their homes. She decided to return to Mizvoch. On the way, she saw a caravan of farmers' wagons loaded with looted goods returning from her village, so she knew there was no point in going back. Very thirsty, she dared to approach a farmhouse at the edge of a village (it, too, was close to Mizvoch) to ask for water. Much to her surprise, she found that a schoolmate and her family lived in the house. She also found a few more Jews from Mizvoch. After she had lived in that house for a week, she was transferred to the house of a different farmer, by the name of Slobodiuk; he and his family were members of the Evangelist sect called Shtundists in our area. The Banderovtsis later killed this farmer. That family hid Sonya on top of their oven for 18 months. When the neighbors found out that a Jew was hidden in the Slobodiuk house, she was transferred to a different Evangelist's house, where she hid for a month. One day, a wagon carrying monks passed through the village on their way to the monastery in the large village of Zahaytsi, near Kremenets. The farmer told them that a Ukrainian orphan girl was staying in their house and asked them to take her to her uncle in Zahaytsi. This pretend uncle was the leader of the Evangelists there.
Still a long way from Zahaytsi, a gang of Banderovtsis stopped the monks' wagon, ordered Sonya down, and prepared to check her identity.
Sonya told them that she was an orphan from Mizvoch who was on her way to see her aunt in Zahaytsi. When they asked for her name, she gave them the name of a Christian girl in her class. To her bad luck, the Banderovtsi commander was a resident of Mizvoch and knew the girl. It was obvious to him that a Jew was in front of him, and no doubt, her end was imminent. But fate continued to protect her this time, too: it happened that sometime before, her interrogator had killed a German in the barbershop of a Jew who worked for the Germans. That barber hid him and helped him escape. In return, the Banderovtsi promised him that he would rescue the first Jew he happened upon.
This was his opportunity, and he let the girl pass. The monks, who had been worried about the results of the girl's interrogation, had become frightened and left before she was released. When they arrived in Zahaytsi, they told the uncle what happened. The uncle, who knew that Sonya was to arrive soon and had been waiting for her, understood that he would never see the girl.
Sonya continued her journey on foot. On the way, she met a group of boys who were herding animals. One of the boys brought her to his home, where she was taken in as a Ukrainian girl, one of the abandoned children wandering the roads. That family was Polish and very scared of their enemies, the Banderovtsis. They let her stay overnight in their home, but early in the morning, they took her in their wagon to Shumsk, where she met some Shtundists who advised her to leave immediately for Zahaytsi. On the way, she stopped at a secluded farm, where the owners let her stay and work as a herder. After some time there, she contracted a severe case of hives and was sent to Zahaytsi, her original destination, for treatment. That is how she reached the home of her uncle, who together with a few other Shtundists took care of her and cured her. They knew that she was Jewish and gave her special attention.
For five years, 1943-1948, Sonya lived in Zahaytsi. During that time, she was very active in village society and was the soloist in the choir. The Banderovtsis were still looting in the area for some time after the Russians entered, but they never touched Sonya. While in Zahaytsi, she completed her studies in the School of Commerce through correspondence, with help from her workplace and the Sol Soviet.
In 1948, equipped with the proper documents, Sonya moved to Kremenets, where she got a job in the government's business office. In Kremenets, she met her future husband, whose father had worked for a long time until the German invasion in Eydi Kitay's tile factory. Her husband, his father, and their family were ardent Shtundists.
In Kremenets, Sonya made contact with, and became very close to, the few Jewish families that survived there, particularly with the family of Yisrael Mendel, of blessed memory, the keeper of our walls. Mendel and his previous family, which had been murdered by the Nazis, had lived in Zahaytsi until the Germans arrived.
By now, some members of this group of survivors have passed away, and some have moved to other towns in Russia and Poland. Their children, including Sonya's, live in large cities far from Kremenets.
A few years ago, Sonya requested an exit permit to movie to Israel. Her uncle (her mother's brother), who lived in Ternopol, the district capital, did this for her. She had to travel there a few times to find out the result of her request, as each time it was denied for various reasons, mostly family reasons. Her husband and two sons decided not to emigrate, uncertain that they would be permitted to leave the country and worried that they would lose their jobs. When Sonya's coworkers found out that she had started procedures to immigrate to Israel, their attitude toward her became so hostile that she was forced to resign.
When she finally received notice that her request had been granted, she divorced her husband and received his and her sons' written approval of her departure. Armed with all those documents, she traveled to Ternopol for the last time. She returned to Kremenets with her exit visa.
Before her departure, she said farewell to the four Jewish families there, who were not very encouraging, but her final parting from her Ukrainian friends, particularly the Evangelists, was very heartfelt, and they talked to her of their sentiments toward the Holy Land. My husband's last words, Sonya said, were, 'when you reach Israel, kiss its holy earth.' I kissed the pavement when I deplaned, because there was no earth there.
Two days after Sonya's arrival in the Land, she received a congratulatory telegram from her husband in Kremenets. When I read the telegram, her aunt told us, I started to cry. Sonya has been in Israel for only two months, and when we met her, she had already received several letters in Ukrainian from her husband. They were full of affection, longing, and happiness for her that she was among her relatives in the Holy Land.
Sonya had been in the Land for almost two months and already had quite a vocabulary. All evidence showed that we were in the presence of an excellent student at the ulpan, and we were sure that she would find a home here thanks to her optimism, willingness to work wherever she found a job, and God-given sense of humor.
Sonya told us that after the passing of Yisrael Mendel, of blessed memory, our martyrs' common grave had been neglected, and the neighborhood children had started to pull boards out of the fence. But a few years ago, a sugar factory was established near the grave, and next to it, a trade school. So a guard was put on the grave, probably by the town government. On Memorial Day, the students march to the grave and lay wreaths there, as do the Evangelists and some Ukrainians. Each year, some of our fellow townspeople who live in Rovno, Lvov, Ternopol, and other towns arrive there on that day to commune with the memory of their relatives and friends.
Nowadays, 30,000 people live in Kremenets, all Ukrainians, as well as three widows of Kremenetsers: Volke Katz, Mendel, and Pesis. Also living there are Avraham Meyler, Shpinke the baker, Ester Lerer, and Anya Landsberg, Dr. Yashke Landsberg's widow. Their two sons live in Leningrad. The Fishmans, the brother and sister from Kagon-Kendel, live in Ternopol, and the two Vodonos brothers live in Rovno. That's everyone from our Kremenets.
October 11, 1977
I thank you for asking me to express my thoughts of the past and outlooks as to the future, in writing. By looking back to my past, I find that our people always looked with pride and our enemies with shame. Perhaps, we in many cases were the sheep and they named themselves as lions but this was only in the physical sense and not in the moral, intellectual or spiritual. We will forever remain the people of the Torah and Talmud.
I look at my past as nil in comparing to those who have not lived through the last holocaust and to see a 2000 years dream cone through with the birth of the land of Israel. As long as there is a breath of life in us, we will always remember them. I do not think that the life of my sister Sonia who was hung on a tree in the complex of the jail or my brother Munia who was tortured in Lwow carrying rail tracks on his bare shoulders in the peak of the hot summer where he was destroyed, or my younger sister Clara or I my parents who were buried alive is more important than other 14,000 destroyed landsmen. But learn we must from their experience that no Galut is safe for us.
Yes, it was good to read your article about the Husid family who I knew and remember so well. After all, they were our next door neighbors. Or the Levinson house from which I used to pick up home baked bread by Haven the bakern. In those days this was just another house but today we find it as being a shrine of importance to that man who will always be singled out. Since he left a memorial of thoughts and rich values put in writing that will be cherished by some and remembered by all as Levinson, the father of the Russian Haskala.
You, who pioneered this beautiful land and live in, know how difficult was the struggle to liberate yourselves from the mandate of the British. So was my journey hard from Warsaw with Hitler in 1939-40 to Kreminetz and from 1942 to 1945 from Kreminetz through many places on the European and Asian continent where I spent until 1947, from where I landed here in one of the better Galut lands. It was a difficult journey with many frightening and dangerous experiences. I remember the night when the sound of the German canons were heard. I asked my family let's leave everything and go East, but they, like most of our Landslite, with clear conscience, replied who will touch us, we never did any wrong to anyone. We are a liked and respected family.
Everyone knew BYK the photographer as a fine person. After all this was the thinking of all of our people. This last generation decided to protect these qualities with force and the results are here to see for all humanity.
Now we, this little branch of that beautiful blooming tree called Israel, have this Holy obligation to inshrine the name of Kreminetz with her 14,000 destroyed sisters and brothers in every possible way, so that the future generation shall read and learn from these experiences. Yes, you, being the roots of this beautiful blooming tree with us the branches all over this planet, make me feel assured that our children and their will always have that address of Israel and that the bloodshed by our dear ones was not in vain.
May we have the blessing of peace upon us always.
Dr. Tsvi Malakhi, head of the Institute for Research in Hebrew Literature, wrote to us as follows:
To the editors of Voice of Kremenets Emigrants,
I received booklet 14 of Voice of Kremenets Emigrants with pleasure and was glad to read about your widespread activities in Israel and the Diaspora.
I am glad to have been privileged to take part in the cooperation between our institute and your organization in the area of Hebrew literature research. In these materialistic days, creative activity in the fields of intellect and literature is an infusion of life-giving breeze.
I hope that the foundation we have laid will be strong and prosper and that we will continue to perpetuate Hebrew culture in general and the heritage of a generation of Kremenetsers in particular.
With honors and blessings for a good year,
Dr. Tsvi Malakhi
Katz Institute for Research in Hebrew Literature
The Red Army first conquered Kremenets in May 1919, right after Petliura's rule, which began in Ukraine after the defeat of Hetman Skoropadski who was under the Germans' protection when they were invited to help him impose order in his area. Petliura's reign was short, but long enough for many pogroms in Jewish settlements. Well remembered in particular is the slaughter in the town of Proskurov (3,000 Jews were murdered in one day). The Kremenets Jewish community was lucky to have been saved from this holocaust when the Red Army entered the town before the Ukrainian rioters reached it. No wonder many young Jewish men rushed to volunteer for the Red Army, with a strong desire to take revenge on the murderers. But the unit that conquered Kremenets, the Fifth Trachian Brigade, was composed in part of riffraff and rabble who did not know order or discipline and even participated in robbery and looting. In addition, their supplies were in very poor condition, so the soldiers had to find food wherever they could. Many of them raided churches and synagogues. After the looting, some were seen wearing red velvet uniforms made from the drapes taken off the Holy Arks and from the sofas of the bourgeois. As in other places, civilian rule was in the hands of the Revolutionary Board, headed by Comrade Rivak, who gave fervent, fiery speeches predicting the downfall of the West and prophesying a shiny future for Communism. His second was Lebrov, the interior administrator. To our great surprise, we soon discovered that he was Yoske Shnayder, then about 19, my childhood friend and classmate in Burshteyn and Sirayski's first Hebrew school, who liked to recite the poems of Y. L. Gordon.
Now he was busy organizing the new regime's institutions, before he became a strict, heavy-handed disciplinarian. The army was already involved in nationalizing private enterprises and confiscating equipment in the district's villages. Soon rebel forces gathered in the villages against the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Brigadier General Vysotsky, but they, too, did not abstain from robbery and looting possibly even outdoing their predecessors. There was worry that they would start pogroms, as the Christians believed that all Jews were Bolsheviks. When Vysotsky realized that he couldn't restrain his rebel gangs, he organized a delegation and went to the Galician border, where the Polish legions already held the reins, and hurried to invite them into the district. Indeed, they accepted and came among them was the Catholic priest Bilatski, who stayed in Brody as a refugee for a long time and the town's representatives welcomed the Poles with bread and salt. Their days were numbered, however.
The Red Army reorganized under the command of Marshal Budyoni, and on May 3 Poland's Constitution Day, which was celebrated with en masse by the population on Mount Bona they conquered the town again. The Poles escaped in time. This time the Red Army was better organized and disciplined, so order and discipline were enforced in the district.
Now, the Communists came out from the underground and worked on the Revolutionary Board. Among them was Shmuel Berenboym, who showed up with a fiery, brilliant speech (at the marketplace near the Lyceum) describing the Communist regime as a Garden of Eden. But unlike during its first conquest, the regime's heavy hand was fully felt from the very beginning. A supreme tribunal was established, a branch of the Cheka took up residence in the Armitage Hotel, and arrests and executions by firing squad began. Among those arrested was Aleksander Frishberg, a shoe store owner, who was accused of speculation hoarding merchandise instead of handing it over to the authorities. He was sentenced to prison and assessed a large monetary fine. His imprisonment and sentence were publicized in large posters throughout the town, for all to know about and be aware of.
Among the active Communists, we also remember Lyubkin, who held an important position in the regime and until that time was known to have been a devout observer of the commandments who was a regular at prayers in the Hasidic Study Hall.
Youth meetings were held in Sheftin's hall and in the primary school, where political activists gave speeches and called on the young to join the Komsomol. A chorus was organized among the pupils of the schools under the leadership of the Ukrainian teacher Chamtsuk. In discussions at the youth meetings, some young people also tried to express criticism. Avrasha Rozenfeld and Misha Gindis were even threatened with imprisonment. Some followed the way, mainly members of the Jewish Social Democratic Workers Party and the Bund, such as the student Vaysberg from the Jewish Social Democratic Workers Party, who announced publicly that he had joined the Communist Party. And he was not the only one to choose that road.
By then, the Red Army had reached the gates of Warsaw in its conquests. Here a historical turn took place. The Polish army, with the help of France, rallied and forced the Red Army to retreat from all the areas it had conquered, Kremenets included. All those who had joined the Communists left the town with the army.
After the ceasefire, with peace signed, the borders between the Soviets and Poland were finalized and set. According to this agreement, Kremenets and its surroundings were within the Polish borders. Those who had been born in the areas conquered by Poland were permitted to return if they had documents to prove it, and thousands of people most of them Jews started to flow back there. Polish rule continued there until World War II, when the Red Army returned to Kremenets, which is now part of communist Ukraine.
Early in the 19th century (1805), the cultural and educational focal point of eastern Poland was developed in Kremenets under the initiative of Tadeusz Czacki with the establishment of the school known as the Lyceum. From the beginning of educational activity there, it attracted many young people from the children of estate owners and the aristocracy in the Kremenets area, the Vohlin and Podolia regions, and even from faraway Vilna. That school produced famous scientists, writers, and journalists who rose to important positions and status in the annals of Poland, particularly during the November 1830 rebellion among Polish exiles who established their center in Paris. Among them was Yuliush Slovatski, a great poet of Poland, Joachim Lelewel, Karol Sienkiewicz, Prince Adam Czartoryski, and many other personalities. Thanks to that school, Kremenets was privileged to be called the Athens of Vohlin (Ateny Wolynskie) during the flourishing of the Enlightenment in Poland. After the November rebellion was suppressed, a sizable group of Lyceum graduates among the Polish exiles in Paris decided to hold occasional cultural meetings called Kremenets feasts. Among the participants were graduates from different years as well as other Polish emigrants, whose cultural and national tradition, the heritage of the school in Kremenets, was close to their hearts and gave them moral support in that foreign land.
Those parties and their contents were later printed and published in booklet form. In the booklet named May 3 from 1847, we read about a meeting dedicated to the memory of Tadeusz Czacki, who passed away at that time, and a letter from Prince Adam Czartoryski, ruler of the Vohlin and Podolia lands, an exile now, too. One of the participants in that feast, Tomas Oligorovski, recited a poem about Kremenets, a portion of which was printed in the booklet. We present it here to our readers in Polish:
In a booklet from 1857, we read about the feast held in the Palais Royale. Kremenetsers raised a glass to Napoleon III and expressed their thanks to him for giving political sanctuary to Polish emigrants. In his speech, Narciz Olizer a Kremenetser said, Though we have different opinions and are from different social classes some are intellectuals, writers, and soldiers, and others came to us directly from behind the plow we are all Kremenets students, and the same memories from our youth bind us
About 100 years later, Polish exiles in London, England, revived the Kremenets feasts. They continue to be held each year.
Now the book reviewing all those feasts from then until today has been published. In this book, we also read about our own organization here in the Land.
The annual Bibliography of Kremenets, published in the 1800s, includes Tadeusz Czackimyos's speech of October 31, 1805, the day the Vohlin High School opened in Kremenets. In it, he reports that he collected the funds to build the school from estate owners, people of the cloth and the churches, and the Jewish population, which viewed the establishment of a high school in our town positively and donated generously to this educational institution. The children who attended it came from all social strata; the teachers considered only their diligence and progress in their studies, not their background. Children of the Christian population, simple farmers, and Jews sat together and studied with children of the aristocracy and estate owners.
In London's Kremenets Feast, they emphasize the productive activity of the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel: Israeli emigrants from our town who visit them in London, the activities and death of David Katz, and the booklets translated into Polish that they receive from us. It is worth noting that we sometimes receive reports of their meetings and that each year they send us a congratulatory telegram on our Independence Day.
Teaching staff of the High School of Commerce (Komercheskiya Uchilishche) at the turn of the century, wearing teachers' uniforms, as was the custom in czarist Russia. In civilian clothes are Yisrael Margolis (standing) and Mikhael Shumski, of blessed memory (sitting). Both were founders and patrons of this school.
The Komercheskoye Utshilishche is the alma mater of many natives of our town and of areas near and far from it. Only a few are alive today, residing in Israel, the USSR, the USA, France, and Italy.
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