The Executives of the Kremenets Organization's Anniversary Organizing Committee
Among Jews it is customary that when the Sabbath begins, a man recites a praise for his wife, praise for the woman of valor.
Our president's wife, Clara Salmowitz, certainly deserves our gratitude. A woman of valor, she made her home a community center, a gathering place for our leaders, for the relief committee. Her home was the forge where all of our activities were hammered out. She created the warm atmosphere that is necessary for harmonious work.
In the Sabbath-like grandeur of our anniversary, we think gratefully of the great part played by our woman of valor, Clara Salmowitz.
To the founders, the president, the vice president, and all members of the Kremenitzer Organization on our 35th anniversary.
Jewish Kremenets has occupied a unique place in our story, for the unhappinesses of Jewish life. Twigs from that source have been planted here, in free America, where a thriving family tree has grownthe Kremenitzer Wolyner Benevolent Organization.
We look back with pride to the accomplishments before we existed, whether here or especially there in our old home.
When our spirits were afflicted by the murders of our martyrs, we found consolation from the remnant who planted the tree of Kremenets in our sacred soil, the Land of Israel.
To them we send our hearty fraternal blessings, with a feeling of pride. The enemy's sword could not conquer us. The people of Israel live on!
The spirit of our murdered martyrs should inspire the current struggle for life in the Land of Israel.
In this anniversary year, we pray that at the 50th anniversary, the word of the prophet should be realizedAnd you shall proclaim freedom in the land for all of its inhabitantsthe Jewish people will prosper, the state of Israel will be worthy of carrying out the mission given by its Creator: For from Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of God from Jerusalem. There should be peace in the world.
With the blessing of Zion,
Menachem Mendel and his wife, Malka Bronfield
I don't remember everything I learned in my childhood; I have forgotten much. What I do remember is a precious saying that my rabbi repeated to me, namely: I learned from all of my teachers always to learn from others, always to know my place. Another thing I remember: what Hillel the Elder answered to a pagan who requested that he teach him the whole Torah while he stood on one foot. Hillel responded: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Be a mensch and behave in a mentschlich way to others. Golden words that are engraved deeply in my memory.
I always know my place, and I always learn from others. I often feel eager to take part in the debates over certain subjects in the association, but then I see such powerful and logical speakers before me as Chairman Salmowitz, Benny Barshop, Mintz, and Mr. Gelernt, who embodies his name, so I hold back. But now I am tortured with the thought of sinning especially when members are asked to contribute this journal dedicated to the 35th anniversary of our existence.
I felt fear when I took pen in hand. But I remembered a wonderful story that calmed me down. I don't know if it's true, but it is appropriate as an anecdote: One Rosh Hashanah in the synagogue, when the Jews had prayed out loud Hear our voice, someone whistled. He might have been torn to pieces had not the rabbi asked him why he had whistled. Did he not know that it was Rosh Hashanah? The man answered that yes, he knew, but because he did not know how to pray, he whistled so that in heaven they would know that he was also present. The rabbi was overcome and declared that that whistle was the best prayer and it made an impression in heaven.
Perhaps my words amount to no more than a whistle, but they come from deep within my heart. They are a demonstration of joy that I have survived to be a witness of the great happiness that is the result of hard and responsible work for the community.
What the association has done just for Kremenets will occupy a beautiful place in our bloody history. May all our brothers and sisters live to see the 50th anniversary. This is a wish from deep in my heart. I say this not only about my own contribution to the association's work, but I do feel fortunate that I was able to contribute.
Kremenets Ladies Auxiliary
We, the Kremenets Ladies Auxiliary, greet our compatriots and friends from the Kremenitzer Wolyner Benevolent Organization on your 35th anniversary.
With great pleasure we send our best wishes on your wonderful day, and we wish you many more years of health, luck, and activity. You should all live to see the 50th anniversary.
Everyone knows about your good work, and we are proud of you. May your hands be blessed, dear brothers, for your goodness and your sympathy for the poor and needy. We want to assure you that we stand with you and are ready to help you in your holy work. The need is great, and our help is necessary. Let us become even more united. Our compatriots here and everywhere our journal reaches should be encouraged to lend a helping hand to our brothers in Israel, who greatly need such help. All Kremenetsers, wherever they are, should help the Relief in its hard work. The help is necessary! Say it loudly.
We here in this blessed land must do much, if we are willing. It falls only on you. We are sure that our words will not fall on deaf ears but will be absorbed in your hearts. You will surely do your duty to your poor rescued brothers in Israel.
The Kremenets Ladies Auxiliary also recognizes the members and activists of the Kremenitzer Association, with special praise and thanks for our beloved, good, and sincere chairman, Brother Salmowitz. His goodness and his eagerness to help our brothers on both sides of the ocean is invaluable.
So congratulations to you, dear brothers. God should reward you for your humanitarian impulses. We wish you long years of health, luck, and pride, so that you can continue your good work. May you all be blessed!
I know that my brothers and sisters from our Kremenets community expect a word from me about our work over the past 35 years. As someone who had the honor of founding the organization, that's what should happen. But let me excuse myself from doing so, especially since others have done it so well.
This anniversary takes me back to birthday of our organization. Indeed, the day awakens in me the memory of my home, my birth home, there where I grew up and matured.
Our Jewish Kremenets is known around the world because of its great thinker, the writer Yitschak Ber Levinzon. The Jewish population itself plays a small role in the history of Jewish communities except among the dead, those murdered by Khmelnitsky's cannibals.
I am no writer, no author, just one of Kremenets's Jews.
It seems to me, however, that the famous writers and authors have neglected the Jewish population's special character. This I will try to correct.
Kremenets was, to a certain extent, a city of labors, of Jewish toilers. Aside from the learned men, the town was associated with a variety of trades, because around Kremenets were many small towns and villages that fed our industries.
Let me enumerate some of the different trades established by Jews. We will soon see that not even the prevalent trade of tailoring was so central.
Jewish trades were: tailoring, of two kinds. Fine tailoring, and ready-made. Men's, women's, and military.
It is worth mentioning our Yankel Shmukler. He was very successful among high-ranking military people. People ordered uniforms with gold epaulets from him. He made them by hand.
Master carpenters of fine furniture, house builders, roofers, masons, two kinds of turners: for trimming fine furniture and for cigarette holders. The latter provided for Russia. There were also smiths, tinsmiths, wheelwrights (who made wheels for wagons), shingle makers (for roofs), barrel makers, shoemakers, leatherworkers, furriers, potters, bookbinders, glass workers, cotton workers, wallet makers, comb makers, goldsmiths, watchmakers, floor layers, polishers, brick makers, porters, water carriers, beggars, barbers, cigarette makers, laundresses.
Transport, too, was in Jewish hands, whether for commerce or travel to nearby towns. From among the drivers it is worth recalling the lively and talkative driver Shimele Poyker. He had the honor of driving the great writer Sh. Ansky when, with our fellow townsman H. Gelernt, he travelled to Petersburg for the Jewish Ethnographic Society.
As usual, it was a Sabbath afternoon when the young people used to go to Shimele Poyker's house and he would read Shomer's books. Sometimes he would take care of Moshe the porter.
The ordinary Jews in Kremenets lived modestly by their own efforts. So, too, were they in their community activities. Even in the years of new political movements, Kremenets was absorbed in work for its own sake. Therefore, it was not as disturbed as other places.
Also, for the first labor strike undertaken for the right not to work on the evenings before Jewish holidays, people decided on it before evening prayers, when they said Kiddush at Etel Manus's .
On winter days when people would warm themselves together in the Butchers' Synagogue, my ears took in whole bundles of folk wisdom.
How deeply and strongly I yearn for that comfortable atmosphere.
Such things come to me here, in this free land of America. We came here armed not only with our worker hands but also with the inherited examples of our birthplace. In our work we have the example and authority of modest care. People may say, with joyful pride, that we walk in the steps of our ancestors.
The murderous hands of the Germans and all the other devils obliterated our Jewish Kremenets, but we here, their offspring, keep their memories in our hearts.
On this 35th anniversary of Kremenets work in America, we know we must remember, that in their honor we bear the name Kremenitzer Wolyner Benevolent Organization, and their name will live forever in our hearts.
So today's anniversary is not only a celebration of 35 years of life and work, but also a confirmation that we will carry on our martyrs' names.
|Children from the Kremenets Orphan Home at work in the ORT trade school|
|Dr. Litvak with his townspeople on his visit to America in 1928|
In the hour of our great celebration, my memory recalls moments from my young years that are forever gone but that leave in me a heritage of sweet dreams. The past 35 years have brought a total revolution in our way of life, have laid a stamp on our hearts. Do we see things now as we saw them 35 years ago?
From Kremenets, where we sang songs of joy, you have been thrown into a foreign world, where you have sung songs of labor and sweat. Spiritually, however, you remain tied to your city of Kremenets. Before your eyes floats the marvelous landscape: the hills and the valleys, the fields, and the woods with its bird songs. During your daily hard work, you have not forgotten your relatives from your old city. You have helped them with eager hands, especially in the time of the bloody flood.
We stand now on the slaughtering ground of eternal hatred, and the storm winds blow hard from every side. The time has not come to summarize your work. On the contrary: the time has come to redouble your strength and energy for helping. It is a great shofar blast not only for you but for everyone who has God in their hearts to help all of our near ones who escaped from the fire. I plead with God for you, and God will bless you. Your labors will be noted in the Book of Remembrance, and Jewish history will not forget you.
Hearty greetings, and may we all greet each other on your 50th anniversary, when our revived brothers will be in our land and singing the songs of the past.
As people live, so they live to see things, according to a Yiddish proverb. And we have lived to this happy day in our lives, a day of joy that will live long in our memories.
Our dearly beloved are celebrating their 35th anniversary, 35 years of the Kremenitzer Wolyner Benevolent Organization, with work for reciprocal help here and even more for those across the ocean. In our youth, who would have dreamed that we would be away from our hometown of Kremenets in a land thousands of miles away and that here we would meet and join together with fellow Kremenetsers? Each of us adapted and changed until we fit into our new lives here. Perhaps the Almighty desired us to be Josephs, whose fate it is to feed our brothers and sisters in our old home. And who would deny that we have done the same as Joseph once did?
I believe that our consciences are clear and that we can celebrate our anniversary with pride.
|The Great Synagogue|
Prior articles have already made clear the aim of the founders when they first undertook to organize the Association.
It began with cultural evenings, but quickly, with the increase in membership, the problem arose of caring for those members with material needs and also for creating a fund to aid those in Kremenets.
In August 1915, the world war was raging. People had to prepare for the needs in their old home that would arise when the war ended.
That August, the existence of the Kremenitzer Wolyner Benevolent Organization was officially declared.
It was located in its own hall and became official.
The cultural evenings continued. People began to amass a relief fund. A burial lot was also purchased for $1,500.
According to old Jewish examples, the cemetery was sanctified by the oldest member, Yisrael Peck, whose wife later became the first to be buried there.
People also created a relief fund for those in great need.
Various methods were undertaken to increase the funds, whether at a theater or by improvising a cultural evening or holding dances. The first dance was organized like those in our old home. People also sanctified similar banners and purchased honors.
The whole congregation was mobilized to help the old home.
Thus year in and year out, in a variety of ways, the funds that were sent to our old home were created.
From these funds, all the institutions in Kremenets benefited, whether the old kind, like the hospital, the old people's home, the Talmud Torah, and the like, or new ones, like schools, kindergartens, and trade schools. From time to time, clothing was also sent.
Also, during World War II, preparations were made for after the war. During the war, clothing was gathered and sent to Russia to be distributed among the Jews.
After the war, empathetic people sought the homeless surviving remnants from Kremenets in the various concentration camps. Each of the survivors, scattered in the camps in Germany, Austria, Italy, or anywhere else, received relief from the helping hands of the specially formed relief effort.
A large portion of this help was given by the Kremenitzer Ladies Auxiliary. This aid from the women did not last terribly long. But a great deal of this activity was performed by the recently deceased Chaya Rappaport.
Care was also given to those who were brought from the camps to America. In their early days in America, they received financial and other sorts of help.
The Kremenitzer Association had 60 members. At the time of these activities, they donated $150,000.
Now, after the murders of the Kremenetsers, it has been proposed to erect a monument by distributing a record book of Kremenets, an eternal remembrance of the slaughter.
New York is noisy and tumultuous. Factories, cars, peopleeverything is in motion, everything is rushing, moving. Often your sight moves to the distant past, with a deep longing for the quiet life of our homeland.
In this nostalgia, with the magic of youth, my city of Kremenets awakens.
Kremenets, the city crowned with beautiful hills that bestow grace on it. I see my city in its spring outfit, abloom with flowery fragrances from the nearby woods and fields. I see Kremenets in its summer beauty festooned with the seasonal ripeness of fruit trees; I see my city in the golden autumn and in the flashing magic of the winter nights wrapped in a sparkling white mantel of snow. Or when the hills are white with snow and Mount Bona glistens majestically.
Such freshness endures in my memory.
As if on a screen flickers the memory of a panorama of pictures of that wonder, Kremenets.
They will halt for longer and longer. But they flee, just as we fled through the open woods, over the tops of the highest hills. The world was ours. Young and hearty, strong and carefree as we ran in pursuit of our greatest ideals.
Some kind of magic possessed our poetic and romantic Kremenets. There was born the famous Polish poet [Juliusz] Slowacki. It also produced our great Yitschak Ber Levinzon.
And the streets of Kremenets. They throbbed with happy laughter. Each street was alive, and especially Sheroka Street, which delighted in the parade of children to the schools, with merchants in their shops, workers going to their workplaces. All pulsated with Jewish life. Young and old, rich and poor, how much I love them all! How my life is bound up with all of you! I see all of you, all. You are all etched in my memory. The Dubno gate, near where I was born. There stood my beloved little white house, which reflected the shimmering light from the surrounding hills, from Mount Devitshe
That little house laughed, it shone, it sang.
The door opens. I see my beloved, my happy home, which I left so long ago and which I yearn for. There sits my mother, my holy mother, looking beautiful, with her warm glance. How much I love her! How I love my father, who was always occupied with his clocks while singing a little tune .
And my sister and brothers. We were always occupied with books and the thirst for knowledge.
We rushed off to school so we would not arrive late. We came early so we could learn more. And he sits there, my never-to-be-forgotten grandfather. He sits by the heater and warms his old bones. Grandchildren circle around him, each trying to get his attention and tell him stories. Zayde takes in everything that they tell him. He doesn't want to go to sleep because they show him a new world about which he could only dream.
My heart hurts from longing, from wanting to return to everyone who no longer exists, who has disappeared! Everything that lived and bloomed has been erased.
A beautiful Jewish generation existed. Beautiful figures appeared on the horizon of Jewish life in Kremenets. Doctors, lawyers, mathematicians, and philosophers, craftsmen. Jewish life pulsated, as did the Jewish spirit in ordinary people.
How much love for the figure of a Moshe the water carrier, Yosef the musician, and Rivke the waitress, who sweated over Jewish weddings and celebrations. You cannot forget the holidays, which truly demonstrated the holiday spirit. The Old Synagogue, the Great Synagogue, Aharon the cantor, the city rabbi and ritual slaughterer, each neighbor, each person.
How happy would we be if we knew we could go home again and again be with our parents, with everyone and everything .
To run again through the rivers and valleys, on the hills, through the streets of my city, seeing the synagogue, as I have for so long desired, hearing the song of my youth: Let us rejoice, for we are young.
But now all is silent there. Cut off. There are not even graves there. We don't know where their bones are, where the winds have taken their ashes. Even the sounds of nature have changed. The birds no longer sing as they used to, for to whom would they sing?
No more will our beloved Sorele and Moshele hear the song?
I see them all. I see their last look at our Kremenets. Their memory is engraved in our hearts with sacred letters. It seems that we hear their voices from there, rolling over the trees that sway and buzz like bees. And the hills, the magical hills, look sadly around, and I look around with horrified glances.
Ah, if only we could visit the never-to-be-forgotten city of Kremenets one more time in our lives!
|A reception for a great KremenetserLitvak, who lives in Israel|
Dr. Julius Rosenfeld
Every people in its historic land lives freely and securely, lives its unique life with a culture formed by its own concepts. A couple of decades make a negligible contribution to its history, which goes its normal way for generations. But the Jews are an orphan in the political arena, for they do not seem like a people among other peoples, and they stand outside the camp. Their glorious history stopped on the day they lost their independence and were turned into a people with histories spread across the world. Each group, in the land where fate took them, wrote its own history. From inquisitions, a history of pogroms and slaughters, and each of them was written out of sorrow and suffering, from tears and blood. Who knows what would have happened to the Jewish people if not for the lofty and holy ideal that suffuses the character and the blood of every Jew, the ideal that every Jew is responsible for every other Jew. I do not know the source of the idea of an extra soul, but perhaps it is true that every Jew has two souls, one for himself and one for his people. Otherwise, how can one explain the organizations and societies that devote their strength and their energy for the whole nation? They have been the pioneers who have first answered the call of our brothers and sisters in the valley of tears. With generosity of soul, they have thrown themselves into the project and worked miracles.
The Kremenitzer Benevolent Organization now sings the song of ascents: Those who sowed in tears, reap in joy [Psalm 126], an anniversary song for 35 years of difficult and fruitful labor in the fields of community service. It is being publicized with a splendid account that merits praise from the whole Jewish world.
We live in a time when we cannot recover from the murderous catastrophe that created so much devastation in our community. We can still smell the odor of our cremated martyrs. This is not the time to desist from our activities for our compatriots, because that work is not yet completed. We Jews live with trust, but we must not forget that we are a people who stand guard from night to night, who always stand on guard, who are always prepared to counter enemies. But a time will come when a future historian grants them a favored place in Jewish history for coming generations.
I would only call his attention to the city of Kremenets, which produced such fine people as Mr. Wakmann, who was blessed with wealth and hands that are open to give charity; Mr. Gelernt, a writer and historian; Mr. Henry Kessler and Mr. Bromfeld, educated and intelligent men; Messrs. Benny Barshop, I. Salmowitz, and Alexander Mintz, powerful and logical speakers who are known as the heavy artillery, and others whose names, to my embarrassment, I have forgotten.
A beautiful city, Kremenets, with high hills that are known as the grandchildren of the Carpathians. When the hills were created remains an eternal secret. Perhaps at the time of creation the angel flew with a heavy sack on its shoulders in order to spread the treasures of nature around the world, and there deposited several mountains as a gift to the city to create a wonderful landscape, with fields and woods where the birds gave free concerts. The historic synagogue, several hundred years old but as strong as a fortress, the numerous study halls, and the respectful and wholesome Jews, truly angels, the small, narrow little house where that great Jew Yitschak Ber Levinzon, may his memory be a blessing, lived. Nature and the environment, as is known, influence humanity, and perhaps this was the case with the people of Kremenets, who remained true to the traditions of their forebears who dedicated their lives to the Sanctification of the Name. So I will greet them on today's anniversary and wish them long years for their holy work that remains so necessary for our martyred people.
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