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[Page 27 - Hebrew] [Page 82 - Yiddish]

Sarny – Its Creation, Existence and Destruction

By Shlomo Zandweiss

Fate decreed that I – one of the community workers of Sarny that was destroyed – should remain alive. That I should be able to tell about the life of the Jews in our city, that was so rich in the variegated nuances that characterized its Jewish grace.

In my capacity as a recorder for our community, Chair of 'Tarbut' and also an activist also in other realms of Jewish life, I was close to our concerns, and both the distress and joy, of all the Jews in our city and its vicinity, that were connected to the Sarny community.

Despite this, it is very possible that names, dates, and events have fallen from my memory. To the extent that my memory will serve me, I will attempt to tell everything that I know, everything that has been etched into the depths of my soul – in order to contribute to the elevation and illumination of the memory of the Jews of Sarny and its vicinity, that were exterminated, and in order to append a sorrowful page of illumination to the general description of the terrifying, if undescribable Holocaust, that befell the Jews of Europe, and the Jewish people in general.

 

The Creation of Sarny

Sarny – A Small Village in the Forests of Polesia

Sarny at its outset – was a small village on the Polesia-Wolhyn border, between forests and swamps. There were several tens of impoverished farmers, and a few Jewish families, The Jewish families supported themselves by purchasing cattle – to be sold in the larger centers of Poland and Prussia; dried mushrooms, blackberries, pig bristles, and geese – these were sold off to centers in Russia and Poland.

A few Jewish families engages in the lumber business, and the exploitation of small plots of forest land they would buy from the area nobles, or they worked as officials in the larger businesses of Jews or Germans, The lumber was transported by means of the Sluch River, that flows into the Horyn, the Horyn into the Pripyat, to the Bug – until reaching Danzig. The lighter merchandise – ornaments, pedestals, firewood, oxen, geese and mushrooms – were conveyed by freight train to the side of the Sarny station, which was at a distance of 2-3 km from the village itself.

This tiny rail station, built of wood, could be found on the iron rail line connecting Rivne-Luniniec-Pinsk, which earned the sobriquet of the 'Polesia Railroad Line.'

The Jews of the Sarny village were scions of distinguished Jewish families, and were charitable people, who took in guests. They ran their households generously, because it would appear that they did not lack for making a living, and against the Czarist police, they found means to deal – 'a gift is sent to my Lord, to Esau.'[1]

The families from the village – The families of Velvel Geifman, Itz'l Zinger, the Ritual Slaughterer and Meat Examiner[2], Ziskind Gamerman, Turok and others – were, afterwards, among those who built Sarny and were active in it, this was true of them and their sons up to the last tragic day of its eradication.

And it was in this way, that the Jewish families in the village of Sarny lived their unique lives, for generations, until the creation of the new city of Sarny.

There were three causes for the flowering of Sarny:

  1. The harassment of the Jews in the villages, and the expulsions in the final years of the century just passed [sic: the 19th Century].

  2. The construction of the new iron railroad from Kiev to Kovel, which afterwards was given the sobriquet 'Юго-Западная Линя' (The Southwestern Line). This line had obtained a great deal of importance in the eyes of the Czarist régime, from a national and strategic point of view, in one, because it connected Poland to the Ukraine and Russia.

  3. The village of Sarny was the estate of the well-known general Dzerzhinsky, who was close to the royal family. He enjoyed no revenue from the swamps that peppered his estate, and he was inclined to sell them – giving away half for free. Because of this he decided to make use of a permit that was granted to him by the Czarist régime (by which every hundred villages were entitled to build a town, in which Jews are allowed to live) and to transform Sarny into a town of this sort. And from whom could he expected to obtain such a good price for every meter of ground, if not from the Jews? Especially, since regardless, they were going to remain anyway – even with money and land – under the nobleman's control, because the Jews were permitted only to lease the land, and to pay a leasing fee on an annual basis, but they were forbidden to purchase land to be used for agriculture; and even if the houses were built in accordance with an agreement for a set period of time, and from the outset, the nobleman had the right to tear them down after that period, if he did not want to renew the agreement.

Seeing that he was close to the royalty, general Dzerzhinsky traveled to Petersburg, and brought back a signed and sealed permit, that because a planned steel rail line was to be built alongside his swamps – he was therefore permitted to build a town in his district (Posad Sarny).

 

Sarny Becomes a City

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R' Elimelekh Perlov of Karlin k”mz   R' Moshe Perlov of Stolin k”mz   R' Israel Perlov of Stolin k”mz

 

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R' Pesach-Eliyahu Katz,
Ritual Slaughterer & Inspector

 

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R' Yehoshua Pickman, Hazzan of the Great Synagogue   R' Shlomo Gamerman, Ritual Slaughterer & Inspector

 

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The AdMo”R[3] R' Elimelekh Perlov, in the company of his Hasidim during his visit to Sarny

 

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The AdMo”R R' Itzik'l of Berezne, and Rabbi Hechtman in the company of Hasidim

 

When the news spread among the Jews, that a railroad station was to be built beside the village of Sarny, that is going to link the two lines, the Polesia line, and the southwest line, whose tracks would be traversed daily by many trains, and that a large locomotive-depot was being built there, in which hundreds of skilled craftsmen would be employed, and over them, hundred of railroad officials would be places, for whom special housing was being constructed – this was a sign that the location would become a place where one could make a living. Jews from all corners of Wolhyn and Polesia, began to stream into Sarny. At first came the Jews from the cities, and the nearby towns and villages: Bereznica, Dąbrowica, Berezne, Stepan', and others.[4] But they were preceded by the first of the forts, the Jews of the villages of Sarny, Nemovychi, Czudlo,[5] etc.

And so, like mushrooms after a rain, hotels, and places of commerce began to sprout, which in the fulness of days, spread all over a broad area. It was in this way, that the city of Sarny came into being in the years 1900-1902, which was to become designated as a provincial seat (Powiat) in Poland, with a population of close to 14,000 of which approximately half were Jews.

The Jewish population of Sarny grew especially large during the days of the Polish Republic. Sarny was strongly tied to the metropolitan centers of Poland – Warsaw, Lodz, etc – in terms of economic activity, government administration, culturally and religiously. Sarny became known for its institutions, its 'Tarbut' School, in which close to 600 students attended classes year in and year out. A generation of teachers received their education in this school, as well as Halutzim, and just plain ordinary good Zionists, and loyal Jews, by whose virtue we have attained, here in Israel, a level of 600 families who are scions of Sarny.

The Sarny orphanage earned a good name throughout Poland, After the Petlura pogroms in the Ukraine, there streamed into Sarny – naked and without anything – orphans from the Guberniyas of Wolhyn and Kiev. In Sarny, they found a warm home, education, the study of Hebrew and the study of a trade craft, after which, they made aliyah to the Land of Israel, or emigrated to other countries, as was their will, or the will of their relatives, or ombudsmen.

To care for those orphans that came to Sarny, who were infected with various diseases, a branch of the 'TOZ' organization was established in 1920-1921, that was in operation in Sarny until 1939.

In a like manner, an 'ORT' School was established during those same years, that was well-known throughout Poland, that trained hundreds of craftsmen in all types of carpentry, and similarly students who graduated with skills in sewing and cutting. Hundreds of men and women in Israel, and other lands, owe a debt of gratitude for their livelihood, to the ORT School in Sarny.

Sarny was famous for its Rabbis and Ritual Slaughterers, and for its Yeshiva and Talmud Torah, for the manner in which community affairs were conducted, its Zionist institutions and their branches, and all of its work that earned it a respected and glorious reputation.

All of this was destroyed in those terrifying summer days of 14-16 Elul 5702, [September 6-7, 1941] when wings of the murderous Nazis, brought all of our beloved brothers and sisters, the elderly, children, and newborns, to slaughter. They are all entombed today in two graves in an alien land, and we are not even able to visit these graves to pour out our tears over them. Merciful God, take vengeance as vengeance is required, for this spilled blood!

 

The Jewish Community of Sarny

The history of the Jewish Community in Sarny divides itself into six periods:
From the year 1900 until the outbreak of The First World War in 1914.
From 1915 until the initiation of Polish hegemony in 1920.
From 1920/21 until the arrival of the Soviet Army in September 1939.
September 1939 to July 1941 – Under Soviet rule.
Under the heel of the Gestapo and Ukrainian police – until the destruction.
The Partisan days, and the return of the Red Army.

 

A. From the year 1900 Until the Outbreak of The First World War in 1914

As is known, the Czarist monarchy did not bestow municipal rights, or other rights of citizenship to the populace in general, and especially not to the Jews in those small towns of ‘Черта Оседлостий’ (The Pale of Settlement – being that area where it was permitted for Jews to live).

The Russian populace was comprised of the following persuasions:

  1. ‘Крестьяство’ – the peasantry, having ‘Властнаяоправленя,’ being the self–government of several villages.
  2. ‘Мещанство’ – City dwellers, who were permitted to live only in towns that had self–government, that were called by the name ‘Мещанская Нправа.’
  3. ‘Купечество’ – Large scale merchants, of the first and second tier. If a Jew was able to secure the permit required to be considered a merchant of the first rank – he was permitted to take up residence in the Russian cities of Kiev, Moscow, Petersburg, etc.
  4. ‘Дворянство’ – Property owners, and other people for the high rank of the Russian nobility – dukes and relatives of the Czar's family.
Usually, the Jewish populace in Sarny was counted as ‘Мещанй.’ However, because Sarny was a new town, whose residents came from all the surrounding areas, all of them remained registered by the ‘Мещанская Оправа’ from which they had come previously. It was from there that he got his passport, and it was there that he presented himself for military service. The ‘Оправа’ also would levy and collect the taxes that were placed specifically on the Jews: taxes for Sabbath candles, income from ritual slaughter, etc. For whatever reason – economic or resistance from the supporters of other Оправй, there was no ‘Мещанская Оправа’ in Sarny, a situation that made it more difficult for the Jews of the city. A ‘government Rabbi [6] ’ to record births, marriages and deaths – also was not in place here. In these cases, they would turn to the rabbis of other towns: Dąbrowica, Wolodzmierz, and even Rovno – the provincial seat at that time. Accordingly, Sarny did not have a municipal leadership. Matters of government were taken up in Rovno.

As a result of all this, Sarny was blessed with its own ‘Пристав,’ and ‘Ураднйк [7],’ and ten policemen (an officer in charge of the police, his deputy and ten others of varying rank), a courthouse with a sitting judge and a secretary, a post office, and most important of all – a ‘Monopolka,’ (a government store for the sale of hard liquor). The street on which the Monopolka was located was privileged with the name Monopolnaya Ulica (the street on which the Monopolka was located).

In every town, there was a Jew who had good connections with the police. He served as an intermediary, and it was through him that the ploce would receive bi–monthly payments ‘not to harass.’ There was such a Jew in Sarny as well.

The Урстатнй Дом (Jail House) was found beside the police station, in which were Jews confined for there ‘serious offenses:’ not closing their stores after 7:00PM, conducting business on Sunday through the back door, and similar ‘dangerous infractions…’ for the forking over of ‘no harassment’ monies, the guard at the jail would permit the introduction of candles for Jewish women, in order that they be able to fulfil the mitzvah of lighting candles for the Sabbath, and for a few Rubles, it would be possible to arrange a Shalosh Seudot in the company of a minyan, and similar such thing.

After the big, beautiful train station was built, and the depot, in which many workers and overseers worked, trains began transiting through every day, and sources of income began to bloom in profusion – and the hour had arrived for the building of Jewish community life and all the companion institutions.

 

The Great Synagogue

In a short period of time, a large Bet HaMedrash was built with the active participation of the Shokhet R' Ziskind Gamerman and balebatim – the brothers Yaakov and Leib Alexandrov, Mr. David Birg, Mr. Zelig Barlinsky, Mr. Nurbar, Mr. Gedalia Murik, Mr. Mendl Laufer, Mr. Abraham Klass, Mr. Kalman Feld, and others. The young Rabbi, R' Matityahu Kavenczuk, was invited to preside over the sacraments. The Rabbi was a student from a Lithuanian Yeshiva, from the town of Eishyshok, a wondrous scholar, in harmony with his environment, with great patience regarding other people. The entire Jewish family connected to him with feelings of much love and respect.

The balebatim, and more respected of the craftsmen were in the habit of worshiping at the Bet HaMedrash. Well qualified people would lead services from the pulpit, such as R' Ziskind the Shokhet, his brother R' Shlomo Gamerman, R' Alter Kupperman, and R' Yehoshua Pickman, who afterwards was given the nickname of R' Yehoshua the Hazzan.

And consequently, as he grew old, R' Yehoshua supported himself by being a Cantor. He would come to all weddings and other celebrations, in the full glory of his venerable appearance, and with hiss sensitive and beautiful homilies, his singing and dancing – would elate the ‘audience.’ R' Yehoshua the Hazzan was a scholar, a God–fearing person, of pleasant disposition, and much loved by the Sarny community.

 

The Stolin Synagogue

A short time after this – not far from the Bet HaMedrash – the Stolin Synagogue was built, or as it was called by us, the Stolin ‘shtibl.’ Until the construction of the synagogue, the Stolin Hasidim worshiped at the home of R' Yoss'l Njavozhnik [8]. The synagogue was erected on the parcel of R' Herschel Bergman. Many balebatim worked hard to erect the synagogue: R' Yitzhak Zandweiss, R' Meir Goldman, R' Yoss'l Kharpak, R' Benjamin Kantorovich, R' Yehuda Pearlstein, R' Shmuel Geifman, and his sons, Yaakov and Moshe, R' Aharon Miasnik, R' Moshe Yoss'l Kottelczuk, R' Meir Szur, R' Pesach Borko, R' Yitzhak Glick, R' Lejzor Zhuk, R' Lejzor Susnik, the brothers Israel and Moshe Kulakowsky, R' Aharon Berzowicz, R' Shabtai Kunik and others. Only the Stolin Hasidim prayed in this synagogue, and they followed the custom of the AdMo”Rs of Stolin. In this synagogue, neither Cantors, nor singers were permitted to lead services from the pulpit. And if there was anyone who felt a need for this, qualified people of good voice and sweet heart were found, such as R' Zadok and R' Pinchas Zandweiss, R' Moshe Yoss'l Kottelczuk, or, on occasion, on a Sabbath, R' Menachem would come from Dąbrowica. Their style of prayer was of the variety ‘All the bones in my body speak,’ and the Hasidim would tell of R' Aharon of Karlin k”mz, who on one occasion during Sabbath services, shouted out: пудий Жаро (in Russian – give fire)! It is with this sort of fervor, that they would pray in the Stolin synagogue. And just as intense as their prayer was, so was their singing during Shalosh Seudot sweet and warm, as during the Melaveh Malka, and similar occasions. Whosoever has not seen these festivities, and hasn't heard the melodies in the Stolin synagogue, especially those on Purim and Simchat Torah – has not tasted, and will not taste the flavor of ‘Moadim leSimcha, Khagim uZmanin leSasson.’

Jews, both young and old, and even Christians, would surge toward the Stolin synagogue, from all parts of the city, in order to observe the ecstasy of the Hasidim. Who will not recall the dancing of R' Moshe Yoss'l Kottelczuk on the table and benches, his hand clapping and his songs. Here, we see him reciting the Shmona Esrei prayer of the Musaf service on Simchat Torah, as he is bound to the lectern on the Bima, and the entire band of comrades dance around him in a circle. And here stands R' Yoss'l Njavozhnik, surrounded by tens of children – and he distributes sweets to them, and calls out: Sacred flock! And they reply to him: Meh–eh, Meh–eh! Here is reciting the long version of ‘Ani Ma'amin,’ and all the young folk respond with: Emet! Emet! And here is R' Aharon Miasnik dancing on a bench, singing as if he is carved from wood, and opposite him, R' Pesach Borko, and R' Shlomo'keh the Scribe dance, along with others.

The Stolin Hasidim would reach the zenith of their spiritual elevation, during the week when the Rebbe, R; Israel'keh Perlov k”mz (‘The Yenuka [9]’) would come to Sarny. Apart from the Hasidim in Sarny, during this week, everyone threw off all the worries about making a living, and gave themselves over to joy, and there would also arrive, some by riding, others on foot, hundreds of Hasidim from the entire surrounding vicinity. And just as would be the case of making the ritual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, no man would say: ‘The place is too crowded for me’ – and it was just this way in Sarny. And every Hasid took in a few of the other visiting Hasidim.

One could feel the preparations underway in the shtibl already several weeks before the Rebbe's arrival. All manner of comprehensive plans were drawn: with whom will the Rebbe lodge this year, whom will he visit, and who will lead the worship, Torah readers, attendants, singers, etc. When the Rebbe did arrive – joy broke out all over. The fervent prayer, the dancing and merrymaking, warmed not only the hearts of the Hasidim alone, but even the hearts of those who attended other houses of worship. It was not only the Hasidim who sensed the presence of the Rebbe in Sarny, but also the entire populace of Sarny and vicinity. Even the gentiles would converse among themselves: ‘Столински Раббин Приехал’ – The Rebbe of Stolin has arrived!

When we underscore the various leaders of prayer and Torah readers in the Stolin Synagogue, let us also make note of the fact that in the entire period of the existence of this synagogue, approximately 40 years, there were only two men who served as Torah Readers. The Stolin Synagogue did not let any old person approach the Torah scroll. A person for this task had to be God–fearing, an honest, and straight man, of pleasant disposition, etc. Accordingly, the two Torah Readers, R' Israel Kulakowsky (the father of R' Yaakov Kulakowsky) and the Shokhet, R' Pesach–Ely'eh, where worthy of undertaking this task, from all considerations.

 

The Berezne [10] Synagogue

The Berezne Synagogue was built a short time afterwards. It was mostly craftsmen that worshiped in this synagogue, who were the Hasidim of R' Shmulik'l Pacznick k”mz. These were religious craftsmen, observant Jews, who struggled and worked their entire lives by the sweet of their brow – by their own efforts, and with their own means, they constructed a beautiful synagogue, and added a residence to it for their Shammes, R' Mendl.

Those who participated in the construction of this synagogue were: Mr. Yehuda Langer, Mr. Ephraim Bikowsky, Mr. Greenberg, the brothers Itcheh & Bennie Glekl, the brothers Wolf & Mendl Fabrikant, Mr. Yehoshua Baruch Plotnik, Mr. Joseph Mordechai Wiszczina, Mr. Yaakov Bryk, Mr, Zerakh Danenberg, and others.

As was the case with other synagogues, additional worshipers were added to the Berezne Synagogue, and on the Sabbath and Festivals, both a Shalosh Seudot and Melaveh Malka would be organized, which included songs and singing. When the Rebbe, R' Shmulik'l a man of venerable appearance, would come to spend the Sabbath with his Hasidim – the joy was recognized throughout the city. Hordes of Hasidim from the city and vicinity, would take pleasure with one another, and bring in expenditure quite generously.

After a few years went by, the younger son of R' Shmulik'l came to Sarny – R' Yoss'leh k”mz. Even though R' Shmulik'l was still alive, and led his congregation in Berezne, R' Yoss'leh began to arrange for the Rebbe's Tisch, to which many of the Hasidim from Sarny were drawn. R' Yoss'leh was loved by the entire group, and was deserving of it: a great scholar and God–fearing man, modest, and a lover of his people, Israel. His very handsome and patriarchal visage was a satisfaction to everyone's heart.

 

The Polesia Synagogue

Sarny was divided into two sides of the city: on one side – the center of the city, of the Jewish populace, of commerce and all the institutions. The iron rail line split the city in two, the station, the depot, the water tower, the houses of the railroad officials, the school for their children, and a garden – the only garden in the city. Behind the iron rail line, the Polesia side of the area spread out. On this side, the air was crisper, it was more dry, and more green, and it was here that a young stand of pine trees grew. In this part of the city, mostly Christians lives – officials of the railroad, the post office, and others. There were roughly thirty Jews found on the Polesia side. Four hotels were built on that side, near the railroad. They were under the ownership of the families of the Messrs. Jonah Avruch, Naphtali Goldman, Mordechai (Mott'l) Zandweiss, and the largest and most beautiful hotel – owned by the family of R' Velvel Geifman. The business of these hotels was not bad, but it was the hotel of Velvel Geifman that was more often full and overflowing with business, in which the Jewish forest product merchants from Poland and Russia would lodge. And if thirty families of Jews lived there on a permanent basis, and they had a house like the house of R' V. Geifman, with the Jewish merchants in it – is it possible that they should live there without a synagogue? Accordingly, work began immediately and the synagogue was built quickly, and no expense was spared; it contained a beautiful Holy Ark, into which R' V. Geifman placed a Torah scroll. Afterwards, other balebatim came to the support and strengthening of the synagogue, and the shelves filled up with sacred books, Talmud and volumes of the Mishna.

Among those who were dedicated in the building of this synagogue, and outfitting it, were R' Velvel Geifman and his son Asher, the Feinstein family, the Fidl family, the Lawyer Becker, R' Zadok, and R' Mott'l Zandweiss, R' Jonah Avruch, R' Yehoshua Baruch Plotnik, R' Yoss'l Glekl, R' Itcheh Glick, R' Israel Njavozhnik, R' Aharon Wolf Feld, R' Yoss'l Roitlman, and others.

 

The Stepan' Synagogue

A few years after this, the construction of a synagogue was initiated that came to be called the ‘Stepan' Synagogue,’ or the ‘Rosenberg Synagogue.’ The distinguished Sarny resident, R' Moshe Rosenberg was the one who began the construction of the synagogue, and that construction stretched over several years. Those who prayed there were a few Stepan' Hasidim, and those people who lived in the nearby streets of that area. Beside the synagogue, and beside his large house, R' Moshe Rosenberg dug out a large fish pond, which did not turn out to be beautiful. It was neglected, and malodorous, with frogs croaking in it. It was only once a year that the pond got use in connection with religious ritual, and that was on Rosh Hashanah, when the Jews came to it for Tashlikh.

 

The Cemetery
Or as it was called by us, ‘The Sacred Place.’

There is much to tell about the cemetery. First, every one of us has left either a relative or a friend behind in it. Second, not far from it, are located three large mass graves, in which are buried those of our tortured martyrs. And who among us will not remember the days of Tisha B'Av, and the entire month of Elul, in which hundreds of men and women would make a pilgrimage to the graves of their ancestors, pour out their hearts with respect to specific and general troubles, and pray for salvation and comfort and for a good coming new year. A number of us can still recall the wedding canopy set up for a poor bride and groom, that was erected in the ‘Sacred Place’ in the year 1918/19 as a good deed that would serve to arrest the typhus epidemic. Many will still remember the time in which the large parcel of the cemetery was obtained from the Sarny nobleman, to be used as a burial site. Many Jews, and Rabbis came, from the city and its vicinity, among them R' Chaim'keh Taubman, the AdMo”R of Berezne k”mz. Hakafot were organized around the property, and verses from the Psalms, and other prayers, were recited. A few days after the dedication of the location, the father of R' Koppel Perul passed away, being over the age of one hundred. It is believed, that in order that the deceased not be left alone in the cemetery, his son Koppel would go out during the night, t lodge beside the grave – until an additional decedent was brought to burial.

Many of the residents immediately signed up to become members of the Hevra Kadisha and the Hevra of the Pallbearers.

 

Hakhnasat Orkhim

As a center of communication, Sarny was ‘blessed’ with many paupers, who came their by train. Seeing that there was no single place to lodge them, most of them found a spot on the synagogues and houses of study, and the more important among them would be hosted in the homes of a few of the balebatim, and many – found a place to stay at the home of the Shokhet R' Ziskind Gamerman.

The home of R' Ziskind Gamerman was always open to emissaries of various kinds, the grandsons of rabbis, and plain ordinary poor people, who, in addition to being given a place to sleep, were give generous amounts of food and drink. But the morsel does not satisfy the lion, and the question arose: Is it possible by some means to create a lodging facility for the poor. In those days, in the nearby village of Czudlo, the philanthropic wife of R' Arczik Geifman, passed away. This Geifman family had no heirs. R' Arczik Geifman gave much to charity, in the memory of his deceased wife. There was not a synagogue in which he did not dedicate a prayer stand, a Holy Ark, Torah scrolls, ark curtains, Torah crowns, candlesticks, chandeliers, and other sacred appurtenances. In the end, a large house was deeded over, along with a parcel of land, close to the Berezne Synagogue. This house was used to establish an inn for the itinerant poor, a Talmud Torah, and much later – a matzo bakery. On the large adjacent parcel, afterwards, the community baths and the various mikvas were built by the city activists.

 

Education Issues

In the period prior to The First World War, there were no schools, gymnasia, or other forms of modern educational institutions in Sarny. The single Russian school, that had four grades, which existed at that time, was under the ownership of the management of the railroad. Only the children of railroad officials were schooled there, with the exception of 2–3 Jewish children, whose work was connected to the operation of the railroad.

All education was based on the ‘Heder’ system, and on a few elementary teachers, who gave lessons in the home. These teachers would also come for a few hours to the Heders, to teach Hebrew and Russian there. A few well–to–do families, who were not satisfied with the Heder system and elementary teachers, would send their children to the nearby larger cities, Rovno – Kovel, to receive education in the schools that were there.

The Heders in Sarny, in those times, were similar to the Heders in the entire vicinity: the same Melamed, the same type of discipline, the same sing–song and intonations, that being the same stifling room in which twenty students would learn from early morning until late into the evening. In my memory, the Heders of R' Joseph Njavozhny, R' Alter Peretz, and that of R' Abraham–Chaim Schneider remain preserved.

The Melamed R' Joseph Njavozhny was a taciturn good Jewish man, who taught the children Judaism and prayers, how to review the Torah portion of the week, etc., with dedication and faith. He conducted his Heder with a gentle hand. In contrast to this, R' Alter–Peretz was much stricter. With him, the study was comprised of the Pentateuch with Rashi commentaries, Gemara with the Tosafot and other commentaries. The Heder of R' Abraham–Chaim Schneider was a bit more progressive. R' Abraham–Chaim Schneider was an Enlightened Jew, and had a beautiful command of Hebrew and Russian, taught grammar and Tanakh very well, with the more modern commentaries, such as Mikra Meforash and others. He had long ago earned the sobriquet of ‘Schneider the Teacher,’ but in spite of this, did not have the temerity to be the first one to lead in the modernization of education. He too, taught his students late into the evening hours, and did not refrain from giving his students a slap, or to discipline them in other ways.

Students were under strict control for the entire day. The were able to breathe a little easier, only when their Rebbe, R' Alter–Peretz dozed off in the afternoon, or when some sort of special day came along, or a Kiddush was put out in the synagogue, [for a] Brit Mila or a Pidyon HaBen. At that time, the whole rabble of students would pour out into the yard and cavort about like wild goats, dancing, carrying on, playing ‘Waga’ and ‘Pikholz,’ climbing on the fenceposts, and trees, and riding on the billy goat. Only when the Rebbe would return, and when his youngest son would tell on one of us, that had carried on more wildly than the rest, that student would be lucky to get out without loss of a tooth and eye. Our happiness was greater in the evening, especially during winter, when the babies of the houses of their teachers, from all Heders, would come out with multi–colored paper lanterns in their hands, and they would all divide themselves up into three camps, based on their Heder. A snowball fight then ensued at peak vigor, and two snowmen were attacked in a storm, with the outcome being ???

There were three other Heders that were run along these lines – that of R' Leib'l Dworetzky, R' Aharon Zuliar from the village of Nemovychi, and that of R' Yitzhak Aharon.

A change in circumstances began approximately in the year 1907/08, when the teacher Boaz Jaszpa arrived from Czudnovlinsk. Boaz Jaszpa was a modern man, Enlightened, and possessed a refined soul. He immediately rented a beautiful residence in the center of the city (afterwards called Ulica Opticzyna), comprised of several rooms, in which he established his elementary school in the two large ones. The rooms were provided with comfortable school benches, three pupils to a bench, a blackboard, globes and atlases. Even the administration and the rules of discipline were set up as if in a modern school. And it was then that systematic courses in Hebrew began, a chorus of boy and girl students was established, and on Hanukkah and Purim, plays were put on by the children – all in Hebrew. And even if class work was not yet conducted Ivrit b'Ivrit there already were students who conversed with each other this way among themselves, and especially with the teacher, speaking in Hebrew. It was in this manner that the foundation for Hebrew [education] was laid with us in Sarny. For family reasons, the teacher Boaz Jaszpa left Sarny after two to three years.

The teacher Jaszpa went off, but his practices, lore and the conduct that he inspired, remained behind. After his departure – a good teacher came to Sarny, Fyvel Neiman from Lyakhowa, and students prospered under his tutelage. Mr. Neiman spent a few years in Sarny. During these years, his students established ‘Agudat Hovevei Sfat Ayver [11]’ and drew many young people from the Heders into it.

Of the elementary grade teachers that I remember, there is the teacher Dworec, who only taught the Russian language, and also the teachers Sasha Rosenberg and Volodya Goldman, who taught mathematics and languages.

There were no assimilated families in Sarny at that time. Yiddish was spoken in all the homes, excepting the two or three families that had come from Russia, and whose children were educated at the Russian gymnasiums in Kiev and other cities.

In contrast to this, there were parents who sent their sons to Yeshivas, to Lida – to Rabbi Reines k”z, or to Kiev – to Rabbi Aharonson k”z, and similarly to Zwiahel [12] – to the Poltava genius Rabbi Joel Szurin k”z. A few students went a greater distance to Odessa, where they received instruction from C. N. Bialik and Dr. Joseph Klausner,

We did not have mixed marriages, with one exception – the beautiful daughter of a Hasidic family married a Christian neighbor, a railroad official. This incident made a major impression on the city and its environs. The days, in which this daughter changed her religion, and was led to the wedding canopy, was like Tisha B'Av at the cemetery in the city. Everyone participated in the sorrow of the family, which ritually rent its clothing, and sat Shiva as if for the death in the family. Out of great shame and pain, the family uprooted itself from Sarny after a while, and settled in Odessa.

 

Financial Organizations

These did not exist at this time, because in the Czarist period, it was difficult, and even forbidden. To organize such financial groups. However, after many forest product merchants, and large textile sellers found that they needed a credit institution to facilitate their commercial transactions, a bank was established in 1912 – by the effort of a few merchants and retailers – that, in Russian was called ‘Сарненская Общество Вземного кредита’ – The Sarny Mutual Credit & Loan.

The bank was opened in a building that belonged to the German, Kraft, and from 1918 [onwards] – to the Glick family (one member of this family, Jonah Glick, is to be found in Israel).

Mr. Ravziuk served as the first director of the bank, and afterwards, R' Joseph Goldberg, the father of Bayl'keh Goldberg, and the son–in–law of Moshe Gamerman k”z, who, in 1921, were among the 12 first of the olim from Sarny to the Land of Israel.

Joseph Goldberg was a man of integrity and possessed of culture. With the assistance of the good labor union – Chaim Greenberg, Aharon Zandweiss k”z and, to be separated for long life, Moshe Borko (now in Israel), and with the full support of the leadership and board of the bank, in which seasoned merchants participated, honest Jewish people, and respected balebatim of the city, such as the Messrs. Alexandrov, David Birg, Zadok Zandweiss, Joseph Kharpak, Yitzhak Levin, Yitzhak Glick, Gedalia Murik, Herschel Bergman, Meir Goldman, Moshe Yitzhak Nagel, the Dubowsky brothers, Aharon Berzowicz – the bank operated as it should, and the entire populace in the city and its vicinity offered it trust and recognition. The bank also had relationships with many large banks in Kiev and other cities in Russia.

 

Cultural & Government Organizations

Until The First World War, Sarny did not have any cultural or governmental institutions, apart from a club of several tens of Zionists, who established a small library. The more energetic of the members of this club were Messrs. Shmuel Zingerman k”z (who after this served as the head of the Zionist Histadrut, the head of the ‘Tarbut’ branch, and the head of the Keren–HaYesod Committee – until he, and his entire family left for the Land of Israel in the year 1930; Mr. S. Zingerman passed away in Israel in 1947 at the age of 65), and after him, the brothers Nehemiah and Yehoshua Nissman ran the library, and even maintained it at their own home.

It is worth recollecting that the conduct of Zionist activities, as well as running a library during the time of the reign of the Czars, were strictly and absolutely forbidden. Under these circumstances, the work of the Nissman brothers, and also of the Messrs. Yehoshua Glauberman, David Wolk, and others – literally a risk to their lives. In 1911–12, a young man named Mr. Yekhiel Mikhl Wolkowicz came to Sarny from Novoradomsk [13] in Poland. He had come as the emissary of a large German company, to buy wood and lumber items – produce from the forests. He heard a number of languages [being spoken] – Polish, German, and also Hebrew. After this, he served as the editor of the newspaper ‘Yiddishe Stimme’ in Novoradomsk. Mr. Wolkowicz was an active Zionist, and in the years between 1912 and the outbreak of The First World War, he applied himself briskly to the Zionist work in Sarny. He began to distribute ‘HaTzefira,’ distribute Keren Kayemet boxes to homes, sell raffle tickets of Keren Kayemet, and the like.

 

The Beilis Trial

It is worth noting the extraordinary efforts made by Zionist activists during the [Mendl] Beilis trial in Kiev in the year 1913. Unrest and fear left their mark on the face of every person. With bated breath, we would wait for the arrival of the train from Kiev, in order to rapidly snap up the Jewish and Russian newspapers brought on it. The Russian newspapers were: ‘Kiev–Lianin,’ – a venomously anti–Semitic Russian newspaper, and ‘Kievskaya Misl’ – a liberal newspaper, favorably disposed towards Jews.

The talk surrounding the trial and the suspicion of pogroms that might erupt, should Beilis be found guilty – occupied everyone. It is hard to describe the joy that seized the entire Jewish settlement, when the news reached us that Beilis had been acquitted. When the renown lawyer Guenzburg [14] came through Sarny, after the trial, on his way to Petersburg, and Guenzburg descended from his train car for a few minutes, he received a round of applause accompanied by the outcry: Long live Guenzburg! These representations made in Guenzburg's honor, raised the ire of the well–known Jew–haters, the prosecutor in the Beilis case, Wieper, and the Catholic priest Pranaitis [15], who also happened to be traveling on the same train. They demanded that the railroad management disperse the zyds. Despite the fact that the constabulary received a handsome emolument for the merchants and owners of the hotels, in spite of this, they heeded the request of these two anti–Semites and dispersed the Jews.

 

Aliyah to the Land of Israel

During those years, there was no aliyah from Sarny to The Land of Israel. In the year 1913–1914, R' Eliyahu Simcha Gliniansky and his son, Aharon, a boy of 13–14 years of age, made aliyah. R' S. Gliniansky returned to Sarny after a short time, because of the loss of his assets. His son Aharon remained in The Land. Because of the onset of The First World War, R' Simcha was unable to settle his affairs, and was compelled to remain in the Diaspora. After this, during the time of the Petlura pogroms, in the year 1918/19, R' Simcha died of an illness. In the meantime, Aharon had become a soldier in the Jewish Brigade (his daughter today, is in Kfar Avikhayil beside Netanya). A few years later, when Sarny was captured by the Polish régime, the remainder of the Gliniansky family made aliyah. Here, in The Land, their name is Simcha'i, in memory of the name of their father, R' Simcha, who was the first of the olim from Sarny.

Other families, at that time, undertook preparations to make aliyah, but the First World War disrupted their plans.

 

Medical Help & Medical Institutions

During that same period, there were no institutions in Sarny that rendered medical help. Righteous women, and a few activists would visit the sick, and provide them with medicines and pharmaceuticals to revive their souls, and even money – in the instance where the sick person had such a need. There were even those activist who would remain, and spend the night with the sick person.

The sole physician in the city was a Christian, Bordowycz, who was the doctor for the railroad officials in the city and its environs. He was well received and much loved, and later on became renowned as a professor in Kiev. It was very difficult to get him to a sick person, because he was overly consumed by his obligations. Because of this, he would always communicate through his medic, Kolishov. However, in the case of an incurable illness, when there was no confidence in relying on the medic, a doctor would be summoned from Rovno, or the patient would be conveyed to the Jewish hospital in Rovno. More wealthy families did not rely on the Rovno physicians, and would travel to professor Mandelstam in Kiev.

Of the Jewish doctors in Rovno, Dr. Segal and Dr. Zeitlin were well received in Sarny. Dr. Segal was a scion of a Sarny family. He was known to be a scholar. When he would visit a patient, and needed to spend some time at that location, he would ask for a Gemara, and spend some time immersed in it, even though self–generated adherence came from within him, and on.

Obtaining medicines did not entail difficulty. A good pharmacy, ran under the direction of the loyal, and well–known, Jewish community activist, Mr. Joseph Berzom. Similarly, there was a store for medicines, owned by the important activist, Mr. Yitzhak Levin.

Like many other towns of the same time, even with us, we did not lack for ‘Bobbehs’ – midwives. Many made use of superstitious medicaments. If a malaise covered the face, or an inflammation – either Miriam Kapszuk or Shifra of Pohost would come, take out some flax and a candle, light the candle and warm up the inflammation, and along with this whisper formulations to ward off the evil eye. If a child fell out of a tree and fractured his leg, the horse would be harnessed to the wagon, and they would ride off to summon the potter. The latter would then massage the leg, and cover it, and put it into a wood splint tied with cords.

If someone felt something in his teeth – he would apply a poultice of garlic dipped in pepper, bathe the tooth in 90% whiskey, and wrap the affected cheek in a warm dressing. If the bones ached – the body would be rubbed with turpentine, drink raspberry juice with two or three glasses of hot tea, wrap one's self in several blankets, and sweat it out. If sharp stabbing pains were felt in the hips or back – a mustard plaster would be applied, or ???, or remedies of this sort, cupping, or imbibing special drinks in which the roots of medicinal hers had been steeped.

The expert in all of these remedies was the lady, Shifra of Pohost (Murawinsky). But even with all this, the dedicated, hard–working widow was not able to support her children, because this work that she did, was mostly for the mitzvah involved. Most of her income was derived from preparation of meals. There was not a Jewish wedding in the city for which Shifra had not prepared the main meal, the honey cake, and the good cookies. In a like manner, she would prepare the Sabbath feasts for hundreds of Hasidim. Who would come to dine at the tables of the various Rebbes, during the time of their visits to Sarny. She did her work faithfully, and she was sought after for her generosity and commitment.

There were also folk remedies that were unique to the Hasidim. In the more superficial cases, a book written by one of the AdMo”Rs was placed under the pillow of the patient: The Stolin Hasidim would use ‘Beyt Aharon,’ and the Trisk Hasidim – ‘Magen Abraham;’ One would also travel to the Rebbe, or send him a telegram to ask him to pray for heaven's mercy. A ‘misheberach’ would be said in the synagogue, and a pledge of three times ‘chai’ would be made, In cases of more serious illness, people would hasten to the cemetery and prostrate themselves on the graves there.

 

From the Beginning of WW I to the Kerensky Revolution

As is known, The First World War broke out on the Eve of Tisha B'Av 1914. It is necessary to describe the tumult and alarm that ran through the heart of the population. Wailing erupted out of every Jewish home, because there was practically no home in which there was not a husband, son, or relative, who were required to immediately present themselves for military service. The draft first encompassed the eligible men up to the age of 45, as well as those carrying the ‘red card’ – individuals with some military training, who were regularly called up to serve for a number of weeks every year, in the event that a war should require them to return to active duty. After them, were called the men carrying blue cards – these are men, who in the event of war, would be called to render first aid. In the end, they also drafter the ones carrying white cards – this being men with no military training.

The bad relationship, and the unending harassment by the Czarist régime against the Jewish populace, the restrictions placed in all areas of endeavor, and the anti–Semitic manifestations of the military officers to the Jewish soldiers – led to the situation whereby part of the Jewish population always looked for ways and means, to avoid military service.

The Jews were required to fulfill all of the obligations of a citizen, to pay taxes, serve in the military, go to war, to make sacrifices, and remain downtrodden – but were not able to benefit from any of the privileges available. It was forbidden for Jews to achieve any level as an officer in the military. The pejorative epithet ‘hid’ was heard on every side and from every direction. Yet, despite all this, the majority of those Jewish – with some military training was forced into the war. They participated in actions in all of the battles. There were thousands of wounded and killed. As usual, there were also instances where Jewish soldiers inflicted wounds on themselves, and used other stratagems, for the purpose of getting out of military service, and not be used as cannon fodder, for the enemy Czarist forces.

As the war reached it peak intensity, and the victims fell by tens of thousands, and cities and towns were destroyed – life in Sarny, and its environs, continued to go on as usual. Apart from the tens of trains, loaded down with soldiers and ammunition, who daily passed through Sarny to the front, it almost did not feel the impact of the war. On one side, the front spread out into the land of central Poland – Warsaw, and Lublin – towards which the German army was drawing closer and closer to Sarny; on the second front – in Galicia – the Russian army benefitted from some initial, temporary victories, moving ahead, and capturing the city of Lvov (Lemberg), and the fortress town of Przemysl; from the third direction, from Lithuania–Vilna, even here, the German army was getting closer, capturing the city of Pinsk and reaching to Luniniec.

Like all of the Jews in the vicinity, the Jews of Sarny were divided in their views: Who is superior? Who will be better for the Jews, Germany or Russia? As to Austria, and its Kaiser, Franz Joseph II – It goes without saying that the Jews wanted to seek refuge under its aegis, because many of the Jews personally had a sense of the situation of the Jews in Austria, and they learned a lot from those captured Jews that had been brought to Sarny to do forced labor – the loading of the trains with military supplies from the military storehouses beside the train station, and for Passover and festivals, we would host the military prisoners of war who were Jewish soldiers frm Austria, whose unceasing discourse related the miracles and works of wonder wrought by their Kaiser Franz Joseph Ha”Kiry”aH (The Kaiser, may his Glory be Raised [16]). Most of the Jews wished the Russian army to have a setback, and were impatient in awaiting the Germans and Austrians. These conversation, as usual, were carried on in the ‘polysz [17]’ of the synagogue, and in the wintertime – beside the heated oven. I can even remember a joke that was told in the name of a Rebbe, who during the Kabalat Shabbat prayers when reciting ‘Lekhu Neranenah’ said: ‘They are a people of fickle heart, and they do not know my ways’ – Fonyeh [18] (The Russians), while he did capture Lvov, ‘they do not know my ways,’ – and he will flee from there in such a state of disarray, so that he will not know the way to return.

It is questionable whether the blessing of the Rebbe sufficed, or the wishes of the Jews worked their effect, but nevertheless, this actually came to be in this way. During the summer of 1915, the Russian army suffered severe reversals on all three fronts, abandoned the captured tracts of land in Galicia, and retreated to Lutsk. It was from this direction that they began to get near to Sarny. They got even closer to Sarny from the direction of central Poland, when they abandoned Kovel, and were halted beside the Styr and Stochid rivers, near Rafalovka the place where the front remained almost to the end of The World War. From the third direction, the German army advance until it reached the outskirts of Luninets–Mikasevicy.

All of this progress in movement, by the armies, in the direction of Sarny, and the arrival of a large number of Russian military – Cossacks and others, aroused a considerable panic in the city, for the first time. Many families, mostly from the well–to–do, left the location and went to Kiev. Among them were the large textile merchants, the Messrs. Lipa & Grisha Dubowsky, Herschel Bergman, and the forest product merchants, the brothers Leib & Yaakov Alexandrov, and his brother–in–law, Ravziuk, Meir Goldman and his family. The Feinstein family returned to Gomel, and many others left Sarny.

Fear gripped Sarny, and its environs, when the first of the Cossacks entered the city. The first victim of this terror was when the beloved forest products merchant, and community activist, R' Zelig Berlinsky, fell. He dropped dead while standing at his window in his home, on the Wide Boulevard [19], when he saw the first of the Cossacks arriving. He left behind a wife and eight young children. This accident made a shattering impact on the populace. The widow, a woman of force, Mrs. Berlinsky, overcame this blow that had fallen on her family, and understood that, it was upon herself, the burden had fallen, to educate her children and set them on a straight and good path. And verily, her house was, during the time of the Polish régime, the center of Zionist work in Sarny, in which, for those years, the offices of the right–wing Poalei Tzion, HaOved, and Keren Kayemet L'Israel were located. The members of the household were inculcated with Zionism, and not for form's sake, but first and foremost for themselves. And so, one by one, members of the Berlinsky family began to go out for training in the kibbutzim located in Poland, and afterwards to make aliyah to The Land. One of the Berlinsky brothers, Aryeh, was among the founders of Kibbutz Klesów, and one of the first of the olim from that kibbutz, and Yerakhmiel – the first–born son (today in Israel) – served in the capacity of the head of Poalei Tzion, and was active in many institutions.

In place of the few families that left Sarny in 1915, many other families came in from the cities and villages of the vicinity. It was especially so for those who came from the areas of the war, beside the Styr and Stochid. It was in this manner that, at that time, the following arrived: R' Chaim Mendl Kostromecky, previously having been the Headmaster of the Yeshiva in Ludomir, and at a much later time – the Headmaster of the Sarny Yeshiva, the families of Cirulinsky, Preiss, Ruder, Asher Bik, Kaufman, Girstein, Chazan, and others, who settled in Sarny, and afterwards did a great deal on the area of community work and Zionism. Among them were the first of the Halutzim, and they can be found with us here in Israel.

The Sarny populace welcomed these Jewish refugees with effusiveness and affection, settling them in houses, and providing them with clothing and food. A committee of Sarny activists and refugees was created, and in the fullness of time, a branch of JEKOPO (Еврейский комитет Помостий) [20] in Kiev was established in Sarny, or as it was nicknamed by the Jews in their own argot: Brodsky's Committee. Representing the authority of the central office was Mr. Gitterman, and the director of the central committee – Mr. Goldin from Turow, and the director of the Sarny committee – Aharon Zandweiss, who in the year 1942 was murdered by the Nazis in the city of Krzmeniec s”hv.

Despite the fact that the battle fronts were very close to Sarny, life went on as usual. The military authority set up several military hospitals. The military administration of the city took up quarters in the Polesia section. Military transports, in both directions, created many sources of income, and there were no incidents of plundering or other malfeasance.

The actions along the front did not result in any harm to the Sarny populace. Only one incident, in the summer of 1916, a German airplane reached [Sarny] and dropped two bombs that caused the death of Mr. Weiner, and wounded his wife. The second bomb fell close to the Stolin synagogue, and killed a young lad – Abraham'eleh Tukher.

This situation persisted until the first revolution – The Kerensky Revolution.

 

From the Kerensky Revolution to the October Revolution

The news of the revolution was delayed in reaching Sarny by two to three days, because as was usual, newspapers did not appear for a few days at that time, and the régime, together with the police, with the gendarmerie at its head, held the hope that everything would come to the same conclusion as it did in 1905. They continued to maintain strict control of order in the city, but it was felt that the situation was not according to normal. Until one fine day, an army unit that was loyal to the revolution, entered the city, and cleaned out the Czarist police, together with the Pristav [21] Minayev at their head, along with the gendarmerie of the railroad, and all others in the Czar's service, and they proclaimed – liberty.

The city of Sarny rejoiced and was happy. A genuine faith pervaded [the city] that a salvation had come for the Russian and population in general, and for the Jews in particular. At the railroad station, the warehouse, and in the streets, groups of people coalesced. The Jewish populace celebrated the holiday in its own confines, in the streets about the Great Synagogue. As was the custom among the Jews, the throng divided itself into two parts: Most assembled under the Zionist flag, under the direction of the new Zionist committee of the city, that was made up of the Messrs. Shmuel Zingerman, David Wolk, Yehoshua Glauberman, Dr. Zelikin, and others (from the general Zionists), and Aharon Zandweiss, Moshe'l Gamerman, Yeshoshua Nissman, Ze'ev Szur, Nachman Wiszcina, Yekhiel Salutsky, and others from Tze'irei Tzion’. The entire camp marched, with the refrain of the Zionist anthem, ;‘Hatikvah’ on its lips, at the passage of the general procession.

On the second street, near the Great Synagogue, later given the name Ulica Opticzyna, a small group of young craftsmen organized itself, who styled themselves as the Sarny Bund (as it happens, there was no Bund organization in Sarny); they too, came to the gathering place, singing the Marseillaise and the Bundist Oath, and in that place they became one single, overarching group. It was there that the proclamation of the Manifesto of the régime of the time was read, to be heard by the assembled mass, that recognized the equality of rights of all citizens of Russia, regardless of ethnic origin or religion.

And that is how they spoke, what they did, said, and actually accomplished. The organization of municipal institutions was commenced – a municipal council, a temporary central committee and militia. A liberal Christian was selected to be the Chair, the judge Krizhitski. He invited Moshe Borko to serve in the capacity of court secretary.

As head of the militia (civilian police), the railroad machinist Watlicki was nominated, and as his deputy – Mr. Ze'ev Goldman. In the militia, the Jewish men Yaakov Gozenstein, and Eliyahu Zamoroczansky served, and because of this, to the end of their days, one was called Yankl the Militiaman, and the other Ely'eh the Militiaman (there were a few other Jewish men in the militia, but I have since forgotten their names).

The Jewish policemen left a more substantial mark in our memory because this was a transformation that was practically unbelievable in Russia: from the gendarmerie of the Okhrana, derided for its notorious reputation, which instilled terror, especially into the Jewish populace – to the Jewish militiaman Ely'eh Zamoroczansky, of the small beard, being ready to place the general welfare or public need above his personal honor or dignity, however, with it all, is considered among the venerable.

The days of the Kerensky Revolution were tranquil ones, days of liberation. The Jewish settlement, once again, began to rebuild anew, its cultural and economic institutions. A large commercial cooperative was established, with the Messrs. David Birg, Shmuel Zingerman, Joseph Kharpak, Baruch Monik, Moshe Nissman, and others at the helm. Almost the entire Jewish populace had an interest in the cooperative. After this, the cooperative was liquidated, but it left behind a pleasant memory: among the financial assets of the cooperative, there remained the large municipal police building, together with a tended garden, and the wide parcel of property beside it. Up until 1939, the building served to house the Tarbut School, and its second floor – as a the interior of the orphanage. In the years 1939–1941, under Soviet rule, the school continued to run with the same cadre of teachers, but did so utilizing the languages of Yiddish and Ukrainian.

When the sitting government announced elections to the anticipated Russian General Assembly, ‘Учрадителнй ;Собранне’ an election conflict erupted.

 

The General Assembly Elections

Apart from the Zionist Histadrut and the Bund, there were a few Jews in Sarny who were members of the Russian socialist parties – the Social–revolutionaries, the Mensheviks, and the Bolsheviks. The central committee of each party would send emissaries to Sarny for propaganda purposes. The municipal Zionist committee carried on a comprehensive program of indoctrination both in writing and orally. There was much printed material, newspapers and pamphlets, and additionally, well–known representatives would arrive from the committee in Kiev. The members of the municipal committee – especially Dr. Zelikin, who served as a military doctor in the military hospitals – would give fiery speeches. Dr. Zelikin was a particularly able orator. At the outset, it was hard to believe our own eyes, that a Jewish military doctor, with the ensigns of his rank on his shoulders, was standing at the Bima of the Sarny Bet HaMedrash, and was speaking – mostly in Russian – peppering his words with the sayings of The Sages, and called to his listeners to go and vote, with the Zionist flag at their head, and to vote only in favor of the Zionist Histadrut candidates. The student, Rogoczewsky (from Kiev) served as an assistant to Dr. Zelikin, who at the time served as a teacher in Dąbrowica. He, too, was an accomplished speaker, dressed in a student's uniform, even if he found it difficult to speak Yiddish, which he peppered with Russian expressions. Opposite them were Jewish people, like Yehoshua Glauberman, and others, who would let their views be know in the synagogues, on the Sabbath, after the reading of the Torah, at a time when they had their prayer shawls, draped over their shoulders, and attempted to justify their points regarding the necessity of settling the Land of Israel and the study of the Hebrew language, with quotes from the Torah, the sayings of The Sages.

The Sarny Zionists won at that time, but their victory was fleeting. Everything changed, and what they did, flew off like some dream. This beautiful period lasted until October 1917, at which time the Bolshevik Revolution erupted.

 

From the October Revolution to the Year 1920

The Bolshevik Revolution broke out in the final days of October, almost bloodlessly. It was only after the proclamation of the Soviet Government, did rioting and profuse bloodshed ensue all over Russia, that went on until the year 1920.

In all parts of Russia, several Generals raised armies and wanted to wipe out the fledgling Red Army, as well as the Soviet régime. In the vicinity of Sarny, two armies became notorious: that of Petlura, and that of Bałachowicz. [22]

 

Pogroms

Bałachowicz and his forces ran rampant in the vicinity of Kovel and slaughtered Jews without stop, but they did not reach Sarny. By contrast to this, we became only too aware of the Ukrainian forces under the leadership of Semyon Petlura, who slaughtered several hundred thousand Jews – the elderly, women and children – who was subsequently assassinated in the year 1926 by the Jewish champion, Sholom Schwartzbard, in the streets of Paris.

Apart from the previously referenced Ukrainian forces, from time–to–time, so–called ‘heroes’ arose, that gathered units of partisans around them, There were ‘heroes’ of this sort in Dąbrowica. They took advantage of the opportunity in that place, in that this was the billeting location of the Third Army, and there was ammunition in its ambit, taking control of that ammunition and announcing the formation of a Dąbrowica Republic. The came to Sarny armed with the best weaponry, even having an armored tank in their possession. In Sarny, they were lead by one, Sadowsky, and a Jewish young man from Wadok.

These forces rampaged in the Sarny vicinity, without encountering resistance, until the summer of 1918, until the Ukrainian Hetman [also Ataman] Skoropadski [23] invited the German Army into the Ukraine. When the last of the Petlura units retreated from the Ukraine, a substantial battle took place between them, and German [Army] units in Sarny, who were already deployed on the Polesia side. The headquarters of the Royal German Army was located in the large house of Mr. Ze'ev Geifman. The battle lasted a full day, and the hand of the German units came out on top.

When the Petlura units first entered Dąbrowica, a part of the Jewish community came out to greet them, with Torah scrolls in hand, bread and salt, and asked for mercy towards the Jewish community.

The principal delegation – in which 18 of the most important residents of the city participated, among them the Messrs. Yitzhak Youngstein, Avigdor Kharpak, Yitzhak Bitzik, and others – were surrounded by armed Haidamak [24] units, and sent to Sarny in a locked train car. In Sarny, a great commotion ensued, because the word had spread that all of them were going to be taken out for execution, as vengeance against the Dąbrowica Republic.

The prominent citizens of the city, as well as the relatives of the prisoners, moved heaven and earth and with the help of all means at their disposal, reached the senior leadership of Petlura's army, that were to be found in railroad train cars beside the station, and by paying off those in charge with a large sum of money, it became possible for the members of this delegation to free the activists from Dąbrowica. Ignoring those dangers that lay waiting for them on all sides, these activists did not cease in their efforts to provide assistance to anyone in need. Apart from collecting money, foodstuffs and clothing, from the midst of the Sarny residents, the chief committee stood in contact with Rovno. where the ‘Joint’ was active. One of the most active of the assistance committee members was the deceased Anshel Shacknai (Shakniuk), who for many years was a member of the committee for soldiers in the Land of Israel.

In those same stormy days, when the assistance to those in need became particularly strained, and the hands of the Sarny committee were empty, there was a need to travel to Rivne to bring back a rather large sum of money from there, and the ride in the tray was very dangerous. There were no trains for ordinary traveling passengers – there were only freight trains, in which military units were transported, mostly of Haidamaks, occasionally accompanied by farmers from the vicinity. Jews were apprehensive about appearing in the streets, much less at the railroad stations.

At a sitting of the committee, that was arranged to be held at the house of R' David Birg, Mr. Anshel Shacknai said that despite the danger, he wanted to travel to Rivne. He dressed in the uniform of a Russian soldier, and went off. On his return in the evening to Sarny, when he was standing at the rail signal light, he heard the wild cries of the Haidamaks, who, apparently, recognized him as a Jew. Having no alternative, A. Shacknai leapt from the train while it was moving at full speed, and by negotiating his way through stands of trees, and using darkened roads, he reached the house of Mr. Birg late at night, the location where the Messrs. Birg, Shmuel Zingerman, Yitzhak Levin, and other members of the committee sat trembling over his fate. It is not possible to describe everyone's joy, when A. Shacknai entered the room. He took off his uniform, and took out the bundle of money that he had risked his life and limb to bring back with him. May his memory be for a blessing.

It is appropriate to record here, the few Christians that, in the same time, helped a great deal to lighten the oppression, and to diminish the terror and suffering.

During the days of the pogroms, when the Haidamaks and Sichovi [25] were to be found in Sarny, on their way back from Kiev, the Christian Kryzhynski, mentioned previously, and Mr. Krynycki, together with our comrade, Moshe Borko went as a delegation to the military command, that was located beside the railroad station, and in the course of a conversation, it was clarified for them that they were talking with the head of the ministers of the Petlura government Poras, and the War Minister Zhukowski. The ministers argued that it is incorrect to accuse their troops of carrying out pogroms; rather these were the actions of provocateurs from the Red Army, and types of that sort. Despite this, out of a sense of trust in the delegation, which was composed of people who had rank from the days of the Kerensky government, the ministers saw fit to sent army units for purposes of instilling some peace and quiet.

And it was because of this a unit was sent, which deployed some forces. However, the peace was only temporary, and acts of plunder resumed anew.

It is fitting to recall the Christian Gosudarnikov, who served as the head of the city at that time, ‘Городский Голобо.’ With his help and permission, a Jewish self–defense force was established. This defense force was composed of many Jewish boys and young men, who, through Gosudarnikov's sources, were able to acquire a number of rifles. These rifles were used by the various alternating guards who stood watch, and spread throughout the city. The head of the watch was with Fishl Lieberman, on the Monopol Street. Meeting points were: the Berezne and Stolin synagogues. I remember that on one night patrol, Chaim Pearlstein, Pinchas Zhuk, Yitzhak Wolk (Itzik Pinia's), Jonah Glick and myself participated, and we grabbed a number of village gentile thugs, who were carrying implements of plunder in their hands. We brought them to the synagogue, took away their implements, and after we gave them a beating to teach them a lesson – we let them go, because there was nobody to whom we could remand them. Those charged with upholding the law and order were much worse a band of thieves than they were.

On that same night, the son of Yehoshua Hesh'l Zaltzman was killed on the bridge, along with another young man, Michael Schwartztukh, the son of David Moshe who was taken from his house and brought to ‘General Sosnowski.’ On the way, he as stabbed several times, until he died. ‘General Sosnowski’ was the code name for the stand of pine trees on the Polesia side, to which they would bring their victims.

On that same night, several transient Jewish guests were murdered, and were brought to their final rest in Sarny as anonymous martyrs.

 

The Spotted Typhus Epidemic

Apart from the pogroms, in which many Jews from Sarny were wiped out, there was a severe plague of spotted typhus in the city and its vicinity. Simply put, there was not a single house without a corpse in it. To my sorrow, only the names of a few of them remain in my memory: The local Rabbi, R' Matityahu Kawenczuk, the ADM”R, R' Joseph Pinczuk, the son of the Rabbi, R' Shmuel'keh of Berezne, R' Simcha Gliniansky, R' Yehoshua Heschel Yavin, R' Shmuel Joseph Kottelczuk, R' Aharon Berezowicz, R' Mordechai Zandweiss, R' Aryeh Attstein, R' Fishl Lieberman, and others.

And may the members of the Hevra Kadisha be remembered to the good, and the members of the ‘pall bearers’ who even at the risk of their own lives, that stalked them on all sides, honorably discharged the mitzvah of ‘Chesed Shel Emes [26]’ by bringing all the martyrs, that were found in the nearby villages and on the roads, to a decent Jewish burial. In this group, were R' Pinchas Wolk and his elderly father Yitzhak Aharon, R' Yitzhak Zamoroczansky, R' Ze'ev Geifman, R' Asher Geifman, R' Shmuel Geifman, R' Yehuda Langer, the brothers Mendl & Ze'ev Fabrikant, R' Yeshayahu Kaufman, and others, and last, but not least – Menashe Fybowoz, the gravedigger.

Let the physician Israelite also be remembered to the good, who at that time, remained in Sarny after his military service, and honorably discharged his noble service as the only doctor in the city. Fearlessly, he came to visit all the sick, day or night, without paying attention to the danger that stalked him, and without receiving any compensation. A noble Jew of Zionist inclination, later on, he was among the first to make aliyah to the Land of Israel.

He fell at his sacred post in the year 1929, in Be'er Tuvia, when he was murdered by Arab murderers at an hour when he was extending care to the Arab sick.

 

The German Army in Sarny in the Years 1918–1919

It is unbelievable, that the very same Germans, who in the years 1918–1919 helped the Jews of the Ukraine, and saved them from terror and death at the hands of rampaging Ukrainians, became, in the fulness of time, murderers [themselves], and it was them and their sons, who pitilessly exterminated a third of our people in 1942 – our fathers, brothers and sisters, newborn and nursing children.

As was said, all of the Ukraine had been captured by Germany in 1918, and with it, as is understood, so was Sarny. A salutary transformation took place in all walks of life. A tranquility and order reigned in all places, in the city, the villages and the roads. All Jewish institutions renewed their economic, national and community activities. There was a surfeit of means to make a living, because in addition to the enlarged needs of their army in the Ukraine, the German conquerors would export much in the way of merchandise and grain to Germany, and the Jews made a living from this. During this time, a few institutional buildings were actually constructed, among them the ‘Kopczyska’ Synagogue. Part of the worshipers who attended the Stolin Synagogue, seceded and erected their own beautiful synagogue. The people who did the principal work on this were the Messrs. Joseph Kharpak and Nahum Pearlstein, who were the sitting Gabbaim in the synagogue, until the time of the aliyah of R' Joseph Kharpak in the year 1936. He died here in 1950. An orphanage was opened and began functioning, which began to gather orphaned children whose parents had been murdered by the Ukrainian pogromists. But this period did not last very long.

 

The Polish–Soviet War

In the first months of the year 1919, the Polish Army, that had recently been formed, began to attack the German transport trains, and to liberate tracts of the land from the German conquerors. Also, the Red Army became stronger, and after it liberated stretches of the Ukraine, it drew near, and approached Sarny. An outcome of the fact that the two armies drew close to one another, the Germans abandoned the Ukraine, with Sarny in its midst, and the armies of Poland that had come to life, and that of the fledgling Russian Revolution came face–to–face. The battles in Wolhyn ran on for a long time. In Tammuz 5679 [[July 1919] Sarny was captured first by the Polish Army, that had driven off the Red Army as far as Kiev. These victories, however, bore no fruit. With the passage of a bit of time, the Red Army gained strength and drove the Polish Army to Praga (a suburb of Warsaw). It was in this manner that the governance of the area changed hands from time–to–time, and the Jewish population suffered a great deal of tribulation.

With their entry into Sarny, the Poles began to seize Jews in the middle of the street. A number of those seized were even rousted out of their beds in the dead of the night. All were conveyed to the gendarmerie that was located in the house of the Christian Varunin on Kopczyska Gasse. There, their beards and side locks were shorn away, and they were severely beaten. After tens of days of torture, all were sent to the concentration camp at Vodovitsa beside Kharkov. Among those beaten and driven out, were my father, R' Zadok, myself, who is writing these lines, Yitzhak Njavozhny, Yekhiel Greenberg, Moshe ben Eliezer Pickman from Dąbrowica, Berman, Eliezer Shapiro, Ze'ev Goldman, his son, daughter and the sister of Shemaya Steinworcel, and many others. Shemaya Steinworcel succeeded in paying a large sum of money in the prison at Kovel, the place where we were incarcerated for nearly two weeks, succeeding in getting his children out, his sister, and Ze'ev Goldman.

Two months after this, when a civilian government was installed, and the Polish lawyer Wiszniewski was appointed as Starosta, notices were sent to set all of us free. My father no longer returned from Vodovitsa. In purity, he passed away in the hospital at the camp. After several years passed, Moshe Pickman died. Yitzhak Njavozhny, who was disabled for many years, as a result of the severe beatings that he had received, looked like he was dead, but remained alive, and passed away only after many years of suffering. Yekhiel Greenberg limped for the rest of his life, as a result of the beatings that he had received.

This was the ‘pleasure’ activity of the first liberating army of Poland. The brigades of General Jozef Haller were especially zealous in their haste to do this murderous work, who were nicknamed the ‘Hallerists.’ At that same hour, the Jewish combatants were extracted, from the Polish brigades, because of the liberation of Poland, and were detained at Jablona with the objective of exterminating them there. It was in the same spirit that a judgement was brought against Rabbi Shapiro of Polotsk, who was accused that, at the time he was blessing the new moon on the balcony of his house – he was signaling the Red Army. And in the city of Pinsk, at that same time, 66 activists were taken out of the Yeshiva, where they were judged in connection with providing local assistance, and every other one of them – according to the line – was shot and killed in the city center, beside the ‘Holy Wall’ of the Polish church.

‘The Polish heroes’ applied considerable pressure to the Jewish people. In connection with this, one must offer, that the attitude of the Red Army units to the Jews, put their mind at ease. If an incident occurred that a soldier, or a group of soldiers took goods forcibly, and did not pay for them, or there were other acts of violence, the accused parties were brought to trial before the ‘revizion–tribunal’ (the military court of the revolution), and received a commensurate punishment. The sittings of this court were open, and were carried out at times in the wooden structure of the Polesian movie theater, whose owner was Mendl Gornstein (Mr. Gornstein died in Israel after having lived in Haifa for close to 20 years; he was about 90 when he passed away).

Changes took place at the front, first in favor of one side, then the other. With each such change, the city population suffered setbacks both financial and in terms of life. At the time of the final retreat of the Red Army from Sarny, they blew up the two railroad bridges, burned the railroad station, and the warehouse, and in a like manner, two of the large Jewish houses on the Polesia side: the big hotel owned by Mr. Ze'ev Geifman, and the three–storey house of the lawyer Becker.

 

The Period of Polish Rule (1920 – 1939)

After the fighting between Soviet Russia and Poland was hemmed in, the Polish régime moved aggressively to restore order and tranquility to the land. It began to rebuild the wreckage at the railroad stations, bridges and roads, fortifying the borders, and to expand and solidify trade and manufacturing in the entire country, and along with it, the Sarny area. The Sarny Powiat (County) which was beside the Ostiki train station, bordering Russia, garnered special attention from the Polish authorities. Seeing that the majority of the populace in the county were Ukrainian farmers, and a specific percentage were Byelorussians and Jews, the Polish régime began to record in its record of Polish citizens, those who had served in the Polish Army in the past, and the men of the legions, and the sczeltzy [27]. All of these were given the nickname of Osadnicy (Settlers). At a time, and in one period, a host of officials was brought, who seized all of the positions in the government institutions: in the Powiat, the Starosta seat, the railroad, post office and the police, and similarly in the positions of authority in the cities and villages.

It is appropriate to underscore the fact that in short order, they got on the ‘royal road’ and from day–to–day, the progress of our city was apparent in its area, on all fronts. The external appearance of Sarny was made more modern. Schools and a gymnasium were built, sports fields, a movie house and theater, libraries, and other cultural institutions. Banks were founded, and credit institutions dedicated to merchants, storekeepers, and craftsmen. A hospital and several sanatoria were constructed, and the streets were paved. Commerce began to pulse, and all the parties and professional organizations opened up to function legally (an exception was the communist party. that was illegal in Poland). Our activists approached the development of our institutions aggressively and with full faith, as well as our clubs, and our various activities to nourish the community.

 

Economic Institutions

The adage says: “If there is no flour, there is no Torah [learning],” and accordingly, I will begin with the economic institutions.

All walks of economic endeavor organized in their special institutions, and with credit institutions. The organization of small businesses (headed by Noah Pearlstein, Aharon Rosenberg, Yitzhak Zudik, Alter Langer, Asher Gunik, Alter Frimak and others), together with the labor unions (headed by Yaakov Bryk, Alter Pasman, Mendl Laufer, Yaakov Kliess, Yaakov Murvinsky, Asher Schneider, Nachman Kaufman, Jonah Baznos, and others) along with the assistance of the Zionist activists from the ranks of Hapoalim, Poalei Tzion, and Tze'irei Tzion, (Dr. Zhitinsky, Dr. Jonah Glick, Yerakhmiel Berlinsky, Abraham Turkenitz, Gedalia Lifschitz, Sh. Zandweiss, and others), founded a bank in the home of Mr. Yaakov Bryk. The bank disbursed loans to members of the organizations previously mentioned, and in this manner enabled their [sic: economic] activity.

The bank maintained relationships with the centers of the two organizations that were in Warsaw. During the first years of its operation, the director of accounting was Yeshayahu Cimerman, and afterwards Moshe Kolodny, who was killed a few years ago in unrest in Haifa. General meetings were arranged during the year, in which financial reports of the leadership, and external supervision, were presented, the testimony of the auditors, and their concurrence to the findings. For this purpose, Mr. Chaim Shoshkes, as the government supervisor, visited Sarny a number of times, and today, is an itinerant journalist of repute.

The bank conducted its multi–branched business from the year 1922 to the years 1935–1936, during which time, it divested itself of providing commercial credit. By that time, anti–Semitism was rife in Poland, and a bank founded by Polish officials had been established.

Together with the bank founded with the help of the Joint, ‘The Gemilut Hasadim Bank,’ which did not engage in mercantile affairs, but only in the granting of eleemosynary loans to small businesses, and workers short of their own means. During the first years, the Joint sent new machines, that could be acquired cheaply, and paid for with instalments over time. This was truly a big help to hard–pressed working people.

In addition to the sum of money sent by the Joint, it was necessary to add a supplementary amount of like side, from the pockets of the Sarny residents. For this purpose, two large sums were provided by the Messrs. Mendl Laufer, and Chaim Glick, who dedicated themselves, heart and soul, to the affairs of the Gemilut Hasadim Bank. Other residents donated smaller sums. and the bank functioned uninterrupted from 192201923 to the last day of Polish hegemony, until September 1939.

Among the dedicated members who were the leaders of the bank, apart from the Messrs. Laufer and Glick, previously mentioned, were: Messrs. Asher Geifman, Noah Pearlstein, Aharon Rosenberg, Alter Langer, Yitzhak Zudik, Yaakov Kliess, Nachman Kaufman, Asher Schneider, and Jonah Bazonos. Herschel Zuliar served as the chief accountant during all the time of its existence.

In the years 1925–1926, the Union of Sarny Merchants founded an additional bank, called “The Bank for Commerce & Manufacturing.” The bank's offices were in the home of Rabbi Kunda. Those who put in the effort, and the bank's founders were: Messrs. Baruch Simcha Rosenberg, Mendl Zindl, Elimelekh Lifschitz. They, along with Wolf Goldman as well, were the real leaders of the bank, because, apart from the funds of the bank members, and the center of the merchants and manufacturers, the common people also deposited their money.

The following people participated in the leadership and direction: Messrs. Benjamin Kantorowicz, Yitzhak Levin, Joseph Margolis, Joseph Kharpak, and others. Afterward, Mr. Yaakov Kolodny joined the bank (who ran an ordinary bank – along with several partners – in the home of Mr. Kalman Feld). This bank, too, in the years 1932–1933, liquidated its operations, for the same reasons that the Small Merchants & Manufacturers Bank ceased operation. The chief accountant was R' Baruch Kabitinsky, and his successor – Mr. Shlomo Murik.

Thus, in the last years, only one general bank remained – ‘комонала касса Ущиндущй ,’under the direction of the Ozer a past notary, and the head of the town afterwards, Zhishniwietski. The bank was in the new house of the Weinzowsky brothers on the center street.

I only recall three of the Jewish officers of this bank, who participated in meetings during the time loans were approved. These were the Messrs. Joseph Barzam, Joseph Kharpak, and Mendl Zindl.

The three groups were involved not only with credit institutions for their own members. The core of their concern was to serve the merchants, the small merchants, and craftsmen, to protect their interests in the government financial offices, offices of commerce, and before assessment committees, who levied the municipal and national taxes, and to stay in contact with the centers in Warsaw, and even call for their help. This occurred more often than necessary, because new orders began to appear that were taking aim at the Jewish worker and storekeeper, and similarly regarding tests for craftsmen, apprenticeship, work permits, commercial permits, marketplace locations, etc.

The Messrs. Yaakov Bryk, Aharon Rosenberg, Asher Gunik, Mendl Zindl, Elimelekh Lifschitz, Wolf Goldman, and others, worked within the assessment committee in the taxation offices. A scion of ours, Moshe Borko, would visit Sarny at frequent intervals, in the name of the Central Union of Small Merchants, who at that time was already living in Warsaw, in the capacity of Director of the Central Union of Small Merchants, serving also as an advisor in Izba Handlowa–Przemyszlowa (the Chamber of Commerce & Manufacturing) in Lublin, within whose ambit of activity were the Lublin and Wolhyn valleys, which also included Sarny. In addition to this, the heads of two groups, Messrs. Yaakov Bryk and Aharon Rosenberg, served by interceding with the Chief of Police. When this form of intercession ceased to be effective, they moved over to the best of all possible methods, ‘silver and gold…’ and it was in this way that the Chief of Police began to receive a monthly salary, as facilitated by the Messrs. Yaakov Bryk and Aharon Rosenberg, funded by their two groups. Israel Bar–Neiman served as the secretary of the Union of Small Merchants, and the lady secretary of the Craftsmen's Union was Zina Averbukh.

 

Municipal Leadership

The transformation of the city, its expansion and beautification, came in large measure because of the city leadership, the head of the city, and the Jewish members in the leadership and advisory council.

From the first day of the opening of the municipal seat of government in 1920, to the last day of its existence in 1939, there was always a Jewish official employed there, as the Deputy to the Municipal Head of government, and two Jewish member additionally, in the leadership. During the first years, Mr. David Birg, the renowned and respected merchant, served as the Deputy Head of the city. He knew Hebrew, and was, in general, a well–educated man, the Chair of the Mizrahi, and afterwards, the Chair of the Jewish Municipal Council. Following him, the position was occupied by Mr. Joseph Barzam, the owner of the large pharmacy in the city, a proud Jew, clever, and enlightened, the Chair of the Orphanage, and a member in the ranks of other Jewish institutions.

The Messrs. Alter Passman, and the lawyer Millstein were members of the Jewish leadership in the first years, and afterwards – in the place of Mr. Millstein, who had passed away – Mr. Yitzhak Levin. After Mr. Levin made aliyah to the Land of Israel, only one [sic: Jewish] member of the leadership remained – Mr. A. Passman.

Mr. Passman, a well–rounded Jewish man, wise and diligent, was beloved by the entire populace, and fulfilled his position until the very last day, in which the Magistracy was closed down by the Soviet régime that had entered the city. Apart from the previously mentioned members of the leadership, a few other Jews were elected as members of the Municipal Council (the Messrs. Mendl Zindl, Aharon Rosenberg, Alter Frimak, V. Goldman, and others). Jews from Sarny and its vicinity were also elected as members of the advisory council to the Sejmik (the provincial council) “ Widzal powiatowy,” or ‘Sejmik powiatowy.’ In this institution, the Jews had a scant impact, and it obtained a unique character ( in speaking of the Magistracy, and the city council, our heart is pained in recollecting the despicable eater of people, the animal in human form, Kozik Kostron, may his name be obliterated, who played a substantial role in the murder of our parents, brothers and sisters. At a much later period in time, he was led to the scaffold and hung in Lublin, in accordance with the sentence of a Polish military tribunal).


Translator's Footnotes

  1. See Genesis 32:19 Return
  2. To be only a Ritual Slaughterer, meant being designated as a Shokhet. If, in addition, you engaged in the examination of the meat derived from that slaughter, you were awarded the double designation of Shokhet u'Vodeyk. Return
  3. A Hebrew acronym for the honorific Adonaynu, Morenu, Rabbeinu, (Our Master, Teacher and Rabbi), accorded to a sitting Rabbi, who was normally the spiritual leader of his community. Return
  4. Bereznica and Berezne are two distinct places on opposite sides of Sarny. Return
  5. Also Chudel' in Ukrainian Return
  6. Called a ‘Kozioner Rabbiner.’ Return
  7. Public legal official Return
  8. In one instance, this name is rendered Njabozhnik, and it is not possible to know which is correct. Return
  9. An honorific indicating exceptional, genius intelligence identified at an early age. Return
  10. Berezne, which is 20mi from Sarny, is not to be confused with Berezna, which is a similar distance from Chernigov, a good 250–300 mi to the East of Sarny. Return
  11. The Society of the Lovers of the Hebrew Language. Return
  12. There are many transliterations: Zvyahol', Zvyahel', Zvil, etc. Return
  13. Also known as Radomsko, near the town of Piotrkow. Return
  14. In the 19th–20th century, the Guenzburg family were Russian bankers and philanthropists. For three generations, the Guenzburg family were the leaders of the St. Petersburg Jewish community, the unofficial intermediaries between Russian Jewry and the Czarist authorities, and generous philanthropists. Return
  15. Pranaitis rose to fame in the blood libel case of Menachem Mendel Beilis in Russia in 1912, by which time he had already been defrocked as a Catholic priest. His credibility rapidly evaporated, however, when the defense demonstrated his ignorance of some simple Talmudic concepts and definitions. Cross–examination of Pranaitis has weakened the evidential value of his expert opinion, exposing lack of knowledge of texts and insufficient knowledge of Jewish literature. Because of his amateurish knowledge and lack of resourcefulness, Pranaitis' expert opinion is of very low value. Beilis was found not guilty. Return
  16. An acronym from the Hebrew, HaKeysar yarim Hodo. Return
  17. Front foyer. Return
  18. A play on the name ‘Ivan’ used to describe a generic Russian. Return
  19. Called ‘Die Brayteh Gasse,’ in Yiddish. This appelation was common in many other locations as well. Return
  20. Jevreiskii Komitet Pomoszty Return
  21. The Police Chief Return
  22. Stanisł aw Buł ak–Bał achowicz (12 November 1883 – 28 November 1940) was a Byelorussian–Polish general, veteran of World War I, Russian Civil War, Estonian War of Independence, Polish–Bolshevik War and the Invasion of Poland at the start of World War II. Return
  23. Pavlo Skoropadski was born on May 16, 1873 in Wiesbaden, Germany, where his parents, Petro and Mariya Skoropadski, were staying at the time. On April 16, 1945, during an Allied bombing raid on a small town near Munich, Pavlo Skoropadski, the last of the ancient line of Hetmen of Ukraine, was lethally wounded and several days later died in hospital. Pavlo Skoropadski remains to be a controversial figure in the Ukrainian history, and there are conflicting assessments of his role in Ukrainian politics. One can't help wondering what would have happened in 1918 if the enthusiastic radicals and politically inexperienced intellectuals of the Central Rada had learned the most vital lesson of Realpolitik: in order to gain and preserve independence, all political parties and walks of life must work in mutual understanding and co–operation. It is at least possible that the cautiously conservative and experienced Hetman Pavlo Skoropadski might today be hailed as the founder of an independent Ukraine. Return
  24. [Cossacks] Ukrainian paramilitary group. Active between 1708 and 1770, chiefly in the provinces of Kiev and Podolia, the Haidamaks often chose Poles and Jews as defenseless targets for their marauding attacks. In 1768 they massacred thousands at Uman. Eventually they were suppressed by the Russian and Polish authorities Return
  25. The Sich Rifles were a former unit of the Austro–Hungarian Army, the 1st Brigade of Sich Riflemen (Ukrainian: Sichovi Striltsi) became the elite force of the Ukrainian Galician Army during the war against Poland. It was formed in 1914 by former members of youth and paramilitary organizations and fought in Galicia and Ukraine against the Russian Empire throughout The First World War. At its peak this brigade had 8,600 men, not all of whom fought in Galicia. Return
  26. The Hebrew rubric for ‘true kindness’ in providing a proper burial to the deceased. Return
  27. Elite cadres Return
  28. A play on words in Hebrew, that evokes the name Sarny. Return
  29. Because of the ambiguity in the use of the letters ‘g’ and ‘h’ in Slavic languages, this name is usually rendered as Gildenhorn. Return
  30. The Hebrew author translates the German into Hebrew, meaning liberty, or freedom. Return
  31. Hebrew Acronyms for Brit HaTzionistim HaRevisionistim and Brit Trumpeldor. Return
  32. Women's International Zionist Organization Return
  33. The town of Zvhil (Ukrainian:Zvyahel) is located in Volhynia, in present–day Ukraine. Today it is known as Novohrad–Volynskyi. The Jewish version of the name, Zvhil, instead of Zvyahel can be attributed to the similarity between Zvhil and Zvul (one of the holy names for the ancient Jewish Temple in Hebrew, pronounced ‘Zvil’ by Ukrainian Jews). Return
  34. Wordplay on a phrase from the Amidah prayer. Return

 

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