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[Page 398]

The Candles Dedicated to Memory

 

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Form to be filled out by Sarny survivors to memorialize members of their families who were martyred

 

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The Mass Grave, showing the Monument Stone

 

[Page 399]

 

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The 1945 Memorial Service in Sarny at the Monument Stone of the Mass Grave

 

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The 1960 Memorial Service in Tel–Aviv

 

[Page 401]

Those Who Fell in the Holocaust

 

The Attstein Family

By Chaya Attstein–Talit

Fate treated our family cruelly. Our father, Aryeh k”z, died of typhus during the years of the Petlura pogroms, at the age of 36, leaving our mother while she was pregnant and with four small children – the oldest being 10–11 years old.

Our strained circumstances were very difficult. These were the years of the pogroms, when the city of Sarny frequently changed hands, from one régime to another, and Jewish assets were treated with abandon.

Our mother Baylah, k”z, took upon herself the yoke of supporting and educating the children. She toiled very hard for a number of years, until our brother Joseph k”z assumed the burden of making a living while he was still quite young.

Our brother Joseph was a skilled young man and strong–willed. Thanks to these traits along with his concerns for his family, he succeeded; and he managed to acquire general education through his own efforts. He would spend entire nights hunched over books and periodicals. With his extensive diligence and hard work, he managed to arrive at a seriously strong position.

His commitment to his family knew no bounds. Together with our mother, he concerned himself with the children, got them educated at the Tarbut School and Gymnasium, getting them an education that set them on a good and honest path – (including) a love for Israel and Zionism.

Joseph was counted among the good Zionists of the city, and among the first of the donors to the various national funds as well as the rest of the community institutions in the city. He extended himself to provide assistance to the needy. The rest of the family members – my brother Shimon, my brother Aryeh, and my sister Fanya – were active in ‘Betar’ (the Betar Movement was a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky).

Joseph thought about taking the entire family to make aliyah to the Land of Israel. In order to realize this idea, he expended specific amounts of money, and his wife Hinde (of the Zindl family), our dear mother Baylah, my brother Shimon, my sister Fanya, and our dear grandmother Dvorah Kars'l Zandweiss, were all murdered by the Nazi Murderers during those terrifying days of the Holocaust on 14–15 Elul 5702.


Benjamin Edelstein

By Yekhiel Salutsky

He was a short man who walked slowly, his clothing disheveled, his speech pleasant and dreamy. He was a man of good disposition, happy to donate, to offer help, and not given to making himself visible without a desire for the limelight.

He played the violin. There wasn't any celebration, nor party of friends, or a presentation by a troupe in which Benjamin and his violin did not participate.

Together with his sidekick in music, the teacher Abraham Furman k”z, he would volunteer to play in the city and its vicinity and he would donate whatever he earned for the benefit of the KK”L. These incomes, of playing music at weddings were a permanent mainstay of the income to the committee of the KK”L.

I bring up a memory of an incident from the years 1917–1918. The national situation was unsure. The bands of the Petlura mobs ran roughshod over the area, and the roads were under the thrall of danger.

And here, an invitation was received by the KK”L committee from the village of Karpylivka, about 8 km from Sarny, to come and play at a wedding. Despite the lack of security on the roads, we decided to respond to the invitation. And accordingly, the reception was beautiful, and with great satisfaction we returned to the city before dawn.

Benjamin Edelstein was active in the theatrical troupe. Through the years, he served as the secretary of the Tarbut School. He was a modest, self–effacing man, who made do with the minimum.


[Page 402]

Joseph Barzam

By Aryeh Barzamy

 

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I remember taking leave of my father 24 years ago in the Lemberg House.

He was standing on the dock, dressed impeccably as usual, his posture straight, and his eyes full of sorrow. Two months before this, I had completed all the examinations for graduation from the national gymnasium. I stood before my father and rolled out all of my plans before him. ‘There is no future for a young Jewish person in the Diaspora,’ I said, ‘I will not be able to tolerate the atmosphere of a Polish university, suffused with anti–Semitism.’

A smile of understanding, diluted by sorrow, poured out over the handsome face of my father. ‘You are right, my son. Hard days await us in the Diaspora and I am of one mind with you, that your place is in Jerusalem.’ The candles were arranged, and the hour of departure arrives.

My father escorted me up to the (unknown word). The night passed in lively conversation. What understanding my father revealed in regards to my aspirations! He encouraged me on the threshold of my new direction. My feeling was that in the fullness of time, he would come to join me. Fate did not want this.

Out of the train window, I looked at his dear form as it grew distant. He stood and waved with his hand until he disappeared from my view.

My father was a scion of a large, multi–branched Jewish family deeply rooted in the ways of Jewish tradition. The family was poor, and its scions dispersed in the broad expanses of Russia in order to search for their future. My father wandered in this huge land, and taught himself the skill of pharmacy. One of the places he stopped in his wanderings was Zhitomir where he met and married my mother.

After the revolution, my parents reached Sarny and my father established a pharmacy. He became visible in the Jewish streets of our city, and he was one of the personalities that dealt with the issues of the Jewish community. He never sought to accumulate wealth and assets. He did not have a house of his own until the end of his life. His entire wish was to extend help as one human being to another. Many of the residents of our city would turn to him every time fate dealt them a bitter hand. He looked to the heart of the man and yearned with all his own heart to ease the suffering of the Jews in the city. Not once [but many times] did people turn to him to serve as a mouthpiece in front of the authorities. Even the people in authority knew how to value his honesty and paid serious attention to what he had to say. He especially made an effort in all instances where there was a need to liberate someone from arrest.

He was elected to be a Deputy Head of the city. In this role, he looked for yet an additional means to work on behalf of the Jewish community of Sarny.

My mother was his loyal helpmate in all his community endeavors, and in addition, she had initiative of her own. Our home was open not only to friends of the family, but to every person whose heart was bitter and was in need of support – in principle and in practice.

The municipal orphanage was especially close to my mother's heart. She did not settle for signing up resources from all of her friends, she felt that she personally – with her body and personal money – was responsible to sustain this undertaking and to provide for a warm home to the extent possible to all of these deprived children. Everything that my parents did was not done for recognition, [it was done] with modesty, as something that was self–evident out of a sense that this was a sacred undertaking that had been allocated to them.

Our home was an ardent Zionist home. Every emissary from The Land was received with great affection. My parents were among the workers for the benefit of the national funds, and participated in all events that took place in our city for the benefit of the Land of Israel.

Despite the fact that my parents were liberal in their outlook, our house was suffused with an atmosphere of Jewish tradition. In the education of his sons, my father concerned himself with assuring they would acquire facility with the Hebrew language and took the time to explain to us how many barriers there were to a traditional life. He taught us to love the synagogue and its participating worshipers and to sense the aura of glory that is to be found in prayer.

While I was still a small child, how I loved to stand by his side and listen to his sweet singing, like that of a Hazzan – a Jewish prayer, with Zion woven throughout its fabric.

During the period of Soviet rule, my father accustomed himself to the new circumstances and continued with his tiring work in the pharmacy, notwithstanding the difficult situation. He earned the respect of even those in the new régime.

When the Germans came to our city, darkness fell on the world of the Jewish community. I am told that his Christian friends tried to come up with a scheme and sought ways to save him. When they came to propose their plan to him, he refused to separate from the congregation to which he was bound with every element of his soul. He elected to become a participant in the fate, together with them, and went on his last way.

His noble form stands before my eyes and my soul, as if he were alive. I will always remember him as I saw him at the time we parted on that same autumn day on the station of the (unknown word) house in Lemberg: A Jew of his generation, with the sense of sorrow and intimations of grief emanating forth from his eyes.


[Page 404]

Pesach & Yehoshua Borko

By Shlomo Zandweiss

 

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Yehoshua Borko
 
Pesach Borko

 

R' Pesach reached Sarny with his wife and firstborn son, Moshe, with the beginning of the building of the city.

The number of residents in Sarny was still very small. Because of this, R' Pesach is counted among the first of the balebatim [respectable and well–mannered] to take up residence there.

On arriving in Sarny, R' Pesach built his house on the Wide Boulevard (Die Brayteh Gasse), that was afterwards called Ulica 3 May, between the houses of the ritual slaughterer and meat inspector, R' Ziskind Gamerman, and the house of R' David Birg. He opened a market store, and in his capacity as a Hasid in the tradition of the Stolin chain, he began, along with the other ‘men of our persuasion,’ to be concern with the building of a synagogue for the Stolin Hasidim, or as it was called, ‘Die Stoliner Shtibl.’

And even though R' Pesach was among the first of the builders of this synagogue, and one of those that sat on its Eastern Wall, he was never appointed as one of the Gabbaim, or spokespersons, because he was modest in nature, and typical retired from visibility, as a quiet man, that distances himself from all noise and bruiting, fleeing dissension and all matters of conflict.

During all the days of the year, R' Pesach was seen as – the ascetic and lean man, whose dark beard went down over his garb – as he walked with small steps, solid and tranquil, looking at, and participating in his retail businesses, constantly busy with, and sunk into making a living, which was fundamentally not easy. In the meantime, his family grew, with two more sons being born – Sender and Yehoshua – and their only daughter, Chaya. He required that they be raised in Torah, to eventually come to the wedding canopy, and to do good deeds. And despite these concerns, R' Pesach did not forget the concerns of the World to Come, and help to the community at large. Accordingly, one saw him periodically, as he would ally himself with another Jew, and they would go off to the marketplace to gather contributions on behave of someone needy, or to raise money for such institutions as ‘Linat Tzedek’, and ‘Lekhem Aniyim.’

However, when Simchat Torah and Purim would arrive, this taciturn Jew was completely transformed. Then R' Pesach would unsheathe his joy and happiness, and was a completely different man. It was not only that he sang and danced with fervor, but he inspired others to do so as well. They came from all of the synagogues in the city to the ‘Stoliner Shtibl’ in order to see R' Pesach dance on the benches, and tables, wearing a hat (kapilyusz) with feathers, and R' Shlom'keh the Scribe, and R' Aharon Miasnik and others, giving him a helping hand. After this, R' Pesach would organize a group, that would go out with drums, and in dance, all over the streets of the city, going from house to house, and taking out all the goodies from the ovens (without the knowledge of the homemakers, of course). All of this booty, would be brought back to the synagogue, for the purpose of distribution among the needy. They would bring whiskey as well, mixing it with honey, and boiling up ‘punch.’ And it was in this way that the festivity was carried on all day.

After the holidays passed, R' Pesach would return to his regular demeanor. and once again, became taciturn.

And so, the difficult years went by, and R' Pesach's circumstances began to improve. The sons matured, Moshe went off to Warsaw and set himself up very nicely there, and he earned a good reputation in the mercantile world, as a community activist. From time–to–time, he would come to Sarny, as a representative of the central union of retail merchants and would organize meetings and speak at them, and his father would melt with nachas. The son Sender, also went to Warsaw, and he set himself up well there also. The two sons would show respect for their father, and would offer support to their family in a supportive and dignified manner.

The daughter, Chaya, married Yaakov Finkelstein. Their youngest child, Yehoshua (the Betar activist), married the daughter of R' Yaakov Kless. The parents were spared all manner of worry, and everything was proceeding as desired.

And then came the upheaval – the year 1939, the World War. Moshe and his family, and Sender, came from Warsaw to their father, and settled themselves somehow, and hoped for better times. However, when war broke out between Germany and Russia, and the armies of Hitler began to get closer to Sarny, many of the scions of the city chose to leave, heading for the Russian border. Among these, was also Moshe Borko and his family, Chaya Finkelstein and her family, and the son, Sender. Only R' Pesach and his wife, and their son, Yehoshua and his wife, who in these demented times, was about to give birth, and for other reasons, remained in Sarny. As so, they too, drank from the cup of hemlock, to its bitter end, and were exterminated with the rest of the martyrs of our city, during those terrifying days of the Holocaust, on 14–15 Elul 5702.


[Page 405]

Yaakov Bryk

By Moshe Yuz

 

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R' Yaakov Bryk was known in the city as an outstanding master of the art of tailoring, clothing (wanted by) the Polish people in authority and office holders. As a result of his contact with these people in a professional capacity, he developed ties to them, and in the fulness of time became an advocate for all manner of causes.

Manny people curried his favor, and ask for his help in settling matters regarding various issues, that from the standpoint of the law and order were not necessarily legitimate.

In his trade, R' Yaakov saw a mission on behalf of the community, and devoted himself to it with all his energies. Frequently, he would leave his work, and spend many hours shuttling about among the various offices.

R' Yaakov did not know Polish. His language was an admixture of Russian words, Polish and Ukrainian. One way or another, however, he succeeded in attaining that which he sought to do. It was not only one danger that hovered over the culture or the Zionist groups, that he mitigated, deflected, or confounded entirely.

I can recall, on one Friday, that I was the recipient of a refusal to arrange for an oral presentation of a newspaper, that was supposed to take place on the following day, on the Sabbath, in the Winzowsky Theater. I got in contact with Mr. Bryk, and on that same day, he personally brought me the permission to my house, with the joy of a victory.

The two–story house of Yaakov Bryk served as a place for the gatherings of the local Zionist youth.

In addition to his efforts expended with the authorities, R' Yaakov was active as a Gabbai of the ‘Zionist Minyan,’ and in the organization of craftsmen.

From the standpoint of organizations, he affiliated with followers of Jabotinsky, but this did not stop him from donating to national funds, and he was active in every Zionist undertaking.

Only three sons and one daughter of R' Yaakov Bryk are to be found with us in The Land, as R' Yaakov, his wife, and the remaining members of his family were exterminated along with the other martyrs in Sarny.


[Page 406]

The Family of Shmuel Geifman

By Shlomo Zandweiss

 

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Moshe Geifman
 
Yaakov Geifman

 

R' Shmuel Geifman, and his wife Miriam, sons: Ben–Zion, Yaakov, Moshe and Chaim; Daughters: Chana, Baylah, and Shayn'tzeh – came to Sarny in the year 1902.

All of the sons and daughters were handsome and beautiful people, healthy as the roots of a strong tree. If all of the Geifman family was ‘illustrious,’ then the family of R' Shmuel Geifman was the ‘shining splendor of that illustriousness.’ Apart from their good looks, and their stature as powerful people, they were always happy, joyous, and full of the vigor of life. In a matter of a short time, they earned the adherence of the local community. The sons and daughters married, and began to build their own families.

The oldest son, Ben–Zion, left with his family for Rokitno. In 1909, a tragedy befell this family. One night, R' Ben–Zion heard shouts coming from a neighbor's house that called for help because plundering bandits had broken in. Ben–Zion ran to the assistance of his neighbor, and from the shots of the bandits, he fell streaming blood, and passed away a scant few hours later, leaving behind a wife and three children. His two sons, Aryeh and Abraham are today found in Israel.

In the passage of time, R' Shmuel and his sons Yaakov and Moshe won a lottery in the amount of 10 thousand rubles. With this money, they built their large house on Ulica Handlowa at the Wisiula corner. The house hummed with the coming and going of guests. As a Gabbai of the Stolin Hasidim, and the Gabbai of the ‘Hevra Kadisha,’ most of the feasts of the ‘Hevra Kadisha’ took place at R' Shmuel's house. And when the Rebbe of the Stolin sect, R' Moshe'leh Perlov came to lodge with him, the joy reached the heights.

The family harmony in the home of R' Shmuel was incomparable. The two brothers, R' Yaakov and R' Moshe, and their brothers–in–law, R' Yitzhak Fleisch, and R' Asher Geifman (cousins), conducted their forest products business together in partnership. They fulfilled the obligation of honoring their father and mother in an exceptional manner.

R' Shmuel died, at an advanced age, in the year 1930. Most of the residents of the city closed their stores and set their work aside, to escort the casket of this highly respected man.

After R' Shmuel's death, the material circumstances of his son became unstable. There were also several accidents, the wife of R' Yaakov, Golda, of the Cicyk and Neiditch families, and the wife of R' Moshe, Bat–Sheva, of the Chafetz family, died almost in the same year. Their brother–in–law R' Yitzhak Fleisch also died. The sorrow of the brothers Yaakov and Moshe was great. They did not marry wives [again] but committed their entire hearts and souls to the education of their children. Pinchas, the son of R' Yaakov, is found in Israel. The daughter of R' Moshe, Son'keh, the director of the HaShomer HaTza'ir branch in Sarny, made aliyah, and lived in Kibbutz Mesillot, and also his daughter, Manya, a pediatrician, and his son Chaim – an engineer, are in The Land.

The brothers Yaakov and Moshe, and also R' Asher Geifman were good activists, dedicated to the Linat HaTzedek institution, Gemilut Hasadim, Hevra Kadisha, and other various community institutions. They waited for a time when they might be able to make aliyah, to The Land, and see its development, but bitter fate had it otherwise. They remained in Sarny, and were exterminated together with the other martyrs of our city, during those terrifying days of Holocaust annihilation on 14–15 Elul 5702.


[Page 407]

Esther Goldman

By Simcha Banorat (Averbukh)

 

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My aunt Esther – suffered an unusually bitter fate, which fell upon her: she and all members of her family were brought down, with no survivors. The Goldman–Averbukh family was large and multi–branched, that spread out over Rivne, Pinsk, Sarny, and other places, and its end – the same end as all of Polish Jewry. The adults, and the large majority of the Yoss'l akh (the name of the revered grandfather, R' Joseph Goldman k”z, the son of the Rabbi, R' Yom–Tov Simcha of Pinsk, k”z) – all of these that did not manage to make aliyah in prior periods of time, or did not find a refuge in the united States, Argentina, Australia, etc. – were completely exterminated.

The family of my aunt Esther was exterminated completely. And if a trace of an utterance or name, especially in Israel, new buds began to sprout and renew themselves, that for purposes of continuity have some extension of the thread of tradition, regarding the family of my aunt Esther, the decree of fate was an absolute abrogation with nothing left to remember. And the matter is doubly sorrowful, because it was especially Esther who had all of the attributed to bequeath to our family the best of the Jewish tradition, of that very wondrous Judaism throughout the breadth of Polesia–Wolhyn.

This was a substantive revolution, that into this Jewish environs in the Diaspora, beside the vibrant Jewish culture, there penetrated the hand of – the sound of foreign language, the ‘apostate’ books, the creative products of human intelligence, and humanism in general. To this day, I remember the ring of the Russian language, that my aunt Esther would provide for the listening, in family gatherings, with her sweet voice, to which the voices of my father Nahum–Lipa and mother Rivka k”z, would be added not only on one occasion. National songs in Yiddish and Hebrew went up in a single stream, along with ‘I will go out on the way by myself’ of Ramontov; the songs of the Dnieper, the Volga, blended together with the woven notes and the renaissance provided by the Jewish–Russian people's poet, Shimon Frug.


[Page 408]

Yehoshua Glauberman

By Boaz Eisenberg

 

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If you try to envision the images of those assorted Jewish people, who had such a large part in according us the privilege of seeing the independence of Israel, while they themselves did not live to see it, the image of R' Yehoshua Glauberman k”z rises prominently in this respect.

His birthplace – the village of Beloyusza, where he was born to his father R' Ephraim Gershon (of the Stolin Hasidim, and from the courtyard of the ADMo”R), who impressed his stamp on him. The village, which suckled from the roots of the Stolin Hasidism on the one side, and the Zionism of Pinsk and Mott'leh (possibly Motele, Belarus) on the other side, raised R' Yehoshua and made him not only an adherent of Zionism, but into an ardent Zionist.

His Jewish education – both traditional and Zionist, that he received in his father's house, accorded him, in addition to the profound and wide knowledge of the lore of Israel and its culture, a secular enlightenment, and knowledge of the Hebrew and Russian languages. His connection to the Zionist Agudah in nearby Stolin, and with the Zionist library there, also served as a living pipeline to the larger world of secular culture, and to the burgeoning and awakening vibrant Jewish life, and in this manner, newspapers and books would reach the Glauberman house, which were read incessantly.

As was the case with all of the residents of Beloyusza and the Glauberman family, R' Yehoshua tried his hand at commerce. When he married his wife Reizl, of the Bicik family of Dąbrowica, in the year 1910, he and his entire family left the village where he was born, and established their own home in Sarny.

His commercial enterprises did not distance R' Yehoshua from his Jewish–Zionist community endeavors. Immediately on his arrival in Sarny, he committed himself to community affairs, and was one of the founders of the Hebrew Library, the Hebrew–Russian Gymnasium, and the ‘Tarbut’ School.

R' Yehoshua Glauberman was counted among the Zionist workers before The First World War. In the year 1917, he was a member of the Municipal Zionist Committee, and in the year 1920 – a member of the Keren HaYesod Committee. The profound understanding of his wife, Reizl, for all of the needs of the aforementioned organization, was of great help to him, since she took to herself a very significant part of the concerns for their business, and because of this, he was able to turn himself more fully to his community affairs.

His prepared commitment to community affairs enlarged his influence among his brethren. His words, at Zionist meetings, on behalf of the Yishuv in The Land, his infusion of the Hebrew language into the life of his house and family, were listened to with trust, because the house of R' Yehoshua Glauberman was known for its devotion to Hebrew and Zionism.

Having a sweet voice and a musical sense, he knew how to infuse Hebrew song and melody into the experiences of holidays, and that of his family, which deepened the cognizance of his family members in matters that were Hebrew and Zionist. All of this did not impair his pleasant disposition, and did not implant any sense of arrogance or haughtiness in him. He always saw himself as one of the people, and his self–effacing smile never disappeared from his face.

All of his sons and daughters completed their studies in Hebrew schools, and prepared themselves to make aliyah to The Land. Two of his daughters – Zippora and Miriam – managed to get to The Land, even though their parents, and three other children – the firstborn Shimon, and Asher and Batya, the younger ones – were exterminated in the Holocaust, and were not privileged to realize their will.


[Page 409]

Chaim Glick

By Moshe Yuz

 

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R' Chaim was a thick–bearded man of erect stature, broad in the shoulder, and with a straight stride. A working man who made his living at hard labor – beginning at the first crack of dawn, into the evening hours. Farmers in the vicinity would bring their seed for grinding and extraction of oil to him at the granary.

R' Chaim and his wife, who was a loyal Woman of Valor, established a large family, whose sons and daughters excelled in their diligence, their honesty, and the simplicity of their demeanor. One of the daughters was married to the teacher Dorfman, k”z.

The large yard, surrounding his house, served as a playground for the children attending the Heder of Chaim Holowuszka. Out of curiosity, we would infiltrate the granary and watch the work. R' Chaim treated us with tolerance, and only when it appeared that there might be a danger to one of us – he would tell us to get away, and warned us of it.

R' Chaim was one of the generous donors to all of the funds. When ‘Shivat Zion’ was organized in the city, for the purpose of buying property in The Land, he was one of the first to join it. The organizing meeting took place in his house, and the single image that remains with me of this event, took place in his room. His house also served as a place for meetings of the youth, and parties for the Halutzim of the city. Of this large, multi–branched family, only two of his daughters were privileged to reach The Land, and the rest of the family was exterminated along with all the Jews of the City.


Aharon Godel Groszko

By Zvi Kahana (Groszko)

Aharon Godel was born in the year 1894. He was killed on the Day of Slaughter in Sarny, in the year 1942.

He was punctilious in attending communal worship, and was nominated to be one of the permanent overseers at the synagogue. His wife assisted him in carrying out this custom, and would come to take his place in the store, in order that he not miss participating in communal worship.

He educated his sons in Torah, to the performance of mitzvot, and directed them to Yeshiva study. When one of his sons resisted the path chosen by his father, he explained to him, in the patient manner for which he was known, what richness there was to be derived from Torah study, and the (unknown word) of a scholar.

He was modest and self–effacing in his conduct. He was in the habit of donating to charity, sometimes beyond his means, believing in the dictum of the HAZA”L that the giving of charity does not bring a person to a condition of suffering.


[Page 410]

Shmaryahu Gerszunok

By Shlomo Zandweiss

 

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Mr. Gerszunok came to Sarny with the stream of refugees from Russia in the years 1921–1922. He came from Bobruisk, where he was considered one of the important Jewish residents, known as an honest man, a well–to–do forest products merchant, and a leader among his people.

In Sarny, he set himself up temporarily in connection with forest products, in the village of Tynne and its vicinity. However, in the fullness of time, he put down permanent roots and became one of the respected residents and committed activists in the city.

In the year 1932, Mr. Shmaryahu Gerszunok was elected as the Vice–Chair of the Jewish community, and in 1936, as its Chair. In fact, he was the Chair already from 1932, because his predecessor – Mr. Yaakov Lieberson – resided in Dąbrowica, and all community matters somehow got handled by Mr. Gerszunok.

After Mr. Shmuel Zingerman made aliyah to The Land of Israel, Mr. Gerszunok was elected as the Chair of the committee, for Keren HaYesod. The dedication that Mr. Gerszunok gave to these two positions knew no bounds. He worked at them not for visibility and not to receive any rewards.

Mr. Gerszunok was an Enlightened Jew, a cultured man, who was also familiar with the pages of the Talmud. He would dress well, and was pleasant in his comportment, a man of strong personality, and sturdy. He had those who praised him, but also those who opposed him, because as is in the nature of these things – one who enters public life, perforce, has those who oppose him.

Mr. Gerszunok was a very honest man, with clean hands and an unblemished heart, who discharged his public obligations faithfully. When the Nazis entered, he was picked to be the head of the Judenrat, and as is known, he accepted this tragic responsibility against his own will, and out of a clear knowledge of the outcome that was in the offing.

According to the testimony given by those who remained alive who were with him during the most difficult days, Mr. Gerszunok fulfilled this tragic obligation honestly, and with a straight heart. He died together with the members of his community, at whose head he served as the last Chair, during the Holocaust Days of 14–15 Elul 5702.


Abraham Dichter

By Shlomo Zandweiss

From the day of the founding of the Tarbut School in Sarny, with the entry of the Red Army, talented and respected principals, who were scholars in Torah and general knowledge, who were held in high regard by both the students and their parents at the same time. These were the Messrs. Shoar, Bernstein, Rabinovich, and others. The last of these principals was Mr. Abraham Dichter.

For the sake of the truth, it is possible that from the perspective of level of intellectual prowess, the other principals exceeded Mr. Dichter, but he was gifted with many talents that his predecessors were not gifted with. Mr. Shoar from Czortko, the man of European culture, and Mr. Rabinovich, the Lithuanian scholar, both did not put down roots in the Sarny environment, and there was something of a barrier between them, and the populace. The considered themselves to be a cut above. By contrast to this, Mr. Dichter was checkered with the Sarny way of life, because he came from its midst, and he was educated there, and he absorbed the measure of the place in which he resided.

Mr. Dichter was a man of the people, active in all Zionist institutions, effusive with energy, and the zest of life. He did not attain his education and stature in life out of any external generosity, but rather out of his own efforts, with a great deal of hard and exhausting work, as is expressed in scripture: ‘You will eat a slice of bread with salt, and you will drink water in a measured amount, and you will sleep on the ground, and you will live a life of sorrow’ – because his father, R' Shmeryl the Melamed in the town of Bereznica, and who in old age became the Shames of the synagogue of the Stolin Hasidim, could not help him.

Abraham Dichter was a man of strong personality and sturdy, an accomplished man, with an orientation to action. Personally, he worked hard, and also demanded hard work from his associates. During the years of his leadership, the school prospered, and it gained a favorable reputation in Sarny and its vicinity. Abraham Dichter had many friends, but he did not lack for those who opposed him.

In his daily life, he was a man with a good heart, a loyal and committed friend.


Chaya Danenberg

By Yekhiel Salutsky

She was active in the Tze'irei Tzion movement, especially in the training of Halutzim. In the years 1918–1919, Chaya was among the first to undergo training for the purpose of making aliyah.

A rather large garden was turned over to us for development, by the Berg family and other families. Yehuda Langer (Kniazipoler) volunteered to be our leader in agricultural development, a Jewish man, who for most of his years had engaged in working the soil in the village of Kniazipol.

One morning, about twenty young men and women, among which I was also, (gathered) to develop skills in working the soil as preparation for making aliyah to The Land. Part of the group worked for two hours in the morning, and two hours in the afternoon. Chaya worked for the entire day. Part of the balebatim looked upon this as if it were child's play, but most took a supportive posture toward us, and looked upon us fondly. I recollect that I would come to the garden early in the morning, and I would encounter Chaya, since she was already working with a hoe. She was also the last one to return home. Chaya was on the list for aliyah with the first group, but for some reason, she deferred her aliyah. After some time had passed, she married the teacher Glekl, who was the principal of the Tarbut school in Stolin.

It was her wish to be among the first of the builders, but she did not live to realize this desire. Together with her husband, she fell before the Nazi murderers.


[Page 412]

Shmuel Walkin

By Dr. Yom–Tov Lewinsky

 

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In the year 5682 (1921–1922) I found myself in Vilna, ‘Yerushalayim D'Lita,’ as a student of the pedagogic courses for prospective teachers.

I was of a bitter soul, for the dark years that passed over me while in the Polish army, both at the front and in the rear, for no good reason, and a waste of time that could have been applied to study. And here, I was invited to a group of students – the students of the teachers' pedagogic courses, that numbered about seventy souls. Most, if not all, came to learn, and to find a way to repair their souls, in the tents of study. Among them were Yeshiva graduates, and those who had received Rabbinic ordination, and among them students having been exiled from the universities of Bolshevik Russia, and among them veteran teachers that came to graduate in pedagogy.

Among these young people, I recognized a young man who was tall and lean, from Wolhyn, who possessed knowing and smiling eyes, who conversed pleasantly, and had a good sense of humor – Shmuel Walkin. His laugh lightened us up, and his discourse (unknown word) and in that which was past, endeared him quickly to all of us. He came to us with his Talmud in his hand – educated at the Great Yeshiva in Odessa, from the foundation of the ‘Young Rabbi,’ and C. N. Bialik k”z. He was a student of Dr. Joseph Klausner in history, of Bialik in legendary stories and language, and of Rabbi Simcha Assaf in Talmud, and the poet Yaakov Fikhman in literature. They had a profoundly positive influence on him, and set out his trajectory for the future.

However, the October Revolution also sealed the fate of the Great Yeshiva in Odessa. Its student fled, and scattered all over. Those that succeeded in crossing the border and return to Poland, settled down until the malevolence in the towns would pass, and began to establish Hebrew schools, and to concentrate groups of young people for purposes of letting them complete their studies. The central issue – the Zionist–Halutz work, according to the tradition that they brought from Odessa, which was the center of the Zionist movement in the vastness of Russia.

Shmuel Walkin returned to his town of Sarny. He was received with dignity among the progressive youth groups, and within the midst of the Zionist movement, these being friends and acquaintances of his, for many days now. He organized a place for the children of refugees to get education, stood at the head of the ‘Heder Metukan,’ that was transformed into a Hebrew school of considerable reputation in the entire area, and there was not a national initiative in which Shmuel Walkin did not take part, in some instance, the leading role.

But he was effervescent, and thirsty for knowledge. The education of Jewish children in Wolhyn in those days, was very much in a state of eclipse. The régimes, which were [constantly] changing, imposed their language and culture on the place. In the various Jewish schools, to the extent that they existed, they taught in Russian, Ukrainian, German and Polish. The native language of the child was Yiddish, and Hebrew – the language of the Torah, and the laws of Judaism – was dearest to them above all others. However, suitable teachers were not available, and there was an absence of a course of study, in the spirit of the times, and because of the conditions of that place, in an attempt to conform with the demands of the course of study imposed by the fledgling Polish régime, that wanted to layer over its own culture, and uproot both the culture and the national tendencies of the Jewish populace. For this reason, Walkin went off to Vilna, the center for the study of Hebrew culture, to obtain ideas, and how to transmit them afterwards to others.

In the courses on pedagogy, he quickly stood out, and was one of the principal discussers. We did not content ourselves with lessons given by talented practitioners such as A. Urinowsky, the director of these courses, Professor Yehoshua Gutman (today at the University of Jerusalem), Dr. Regensburg, Pinchas Szifman, Dr. Emanuel Cohen, and others. We established clubs for the acquisition of general knowledge, for mathematics, natural science, history and literature, and the publication of educational texts – whose absence was recognized in schools – and books dealing with providing guidance to teachers, so that he would not have to scratch through the Russian or Polish pedagogical literature. We would put on festive events for the purpose of setting direction for the Hebrew school of the near future, for the purpose of exchanging ideas on the education of the ‘Jewish Common Man,’ Zionism, culture, and the like.

Shmuel Walkin was always one of the leaders in getting things done, and in events. Our ‘office,’ during the day, was in the large Judaica library, named for Matityahu Sztraszun. Chai'kl Lunsky s”hv, demonstrated a special affection for the students of these courses, because they were Torah–knowledgeable, and as the Director of the Library, he concerned himself with providing us with the required books. And when the discussions among us got loud, in the large reading room of the library, Kh. Lunsky would hurry over to us, took us by the arm, and took us to an inner room, where there was a room set aside, in which important handwritten manuscripts were stored, in order that we not disturb the remainder of those who were reading books.

We finished the pedagogical courses by the end of the year. Everyone turned to his own affairs and corner. Yet each person took a suitable place in which they could distinguish themselves in the direction and education of the generation. Everyone opened up a ‘place of work’ in their location, representing a new life, a creative place for the pioneering progressive Hebrew culture, for the youth of the Jewish people. From that time on, I did not see him. However, we exchanged letters, and we received warm regards from one another. After two years, I was compelled to leave Poland. He settled in Rokitno, where he established and successfully led the Tarbut School with dedication, and over the years, he stood at the head of cultural life and the national movement. Tens of teachers from the area learned from him, and his house was a central focus for learned people and those who were faithfully involved in community activity and culture. He would expound on Torah and leadership in a number of places, until he was taken up in Volkovysk, a center city for Jewry, known for its culture, and the spiritual life of its Jews. [1]

During the days of the Soviet conquest of The Second World War, he was compelled to teach in Yiddish, and in general not to teach Jewish children. This oppressed him, and we went about walking like a shadow. The behavior of those selected by the people were drowning in the sea – he said, and there is no one to rescue them.

And now the Holocaust drew nigh. With ardor in his soul, he continued educating the generation underground, bringing together groups whom he taught to inculcate them in Torah and Zion. And the man was captured, and along with his wife, also a teacher, with their daughter, were taken off to a concentration camp from which none of the arrivals would return. His daughter was tortured to death before his eyes. And the day was not far off when he was sent, along with his wife, to the Valley of Death, to the crematoria of Treblinka, and my contact with him was forever sundered.

We lived together really for only a year, and thirty–eight years have gone by since that time. Just one year. However, there are those who are able to acquire a friendship of a lifetime in only one year. Shmuel Walkin was one such person.

Thirty eight years have gone by, but his image remains before my eyes. The sound of his raffish laugh still resonated in my ears, and the image of this expert pedagogue hovers before me, this teacher–student, this friend and activist, who whole–heartedly engaged in the promulgation of culture.

May his soul be bound up in the bond of life.

Translator's Footnote

  1. An excerpt from my translation of Dr. Moshe Einhorn's ‘Wolkowysk Yizkor BukhReturn


[Page 414]

Pinchas Zandweiss

By Esther Zandweiss–Fish

 

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Pinia Mush'keh's

My father was born in Bereznica near Sarny. Bereznica was a rundown town, and with the rise of Sarny, it had a complete decline from an economic standpoint. Most of its Jewish residents left it, and the few who stayed behind found making a living difficult. Mostly, they were compelled to take their wares to the ‘market fairs’ in the area, in order to provide their families with meager sustenance of impoverished bread and limited water.

Our family moved to Sarny with the outbreak of The First World War. The house we bought, stood in the center of the city. It served as a meeting place and lodging for all people from Bereznica who were invited to Sarny to conduct their affairs. Not only once, did the entire family cram itself into one of the tiny rooms, when the entire house was full of guests. There was not a meal that went by, that my father did not invite the guests to partake, and also form a ‘mezuman [1]’ for the blessings after the meal.

Those who were intimately acquainted with my father, respected him and saw in him a man of a compassionate heart. He was a member of the community council, and he always had a say with the majority, in matters of distribution of financial support to the needy. On the occasions when he could not convince his fellow members of the council, he would go door–to–door over the residents of the city, and would gather funds for ‘anonymous charitable giving’ – and turn it over to the needy family.

My father was a God–fearing man, tied to his faith and tradition with all the strands of his soul. He was an outstanding leader of prayer, and the head of the spokespersons of the Stolin shtibl. He engaged in dealing with community needs, and founded the group of ‘Lekhem Aniyim.’ On a weekly basis, he would visit the houses and assemble modest sums for those families whose source of income had been compromised. It was my honor to be one of those who distributed these funds to the needy… also, my father concerned himself with the Yeshiva students, and looked after their wants with dedication. On Sabbaths, they would come to dine at our table. That table was short on utensils. My stepmother and the members of the household complained about the extra work that this created, and my father would say: ‘Lefum Tza'ara Agra,’ to the extent that the effort is greater – so the reward in the Garden of Eden will be greater.

When the Yeshiva closed for lack of resources, my father concerned himself with the children of the poor at the Talmud Torah. He assumed responsibility for all the issues regarding their feeding, clothing and sanitation, looking after places for them to eat and sleep, taking them to the baths and the barber, and most important – clothed them in a ‘tallit katan,’ and obtained Tefillin for them when they reached the appropriate age.

My father worked for the community with all his might and soul.

Translator's Footnote

  1. The ritual quorum of three, required to recite the blessings after a meal. Return


[Page 415]

Ahar'l Zandweiss and His Wife Rivka

By Yekhiel Salutsky

 

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While he was still a youth, he began to work at bookkeeping in the first bank in Sarny, that was founded before The First World War, named, ‘The Mutual Credit Association.’

During the years of the Russian Revolution, years during which there were pogroms, plunder and abuse, Ahar'l worked in an aid organization for refugees, and the needy, that had been driven from the places where they lived. Ahar'l was active in various institutions. In the Zionist Histadrut, he dedicated much of his energy to the cultural arm. When ‘Khug Hovevei HaBima [1]’ was organized in Sarny, Ahar'l took one of the first positions. He took a leading role in all of the plays that they put on.

Ahar'l was elected to the membership of the committee of the Zionist Histadrut for all the days he lived in Sarny – he was among the founders of the Tze'irei Tzion branch and a member of its leadership committee.

In the year 1919, he married the teacher Rivka, of the Weissman family of Kremeniec (today Kremenets). After a year, the couple moved to Kremeniec, the place where his wife's family lived. Even in his new place of domicile, Ahar'l was active and engaged in community affairs, and the Zionist Histadrut.

Translator's Footnote

  1. The Drama Club Return


Penina Zandweiss

By Moshe Yuz

 

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The children are the song of our lives. They arise in the morning, with poetry on their lips, all of their attention, and the way of their lives are rich with imagination and illusions that sweeten life.

And yet, we encounter children in whom the spirit of poetry does not forsake them even when they grow up and go off on their own. We look on with elation at such a dedicated sapling that continues to grow, prosper and enchant. It is a special sorrow that affects us, when we see the waste of a life such as this, who were taken from us in an untimely manner.

Penina was such a delightful budding youngster. Already in school, she excelled in uncovering the poetic side of life. While still quite young, when she was eight years old, she selected the literary name ‘P”Z.’ She wrote poems about her dreams, and the experience of life that surrounded her, about school, about the nearby environs, and of her distant yearning of the soul – life in The Land of Israel. She established connections with poets in The Land, especially with David Shimoni, who recognized her talent, encouraged her, and imbued her with hope for the future. As a souvenir, he sent her his idealization, ‘Seuna.’

She lost her father at the age of ten, however those difficulties that piled up on her, in her life, did not disturb her in the process of spiritual development. She began to work in the youth organization, founding the ‘B'nai Yehuda’ group, whose purpose was to spread the Hebrew language into the discourses of daily life. She was the spirit of life in the center of the Sarny children, and everyone, the older and the younger all loved and adored her.

When she finished her elementary school training, she was accepted into the Hebrew Gymnasium in Pinsk. To support herself, she gave ordinary [school] lessons. In the year 1939, she completed her studies in the gymnasium with excellence. And before she was able to realize her dream to make aliyah to The Land of Israel, the hand of fate intervened: She and her family were exterminated in the Holocaust.


The Jewish Watchman

By P”Z

The entire settlement is sunk in slumber,
A pale moon wanders across the heavens,
And the stars above hint with gladness:
‘How goodly are your settlements, Israel!’

And there, upon that elevated hill
A watchman strides and his heart thumps,
And a fire smolders in the depths of his soul
The fire of love for his warring nation…
The fire of bandits pierced the air,
But the watchman does not fear, or is intimidated
Because the voice of The Homeland calls continuously
‘Do not retreat to the rear!’


Mindl and Lejzor Zhuk

By Joseph Sharoni (Zhuk)

My mother Mindl k”z – was submerged in work for her entire life, without surcease. The first of her concerns was the education of her children. She essayed, with all of her strength, not to miss out on pursuing the means to send her children to study Torah in the cities of the province. This demanded that she work doubly hard.

My father, Lejzor k”z, was a man of labor. At an early age, he began to work with pitch and tar. The first of his work entailed covering the roofs of Russian churches in Russian cities such as Moscow, etc. He did similar work on the coverings of railroad stations. Together with this, he was a rigorously observant man, and an ardent Hasid of the Rebbe of Stolin. He loved leading services in front of The Ark, and served as a Gabbai of the Stolin synagogue for many years.

In the fullness of time, he left the work with pitch and tar, and under my mother's influence, went over to dealing in oil, flour, grain, salt, and everything that came to hand. My father was a man of straight heart, and threw himself intensely into his work.

A genuine joy would gladden my father with the arrival of the Rebbe from Stolin. At that time, he faithfully danced along with the other Stolin Hasidim. In the Stolin synagogue, my father would lead the service before The Ark, and he was called ‘Big Lejzor,’ because Lejzor Susnik also worshiped in this same synagogue, who also was engaged in the pitch and tar business, and was called ‘Small Lejzor,’ because he was short in stature.

In general, the Stolin synagogue served not only as a place for prayer. There, conversations took place about politics, commerce, and about all that was going on in the town. It was a place where the exigencies of daily life were exchanged. It was a place where people threw wet towels and snowballs at each other. If this would enrage one of those sitting on the eastern side, he would rise and shout: ‘Throw that shaygetz out,’ even though he did not know who it was, and he, himself, would go hide himself behind the lectern out of great fear.

Prayer itself was uttered by the worshipers with great ardor, reaching almost the pitch of a scream, ‘with loud noise and lightning,’ and it was possible to hear it even at a great distance. One of the Hasidim shouted himself hoarse from the reading of ‘Shema Yisrael’ to the point where such hoarseness became a mark of being a Hasid. Some of the Hasidim became envious of their comrades, and did everything they could to shout themselves hoarse, and indeed succeeded at it.

Before Simchat Torah, my father prepared himself for this major festival. And anyone who has not seen Simchat Torah celebrated by the Stolin Hasidim does not know what it means to experience joy.

On the first night of the Hakafot, all the other synagogues would finish their prayers quickly, after which everyone ran to the synagogue of the Stolin Hasidim. There, there was something to hear and see. It was not for nothing that the gentiles referred to this as the ‘Day of the Insane.’ But this joy also brought out significant opposition. The Hasidim would walk from house to house, taking the food out of the ovens, especially the ‘Tzimmes,’ and would run about wildly for two days and nights.

Notwithstanding the joy, this holiday was the harbinger of the coming winter. On the night the holiday ended, the refrain was sung: ‘To aggravate us, the winter is already on its way. The shoes are torn, the roof has started to leak – and there is no money.’

It was in this way that my father, and many in the town, would find value in their Hasidism, that spanned the pogroms, the Petlura bandits, the Hetman forces, the Danikists, the Hallerists, and the 9th Brigade of Ukrainians in the Bolshevik Army, and all the other scourges of the Jewish people, each to his own kind.


The Family of Zvi Zuliar

By Yaakov Tsuk

Zvi Zul[i]ar reached Sarny after the Russian Revolution. At risk to his life, he ‘stole’ over the border together with many young men, members of Tze'irei Tzion and ‘Dror,’ whose orientation was to Zion, and our city served as a transfer point for them.

A darkish young man, of delicate soul, book–knowledgeable and a lover of books – this is how I took stock of him on his arrival in Sarny. Initially, he dreamt of continuing his studies, which had been interrupted by the upheavals of the times, however, after his connections to his home were completely severed, he was compelled to support himself, and began to deal in commerce and administration.

After a short while, his wife Shayndl joined him, out of danger to her life – his life's partner. She was young and intelligent, a scion of an impoverished village, who excelled in her knowledge of Hebrew subjects, as well as secular studies.

The built a house in Sarny, raised a family, and worked hard to educate their three sons. The oldest was sent to finish at the Teachers' Seminary in Warsaw, and with the outbreak of the war, he came back to his family. With the retreat of the Red Army from Sarny, he fled to Russia, and in the city of Yalutorovsk, engaged in floating lumber down the river. While awaiting a call to join the army, in order to exact vengeance from those who scourged him and his family – he drowned in the river.

According to the news that he received about his family during the time of the Nazi conquest, these scourges compelled Zvi Zuliar to shepherd swine, and the entire family was crammed into a small room, after a bomb had blasted out all of the windows and doors in the house. The lives of all members of the family of Zvi Zuliar came to an end on the Day of Slaughter in Sarny, and no memory remains of them.


Velfl Zinger

By Bruriah Zinger–Koren

It is not possible to describe the joy of my father, Velfl k”z, when I made aliyah to The Land. It was his hope that the entire family would follow in my footsteps. In every letter to me, he asked: make the effort, do everything that you can, in order that all of us can make aliyah to The Land.

I was young, and had no experience, and I found it necessary to take counsel with friends and acquaintances. There were those among them who warned me, that I should not have the temerity to bring the family to The Land, and not to wreck their standing in Sarny. To my misfortune, and to their misfortune, I accepted this warning, and relented.

The thought that I am the cause of the reason that they did not make aliyah, eats at my heart all my days. We cannot reclaim the past, but this is of no comfort to me.


The Family of Itzia Zinger

By Mordechai Piczenik

This was a large family with many children. Fate decreed that R' Itzia would have to educate children from four wives, which he married one after another. To his good fortune, the children found their way on their own. The sons, Moshe and Joseph, opened a large, modern printing establishment in Sarny. The son Joseph was an active member of ‘Poalei Tzion,’ in Sarny, and took advantage of his connections with the government on behalf of the organization. It was with his help and on his name that the reading room of Poalei Tzion remained in existence for a long time in our city. The son, Ze'ev, who also learned the printing trade, remained in Russia. The rest of the family was exterminated in the Holocaust.

R' Itzia himself reached his eighties, and died several months before the onset of the Holocaust.


Mendl Zindl

By Moshe Yuz

The head of the family, R' Mendl, came from Stepan. Success smiled on him in Sarny, to the point that he reached the level of being ‘The Rich Man of the City.’ R' Mendl loved to get involved in the needs of the community, and served for many years as a Parnas of the municipal merchants' council. In this capacity, he did much for the benefit of the residents of the city, in the government institutions. He worked towards lightening the burden of taxes that were levied on the residents mercilessly, and without any thought. His robust economic situation enabled him to resist these realities, and thanks to his stand, saw success in his undertakings.

Mendl Zindl had a family with many children, and he was a dedicated father who concerned himself with their well–being. Fate had it, that the solid economic base of the Zindl family became a liability, because it caused not even one of his offspring to leave the city, and not one to make aliyah to The Land of Israel.

The entire family, of many children and grandchildren, was exterminated, and buried in the mass grave of the residents of Sarny.


[Page 419]

Chaim Khaniss

By Nechama & Pesach Khaniss

 

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Our father, Chaim Khaniss, was born in Bereznica. He studied at the yeshiva, and he became fluent with the ancient written sources, distinguished himself in comportment and in his pleasant demeanor.

By trade, he was a forest products and lumber merchant. He was beloved and respected by all. In his time, he was very active in community affairs, a Gabbai in the ‘Merchants' Synagogue,’ in the Gemilut Hasadim Fund, and other community institutions. He dreamt of making aliyah to The Land, but his dreams were not realized. He was exterminated in the mass killings in the Sarny forest. Our sister Esther was born in Sarny in 1915, studied at the Tarbut elementary school, and continued her studies at a high school in Vilna. In the end, she was accepted into the state–run high school in Sarny, and successfully graduated from there. For a short time she worked in bookkeeping and accountancy.

She was beautiful. Her demeanor and the refinement of her spirit engendered affection from all who knew her. For all of her days, she pursued learning and knowledge. Before the outbreak of the war, she returned, yet again, to Vilna, to work there, and complete her studies, but because of the situation at hand, she returned home. During the time of the Russian occupation, she was sent by them to Lvov to complete studies of the Russian language. In a short amount of time, she progressed in the language, and was appointed as a newspaper editor.


[Page 420]

Abraham Turkentiz

By Israel Karny (Korowoczka)

 

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Abraham Turkentiz was the first person I got to know in Sarny when I reached there in 1922, in order to settle there. And it was not a happenstance! For who besides Abraham would be the first to welcome and gather in a new resident of the city? Yes, Abraham was the man, who in manifesting his marvelous commitments, proved to me that the love between David and Jonathan was no legend. His unique approach, his broad heart and his enchanting personality, restored my heart, and a covenant of brothers was created between us on that same day, and forever. In the span of only one day, as a result of his effort, I was a member with equal rights and privileges, and responsibilities in that active group of Zionists, replete with activities, in which he and Chaya Gechtman [1] were the pillars of support. And in the evening of that same day, I was received at the home of his parents, a house that served me – without exaggeration – as a wellspring of emotional tranquility, and an elevation of spirit from that time, until my last day in Sarny. The entire family then consisted of five souls: the father, mother, Abraham, his brother Mordechai, and their sister Sarah'leh (that's the way they called her in the house), may she be separated for life. All, as one, despite the differences and the separation in outlook between them, excelled in having a partnered sense of family participation – in the receiving of guests. In this house, I felt myself literally to be a member of the family from the first minute on.

The atmosphere that pervaded this house was created, first and foremost, by the parents: the father, Zvi k”z – a God–fearing man, a model of honesty and straightness, a pupil of R' Levi Yitzhak k”z. In light of his belief in the adherence of his children to family tradition, he similarly believed, with his entire being, that no Jew would commit a sin. From the first day, in which he sat at my right hand during the festive meal at my wedding, he was the first among the guests at every one of our family celebrations. He was never hesitant in coming to my defense against all manner of assault or harmful rumor directed against me.

The mother of the family, Rachel–Leah k”z – a woman and mother dedicated without bounds, an outstanding Woman of Valor, who, in her wisdom and understanding, served as a role model and wondrous example to all who knew her, a person of good heart who radiated love. Evidence of her love for me took varied forms, and on all occasions, intensified to a great extent, my recognition and love for this dear family, and especially their son Abraham, who had inherited all of the virtues of his parents that I have described, and others not mentioned here. He was a Jewish man of a good heart, ready and willing to extend help, above and beyond his capacity to do so, providing everything that was required. Not less than what he sacrificed for his parents, his brother Mordechai and his sister Sarah in the Land of Israel, he knew how to orient himself with all his might to protect the ordinary Jewish person whose rights might be threatened by someone. He was honest, without measure, in his relationship to all people under all circumstances.

During all the years of the existence of the Sarny community, Abraham represented his organization faithfully – The Union of Poalei–Tzion. With a loyalty that did not engender any objections from the entire city, independent of stand, or organization, in his work as the Vice Chair of the community, he raised the standard of the entire community, and was the pride of his organization, whose members elected him to this honorable and responsible position.

Translator's Footnote

  1. Quite likely a variant of Hechtman, because of the interchangeability of the ‘g’ and ‘h’ sounds in Slavic languages. Return


Aharon Miasnik

By Yehudit Miasnik–Dobrowicky

Among the Jews who were exterminated in Sarny, were also my dear parents, R' Aharon & Fruma Miasnik; my brother Mordechai and his wife Alta, the daughter of the Rabbi R' Chaim Mendl Kostromecky, and their two daughters: Szifra'leh, and Faygl'eh; my sister Chaya and her husband Yeshayahu Luptin, and my sister Chana'leh.

It was conveyed to me, that in the hour that they were taken to the Killing Place, my father comforted himself and said: ‘I am full of hope, that part of my family will be saved, and remain alive, and the time of the murderers to exterminate all of us will not succeed in their hands.’

My father came to Sarny approximately in the year 1898. At that time, the construction of the railroad station had begun. My father's store was the first store. In that place, workers lodged (without their families), undesirables that were brought from Russia. It was only after a period of some time that my father was also able to bring my mother to Sarny.

My father was an observant Jew, being rigorous in his observance of mitzvot. The ‘riffraff’ respected him. One Shabbat night, after the festive meal, two of these undesirables, who were quite drunk, came in and demanded that he sell them cigarettes. My father explained to them that he does not engage in selling on the Sabbath. These undesirables threatened to murder him, however, my father stood his ground and argued: ‘do what you want with me – I will not desecrate the Sabbath.’ After discovering that their threats did not succeed, they changed their attitude and one of them admitted, that because of this strong stand taken by my father, he had lost a sum of money in a bet, since he had been certain he would be able to get cigarettes from a Jew even on the Sabbath.

Before The First World War, my father served three consecutive years in the Russian Army. With the outbreak of The First World War, he was also among the first to be drafted. During all of the years of his service in the army, he supported himself with dry bread, and water, not partaking of army rations out of a concern for kashrut.

During the war years, when my mother was left alone with small children, the gentiles fell upon their house, both residents of the city, and the vicinity, together with army personnel, plundering everything that came to hand. The work of years went to perdition. They were compelled to leave the house to my mother. And they did not – threaten to kill her together with the children. When my father returned from the war, he was compelled to start all over again, anew.

My father was a Gabbai in the synagogue of the Stolin Hasidim, a position that he fulfilled with dedication and ardor.

These were the type of people my parents were, they worked hard for their living and to raise their children, making do with little, and tried to live decent lives, unblemished, without taking advantage of anyone else.

The low–life German murderers, with the active and willing participation of the Christian residents of the area, murdered all of our dear ones.


The Nissman Family

By Aharon Nissman

The Nissman family was prominent in our city. This was a multi–branched family of Torah scholars, and people who were educated; workers in the field of education, culture and the national funds; being helpful with their knowledge in writing and composing letters for those in need, and also in keeping books for most of the community's Zionist institutions in our city, which was done by them, without any remuneration.

The family patriarch, Moshe Nissman from Livikowic, was a lover and a pursuer of peace, rigorous in his observance of mitzvot, and practiced the dictum: ‘thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself;’ a man in harmony with his environment, and the newspapers of that time – ‘HaTzefira,’ ‘HaYom,’ and ‘Heint;’ after that, an adherent and loyal to all people, even to non–Jews, and government institutions, because of his straightforward dealing in all negotiations and commercial transactions.

Up until The First World War, he conducted large scale, successful businesses with landowners on word–of–mouth ‘trust,’ without written contracts and without promissory notes. In his success, he fulfilled completely the mitzvah of ‘trust in your brother,’ by means of ‘anonymous charitable giving,’ and through Gemilut Hasadim. The matriarch of the family, Ethel, was his helpmate. Every Friday – together with the preparations for the Sabbath for her own family, she also prepared a portion for the needy. Moshe Nissman was among those who engaged in community activity faithfully, one of the founders and workers in ‘Linat HaTzedek,’ ‘Talmud Torah,’ etc.

He was one of the Hasidim of Stolin, but he studied the Mishna and Eyn Yaakov at the Berezne Synagogue. At the time of the schism among the Stolin Hasidim, he was a go–between and a conciliator between the two sides. He was particularly sympathetic to the young Hasidim. In accordance with his proposal, when he was a member of the cooperative for self–provisioning, with the end of The First World War, and with the active support of the Messrs. David Birg, Shmuel Zingerman, Joseph Kharpak, Gedalyahu Murik, Baruch Gunik, Yehoshua Glauberman, Yaakov Yuz and others, the Czarist court house was absorbed into the aegis of the cooperative, and a Russian–Hebrew gymnasium was established there, that was afterwards transformed into the illustrious ‘Tarbut’ school in our city.

He gave his children a secular, Hebrew and traditional education all at once. Side–by side with the ‘Re'em’ Vilna Talmud, ‘Meginei Artez,’ and ‘Moreh Nevukhim,’ their house did not lack for ‘HaTzefira,’ ‘HaYom,’ ‘HaSholeyakh,’ ‘HeKhaver,’ ‘Shibalim,’ and Hebrew books published by ‘Toshia.

Their house and yard – it was a large and broad house, a home and a meeting place for guests and young people – friends of their children. The Jews of Livikovitz, and nearby villages all would be taken in as guests, and ten guests would find a place for themselves there. They would take down a large door, put it across two chairs – and there was a ready bed. The big samovar would boil on the table, and discussions and conversation about politics, the world situation would roll on until midnight. And the mother, Ethel, would keep an eye on everyone, and never denied anything to the children nor their friends.

The oldest son, Nehemiah was one of the first catalysts of community life in our city. For a while, he was also a member in the town. He donated a large part of his library in Russian and Hebrew to the ‘Tarbut’ library. This donation served as a foundation for the opening of the library.

The daughter Bayl'czik – was the first of the daughters that studied at the Russian school, but spoke Yiddish and Hebrew in her group of friends. When she was detained by the Petlura régime on the basis of a false accusation, along with a large group of those accused, she demonstrated fortitude during the investigation, and proceeded to undermine the accusation, and to demand the release of those who were being detained.

The son Yehoshua was educated at the Yeshiva in Lida, founded by the Rabbi Reiness. He was literally, a walking encyclopedia, a master of much cultural knowledge in many areas of Judaism. He was the first of the founders of the Keren Kayemet L'Israel in our city, and one of the close assistants of Shmuel Zingerman, He participated in many cultural undertakings.

The son, Asher, excelled in his work, and his quick grasp of things. He would ingest books from all of the libraries in the city, Hebrew, and foreign languages. He was pleasant in demeanor, and well received by his friends, giving of his ideas and time on behalf of the Land of Israel through the cultural institutions of our city, and was one of the editors of ‘HaKokhav’ (a handwritten publication). The composition location was in the Nissman house. Among those who participated were Shlomo Murik, and to be separated for life, Moshe Yuz, Simcha Finkelstein, Plaskon, and Ze'ev Zingerman. He had hoped to make aliyah to The Land, but did not achieve this, having been exterminated with his wife and daughter together with the entire Nissman family.

The daughter Esther, in studying at the gymnasium in Odessa, was privileged to hear lectures from the poet Ch. N. Bialik. She was a teacher and educator in the Tarbut school in our city, and in the towns of Stepan', Rozhyshche and Dubno. She was active in the teachers' organization. When she was a teacher during the communist régime after 1939, she attempted to resist the pressure of assimilation –– the forgetting of everything that was Jewish.

Sarah'l – was well received by her friends. Together with Itka Katz, the daughter of Pesach–Eliyahu, the Ritual Slaughterer and Inspector, she concerned herself with finding sustenance for the needy. She was a teacher at the Talmud Torah.

Abraham – this was the one with the gentle soul, with formidable knowledge of the Talmud. More observant than his brothers, and one of the activists of Mizrachi in our city.

The youngest son, Chaim, was a young man built like a cedar. He went off to the Kibbutz at Njasviz and Baranovich for training. There, he was drafted into the Polish army. He was discharged in the middle of 1939, and immediately gave himself over to work in the branches of ‘HeHalutz HaTza'ir’ and ‘HeHalutz,’ in our city. He remained in intimate contact with the HeHalutz central office and planned his direction for the future.

On the day of 15/8/39, at night – he being in the process of accounting the fund raising activities in our city for the camp in the Land of Israel – he was suddenly drafted together with other young men, among them Pinchas Pearlstein, who was taken out from under a wedding canopy, Noah Tzaddik, Moshe'l Pearlstein – the only son of Shmuel and Kreineh, Bob'l Ciprin – an only son, Alter Stein, Yeshayahu Zaltzman, Koppel Poliszuk, Yeshayahu Luptin – the son–in–law of Aharon Miasnik, and others. The city was like a boiling pot – the nearing of the Holocaust could be felt.

After a week, the young men were sent on freight trains to the German border. We had managed to get a postcard from them from the place where they debarked, beside the German border. They stood at the front line of the battle front, and almost all of them did not return. A few of them wrote letters from captivity, but most disappeared without a trace.

Sarah'l Nissman, the sister of Chaim was not satisfied, and continued her search. She attempted to obtain information from every passenger at the train station. Also all investigations with the Red Cross did not help. Chaim and the rest of the young men did not return.

Of this entire multi–branched family, only Aharon and the youngest sister Sonya (Sos'l) were saved, and are to be found in The Land.


[Page 424]

Alter Pasman

By Sh. Zweiman

 

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R' Alter Pasman settled in Sarny when there was not even a city there yet, only a railroad station, or a ‘polstanok’ as it was called in Czarist Russia.

Being very strongly connected to the settlement, Mr. Pasman, for years, loyally represented the Jewish populace to the municipal authorities. He was an elected ‘Lavnik’ (member of the Council) in the Magistrate and in the course of many years, of the Polish rule in Sarny.

He consistently would pay attention to Jewish troubles, defended the interests of the ranks of the Jewish poor, and represented the Jewish manual laborers in Sarny.

Mr. Pasman had a large family and raised fine children. Being tied to his city and his home, he and his wife remained in Sarny and were tragically wiped out along with the entire Jewish population.

When we returned to Sarny from the evacuation, on September 1, 1944, exactly on the first anniversary of the tragedy of the extermination, Dr. Tashchevikov, who collaborated with the Hitlerist murderers, told us that when they had opened one of the three mass graves, Alter Pasman lay on the top.


Ze'ev Pikman

By Shlomo Ben–Tzadok

R' Velfl son of Eliezer Pikman, brother–in–law of R' Ziskind Gamerman and R' Yitzhak Zandweiss, came to Sarny from Dąbrowica, and built his house on Ulica Gorodska (opposite his house, the ORT school was subsequently built).

For most of his years, R' Velfl was an official in the forest products business. He was not particularly fortunate because his delicate wife – Sima, of the Weissblatt family of Wolodzimierz – was sick for most of her life with asthma. In the house, there were five daughters and one son. Nevertheless, R' Velfl was always content with his lot, and was a dedicated husband and father without peer. R' Velfl was a Hasid of the Stolin chain, and participated in the construction of the Stolin shtibl, being one of the ones sitting on the [sic: prestigious] eastern side, but he distanced himself from leadership and honors.

The difficult years of ‘the sorrow of raising children,’ passed, and R' Velfl began to also see nachas. His only son Moshe'l married Nechama from the city of Ljahovicy, and had two sons and two daughters, and became one of the important activists of the city. He served as the Vice Chair of the community council and was similarly active in other institutions.

The daughters married and settled down in their lives in a beautiful manner. The oldest son–in–law, Zvi Szpilszer, the owner of the first printing house in Sarny, was respected in the city as an honest man, and a Zionist activist, in the committees of the national funds, and a member of Poalei Tzion. He educated his daughter and two sons at the Tarbut school. His daughter completed her studies at the Teachers' Seminary in Vilna and was a teacher. The second son–in–law to R' Velfl, R' Israel Gamerman, the ‘Expeditor’ was beloved and respected and also served as the Hazzan during the High Holy Days, in the Great Synagogue, and at the Zionist minyan. His son–in–law Velfl Tseiler was the same. He was a good, honest man. All were dedicated to their parents and supported them with a generous hand.

Despite the fact that all members of the family were good Zionists, not one of them – because of their dedication to their parents and members of their family – left their homes. All of them remained in Sarny, and were taken out to be executed by the Nazi murderers. It was in this way that the family was exterminated without leaving behind a trace.


[Page 425]

Tirza Peczenik

By Mordechai Peczenik

 

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My mother, the Rebbetzin Tirza–Miriam Peczenik, wife of the ADMo”R R' Joseph k”z, was born in the city of Kodainov, in the Minsk Province. Her father, the Rabbi Sholom Perlov, son of the ADMo”R, R' Baruch Mordechai km”z of Kodainov, served as the Bet–Din Senior and was one of the Gaonim of his generation. He composed about 50 works in his life, among them a treatise on the ‘Zohar.’ On her mother's side, she stemmed from the lineage of the ADMo”Rs of Berezne and Chernobyl.

She was widowed in her youth, and invested her entire energy into raising and educating her sons. Fate was cruel to her, and good luck skipped over her house. She carried her suffering in silence, being a delicate soul, and possessed lofty virtues, pleasant disposition, and she swallowed her bitter fate within her.

On that Bitter Day, together with her two daughters Pearl and Malka, she walked to the Field of Death.


Chaim & Lyuba Pearlstein

By Yekhiel Salutsky

Chaim was an active member in the branch of Tze'irei Tzion and was one of the dedicated Zionist workers who were committed.

Together with his life partner Lyuba Czerniak, he was active in the Drama Circle group.

Chaim and Lyuba built their house in Sarny. Both were murdered by the Nazis together with all the martyrs of Sarny.


[Page 426]

Benjamin Kantorowicz

By Adina & Joseph

 

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The atmosphere that ran through festival days in our house is permanently before my eyes: the entire house became filled with light and joy, a white tablecloth was spread on the table, the candles in the silver candlesticks with three branches, spread light that penetrated into the depths of the soul. There was a feeling that the Divine Presence had invaded every corner. This state was reflected in the faces of all members of the family. The head of the household went to the synagogue, escorted by his sons. Here, he took his place beside the Holy Ark, and opened with a prayer. His sweet voice filled the hall of the synagogue, and amalgamated with the voices of his sons. From the women's gallery, the mother of the family looked down on them, with eyes that conveyed the sense of understanding and good–heartedness. After services, the mother rushed home to prepare the Kiddush with her daughters helping beside her.

The father tarried at the synagogue. It was up to him to seek out a guest for the festive meal. For, after all, it was not possible to return home and to feast on the victuals of the holiday, without also performing the mitzvah of Hakhnosas Orkhim.

When the feast was over, the voices of neighbors could be heard on the outside, who had gone out of their houses to take a breath of fresh air, and to snatch a bit of conversation with friends. However, in the Kantorowicz household, they would continue to sit around the table and sing songs. All of the family formed a pleasant choir. The voices broke through the open windows, and aroused the sympathy in the hearts of passers–by going to and fro.

The Kantorowicz household had a special magic. There was always an aura of quiet and good fortune in the air. Everyone knew that the members of this household stood at the ready to help anyone in need.

*

My father, of blessed memory, was a Jewish scholar, and a Karlin Hasid, a model of rectitude, possessing a good and gentle heart. He conducted himself with modesty, and was always content with his lot. He taught us children to always look down and not up, because then – he said you will always be content with your lot. He carried out the mitzvah of Gemilut Hasadim (acts of loving kindness) to its fullest. A special satisfaction, and literally a joy, befell him, at every occasion when an hour arrived that would enable him to extend his hand for Gemilut Hasadim to everyone who came to ask for it.

The collection of monies that he would allocate to various people as part of the lore of Gemilut Hasadim, naturally was a responsibility that was placed on us, the children. However, he didn't send us to collect the money, but literally at the last minute when it was necessary to travel to Warsaw for the purpose of buying goods for the store. When the children grew up a little, they would grumble about this custom concerning the responsibility of going about to collect the money. However, father k”z, with his good smile, would say to them: when you grow up and become adults, you will understand how much it helps a person if they are able to hold onto money for an additional hour.

His manner of receiving guests was also well known. He never let a Sabbath go by, without entertaining a guest, which he would bring, as was the custom in those days, from the synagogue on the night of the Sabbath after prayer services. I will never forget the Sabbath nights at my father's house, the table set with Sabbath foods, and the singing, which all the children sang together as a choir.

And the night of the Seder at my father's house, when he donned the white kittl, and sat on the reclining sofa, and looked like a king! He always had something to add to the Haggadah for the children, in order to make clear to us everything that was not understood.

An atmosphere of respect for father and mother pervaded our house. Our father educated us to love the tradition, the people, and The Land. Every one of the children studied at the Tarbut school, and was active in the Zionist movement. Who does not remember our Rosa, the owner of that good and heartwarming smile, beloved of all who knew her? And when she married our cousin, Israel, and moved to live in Warsaw, her house there was open to all. And who does not remember Miriam (Mir'eleh) Kantorowicz, who was active in HaShomer HaTza'ir, and worked so much for the national funds. She married Bon'czik Barzam. And Mordechai, the man of pleasant disposition, and genteel soul, and his family. And last – last of all, little Batya'leh, the ‘old–age daughter’ who exceeded them all in grace and with her virtues.

This was a Zionist household, and it was in this spirit that the children were educated. The father donated generously to all the fund–raising of those funds connected with the Yishuv in the Land of Israel. He dreamt of the settlement of the family in The Holy Land. For this purpose, he sent off his oldest son. This was supposed to lay the groundwork for the arrival of the entire family. However, fate brought the World War, and nullified all these plans. The entire family was exterminate, and with them, all these hopes and aspirations were buried.

The heart aches, aches, for all those cut off from the land of the living at the hands of the Nazi beasts of prey.


Reuveni'kheh

By Pua Golomba–Yanait

I never knew her real name. We nicknamed her Reuveni'kheh, because that is what we called her in our house.

She was a wondrous persona. As is recalled by all émigrés of Sarny, Reuveni'kheh concerned herself with the mitzvah of obtaining the release of those imprisoned, and redemption of the captures of those who had crossed the border from Russia to Poland, that had been tossed to our city, which was close to that border. She would provide kosher food to these captives who were interred in the local jail near the city.

She was tall, frail in build and sickly. Her good eyes were suffused with perpetual sorrow, and on her brow, a heavy shadow of worries and tribulations that were unending. Her face was worn, despite the fact that she was yet young, but they conveyed an inner beauty that enchanted and bolstered the heart.

Her daily life was difficult. The sorrow of raising sons, barely eking out a living, fragile health, and despite all this, she was rigorous in her great care in carrying out the mitzvah of redeeming the captures.

In my inner eye, I see her good smile on her lips, as she would come every Friday to our house to receive Challahs, and other comestibles for the prisoners, in order to make the Sabbath a bit more pleasant for them, and God forbid, that they not be fed non–kosher food. Without indication to do so, she would run around from place to place, and spend complete nights in order to obtain the help needed for these prisoners, and ease the suffering they had to endure behind bars.

With near reverence, my mother, may she be separated for life, would receive her, and relate to her as to a great virtuous woman among Jewry.

Reuveni'kheh was in the habit of approaching my father k”z with requests, efforts, and for the purpose of evaluating suggestions with regard to the imprisoned. My father k”z, even when his time was spoken for, never turned her away empty–handed, but rather ran to the judges and commandants, in order to obtain the release of one prisoner or another.

She did not know how to read or write, but despite this, she never forgot their names or the names of their relatives, or the place of domicile of the prisoners, and from whence they came. She had a warm heart and an excellent memory.

On one occasion, I asked to talk to her after she had transacted with my father. They had talked about a certain communist from Dąbrowica, whom they were preparing to send to prison in Rivne. My father explained to her, that this time, he had to decline to help, because he did not have the reach to help because the communists stand to bring tragedy to Jewry. When she heard these words from my father, she burst into silent weeping. Her lips trembles, and mumbled something hard to have deciphered. After a short break, she turned to my father k”z with these words: ‘Pesach'keh Tateh, take pity! You are correct in that he transgressed because he is a communist, but because he is a Jew, he most certainly did not sin. A Jewish son, is a Jewish son.’

My father k”z sat in his place and did not utter a sound. The words and tears of Reuveni'kheh swayed him. He got dressed, and the two of them left the house. A time later, the young man was set free, and he went over into Russia, and this closed that chapter. Reuveni'kheh's victory was complete.

Because of her modesty, she never once told about these wondrous deeds. She did not speak Polish, but she did know a bit of Ukrainian. Despite this, she would enter the prison premises without interference from the jailers, who treated her with courtesy. Even they, who were a scourge to the Jews, understood her honesty and the goodness of her heart.

How fortunate she felt, when she would encounter one of her prisoners who had been set free, taken care of, and content with their lot. Her face radiated good fortune, as she would recollect this one who was in danger, or another one who was in jail, and now they are free.

She dreamt of making aliyah to The Land, and of building a house there, but did not realize this. She was plucked and savaged by the bloodthirsty Nazi beast.


Israel & Chaya Rosenfeld

By Yaakov Rosenfeld

Yesterday, my daughter came back from kindergarten, with the following question on her lips: ‘Abba! Did you have a mother? Did you have a father? Where are they? Where are my grandfather and grandmother?’

And I – a shudder ran through my body. I was tongue–tied, and repeated her question: ‘Where are they?’ And as I stroked her blond hair, my answer was transported far, far away to the near past, (missing word) so terrifying and earth–shattering.

I had attached the portraits of my father and mother to the wall in my small house, in order that their glance shine down on us, in order that we derive some pleasure from their good smile, that had been permanently stopped. There are times when I think that the picture undergoes change, its colors obtaining a different appearance, more dusky, and the entire picture darkens. The winkles in my father's face seem to have multiplied, and his blond beard has darkened, and the smiling look in my mother's eyes appears to have vanished, that look which was so good and calming. They are more anxious, and the look is piecing and cries out.

I wonder about these changes: is it my own perception that has changed, or is it their appearance that has changed with the passage of time? I know one thing: that silent stare talks to my heart and asks: ‘Dear son, why did you abandon us?’

The year was 1940. I had returned to the home of my parents after I had left it to train myself for a new life, and to then realize it. Once again my father grabbed my hand, as in past days since I was a child, I (missing word) on his hand, and heard his words: ‘You will grow up here, my son, from this day onward, and we will live together in the city, you will go to school here, you will learn, find friends and comrades, and a new life.’ However, today, the issues are different: I (missing word) on my father's hand, with each of us walking beside his companion, being of one mind in expressing ourselves. For me, the son, it is my lore, my thoughts, and my way into life. Me, I am completely full of temerity and desire for change, and he, my father, ossified on his position, trying to instruct and explain. My father's body sank after I made my intentions clear: ‘Father, this is the path I have chosen.’ His eyes sank, and his lips mumbled: ‘There is no compassion in your heart… I thought you would be understanding, and you would not leave me at a time like this.’

And now, at the time I look at your pictures, I realize how difficult the parting was for you. You were weak, and the terror of the times hovered over your heads. You wanted your son to be at your side, and I did not come down to end of your idea. I knew, that as you lay on your beds at night, you thought about your son, who had abandoned you to old age without anyone to depend on. Mother, I heard your mournful sighs from a distance: ‘Today's times, today's children.’

You did not engage in business, my father, you were a laboring man. You wanted your son to be your support during days of crisis, and to be a partner in happy times. You called to me again, but I did not return. I am certain, however, that before you descended to the nether reaches of the pit, while you were still confined in that accursed ghetto, and you (missing word) that would extend help to you, and gainsay your dignity, at the time you faced death, you begged him to come and put an end to your suffering – you thought of me, the son, and prayed for my well–being, and you were satisfied that I stood by my stubbornness, to wander off to faraway places, in order to remain a free man.

As I wandered along ways that were not even ways, mostly hungry and naked, in the forests of Kursk, Bransk, and the hinterlands of Siberia, your prayer accompanied me: ‘Lord, watch over this lad, and spare him from all danger and all malign forces.’ During my many wanderings, and suffering without end, I heard your prayers, and in them, I took solace.

Opposite your pictures, my martyred parents, the will beats inside of me to tell you: straighten out your gaze, let go of the anger! It is I, your son, who stands before you. It is I, the one who will continue to weave the fabric of your lives anew.

 

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