Yakov Abel, ben Shimon (Ein Shemer)
Translated from Hebrew by Dr. Ettie Zilber
Edited by Anita Frishman Gabbay
September 1915. The pressure of the German military on the Russian forces continued to increase. The penetration of the Russian army at the eastern front [Prussia] blocked the advancing army[German] but they[Russian] suffered defeat with many casualties. This was their downfall, well known to the Czar, near Tanenberg.
Right afterwards, the German army penetrated deeper into Lithuania and captured Kovno, with her famous fortress, and the entire region.
The Russians retreated in chaos and in haste. The Germans continued to attack and advance to Vilna and its environs.
The Jewish towns in the area of Sventzian passed from hand to hand. The Cossacks took advantage of the situation and demonstrated their heroism by pouncing upon defenseless Jews and pillaged their property.
In the nearby town of Postavy, a pogrom took place against the Jewish population. Postavy refugees escaped to Haydutishok and told us about the events that took place in their town. Fear overcame the Jews [of the town] when they heard what took place in the nearby community.
After a few days Haydutishok remained without any government, neither civil nor military. The
Pristav [inspector or commissioner] and the police left the town together with all the officials of the government in great haste. All the Jews were in fear, shock and distress. The disaster of Postavy reminded them of the days of Kishinev [antisemitic progrom].
A few days passed, one morning in the days of autumn, suddenly, they informed us that dozens of wildly carousing Cossacks were heading towards the town.
The Jews immediately began to leave their homes and searched for places to hide in the nearby villages. Many escaped to Stoyatishok, an agricultural village. Others left for Dzhikevines, where a few Jewish families were located.
And here a miracle took place, the Cossacks didn't have the time to execute their plot. A nonJew came running into town and told the Cossacks that he saw a German soldierpatrol wandering in the area. The Cossacks didn't delve to investigate or demand proof, immediately when they heard from this nonJew the word Nimtz, they disappeared like a smokescreen on their horses, and the Jews of Haydutishok were saved from a terrible calamity.
The Jews who abandoned their homes and managed to take with them just a few small packages of food products, started to return slowly to the town from the nearby villages and hid themselves behind locked doors and shuttered windows.
The threat of death passed, with a prayer in their hearts! The town, God forbid, could not remain without the necessary authorities and the Cossacks need to be prevented!
It was during the eve of Yom Kippur, in the morning hours. The German advanceparty entered in military order, with bayonets mounted and started to organize themselves in the market square. The first platoon was the mounted Hussars.[horse=cavalry]
The Jews peeked out of the cracks of their windows and doors and watched as they jumped down from their horses, looked at the maps and discussed something among themselves. After a short time, a flow of German soldiers entered the town from all sides: infantry, artillery, cavalry. They flowed like ocean waves in a storm, endlessly. All these heavy enormous troops passed through the first streets of the town and it seemed as if they had no intention of stopping and remaining permanently.
Some Jews dared to poke their noses outside the house and learned that, to their great surprise, the German soldiers were hungry, thirsty and were in a state of exhaustion
After about an hour, we realized that they were breaking into the warehouses and stores and taking everything that came into their hands. They were especially searching for all sorts of food products. Since it was Erev Yom Kippur, they found nourishing and abundant foodstuffs. They gorged on all the challas and the kaparot [chickens used for the Yom Kippur ceremony] and actually devoured everything they found.
The Jews found themselves in a bad situation, just before the feast to ‘break the fast’. The soldiers came in waves, some leaving and others entering. They conducted careful and detailed searches, but without threats or aggressiveness. The looting was not accompanied with violence. Among the soldiers there were even some who paid for the products with the German Mark, which no one knew its value at the time.
After a brief discussion, we realized that they were in retreat from the Vileyka front where they suffered a terrible defeat. They planned to set up camp in the area of the forest region near Haydutishok,
since our city was just on the border of the frontline that was established and settled, and continued all the way to Dvinsk (Dinaburg) in Latvia. There were no changes at this line until the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917.
From the other side of the line, the Russians established a defensive line and for more than 3 years, the two camps conducted stubborn and irritating trench warfare without moving or dislocating one another, even one foot, despite the heavy attacks that took place from time to time.
Slowly Haydutishok was changed into a very important strategic point for a main military base near the front. The town was chosen as a military center for the rear, and as an emergency station for those injured in battle.
In order to hospitalize the sick and injured the Germans confiscated 3 synagogues with ‘years in the chain of Jewish history’ that were located in the town. The Germans put up a barbed wire fence in order to divide the hospital and the only synagogue which they left for the use of the worshippers. Despite the inappropriate proximity, there were no disturbances or special actions by the soldiers toward the crowd of worshippers.
Meanwhile the rainy season arrived, the animals and the soldiers servicing the base were in need of appropriate lodging. Those in charge of civil affairs in the commander's administration decided to confiscate all the public buildings and here and there also some private houses.
This was considered an [life altering] order and many Jews were forced out of their homes and remained without a roof over their heads. The congestion in the buildings was suffocating. Each family absorbed tenants and additional tenants and only residents from the small and dilapidated shacks didn't have the benefit of neighbors or neighbors of neighbors.
The Germans also put farmers into barns and in warehouses and many soldiers stayed in their homes.
Usually all of these confiscations were conducted politely and in a very fair manner. Just here and there someone suffered some violence and evilness and of course there was no shortage of evidence of their distinct antisemitism.
From the first day of the entry of the German army into Haydutishok until the last minute before the big expulsion there was a complete night curfew, that began in the early evening hours. All the citizens suffered from this, even the Christian residents would close their houses.
Throughout the entire time and at every hour of the day there was a policy of no exit and no entry to the town without a special pass from the commander.
These passes were given only in extraordinary and very urgent cases and mainly for public needs. That's the way, for example, we received a pass to travel to Sventzian on Erev [night before] Pesach to bring flour to bake matzot.
The difficult and worrisome problem was the question of what will we eat. On this subject of provisions, the situation got worse from day to day. All the food products which were stored from the beginning of the war, continued to disappear. Even the storehouses of the farmers were empty. A great portion of the harvest from the fields were smashed and robbed at the outbreak of the war. If someone succeeded in bringing into town a bit of produce, he paid dearly for it.
Only after great efforts could flour be acquired in exchange for gold and its value continued to escalate in those days. Many families suffered from malnutrition and lack of food, were it not for the soldiers and tenants, they would really have died of starvation.
It turns out that, interestingly, lodging the soldiers in their homes this time saved the situation. In those days the army received excellent supplies and they were given an abundance of food. The entire population was fed from the army divisions' leftovers. The Germans fed the horses brown sugar and this commodity quickly captured the attention of the citizens.
The general situation remained very bad, despite everything, because, it was impossible to earn a living over a long period of time, for a population of about 2,000 people. They survived only from the leftovers of the soldiers' food.
From the moment the military authorities entered the town they started to concern themselves with quotas of workers from among the citizens. They demanded forced labor of all the men from an early age and wouldn't exempt even the most elderly.
The forced labor was characterized by snow removal from the railroad tracks, cleaning of the streets, digging trenches, but also building sidewalks on the main streets and making various improvements in the town.
All the citizen workers were sent to the army according to a certain order. In order to carry out the demands of the army and to ensure that the order would be fair, the commander of the militia appointed a citizen and dumped the job of supervising the work. At the head of the militia was Yudel Hartzen.
The civilian workers did not receive any payment for their work. Only by chance, did some enjoy food from the leftover food or from other products.
Christian residents were also taken for this slave labor and the Jews served as translators. In this respect the Yiddish language helped them a lot and thanks to that they found a common language with the Germans.
The commander officially recognized the local Rabbi, Rabbi Popol [may his memory be a blessing], as the only leader of the Jewish people. He was accepted and loved by all strata of the local population and also the Christians related to him with respect. He had deep knowledge of German language and culture and was considered by the military authorities an important civilian personality.
When the army entered Haydutishok, for some reason the family of Rabbi Popol came out of their permanent apartment and was lodged with us.
I was then a young boy of 12 and I was very proud of our new tenants and I saw this as a special honor that was granted to us.
From time to time high officers came to the Rabbi to consult with him about all types of issues or to give him instructions for various requirements, and I would watch with pride how they would salute the Rabbi with a full military salute.
Rabbi Popol slowly converted into an important intermediary for the Jewish population. The peace was disturbed by the horrible question: what would be the fate of the Jews of Haydutishok if these living conditions continued for a long time?
Once when he stood in front of the commander, General Von Etzel, who lived in the priest's house next to the church, he reached out to him regarding all perspectives of the Jewish problem. The General suggested something extremely farfetched.
From a military standpoint, the General's opinion was appropriate, he wanted the Jews to agree to leave the town voluntarily.
The town was located on the main frontline and they[the townsfolk] could possibly be injured when the battles restarted.
The German General promised Rabbi Popol to find safe places for his people in other occupied areas of central Lithuania.
The military authorities would make contact at with the heads of other Jewish communities and would travel with them to take care of their absorption and lodging [for the Jews of Haydutishok].
Rabbi Popol responded strongly to the General's suggestion and expressed his opinion that it sounds like a general expulsion of all the Jews. The Rabbi proved also that this proposal contains clear discrimination for the nonJewish population.
The General, who was known as a Jewhater, justified himself and said that the Christian citizens didn't cause the authorities any significant problems. The large majority of them were farmers who worked their land and the question of supplies didn't constitute any obstacle for them.
It was our bad luck, during those days, a young soldier was caught spying and passing information to the Russians and during his interrogation he reported that one of the Jews from Haydutishok collaborated with him.
Until today we are not sure whether this was a plot and used only as a deception. For the German command the soldier's information was enough to be suspicious of the Jews and to be vigilant.
This spying issue decided the fate and the military expelled all the Haydutishok Jews as fast as possible.
The order was given and the authorities decreed that all the Jews had to leave the town without exceptions.
Despite this, two families received passes to remain; they were the Yaffe and Frabuznik families. One acquired the release because he was seriously ill and the other for a birth.
From the beginning they were given passes only on a temporary basis, but afterwards they remained.
These two families, Yaffe and Frabuznik, were used throughout the war like gatekeepers for the whole Jewish community.
The expulsion was carried out in the month of June, 1916. The Jews of Haydutishok were torn from their town in two large columns. Those expelled received permission to take their possessions without limit. Actually, they couldn't take everything and many were impoverished as they were forced to leave valuable property in their homes.
The two columns travelled in transport trains accompanied by military guards. Midway the guards became strict and they didn't allow anyone to leave the wagons.
The first column was brought to the area of Vilkovishk, Virblin and Kibert. The second convoy came to the towns: Mariampole, Pren and Viblvirishuk.
The Jews of these towns already knew in advance about the arrival of the exiles. At the train stations various activists waited for them and immediately took care to house and feed them.
All those who were expelled were given the name ‘refugees’ and throughout all the years this was the way the Jews of Haydutishok were recognized by the Jewish veteran population.
Only part of those who were expelled returned to Haydutishok at the end of the First World War. Many remained in Lithuania even afterwards and integrated nicely into the life of the Jewish community in the state of Lithuania [which was established at that time].
The returnees to Poland quickly rebuilt their homes and slowly started their economic renewal.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, when the area was transferred to the Red Army, many families were reunified. But the claws of Hitler's animals caught them some years later and brought upon the Jewish community in Haydutishok death, destruction and extermination.
The bones of the victims of Haydutishok are laid to rest in the mass grave of Poligon, where they were slaughtered, together with Jews of the entire province of Sventzian by these filthy [bastards]. Only a few of us succeeded in escaping and they are here with us in the State of Israel.
Rafael Yaffe, Rehovot
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
Edited by Rhoda Miller
Our town which in the Russian language was called Gaydusciski, in Polish, Haydusciski, and in Yiddish, Haydutishok, was situated 118 kilometers to the northeast of Vilna, along the train line of Vilna to Podbrodz, Lintup, Postov, Gluboke and Krulevzhine.
A small river ran through the town called Kameika. Thanks to the water mill that belonged to the Friedlander family, together with its dam, made the lake appear much larger.
According to older generations, the story was that this land was the estate of a noble family and only at the beginning of the 18th century, the land was parcelled and divided and the first peasant farmers settled on this spot.
The settlement enlarged itself and by 1914, before the First World War, the population was about 2000 souls, Lithuanians, WhiteRussians and Jews.
There were about 300 Jewish families, who were mostly shop keepers, sellers of various goods, artisans and particularly, agents in the flax trade.
The flax industry employed almost the entire folk. Whether Jewish or Christian, this trade employed the largest part of the population.
In 1916 the entire Jewish population was evacuated and sent to Lithuanian towns, mostly in Mariampole and its surroundings.
Right to left: Yosef Feigelson, Pesach Volatski, Yehutiel Perlis, Moishe Yacov Kuritzki, Abraham Kuritzki, Dovid Yoel, Ruben Kuritzki, Heshel Kurliandtshik
The Haydutishoker Jews already felt the might of the Germans and saw the destruction they could bestow on the Jewish folk.
In 1919 some families returned. But the war continued along with different regime changes. This caused hunger and deprivation.
Slowly Jewish life returned. The economic situation renewed itself and life slowly returned to normal. The flax trade was centralized in Haydutishok, warehousing, transport, processing, etc. blossomed. The export of flax became an important commodity all over the world.
They also provided raw materials
which was sent to many Polish factories. There it was processed, sorted and cleaned, all the raw flax from the entire region.
Thanks to the development of this industry, many depended on it for their primary source of income. The Jews were the traders, foremen and merchants, the Christians were the shakers and the packers. In high season the industry employed thousands of workers.
Each firm had their own Christian workers and were on friendly terms with them, we even invited them to our simchas, we thought these relationships would last forever.
Several Polish families also established themselves in Haydutishok. They were civil servants or police. Even some White Russians arrived.
Most of the Poles were either open or masked antiSemites. They were jealous of the economic success of the Jewish people. Heavy taxes were levied but the Jews couldn't object.
Haydutishok had the same ideals towards culturebuilding [cultural development] as all the other towns of the region.
In 1922, T.I.S.H.A. [organization for Yiddish schools] from Vilna founded a Yiddish folk shul. A devoted following, led by the pharmacist Ruben Brash, centered around the school.
Special mention to its devoted founders: Pinchas Ruben, Pesach Volatzki, Peretz Yaffe, Shabach Solomyak, Lipman Gordon, Shmuel Yehuda Katcherginski and others, who gave their heart and soul for the continuation of the Yiddish language and culture. At the same time a Yiddish library was founded, which was endowed with a large collection of important Yiddish texts and also literature [Yiddish] from the broader world.
At the end of 1922, the Vilna Jews arrived and founded the Tarbut school on the same platform as the other Tarbut schools in Lithuania.
Yerachmiel Katz stood at the head of its Hebrew instruction, who now is the director of a middleschool, Hugim, in Haifa.
The others founders were: Yerachmiel Katz, Elihu Volatzki, Israel Reichel, Rochel Kurlandtshik, Rafael Yaffe, Zalman Abel, Berel Fisher, Feiga Svirski, Yerachmiel Lubatski, Yacov Svirski, Yehoushe Ferevoznik Bertha Kuritzki and other sympathizers for the development of its youth, to teach them Hebrew, to become pioneers and to build our own land in Eretz Israel. A meeting of all the Zionist organizations was organized and it produced positive results. During the holidays our initiative to implement our plan began.
The youth went from house to house to convince the parents to send their children to the Tarbut school.
Many were receptive, others laughed: You want to teach them the Holy tongue? Do you want them to become Rabbis?
In a matter of two weeks, thirtyfive children registered and we did all we possessed to make the start of the school year a success.
Left to right: on top: Moishe Ferevoznik, Yerachmiel Katz, Yehuda Ferevoznik, Yerachmiel Lubatzki, Meir Fridlander, Leib Reichel, Yehoushe Ferevoznik
Sitting: Basia Kutnik, Etel Ichiltchik, Sheina Shneiderovitch, Beti Kuritzki, Rochel Kutnik, Zalman Abel
The difficult part was to find a suitable building and appropriate teachers.
Luckily we found a devoted and sympathetic teacher from a Hebrew school, Abraham Abel, zl. He gave us a building, now the question was how to repay him? The building served as a school and in the evenings we held group meetings of Tzeirei Zion and Ha'Halutz. Later the library was added with many Hebrew books. The Zionist library was founded after many difficulties, with the proceeds from evenings, meetings and lotteries [to raise funds to buy the books].
Most of the children of the town studied in the Hebrew school and were fortunate to make Aliyah and thus were rescued from the tragedy that descended upon our Jewish people.
A Zionist spirit was instilled and a direction to further our Jewish identity was promoted.
Many were saved because of this.
A Gemillut Hesed bank also existed in Haydutishok, thanks to Avigdor Dan, Chaim Pesach Gantovnik and Yosef Gitlitz, to which they devoted much of their time. Thanks to them they helped many unfortunate Jews
overcome either bad luck or other unfortunate situations.
The Gemilut Hesed helped mostly workers, artisans, medium wageearners and the poor and widowed families.
In later years, a mixed committee of Zionists and Yiddishists founded a wind orchestra.
It was comprised of: Berel Shmid, Abraham Elihu Abel, Yitzhak Yaffe, Zalman Abel, Rafael Yaffee, Michal Patashnik, Leib Kushlin, Michal Oistreich, Elihu Katz, Melech Strikufski.
We should also mention those families, righteous and devoted, who tirelessly gave of their time to the Tarbut school, the Zionist organizations, the Keren Kayemet and the Keren Hisud; they were, Abraham Kuritzki z'l, Yoschev Rash from KerenHisud, the Heshel Kurlandtchik family, the Roni Volotzki family and his son Elihu, Yoschev Rash from the parents' committee, the Shimon Reichel family, the MendelBer Abel family, the Abraham Abel family, son of Abraham Katz and many, many others.
An episode of the first Aliyah from Haydutishok in 1924, Itel Ichilchik, now in Moshav Herut, TelMond [Sharon plain, Israel] 1924; one beautiful summer evening we said our goodbyes at the train station, the friends of Halutz and Tzeirei Zion returning home were singing songs on top of their lungs and were arrested by the police. They were detained the entire night for disturbing the peace.
The orchestra helped the community with all its performances, special evenings, and various presentations, making sure they were a success.
Haydutishok also had their own Jewish firefighting society which had a dual duty to fulfill.
First it needed to provide immediate help when a fire broke out, second its mission was to serve when there was local unrest, like attacks or pogroms.
It is important to note the episode with the firefighters: in 18701880, there were huge fires in the shtetl, and after one such great fire, the firefighters of Sventzian donated a pompe /machine that needed to be dragged by hand and also a pessel [watercarrier] to carry water. Eventually we managed to buy another machine, which
was wheeled on three wheels, and another few water carriers on two wheels.
Before the First World War the involved were: Hanan Yoel, Chaim Pesach Gantovnik, Avigdor Dan and others. Every summer we learned the lively pazarnikes [firefighters=they used to sing lively songs as they worked].
After the First World War we got new equipment, like a motorized machine/pompe, which drew water from the river and reached the market square. We also built a new building for these machines. Again we should mention the devoted volunteers: Peretz Yaffe, Meir Reichel, Shmuel Yehuda Katcherginski, Rafael Yaffe, Chaim Pesach Gantovnik, Meir Gordon, Abraham Elihu Abel, Zvi Perlis, BenZion Perevoznik, Gershon Yaffe.
Later it [firefighting] was ripped out of our Jewish hands and taken over by our bloody enemies, the Lithuanian hooligans.
This is how life unfolded in the shtetl until the year 1939.
Before the outbreak of World War 11, Poland mobilized an army and 32 young Jewish men from Haydutishok were conscripted. Six died in this short time, which was in the first weeks of September 1, the battle between Germany and Poland.
Their names were: Israel Oistreich, Moishe Bas, Israel Patashnik, Beinush Shapiro, Ezriel Kuritzki and a son of Hillel Disner.
The Jewish soldiers who returned home, recounted, that our friends fought valiantly against the bloodthirsty enemy and instinctively felt they were fighting against the greatest and most brutal enemy the Jewish people would ever encounter. This was a short but bitter battle between men and wild beasts, which descended in the middle of the night [without warning].
The PolishGerman war didn't last long. The Polish army capitulated very soon and the nightmare unfolded upon the Jews of Poland!
September 18, 1939, the mechanized Russian army marched into Haydutishok. At first the Jewish people welcomed them with open arms, as we were scared of the Germans and we considered the Red Army as liberators of those Nazi beasts.
The first days we were hopeful that they were our saviours.
The Sovietization of the shtetl began and we started to endure difficulties.
Slowly all the shops were emptied. We sold the goods at low prices and the money we earned was not sufficient to buy anything.
The flax, grain and fruit trade was handed over to the newlyopened cooperatives and the former merchants had no choice in this matter.
The former richJew homes were seized, and they [the Jews] had to resettle into tight quarters outside the shtetl.
On the other hand, the socalled proletarian part of the Jewish population was pleased. They immediately got regimeposts and became policemen, administrators, trade officials and officers in the political parties.
From the other side we can underline some humane facts. A Jewish lad, who was the commander of the police, came to review and look for stolen/hidden merchandise. He barely looked and left without revealing anything.
This was only one of the incidences. On the other side the former bosses were sent to work in a different place and one didn't know what the next day would bring [for the former wealthy entrepreneurs].
April 10, 1940, many divisions of police and N.K.V.D. from Russia arrived at the train station of Haydutishok. This meant the beginning of a great disaster.
April 11, 1941, thirteen wagons with chimneys arrived at the train station, that how these transportwagons were called. They had ovens. We began to tremble, and instinctively felt that something important was going to happen.
We didn't know what and when. The former so called rich ones got together to make a plan, they all knew very well the difficult journey they were about to embark on.
That day was muddy, raining, a dreary Friday, my last day in Haydutishok.
First they gathered all the rich people and made them clean the mud off the streets and from the market square and clean the snow from the railway lines.
A good [Hagas] friend warned me to leave the shtetl but I wanted to face our situation, I didn't want to run away.
The Action was to take place at 12 midnight, we were going to be deported to Siberia.
Together with my wife we started to prepare some useful things as well as food, said our goodbyes to our nearest and dearest and waited for the police to come for us like those guilty of a crime.
We didn't sleep that night and waited for them to come and take us. The night seemed endless, daylight came and no one arrived. About 1 o'clock in the afternoon a police with several soldiers came to us. No one went in, no one went out. The process started when they read from a list, although the officer knew my entire autobiography, [he made himself stupid and asked] he questioned me: where do I live, how old am I, my father's name, my mother's name, and other things. In the end he showed me some respect and told me the administration decided to send me to another place in Russia. We were allowed to take 100 kilograms with us. He told us to get ready and he accompanied us to the train station.
The whole procedure took less than 2 hours, the soldiers had rifles and they pushed us along with bayonets, just like criminals.
April 13, 1940, Friday, Shabbat, twelve at night: these were the Jews of Haydutishok that were deported:
In the end we departed. Our belonging were thrown into the wagons and we walked alongside. The soldiers were pointing their rifles at us like we were the most dangerous criminals.
Our younger brother Gershon and his wife joined us along the way. When Gershon saw the rifles pointed at us he stopped, and stubbornly insisted he would not continue unless the rifles were placed on their backs.
The commander of the group decided to comply, as he saw that Gershon was very stubborn.
We passed the streets and the market place, our friends saying their last goodbyes through stares or a blinking of an eye.
Two scenes remain etched in my memory; my fatherinlaw, Elihu Katz, z'l, standing at his door shaking his head, hoping that we will survive and signalling to stay strong.
The second, our Polish friend Dashkevitch, with whom we lived in friendly relations. When we crossed the bridge, he [Dashkevitch] waited for us, when he saw us he took off his hat, cried like a child and yelled: Oy, Boze Mei, Boze Mei.
We couldn't answer him as we walked like statues and were afraid to be beaten.
When we arrived at the train station,
we were greeted by closed wagons, packed with people and luggage, surrounded by soldiers. Our watchman opened a door and threw our packages into the wagon and then pushed us in.
The space was overcrowded. There was no water and no place for personal necessities.
There were fiftyfour people in our wagon, women and children all screaming and crying in loud voices. The other wagons were also filled to capacity with the same crying and screaming. We overnighted at the station and from that first evening we knew our new lives were going to be filled with cold, thirst, hunger, and darkness [gloom]. Sunday morning a friend approached us and gave us something to eat. They told us it was very difficult to reach us and bring us this food and other items.
The wagons remained in the station until twelve o'clock Sunday. We later found out we were waiting the arrival of the transport from Sventzian and Lyntup.
When the transport arrived, our wagon was attached to the others. The military stood guard, with machineguns and stretched out rifles. They stood on both sides of the railway tracks to make sure that none of the civilian population dared to free us.
A large crowd leaving the church also assembled.
They stopped to watch our departure to Siberia, the crowds stood linedup on all the platforms.
About one in the afternoon we started to move from the Haydutishok station, passing the melancholy landscape, our depressed streets and houses; this was our last memory fading before our eyes. Everyone started to wail, tears were flowing and the sounds pierced the entire region. The crowds also started to scream,
wail and cry in sympathy with the deported.
Far until the Komai station, thousands of people waited and greeted the passing train. The screams from within the wagons mixed with the protests of those left behind created a terrible commotion and angry protest against the brutal treatment.
The people [also the Christians] instinctively felt that they were saying their last goodbyes and they will never see us again.
That day, Sunday, is very difficult to describe but even harder to forget.
That was my last day in Haydutishok and in such a tearful manner I had to depart from my beloved home of my birth.
No one could predict, at that time, that those remaining will suffer a far worse fate than those deported and will be murdered in various sadistic and nonhuman [bestial] ways.
Shabtai Abel, Ein Shemer
Translated from Hebrew by Dr. Ettie Zilber
Edited by Anita Frishman Gabbay
Our town Haydutishok was a neighbor, equidistant between the towns of Sventzian and Postavy; Postovy to the east and Sventzian to the west. The town of Vidz neighboured to the north and the Lintupy train station wrapped around the town and closed her[Haydutishok] off from the south. The entrance to the town was from the south side, from the train station, the line that led from Vilna to Krulevchine.
The town [Haydutishok] benefitted due to the continuous connection with Vilna and with other Polish towns, which gave it an advantage over all the towns in the area.
The train station fulfilled an important economic and commercial function in the life of the town, and due to this, merchants arrived and goods exited the town, mainly flax, to Vilna and abroad.
The town was built on two hills. Between these two hills stretched a wide valley through which flowed the river Kamika. Forests and lakes did not surround the town. The view was not poetic, the plain was an arm from which many villages stretched, all with Jews. Evidence of this is seen when every veteran family of the town was named according to their village of origin. These were the families Matzbot, Mekomai, Meshoilan, Medzikvinsh, Mazhetz, Menorkvitz; the nearby village Stoyatzishok was completely settled by Jews, farm workers and village people, until the days of the Holocaust.
The Christian population was made up of 3 nationalities: the area of Sventzian was Lithuanian, the area of Postovy, Belorussian and the third group, PureRussians[velicorussians] or panies in Yiddish. The Jewish population came in contact with all and spoke 3 languages.
After the occupation of Haydutishok by the Poles in 1921 the Polish language was added. This language was easy for the Jews of Haydutishok. The language of the Haydutishokers could not differentiate between the sh and the s. There were significant educated people who added the Polish language, but the sh and s came in shades of their own.
We, the youth in the 1920s, learned Polish in school as the national language. It was very difficult for us to get used to it, perhaps because we couldn't stand the Polish authorities. Lack of adjustment to the people of authority and to the language of the country caused a desire for independence of language and nationhood. That was the time of the flowering of the Yiddish and Hebrew languages. Even the signs on the shops and businesses were written in two languages Polish and Yiddish. From here started the directive to teach the children in the Tarbut school and of the T.H.I.SH.A, (Central Yiddish school organization). The Polish government elementary schools opened their gates free to all Jewish children but found no resonance among any Jewish child, not even the poorest child was caught in this net.
Like in all towns at that time, the market was in the middle of the town. This was the economic and business center. It was a large field which was covered in rocks, encircled by homes and shops. There were grocery shops, iron and textiles shops. Large and small shops; on market day, each Thursday, the shops would fill up with buyers, especially farmers from the area.
Market days and some annual fairs maintained the income of the townsfolk. In addition to stores,
trade in linen took place in the market. Near the farmer's wagons, the merchants, the peddlers, the agents gathered, testing, breathing and lifting the flax to the sun. After the purchase they brought it to the warehouses. There they sifted and cleaned it. Hundreds of Christian girls from nearby villages and from the shtetl's Christian population worked during the winter season in these warehouses.
This was the industrial branch of the town. The linen was packed in large rolls by special machines. This was difficult work and only young people would do this work.
In the beginning of the 1930s, a number of Jews also worked in this industry, mainly from the Leizer Nate family, a family of laborers and porters, also the younger generation who apprenticed for the pioneer youth movements who were proud and blessed by it's difficult labour [duty to fulfill for their training to immigrate to Israel].
The packed linen was transported in wagons to the train station by Jewish wagons from Vidz street.
The flax industry created an important industrial atmosphere in the marketplace, especially during the winter season. The calls of the porters, wagon drivers, workers and managers filled the entire market.
The eyes[attention] of the antiSemitic Polish authorities were on this market in Haydutishok for the worst. From time to time a rumor would be spread that they will move it to Gaydishok, the neighborhood across the river. For years it was an unresolved fight between the east and west, and the Jews feared its relocation.
In the marketplace the majority of the shops were owned by Jews. Only in one corner were Christian stores located whose roofs leaned on columns.
In the middle of the market there was a well with a hand pump, which was called flomp. This pump usually did not work and in the winter the field nearby was covered in ice and it was very dangerous to get to it. Near the well stood a pole on which there was a warning bell and they used it as a warning in case of fire.
The descent into the valley started from the marketplace to the east, the downhill. [Yiddish]. The wall of the house of Rabbi Pesach Vilotzki on one side and our house on the other side stood at the beginning of this descent. A steep descent in the middle of the town was renowned.
Those poor wagon drivers and the neighboring farmers would work hard to overcome this descent! On the way down, they had to restrain the horses and on the way up it required the energy of a man and an animal in order to reach the top [reference to a pregnant lady]. Only the experienced wagon drivers, like Yankel Abel and Baruch Shapira, moved materials to the station and from there they continued by cursing the dangerous descent.
Screams and shouts, shouts and calls, would echo every day and every hour from this place, but the height of happiness came when we, the youth, were overjoyed when a steam engine at the Fridlender station arrived. Forty horses were strapped to that steam engine. The horses were recruited from the nearby villages and were used for plowing, they didn't know how to work in a team, as a collective. Each one pulled in their own direction and immediately got what was coming to him [a beating] by the farmer near him.
The slope was like a gigantic realization of a vision to industrialize the town. Of course, when the steam engine was brought, after great efforts, the town's gain was realized. This steam engine put an end to the oil lamps in the town and it was now the age of electricity. This was actually a very special kind of electricity, pale and weak, but, it was, nevertheless, electricity.
But this slope did not cause only hardships and mishaps. It was really also a place for games and fun. On long winter nights, convoys of youth went to slide on sleds, everyone was stretched out on their back and with one pull they reached the valley, that started near the house of Rabbi Noach Frebuznik, owner of the seltzer factory, and continued until the house of Rabbi Alter.
The mountain itself that was spread over the slope was very steep, exposed, not built up, and a blocked cave was found at the foot of the slope. The people told many stories about that mountain. According to the stories there was a cemetery and it was forbidden to build on it. the children would carry out many, so called, battles to conquer the mountain. In their imagination it was really Mount Tabor [in Israel=many battles were fought].
Almost all the townspeople pumped water from the well, for those who were not willing to pump water, they hired a Christian woman to bring it with poles and pails. With a rope connected to the pail, they would pump the water from the well, which was deep and full. The water was green, really like the river, while nearby, on the eve of Pesach they would bring this water to bake the matza and then would soak the Pesach cutlery in it.
A second well was next to the home of Alter the blacksmith who was called by the name Alter Tekes Brunes [the black one]. The water was amazingly clear and all the Mehadrim [strictly kosher] would pump from it. While pumping they would bathe in the river which flowed toward the stream or they went in to have a little fun with friends from the movement, the children of Alter the blacksmith, Nachman Vlibteka. They immigrated to Palestine in the 1930s and both are no longer alive.
From the valley that ended near the homes of Rabbi Shimon Reichel and Alter the blacksmith, two streets stretched: one to Hakadarim street, a neighborhood of Tatars who dealt in leather works and in gardening, and the other to the bridge and further to Gaydishok.
Here was an entirely different world. Gaydishok was a neighborhood built on the other hill of the town. It was all planted with trees, gardens and orchards. The population was mixed: Christians and Jews lived all together. But even the Jewish families took care of their gardens and orchards. The Bass family had a garden of large fruit trees and Patashnik family had a large vegetable garden, this was really a garden[farming] neighborhood, the Christian church was seen high above, surrounded by a large brick fence and inside was a large garden that was called the priest's garden which extended to the banks of the Kamika. Big dogs would guard the garden in case anyone would enter to pick its fruit. Nevertheless, our sons dared enter, swimming in the river and sneaking into the garden to take their booty.
We loved to travel in Gaydishok every Shabbat crossing the bridge, we took great pleasure with each house and street. From there we would usually also go to the village nearby Gaydishok on the way to Postavy, to a large village that was called Neidorf. We were so envious of the residents of this village. The houses, the gardens and the field, its serenity caused us envy and we wanted to imitate them.
In the town itself there were no trees growing at all. The only tree grew on Vidz street which started from the market square and continued to the Jewish cemetery. This street didn't have anything notable about it. Its houses were low and next to them there was a walkway of broken wood, and those coming and going kept their feet off it. It was always full of mud. But for us, poor Vidz street was like a magnet. The Tarbut schools and T.I.SH.A. [Central Yiddish school organization] were actually nearby. The branches of Hechalutz [pioneers], He'chalutz Ha'ztair [young pioneers] and also Hashomer Hatzair [young guard] had a great time on this street, and as evening arrived sounds of singing or lectures would be heard . Regional meetings of Hechalutz and Hashomer Hatzair would take place on this street. The majority of residents were Delet Ha'am [the door of the people]; artisans, wagon drivers, porters, who showed respect for the youth. They were happy to see their children in the Tarbut school and in the youth movements. We would go out on trips to the open fields which stretched out far from the town, wonderful fields of linen and grain. We loved to hide inside the tallstanding grain. A sea of crops would remind us of Bialik's song in the field.. We yearned for these fields and based on this poet we would also ask: who cultivated all of this?
Abel Nachman, Perlis Shmuel, Broide Rachel, Perlis Lipman, Tzrontzki Zvi, Zeiger Bracha, Matzkin Michal, Katz Gershon, Perlis Itzhak, Ferbuznik Yehuda, Matzkin Chana, Katz Sheina, Broide Rochel(?), Svirski Zelda, Abel Moishe, Reichel Sura, Ferbuznik Miriam, Abel Shabtai, Ferbuznik Tirza
From right to left: Tirza Frebuznik, Zelda Svirski, Michal Frebuznik, ,,Rivka Lapida, Rosa Kuritzki, Zahava Tzernotzki, Chava Gitliz, Rachel Broide, Sheine Katz, Sheine Volotzki, ,,Michal Prebuznik, Miriam Fremont, Breina Glichor, Libe Abel,,Doba Gitlitz, Chana Svirski, Masha Abel, , Gershon Katz, Mina Meizel, Basia Kutnik, , , , , , Leia Abel, Pinchas Matzkin, Sheine Katz, Shalom Shapira, , , , , , , Hillel Volotzki, Nachman Abel, Yakov Svirski, Eliahu Volotzki, , teacher, teacher, teacher, Lekovitzki, Zvi Perlis, , Yosef Gitlitz, Gendel, Taibe Broida, Taibe Katz, , Risha Abel,
The longing to build Eretz Israel became overpowering at that moment. We knew that only in Eretz Israel we would be able to cultivate fields, they would belong to us; poor Vidz street and the fields around it raised our desire to fulfill our pioneering dream and many of us decided to immigrate and start a new life.
The second place for fun, was served by the little trees, to read books and play games in the summerthe grove of these trees were spread out on both sides of the Kimieka.
Because of the dam which stopped the water near the Fridlender station, the river was very narrow in this place and made it an ideal place to bathe to our young hearts' content, we took off into the fields and picked peas and beans. Many times this harvest ended in a surprised escape from the nonJew who chased us furiously, accompanied by dogs and an iron bar in his hand and murder in his eyes. We would disperse in every direction and find shelter on the other side of the little trees which bordered Gaydishok.
There was one corner of Gaydishok that we would visit infrequently. It was the Christian cemetery. It interested us mainly because of the military section with the German soldiers who were killed on the front in the First World War. It was a very well maintained section decorated with flowers. Row and rows of crosses, in surprising order, stood. In the middle of the section there was a luxurious grave with a monument in honor of Rutmister who died and was buried there. Here and there were also individual graves of Russian soldiers that the German army brought for burial. These graves had no names and written on them was only here was buried a courageous Russian soldier. These interactions with the graves of the German soldiers gave us material to think about the recent past and about the results of all wars. We could not imagine that there would be an outbreak of another horrible war seven times as horrible and it would bring on its wings a total destruction, destruction and loss of a third of our people and in addition would tear out the foundation of the buildings [Jewish community] that our forefathers established with their hard work and sweat over hundreds of years.
Shabtai Abel, Ein Shemer
Translated from Hebrew by Dr. Ettie Zilber
Edited by Anita Frishman Gabbay
In all the conferences and meetings of our townspeople pulsated the one essential question: what drove us to achieve our dream? Where was the stream from which we drew the energy to leave our parents' home years before the storm and immigrate to Eretz Israel?
The one and only answer: our inspiration came from the Zionist youth movements, Hashomer Hatzair and Hechalutz Hatzair. These movements filled us a deep feeling of hopefulness [in this town] and affinity. We had a feeling of a new movement, and thereby we rejected the ‘way of life’ in the towns of Poland and Lithuania. It pushed us to immigrate to Eretz Israel, whatever happens it will be in our own land.
The Zionist movement took us out of the degenerate village life to fulfill and complete our pioneer yearnings.
In front of my eyes ten years of the development of the Zionist youth movements in our town from 1925 to 1935 passed. These were 10 years of education of children and youth in preparation to separate themselves from a life of idleness to one of work and creativity. For this reason we went out for agricultural training, we pushed ourselves to do physical labor, we learned a profession, we worked in agriculture, we spent time in nature with the main goal to establish a new home in our ancient homeland.
The youth movement was the antithesis of village life. And that was why our fathers and older brothers, also good Zionists, didn't understand us, made fun of us and fought us. But our stubbornness and endless dedication positioned the youth movements as the center of our lives [in our town].
The hand of the movement was in everything: in the organization of the schools, in the parties, in the fundraising, and in going out to the agricultural training and for immigration. Finally, the movement gained the trust of our parents and an agreement was formed between us and them. Finally, they also understood that we found the right path. It helped so much to send letters from Eretz Israel and maintain connections with those who remained in the town.
Unfortunately and painfully, they realized too late and they couldn't manage to get out from under the claws of the voracious beast the filthy Germans.
But the youth movements didn't disappoint us even during that horrible period [Holocaust], they invigorated the spirit of revolt in the ghettos which showed the young people that were trapped, the way to the forests and to the Partisans.
The Zionist youth movement fulfilled a brilliant function even afterwards through the period of illegal immigration, the majority of its ‘students’ immediately joined by immigrating to Eretz Israel, joining the ranks of the Hagganah [army] and battled with their blood and their lives to establish the State of Israel.
,Hillel Vilotzki, Liba Abel, Hana Svirski, Hava Gitlitz, Tirza Frabuznik, Zelda Svirski, Michael Frabuznik, Arieh Vlotzki, Moshe Probuznik, Zahava Tzernotzki, Itzchak Perlis, Michael Prevoznik, Zvi Tzergotzki, Shmuel Shapira, Chaim Gordon, Tova Katz, Miriam Frabuznik,, Moshe Abel, Nachman Abel, Bracha Zeiger, Rivka Lapida, Yirachmiel Sutzkever, , Haim Svirski, Israel Patashnik, Perlis Chana, Baile Abel, Yehudit Abel, Taibe Broide, Shmuel Perlis, Reuven Ginzburg, Shlomo Yudelman, Yehudit Zeiger, Lubka Kanfer
by Shabtai Abel
Translated by Jerrold Landau and Ettie Zilber
My brother, Avraham Eliahu, was the fifth in our family. He was born in 1900, studied in the Cheder of Meir Leib and at 12 years old he was sent to the Yeshiva in Vidz. There he studied diligently [Gemara, Rabbinic decisors and Tosafot] under the Director of the Yeshiva, the renown, the smart and diligent Rabbi Leib. They used to say about Rabbi Leib that he would disparage the great sages [Ha'Gaonim][of the generation] and that they could barely learn even one page of Humash. Because of this Director, the Vidz Yeshiva was renowned throughout the region. Together with Avraham Eliahu many boys from our town studied in this Yeshiva. The learning that Avraham Eliahu received in Vidz affected him deeply for the rest of his life. There he received his spiritual foundation that guided him throughout his life.
At the outbreak of the First World War, when in 1916 the Jews of Haydutishok were chased out, including our family, we settled in Mariampole, Lithuania. The difficult living conditions in this new place, and worries about making a living, of our father Menachem-Dov, didn't allow Avraham Eliahu to continue his studies. He knew the Hebrew language very well and was familiar with its ancient and new literature, its grammar, and he continuously read new literature. He loved Bialik and the national poems of the period of renaissance. And he was also one to keep the Jewish traditions. He loved the Jewish people's customs and holidays profoundly, he was respectful of the Jews who guarded his 'God' with their deep spiritual bond.
Similarly, our firstborn brother Yishayahu Haim (z'l), studied in the Lubavich and remained all his life true to the Chasidic Lubavicher romanticism.
I remember on holidays, especially during the days of Sukkot, all of us, [Yishayahu Chaim] the Lubavicher Chasid, an honest and innocent man, Avraham Eliahu, leaning towards Mizrachi, and I, the youngest son of elderly parents, a man from Hashomer Hatzairwe all met in the succah for a [Kiddush] benediction, and that was surprising, in that despite the differences in our opposing world views [of the three brothers] we all respected one another. There was no hatred or animosity between us. The reason was: love of one's fellow Jew. Each one loved his people in his own way. Avraham Eliahu was the best of us.
He was particularly careful in obeying the Jewish laws governing interpersonal relations. He was very careful to avoid any damage to the property of a fellow Jew or gentile.
He was disgusted and protested against any misleading of one's fellow. He followed the straight path in an unparalled way. He was not a passive upright person, but rather, he fought openly and with strength for justice and propriety, and did not tolerate any compromise in that area.
Never in his life did he come in conflict with people, even those who were involved in the common good, but who he suspected were looking after their own interests.
With all of this, he was not one of the delicate people who avoided all communal affairs.
He was an industrious communal activist in many areas and set a real example for the entire region. He was active with the Tarbut school in the town, he was one of the members of the administration of the people's bank and even participated in the administration of the firefighters.
At the beginning of the 1930's, he joined the civil administration and advocated for the worker's unions, advising them to take progressive new approaches and to improve their business. He always strived for excellence in all the tasks that he accepted, he dedicated himself with all his energy, he demanded responsibility from others that participated in these institutions. His public functions in these institutions stemmed primarily from his feeling of communal responsibility, but his heart and soul was devoted to his involvement with the Keren Kayemet.
He was the deputy of the Keren Ha'Kayemet L'Israel [Jewish National Fund] for many years. He loved the Keren and collecting money for it, he wouldn't miss an opportunity or an event for the Keren. HaKeren Hakayemet bound him to Eretz Israel, its settlement, its pioneering spirit; everything to do with the Land was the center of his being.
Through this work he came in close contact with all the youth movements in the town, members of Hashomer Hatzair and the Halutz Hatzeir, he appreciated the dedication of the young members to the Keren Ha'Kayemet, loved every Zionist [without differentiating between the person's Zionist style. He would invite the veteran Zionist of the town, Reb Avraham Kuritzki to meetings and gatherings for the Keren Ha'Kayemet on the 20th and 26th of Tammuz, and would honor him with delivering the opening and bestow on him many other honors. He himself distanced himself from any honor and prominence. As stated above, he leaned toward the Mizrachi, but he was close in his heart to the Working Land of Israel- 'Eretz Yisroel haOved'. He was a working man, loving work, and honoring the worker. He was secretly distraught that most of the people of his age became middlemen and contractors in the flax trade, and shopkeepers.
He was[broad boned] and healthy and didn't exclude himself from hard work, all his days he gave of himself and worked hard together with all the family members in our bakery. At the end of his days his situation improved by marrying Dvora Kurlantzik, the daughter of Reb Heshel Kurlantzik, owner of the largest wholesale store in the city. But these good days did not last long. With the entry of the Soviets into the city in 1939, he returned to the bakery and continued the hard work together with our sister Tzvia and her husband (ZL)
His entire life he dreamed of immigrating to Eretz Israel. Already in Lithuania in 1920 with the original awakening of the He'Chalutz movement he went out with groups of youth to Hachshara[training] at the Jewish farm near Mariampole.
The days of these trainings lasted half a year. They left a deep impression on him for the rest of his life, and many of his friends immigrated to Eretz Israel. He strove with all his heart to follow them.
As has been mentioned, those days were days of great national awakening, his friends in Hachshara would appear at our house on Saturdays and holidays and would sing the songs of Zion, arguing, getting excited and returning at night to the farm and their hard labor.
Luck did not hold out for Avraham Eliahu, he was called up for the military for the young Lithuanian army. This prevented him from immigrating to Eretz Israel. In 1924 our family returned to Haydutishok[which was returned to Polish rule] together with the entire region of Sventzian. He remained in military service and only after one year snuck across the Poland-Lithuania border and joined the family. (only our brother Yakov remained in Lithuania and immigrated from there to Eretz Israel in 1929, a short while before the outbreak of the events.)
Right after his arrival Avraham Eliahu dedicated himself to rehabilitating the family and the house. He encouraged me, that since I only finished the Tarbut school in the town, to continue studying in the Teachers' college of Dr. Charna Boilena. He supervised my studies and enjoyed my accomplishments in Hebrew studies. He loved the Hebrew language and with the appearance of Hayom as a daily newspaper, he subscribed immediately and would read it from front to back.
In 1929 there were outbreaks of bloody events in Eretz Israel which caused deep trauma. His great love and concern for Zion arose with a double fervor, and he continued to rise and join the builders. Our brother Yakov who had already found his place in Bet Shemen, started to prepare the necessary paperwork. His immigration [to Eretz Israel] did not work out for a variety of reasons.
In 1934 he married Dvora Kurlantchik, entered into family life and after 2 years a son was born, Mendel Be'er (after the name of our father ZL who died the night after Yom Kippur 1934).
In 1935 I immigrated to Eretz Israel, on Saturday night [of Chazon-the night after the Sabbath prior to Tisha B'Av]. I said goodbye to my family,
to my sisters Tzvia and Sheine Rivka, to Yeshayahu Chaim and to Avraham Eliahu, I didn't know that this goodbye would be forever. Avraham Eliahu beamed with happiness, although he would not accompany me in my voyage to Eretz Israel, his feelings about immigrating and his 'envy' of me, he hid deeply, deeply within his soul.
With the outbreak of World War Two the gates closed and the world stopped. The Zionist work ended. His short letters from this period that arrived in Eretz Yisroel, I remember one saying of his: just from bread alone man will live, which means that we should work hard in order to earn our daily bread. Of course, he didn't mention and didn't write about the Zionist vision or his aspiration to immigrate [make Aliya].
On the day of the mass murder, through the Intermediate Days of Sukkot 1941, he marched together with all the people of the town towards death in the fields of Poligon- he was one of them.
With every strand of his soul he was connected to the community. His Jewish pride was nourished by the enterprise of the community, its construction and labour, its development and growth, its protection and struggle and the courage of the Yishuv [refers to the Jewish people living in the Pre-State Land of Israel].
It was at the celebration of the Hebrew school, where he appeared at an amateur performance (as was customary in the towns) and he sang from deep in his heart the song: if I had the strength, I would run through the streets of the town and scream: geula [redemption].
He invested his entire soul in this song. This was the song of his life. He wanted with all his soul to redeem himself from the deterioration of life in the shtetl, from the diaspora and aspire for a new life in Zion. There is no doubt that he marched to his death in Poland and in his heart he sang redemption and Hatikva [hope] - and he was then only 41 years old.
This article should be dedicated to his pure and refined soul. May his memory be a blessing.
Shimon Abel, Kibbutz Ma'anit
Translated from Hebrew by Dr. Ettie Zilber
Edited by Anita Frishman Gabbay
My town, Haydutishok, is engraved into my memory for all eternity. In the years of my youth I suckled the air of her environment, her streets and her houses.
Engraved in my soul I remember the hills, the Kamaika river that winds its way between those hills, where I swam in the summer and skated in the winter. I admired the vast fields of grain which stretched from village to village and its orchards, past the flour mill, which on Shabbat days were vibrant with children and young people.
The years of my childhood and youth were spent in rich and vibrant social and cultural activities. In those days we established a drama group and we donated the proceeds towards a library, orchestra, the Keren Hakayemet, Keren Hayesod, etc.
The youth movement Hashomer Hatzair and Hahalutz ha'tzair planted the ideals of the Eretz Israel labor movement. These youth movements put us to work in all the Zionist activities and paved the way for youth immigration to EretzIsrael.
After trips to the fields we would return to the town, to its shops, its markets and its businesses. These trips proved to us the anomaly of our lives in the town and we then started to understand the big difference that exists between business and the field[agriculture].
There were three schools in Haydutishok: the Polish government school, in which only a very few Jewish children studied.
On Vidz street, between the rickety wooden buildings was the Tarbut school. In another wing of the Tailor's Cloize [study house] in the second wing were four rooms that were used for six study classes. Both the teachers and the students studied and learned in difficult conditions, however, many graduating classes came out of this school. With the youth activities, and after many efforts by the parents, they decided to construct a permanent building for a school which greatly improved the conditions for studying. A similar situation also existed in the third school, which used Yiddish as the language of instruction and was affiliated with the network of schools of the T.I.SH.A. (Central Yiddish school organization).
From right to left: Ginsburg Reuven, Chaim Farbuznik, Avraham Patashnik, , Taibe Broide, Yehudit Abel, Nechama Zeiger, Roza Lifshistz, , , Arieh Lapida, Israel Patasnik, Yehudit Abel, Shalom Sutzkver, Lipka Shapira, , , Ezriel Lubotzki, Sheina Katz, Israel Lubotzki, , Yerachmiel Sutzkever, Shalom Yochelman, Taibe Kanfer, , , Leib Kanfer, , Gittel Yafe, Chaim Israel Svirski, Yehudit Zeiger, Michaela Abel, Hana Perlis, Gittel Lapida, Shapira.
How did schools exist financially in our town? The tuition was set according to the economic ability of the parents. The school Board together with the parent council decided the tuition. Many parents paid only a token tuition, because they simply had no possibility to pay, and the result was that there was not one Jewish child in the town who was left out the school.
There were many active clubs and the school concentrated all the youth groups around it, as well as its intelligensia. No effort was too difficult for them to establish the school.
Inside the walls of the school building they found a sheltered space for all the youth organizations, and likewise for the Hebrew library. Lectures, celebrations and special culture evenings took place frequently there. Throughout all the streets echoed Hebrew songs that came from the school building. The spiritual experiences and longing for Eretz Israel was developed there. The Zionist vision and its fulfillment were wedged within its walls. And, in addition, this institution was dear to us and remains deeply engraved in our heartb &
In our town it is difficult to speak about the classes in simple terms, there were people of means and high status, and also DELETAM, workshop owners and small shopkeepers.
What was interesting was that actually it was the poor children who constituted the majority of the Tarbut school students. The Yiddish school whose mandate was in the Yiddish language, reconciled themselves with the diaspora life in the town. How did this school die?
From the majority of those who immigrated to Eretz, most were from the Tarbut school and only after the Second World War, some who studied at the T.I.SH.A. (Yiddish) school arrived.
Michael Ferevozhnik, Sheina Katz, Zahava Tchernatzki, Rivka Lapida, Mina Meizel, Rosa Kuritzki, Zelda Svirski, , Chana Svirski. Nechama Abel, Roche Malka Abel, Feigel, Sheine Katz, Rochel Broide, Itzhak Meisel, Leib Volotzki, Sheine Volatzki, Chaim Svirski, Chana Matzkin, Itzhak perlis, Shlomo Matzkin, Shmuel Perlis, , , , Mee Ferman, Feigel, Feigel, ,Moshe Abel, Lipe Perlis, Taibe Katz, Teacher ,,Yerachmiel Katz, Rachel Kuliandtzhik, teacher Lachavitzki, , Reuven Ginzburg
Shimon Abel, Ma'anit
Translated from Hebrew by Dr. Ettie Zilber
Edited by Anita Frishman Gabbay
A. Rabbi Chaim Zerach
I only knew Rabbi Haim Zerach from his melodies which echoed before every Shabbat and holiday, and especially on the Yamim Ha'norim [Days of Awe=Yom Kipur].
I heard his name from my father Rabbi YishayahuChaim (ZL) who continued to pray according to the leadership of Rabbi Chaim Zerach. They both did not understand the notes but when father would tell me, that this is the exact way Rabbi Chaim Zerach did it, I knew that the style was correct and there was no room for any doubt.
The entire audience in the shtibel [prayer house] would hum the melodies of Rabbi Chaim Zerach with adherence and enthusiasm.
From my youth my ears absorbed that style, and I was blessed that my father was honored to become his successor on earth and to sing exactly like Rabbi Chaim Zerach, the: I am the poor man on Yom Kippur.
My father was a Chabadnik through and through. And every Shabbat he would read from the book of secrets and hints. But when the Yamim Ha'norim approached he would dedicate himself by listening to melodies, pleasant and enthusiastic, and would prepare with awe and humility for the lofty job that will be given to him to be the public emissary to the people of Israel.
This, too, he received as an inheritance from his Rabbi and his educator Rabbi Chaim Zerach ZL.
B. Rabbi Yossi Bar Alsfein
Rabbi Yossi Bar Alsfein served as a nursery school teacher. In the days when my father was young, may he rest in peace, his house stood on the mountainside in one of the narrow lanes off Vidz Street. It was a poor and dilapidated house and one time it totally collapsed. Rabbi Yossi Bar got injured under the wreckage.
Soon the house was raised anew and stood in all its glory on the edge of the slope. It was pleasant to look at the surrounding area and to see the winding Kamaika river.
In the field of education, Rabbi Yossi Bar was fortunate to have an appropriate successor because his son Shmuel Itzhak became one of the best teachers in the elementary school.
The son, like his father, was known to be very knowledgeable, sharp and smart and became famous as possessing a deep understanding of the world of the Bible.
Rabbi Yossi Bar's only daughter, Rivka, was a very admirable character among the Zionist youth. Her only ambition was to go Eretz Israel and get involved in the life of the Land.
Unfortunately, not one of Alsfein's family managed to escape the claws of the Nazis.
C. Friedlander Family
This family settled far away from the center of the village and by that they already made themselves different than the rest of the Jewish population.
The father of the family spent a long time in South Africa and for some reason came back to Europe and settled in Haydutishok.
Evidently, he managed to bring some fortune with him because he immediately built the only flour mill in the area and constructed a water turbine on the river, something that was never seen before in our area.
His heirs, sons and daughters, continued with this blessed project and even expanded it. They were the ones who brought the electric light to the dark village and with that helped in the development and progress of the village.
To this day, I still remember the incredible experience that I had when the Friedlander's brought the first locomobile [car] from England. And 18 teams of horses were required to transport it from the train station to the flour mill. I imagine that there was never a more incredible sight than that!
All the citizens of the town, Jews and Christians, old women and babies, everyone congregated on both sides of the road and accompanied the procession with joy and excitement.
Also, the first day in which Haydutishok received its electricity is embedded in our memory. It was a day of real festivity. The day when we exited from darkness to bright light! In short, the Friedlander home was very advanced and cultured in all respects. That family was also very generous, and every poor and needy person received support in time of need
This extended and large family was completely exterminated by the Nazis and not even one soul remained.
D. Gitlitz Family
In all aspects, the Gitlitz home was a Zionist home. All the members of the family were dedicated and involved with every Zionist endeavor, especially when they worked [with love] for KKL [Israel National Fund] and the Tarbut school.
Even though they all worked very hard, they had a hard time making a living, nevertheless, you could always hear singing and playing music, sounds of joy and happiness from this house.
The son Benyamin was known for his artistic talent and there wasn't one show in town without his participation.
From this distinguished family, only one of the daughters managed to survive and she lives with us in the State of Israel.
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