« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 192]

Our Shtetl

By Yakov Shlein

Translated by Moshe Porat

Most of Rayviets' inhabitants were Jews. The population was composed of workers, artisans, and small merchants. Everyone lived according to their abilities, anxious just to survive the oncoming day. However, the Rayvitsers developed their shtetl quite well politically, culturally, and professionally – like the big towns, only in a smaller format.

They founded professional unions, an important library, and a dramatic circle. A very important place in the shtetl's activities was occupied the Zionist Movement.

The “Poaley Zion” organized youngsters into groups of “Frayhayt” scouts.

The Hakhaluts did important work by preparing young people to do agricultural work and sending many to the Kibutsim in Palestine.

It is important to recall here the devoted work of our shtetl's ardent Zionists: the couple Hene and Shimshon Holtsblat, Betsalel Kraft, Yakov Eizenshtein, Gershon Zilber and many others, annihilated for Kidoosh Hashem.

We shall recall also the public activist Moyshe Lerman. Due to his help, a shtetl bank for loans was created. The bank loaned money without interest, which sustained many families of poor artisans and small handlers.

We had also a Jewish school where children learned Hebrew. The renowned writer Gad Zaklikovski was its manager and teacher. The school ceased to function after his Aliya to Erets Israel.

We shall also remember the religious movement – the Beys Hamidrash, Ein Yaakov, the Torah and Mishnah learning groups, and the Trisker, Radzinitser and Kotsker Hassidim praying and learning rooms (shtiblakh), from where the Torah voice and melody never ceased to ring.

We shall recall the pious and virtuous native Rayviets Jews like Hershele Shoyhat, Uziel Biderman and his son, Sheftl Rosental, and many others.

The “civilized” barbaric Europeans put an end to this peace loving, Jewish community; they destroyed it brutally and without pity.

Rayviets, our beloved Yiddish shtetl does not exist any more.

The Germans with their Polish assistants did the monstrous work. Human history shall efface their name and memory forever!

ten193.jpg - 'Powshekhna Shkola' - The Polish Primary School in Rayevits
“Powshekhna Shkola” – The Polish Primary School in Rayevits

Only 25% of its students were Gentiles. Relations between the Jewish students and the Polish teachers Mr. Shedel and Mrs. Shniezhanka were excellent.

ten194.jpg - The Public Library Committee
The Public Library Committee
Mindl Malets, Mordkhay Foorer, Israel Blatt, Yosef Mints,
Yankl Eizenshtein, Rivka Shmuklerman, Zeev Epshtein,
Hentshee Natanson

[Page 194]

Gone from our home

By Mordkhay Holtsblat

Translated by Moshe Porat

We sit at our Grandma's house. By “we”, that means Grandma (Bobeshee Breyndl Raytse, the mother of our late grand Father Isroel Yosef), our Father and mother (Shimshon and Hene), our uncle Betsalel, my sister Miryam, and me.

It happens in the last days of September 1939. The Germans are already in Krasnistav. The Russians occupied the Lublin vicinities. Some of them remained in Rayviets. Bezalel says, as Mr. Torevitsh the teacher told him, that the Germans and Soviets had agreed about a dividing demarcation line between both occupying armies. The Russians would stay in the Polish territories east of the Buke River shore. For that reason, they would withdraw from Rayviets. At this moment my uncle Botshe entered the room. He told us about the cruelties committed by German soldiers upon the Jews in Krasnistav. The adults among us began a hot conversation about the family's immediate actions; whether to run over the Buke River to the Soviets, or to remain at home.

Bobeshee (Grandmother) Breindl claims, “The Almighty helped us during the previous war, which we survived remaining at our home, and I am too fragile to wander all over the world, so what will be with all of Israel, will also be with us.

I am looking at Grandma's lovely face, Brayndele the pious person. When called to help the sick persons of the Shtetl, she would come with a teaspoon in hand, to look inside the patient's throat. "Is it red? That is an angina" and instructed him to gargle with oxidized water and to put compresses with boric acid, with vodka and to change every two hour.

“Bobeshee, it pricks on the side”, the boy coughs. ”Would you forgive us, go to Mr. Pelmooter, to get from him cupping glasses.

- We will put them where it is needed. With God's help, the recovery will be good, fast and full.” Such a woman was Grandma Breindl.

She is against changing, leaving or moving. The Bobeshee Breindl's position is to remain at home.

Here I refer my look to my mother's face. Holding a white handkerchief at her mouth, she hides her cough, and does not breathe on persons sitting near. What is oppressing her mostly, and mother is defending her point of view, is the necessity to leave this place before the Germans come. If she could only send the children to Erets Isroel, mother says, in the land of her longing dreams, then she would become the happiest woman in the world. And as now it is impossible, she is convinced, contrary to Bobe Breindl, that the family must now, immediately, leave the Shtetl.

She cannot leave behind her mother, and she is not strong enough to wander now, so she must remain. “However, you, my children, my greatest treasure, my sole future and hope, you should go from home”.

At this time, Hene-Dvoyre, with her children Goole and Foye entered the room. Their little brother Omek sits beside me. The conversation continues. Uncle Betsalel Kraft is the sole person who does not participate in the talking. You could read on his face his feelings. He was bound to the place, devoted to his friends, dedicated to the children, his students.

I remember his Bible lessons, his boldfaced look and raised head teaching us, Jewish children. He taught us history, our national fights, accompanied by devotion and martyrdom for Kidosh Hashem. His lesson was the sole Jewish lesson, once a week in the Polish Povshekhna Primary School. We, Jewish children, were the majority in this school. Now did he sit, Betsalel the teacher, silent, not saying a word in the discussion to stay or to run from the Shtetl to the Russian side.

My father interrupted the conversation with his final decision. He said: “We, the adult persons, we will remain here temporarily. However, the children will go to my brother in Brest (under the Russian rule). We will join them later.”

[Page 195]

The Decision Fell

By Mordkhay Holtsblat

Translated by Moshe Porat

On the oncoming day, a horse cart stood near our house. I am leaving my home and frivolously I took my place beside uncles Betzalel and Botshe. I'm separating from my dearest, and not knowing what is awaiting us in the near future as I leave my native home. I kiss my friends and relatives. Tate and Mame are accompanying us to the Shtetl's outskirts. We pass the Shool, the Beys Ha-Madrash. We are near Mordkhy Perlmooter's house. Comrades and acquaintances stay on the way. Here is the post, the church, the bridge and – Rayviets remains behind.

Sixteen poor and painful years had passed. Not once did our life hang on a hair and only the God Almighty had pity on us.

I returned to my ruined Juden-rein Shtetl Rayviets seven years after my departure. I received there a letter from my dear father. He wrote in his last will that we should be free and proud Jews; we should build our future in the land of our hopes.

We fulfilled our father's testament; we live in the Land of Israel.

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Rayvits descendants in the State of Israel     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Lance Ackerfeld

Copyright © 1999-2023 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 4 Oct 2005 by LA