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[Columns 287-288]

Peretz Markish in Dubno

by Engineer Agronomist Yisrael Feffer

Translated by Selwyn Rose

When Peretz Markish first trod on Dubno's soil no one ever thought, even he, himself, ever dreamed then, that in time he would become famous as a Yiddish writer in Russia and abroad. That was in 1909 and he was still a handsome young man with no discernible literary qualities or even a spark of an author and poet. Although he sang well as an alto on stage but he had no connection whatsoever with literature – he sang on the “stage” of the Great Synagogue.

Markish came to Dubno from Zhytomyr in order to sing with Cantor Seltzer from Odessa who functioned at the time as Cantor of the Great Synagogue together with the choir. The young man quickly became well–known for his solos and on the Sabbaths the congregations would leave their respective Study Houses and gather in the Great Synagogue to enjoy the young singer's pleasing Mussaph (additional) prayer and Sabbath Hymns.

Markish's family lived in the village of Polonne, in Vohlinia and Markish came to Dubno to distant relations in the family of Ya'acov Rinsberg (Yankel Sannis named after his father Mr. Sanni–Nathanial who was also my grandfather from my mother's side) of the Olik Righteous group. Most of his spare time Peretz spent in the company of members of the Study House but had already begun to become known as a somewhat stormy soul, departing from the


The Great Synagogue

[Columns 289-290]

accepted norms and habits in a town comprised of predominantly traditionally observant Jews. Thus he would go out publicly for excursions in the company of youngsters both boys and girls and with one of the girls in particular – a young girl from an observant family to whom he paid particular attention. These excursions attracted the attention of the regular congregation who saw the free behavior of their choir's vocalist with some displeasure. Considerable pressure was put upon him by those with influence but Peretz was not an easy one to persuade and he continued to follow his own path. In the meantime something very unfortunate happened to him: his voice began to betray him; it became hoarse and began to change as happens to young men as they reach and mature. When he could no longer control voice the interest in him among the congregation began to fade. His disappointment was great and many accused him of abandoning the G–d–given talent that had been granted him. Not long after that his fate was sealed: he was relieved of his position in the Cantor's choir and he returned to his home town. Almost certainly it was a blessing in disguise for him and his future as a renowned Yiddish poet and author.

Eight years later the name of Peretz Markish was linked with the group of young poets who had made a respected place for themselves in the roll of Jewish writers centered in Kiev, the capital of the new Ukrainian Republic. During the years 1917–1924 Peretz Markish lived and worked in Ukraine, then Poland, Berlin and Paris. In 1924 he settled in the Soviet Union. He was among the editors of “Ha–Emess” (The Truth) and active in Communist institutions. In 1941 he was awarded a prize by the Soviet government for services to revolutionary literature. After the purges of Jewish culture during the Cultural Revolution in the Stalinist years of 1948–1949 all trace of him disappeared.

[Columns 289-290]

Rabbi Zeidel Hazan

by Netaneli–Roitman

Translated by Selwyn Rose

His name actually was Mr. Avraham Peres. His father was Rabbi. Michael Peres a devoted disciple of the Admor (an acrostic for ADoneinu, MOreinu, Rabeinu – Our lord [master], Our teacher, Our Rabbi), Rabbi Itzik'l from Radyvyliv (Radziwillów, Rodvil). He was born in 1865 and received a traditional orthodox upbringing already recognized in his youth for his rich voice and also for his aptitude in various activities: wood–carving, musical composition, and sight–reading, knowledge of Hebrew and the Gemara. As a young man he moved to Dubno and there involved himself in the Torah afterwards moving to Bessarabia where he also immersed himself in Torah. At the outbreak of the First World War we find him in Dubno and after the Austrian evacuation in 1916 – as a result of the Russian bombardment of the town – the population and Rabbi Zeidel and his family moved to Czechoslovakia to the village of Bratislavci and there they remained until 1918.

When the luxurious Rabbi Mohilever Synagogue was established in 1924 he was invited to officiate as the chief Cantor and he prayed together with a choir he trained and conducted. Rabbi Zeidel was something of a disciplinarian at rehearsals and complained bitterly at the late–comers among the members. It is worth mentioning an amusing incident that happened to him: Yesheyahu Spektor, a chicken trader in the market, once arrived quite late with a large cockerel tucked under his arm (it was Kol Nidrei, the eve of the Day of Atonement). Rabbi Zeidel began to erupt over the tardiness – came the sound of a cockerel calling: “Rabbi Zeidel, Rabbi Zeidel! It was the voice of Spektor – he quickly pulled out his tuning–fork and the cockerel sounded the correct note! We can start immediately…”

In addition to his function as Cantor Rabbi Zeidel taught Hebrew and Talmud.

He established the “Mishneh Group” in which several of the ritual slaughterers took part: Mr. Bentzi, Mr. Tzvi, Mr. Yossel and others and every closure was accompanied with pleasure and singing.


Cantor Rabbi Zeidel


As a Zionist Rabbi Zeidel was devoted to the concept of “liberation” and took part in the dramatic society that was founded in Dubno and coached the participants in music and singing.

Rabbi Zeidel was invited to pray in Lutsk, Kremnitz and Rivne but remained with every fiber of his being devoted to the synagogue in his town and its congregation.

He died at a good old age in Dubno in 1939. It may truly be said of him “…the righteous are taken before the coming of evil.” (Isaiah 57:1).

[Columns 291-292]

The Jewish Hospital in Dubno

by Ze'ev Ziskind

Translated by Selwyn Rose

Our town did not escape the horrors of the First World War. The town was bombarded and shaken, the ancient synagogue, wherein once prayed the famed “Magid[1] of Dubno” – nicknamed “The Hebrew Aesop”[2] by Mendelssohn – prayed regularly, was damaged and many dear residents fell. The town that was known for its natural beauty, surrounded by streams and forests looked devastated, abandoned and deserted. In addition plagues began to spread like wild fire and reaped many victims with the sick crying out in pain with no one to come to their aid. The dire situation caused heartfelt sympathy among some of the intellectuals in town and in 1921–1922 they slowly began to re–establish the various charitable, nursing and aid institutions of Dubno. Since the resources available to them were very slender they turned to their brethren, the Jews of the United States to join them in the endeavor. The Jews in Dubno, for their part gave whatever assistance they could.

The first thing the entrepreneurs did was to organize the establishment of a hospital that could extend medical help to the many sick pain–ridden and suffering sick. A. Czerkas, D. Horowitz, A. Bronshtein, D. Perle and the pharmacist Ashkenazi. Alongside them in that merciful and blessed work were Dr. Kahana – chairman, Dr. Hindz – general practitioner and pediatrician, Dr. Bat – General practitioner and the surgeon Dr. Roitman. Assisting them were the nurses Milova, Laschava and Spector; the House–mother was Mrs. L. Piszewska. The doctors and nurses worked dedicatedly over and above their strength in treating the people so desperate for help.

During the first years of the hospital's function there was no surgeon available and whoever needed even the lightest surgical intervention was forced to undertake the journey to Lvov. That situation changed with the arrival of Dr. Roitman and his wife who was also a surgeon, in 1925. They had the use of a large operating theater with x–ray equipment bringing a significant improvement in the treatment given to the needy.

The electricity supply was connected, as is usual, to the town grid and on more than one occasion there were outages and the hospital was plunged into darkness sometimes in the middle of an operation. Because of the obvious danger to life this created the committee decided to acquire and operate a generator to supply electricity in the event of a black–out so that the hospital became independent on the supply from the town.

The establishment and development of the hospital and the professional standing of the doctors and nursing and general staff brought no praise or satisfaction from the Polish authorities – on the contrary, it was somewhat of a thorn in their side in spite of the fact that the Jewish hospital treated non–Jews who required help. The Government saw the Jewish hospital as a competitor and tried to wrest it from the hands of the Jews. Then Mr. Bronshtein went to Warsaw and made attempts to get the central authorities to cancel the edict. His mission succeeded and the hospital remained in Jewish hands and it continued to serve faithfully and efficiently the entire Dubno population, Jew and non–Jew alike, until the Holocaust when the Jewish community of Dubno was exterminated.


Translator's Footnotes
  1. Preacher or expositor Return
  2. Jacob ben Wolf Kranc of Dubno see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_ben_Wolf_Kranz Return

[Columns 292-296]

Welfare Institutions of the Dubno Community

by Shmaryaho Roitman

Translated by Selwyn Rose

Sick–bed Assistance

The society of “Leinat Tsedek[1] in Dubno was founded towards the end of the 19th Century by the congregation of the Braclaw (Breslev) synagogue who became jealous of the charitable organization “Gemilat Hassidim[2] that had been founded by the congregation of Rabbi Avraham Mordecai's synagogue. The object of the society is compounded in an extended description of its Hebrew name: To give aid and comfort to bed–ridden people – and not necessarily financially but by visits and sleeping overnight, for the sick needing constant care and attention, the calling of doctors, the acquisition and giving of medicines, etc. The members of the society, men and women, left their homes and families and went to the homes of the sick to sleep there and care for the sick person needing constant attention, seeing in this act a great and holy mission – a “Mitzvah[3] – what a man owes to his fellow man who is unable to help himself. The volunteers went out to fulfill their deed in turns and held the deed dearly and saw it as an act not to be missed.

The expenses of the institution were covered by monthly contributions from all levels of the community, those with more and those with less and the members of the public involved did so in the faithful belief that G–d will repay them for their actions. It was their faith and belief in this that persuaded them to continue to fulfill the obligation.

[Columns 293-294]

Their activities continued thus until the outbreak of the First World War; the various personnel at all levels changed but the acts of kindness never ceased. Even during the Austrian invasion of Dubno and the approach to town of the Front the institution continued its activities although in a slightly restricted format. When the war ended their activities recommenced with added determination with the help young blood that had joined them, and better organizational methods. The circle of volunteers and donors widened to include not just the worshippers from the synagogues but young men and women who, with their more modern outlook and thought processes were different and distant from those of the older generation. They gave a hand in nursing the patients on their sick–bed. The active cooperation of the two generations did much to bring together the hearts of the two and a Miss Payele Poticha was elected Chairwoman of the institution and her home became the central office of the organization and its operations. Among the veteran public activists at that time were: Mrs. Sarah Dovtchiss(?), Bracha Aronstein, Gittel–Devora Dov, Feyga Marshalkovitz, the respected Moshe Kellerman, Avraham Lichter, Lederman and others.

A few years after the end of the First World War the Nursing Society was legally registered and the elected committee headed by a chairman, a secretary and a treasurer. The nursing activities, the home visits both by doctors and volunteers were initiated in writing and the medicines from pharmacies were supplied to the patients at the expense of the Society. At the same time the number of needy people increased significantly, especially sufferers of tuberculosis and the institution did the best it could to come to their aid.

In the period between the two world wars “Leinat Tsedek” was the only institution in town with two generations, young and old, working together to bring to reality the Talmudic saying: “Whosoever preserves a single soul of Israel, Scripture ascribes to him as if he had preserved a complete world”[4]


The management committee of “Leinat Tsedek” of 1924

[Columns 295-296]

[Plaque on the building reads “Old Peoples' Home”]


The operating expenses that continued to grow and multiply forced greater and greater efforts to increase incomes. Indeed when the institution became a registered Society the need to augment income was clear to the public eyes and it began to organize dances, plays, lotteries and “flag–days” in the streets of Dubno to which the public responded generously.


Old Peoples' Home

The corner of BernardyƄska Street and Poczatkowa Street was one of the most carefully tended spots in the area. The houses were surrounded with gardens and orchards and among them most noticeable was the home of the short–tempered, well–known in town and the surroundings, Polish Dr. Niewierowski. On that same corner stood the house of Rabbi Isaac Bronstein. Three generations of the same family lived in the apartments there. The local children would sneak through Rabbi Isaac's yard into the garden of Dr. Niewierowski to enjoy the doctor's apples, pears and juicy plums that had provoked their appetite. Rabbi Isaac never told on them and for this he was well–liked by all the children and they were always ready to listen to his stories and jokes and even suffered his playful pinching of their cheeks.

After the First World War the daughter and her family moved away and Rabbi Isaac remained alone in his large house. One day the loneliness defeated him and he decided to convert his house to a shelter for elderly people and himself head it and manage it. The house was composed of two wings: the front wing was reserved for the womenfolk and the rear wing for the men where he had reserved a room for himself. Neighbors and supporters assisted in acquiring some of the beds and some of the elderly themselves brought their own beds with them. Since there was no budget for the maintenance of the home everyone had to support themselves using the kitchen and general facilities while old, stalwart Rabbi Isaac with his own hands chopped wood for the stove for cooking, drew and carry water in buckets from the well and tried to be of service to everyone.

As time went by shortages began to appear and it was essential to find sources for food and other necessities. It was then that Rabbi Mendele Rosenfeld (Z”L), and with him my late father Gershon Roitman (Z”L), and Ya'acov Rinsberg (Z”L), took it upon themselves to worry about the institution. My father attended to services and general necessities and Ya'acov Rinsberg to food and its distribution.

The institution was too small to provide for all who knocked on the door but nevertheless somehow managed help was found for most of the needy with some kind of a solution for families with serious problems. Indeed, it proved itself to be an essential element and many were the people that supported Rabbi Isaac in everything he did for them.


Translator's Footnotes
  1. “Leinat Tsedek”: Generally translated as “comprehensive home care for the sick” Return
  2. “Gemilat Hassidim”: Performing acts of kindness – by no means necessarily financial. Return
  3. “Mitzvah”: Literally “a commandment” but used in its everyday sense as the fulfilling of a biblical commandment or performing any good or righteous deed. Return
  4. There is considerable scholastic and theological debate surrounding the use of the word “Israel” the conflicting opinion uses the expression “…human soul”. The above version is taken from the Bavli Talmud (Tractate Sanhedrin 37a). Return

[Columns 297-298]

The Orphanage

by G. Steible

Translated by Selwyn Rose

The Orphanage was situated next to the Jewish hospital. The number of children resident in the facility was about 30 or more and their ages ranged from one year to sixteen. Most of them were orphaned either by one or both parents, although there were also children whose parents were still living but it was not possible to allow them to remain at the family home for educational or social reasons.

The team of community activists that nurtured and cared for this institution executed their tasks with much devotion, caring for much more than simply their “daily bread” but created within the entire home an atmosphere of warmth trying to remove from the ambience all sense of gloom, suffering and the feeling of deprivation and to shed light over all.


Volunteers receiving professional training for the orphanage


The house–mother, Mrs. Ita Goldseker (Z”L), dedicated her entire life to the welfare of the children who were the victims of a cruel fate, creating a warm homely atmosphere in the institution, treating the inmates as would a mother the “fruit of her womb”, without any consideration of the many hours worked, without taking holidays and days–off whenever she felt like it because her entire work–ethos was devoted to the institution and its inhabitants. Ita was not simply the house–mother alone: she was also concerned for their education and studies for those of the children who were unable to integrate into any other formal educational framework. At one and the same time, she was also nursemaid and kindergarten nursery–maid for the smaller children and toddlers. She was an extraordinary woman bringing upon the home and upon the children with her gentleness and nobility, an easing of the burden on their lives.

[Columns 299-300]

The office of secretary and treasurer was executed with extreme care and strictness by Mr. Dov Blatt who was careful to maintain a balanced budget thus removing a great worry from the managing committee allowing them to cope effectively with the institute's obligations towards the staff and suppliers.

The task that the Committee took upon itself deviated somewhat from its designated mandate the moment that it decided to give an opinion regarding those adolescents who were struggling to keep up with the educational program and straggling far behind, and to create for them a program of learning a practical trade and the respectability of honorable toil and hard work. For that purpose they introduced a course of seamstress and needlework for the girls resident in the institution and those outside; while for the boys, they were attached as apprentices to artisans in town. In relation to that project I feel it incumbent upon me to mention here Mr. Yehezkiel Geierman who dedicated much time to the occupation of youth who otherwise would have wandered aimlessly round the streets with no control or direction, influencing them with his dedication.

The Committee also concerned itself in providing work for families with many children and little resources so that they were able to earn enough to ease somewhat their suffering and difficulties.

At the head of the Committee stood Mr. Hertzberg, who worried over the enterprise like a father until his illness finally conquered him and his wife, Mrs. Hertzberg then took over the continuation of the work. Together with her toiled, without thought of reward or honor Mrs. Kagan of Zabramna, the respected Josef Pinchasewitch, Yitzhak Pinchasewitch, Yehezkiel Geierman and others.


Public activists and notables of Dubno with Mr. Balkind (1921)

First row – Sitting L to R.: Z. Bornstein, Dr. Batt, M. Ashkenazi, Y. Balkind, Y Pinchasewitch, A. Blei, S. Pfeffer
Second row – Standing L. to R.: M. Zimmerman, D. Perle, A Legmann, S. Weiderman, (–), Tzvi Perle (–)
Third row – Lying R. to L.: Y Pfeffer, S Zorne

[Columns 301-302]

A Passover Seder for Jewish Soldiers

by Moshe Cohen

Translated by Selwyn Rose

With the reinforcement of the Polish garrison in town in 1937, the number of Jewish soldiers in the force increased to about 150 men.

With the approach of Passover over the horizon the Community Council decided at one of its meetings to prepare a Seder for the Jewish soldiers and also to supply them with kosher food for the succeeding days of the festival.

With that decision, the heads of the Council, Dr. Goldblatt and Rabbi Herschel Rosenfeld approached the Commandant on behalf of the soldiers, requesting leave for the two nights of the festival and to permit the soldiers to enter town twice daily in order to eat the kosher meals prepared for them.

The Commandant answered the Council favorably and the Military financial officials even transferred the necessary funds to the Council.

The Council immediately put the plan into operation by starting to refurbish a vacant hall in the Municipal Council–house that had been empty since the First World War, mobilizing volunteers to prepare whatever was needed for the Seder. The women's organizations, WIZO, and the various youth organizations all responded to the call and harnessed themselves to the mission. Only a few days later everything was ready according to the plan laid out.

On the two evenings of the Seder members of the Council, together with Rabbi Rosenfeld at their head accompanied by other community leaders arrived to sit around the laid tables with the soldiers and infused the atmosphere with a spirit of homeliness. The women of WIZO and the youth organizations who busied


Jewish Soldiers at the Passover Seder with the public notables


themselves preparing the food and serving at the tables spread a pleasant feeling of graciousness over the whole festivities.

During the meal Zionist songs were sung and when the Seder was over everyone began dancing the traditional Hora.

During the intermediate days of the festival, the soldiers came to town for a mid-day and evening meal, marching in military order by command of the Commandant; after the evening meal each soldier received a parcel of prepared food for his breakfast the following morning. Parcels were also distributed for those soldiers who were unable to come because of guard-duties or other military reasons.

This arrangement initiated by the Community Council was a gesture of respect for the Jewish soldiers based in town far from their homes and replaced the need for the congregation of the synagogue to take it upon themselves individually as had been the case previously. Once instituted the system was carried forward as an annual event in the life of the town and for the next the Passover Seder was organized by the Community Council with the help of the various institutions mentioned above and thus it continued until 1939 when the outbreak of The Second World War and the Shoah fell upon the House of Israel.

[Columns 303-304]

“TOZ”[1] in Dubno

by Mania Deibog

Translated by Selwyn Rose

“TOZ” was a society that concerned itself with the health and well-being of a multi-layered society of significantly limited means. It was an enterprising society and very vigilant among the local organizations in town. It had already existed many years before I came to work there as a nurse and I was associated with it from 1930 until 1934. Apart from me there was another nurse working there named Beyla Krum.

Members of the committee and activists in support of the institute were: Dr. Ya'acov Goldblatt, Dr. Bat, Dr. Galparson, Dr. Berta Grinzweig, and the ladies Mrs.


Staff of “TOZ” 1934

[Columns 305-306]

Greenberg, Mrs. Laszczower, Hanna Cohen, Shteinshnid and others. The secretary was Mrs. Sonia Zorne.

The budget of the institute was based on donations from its members who were themselves of modest means and on one-time projects such as performances and holidays and “flag-days”. The truth must be told that the budget of the institute was never balanced and there were always deficits that were difficult to cover.

The regular activities of the society were: “”Mother and child clinic” for nursing mothers and their babies, supervision and cleanliness of the poorer neighborhoods by a trained social worker, a dermatological clinic, an eye-clinic and medical examinations. The society also arranged for summer-camps for the children where they could relax and develop. The camps were a sort of “hot-houses” where the children would remain all the time and other camps where they would stay only during the day. In these “day-camps” that took place in 1930 and 1931 in the court-yard of Mr. Goldman there were about 100 children in three cycles. The payment for their maintenance was minimal and many of the children were accepted without payment.

The children stayed in the day-camps from morning until four in the afternoon, doing gymnastics, playing all sorts of games involving physical activity and handicrafts under the control and watchful eyes of three nurse-maids under my supervision, all enjoying the fresh air and blessed warmth. The administration of the camps was in the care of the society's secretary Mrs. Sonia Zorne whose heart was dedicated to the “TOZ” project and did the utmost towards its development and prosperity.


Children in TOZ summer-camp - 1931


Translator's Footnote
  1. TOZ - Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia - Society for the Protection of the Health of the Jews in Poland, between the two World Wars Return


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