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[Page 5]

From the Editors

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

A. Finally, we can say that we have completed our job; the devotion to our aim assisted us, with God's help, to conclude the project.

We considered it our duty to preserve the history of this important town of the magnificent Russian Jewry from which we originate – in particular after the Holocaust, as the Germans and their helpers annihilated over fifty thousand of our brothers and sisters, may God avenge their blood.

A very large amount of material was researched for the purpose of writing this book: thousands of items, documents, books, newspapers mainly in the three languages – Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian. But due to the limitations of time and space, much material had to be left out – as the saying of our sages: learn and leave some for others. We hope the rest of this important material will be published elsewhere.

The Ekaterinoslav Jews were unique. A special type of Russian Jew has grown there: a Jew full of energy, who worked hard for his own progress and the progress of the town and its surroundings, and absorbed much from the Russian culture, at the same time preserving his Judaism proudly, as an individual as well as a member of his community (see on this subject the words of Shlonski, in his conversation with the editors of this book).

This young “Potiomkin Town” (as opposite to his “villages”) received and accepted Jews who, in the course of 150 years grew to a large number, absolute as well as proportional, among the general population. The town became a center of commerce, heavy industry and mining, with a strong labor movement (Petrovski and his friends). Two power stations – of the biggest in the world – were erected on the Dnieper. On the eve of the Holocaust, 100,000 Jews lived there out of 500,000 residents. Today, as its population is gradually growing, it again includes several tens of thousands of Jews, but they are scattered among the general population, without a traditional community. Yet they have, thank God, a prayer house, a ritual slaughterer and a Jewish cemetery.

It was a great Jewish town, with many great rabbis. There was R'Chone'le z”l, who preceded the great rabbi Y. L. Levin (our last rabbi, died as the Chief Rabbi of Moscow); R'Binyamin'ke z”l, a Lithuanian genius in the knowledge of Halakha (Jewish Law); R'Bere–Wolf z”l from the Chabad Hassidic movement, influential and educated, an “out of this world” Tzaddik. After them came Rabbi Pinchas Gellman z”l – a genius, a great speaker in three languages, a Zionist, a great leader, the head of the Yeshiva, a dreamer; he died young. Then there was Rabbi Levi–Yitzhak Schneurson z”l, a charismatic personality, worthy of the title ADMOR, who would sacrifice his soul for the sanctification of the Torah; as an important rabbinic personality, he was persecuted by the Soviet regime: was arrested and exiled, and died in exile; as his writings are being published today, one discovers his special method in the framework of Chabad Hasidism; he was the father of the ADMOR of Lubavitch – a great man of the Jewish people; the memories of his wife Rabbanit Chana z”l – 100 pages in Yiddish – are waiting to be published.

There was the Talmud Torah and several cheders in town and, the “crown” of all this – the Yeshiva, where the Gaon Rabbi Chaim–Oizer Grodzenski z”l – the Rabbi of all the Jews in Exile – taught regularly. Rabbi Grodzenski came to Ekaterinoslav as a refugee during WWI. In time, they erected in Ekaterinoslav a religious–Hebrew–Zionist Teachers College.

And there were also Jewish high–schools, and a modern Cheder [cheder metukan = improved cheder] and P. Cohen (Kagan)'s high–school relocated from Vilna; and private teachers of Hebrew; and in the Gentile's schools they also had special lessons of “God's Religion” for the Jewish pupils, among the teachers being Dr. S. Levin and Bragin; and on the eve of the February revolution, the first Institute of High Technical Studies in the Diaspora – the Jewish Polytechnic – was erected.

In Ekaterinoslav, the first Jewish armed self–defense was founded, and Yitzhak Shimshelewitz (later Ben–Zvi) was one of its weapons providers; Po'alei Zion was founded, and Borochov prepared his “Platform” (I had the privilege to help bringing his remains from the Jewish cemetery in Kiev – which was to be closed – to be buried in Eretz Israel).

Many Jewish personalities grew up, visited or lived in Ekaterinoslav, some of them remained to work there. The town was known in literature, in research and in the press, and by the valued deeds of its Jews. The brilliant jurist Eliyahu Orshanski came from Ekaterinoslav; his tombstone was created by Antokolski himself.

[Page 6]

Jewish artists lived there. Newspapers, pamphlets and books were printed in three languages. We shall mention the publication Аргонавты edited by Alexander Karpas.

Zionism took hold there since the times of the First Aliya, and an attempt was made to build settlements in the Golan, the Achva village. From there, Ussishkin led the Zionist movement in Russia and in the world; Dr. S. Levin, the “appointed” rabbi, was a great Zionist, and the famous teacher Ch. A. Zuta spread Hebrew–Zionist education. During the Soviet rule, the Zionist underground acted with great devotion; the poet Chananya Reichman dedicated his poem to this movement – a song to the keepers of the fire.

Here lived the famous philanthropist, my grandfather R'Moshe Karpas z”l, leader of the community and supporter of its educational and cultural institutions, a great donor to Zionism and Eretz Israel.

And there was in Ekaterinoslav also the Bund movement and other Jewish parties, as well as the “Ekaterinoslav Circle” of the Soviet Yiddish writers, headed by Peretz Markish, may God avenge his blood.

A fundamental document describing the Holocaust in town – the diary of the physician Dr. Rosa Leikina z”l – is the heart of this book.

The book is available to the 200 families in Israel who made Aliya from Ekaterinoslav–Dniepropetrovsk and to all the former residents of our town throughout the world, as well as for others – individuals or institutions.

After two congresses in Tel Aviv and two in Jerusalem (in Martef Hashoah on Mount Zion and at Yad Vashem), a plot in the JNF Martyrs Forest and radio broadcasts – the Ekaterinoslav–Dniepropetrovsk book is a par excellence memory to our town,.

The indexing of the book enables bibliographical research.

We extend thanks to all those who supported and encouraged us – by participating in writing, donations and advice, and we shall mention in particular: Mrs. Rachel–Hadassa Birman Баьушка Екатеринославского Сионизма aged 96 (we wish her to 120!), the physician Dr. Arie Ben–Gefen, the poet Avraham Shlonski, Member of Knesset Aharon Becker and Mr. Yakov Strod, General Consul of Thailand.

Z. H.

With God's Help,
in the United Jerusalem,
end of 5732 (1972)

B. There are only few Memorial Books for the communities destroyed during WWII by the Germans in the Soviet Union – for various reasons. The main reason was that the Landsmanshaften (the organizations of former residents of the town) – the main factors in the publication of memorial books – have not developed in our country: the immigrants from Russia during the second and third Aliya became immediately and totally involved in the life of Eretz Israel and showed little interest for their original places of residence, and during the period between the two World Wars there was very little Aliya from the Soviet Union. In America as well, there was no reason to establish new organizations, and the existing ones stopped their activities. In the twenties and thirties there was almost no Aliya from the Soviet Union, contrary to the situation in Poland and Lithuania.

Another problem was the lack of historic–archival material concerning the Russian communities, and the lack of possibility to use the little material that was available, especially from the time between the two world wars.

In spite of all these difficulties, the former Ekaterinoslav–Dniepropetrovsk residents in Israel – and they are not many – considered their duty to publish a memorial book of their community, one of the youngest in Russia, which in a short time became one of the biggest and most important. The task was to gather what we found, to save from oblivion details that had not been recorded before, thus building a memorial to the beautiful and active community, for the coming generations.

It was not an easy task, and the editors met with many difficulties. Yet we hope that the reader of the “Ekaterinoslav–Dniepropetrovsk Book” will find a true picture of the life of the local community, of the persons who acted there and the problems they had to meet.

I. G.

[Page 7]

Efraim Strod z”l

Translated by Yocheved Klausner


Efraim Strod z”l


R'Efraim ben Yoel–Zelig Strod, one of the most loyal and devoted activists of the Ekaterinoslav Zionism, was born in 1873 in Pinsk. In 1900 he moved to Ekaterinoslav and continued to work in his trade, printing. In time, he bought a printing shop of his own, and then another, named Издтельство, one of the biggest in town. As an owner of two modern printing shops he employed a considerable number of workers. Apart from his professional expertise and organizing and managing abilities,

[Page 8]

he knew the secrets of good human relations and managed to create a very good working relationship with his employees. There were no strikes in his plants. In difficult days, during and after the revolution, he was attentive to the needs of his workers and provided for them products that were not to be found in the market. As a religious man he kept the Commandments, and his workers, including the Christians (who were the majority of the workers in the printing shop), did not work on Sabbath. So the shop was closed two days a week, Saturday and Sunday (the official day of rest) – which was unusual in those days.

Mr. Efraim Strod, who was a member of Hovevei Zion while still in Pinsk, joined the Ekaterinoslav Zionists as soon as he arrived. He performed successfully and with devotion the various tasks that were assigned to him. His home was a Zionist home, hospitable and open to all. He helped, openly as well as secretly, all those who addressed him; his hand was open to the needy, and they were many. In 1915, with the flow of Jewish war refugees from the Russian Western borders, he dedicated his time and energy to helping them.

After the February 1917 revolution, his Zionist activity increased even more. He was a member of the local Zionist Committee and participated in all its activities. He recruited new members to the movement, and took an active part in the elections to the various institutions, in collaboration with the other leaders – Moshe Bruk, Emanuel Brustein, the Rabbi, Avraham Berezovski and others. He was also one of the founders and organizers of a group preparing to make Aliya, but unfortunately the group was not able to accomplish the task.

During the difficult years that came after the short period of freedom, he was among the founders and managers of the co–operative Kalkala, whose purpose was to provide to its members the necessary products at the time of severe limitations and prohibitions on free trade. Even in those hard times, he found the means to help his friends to overcome the hardships.

In 1922 he left the Soviet Union and in 1923 he arrived to Eretz Israel together with his large family: his sons Mordechai, Yoel z”l and Yakov and his daughter Sara (Shapira). His age and his health did not enable him, however, to fulfill his dream – to be a farmer on the soil of his fatherland, therefore he opened, in partnership with his sons, a printing shop in Tel Aviv. He introduced many innovations (for example, he was the first to use linoleum in advertising announcements). Here, as well, the working relations were correct – no strikes or other trouble. The printing shop is now managed by his son Yakov Strod, the honorary consul of Thailand, in partnership with his grandson Adee.

Efraim Strod continued his charity work and his support activity in Tel Aviv, and responded to any call from national projects, as a loyal and devoted Zionist that he was.

He died in Tel Aviv at a ripe old age on 13 Sivan 5718 (1958), after a long and fruitful life, an active life full of good deeds.

[Page 9]

Verses of Memories

by Hanania Reichman

Translated by Jerrold Landau

More than just once, my memories of my childhood paths move
To you, a major city in Jewish Ukraine,
I return to your past, Ekaterinoslav,
And live in it anew – stage after stage.

The world war, without end streamed to you
Our brethren from the border – refugees from the threat of the sword,
Their Jewish character, populist, alive,
Strengthened their protectors, “Judaized” the reality.

Let my memory testify: please return, please transport
Me to my school, whose roots were from Vilna!
It too was forced to wander when the war broke out
And it granted us a warm, Hebrew corner.

The Jews lived in the center of town.
I never sensed a different population in my surroundings.
Even in my school filled with students
I felt myself in a “city of Jews.”


In 1917, there shone
The brief shine of freedom also on the “City Yekaterina.”
During that “spring”[1] I was a young lad
But I will never forget the days of drunkenness.

Waves and waves of people streamed to the expanse of the city
A procession of free people – with their flags above them
For the Jews, this was also a sublime holiday:
The banner of Zion fluttered among all the flags of freedom.

Every heart opened up to think: “The turn of the blood and sweat has passed
The Marseillaise broke forth from the masses celebrating
But this song did not keep from our mouths
The echo of another hymn: We then sung Hatikva.

[Page 10]

Woe, how quickly did that spring in Russia disappear!
All flowers of freedom were trampled in the Andralamusya dance
A pall pervaded the city and the roads
The civil war caused destruction everywhere.

A terrible dance of demons: gangs, Makhno[2], Petlyura
The conquest of the “Whites” – and again a dictatorship…
Every step of man on the ground, of the blood of man –
And the Jews has such a great part in the blood!


The victory of the “Red Government” stopped the surge of pogroms.
However, in the meantime, upon every freedom was decreed: “Halt!”
Dictatorship grew – and a giant shield
Of stifling and muteness was created by the oppressive regime.

We Zionists as well went underground
Where the Hebrew eternal flame shone its hidden light.
In the shadow of isolation, redemption was given to the soul:
We merited to obtain “Freedom within slavery.”

We were voluntarily confined in a prison or a “ghetto”
But the foreign government had no veto power there.
Daily, we lived a two–faced life
The life of an “Anoos”[3] outside, and the life of a free person internally.


Daily my eyes saw the pages of the Soviet newspaper,
However, I did not desire to read its news.
I felt no feelings of a citizen with the strangers
We were situated in the north, we dreamed of the east.

With trembling, my eyes read a different type of periodical
A creased booklet was passed from hand to hand –
In which every person, fearful and active,
Found snippets of news from the Land of Israel.

Somewhere in a district city, was printed and collated
The pages of these booklets in a clandestine printing house.
From there, hidden in a pocket, a briefcase, a suitcase,
They wandered afar – to the destined place.

[Page 11]

The entire state was surrounded by the underground.
We were one cell, formed into a framework.
And a secret connection, hidden and concealed,
United the cells, connected them to the headquarters.


We read every line, we looked at every number.
We recited the “Shehecheyanu” blessing with every new thing.
We looked for an increase in population
We greeted each wave of aliya with joy.

I remember, for example, the satisfaction
With which I read a small detail on the statistics of development:
The number of automobiles that the census office
Registered in Tel Aviv throughout a single day.

We followed the changes in the homeland
And on the variety of streams in the labor settlements.
For example, we wondered about the difference between a chalutz
Who was a member of a group, versus a member of a kibbutz.


The Tz. Tz.[4] faction was set up through a schism,
It still hesitated about the text of its program.
Against the Tz.Tz. Marxist–leftist stream
The Tzeirei Tzion stream was designated as “labor.”

We aspired to make the nation productive
We dreamed of a just and progressive regime.
But we dismissed a class struggle as misleading:
We believed that unity is a national imperative.

However, a debate had broken out on various details
Over sharp wording and nitpicking formulations.
Reports of the deliberations were also sent to us
Describing the internal battles in full detail.

After each convention (in Kiev of Moscow)
Every chapter of Tz. Tz. was invited:
“To take a stance in every battle!”
And all members did not care about the hours of effort
Needed to delve into the depths of every difference of opinion.

[Page 12]

Each group sat for nights, diligently pouring over the program
Clarifying each and every detail, explaining – how and why:
What is the statue of public and private property?
And how does it connect with social justice?

On what basis should one participate in colonization?
How can “petite bourgeoisie” actualize laborization?
How many apprentices should a working artisan be permitted to hire –
Without being considered idle, Heaven forbid?

After the debates – we summarized and voted
Proud that the movement consulted with us
And all members were so careful with their opinions
As if their voices were decisive in the entire adjudication.


The polishing of the “foundation lines” (Tezises in the vernacular)
Hurt the heart with the dearth of deeds,
However, aside from battles, there were also deeds:
The guarded remnants followed the remnants of the “properties.”

The remnants escaped to the underground
Every organizational flag, every sign and frame –
Thus they were saved, from the times of public existence
Signs of Hechalutz, Tarbut, and Macabee.

Physical activity and sport –
A matter so “neutral”
It is possible to exercise in an informal fashion.
A more complex issue – the organization of language study
Even that enjoyed fine success.

With various distractions, we maintained a network
Of courses in Hebrew and knowledge of the homeland.
We organized classes, flexible and wide–branched,
Encompassing many students – youth and children.

There were many students – but the teachers were a handful
They worked for years with strength and diligence.
And the youth who made aliya to the Land did not embarrass them:
Most of them brought their knowledge of their language with them.

[Page 13]

All daily contract was slowly woven,
A chapter of love in a struggling family.
And during the complex battles, everyone felt in every detail
An active participant in general – and not a grain of dust.

As I survey that praiseworthy era with the eyes of my spirit,
I recall with satisfaction a bundle of small events.
A group of stubborn people held to their beliefs,
Existing like a remote island in the sea.

Now, when I recall the atmosphere of our lives,
The “scenery” of our experience is sevenfold dear to me.
And from the depths of my heart, is still not erased
The memory of festive evenings and the echoes of hours of joy.

Even the holidays went down to the underground with us.
Even there, you, the light of the holiday, did not hide your rays!
We celebrated every festival in a closed private residence
(In an intimate, family environment).

Every celebration was opened with some “words of Torah”
And the crowd of celebrants listened intently.
The openings of the parties “disseminated Zionism”
Not like our way here – without a semblance of embarrassment.

Then came the turn of song. The group became aflame.
We opened with the song, “Hava Nagila, Hava…”
And then we sung the rest of the repertoire –
Its sweetness cannot be imagined – its warmth cannot be described!

Blessed art though, song of our people! You warmed and enthused
Every modest celebration, every gathering.
And the owners of the voices – how did their souls enjoy
Every new tune that infiltrated there.


The Chanukah festival was significant to us.
The name Antiochus did not only symbolize the past:
Even in his Russian incarnation, his heirs attempted to decree
Assimilation upon Israel, a desecration of its holy things.

[Page 14]

Of course, the festival of Purim was dedicated to “our Haman”:
Arrows of mockery were sent to the enemies of our time.
An oral newspaper, satirical and mocking
Dealt with every “Haman” and wonderfully beat him.

Hymns with great color and uniqueness were composed
And verses of the times in feuilleton style.
We dedicated light parody to every festival.
An imitation of the Haggadah, and imitation of the Megillah.

The central synagogue, which was nicknamed the Choral
As I remember its name, I recall its Simchat Torah
We celebrated among the many – around it or inside it
(This holiday still demonstrates its power in Russia).

There were also regular events – according to the mood,
There were also memorials – according to the calendar:
We marked the 20th of Tammuz – the memorial of the giant of our generation[5]
The 11th of Adar – Tel Hai and Trumpeldor.


We will also not forget the culinary folklore:
Every holiday reminded you that you were a Jew – not a lion.
Every holiday had its treats – according to the commandments of the season:
Here there are latkes according to tradition – and here hamantashen.;

Here there are treats of matzos, the food of Passover –
And other delicacies that every mouth discussed[6].
Everything that was included in the baking tradition
Prepared by “our fine couples” for everyone who was hungry.

“Our fine couples” – I have not yet noted
That in that reality, there was also a romantic side
Our common lot created “underground couples” –
And more than once romance created a covenant for life.


My activity was both on the surface and descriptive:
In the committee of Tz. Tz. and the youth movement.
Regarding the faction, I confess my sin:
When I joined Tz. Tz. – I had not yet reached the age of eighteen.

[Page 15]

My more senior friends knew this – without doubt –
But, overlooking the law, they let it go quietly.
Because when considering the age of the youth of the generation –
A year of struggles with emergency is like a decade.

We arranged home–based clubs for the youth,
We lectured about literature and the great poets:
On the renown Bialik, on the daring Shneur[7]
And the rest of the poets about whom we already knew then.

We taught Zionism in accordance with the remnants of the press
And past publications from Moscow to Odessa –
The treasury of educational material sufficed
For transmitting the “fate of the Jewish nation.”


The youth did not always meet behind closed doors:
They desired to break through all fences in nature and health.
We were attracted afar, to nature and landscape,
None of these were lacking in the in the city with a beautiful riverbank.

Along the length of the “Prospekt” the path wound upward
The tram “Place of the Paths – Cathedral Yard”
(Vakzal–Sobornaya: Belgian Line, Green Tram:
It was different from afar from the red “City Line”.)

Here is the “Pol Museum”[8] filled with Ukrainian antiquities,
(Again, a hidden memory passes before me from my memory:
My school went to visit there often during my childhood
And a Hebrew expression could be heard among the antiquities.)

The “Potemkin Garden” is on the riverbank
We often wandered around there for an entire day in groups.
Or sometimes, discreetly in an organized group of friends
Of the Zionist youth, under the protection of the trees of the garden.

And for those who desired, due to modesty and calmness
On the Dnieper, opposite the garden, the pleasant Bogomolov Island
Boats floated to the island from a jetty in the garden –
And there was nothing better than its groves for a secret discussion.

[Page 16]

It is obvious that they kept a watchful eye
On everyone whom they thought was suspicious and was on the “black” list.
And many friends had a basis
To be suspicious of an informer (nicknamed “Sek–Sot).

I will describe the arrangement: in the form of “not there”
You get of the tram – and again jump on the tram,
But in the opposite direction – and hasten to the meeting
In a roundabout manner – to “confuse the informer”.


Every underground gathering studied, in some form
They kept secrets in writing with the help of a coder.
When letters were received in coded writing
Only the “experts” knew how to delve into them.

And the expert, “the coder” sat patiently –
Occupied for many hours in the secret work.
Using the key to decipher, complex and wisely,
Hidden in a deep secret – summarized in verses of a poem.

The number of letters, in accordance with their order in the section,
Translated into letters of the alphabet –
Or the essence of the counting was a secret writ,
And letters were sent in the language of numbers.

At that time, there was no concept of an “electronic brain.”
The memory of a lad such as I was sufficient.
Through the power of practice, the memory was trained
To read the hidden language well, even without the help of a dictionary.


The rookies passed a form of “conspirational course.”
The worked on in in groups in a sufficiently naïve fashion.
A counsellor in the form of an “interrogator” taught them to “interrogate”:
To know how to “lie” without signs of recognition.

[Page 17]

The questionnaire was interpreted in any form of interpretation,
To determine what and how to “respond to a heretic”[9].
However, when the time came for an actual test
We discovered that the course was not practical.

In the realm of “vigilance” – there was no shortage of curiosities.
Several lads displayed a sense of inventiveness and initiative.
Between hidden plans and solutions to problems,
I recall a form of a “patent”: removal of evidence.

Between “YE V O S M” (that is the youth movement)
A strange menu opened: binging on mail.
With the clear aim: anything that was swallowed
Will be erased when the arm of the “G P U”[10] searches.

He practiced every day. It is said that he already reached
The pinnacle of swallowing exercises.
But he fattened himself with written and printed material for naught:
In his house, a search was never conducted.


Only very few were no caught in the net.
But then, the hand of Stalin had not yet ruled over the informers.
Most of my friends were sent to jail or were deported –
“In exchange to their punishment”… to Palestine, the Land of Israel.

I was also imprisoned – then I found a wonder:
Complete freedom of speech… specifically in the jail.
Only there could I remove the muzzle from my mouth –
Without fear of imprisonment: for I was already a prisoner.

Regarding any “forbidden” topic, we conducted a debate there.
This was a paradox of the sealed spirit:
In the land of dictatorship and absence of civil rights
Only prisoners merit free debates.


A miracle of liberation occurred – and a miracle of travel also came:
I set sail to the Land of Israel from Odessa…
But to this day, my heart beats with emotion
From the sparks of memory of those days.

[Page 18]

My words have been very long: my pen has conducted a convention here
Of memories of the past that burst through from oblivion.
But I desire to state a few more words:
Not about the past, but rather about the future.

Decades have past – years of blood, and burning fire
Years of destruction in the Diaspora, years of wonder in the homeland.
All parts of the nation of merited the light of the miracle
Except for a large group of “Jews of silence.”

We know: the stream still whispers somewhere over there –
But at times it seems that the hope has ceased.
And suddenly – in the darkness of the fearful days
Of this tragic tribe – a wonderful vision is displayed.

Jewish youth arise: demonstrating for their existence
After a surge of assimilation, the likes of which there never was.
An eternal spark lives, that same eternal light,
That is the answer to “who is a Jew.”

They again drink with thirst from that wellspring
At the end, they will recite the Shehecheyanu blessing
The life of the hidden Jews will no longer be wanton
They will eventually be redeemed, their eternity will not fail them.

The borders of Russia will open! And from there, speedily
Our eyes will witness a stream of aliya!
And you will yet merit to contribute to the growth of its waves
You too, Dnipropetrovsk – Yekaterinoslav!

Tel Aviv
5731 – 1970

Translator's Footnotes

  1. Referring to the February revolution, and the time between the February Revolution and the October (Bolshevik) Revolution. See Return
  2. See Return
  3. See Return
  4. Tzeirei Tzion, or Young Zion. Return
  5. Referring to Theodore Herzl. Return
  6. A play on words here. There have been many in this poem, lost in translation, but this one is worth noting. Passover is “Pesach”, and a mouth that discusses in “Peh Sach.” Return
  7. See Return
  8. See Return
  9. A take–off from Pirkei Avot 2:14. Return
  10. See Return


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