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Glubokie

 

The Destruction of Glubokie

By Michael and Zvi Rajak

Translated supplied by the Kotz family and Eilat Gordin Levitan

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Zvi Rajak

To the Reader

As we commence to depict the events that befell upon us, the horror of the plight of the Jews and their eradication…. Their slaughter by the German murderers. We will pause briefly to describe the circumstances under which the writing of this testament was carried out.

This dairy was written after fleeing from Glubokie at the time of the abominable slaughter on the 19th of the month of Av in 1943. It was written during the time of our wandering - wandering in numerous forests, fields, swamps, etc., where we had to hide from the Germans and their local assistants. And there we wrote on one side of the page something of our encountering, but we were not able to write the other side of the page, aware that we were constantly forced to change our “dwelling place”, migrating from one mire to another, from one forest into another..

Frequently, we changed location several times in a 24-hour period, where we were during the day, we were not during the night and vice versa. Very often, while gathering our thoughts to proceed with the task of recording we were

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ed: “Germans are about”… and we had to run… not knowing how or where to….

Secondly, we constantly found ourselves in a condition of starvation, and many a time, the hunger made itself so strongly felt that our heads swarmed from dizziness, and we had to abandon our writing to scavenge for something to eat. Seeking this type of “hospitality” was fraught with great danger on the one hand, and with difficult moral choices on the other. Besides which, we were not always too successful in finding something. And if there were those who were “humanitarians” and did toss us something to eat, no sympathetic expression was ever displayed.

The main impediment to our task was our dreadful mental state. It was written after the liquidation of the ghetto of Glubokie on August 20, 1943. During a time that those earlier deep wounds had not yet even begun to amend. We refer to the wounds inflicted on us 13 months prior to the final Destruction, the day the Germans murdered our beloved mother.

Added to those deep wounds; I, (M. Rajak), involuntary parted with my dearly beloved wife, Helena, and dearest beloved child, 8 years old Aaron Yitzhakel…, may their memory be blessed…. As the Glubokie ghetto, with its Jewish inhabitants was burning, we were able to flee together at dawn on August 22nd. As we arrived about 3 kilometers from the city, German vehicles with the Glubokie hangman, Vitvitzki, at the head, overtook us, and for 2 hours shot at us with machine guns and rifles. Being confused, we ran from the firing without presence of mind to varied directions, not knowing for many months whom ended up where. As it turned out, we were separated forever! That was the most grievous and catastrophic moment of my life. We were “saved”! Saved in body! My soul remains throughout eternity with my wife and child. My wife was a dear, compassionate woman, but also a renowned, beloved physician, who had saved many children. (She was a pediatrician.)

Feeling the sacred obligation to eternalize the gruesome events that befell the Jewish community of Glubokie, which came to such a violent end. In order to set up a memorial, such as it is, for the holy Glubokie community. For the thousands of Jews who perished with their wives and children, for our dearest and most beloved, who fell for the “Sanctification of the Name”, we have, in spite of our personal devastation and ceaseless despair, sanctified this immense, significant and sacred task.


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To the Story of Glubokie

By Zvi and Michael Rajak

Translated provided by the Kotz family and Eilat Gordin Levitan

Glubokie is an old city, her roots go back to the early 1800's. She lies on a low plain, enveloped by hills. From her topographical image originated the name; “Glubokie”, suggesting certain “depth”. She is located about 200 kilometers northeast of Vilna and 90 kilometers from Polotzk, covering an distance of about 8 square kilometers. Among her monuments most significant is the old castle on the Polish “cemetery” that was named “Napoleon's Tower”. Likewise the thick, checkered boundary, of about half a meter, that encompass the city public garden (park). It was to some extent ruined. Also, in Glubokie of that bygone time, there was old synagogue with a high, far-reaching cupola which made for a splendid vista. Inside, on the wall of the synagogue, there was a very beautiful, skillfully carved Holy Ark, above which, there hung a large Czar's eagle. The eagle was fastened to the very top of the ceiling right into the cupola. In 1920, when Glubokie was taken over by the Poles, the Russian eagle was removed.

 

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Michael Rajak

 

Two kilometers from the city stood an old Berezvetsher monastery. Here, nature was abundant and kaleidoscopic - blessed with a exquisite forest, orchards and gardens.

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The lake, which was called “Lake Berezvetsher”, gave the city a distinctive aura. On the other side of the lake was the Jewish cemetery, in which, until the devastation, one could come upon tombstones erected more than 150 years ago (c 1790). Until the war, Berezvetsh had a laboratory that analyzed flax, hemp, and alike. Students, who were specializing in this field, would come there from all over Poland.

A small stream divided the city into two parts - eastern and western regions. A bridge linked them. The stream banded Lake Berezvetsh with the lake to the south of the city. There was a very picturesque nook by the lake, so called, “Kopanitze”: An avenue lined with trees on both sides. At some places the walk took you deep into the lake and the lake penetrated into the dry land, so there came about a system of inflow and outflow, creating an intricate panorama of peninsulas and islands…

On Shabat afternoons, during the summer, the Jews of Glubokie would serenely stroll on the esplanade. Here you would meet the town's teacher, who after an exhausting week of teaching the children in a dampen, confined room, would come to catch his breath and fill his lungs with a little fresh air. Here, adorned in their Shabat finery, would promenade; the shoemaker, the tailor and denizens with their wives and children. Here, a young couple would set their rendezvous and go on “dates”. Very often the Shabat tranquillity would be “agitated” by the joyous playing of Jewish children, who were released on the Sabbath day from school and studies. The air would resonate with their juvenile, high-pitched voices. Their joyful chatter clustered with their adolescent laughter would be heard from afar.

The “Kopanitze” was a part of the town garden (park). There on a Shabat day, the Jewish youth, children from the orphanage, Cheder students and school children milled about. Very close to the city, was the railroad line - Vilna - Kruleveshtzine - Polotzk. It was a very busy line. The tie with the center, with Vilna, was very firm. Three or four passenger trains a day would pass through, going to and from. On each trip the trains would be overflowing with Jews. Besides which, various freight trains, with imported merchandise, and commodities for export, would pass through. From Glubokie they would send flax, grain, eggs, pelts, rags, hogs-hair, and alike. Merchandise from the provinces, manufactured goods, grocery wares, fancy goods, and the like were imported. The entire business was in Jewish hands.

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The city, in general, was a large trade center and densely populated. In recent times Glubokie was called “Little Danzig”. Up to the war, the population numbered 11,000. Jews made up about half of the population, Poles about 48% and the remainder, White Russians and other nationalities.

 

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A class in the Hebrew Gimnasia ( high school)
The authors; Michael and Zvi Rajak were the heads of the school

 

The Jewish dwellings were concentrated mainly in the central streets and around the market place. The humble Jews lived in the old and new Kishelaike and pubrove and Polne Streets and at the end of Vilna Street, and alike. The so-called “Mashiach's Colony” was very prevalent, due to the fact that in that area there lived a prolific family, named “Tzemach”, a synonym for “Mashiach”, which means Messiah. The residents of the area were made up of strong Jewish porters, draymen, and ordinary working Jews, with whom Jewish Glubokie had to reckon. The family rapidly multiplied, and if not for the catastrophe, they would have contributed greatly to the increase of the Jewish population in Glubokie.

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Most of the Jewish businesses, stores, workshops, and similar, were in the center of the town. On the edge of the town were the mills, leather factories, a sawmill, and alike. In Glubokie there were 2 cinemas that also belonged to Jews. The electric station belonged to the municipality. On the outskirts of the city lived the so-called “town peasants”, they were involved with cultivating the land. There were small-scale fairs but, once a week, on Thursday, there were large fairs. Christians and Jews would arrive from far-away places. Even Jews from Vilna would come to the fairs. With the development and expansion of the commerce, the prosperity of the population increased. The majority of the Jews were well to do. The cinemas showed movies on a daily basis. Very often, a Jewish or a Polish troupe would come to present a play, and the performances would be well attended. During the summer Jews would go to repose in their summer homes. In town there were about 1,100 dwellings, many two-storied, and, a few, even three-storied.

The Jewish Executive Committee of the Community of Glubokie was a wealthy one. It owned a large amount of land dubbed the” Jewish Pasture”. The Glubokie Jews also had their personal meadows for feeding their cattle, and from it, the community derived a nice income. The community also had, in the center of town, its own shops, which were rented out to Jewish shopkeepers_ The Jewish population paid, into the community chest, a special tax. Besides that, the community had income from birth certificates, weddings, circumcisions, burials, and similar activities. For it's part the community supported the Rabbis, ritual slaughterers, various communal institutions, insolvent individuals, bankrupt Jews, and other needs. The head of the Glubokie community, before the war, was Rabbi Mordechai Lev, of blessed memory, an enlightened Jew, a master of the Talmud, and a fervent Lubavitch Hassid. He was also a writer, with an elegant, enticing mode of speech. He conducted a daily study group in Talmud, in the Starosyelier Synagogue, which was always very well attended. Outwardly, he did not make a very powerful impression. The reason was that he supplemented his income by being a flour merchant, and except for Shabat and holidays, was always dusted with flour. His integrity and eloquence could only be truly appreciated when one conversed with him, and became better acquainted him.

 

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The chidren organization in the Yiddish school

 

The organization, “Toz”, helped sick Jews. “Toz” had

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its own infirmary for out-patients. Over the years all kinds of doctors had worked there. During the last few years, Dr. Yitzhok Britanishsky of Vilna, was employed there. He was also the deputy mayor of the town. There was also a children's' consultation clinic, administered by a woman physician, Dr. Vilkomirska-Rajak, (the wife of M. Rajak). She, and their 8 year old son, were murdered by the Germans on the 21st day of Av, in the year 5703 (1943).

The women's' association in Glubokie was composed of local, dynamic women, who would aid poor brides, support orphans, help out during childbirth, and other comparable activities. A unique institution in Glubokie was the Child Protection Society. Jewish youth, regardless of their social standing or economic circumstance, cared for the destitute Jewish children. They would go to the cheders (one-room schools), schools, children's' homes, and also private insolvent homes, and concern themselves with the children, their circumstances and necessities, and they would do their utmost for them, especially those in greatest need. They would provide them with food and clothing. The Jewish youth organization would especially display their efficiency during the cold autumn and winter months.

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The Jewish bank, which was held in esteem, did an enormous volume of business. For both the large and small merchants, the bank would grant assistance in the expansion of their enterprises. In volume, the Jewish bank outdid the local Polish Government Bank. A very important institution, was the “Free Loan Society”. They would lend out money, for a long-term duration, without charging any interest, and the repayment would be made in installments. Hundreds of craftsmen and small shopkeepers were put back on their feet by the Jewish “Free Loan Society”.

A Merchants' Union and a Hand-craftsmen's' Union was established. Both vibrated with activities for the mutual benefit of the members. The task of the “Bread for the Poor” Society, was to provide impoverished Jews with “challahs”, meat and other necessities for Shabat. They also saw to it that Jewish prisoners would attain kosher food on weekdays, Sabbaths and holidays. On the High Holy Days, the Society would arrange for a “minyan” (quorum of 10 adult males) for the incarcerated Jews. It is worth mentioning some of the names of the participants in these good enterprises: David, the carpenter, of blessed memory, who died before the war. He was an elderly Jew, who, during his entire life, enjoyed working with his hands, and sought to help the needy in whatever way necessary. He stuttered, but everyone could comprehend what he said. The entire Jewish community of Glubokie properly honored His valuable activities. Often, he would leave his workbench, cut short his work, which was his livelihood, and go out to collect money for the “Bread for the Poor” Society. Not a single Jewish home would deny him a donation. Everyone contributed joyously. The Jews of Glubokie respected his dedication, which was completely selfless. On a holiday, he and another person would go out with a large basket from house to house, gathering “challah”, fish, meat, and alike., for the Jews who had been arrested. “They also have to eat!” he would contend. “It's a holiday!” He would organize other fairs to help carry out these righteous projects. And thus it became a tradition, for the Jews of Glubokie, to bake and cook for the Jewish prisoners in the local jail, before a holiday.

R' Shlomo Bogin, now in America, the former editor of the local Jewish newspaper, also helped this Society. A very active participant in the leadership of local Jewish and social institutions, was David Munvoz, who came to a tragic end. He would work everywhere, whenever

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he was needed, the House of Study (Beis Hamedrash), the library, Mizrachi or Poale Zion, religious or secular enterprises. He never refused a call for help. Everywhere he was “exploited”. Very often, he would put out money for one or two institutions and be paid back in installments. He was a devoted director and put the needs of the public first. He was the Gabbai (man who distributes honors and keeps order) in the big Synagogue. He worked tirelessly until the day he was murdered by the Germans - may their names be blotted out.

 

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The Glubokie Library on a Flower Day

The town had a library with massive amount of books in Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, Russian, and other languages. There were numerous readers who were adequate in all of these languages. The number of books would constantly increase and would be loaned out to local readers as well as readers from the surrounding provincial towns and villages, for their Jewish youth.

Glubokie was known for her varied Zionist organizations, beginning with the god-fearing Mizrachi and all the way to the Socialist Poale Zion and Hashomer Hatzair on the far left. All of them conducted a broad range of activities. Their accomplishments for the Jewish National Fund and the Keren Hayesod (Foundation Fund) were done in a united way. All worked for these funds with devotion, without any distinctions. One of the strongest and most effective organizations was the Hechalutz. (Pioneers) The Glubokie branch was well known throughout the Vilna

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district. The youth of Hechalutz was active in all aspects of community life in Glubokie. Most effective was their Hachshara. (Pioneer preparatory training camp for those preparing to go to Palestine.)

There were also Bundists and Socialist Democrats (non Zionist left). They were small and weakly organized groups. Strongly established were the so-called “Yiddishists”. They were against speaking Hebrew, and preserving the Yiddish essential quality. Their influence was strongly felt. In Glubokie there was also an underground Communist cell. Active in it were also Jewish young people, some of them, due to their activities, spent many years in the Lukishker Prison in Vilna. They were: Chaim Svidler, David Veitzkin, Chaste Tzeitel, Sarah-Riva Baoudin, Rachel Glaz, and others.

The Hebrew School in Glubokie, under the supervision of the writers of these lines, not only occupied the most prominent position of all local institutions, but was also popular and well known far beyond the boundaries of Glubokie. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, in 1927, the school became a middle school, and graduated hundreds of male and female students - proud of their national heritage and well educated in all spheres. Many of them later became famous. Who, in Vilna, was not acquainted with the prodigy, Aaron-Yaakov Lazavik, of blessed memory, who most certainly would have become of the true great in the land of Israel? From that school, a large proportion of the youth later went on to study in schools of higher education, and later distinguished themselves. Moshe Chaves and Aaron Godin as doctors; Liptshe Gurevitsh, Freidl Tzentziper, David Pliskin, Raphael Valstein of Nei-Fahast, and others as teachers, Aaron-Zelick Pliskin as an actor. And many, many others….

Among the brave fighters of the Haganah, there is to be found an admirable list of former students of the above-mentioned institution, who distinguished themselves by their bravery in the liberation of Israel. They were Shloimke Chevlin, Shimon Shapiro, Tzvi Slabodkin, and others. Youth, not only from Glubokie, but from the entire surrounding area, attended that school, in order to learn Torah and acquire an all-round education Besides the Polish government mandated curriculum, and besides the general secular studies, a student, in ending the course of study in the school, had to be well versed in Bible, Jewish History, Hebrew and Yiddish literature, the Aggadah, and alike. It is worthwhile dedicating a few words to the role played by the Yiddish-Hebrew School in Glubokie; of her educational value, not only for the youth and children, but also for parents, for Jews of all sorts, and in general.

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The city, for example, would often have undertakings of various functions. The traditional, open to the public, school activities during the year, consisted of: Chanukah evenings, Purim evenings, Lag Lag B'Omer activities, Passover and Succot celebrations and Tu - B'Shvat projects. The evening celebrations would revitalize not only the school youth and children, but also the older people of the entire city and surrounding area.

 

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The graduation of the “ladies seamstresses” from the ORT Society

 

For the Chanukah and Purim evenings of the school, the Jews would wait even more anxiously than for the other holidays of a more religious character. The tasteful Yiddish and Hebrew songs of the school choir became the hit songs for everyone, a heritage of Jewish Glubokie. They would immediately be sung at weddings and circumcisions, and in the branch meetings of the various organizations, in informal and social clubs, and the like. Even on Simchat Torah, during the Hakafot (circling the synagogue, holding the scrolls of the Torah), they were sung in the House of Study. The presentations of the musical operettas: “Bar Kochba”, “Hannah and Her Seven Sons”, “Chanukah-Gelt”, “Ahashverosh”, “The Errant Maiden”, “Yisroelik”, and many, many more, still remain in the memory, to this day, of those who survived. It is enough to mention that a Chanukah or Purim evening, performed by the school children, would, at the public's request, have to be performed 2 or 3 times. Even considering

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the large size of the auditorium, “The Liyudovi”, there wasn't enough room for all those who wanted to see the performance.

On Lag B'Omer, the school holiday wasn't restricted to the four walls of the school building. On that day there would occur a real Jewish National street celebration. Hundreds of children and young people, with flags, with posters and banners of all sorts, would march out to the woods. The little ones would be transported in tens of wagons, and in later years, in automobiles and the like. The queue of youth would sing their Lag B'Omer repertoire of songs as they marched through the entire city, and into the forest. The children' singing rang out in the spring air, so sweet and delicious. On both sides of the street, there would stand Jewish and Christian onlookers. The Jews, naturally, would enjoy and “kvell” with happiness. Many Jews would leave their enterprises for the day and make it a holiday instead of a workday, join the children and let themselves be dragged alone to the forest by the stream of adolescence. This weekday holiday became, through the Jewish school, a true Jewish Holiday. This sort of demonstration would also leave a strong impression on the local non-Jewish population.

The arrival to the forest would herald the commencement of the real celebration of the holiday. There would be a Lag B'Omer picnic feast, sports, presentations, singing, orations, and alike. No one would even pay attention when this jovial day came to an end, people would linger on…. At night they would return to the city, singing, and causing a stir, so that they were greeted with joy and enthusiasm by the city populace. For this Lag B'Omer celebration, Glubokie Jews would wait…. In mentioning school holidays, we cannot skip over Tu B'Shvat (the 15th day of the month of S'hvat, New Year of, the Trees). This holiday likewise had its special merit and value, and not only within the four walls of the school. If not for the school, the Jews of Glubokie wouldn't know and wouldn't appreciate this particular holiday. Religious people would have observed it by not reciting the mournful daily prayers., and making the special blessing (“She'eche'yanu”) over a new fruit, and those who observed only Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and didn't' recite blessings at all, would know absolutely nothing about the New Year of the Trees. The school would celebrate this holiday in a most original way. Already, a few weeks before the holiday, the Jewish National Fund of Warsaw would send packages of pictures and information about life in the land of Israel. The small, illustrated bags, which were included, would be filled with the fruit of the land: Carob, figs,

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raisins, and also chocolate, candies and other goodies. For the evening, the auditorium was decorated, and on the walls were inscribed slogans of the day. In the center hung a silvered Star of David, with a fruit laden tree in its midst. The children would come adorned in their holiday finery, and would bring their parents, brothers, sisters and just any guests.

 

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The Hebrew Gimnasia and brothers Rajak

 

For such a celebration, there would occasionally appear a “grandmother”; but what a grandmother! A lively, jolly, Jewish old lady, who couldn't get enough of the “nachas” of the “Land of Israel” within the four walls of the Glubokie Jewish school in the heart of winter…. Older children would present different Land of Israel skits, such as the planting of trees, the bringing of “first fruits”, and others. During these presentations they would sing the songs: Shalom Aleichem Jews, Tell Me Dear Maiden, Tu B'Shvat, To the Bird, and alike.

The shipment of the Jewish National Fund parcels of fruit as presents would be quite poignant. It would look somewhat like this: Many bags filled with the fruit of the Land were placed on a large table in the middle of the auditorium. At the table sat a committee of five of the older students, and two “couriers”

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stood by, ready to serve…. The parcels could be bought for a pre-set minimum price. But a lot more than the agreed upon charge was usual paid, because the money was a donation to the Jewish National Fund. No one would purchase the parcels for themselves, but they would send them as gifts to somebody else. For example: “Sarahle” ordered five bags, paid for them, and on a slip wrote the names of those to whom she wanted them to be delivered. The “couriers”, or as they would jokingly be called, the “Voyazshorn”, used to announce loudly the name of the person receiving the offering, and then carry it to the “address”. Those who would receive the gifts would not be bashful and they would send them back. In this way, everyone would be drawn into the activity. The parcels would find their way back and forth many times, and then be auctioned off anew. In this way the same bag made the rounds again and again, and each time it would bring in a contribution for the Jewish National Fund.

The Tu B'Shvat evenings of the Glubokie Jewish School were popular, not only in Glubokie, but also in the Warsaw Jewish National Fund, where they were noted as a unique tradition. Such an evening, would have, besides the large income for the JNF, colossal educational value for the entire Jewish establishment. It would do more for the building of the Jewish Homeland than all of the usual commotion, sermons, declarations and discussions. In time, this Tu B'Shvat Holiday became a tradition. Village merchants would watch the calendar, and two weeks before they would present their wares and request that they be given a stall to lease, to sell their carob and figs, which they claimed were truly from the Holy Land.

The school had a large choir, which was directed in the early years by Melech Bielinske. The choir would perform during these school celebrations with a plentiful repertoire. We must mention here, albeit with but a few words, the children's' club. They would fill the rooms of the school, when they would gather, not only on holidays, but also on Friday evenings in the winter and Shabat afternoons in the summer. Not only school children, but also with other youngsters and parents, who used to come to spend a few hours with the students. They were not able to tear themselves away from the spiritual pleasure which they found there. The melodic singing of the choir would bring tears to their eyes. The discussions between teachers and older students of various topics made them proud. the declamations and recitations by students, the different plays, in which both old and young would take part, were so intense, that it seemed

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that the spiritual life was elevated and seemed eternal. It felt as if their Jewish spirit Would never be extinguished.

The ambience sparkled like the Sabbath, and the frame of mind so joyful, not at all artificial, but with an authentic flavor of the “world to come”….Those who experienced the children's' club in those days will never forget the experience. They won't forget the true spiritual thrill, which seized all of the bystanders, the thrill which pinched the soul, and would blow into the workaday week, the genuine supplementary soul. (Based on a traditional Jewish belief, that a Jew who observes the Sabbath is endowed with an additional soul for the entire Sabbath day.)

 

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Members of Hashomer Hatzair

 

The extensive, diverse, many faceted and unique activities of the Glubokie School received publicity, at the time, in the daily Jewish press in Vilna, and also in many pedagogic periodicals and journals. Through various officials school activists, and public relations people, the outstanding events in the life of the school, would be brought to the public's attention. In the columns of the Vilna “Tzeit” (Time) and “Tag” (The Day, which was a Yiddishist paper), would be found from time to time, articles and notices about the Glubokie School. One such notice, under the headline: “The First Commencement of the Glubokie Jewish School”, which appeared on the 27th of August, 1925 (7th of Elul, 5685) no. 174, was found in the Vilna Museum, after the War, in 1946. We quote: “On the 16th of August, at a festive assemblage, in the presence of Dr. Vigodsky, who came specially from Vilna for

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the Commencement. There were also present the Mayor (Burgomeister) of Glubokie, and representatives of all local institutions, and also delegations of all of the groups in the Jewish population. The Commencement took place in the beautifully decorated auditorium of the Jewish Folks-Bank. It was the first Commencement Exercise of the Jewish School.

After the opening ceremony and greetings from the Director of the school, M. Rajak, Dr. Vigodsky, who was chosen as Honorary Chairman, gave a warm speech, greeting the children and also the general audience. There were also greetings from the Glubokie community, the teachers, and from various institutions and persons. Many written greetings, letters and dispatches were read. Separate mention must be made of the warm and helpful words of greeting from the local Mayor, who, in a fiery speech promised to support the Jewish School. At the end of the proceedings, several works of students were read, and the outstanding one among them was the work of the student, Aaron Veitzkin, who wrote about the characteristics of the prophets, Amos and Hosea.

Then there was the distribution of the diplomas to the graduates: 1) Aaron Veitzkin; 2) Hirsh Chaves; 3) Pesach Mindlin; 4) Devorah Katz; 5) Zalman Shaynkman; 6) Michael Shapira; 7) Baruch Shapira; 8) Slave Shparber; and 9) Geshe Shulheifer. The affair was so impressive that one of the parents called out, in a trembling voice: 'Fortunate are the eyes which behold all of this!' After the official program was over, there was a reception at prepared tables, which lasted well past midnight. Then began the most spirited and festive part of the proceedings. The youngsters, together with the honorable and dear Dr. Vigodsky, sang, recited, and then, together with the entire audience, enjoyed themselves immensely. For a long, long time, Glubokie will remember the First Commencement Exercise of the Jewish School.”

The above mentioned students were almost all victims of the Germans, may their names be blotted out, except for Aaron Veitzkin and Baruch Shapira, may they have a long life, who now live in Israel. In the early years, there also existed in Glubokie a Yiddishist School and a very orthodox school, “'T'ushia”_ All of these were filled with students, with “Moishelech” and “Shloimelech”, and everywhere there pulsated a vigorous Jewish life. All has disappeared! ALL LOST! THERE IS NO MORE YOUTH, NO PARENTS, NO TEACHERS! ONE GREAT DESOLATION! GRAVES UPON GRAVES!….

The greatest portion of the school youth, to our great misfortune, remained

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in the graves in the fields and woods around Glubokie. A small proportion, which was already in Palestine and other countries, during the German occupation, where the German boot had not tread, remained alive. This small remnant of living youth, is a memorial and tribute to the former beautiful and distinguished educational establishment in Glubokie.

 

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Wedding of Moshe Leib Rodstein
(well-known communal worked of the Chasidim of Chabad)

 

Glubokie also had a very fine Yeshiva. Tens of Yeshiva Bachurim (young men) learned Torah there. The Glubokie Jews supported them, almost on their shoulders. The prominent supporters, with Rabbi Katz, of blessed memory, at the head, were the .Shochet (ritual slaughterer) R' Benzion Chanovitsh, of blessed memory, R' Shalom Weinstein and his son-in-law, R' Shachnovitsh, of blessed memory, and others. All were righteous, without blame and upright. Of the heads of the Yeshiva there was the present Warsaw Rabbi, Rabbi Katz (not so well known), R' Mordecai Yeshurun, of blessed memory, and the last one before the war, R' Reuven Moses, of blessed memory. He perished in the Holocaust. He had been a disciple of the famed and holy, “Chafetz Chaim”, may the Zaddik's memory be a blessing. He had strongly hoped that the Jews of Glubokie would peacefully overcome the catastrophe of the German occupation. I am reminded of his great faith and trust, and how, with certainty, he expressed himself once during the month of Adar in 1942. (The month in which the Holiday of Purim falls): “During these months of salvation - Adar and Nissan (the month in which Passover occurs) - the Jews must get rid of the Germans. Just like in those days - a miracle will also take place now!” Glubokie also had Jewish religious elementary schools called Cheders. The old One, “Yosheh Tishes”, of blessed memory,

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had shaped several generations of students. Some of his students must still be around somewhere. He was considered the best teacher….most able and competent. In addition there were R' Eliakum, a typical teacher from a White Russian or Lithuanian town; R' Koppel Feigelman; Levitanos and others, were more modern.

In the town there were 10 Houses of Study, Hassidic and non Hassidic. The larger ones were the Staroselier, the Lubavitch and the “House of Study”. The separate congregation in the upper school consisted of over 1000 people. In all of the Houses of Study there were daily prayers and learning sessions. How solemn the town appeared on the holidays, especially Rosh Hashanah, when, after the services, thousands of Jews streamed out of the Houses of Study and Synagogues; men, women and children. All were dressed in their holiday finery, and would deafen all passers-by, with their traditional greetings: “Gut Yom T'ov!” (Have a Good Holiday!).

The town had 3 Rabbis: two Hassidic and one who wasn't Hassid. Of these, Harav Yosef Halevi Katz, may the memory of the righteous be blessed, was a Rabbi in Glubokie for about forty years. He called himself “The Vishinter”, since he came from the small Lithuanian town of Vishint. He could trace his ancestry back through a long chain of rabbis spanning many generations. He was a member of the Mizrachi Religious Zionist Party, and actively engaged in communal affairs. Of the Hassidic rabbis, there was the well-known, brilliant R' Avrohom, may the memory of the righteous be blessed. After his death Glubokie was without a Hassidic rabbi for a long time, since no arrangement could be made with a rabbi. Later there came R' Zundel Rabinzon from Radashkovitsh ( see Radoshkovich Yizkor book for information and pictures of the family), and after him, R' Menachem Mendel Koopershtok. They were distinguished rabbis. The latter left for the Land of Israel quite a while before the war. Then R' Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch came and the non-Hassidim took R' Hillel Zalmanovitsh, the son-in-law of rav Katz, as their rabbi. All of them together with their families perished at the hands of the Germans. R' Katz on the 4th of Tammuz, 5702; R' Menachem Mendel Mandelbaum, the Lubavitcher, -on the 19th of Av, 5703 and R' Zalmanovitsh in Vilna, when the Germans entered the city.

The Jewish doctors were: Mrs./ Dr. Vilkamerska Rajak, the wife of M. Raiyak. She was the administrator of the Jewish Childrens' Consultation Service, and had great satisfaction from her work, which involved helping the sick and the poor. She herself was an enlightened woman, and a true saint in her generation, in the full meaning of the word “saint”! Being a good doctor, she was very popular, also among the Christian population. When she was already in the ghetto, they would come to her to seek out ways to receive her help and her advice for their sick. (Jewish doctors had been forbidden by the Nazis to heal sick Christians.)

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Dr. Britanistisky, the head doctor of “Toz”, an eminent gynecologist, renowned in the entire area, was also the vice-mayor of Glubokie. Dr. Kasriel Kalmanovitch of Germanovitch, a young doctor of very prominent lineage, was orthodox, and is now lives in Riga. Towards the end of the war, Dr. Nachum Lekach, a son of Shimon Lekach from Disne, settled in Glubokie. Later he became one of the most popular surgeons.

 

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Professional school – Women seamstresses

 

Very popular here was the barber-surgeon, Yehoshua Geller, Israel the barber-surgeon's son. Also Christians held him in high esteem. He was one of the first victims of the German murderers. (Exact details will be given in the account of events during the Holocaust.) Glubokie had a considerable number of Jewish dentists. These included the two Faigelson sisters, Sarah Shulovitch, who was Michael Alperovitch's daughter; Moshe Katzovitch's daughter-in-law; Friedman-Yash from Yatke Street; Ginsberg and others.

There were also several ritual-slaughterers (Shochets). The chief of them was R' Benzion Kanovitch, of blessed memory, a son of the old ritual slaughterer, R' Israel, who bred

[Page 30]

a chain of ritual-slaughterers here in Glubokie. He was a fervent Lubavitcher Hassid. His wife, Elke, may she rest in peace, was a God-fearing woman, a sister of R' Maier German from Lieplie, the author of “Bais Rabi”. Of this many branched family, only four children survived. One came to Israel and three others to America, at the start of the German-Polish War (1939).

All of the town's organizations, institutions, and alike would often sponsor varied activities of one or another of the institutions. The local communal undertakings were very active. Very popular were the balls arranged by the women's auxiliary of the “Toz”, the bazaars of the Jewish National Fund and others. How cheerfully and passionately would the young people run about with the flowers on “Flower Day”! The local youth also had a drama circle and quite often a troupe from a center in Warsaw or Vilna would come. Various distinguished personalities, eminent Zionist activists and guests from the Land of Israel would appear. And also so many others!

In town Jewish life moved along noisily. Everyone jointly, the religious and secular; the old and the young; grandchildren and grandfathers were acquainted as family. One locked tight, closely knit, joyous unification that made Jewish life spicy, juicy, spirited and absolutely delightful. It is difficult, in retrospect, to paint a faithful picture of all of the influences. Much more could be written about the Yiddish school, about the Yeshivah, the library and other institutions that the Jews created there. Not to mention the dedicated civic and public employees.

In listing the organizations in Glubokie, mention must be made of the Jewish sports organization: “Maccabi”, which numbered several hundred youth. One's heart would quiver with joy, witnessing these young healthy boys and girls, in their sports outfits, marching to the sound of music, through the town on a holiday, on a Lag B'Omer outing, or going to the stadium for a match or gymnastics. Thousands of people would stream from all over town, and the site would assemble with onlookers. The Firemen's' Organization, which consisted mostly of Jews must also be spoken of. During celebrations, both Jews and the general populace would come to watch them marching through the streets, as they captivated their attention.

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The town's orchestra consisted entirely and exclusively of Jews under the direction of Bertchik Lekach, who is now in Valbzshik, Poland. Glubokie was a provincial center and part of the Vilna Military District. It was the seat of government for the local parliament and magistrate. It also housed a provincial hospital and bank, and other state and communal institutions. There were also two Polish elementary schools, a Polish high school, a big library, a vocational school, and a nursery.

Glubokie is destroyed! No Jews are there! Not even a memory remains of our past there! Just naked walls of several synagogues protrude, as the only witnesses of a former Jewish settlement. The murderers also destroyed the Jewish cemetery. They chopped down the trees. With the headstones they paved sidewalks and built a theatre. And there, where the bones of entire generations of noted great scholars and rabbis rested, on the hallowed ground of the Jewish graveyard, cattle and horses graze today. However, this consecrated place was mostly tarnished by the two legged beasts!

 

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