Finkel would visit Yurburg to see his relatives and he would also drop in at the Hashomer Hatzair nest (clubhouse) for conversation. The youngsters liked and admired him. The teachers of the school in Yurburg were his friends too. That is how he met teacher Haim Seiger. Nahum Finkel influenced Haim Seiger to join the scouts nest - "Hashomer Hatzair" - and he soon became its head. In his position as head of the nest Haim would appear as a man of virtue, almost a monk, who observes the ten commandments of the movement as if they were religious duties. When a scout would leave the movement they would sit "shiva", try to find points of blame with the leaders and their educational attitude. The members of the nest would rise when Haim walked up and down the long room and would, as it were, eulogize the departed. He would say "do not cry for the dead, cry for the one who is leaving . . . " his words were uttered in a hoarse and pressed voice and their echo could be heard in all the corners of the large room.
Haim was persistant in his moral claims on the scouts and especially the adolescent girl scouts. One day, a social evening was held in town and the program inter alia included a beauty contest. One of the girl scouts of the adolescents group at the nest went to the event out of curiosity, modestly dressed. She arrived at the event without any expectations and she won the "Most Beautiful Girl of Yurburg" award. Indeed she well deserved this honour . . . however, Haim found this to be aesthetically wrong and against moral standards expected of scouts. Haim summoned the girl scout for clarification and condemned her behaviour.
At Haim's inspiration the nest's meetings became Musarnik conferences. The parties were also marked by this. Haim would sing Hassidic songs in candlelight, accompanied on the guitar and sad songs, heart yearning, such as Shnior's "Deserted Hand", Tchernichovsky's "Play- play along " and Bialik's "Take me under your wing" etc. When he spoke in his soft Hebrew style and attractive voice, everyone listened to him attentively and with truly holy respect.
Haim exerted a very strong influence on each and every scout. He was unique and unforgettable. Both at the nest and at school.
When the Nazi hooligans entered Lithuania, during Wold War II, disaster struck Haim Seiger and his girlfriend Rivkale Karabelnik.
Rachel, Rivka's older sister, went on aliyah to Eretz Yisrael (see the article "Rachel Niv from Yurburg to Beth Zera"). Rivka's younger sister, Hannah (Trainin) also went to Eretz Yisrael and established her home there.
Haim and Rivka whose eyes were always directed towards Zion, got caught up in the terrible Holocaust and were cruelly killed by the Nazi murderers and their Lithuanian helpers.
The friends of Haim Seiger, outstanding man and educator, will never forget him as long as they live, or the sweet and kindhearted Rivkale. They loved and were loved during their lives and did not part in death - blessed be their memory.
Israel Dimantman was a dynamic person and he was well-known in the Hebrew public circles in Lithuania. He was a member of the "Tarbut (Culture)" center and "Hamoreh (Teachers)" union and took part in the publication of the paedagogic paper "On the path of education" in Kovna. Dimantman published many articles on peadagogical and educational subjects. He also wrote a pacifist novel in Russian called "Nakanona" (Not yet).
Israel Dimantman was a staunch Zionist and devoted to the idea of building Eretz Yisrael. In 1936 he visited Israel and was very much impressed by its development and progress in all wakes of life. On his return he wrote articles about the Zionist venture taking place in Israel, and mainly about Hebrew as the daily language of students and their parents. He postponed his aliyah to Israel for a couple of years . . . .
In the meantime great events took place in our lives - true upheavals. In 1939 Vilna
was attached to the Vilna and Lithuania region. Dimantman was appointed principal of the Hebrew Gymnasium called Epstein in Vilna. More than a year later he found himself in the Vilna ghetto. Dimantman, a dynamic person, accomplished a lot even under these circumstances and contributed as much as he could to the cultural and educational life in the ghetto, at first as a teacher and then as principal of schools and the person in charge of cultural work in the ghetto. In those days a Hebrew literature contest was held at the ghetto; Dimantman took part in this competition and won two awards for his story "Up to the gate" and for a play in Yiddish about life in the ghetto.
When the ghetto was dismantled Israel Dimantman was sent to the forced labour camp in Kaloaoga (Esthonia) and near the end of the war he was sent to the labour camp at Shtuthof (Germany) where he died.
It should be mentioned that wherever he was, and under all circumstances Dimantman proved to be a reliable public person, full of initiative and energy to work for others, very devoted. Until his death. Blessed be his memory.
The Man and the Public Figure
The son, Berl Levinberg, who is the subject of this article, studied accounting. When "Export Handel" was set up in the early 1920s, Berl was appointed manager of the company.
Berl excelled at his work at the commercial company, and stood out with his initiative and organizational talent. "Export Handel" was a large company which included 20 export traders, and the scope of its business attained many millions. In the course of his work Berl gained commercial- managerial expertise and made progress in his work.
However, it should be mentioned that Berl was not the kind of person who was
satisfied merely with commercial and business matters. Berl found spritual satisfaction in the "Maccabi" federation in Yurburg, the sports club, of which most youngsters were members. Berl was elected Chairman of the branch and managed it in a sensible and strong manner. He was a gifted man and knew ho to express himself. His Yiddish was fluent and a little pathetic.
Berl himself was not a sportsman, perhaps due to a fragile disposition - he looked thin and pale - and perhaps because he was busy with his many occupations.
Berl looked after the organization of the "Maccabi" branch and its sports equipment, as well as the cultural activity in a nationalist-Zionist spirit. He asked teachers and public figures to join the cultural activity. And indeed, everything was very well organized.
Berl considered his volunteer task at "Maccabi" a nationalist-Zionist duty.
One day when a group of friends asked him to establish a "pioneer youth" circle in the framework of "Maccabi", he immediately agreed. The pioneer idea was consistent with his outlook on life and he liked it. Berl offered his home for the meetings of the circle, and even took part in them hemself. However, when the circle was established and called the "Trumpeldor Regiment", Berl did not join it, because the circle obliged its members to implement pioneering, i.e. go on training and aliyah to Israel.
After a while the circle members joined the "Hashomer Hatzair" youth movement, headed by Zvulun Poran, committee member. Berl regretted the circle's departure from "Maccabi", but was very happy that friends who had been educated at "Maccabi" would implement pioneering, for aliyah to Israel and building the land were the essence of Zionism.
Berl continued to be active at "Maccabi" with all his heart and soul. Many positive things were done to encourage physical education and also in the cultural field. Everything seemed beautiful, almost perfect . . . Berl believed that this situation would go on forever. However, reality was different. Fateful events led to serious political and social upheaval in Lithuania. "Export Handel", which was active in Yurburg from the early 1920s, was eventually dismantled, due to the decrees of the nationalist- anti-semitic government, headed by Volmaras. The government took all the export/import business away from the Jews by government decree. All the different kinds of businessmen in Yurburg and Lithuania became destitute. This decree came as a shock to the Jewish population in Lithuania. Berl Levinberg too found himself cut off from his source of living. He, like his contemporaries, looked for ways to make a living, and when they failed to find them - not in Yurburg and not in Lithuania - they decided to emigrate. Berl wanted to go to Eretz Yisrael, but a certificate was hard to get . . . therefore Berl emigrated to Canada, where the gates were open to immigration.
Berl emigrated to Canada, and thus exchanged one diaspora for another, against his wish. In Montreal Berl found a job, and did not change his taste. Wherever he was he always remained the same warm "Litvak" and was a faithful Zionist in his outlook. Berl did not achieve much for himself in Canada, however he achieved much - as a volunteer - for Eretz Yisrael. Berl was elected member of the Zionist center of Canada's Jews and also Deputy Chairman of Keren Hakayemet. There were many Jewish immigrants in Canada from Lithuania who donated large sums of money to the nationalist funds. The Canadian Jews were particulary generous in their contributions to Eretz Yisrael, and Berl's share in this activity was significant. This was well-known in Israel as well, and when Berl came to Israel on a visit, he received a warm welcome. Berl was happy to see the country, breathe its air and spirit, enjoy the act of Jewish creation, and particularly what was achieved with the donation of the Jews from Canada. One day, when Berl climbed to the top of a mountain, to the west of Jerusalem, and saw a large area, entirely covered by forests, named after Canada, his eyes filled with tears of joy.
The dream of the forests which he had dreamt in Yurburg had come true in the mountains of Israel!. . .
When Berl visited Israel he looked everywhere for people from Yurburg, in towns and villages. When he found pioneers from Yurburg at a kibbutz, he was very happy. He was proud of them. Praised them, and only regretted he himself had not physically contributed to the building of the country.
In the last years of his life Berl fell ill. He had no energy left. He moved from the cold climate of Canada to the warmth of Florida in the U.S.A. From Florida too he wrote nostalgic letters to his friends in Israel. He wanted to know what was going on. Our concerns were his concerns. Nevertheless, he never forgot Yurburg, the cradle of his birth, the home of his parents. Yurburg which no longer exists.
When he learned that the Jewish community of Yurburg would be commemorated in a book of remembrance, he was enchanted. He himself sent the first article for the book, in which he nostalgically described Yurburg and its Jewish community, which was totally destroyed. We, his childhood friends, have hereby fulfilled his and our wish by publishing the book of remembrance of the Yurburg community, as we knew it in its days of glory and disaster, a book which will beqeathe the values of our fathers in Yurburg to many generations to come. What a pity that Berl did not live to see the book of remembrance published. Blessed be his memory.
The diary is written in Yiddish - a popular and juicy Yiddish - with a treasure of folklore characteristic to the little Jewish town. The diary speaks of family occasions and various personalities who walked along the streets of Yurburg and we never saw them, and social events which we did not witness.
It was Hinda's ambition to see the diary printed in a special book, but she did not have the good fortune to see this happen. She would certainly have been happy to at least see the two parts out of her diary that were translated into Hebrew for the book of remembrance of the Yurburg community, but even this did not happen, what a pity. It was not easy to translate the parts we present in the book of remembrance. The conversations and dialogues of the simple people in their popular language required the translator to adapt himself to the original language and to adhere - as far as possible - to its special style. Reading the diary, one could feel her great love of Yiddish - the "Mamaloushen" - and the atmosphere of the little Jewish town. Hinda remembered everyone by his name, and even by his nickname.
Hinda Levenberg- Becker
In her diary Hinda takes an interest in every detail of the town's Jews - their occupations, jobs, professions and even the idle Jews, who sat around and gossiped. Hinda's diary reflects the entire atmosphere of the little town as through a looking-glass. There are a few romantic stories in the diary as well, but more romanticism and love for the past. When we read the diary we grasp the reality of the man in the street in his daily life in town. In short: Hinda's diary is a fascinating diary about the little Jewish town, an expression of different and strange people, a world in its own . . marvelous!. . .
Perhaps we should have presented the diary as it was written in Yiddish, the Yiddish of our fathers - the "Litvakian Yiddish"?! We thought about it and asked ourselves: "for whom is the book of remembrance? For us, the "disappearing generation" who knew Yurburg, or for our sons and their children who did not know Yurburg and the Yiddish language?!" The answer was straight and unhesitating-to translate the parts of the diary into Hebrew - and that is what we did.
We are confident that we "did the right thing" for the next generations, who will wish to read and get to know their forefathers and their history.
Hinda studied at the Hebrew Gymnasium in Yurburg and even graduated from it. She was a good student, but not outstanding in any way. At that time Hinda did not show any particular love for the Hebrew language or Zionism. She did not join any youth movement - either in sports or the scouts or an ideological circle. She was not interested in any of these, and thought they were childish. Hinda lived in a world of her own. She loved to take part in conversations, to go on outings and to dance. She also liked to dress smartly, in order to look special and impress people. And indeed, she received attention. Many curried her favour. Some said she was a "dreamer", a snob - but they were wrong. Hinda was by nature a simple person, friendly, without any snobism or conceit.
When Hinda went to Kovna to study she did not have any "grand" plans. Her world became richer in the big city, her horizons broadened and her outlook became more keen. Here she acquired intellectual values, met people, attended the theater and the opera. She had time to herself, did not have to worry about making a living, as many others. Her well-to-do parents took care of all her needs. She did not have to pay dearly for what is acquired at the university. Perhaps she was less interested in dry science than in the school of life. In Kovna too she made many friends. The Kovna period is not registered in Hinda's diary and we do not know if she adhered to her studies or chose another way of life.
One day we found out that Hinda was in South Africa. Married and already a mother. Since then we lost track of her for a long time. In the meantime life took its swift course, worlds were shattered and new worlds sprang up . . . and again we hear that when Hinda got tired of the "wonders" of the South African diaspora - she, her son and his family, decided to go to Israel. Here we realized that the Zionist sparkle which was kindled at the Hebrew Gymnasium in Yurburg lit up again abroad and turned into a flame that lit up her way to the State of Israel.
Hinda was not many years in Israel and she was no longer as agile as in the past. She turned old and her physical strength dwindled. She still had her lust for life and hoped for another day, as before, but the years gone by and her weak body let her down. Nevertheless, Hinda did not disappear from the public eye. She traveled from one place to another to meet relatives and friends, establish contacts and take part in Israeli society. She also spent quite some time in Jerusalem with her friends. Everywhere she looked for people from Yurburg. The voices of the past were deeply imbedded in her personality and never left her. She talked often of the past, spoke Yiddish, told about what happened in Yurburg. She knew a lot about Yurburg, even the smallest details, which none of us remembered. She hardly mentioned South Africa in her conversation. It is perhaps unnecessary to say that even when she was in Israel she lived in the world of Yurburg . . . Hinda very much wanted to see her diary in print, consulted friends and regretted that her life's dream would not come true.
In the last years Hinda had no strength left. Her body became weaker and she was often ill. How happy she was when we came to visit her at the home of her son and his lovely family, living near Tel Aviv. During the entire visit she told the guests, her friends, in a hoarse voice, about her grandchildren, her eyes shining as in the past - they turned on and out -on and out.. .
One day we heard that Hinda has passed away. Her heart, so full of the love of life, had ceased to pound. Hinda was just like anyone else - and each life comes to an end. There is no such thing as eternity!. . .
Note: If the Yiddish Diary of Hinda Levinberg-Becker can be located, we would like to add its translation to this English version of the Yurburg Yizkor Book Please contact: Joel Alpert We will somehow fund the translation.
From Yurburg to Beth Zera
The father, David Karabelnik, was a tall man, nice, and respected in Yurburg. The mother, Mina, was a sensitive woman, a devoted mother to her family, concerned about her children's education. The Karabelnik's were well off and this enabled her to keep a beautiful, spacious home and ensure that her children- Cherna, Rachel, Rivka, Hannah and Arie - developed and grew up under comfortable circumstances. Rachel passed all the stages of education in Yurburg - studied at the "Tarbut" elementary school and the Hebrew Gymnasium, as did her sisters and brother.
At an early age Rachel joined the "Hebrew Scouts - Hashomer Hatzair" movement and she was among the first in Yurburg to do so. Rachel sympathized with the movement's principles with all her heart and soul and observed the "Ten Commandments" in her way of life. When she became an adolescent, she was appointed youth leader of the young groups in the nest. Rachel loved her trainees and they loved her in return. Rachel took care to wear the movement's uniform and shaped the character of her trainees. She contributed much to the nest, decorated it in good taste and kept it clean.
The "Hashomer Hatzair" movement was, of course, a movement that educated its trainees to active Zionism. When the trainee turned 17 or 18, he or she had to implement Zionism, according to the movement's principles, and go on pioneer training, aliyah and live in Israel on a kibbutz. When it was Rachel's turn to go on training, she decided, without any hesitation, to observe the duty of implementation. Rachel identified with the movement's principles and its pioneering way.
Rachel's parents were not surprised by her decision; they were well aware of her adherence to the movement's ideals, yet they proposed she postpone her departure for training for reasons of health. However, Rachel did not agree, under any circumstances, to make any concessions whatsoever. Thus, one day she got up and went for training to Memel. Her parents accepted Rachel's way, for as a matter of fact they also had a Zionist outlook - and the atmosphere in Yurburg was Zionist and most of the youngsters were affected by this.
Rachel arrives in Memel, a large port city with the "Pioneer House", a handsome two-story building set up by the town's Jews as a donation to the pioneer movement. In this home there was representative of "Hahalutz" who sent the halutzim (pioneers) on training in places set aside for them. The pioneers worked at estates that needed workers in summer. Every such estate owner would invite a group of pioneers to work in the field. It was hard work for youngsters who had not worked on the land before. Some of those who were sent to Memel, a German industrial town in the past, worked in Memel itself. The pioneers who worked at the factories stayed at the "Hahalutz Home".
It so happened that Rachel had to work in the domestic service of "Beth Hahalutz" itself. Here, at the "Beth Hahalutz", a large group of pioneers had settled, and the upkeep of the house required a large team of workers. Rachel was found sutiable for work at the "Beth Hahalutz" and joined the team. Rachel's diligence and her pleasant disposition helped her to adapt to her work and be accepted in society. After one or two years of training - Rachel was found fit to go on aliyah. However, there was a queue to go on aliyah; one had to wait until "His Majesty's" government would kindly agree to send certificates for the pioneers. And till then they waited and waited until they finally went on aliyah after all.
Rachel finally arrives at her much wanted destination, Israel. She joins the Lithuanian Hashomer nucleus which started to be absorbed at the Benjamina settlement. The boys worked in the orange groves and the girls mainly at the farmers' homes. Rachel was sent to work with one of the farmers, to carry out domestic duties and was looked upon as inferior . . . . After a while the nucleus moves to Petach Tikva. Others, who had in the meantime come on aliyah from Lithuania, joined the nucleus. In Petach Tikva, as in Benjamina, they worked with farmers. Wages were low, conditions bad, housing primitive - they lived in tents and huts. They passed the time hoping for change. The change they desired was to go to a settlement and set up a farming community. Here the Lithuanian Shomer nucleus was offered a special merger. It was proposed that they merge with Beth Zera, a kibbutz setlement, that already existed in the Jordan valley, near the Degania Kibbutzim. The Lithuanian Shomer nucleus accepted the offer to merge with Beth Zera; the two parts complemented each other and a large kibbutz was formed. The old timers brought along the culture of the west and the new members the culture of their Lithuanian Jewish roots.
Rachel adjusts to the new suroundings. Conditions here are more comfortable. Although the climate is warmer in summer, one gets used to it. There is a home, a garden and lawn, a pastoral atmosphere. Rachel carries out all sorts of jobs. She is given a task and faithfully carries it out. Although her physical condition does not allow her to work hard in the field, there are branches of farming where she fits in, and the kibbutz appreciates her contribution to work and social activity.
A couple of years later, when she is about to establish her family home, Rachel feels the need to share her experiences with her parents. She longs to see her family and goes to Yurburg for a visit. The many years of separation from Yurburg, the beloved little town of her youth, have created a feeling of distance. Although Rachel loved her parents, the home she had built at Beth Zera drew her back there, and she returned. When Rachel said goodby to her parents she did not know - who could have known? - that this was the last time she would see them and Yurburg, the town of her birth. A short while later the Jews of Yurburg were cruelly murdered by the Nazis and their Lithuanian helpers.
At the kibbutz lifes goes on as usual. Rachel works, Her family life is harmonious. She has a lovely home. Only the shadow of the terrible Holocaust pursues her. She knows - one has to live with the tragedy. Go on. Bring up the children. Rachel tries to be strong. The years go by and in our country too there is rising concern. Survivors arrive from various countries, they have passed through the gates of hell and they want to find shelter and a safe haven in their national home, but the mandatatory government causes problems. The battle for aliyah and - in fact - an independent state in Israel - continues.
The War of Liberation breaks out. The Beth Zera children go to study at an educational institution at Mishmar Haemek. Rachel joins the group that takes care of the children and helps them get adjusted. However, the War of Independence arrives here too. Mishmar Haemek is besieged and attacked by the Arab army with tanks and guns. Mishmar Haemek defends itself heroically and does not yield. The defeated Arab army retreats. Mishmar Haemek returns to life. Rachel passes the war at Mishmar Haemek. While she worries about her children at Mishmar Haemek, the war knocks at her door too ... the battle of the Deganias. The war is at Rachel's doorstep.
The children, the boys, wage a heroic battle until the fighting is over and the State of Israel is established.
All these events leave a scar on Rachel's heart and weaken her physical condition, but not her spirit. Rachel continues as usual and is happy with her family and the kibbutz. Thus the years go by. Rachel feels weak, but does not give in. She still makes an effort to work. She wants to carry out her tasks accurately and diligently, as in the past. However, Rachel's efforts are in vain - one day her heart falls silent.
Her relatives and friends at the kibbutz, who have accompanied Rachel for many years and shared her sorrow and joy - will never forget her. May she rest in peace.
From here Meir went on to study at Kovna University, where he studied pharmacology. In the meantime World War II broke out. Meir was sent to the Shavli ghetto and then to the Dachau concentration camp until the libaration in 1945.
After all this, Meir went to Israel with his family in 1950, and settled in Ramat Gan, where he worked in his profession as pharmacist at the General Health Fund. All those who required his services at the pharmacy appreciated his professional standard and humane attitute.
In Israel he was a member of the Former Residents of Yurburg Association and never missed a social occasion to meet former acquaintances. In the article for the book of remembrance Meir commemorated Shaodina, his home and the people he loved.
Meir passed away on September 18, 1989 after a long illness. He left a wife and two sons.
He was a nice person, Meir, popular among his many relatives and friends. Blessed be his memory.
The life of a man who had accomplished much had come to an end. We had known Shimon for many years. We sprung from the same land of Yurburg, our town, where together we absorbed the Jewish atmosphere, in its Lithuanian character. Unlike many of his friends, Shimon was saved from the terrible Holocaust. We watched him in the days of his youth and while he grew up. He was a modest person. A nice man who enjoyed company. He had a quest for learning and lofty human qualities. He had a warm personality, was kind- hearted and a true friend.
Shimon was charming, moderate and calm, spoke little but had a heart that was sensitive to the suffering of others. He strove for a just and moral life style. Till the end he sincerely believed in the values he was taught when he was a youngster at "Hahalutz", when he adhered to the socialist ideal with its humane values and love of man, trust in the simple working man with all his greatness and weaknesses.
Shimon loved the beauty and splendour of the country, but loathed arid and waste land. He therefore followed the furrows, on foot and by tractor, in order to plough the land and till the soil of the fatherland, to be happy when it flourished and rejoice when it bloomed. When the task was accomplished his heart filled with joy and the love of creation he derived from working in the fields of his beloved fatherland, for which he had yearned all his life, especially in the years of war and suffering, as a soldier in the Russian snow and as a fighter in the heavy battle against the Nazi hooligans.
When he came to Israel, after the War of Independence, the gray reality did not cloud his happiness, for the dream of his life had come true. Shimon quickly adapts to life in the country that is being built. He works and establishes his home in Holon, a beautiful dwelling-place that matches his spirit. He makes new friends and broadens his horizons, and in his spare time he does community work where he lives, works for the creation of a working, just and moral society in our country. Shimon loves his friends and they love and respect him in return.
Alas, life takes many turns and fate is blind and cruel! - his active life was cut short by a malignant disease which he contracted some time ago. He bore his pain patiently and quietly. He did not burden those around him and did not cause depression, until the candle of his life blew out. He took all his dreams, aspirations and expectations with him to the grave.
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