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[Pages 239-265]

Khotyn Jews in America

Translated by Yael Chaver

[Page 240]

In Memoriam

In memory of those who participated in founding the Relief and continued as active members for many years:

Honoring their memory!

Yoysef Binyomin Kleynman, may he rest in peace
Avrom Abe Salter, may he rest in peace
Yitzchok Sherman, may he rest in peace
Yoysef Binyomin Telis, may be rest in peace
Leyb (Louis) Telis, may he rest in peace
Borukh Trakhtenberg, may he rest in peace
Moyshe Arn Aynbinder, may he rest in peace
Arn Kesler, may he rest in peace
Yankel Zilberman, may he rest in peace
Nokhem Nodelman, may he rest in peace
Feyge Fefer, may she rest in peace
Miriam Diker, may she rest in peace
Pini Vaynfus, may she rest in peace
Khantze Basye Telis, may she rest in peace
Ide Kushnir, may she rest in peace
Zelde Krel, may she rest in peace
Adele Richman, may she rest in peace

[Page 241]

Independent Khotyn Bessarabia Benevolent Association

An organization with a long name, as well as with a fine, long, history of devotion to all the riches of Khotyn, our historic home. It is only thanks to this long–lasting, faithful, and devoted relationship with home–town members that everything was created by the organization and its members.

The IKBBA was blessed with members so devoted that nothing was too hard if it was needed to help in case of need.

American Jewish society created many home–town associations, which worked true miracles of help; but few of these can be compared with our association.[1] The fame and high esteem in which the IKBBA was held by all in New York was justified.

No one who turned to the association was ever denied help.

Especially worthy and deserving of mention are the close relationship and generosity of the IKBBA members to the Khotyn Relief Committee. All the activities were always first and foremost for the organization. Now too, when a committee of the American section for the Khotyn Yizkor Book needed help, the IKBBA immediately committed to joining in this sacred task.

May all those active in the IKBBA be blessed and strengthened, and their acts be remembered. Let them forever be as devoted, and be remembered by all with thanks.

Below are the officers who had the good luck and honor to be the leaders of our organization during the compilation and publication of the Khotyn Yizkor Book: President–Eliyohu Kudrinetzky; Vice–President: Khayim Shnayder; Treasurer: Martin Viener; Comptroller: Morris Raynis. Writer: Trosti Frank. Minutes–secretary: Khayim Drotman; executive members: Morris Gondelman, Isidore Gelfand, Charlie Miller, Abe Blank, Louis Wasserman, Sam Nusenboym, Leon Shneider.

[Page 242]

Remarks by National Secretary Shloyme Zaltzman and the entire committee of the American Section for the Khotyn Yizkor Book, on winding down the group dedicated to the Book:

Dear fellow townsmen and friends in Israel and throughout the world!

The idea of publishing a Yizkor Book did not originate with the Khotyn survivors. “Remember…and don't forget…” has developed among us Jews due to the historic struggles that we have undergone in every generation…[2] Amalekites have always pursued us. We have always cried out from the depths, and our cries from there have been heard in all corners of the world…[3] When the Nazis came with all their helpers, we seemed to drop into a dark trap… Neither we nor the world wanted to believe that this was our last road…[4] The disaster engulfed our entire nation like a conflagration and brought us to near–complete annihilation…

The Yizkor Books that were created did justice to our martyrs. There was need of a hand that would record, and a brain that would not allow the disaster to be erased and blotted from memory.

It has been decades since the European survivors decided to immortalize those gruesome days as well as those who lived through Hell itself.

We, the members of the American Committee, a section of the Israeli Committee for the Yizkor Book, feel proud that this holy task was entrusted to us. We decided not to rest until the Khotyn Yizkor Book became a reality.

Following the visits to Israel in 1971, initiated by Mr. S. Zaltzman and Mr. S. Plat in Israel in 1971, and the meetings they were honored to have there with survivors, they assembled a limited committee that would take on the responsibility of helping to publish the Yizkor Book. The American section of the Yizkor Book was organized at that meeting.

Mr. Eliyohu Kudrinetzky, the President of the Khotyn Bessarabian Benevolent Association, was elected the chairman of the Committee.

Mr. S. Plat, a devoted community activist, especially in Khotyn–related issues, was elected treasurer.

Mr. Shloyme Zaltzman, the financial secretary of the Council of Bessarabian Jews, a community activist, writer and cultural figure was unanimously elected as the national secretary of the long–awaited Yizkor Book…

Much was done in this matter. A memorial meeting was convened. The Khotyn organizations were approached and meetings with individuals took place. Following all these efforts, we are almost at the successful end of the Yizkor Book publication process.

We would like to hope that the memorial book, this sacred publication, will adorn the homes of all Khotyn natives and will elevate and illuminate our souls.

Our wish is that all will live to enjoy peace and pride in the State of Israel, and enjoy our State.

The American section of the memorial book committee:

Eliyohu Kudrinetzky, Chairman
S. Plat, Treasurer
Shloyme Zaltzman, National Secretary
Morris Raynis, Charlie Miller, Khayim Shnayder, Vice–Presidents
Contributing organizations: The Khotyn–Bessarabia Benevolent Association
Khotyn Emergency Club
Khotyn Bessarabia Relief
Individuals of Khotyn

[Page 243]

Image of Emergency Club members, no caption

[Page 244]

Records and Historical Events of the Community Life of Khotyn People and Organizations in America

S. Zaltzman

As I begin recording the historical events of our Khotyn Relief Organization, I see that now, when we are about to publish the Khotyn Yizkor Book, is also the 50–year mark since the organization became a community force in the life of Khotyn natives living in their new home, America.

At the time, I was still a “greenhorn,” as newcomers were termed. I had come to America in 1921, and the Khotyn Relief was founded in 1923.

I must admit that I did not join the Khotyn Relief work immediately. Being young, I did not yet properly value the efforts of the long–time residents in America. It was Dan Aaron Kesler, Moyshe Hayman, Borekh Trakhtenberg, and others, who made me aware and encouraged me to be active.

At first, the work was like all beginnings: difficult. All new Americans were concerned with their own settlement and substantial establishment in their new home. However, it wasn't long before the Khotyn organization became well–known and functional.

The organization received an official charter from the City of New York, and townspeople began to gather around it. Life in America provided the impetus to Khotyners. All those who had the good luck to be in America remembered well the extreme poverty and need in which they had left their families in Khotyn. They had not yet forgotten the community's poorhouse, Jewish hospital, guesthouse, and elementary school. They still remembered how impoverished and neglected our townspeople of Khotyn were, when they needed to turn to these institutions.

Now, in America, these lucky folks grasped how miserable and downcast the needy in their hometown of Khotyn were. Accordingly, the first thing the Organization did was to set up a monthly subsidy of 10,000 Palestine pounds for the Khotyn hospital and old–age home.[5]

We cannot forget the joy of our fellow Khotyners here, and certainly not the sincere, brotherly hand that was stretched out across the ocean and grasped by our Khotyners with such pleasure.

But the help was not enough. The need and suffering were immense. We here, in America, were often warned that our help was paltry, and that the community institutions would be forced to close down. The news from there was very bad. The Khotyn natives in America did everything to avoid such a catastrophe.

Meanwhile, the Khotyn relief developed. More people joined to help in the work. I do not want to name them, as someone might be overlooked. But it would be wrong not to mention the enormous work done by the founders: Eliyohu Kudrinetzky, Yoysef Muchnik, Isidore Kes, Isidore Gelfand, Morris Trakhtenberg, Charles Cherkes, Philip Nusenboym, Yoysef Telis, Binyomin Baraz, and others whose names escape me at the moment.

Neither do I want to forget the Khotyn organizations: the two Arbeter–Ring branches (nos. 200 and 201), and the large Khotyn–Bessarabia Independent Society.[6] These organizations always responded generously – morally and financially – whenever the Relief asked for anything. Let me also mention the important work of the women's sections, who played a very large role in the work of the Khotyn Relief. Like devoted mothers, they set up a committee to help other Khotyners, adults and children, with shoes and clothing. This work was extremely important, and the Jews in Khotyn were very grateful at the holidays, when the packages from America arrived. As I have mentioned, I was not very active at first, but played a larger role in later years, especially when we achieved the State of Israel and survivors began to go there.

The Khotyn Relief undertook to build housing, and provide a roof over the heads of those who were rescued and came to Israel. I participated in this important activity. I will never forget the days and nights spent in discussing the best way to build these houses. Dovid Fishbakh, Charles Miller, D. Barag,

[Page 245]

Moyshe Vayntraub, Khayim Shnayder, Eliyohu Kudrenitzky, Moyshe Raynis, Isidore Gelfand with his son the lawyer, and many others constantly thought of the best way to carry out the construction.

Building the houses in Israel demanded a great deal of time and effort. The project is still fresh in my mind, and only greater perspective will analyze and pass judgment on all that was done. In time, the verdict will be in on the results of the great effort on the part of the activists.

But let me record here that the housing project was, and will always be, one of the brightest moments in the existence of the Khotyn Relief. The publication of this Yizkor Book in Israel is a suitable moment for the American section to extend heartfelt thanks to all those who spent years supporting this noble project: bringing help and light to the dark struggle of our wretched sisters and brothers in our native town, Khotyn.

Figure caption
Organizers of the Khotyn relief, New York, 1923
Right to left: I. Telis, B. Trakhtenberg, I. Shayerman, S. Arinshteyn, M. Vayman, A. Briker, A. Kafman, B. Roytman, T. Vaysman, S. Kishner, Z. Kahn, M. Balan, B. Balan, B. Telifas.

[Page 246]

History of the Help given by Khotyn–born Jews in America to their Brothers and Sisters in Hard Times, Particularly during the Nazi Extermination

Figure caption: Binyomin Baraz

Much has certainly been written about the economic, political, and cultural situation of Khotyn. But we, who have been living in America for many years and have made efforts to ease the need of the Jews in Khotyn, know that Khotyn was not an exception in old–time Russia. It was actually a large, fertile area, that could be characterized as “flowing with milk and honey.”[7]

However, the Czarist regime was not concerned with fully utilizing the great riches of this soil. The fields were sowed and planted, but the grain and fruit didn't always reach their targets. There were places in Russia itself that needed the produce of Khotyn, but transportation wasn't always possible.

Many Jews in Bukovina made their living through fruit. Fruit crops would be purchased on the trees right after Peysekh.[8] Eventually, Khotyn Jews also took part in this business. There were even craftsmen who set aside their work and became orchard merchants, begging God for success, because all could be lost and they could be left destitute. All it took was a late frost, for example, to freeze the blossoms. On the other hand, if the autumn was rainy and muddy, people became exhausted looking after the plums until they were dried. And a mild, frostless winter endangered the plum trees, which could become overheated and rot. This is what the orchard business looked like.

At the time, there were also tobacco fields around Khotyn. That, too, required much work. One person in this line of work mistreated the workers–among them many Jewish girls who were paid less than the Christians.

There were also many shopkeepers and artisans in Khotyn. However, they too depended on the weather and the crops. If the year was good, their livelihood was secure; but if there was a drought or too much rain, the local non–Jews couldn't afford to buy goods.

In this way people became unemployed and started thinking about leaving. They did not easily part from family and friends and go off to America.

These same Jews, who settled and eventually prospered abroad, started thinking about how to help those who stayed behind; not only their own families, but the town generally–how to improve their economic and cultural situation, and ease the community's need.

I would like to mention the first “pioneers” who worked for the area, such as Moyshe Hyman and his wife, Moyshe–Aaron Aynbinder, Telefus and his wife. Many women kept notebooks and approached every Khotyn native asking for help for our home town. Sums of five dollars were collected, and a hospital and old–age home were created.

Moyshe Hyman and his wife later traveled to Khotyn, to become acquainted with the institutions. When they returned they were welcomed warmly, and their reports and greetings from our home town were presented.

Later, the “Khotyn Hospital and Old Age Home Relief” was officially founded. Philip Nisenboym was selected as President. He led the Relief for several years, along with his wife, who was also very active. Other important families also joined in, such as Charles Miller and his wife, Fishbuch and his wife, and others. The American Committee sent the money to a distinguished committee in Khotyn. This was headed by the musician Shloyme Shkolnik, Cantor Berko's son. He was a very reliable person.

When the expulsion from Khotyn began, the American Relief stayed in touch–as

much as was possible under those circumstances. We found out where the Khotyn people were, and sent them packages with whatever we could. The same thing happened later, when

[Page 247]

we received reports that a small number of people had returned to Khotyn, before the State of Israel was established. The present writer was previously honored to be made the national secretary of the Khotyn Relief, elected in New York, Canada, and Washington and the environs.

The relief work expanded, taking into account and helping Khotyn Jews who had immigrated to Israel. An association with Rassco was established, and 36 apartment buildings were purchased in Havatzelet HaSharon (near Netanya), valued at $57,000.[9] Money–raising projects were the publication of a magazine which ran ads (raiseding $18,000), and a lottery ($4,000). The women's organization, led by Ida Fishman, also raised about $3,000. In this way the entire sum was raised in order to purchase apartments for the immigrants from Khotyn.

The Committee also decided to send representatives to seal the contract with Rassco. They were President Charles Miller, Isidore Gelfand and his son, the lawyer, and Benyomin Baraz, Secretary. They all traveled at their own expense. After the contract was concluded they traveled, along with local members of the Tel Aviv Committee, to Havatzelet HaSharon for the opening ceremony. They even founded a synagogue and contributed towards its furniture.

Unfortunately, the Relief later dissolved due to various causes. The Secretary handed over the books, along with the remaining funds, to a new committee.

Figure caption:
The Baraz family
Binyomin Baraz's mother; his sister Khaye–Freyde and husband Yissokher; their children Moyshele and Leybele; brother–in–law Shimen Birenboym. Memorialized by the Baraz family.

[Page 248]

Founders and Activists of Khotyn Relief

[captions in English]

[Pages 249-250]

[no Yiddish text]

[Page 251]

Top row, right to leftThe grandmother of Rabbi Yankev Tversky
Rabbi Mordechai Tversky
The mother of Rabbi Jacob Tversky
[middle row, right to left]
Rabbi Tversky and his son, Yehoyshue'leh

A family picture
[bottom row, right to left]
The Rebbe[10] with his son Ahre'leh and Maz Bordeinik
The Khotyn Rebbe, his brother the Kishinev Rebbe; the rabbinic judge; and their Hassidim, at a party.
Rabbi Mordechai Tversky, Ahre'leh, and Dr. Khoresh

[Page 252]

Greetings on the publication Of the
Yizkor Book
From Sol and Manya Plat
Members of the Committee of the American Section for the Yizkor Book

[Page 253]

Our Home Town, Khotyn

Khotyn was the second largest city in Bessarabia, after Kishinev.[11] The 1897 census reports 23,397 men and 29,092 women–a total population of almost 50,000, including children. According to the census of 1920, there were about 19,000 Jews in Khotyn.

When Khotyn belonged to the Russian empire, it was part of Podolia province. The only traffic from Khotyn across the Dniester was by ferry. The river was too shallow at that point, and could not bear boat traffic. There was never any railway traffic from Khotyn; travel was by carts, carriages, and phaetons. The roads were so muddy that horses often sank in and could not get out. Passengers had to slog on foot alongside the cart, cursing the cart–driver, who took out his anger on the horses.

Most of the population lived in poverty. Even among the artisans only few earned well. A certain part of the population made their living through trade. They would buy maize flour from the peasants, as well as beans, peas, nut, chickens, eggs, domestic animals, and ready–made linen towels.

Monday was market day, and the peasants from the surroundings would drive in with their produce. They would use their earnings to buy fur caps, shawls, rosaries, boots, sugar, kerosene, and matches. Peasants who were richer bought white–flour rolls and tobacco. The tavern–keepers, however, had the most thriving business. The peasants toasted each other with flasks of brandy, and drank up. More than once, pickpockets would steal a peasant's money, and he had to make his way home without the few rubles as well as the goods he had sold.

Many middlemen were on the streets, flashing their canes – people who actually had no profession. They brokered everything and dealt in everything: buying something from a non–Jew and re–selling it. There were also commissionaires, who brought goods from other cities to the shops in Khotyn. Among them was Moyshe Landoy (or Moyshe Dybbuk, as he was called), a former tailor.

The small Jewish shops made their living mostly from artisan customers and the non–Jews who would come to town. The smaller shopkeepers bought their goods from Shloyme Zeldman and Moyshe–Meir Peysekhs.

Figure caption:

Khotyn Women's Committee, with the American representative Moyshe Vasserman, 1936

[Page 254]

[Top section]
Mr. and Mrs. Binyomin Frayman
We send regards to all our friends from Khotyn on the occasion of publication of the Khotyn Yizkor–Book

[Lower right–hand ads]

Regards from our friend Jay Gurevich

Regards from friends Sadie and Dovid Hornshteyn
Regards from Mr. and Mrs. N. Littman

[Middle ads]
Regards from Harry Gelman
Hersh Mendl Kirshner, a Khotyn native

Regards from Yankl and Mantsiye Koyfman, children of Itte, peace be upon her, the daughter of Fishl the Melamed, and Yeshayahu Mekhl, peace be upon him.

Regards from Manya and Solomon Axelrod

[Left–hand ad]
Regards from Isidore Gelfand

[Page 255]

[Top, caption on right]
Khotyn activists in America, 1932, at the Champlain
Right to left: I. Krivoy, I. Miller, B. Telifas, S.Miller, S. Zaltzman, Mrs. Fishbach, S. Malamad, M. Shnayder,W. Sheyngaltz, I. Fishbach, M. Wasserman
[Bottom, caption on left]


Drama–lovers in the Khotyn Drama Club

Avrom Leyb German
Moyshe Vayntroyb
Eliyohu Kudrenitsky
Avner Barag

[Photo inscriptions]
In memorian, Avrom Leyb German, onstage in the role of Pinky
Avner Barag, may his memory be for a blessing, an artist blessed by God
Moyshe Vayntroyb, onstage in the role of Hotzmakh[12]
Elias Kudrenetsky

[Page 256]

In Memoriam: Charles Cherkess, may his memory be for a blessing

One of the immigrants who came in 1920–1921 was a young man with great ambitions. He immediately decided to drop everything that might prevent him from getting a job that would lead to a prominent position.

True, the young man had been blessed with an impressive appearance and posture. Everyone noticed him immediately. Besides being handsome, he also had brains. Wherever he appeared, he immediately assumed the most important place. This young man was the new arrival from Khotyn, Charles Cherkess.

He never forgot his origins. He immediately joined the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, and soon –as noted above–gained an important position as a business agent. But he never forgot, or distanced himself from, his fellow Khotyners. He was clever, and knew that he could easily get his townsmen to follow him, as well as new immigrants from his home town. And he was not disappointed: he extended a hand to every Khotyn native and helped as needed. No one came away unhappy. Charlie Cherkess became renowned among immigrants from his town, and his fame increased.

It wasn't long before Charles Cherkess became a leading figure in the Union and in all the institutions he joined. He was especially drawn to the natives of Khotyn. He decided to travel to his home town, not only to see his family, but also to help all Jews in Khotyn. In addition to regards, he brought aid to many in the town. He was therefore received with special warmth. He poured his soul back into Khotyn, and no one will forget the warm generosity he exhibited towards his Khotyn fellow–townsmen.

We, natives of his town, will never forget him.

[Figure caption]
Charlie Cherkess
His wife Frances
His son William
And his daughter

[Page 257]

[13] Top: The family of Hersh Cherkess, Khotyn. Wife Elka, son–in–law Charlie, son Moyshe–Nohem, daughter Malka, daughter Khane.
Bottom: The Tsibutchnik family. Mekhl and Golda with their child, daughter Sonia with her husband, Gershberg, and daughter Dina with her child.

[Page 258]

Upper right: Moyshe Avrom Rukhman, father of Meir Rukhman
Upper left: Mother of Meir Rukhman
Below: Meir Rukhman and his wife
Meir Rukhman, President of the Israel Bonds Committee of Fort Wayne, America. Meir Rukhman was active for years in B'nai–B'rith lodges as well as in the Federation of Jewish communities.

[Page 259]

Upper right: Khayim and Annie Mulman and family
Upper left: Sam and Tuve Mulman
Below: Active and devoted leaders of the Khotyn Relief.

[Page 260]

Upper: Perl and Yoysef Markus
Lower right: Henikh and Hanokh, the children of Perl and Yoysef Markus
Lower left: Reb Dovid Tzvi Valakh, the childrens' grandfather

[Page 261]

Upper: A devoted soul
She was called “the angel of Khotyn”
Ida Gandelman, may her memory be for a blessing
Daughter of Yoysef Teles
Lower: In memory of my husband
Max Bordainick
For many years an activist and leader
of the Khotyn Relief
Murdered members of the Bordainick family
Brother Fishl Bordainick
His wife Khane
Yankev Bordainick
Yisroel Bordainick and his wife Jenny
Memorialized by Fanny Bordainick

[Page 262]

Upper right: Borukh (Borke) Mikwiman
Died in 1971 in Lima, Peru
Upper left, right to left:
Kiveh Mikelman
Rokhl Mikelman
Velvl Mikelman
Lower right:
Alner Shrayer with his family–
For many years, secretary of the
Khotyn Society.
Lower left:
In eternal memory of our dear brothers:
Moyshe Krivaruk
Yisroel Krivaruk
And nephew Dovid Krivaruk.
We will see them no more but will
always remember them.
Honoring their memory
Yekhiel, Dovid, and Arn Krivaruk

[Page 263]

With profound sorrow and pain, we mourn our father, a man of many merits
Arn Kapit, his wife Teme, may their memory be for a blessing, and three of their sons who were murdered in Transnistria.
Memorializers Moyshe Ronson, Tzvi, Pessie Brone–Bar and Nitza Shvaytser
Lower right: Rokhl–Leah Vaserman, memoralized by Dudi Vaserman
Lower left: Cantor Noykhberg
Came to Khotyn during the time of Khone Rays and was cantor of the elementary–school synagogue (Kruzhak).

[Page 264]

Upper right: In memory of my parents: Shmelke Adeles and Rokhl Shuster
Brother Arn, his wife Brokhe, son Pinni
Sister Sore–Leah, husband and family
Memorialized by Zelig Rozenfeld, New York
Lower right: In memory of Azriel and Brokhe Yanover, may their memory be for a blessing. Memorialized by their children
Upper left: In memory of our dear parents
Naftoli Kudrinetsky (died 6 Adar 1919)
Sime Kudrinetsky (died 8 Elul 1918)
Memorialized by the children, Eliyohu and Mary Kudrinetsky
Lower: Jozef and Etiye Daytshman, may their memory be for a blessing
Memorialized by their daughters Sore and Leah Daytshman. Honoring their memory.

Translator's footnotes:

  1. The Yiddish landsmanshaftn is here translated as “home–town societies.” These mutual–aid community organizations helped new immigrants from the European home town and often aided Jews living in the European home town. Return
  2. The biblical command to remember and avenge wrongs against Jews is first mentioned in Deuteronomy 25:17, referring to the Amalekites: “Remember what Amalek did to you along the way as you left Egypt.” It has since been applied to those considered national enemies. Return
  3. Alludes to “From the depths I cried out to thee, Lord” (Psalms 130:1). Return
  4. Alludes to the opening line of the famous World War II Yiddish song known as “Song of the Partisans”: “Never say that you are walking your last road” (Hirsh Glick, Vilnius 1943). Return
  5. As the Yizkor Book was published in Israel, I assume the subsidy amount refers to the official currency of Mandate Palestine, established by the British Mandate authorities in 1927. The Yiddish “lay” is probably a phoneticization of the Hebrew acronym for “Palestine pound.” Return
  6. The Arbeter Ring is an American Jewish organization, founded in 1900, that promotes social and economic justice, Jewish community and education, including Yiddish studies, and Ashkenazic culture. It operates schools and Yiddish education programs, and year–round programs of concerts, lectures and secular holiday celebrations. Return
  7. A quote from Exodus 3:8, which characterizes the Promised Land. Return
  8. The holiday of Peysekh – Passover–usually occurs in spring, before fruit–ripening. Return
  9. Rassco (Rural and Suburban Settlement Company) is an Israeli construction and development agency, established in Mandate Palestine in 1934, at the initiative of the Jewish Agency. Return
  10. A Hassidic leader, usually an ordained rabbi, was commonly known, and addressed, as “Rebbe.” Return
  11. The non–Yiddish name of Kishinev is Chisinau. Return
  12. Hotzmakh is a character in Avrom Goldfaden's well–known drama “The Sorceress.” Return
  13. The two images and captions on this page did not print out. I was able to translate the captions, working from the on–screen image. Return


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