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List of the Institutions Established or Directed by Members of the Levin – Lourié – Halpern – Eliasberg Famlies

The dates for the earlier period have been taken from the article “Al Pinsk, Karlin ve-Yosheveihen” [“On Pinsk, Karlin and their Inhabitants”] by Shaul Mendl Rabinowitsch, the section on Kehilloth Yaakov, Talpiyoth, Berdichev 1895, and from the daily press of the time. Many dates are approximately, for want of reliable sources of information.

Year Name of Founder Name of Institution
Before 1819 Shaul Karliner (Levin) Built a beth midrash in Karlin.
Before 1819 id. Built a beth midrash in Pinsk.
1834 id. Left sums of money in his will for the above Batei midrash, for social welfare institutions in Pinsk, Karlin and the neighboring towns and for Jewish settlement in Palestine.
c. 1860 Moshe-Yitshak Levin A synagogue bearing his name in Karlin (in Albrechtov-Kupecheski Street).
c. 1862 Hayyah Lourié Built a Talmud Torah school in Karlin which was directed, successively by Meir Levin, Moshe-Hayyim Eliasberg, Aharon Lourié, Gite, Yosef and Mikhal Ettinger, Shabbethai and Yonah Simhovich.
c. 1862-1875 Meir Levin Ran the Karlin Talmud Torah, and the town's
c. 1862 Meir Levin Built a public bath for the Jews of Karlin.
1862 onwards Aharon, son of Moshe Lourié Contributed articles to “HaCarmel” and “Tsion”.
1862-1888 id. Corresponded with Y. L. Gordon.
1863 onwards Yosef Ettinger (husband of Gite, nee Lourié) One of the directors of the Pinsk Talmud Torah.
1863 onwards Shabbethai Simhovich One of the directors of the Pinsk Talmud Torah.
c. 1865 Moshe-Yitshak Levin Built the Karlin hospital, managed by Aharon Lourié.
Before 1865 Dinah Levin Built a synagogue in Karlin (in Siever Street).
1865 Aharon-Moshe Padva, son of Akhsah Levin Published his book “Beur Haram” [“The Commentary of R. Aharon Moshe”].
c. 1865 Wolf Levin Established the agricultural farm Ivanik.
c. 1865 id. Built(?) the beth midrash known as the “Pinsker Kloiz”.
c. 1865 Hayyah Lourié Built a synagogue in Karlin, in the “Synagogue Square”.
c. 1865 Hayyah Lourié and Feigel Levin Built an old-age home in Karlin, which was under the successive management of Miriam-Lash Lourié, Gite Ettinger, and Yosef Halpern.
1866/67 Hayyah Lourié Set up a transit camp for refugees from the famine in the Kovno district.
c. 1867 Meir Levin Built a synagogue in Karlin.
c. 1870 Gad-Asher Levin Established a trade school for orphans and children of the poor.
c. 1870 id. Built an old-age home in Pinsk.
1872 The Lourié Families Among the founders of the Karlin Gemiluth Hasadim charity fund, which was managed by Aharon Lourié and Gite Ettinger.
1875 Miriam Leah Lourié and Feigel Levin Founded the Somekh Nofelim ve-Yoledoth [Sick Aid and Maternity] Society in Karlin, which was managed by the founders, Gite Ettinger, and Yosef Halpern.
1876-1879 Mikhal Ettinger Director of the Karlin Talmud Torah.
1877 Gad-Asher Levin Left a sum of money for the setting up of a charity fund for the sick and aged.
1878 Moshe and David Lourié Among the “Karlin Philanthropists” who provided the Talmud Torah pupils with food and clothing.
1880 Iser-Isidore Lourié Renovated the structure of the Pinsk Talmud Torah, and was president of the Karlin Talmud Torah.
1880 Aharon, son of Moshe Lourié Founded the Mutual Credit Society of which he was director until 1905.
c. 1880 Yosef Halpern Life president of the Pinsk hospital.
1885-1888 The Lourié Families Established a trade school in Hayyah Lourié's house, under the direction of Moshe Lourié's son, Aharon, Moshe-Hayyim Eliasberg and Yonah Simhovich.
1887 Moshe and David Lourié Made a weekly allocation of bread to the poor, during a period of food shortage.
1888 Leopold, son of Aharon Lourié Voluntarily taught secular subjects in the Karlin Talmud Torah.
1890 Moshe Lourié Donated a thousand rubles to the Talmud Torah, hospital, and old-age home built by his mother in Karlin.
1890 id. Provided the necessary financial support for the establishment of the Association of Jewish Shopowners in Pinsk.
1894 Grigory Lourié One of the organizers of the “progressive heder” in Pinsk.
1895 onwards id. An active member of Hovevei Tsion.
1895 onwards id. Chairman of the Pinsk Mutual Credit Society.
c. 1889 id. Instituted an 8-hour day for his workers.
1897-1913 id. Delegate to the 1 st , 2 nd, ( 3 rd ), 4 th , 5 th , 7 th , and 11 th Zionist Congresses.
1897 Shaul, son of Idel Lourié Delegate to the 1 st Zionist Congress.
1897/98 Grigory Lourié One of the founders of the Pinsk Zionist Club.
1898-1900 id. One of the founders of the Colonial Bank, and its director.
1898 id Member of the founding conference of the Colonial Bank at Cologne.
1898, 1907 Moshe-Hayyim Eliasberg Delegate to the 2 nd and 6 th Zionist Congresses.
1898 id. Member of the founding conference of the Colonial Bank at Cologne.
c. 1898 id. Appointed by the Russian government honorary inspector of the Jewish schools in Pinsk.
c. 1898 Eliyahu Eliasberg Last member of the Eliasberg family to bear the title “Gabbai of the Volozhin Yeshivah”.
1900 Moshe Lourié Donated 10,000 rubles toward the erection of a new building for the Karlin Talmud Torah.
1900 Aharon Lourié One of the founders of the Jewish Charitable Society.
1901 id. Founded the Halvaah ve-Hisakhon Bank.
1901 Aharon and Alexander Lourié Headed the rescue committee after the great fire.
1901, 1903 Leopold, son of Aharon Lourié Delegate to the 5 th and 6 th Zionist Congresses.
1901 Shaul, son of Idel Lourié Guest participant in the 5 th Congress; member of the Democratic Faction.
1901 id One of the founders of the “Maccabiah” student organization in Darmstadt.
1901/2 Aharon Lourié Supervised the construction of the new building of the Karlin Talmud Torah with money left by his father.
1901 Aharon Eliasberg Delegate to the 5 th Congress, member of the Democratic Faction.
1901 Georg Halpern Member of the Democratic Faction at the time of the 5 th Congress.
1902 Aharon Eliasburg Delegate to the Conference of German Zionists.
1902 onwards id. One of Weizmann's close associates in the preparation of the plan for setting up the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
1902 Grigory Lourié Delegate to the Minsk Zionist Conference.
1903 Moshe Lourié Contributed to the repair of the Pinsk hospital.
1903 Alexander Lourié Contributed to the repair of the Pinsk hospital.
1903 Yaakov Eliasberg Guest participant in the 6 th Zionist Congress.
1904 Leopold, son of Moshe Lourié Chairman of the Vienna rescue committee for the pogrom refugees.
1904 Grigory Lourié Established a library in Pinsk. Representative of the monthly journal “Yevreiskaya Shkola”.
c. 1904 id. Representative in Pinsk of the ICA Society for Jewish emigration.
1905 Alexander Lourié “Advisor” in the Pinsk municipality, representing the town's Jewish population.
c. 1905 Grigory Lourié Headed the Pinsk Women's Charitable Association.
c. 1909 Grigory Lourié and his wife Rivkah Ran the girls' trade school of the above association.
1910/11 Sasha Lourié Member of the editorial board of the “Pinsk Listok”.
1911-1920 Aharon Eliasberg Director of the “Jüdischer Verlag” in Berlin.
1915/16 Alexander Lourié Head of the “Citizens Committee” during the German occupation.
1915 Sasha Lourié Edited a Russian newspaper in Stockholm.
1917 As[ir] and Yi[tshak?], sons of A[haron] Lourié Members of the Moscow association to aid Pinsk Jewry.
1921 Beni (Bernhard) Halpern Head of the Pinsk Committee for war refugees.
1921 id. Made over his family home to be turned into an orphanage.
1921 Georg Halpern Member of the Zionist Executive Committee; one of the directors of the economic bodies of the Zionist Movement.
1921/2 Sasha Lourié Representative of the “National Byelorussian Republic” in Kovno and Danzig.
1924 Beni Halpern One of the founders of the Pinsk Commercial and Industrial Bank.
1924 Yaakov Eliasberg One of the founders of the Pinsk Commercial and Industrial Bank.
1924-1939 The sons of Leopold and Alexander Lourié Supported social welfare institutions in Pinsk, particularly those founded by Hayyah Lourié.
1924-1939 Yaakov Eliasberg Resisted the Polish authorities in defense of the rights of the Jewish worker and of Sabbath observance in the Lourié factories.
1927 Leopold Lourié Contributed to the setting up of the Gemiluth Hasadim charity fund.
1934 Yaakov Eliasberg Advisor to the Vilna commercial and industrial bureau, on behalf of the Jewish merchants and industrialists.
1937 id. Member of the Keren Hayesod delegation at the meeting of [“In the World of Revolutions”].
1965 id. Published his autobiography “Be-Olam ha-Hafekhoth” [In a World of Revolutions”].

Commercial and Industrial Enterprises Established in Pinsk by Members of the Levin – Lourié – Halpern – Eliasberg Famlies

Year Name of Founder Name of Institution
c. 1800-1834 Shaul Karliner (Levin) Very well-established merchant. Dealer in timber and contractor for government works. Large property owner.
c. 1825 Zalman Levin Well-established merchant. Probably dealt in timber and grain.
c. 1835-1872 Moshe-Yitshak Levin Very well-established merchant, apparently from timber, grain, fats, and government contracts. “Merchant of the second guild”.
c. 1835-1870(?) Wolf Levin Very well-established merchant. Dealer in timber, and apparently also in grain and fats, and contractor for government works.
c. 1835-1873 Hayyah Lourié Developed Pinsk as an inland port and transport link between the Ukraine and the Baltic countries and Poland. Dealt, apparently, in timber, grain, fats, and salt. The wealthiest woman of her time in Pinsk. The title “Honorary Citizen of the Russian Empire” was bestowed upon her and her descendants by the Tsar Alexander II.
c. 1840 Hesbe Roeah Very wealthy man. Dealt in loans.
Before 1862 Meir Levin Operated a steamboat on the Pina and Dniepr Rivers. “Merchant of the second guild”.
1865 Moshe Lourié Built a flour mill.
1867 onwards “The Brothers Moshe and David Lourié” Did business in timber, grain, and fats.
1867 id. Operated 3 steamboats on the Pina and Dniepr.
1868 Meir Levin Operated 2 river steamboats.
1868 Gad-Asher Levin Operated 2 river steamboats.
c. 1868-1877 id. Timber deals.
c. 1870 Idel, son of Shemuel Lourié Bank.
c. 1870 Shemuel, son of David Lourié Bank.
1872 Eliyahu Eliasberg & Co. Candle and fat factory.
1872 Shemuel Rabinovich & Co. Candle and fat factory.
1872 Moshe Lourié Steam-powered flour factory.
c. 1872 id. Steam-powered oil-press.
1879/80 id. Factory for wooden nails.
1880 Aharon Lourié Mutual Credit Bank.
c. 1881 Moshe Lourié Factory for wooden boxes.
1888 Grigory Lourié Fat-processing mill.
1890 Moshe, Lippa and Alexander Lourié Saw-mill.
1894/1895 Lippa-Leopold Lourié Improved and enlarged the factory for wooden boxes.
Before 1895 Grigory Lourié Chemical works.
1897 Yosef Halpern Bought and enlarged the match factory.
1898/99 “The Brothers L. [Leopold] and Al [Alexander] Lourié] Plywood factory.
Before 1899 Grigory Lourié Bank.
Before 1899 Idel and Sam. D. Lourié Amalgamation of the banks of Idel and Shemuel, son of David Lourié (“The Rovno Bureau”)
1901 Aharon Lourié Halvaah ve-Hisakhon Bank.
c. 1905 Grigory Lourié Chalk-manufacture works.
1919 Beni Halpern Re-established the match factory, after the war.
1921 “The Brothers L. and Al. Lourié Re-established the match factory, after the war.
1923 Beni. Halpern Rebuilt the match factory after the fire.
1924 id. One of the founders of the Commercial and Industrial Bank.
1924 Yaakov Eliasberg One of the founders of the Commercial and Industrial Bank.


Personal communications from:
Eliasberg, Yaakov
Grünbaum, Yitshak
Halpern, Georg
Klebanow, Yaakov
Lourié, Paul
Lourié, Shaul
Samuelsdorf, Anni
Written sources:
Archives of Bank Leumi le-Israel, Jerusalem, London
Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem
University Library, Jerusalem
Weizmann Archives, Rehovoth
Apel, Y., Betokh Reshith ha-Tehiyah , Tel Aviv 1936.
Bein, A., Im Herzl u-b-Ikvothav , Tel Aviv 1954.
Idem, Mivhar Kithvei Herzl , Vol. I, Pt. 2, Tel Aviv 1939.
Bodenheimer, H. H., Be-Reshith ha-Tenuah , Jerusalem 1965.
Broides, Y., Vilna ha-Tsionith ve-Askaneha , Tel Aviv 1939.
Dobzevich, A. D., Lo Dubbim ve-lo-Yaar , Berdichev 1890.
Eisenstat, Y. T., and S. Y. Viener, Daath Kedoshim , Petersburg, 1897/8.
Eliasberg, Y., Be-Olam ha-Hafekhoth , Jerusalem 1965.
Epstein, A., Kethavim , Jerusalem 1950.
Ettingen, A., 50 Shanah la-Veidah Tsionith be-Rusiyah , Haolam , No. 49, 1948.
Feinstein, A. A., Megillath Puranuyoth , Tel Aviv 1929.
Friedman, David, Sheeloth David , Petrikov, 1913.
Ginsburg, S., Megillah Rabbath Inyan , Yeda Am , Vol. VIII, No. 26, Tel Aviv 1963.
Gordon, Y. L., Iggeroth , Warsaw 1894.
Idem, Olam ke-Minhago , Warsaw, 1864.
Hador (paper), 1901, No. 21.
Hacarmel (paper), 1863, No. 30.
Hamaggid (paper), 1880, Nos. 35, 47, 48.
Hamelits (paper), 1862, No. 2; 1863, No. 20; 1868, No. 5; 1872, No. 11; 1878, No. 20;
        1880, Nos. 3, 14, 17; 1885, No. 46; 1887, No. 114; 1888, No. 139; 1890, No. 47;
        1891, No. 291.
Hatsefirah (paper), 1876, No. 15; 1877, Nos. 47, 49; 1902, No. 76; 1901, Nos. 97, 104,
        105, 113; 1903, No. 181; 1905, No. 201.
Ha-Protokol shel ha-Kongres ha-Tsioni ha-Rishon , Jerusalem, 1947.
Herzl, T., Mivhar Kithvei Herzl , Tel Aviv, 1939.
Idem, Iggeroth , Vol. III, Jerusalem 1957.
Hevrath Mefitsei Haskalah , Reports, Peterburg, 1869, 1872, 1873, 1888-1893.
Iggeroth Soferim… mi-Mishpahath Eiger-Sofer , Vienna 1833.
Klausner, Yisrael, Opozitsiyah le-Herzl , Jerusalem 1960.
Levinson, Y. B., Efes Damim , Warsaw, 1884.
Lifshits, N. M., Di Tsionistishe Bevegung in Pinsk , Pinsker Stot Luah , Vilna 1903/4.
Lifshits, Y., Zikhron Yaakov , Pt. 2, Kovno-Slobodka 1927; Pt. 3, 1968 (no place
        of publication.
Lourié Aharon, Ha-Yehudim be-Morocco , Hacarmel , 1864, Nos. 41-43.
Maor, Y., Yehudei Rusyah bi-Tekufath Pleve , Heavar , Vol. VI, Tel Aviv 1958.
Nurok, M., Veidath Tsionei Rusyah be Minsk, Jerusalem 1963.
Padva, A. M., Midrash Shoher Tov… im Beur Haram , Warsaw 1865.
Rabinowitsch, S. M., Al Pinsk, Karlin ve-Yosheveihen, Talpiyoth, Pt. Kehilloth Yaakov ,
Berdichev 1895.
Rabinowitsch, Z., R. Gad-Asher Levin mi-Pinsk , Heavar , Vol. XIV, Tel Aviv 1967.
Idem, Ha-Hasiduth ha-Litaith , Jerusalem 1961.
Shatskes, M. A., Ha-Mafteah , Warsaw 1866, 1869.
Stern, Yosef Zekharia, Zekher Yehosef , Warsaw 1860.
Tokhnith Beth ha-Otsar ha-Leumi… asher nasa ha-Doktor Bodenheimer… neetak
        mi-Sefath Ashkenaz al yedei Efraim-Dov Lifshits
, Vilna 1898.
Weizmann-Lichtenstein, H., Be-Tsel Korathenu , Tel Aviv 1948.
Zenzifer, A., Paamei ha-Geulah , Tel Aviv 1952.

Fried, M. Y., Di Greise Tsionisten Asife in Minsk , Krakau 1903.
Gottlieb, Y., Di Legende Pinsk, Pinsker Shtime , Pinsk 1930.
Ginsburg, S., Historishe Werk , Vols. I, II, New York 1937.
Haint (paper) 1911, No. 301, p. 3.
Kerman, M., Hundert Yor Pinsk, Meine Zikhreines (stencil) [Haifa 1953].
Lourié, Anton, Di Tsavoe fun a Pinsker Baal ha-Baith, fun Onheib Neintsenten
, YIVO Bleter, Vol. XIII, Nos. 5/6, 1938.
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Mukdoni, A., Meine Begegenishen , Buenos Aires 1949.
Pinsker Stot-Luah , Vilna 1903/4.
Toysent Yor Pinsk , ed. Hofman, B., New York 1941.
*** Gad-Asher, Levin, Pinsker Stot Luah , Vilna 1903/4.

Böhm, A., Die Zionistische Bewegung , Tel Aviv 1935.
Encyclopedia Judaica , Vol. VI, s.v. Eger, Salomo ben Akiba , Berlin 1930.
Herzl, Th., Gesammelte Zionistische Werke , Vol. III, Tel Aviv 1934.
Karliner [Leopold Lourié], Eine Jüdische Arbeiterstadt , Die Welt,
Wien 1898, Nr. 11, p. 3.
Lourié, A., Die Familie Lourié , Wien 1923.
Lourié, P., Leopold Lourié… in Commemoration , 1959.
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        Yevreyami v Rossii
, Peterburg 1865-1895.
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        Str. 12.
Yanson, Y., Pinsk i yevo rayon , Peterburg 1869.

The Legend

by Dr. Yehoshua Gottlieb

I have been asked to write my memories of Pinsk for the newspaper " Pinsker Shtime ". I find it difficult to do so, as I am not yet old enough to write my memoirs, but neither am I young enough to present a learned treatise on your "painful" problems of today. To me, like to all its children, dispersed by fate to all the corners of the earth, Pinsk is a legend.

The Legend of Pinsk was not woven before my eyes. I left the town as a young boy. Whenever I returned to the town, in the beginning quite frequently, and less frequently later on, I found, to my sorrow, no trace of this legend. However the legend exists, and is kept alive in far-away towns and countries. The further one goes from Pinsk, the more fascinating the legend becomes...

Seldom are people as proud of their native town as are the people of Pinsk, now living in Warsaw, Berlin, Paris, London and New York. Only God knows the source of this sentimental attachment, which never leaves them all their lives. A unique spell must have been cast on this town, on the shores of the Pina river, deep in the Polesia marshes... once upon a time. Together with malaria and extended spleen the people of Pinsk absorbed the germ of local pride into their blood that approaches megalomania. "I am from Pinsk" is a sort of declaration of "yihus", intended to bestow awe and reverence on the speaker... Yitshak Asher Naidich lived longer in Moscow than in Pinsk, Dr. Georg Halpern lived in Stanislavov and Vienna as well as in Pinsk, Dr. Shimshon Rosenbaum left Pinsk when he was a small boy, but still their faces light up and they smile when their Pinsk connections are mentioned.

And Chaim Weizmann? To him Pinsk was a love of his youth, which he never forgot. Prof. Weizmann mentioned Pinsk in most of his public speeches, and there was no gathering of intimates, where he did not recall memories of his youth in Pinsk. He drew on this source, as one draws on an old, rich wine. Whenever I met the great Zionist leader, he spoke of his longing to see Pinsk once more. Not only to kneel beside his father's grave, but also to gaze at this corner, where he originally became inspired with his great mission.

When Sir Herbert Samuel visited Tel Aviv for the first time, as High Commissioner, he made one short comment: "It is a new Pinsk". I am not sure whether these words were meant as a compliment or the reverse, but how could a leader of the British Liberal Party make such a comparison? Apparently Prof. Weizmann had mentioned Pinsk so often in his Zionist speeches, that this strange and far-away geographical conception became engraved even on the mind of this Jewish-British statesman. Weizmann was very proud of Pinsk! And we might just as well point out that Chaim Weizmann was born in Motele, although he set so much store by his Pinsk background…

Well, he was not the first nor the last of the Pinsk-proud. The famous preacher Tsevi Hirsh Masliansky was, I think, born in Kapuli, and only settled in Pinsk after his marriage. However, he always spoke of himself as a man of Pinsk. And when someone would mention the "Mokhes" Synagogue in his presence, he would start to tremble, and tears filled his eyes… Also the famous journalist and author, Dr. Alexander Kopel (Mukdoni), who was born in Lakhovich, claims some relation to Pinsk. When he was in Pinsk he could barely make a living by giving Hebrew lessons, but he never forgot his years in Pinsk. The well-known "Bund" author Helfand (A . Litvak) described his years in Pinsk with much more feeling than he spoke about the founding of the "Bund". Why were they so attracted to this capital of the marsh-lands?...

As I remember, the last time I happened to be in New York, I met some friends and other former inhabitants of Pinsk. This was a sort of a reception accompanied by speeches. It goes without saying, that all the famous people of Pinsk were mentioned, starting with Shatskes (the: author of the book, "Ha-Mafteah"), and ending with -- never mind -- the list was too long anyway. After the speeches, an old woman came to me and asked in a whisper: "If you are from Pinsk, you surely remember Michal Bertshinsky? I am his daughter". "Of course l remember", I answered her, "but if you are the daughter of Bertshinsky, then you must be the wife of the late Nahum Meir Sh. …". "Yes", the woman interrupted me, "I am Mrs. Shemer, and I particularly wanted to ask you why you did not mention my husband among the people of Pinsk?". I saw that the woman was angry, and I wanted to reply to her question, that Shemer himself had not been a native of Pinsk, but the old woman insisted. Masliansky too had not been born in Pinsk, and still he had been mentioned. I couldn't find a solution to the dilemma. I felt the woman's pain and sorrow, for she and her husband had been deprived of the treasured jewel, the "yihus" of Pinsk…

When I paid a visit to Erets Yisrael, two boys came to the "Allenby" Hotel in Jerusalem, where I was staying, and introduced themselves as members of the Pinsk group, which was then active in one of the suburbs of Jerusalem, Beth Hakerem. I do not suppose that members of the leftist groups see an ally in me, it was just that our common Pinsk origins were stronger than all political differences. They cordially invited me to be their guest. I accepted the invitation, shared their humble table, sang and danced the "horra" with them till the early hours of the morning. I shall never forget this chapter of Pinsk in Erets YisraeI.

In a foreign country the concept of Pinsk becomes a sort of a cult, which is all the more strongly adhered to. Once I visited the main office of the Zionist Organization in Berlin. A Jew approached me with these words: "Are you Mr. Gottlieb?". "You are invited to dinner at my home tonight". "Thank you, but I do not know yet to whom I have the honor of speaking" -- I said, surprised. "Well -- does it make any difference?" -- the man replied, smiling. "I heard that you are from Pinsk, and I am from Pinsk too, now is that in itself not reason enough to spend the evening together?". This was A. E—g. [Aharon Eliasberg] who was at the time editing literary material, but from 7 in the evening till 2 'o'clock at night he directed all his attention not to the place "where cedars will grow", but where the Jews sink into the mud to their knees...

What was the meaning of this? We, people of Pinsk in far-away countries, would rack our brains for the answer. What was it that distinguished the Jews of' Pinsk from other Jews? Some people try to explain this by the special geographical situation of the town.

Pinsk was always a transit-station, a cross-roads between Poland and Russia, between the continent of White Russia and Lithuania and the sea-traffic leading to Volhynia, Dniepr and the new Russian districts. Mendele Mokher Sefarim tells us something of this in his book "Trip to Volhynia". The river traffic and the road-traffic later on and the Luninyets junction encouraged the development of trade and industry in Pinsk and with these developments, the outlook of the people broadened. The eyes of the people of Pinsk saw the wood-marketing in Thorn and Danzig, the fur-market in Leipzig, and the merchant of Pinsk traveled by ship and by raft to Kiew, Kremenchug and Jekaterinoslav. The people of Pinsk were also the pioneers of Jewish emigration, and with the means of communication at their disposal, they reached all the corners of the world.

Pinsk attracted learned men from Kletsk, from Stoibts [Stolbtsy], from Lakhovich and from Nesvizh, and exported her merchants and her intelligentsia to Odessa, to Warsaw, and to Lodz. All this developed the inclination to secular learning in the people of Pinsk, but left intact the deeply rooted tradition of learning and education. I knew an old and angry grocer from Pinsk, who could cite Schiller's "Maria Stuart" by heart. I read letters of wood-merchants written in the holy language, in a juicy and poetic style. I knew workmen who knew how to find a suitable quotation from the midrash in connection with a local dispute about the appointment of the Rabbinate in Pinsk. I saw shaven people, who would travel to the Rebbe of Stolin, freethinkers who lead the prayers, learned men who could cite all the writings of J. L. Gordon and sing the songs of GoIdfaden and Tsunzer. How did all this merge into harmony in Pinsk? That is the true secret of the legend of Pinsk.

I once heard the following joke in Poland: One of the hasidic rabbis in Poland had been on a visit to Pinsk. On his return he told his hasidim that he had found venerable learned men in Pinsk, religious men -- may their number increase -- but also licentious free-thinkers -- may they be damned. "What is so surprising about that ?", his hasidim wanted to know - "after all, one finds such men in every town ?". "What is so astonishing about it, is the fact that in Pinsk these are not two different kinds of Jews. The same Jew is both learned and an atheist, religious man and a free-thinker, all in one".

And that is not all. From the land of Pinsk a proud Jew grew, who carried his Jewishness as a natural phenomenon, and who was conscious of the honor of being a Jew, the like of which could not be found anywhere. From Pinsk came the first urges for the love or Zion, Zionism and Jewish renaissance. In Pinsk too the first Jewish revolutionary trends emerged, in all their forms. Yes, indeed, the legend was born in Pinsk and traveled all over the world.

( Pinsker Shtime , 1930)

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