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[Page 339]

The Families of Tykocin {cont.}

Translated by Selwyn Rose


Teperovitz family


In the center: Reuven and Niḥa Teperovitz, next to Reuven, his daughter Raḥel, behind her, her husband Ya'acov David Petkus, their children at the ends of the row below Shoshanna and Moshe

…in what became the city of Tel–Aviv. His house was open to former residents of Bialystok and the surroundings and supported them during their early days in Palestine.

Reuven – a wise, G–d–fearing Jew, carefully observant of the Commandment both great and small, a member of the “Shas Congregation” spending much of his time on the Torah. Every night he devoted himself to the midnight prayers. All his deeds were for the general good and performed anonymously and modestly.

His wife Niḥa née Kuke, like her husband, was good–hearted and graciously generous and gave assistance to those in need.

Their children, Moshe, Raḥel, Shoshanna and Rivka and their families perished in the Holocaust. May G–d avenge their blood.

Shalom, Dov and Yocheved are in Israel.

Shoshanna – the daughter of Ya'acov and Ḥaya–Sarah married Asher, the son of Bikshah the teacher, moved to Russia and from there to the United States. They gave rise to a branched family and brought their children up to love Israel and the Land of Israel. Their granddaughters were among the builders of the settlement of Sapir, in the Negev.

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Avraham Turek – The well–known doctor of Tykocin. For decades, he lived and worked in Tykocin and was one of the central figures in town as a dedicated doctor and also as a multi–active public activist, whose opinion was welcomed and respected by all. He was a member of the community council and for many years fulfilled the duties of deputy mayor.

His wife, Sarah née Russlender of Łomża, was conspicuous among the womenfolk of town as was her husband among the men. A righteous and good–hearted woman, who managed a traditional household, bringing her children up in that spirit. A lover of Zion warmly welcoming representatives and delegates of the Zionist movement who happened to be visiting Tykocin and their home became the home of trainers and counselors visiting town. She also managed a mall haberdashery shop.


Avraham and his wife Sarah Turek née Russlender


The home of Avraham and Sarah Turek was open to the education of their five children who won their way to higher education, a rare event in Tykocin.

Yitzhak, the eldest after receiving a traditional education in the Ḥaderim of Tykocin studied at the Bialystok Gymnasium. When he returned to Tykocin, he harnessed himself to Zionist activities. Up until the destruction of the town, he served as chairman of the Zionist movement and the national funds. The Russians, who invaded Poland in 1939, forbad his activities and after remaining in prison in Bialystok…

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…he was exiled to a forced labor camp in Siberia. Under an agreement with General Sikorski, he was released and was reunited with his family and parents in Russia as a result of the framework of repatriation of Polish citizens after the war but a short while after immigrated to Australia with his son, Yosef and daughter, Ḥanna. His wife, Paula née Rzotkiewicz from Łomża, died from an illness.

Menaḥem, after a traditional education in the Ḥaderim of Tykocin was a student in the Bialystok Gymnasium and completed his Law studies in the University of Vilna. He returned to Tykocin and married Tzirel née Choroshuka and moved to Bialystok where he practiced as a lawyer.

On the day that the Jews of Tykocin were liquidated, he escaped to Bialystok and after staying I the ghetto for about twenty months, escaped from there just a short time before it, too, was liquidated. He hid in the fields and forests and among Polish farmers and was saved. With the liberation, he returned to the town where he was born but about six months later he again moved to Bialystok, organized Jewish life there and in the years 1945–1947 served as chairman of the regional council. In 1947, he arrived in Palestine as an illegal immigrant. Today he lives in Tel–Aviv.

His wife, Tzirel and her baby daughter Myra perished in the Tykocin Holocaust. May G–d avenge their blood.

Moshe, like his brothers, studied as a child in the Ḥaderim of Tykocin and the Bialystok Gymnasium. He studied medicine in Prague University and certified as a doctor in Vilna. In 1936, he returned to Tykocin where he worked as a doctor.

On the day of the Tykocin Holocaust, he escaped together with his brother Menaḥem and with him the terrors of the war. In the Bialystok ghetto, he worked as a doctor of gynecology and after the war again as a doctor in Bialystok. In 1948, he immigrated to Australia and today lives in Sydney.

His wife Raye and daughter Eda perished in the Tykocin Holocaust. May G–d avenge their blood.

Eliezer, after completing his schooling in Tykocin was sent by his father to Palestine to act as a bridge–head for the entire family. At the age of 14, he was accepted into the agricultural college of Mikveh Yisrael. He continued his studies in France and graduated there as an agronomist. Today he lives in Tel–Aviv.

Tzvi immigrated at the age of 12 following his brother. When he arrived, he heard about the Holocaust in Europe he volunteered for the Jewish Brigade in the British Army. He fell in the bombing of his ship while sailing from Alexandria to Malta. May G–d avenge his blood.

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David Teshtzinsky – born in Sokoły (Sokoli) and in his youth immigrated to the United States with his father where he learned the trade of baking. He returned to Poland where he was called to serve in the army. When released in 1912, he married Bayle–Rivka née Melervitz from Tykocin, settled there and opened a pastry shop from which he made a respectable living. With the outbreak of the First World War, he moved to Krynki (Krinek) and with war's end returned to Tykocin and opened a bakery.

He was an industrious worker and a religious Jew but forward–looking. He prayed with the “Mishnayot Society” congregation and even took part in study sessions that took place between the afternoon and evening prayers.

He deeply loved his nine children and encouraged them to join the Zionist movements. He was a ”Lover of Zion” and driven to immigrate to Palestine but it was not to be. He perished in the liquidation of Tykocin. May G–d avenge his blood.

His wife, Bayle–Rivka the daughter of a long–standing Tykocin family, was always ready to extend a helping hand to the needy and in particular was well–liked by the younger generation, the boys and girls of her children's friends.

She was a good friend also to her own children and encouraged them to take part in Zionist activities directed to training in the movement. She was always thinking about the Land of Israel with longing and believed that her daughter, who had immigrated to Israel, was traveling as a pioneering fore–runner of the family, but her hopes were not realized and she perished in the liquidation of Tykocin together with her family and the rest of the Jews of Tykocin. May G–d avenge their blood.

Michael – her first–born, a graduate of the Bialystok Yeshiva, returned to Tykocin and started to work in his father's bakery. He was active among the general pioneering movement. He hoped to immigrate with the rest of his family. He perished in the Holocaust with his wife and their son in Tykocin. May G–d avenge their blood.

Eliezer, Tsippi, Arieh, Yeshayahu, Shlomo, Yitzhak and Tzirel perished with their parents in Tykocin. May G–d avenge their blood.

Ḥava (today Richter), graduate of the government school, educated in “Ha–Shomer Ha–Dati[1] of Tykocin, went for training and fulfillment and immigrated to Palestine 1938 and lives today in Haifa.

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Ze'ev Yablonowitz and his family


Ze'ev Yablonowitz – “Velvele the butcher”. A butcher and scholar – counted among the group who studied the daily page of the Talmud under the guidance of Rabbi Shmuel the Slaughterer. He often shortened a commercial deal in the meat supply industry in order to travel back a long distance to be in time to reach the lesson between the afternoon and evening Ma'ariv prayers.

A regular member and participant in the Study–Hall, significantly G–d–fearing, and with a noble–visage with a decorative black beard, never absent from his fixed seat next to Noaḥ Rabbi Yankele'h.

He did not play any significant role in public affairs but was counted among the members of the Mizraḥi movement in town that centered round the figure of Zukernik Rabbi Avraham–Yitzhak Paktsrazh.

He did not pass through the horrifying trials and tribulations of war and the Holocaust; he was spared the destruction. He returned his soul to its Creator in March 1939 at the age of 60.

Zippora née Kapitza, gave birth, nurtured and educated their fourteen children. She perished in the holocaust in Tykocin. May G–d avenge her blood.

The first born, Selig, lives in America and died there in 1957.

Elka – she married Mattas Nilovitzky of Wyżne (Vizhna). She perished in the Holocaust. May G–d avenge her blood.

Sarah – she married Shlomo Vangerka. She perished in the Holocaust with her children Avraham and Ruth. May G–d avenge their blood.

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Yehudit – she died in her youth aged 17.

Shmuel – He married Neḥama née Ḥashonash of Lapi. He settled in Tykocin and managed two butcher's shops. At the time of the Russian conquest, he was exiled to Siberia and was in prison there and underwent forced labor. When he was released in Archangel, he heard a rumor that his family had been liquidated by the Nazis. May G–d avenge their blood.

Shmuel Yablonowitz arrived in Israel in 1949 and is living in Tel–Aviv.

Meir, his wife (the daughter of Hayutkes Bubkeh the butcher), and their son, Ze'ev, perished in the Holocaust. May G–d avenge their blood.

Ya'acov–Moshe – he worked with Koppel, the maker of prayer–shawls and later was mobilized into the Polish army. He fell as an officer on the battle–field with the outbreak of World War Two. May G–d avenge his blood.

Shlomo was a butcher and married a woman from another town. With the German conquest, he found a secure hiding place in the village of Skowarcz. While wood–gathering in the nearby forest he activated a mine and was killed. May G–d avenge his blood.

Arieh (Leibel'eh). He was killed in the Bialystok ghetto at the age of 17. May G–d avenge his blood.

Simḥa Yablonowitz – “Simḥa the Butcher” was among the respected personalities of Tykocin, a status derived from his many faceted public activities. On one side, were his deeds for and on behalf of the charitable institutions of the community and on the other side as a member of the town's council.

In his youth, he studied at the Yeshiva and proved himself to be a remarkable student; a self–possessed person who devoted himself to the needs of the general public as well as to managing the butcher shop in the center of the city's life. With the Nazi conquest, he was forced to flee from the town and seek a hiding–place among his Polish friends. Somewhere near his hiding–place, he was caught by one of the sons of the Pole Chubek, who knew him and turned him over to the village head who, in turn, told the Germans. May G–d avenge his blood.

His wife, Golda–Reyzl née Slepak, escaped from the town and hid with her children for a time in the surrounding forests. After entering the walls of the Bialystok ghetto with her son Moshe and daughter Sonia, they no longer were no longer able to escape and were transported to Treblinka where they perished. May G–d avenge their blood.

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Ya'acov–Moshe, their first–born studied in the Haderim and the government school in Tykocin, displaying considerable talent in his studies. At the time of his Bar–Mitzvah, he quoted by heart sixty pages of the Gemara. He was assiduous in continuing his studies and even displayed additional talents in art and was a counselor in the “Ha–Shomer Ha–Dati” movement in Tykocin.

He completed his studies and moved to Kołonna and taught Hebrew language. During the Russian conquest period, he was taken to Bialystok and satisfactorily completed a course in accountancy. With the withdrawal of the Russians, he remained in Poland and was murdered by the Nazis. May G–d avenge his blood.

Mordecai – He commenced learning together with his big brother but stopped his studies in order to help his father in managing his meat business. He was active in the “Ha–Shomer Ha–Tsa'ir” movement and later in “Beitar”.

When his father went searching for a safe hiding–place in the surrounding area, Mordecai followed shortly after in his footsteps and succeeded in crossing the river under the very bridge on which a German guard was stationed, arrived at the same village where he heard from the mouth of a Christian the fate of his father.


Sons and daughters of Simḥa and Golda–Reyzl Yablonowitz

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In 1944, a few months before the Russians came, he and his sister were taken alive by the Poles who treated him brutally and buried him alive. He managed to get out of the pit but was again caught by the Poles and murdered. May G–d avenge his blood.

Ḥaya – She too was a member of “Beitar” in Tykocin, caught together with her brother Mordecai by the Poles. They killed him and turned her over to the Germans who killed her. May G–d avenge her blood.

Sonia – fled together with the family to the forest later going with her mother to the Bialystok ghetto and together with her mother to Treblinka. May G–d avenge her blood.

Avraham – a survivor of the Holocaust. After suffering the horrors of the war in the forests of Poland and later the extermination camp of Auschwitz immigrating to Israel with the establishment of the State. He now lives in Hadar Yosef.


Ḥaim Yozvitz – among the congregants of “Ḥumash–Prayers”, he was highly active in acts of charity. He made his living trading in the fishing industry and farm produce.

In 1925, he immigrated to Palestine with his wife, Raḥel–Leah from Trestina (Trestiny, Tžcianai, Trzcianny). He marketed bread as a partner in the bakery of Shlomo Melervitz. He later settled in Kfar Saba and owned a citrus grove.

He continued his charitable work and activities at every opportunity helping those in need. He died in 1943.

Avraham the eldest left Tykocin at a young age in order to continue studying in the great Yeshivot of Lithuania. He lives today in Jerusalem.

Yehuda married Ethel née Choroshuka, and lives today in Kfar Saba.


Yosef Yarmush – a son of Wysokie Mazowiecka he moved to Tykocin after his marriage. His wife, Sarah, the daughter of Rabbi David and Raḥel Zolti shared the task of sustaining the family. A housewife of distinction and a dedicated mother in every fiber of her soul she created a pleasant family life.

Their home was open to all, involved in the community life, joyful in their joys and grieving with their pains and sorrows.

Josef and Sarah Yarmush and their five children perished in the Holocaust of Tykocin. May G–d avenge their blood.

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Reuven Yarmush – a son of Wysokie Mazowiecka he married Gittel, the daughter of Rabbi David and Raḥel Zolti of Tykocin, and settled there.

A wise and learned scholar, precise in obeying the Commandments both great and small, living up to the principles he preached. His economic difficulties did nothing to destroy his permanent good humor.

His gentle–souled, good–hearted wife was loved by all, delighted in her daughters and especially her little son Shlomo'leh who was nonetheless plucked in the springtime of his life together with his parents and his three sisters, Slova, Sheina–Leah and Bilka.

On their last walk together with the Jews of Tykocin, the head of the family Reuven murmured Psalms from the prayer–book he carried in his hand. May G–d avenge their blood.


Ḥaim Cohen – “Ḥaim the Ha–Hassid”. The nickname was bestowed upon him because of his attachment to the small sect of Hassidim in Tykocin and because of his habit of traveling to the ADMOR[2] of Gur on the three pilgrimage festivals.

He was a distinguished and wise scholar, knowledgeable and forthright. He founded Ḥeder in his home for older boys who went on to study in the great Yeshivot.

He was decidedly smart with a powerful brain and a wide–ranging soul. On Fridays, he collected money for the poor and needy.

On the bitter day of the Tykocin Holocaust, he was alone and lonely in his home after the death of his young wife, Ḥaya–Raḥel née Soglovitch and his son had left Tykocin. May G–d avenge his blood.

Ze'ev his first born – married a woman from Bialystok. In 1924 moved to Canada and now lives in Jerusalem.

Leah – married Noaḥ Pirkatz and settled in Slonim and there they perished together with their five children. May G–d avenge their blood.

Gittel – a graduate of Beit Ya'acov in Tykocin. She married Yosef Perkal of Ostrów Makowicz. After surviving the horrors of war together with their five small children in their exiled land of Siberia, they immigrated to Israel in 1950 and live in Jerusalem.

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Yehezkiel – a student of Grodno Yeshiva. While still young, before being burdened with years, he achieved a Teaching Certificate. He perished in the Holocaust. May G–d avenge his blood.

Ḥanna – She married Ḥaim–Leib Greenberg of Siedlce (Shedlitz). When the town went up in flames in 1939, they moved to Tykocin. They were exiled to Siberia by the Russians where her husband and children died. Ḥanna, (today Blumenkrancz), immigrated to Israel in 1957 and lives in Be'er Sheva.


Ya'acov Moshe Cohen – “Ya'acov–Moshe the Shamash[3]. When Nehemiah the Shamash passed away, the eyes of the congregation lit upon Ya'acov Moshe Cohen in whom they saw a worthy successor and a special personality just made for that position. And indeed in the framework of that role in his hands was placed the ancient property of the Tykocin community. He functioned as cantor, reader of the Torah, and the blower of the Shofar on the High Holydays and the beadle of the Rabbinic Court.

Previously he had been numbered among the congregation of the Shtiebel of the Ḥassidim but from the beginning of his installation, he devoted all his time and served before Holy Ark on the High Holyday in the “Shul” when the cantor Ḥarlap prayed in the Study Hall, or vise versa.

But Ya'acov Moshe did much outside the framework of his official duties. He ensured a table was prepared and a night's lodging arranged for casual guests who visited the town and many nights were spent at the bedside of the sick in the framework of home visits to the sick. But he especially liked the children and did much to bring them closer to the performance of good deeds. And indeed his personality was engraved on the hearts of many of the children of Tykocin, the town's young children and youth of the period.

In spite of the fact that he was spiritually close to the society associated with the shtiebel he did not prevent his children from receiving a Zionist education and even encouraged them to immigrate to the Land of Israel.

With all the many years he had devoted to the community, he came to a sad fate. May G–d avenge his blood.

His wife, Esther–Raḥel née Lichtenstein, the daughter of Moshe the maker of the boxes for phylacteries, played her part in sustaining the family.

Before her husband became the beadle of the Rabbinic Court, the yoke of maintaining the home fell on her shoulders, first as a seamstress, later even turning her hand to business. Under her initiative and management…

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Gedaliah Cohen   Shmuel and Masha Cohen


…she succeeded in building a new home for the family but she herself was not to enjoy it for long. As the result of a malignant illness, she died in 1925.

Ya'acov–Moshe married Ḥanna, the widow of Moshe Buber, A modest, good–hearted woman who dedicated herself, heart and soul to the care and rearing of his young children and became their mother. She perished in the holocaust with her husband. May G–d avenge his blood.

Shmuel – The first–born son of Ya'acov Moshe and Esther–Raḥel, educated in the Yeshivot of Łomża and Mir. He turned towards the Haskalah movement and dedicated himself to Zionist activities especially in the framework of the “He–Halutz” movement.

He married Masha née Tzernovitz of Łomża. He made a respectable living through certain exclusive concessions he held. With the entry of the Germans, they abandoned their home and fled with their six–week old son. The baby was unable to withstand the rigors of wandering around and died. Shmuel and his wife Masha died at the hands of the Nazis. May G–d avenge their blood.

Gedaliah– He too was Yeshiva educated. He displayed musical talent and completed a course in cantorial music under Koussevitzky and professor Eisenstadt. He was a sought–after cantor in Poland but dedicated his talents mainly to philanthropic activities. He studied for Ritual Slaughtering and Inspection and settled in Zambrów, after marrying a daughter of the town. Gedaliah, his wife and small son perished in the Holocaust. May G–d avenge their blood.

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Menaḥem –While an active member of “Ha–Shomer Ha–Tsa'ir” in Tykocin he went on a training course and immigrated to Palestine within the framework of the movement in 1932. In the beginning a member of Kibbutz Messilot, he lives today in Tel–Aviv.

Ḥaya–Feygl – (today Zippora Lerner, a member of “Ha–Shomer Ha–Dati” of Tykocin, immigrated to Palestine in 1936 and lives today in Tel–Aviv

Yisrael Cohen –“Yisrael Kaddishes”. Congregation head. He enjoyed the confidence and trust of the entire town, open–hearted to the needy and poor and those suffering daily.

A handsome man with an elegant appearance. A graduate of the Volozhin Yeshiva with a fixed seat along the eastern wall in the Study Hall.

Throughout his public and respected career he was loved and accepted at all levels of the community; large sums of money passed through his hands including donation from the United States.

He was wealthy and the owner of a shop and warehouse dealing in iron. On one of his business trips to Germany, he met Sophie née Yaffe, an aristocratic family and married her. Sophie, born…


Yisrael Cohen   Tzvi Choroshuka

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Yitzhak and Kaddish, sons of “Yisrael Kaddishes”


…very much a city girl, did not acclimatize well in her new surroundings but was nevertheless well–liked by the women of the town who called her “Tsippa”

Yisrael Cohen and his wife Sophie perished in the Tykocin Holocaust. May G–d avenge their blood.

The eldest daughter Esther at the decision of her mother, the city–dweller, received private lessons at home in addition to her general education in the regular school,

She joined “Ha–Shomer Ha–Tsa'ir” in 1924 with the founding of the first Tykocin branch. She went for training and immigrated to Palestine in 1935 in the framework of the movement. She lives in Ein Ha–Mifratz.

Yitzhak – At first, he studied in Bialystok then later transferred to Warsaw and completed there the course in economics. When the Russians invaded, he won a good position, exploited his status to benefit his parents and prevented their transfer to Russia.

He was among five–hundred young people for whom the Germans demanded a ransom of five kilograms in gold for each. Even so, the Germans failed to keep their word and not one of the five hundred was ever seen again. May G–d avenge their blood.

Kaddish – He received his middle–school education in Bialystok. He perished in the Bialystok ghetto uprising. May G–d avenge his blood.


Pessaḥ Cohen – He was among the brightest Beit Ha–Midrash students in Tykocin, a pious Jew, praying regularly in the Prayer Hall spending much time in Torah study. He was known as an intelligent and fair trader. He successfully managed a small manufactory and traveled a lot to sell his goods, usually accompanied by his friend Altar Schlesinger, a shoe vendor.

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Just before the festival of Shavuot 1917 after returning from one of his journeys, he felt unwell. The doctor who was called hurriedly to his bed found nothing wrong. On Sabbath Eve 4th Nisan, he called to his wife and told her he felt his time was drawing near and he was going to die. He gave her a long list of needy people he had been supporting secretly and asked her to continue helping them. His sudden death was a heavy shock on the community. Especially affected was his close friend Altar Schlesinger who passed away one year later.

His wife Mindl the daughter of Natan–Netta Altshuler, a modest charitable woman, continued to manage the business after the death of her husband. She diligently continued with the education of her sons and sent them to Yeshivot. She immigrated to Palestine following her son and today live in Tel–Aviv.

Yisrael–Meir the senior son, a graduate of Yeshivot immigrated to Palestine in the framework of the “He–Halutz” movement bringing his family along later. He married Shoshanna née Melervitz of Tykocin, is also now in Tel–Aviv.

Aharon – studied for a while at the Yeshiva of Raduń, today lives in Tel–Aviv.


Arieh Katz – among the worthy notables of town. A town councilor, the treasurer of the “Mishnah Group” and among the managers of the “Sick visits” charitable society.

He was a house painter and decorator by profession but he stopped house–painting and became a true artist. His reputation went before him, Even Christian notables were among his admirers. But his soul was truly directed towards various forms of public service.

Good–looking, his high brow was deeply furrowed, his intelligent eyes peered from his head His handsome face, wrinkled high brow, penetrating and understanding eyes, matched him wonderfully.

As one who had close and friendly contacts with nobles and princes, Arieh became something of brethren's lobbyist in times of trouble. Among other things, he managed to undo the harassment and obstruction of Fritz Domansky for the building of the Beit Midrash which was in its final stages.

As he was involved in the community life, he fulfilled a vision of generations and immigrated to Palestine, he and his family with him.

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Arieh Katz and his wife Etk'e daughter of Ilan from Otrolenka


His first act in Palestine, when settling down in the Tel–Aviv neighborhood of Shapira in 1925, was to establish a synagogue in the name of the people of Tykocin.

For even in Tel–Aviv he didn't for one moment abandon, and to hiss dying day, his involvement with the town and he created in his surroundings a focus round which members of the community immigrating to Palestine would have a community waiting for them.

His wife, Etk'e née Ilan of Otrolenka stood at his right hand in all his doings, encouraging him to dedicate himself to public and community affairs and eased his burden by managing his shop of home decoration necessities – wall–paper, paints, and so on.

Two Scrolls of the Torah were dedicated in her name – one in Tykocin and one in Tel–Aviv.

Natan, their first–born continues the tradition of his father, a businessman and public figure in Tel–Aviv.

Fasske (today Davidovitz), a known figure in the social life of the community, took an active role fund–raising events for the various local charities, employing her abilities as a sweet singer. She immigrated with her parents and lives in Tel–Aviv.

Feygl – She married Yisrael Pravda of Zambrow. They and their children, Golda and Ze'ev, perished in the Holocaust. May G–d avenge his blood.

Translator's Footnotes

  1. The “Religious Guard” movement. Return
  2. An acrostic for the Hebrew honorific “ADoneinu, MOreinu, Rabbeinu” – Our Master, our Teacher, our Rabbi. Return
  3. The synagogue beadle Return


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