Translated by Naomi Gal
||May the book, Yad Le-Yedinitz, serve as a Yad Vashem, a memorial book also to the initiator and editor of this book who gave its wings and created its contents and images, to our unforgettable friend,
The book's committee and its editorial are deeply grateful to our Ilustre native of our city, the writer and literary critic Yisrael Zemora for his expert advice, supervision and guidance in editing and designing this book, and for reading the manuscripts and styling them.
A special thank you goes to the famous Jewish painter Ban, from Paris, for designing the cover of this book. While he was in Israel on the occasion of an exhibition for his Song of Songs illustrations and as an IDF's guest, Ban browsed the editorial's pictures and chose as a subject for the cover the photo of one of the tombstones (R' Isaac Meilechson, zl), which according to the artist, represents the style of popular-local Jewish art, something genuinely original (see page 695).
Translated by Naomi Gal
From right to left:
Standing: Moshe Dubrow (Haifa), Mania Schwartz-Gukovsky (Tel Aviv), Pinchas Mann-Meidelmann (Kibbutz Nir-Am), Zosia Roisman-Steinberg (Ramat Gan), Issachar Rosenthal (Kibbutz Masada), Yehuda Safri-Darf (Haifa), Chaim Horvitz (Haifa).
Sitting: Dr. Elimelech Blank (Tel Aviv), Efraim Schwarzman-Sharon (Tel Aviv), Alexander Meilechson (Tel Aviv), Yosef Magen-Shitz (Tel Aviv), Lea Mann-Pernas (Tel Aviv), Shalom Caspi-Serebrenick (Herzliya)
|Editorial committee: Chaim Horvitz, Yosef Magen-Shitz (editor), Alexander Meilechson, Pinchas Mann-Meidelmann, Efraim Schwarzman-Sharon.
Financial committee: Shalom Caspi-Serebrenick, Yehuda Kafri-Daf, Alexander Meilechson, Lea Mann-Pernas, Issachar Rosenthal.
Committee for reviewing finances: Moshe Dubrow, Issachar Rosenthal.
Committee members: Dr. Elimelech Blank, Mania Schwartz-Gukovsky, Zosia Roisman-Steinberg.
|The members of the committee and the editorial who passed away:
Leova Gokovsky, Shimshon Bronstein, Eliyahu Bichutsky-Naor, Dov Dori-Dondushansky, Mordechai Reicher (first editor).
|Note: For presentation purposes we have provided the Original Map as produced in the Yizkor Book as well as the Reference Map. The Reference Map is provided as it is easier to read and to identify the locations of the sites indicated in the translation provided. The Reference Map is still missing Site Number 11 as it could not be found on the Original Map. If anyone can locate Site Number 11, please contact the Coordinator at which point we will adjust the Revised Reference Map accordingly.|
by Yosef Magen-Shitz
Translated from Hebrew by Dafna Meltzer
With awe and reverence, we present this book of remembrance and Yizkor to the remnants of those exiled from our town Yedinitz. This book will be a kind of Yad Vashem of the gray days and of the creative and full life of those who lived there. It will represent a headstone to those higher-ups and to the simple ones who have left us, whether by natural causes or by the hand of their neighbors and the murderers from evil domains; for those who perished in the Holocaust and those who died far away; for those who died or fell in our ancient land that was reborn, and for those whose children died defending our country. We, therefore, called this book Yad LeYedinitz.Here and there we hear comments that the time has come to stop publishing memory books and memorials for the Jewish towns and villages that were destroyed during the Holocaust. The claim is, that memory books are all the same in style and character, and even in content. This claim may be accepted by those whose task is to review them and by those who write them, but not among the townspeople. For them, the town of their birth is not just one of many; after all, that is where they set up their roots, grew up, and blossomed. They cherish the memory of every muddy street, every dusty road, and every narrow alley; every fancy home and every dwelling that was falling down; the passing smoke and the lingering dust. They cherish the memory of children's laughter, of mothers' tears, of fathers' labor, of neighbors' quarrels, of teachers' cries, and rabbis' admonitions; of the singsong of a cantor; of echoes from the Promised Land, and even of those who opposed Israel. All of them, the Chasidic and the son of the opponent, the rabbi and the intellectual, the one who obeys the mitzvoth and the one who breaks them on purpose, the Zionist and the Communist, the virtuous and the criminal. All, all were flesh of our flesh, the blood of our blood. Our enemies did not differentiate between us.
We couldn't nor did we want to discriminate among the virtuous, the innocent, the enlightened, the steeped in Jewish life and humanity; between the low-life, the incapable, and the undesirable. Even the latter are better than the murderers among whom there were intellectuals, musicians, and university professors.
This book was written by people from the town, primarily for people from the town, the few survivors of the remaining exiles.
Both, the conveyance and the receipt, are needed by their souls and on this point, there is no argument.
Some dismiss the memorial books of a small town as provincial. Indeed, the bigger the town thus celebrated, the less provincial the book and the more investigated, scientific, and accurate. However, by being less provincial it is also less romantic and less intimate, that is, it will be read less.
Those who know these things report that in Eastern and Central Europe (areas where Yiddish is spoken, Yiddishland as it is sometimes called), the USSR, Romania, Poland, the Check Republic, Hungary, and so forth, there were more than 2,000 small Jewish towns (shtetlach). Besides the social and public common denominator, each town had something special and unique. The number of memory books written so far accounts for about 600, a spontaneous and grassroots enterprise with no equal in Jewish history or human history in general, and they are still coming. Tens are in printing and many more will surely be produced until the last one of the Holocaust generation passes on. Only then, will these books be transferred to the desks of historians who will elucidate pearls of the rich daily life despite the upcoming Holocaust. After all, the Jewish town had no future anyhow.
The Jewish town and the Jewish suburbs of the bigger cities, which were also a sort of town, was Jewish Territory; a symbol of our existence as the Jewish nation according to several theorists (most of whom resent our rebirth as a county). There, in the Territory, we were able to be a people by themselves per our conservative views; there existed a fertile ground where Dov-Bar Borochov, a teacher of a generation, saw in his Marxist-Scientific opinion, a nation.
With the collapse of the ghettos' walls and the appearance of the first signs of capitalistic development in Eastern Europe, the town of Yedinitz started to lose its power as a force that unites and separates, as a symbol of the territory of the Jewish nation. There were no hints of assimilation in the town. On the contrary, the exit of the youth and the adults for bigger cities and other countries was based on a Jewish need for separate survival. The bigger city made assimilation easier. There, the nomads and migrants lost their language, their religion, and their interest in Jewish society. The nomads' and migrants' second generation, whether it be in nearby Czernowitz , Bucharest, the distant Paris, London, or the countries of North and South America maintain their desire to preserve their Jewish memories; among the grandchildren, this desire will be weaker and weaker until the chain is broken. We are witnesses to this process in a very advanced stage, in North America (where the third generation of townspeople has matured), in Paris, and in South America. Because man connects with the general public (in our case, Jews) by its connection to a place. An insubstantial connection with the general population, without a connection to a place which cannot hold. Therefore, the landsmen represent a strong link to the Jewish population in the Diaspora. The deterioration of this link represents the biggest danger to Judaism. The synagogue of the migrant generation, in its fate, is the fate of the landsmen; the synagogue of the next generation has not yet proven itself.
In Israel, there is no such problem. Here appeared a new leaning toward a common nation. Here there is no danger of assimilation. However, there exists a problem of the lack of continuity between the generations, something everybody complains about. We want to impart to our sons and daughters a sense of knowledge about the source of the nationalistic ideals of their parents. We want to give this knowledge to the next generation after us that grew up in Israel, because the town, though was Diaspora, was rich in spirit and soul in its uniqueness and its roots.
Some claim that the children will not read the memorial books of their parents' towns. I question that assertion, too. But I am certain that the grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be interested in them because they will want to know their own roots. The memory books of the towns which the parents will gift them will not be discarded from their children's homes, their grandchildren's, or their descendants, but they will become sacred books to the family for generations to come. It is my desire to quote a Jewish book by Melech Ravitch:
Memorial books are, to some extent, a continuation to the Book of Books. They carry a message to the people of Israel, more than that, a message to the entire human race all over the world.
* * *
We tried to describe in this book all the aspects of life and experiences in the town of Yedinitz, in all its social and seasonal layers. We tried to dig into the depths of its history.
We gathered whatever the meager archives and the memories from the town provided us up to the point when its distinct Jewishness disappeared, but more than that, up to the Soviet period after the War.
We searched the internal organization of its Jews: the public institutions, religion, charity, mutual aid, education, the national and ideological movements, Zionism, Youth, economy, sources of income, daily life, and so on. With all this, the book lacks a description of the economic and social conditions. We told mostly about the merchants and farmers, that is, about the home-owners and less so about the poor, the struggling, the tradesmen who made up at least half the Jewish population. Briefly, we described the anti-Zionist Left, particularly the Communists, which in the 1920s and 1930s represented a large proportion of the local Jewish youth: the educated youth, members of the middle class, and sons of tradesmen. The Communist and revolutionary movement within the Jewish population was, to my view, part of the general Jewish national movement (I almost said part of the Nationalism). The devotion of the Jewish revolutionary communists to their ideology and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for the cause, is, in my view, an integral part of the historical Jewish martyrdom. Such bravery and idealism were not found among their Gentile friends.
* * *
Yedinitz was not, like some of her neighbors, populated by Jews only. During the Czarist period, it was mostly Jewish. During the Romanian period, the percentage of Jews decreased to about half the population. This trend would have probably continued even without the Holocaust.
What was the essence of the non-Jewish part of the town, not regarding the relationship between Jews and Gentiles, but regarding themselves? What was the public weight of the non-Jews as to their self-organization, mutual aid, charity, culture, and communal activities? The Gentiles, who lived in an area called village (dorf or Mahalah and this confused researchers, who thought that besides the Jewish town there was a separate village by the name of Yedinitz ). However, this did not exist in all the years a smidgen of the public initiative. They did not establish any cell of education, not a library not a philanthropic organization, or even not religious establishments, nothing. The supposedly intellectuals among the local gentile, including the teachers, the clerks, and the clergy, were contemptuous of the general population and were not interested in them. All of them, including the clergy, were alcoholics and their meeting spot was the bar. Among the general population were the pessimists and the apathetic, the lagging and the backward. During Czarist times they all fell under the influence of the Black Century, and during the Romanian times, they were under the influence of Cuzists and the like. They were those who participated in the pogroms during the prior century and World War II, and when the Romanians returned in 1941, they were among the first to murder Jews, their neighbors on the other side of the fence and the street.
There was not a single instance of a gentile saving a Jew, not even one. Not one!
* * *
This book is the fruit of intense labor over many years: the gathering of the materials, finding witnesses to events, and particularly, urging writing, encouraging memories, holding interviews, conversations, meetings, and trips; digging through archives and libraries, albums, and personal drawers; putting down the memories of the witnesses; writing anew; then copying and editing. Not all the material gathered made it into the book. By its nature, there is obviously both, too much and missing. Among the material that was left out, there may be some that should have been included. However, time was limited. During the work on the book, there was from time-to-time news that reached us about someone leaving this world. It was not the intent of those working on the book to be the last ones left on the wall. Also, the budget, which kept growing beyond all planning, limited the amount of material.
Several hundred printing blocks contained in the book are both group photos and individual ones. We did not publish all the pictures we gathered because not all of them had what we call public value and there were many duplicates. Printing the photos was also a great expense that the book committee could not bear.
Most of the photos were taken from private collections. The photos were also like pieces of wood rescued from a fire. Together with the Jews and their property, the albums and private collections, as well as archives and negatives from photographers, were destroyed. The photographs preserved were only from those in our town who had left before the Holocaust. For that reason, it looks as if the photography in the town stopped in 1939, or that it went down during the War because of the Cuzist dictatorial government. We were not able to obtain a single photo that was taken during the first Soviet invasion in 1940-1941, nor during the Holocaust.
Most of the group pictures are from Zionist activities. The Zionists took lots of pictures, said someone. Pictures from general and public activities are few and far between. We were not able to obtain, for example, photos of the Primars and their assistants, or of the heads of the community. Few are photos of the streets and the buildings before the Holocaust. In the memory books of other nearby towns we found pictures of the town's streets. From where? For the most part from tourists, sons of the town, who had emigrated and came back to visit the town. We were told that also in Yedinitz tourists took pictures of the streets, but we were not able to find them.
Translated from the Hebrew by Ruth Luks
Born in Yedinitz in 1909. He finished the local high school and studied law and philosophy at the University of Czernowitz. From 1931 he was the central secretary of the Poalei Zion and its youth movement in Romania.
From 1935 he was secretary of the unity party Poalei Zion - Tzeirei Zion/ Romania. Editor of its newspaper (Arbeiterzeitung, Oifboi, Tribune) and others.
Administrative member of Hachaluz and delegate at the 20th Zionist Congress ( Zurich,1937).
From 1926 he published articles in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Romanian in newspapers.
From 1936 he wrote in Our Time (Kishinev) in Czernowitz. Editor of several magazines (Machshawot, together with Sisha Bagish) and Jugendstimmen.
Came to Israel in 1938 to Kibbutz Jagur and was a member of the Hagannah.
1941 1942 Secretary of Moezet Poalei Kfar Saba.
1942 1946 Volunteer in the Jewish brigade and fought in the Italian front.
After the war, he was active in the Bricha Zionist movement and in Chaluz in Western Europe. He published a series of 15 articles about the brigade in Morgenjournal (New York). Also published editions in Yiddish and English.
In 1946 he became a professional journalist and worked at Chadashot Haerev, Yom Yom, Hador, Hapoel Hatzair, Giljonot, Ashmoret, Maariv, Dawar, Dwar Hashawua, Das Weert, Wjjeze and others.
In the years 1955 – 1959 Correspondent for Unser Weert in Paris.
1960 – 1961 Mapai Speaker
1959 1969. Editor of the weekly magazine Do Woch Illustriert and from 1961 editor of Illustrierte Weltwoche (Tel-Aviv), reports and monographs Eilat, President Ben Zwi, Prague Trials and others.
Married to Chana Taedovnik Matorka.
Son: Dr. Ezra Magen.
Bibliography: Encyclopedia Who Is Who in Israel / Lexicon of Jewish Literature (NY)
A final comment: we noted the addresses on the back of the pictures. The older addresses are in pure Russian language. Addresses in Hebrew appear for the first time after World War I. By the end of the 1920s, the Russian addresses disappear completely and Yiddish takes over Hebrew. In the 1930s we see the first addresses in garbled Romanian. The writing improved toward the end of the 1930s. The second Russian invasion turns the wheel back to Russia.
We intended to publish in this book the names of all those from the town who perished in the Holocaust and those who died from natural causes. We asked townspeople to send us names. We even sent them questionnaires to fill out. Many asked to publish in the book personal Memorials of their loved ones. Few sent names of those who perished without leaving behind families. For that reason, there is no number on the general list.
* * *
Difficult were the birth pangs of this book. Its conception was in the year 1953. That was the year of the first meeting of those from Yedinitz in Israel, when it was decided among other things, to put out a memory book, Yad Vashem to the town and its Jews. A year later, in July of 1954, a pamphlet was printed announcing the composition of the Publishing Board, composed of seven members: Shimshon Bronstein (Tel Aviv), Chair; Liuba Gukovsky (Yagur), Yakov Chachmovitch (Hanita), Issachar Rosenthal (Massadah), Mordechai Reicher (Petah Tikvah); Efraim Schwarzman (Jerusalem), coordinator; and Yosef Magen-Shitz (Tel Aviv), Secretary.This writer, Secretary of the Editorial Board, was sent on a journalist assignment to Paris, where he stayed for four years (as the head editor of the Yiddish daily Unsere Wort). Mordechai Reicher, zl, took it upon himself to take over the task of coordinator and became, for all intents and purposes, the book's editor.
The same year, 1954, the Organization of Yedinitzers planted a grove in the outskirts of Jerusalem in memory of the town's martyrs. Within the grove, they planted a garden in memory of the unknown martyrs, the sons of Yedinitzers, and the many Jewish organizations including Gordonia, Dror, WIZO, Poalei Zion, Zionists in general, and the Revisionists. The heart of this endeavor was Shimshon Bronstein, zl, and Shalom Caspi was the treasurer.
For 13 years the endeavor was dormant. In 1966 a group of friends got together, first in the home of Leah Man and then in the home of Alexander Melechson, who had just immigrated from Chile and decided to revive the idea of publishing the book as a last chance. This required a new gathering of Yedinitzers, which took place on the 7th of March 1967.
This gathering decided to expand the editorial board and chose a special committee for the preparation of the book: Pinchas Man (Kibbutz Nir Am), Eliahu Bitchutzky-Naor (Kibbutz Massada), Chaim Horwitz (Haifa), and Alexander Melechson (Tel Aviv). In addition to those, the following people also participated in the publication of the book: Mosheleh Dubrow (Haifa), Maniah Schwartz-Gukovsky (Tel Aviv), Zosia Roisman-Steinberg (Ramat Gan), Yehuda Kafri-Dorf (Haifa), Dr. Elimelech Blank (Tel Aviv), Leah Prans-Medelman (Tel Aviv), Shalom Caspi (Herzliya), Dov-Berl Dondushansky (Massada), and others.
The Editorial Board and the Book Committee met regularly to decide on the style and content of the book. Yosef Magen-Shitz was asked to take on the sections in Yiddish. Later, the well-known writer Yisrael Zemora (himself from Yedinitz) answered the call from the committee to help with editing and to advise on content and form.
Pinchas Man, from Kibbutz Nir Yam, was drafted for several weeks to contact people from Yedinitz and encouraged them to remember, interviewed witnesses, and put all that on paper. Efraim Schwarzman-Sharon (Jerusalem) performed a similar task. But Reicher basically collected all the material and processed it. He wrote the main chapter of the book the Holocaust.
By the way, the financial side of the project also moved forward. In the same gathering, in 1967, there was a fundraiser that provided both contributions and pledges which allowed the start of the project. In May of the same year Clara Brand-Kelmanovitz from Sao Paolo, Brazil, visited Israel and promised to promote the book in her city, and, indeed, she kept her promise. Something similar was done at Yosy Lande in Rio de Janeiro. Alexander Melechson collected contributions from Yedinitzers in South America.
On August 23, 1969, a pamphlet signed by M. Reicher announced that the project is moving. A year later, on August 21, 1970, a second pamphlet was issued, also signed by Reicher, with the Happy Announcement that the preparations had been made. However, even in this pamphlet there was a call to provide articles and photos. M. Reicher developed a wide network of correspondence with immigrants from Yedinitz from around the world. At the end of 1970 the first material was sent to printing. However, the weight of this effort took a toll on M. Reicher's weak body and he passed away.
Even before Reicher's passing, several members of the Editorial Board were gone, some tragically: Liuba Gukovsky was killed in the tragic event of Ma'agan (1954); Eliahu Bitchutsky-Na'or and Dov Dondushansky-Duri were killed by an Arab mine in Massadah (1968); the same year the Board Chair, Shimshon Bronstein, passed away (1968); and in 1971, the esteemed M. Reicher.
In the book, all the above members are properly recognized.
* * *
The death of M. Reicher was a blow to the idea and execution of the book. By necessity, the publication was delayed. The Editorial Board and the Publication Committee, which were orphaned, met and discussed the issue often. It was decided to give the task of Editor-in-Chief to Yosef Magen-Shitz, who, as mentioned above, was instrumental from the moment the thought was first conceived.
For different reasons, we were forced to delay the printing: because of a large amount of material that had arrived and required additional editing.
Another two years passed before the book was completed and ready for you.
This book was conceived, shaped, and formed in his image by Mordechai Reicher, zl. The work of the next editor, Yosef Magen-Shitz, became a Yad Vashem to the unforgettable Mordechai, that without his devotion, determination, and hard work, it would not exist today.
The Editorial Board thanks from the bottom of their heart our esteemed compatriot, the writer, and critic Yisrael Zemora for his advice and support in the publication of this book.
Finally, we want to thank all the members of the Editorial Board who worked tirelessly in the collection of contributions and in the search for financing sources, in their efforts to connect with ex-residents of Yedinitz in Israel and around the world to promote and publish the book.
Please allow us, the Editorial Board, the Publication Committee, and the final editor, to bless the final product.
by Yisrael Zemora
Translated from Hebrew by Shlomo Sragovich
Donated by Shlomo Sragovich in memory of his great-grandparents Yankel and Riva Bronstein (from Zaicani), his uncles
Boris and Josef with their families, and all the Bronstein family who perished in the village of Zaicani during the Holocaust in Bessarabia on July 6, 1941
I admit, and am not ashamed: for many years since I came to Israel, I thought that I have deleted all my ties to the past, and I am no longer bound to the country in which I was born and to the place where I grew and received my education. I thought I was an Israeli and nothing else. As the years went by, I learned to know that this was not the case. A person cannot deny his past, since the past is one of his foundations, whether he wants it or not.
With time, I have changed my opinion about my exiled past! One should never deny it, but reconcile and domesticate it. It is better to produce the best out of it, acknowledge the positive and distance the negative.
Naturally, I got back again in the cycle of my Landsmanshaftn (coordinator's note: hometown society), which I denied. This time, I was attracted to the people of my hometown Yedinitz, and was requested to assist in the writing and publication of a Yizkor book for Yedinitz. When I started the work and went through the lists, articles, memory chapters and the descriptions about the town in which I grew up and was educated at (although I was not born in it), I realized that I did not forget this town. It was hiding somewhere inside me. When I read, I remembered, and a whole world - colorful, eventful, full of portraiture- rose in front of me, active and influential as it used to be. Who knows, if the qualities of which I am so proud are not the same qualities this city imparted to me. Now, I am not afraid of the past competing with the present, and I do not suspect myself of a possible weakness of mind or bond, God forbid, to the very same past and city.
When I was close to my Bar-Mitzvah age, my parents (from the village of Pochumbautch, Beltz county, where I was born) moved to Yedinitz. I lived only four consecutive years in this town, which made a mark for me, not less indelible than the village. In the village, I lived during my childhood, while in Yedinitz, I lived as a teenager, the age of recognition and awareness education. Only after living in Yedinitz, and receiving education in Torah, Zionism, literature, did I go to pursue the maturity path (coordinator's note: higher education), went to the cities of Russia (Odessa and Petrograd) and to the world.
Yedinitz educated me not to be a Yedinitzian, but rather a Tel Avivian.
Having fulfilled the ideal, and while living in Tel Aviv, I returned to Yedinitz in my mind, after thoughts and considerations. I neither miss my town nor admire it: I remember it the way a person remembers his youth, the important primary, natural, forming factors, for which we are grateful it is possible to say, grateful to our fate.
Now, it is obvious to me that unless I had received my education at Yedinitz the way I did, I would not be the same person I am. Three Yedinitzian personalities affected me greatly:
I would not know how to answer a daring question: how different was Yedinitz, for the better, from other similar towns in Bessarabia, or other counties of Russia. On the contrary, I think that there was no general, important, and visible difference. Perhaps there is a virtue in it since all Jewish towns in Russia excelled in a high quality national and social education. In all towns, students learned Hebrew as a main language, despite the private interests which favored the state language as a main language. However, the state language was neither neglected nor underestimated, and in this way, a known and respectable layer of Jewish intelligence was educated. In addition, there were good teachers and schools in the town, many readers in all languages, journalists, famous Hebrew writers, amateur actors, proper social activity, national Jewish activity, etc'.
Another important attribute of Yedinitz was the Jewish population, who knew that the town was provincial but was not ready to settle for it. Instead, teenagers were educated to aspire to the Great World, including both, the Jewish and the general worlds. Many went to study, gain knowledge, and to get to know places with a higher culture.
The same happened to me. I have left Yedinitz several times, to make Aliyah, to study in Odessa, to get to know the capital, Petrograd. This way, I was a student of the modern Yeshiva in Odessa, a Hebrew teacher for the children of Yitzhak Grinboim in Petrograd, as well as married a woman from Odessa.
When I came back to Yedinitz, I was a teacher at the Talmud Torah school, together with Eliezer Shteinberg and Israel Toporovski.
At the same time, I was active at the Tzeirei Tzion movement, and was elected as the chair of the chapter in town, together with Eliezer Shteinberg, who was my deputy (at the same time, he was still a Zionist).
I also remember: besides Jewish newspapers (from Warsaw and Eretz Israel), which were common in town, especially Ha'Tzfira, there were Russian newspapers, including high-level newspapers such as Kievaskaia Missl and Bejeveye Vedomosti, etc'. In other words, the town not only had a respectable layer of intelligent people but also exemplary intellectuals.
Formally, the town was linked with the region's capital, Kishinev. But, in fact, there were stronger ties with Warsaw and Odessa (Jewish cultural centers), as well as with Moscow and Petrograd (Russian cultural centers).
I remember an episode in my Yedinitzian biography. One day, I went out of my house, before noon, and passed by the house of the town's judge Shmuelikel, who sat on the porch and drank tea. He called me and said: what is this bruise on your forehead? I am confident that this a punishment, since today you have not put on Tefillin. Indeed, this was the case. It was the first time I renounced and did this violation.
Yisrael Zemora was born in 1899 in the village of Pochumbautch (coordinator's note: today this village is called Pociumbeni or Pociumbăuți, Moldova). In 1912, his parents Aharon and Nechama settled in Yedinitz. He received traditional education in Yedinitz and continued his studies in a Yeshiva in Odessa. He learned different languages and acquired a general broad education. When he returned to Yedinitz, he became a teacher at the Talmud Torah school. After living in Botushan (coordinator's note: today's Botosani, Romania) and Bucharest he made Aliyah in 1925.
His first song was printed in Ha'Prachim (1914). Later, he published songs and prose in various Hebrew, Russian, Yiddish, and Romanian journals. In Israel he became famous as a clever and profound literature reviewer. He was a member of several groups of novel writers, focused publishing his works on journals such as Ktuvim and Turim in the 1930s (together with A. Shteinman, A. Shlonski, N. Alterman, and others) and was an editorial member of Moznaim. He also founded and edited the bi-monthly journal Machbarot Le'Sifrut (1940-1954) and established a publishing house bearing the same name, which printed mainly dozens of classical books, ancient and new. He published poetry, criticism, philitones, and thoughts in different newspapers and journals.
His main books were: The Poetry of R. M. Rielke, The Poetry of A. Shlonski, Two Story Tellers: H. Hazaz and Y. Horowitz, The Story Teller A. N. Gnesin, Al Parashat Drachim (A collection of critical studies in three volumes, a poetry compilation named 30 Sonatas, etc'. He translated dozens of poetry books, prose, as well as Russian, German, French, English, Romanian, and Yiddish thoughts. He was awarded the Fichman Prize in 1967. His wife Ada, née Barberman, passed away in 1966. His sons were Tzvi and Ehud (editor of Dvar Ha'Shavua).
Bibliography: Encyclopedia for the Pioneers of the Yishuv for D. Tidhar, Encyclopedia for Literature for B. Kro, The Hebrew Literature Lexicon for G. Karsel, Who and who in Israel, The Origins of the New Hebrew Literature for A. Ben-Or, etc.
My life experience taught me that a man is affected in his life: a) by the people he meets b) by the places he lived in and engaged at (this is how wise is the ancient Hebrew saying: Meshane Makom, Meshane Mazal, which means that trading places, changes luck).
Now, reviewing my life, I intend to understand better the effects of the four places in which I've lived at:
Since I am a fatalist, I assert with satisfaction that this was the way it should have happened and not otherwise. I am also obliged to stress out: Yedinitz is a significant cornerstone in my life - as an Israeli, as a writer, as a Jew.
The first editor of the book, the late Mordechai Reicher, devoted to it great vigor, spiritual powers, love for the topic, understanding, and invested a lot of work to portrait and characterize this book. Unfortunately, Mordechai Reicher did not complete his work; he died before his time, and left piles over piles of material, both raw and in process of editing.
The book seekers then assigned the task of completion re-scanning, sorting, re-editing, getting new material, and finally asserting the portrait of the compilation to my friend, Yosef Magen-Shitz.
Yosef Magen-Shitz devoted plenty of work and time to the compilation; he pulled through everything given his experience and understanding in editing, writing, as well as loving the deed and its importance. He controlled whatever was found, and ordered what was necessary to do, scrutinizing and inspecting - and as a tasteful architect, he completed the task to the joy of all Yedinitz people, and for the benefit of the Jewish history and its different incarnations.
It is also necessary to sincerely thank all the people in Israel and the people of our town around the world who assisted, remembered and described, and to all who managed to revive the character of the town and its different aspects.
This book not only serves as a monument and memory to the town, but also to known and praised people, as well as simple and anonymous people, who either died naturally or by a vicious enemy; in case someone was omitted or not mentioned, this was not intentional, but by mistake, and may the forgivers forgive.
former Yedinitzer in Israel
Next to the president's table from right to left:
7th March 1967
|The audience in the auditorium|
of M. Reicher zl
Beit Notta Petach Tikvah
At the head table:
1. Yitzchak Shapira (Agricultural Center). 2. Chaim Billi (Secretary, M.P. [probably stands for Merkaz or Machon Poalim or something similar Workers' Center or Institute.], Petach Tikvah. 3. Shalom Kaspi (on behalf of people from Yedinitz). 4. Yosef Chanani (Author and educator). 5. A. Reuveni (Director, Beit Notta, after the death of M. Reicher).
In the audience:
First row, among others: 1. Shoshana Reicher. 2. Polia Sharon. 3. Chanan Magen. 4. Yosef Magen-Shitz.
[Page 19 - Yiddish] [Page 1 - Hebrew]
Blessings Upon Completion of the Yizkor Book
by Yosef Magen-Shitz
Translated from the Yiddish by Leib Kogan
Donated by Leib Kogan in memory of his grandmother Tzirl Fishman zl,
her brother Yechiel Fishman zl, and his family member Nethanel Shachar zl
With fear and compassion, we carry this book of remembrance and Yizkor to the remnants of the exodus of the Jews. This book will be a kind of Yad Vashem for the daily gray life and for the life of a lot of human beings and Jewish fellows who swarmed in the town. This book will be a memorial for gifted people and for ordinary folk who left the world, who passed away naturally, and who have been despised by their neighbors, the gentiles, and by murderers, emissaries of tyrannical villains; for whoever died in the bloody years in his birthplace and who passed away far away, abroad, sent away, and in deportation; for whoever died or fell in our old homeland, who survived, and for whose children fell in the battles for Israel. That is why we gave this book our name, with a little rhetoric, Yad Le Yedinitz, which means, a memorial, a remembrance to Yedinitz and its Jews.
From here and there, one hears that the time has come to listen to the publication of memorial books and memorials for Jewish towns and cities that were destroyed in the Holocaust. They say, after all, that the books are like one another in structure, character, and even content. This argument may be valid among the professional critics and chroniclers, but also the townspeople. In the latter case, their hometown is not just one of many. After all, they took their roots there, grew up, budded, and blossomed.
They love the memory of every muddy street, dusty road, narrow curb, every solid wall and every fallen hut, the lingering smoke from chimneys and every dust in the air, the memory of childlike joy, mothers' tears, livelihood. Sighs from fathers, neighborhood quarrels, screams from teachers and the rabbi's rebuke, the gurgling of the cantor and the echo which reached the town from Promised Land, and even every screaming sound of redemption opponents.
All, the Chasid and the grandson of the opponent, the rabbi and the maskil, the observer of the Mitzvot and the one who ate forbidden animal fats to anger the people, the Zionist and the Communist, the chosen one and in contrast the buyer of stolen goods, the Jew who is ready for Kiddush-Hashem and, by contrast, the apostate. All are flesh from our flesh, blood from our blood. The ones who hated us did not differentiate between these and the others because the concept of innocent and guilty regarding the Jews, was foreign to them.
We could not and did not want to discriminate between a man of virtue, a righteous and an innocent man, a sharp-minded man and a knowledgeable in the mechanics of life, and Jewish and a human creation; and the lowly, the infirm, and the despicable. The latter, too, surpass in morality their murderers among whom were educated people, musicians, poets, and university professors.
The book was written by the people of the city, mainly, for the people of the city, by the survivors for the survivors of the exile. Both, the expression and the absorption, and listening to this recount, is a mental need for the survivors of Yedinitz and there is no question about that.
Some denounce the memorial books for the small towns as provincial. Certainly, the larger the immortalized city, the less sentimental, more inquisitive, more scientific, and accurate is the memoir. However, the less provincial it is, the less romantic, less intimate it is, that is, the less it will be read.
Insiders know that in Eastern and Central Europe (Yiddish-speaking area - Yiddish-Land, as the saying goes), in the Soviet Union, Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, etc., there were more than 2,000 Jewish towns (Shtetlech). Aside from the common social and public denominator, each town had something unique and special.
The number of memorial books on the towns that have appeared so far is estimated at 600, a spontaneous and popular commemorative project that has no precedent in Jewish and universal history, and the hand is outstretched. Dozens are in print and many more will appear until the last generation of extermination and the Holocaust passes away. Only then, will the books move to the desks of historians who will retrieve pearls of richness and the spirit of life in the shtetl despite the atmosphere of sunset and the fate of decline that surrounded the towns on the eve of the Holocaust. Because, the Jewish town had no future, anyway.
The Jewish town and the popular suburbs in the big cities, they too, were just villages of the Jewish territory, one of the hallmarks of this territory, was according to various theorists (usually hostile to the idea of ??our national revival) proof to the existence of a Jewish nation (and not the land of Israel). There, in this territory, we lived according to our tradition, A people to live alone. It was there that the special style of life was found, where Dov-Ber Borochov, the teacher of the generation, saw as the main determinant in his Marxist-scientific definition the concept of nation.
With the fall of the ghetto walls, with the emergence of the buds of capitalist development in Eastern Europe, the town began to lose its power as a unifying and isolating factor, as a territorial hallmark of the Jewish nation. No ideological assimilationist currents were found in the town. However, the departure of the youth and its graduates going from the town to the big cities, and the migration to big cities, undermined the foundation of the separate Jewish existence. The big city made it easier to assimilate. There, the nomads and immigrants lost their language, their religion, their connection to the Jewish people.
The second generation of nomads and immigrants to the nearby Czernowitz or Bucharest, to the distant Paris or London, to North and South American countries, still maintains an affinity of memory for Judaism. In their grandchildren, this affinity becomes weaker and weaker, and the chain will soon be severed. We are witnessing this process at a very advanced stage in North America (where the third generation of the town's natives have already matured), in Paris, and South America.
Because a person communicates with his people (in our case the Jew) through an affinity to somewhere. An abstract connection with his people, that without a real connection, a link may not last.
Thus, the Landsmanshafts chapters constitute a very strong link of the organized Jewish public in the Diaspora. The deterioration of this link is dangerous to Judaism. The synagogue of the generation of immigrants, its fate as the fate of the Landsmanshaft and the synagogue of the next generation, has not yet proved itself.
In Israel, there is no such problem. A new surrounding, a national affinity, is created here. There is no danger of assimilation here. However, there is a problem with the continuous loosening of generations for which everyone is complaining about. We want to instill in our boys and girls a sense of information about the sources of their parents' national upbringing. Let the next generation know after us. Especially, the one who grew up in Israel, that the shtetl, although exile was, however, it was rich in spirit and soul, in uniqueness, and its roots.
Some say that the boys will not read memorial books of their parents' town. Also, this claim I doubt. But I am sure that the grandchildren and great-grandchildren will investigate them because they will want to know what their origins are. Memorials to the towns that the parents will inherit in no way be thrown away from the homes of the sons, grandsons, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and future generations. The book about the town of grandparents will be passed down from generation to generation and will become a sacred book in every family in future generations. I would like to quote a soulful Jewish writer like King Ravitch:
The memoirs are, in a sense, a sequel to the book of books. They carry a mission for the people of Israel, no less than that, a mission for the entire human race across the globe.
In this book, we have tried to describe all the manifestations of life and existence in the town, to its period and social levels. We tried to penetrate the depths of its history. We retrieved all that we could from what the poor archives could provide us about the town until its Jewish uniqueness disappeared, and even beyond that, the post-war Soviet period.
We surveyed, more or less, the internal organization of Jews, public institutions, religion, charity, mutual aid, education, its national and ideological currents, Zionism, youth, the economy and livelihoods, the way of life, and their desires, and so on. However, the book lacks a description of the economic and social situation. We told more about the merchants and landlords, that is, about the so-called class of the landlord and less about the poor of the city, their workforce, the artisans who were at least half of the Jewish population. But in a nutshell, we reported on the currents of the anti-Zionist left, especially the Communists, who were in the late 1920s and 1930s a significant portion of the local Jewish youth and youth - an educated youth, homemakers, and artisans. The communist and revolutionary movement in the field of the Jewish moshav was, for me, part of the general Jewish nationalist movement (I almost said part of the nationalism). The devotion of the Jewish Communists and revolutionaries to their ideas, their willingness to sacrifice themselves for them, even for me, is an unwavering part of the sanctification of the historical Jewish name. Such manifestations of heroism and idealism were not present in their comrades, the gentiles' Communists.
Yedinitz was not like its neighbors on all sides, a town inhabited only by Jews. In the time of the Tsars, it was mostly Jewish. During the Romanian period, the percentage of Jews dropped to half the population. The process would surely have intensified, even if it had not been for the Holocaust.
What constituted the non-Jewish part of the town, not in terms of relations between Jews and gentiles, but in themselves? What was the public weight of the non-Jews, in self-organization, in mutual aid, in the field of charity? Culture and community activities? The gentiles, who lived in parts called the village (Dorf or Mahala - this is a reason
for scholars to think that apart from the Jewish town there was also a separate village called Yedinitz), did not show any self-initiative over the years. They set up no cell of education, no library, no philanthropic institution, no religious institution, nothing.
The so-called educated of the local Christians, the teachers, the clerks, and the saints, were in this crowd and were not interested in it. Everyone, including the priests, they were drunk, and the meeting place was at the tavern. And by the multitude among them prevailed apathy and the backwardness. Most of them were captured in the days of the Tsar under the influence of the Black Century, and in the days of the Romanians, the cuzists, and the like. They were the pogromschiks in the previous century and during the First World War; and in the return of the Romanians to the town in 1941, they were among the first murderers of the Jews, their neighbors across the fence and the street. There was no case where a goy saved a Jew, not just one single case. Not even one!
This book is the fruit of an ant work for many years, collecting materials, finding witnesses to events, encouraging writings, encouraging recollections, interviews, conversations, meetings, travels, rummaging through archives and libraries, albums and private drawers, recordings by witnesses, rewriting, copying and rewriting, correcting and editing. Not all the material collected entered the book.
Certainly, there are naturally excesses and deficiencies in what came in, and there may be in the material left out of the book, things that were worthy to be included. But time sped up. While working on the book, it came from time-to-time bad news; that this one and that one was gone from the world. After all, the makers of the book do not intend to stay last on the wall. The budget that swelled and exceeded all planning and size also set a limit to the material.
Several hundred pictures are published in the book, group photographs, and individuals. We did not publish all the photographs we collected because not everyone had what is called public value, and there were many duplications. Publishing pictures is also a question of multiple expenses, which the book committee was not able to bear.
Most of the photos were taken from private collections. The photos are also fire sticks saved by the fire. Along with the Jews and their property, all the private albums and collections, and archives were from the local photographers (archives were destroyed). The pictures were kept only by those townspeople who left the town before the Holocaust. Thus, the impression was created that the work of photography in the town was stopped in 1939 or weakened greatly on the eve of the war due to the Cossack and dictatorial regime. We did not receive any pictures taken during the first Soviet occupation, in 1940/41, not so much, as a Holocaust survivor.
Most public images are of Zionist activity. The Zionists were often photographed, said someone. We did not obtain, for example, photographs of the economic activities or community life or individual photographs of streets and buildings from before the Holocaust. In the memorial books of the nearby towns, we found pictures of the streets of the town. Where do they come from? Usually from tourists, from the townspeople who immigrated to the far countries and returned to visit the town. We were told that such tourists also photographed the streets in Yedinitz, but we were unable to locate them.
Translated from the Yiddish by Leslie Train
|There were great labor pains involved in the birth of this book. The initiative was adopted in 1953 at the first conference of the Yedinitzers in Israel, when among other things, it was decided to publish a Yizkor book.|
|In July 1954 the formation of the editorial committee, consisting of 7 people, was announced in a circular: Shimshon Bronstein (Tel Aviv) Chairman, Lyova Gukovski (Yagur), Jacob Chachamovitch (Chanita), Issachar Rosenthal (Masada), Mordechai Reicher (Petach Tikva), Ephraim Schwartzman (Jerusalem) and Yosef Magen-Shitz (Tel Aviv) Secretary.|
Since the Secretary, the writer of these lines, left on a journalist mission to Paris, where he spent four years (as chief editor of the daily 'Undzer Vort'), before any work got underway, M. Reicher began to concentrate the editorial matters under his supervision, and thus, he became the de facto editor of this book.
In 1954 the Organization of Descendants of Yedinitz planted a small forest in memory of the victims of Yedinitz in the Martyrs' Forest, in the hills of Jerusalem. Small gardens were planted to honor the unknown martyrs, the children of Yedinitz, and for the Zionist groups: Gordonia, Dror, Wizo, Poalei Zion, General Zionists, the Zionist Youth, and the Revisionists. The appointed man to lead the organization was Shimson Bronstein and the treasurer was Shalom Caspi-Serebrenick.
Thereafter, there was no activity for 13 years. Towards the end of 1966, a group of friends first met in the house of Leah Meidelman-Parnass and then later at the house of Alexander Meilekhsohn, back then a recent immigrant from Chile, and decided to renew the initiative of publishing this book as a last chance. A second meeting of Yedinitzers was convened on March 7, 1967.
At the conference, it was decided to expand the editorial committee and elect a special book committee. Pinchas Man (formerly Meidelman) from Kvutzat Nir-Am, Eliyahu Bitchutsky (from Kvutzat Masada), Chaim Horwitz (Haifa) and Alexander Meilekhsohn (Tel-Aviv) were the people added to the editorial committee. The book committee did not include members of the editorial board. It consisted of Moshele Dubrow (Haifa), Mania Schwartz-Gukovski (Tel-Aviv), Zosia Roizman-Steinberg (Ramat-Gan), Yehudah Dorf-Kafri (Haifa), Dr. Elimelekh Blank (Tel-Aviv), Leah Meidelman-Parnass (Tel-Aviv), Shalom Caspi-Serebrenick (Herzliah), Dov-Berl Dondushanski-Dori (Kvutzat Masada) and others.
The editorial board of the book committee held sessions to decide on the format and its contents. Yosef Magen-Shitz was asked to prepare the Yiddish section. Later, the noted writer and literary critic Israel Zamora (also a Yedinitzer) complied with the request of the editorial board to assist in its style and to advise vis-à-vis the content and form of the book.
Pinchas Man-Meidelman, from the Nir-Am Kvutza, was mobilized for a few weeks to follow up on the contacts from the Yedinitzers, to motivate them to dredge up memories and to share them, to interview witnesses, and to record their words. Ephraim Schwartzman-Sharon also took a similar work upon himself. For his part, Mordechai Reicher gathered material and reworked it. He prepared the central portion of the book concerning the Holocaust.
By the way, the financial aspect also was discussed and got into account. At the conference held in 1967, a money collection was taken at the initiative of A. Meilekhsohn and Shalom Caspi, bringing in cash and pledges that enabled the practical work to get started. In May of the same year Klara Brand-Kalmanovich, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, visited Israel and promised to do something for the book in her city, and she kept her word. Yuzi Landau, in Rio de Janeiro, was also active in this area. Alexander Meilekhsohn collected the money from the Yedinitzers in South America.
In a circular dated August 23, 1969, signed by M. Reicher, it was announced that the matter of publishing this book was in full gear. About a year later, on August 21, 1970, it was announced in a circular signed by M. Reicher, that the preparatory work was finished. However, the Landsleit (Yedinitzers) were again encouraged to send in material, articles, and pictures in this circular as well. By the end of 1970, the first manuscripts were sent to print. However, all this proved to be too much for the weak body of Mordechai Reicher, and he fell at his post.
A few members of the editorial board and the book committee that predeceased him were Lyova Gukovski, who died in the Ma'agan disaster (1954) [translator's note: a plane crash at Kibbutz Ma'agan near Sea of Galilee] and Eliahu Bitshutzki-Naor and Dov Dondushanski, who died at the hands of an Arab land mine at Masada (1968).
In that same year, the chairman of the committee, the esteemed Shimshon Bronstein (1968) passed away, as did the indefatigable Mordechai Reicher in 1971. All these personalities are appropriately mentioned in this book.
The death of Motie (Mordechai Reicher) dealt a big blow to the book. Efforts to bring this book to fruition were stalled. The book committee and editorial board stopped meeting and canceled the planning sessions. It was decided to transfer the role of the chief editor into the hands of Yosef Magen-Shitz, who, as you have seen, worked to bring this book into being, from the time the idea was born.
Because of a slew of reasons, we were forced to change printers and a large part of the material had to undergo revision and editing due to the additional new information we received. Another two years went by until the book was fully fleshed out and delivered into your hands.
This book also serves as a memorial to the unforgettable Mordechai Reicher, its first editor, the motivator and initiator that gave this project a drive and direction, who defined its form, and fixed its content for without his energy, tenacity, commitment, dedication to the task and literary talents, this book would never have seen the light of day, and also to the second editor of this book, Yosef Magen-Shitz, who completed the task. ,
From the depths of our hearts, the editorial committee thanks the writer and critic Israel Zamora, our native son, for his good advice, supervision, and mentoring the editorial board for his design, the proofreading of the manuscripts, and for reworking its style (especially the Hebrew).
And finally, thank you to all the colleagues on the book committee, who worked tirelessly gathering the offerings and mobilizing the financial resources, organizing the Yedinitzers in Israel and abroad for the sake of the book and its publication.
We, the book committee, members of the editorial board, and the end-stage editor, are so grateful to merit seeing this task completed.
In the photo, among others: Shimshon Bronstein, Yosef Diamant, Yosef Gertzman, Sender Harrari, Leah Mann, Frieda Meital-Kuzminer, Daniel Fuks, Manya Gukovsky-Schwartz, Malka Lehrer, Hershel Fishberg, Duba Grozman-Cohen, Leah Weinshelbaum, Mordechai Wallach, Chava Shapiro, and others
(Where a grove in the name of the Martyrs of Yedinitz is being planted.)
This monument was erected in memory of the Jewish martyrs of the communities of Bessarabia who, on their final journey, yearned to arrive home, to the Land of Israel, but never reached there.
May their memory be immortalized in the gates of the Eternal City, the Capital of Israel.
In their memory the survivors of the following communities planted groves: Kishinev, Ataki, Ackerman, Briceni (Briceni) , Hotin, Yedinitz, Lipkan (Lipcani), Novoselitsa, and Sekurian (Secureni).
The top right gravestone was the first one to be erected. Underneath it, are buried 85 of the holy Martyrs who were murdered on the 13th of Tammuz in the cemetery and were thrown into a mass grave, which was prepared ahead by the murderers.
On the left: a gravestone which was erected later over the grave of several victims whose bones were collected from various sites, as it says: on the crossroads.
The photographs of these mass graves were first brought by Yasha Meilechsohn, who visited Yedinitz in 1958.
As was told by the Shub (the shochet) R' Yeshayahu Elkis, who immigrated to Israel in 1972, both these gravestones crumbled over time, were repaired, and the inscriptions recarved. (See the column titled Yedinitz today)
At the bottom: The last gravestone. Here there is also an inscription in Russian.
The Yiddish text elaborates further:
The tombstones of the mass graves in the Yedinitz Cemetery. The tombstone on the right is the first one. It was erected in 5705 (1945), a year after the arrival of the first survivors. Under the stone are buried 85 Holy Martyrs who were murdered on the 13th of Tammuz 5701 (July 8, 1941) in the cemetery and were thrown into the mass grave that the murderers had prepared. The text in the Holy Tongue was composed by R' Yeshaya Elkis, and it reads: Here are buried the Holy Martyrs who were killed by the Fascist murderers, Friday, the 13th of Tammuz, 5701. May their Memory be a Blessing.
Left: A tombstone which was erected later over the grave of victims whose remains were scattered in various locations.
As is related by R' Yeshaya Elkis, who immigrated to Israel in February 1972, both tombstones were crumbling. They were later renovated and the text repaired. (see column Yedinitz today).
Under: The latest tombstone. Here there is also Russian text.
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