By Belah Liberfroind
I remember the frequent conversations of my parents about the Hebrew school, which was to open soon in town. Children would be able to get an orderly and improved education in it. We young people looked forward with expectation to the important event without being able to understand its meaning and with an innocent curiosity until finally the special day arrived. We were washed very well, had our hair combed, and were brought in holiday clothes by our parents for the first time to the school.
This was a red brick building, which was still not completed in 1913. It had been intended to be used as a hospital. When all the synagogues were burned in WWI, it served for a long time as a synagogue. After the war, Zionism, in all its streams began to take root in the public and cultural life of the Jews. The Zionist leaders in Antopol reached the conclusion that the public building, which was left by the people praying in it when they built a new synagogue, would serve no better use than as the modern Tarbut school. It seemed as if the building by its very nature had been meant for this purpose from the beginning.
A wide and grassy space separated the school from the sad-looking houses of the town. The building had lots of free space around it, which so-to-speak brought into relief the gray daily life of the Jewish district and the festive life, full of happiness, the shouts of the schoolchildren and youth free of care. There is no wonder, then, that the school quickly conquered the hearts of youth of all ages.
In the first months of the school year, our studies took place outside the building under the open sky. The school program included only games and singing. In the winter we were forced to go inside the classrooms, which were still incomplete. The furnishings were very poor. However, all of this did not disturb how the little kids felt, who benefited from the freedom for a few hours from the discipline of their parents.
Our first teacher, Zaretski, was a youth, who was straight in posture, light haired and always happy. He was one of the pupils of one of the first teaching institutions founded by Tarbut in Poland. He was accepted by us as an authority. He taught us pioneering songs such as: We Go Up to the Land with Song, The Shepherds Gathered around the Fire, God Will Rebuild the Galilee, and others. Zaretski left our school at the end of the year and traveled to complete his education.
Deborah, the daughter of Rabbi Paians of Bialystok, took his place. She graduated from a Hebrew gymnasium in one of the cities of central Poland and devoted one year to teach in our school. She taught us to read and write and recited for us poems of Bialik and Tschernikovski. She also left the school at the end of the year in order to complete her studies.
The third teacher, Yisrael Lifshits, who was a founder of the school, continued and completed what was missing in fixing the building, getting appropriate furniture for the classes, acquiring textbooks, etc. He organized a committee of parents, and in cooperation with it, he worked out a proper program of studies and got in contact with the educational office of Tarbut, which began to function at that time in Eastern Poland. The studies slowly entered their proper path. Meanwhile, the group of teachers increased. The teachers were joined by the gifted and enthusiastic pioneering educator, Feldman, and Sirkin, the teacher for Polish.
The library was founded at this period. In the beginning, it included the works of Mapu, Smolenskin, Bialik, Tchernikovski, Kahan, Feierberg, Frishman, and others. The library was expanded in the course of time and also included the works of Jules Vern and of the best Polish writers, Slovtski, Mickiewicz, Sinkiewicz, Prus, and others. The holiday celebrations, which were arranged in the school for every holiday and festival, took a special place in our awareness. The preparations for these events were carefully planned. The classes were ornamented with decorations and flowers. The programs were rich in songs, recitations, lectures of the teachers and educators about the essence of the
holiday, about its place in the life of the nation dwelling in the Land of the Patriarchs, etc. Plays were presented on national topics taken from Jewish history. Education in the national spirit created and developed the nuclei of youth movements, which were seen as the natural continuation of the school classes.
Only girls attended the Tarbut school during the first years of its founding. The boys continued to receive their education in the dark classrooms of the Jewish elementary schools and their teachers filled their soft brains with difficult talmudic sections from early morning hours until evening. However, it did not take long for the quick and outstanding development of the Tarbut school to cause the boys to leave the Jewish elementary schools. They were unable to withstand the enticement of the new institution. And even the parents were forced to submit and not to discriminate between their sons and daughters.
As the years went on, the Hebrew language was heard spoken by children in town. The graduates and pupils of the school established the youth movements, he-Haluts ha-Tsair, ha-Shomer ha-Tsair, etc. The founders of the school took pride in these movements.
Notes About the Tarbut School
They maintained the school with some difficulties. The Polish government did not support Hebrew language schools. Only the parents did by saving their pennies even when they lacked money for their own expenses.
Their reward was that their children studied Hebrew and got an education in the spirit of Judaism and Zionism. This was everything that they desired.
These people were on the Committee for the School, who did their work whole-heartedly: The head of the committee, Mosheh Rabinski Tanyes, who devoted the great part of his life on behalf of the project and worked day and night without rest, Perets Gurvits, a dentist, Hayyim Vaytsel and Berel London. They kept the school going with their devotion and successfully overcame the difficulties piled on their way.
The teacher Shelomoh Menahems Gershtein taught private lessons even before WWI in Hebrew, Bible, and especially mathematics. I will also mention the teacher Nahum Kotler, who established in 1920 a Hebrew school for beginners. He taught reading and writing in Hebrew, with special emphasis on calligraphy and math. The teacher Shimon Goldberg accepted private pupils for lessons and helped students with the entrance exam to Tarbut school. He also gave lessons to pupils in the Jewish religious elementary schools.
The following are the names of the teachers from the Tarbut school: The teacher Serkin; the teacher Pines (now in Israel); the teacher Epstein; the teacher Yisrael Lifshits (now in Canada); Mosheh Feldman; Varshilski; Tsiporah and Aryeh Tserulnik; Walk; Zaritsky, and Ash. The principal, Mrs. Serkin, was the teacher for Polish, who came to Antopol from Warsaw. Her only son, Jacob Serkin, remained alive and came to Israel. He lives on the Kibbuts Dafnah.
We the pupils bow our heads in admiration for their memory.
The orphanage was founded in 1921. Its guiding spirit was R. Hershel Nitsberg, of blessed memory. Twenty-one children, who were able to take care of themselves later, passed through it until 1930. There were still 12 orphan boys and girls in it in 1930. The home was kept by contributions from friends in Antopol (40 percent) and organized help from immigrants to Antopol in the United States (60 percent). The participation of the Polish government was limited to only 300 zlotas a year.
The composition of the administration in 1930 was chairman, Hershel Nitsberg; director, Sarah Rudatski; secretary, David Varshavski; and supporters, Mosheh Novik, Zlatah Mazurski, Heniah
Volinets, Zisl Lifshits, and Avraham Feldshtein.
By M. Polak
There was even before WWI in Antopol a Free Loan Association, which was maintained by 80 wealthy people, who made monthly contributions to it, each according to his ability. The chairman was R. Avigdor Sirotah, the treasurer was Zekharyah Gerber, and managing members were R. Hershel Nitsberg, R. Yaakov Hayyim Shoib, R. Yitshak Berkovits, R. Meir Shub, and R. Barukh Yiglom.
The amount of loans distributed to 70 families on the eve of the outbreak of WWI was nearly 2,000 rubles. During WWI the association was closed down. The new Free Loan Association was reopened in 1921 by a first gift from Mrs. Esther Kornblum from the United States. She visited Antopol in 1921 and gave 600 dollars to renew the activities of the association.
The amount gathered up in the association was nearly 3,000 dollars by 1930. The increased amount was due to 1,000 dollars sent by the sons of R. Wulf Leib Glutser from the United States. The organization of Jewish immigrants from Antopol in Chicago sent 500 dollars. The Joint Distribution Committee gave 600 dollars. Together with additional donations from people living in Antopol itself, the association was able to make 1,825 loans up to 1930 in the amount of 212,000 zlotas.
We should point out that the association was led by R. Motel Fernik, who was both its manager and treasurer in this period and who did a lot for the association. He especially gave help to storekeepers and craftsmen to pay taxes to the government. This is because they had very little income due to the great crisis prevailing then in Poland in all the Jewish towns and in Antopol, especially.
By Belah Liberfroind
Antopol did not have a doctor who graduated from medical school, just as was the case in any outof- the-way town. The White Russian population made use of all kinds of superstitious medical practitioners, such as knowledgeable people and sorcerers. The Jews used surgeon doctors and midwives (grandmothers), and the like. These were people who had served as doctors' aides in the Czarist armies and by observation had acquired elementary knowledge. They were able to grant first aid in an emergency. However, they could not examine the type of disease.
Mashah acted as a surgeon doctor from 1860 to 1905. He was an angry Jew by nature, without any education and, understandably, with no knowledge of medicine. He had only one treatment for all types of illnesses-castor oil. He also pulled teeth. It happened more than once that he pulled a healthy tooth instead of the decayed one. He appeased the complaining person in a case like this by not charging for pulling out the second tooth.
Yenkel the doctor also practiced medicine in Antopol from 1875 to 1915. He had more knowledge than Mashah. He was well liked by the Jewish population. He kept all his medical tools in his pockets.
The grandmother Esther Hayah acted as midwife in Antopol in this period. Her help to women giving birth was very primitive. There was also another midwife, whom people called Di Smutsikhe. She also used to apply cups to draw blood.
The White Russians in Antopol at the end of the last century knew of a gentile from Czernowitz and the Jew Aryeh Osipovits. They both knew how to deal with a limb that came out of its socket and how to set broken bones. Both also knew magic against the evil eye as a most tested medicine. Esther Gorfinkl, who was called Di Gotekhe, served as a
midwife among the White Russian population in Antopol. She was accepted by them.
The first doctor to graduate from a medical school came to Antopol in 1905. He was Dr. Sorotsinski, who was of Polish origin. He made a place for himself among the Jewish inhabitants and was considered a friend. He even learned to speak Yiddish. He used to visit his patients in a carriage attached to two white-red horses, and he was liked by people. An additional doctor, Dr. Shats, practiced medicine in town during the years 1910 through 1914. This doctor was especially invited in connection with establishing a hospital in the period of WWI. He was considered to be the town doctor.
The hospital building became a synagogue. This was after all five study halls in town burned in WWI. The Tarbut school was placed in this building in 1920.
An especially good midwife was Itkah. She was liked by all the classes of the population. There were cases when she saved women giving birth and their children when the doctors had given up.
Difficult cases were turned to doctors in neighboring towns: in Kobrin, Dr. Gershuni; in Pinsk, Dr. Prebulski and Dr. Yevseinko; and in Bialystok to the dentist, Dr. Pines. Sick people needing hospital care were sent to Pinsk or Warsaw.
During 1914-1918, there also practiced Dr. Lipa Zagorodski, who had just finished his studies, and Yenkel, called kayn beyz. This is because of his custom of calming his patients with the words no harm. No harm shall befall you! The first doctor of veterinary medicine came to town at this time.
After WWI, two public institutions were founded in Antopol to take care of health: 1. Visiting the Sick; 2. Free shelter. The founding members included Mr. Alter Slonimski. The job of these institutions was to get medicine and supplies for the sick, among other things. The first pharmacy in Antopol was that of Mosheh Ozernik. It was founded in 1911 and called Small Pharmacy. Afterwards, a second pharmacy was founded, which took care of doctor's prescriptions.
There was a local dentist in 1918, Perets Hurvits, who was excellent in his profession. However, he left Antopol for some reason and settled in Drohotsin. His wife, from the family of Sirotah, lives in Israel and works as a doctor. A Russian doctor, whose name I shall not mention, practiced from 1921 to 1924 in Antopol. He was addicted to narcotics and not liked by the people. Dr. Weinstein, a good and beloved doctor, was in town from 1925 to 1929.
Dr. P. Czerniak was in town in 1938 beginning to practice medicine. He was born in town and attended the elementary school and afterwards high school. He had a reputation as a good student. He successfully completed his medical education in France and did postdoctoral work in the universities in Vilna and Warsaw. After two years of practice in hospitals, he settled in his home town. He began working as a doctor in May 1939.
During the last months of that year when Poland was attacked by the Nazis, the country was partitioned, as is known, between Hitler's Germany and Russia. The eastern part of the country, and in it our town of Antopol, was conquered by the Red Army. The new regime did not stay still. It acted in all aspects of public life and also made progress in medical organization. A hospital with 40 beds was founded and a clinic in which two doctors, who came from Russia, worked, a midwife, and people giving first aid. Dr. Czerniak established these institutions and directed them. He also established clinics in the area surrounding town, whose task was to serve the rural population.
At the end of 1941, the Nazis conquered the region from the Russians. As they advanced east, medical service in town was stopped and destroyed. Dr. Czerniak was brought with all the Jews to the ghetto. The Nazi enemies did not give up taking medical help from the Jewish doctor. Every day Dr Czerniak was brought under a guard of thugs outside the
ghetto to take care of their sick. This continued until the ghetto was destroyed and he was saved together with his family from the claws of death.
Someone with an imagination, and even the weakest one, will not find it hard to describe the importance of a doctor under the conditions prevailing in the ghetto and the danger tied to giving medical help and obtaining medicines, disinfectants, and the like. Dr. Czerniak's life was constantly in danger. Despite all of this, he didn't stop giving medical care. It is possible to tell many stories about his bravery and sacrifice during those mad days.
In 1945, when the region was liberated by the Red Army, Dr. Czerniak was appointed director of the hospital, the clinic, and local health department, which were set up again in Antopol. Dr. Czerniak received a decoration of distinction from the Russian authorities for the medical work he did during the war.
Dr. Czerniak and his family left Russia in 1946 when Polish citizens were given permission to return to their homeland. He continued to work in hospitals in different cities in Poland until 1950 when he finally decided to immigrate to Israel.
By Mikhael Kosht
Burnt ruins, ruined remnants of walls, and sooty chimneys stood up like silent monuments of the Jewish neighborhoods in Antopol. This was the dark picture of the town after the Russians fled with the outbreak of WWI. Many of the Jews of burnt Antopol settled in the villages of Zaniviyah and Turkan.
There stood a big, isolated building of red brick on the street leading to the villages of Zaniviyah and Turkan between the Jewish side of town that was burnt down and the gentile side that remained intact. The house was empty. It was not burnt. However, it was not completed and mysterious. We children, who frequently went the way from Turkan to town, passed it. This house drew our attention always. What was this building? we asked. The house was meant to be a hospital.
Destiny gave the house of red bricks a much nobler function. When WWI was over, it housed the Tarbut school. We children of the period of 1920- 1930 got an excellent education in this school, a national Jewish education, and we studied the Hebrew language and literature in a basic way and tied our soul to the Land of Israel and to the first desires and dreams of immigration there. However, this house became a spiritual center not only for those directly educated there but for all the youth in town. From there came guides and educators to the pioneering Jewish youth movements.
The Hebrew library was founded in the building. The drama club presented plays in its auditorium. Meetings and assemblies were held in it at night. Even after the authorities took displeasure and forbade the activities to take place in it, the Tarbut school served as a base from which branched out the social activities of the youth for still a long time.
The first organization of youth in Antopol after the war, which lasted, was called Revival. Before this, there was a youth group called Hertseliyah, which did not last a long time. The initiators and guides for Revival were members of Young Zion, led by Eliezer Ozarnitski, of blessed memory, who died at an early age. The founding assembly was in the orphanage that was at the end of the street going to Roshbah. As we said, the activity of the group Revival immediately went on taking place in the Tarbut school.
The principles of the association were revival of the Hebrew language and revival of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. We took responsibility for learning and using the language in daily life, first of all in all our meetings and closed assemblies. It is hard to say that we kept up with this principle of
speaking Hebrew. However, this activity gave a push to founding a Hebrew library. There was already a Yiddish library existing in town for a long time. Members of Revival gave and collected tens of books like Ahavat Tsiyon by Mapu, Zikhronot le vet David, Kalman Shulman's Mistere Pariz, Smolenskin's ha-Toeh be-darkhe ha-hayyim, and the like. By this we laid the foundation for the library, which grew, developed, and bought many new books. Our biggest success was in subscribing to Shtibel publications in Warsaw. Most of its books were translations from foreign literature. Many of the youth, born during the war, were unable to acquire knowledge of foreign languages. These books expanded their horizon and knowledge. The books most read were War and Peace by Tolstoy, By Fire and Sword of Sinkiewicz, Victoria and Slaves of Love by Knut Hamsun, books of Oscar Wilde, Jack London, and the like.
The second real action of Revival was on behalf of national funds, especially the Jewish National Fund. Collections were made mainly by visiting houses. For example, in Purim, couples in costume would scatter, pass from house to house and ask for a donation for the Jewish National Fund. The happy couple would be the one that was able to collect the biggest sum. There were also disappointments in these collections. There were cases in which people not only would not give but would also insult and hold in contempt everything we held sacred. One such disappointing collection is fixed in my memory. This was in 1923. There was then a crisis in Israel. The Yiddish Language newspaper Moment printed a series of articles on great unemployment, immigration from the country, and despair. This was all accompanied by pictures. A sensitive person finished this collection by crying in secret.
We set up ties recognizing the youth groups in the region. We added a new topic to our set theoretical and practical ones: work. We began contemplating fixing the world by a new regime of work with no one exploiting and no one being exploited. We studied the problem of property and work, etc. We called our group Development and Work. Then, one project that we began raised our esteem in the group, especially in Pinsk.We rented a field in the vicinity of the Tarbut school and made a vegetable garden. We planted firt potatoes. The goal was not only to prepare us for agricultural work but also for cooperative work and cooperative management and organization. We succeeded in producing a good crop of potatoes, whose profit in selling we devoted to the benefit of the library and funds for which we collected.
This first test of self-realization succeeded in proving to us the correctness of the idea that surely a person could demonstrate devotion, loyalty, and ability even in the condition of a collective group and public property. This idea was realized by many of our generation and stood the test of reality in the collective movement in Israel. With the unification of the parties Tseire Tsiyon and Poale Tsiyon in Poland, our group Development and Work was defined as the youth party of Poale Tsiyon ha-meuhadim (United Zionists). Afterwards, it went by the name of Freyheit (Dror In Hebrew). Ties already existed not only with the regional center in Pinsk but also with the center in Warsaw, which supplied us with newspapers and literature in Yiddish and Hebrew from Israel and made us responsible also for different local activities, such as elections to the Polish Parliament and the like.
The Polish government forbade the Tarbut school to be open for our daily activities. The activities were mainly done secretly in the private homes of members. We received permission from the authorities to hold events in the Tarbut school only in the case of public assemblies in which there appeared delegates, speakers from the central office or from Pinsk. The he-Haluts was founded at that time by us. It included wide groups of youth. The he-Haluts movement was at the height of its development in cooperation with members of Poale Tsiyon with the beginning of the fourth Aliyah to Israel in 1925. Masses of youth joined with the goal
of immigrating to Israel. Those people who had completed school and were between the ages of 18 and 19 organized younger groups of he-Haluts ha-tsair. Comprehensive cultural work was then done in groups to study Jewish history, the history of Zionism and Socialism, and analyses and clarifications on topics, which were then most of interest. The meetings of the groups were always accompanied with song and dancing the horah. We used to walk in the streets of Antopol, young boys and girls, singing and desiring in our hearts to have a new life in the desired land. Individuals went on to kibutsim for training and some small training in the form of the employment office of he-Haluts, which accepted and carried out all types of work available in town: doing agricultural work, bringing out manure from the sheds, loading blocks of wood at the railroad station, and cleaning trash out the market after market days and fairs, These first pioneers, many of whom were rich people, did not shirk from doing any type of work. They didn't need to do this work to earn their keep and support.
This was an Antopol in which studying for enlightenment and working mixed together. There was farming area bordering on it. Fields were planted and vegetables grown (thousands of barrels of pickled cucumbers were sent from it). Even the storekeepers and merchants in it had a piece of sown land near their house or a fruit tree growing near their house. Many of its inhabitants had a cow and chicken in their courtyard. The Jews living in Antopol were strongly built: blacksmiths, tool makers, wagon drivers, builders in wood and brick-experts known in all the region, shoemakers, tailors, and carpenters. There were even tree cutters, who would stand on scaffolds, one above and two below and quickly cut big trees into boards.
The young pioneers of Antopol were used to physical work and didn't need special training to get used to a life of physical work. They went out as pioneers to do all types of work, work usually done by gentiles. These were women, who were rich and were graduates of school and who went out to clean the market place from rubbish. These were youths who had higher education and went who bare-footed to take out trash from every courtyard. They were porters on the railroad and cut down trees in the forest. Certainly, this was a big revolution in the Jewish street, a quiet revolution, which the pioneering movement caused among the Jewish youth so that they could remove the shame and the low status in which generations had looked at physical work. They wanted to tear down the barriers and prevent discrimination, which was the portion of working people, so that they could raise up the status of the working man. This is what is called in our time equal human value. This was the corridor through which the pioneers passed to do actual work in Israel and the Jewish to take over the work and agriculture to the establishment of the State of Israel.
The gates of Israel were closed. Only lucky individuals managed to get certificates to immigrate. The crisis of the Fourth Aliyah began to show. Masses of pioneers were left with no way out and were swept in the stream of migration to the United States. As the number of activists in the movement emptied out, it began to decline and sink. At the beginning of the 1930's, the Shomer ha-tsair movement showed only brief signs of life. Individuals still succeeded before WWII in breaching the gates to Israel and going secretly to Israel in the illegal Aliyah 2, the famous underground Aliyah.
There ended with this a chapter in history full of glory of the pioneering youth in Antopol. It will not happen again. The terrible Holocaust uprooted a many-branched tree, a clear spring for a generation of proud Jews, closed up by the enemy. There are no more youth in Antopol, healthy in body and soul, carrying the vision of redemption of the nation and the individual. When the great time came for the rise of the Jewish nation in Israel, not many merited seeing it and we didn't merit seeing again those who didn't live to see it.
I was able to see the town one more time. This was when the whole thing was about to collapse, at the beginning of 1939. The town was struggling for its economic existence. All public activity was silenced. There was no memory of the youth movement and even the Hebrew library was closed and sealed by government order.
The town was surrounded by a rising anti-Semitic movement, and behind the border, the great enemy was already waiting. The Tarbut school stood out like a lone beacon of light above the ruin of this gray life. I visited paths known to me after many years. I was invited by the teacher Feldman to a Tu bi-shevat (Jewish Arbor Day) celebration. I stood and told the children of Antopol about Tu bi-shevat in Israel and how we celebrated it in the collective settlement by planting gardens and bushes. The children sang songs of Israel and recited I Don't Sing to You, My Country by the poet Rachel. I taught them to sing this song and their faces lit up and their eyes burned with desire and love for the land they longed for.
How you have perished in your youth, dear and pure children of Israel. We lost you, the coming generation. As to our generation, this one that saw the loss and destruction still is at the beginning of its redemption.
By Mosheh Stavi (from his memoirs)
In the years 1908-1910 when he lived in Warsaw, in order to participate in the Hebrew literature there, the author Mosheh Stavi used to visit his hometown Antopol and also his relatives, especially, his sister Tsviyah Feldstein. He came in 1908 at the end of the summer to spend the holidays and remained there until after Sukkot. The youth used to gather around him, as it longed for Zion. At that time, Fradl appeared, a teenage girl, the daughter of his brother Efrayim and Bashke, the daughter of the rabbi Netanel Hayyim Pape. She was inclined to socialism and freeing the Russian homeland from the Czarist yoke. At that time, it was a custom that at the end of the Sabbath and holidays, the youth of Antopol would go to stroll in the garden of the landowner Goren. Then, the group would split into leftist and rightist factions. The rightists would sing Zionist songs and long for the Land of Israel. The leftists would sing songs of liberation and the rise of a Russian homeland influenced by socialism.
When revolutionary activity expanded, Fradl was among its leaders. We got news that the district police in Kobrin were about to arrest her. Mosheh Stavi was the only grown up man in the family then in Antopol. Her father Efrayim was in Kremantsiuk in the south. Mosheh took upon himself the task of smuggling Fradl out of town. They put her in a wagon and covered her up with different things. Thus, they brought her to Drohitsin. From there, they took her by various ways to Kremantsiuk. The young Social Democrat was then about 17. She remained some time with her grandfather Yaakov Shemuel Stavski, who lived in Kremantsiuk. Afterwards, she went to Yekaterinoslav together with her father, a grain merchant.
She joined in Yekaterinoslav a local revolutionary group. In 1910, she participated in an assassination attempt on the governor of Yekaterinoslav. Fradl was arrested and jailed. She was sentenced to hard labor in Siberia. Her Social Democratic friends in the United States collected money with the purpose of freeing her or helping her in Siberia.
In 1917, when the revolution broke out in Russia, Fradl left Siberia and came to Moscow. There has been no trace of her since 1919.
This was the fate of a revolutionary in Russia.
By Mosheh Polak
We talked in our house about what was going on in
Zion. This was also the case in other houses in Antopol where enlightened society gathered together to read everything in connection to Israel and Zionism. I especially remember one meeting on the second anniversary of Herzl's death. Yehoshua Aharon Orznitski stood and spoke at the president's table. Yoel Leib Muler and Aharon Asher Volinets sat at his side. Opposite them, on long benches, which had been especially brought from the study hall, a big audience of members of their movement sat listening attentively. I knew them all the period of m y childhood: Yisrael-Yitshak and Hayah Gorfinkl, Ore and Minah London, Heni (wife of Yehoshua-Aharon) and Tamar (wife of Aharon Asher) and Raizl (wife of Yoel-Leib), my brother-inlaw Yenkl Varshah, my sister Blumah, and my brother Aharon, and I myself among them, Etyah and Berl (Yakhnah's children), Leizer and Dinkah, Motl and Malkah Shvilvits, Feitl and Fini (Rabbi Mosheh's sons), Yenkl and Meir (Perets, the scribe's sons), Leizer and Leah Fridman, Akiva Serotah, Yisrael Bedane, Shelomkah Bershtein Yosl Vaisman, Alter and Dubah Zisuk, Alter and Toibah-Hanah Brushavski, Efrayim and Bashah Stavski, Motl and Bailah Frenik, Binyamin and Heniah Skidlaski the teacher Leibush and Blumkah, Yosef-Leib and Malkah Farber, Yitshak and Sarah Berkovits and still many others of their age and also people older. Even my father used to listen to their lectures in our house.
I remember still other meetings, lectures and debates on the action of the Jewish National Fund, the founding of the Mizrahi in Vilnah, the Delegation for Settlement in El Arish, the pogrom in Kishinev, the proclamation of Yosef Vitkin, the founding of Poale Tsiyon in Poltavah, and on many different Jewish Zionist topics.
The above-mentioned friends, who were the first Zionists in our town, used to come to our house almost every week to exchange books in the city library, which was in our house. It had books that reached us from other cities according to our request. I especially remember the noble image of Yehoshua-Aharon, who used to come to us to buy books. He would frequently come to us at night. I would light up the shelves for him by candlelight. He would search, exchange, or buy the books of interest to him, that he researched in many fields of knowledge. Like that were Yehoshua-Aharon and his friends. We children studied, got sustenance, inherited, and also realized the desire and hope of the older enlightened generation, which desired so much the rise of a Jewish State and the Zion for which it longed. May their memory be blessed!
By Hayyim Asif
We founded in August 1926, (626) a branch of ha-Shomer ha-tsair in our city with the help of Hayyim Goldberg and Goldshtein, who were leaders of the movement in Kobrin.
The Tarbut school then graduated its second cycle of students. We did not have a school to continue studying in town. Only some people, who traveled to Brisk or Pruzshani, had the means to continue their education. Therefore, with the founding of our branch, the vibrant and dynamic youth was able to have a wide program of activities, to work and advance itself. Youth, who learned in the Jewish religious elementary schools, and young people, who still had not found a framework in which to act, also joined us.
The branch conducted cultural activities in the beginning. Courses were opened to study the language and likewise to study the history and knowledge of Israel. After a short time, all meetings were conducted only in Hebrew. The Hebrew language was heard in every place, at home, in the street, and in lectures and debates. We created an Israeli atmosphere.
The activities were led by youth without outside help. Nevertheless, we should mention the devoted
work of our hometown person, Shelomoh Yahalom, of blessed memory, who accompanied the movement from its beginning steps, guided, explained, and did a lot to set up the image of the movement and its activities. He traveled to Vilnah to study in a seminar, also finished his course of studies, and afterwards continued to study until he was also cut down and perished with the other victims of the Holocaust, which struck Antopol.
There also already existed the Freyheyt and he-Haluts ha-Tsair movements at the time our branch was set up. There were quarrels between the different movements in the beginning. However, in the course of time, when we met at cooperative functions to raise money, it became clear to us that we had a shared goal and identical aspirations.
The branch founded a library solely for Hebrew books. The foundation for the library was in the books, which the members brought, each one from his parent's house. We bought new books with money, which we earned in working in the fields, gardens, and the like, as day laborers. I would like to point out that even though the people in town earned a living by labor, it was not accepted to see a boy or girl from a wealthy family do simple work like day labor. This activity raised the standing of work to everybody. The library grew from month to month. New books were added. Children from the Jewish religious elementary school would also come to take out books. It happened more than once that parents came shouting with claims to leaders of the movement that they were causing their children to leave the straight path of Torah Judaism for a secular way of life.
At the time of WWI, when the Russians entered town, the library had 1,000 books. The activists, who feared for the future of the books, buried them under the earth until the time of anger would pass. To our sadness and pain, they did not live to take them out of the depths of the earth because they themselves fell victim to the killing.
The slogan was a healthy soul in a healthy body. We would practice sports, exercise, and take nature walks. We would talk about Israel and our desire to realize immigration to Israel, to till it and make it bloom. Only a few of us succeeded in receiving certificates to immigrate to Israel. Some went on a temporary visit, as tourists to the Maccabiyah and stayed in Israel. Others wandered in boats for weeks and months under hard conditions. And if they were lucky and not stopped by British soldiers, they reached a safe shore.
By Mosheh Polak
Our house had a pleasant mixture of religion, Zionism and socialism. This education made it possible for me to absorb yet in the days of my childhood the longings of my family for Zion. I was happy when even my father, of blessed memory, was able to immigrate to Israel and to live in Jerusalem. He died in it in good old age in 1938 (698).
Since my brother Aharon, of blessed memory, was active in Zionist youth movements and the Mizrahi, which frequently met in our house, I also absorbed Zionism from this source. In addition to this, I absorbed it from the groups in which my sisters were active and from all those who came to our house in the course of time.
After the events of WWI, I passed a difficult period in sickness from typhus and malaria. My mother, of blessed memory, died in that time, and a close, rich relative of ours came to Antopol from the United States, wanting to take back with him relatives from all his family. I was also among those to travel. Not wishing to do so, I departed from my father and from my dear family and traveled to Warsaw in two railway cars full of youth. In the hotel in which we were staying, when I sat down to eat, I suddenly heard youths speaking Hebrew at another table. I asked who they were. They answered that they were pioneers traveling to Israel. At that
moment, I decided to ravel with them and informed my uncle of my decision and desire. He still attempted to persuade me to travel with him. However, when he saw that I was firm in my decision, he blessed me to have success. The next day, after prayers and morning meal, my uncle took me to the Israeli Office to arrange my travel to Israel. I appeared as requested for a medical exam. However, to my sadness, the doctor didn't give me at permission to travel because of signs of malaria, which were still in me. Meanwhile, I made due with the promise of the doctor that I would get well soon entirely and I would receive permission to go to Israel.
I left my uncle, who promised me to finance my trip to Israel the next time. I also took leave of my brother-in-law Yaakov, who went in my place to the United States with the rest of the young men and women. I also took leave of the group of pioneers going to Israel with the hope of seeing them soon. I returned to Antopol. My father was also happy for my change in travel plans.
When I returned home, my father and sisters tried to help me to get well quickly and prepare myself to travel. I began to prepare myself with agricultural work and began to work in different fields. Likewise, I prepared other friends to travel.
In the month of August 1921, we received an announcement from the Israel Office in Warsaw that we should prepare to travel. All of our seven members, aged 19, organized as a well-prepared group for immigration to Israel to build our lives for ourselves and all Israel in our homeland. The grownup Zionists and the youth in Antopol arranged a magnificent departing party in the month of December 1921 on the evening of the last day we were in Antopol. They accompanied us early in the morning with a choir and trumpets to the railway station.
After we passed in our travel the stations of Kobrin and Brisk, we again came to Warsaw and to the same hotel in which we lodged the previous time. After some days we left Warsaw and came to Vienna to the pioneer's lodging. We met a big group of happy pioneers streaming to Israel from the towns of Poland and Lithuania. We were all very happy.
We stayed some months in Vienna and continued by train on the scenic route from Vienna to Trieste, where we toured for one day and continued to Israel on a freighter, Bukovinah. We were one month at sea in the Mediterranean. We had very little to eat. We didn't change our clothes the whole time and slept on freight bundles deep in the ship. However, we didn't complain and didn't despair. We even danced on the deck.
We tread the soil of the homeland on March 6, 1922. The next day I was sent to Jaffa as a representative of the group to get work. I had some addresses of veteran inhabitants from Antopol. The first address, which I received from my father, was that of old acquaintances, the family of Avigdor Muler, which lived on Ohel Mosheh, a street named after their father, of blessed memory. I was warmly and well received by all the family. The oldest daughter Gutyah and her husband, Hayyim Karis, a building contractor, especially took interest in me. I stayed the night in their house. Hayyim took me to work the next day on pouring the roof of the building, which he was building for Mr. Grodetski on Shabezi St. Certainly, this work was not so hard. However, I received many cuts from dragging cans with liquid cement on my shoulders and back. However, the day passed quickly. I was happy from my first day of work in Israel. I went to the home of Hayyim and Gutyah. I washed and changed my clothes and shoes, which were wet from sweat and cement. However, I felt very good as if I had built that day a house for myself. I also went to work the next day on another building for Hayyim. Meanwhile, Gutyah found for me a rented room in the cellar of Mr. Zalivenski's house on Shabezi St.
I immediately informed by letter the group in Haifa of my success in finding work and a room. All of them came after some days. We stacked all our
suitcases high up by the wall. We had a little space for ourselves on the stone floor.
Hayyim Karis also gave Nathan Sirotah temporary work. It happened that once a day one of the three members of our group worked. Nahum Muler and the brother-in-laws Mosheh Skiletski and the Glazers sons, who were small contractors, helped us to get work. However, we didn't lack for anything. The reason is that we lived as a communal group. After a few months, we got in the Naveh Shalom neighborhood a normal room. We also received from the Sokhnut Agency in Jaffa a bed and mattress for everyone. We bought a naphta lam and a used table. We also bought a bottle of wine in honor of the big event, gave toasts, and danced until late in the evening. From there we passed to a big room in Brent St. There was a place for all seven beds along the walls.
Meanwhile, we continued to look for work. The author, Mosheh Stavi, of blessed memory, then moved from Beer Tuviyah to Naveh Tsedek with six cows giving milk. After some of my friends didn't succeed in getting used to working with him, I exchanged my place of work with the contractor Karis and let my friends have it. I began to work with Mosheh Stavi and was very successful.
Likewise, got some work with the Boneh (Building) Company, whose administrator was born in our town. He was Mr. Yehezkel Grinberg, an engineer and contractor, known from the railroads in Central Russia. Likewise, the Mazurski, Katinski, and Saharov families tried to help us. The latter even suggested to us to buy their factory, which made floors, in Jaffa. However, we didn't want to ask for money from home.
The conditions in Israel didn't get better. Except for me and Sirotah there was no work for the other youths. Before the year finished, four members decided to go to the United States. Only, Sirotah, Zeev Volinets, and I remained. We received from the Sokhnut Agency a small tent and erected it on the sand dunes of desolate Tel Aviv. We also succeeded in receiving work from the building company Solel Boneh on the Zaiger building. This was the first building past Allenby Street.
After many attempts, I succeeded in 1923 in bringing to Israel my sister Reitsah, and in 1924 I brought my father and my sister Raizl. In 1924, there also came from Antopol Aharon Shagan and Simhah Vinik, who joined our group. I received a cabin as a gift from Hayyim Karis, as a reward for my work. The five of us went to live in the cabin. In 1925, I accepted directing the work on the building of the Davar newspaper on the corner of Ahad ha-Am and Yavneh streets. I put up a cabin there and went to live in it. Here, I became independent and our collective disbanded.
I and Nathan Sirotah worked as a group. Zeev Volinets also worked with us without a field of expertise. However, Aharon Shagan and Simhah Vinik didn't get used to building work. After a year, they returned to Antopol. Afterwards, Zeev Volinets also returned. Nathan Sirotah and myself, the two who remained, continued to advance ourselves in Israel. We were also company to Naftali and Sarah Volinets. Even though their situation was tough, they made us feel at home. This was very important to us, the first pioneering group.
Artisans and Farmers
Most of the Jewish population of the town was artisans, who lived from their labor. The product of their work was not just for Antopol itself. Rather, and especially, it was for the surrounding area. Antopol was surrounded by more than seventy villages and estates. The big part, which was employed i n building, worked throughout the whole week, from Sunday until Friday afternoon on the estates and
villages. It is worthwhile to state that the Christian population in town and in the villages worked in agriculture, in cutting trees, and in raising animals, cattle, sheep, lambs and goats, horses and pigs. The free professions, and especially building, were in Jewish hands. These are the number of families according to occupation.
Coppersmiths and Engravers (Kotliares)
These artisans formed the rich class in town in 1914. Seventeen families earned their living from this. These coppersmiths and engravers worked mainly for the landlords in various works: beginning in setting up the vessels for alcohol factories of the landlord Zavedski and ending in making different utensils of copper such as pots (fendlekh), special pots for cooking tea with a narrow top (bunke) so that the tea would keep hot during the morning hours and during the Sabbath afternoons, utensils for hand washing (kendel), and similar stuff. They made the vessels in their shop in town itself. Every coppersmith had a very primitive shop, whose characteristic tools were an animal skin bellows to blow fire, an iron anvil, iron and wooden hampers, and tongs.
This occupation ended after WWI at a time when factory products began to arrive in great quantity and cheap prices.
The faces of those doing this work come before me one after another: Hayyim Zalman Futerman, Tsadok Futerman, and the other members of their family; and the Kotler brothers, Berel, Leib, and Aharon Shemuel- simple good-hearted people, pious, and making sacrifices on behalf of their fellow Jews.
I remember the day that the Polish army entered our town and made a slaughter. Among the killed were Efrayim Pomerants (called Knipl), the son of Yakhneh and Mosheh Tserniuk (Falk's son). He was one of the self-defense members in town. He stood guard together with his friends and inhabitants of town in the time in between regimes. Berel Leib brought the dead to burial, both Jews and gentiles, paying out of his own pocket for the wagon and horse belonging to the gentile Mikitah Sviderski.
They lived at the edge of town. Their smithy was next to their house. They mainly put on horseshoes for the gentiles' horses and fixed the wheels for their wagons. Together with this, they did other small work in iron, which they created primitively. They had on their anvil the same tools as the coppersmiths with the addition of various tongs and presses. About twelve families made their living this way. Among those doing this work, I remember: Avraham Yitshak Goldberg from Mogilkes Kotlerski Street; Aba Kantsiper whose smithy was opposite the abandoned gentile cemetery; Berel and Yisrael Koval; Shemuel Bekher (called Shemuel Meir the smith); Mosheh and David Goldberg; and Alter Brashvitski and his sons.
They earned a living doing work generally out of town, in covering the roofs of landlords' houses or churches (kloysters), making their roofs. They also made milk-cans, funnels, lanterns, and similar stuff.
Most of the cut wood was bought prepared from sawmills in the forests or from lumber stores in town. However, all the additional work and fitting was done on the spot by the building. This work was done by four families. The woodcutters had a greater physical strength than average. They cut trees for different building purposes, like preparing boards for walls of houses and for roofs.
How was this work done? When the trees cut in the forest were brought to town, they were sorted according to two classes. Thick trees, which could not be lifted, were cut by digging a pit about two meters deep and 1.5 meters wide and 30 meters long. Thin blocks of wood were put along the length of the pit. The tree, which was to be sawed, was placed on top. One of the sawers would go into the pit and his associate would stand on top of the tree. Thus,
they would saw the tree's whole length. Small trees would be sawed in a different way, although according to this principle. The tree would be placed on wooden supports and sawed just like the heavier trees. I remember among those doing this work Avrahmil the Dorbla and Ezra called Klenik
Builders in Wood
These built the houses in town, which were all made of wood. The order of planning and building the houses was this way. The houses were mainly one story, built on a foundation of bricks, about half a meter above ground. Cut boards of oak were put on top of the brick foundation. Each board was several meters in length, as long as the house, about 20 centimeters in width, and about 30-40 centimeters in height.
There were houses of stone in Antopol built by Jewish builders. However most of their work was building ovens for baking a n d cooking and ovens for heating and warmth in winter. Every house had ovens like this. A big part of the builders worked in building factories for producing alcohol on the estates of Zkezele and Rusheve. They were also employed in the factories for bricks and tiles in Rusheve. Likewise, they built ovens in villages and nearby estates. Generally there were great craftsmen in Antopol for building houses, ovens, and chimneys. The occupation employed 18 families.
Most of the gardens were covered by wooden shingles (shindlen]). Three families were busy with this work.
There were carpenters in many specializations. They built doors and windows in buildings. They built furniture. All the home furniture was of wood. There were beds, clothes closets, bookcases, tables, chairs, and cases for wall clocks. There were carpenters who were artists, especially in the furnishings of the study halls. The Holy Ark in the big synagogue was exemplary. There were 18 families working in carpentry. Especially known were Yehoshua Varshah and Yaakov Shemuel Volinets.
These made various items such as the legs of tables and chairs, wooden spoons for eating, the ornamental framework of cabinets, handles for work tools, cart wheels, ladders, the big pestle for grinding matsoh that every house had. Thirteen families were employed in this occupation.
The painters in Antopol were excellent. They were craftsmen, whose reputation circulated abroad. They didn't only paint locally. They were called from distant places to paint houses. Among the most outstanding were Shelomoh Varshe (Shelomoh der maler) and his son-in-law Zisuk, husband of Dobe.
Most of them were not at home for weeks in town. They traveled to local villages, to the gentiles. They fixed window panes for placement in new and old houses. We don't have to say that these glaziers did all the work themselves in Antopol. I remember the glaziers Mosheh London and his sons, Hayyim Zelig, Akiva, Bertsik (Dov), Naftalkah, and Yosil (called Yozef). Another family of glaziers was that of Zaidel Garfinkel. I remember a third glazier Asher Slonimski (der glezer).
They worked mainly on estates together with carpenters making railings and fences. Three families earned their living in this occupation.
Covering Walls and Ceiling with Paper
A part of the houses in town had their walls and ceilings covered with paper. This was the same on estates. This occupation employed one family.
Every house had ovens and chimneys. They had to be cleaned twice a year. Two families earned their living in this occupation.
The main activity for this was Friday afternoon for men and weekday evenings for women. Two families earned their living in this occupation.
Men worked sewing clothes by order. I remember among them Yosel Fridman Yosel David Dubovski, and Raivel Gololtsenah. They earned a good living because people in town ordered new clothes for the holidays. Twenty-seven families earned their living in this occupation.
These specialized in sewing clothes according to fashion. They especially made wedding clothes for brides and women's clothes. This is because there were no stores selling prepared clothes. Five families earned their living in this occupation.
Hat Makers (Kirzner)
They prepared winter hats from animal skins and also fur collars for winter coats. Sometimes, they made furs from valuable skins. Among them were Hayyim and Gedalyah Kaplan, who were called Sender Mosheh's grandchildren. Hayyim Kupitski (Nushtskhes) also did this work. He came from Kobrin and married the daughter of Nathan, a shoemaker. He opened a workshop in the store of Shemuel Visotski. Four families were employed in this occupation.
Most of the women in town wore wigs. One family earned its living from this work.
Barbers also played instruments n weddings and other affairs. Two families earned their living in this occupation. Shoemakers. They sewed shoes and boots by order. I remember among them Nahum Volinets, who was one of the better shoemakers; Hershel (Stishes); and Avigdor (Klion), whose father was the night watchman called Yosel Klion. He used to try to lessen his fear by knocking with his stick and shouting during his watch time. The children of the town would surround him and walk by his side. About thirty families earned their living from shoemaking.
In contrast to their colleagues, the shoemakers, stitchers used to sew only the top skin of the shoes and boots. My deceased father, Hershber (Tsevi Dov) Turninski, earned his living from this. Mosheh Tsertok, Nehemiah Melamed, Hayyim Ittseh Podlovski, and others were also employed in this work.
Three families earned their living in a primitive operation of tanning hides.
Strap Makers (Rimares)
They belonged to the rich class in town. Apparently, they made a good living. They made from hides bridles, harnesses, and whips for horses. I remember among them Zalman Altvaig, called Zalman Kolbe, the blond strap maker and Yaakov Vlianski.
There were also different occupations like making tiles, barrels for wells, and tiles for floors. One of the factory owners was Avraham Podrovski, who came from Homsk and married Faniah Shub.
There was also a workshop for making winter boots from felt and a bakery of matsoh. Understandably, there were also ritual slaughterers, a watchmaker (Zunshtein), and a photographer called Yashah Lifshits, who came from Odessa.
The butchers went on foot or traveled to villages to buy a cow or calf for the Sabbath. Some of the butchers also kept cows from which they sold milk. Generally, a big part of the people in town had cows or goats to get milk from them. This occupation employed twenty six-families.
People worked this in four ways: with the help of horses, wind, steam, and diesel mills. The eyes of the horses were covered. While they turned in a circle, they moved the millstones. They also turned a grinding stone that extracted oil from flaxseed. How was this done? They took flaxseeds. They put them in a wooden container. They heated them with the help of a hand oven, with burning coals and a small flame. The walking of the horses caused wooden boards to beat against one another. The flaxseed was smashed and the oil separated from the seeds. The pulp was used as cow feed. I remember these people who did this work: Mordekhai Kaminetski (Dvoshes), Yitshak Zidel called Yitshak Rihels, and his brother Pesah, whose wife was Hayah Gitl. The horse mills were on the other side of town. They were owned by Yoel Bendet and Binyamin Velovalski. There was an additional one owned by Maniah Kaminetski.The windmills were outside of town.
After WWI, the mills were burned by the Russians (who left the place according to the scorched earth policy). They began to build more efficient mills in their place. Even these were primitive because they were built of wood. As we said, they were built outside of town. They were three stories tall and could be seen from a distance. The wings of the mill were turned to the wind and this supplied the power. These were the owners of the mills. At the side of the cemetery was the mill of Yoel Bendet and the Velovalski brothers. At the end of Haroshover St. was the mill of Yudel Goldberg. At the other side of town was the mill of Velveleh (who was called crazy Velveleh).
There was also a steam-powered mill. Different work was done there. It not only ground flour but also groats. It also beat down woolen fabric for gentiles (This is called valush). This mill belonged to Gadiah Rubinshtein. It seemed also that his brother Efrayim was a partner or had a say in running this mill. And if he didn't actually work in it, he was called Efrayim fun valush.
The diesel mill, This was the best of all the mills. It was a small mill since the machines didn't need a big space. David Velvil Glader (der murgovnik) owned it. This mill was on Pinsk St. near the steps.
The bakers were divided into two groups, one being craftsmen whose profession was their craft and others who were forced into baking by circumstances. There belonged to the second group, for example, widows and divorced women who had to earn a living in the absence of their husbands. One of these, Freyde Shadrovits, the wife of Yenkele the shoemaker, who left her to her sighs and crossed the border to the Soviet Union, took up baking black bread in the house of Aharon, the son of the black (bearded) teacher (shvartser melamed). Afterwards, she began to also bake all kinds of bread that the other bakers baked. The rolls of Shimelikhe, the wife of Shimon Altverg, were well known. And people even came from Kobrin St. to buy the bread made from sifted flour (gebaytelte broyt) she made.
Most housewives baked for themselves bread from bran and white bread (dolots) for the Sabbath. They didn't need bakeries. Small bakeries also baked bagels, rolls, and the like. Most famous was the bakery of Yaakov Frakes, the parents of Yisrael Lifshits, the teacher. They baked rolls (madelbroit), poppies in honey, and a baked good of rice in honey. Everyone who passed his bakery was unable if he only had a penny in his pocket, to resist entering and buying one of this good type, tasting like a muffin in honey. A person salivated just from the sweet smell. He didn't just bake this but also a baked good of buckwheat flour in square pans. It tasted heavenly. And he was not the only one to bake this. There were
also others who did so.
Groniyah would bake half black bread, flat bread (pletsl), rolls, and especially baked bagels, which before baking were put in boiling water. They had a special taste. The bagels of our time cannot be compared to them.
I don't remember the year in which bakers were given permission to set up wooden booths, so they could sell their products in fairs and in the local market. They had their place between the line of stores on the east side and between the houses of Shemuel Visotski and Itkah Mairims, who married Leibkah Eliezer, the cantor's son. Among those who received permission to set up a booth like were for selling baked goods were Moshkeh Aizerkes Lifshits, Fridah Shedravitski, Groniah's daughter, and others. The flat bread bakery of Sheine Rivkah was known In its day in the alley of Kobrin St. Among the other bakers were Barukh Valdman (the noznik), and in Kobrin St., there was also the bakery of Barukh's brother, David Yosef Valdman.
Most of the books came from Vilna, Warsaw, and Bialystok, unbound. The books of the Talmud were especially bound in leather. There were also orders from abroad, and especially from the United States, for special binding. Two families were employed in this work.
There were craftsmen making watches. They would make wall clocks by themselves. Two families were employed in this work.
Vegetable Growers (morgovnikes)
They lived near their plots at the edge of town (on Kobrin and Pinsk Streets). They were called morgovnikes ]after the name of their plots of land. The plot of land was called morag, a measure of almost 3000 square meters. Their main work was sowing cucumbers, which they pickled and afterwards sent abroad. This was the main export of the town. The pickled cucumbers of town were widely sought after. They were called Antopol cucumbers. These vegetable growers grew several types of vegetables. I especially remember their onions.
At the beginning of the summer, we went in crowds to the plots to buy green onions meant for planting. It had a bitter taste outside and a sweet taste inside (after peeling the outer layer). I feel a special taste in my mouth when I remember these onions. A part of the plot owners also fattened geese and even oxen.
I remember among these: Hayyim Zanivier, the father-in-law of Mosheh Zelig, the fisherman; Leib Kaploshnik; Mosheh Shterman; Naftalkah Volinets; Tsimerinski; Hershel Shterman, called the blond; the brothers Volovalski; the woman Birakhtshikhe; and the Grinman family and its children, Leizer and Getsel.
There was no local station. However, there was transportation between cities. This was done by wagon drivers whose line of work was from town to the railway station in Horodets, seven kilometers distant. The wagon was simple and harnessed to one horse with seats made of small wooden ladders. A sack filled with straw was put on them. This transportation worked at all times, even in times of unrest. Once, when the Poles still didn't rule over the entire region and groups of robbers and murderers acted without interference in the region, Mordekhai Gershtein, the father of Gavriel Gershtein, and Yosef Volinets, the son of Tuviyah Volinets, were killed on one of the trips. After much trying on the part of the town's inhabitants and much opposition b y the wagon drivers, the train began to stop opposite Antopol.
Transportation was by omnibus (a wagon harnessed to two horses and closed like a freight car). Afterward, the first autobus was brought. It couldn't be used and sat like an unturned rock. However, in the course of time, the Jews learned how to work its
motor and started using it. Then, there began the golden age of transportation in Antopol. Yosef Alters (London) was the conductor of the omnibus.
There were three graveyards. One was ancient in the center of town and completely filled. It could not be used for burial anymore. There were two new graveyards. Besides the Burial Society, two families earned their living from grave digging.
Monument engravers. Two families engraved monuments on stones, which they brought in from outside.
One fine day the craftsmen in town began to organize. They founded the Craftworkers Association (Handverker Farayn). They claimed that t h e organization could be run democratically. Certainly, the first thing taken up was to fight against the only financial institution in town, the cooperative bank, whose funds came from its members' shares, a lot of credit from the Joint, and the deposits of the customers. I was an assistant to this bank's accountant. The craftsmen suggested that I be the secretary of their organization.
I accepted their suggestion. I organized the organization in the best way. The craftsmen took control of almost all of the institutions in town: the above-mentioned bank in which I work as a director and accountant, and after some time they also took control of the town committee. Our organization was an important factor. We took part in everything. Lectures were given and even plays of the Freyheyt were presented. The authorities didn't like it. However, the request was given by the Craft Association and this helped in getting permission from the Prefect in Kobrin and our police in town.
Antopol and the Villages in 1939 Families: Workers
|3||Construction in wood|
|1||Covering wooden roofs|
|1||Engravers of wood|
Families Different Occupations
|13||Teachers (especially in a heder)|
Factory and Business Owners
|6||Manufacture of building materials|
|1||Manufacture of porcelain|
|1||Manufacture of oil|
|3||Saloons in the villages|
|7||Coffee houses and kiosks|
|56||Stores of all types|
|90||Merchants of all types|
|17||5 Mainly in the villages|
From a general population of 2,225 people, there were 505 workers, who were killed.
Families: Different Occupations
|2||Ritual slaughterers and examiners|
|55||Teachers (especially in a heder),|
|8||Teachers of languages and accounting|
|2||Scribes for the Scrolls of the Law, phylacteries and mezuzah|
|2||Scribes to write letters|
|4||Watchmen (mainly for fruit gardens)|
|6||Accountants and bookkeepers|
|4||Directors of monthly work|
|2||Hotel owners, especially for merchants coming from the big cities|
|2||Saloon owners, especially for the gentile population in town and for farmers, who came from the villages every Sunday|
|6||Coffee houses, restaurants, and kiosks|
|1||Caretakers of horses for government use, called Potst|
|3||Manufacturers of oil and food products for animals|
|2||Manufacturers of wine, in a primitive fashion by hand from raisins|
|2||Manufacturers of soft drinks|
|2||Manufacturers of pitch and kerosene|
|2||Manufacturers of candles|
|2||Manufacturers of sweets|
|1||Manufacturers of porcelain|
|1||Ice house owner, especially, ice for soft drinks in the summer and ice to lower temperature|
|6||Traders in forests, who leased forests from the government and from Christian estate owners. They sawed the trees in the forests and sent the wood to different cities or abroad|
|5||Traders in the city of wood for building, families;|
|5||Traders in the city with wood for fuel|
|3||Pitch suppliers (Gentiles made it from the roots of the trees)|
|6||Traders in fruit gardens (There were those who leased big fruit gardens from gentiles. When the fruit ripened they would send it to cities or abroad)|
|6||Land leasers (There were Jews who leased land from Christian estate owners. They would work it with gentiles and send the produce to different cities or abroad)|
|3||Traders in cattle and horses (They would buy cattle and horses in the villages and sell it to merchants dealing in hides from other cities)|
|3||Traders in pig bristles (They would buy it in the villages and send it on to Mezerits, Poland for finishing)|
|16||Traders in fowl (They would buy geese from distant places, fatten them and afterwards send them slaughtered or alive to the big cities, like Warsaw or Vilnah)|
|4||Traders in eggs (They would send big shipments abroad)|
|3||Traders in vegetables, especially cucumbers, which they would buy from the city or village farmers (Pickling cucumbers was an independent branch)|
|2||Traders in cheeses and butter (They would buy from Jews leasing in the villages and also from gentiles. Mainly, they would send it abroad)|
|2||Traders in mushrooms|
|3||Traders in cloth (The villagers would make cloth in a primitive fashion. The cloth would be sent to the United States)|
|3||Traders in fish and salted fish|
|4||Stores for hides|
|1||Store for pitch and kerosene|
|3||Stores for kitchen utensils|
|5||Stores for fancy goods|
|1||A store for writing instruments|
|1||A store for medicines|
Jewish Occupations in the Villages
|3||Keeping cows especially for making Swiss cheese and butter|
|5||Leasing land and working it|
|7||Trade with the villages|
|9||Supervisors in factories for alcohol and bricks|
The total number was 178 Jewish families with 832 members living in 51 villages and estates
By Vardah Kusht
How can I write about you, my dear town Antopol? All of you lives in me and surrounds my being.
I am tied to you by my past. I spent twenty-four years in you. I used to look at the sunrise and dream. Everything was shining and rejoicing. I dreamed about my future. In the evening when the sun set and the flock went home, I summed up my actions of the day in the hope of realizing my dreams.
I loved to listen to the ringing of the church bells, to look at the storks building their nests in the spring. I felt the pain of the Jews working to feed their children. I saw the children of the Jewish religious elementary school returning home in the evening with lanterns.
On the New Year, I visited the synagogue and took in the sanctity of the house. I loved everything in you because I was born and educated here. There were my parents' and sisters' home. There I lost all my
dear ones. You stand before me always and I remember every corner with love. Everything is clear in my memory. I go down your streets frequently and try to make a past impossible to make return come alive forever in my imagination. Is there a need to perpetuate your memory? You seem to be the embodiment of beauty, splendid with wide spaces, and populated. However, in reality you were only my small hometown. Around you were the swamps of Polesia through which a train didn't come for years to your boundary. Perhaps, this is under the influence of the lilac, which grew splendidly by my window. Every time it would bloom, I could not satisfy my eye in looking at it. Certainly, a lilac like this bloomed behind our house in the garden of the priest. We lived on the Gentile Street near the church, around which lilac bushes grew in abundance. We children couldn't resist the magic of its bloom and fine smell. We passed the fence and plucked flowers mainly for the Sabbath.
Our house which was not big in room would expand when we sat in it, thanks to the big love that flowed from my parents. They gave us more than they could, an abundance of devotion, education, and love without boundary and condition.
I remember the Saturday nights when all our family gathered together. All of us were dressed up, the table shone from the light of the candles and the light of the eyes looking at us, which covered us with a feeling of the safety of being in a warm nest. We were well defended from any wind breaking in.
I will memorialize your image, my mother and father, in my heart with love all the days of my life: You reminded me, Mother, always of the poem: Who knows your life, Hebrew woman?
We attended the Tarbut school. We were devoted to studies, thirsty for knowledge. It seemed as if we had nothing but the Bible. We wanted our parents to be proud of us because we appreciated their efforts.
Our town only had two streets. However, it had in it a developed Jewish youth devoted to the Zionist idea. We were organized in the Shomer ha-tsair organization and as one who devoted herself to work I also have pleasant memories from that period.
The Shomer ha-tsair building looked poor from the outside. However, it was full of warmth inside. Singing and dancing didn't stop until midnight. What was not told and sung about our destined country in the heat of youth and hope to be among those realizing immigration. To our sadness only a few were able to reach the shores of Israel.
It is hard for me to write about you my city Antopol and I don't know what to put first. Shall I remember the garden to which we streamed every Saturday from the beginning of the spring or until the late fall? Or should I describe walking on the sidewalks back and forth with no goal but with the jumping and joy of youth? So passed the days of my childhood.
Shall I remember the market days in which we small children liked to wander and look at everything and to get a big impression of everything. Only in the evening of market day, we were afraid of drunks because we Jews were always the scapegoats.
Antopol! Thus, passed my youth free from worries in a house of devoted and loving parents. There, we were still all one family together. After that we began to disperse. I still remember more and everything. I will always remember.
I left my parents and sisters. I immigrated to Israel. I didn't believe that this would be a final separation from you, and I didn't think, my dear ones, that this would be your end. I didn't accompany you on your last way and I am sad because of this. I will always carry your image with love in my heart, and when I hear your name, Antopol, a trembling will pass in all my bones.
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