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[Page 490]

Memorial Candle


Gad Zaklikovski

by his wife Dina Zaklikovski, Petach Tikva



Gad Zaklikovski came to Augustow in the year 1922 at the invitation of Berl Eylender, a friend of his from Skidziel. He was accepted in the Talmud Torah as a teacher of Hebrew, but after a short time he was dismissed as they found issue with his not being religious. He did however continue to give private lessons. In 1923 he helped to establish “HeChalutz” and began a variety of cultural involvements. He held talks, directed children's plays, and organized excursions through the woods and boating trips out on the lakes. The income from this was reserved for charitable causes.

In 1931 he travelled to Argentina at the invitation of a childhood friend of mine. In about two years, he returned. In 1938 we immigrated to Israel. The beginning of our time there was very difficult, until he was taken on by The Jewish Agency as an official in the Department of Immigration. He worked there until his retirement. In 1948 we moved from Tel Aviv to Petach Tikvah. That's where he helped organize night classes for the new immigrants, something in which he remained involved until his death. He also helped to create quite an impressive library. He participated in the newspaper Letste Nayes[1] and in various journals. At the end of his life he began to collect materials for the book Kehilat Augustow[2] but unfortunately, he never completed it. He passed away on the 9th of May, 9 Iyar, 1960. May he forever be with us in me.

Translator's Footnotes:

  1. “Latest News.” Return
  2. “Community of Augustow.” Return

[Page 491]

Gad Zaklikovski

by Esther Eilender-Veinberg




Who doesn't know the teacher Gad Zaklikovski, and who doesn't sense his cultural activities in the period of his time of our city? But few are those who know how he reached the town.

It is this that I desire to talk about. While doing this I will also place a memorial monument to my dear parents, who were killed together with very many in the terrible days of the Shoah.

After the liberation of Poland from the yoke of foreigners and the proclamation of its independence, a national Zionist awakening was aroused in the state. Its reverberations reached us as well. Many of the parents felt the need to find a progressive Hebrew school. However, despite all the efforts they did not succeed in this.

My parents, may their memories be for a blessing, began at that time to look for a teacher who would instill in us, me and my sister, the Hebrew language in a more modern form.

In those days, in the middle of the 1920s, my brother Dov (Beryl), may his memory be for a blessing, was, for the purpose of father's business, in the town of Skidel. There he met the teacher Zaklikovski, who taught Hebrew in private lessons. My brother persuaded him

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to move to Augustow. He agreed to the suggestion and came to our house. We gave him full hospitality for 6-7 weeks. My father, may his memory be for a blessing, obtained for him additional private lessons, and also a position as teacher in the “Talmud Torah.” But he did not last in the school because of his secular perspectives and his novel style of teaching, which did not befit the traditional manner of the institution. He continued, therefore, only in private instruction and put down roots in the place.

The Chassidic way of life was entirely foreign to us, for our house was a typical house of Mitnagdim, like all the others in the city. Zaklikovski, as the son of a shamash or gabbai with the Admor from Sokolov, little by little brought us into that world which was new for us, by means of niggunim of the Chassidim, and the stories of his life in his previous environment.


Children's Drama Group


Gad Zaklikovski was a lively and invigorated man. He stimulated the young people, organized and concentrated the youth around him, led a drama group and put on the play “The Kidnappers.” This was a period of many experiences, and it is preserved in memory until this day.


by Sarah Berliner, Ein HaYam

I met Fania in Augustow. We were neighbors, houses next to house. Her family lived in a large and beautiful house, entirely decorated with climbing plants. Compared to it, our house was small, poor, and dilapidated. I was always jealous of the beautiful house. Her father was a teacher in Augustow and was considered a good and enlightened teacher. The students admired him and also were afraid of him, for he was very strict and loved order.

In 1928 when I turned 14, I completed grade school and stopped learning. The means in the house were meagre, my mother was already not alive, and I was forced to devote myself to the neglected house. I was sad. In those days Fania met me and advised me to enter “HeChalutz HaTzair.” A ray of light in my life. It was as if I was in a dream. I was overcome by pride, pride that Fania, the teacher's daughter, was my friend. The thing was considered a great honor in my eyes. I was drawn to the movement. I will admit to the truth that I didn't understand much of what they taught in the movement, but Fania aroused in me the love and the yearning for the land of Israel and brought a breath of life into me.

In her group there were other young men and women, some of them daughters of the wealthy, but of all of them she chose me as her friend. She used to read her poems aloud to me. I forgot them. Is it not so that a lot of time from then has already passed? In my childhood I was shy, and when I sat with Fania a great respect would come over me. I did not know my soul. I remember how she taught us “Masada” by Yitzchak Lamdan. Her words abounded with hope and enthusiasm, and they entered the heart and inspired it.

“The person” she said “has to rise above the pettiness that is in daily life. One needs to live a lofty life, and always to create something from nothing.”[1]

In one meeting she said to me: “A person who does not give to and help society is like a speck of dust that is worn away and no memory remains of it. Therefore one should try to be helpful. By this an eternal memory is promised.” And my opinion was different: “Better to be an ordinary simple soldier, to withdraw into a corner. The easiest.” I knew that I caused her disappointment. I was not able to do otherwise.

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She published a lot in “Lahavot,” the newspaper of “HaShomer Hatzair.” Not everything is preserved in my memory, only their significance is engraved on my heart. Fania wrote about the idea that guides a person on the path and compares it to a high and steep mountain that is difficult and exhausting to ascend. Happy is the one who succeeds in ascending and reaching the summit; only then does one feel the “true” value of life. From then, I aspired to reach a summit like this. My life in her company had a special value. In her company a person became elevated.

How much integrity was hidden in her. She did not tolerate any lie. You deviated – and she immediately felt that something was not right with you.

1929. The period of the events in the land. Fania was the Director of a settlement of directors of “HeChalutz HaTzair” in Lomzitza. I had the privilege of participating in the settlement. In the settlement we discovered a new Fania: Fania the organizer, good hearted, who had much diverse information. What a wealth of information! No wonder! For she was always, always learning. And in all, surrounded by love and appreciation from the members of her youth group and her acquaintances. I am certain that all these who got to be in her presence continue to love her even now.

And from the settlements – visits in the towns without end, meeting with the youth, lecturing, conversing, telling and conquering hearts for the movement with enchanting grace. More than once I would say to her: Fania! Protect your health! A waste like this! But Fania would laugh to herself, and tirelessly continue her work.

Who would be able to believe now that this Fania, confined for years to a deathbed, was in her youth powerful, healthy, beautiful, hopping and skipping like a running goat?

Fania leaves Augustow and moves to Warsaw to work in the “HeChalutz HaTzair” center. For many days Fania is missing from the house and the town. In my hearts are strong yearnings for her. Without her – life is worthless. Fania only comes, even for a few days, and there is a different spirit with me, life takes on a cheerful and rejoicing hue.

In 1930 Fania goes up to the land. Sad, sad without her. I commune with her picture that she left for me, upon which is written – “Don't despair! Inasmuch as you must remember that we will meet again!” From distances I sensed Fania, I felt that I still had support in life.

The hoped-for day arrived – and we met. The land. Fania receives me like a mother and sister. She alleviates my worries, worries about my health, gives advice, and drives out despair. About herself, her pains and her illness, she never spoke. How easy it was in her presence. What heartwarming humor accompanied all her conversations. She was truly loftier than any and all.

When one of her books of poems or children's poem would appear I was really happy. I would read and read aloud to the children. And they felt some kind of closeness and sympathy flowing from me to her. And when I received a letter from her – there was no end to our happiness. “Isn't it right, Mother, that Fania the poet writes this?” Like me, they loved her. More than once fear assailed me from the thought of her unstable health. The heart wanted a miracle. Wanted and believed, but… her soul is indeed immortal.

Translator's Footnote:

  1. This is the concept of creation ex nihilo that is described in the first chapter of Genesis, and that subsequently flows throughout Judaism. Return

Yisroel (Zelyah) Bergstein

by Chinah Shraga (Bergstein), Beit Hashita

When I am reminded of Shlomkeh, I see the town of Augustow, the house of my mother's sister Raizl, Uncle Meir, and their children: Chinah, Yishayahu, Shlomkeh, and Berele the youngest. I see in my mind's eye their haberdashery store in the market square, under the large awning. The apartment adjacent to the store – clean. I see Chinke,[1] my good friend, the beautiful young woman; and Shaya,[2] the serious lad, immersed in books, and devotedly taking care of the library; and the third son in the family, Shlomkeh, always happy and always jesting. I am reminded of the days of the “fair,” which took place twice a year. Masses of farmers came to buy, and we, the children, helped the adults with the transactions. Shlomkeh was then with us. I remember how all of us were infected by his happiness and from his “wisecracks.” He was active in “HeChalutz HaTzair,” and afterwards in “HeChalutz.” He 1928 he went out for training. When he would come home for a short vacation, he was full of enthusiasm and preoccupied with worries about the company in which he was training himself for aliyah. He came to take leave from us, and he honored me with his photograph. On the back of the photograph he wrote: “Remember Chinah that without darkness there is no reason for light, and without pain there is no reason for joy.”

He died in Givat HaShlosha October 17, 1952. May his memory be blessed!

Translator's Footnotes:

  1. “Little” Chinah. Return
  2. Short for Yishayahu. Return

[Page 494]

Shlomo Plotzinski

Yisroel, Fania's brother, was a doctor with status in Warsaw. Drafted, with the outbreak of the war, into the Polish army, and fell captive to the Russians. He was liberated and received the position of doctor in Bialystok. With the entry of the Nazis he was taken to a concentration camp and there he served as a doctor On the day that the Red Army neared the place of camp representatives of the camp were called to present themselves before the Nazi commander. Friends advised that he hide, but he refused, maintaining that “as a doctor, I am obligated to remain at my post.” On that very day, the commander took the representatives who had presented themselves out to be killed, and among them, Yisroel Bergstein. With evening the Red Army liberated the prisoners of the camp.

With Shlomekeh in Training

by Rivka B., Givat HaShlosha

The days of the training, before the aliyah to the land, constituted an important part in all of our lives. We were young and fresh, and therefore the heart was open to see the human in its various manifestations.

I met Shlomkeh in Kibbutz “Tel Hai” at the beginning of the year 1928. Full of vigor, gentleness, humor, entirely lively, he stood out in the life of the chevre. He came to the kibbutz after he finished the seminar of “HeChalutz HaTzair” in Warsaw. He was a son of Warsaw. He was very active in the branches of “HeChalutz HaTzair” that were in the Grodno-Bialystok region.

With the passion of his youth he was prominent in all the departments of the social and cultural activities on the kibbutz.

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The situation on the kibbutz was not easy. The winter has hard, snow and ice. We worked in the sawmill. Sometimes we lacked work. The gates of the land were closed and more than once the anguish spread among the friends. But Shlomekeh was full of hope and faith, encouraging, jesting, and helping to dispel the anguish.

He ascended to the land among the first of “Tel Hai,” in the last ship before the outbreak of the events in 1929.


Yisrael Levi
Shlomo Plotzinski


Yisrael Levi

Born in 1914 in Augustow to parents who were the Hebrew teachers Miriam and Reuven Levi, may their memories be for a blessing.

He went up to the land in 1922, with his mother and his sisters. His father had gone up two years before that. In his kibbutz Ginosar he was commander of PL''M (The Special Division) in the period of the War of Liberation. On Sunday, Iyyar 28 5708,[1] June 6, 1948, in the middle of the night, he went out at the head of a division to conquer a post above the Arab village Juer. From there they shot at the workers in the fields. With dawn, after the division had become established, and before the start of the attack, he stood up to survey the area, and was wounded by a bullet to the head. Under a rain of fire, they brought Yisrael to the hospital, and there his soul left him.

For fourteen years he gave his all to the building of the farm and the society on Kibbutz Ginosar. May his memory be blessed.

[Page 496]

Bielke Papirovitz
Killed by Arabs on her way
to the university on Mt. Scopus
Tzila Bezant


Barukh Chositzer
Tuvia Rabinovitz


Translator's Footnote:

  1. The Hebrew date in the text has an error, showing a hey ה, which equals 5, rather than a chet, ח, which equals 8. Return

Tzila Bezant

Tzila, may her memory be a blessing, was born on 19 Cheshvan 5704 (November 17, 1944),[1] in the village of Varburg to her parents Meira and Yitzchak. On her mother's side there is a third generation in the land, the granddaughter of Reb Eliyahu Glazer, one of the first builders of Rechovot.

[Page 497]

Her father was one of the first to make aliyah from Augustow. She finished kindergarten and elementary school in the village of Varburg, and went out to acquire additional knowledge in the high school in Rechovot.

With the completion of the matriculation exams and until her induction into Tzahal[2] in October 1961, her literary and artistic abilities suddenly flowered. Notebooks of literature and poetry were filled by her; drawings that express emotional beauty and various handiworks filled the house.

In Tzahal she successful passed a clerks' course and was posted appropriately to her profession – until the bitter day that the cord of her life was cut off in a highway accident. She died on 29 Sivan, 5722 (July 1, 1962).

May her soul be bound up in the bond of life.

Translator's Footnotes:

  1. Either the Hebrew date or the Julian date is off by one year. Return
  2. Tzva Hahaganah L'Yisrael, the Israel Defense Force. Return

Tuvia Rabinovitz

by His Brother Yisrael Rabinovitz, Moshav Cherut

Tuvia Rabinovitz, may his memory be for a blessing, was born in Augustow to Yechezkel and Chaya Tzippa (of the house of Plotnovski). He learned in cheder and after that continued in the Kagan's Hebrew gymnasia in Vilna.

In 1920 the first group of olim to the land of Israel went out from Augustow. He was among them. His first work in the land was in Rechavia. Within a short time, he moved together with his friends to Rechovot, and worked in the orchards there.

In the orchards in Rechovot companies of workers were organized for jobs for the British government in Sarfand.[1] Tuvia joined one of them.

From there Tuvia went on to work in the Office of Public Works, today “Solel-Boneh.”[2] His group was called by the name T”U, corresponding to the number of its members.[3] After that he worked in the city of Ganim, today Ramat Gan. From building worked he returned to agriculture, this time, in the orchards of Gan-Chaim. At that time, the agricultural workers began to organize themselves in settlement organizations, which were afterwards called by the inclusive name “The Settlement of the Thousand.”[4] That is to say, all together 1000 families were settled in that period in various settlements. This was an enormous operation in those days, and Tuvia took an active part in it.

In 1933 Tuvia settled in Moshav Tzofit. He planted an orchard of seven dunams,[5] put up a cowshed, and also worked outside of his farm. In the events of 1936,[6] he fell at his post in Tzofit. He left behind a pregnant wife, a six-year-old boy, a farm in construction, and mourning friends and family.

Over the years his wife left the place and moved to the city. The farm she left to the guardianship of the village council until the children grew up. 20 years after Tuvia's death his elder son, Yechezkel, returned to the farm in Tzofit, and continued on his father's path.

Translator's Footnotes:

  1. Sarfand al-Amar was an Arab village destroyed during the War of Independence. Today it is the Zrifin IDF camp. Return
  2. “Paving-Building” Return
  3. 15. Return
  4. This refers to two Zionist plans, in 1926 and 1932, to settle 1,000 Jewish families on farms in Mandatory Palestine. Return
  5. About 900 square meters. Return
  6. The 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, was a nationalist uprising by Palestinian Arabs in Mandatory Palestine against the British administration, demanding Arab independence and the end of the policy of open-ended Jewish immigration and land purchases, and the stated goal of establishing a “Jewish National Home.” Return

Barukh Chositzer,
May His Memory be For a Blessing

Born in Augustow in the year 1910. The eldest son of Yitzchak and Rachel. After he completed elementary school, he continued to learn in a “yeshiva.” Despite his traditional education, he joined “HeChalutz HaTzair.” Since he tied his future to aliyah to the land, Barukh understood that he had to train himself by learning a profession, and chose painting.

[Page 498]

In the days of the events of 5689 (1929),[1] he decides to go up to the land of Israel. Despite his love for his parents, he does not accede to their request to defer his aliyah until after the land quieted down. In the land, he works hard, in order to save up the means to bring up the family. In the year 5696 [1936], he succeeds in the matter. He is very active in the “Haganah.”[2] In the year 5696 he enlists into the Police of the Hebrew Settlements, and serves in effect as secretary to the commander in the Ra'anana district. A poetic soul dwells within him, and in his free time he devotes himself to drawing and music.

With the declaration of the State he is transferred to the staff of the General Staff.[3] On June 4, 1948, Egyptians planes bombed the General Staff. His friends in the work asked him to go down to the shelter, but Barukh didn't want to stop his work. Bomb shrapnel hit him and killed him on the spot. In the command of the General Staff from September 29, 1948, Barukh was granted the rank of First Lieutenant, befitting his role in service to the “Haganah.”


Reb Shimon Varhaftig
Reb Yaakov Yevreiski (Ivri)


Translator's Footnotes:

  1. In the August 23-24, 1929 Hebron massacre, Arab rioters massacred 67 Jews and wounded 60 others; 435 Jews survived due to the shelter and assistance offered them by their Arab neighbors, who hid them. On August 29, 1929, the Safed massacre occurred. 18 Jews were killed by Arabs and 80 others were wounded. The main Jewish street in Safed was looted and burned. Return
  2. The nascent Jewish defense force. Return
  3. Of the Israel Defense Force. Return


by Esther Eger (Ivriyah)

Our father, Rabbi Yaakov Yevreiski (Ivri),[1] was a scholar. He learned in the Slobodka Yeshiva, and received his rabbinical ordination in the Volozhin Yeshiva. He excelled in unusual memory and diligence. His heart was not drawn to a rabbinical position, and he turned to the selling of wood, but he always found free time to study Torah. He walked in friendship with the scholars in our city, and especially with Rabbi Kosovski, the rabbi of Augustow. He was very active for the sake of the “Talmud Torah” in the city, and saw to the support of the children of the poor by means of making arrangements for them with wealthy families. He travelled to America as an emissary for the Yeshiva of the RI”M[2] in Vilna. During his time there he became beloved to the Jews of Brooklyn, and they appointed him as their rabbi. He sat in the rabbinic seat in Brooklyn for seven years. He died there replete with good deeds.

Translator's Footnotes:

  1. The name means “Hebrew.” Return
  2. Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter. Return

[Page 499]


by Noach Varhaftig

My father Shimon son of Reb Shmuel Varhaftig went up to the land in 1922. After a year, he returned to Augustow in order to transfer the printing presses to the land. In 1925 he went up a second time and settle in Haifa. In the year 1926 he began to officiate as rabbi in the office of the Haifa Rabbinate, not in order to receive a reward.

He passed away in good old age on the Fast of Gedaliah[1] [September 19], 1936. He was 80 years old at his death. He was brought for burial to the cemetery in Haifa.

Translator's Footnote:

  1. The Fast of Gedaliah is a dawn-to-dusk fast observed on the day after Rosh Hashanah, which commemorates the tragic death of Gedaliah, governor of Judea Return

My Father and My Brother

by Esther Tuker (Of the house of Glikstein)

My father, Reb Yosef, a businessman, a contractor for buildings and bridges in the Russian period, set times for Torah. In spite of his annoying business affairs, he studied the Talmud every day, until a late hour of the night. In the days of the war, when danger lay in wait for those who went outside at night, Reb Yosef would get away from his house, and hurry to the synagogue that was on the street where he lived, “Bridge Street,” in order to learn his Gemara lesson without being disturbed. He worked for the renovation of the synagogue in which he prayed and in which he also gave lessons in Talmud.

Two of his daughters merited to ascend to the land of Israel. Their aspiration for aliyah developed in their father's longing mentions of Zion and Jerusalem in the Birkat Hamazon.[1] His only son Moshe Arieh, one of the activists of “Beitar” in our city, was not able to make aliyah in time, and was killed with his family in the Shoah. May God avenge his blood.

My brother was Chairman of the student organization in Vilna, and engaged in research on specific Jewish communities. He also used to write in the newspaper “Der Tag[2] about the problems of Jewish students.

* * *

Sender Moshe Lenzinger was Chairperson of the “Mizrachi” in the city. He and his wife Golde, of the house of Krinitzki, acted greatly for bringing men and women pioneers up to the land. When the Bolsheviks captured Augustow, they exiled them to Russia. He returned to Poland broken and crushed. They merited to ascend to the land, but he could only hold up for a short time.

Translator's Footnotes:

  1. The blessing after meals. Return
  2. Yiddish for “The Day.” Return

My Father's House

by Yitzchak Sherman

On the margins of the Jewish city of Augustow, near the developments of the houses of the gentiles, stood my parents' house. In this house many descendants of my mother's family saw the light of the world. In my time, it already seemed that the house was unstable. My father came to Augustow from the yeshiva of Slobodka. After he married Mother, he went to live in her family's house. His livelihood was from a small store. He was a modest and quiet person, distanced himself from involvement in public affairs, and was happy with his lot.[1] We were five brothers and sisters. A guest was always seated at our table. Mother would receive every guest hospitably. The pioneers, who received their training in carpentry in the yard of our neighbor Poniminski, were desired guests in our house.

In the year 1925 we left the house, my brother Yechezkel and I, and went up to the land. After that we brought up our sister Rachel. The parents, my sister Friedka, and my brother Eliezer, were killed in the Shoah. May God Avenge Their Blood.

Translator's Footnote:

  1. Mishnah Avot 4:1 “…Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot…” Return

[Page 500]

My Father

by Elchanan Sarvianski, Kfar Malal

My father, Yitzchak son of Reb Shmuel-Yosef Sarvianski, may his memory be for a blessing, was born in 1889 to wealthy parents in the village of Charny-Brod, next to Augustow. A few years before the First World War, they sold their land in the village, and bought a two-story house in Augustow.

My father managed large businesses. He was a contractor for the German army, and afterwards for the Russian army. He acquired trees in the forest of the “Fritzes” and of the government. Workers from the villages would cut down the trees, and roll them down the hill, to the water. There they would tie them to rafts, and then tie raft to raft, to a length of about 148 meters. In Nitzko, Rospuda, Sieno, and Biala lakes, the rafts were drawn by horses, or were pushed by workers holding thin straight sticks a length[1] of 5-6 meters, with a hook attached at the end. On the rivers Narew, Bug, Niemen, and Visla, the rafts floated with the power of the strong flow, until they reached the port of Gdynia on the bank of the Baltic Sea.

My father was a handsome person, tall, broad-framed, strong, and good-hearted. In our yard there was a gigantic stable that we built for the Cossacks' horses. Before the Second World War Jewish beggars from the area and also from afar, wandered, with wagons harnessed to horses (like the Gypsies), from city to city to collect donations. In our city there was one hostel, “Hachnasat Orchim,” or “Hekdesh,”[2] but it was occupied by the beggars of our city. And therefore, Father permitted these wanderers to enter our stable with their children and the horses. When strong rain came down Father and Mother would send me to invite the children and the sick people among them to our house.

In the year 1939 Father became ill with diabetes. Insulin medication was impossible to get. On Rosh Chodesh Adar 2, he gasped out his life-breath[3] and was brought to burial. He merited to be buried in a grave of Israel, still before the coming of the Nazis.


My Mother

My mother, Mrs. Liba the daughter of Aidel and Reb Elchanan Steindem, was born in Ratzk near Augustow in the year 1896, to a family of wealthy merchants. In the year 1918 she was married to Father and settled in Augustow. Two sons and two daughters were born to them. I the eldest remained alive by a miracle, but the rest of the children and my mother were killed or burned at the hands of the Nazis.

My mother was religious, a righteous woman, a woman of valor, and good-hearted. In those days there were in Augustow yeshiva boys who fled from Russia, and also some born in Poland, whose souls desired Torah. They studied in the Beit Midrash or in the “Yatke-Kloiz,” and ate “days” in the houses of the Jews. One of them was Yankele. He lived in our house for four years. More than once he was sick and Mother would take care of him. Another yeshiva boy was a refugee from Russia. He was in Augustow for many years, and of them, four years in our house. He was small, thin, and sick. Mother took care of him with great devotion. And another one of Mother's deeds: Aunt Chana Bobrik, Father's sister, died, and left behind two small orphans. Mother would go to them every day, feed and wash them, and take care of them like a mother.

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My Brother

My brother Shmuel-Yosef Sarvianski was born in the year 1924. He was sick for the lion's share of his life. When he reached the age of 11, he got better. He was murdered or burned by the murdering Germans at the age of 17.


My Sister Leah

My sister Leah was born on Rosh Chodesh Iyar in the year 1922. She learned in the Talmud Torah, and afterwards in the Polish grade school. She was the counselor for “Freiheit” until the year 1939.


My Sister Vela

My sister Vela was murdered by the Germans when she was 6 or 7 years old.

Rivka Yaffa, widow of Dr. Hillel Yaffa, died yesterday in Jerusalem. Rivka Yaffa, of the house of Glikstein, was born in Augustow. She went up to the land in the year 1895, was married to Dr. Yaffa, one of the pioneers of medicine in the land, and accompanied him in all his work. She left behind two sons and a daughter.

Translator's Footnotes:

  1. There is a typographical error here, giving orek, אורק, which is not a word, instead of the word for length, orech אורך. Return
  2. Sacred property, an old name for a poorhouse. Return
  3. Jeremiah 15:9 “Forlorn is she who bore seven; she has gasped out her life-breath.” Return

Shabtai Kaplan son of Yitzchak Eizik the Cohain

by his wife – Pesya daughter of Yoel

He served as gabbai in the synagogue that was on the “Long Street.”

In the First World War, every Shabbat evening he would collect foodstuffs in the bakeries and the grocery stores, and distribute them among the families whose heads of households were at the fronts. May his memory be blessed.

* * *

To our brother Dovid-Hillel, his wife Chaya of the house of Panos, and their five children; to our sister Sarah, her husband Chaim-Leib, and their two small children. The hands of impure ones cut off their lives.

Their souls are bound up with the martyrs of Augustow.

You are a compassionate God! You looked down from your holy high place, at the time that like a flock of sheep your children were transported. Nurslings in their mothers' arms, babies of Beit Rabban,[1] without a sin in their body, and elders with “I Believe”[2] and the “Vidui” on their lips. All of them together quivering, and with the calling of “Shma” their holy souls removed. The ground was reddened with the blood of a grandfather and his grandchildren! Why did you not say to Satan Stop! And impure hands you did not cut off!

Ground! Do not cover up their blood!

Look down from heaven and see how they harmed Israel your people?

To the children of your people – the quality of mercy you bequeathed – and for yourself, you did not leave over even a drop of mercy?

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And after everything – we are gathered here in the land of the ancestors, rescued firebrands. We stand with bowed heads and with reverence proclaim “Yitgadal y'yitkadash shmay rabbah…”[3] Is it possible?

Daniel Kaplan

Translator's Footnotes:

  1. Schoolchildren. Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 119b ““Do not touch My anointed ones,” these are the schoolchildren, who are as precious and important as kings and priests…” Return
  2. From Maimonides' 13 Principles of Faith: “I believe in complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he delays, nevertheless, I will wait for him to come every day.” Return
  3. The opening words of the Mourner's Kaddish “May the great Name be magnified and sanctified…” Return

Reb Shmuel Grinberg the Cohain,
May His Memory be For a Blessing

by Aminadav

A scholar and enlightened. An enthusiastic Zionist. Scion of an illustrious family from the Brisk of Lithuania area. He learned Torah in his youth from the mouth of Reb Chaim Soloveitchik, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing, from Brisk (a relative of the family). He married a woman in Augustow and immediately began in blessed activity. Despite his business as a provider of hides to the Russian army that camped on the border, he dedicated some of his time to communal affairs. He was the agent of the Keren Kayemet in the district, and among the first activists for the Jewish Colonization Society. He was active in “Linat HaTzedek” and sustained the learning of the Hebrew language. He was a pleasing singer. His emotional prayers, when he passed before the ark on the Yamim Nora'im, aroused trembling. He went up to the land of Israel in 5697 [1937] and died in Tel Aviv in 5716 [1955].

Golda Grinberg, May Her Memory Be for a Blessing

Born in Augustow to her father Reb Natan Zelig Samuel, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing, righteous and a pursuer of peace, who spent his days and nights in the study of Torah and deeds of lovingkindness. Plucked in his youth by the cholera disease when the epidemic raged in the city. His wife, Sarah Tzivia, may her memory be for a blessing, was Augustow born, a woman of valor, who saw to the support of the household so that her husband could dedicate his life to Torah and good deeds. Golda walked in her parents' ways and modestly did many acts of lovingkindness for those near and far, and also for the gentiles. In Israel too she continued to offer spiritual aid to many of the surviving remnant. She died in the year 5722 [1962] in Tel Aviv

Reuven Levi

Born in the year 1888. Died in November 1965. He was 77 years old at his death.

With the death of Reuven Levi a pioneer of popular Hebrew librarianship in our generation went to his eternity. He came to the Center for Culture and Education at a not very young age, when there was already behind him a long period of activity in various areas of life. But it seems that only in the last cycle of his life he found complete redemption for himself and full expression of his ability. He immersed himself in learning the skills of librarianship, acquired them completely, and became a popular teacher in this field with the best understanding of the concept.

To his credit: foundation of the department of libraries in the Center for Culture and Education, the editing of the bibliographic pamphlet, methodical organization of courses for librarians, the foundation of many libraries throughout the land, the publication of books and booklets in the field of librarianship, the development of an active relationship between the national libraries and the university libraries, and the main thing, the cultivation of real enthusiastic work connections with the community of librarians in the land. There was not a person who was not fond of Reuven Levi, if he only had a chance to act in his presence. The Center for Culture and Education and the community of librarians were blessed by him all his days.

In his last years he lived in Kibbutz Ginosar.

The Minister Yigal Allon,[1] Betzalel Shachar,[2] and Dr. Kurt Vorman,[3] the Director of the National and University Library,[4] among others, eulogized him. In the Memorial Gathering of Augustow emigres, Binyamin Efrati eulogized him.

Translator's Footnotes:

  1. He was a founder of Kibbutz Ginosar, served as Minister of Labor, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Immigrant Absorption, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Education and Culture, and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Return
  2. Author of “Workers' Education in Israel,” “Culture and Education in the Histadrut,” and more. Return
  3. Austrian national library manager, ca. 1955. Return
  4. Today the National Library of Israel. Return

[Page 503]

Seven Martyrs

by Binyamin Tzemekh

In memory of my father Rov Meir Yosef Tzemekh, may his memory be for a blessing.

Fifty years ago, on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, in a private house in our small village, we formed a minyan to do the afternoon prayers. Between the afternoon and evening prayers, a gentile came to the house holding a siddur. Huffing and puffing, he told us that as he was walking along the dirt path through the woods, he saw a dead soldier lying under a tree with the siddur at his side.

We hadn't done the evening prayers yet, so we took up shovels and all ten of us went out to find the spot the gentile had told us about, and sure enough we found the dead Jewish soldier lying there. After we buried him, we began to do the evening prayers and said kaddish for the mysterious Jewish victim. With heavy hearts, we all went our separate ways home.

Six months later, before Pesach, in the year 1915, the Germans rose up in a fierce attack against the Russians and yet another gruesome battle seized our village of Tsharnibrod. But after a week, the Russians made a counter-offensive and beat back the Germans.

At nine o'clock in the morning on Sunday, the Starosta accompanied by two Russian officers came into our home. They promptly arrested my father without reason or explanation, and took him back to headquarters, a kilometer away from our house in the village of Zhilini. There were already another six Jews there: my father's nephew, three of his cousins, and two of his brothers-in-law. Another three Jews were brought from the neighboring village Sukhazhetzko, a father with a son and another nineteen- year-old young man. At the request of the “writer,” as they're called, my father (who was the only one who spoke Russian) gave everyone's names and ages: Meir Yosef Tzemekh, 55 years old, Leizer Sarvianski 64 years, his son Aharon Sarvianski 25 years old, Eliyahu Bartshevski 70 years old, Hershl Borovski 71 years old,

[Page 504]

his son Boruch Borovski 34 years old, and the 19-year-old young man, all members of the same extended family. They were promptly shoved into a pigsty and two armed soldiers were assigned to guard them. We never heard from them again. My mother, peace be upon her, on the second day, wanted to find out what happened to everyone that was arrested. She was unsuccessful. The road to the village had been dug into trenches, which were occupied by armed soldiers, and sadly she turned back home empty-handed. An hour later, soldiers armed with guns burst into our house and took us all to headquarters.

We were greeted by the other families of the detainees, altogether 29 people–small children and people young and old. The older women and the five children were put on a wagon led by a couple of horses; the rest of us were forced to go on foot. And that's how we began our march to exile, accompanied by two horse-riding Cossacks, one in front and one behind. After five hours of trudging through dense forest, we arrived in the village Krasnibar. We were led into a room so small there wasn't even enough room to stand. Just about to collapse from exhaustion, that's where we spent the first night, not even knowing what they were going to do with us and for what crimes we and our fathers and brothers had been arrested for.

At five in the morning, they dragged us out again and ordered us to march further. We trudged all day long, frozen and hungry, accompanied by the cries of the small children, until we arrived in the village of Kurinka. There stood the headquarters of the battlefront. The Cossacks told us that the general had traveled closer to the front on an inspection, and we had to wait for him to come back.

About an hour later, the general came back in a terrible mood. Apparently things weren't so peachy at the front. The Germans were closing in. He considered us with a scowl and asked who we were and what we were waiting for. The soldier who was guarding us told him that we were the families of the seven spies who were hanged yesterday in the village Zhilini, and that we were sent there at the disposal of the general.

When he heard this, the general flew into a terrible rage. His face flushed red and he screamed, “Take them away immediately, two kilometers away from here and shoot them dead like dogs and bury them on the spot.”

Having heard that our fathers had been hanged under the presumption of being spies,

[Page 505]

and they were going to kill us too, all bedlam broke loose. The women, followed by the children, erupted into a bitter wail which was to be heard by everyone around. Even the gentiles they had rounded up cried along with us.

At the same time, the Cossack who had led us there sat calmly in a house nearby eating his lunch without a care in the world. But when he heard our shouts and bitter wails, he ran in and then over to the general and handed him an envelope which he had taken out of his hat. In the letter it was stated that the Jews were to be sent out from the front by order of His Majesty, the Great Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich–and that was all. The general, who was startled by our cries, and probably also a bit touched, delivered the Cossack two passionate wallops and promptly ordered that we should be put on two wagons and led all the way to the fortress in Grodno. A couple of minutes later, he handed the Cossack an envelope of his own for him to bring to the commander of the fortress.

And so we were saved from the brink of death. The Cossack accompanied us further on our path. That spring night was quick to fall, and a dark blue sky was soon cast over us. We bobbed about in the wagons until midnight, with the Cossack accompanying us humming a Russian melody under his breath. We placed a Nikolaevski twenty-five-dollar bill in his hand, with the hopes that he'd behave a bit more humanely towards us. He was quite pleased with this, especially after how bitter he was about the wallops he had received from the general. Sometime after midnight, we arrived at the first outposts of Grodno. They received us with hospitality, gave us bread to eat and warm tea to drink. After two days without anything to eat, to us this was a feast. At about three in the morning they sent us on our way. The night was cold. At six in the morning, frozen and weary, we arrived in Grodno, but nobody wanted to take us in, so they sent us from one place to another. The Cossack was awfully tired himself, so he thought for a moment, and then threw us in jail and took off.

The warden did not know what to do with us. So he split us up: He threw the older children and the men into one room and gave the women and the small children a separate one. When my mother was allowed to go out on her first walk, she met a Jewish woman who had come to visit her father. My mother asked her to let the Jews of Grodno know about our situation, how we had been brought here without knowing why, and how she hoped they would have mercy on us and come to our rescue.

Apparently they did not spare a moment, because at ten at night

[Page 506]

we were set free, and they handed us over to those dearest Jews of Grodno. Five weeks later, they sent us to Kremenchuk. We were the first of the refugees that the Russians exiled from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

* * *

Two years later, we found out what happened that dreadful day, when our parents were arrested. That evening, a court martial was promptly formed of the general of staff, two colonels, another four high officers, a prosecutor, and a defender–everything according to “law.” The seven Jews were sentenced to death. This gruesome sentence was carried out at dawn. The Jews weren't even given a chance to defend themselves. And so seven innocent Jews were murdered. They were alone when their souls escaped their lips, abandoned by God and by man, somewhere in the woods; seven martyrs who gave their lives for one solitary sin, the sin of being Jewish . . .

* * *

After the Germans regained control of the area, one morning, with permission from the German military, a long wagon with a group of ten Jews traveled out to the forest. They dug up the burial pit and took out the seven bodies; then they traveled to the lone gravesite of that mysterious Jewish soldier who was shot to death on that fateful Rosh Hashanah, and all eight Jews were given a proper Jewish burial at the Jewish Cemetery of Augustow.

My Father

by Khane Arimland


Reb Yaakov Yishayahu Panos


My father Reb Yaakov Yishayahu Panos, of blessed memory, was a Jew, a scholar, a philanthropist, and in a measure of modesty he was without equal. He was beloved by everyone who knew him. Many would come to him for advice or questions in matters of Torah. Often Jews would come to my father for a shoulder to cry on, and they would always leave soothed and consoled. Reb Yaakov Yishayahu was a remarkable man, may the memory of his righteous character never be lost.


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