Devenishki Book; Memorial Book
(Dieveniškės, Lithuania)

54°12' / 25°37'

Translation of
Sefer Divenishok; yad vashem le-ayara yehudit

Edited by: David Shtokfish, Divenishok Societies in Israel and the US, 1977



Project Coordinator and Translation Editor

Adam Cherson


In loving memory of

Aharon Cherson and Family ד״יה
Yosef Cherson and Family ד״יה
Itteh Cherson and Family ד״יה


Our sincere appreciation to David Shtokfish, editor of the Devenishki book,
for permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

This is a translation from: Sefer Divenishok; yad vashem le-ayara yehudit (Devenishki book; memorial book),
Editors: David Shtokfish, Israel, Divenishok Societies in Israel and the United States, 1977 (H,Y, 536 pages).

Note: The original book can be seen online at the NY Public Library site: Divenishok

Purchase details for a printed copy of this translation can be found at

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
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Introduction to the Translation

I have known about the Divenishok Yizkor Book since I was a young boy. My grandparents gave me a copy of the book when I was about twelve and it has moved with me, going from shelf to shelf, largely unread for decades. However, as I began to have the time to delve into my own ancestry I soon realized how much valuable and otherwise unobtainable information was hidden within these pages. Since nearly forty years had passed without an English translation, my only option was to produce a translation of my own. And so I volunteered for the task via the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project and have been rewarded a thousand times over for the effort.

I cannot claim to be an expert on the subject of Yizkor Books, but I suspect that among Yizkor Books, this one is especially compelling. There are two main reasons why I feel confident about making such a statement. The first is that the writers and editors of the original volume took great care to include not only the tales of heroism and suffering that are staples in the Yizkor book literature, but also numerous articles about everyday life and everyday people, including a sizable amount of genealogical information related to each biographical portrait. There is a refreshing honesty in these writings, portraying townfolk, foibles and all, in their humility and worldly-wisdom. Everyday acts of kindness abound here.

The other major achievement contained in this work is its photographic gallery (presented in a separate Photo Gallery in the translation). As I learned from reading one of the mini-biographies in the book, one of the town's residents, Tsvi Krizovski, became fascinated with photography in the early 20th Century, assuming the role of unofficial town photographer. Krizovski's photographs capture the spirit of Divenishok in a way that mere words cannot. Over 100 photos accompany the articles, in many instances depicting the persons mentioned in the text, allowing us to witness the cultural, religious, sporting, economic, and social life of the town as it was in those days.

The amount of family tree information contained in this volume is surely extraordinary. Since most civil records covering Divenishok have never been found, presumed destroyed, the family relationships described in detail in this volume are the sole remaining resource for such information. In view of the genealogical value of this book I have prepared a Divenishok Ancestral Tree containing over 6,000 entries, drawn from this book and other sources, that researchers may use to find their roots in this and surrounding towns. I have also prepared a complete database index of names and places from the book so that every instance of any name and place, including names mentioned in photographic captions, may be quickly located. Researchers interested in delving further into Divenishok genealogies are welcomed to visit the Dieveniskes Kehilalinks page to access these and other materials, or may contact me directly.

I hope the public will find as much enjoyment, pathos, humor, and nourishment as I have in these pages.

I am forever grateful to the many translators who have worked for pittances on this project. Their names may be found below the title of each of their articles and they should be honored. I am also eternally indebted to the many generous, individual contributors whose funding made this translation possible.

Adam Benyakonski Cherson

Hebrew translated by Sara Mages

Yiddish translated by Yocheved Klausner


Photo Gallery
Map of Devenishki
The Jewish Town[*] (Introduction to the Devenishki book) Shmuel Sharon 5
The Jewish Town[*] (Introduction to the Devenishki book) [Y] Shmuel Sharon 8
A. The Development of the Town   15
[Regional Map]   16
Devenishki - From The Founding Binyamin Dubinski 17
Those Days Are Well Remembered[*] Yakov Bloch 28
Under Confinement With Russians, Poles, and Germans Eliohu Wiener 36
My Town and My Family Orit Kaplan 41
The Civil Guard (“varte”) Meir Yosef Itskovitsh 45
Divenishok: A Charming Town Dr. Menachem Weisenfeld 47
I Treated Divenishok and its People With Fondness Shlomo Levine 50
I Bonded With Divenishok Frume Kaplan 52
Social and Political Life[*] Shraga Blyakher 55
Institutions and Organizations in Divenishok Avraham Abir (Rudnik) 62
Maccabi HaTzair[1] Natan Kaplan 70
My Path to Betar[2] Meir Yosef Itzkovitsh 72
Zionist and Cultural Activity[*] Avraham Aloni 81
The Hebrew School in Divenishok Shmuel Dubkin 85
Memories of the “Chalutz” Society[3] Shalom Rosenblum 87
The Revival Period in Divenishok Dov Ben Shalom (Popisko) 90
HeHalutz Organization in Our Town Eliahu Netaneli (Itskovitsh) 92
Trivia From Our Town Moshe Mintz 97
The Torah Reading Was Stopped[*] Eliahu Itskovtish (Itzkovitz) 100
In the Service of the Jewish Homeland Natan Kaplan, son of Mordechai and Khasye 101
Memories from Two World Wars Aryeh Olkanitski 105
The Youth Was Imbued With A Zionist Consciousness Esther Gordon 107
The Theater in the Town Binyamin Dubinski 108
Revolutionary Activity Against the Czar D. Binyamin 111
With Love and Nostalgia Khayeh Garviye (Khayeh Broine's) 115
The Mitzvah of Linat Zedek[4] Miriam Herman 118
From Divenishok to Eretz-Israel Khenye Harari 119
How I Reached Israel Dvora Rakhl 121
My Contribution to the Building of the Country Elimelech Rudnik 123
The Monument in Divenishok Honoring the Unknown Soldier Boris Rabinovitsh 125
B. The Holocaust and Fighting 127
We Will Not Forget You! Yakov Bloch 129
Gloom Fell on the Town Taiba Griner 131
In the Ghettos and the Woods with Partisans Tsvi Novopolanski 136
In the Claws of the Nazi Beast Kalmen Kartshmer 162
I Fought the Germans with the Partisans Lucia Rubin 165
In Battle Against the Nazi Enemy Zelig Rogol 169
A Partisan's Story Eliahu Blyakher 175
Under the German Occupation Sara Hinda Movshovich 186
The Forest Was Our Home…. Sholem Bronshtaynn 190
I Was Left Alone and Isolated Shulamit Fuchs 194
From Partisan Unit to the Palmach[5] Brigade Michael Dubinski 200
I'm The Only One Left From My Family Yeshayahu Wolfowitz 215
Where Are All of Them? Where?.... Tzvi (Hirshel) Kryzovski 217
Days of Hardship and Suffering Tsvi Ahuvi 219
The Amputee of Divenishok[*] Meir Yosef Itzkowitz 225
Our Loved Ones Did Not Go As Lambs to Slaughter Meir Yosef son of Natan Itskovitsh 228
The Story of an 11 Year Old Boy Pinchas Lipkunski 240
I Got to See a Picture of the People I Love Nili Itzkovitz 246
C. Images   249
My Father, the Great Rabbi Yosef Rudnik Avraham Abir (Rudnik) 251
In Memory of Rabbi Rudnik Shraga Blyakher 259
Rabbi Yisrael Movshovitsh Yosef Movshovitsh 259
My Father's House Shmuel Sharon 262
Ben–Zion Schneider Avraham Aloni 266
The Zionist Activist Yudel Satkolshtsik Avraham Aloni 266
Eulogy for My Father of Blessed Memory Yosef Meir Itskovitsh 267
About My Father and My Family Shulamit Fuchs [Rogol] 271
Dov Zandman (“Memorial” Book) 272
Dov of Blessed Memory Rivke Zandman 273
Reb Moshe Ben Zion Khasman   274
The Daughters Tell About Their Father Sarah Itskovitsh and Grunye Bronshtayn 276
HaRav Ben–Zion Khasman Eliahu Netaneli (Itskovitsh) 278
Sarah Disha Horvits: A Righteous Woman Henye Harari 278
Hirshl Krizovski Shlomo Gordon 279
Tzvi (Hirshl) Krizovski Khaye Rivke and Menukha Krizovski 280
Working for the Community Eliohu Blyakher 282
My Father and Grandfather Loved Working the Land Yosef Kaplan 283
In memory of my father Leyb Dubin, May He Rest in Peace Rachel Zuvitshki (Dubin) 284
Mordechai Blyakher ז”ל Moshe Mintz 285
My family Kheyne Sutskever 286
On Those Who Escaped to Soviet Russia Rivke Krizovski 287
In Memory of Our Mother Shoshana (Reyzl) Ben–Dov Amnon and Yaffa 287
About A Jewish Family Dina Lebizuvski 288
R' Leyb Aharon Engle זצ”ל Eliyahu Netaneli (Itskovitsh) 288
Eliahu Chaim Shkolnik Eliyahu Nataneli (Itzkovitz) 290
One of the Ancient Families Esther Ala (Blyakher) 290
My Husband Yosef Levine: A Multifaceted Man Yehudit Levin 291
Tsvi Rogol Shulamit Fuchs (Rogol) 292
About My Parents and Grandfather Shlomo Gordon 293
Yehuda Satkoltshtsik ז”ל Shlomo Aviel 296
My Father Provided Much Aid to Jews Yehuda Katz 296
Our Mother Zipporah (Rashke) of the Levine Family Shoshana Yudenfreund 297
In Memory of Itteh Blyakher Eliyahu Netaneli (Itzkovitsh) & Bella Ashman (Itzkovitsh) 299
About My Husband and Our Family Ida Kaplan 300
In Memory of My Parents, Brothers, Sister, and Family Bella Ashman 300
A Daughter and Granddaughter Speaks Sarah Hinde Movshovitsh [Blyakher] 305
My Mother Immigrated to Israel in 1922 Sara Kaplan 305
A Family of Blacksmiths Zalmen Bronshtayn 306
A Typical Jewish Home Zipporah Yudenfreund (Levine) 308
A Brief Biography of My Friend Avraham Kartshmer Avraham Aloni 308
Khaneh Khonen Eysishki 309
About the Family of Tsvi Schmidt (Hershl the Stableman) Zalmen Dan Kushtulski 311
Our Mother Khayne, Daughter of Avraham Eliezer and Miriam Levine Eliyahu Netaneli [Itskovtish] 311
They Were So Binyamin Dubinski 312
My grandfather R' Yitzchak (Itshe) Binyamin Rudnik, (Of Blessed Memory) Yakov Blokh 349
The ‘Tel-Hainik’: M[eir] Y[osef] Itskovitsh Chaim Lazar 350
Yiddish Section
1. The Town and its Development
Dieveniskes [Divenishok] - The History of a Town Binyamin Dubinski 363
The Shtetele Divenishok Meir Yoshke Nathan's (Itzkowitz) 378
A Jewish Life that is No More… Motke (Moshe Leyzer's) Kartshmer 394
Social and Political Life[*] Shraga Blyakher 401
Zionist and Cultural Activity[*] Avraham Aloni 410
How I Remember You, Divenishok... Khanan Levkovitsh 417
Those Days Are Well Remembered[*] Yakov Bloch 419
On Communal Life Lolik Sutskever 429
The “Bees” and “Vilbig” Organizations[6] Khaye-Rivke Krizovski 437
The Torah Reading was Stopped … Eliahu Itskovitsh (Netaneli) 439
Jewish “Parnoses” [Livelihoods] in Divenishok   440
2. Destruction and Bravery   443
All That Remains is a Name Solomon Levine 447
The Murder of the Divenishok Jews in Voronova   447
The Amputee from Divenishok[*] Meir Yosef Itzkowitz 450
A Dream … Meir Yosef Itzkowitz 454
3. Figures   457
The Rabbi and Great Scholar Yosef Rudnik, may his memory be for a blessing   459
Baron Aaron-Leyb   459
Reb Moshe Ben-Zion Hasman, may his memory be for a blessing   460
Krizovski, Aaron Yakov–– of blessed memory   463
Two poems by Aaron Yakov Krizovski   463
The Poet Aaron Krizovski Menukha Peykova (Krizovski) 464
Our Poet A. Y. Krizovski Binyamin Dubinski 465
Shtetelech (Poem) Shloyme Kazjimirovski 468
One Cannot Forget Them Sore-Teybke & Nahum Levine 468
My Shtetl, Home, and Family Moshe & Perke Levine-Kartshmer 469
In Memory of My Father, My Mother, and My Family Sore-Toyve Gershovitsh-Levi 470
In Memory of My Father Sore Shklar 471
Horav Khaim Yehudah Horvits Z”L Nisan Gordon 472
4. Landsmanshaftn   477
Our Landsmanshaft in Israel Khaya Garbe 479
American Relief Creates the gmiles khesed Fund[7] Tsvi Ahuvi (Lib) 481
An Appeal From Former Divenishok Residents in the Land of Israel to their Townspeople in America[8] (A Document) 483
Landsman in Israel Tells About the Landsmanshaft in America Yakov Bloch 485
The 70th Anniversary of the Divenishok Relief in America Binyamin Dubinski 503
Report from the Divenishok Ladies Auxiliary Nellie Brown 509
Organization of Former Divenishok Residents in Israel Tsvi Ahuvi (Lib) 512
List of Martyrs   519
*These articles appear in both Hebrew and Yiddish in the book. The actual version translated corresponds to the placement of the article in the book: if the article appears in the Hebrew section then the Hebrew version was translated and vice versa, if it appears in both sections then both versions have been translated.
Place Index
Name Index

  1. “Maccabi Tzair” – Junior (young) Maccabi – a youth sport movement that was formed in Germany in 1926, besides the adult Maccabi movement. Return
  2. “Beitar” - the initials of Brit Yosef Trumpeldor- The Covenant of Joseph Trumpeldor, the educational youth movement of the Revisionist Zionist Organization. Return
  3. “HeHalutz” – [The Pioneer] was an association of Jewish youth whose aim was to train its members to settle in the land of Israel. Return
  4. Linat Zedek - “paupers' hostel” - a society that provided overnight lodgings for poor travelers. Return
  5. Palmach – Hebrew acronym for Plugot Machatz - strike force. Return
  6. Bien was a youth organization, communist oriented, formally acting as a Scouts movement. Wielbig was the parallel adults organization. Return
  7. ”Gmilut Chesed” = Loans without interest. Return
  8. Appeal from the Former Divenishok Residents in Israel to the Divenishok Residents in America. Return

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