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[Column 420 Hebrew] [Column 678 Yiddish]

Shmuelik the Watchmaker

by B. Elimelech (of blessed memory)

Translated by Aryeh Sklar

Shmuelik the watchmaker was the type of person about whom no one could agree: some loved him, some hated him, some praised him, some denigrated him; and so, the only thing left to do is describe him, his day–to–day life and his social life, according to the facts and real stories.

Shmuel's story begins with his service to the Dubno synagogue about 70–80 years ago. He was truly cut from the cloth of the synagogue administrator (shamash). Indeed, he descended from a long line of synagogue administrators (shamashim). It seems to be a natural law that the shamash must be of a hunched stature, submissive, lowly, a laughingstock, always ingratiating to the regular masses of the synagogue – just tread under every foot. But look – something different! Shmuel never inherited this “law” of lowliness from the shamashim. He had his own law: never meek in the face of others, never flattering others to get by, and never giving anyone a reason to belittle him. Moreover, he was bold and forward toward the synagogue–goers should anyone try to diminish his honor. “Just because I am the shamash,” he would say, “that gives you the right to walk all over me? I am above all a human being, and all human beings demand basic respect!”

They say his outlook to life was formed already in his youth, growing up with his father and grandfather, when he saw their difficult lives and the torment of poverty that reigned over them. Shmuel did not tolerate the rich, the people who would feed themselves to the point of nausea. He was constantly criticizing them. In particular, he waged a war against Goldman, who owned a large mill in Dubno. This was a man who overworked his employees, squeezing out every drop of lifeblood they had. And when one of them would become faint from lack of strength to continue, not only would he, Goldman, ignore the person's dangerous health, but he would fire him on the spot. And there were laws and various other issues that caused the poor to be oppressed, and Shmuel fought against these as well in order to get money into the hands of the workers. He, Shmuel the Shamash, believed that Goldman didn't deserve, and therefore made sure Goldman would never get, a prayer lectern (a shtender in Yiddish) in the synagogue, not on the Sabbath, nor on the festivals, upon which he would have put his prayer book. “Such a leech! A robber, a thief, an abuser of his workers… how brazen, how shameless, for this man to come to synagogue to pray!”

During Sabbaths and festivals, the synagogue became a full and rowdy place. Shmuel would take the opportunity to heap abuse and curses upon the miller and any other rich person who deserved it. It got to such a point that they fired him from the responsibility that had been his family for generations… [1] entirely dissolving the position.

Shmuel would not beg nor flatter. He picked himself up and found a good, honest job, though it wasn't easy for him: he became a watchmaker. He did not become another mediocre watchmaker, no. He quickly became known in the city and beyond as one of the best, a craftsman and an expert in the field. What was his specialty? If you gave him a watch to fix, he wouldn't just fix it; he would improve its function, going above and beyond the regular scope of repair, and you would know the watch would last for generations because of his care.

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However, if you gave him a watch, and under his magnifying glass, he said to you, “Just throw it in the garbage,” you could be sure that there was nothing that could be done – there was no “removing the evil decree” [2] – and the watch would die soon enough.

He was known to the portzim, the non–Jewish landlords in their mansions; they would line up at his store at opening, even though he charged three times the price, sometimes even four times the price, than what others would charge. This was an amazing thing – here was a man who always had an abundance of business, his prices high, and yet he was one of the poorest of the poor, living a life of poverty. But if you would chance a peek into his house, you would understand how this is possible – his house was always filled with people like a swarm of bees. All the wretched people, the work–weary men, the bitter women with hard lives, they would all come to his house to get his counsel and his aid. Here, a woman might express her great grief: Her husband has died and her son is the only provider of the family. He was a worker in a grocery store, toiling like a beast of burden for the store, from early light to late night. Now they have fired him to replace him with one of their relatives. “What should we do?” she asks Shmuel, “Should we starve to death?”

In the corner sits a young man, telling his fellow: My father, a shoemaker, is sick in the hospital. It has been such a short time, yet the administrator of the hospital tells me they want to release him before he has even recovered. What should we do? There isn't anyone at home during the day to even get him a cup of tea…

Person after person would pour their hearts out to Shmuel, all asking him to work on their behalf. Shmuel would stop his own work, and run to and fro, from house to house. Sometimes he would plead, softening the hearts of hardened individuals, and other times he would express anger and wrath to get them to assist the poor. When he would get what he came for, his face would shine, his eyes ablaze. It was unlike anything you've ever seen before. If he was unsuccessful, he would become incensed, shouting mightily and heaping scorn upon the heads of these rich homeowners. People would often be astonished: This man lives like a dog, yet he worries after others? He was always fighting the good fight on behalf of the widowed and the orphaned. He would rescue the destitute from the hands of their oppressors; the law and justice was on his side against the powerful and rich, and he would force them to give in to his demands. Indeed, they were scared of this nudnik called Shmuel.

You might say, maybe Shmuel was influential because he was a Torah scholar. Not even close. Very little of what he learned from his rabbi in the Talmud Torah of his youth remained with him. Still, one thing he remembered from that time of his life: [Leviticus 19:13, 16] “You shall not oppress your fellow… Do not delay the wages of the poor… Do not stand idly by the blood of your fellow…” And he would always repeat [Leviticus 19:18] “Love your fellow as yourself”, never breaking from this principle.

When Zionism appeared within the Jewish world, Shmuel became an enthusiastic Zionist. If only I could live in our land! Certainly there our brothers only live lives of justice and morality! They all work the land and eat the bread they themselves grow. Surely there is no jealousy, no hatred, [Job 34:19] “no regard for the rich against the poor!”

Time passed, and Shmuel began chanting a new mantra; leaving aside the Land of Israel, he would instead speak of the irrelevance of country borders – human beings everywhere are all one! Love, peace, brotherhood, shall reign among peoples – Socialism! As the Bolsheviks took over, Shmuelik's dreams crystalized and he became a Bolshevik. The Bolsheviks appreciated Shmuelik's spirit and honesty, even appointing him to commissar! So he began wearing black clothing, letting his gray beard grow wild, always hurried, always busy, a source of astonishment for the Chekists [3] and the Red Guard [4] alike.

He lived a simple life at home; for food, he ate grits; for clothes, he dressed plainly; yet justice and morality were his banner. The poor exalted him, yet all luxury revolted him, and he did not flinch from taking excesses from the rich as if it were his, with the claim that wealth came from the poor, and back to the poor it should go…

His authority and rule continued until the retreat of the Bolsheviks, and he left with them on their travels. He was seen in Zhytomyr wearing a Czarist sword in his belt. He even made it to Moscow, and he regained his position there as commissar.

With the passage of time, many things are forgotten. However, one day a letter was received from him, quite long indeed, written as a confession of a repentant man:

I have made a grave mistake, and great is the pain and regret. I truly thought that the rule of “And you shall love…” was known to all mankind. But to my great sorrow I must report that there are nations that never received this message. My beloved son, I ask that you seek out the educator, his name is Blei – he was always a friend to me. Ask him to teach you Hebrew language and literature, such that you will know it well. Perhaps I will merit to see you in our land, and we will be able to live according to the laws of our Torah, for only our people, who have suffered so much more than any other people, are especially capable of understanding the commandment of “And you shall love…”, and only in the land of Israel can we live as a people.

He goes on like this, full of pain and heartache about his great foolishness in his life choices. A long time passed before a new message was received: Shmuel the Watchmaker has passed away in the Diaspora. He never merited to go to the land of Israel, nor did he see his wife and son ever again…


Translator's Footnotes
  1. Ellipses in the original, presumably for dramatic effect. –tc Return
  2. From the High Holidays service Return
  3. The All–Russian Extraordinary Commission and commonly known as Cheka, first established in 1917, was the first of a succession of Soviet secret–police organizations. A member of Cheka was called a chekist. The chekists commonly dressed in black leather, including long flowing coats, reportedly after being issued such distinctive coats early in their existence. (Wikipedia) –tc. Return
  4. Red Guards were paramilitary volunteer formations consisting mainly of factory workers, peasants, cossacks and partially of soldiers and sailors for “protection of the soviet power” between 1917–1918. (Wikipedia) –tc Return

Herschel the Shamash (Synagogue Administrator) of the Great Synagogue

by Yannai

Translated by Aryeh Sklar

Everyone in the city of Dubno knew Herschel, and he too knew all of them, from the youngest to the oldest. Of average height, with a black beard, he was the right–hand man of the synagogue rabbi, Reb Mendele, the righteous of blessed memory. He followed the rabbi around everywhere, the left hand of Reb Mendele holding the right hand of Herschel, and they would progress this way, hand–in–hand.

Herschel was well–known as an “Announcer and Notifier”… regarding anything having to do with the dealings of the Dubno community, and he knew of all of the city's needs. Among his responsibilities was to walk from Farber Zevromi [street] to the length of the city until Surmitch, and make his announcements. He would do this on Sabbaths as well, during the Torah reading, in a clear and beautiful voice.

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As Herschel would get to the door of the building, the whispers would immediately start among the people, “Hey, hey!” Herschel would march confidently to the center of the synagogue at its raised platform, acting as if it personally belonged to him, and would begin his announcement. If he spoke at the behest of the rabbi, he would say, “As the appointee of the rabbi…” If it was a communal matter, he would say “As an appointee of the community…” And if he spoke for the Crown Rabbi, he would add, “As an appointee of the Zhondovi Rabbin…” – meaning the current Crown Rabbi. When he would end, the congregants would take his leave casually. Such a “mechayeh” – an experience – to hear how Herschel would make his announcements! Ay ay ay!

[Column 422 Hebrew] [Column 682 Yiddish]


by Yannai

Translated by Aryeh Sklar

Just saying his name conjures his image and likeness in the mind of every citizen of Dubno. A special emissary for the newly dead, he was their direct agent, making sure they went to their final resting place. It is doubtful that anyone else alive in Dubno was as famous as he, in that everyone knew him, though not everyone sang his praises. His name wasn't even Benedict.

He got his nickname from the work he did with his vehicle – to bring the dead to the cemetery. People would say, “iz er dakh fun di royte idelekh” (Yiddish for “he is nevertheless one of the red Jews”), or for short, “ben adom” – “a red person”, and thus he was called “ben adik”. [1]

A thick–bearded Jew, he was always donating to the charity fund “Charity Saves From Death”. With the smile on his face, one would never know his profession was in the shadow of death.

People didn't enjoy his presence – in fact, they would keep away and keep him away from their social circles. Even worse, if one wanted to curse someone out, the worst they could say is, “Benedict will deal with you!”

A poor man his whole life, his forlorn expression proclaimed to everyone, “Riches are not forever… charity saves from death.” [2]

“The greatness of charity” still did not save him from mortal danger, for he died together with everyone else in his community…


Translator's Footnotes
  1. Unclear if this is somehow a reference to his job with the dead, and it is unclear whether he was a hearse driver, an undertaker, or gravedigger, or all of the above. –tc Return
  2. Proverbs 27:24, 11:4 –tc Return

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Volodia (Frenkel)

by B. Barigada

Translated by Aryeh Sklar

Solitary, a world unto himself, (Psalms 19:4) “no utterances and no words,” no claims on others, generally dressing in an unkempt manner, his hair never cut – he was part of the Jewish landscape in the life of the city. With no house or place to live, he found a place for himself behind the curtains of the theater and the screens of the moviehouse. A brush and glue stick in one hand and advertisement papers in the other, [1] that was how he was seen every day. Only at the end of his life, on the eve of the Holocaust, he gained employment as a messenger for an organization of shop clerks and salespeople, where he could make an honorable living.

No one knew his political beliefs – he was a quiet man, never socializing with others. However, it came out afterwards that the fate and lot of his people were near and dear to his heart. He wrote a poem one year before the war broke out. Now, it does not demonstrate the work of a talented poet, but it does prove how deep his concern went for his people. This is how the poem goes:

Lend your ear, O brothers,
Hear me, O fellow Jews,
Whether your flag be red
Or your flag be the color of the skies

Consider for a moment,
Do you not see that the fire has started?
In Romania, Poland, the Diaspora is dying,
Judaism is wallowing in its blood,
And in Germany, the grim reaper's blade is being whet.

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Ah! What will be? My God, my God!

So, O brothers, open your eyes
And take your fate into your own hands.
Sharpen your weapons,
Strengthen your unity together,
For if not – woe to us!


Translator's Footnotes
  1. To stick on poster boards around the city. –tc. Return

About One Family

by Shmuel Kolton

Translated by Aryeh Sklar

The city of Dubno is surrounded by many small villages and towns; these villages and towns were where many Jewish families lived, and they would work on the surrounding farms. The Jews acted as middlemen between the farms and the city; they would purchase the supply from the farms, and market them within the city, and then they would bring merchandise from the city to sell to the farmers. They were also involved in small production companies, such as a roofing tile factory, a brick factory, a quicklime factory, a flour mill, and more. Generally speaking, the families and the farmers were on good terms with each other. The Jews, or the “Moshko” as they would call themselves, often would use advisers to help with their negotiations, even to clear up disputes between themselves.

In the Grodki village, a community about 12 kilometers to the east of Dubno, there lived a family among 119 Jewish families by the name “Lerner.” In those days of the Czar, the military law was that your son was only exempt from conscription if he was an only child, and so, to circumvent this, they changed their name. Thus, four sons were born to: 1) Berish Lerner, 2) Leib Perlmutter, 3) Yosef Feuerstein, 4) Neta Spektor.

The first three sons raised large and varied families, and they all lived in the surrounding area in the villages: Grodki, Nehorin, Sodowicz. The sons followed in the customs of their fathers and made a living doing business with the farmers. They fulfilled their religious duties by making do with prayer groups in one of the houses on the Sabbath and the festivals, and if they did not have a quorum of ten men, they prayed in their own houses. They sent their grown children to schools in Dubno, Kiev, or Zhytomyr, and sometimes even further out than that. The young children were homeschooled, their tutors brought in from the central city areas.

Similarly, they brought in brides for their sons and grooms for their daughters from other places. Sometimes, cousins married each other, the sons from the Perlmutter and Feuerstein families marrying the daughters of the Lerner family.

This is what such families were like until the first World War.

With the change in governments because of the Russian Revolution, non–Jews began to make trouble with the Jews. Several families were burglarized and several people were murdered, and by the time the war ended, families started to flee the villages and move to Dubno. They integrated well into the social and cultural life of the city, the children starting trying out schools and gymnasiums, and the entire way of life for these families changed completely.

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New winds were starting to blow through the Jewish communities. The Balfour Declaration was a sign for Jews, and the pioneer youth movements began organizing in Dubno as well. “HaShomer HaTzeir” (“The Young Guard”), and “HeHalutz” (“The Pioneer”) movements were established, and many youths from the aforementioned families began to receive Zionist and pioneering influence and education through these movements, helping them discover aspirations to immigrate to Israel, and to join its inhabitants and builders [baneha u–boneha]. Indeed, among the first pioneers who immigrated to Israel from Dubno, a few were from the Lerners and Perlmutters, and then others followed afterward. The Zionist and pioneer education, and the aspiration to realize their Zionism practically resulted in many of these families being saved from the decimation of the House of Israel in Poland. Many of them ran away to the forests and hid among non–Jews who agreed to hide them, and they were also saved. Some of them succeeded in getting to Russia. Nevertheless, an awful and countless number were martyred from the families Lerner, Perlmutter, and Feuerstein in the Holocaust that wiped out the Jews of Dubno.

With the establishment of the State of Israel, those embers who survived the war began to make their way to Israel, and it was they who told us of these tragic details of the inhabitants of our city and this particular family tree.

Berele Gulzriker

by Nisan

Translated by Aryeh Sklar


Berele Gulzriker, Fire Commissioner

[Column 426]

In Jewish Dubno, quiet, delicate, a world unto itself, there was Berele Gulzriker, a remarkable man who excelled in the public sphere. There were different kinds of public servants – politicians, social workers, municipality workers; there were mutual aid facilities like the soup kitchens, the orphanages, and so on. But one institution, the fire station, that Dubno so needed (because of all the fires that would constantly break out), was made up entirely of non–Jewish workers and managers. Berele could not accept that Dubno, which was by vast majority populated by Jews, would allow such an important institution to be run by non–Jewish people. Berele worked day and night on the firefighter's organization, until he managed to turn over this celebrated institution to the populace of the city, and he himself became its “commander”. The community so appreciated him and accorded him great honor. The [Russian] word “yeshivas”, or “firefighter”, which was used mockingly by the riffraff for those who put out fires, became a term of honor and respect, as it became the mark of special and good–hearted people who stood at the guard for the belongings, and the very lives, of the citizens of the entire city.

Berele's great devotion was a symbol for altruism and he was a role model for all. Knowing this, he would bring youngsters from all walks of life to the scenes of the fires to see the firefighters at work, so that they would appreciate the institution and its commander as well.

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The Activist – Eliyahu–David (Bakraing)

by Akiva David

Translated by Aryeh Sklar

Eliyahu–David was born in Dubno to an ultra–Orthodox family in 1905. He received his first education at home and at the yeshivas, and became known even then for his amazing recall and his talented mind. While yet a lad, he began to consider the paths of life, and he came to the realization that the yeshiva could not answer all of his issues. He directed his full passion to the idea of the return to Zion (Shivat Zion). As was the case back then, they placed many obstacles in his path, and they advanced vacuous arguments and, together with his father, would say, “It is forbidden to rush to end times too early!” The more pain they caused him, the farther and farther away he turned from his father's rebuke and his mother's teachings. [1]

He was still young when he, along with a small group of friends, organized the “Pioneers” (HeHalutz) in Dubno. These were the days when the Bolsheviks were in power in Volhynia. With every fiber of his being, and with all of his organizational prowess, Eliyahu–David roused the community youth to wake up from their apathy. His dedication knew no fatigue, toward any action or activism, and he took part in every Zionist event in the city. He worked during the day in the Listrin brother's shop selling metals and construction materials, and then he would sit in the late afternoon and study a page of Talmud, and at night he would dedicate his time for Zionist activities. Great was the day when the throngs came out to accompany Eliyahu–David and his friends to the train station to go to the land of Israel. “We are going to the land to build and be built by it (lebanot u–le–hibanot ba)” – that lyric from the poems of the pioneers who passed before the camp broke through the sky [so loud was the singing].

The situation in the land of Israel was quite difficult in those days. There were many who could not withstand it and failed, running back ashamed and embarrassed. But a man like Eliyahu–David, the pioneer and visionary, would never run away from a struggle. He put his face to the wind and was nevertheless successful in everything he did, every challenge, every job that came his way. As someone who loved nature, all living beings and all plant life, he devoted his energies to agriculture and studying the natural world. In 1927, he was an outstanding employee of the orchards of Y.L. Goldberg, and at the same time, he dedicated himself to his studies, up all night like it was daytime, until he obtained a diploma from the “Herzliya” gymnasium.

At that point, he decided to continue learning and acquiring more knowledge. He sent his diploma to the university in Nancy, France, and he was accepted as a student. With no money, and no knowledge of French, he traveled there to attend school. His diligence and industry, and his pure passion and desire, helped him overcome any hardships along the way, and he progressed further in his studies. “One clear morning” (II Samuel 23:4), we find him in Dubno, having returned from France, crowned with degrees in agronomy and chemical engineering.

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Eliyahu–David would speak in the small synagogue (a “kloyz”) of “Abraham Mordechai” before a large crowd that would hang on to his every word, listening to him speak “kindling flames” (Psalms 29:7) about Zionism and its implementation. He urged them to join the builders of the land of Israel, the implementers of the Zionist vision, by emigrating to the land.




In 1931, Eliyahu–David returned to the land of Israel, where he began a government job as Chief Inspector for “Pri Hadar[2] in Hadera, Binyamina, Zikhron Yaakov, Rehovot, and Tel Aviv. His name preceded him, and his circle of friends was always widening. He married the daughter of Dr. Mittman–Cohen, who founded the Herzliya gymnasium, and he set up a home for Eliyahu–David's family, which became a signpost of hospitality and assistance for anyone who needed help or a job. Eliyahu–David never acted high–and–mighty, and he hated the snobby, and as an activist and a pioneer, he would respond to the needy like a friend, a guide, a helper, for anyone who asked

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for his assistance. And Dubno natives who managed to get to the land of Israel, their first step was straight to the house of Eliyahu–David; he would counsel them, invite them to eat with him, he would concern himself with arranging jobs for them, every person according to his individual situation and abilities.

The day Eliyahu–David arrived in the land of Israel, he became an active member of the Haganah. When the situation turned dire in 1938, and the “Kofer HaYeshuv” called for volunteers for protection for the villages (yishuvim), which were failing to both work and protect themselves at the same time, Eliyahu–David immediately answered the call and enlisted. He left his house and his elderly parents, whom he had brought to the land of Israel and was their sole provider, he left the safety of Tel Aviv, his job, his educational growth, and went to Gan Shmuel, a kibbutz, to be a night guard, and to protect the corn harvests during the day. Several weeks passed at his post, when one day an enemy attacker hurled stones at him that badly injured him. He managed to return two shots that injured his attacker, but after

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two painful days and a fierce struggle against death, (Judges 5:27) “he lay wasted.” He was just 33 years old.

Eliyahu–David was buried alongside the great heroes of Israel, and his friends and admirers expressed their grief with the following words: “You came to us a young sapling, yet you struck at deep roots.” Dr. Mittman–Cohen said, “You bloomed into a great tree which bore fruit, yet you were cut short and removed from us and our land before your time.” Mr. Yisrael Rokeach, the city head of Tel Aviv, said, “A new page and a shining letter was Eliyahu–David, a Tel–Avivian through and through, who died a hero's death as the first martyr of the “Kofer HaYeshuv” for his homeland.”

His friends said, “Eliyahu–David, always in the study house, a man of culture and a thirst for knowledge, like a fine gem intertwined in the beauty of the spirit of Judaism. Always giving, a stalwart man, the first of our protectors to fall in answering the call of the Kofer HaYeshuv. He was a Dubno man, who gave honor and pride to our city for the sake of the homeland…”


At a farewell party for those leaving to the land of Israel


Translator's Footnotes
  1. Cf. Proverbs 1:8 Return
  2. Based on the name, one can speculate that this was a fruit processing plant –tc Return

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The Four Who Fell:
In Memory of Dubno Citizens Who Were Killed
in the Land of Israel Defending their People and Their Homeland

by Asher Reichman, excerpted from the “Yizkor” book

Translated by Aryeh Sklar

David Meizler, the son of Eliyahu and Soibel, was born on Rosh Hashanah, 5679 [September 7th, 1918], in Polonne, Volhynia. At the age of 3, he moved with his parents to Dubno. He went to school at a “heder”, and attended a Polish gymnasium [for high–school]. He joined the “HaShomer HaTzeir” movement, becoming one of its counselors, and he was simultaneously an activist in the “HeHalutz” group, and through his activities, showed a talent for education. In 1939, he immigrated to the land of Israel, continuing his education by attending a study house for teachers in Jerusalem. After he completed his course requirements, he was sent to be a teacher's assistant in Kibbutz Merhavia [1], where eventually he became a full–time member. From speaking to him and the impressions he left on others, it was known how much concern he gave to the issues of pedagogy, and how strong his desire was to improve his skills. Yet, he also longed to be a simple farmer like the rest of his friends, and every opportunity he got, he would toil [in the field] with great satisfaction. But he knew that he was meant to be an educator and to teach, and he invested the most energy into this work. Because of this, in 1945, he saw that it was necessary for him to leave his family, his wife and child, for some time, to go to Jerusalem and continue his education in the university there.


David Meizler

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As a member of the Haganah, he fulfilled his duties during the War of Independence by guarding children. During the bombing of Merhavia on the 2nd of Sivan 5708 (June 9th, 1948), he picked his head up from the trench during an exchange of enemy fire – he was hit and died. He was laid to rest in Givat HaMoreh, in Merhavia.

He left behind a wife and son, and two sisters – all in the land of Israel. A memorial was published in the book “The Six That Fell,” produced by Kibbutz Merhavia.

Tzvi Sternberg (Tzvika), son of David and Chavah, was born in Dubno on November 13th, 1913.


Tzvi Sternberg


He attended a Polish elementary school, and stood out for his wit, as well as his good grades, especially in mathematics. At the age of 15, he joined “HaShomer HaTzeir” and began learning Hebrew. He excelled above everyone else and was the first of his grade to become a counselor and member of the branch's local leadership. He was a counselor for 2 years, and then became secretary for the local “HeHalutz”. In 1933, Tzvika went for training in

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Chelm and Lublin, and even there worked for them as a secretary and treasurer. He was among the hardest of workers in difficult jobs, but he became exhausted with these jobs and sought to take a break for a certain amount of time. He began to attend courses in leadership given in the Haganah, arranged by emissaries from Israel; he excelled, and became a leader of the members of his group. A short time after his wedding in 1938, he began making his way to the land of Israel with the first group of Aliyah Bet. [2] After about a year, his wife joined him, and they settled in a kibbutz of his party in Netanya. He worked in fruit orchards, was a leader in the Haganah, and served four years in the Jewish Police. [3]

Tzvika excelled in his work at the kibbutz as a custodian. There, he had a son. In 1943, he moved with others who were from the kibbutz to be among the first to settle the area of the Gaza Strip (first Mitzpeh HaYam, and then Yad Mordechai). After two years, he was appointed in that place to take on a Corporal uniform as part of the Jewish Police.

As the kibbutz began to plant their first vineyard, Tzvika attached himself to the plantation; with great love and devotion he cared for every sapling, as he had for the human–saplings – the children of the area. In fact, he spent time creating toys that would gladden the hearts of the children. His good–heartedness and his serenity that he had already as a youngster, shined through and had a positive effect on the youth.

In the spring of 5708 (1948), he continued to work at the plantation, to impress upon his friends, who were going through a crisis of faith, that they were not toiling for naught. A few days later, Egypt attacked. As commander at that position, he successfully stopped the advancement of the enemy troops. He was hit by a mortar shell and fell slain on May 19th, 1948. He was laid to rest in the Yad Mordechai cemetery.

Ozer Shehami (Ozer Perlyok), son of David and Chana, was born in Dubno on July 15th, 1915. He attended elementary school. He joined the “Gordonia” youth movement, [4] and he devoted himself to the Pioneer idea and prepared himself to immigrate to the land of Israel. He spent some time in a kibbutz training camp in Janów, and in October, 1938, he immigrated to the land of Israel with the Aliyah Bet. He became a member of “Kibbutz HaSheloshah” for two years, working as a tailor. After leaving the kibbutz, he worked in a shoe shop in Tel Aviv. Diligent in his work, he made a good income for himself.

He was an active and prominent member in the “Shura”, never missing a lecture or activity. He was also a member of “HaPoel.”

Ozer was a serious man, quiet, but he loved all people. He would also write poems in Yiddish. His friends and acquaintances adored him, and he would always provide assistance to anyone in need, to the best of his ability.

When the war started, some of the enlisted soldiers were sent to guard positions, and sometimes they were sent to far outposts. Ozer served in the anti–aircraft platoon. When he was positioned at an

[Column 434]



outpost near Ramla, he was struck by a sniper on November 6th, 1948. He was laid to rest the cemetery in Nahalat Yitzhak.

He left behind a wife, two children, two brothers and sisters, and other relatives, all in Israel.

David Sobol, an only child born to Yisrael and Yaffa in Dubno, on December 21st, 1922. He attended elementary and high school. He entered the local “HaShomer HaTzeir”. The increase of antisemitism in Poland changed the mood of the community, including his parents, and when David asked them in 1938 to join the “Youth Aliyah” group immigrating to Israel, they did not protest. They only delayed his trip a year with the promise that when, in the following year, they would receive their grandfather's estate, they would go with him in traveling to the land of Israel. During this time, the World War broke out, and David got stuck because of the flow of refugees going to Russia. He volunteered himself to the Polish army, in the hopes that by doing this, he would reach the Middle East, and he would stay in the land of Israel. Instead, he was sent to the battalion in Germany, where he was wounded and taken captive. Disguising himself with the name “Arie”, David joined the prayer sessions of the Catholic captives, sang in their choir, and he even asked for lessons in playing the organ for the services. By doing this, he survived.

[Column 435]

Once he was released, David dedicated himself to teach children in the Displaced Persons camp in Austria, until he joined a kibbutz established by other displaced people. He arrived in the land of Israel with the Aliyah Bet group on June 27th, 1946. When he was accepted as a member of Kibbutz Mizra, he said with a simple joy: “This is the happiest day of my life – I now own a home.” He made his home his shop, and defended it in the winter of 5708 [1948]. When his friends began to be enlisted, he expressed his wish to also be enlisted in the army. His request was granted when he was enlisted according to the quota to defend the Jordan Valley against the first invasion by Syria. After his return, he said to one of his friends, “That was nothing to me. I went there because of my home that cares for me, a home that is worthy of

[Column 436]

fighting for.” Standing with his class against the overwhelming strength of the Syrian military at Mishmar HaYarden, he was hit trying to get out of the line of fire with three other friends, and died there on June 12th, 1948.

David was brought to be buried at Rosh Pinna the next day, but by request of the kibbutz, his bones were transferred to the Afula cemetery on December 12th, 1950.

A memorial for him was written in the publication, “LeZikhram” by Kibbutz Mizra.


Translator's Footnotes
  1. Merhavia is a kibbutz in northern Israel, founded by European members of “HaShomer HaTzeir” in 1929. It currently has a population of about 1,200 people. Return
  2. Aliyah Bet was the codename given to illegal immigration by Jews, most of whom were refugees from Nazi Germany, and later Holocaust survivors, to Mandatory Palestine between 1934–48, in violation of the restrictions laid out in the British White Paper of 1939. (Wikipedia) – tc Return
  3. Called in Hebrew “Notrut,” this was a Jewish guard brigade in the British police force during the British Mandate period (1936–1948) –tc Return
  4. Founded in Poland in 1925, Gordonia was a movement based on the beliefs of Aaron David Gordon, such as the redemption of Eretz Yisrael and the Jewish People through manual labor and the revival of the Hebrew language. In Gordonia the cadets learned Hebrew and the graduates organized themselves into training groups pending aliyah to the Holy Land. (Wikipedia) –tc Return


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