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From Jewish Kobrin – a Book

by Shmuel Segal

It was very hard for us to become accustomed to such a life of wondering. Our hearts ached when we saw the loss of our library that was so dear to us, to which we had dedicated our best hours in the evenings. It seems as if the striving to those higher goals can not give us a rest. Nevertheless, our people would assemble once a week on Sabbath in Kofchina and this was the extent of our work. We were thought of as rebellious. The complete Zionist activity froze. The poisonous atmosphere put its stamp on the whole action.

In 1938 the situation became even worse. We found shelter in Shkolna Street in the house of Akiva Weiner. We rented two small rooms and somehow we managed. We kept whatever we had in those wild days. The young group, headed by Joseph Schwartz, accepted upon itself to manage the club and did it with a lot of dedication despite all the disturbances and the difficulties from within and from without. Later the authorities took another step. They closed the “Kobriner Wochenblatt” (the Kobriner Weekly). This was on the 18th of June, 1938. The people involved were really becoming discouraged. There was the beginning of complete apathy. The fear grew to such an extent that people were even afraid to meet other people who were suspected by the authorities. There were individuals among us who saw with big eyes a difficult future and decided to save themselves at any price from the catastrophe that was fast approaching. In such a situation I departed from everything that was dear and close to my heart and I went on my way…

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kob245.jpg [25 KB] - A Club of "Hashomer Hatzair" in Kobrin, 1934
A Club of “Hashomer Hatzair” in Kobrin in 1934

Still the modest book about Kobrin would be one of the few sources for our Sons and their Sons to find some material and some knowledge of what Jewish Kobrin was in the not so far past. Some survivors of the destruction of Kobrin that are scattered around the world present the last witnesses that still saw Kobrin with their own eyes. Our children will not feel what we feel. Let this book be an attempt to create among our offspring who would come after us the holy feeling that we have to the city where we were born and where we spent our youth.

*    *

The destruction of Kobrin is the destruction, generally, of Jewish life, the destruction of millions of Jews, men, women and children. Kobrin was one of the hundreds of congregations that were erased “overnight” from the face of the earth.

For hundreds of years Jewish lives were built. Little and big pogroms became daily events but this did not cause the Jews to abandon their institutions, their schools, their clubs and their hospitals, their youth organizations and social organizations. Who thought and who expected that all of this would be uprooted?

Who does not remember the children and the youth when they would walk on the streets of Kobrin in the holiday of Lag B'Omer? Happy faces with greenery on them, dressed in shirts that were as white as snow and in their mouths Israeli songs in ringing Hebrew.

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Under the sounds of the drums would from time to time be heard the word “Kadima” (forward), and everybody would walk together, the school kids and youth from all movements. From “Hashomer Hatzair” to “Beitar,” from “Tarbut” to Beit Yakov, the heart would pound in one rhythm, with one hope. The long parade of children and youth and after them Fathers and Mothers with tears of happiness in their eyes would all move to the square of the synagogue.

The city synagogue was the pride of Kobrin. Whether religious or secular, people took pride in the ark that was so beautifully carved. How great was it in our eyes, our synagogue. How many tears were shed into this golden ark in the four walls of the synagogue where their Rabbi would speak before the children and the youth.

There were two Rabbis in Kobrin and every year they would change their roles. What was the meaning of having two Rabbis? How much temperament, but in a sense of heart, was in that struggle of the two “sides,” between those who followed R' Michael and those who followed R' Pesach? The children already have heard the words of one of the sides. After the Rabbi finished his sermon, other speakers would finish their sermons. The kids and the speakers with their blue and white flags at the head would go to the nearby woods to celebrate, as befitting the holiday of Jewish heroism, Lag B'Omer.

And in how much joy and happiness the children marched with their flags in the synagogues on the holiday of joy, Simchat Torah. Adult Jews became children when they danced with the Torah in their hands. How much wealth was in that traditional folklore in the “Shtiblach” of the Hassidim in every corner of the Jewish life in Kobrin.

It seemed that there was no power in the world that could destroy such bustling life. We did not imagine that there would be a power that could stop the “Navski” that were always busy and the “halls” of Margalit with the noisy youth there. Who could think that there could be something that could quiet the hardy prayers that came out either on a week day or on a holiday from the thirty synagogues in Kobrin? And despite all of this, it was all destroyed and became silent.

Today Kobrin is more silent than a cemetery because even the dead are not there. And so the song and the joy became quiet and so have the sounds of the hammers and the song of the apprentices. You do not hear anymore the lovely laughs of the Jewish young women and young men. You do not hear the prayer “Unatane tokef,” which arouses tears in cantors and those who read the Torah.

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You do not hear anymore the lesson in Talmud and you do not hear the instruction in the Hebrew language of Noah Alkon. Everything is quiet. Everything was cut down almost without leaving a trace.

*    *

Kobrin was always the center of the Jewish culture and Zionist activity. Kobrin produced generations of Jewish intellectuals, remnants of which are scattered on all continents and lands in many countries. People from Kobrin are now holding important posts in the public life and culture of the Jews. Among authors and poets in Israel, the United States and other countries are those who get their inspiration from the education and enlightenment that they received in Kobrin.

Kobrin worked in a very dedicated manner for Zionism and for the land of Israel. The majority in our town was inclined toward Zionism. In dedication and in enthusiasm many involved people, young and old, would collect money for the National Fund. Fights between the parties were often based on the competition for work for the land of Israel.

During the third Aliyah, hundreds of people from Kobrin left their spacious homes and schools and together with a large Pioneer camp from other towns and lands went to dry the swamps of the Valley and the Galilee. So did the people of Kobrin also in the later Aliyot. The first Pioneers were accompanied to the train station by the whole town. In a loaf of bread they hid their pistol that in those days was the first weapon of the “Haganah.”

How wonderful was the sight of the spontaneous outburst of the song of Hatikva from the mouths of the assembled when the train with the immigrants moved away. How much life was there in their competing assemblies of the various parties when they elected candidates for congresses. They came literally to blows, but after a little while they became friends again, brothers and friends. With what impatience they waited in the mornings for the newspaper to receive news from the land of Israel. The readers of “Heint” and “Moment” would congregate in groups by the news stand of Holtzman, not even paying attention to the fact that by doing so they would stop the carriages from being able to pass through the street.

And emissaries and speakers from the land of Israel will not forget for a long time the honor and the respect they received when they visited Kobrin.

Hasn't every Jew dreamed of going sooner or later to the land of Israel? They postponed doing it out of the thought that perhaps they would collect a little more money and come to the land of Israel with greater wealth. Also, the laws of the mandate government did not make the Aliyah easy. But a few of the Jews thought then that there would come a day and it might be too late to do so, and that day came.

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Along with the desolation of Jewish Kobrin, of manners and customs, of schools and charitable organizations, disappeared also Zionist Kobrin.

*    *

It would be interesting to know what our brothers and sisters thought when they went to their death. Could they altogether still think in a human way? Were they not in their souls dead already before their flesh was destroyed?

In that death march of millions of Jews and hundreds of congregations went to its destruction Kobrin, our dear Kobrin. In tears, blood and fire, they destroyed young and old, and babies. No one was left.

Let us keep in holiness and in purity and give to our sons after us the picture of their last road, the death parade, that patriarchal picture of the shepherd of the congregation R' Michael. Forever there will echo in our ears the sound of the encouraging speech that he delivered, the educator of the generations in Kobrin, Noah Alkon. They were beautiful in their lives and they are beautiful in their deaths. They were cut away in death that only Satan's imagination could have created. As the holies of heaven they were uprooted from the world at the hands of defiled murderers who were not punished.

Kobrin was not completely destroyed. It left us an inheritance that would continue to live and to exist, part of it in the struggle for a Jewish land of Israel and the establishment of the country of Israel. And without any doubt it was the last wish of our brothers and sisters that marched in the death parade that their survivors would finish their life dream. This was without any doubt their quiet prayer that they whispered with their dying lips before their souls left them. The dream, the question, the prayer and the future came and are now taking place everyday in the land of Israel.

Our Town in the Mirror of the Press

In “Hamelitz” 1883 (Issue #21) there was one correspondence from Kobrin from a local writer by the AISH (an acronym) that could shed some light on the Jewish life in this town in those days.

The writer told of an epidemic of diphtheria that had struck the town, taking many lives. In order to prevent further spread of the disease, the local Rabbi decided on a Monday to say special forgiveness prayers and to give money to save the souls. When that did not help, the Rabbi understood that this had all happened because the rich people of the generation were reading “external” books.

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Another Rabbi and all the other people went and examined all the boxes of the poor young men in the synagogue. Then they went from house to house until they came to a tailor and found that his son had a secular book. They found a few others as well.

Outrage permeated the whole town and the crowd ran through the synagogue where the Rabbi and his group were sitting around deliberating. They decided that the book should be burned and those who had such books would be whipped. Everybody was pushing to grab the books and throw them into the fire and in their hurry they burned also some holy books and some interpretations and a book of psalms. After those young men accepted the verdict for their wickedness, all the other youth, including those who did not even taste the taste of this sin, were made to commit themselves with a handshake never to read another such book or periodical in Hebrew from now and forever.

The journalist finished this letter of his, which he had probably written with the view of enlightenment, with these words: “And then they all drank glasses of liquor for long life and went to their houses glad and happy that they had succeeded in eradicating this filth from their homes so that the bad angel would not come and attack and bring disease to the houses of Israel.”

On the ninth day of the month of Av, 1886, the Russian Governor who was in charge of all the counties Northwest, the ones in the Russian zone, came to visit Kobrin. A delegation of Jews made up of the Rabbi and the important people in the congregation met him at the train station with bread and salt, as was the custom, on a silver tray. This was according to the local correspondent who sent this news item to “Hamelitz” (92) and it was signed with the acronym D''SH (which means greetings). According to him, the people of the delegation did not pay attention, in going to see this important person, to cleaning their clothes and combing their hair. They did not do these things because it was a day of fasting and so “the hair on their heads and facial hair were messed up and their clothes were not clean and also they did not wear shoes.” All this, according to this local correspondent who sent the news item, made a bad impression on the Governor and he was not very kind to them.

The Governor turned to his local representative in the county and told him he was surprised that in his town there were people of the old generation with long earlocks. He ordered that from that day on there wouldn't be any long earlocks in any of the towns under his rule. The correspondent wrote that as a result, after the Governor left his county, clerks gave the Rabbi an order from the King to warn the Jews to cut their earlocks. Otherwise they would be put to trial and would be punished.

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This, the correspondent wrote, alarmed the town and the Hassidim with their long earlocks who, according to him, were most of the inhabitants. There was a big hue and cry because, as he said, a Hassid without long earlocks is not considered a Hassid and he was mocking them, this enlightened guy, in his news item that was published.

In “Hamelitz” (129) of 1903 we find in a letter from Kobrin that in the elections for the elder of the synagogue was elected unanimously one Yeshaia Leichtung, and his deputy was Mordechai Tennenbaum. The correspondent also found it necessary to make note of the fact that all of the people in the congregation were happy with this election because these people that were elected were definitely deserving of the positions and everybody was sure that they would do a good job and that they would not use their positions for ill. The correspondent hoped that because of this successful election an effort would be made to renew the life of new institutions for the poor and that they would also control the home for the old people so the old people wouldn't have to beg and go from house to house because their meals would be given to them. He also hoped those newly elected people would see to it to renew the charity institution that “our righteous Rabbi, R' Shaul, of blessed memory,” had established, calling it “Magen Shaul,” the shield of Shaul. It provided a lot of help to the poor in our town and now it is destroyed and is no more. Also the elder and his deputy should take under their direction the school which young and inexperienced directors were leading astray, bringing into the school the sons of the rich people and pushing out the sons of the poor people. The correspondent also wrote that the Rabbi had collected 250 zlotys for the people who were hurt in the riots in Kishinev – and to that amount there would be probably more because only a portion of the people had donated money at that point – and because of the disease of Rabbi Pinchas Shik because his illness created such an atmosphere of confusion and of sadness in the congregation that people did not do their work well, including charity work.

In another issue of the newspaper of the same year, (Issue #175), came an announcement, a news item from Kobrin about the visit of the Governor General, Sweyatopolk-Mirski, with his deputy in one of the Sabbaths in the month of July, A delegation of the Rabbi and the official Rabbi came and greeted them with bread and salt and on the following day they visited the Hebrew hospital. They spoke with the superintendent of the hospital, Nachman Birman, and they were very pleased.

The Governor walked to the synagogue which stood not far from the hospital. Hundreds of people were assembled by the entrance. On both sides of the entrance stood lines of Jewish musicians and also musicians of the free Maccabis in town.

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Inside, the official Rabbi greeted him, the learned H. Levin, elder of the synagogue Tenenbaum, and near them were the books of the Torah with their crowns and jewels made of silver and gold. The Governor came with his entourage. He came in front of the holy ark and there people prepared chairs for them to sit on. The official Rabbi blessed the Czar and the two Czarinas and the crown Prince and the whole family and the important people. It is interesting also to mention here that the local correspondent added that there is a strong hope that our town will be cleansed of the human filth and the criminal brothers and sisters (he probably meant the people of the Russian revolution which started showing up in the political life and also in Jewish towns in Russia).

In the “Maylitz” of 1898 (163) Baruch Gerber announced that in Kobrin there was established, by someone from a Yeshiva, a group that would assemble in one of the synagogues everyday in the evening to hear from the teacher that they hired a part on ethics and on manners and also a portion of the week. The association was made up of young artisans in town. Instead of walking aimlessly in the streets of the town on weekends and holidays and just fooling around, they would sit now, about 300 of them, in the synagogues for about two hours and listen carefully. Blessed should be the person who established this.

About the life of the Hassidim of Slonim in Kobrin fifty years ago we can learn from the letter of someone from that town, A. M. Salaveitzig, in the “Maylitz” of 1900 (93). He tells an interesting story: “the Hassidim of the temple S would find the most important thing about Judaism in a little hat and not in a large hat, God forbid” And they even made a big fuss and embarrassed one of their number that wore this tall hat. It was quite embarrassing.

In “Hatzfira” (another newspaper) of the same year (Issue #66), we read that for about a year the important people in town, headed by Shmuel Salavietzik and Mr. Zidvitz, took it upon themselves to manage the hospital. Until that time it had really been quite neglected. If a poor person became ill he would just lie at home because he did not want to go to the hospital, knowing that it would be dangerous. He would surely see the end if he went there. Anyway, those respected people were awakened and they saw the trouble with the hospital. They added a few beds and bought a piece of land not far from the hospital where they planted some trees and other nice plants so that the sick people who were capable of walking with their sticks could walk around and get some fresh air. They also made a contract with an important Jewish physician, Dr. Raigradski, and the physician Mr. Andizevski.

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Those two doctors visited the sick twice everyday and were paid from money that was otherwise wasted. Also a male nurse came all the time and prepared for the sick people their medicine as ordered by the doctors.

From the day those new managers took over the running of the hospital, the sick people really found it a much better situation and they thanked God and the new managers for their good deed. But for about two weeks Satan came and created some envy and someone went and told the County Governor, in a letter, some bad things about those managers. They suggested to the Governor that he come quickly to the hospital to see if they were telling the truth. When the Governor came and saw the quality of the hospital, he was very pleased. He announced this and said he didn't want to hear any bad thing about it anymore. But when the managers noticed that there were envious people who were trying to undermine their operation and undermine them, they decided to leave their positions.

On their last Saturday they sent an announcement to all the synagogues that whoever wanted to come and see what they were doing in the hospital should come after the Sabbath to the big synagogue and then they would show them precisely all the use of the money, income and expenses, and they could decide for themselves if there were anything that they did that was not perfectly honest. But from now on they did not wish to run the hospital anymore. The correspondent ended his letter saying, “our hearts are really very scared that these people will really stop running the hospital. The old days will come back and it will be absolutely awful for the poor sick people as it was in the past.”

The “Group of Friends” Support in Kobrin

When the “friends” support group in Kobrin was established, “Hatzfira” of 1900 (Issue #192) announced that the goals of the group were to help and give medicine to poor sick people at a reduced price or for no money at all, and also to keep a vigil by their beds at night and someone may even give them some money and some other things. It was very visible what this group had done. The writer finished by saying “it would behoove the righteous people and those who can afford it in town to support this institution so it could continue working, because it is doing very good work and it is very visible.”

About the town council and about Jewish institutions in town we find in 1904 in “Hatzfira” (Issue #133) that the Council of Kobrin received a license from the County Governor to take what is left of the tax on meat, some 1,200, and to add a women's gallery to the synagogue.

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The local correspondent who signed with a pseudonym “the one who knows” added that this addition was very important because the women's gallery at the time was too small to accommodate all the women who came to pray, and it was even more crowded on the holidays. This writer also wrote that the late S. Salavietzik left in his will of a few months before some 2,400 rubles to build a house for the school in town that was really very needed and that the managers of the school were probably going to try to start the work during that summer. And the old folks home, where there were crowded about twenty men and women, also received a new look when new directors fixed the house and established a meticulous cleanliness. The bath house that burned eight years before was not rebuilt because the application that the heads of the community sent to the County Governor in order to use some money from the tax on the meat to build the new house was not submitted in time. But now they had heard that the issue was going to come up again before the Senate and that their application would probably be granted. Another news item about the school, the bathhouse and the hospital we find in “Hatzfira” of 1904 says: “Kobrin: The building for the new school was dedicated on the holiday of Hanukkah. And as to the bathhouse, the Senate already gave the permission for 10,000 rubles of the meat tax, but our brethren could not decide who would run the place, so it is still pending. The building of the new hospital has not been finished yet because of lack of money.”

Kobrin in the Year 1906

Two articles from Kobrin in 1906 we find in the newspaper “Das Leben,” published in Petersburg. The first story had to do with a student by the name of Ludwig Parnavski from the county of Kobrin who was killed in Petersburg on November 21st by a hooligan on the street. The funeral of that person was in Kobrin and was paid for by their rich relatives because his mother was a poor woman who had all her hopes in her son. In the big funeral there participated also the non-Jewish people from the county and also many of his fellow students and representatives of parties, among them the Jewish parties, the Bund and Poalei Zion. At the cemetery there were speeches in Russian, Polish and in Yiddish and the police stood from afar and did not interfere.

This story also brings another message that was characteristic for that period. In several of the farms in the county of Kobrin the peasants would ask the land owners to get their parts of their fields back and also to raise their daily wages from 75 Kopeks to 1 full ruble. From the 15th of December 1905 a special period was announced in Kobrin and there were some signs of a rebellion. It was not settled, although some soldiers stationed near the town were called to assist the civil and local government.

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Another story of the same year tells us that on the fourth Sabbath in the month of March the prisoners in the jail in Kobrin rebelled. They were supposed to be taken to the regional prison in Grodna and they did not want to go at all. They threw rocks at the commander of the prison, so much that soldiers had to be brought in to help with the transfer. On the way the prisoners sang revolutionary songs very loudly.

Also, that issue tells that on Wednesday the 8th of March there were elections to the Russian Duma in Petersburg and there were 2,500 voters. About the voters and parties that participated in the election that story does not say anything. In another part of Issue #18 there is another story from Kobrin that on the 3rd of January the town council had a special announcement anybody who wanted to participate in the election to the royal Duma should petition by the 16th of January. Also the Rabbi talked about the importance of this issue. Writer ended by saying that date was very close and that there was hardly any great excitement as it was a year ago when the first Duma held elections.

In “Hatzfira” of 1904 we find in the section about news from Warsaw the announcement, “Yesterday passed away the Rabbi R' Zalman Goldfarb from Kobrin and all those who respect our Holy Torah are requested to come and pay him the last respects as befitting such an important person as he was and to accompany him to the cemetery from the private hospital of Dr. Greenboim.” In “Hamodia” of 1911 a local writer Yeshaia Leichtung in Kobrin announced that the Rabbi David the son of Rabbi Jacob who was a Rabbi more than thirty years died and the writer tells us about this deceased that he was really a special person and for many years he was a deputy Rabbi in our town and very wise and very humble. He accepted everybody nicely and would speak to them with respect and altogether he was much beloved and much respected. The writer continues to tell about this respected deceased that he was an excellent teacher and very very learned and had a whole lot of good qualities. Great respect was given to him when he was taken to the cemetery and all the people of our town and from the neighborhood came to pay him the last respects. It is a great loss to our town, the writer says. And he says the deceased left sons who are learned in the Torah. To replace him was elected on the same day, his son-in-law R' Noah Veinberg.

It is noted that Noah Veinberg is from a long line of important Rabbis in Slonim and in Kobrin. In his early days he was a follower of Zionism and adhered to Hebrew literature. Later he became closer to Agudat Israel and he was associated with Rabbi Pesach and for quite some time he was active in an educational institution called Tvuna. He was a representative in several commissions of religious education.

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It is noted that Yeshaia Leichtung was the sexton in a Yeshiva “Or Torah” in Tiberias in Palestine without any remuneration. In the same week in the Orthodox Weekly, “Hamodia,” (Issue #40) there was an article against those people who were maligning those Yeshivot who took the money that they collected as donations and put it in their pockets, which points to the fact that even religious people and religious writers are sometimes not beyond maligning in public.

Another correspondent from Kobrin, Israel Greenberg, brings us in “Hamodia,” of 1910 a story about our teacher the R' Arieh Zlaznik who died with his good name. He writes about the deceased who was a very righteous person, an Orthodox Jew through and through. He helped a lot in public affairs and in all the charity institutions. He was the first among many and established many of them. He also writes his house was always open to every poor person and every important Rabbi or writer who came through town ate at his table. Aside from the money that he gave to schools and anybody who was needy, he was also very hospitable. Even though he was very busy in his own business, he would make an attempt to see that there were several poor people at his table at all times. Most of his charity was given in secrecy and according to his will his heirs gave several hundred to charity. This writer says that among the mourners there were several important Rabbis and the whole crowd cried who followed his coffin. They cried loudly. The writer ends his story by expressing his condolences to his wife and daughters.


On June 22nd, 1905, there was again a big fire in Kobrin. 300 houses and many stores were burned. More than 800 families (?) remained without a source of livelihood and without a place to sleep. Two synagogues burned, and the hospital and the municipal loan bank. A committee was established to help those who were touched by the fire. The head of that committee was Volperin (“Der Freund,” 1905, no.138).


According to the article of the known writer Yeshua Mezech about the story of the preacher from Chelm in the paper “Hamelitz” of 1900 (Issue #123), the famous preacher at the time, Rabbi Moshe Darshan, became the preacher for the town of Kobrin but for.a variety of reasons left Kobrin and went to Chelm. Based on the name of that town where he worked only for a few years, he became known as the preacher from Chelm, the Chelmer Preacher.

The Death of Rabbi Pinchas Shik

About the death of the righteous Rabbi Pinchas Shik from Kobrin, we find in “Hatzofeh” from Warsaw from 1903 (Issue #133) this story.

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Kobrin, (in the county of Grodna), yesterday on the 23rd of the month of Sivan our town led to burial the Rabbi Pinchas Shik. He was a judge and the son of the Rabbi Eliyahu Shik and he died being 65 years old after a lingering and bad illness.

The late Rabbi spent all his days in studying and in work. Although, his material life was always poor he was always happy to do charity. His heart was really a Hebrew heart. He was always very sorry for every individual of Israel. All his thoughts and wishes were to do charity and to do good. His sayings were always pure. He never uttered anything vile and he was never angry. He was a character of which Israel can be proud. Thousands of people followed his coffin. All the stores closed. The laborers did not work. The crowd of those accompanying him reached 5,000 people. The police kept order. From one end of the crowd to the other, everybody spoke only about the good characteristics of the deceased. By the Ratner Synagogue where he used to pray, several Rabbis mourned him, especially one Rabbi David Shedrovitzki who was called by telegraph and was one of the mourners. In front of the cemetery several other Rabbis said words in mourning.

About the Zionist activity in Kobrin and its opposition, we learn from a story again in “Hamelitz” of 1900 (Issue #192). The story talked about a scandal that happened in our town when the famous preacher Hecht accepted an invitation and came to our town to preach with the permission of the sexton Gvirtzman. A group of people came to the synagogue, almost the whole congregation from young to old, to listen to his interesting sermon. Suddenly their was great turmoil and some zealots broke into the synagogue and started making noises to interfere with his speech. They all screamed, “This is not a place for apikorsim (heretics).” It was only with a lot of effort that most of the assembled quieted those people who had tried to interfere and allowed the person to continue his sermon. And when those foolish angry people saw that they could not interfere with the sermon, they decided to take their revenge on the preacher in a very vile manner that can not even be written about. The preacher was in a very bad situation and if not for the help of some very nice people who came to save him from those stupid zealots he would have been even worse.

About the situation of Zionism in Kobrin in 1903 we find in “Hatzofa” of the same year (Issue #60) the writer “a man of gold” wrote that the Zionists of our town, who were almost asleep, were aroused recently for new life and work on Saturday evening. They assembled for a general meeting in the great synagogue, and Mr. Palevski gave a long speech, a very interesting speech that made a very pleasant impression on all those who were assembled.

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After him spoke Mr. Shadervitzki.

According to the newspaper Hatzfira of 1921 (114) and also of 1920 (46) and other places in 1920 the Zionists of Kobrin collected for the Jewish National Fund for Palestine a sum of 34,000. Especially active in collecting the monies were the Zionist youth. Other stories in the Hatzfira and the newspaper Heint from those days told about the great activity of the Zionist youth in Kobrin for the Jewish National Fund and other funds.

When it was announced in Kobrin that the British mandate over Palestine was issued and Jews had the right to build a national home for themselves in Palestine, all the movements of the Zionist group called for a special meeting in the presence of the Rabbi Michael Shamosh who was the head of the meeting. They decided to send a thank you note to the Zionist executive group in London and to inscribe it in the gold book of the Jewish National Fund. On the spot they collected quickly 100,000 Polish marks. On the fifth day of the month of Av there was another great public meeting with many participants in the great synagogue and there were speeches by A. Levits, P. Palevski, B. Faller and A. Polonski and on the spot there was a committee selected to organize fundraising of 10,000 Palestinian pounds among the Jews of Poland.

On Saturday night a fabulous party was held to celebrate this historic event. The head of the party was Dr. Privolski. According to the proposal by B. Faller all the people present mobilized for a week of Zionist work. At the same time they said good-bye to Moshe Holtzman, a veteran Zionist who worked for fifteen years in the field of Zionism, because he was leaving to go to Palestine to settle there. The correspondent wrote that the work of the fund was really proceeding very well and he finished his letter by saying that he was full of hope that the Jews of Kobrin would hold a very important position in the process of collecting monies as part of the 10,000 pounds for the settlement of the land of Israel. (Der “Neier Heint,” 1922, #184).

For the Ukraine famine in 1922 the Jews of Kobrin donated through the Rabbi Michael Shamosh in a special committee the sum of 496,800 marks and 140 dollars. Forty-five Jewish refugee families from Lubishi lived during the First World War in Kobrin.

About the “Arlozorov”, in the winter of the year 1934 in Kobrin a story in the paper “Das Wort” of 1933 talked about the fact that all the groups that were part of labor Palestine, the general Zionist and the artisans, were working together. Pantul and Z. Schwartz spoke at an assembly.

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On the spot, despite lack of preparation, they collected 250 zlotys and people believed that there would be 400 more collected for this project. The project itself opened in a big academic assembly and the people who spoke there were S.H. Koloditzki, N. Alkon, Mrs. Dr. Pribolski. It went very well and on the spot there were collected more than 200 zlotys.

On the 11th day of Adar of 1934, there was another assembly in Kobrin in memory of Joseph Trumpeldor. The place was completely filled and many people had to stand outside. The speakers were the members Nitzkin, Alkon, Pantul and Schwartz. Altogether there was a lot of organizational activity and cultural activity in this club. Many new members came in and because of that there was a thought of renting a larger place.

The youth movement “Freiheit” had been developing and this was in the paper “Das Wort” of 1934. According to the story in the newspaper “Das Neie Wort” from Warsaw 1936, there was in Kobrin in the winter of 1935-36 a seminar for those active in the Labor Zionist group. In “Freiheit” and the “Labor” the lessons were twice a week and were conducted with great success. There was an assembly for the memory of Borochov and the speakers were the members Pontul, Pinchuk and Sirota. In the presentation and singing portion of the assembly should be especially noted the women Kamyonka and Feinziach.

With the news about the death of Chaim Nachman Bialik there was in Kobrin a mourning meeting in the Cultural Club where people spoke about the great loss because from the death of the respected national poet and the members were Nitzkin and Alkon. In that mourning assembly it was decided to call the Hebrew school “Tarbut” after Bialik. Also condolences were sent to the National Committee in Jerusalem and to the Hebrew Author's Association in the land of Israel. (This was according to the newspaper “Heint” of 1934, #160)


At the end of 1934 there stayed in Kobrin on business of the Keren Hayesod, Joseph Heftman and I. Meyerman. All the Zionist parties mobilized to help with this project which was successful. (“Das Wort,” 1933, #17).


According to a news item in “Das Neie Wort” of 1936 (#32), the traditional yearly bazaar for the Jewish National Fund for Palestine was successful. The member Radonski participated from Warsaw. Many people visited the bazaar and the income was 700 zloty more or less (about 100% more than the previous year). The chairman of this project was the member Pontul.


In 1933, 1,451 shekalim were sold in Kobrin. On the 23rd July of that year there were elections and 1,396 people participated.

[Page 259]

In 1932, in “Heint” (151) we read that on the 20th of Tamuz the memorial day for Dr. Herzl, there was an assembly in Kobrin to memorialize this distinguished leader. The speakers were Feigenboim and Bachlinski and Faller and Magister Schwartz. The choir Shomrim choir sang songs conducted by the conductor Foxman.


About the preparation for municipal elections in Kobrin in 1934, the Warsaw newspaper “Das Wort” tells us in these words: We, the movement of labor Israel in Kobrin, are now the strongest power of which the Jewish members of the “Sanatzia” are scared. They know that in an election we will be the triumphant, and because of that they are scheming to interfere in the grossest way with our work. The environment is not very comfortable, the chairman of the club “B.B.” in our town shows his attitude toward us in various ways. The pressure from the “third side” against us is very great, but still we are preparing for those elections with all our might.


In the 1933 “Das Wort” (59, 53) we find news items from Kobrin on the “Standgericht” about eight white Russian peasants and one Jewish young woman by the name of Kaplan from the Communist Party who were accused of preparing for an armed rebellion and to tear apart the soil of the Polish republic. In the Polish newspaper “Robotnik” (of the socialists) there was an announcement of the Polish intelligencia and with an appeal to the judges to move that trial to a regular court. The guards around the court were very strict and in the town was a very depressing mood. The general newspaper and the world newspaper devoted quite a bit of space to this trial.


In the paper “Moment” of 1935 (Issue 169) we read in a story that in Kobrin the head of the congregation, Nachman David Beirman, sent a request to the authorities to relieve him of his position as the head of the congregation. His reason was his bad health and the lack of interest in activity from the other members of the commission that managed the congregation for budget and for other management issues. Although several weeks had passed since the letter was sent, the authorities had not yet allowed Beirman's resignation. But as it is told, in the coming days a temporary management was appointed until the new elections. Usually, according to the person who wrote this news item, the resignation of the head of the congregation made a great impression in town.

(This was all collected by M. Tzinovitz.)

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