Mother, Esther Gitel, was a very capable woman. Everything she did she did well. She was an excellent housekeeper. She was always helpful to my father and all day long she would run around, helping her children. Our home was a Zionist home. All of us, my two brothers and I, studied since a very young age, Hebrew and the geography and history of the land of Israel. The sounds of Hebrew words were very often heard in our home.
The biggest imprint on my memory were the nights of Shabbat. We would all sit around the table, and my father would sing Shabbat songs after the evening meal, and we all would answer in a chorus. We would sing Shabbat songs and songs that were filled with yearning for the Israeli nation, and mother would sit across, tired from all the preparation for Shabbat, but her face would be shining with pride and contentment
Years passed and we all spread out. My oldest brother, Avraham Meir, finished his studies in the seminar Tarbut in Vilna. He became first a teacher and then a headmaster in a few schools in different places in Poland. He taught Torah and the Hebrew language and filled the students with love for Israel. Deep in Yizkor he wished to immigrate to Eretz Israel but worries for the well-being of his parents and to his younger siblings delayed him from doing it. Time passed and I became busy as a teacher in Kurenets and later in Radoshkovicz. My youngest brother, Josef, who was blessed with a beautiful voice like my father went to study in the conservatory in Vilna and became well known. He became a singer in the choir of the big synagogue in Vilna, and also in the opera choir in Vilna. Only my sister Shoshana stayed home with mother and father. She worked as an accountant in the factory of Chaim Zokovsky.
Years passed and I, the lucky one in our family, received papers to go to Eretz Israel So I came home to say goodbye to father and mother. I remember the tears and the blessings of my parents, and the handshake of all my friends who came to say goodbye to me. My brother, Avraham Meir, promised me, We will not be far behind you. There will be a time when we will all meet in our country, and this time will come soon.
Would it really? I built a
home in Israel, a new life. I became a mother to children. [Tzvia married
Avraham Even Shoshan, a native of Radishkoviczi who later wrote a well known
dictionary of the Hebrew language. They had two children, Yuval and Dafna.
Yuval now lives in Jerusalem, Dafna in Tel Aviv.], and the contact with my
Kurenets home was only through letters and pictures. They kept hoping to
immigrate, but kept encountering difficulties. First they didn't have the
financial means and they were very worried about their ability to earn a living
in Israel, which at that time was suffering economic difficulties. There was
also conflict with the Arabs which caused fears in my parents. So in the
summer of 1938, after eight years in Israel, I decided to go for a visit to my
hometown. I took my five-year-old son Yuval, and my friend from Kurenets, Emma
nee Alperovich Tzivoni with her daughter Edna, and we came for a visit.
(Son of Zivia nee Cohen who wrote the chapter)
and Edna nee Zivoni
(Daughter of Emma nee Alperovitz)
during a visit from Tel Aviv to Kurenets in September of 1938
Once again I am in my little town. It was not much changed in all the years that I had not seen her. It was the same quiet life, the same houses, and the parents, although they looked a bit older, had the same pleasant light in their face. We gathered all together, all the family members. We sat there for many hours, and I told hem of our life in Eretz Israel. The happy memories and the troubled memories, and they wanted to hear everything, as if their ears could never be filled. If God be willing, we will all soon join you, my father kept repeating. And my brother Avraham Meir, the Hebrew teacher, announced that he would soon immigrate but he would not be a teacher, but a farmer. He would be busy with building the country. He said, It is enough for me that all the years I was a teacher here that I taught others the message of love of Zion, so now it was time for me to get up and build my home in Zion. It is time for me to farm the land. And not only for me; Josef and Shoshana and mother and father we will bring after us.
So once again I said goodbye to my family and returned home. At this point my heart was very sure that we would be together in Eretz Israel. Anguish, This meeting was the last meeting with my dear ones
Not many months passed and the sounds of war were heard through Europe. Years of toil and blood, and all lines of communication were cut. My heart feared what would happen to my dear ones, but deep down there was a glimmer of hope. Maybe the horrors would pass and I would see them. Slowly the horror of the Nazi Holocaust started to arrive to us. Every day we would find more tragedies. We found out that towns were burning, and Jews were thrown in the fire, and the horrible story of Kurenets arrived. I found out that amongst the shtetls, it was also my shtetl Kurenets. And amongst the martyrs there were my dear ones: my mother and father, my brothers and sisters. They all fell in front of their killers, on 9/9/1942, together with many of the Jews of Kurenets, and the heart cries and refuses to be comforted.
He also wrote My Father, Chaim David Rozenshtein in Minsk, ir va-em.
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