« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 188]

Reb Aryeh Greiv

By Khaim Shalev

Translated by Sara Mages




Born in Lenin 1859 – died in Tel–Aviv 1945.

R' Arye, son of R' David Greiv, was born in Lenin in 1859 where he was raised and educated and lived for seventy five years. His two sons, Tzvi and Shlomo, brought him to Ertz–Yisrael in 19.8.36. They fulfilled the mitzvah of honoring one's father generously and supported him to the day of his death in Tel–Aviv in 1945.

R' Arye was tall, had a sturdy body, and was a good looking person. Was a vibrant man, loved life, was very active, and honest in negotiations with people – allies and non–allies. He gave to the poor and has done many charity acts in secret. Not only that he fulfilled the commandment of Hazal “Don't withdraw from the public,” he engaged, all the days of his life, in public needs in trust, love and happiness, as a man whose opinion was involved with people. After the First World War he was the person in charge of the aid and relief funds from the donations of former townspeople who immigrated to America, and was crowned in a crown of a good name. R' Arye was a member of Chevrah Kadisha, has done true charity to hundreds of people, restrained the passion of those who tried to extort money from the relatives of the dead and in this way prevented the disgrace of the dead. He used to say: the name “Chevrah Kadisha” should be adequate to its doers – pure and holy in their deeds, lifestyle and nature.

Was a wealthy man all his life, had great assets and many businesses. Towards old age, when he became impoverished, he didn't mention the days of his wealth, didn't boast about his ancestry, but behaved with modesty and humility. When his sons placed him in a nursing home, he didn't complain and always served as an example and symbol in his good and convenient temper. He was lovable and acceptable by all his friends to the institution and took part in the fate and the condition of each of them. He stayed away from controversy and useless arguments.

He was known for his great affection to arba'at ha–minim [the four species] especially to the – etrog [citron]. When he was able to get a fine etrog, full of splendor, there was no one happier than him. In Lenin, the proprietors used to buy etrogim from the town's rabbi who received them from the nearby city of Pinks. In the days when they expected the arrival of the shipment of etrogim, usually at midnight, R' Arye wasn't tired or weary to stand on guard, and when the shipmen arrived, he carefully selected the most beautiful and best quality etrog for himself. If he was busy and was unable to welcome the arrival of the shipment, he woke up early in the morning,

[Page 189]

impatiently ran to the rabbi's house and knock on his door so no one would be ahead of him. How great was his joy and pride when he received an etrog from his nephews in Eretz–Yisrael – at that time his face shone with joy and delight. When he was granted to immigrate to Eretz–Yisrael and to fulfill this mitzvah here, on the ancestral land, he didn't spare money to obtain the fines etrog. He reached the height of enthusiasm on Simchat Torah after he drank a number of glasses of happiness and was in a state of “alcohol intoxication.” He hopped and skipped like a kid with a Torah scroll close to his chest, stamped his feet until sweat dripped from his shining face. He sounded quick beats with his toe and forearm and sang in a loud and joyful voice “We shall rejoice and be merry on Simchat Torah, for it is for us strength and light!”… Indeed, the Torah was his tree of life and in its shade he sheltered all of his life.

Reb Aryeh Greiv, who reached a ripe old age, symbolized, in a nice way, the character of a Jew of past generation who feared God, kept his commandments and all his actions were for the name of God. Even though there is no “intention in commandments,” he didn't perform light mitzvah or a weighty one without a good intention. All the days of his life he worked his Creator with love, faith and joy.

Reb Yitskhok Dannenberg

by Mordkhai Rubenstein (Migdalovitsh)

Translated by Sara Mages





Our town, Lenin, has won that R' Yitskhok Dannenberg and his gentle wife, Mrs. Ester from the Mizel family, moved there in order to set up a factory in our area that was rich in forests. He produced medical turpentine and other products from the pine trees that were in them.

On his mother's side, R' Yitskhok Dannenberg was the grandson of the genius, R' Itzele of Volozhin zt”l, and from her he inherited the great love to the Torah and its learners.

His grandfather, R' Aharon–Leizer Dannenberg, immigrated to Israel and has done for the building of Jerusalem. He built an almshouse for Torah students, and even today there's a Beit Midrash in our capital named after him. His father, R' Chaim–Arye Dannenberg, built in Sṭavisḳ, near Bialystok, a row of shops, rented them to learned shopkeepers and dedicated all the rent for the support of Torah students. This generous project existed until all the town's institutions were destroyed in the terrible Holocaust of the Second World War.

Chaim–Arye endowed the Torah education, love to the Jewish nation, and love to Eretz–Yisrael to his son R' Yitskhok.

[Page 190]

A native of Sṭavisḳ, a Yeshivot student, a scholar in Judaic studies and general education, a loyal Zionist and a dedicated activist – found a fertile ground in Lenin. In a relatively short period he surrounded himself with a circle of friends, acquaintances and students. He worked with them in the public area, especially on behalf of the funds: “Keren Kyemeth leisrae”l and “Keren Hayesod.” Who had the power to refuse to give promissory notes in favor of “Keren Hayesod” when Yitskhok asked for it? – with his bright and tender eyes, which peered from under the lenses of his glasses, with the delightful smile of this Jewish nobleman – he opened their hearts and their pockets. He also new to combine a pleasant homerooms word “at the right time” and success was guaranteed.

He sent his only daughter, Chava, who lives in Israel, to study at the university in Jerusalem after she received her high school diploma from the Hebrew Gymnasium in Pinsk. He carried his longings to his beloved daughter in secret and in modesty, to say: this is how a Zionist Jew must behave.

Before the outbreak of the Second World War he made plans for the future – the liquidation of his business and permanent residence in his desired country, but he wasn't awarded do so.

May his soul be bound for eternity in our renewed life in our homeland, and in the hearts of friends and those who honor his name.



My parents' home was full of interest. As descendants of ancestors who were mighty Torah scholars and God–fearing, they always found content and spiritual elevation in their life.

Our house stood on the main road between Mikashevichy and Lenin. It served as a hostel for every passerby, was a meeting place to the wise, for those who sought knowledge and wanted to learn the theory of Zionism. All hungry for wisdom, all thirsty for knowledge found what they had desired in it, but also the hungry left our home satisfied. All, who were tired from the road or from hardships, found serenity in it, the sufferer found solace and the depressed straightened his back in the present of my parents z”l, and those consumed with despair left our home comforted and with hope. It was a convalescent home for the sick and elation to the oppressed.

My parent received everything, big as small, with love, happiness and understanding. In their devotion and tender character they instilled the faith in God and in humans. They saw in every Jew a treasure full of mitzvoth, like a pomegranate. Only people with noble qualities, that their hearts are brimming with light and human warmth, like my parents z”l who were gifted in them, were able instill such faith in the heart of the humans in our world. It is possible to establish a home like ours, which was a glorious Jewish home, only when the mistress of the home is a woman of valor like my mother z”l. She worked hard with a lot of energy and was always willing to welcome guests, rich and important, and also poor and needy.

My mother z”l excelled in her special dedication to others. When she was in her parents' home she was always willing to dedicate herself to them. She supported her husband, and without the help of my mother z”l, my father z”l wasn't able to realize his principles and aspirations. Only with her help he was able to sacrifice himself to such an extent, for the benefit of others, and acquired great honor and good name in the entire province.

In this manner they achieved their world which is crowned with great honor and glory.

Their daughter, Chava.

[Page 191]

Reb Aron-Leib Zaytshik

by Mordkhai Rubenstein (Migdalovitsh)

Translated by Sara Mages




Among the lofty figures rises before my eyes the glorious figure of my rabbi and teacher, R' Aron-Leib Zaytshik, whose name is associated with the history of the education of the generation in our town. He instilled in us the love for the Hebrew language and the values of Judaism, and taught fathers, sons and grandsons for fifty consecutive years. In instilling reading and writing to the little ones, Chumash; and Rashi, Nevi'im with commentators, Talmud to the adults, he drew the holy spark from every word and verse and gave it to us, the children

As the owner of a superlative memory, he remembered events and facts that his students experienced and not one he recognized in a grandson the qualities of his grandfather or his father - who learned the Torah from him a generation or two ago.

We, his students, admired him and loved him even though that, not once, we were burnt by his ember when he lost his temper. And what is surprising about that? After all, he taught, almost every day, about 50-60 boys in one room and at daybreak, before the prayer, he taught the older boys in preparation for their Aliyah La'Torah and the reading of the Haftarh.

He did not accept wholeheartedly the establishment of the modern school by “Tarbut” in our town and the young teachers, graduates of the Teachers Seminar who were sent to the school by the center in Warsaw. He saw in them kind of a “foreign element” that wasn't consistent with his way of teaching, especially with the beginners. At the end, he reconciled with the official school principals who, by the way, treated him with courtesy.

A student of Minsk Yeshiva and the famous Mir Yeshiva, a great Torah scholar and was on the verge of receiving a rabbinical ordination. He didn't accept, to the depth of his soul, the “new pedagogy and didactics,” and not once he poured his bitterness before his former student, and I tried to understand his spirit.

He lived frugally even though he had many students. Many were late paying tuition and others didn't pay him at all, some paid a pittance and with cash equivalents… Yet, it never occurred to him to deny the Torah education to a boy. He lived a life of hardship and sorrow but his ambition was to give his sons a higher education - even abroad - which was difficult and daring at that time.

He was an exemplary prayer reader and served in this duty in the Old Synagogue for many years. He was a constant companion to the rabbi, R' Yehudah Turetsky zt”l, until the day of his death.

In the years before the Holocaust he was invited by my father and the rest of the Jews of the village of Grichinovichi to serve as a prayer reader and a shofar blower during the High Holidays. Because of his difficult situation he was forced to separate, with great sorrow, from his family and the community of worshipers at the synagogue and move to the village for the days of the holiday. However, these days probably fulfilled his soul when

[Page 192]

he gave a sermon before the “Kol Nidrei” prayer, and his words, which came from the heart, entered the hearts of the village Jews.

May these lines be a memorial for the soul of R' Aron-Leib, the soul of my parents, my sisters and the members of our village, Grichinovichi, who were not granted, like many others, to see the rebirth of the nation and the redemption of their homeland.

May his soul be bound in the bond of our life for eternity.

Dr. Aron Singalowski

by Y. Klinov

Translated by Sara Mages




My first meeting with Aron Singalowski took place in 1921 with my arrival to Berlin after I left' like many others, the Soviet Union. Since then, I was in contact with the deceased and was in his company for thirteen years.

People from various Jewish-Russian circles gathered at that time in Berlin. Some thought that it was just a way station, until the storm passes, and with the change of circumstances and political regime in the Soviet Union most of them will return home. However, in the meantime, Hebrew and Yiddish authors, activists and political leaders, found temporary shelter there. It was the representation of “Yeḳopo,[1]Emigdirekt” [Emigration Direktorium], and a bland of “Vaad Hakehillot” [a council of communities] that was born in Moscow, together with the representative of the “National Secretariat” of the Ukrainian Jewry, the “OZA” company and others.

Aron Singalowski settled in Germany already before that, and at this stage he was entirely devoted to “ORT” which eventually became his life's work. He left the general political system, the internal Jewish political front, and subjected himself to the question of the restoration of the nation, to constructive work and the distributing of the work among the Jewish masses in all countries. In 1919, a chapter of “ORT” was established in Berlin with Singalowski's help and with the help of German Jews.

Over time Aron Singalowski became one of the most prominent personalities in the Zionist-Socialists party, or S.S by its Russian initials. It is the Jewish Territorial Party that was established in light of the political stalemate in the Zionist Movement after Herzl's death. It wanted to solve the Jewish question by looking for a place for a Jewish autonomy somewhere in the Diaspora, and not in Eretz-Yisrael. Singalowski acquired

[Page 193]

himself a special popularity in the S.S as one of the best speakers. At that period he was known by the name, “Aron Czenstochower,” and participated in all the organizations of the party. He was active as a speaker and writer. In 1913, when I arrived to Switzerland and started to visit the university in Geneva as a student, I still found echoes to the enterprise that was established by the initiative of Singalowski-Czenstochower in Zurich.

In 1910, Singalowski published in Berlin - with the participation Z. Shneur, Dr. Seligman, Dr. Harash and Shemaria Gorlick - the Jewish weekly “Freitag.” He also published booklets about current problems. There was a special charm to his lectures. He was especially accepted by the academic circles. In a later period - when the Russian Revolution, the February Revolution, broke out - he took an active part in the unity of Jewish forces in Russia. It wasn't easy to stand out in the Zionist Socialist party. There were powers in the party like Moishe Litvakov, who later moved to Yavasakim and published the Jewish Communist newspaper - “Der Emes” [The Truth] and also Yosef Kamorany (Lestschinsky) from the “Bund.” However, Aron Singalowski stood the test. His extensive education (the owner of a university diploma in the legal profession and philosophy), the power of his dialect, his organization skills - earned him a prominent place in the party's hierarchy.

But, as mentioned, in the years that I knew him in Berlin, he was no longer active in the political arena. He was only immersed in two things: matters of culture and the development of “ORT.”

In the 1920s, he was also placed at the head of “ORT,” as a president.

* *

For Singalowski, the activity of “ORT” wasn't just to provide aid, but the most important social movement in modern Judaism. An extraordinary zeal was manifested here and a particular ideology emerged. He lectured on various subjects, especially at the “Shalom Aleichem” club, and was able to talk about any subject. However, the conclusion that it's necessary to move Jewish workers, with the help of “ORT,” to productive occupations was always emphasized. He was also a collector and among others he collected material about the efforts of Jewish communities in the Middle Ages to teach craft to the Jews. It did not matter to him that the motives of the communities hundreds of years ago were totally different, for him, there was an instinctive expression of feelings that nested in the heart of the Jewish Diaspora from time immortal, and the 75-years of existence of “ORT” served as evidence in our times.

When the Jewish settlement was established in Soviet Russia, Dr. Singalowski, who was very close to Dr. Rozen, the representative of the JDC in Europe which developed the Jewish settlement in Russia, left for a visit to the Soviet Union to see, with his own eyes, what was happening in the wide camp of Jews behind the curtain. When he returned, he lectured about his journey at the “Shalom Aleichem” club. It was before Birobidzhan's plan was born. Singalowski visited the Jewish settlers in Crimea. He praised the experience of the Soviet Union government and I remember an episode from his lecture “My most depressing impression” - said Singalowski - was the sight of a Jew plowing with an ox. Imagine: this Jews, who yesterday was probably a merchant, who lived in a city and was accustomed to a completely different pace of life - this man, who wants it all, became a colonist in order to get rid, once and for all, from the curse of the status of Lishntzi who was among those who denied the rights in the Soviet Union - he

[Page 194]

had to adapt to the tempo of the bull's work, proceed very slowly because at that time there was a shortage of horses. To me, it was a tangible tragedy of a Jew and bull…

With the arrival of Hitler's Holocaust - when the full work of independent and public Jewish organizations in Germany came to an end, including “ORT,” Dr. Singalowski moved the center of his activities to Paris and Geneva. Also here - and maybe especially from here - he succeeded in improving the activity of “ORT.” This personality, who was equipped with the knowledge of languages, who understood how to tie maintain contacts with all the factors in the world, was able to purchase, shortly after the war, a very respectable statues for “ORT.” When it was no longer possible to develop activities in the countries of the Soviet Union, the campaign moved to undeveloped centers, to North Africa, to Persia, and thousands of young Jews acquired their craft and became productive elements. One idea didn't give Dr. Singalowski rest: the Jews not only need just craftsmen, they need “high quality” craftsmen, the finest quality among the working population. The school that was established by “ORT” in Geneva was one of the institutions that were designed to illustrate this lofty goal. Singalowski, the wise man, was quite flexible: when he realized that the country of Israel was established. Singalowski - despite his former political objection to Zionism (elements, who were in favor of staying in the Diaspora, usually concentrated in “ORT”) - established a line of institutions in Israel and our country became one of the bases of his work. He kept in touch with central figures in the county and inserted a line of people to the action. And indeed, he didn't change his political views and didn't deny his past, but he knew how to get used to the new situation which came into being within the Jewish nation with the establishment of our country and we saw him here quite often. He succeeded in his mission also in Israel, and he was only worried what would happen next. Volodymyr Groysman, one of the activists of “ORT,” said in his eulogy on the deceased:

- When we walked, some time ago, in the quite streets of Geneva, he suddenly said: But what would happen to our work after us? Who will continue the action that was created? - - -

And Singalowski added: - “I can't sleep at night when I think about it”…

Dr. Singalowski's heart predicted and knew what it had predicted, as if it felt that his end was approaching.

* *

A small detail:

In 1930, Zalman Reizin published in Vilna the “Lexicon of Yiddish literature, press and philology.” All the writers in Berlin were asked to answer in a questioner about their biography and their works. In the same lexicon, in the term “Singalowski Aron,” it's written among others: “In his youth, when he was a high-school student, Singalowski published the Zionist Cartography leaflet.”

So he began…

[Page 195]

Moshe Ben Aron-Leib Zaytshik

by Mordechai Zaitchik

Translated by Sara Mages




In his youth he already had en experience in the field of education, a profession that his father engaged in. In the days of the first war, at the age of about 13-14, a skinny boy with a load of knowledge in Hebrew, mathematics, grammar etc. he traveled to the villages near Hryczynowicze and Horostov to serve there as a teacher. He received his wages in foodstuffs which greatly helped the economy of the family.

In 1922-3, he traveled to Vilna and was accepted to “Tarbut” Hebrew Teachers Seminary which was recently established and was kind of a continuation of the former Teachers' Institute (Utshitalsky Institute). He paved the way for others to follow him and attend a continuing education program in Vilna, Grodno and Pinsk.

When he was accepted to the seminar he already had a rich past, both in studies and experience as a teacher. He studied with great teachers and intellectuals such as: Professor Regensburg, Dr. Tzerna, Gutman, Orinovski etc. During his studies he also earned his living by giving private lessons.

In 1925, upon completion of his studies at the seminar, he immediately received the position of principal of “Tarbut” school in Dubrovitsa near Sarny, a place where he stayed for several years. He moved to Volodymyr and also there raised the school to a high level. After seven years of work he was invited to Kremenets and there he lived to his last day, meaning, until the extermination of the city's Jews.

He was among the outstanding school principals in Poland. He was dedicated to his work and established a generation of young school graduates with high level and a beautiful spiritual development. A generation of Zionist pioneers who were devoted to the idea of the founding of the State of Israel. He was also one of the activists in the Zionist institutions and enterprises.

He was also offered the position of superintendent of schools, but he didn't accept this offer which involved many tedious journeys.

When he visited our town, his birthplace, during his vacation he brought with him the spirit of the Hebrew culture. The older students took advantage of his stay in Lenin to study literature, Tanakh, natural sciences, etc. with him for a few weeks.

At times, he also lectured at the synagogue about matters of Judaism, Zionism and culture.

His friends and students, wherever they may be, will always remember him with admiration and emotional mourning that he was cut down at his prime, at the age of less than forty, by the Nazi murderers in the city of Kremenets. May God avenge his blood.

His brother, Mordechai

[Page 196]

Reb Aron Migdalovitsh

by Moshe Migdalovitsh

Translated by Sara Mages

My father, R' Aron Migdalovitsh, was called, R' Aron Dabes, by our townspeople after the name of his mother who was called by all: “Di Babe Dabe” [midwife Dabe].

In the two nicknames, of father and grandmother, there was, God forbid, no insult or contempt. Insulting nicknames weren't common in our town. Most of the residents of our town were called by their given names and surnames. Grandmother was called by that name because she worked in maternity care most of her years. Indeed, she was not a certified midwife and her treatment methods were very old, as was customary in those days, but her dedication and kindness stood for her and all the members of our town, men, women, and children, treated her with respect and affection.

My father was called by her name because he was orphaned from his father when he was a baby of six weeks. His mother raised and educated him, and planted in his heart the feeling of love towards people and all the virtues in which this wonderful woman excelled at.

My father was modest and humble, God-fearing and friendly. Everyone respected him for his honesty and righteousness. He was known that his yes is yes, and his no is no. That he was faithful to his word and wouldn't change it.

He loved the Torah and studied and taught it in his free time from his work. He was a member of “ Hevrat Mishnayot”[Mishnah study circle] all his life. Our house was open to anyone who wanted to hear from my father a chapter of “Kitzur Shulchan Aruch” or a Parasha from the weekly Torah portion. Our community appointed him to manage the community register, he fulfilled this role with great precision and made sure to record every episode and every event - easy, serious and important.

He was an active man and helped to organize public institutions such as : “Linat Tzedek,” “Bikur Cholim” and “Gemilut Chasadim.” He built the almshouse in our town, was a member of “Chevrah Kadisha” and had the right of possession to hold the annual members party in our home, at our expense.

Once, an article about my father's activities for the benefit of the public in our town appeared in the newspaper “HaMelitz.” During the holidays he passed before the Ark and read from the Torah. He always read the Selichot on Rosh Hashanah eve. Every year he passed before the Ark and no one objected to it.

My father's kindness stood out in his negotiations with people. A quarrel never broke out between him and another member of our community. He ran away from controversy and didn't discriminate between people. Everyone was equal in his eyes: rich and poor, small and big. His attitude toward the working class was cordial. People came early to his door to pour their hearts before him, to ask for his advice and for any help he could give them.

Every Saturday evening the wagon owners - Yakov son of Baruch Zaitchik, Eliyahu son of Asher (Asher's), Yisrael-Aron, Isar Broch's, Mordechai-Leib and Yehusua Zaitchik, got together. All of them work in a cooperative. Father was their bookkeeper not for personal gain.

My father made a living from a department store. The store wasn't big and there wasn't great abundance in it. During the First World War, and in the years of changes and revolutions that followed it, the situation of all traders and shop owners in our town worsened.

[Page 197]

They suffered from lack of cash. All the shop owners ran around the town's streets looking to borrow money for a few days, promising the “benefactors” to return the loan on the set date. They couldn't always keep their word. My father excelled and it and always kept his word. He borrowed from that, paid off to that, and always on the day and the time that he took upon himself to return.

In the difficult days our mother helped our father to support the family. Even though she had to take care of the children and the housework she began to bake bread for sell. She was a good seamstress and had a lot of customers.

My parents suffered a lot of grief: their son. Yosef, a clever and talented young man, was an avid swimmer. He drowned on Friday, 21 Tamuz 1909.

In 1918, their son, Yitzchak, returned from German captivity. He spent about ten weeks in our home and then left by foot for the train station in Mikaszewicze in order to travel to Minsk to receive his documents and also clothes and financial support that were given by the government to those who return from captivity. The farmers from our town, who return from captivity, left before him. He walked behind them so he could catch up and travel with them to the city of Minsk. A distance of about five kilometer from our town he met our nephew, Arka Raska's. He stopped and told him where he was going. A Christian stood next to them and listened to their conversation. Arka said goodbye and walked away. The gentile stated to walk with our brother and advised him to walk through a shortcut in the forest. They entered the forest and there the Christian killed my brother with a hand grenade.

Days and weeks have passed, all the Christians returned from the city of Minsk but our brother was missing. The Christians said that they didn't see him on the train or in the city of Minsk. Our heart said that a disaster had happened to him.

In the intermediate days of Passover, after the snow melted, Christian shepherds came and told that they found human bones about eight kilometers from the town.

Many members of our town left to the same place. We frond the remains of a human body and identified, without a doubt, that these were the remains of our brother, Yitzchak z”l, who fell at no fault of his own.

Our brother, Chaim David, a talented clerk in the Russian government during the days of the Czar, helped many members of our town. During the Second World War he volunteered to the army. He fell in battle.

Our sister, Bil'ke, her husband, Yakov Golub, and their children were murdered by the Nazis in the city of Starobin, the Sluck District.

Our sister, Ester, aspired to immigrate to Israel. She received a certificate but didn't manage to leave on time and was murdered by the Nazis.

Our brother, Feibel, the diligent type, sat day and night and studied Posekim and Shisha Sedarim, was a ritual slaughterer and a successful preacher. He fell in the hands of the Nazis in the city of Yanova.

Our father z”l passed away on 26 Heshvan, 5700.

Our grandmother, Babe Dabe, passed away on the Sabbath. All the townspeople accompanied her on Saturday evening with thousands of candles.

May their memory be blessed.

My parents have been awarded that they have a name and a remnant in Israel. Two married sons, two married daughters' and grandchildren.

[Page 198]

Reb Eliyakim son of Ovadiahu Migdalovitsh
Miriam daughter of Yitzhak and their family members

by Mordkhai Rubenstein (Migdalovitsh)

Translated by Sara Mages

I commemorate my honored father, Reb Eliyakim son of Ovadiahu Migdalovitsh, a beloved and modest man, with a warm and sensitive heart, who extended his help to the needy in secret.

All his days he made a living with integrity and raised his five children to the Torah and good deeds. He pleased with his prayer when he passed before the Ark and brought the worshipers to spiritual uplifting. Was devoted to the idea of the redemption of the Land of Israel even in the days when he was in Japanese captivity in 1903. He always dreamt about immigration to the Land of Israel together with his friend Joseph Trumpeldor. Since his childhood its landscape was etched in his heart and close to his soul, from the Chumash and Nevi'im, more than the area where he lived all his life.

I also commemorate my honored mother, Miriam daughter of Yitzhak, whose only desire was to do acts of charity and good deeds. With candles she searched for hawkers and passersby in order to feed them and provide them with a place to sleep so they wouldn't return home empty-handed on the Sabbath, and all this with a special grace and hospitality. I remember my sister, Sara, and my sister, Sheindil with her husband and her young child, who were murdered and buried in a mass grave together with the rest of the town - its men, women and children.

I wouldn't forget the noble image of my brother, Yitzchak, who survived the Nazi inferno, joined the Red Army and was missing from among its ranks.

My town, I still see you in my imagination, you're spread like a carpet and adorned with greenery. I see all your residents - among them relatives and friends. All of you are so dear to me with your weaknesses and quarrels, celebrations and tragedies - you were like a big family, and as one family you have been lost on a bitter and impetuous day.

Aron Milner

by Mordkhai Rubenstein (Migdalovitsh)

Translated by Sara Mages


Aron Milner z”l was born in the month of Menachem Av 5654 (1904) in the town of Drahichyn-Polesie near Pinks. His father, the great rabbi, R' Zev, served as a rabbi in Pinsk. In 5673 he left for the town of Sarnik, a place where his father was appointed Av Beit Din [Chief of the Court].

At the end of the First World War, Aron left for Bialystok to study at Beit Midrash “Tachkemoni,” that was established by “Mizrachi,” and completed his studies with the genius, R' Shlomo Polachek (the “Meitscheter Illui”), who, a that time, was the heat of “Tachkemoni.”

His diligence and passion for the Torah and knowledge were extensive, especially in the Tanach, Midrash and words of legend. He studied day and night until he memorized the Tanach, in its entirety, with the commentaries.

He worked as a teacher at schools, and most recently at “Tarbut” Hebrew Gymnasium in Pinsk, a place where he endeared himself on the public as an excellent speaker and a dedicated activist to anything sacred about Eretz-Yisrael and the Jewish community.

[Page 199]




Aron Milner appeared in Lenin like shimmering dew at dawn. He married Chana, daughter of R' Yosef Zertzki z”l, a respected and dignified man who earned his living from a department store and was a “reader” in the new synagogue. It is easy to imagine how Aron, the fine young man, the Yeshiva student with soft and dreamy eyes, felt when the burden of livelihood was imposed on him. The sudden transition from the world of nobility of Beit HaMidrash to the world of work and negotiations was a crucial step for him. It wasn't easy for him to adapt to the new status, but he bore his pain in silence and patience.

When he came to us he immediately befriended the town's young people and won them over. With his modesty and noble virtues he conquered the hearts: young and old, people loved him and admired him because he was an honest, uncorrupted friendly man who never hurt his friends or disrespect their dignity.

As the moving spirit in all the cultural-public activities in town he excited himself and others, He worked hard for the expansion and the strengthening of the elementary school “Tarbut” that didn't enjoy any state aid and only existed on tuition that was paid by the parents. His heart was open to the depressed and the weary, helped near and far with all of his soul and his heart. His being exuded grace, love of humanity and love of Israel.

A very special event is engraved in my memory: indeed, today it is just an ordinary act without any special meaning, but it wasn't so 17-18 years ago in a remote town in the Diaspora, the story was as follows: with a special permit from the town's rabbi, R' Moshe Milstein zt”l, Aron was allowed to read the Torah and the Haftara in a Sephardic accent on Simchat Torah - the first time in the town's history. The rumor has spread and many worshipers started to flock to the synagogue from all corners of the town and listened attentively. The elderly listened open-mouthed and there was no limit to the enthusiasm of the young. The singing of Haazinu,[listen] was supreme: the melody, with all its cantillation notes, penetrated the hearts and awaken the most hidden cords, and it echoes in my ears to this day.

The last years of his life and the bitter end of Aron, the good and the benefactor, is a horrific affair. His fate was very cruel to him and sentenced him to exhaust the cup of sorrow and grief to the end. After the occupation he was “appointed” by the rule of evil and malice to the role of “head of the Judenrat” - and was forced to carry the bodies of two murdered Jews to the cemetery which stood a distance of two kilometers from the town. He was among those who were “responsible” to fulfill all the murderers' demands in silver, gold and clothes and in the period of the ghetto he was also forced to rule on capital cases - selecting people to hard labor in Hancewicze. Without a way out, Aron fulfilled his role and his heart bled until he was awarded to be “redeemed”: in a large mass grave of the town's martyrs that he

[Page 200]

dearly loved. He found his rest together with the members of his family and his two small children.

May his memory be blessed and may his good and pure soul be bound in the bond of life.


When he came to us from Sarnik he was a Yeshiva student with the full meaning of this term - young in years and old in wisdom - saturated in the Torah and rich in external knowledge. After the wedding in 1931, he sat at his mother-in-law's house and helped her to run the business.

He liked to read from his early youth, he read a lot and even had a decent library in the concepts of those days in our town. He was a Zionist at heart and soul and active in all the projects and funds that were connected to the Eretz-Yisrael. He was cautious and moderate by nature. he walked sedately and spoke with calm and humility. He endeared himself to people in the first meeting with his good smile that was always upon his face. No one ever saw him angry and he dealt in public needs with faith, devotion and integrity.

During the Holocaust he was “appointed” by the Nazis as “head of the Judenrat” - this appointment caused him endless anguish. When the town's Jews were sent to hard labor at the camp in Hancewicze, he begged before the murderers to add him to the list of deportees, but they rejected his plea, they did not want to lose him and forced him to continue to fulfill his harsh and cruel job - to satisfy their demands that grew by the day. His end was as bitter as the end of his brothers to fate - he found his rest in a big mass grave together with the members of the community that he loved and served with love, holiness and trust. Respect to his memory!

Mordechai Zaitchik

Editorial Footnote

  1. Yeḳopo - Yidishn Gegnṭ-Ḳomiṭ-eṭ- - the Jewish committee for the aid of victims of war. Return


« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

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.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Lenin, Belarus     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2024 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 22 Jun 2016 by MGH