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[Page 488]

Rovno's Characters {cont.}


Yohanan Levin

He was twenty–five years old, full of ideals who studied for years in Yeshiva, including Wolozyn where he absorbed Torah and tradition. He came to Rovno as a representor of a big trading–house for grains from his hometown Molodeczno. He was a bright student and a gifted speaker (in Yiddish), was attracted by Zionism while still in his village and when he came to Rovno, he found his place in Hitahdut and became at once active there. He liked the city and his movement's friends and settled there. After a while he married Moshe Rozman's daughter.

As a member of the local Hitahdut council he was elected to serve as its counsel and delegate in different Jewish and municipal Institutions, and in each place was helpful and important. His Zionist consciousness grew with his good work in Hitahdut and he was sent to the Central Council of the movement as the representor of Rovno's branch. His public appearances raised the movement's prestige in the city, and even members of other parties who were with him in “HIAS”, Keren–Hayesod, the Community's Council and the municipality, appreciated Levin as an honest and open–minded man who acts according to his conscience and for the general good with all his heart and soul, and he was liked in many circles.

Levin loved telling stories and people loved listening to him. He wrote, too, and participated in local newspapers, writing about political–Jewish subjects (was one of the editors of “Unzer Vog”). As a talented man he knew his PR and after Benzion Eisenberg made Aliya, was elected in his place to the municipality as a member of the management. He was also elected to the Governmental Appraisal Council for taxes. In all these capacities he knew how to protect Jewish affairs with dignity.

As all other Zionists and Hitahdut members Levin dreamt about making Aliya and living in Israel a life of labor and creativity and he was sure the day would come, but time and the political upheavals which harmed the Jews sent him faraway from Rovno. After the Russian Occupation, at the end of 1939, he managed to get to America (his wife and daughter, who tried to move to Vilna to join him, were returned to Rovno and perished there during the Holocaust). He was successful in America but he still thought about Israel constantly and hoped to go there, yet death came first, when he was only 49 years–old.

Levin corresponded with friends in Israel, and here is a passage from one of them

New York June, 14, 1944

My dear Menahem Galrater,

I received both your invitations to the 70th anniversary of R' Yehuda Motyuk, I was glad, surprised and sorry, too. I was glad that you there are not forgetting this dear and excellent Jew and celebrating his and our celebration. Going back in time and see the light in R' Yehuda Motyuk, I feel uplifted that we had such a man next to us. I was surprised that he is 70–years–old already. Motyuk 70–year–old? Impossible, he was always the youngest amongst us – do you remember his dances and songs when H.N. Bialik was present? If you do, it means we are getting old too, yes, yes, sometimes I feel as if I reached 70 too. I was sorry because I cannot participate in this celebration and pay my respects to this special Jew. I can only hope to be part of his 80th birthday, please give him my regards.

(Signed by Yohana Levin)

Rachel Motyuk

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Arye–Lieb Kalika

Kalika was known by the nickname “Liebel” because he was liked by all who knew him and was very friendly. As a merchant he used to go for the whole day from his home to the grain–market and was deeply immersed in business, still, there was no Zionist activity that was foreign to him, his pockets were always filled with Shekels booklets and receipt ledgers, declarations and signing forms for buying land by the JNF – ready to suggest them to everyone he came to commercial contact with, and so, he was collecting and charging and organizing the businesses of the Zionist Histadrut, JNF, Keren–Hayesod and more, and when he was busy with this sacred work he seemed transported to another world, and this work seemed more important to him than his grains.

He began his Zionist activism in his early youth in his native village Gorodnitza. When he was sixteen and studied in Austrvah, he fell for leftist movements that were prevalent in the Jewish Street, but soon enough he was disappointed and devoted his heart and soul to the Revival Idea. Since 1907 Kalika was in the Zionist ranks, where he stayed until the end of his life. He worked and guided, joined forces and obeyed the Zionist order fully.

In those days, Zionism was illegal in Russia, but brave Kalika did not pay attention and more than once risked his life guarding Zionism. Many recall the persecution of Jews in Volhynia after the Polonana Convention that was discovered, some of the participants were arrested and others had to leave the country. Kalika was one of the suspects and was summoned to an investigation in Zvhil, the district city, on the eve of Yom–Kippur and was tortured for a whole day but revealed nothing.

During the war Kalika wandered, but even while on the road he never took his mind off Zion. When the Balfour Deceleration was published and later came the Russian Revolution and wide horizons were opened to public and national activities, Kalika enlisted with even more energy to the public needs and begun visiting towns and villages, managing election campaigns for the founding convention of Russian Jews in Petersburg and to the one of Ukrainian Jews in Kiev, and converted people to Zionism.

Gorodnitza stayed after World War One in Russian hands, so Kalika left and settled in Rovno, the biggest community under the Polish Regime. Here he rose and devoted himself to all national and Zionist's endeavors, was elected to Zionist Councils, was active in Tarbut, elected as a member to the country's council of Poland Zionists of Tarbut, the council of Keren–Haysod, a member and chairman of the local Zionist Histadrut. At the time of the elections to the Polish Sejm, Kalika was with the Zionists who fought for the national party, and for this was arrested by the authorities that defended the Sanacja in Lutsk, but his spirit did not break.

Kalika's home was a Zionist one and he dreamt to make Aliya with his family, but it was not granted. He sent Mordechai, his son, a Tarbut Gymnasium graduate, to study in Jerusalem University, with the hope to follow him, but his health and other factors detained him until it was too late. After the Nazi invasion he moved to Lvov and suffered there in the ghetto until he died at the age of 65 in 1943, his wife and younger son perished in Rovno.

Ben Zion Barzilai

I will never forget my last meetings with Kalika in Rovno and later in Lvov, during the Russian Regime. NKVD was following and suspecting each person who was involved with public activity, Zionism and other movements, and thus prompted Kalika to leave Rovno, where he was conspicuous and well–known. We too, the representatives of the Rovno's youth movements were interrogated several times and the activists among us were in danger. In those interrogations Kalika's name was always mentioned, but we knew how to dodge and not compromise him. I remember that after such an interrogation I hurried to Kalika's home and told him what happened. The following day Kalika left Rovno and later I left too. We were in Lvov in the summer of 1941 when we found out about the German advance toward Eretz Yisrael. We were alarmed: would the Nazis nail also our country and settlements? And although we were in danger in Lvov, as in all other cities, we could only think about Israel. I spoke with Kalika about the situation, we were overwhelmed with anxiety and fears of what will happen. Kalika told me once that he remembered reading an ancient book where the writer prophesied great wars and invasions that would reach Israel, too, but there, at the entrance to Israel, the occupier will be defeated, and ended: who knows if the writings were not about our times? Kalika suffered difficult and bitter days in Lvov ghetto, yet he was confident that better days would come, alas this hope was not realized.

Yaakov Zaidel


Shimon Katz

He was born in 1878 in the village of Shepetovka in Volhynia to his father, R' Yaakov, a descendant of a Rabbinical dynasty related to S'H – Shabtai Cohen. As his father before him, Shimon did not want to be a Rabbi and became a merchant, which took him to Rovno, which was growing in the beginning of the century. He married Golda, the daughter of R' Laybich Bick and became a citizen, where he stayed until he was expelled in 1940.

In addition to sacred studies, Shimon acquired general education. He was particularly interested in diverse economic endeavors and dedicated to them his time and energy. When he was elected to the Governmental Gymnasium's PTA he became its secretary and a leader (these were the days when Jews were limited to ten percent quota of all the other students) and after the revolution, when a Jewish student was insulted and under pressure from the authorities the teachers resigned, he labored and managed to assemble a new team of teachers for the gymnasium. He was as well one of the two representatives of the Jewish merchants in the regional Zemstvos, where he defended with dignity Jewish affairs, When the Pols conquered Rovno, he dedicated himself completely to Jewish merchants and tradesmen. The government, wishing to give a Polish character to the occupied territory, begun increasing the Polish population and transferring Jewish lands, commerce, trade and other economic sectors to Poland, so that many Jews were in danger of losing their economical statues. The merchant's union, headed by Shimon Katz stood up and with help from the main institutions in Warsaw managed to delay several actions that were aimed at Jews.

Many Jews were illegal at the beginning of the Polish Regime because they were registered in the past as citizens of places that remained under the Russian Regime. They got temporary ID documents, for three months only. Katz was among the defenders of the rights of these Jews and worked hard on their behalf. The police and the local authorities harassed the Jews. Katz used to often show up before the regional authorities and even traveled to the capital, Warsaw, and fought for his brothers. Most of the time he did not return empty handed.

He saw that the merchants and grocers in the different sectors of commerce needed credit, which was hard to obtain, so he decided to create a bank for merchants. He begun working with his friends and they went from one merchant to another, signing them for shares in the future bank. After a short while they got the approval for the Bank's terms, which opened up and did a lot for its members, the shares owners, and for the Jewish commerce in general. The Jewish industrialists

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joined the bank that grew and became the major financial establishment in the city. Katz was the bank manager all these years and everybody appreciated and admired him.

As a capable and well–liked man in the city, Katz was summoned in the thirties to head Rovno's community. Back then the city was in decline and its institutions were neglected. Experienced Katz knew how to return some order to the community, he collected debts and secured the institutions' budgets. After barely six months the situation improved in the Maternity Hospital, in the Old People Home, in Talmud Torah, in the Public Bath and the cemetery. The community's empty safe was refilled and became useful again. This brought respect to the community and its president.

When in 1939 the Germans entered Rovno, Katz was fired from all his jobs, he was arrested and together with others, was exiled from his city. For a year–and–a–half, he moved from one prison to another until he found out his verdict: five years of exile in faraway Siberia. His exile was in a remote village in Krasnoyarsk Region and he was allowed to work as a wood collector in the forests. When Polish citizens were pardoned, Katz was permitted to live in the village, where his wife lived.

Katz had energy and resilience which helped him during his exile. For the price of his few belongings he bought himself a small shack with some land around it and begun growing potatoes and other vegetables for his household consumption and gave some to others, waiting for liberation day, when he would be able to go back to his children and family. And the day came. In 1947 he was able to leave Russia with his wife, and make Aliya through Poland to their son Zevi and their daughter Rachel who had made Aliya during the Third Aliya.

Exhausted after seven years of hardships, filled with suffering and mourning for the loss of Serel, their daughter, Shimon and Golda Katz found some peace in the homeland. After a short while Katz was recruited to my office and was able to support his family; he had a humble abode in Tel Aviv, tended his nice garden, and was content. But not too long afterward, he fell ill and on January 27, 1952 his heart stopped beating.

Z. K.


Arye–Lieb Kagan

They called him Lionye Kagan and he was a well–known and respected character in all of Rovno. The son of Asher and Devora Kagan, Zhitomir dignitaries, where he was born in 1888, he studied and graduated successfully in 1908. He then studied law, became a lawyer and in 1912 settled in Rovno.

A Jewish intellectual, broad–minded and an activist, he had special talents for public service and he joined several establishments and institutions. Many blessed endeavors are to his credit in areas of social and public life of Jews and non–Jews in the city. In the beginning of the Polish Regime Kagan helped the “Folkspartei”, but soon left and joined the Zionists who elected him to the city's administration, where he played important roles and acted like a proud Jew in his attitude to different issues, until he gained even the admiration of his opponents and in government circles.

Zosia, Kagan's wife, was also an activist in the city. As a member of the local council she was dedicated to JNF fund raising and participated in several help and charity organization activities.

When the Germans entered the city, Kagan was persecuted and had to leave. He traveled to Lvov, in the hope of staying there until things improved, but fate had bad surprises in store for him. Years of suffering and hardship followed until he fell into the hands of the German and Ukrainian murderers on July 26, 1941 with his brothers and fellowmen, and was slain during the Nazi Holocaust.

Miriam Friedman

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Avraham Guzic

Avraham Guzic was born to his parents Israel and Vitye who left Slavuta in 1866 and moved to Rovno. He was a gifted and energetic young man. Guzic was educated in Heder and perused general knowledge from different teachers. He began a building career as a contractor and made his name in this capacity. He built houses for private people and for the government and slowly became established. Libba, his wife was his helpmate and together they made their home – a modest Jewish home. As someone involved with people and his practical approach, he used to serve as a mediator in disputes and advised colleagues.

In 1917 Guzic became more visible due to his activities for Vorobyov's Gymnasium, and was one of its founders. When the Poles arrived in 1920, Guzic stood guard for the Gymnasium and together with Dr. Guzman acquired the franchise to its existence as a Jewish Establishment. Back then the establishment was in dire straits and was housed in Zevi Heller's House on the Volya. He became its administrative manager. To Guzic's delight, the Gymnasium grew under Dr. Flashner, the principal. He also initiated the opening of Apollo movie house on the Volya for the students and for the city's general population.

In 1919–1920, when hundreds of refugees gathered in the army barracks and their situation was grim, Guzic was one of those who provided them with bread and food. Since then he was included as one of the city's activists.

Guzic lived all his life in Rovno, his birthplace. He died when he was seventy.

Avraham Rise


Shmuel Gretzwolf

He was a Yeshiva Student when he was taken from his parents' house in Zvhil, to serve in the army. He spent around two years in battlefields and the war trenches and more than once was saved by the bell, until he was captured. When he returned home his father kept his military cap, which was filled with holes made by the enemy bullets and a few of his letters, written with a match or blood. Shmuel had hardly time to recover from the war atrocities; the change of regime and pogroms took place in Ukraine that hurt Zvhil, his hometown. His father's death laid the burden of the family's livelihood on his shoulders and the destruction of Jewish Zvhil in 1919 forced the few survivors to leave; most refugees went to Rovno. Shmuel left with his mother and his siblings and after a month of danger and hardship arrived in Rovno completely destitute. He began teaching and thus made a living for the family.

Soon Shmuel found his place in the city. As a veteran Zionist he was active in the Zionist Labor Party Hitahdut and played there an important role. He had several functions in the movement, and was liked by his friends and acquaintances. Despite his desire to make Aliya he decided to send first his brothers, sisters and his mother. He would follow later. Twice his Aliya documents were approved but he gave them up for his sisters. Meanwhile his family grew and Aliya became almost impossible, thus his chances of getting an Aliya permit diminished considerably. All the efforts made by his mother and sister in Israel were thwarted. In one of his letters from 1936 he asked his brother to find a way for his Aliya as a “Sacred Server” (he was a certified Shohet) but this effort too,

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in the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem was to no avail. And so, he was left waiting desperately…

When the Russian invaded the city in 1939 Shmuel and his family's hope to make Aliya evaporated. Also, as a Zionist and a Hebrew teacher he had a hard time adapting to the new ways of life, where Zionism and Hebrew were reactionary, g–d forbid. Not too long afterward the bitter news started to arrive, the curtain was raised and the tragedy with all its horrors was revealed, Shmuel and his family were exterminated too.

Hanina Gertzwolf


Wolze Zieman



He was well–known since the day he arrived as a youth in Rovno. After marrying Balka, R' Zayvil Blanc's daughter, he stayed in his father–in–law's business and with time became the manager of the big sawmill he founded in the city. He was a smart and generous merchant. He was direct and honest in his negotiations. Wolze was respected by all the people he encountered, fully immersed in his business. He was not involved with public affairs until the thirties, when time and circumstances forced him to enlist in public endeavors as a member of the local Gymnasium board of directors and as one of the community's elected. (See above in the chapter about newspapers).

Alas, he became gravely ill and after suffering for a long time, died on the eve of World War Two, before he could see the loss of his dear family in the Holocaust that befell the house of Israel.



R' Itzhak Alperson

A descendant of a family of Rabbis and scholars in Volhynia, the son of Rabbi Yokel Alperson, who was the first at the Rabbinate of Salishtat at the end of his life in Olyka in 18th century's Volhynia, and the brother of Rabbi Laybush Alperson, the Rabbi of Demidovka, next to Dovno. R' Itzhak was born in Salishtat (Ludwipol) and imbibed Rabbinical–Torah spirit in his father's house, he went on studying until his marriage, and became erudite and an expert. When he became independent, he worked for the brothers Horenstein in the four–mills near Krementz and Verba and became a forest merchant. After World War One he settled in Rovno where he spent the rest of his life with his sons and daughters, who inherited many of his qualities and played important roles in the city's life.

His sons, like him, dealt with forests in Rovno and its surroundings, and were among the biggest exporters to Danzig. R' Itzhak traveled abroad often for his business, and everywhere he went, inspired respect and admiration as a scholar and an honest merchant. In Rovno he was known in all circles and deeply respected. Although he was erudite and ultra–orthodox, he was not fanatic. Once he was asked about his sons not following in his footsteps and responded: “but they are good to people” – not only did he defend his sons, but he protected each and every person since he loved all Jews. Since he came to Rovno he prayed in “Beit Yosef” Beit Midrash and had a Minyan there that was called “Minyan R' Ize Alperson” where he dedicated time to Torah and Mishna. The city's Rabbis, R' Moshe–Eliezer Rotenberg and R' Hertz–Meir Ma–Yafit

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used to visit him often and share with him Torah learning. Merchants used to turn to him for advice and assistance in mediations and settlements among them. He was not a Zionist, but many of the city's Zionists admired him since he was a beautiful human–being, who combined Torah and wisdom – a precious man.

In his last years R' Itzhak left the business and dedicated all his time to Torah studies, took care of the yeshiva and a society of Mishna Learners he headed. The day of his death was a mourning day in the city. He died on February 28, 1932. He was 83 years–old.

David Alperson


Alexander Alperson

Alexander Alperson was born in Mezhyrichi Village near Rovno to his father R' Itzhak Alperson, a real Jewish patriarch who placed in his children's hearts love to Jewish tradition, care for relatives, respect for people and willingness to help the needy.

Alexander moved to Rovno for his business and was known in the city as Sasha. He remembered his father's teachings and acted accordingly throughout his short, but full life. He was tall, broad–shouldered, had dark, wise and benevolent eyes. He dressed elegantly and impressed all who saw him. He was particularly liked by the Jewish intellectuals of the city. The merchants, Jews and non–Jews in Rovno and its surroundings respected him for his honesty and business talents and he was liked by different circles for being unpretentious, for his sense of humor, emotional wisdom and life experiences. He also excelled in his severe exactitude in every matter he was involved with, he was very energetic, broad–minded, generous, had a noble soul and embodied the excellent Jew.

By occupation Alperson was an important forest merchant and had big businesses, but he was not immersed in commerce and always found time to dedicate his strength and spirit to public affairs and grant them his warmth and care. He was involved with several local and central endeavors: he was a member of the local TAZ and Centos in Warsaw, and served as Rovno's representative there, he also headed these institutions in Rovno. He was a patron for needy children and a father to orphans; he took care of unfortunates as much as he could. He did a lot for the local orphanage and for the education of the institution's inhabitants in order to turn them into useful people for themselves and the community.

He was the initiator of TAZ summer–camp for poor and handicapped who needed special treatment and monitoring. The summer–camps in Klewan were named after him and many remember his noble acts.

As a heart and soul devoted Zionist he was an active part of the revival movement and participated in every Zionist initiative, and responded to every demand of the movement. The city's pioneers praise Alperson's as the “Good and do–good” Zionist activist.

He was a devoted son to his father R' Itzhak and admired him since his childhood. He always heeded his advice and monitoring. When the father died, the son felt his end is close, too. He was right. Suddenly, following a blood disease that can be cured nowadays, his life ended. He was taken to Warsaw, where he died in a Jewish Hospital. He was forty–seven years old. His body was returned to Rovno to be buried beside his father.

The mourning of Sasha Alperson's death in Rovno was great and many accompanied him on his last way. The institutions where he was active declared a year of mourning and until now hundreds of thousands of his acquaintances and friends carry the memory of this great man.

Dr. Itzhak Margolitz

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Shmuel Shtif

My teacher Shmuel Shtif – the brother of the famous Nahum Shtif, nicknamed “Baal Dimyon” (The Imaginative One) – at Tarbut Gymnasium in Rovno was a noble and spiritual man. He was born in Rovno around 1880, studied for many years and remained an “eternal student”, as they used to call people like him in Russia. He had his own ideas, was honest, dedicated to teaching and liked his students.

From 1925 to 1939 he was a teacher in the gymnasium and went on teaching after the city was occupied by the Soviets. When the city was evacuated before the Germans arrived in 1941, he left for Russia. He wandered for four years and grew old before his time. In 1946 he returned to Rovno and went on teaching at a local school. When he met one of his ex–gymnasium's students, he consoled himself with the hope that a time will come when they will be allowed to leave the country and make Aliya.

Shaul Biber


David Stock



During the last Polish Regime David Stock was active in the Jewish public life. He was the son of the veteran industrialist and Zionist, Moshe Stock. He arrived like a star in Rovno's sky – a blessed activist who inherited his father's sincerity and honesty in his ways and actions. He was one of a kind, respected in his community. Not a political Zionist, but he was fond of Zionism and went his own way.

In 1931, when R' Moshe, his father, died, David Stock enlisted to different public endeavors and since 1933 headed the community that was authorized by the regime. There was confusion and irregularities in the community due to the last years, and the great deficit was overwhelming. The elected people were not all part of an organized public, and there was danger that the old management will yet again control general affairs. David understood this well, and his talent and authority helped him incorporate changes and order in the community's matters, which he headed for about five years. He was the chairman of Rovno's merchants, and also headed the charity fund, as well as the Folks Club (together with Sasha Starik and Lyuba Fisyuk). Although he took the position of a conscientious Jew, he tended to defer from the governmental dictate, hence, he was liked in the Polish circles.

Like his late father, David dedicated his time to the Big Synagogue businesses, and was part of its council all the years. When the Bolsheviks entered the city and begun harassing the wealthy, they arrested David among others and held him in prison for a while. On April 10, 1940 they transferred him (together with Mussia Fishbien, Blankhiem and Hildenbrand) to inner Russia. For four years David was sent from one prison to another, until he fell ill and died (the guess is that it happened in 1944) in one of the prisons close to Moscow, far away from home and his family. He was 57 years–old.

Malvina – Malka, David Stock's wife, who was one of Rovno's activists, was expelled to Siberia and wandered for eight years before arriving in Israel.

Moshe Horovitz

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Avraham Orenstein

The son of R' Shalom Orenstein from Chelm. He was active in the local Zionist association since his youth and was its chairman, he was also an honorary secretary of the community there, one of the Hebrew gymnasium activists, as well as in other public establishments. After World War One he arrived in Rovno and at once was drawn to its Zionist circles. He helped the workers to found a Hebrew Primary School and was involved in public life. Fania, his wife, born Lax, was like her husband, a Zionist and involved with WIZO. Their home was a warm Zionist home and they educated their son and daughter in Hebrew–Zionist Spirit. During the elections Orenstein was completely devoted to the Zionist Parties' campaign.

When World War Two began, Orenstein remained in Rovno and suffered the general and private ordeal. In the Holocaust that befell Rovno's Jews in 1942 he, his wife, their daughter Hana and their son Israel all perished.

Zelig Schwartzman


Shlomo Berez

A native of Alexandria Village near Rovno. Moved to Rovno when he was fifteen years–old and joined the Zionist circle in the city. Berez was a quiet man, noble in his soul and manners. He was a graduate of the Improved Heder where he absorbed Torah as well as the Zionist spirit. He was devoted to the movement with all his soul and became active in the local Zionist Association and in the Hebrew Lovers Association, and was one of the most devoted members. He used to lecture and participate in the discussions in Hebrew during meetings of the Lovers of Hebrew, he was fluent, loved the language and knew well the Hebrew literature and its treasures.

Berez spoke slowly and meaningfully, he did not use big words or bombastic expressions, but expressed his ideas simply; thus, his words reached the hearts of his listeners. He worked as an accountant in the manufacturing shop and consecrated his free time to reading, and to Zionist work.

Every now and then he traveled to visit his family, since he loved his village, where he began his studies and discovered his spiritual world. He was a good storyteller. He used humor, warmth and respect depicting the different characters of his village, which was so typical of the Jewish diaspora in Russia.

Berez married a student from Boxer's family who was a Hebrew teacher. Their children attended the first Hebrew Kindergarten that was founded in Rovno in 1917–1918 and their home was a Hebrew National home. After World War One, Berez begun private businesses and was unable to dedicate much time to Zionist work as he did in the past, still he remained close and conscientious to everything related to Zionism.



Avraham Levites the Engineer

In 1928 he arrived in Rovno as a teacher in ORT professional school and at once became close to the Zionists Circles and the youth movements in the city. He was an engineer by profession but he loved teaching and dedicated himself to educating the young. He actively participated in discussions, meetings and educating the youngsters in the national spirit during the five years he lived and worked in the city, and his service in the areas of education and professional training to Rovno's youth were great.

Levites was a kind man, friendly and a warm interlocuter. Although the institution he worked with was not

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Zionist he did not hide his Zionism and his orientation, unafraid of difficulties and hurdles he encountered; he would not sell his conscience. He was one of Hitahdut members and appeared as a speaker in his party and in its name. He worked in his own way and educated the young to Zionism and fulfillment, pioneering and making Aliya. The leftists who managed ORT were not happy with his ways, and they probably would have let him go if the Zionists did not manage to conquer the ORT branch, which resulted in the removal of the Bund people and the Yiddish defenders from the institution.

In 1933 Levites left Rovno and made Aliya with everybody's blessings. His absence was well–felt in the city, but Rovno's youth, despite missing his education, understood he did the right thing, since everybody's desire was to make Aliya.

Levites gained the fondness of Rovno's Jews and he saw his chapter in this city as rich with activity and important for the nation and the young generation about to make Aliya. Here too, while meeting with educators and Rovno descendants in Israel, he reminisced with admiration about the city's citizens and his time among them. When the graduates of high schools founded by Tarbut used to convene in Tel Aviv he participated, listened to every word, and expressed his views. He loved meeting Rovno's people.

Levites was an educator in Israel too, and here as well, they appreciated and respected him, however, bitter fate uprooted him from life when he was only sixty years old.

Moshe Fisher


R' Aharon Hacohen Rapport



He was born in the village of Chernigov in Volhynia around 1875 and was educated by his father R' Favel Hacohen. Imbibed with the spirit of Judaism he moved at age twenty to Berdychiv, where he remained for three years, got a glimpse of the world, but was not harmed and stayed loyal to his religion. He was a forest merchant and for a while H.N. Bialik was his business partner, but the partnership did not work, and was eventually annulled. Before World War One Rappaport moved to Rovno and took care of his wife's family – the famous Hochfeld family – forest business.

Rappaport connected to Rovno's life and institutions and became part of them. He was a member of HaMizrahi and as a Hebrew fanatic dedicated himself to founding Hebrew evening classes by HaMizrahi, but since his friends in HaMizrahi did not assist him in maintaining the evening classes, they were closed. When he saw HaMizrahi weaknesses and the atmosphere on the eve of elections, he was not happy with his camp, and left. He joined the General Zionists and became one of its active members. But he still was faithful to his G–d, modest and honest, as he was in his youth. The citizens appreciated and respected him.

When the messengers of JNF and Keren Hayesod visited the city, Rappaport devoted all his burning soul to the fund's success. “I will not remain quiet for Zion”, he said and neglected his business and home.

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appaport was active in the council to establish Tarbut Gymnasium. He was one of the lot buyers and among the builders of the Gymnasium. With his labor and influence this daring plan was executed. His home was a first hostel, a meeting place and assistance to pioneers who passed through Rovno from over the border and remote villages. He and Haya, his wife, used to take care of them, provide their needs, and make arrangements for their Aliya.

When elections were held for the community under the Poles, Rappaport was assigned to enter the community representing the Zionists, and he complied, despite this being a difficult and unpleasant role.

When H.N. Bialik and Berl Katznelson returned from their visit to Rovno in 1934 they reported about Rovno's Jews' activities for Israel and emphasized Rappaport's role. He sent his only daughter to Israel and arrived after her in 1936. He began a business in Israel and when he traveled for his business to Poland he came to Rovno and brought the gospel of Israel and its creation. He stayed a while in the city and devoted himself with even more enthusiasm to the national endeavor.

Rappaport did not return to Israel on time because of the war that broke in September 1939. He found his rest among Rovno's saints in the big mass–grave in 1942.

Moshe Kershon


Dr. Maurizi–Wilhelm Rotfeld

An Austrian intellectual, well–mannered and with typical salon politeness, who achieved at a young age a high rank in his juristic career – a lawyer–prosecutor. A Jew in high status was quite common in liberal Austria, but was almost unheard of in our part of the world. When large parts of Austria were added to Polish territory, Dr. Rotfeld came to Lutsk, where he made himself a name as a lawyer and a devoted Zionist. His education in a liberal country, which instilled in his heart feelings of freedom and national pride, an ex–prosecutor whose search for justice was a basic characteristic, his rhetoric talent, and above all his warm Jewish heart – all these good qualities came together nicely and made him a great leader.

During the elections to the Polish Sejm the voters chose him and elected him as their delegate for the Zionist–National Party and he was sent as the delegate of the Zionist Union in Lutsk to the meeting of Volhynia's Zionist Convention that was held in Rovno, chaired by Mr. Levita from Warsaw. When he was at the convention, he fell in love at first sight with Jewish Rovno, which returned his love. Soon after, Dr. Rotfeld settled in Rovno and became one of its sons and leaders.

The eyes of all the Zionist Convention participants were on him. Whispers were heard in “Beit Haam”. A Jewish prosecutor who practices saying the Kaddish in Beit–Midrash every day. So young and already a delegate to Sejm – and they waited impatiently to hear his programmatic speech. He did not disappoint. He found his world in this convention as well as his deserving place in this public.

In a short while Dr. Rotfeld became the central personality of Zionists and social Rovno and knew how to represent the public opinion successfully. He was nominated as the head of the Zionist Union, where he worked diligently and delegated his spirit and enthusiasm to those working by his side. His days in that respected office should be noted as days of flourishing and prosperity for this Zionist endeavor.

But then came days of changes in the city's council – elections to a new council. Dr. Rotfeld dedicated himself with all his strength and gift to organizing the Jewish–National bloc and stood at the head of the difficult battle, keeping the Jewish Citizens' rights in face of the Polish authorities, who assembled the different minorities with the aim of disrupting the Jewish majority, still, he was elected as a magistrate.

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His professional work as a lawyer was only one part of his public activities, all deserving appreciation and esteem. His brave appearances and his standing for justice generated respect from the juridical and administrative authorities, and of course from his clients. Each one of his appearances, professional or public, was an important event that evoked the public interest.

As one of the good and loyal sons of Rovno, we shall remember Dr. Rotfeld in our community, where he lived, was active for many years and gave it his precious life.

H. B. Aylon


David Tobebin

One of Rovno's Zionist activists, a member of the municipal Zionist Council and the Democratic Community and one of the Joint's main workers in 1918–1920.

He arrived in Rovno from his village Horodenka around 1910 and begun working as a treasurer in Pinkas Galperson's private bank, where he worked for 6–7 years. When the bank business diminished due to the war, he found his place with the Joint. When the Pols entered the city in 1920, he moved to serve the Joint in Warsaw and remained there until the Holocaust.

Tobebin was a gentle man, a blessed activist and affable. Clara, his wife, the daughter of R' Avraham Kirtchik from Zaslaw made their home in Rovno – a Hebrew cultural home, where the local Jewish intelligentsia found interesting content. In Warsaw, too, their home served a Jewish spiritual center for many.

They had a son, Borye who was educated in the Hebrew Kindergarten and a daughter, Aliza.

Y. Penueli


Dr. Isscar Reiss

An intellectual Jew, a Galicia apprentice from the last generation, had a wide education, Hebrew and general, a well–mannered man and most of all a good teacher–pedagogue. He came from Lvov to Rovno to serve as the principal and a teacher in Tarbut Gymnasium and found his place there. After a year in the city he became active in the Zionists' circles and was drawn to different cultural–Zionists and social establishments and institutions. When the official principal of the gymnasium, Mrs. Guyfman left, he became the principal and he elevated the Gymnasium's status.

In 1935 Dr. Reiss was sent by the Gymnasium to Israel in order to establish cultural contacts and get help for the completion of the Gymnasium's building. When he came back, he brought with him the Zion's growing and developing message to the institution he headed, to Rovno's youth and to the Jews in Rovno and its surroundings. No wonder his students liked him, as did his acquaintances. He instilled respect in the gymnasium's teachers and garnered the admiration of diverse circles in town – he was a proud and conscientious Jew.

He played a major role in erecting the gymnasium's building, he labored tirelessly in different ways for this noble goal, which he saw as necessary for developing and establishing the school and he was delighted to see the building standing proudly in the city. One cannot forget what he said in Polish during the inauguration in front of varied public of the Polish Regime's representatives, guests and activists, students and parents: “And now a proud Jew will talk in his proud language”. And then spoke in Hebrew and translated his words into Polish.

Dr. Reiss' wife, Shulamite (Serel) Lerner was among the advocates and both of them dreamt about making Aliya, but the Holocaust that descended on the city preceded the fulfilling of their dream. When the regimes changed

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a new program and a different language were assigned for the gymnasium and Dr. Reiss became redundant. Filled with sorrow and pain he left the gymnasium and moved to Lvov, where he and his family found their tragic end with the extermination of Lvov's Jews.


Zalman Rosovsky

About him

We loved him. Why? Because he was honest, handsome, stood up. He knew his own value, a proud Jew who had in him the burning fire of Judaism. Although he acquired in Vienna a different culture, he knew Hebrew and spoke it with an accent we loved hearing.

We respected him for his promptness, his self–discipline and for his capacity to demand from us order, mastery and fulfilling our duties without giving up our rights. He was always organized, impeccably dressed, careful not to sound ambiguous, respecting the students, and the institution's dignity.

We felt with all our young hearts that he is a superb teacher–educator who understands his students and is fluent with the psychology of young people. He knew how to appeal to his young listeners and keep them interested, I cannot remember one boring class with Dr. Reiss.

We adored our principal, our teacher, our mentor and the head of our battalion – in all these roles he bestowed on us his experience, his integrity and his noble manners, he taught us to think logically. To love beauty and to appreciate and do good. He did not talk as much as he thought and did.

Only now I know how artfully he constructed his lessons: he used to assign every class with a few moments for free conversation, and these conversations brought us closer to him. Thirsting for his tempered and moderate words. He knew us, our advantages and our faults, read our minds, felt our feelings and knew our attitude to learning and to life.

While keeping a certain distance between himself and those around him, he knew how to bring hearts closer with respect and love. His work as the captain of the ship called Rovno's Tarbut Gymnasium was not an easy one, but he led us with talent and wisdom among the vicious waves that came from all sides: foreign and hostile governments and alienated surroundings. And he had a great merit since he was able to raise a generation of Hebrew learners and seekers of Israel's culture inside an alien, dominant culture.

He was able to overcome the many obstacles in his way and elevate our Gymnasium to a high level, so much so, that it could compete with other Gymnasiums whose financial situation was much better than ours. While with Dr. Reiss, we had beautiful dreams, and although not all of them were fulfilled, they left in our hearts a pleasant and good memory. Among them we shall mention a dream from 1929, when we decided to meet in Israel in ten years – the year when the big flame burst out and ignited the world and we were the first victims. The malicious hand grabbed him too and the great soul was excised.

Ester Isakson (Baram)


Asher–Pessah Poliva

An artisan, an expert carpenter, a people person who arrived with his family from Koritz to Rovno in 1920 planning to go from there to Israel. Different circumstances held him in Rovno, but he went on dreaming about Aliya. He was one of the Zionists among the craftsperson and worked for Keren–HaYesod. He was lost in Rovno's second Action in 1942. He was 50–years–old and perished with his family.

Aharon Poliva

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Eliezer Buslik

One of Tarbut Gymnasium's veteran teachers and one of its firsts, who grew up with her and was known as a devoted and beloved educator. He was loyal to Hebrew and to national values, served close to eighteen years, teaching and educating Zionism and Israel and he founded an ideal Hebrew–Zionist home in Rovno.

He was born at the end of the eighteen–century in the village Berezne and absorbed as a child tradition and Hebrew spirit. He began teaching in his village and then came to Rovno to study at the Hebrew Gymnasium. Malka Semola, his wife, was also a teacher at the gymnasium since its beginning, she excelled in teaching first grades.

Buslik, who taught Hebrew, was a man of books and research, he studied Israel's wisdom and general science and devoted his energy to developing the Gymnasium and building its site. He was very involved in organizing the school's balls, its trips and different performances. While teaching, he instilled in his students a fondness for Israel and its culture and his joy was great when they were successful in higher education establishments in Israel.

Buslik was a quiet man who respected everybody. He never disrespected a student or any person and no wonder he was liked by all who knew him. He gave his children a complete Hebrew education and wished to make Aliya with his family, but he did not want to part with the Gymnasium he helped build. Then came the Soviet blow to Hebrew and Zionism, followed by the Holocaust, when Buslik, the blessed man, the great pedagogue and the devoted Zionist, perished with all his family.

Itzhak Ben–Yehuda


Israel Bharal

Rovno's native, was one of the members of the first council of Zeirai Zion in 1912. He made Aliya with the Forth Aliya, and worked in Bank Agudat Israel and with time became the manager. A modest and moderate man, he had a heart attack and died suddenly in Tel Aviv.


Itzhak Barkovsky

If Tarbut Gymnasium was the crown–jewel of all the Zionists and Rovno's Jews in general, its teachers were the jewels in this crown.

Such a jewel, shining brightly, was the great teacher Itzhak Barkovsky. The heart trembles when anyone of his many students remembers him. The Gymnasium students carry like a precious spiritual treasure the gifts they gained from him and the ideas they absorbed as youngsters learning Judaism. What you learn at a young age is a prized and unforgettable memory, the memory of Barkovsky's students is one of a kind, and they all cherish his memory.

I was lucky to be one of his students and I have many memories and impressions engraved in my heart. At times we saw in him the angry, demanding teacher, sitting high up on his chair, the class register in front of him, and judging the bad students. His expression was stern, blushing sometimes when excited. When irritated he preached mercilessly, but during the breaks, as we left the classroom, his face changed, and he became close and friendly. The more we knew him, the better we liked him, we loved him.

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He was educated in the old Heder and at the Yeshiva, our teacher was famous as a prodigy and graduated as a Rabbi from Volozhin Yeshiva. He was not a modern pedagogue, but was a brave swimmer in the stormy sea of the new methods and found a way to efficiently incorporate them in his teachings. The results are hundreds of his students, many among them excelled, and quite a few are with us here, in our country.

During the thirties, when our poet H.N. Bialik visited Rovno it was agreed, by the poet's recommendation, to study Hebrew with a Sephardic accent and talk that way. The teachers failed in the beginning and hence provided us with humorous material. Some among us made fun of Barkovsky and his efforts to correctly pronounce each sentence, but at the same time we appreciated his devotion to this complicated endeavor, it was a sacred effort.

Despite the fact that Barkovsky did not have a teaching certificate, needed for teaching in high school, his gifts and talents helped him – when the Gymnasium came under governmental inspection he was certified with the credited teachers. And to his merit it should be mentioned that he knew how to run his class successfully under the foreign governmental supervision.

Barkovsky's educational work did not prevent his public activities. He used to go to the people, he appeared in front of the public in synagogues and in movie–houses and talk to the multitudes in their spirit and language and they listened to him and accepted his words with love.

This dear teacher, who dreamt to make Aliya and build the homeland, did not fulfill his wish, the Holocaust came first and he, with Rovno's Jews, found his death in vicious hands in 1942.

A. G. L.


Yosef Karshinsky

My father Yosef Karshinsky was born in 1880 in a small village next to Brześć nad Bugiem to a big and religious family. He was educated in the old Heder and then went to a Lithuanian Yeshiva, where he studied and was considered a scholar. At the same time, he studied clandestinely secular studies and Russian. He left his parents' house at a young age and moved to the city to complete his education. He worked for his living while he studied and passed the baccalaureate. My father had an aptitude for teaching, he devoted himself to learning science and graduated from a course in Odessa, where he was involved with Zionists and public initiatives and was active among the Zionist circles.

Once he was certified as a teacher, he worked in Gomel's Gymnasium due to H.N. Bialik's, who was his friend, recommendation. In Gomel, too, he devoted much of his energy to Poalai–Zion and was arrested by the Czar's Regime. When World War One broke he was released from prison.

In 1921 our family managed to cross from the Russian area to Brisk, in Poland, and after a year my father was invited to teach at Tarbut Gymnasium in Rovno. A new era begun for him here. He quickly became part of the city, liked the school and was liked by both his colleagues and students. After a few years he was nominated as the principal of the primary school next to the gymnasium. The institution did well under his management. My father's attitude toward his students was special: he was interested in the life and financial situation of each of his students and did his best to facilitate their lives. Yes, he knew how to teach the students to learn and assume responsibility. They appreciated him for his attitude and devotion. They knew that the one with the white hair and spectacles, who always had a smile on his lips, can be angry one moment and then find a way to reconcile with them.

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In his last years he dedicated himself to writing a badly needed book about natural science studies for Hebrew Schools, and he garnered deep appreciation. I do not know if the book reached many of his students in Israel, but it should be noted that the book was edited in quite an interesting way.

My father did not demand from me, his daughter, to choose an academic career. He understood me and knew that the pioneer way of the youth movement, although difficult, is necessary for the youth and the people.

Here is an excerpt from a letter I received in 1947 about my late father from David Farchuk in Szczecin:

“…I came back to Warsaw and miraculously found a copy of your late father, Yosef Karshinsky's natural studies textbook. We issued at once a new edition since there is a great shortness of Hebrew textbooks in Poland, and I teach with his book.

I was restless for all that time because I was unable to contact you and tell you about your dear father's life under the Nazis. I met a young woman who was in Rovno's Ghetto in those times and she told me about your father, according to her he was able to endure in the ghetto, and was the same endearing man as in normal times: generous, personable and liked by all. His spirit did not falter for a minute and with his good and light manner he helped the sufferers.”

Zussia K.



Panka Zaidman

Many of her disciples at Tarbut Gymnasium knew Panka Zaidman, the veteran teacher and many pleasant memories connect us to her and her time teaching in this Gymnasium. She was born in the village Milno near Tarnopol, grew up at her parents' home: Pinkas and Devora Zaidman, a patriarchal household. She had an ambition for studying since her childhood and excelled in them. She excelled as well in courage as a swimmer and an athlete. Beginning when she 14 years old, until she was 18 years old, she was in HaShomer–Hazairand and was educated in the spirit of National–Zionist values. She graduated from the Hebrew Gymnasium in Lvov, where the main language was Polish, but they taught Hebrew, too. She went to University there and studied Natural Sciences. She graduated in 1930, when she was twenty–five–years–old.

Full of youth–energy and love of pedagogy Panka devoted herself to teaching in high schools in Lvov and made herself a name among the teachers. In 1932 she was invited by Dr. Reiss, Tarbut Gymnasium's principal, to teach in this gymnasium. She accepted and joined the faculty which included the principal Reiss, and the teachers Gilrater, Haboynick, Karolik, Grizman, Boslik, Barkovsky and others.

She was impressed by Rovno and quickly found her place in the Gymnasium, gaining both the hearts of teachers and students. She taught several classes: Geography, Biology and Gymnastics.

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She was a serious and responsible teacher, and loved the school and everything pertaining to it. During summer vacations she used to travel to her family and relatives and return to Rovno when school began. In 1938 she traveled to Sweden for a course in sport.

Panka played a special role in the students' balls in the Gymnasium. She was the life of the party, prepared the students for the plays, recitations, and dances – all these with good taste and great talent. To many people's chagrin, Panka, like many others at her time, became close to the extreme left, which was not to the Gymnasium's likings. Still, she went on teaching – her devotion and gifts compensated for the lacuna…

Panka was preparing to make Aliya since 1935, but it was postponed and, in the middle of 1939, when she was about to come to Israel as a tourist, she was too late: the political change took place, the Soviets took over the city, the language and the teaching plans changed. A new regime, a new spirit. It became difficult for most teachers, but some accepted the fundamental changes and continued teaching. We cannot know what was in Panka's heart, but she went on teaching until the German occupation. The bitter days under the Nazis' yoke arrived. After the first “Action” the remaining Jews were locked in the ghetto, Panka was among them. As was told, she had plans to join a partisans' group in the surrounding forests and she was getting ready to do so, but for some reason it did not happen, maybe she had no time to execute her plan. As a family friend of teacher Karolik, she remained dedicated to his family during the ghetto time, and when Karolik's wife died, she took the role of raising their daughter, despite the ghetto's harsh conditions.

According to rumors Panka Zaidman and her young brother Shmuel Zaidman were taken away and died during the second large extermination of Rovno's Jews.

Henia Zaidman


Engineer Avraham Kanivitch

He was born in Rovno in 1887, as a child he studied in the traditional Heder and later went to the Reali School and graduated successfully. A son of a wealthy family, Kanivitch was sent to study law in Petersburg University. However, he did not like law and after a year transferred to the technical institution there. He graduated in 1914 as an engineer. He came back to Rovno on the eve of World War One, was called to serve in the army and served as an ordinary soldier. After three years abundant with hassles, he went back home and settled in Zhitomir, the Shire City, back then.

During the years 1925–1928 Kanivitch managed Ort School in Brest and gained the peoples' fondness there. In the beginning of 1929, he was invited to serve at Rovno's electricity plant. Here, in his city, he felt at home, and in the elections to the city council was elected as the deputy mayor. During this tenure he was objective and honest, did a lot for the city and its Jewish population and was liked by all circles. He was not part of the political parties and accepted the dictate of the Jewish “Kolo” in the city's council.

During his last days he was unemployed, he became ill and traveled for medical treatment to Warsaw, where he died in September 1934, he was 47 years–old.

B.Z. Barzilai

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Ze'ev Milnov

A Rovno's native, the son of Izik Milnov, a member of the pioneer youth movement, vibrant and energetic, he found, at a young age, a wide opportunity for national activity. After completing pioneering training in Klesiv in 1929–1930 and serving as an artilleryman in the Polish Army, he made Aliya and begun at once working as an expert construction laborer and later – a foreman and one of the activists of Agudat Habinyan and in Tel Aviv's Histadrut. He was among the first everywhere. He was restless and did not settle for what was, he aspired for excellency, bigger, wider, better. He always saw himself as a public messenger, whose duty is to take care of others. He felt the great responsibility he had in society, as well as in the party and in the Histadrut.

His years of work and life in Israel were not easy, there were times of unemployment and public hard–labor, strikes and labor disputes. He showed up as a fighter for Hebrew Work and organized work. He was part of those who did not accept reality and looked for new ways. This impulse brought him to the urban kibbutz “Efal” – an experiment that failed. But his endeavors had a purpose: to mark a new path for the city laborer.

In his perpetual struggle he was attacked by a malignant disease, which embittered his life and drained his strength. With his high energy he tried to fight his miserable fate and despite his suffering continued his activities: he left the scaffold and begun working in the new bureau of labor – one of the most sensitive places in the labor world, especially during the years of absorbing many Aliya's and soldiers returning home from World War Two and Independence War. Ze'ev was physically weak, but still one of the main forces in the bureau for helping members, organizing a laborers' council, operating rewards' fund, and bringing forth ideas of mutual assistance among the members, while splitting his time between the bureau and Beilinson Hospital, until he fell at his office, at his desk, at the young age of 45.

Haim Lezvnik


Eliyahu Lerner



He was one of Rovno's blessed activists in the last generation, the son of R' Yehoshua and Ruth Lerner of the big “Banim” Family (a name given by R' Ben–Zion, the great grandfather) who was famous for its special manners and generosity in previous generations. He was born in Zvhil in 1898, begun his education in the traditional Heder and when he grew up left for Odessa to study, and be part of the Zionist activity.

When he returned to Zvhil he joined Dror Association and was active there. In 1919, when the danger of riots loomed over Zvhil's Jews he was one of the organizers of self–defense groups against rioters' bands. After the pogroms, when Zvhil Jews left their city and dispersed, he worked for the refugees, at Tarbut institutions and among the Zionists. He joined Hitahdut Movement and became one of its pillars in the city. He came to Rovno and settled there. At once he became one of the activists, served at the Joint and later as an accountant at Tarbut Schools and was elected to several institutions

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public and nationals. His high energy helped him with his job as well as his work for JNF and his party, He was also interested in strengthening the local Gordonia.

We should note Lerner's involvement in founding the printing house for educating orphanage children in this profession, and his activity in the united council of the Zionist Movements as well as in the National Sport Associations (Hashmonai and others).

His wife, Rivka, the daughter of Avraham Litvak, was his helping mate in his public and national activities and their home was a Zionist–Hebrew Home in every sense.

Lerner was unable to make Aliya before World War Two broke and he fell at the age of forty–four in the Nazi Holocaust on November 7, 1942.

Ben Zion Lerner



Eliezer Goldstein

A modest and honest man, one of Rovno's laborers. The son of R' Israel–Isaac Goldstein who was the rabbi's messenger – at first for R' Yoel Sherman's and then for Ma–Yafit, his son–in–law – in matters of sanctity, kashrut etc. He was born in 1895 and was educated in the traditional Heder and with Rovno's melamed, where he spent all his life. He was his father's pride and joy, was considered a bright scholar, but the harsh reality pushed the boy to work as a laborer and he started working in the fur industry, until he became an expert. He was sent to exhibitions and fairs and became the manager of the fur department in the big shop of Gazy Wogmister in Rovno, where he worked for twelve years and made a name for himself.

He was raised on his father's knee in traditional spirit, learned Torah and was attracted to the renewal idea since his youth, seeing in it not only as a national goal, but also an only exit for the people immersed in the contaminated diaspora. His devotion to Zionism passed on to his children who studied in the Hebrew Schools and were getting ready for Aliya.

Goldstein dreamt of making Aliya and joining the laboring society, as one can read in his last letters to Avraham, his son, but his wish was not granted and his fate and his family's fate was the same as Rovno's Jews during the Holocaust.

A. Ben–Rovno


Aharon Shershevsky

An educated man and outgoing who played an important role in Rovno's public life from the beginning of the century. People often turned to him for advice and invited him to be a mediator in commercial matters, he served as manager at the Brothers Luria Bank for many years.

His son Michael arrived in Israel after World War Two and settled in Jerusalem.

Shmuel Fisyuk

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Avraham Zamir

From old Lutsk, at eighteen years of age, Zamir came to Rovno when things were again calm after the political events of 1905 in Russia. The bustling city fascinated him, and he went to live with R' Layvitch, his uncle, and begun working as an accountant in Hodorow's Manufacture Shop. The Zionist spirit he absorbed since his childhood, accompanied him when he arrived in Rovno. He found a circle of friends and acquaintances among the young Zionists and the Hebrew Lovers association. His work swallowed most of his time but he did find some time to spend with those who cherished the idea of revival and renewal and he loved to talk about his spring times in Rovno.

Later he moved to Warsaw, where he lived during World War One. There he found a place in the circles of writers and publishers. When he married Rachel, his wife, he established a wonderful Hebrew–Zionist home in Warsaw and devoted himself to books as a merchant and a publisher of Hebrew books. But Israel was calling his name and he and his family – his wife, daughter and son – made Aliya with the third Aliya. His adaptation to the new country was difficult; he tried to continue with publishing in Hebrew, but was unsuccessful and he had to find a job as an accountant. In this work, too, he showed a great devotion and exactitude throughout all his years of service at Tel Aviv Municipality, until his last day.

He was a General Zionists in his worldview; Zamir was able to find the synthesis between his views and those of different Zionists' movements. He was unpretentious and easy–going and was liked by all. He came to contact with simple people and with intellectuals, creative and famous people. Every now and then he contributed his writings to different magazines and papers, he translated and edited several books and was one of the editors of Yalkut Volhynia.

Zamir had an important place among the Union of the General Zionists in Tel Aviv, especially in the cultural area and we remember his lectures, conversations, debates and jokes. He gained fame with the editing of the “Sedarim” for the General Zionists, doing his work with good sense, he also played a major part in Oneg Shabbat parties in Ohel Shem in Tel Aviv for many years.

He did not reveal to others his sufferings and problems and kept quiet about them.

After his great loss – his son Itzhak died in the Independence War – Rachel, his loyal wife was taken away from him too, he became ill and died at the age of 65 on February 25, 1955.



Nahum Pargament

A Rovno native who spent there all his life. One of the first educated ones, an excellent man who was notable through his Jewish education as well as his general education and good manners. Influenced by his Beit–Midrash friend, who later occupied a high state job, Pargament founded the first Hebrew School in Rovno and was its principal. He immersed himself in his school, established a library next to it and purchased valuable books for it. During World War One the library was lost.

Pargament educated both his sons in Torah as well as general education and they both were excellent doctors and loyal Jews. Among his grandsons the brothers Nahum and Shmuel Shtif excelled.

The intellectuals during Pargament's time were deeply influenced by his personality, his knowledge and his activities and educated Jewish Rovno told many stories about this spiritual and cultural man.

Zevi Heller

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Anshel Shaknai

A famous man in Tel Aviv. He was modest, a moral man. He was born to his parents R' Berl (Zevi Dov) and Hanna Shacniuk in the Polesia village of Turov and was educated in the Volhynian village Oliebesk in a traditional Hasidic home where he absorbed Torah and Hasidic spirit.

He was ambitious and hard working since his youth. His village was a Hasidic one, but it was advanced too and Zionism found a way to this small village. He was a Zionist from a young age and people who know him say that during the Russian Revolution, when the locals were celebrating the revolution, he was not among them. Although he was glad to be rid of the repressive regime, he went on his own Zionist way and stayed loyal to it all his life.

During the Ukrainian Government, when a wave of pogroms swept over Jewish Settlements, Anshel, who was twenty years old, was among the organizers of the defense in his village. Once (it was at the end of 1918) he was sent by the defense to Kiev to purchase legal weapons. He fulfilled his mission successfully, despite the dangers lurking on the roads. When the Ukrainians begun demanding that the population volunteer to the army and the youngsters were dodging, Anshel started a campaign to enlist to the army, assuming that Jewish soldiers in the army would be able to prevent attacks on Jews and bloodshed. As good as his word, he appeared in his uniform in Zhitomir and in other places. Getting to know the prevailing spirit among the military camps and the top of the Ukrainian army, the hatred of the Cossacks to the Jews, that was growing with no one to restrain it – he was disillusioned and woke up from his dream to find salvation for his people through serving in the army. He wandered from one place to another and finally crossed the Polish border to Rokitno, near Oliebesk, where his family was.

In order to sustain himself and help his family, he began giving private lessons in Rokitno. One day he was sent on a special mission to Sarny. In Sarny, which was under Polish Military Regime, there were then (1919) hundreds of refugees and orphans from the area and it was necessary to help them. Shaknai joined up with all his energy and his caring heart devoting himself to those hurt by the times. He arrived in Rovno in order to negotiate on behalf of the refugees and the orphans and lingered there. Still, he did not neglect the affairs in Sarny, where he stood up for the victims of the war and the pogroms, and once they established a secretariat of the National Council for Polish Jews in the city, he was summoned to work in this institution, which main concern was Juridical assistance to refugees and defending the rights of the Jewish Citizen. The work was very close to his heart, and Shaknai, as a representative of the secretariat, moved from one place to another, sometimes risking his life. As time went by, he acclimated in Rovno and at the first opportunity managed to bring over his mother and four sisters (his father was murdered in Olebesk, shot by Polish rioters when he was 51 years–old). Soon Shaknai was able to send his mother and sisters to Israel, while he took care of them and their adjustment from afar.

After about a year Shaknai was asked to work for the Joint in Rovno and here too, he showed devotion and care. Refugees saw him as their patron and friends as a devoted friend and all who knew him, appreciated him. He took part in the Zionist activities and stood in the ranks of

[Page 509]

Hitahdut labor party and was involved with different endeavors. In his last year in Poland he worked for JNF in Warsaw.

In 1923 Shaknai and his girlfriend Sonia Serolovitz made Aliya to Israel, his dream and aspiration, happy to reunite with the members of his family and his movement. His adjustment was not easy, but his faith and confidence, which were so typical of him, strengthened and encouraged him until he found his place in the service of Tel Aviv's Municipality, where he worked for over thirty years. He was very active in his party, in the workers' union and in the Haganah Ranks, to which he devoted his time and energy until his last day. His services as a Haganah man were many during the riots of 1936–1937, in the Independence War and afterward (he was designated as the bailee of the bereaved families and more). Two years ago, he was promoted to a major in the IDF for his devoted and responsible services.

A long and tumultuous life of fifty–nine years in the diaspora and in Israel, he could have done much more but death preceded him…

In the morning of November 25, 1954, he died.

A. Avatichi


Noah Tidhari (Hirik)



Some people are born for greatness and already as young children take upon themselves leading roles. The sense of responsibility in their hearts and seeing things as they are, compels them to walk ahead of every crucial and constructive endeavor. Noah was that way.

He was born in Rovno in 1908 where he studied and developed as a brave boy with deep Zionist awareness, and since his youth became one of the leaders of Hashomer Hazair in his city. In 1928 he was at the head of a group of youngsters who left Hashomer Hazair and founded Hashomer Haleumi – Hanoar Hazioni. In 1931 he was elected to the leadership of the Zionist Youth in Warsaw, but he did not settle for his public work in the diaspora and wanted to make Aliya and in 1933 came to Israel and entered the circle of life in the practical building of the country.

He created and organized the first group of youngsters working the land, for the “Shear Yishuv” settlement, and together with his friends worked in Kefar Yehezkel to acquaint himself with the Moshav problems. When the riots of 1936 broke, Noah had no peace of mind, his heart went out to the fighters and defenders. In 1938 he volunteered to guard Gush Halav in the Galilei. Later he was called to be the secretary of the acting council of the Zionist Worker. Afterwards he worked as the secretary of the Agrobank Neighborhood's council and when the neighborhood became part of Holon, he worked for Holon's local council.

In 1942 he enlisted to the British Army despite being exempt according the law since it was less than six months after he got married. He was transferred to the drivers' brigade and used to drive military equipment from Egypt to the north. In one of those trips, on July 23, 1943 Noah lost his life in a fatal accident.


Yaakov Zaidel

[Page 510]

He was the son–in–law of R' Binyamin Melamed, accountant by trade, one of Maccabi pioneers and one of the leaders of the Jewish Sport in Volhynia and an active member of the Revisionist Movement. He was a proud Jew who never bowed his head in front of the anti–Semite Polish Authorities. In 1941, when he was taken by the Nazi murderers with his family and the Jews of Rovno's Ghetto to the orchard (Sosenki) he could not accept the German harassment of the Jews being led to slaughter, he said out loud what he felt and slapped the face of a German officer. He was shot on the spot. (The incident was related in the Holocaust Chapter in this book and by survivors from the Nazis in a Yiddish newspaper, published in 1945 in Vienna and in Yiddish newspaper in Tel Aviv in 1954). Together with him perished his wife Haya–Sara and their only son Nathan (Nunye), an excellent student in the Jewish Gymnasium in Rovno.

M. M.


Mendel Bookimer



He was called Munya and was known as a modest and accommodating man, sincere and well–mannered. He was born in Austravah in 1897 and was educated in R' Israel–Aryeh Bookimer, his father's home. Bookimer's households in Austravah and Rovno were known as Zionist and it is just natural that Mendel, like Zevi Bookimer, his brother who was one of the major activists and Zionists in Austravah, chose the Zionist path from early childhood.

Mendel was one of Zeirai–Zion and Halutz and was part of different establishments in his city, he liked reading and was everybody's friend. In 1921, the beginning of the Third Aliya, he made Aliya and full of energy and pioneering joy, labored in the Galilei's fields. Soon he became ill and the doctors sent him to heal in Vienna. Due to his ill–health he lingered some years in Poland and spent most of his time in Rovno, close to Zionist circles and took part in Hahlutz. In 1936 he returned to Israel, his re–acclimation was not easy, until he became part of Habima Theatre in Tel Aviv and stayed there all his life.

In 1938 he married Sonia Shphenrflig and lived modestly, liked and respected by all who knew him. But his illness did not leave him and he died on April 4, 1954 when he was 57 years–old.

There are several scholarships on his name in Magdiel's Agriculture School.

S. B.


Zelig Zohar (Glicklich)

He was born in 1906 in Rovno to his father Shimon and studied at first in a Heder and later in the state school for Jews and finally graduated from the municipal school that had four classes. He then learned accounting with the teacher Marchelkovitz and worked as an accountant in the Wilne & Miliettinsky bricks' factory.

He was fifteen years–old when he joined “Hashomer Hazair”. From there he moved to the revisionist youth

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and was one of the founders of the training kibbutz of the national movement. He made Aliya during the twenties, but when he became ill was sent to Europe to heal and returned with Witia, his wife in 1933. Since then he was part of Tel Aviv's bakeries as an accountant and was liked by all who knew him, He joined the Haganah and was active there.

He was friendly and generous and helped many acclimate in Israel. He died when he was 50 years–old from heart attack on April 19, 1956.

Avraham Rise


The City's Merchants

Among the characters and types of people of the different classes Rovno was blessed with, the merchants stood out, and among them the many textile merchants. Some of them were already mentioned here when they were connected to public activities and affairs. But there were many others in Rovno who played an important role in the city's life and its commerce and many, many others who helped elevate the city's prestige with their businesses, their contributions and merits; and although we cannot mention them all, we will at least mention some of them.


R' Aharon Partchuk

One of the city's dignitaries, a scholar, had assets and dealt with wholesale manufacturing for decades. Before World War One he was for a while an associate at the private bank Eisenlender and Partchuk. He was respected and had the trust of many in the commercial centers in Russia and Poland.

R' Aharon was sixty–five years–old when he made Aliya with Faigale his wife, leaving his business to his sons. He chose Tel Aviv as his home, and there he invested his money in lands and assets. In 1939, due to their son's sudden death, R' Aharon and his wife returned to Poland. Soon after World War Two broke and they could not go back to Israel. R' Aharon and his family were murdered in the Holocaust that reached all Jews.


Getzi Wogmyster

One of the famous merchants, owned a nice shop for cloths and furs. A smart man, diligent and an entrepreneur. He was a consultant to authorizing credits for the state Russian Bank. He was respected by different circles. During World War One he moved with his family further in Russia and later came back to his city. He took part in the national funds and was a member of “Keren–Hayesod” council.


Shimshon Braker

He was born in Rozhshche village and moved to Rovno in 1901, he opened a wholesale manufacture and was soon successful. His attitude toward his clients and the trust the owners of the factories had in him made his business one of the most important in the city.

Braker was not only a respected merchant, but also a soulful man, a bright scholar and generous. He was known as a benefactor and helped the refugees who came to the city. During the years 1919–1920, when the Polish–Russian “Yur” (a central bureau for re–immigration) was founded in the city they established a transfer station and quarantine area in the military barracks. The Jewish Refugees Council was back then in close touch with “Yur” and Braker was the living spirit in this council. The Zionist Beit–Haam and the Zionist Bank were located in his house.

He taught his sons and daughters Torah and general studies. His daughter Sheva and his son Pinkas made Aliya, his son Zussia, who was a blessed activist, was lost in Rovno in 1942.

Shimshon died at the age of 62 in Rovno on April 25, 1941.


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Mordechai–Eliyahu Lerner

One of the shoe industries merchants, a wise man, energetic and a talented wholesaler. His business was famous. He was a Zionist and educated his sons in that spirit. Eliezer, his son, graduated from Tarbut Gymnasium and Hashomer–Hazair Movement. He was one of the leaders of “Hashmonai” and active among the youth. He made Aliya, and Nahum, his son, arrived in Israel after the war but Mordechai– Eliyahu and his family perished in Rovno's Holocaust.


David Fisher

A moderate man, unpretentious, honest, who maintained good relationships with his many clients. He was born in the village of Olyka and acquired in Rovno the needed experience for manufacturing and since 1912 was independent. During the Polish Regime he was one of the city's dignitaries and among its important merchants and had a good reputation.

Fisher was elected to several financial establishments and mainly concentrated his energy in the Merchants Bank. During the twenties he planned together with Oscar Cohen to develop the textile industry in Israel and they both took some steps in this direction, but the crisis in Israel at that time held them back. Only Moshe, his son, one of Tarbut Gymnasium graduates, who was exiled in Russia, made it to Israel. David Fisher and Henia, his wife, perished in Zdolbunir in the Nazi Holocaust.


Laybush Finkelstein

A Rovno native, when his father Itzhak moved to America in 1905 with his family, Laybush and Ben–Zion, his brother, stayed in Rovno – the life over the ocean did not appeal to them. A kind and likeable man, he was always responsive and gave to charity institutions in the city. He was a Zionist in his beliefs, and contributed to the national funds and educated both his sons in Tarbut Hebrew Gymnasium. His son Avraham made Aliya in 1937.

During the Holocaust that descended on Rovno's Jews, Laybush and his wife, Hinda Grovman died in 1942.

Remembered are other merchants during the last generation:

The brothers Kokl, who had a haberdashery store since the 18th century, respected people who responded to public and national demands; Moshe Isaac, who had an iron store and was one of the city's important merchants; Lieb Tov, dealt with iron and was known as a responsible merchant and helped public affairs; Ben Zion Kimberg, who had a houseware store; Merkel Melamed, a manufacture shop; the brothers Schmutz big merchants of manufacture; brothers Shmutz, big merchants of manufacture; Brothers Rubinsky, had a grocery store; Malka Horenstein, grocery store; Sandberg a pharmacy; Galperin a stationary store; Shamai Biber – a book store: Moshe Mordechai Litvak a forest merchant; R' Baruch Zilberfarb owned a wood storage; Itzhak Gilerman and his brothers – grain merchants; brothers Herman, Yosef Gimberg, Eliyahu Perlzwieg, Bronstein, Riser, Laybish Bernstein – iron wholesaler; Sodovitzky, Noah Nes, brothers Y. and Y. Halperin, Aharon Salzman, David Margolis, Zalman Margolis, Lerner brothers, Ryder, Bainish Greenspan, Moshe Herman, Lieb Hochberg, Mordechai Shkaliar, Yosef Salzman and hundreds of others.

Avraham Rise


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