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Eulogies for Sokoly Expatriates in Israel

After the Bier of Shamai Levavi, of Blessed Memory

On October 8, 1956, Shamai Gutman, of blessed memory, passed away. A memorial that was published in the Herut newspaper (Israel) on November 8, 1956, the thirtieth day since the death of Shamai Gutman (Levavi).

Thirty days ago, Shamai Levavi, of blessed memory, departed from us. He was a veteran resident of Ramat Gan and one of its first founders. He was born in Sokoly, near Bialystok, the brother of Rafael Gutman, of blessed memory, the head of the culture committee of the Warsaw gamina and the author of many pedagogic books, who tragically perished with his wife in the Bialystok ghetto. May G-d avenge their blood. He was a descendant of a family of rabbis. When he was a youngster, he already was one of the participants in the well-known “Minsk Committee,” distributing the Zionist idea to everyone who came in contact with him in those days. He was the owner of an established trading house in Bialystok. A rumor passed around that Shamai Gutman was dismantling his established trade and making aliya with his family – as an owner of wealth. In the Land, he went through a period of suffering. He lost his wealth, but he did not fall in his strength. As a Zionist, he was daring. In the end, he was absorbed in Ramat Gan. He built his house there in righteousness. He brought up a generation rooted in settling the Land. He brought over his brother and sister, who today are veteran farmers in Beer Tuvia and Raanana. He merited to see the Land being built and the establishment of the State of Israel, and also the struggle for freedom and liberty in and outside the Land. He was among the members of the Jabotinsky movement. May he rest in peace.

A Few Words in Memory of Reuven Lev, of Blessed Memory

From Eulogies for the First Memorial Day

Avraham Goldrath

There was a man, a man of Sokoly, Reuven Lev – and he is no more.

And the pain and sorrow are great for this dear man who was uprooted from us.

Reuven Lev – himself a symbol of a good heart – was gifted with good virtues and characteristics; he was sociable, pained at a friend's pain and happy at another's joy. He was modest and humble, righteous in his deeds and charitable in his way of life and his behavior with everyone.

But the special praise that can be told about this superior man and which characterizes him, is this: he was a friend to everyone. Who of us has not felt that Reuven Lev was a true friend in soul? Every one of us knew that from his pure heart burst out clear and perfect love for every person, for every Jew, and he was especially connected with chains of love and friendship to all those from his town. That was the love of Reuven Lev – love that is not dependent on anything, natural love that is not bought, but it does not nest other than in the pure heart of a great man.

Reuven Lev merited to be an example for many, to all of us, in the goodness of his heart, his love of people, his honesty and the purity of his soul – in spite of the fact that life did not coddle him at all. His soul suffered many disappointments, sorrow and milestones – and in spite of all this, his soul and his heart were not harmed at all. The difficulties of his life and the road of thorns that were his portion on earth did not affect his mind or his good virtues. Sometimes sufferings influence a person's character badly and he is made hard-hearted, intolerant; but in Reuven Lev we saw the opposite of this, as if he were purified and raised up by them. Lev received his sufferings –

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with love. He did not kick them; he was not made pessimistic, and he even did not see the world and mankind through a telescope – of an evil heart and a distortion of justice. It was the opposite: Reuven Lev did not complain even once. He did not become bitter, disappointed and discouraged by life and from faith in mankind. On the contrary, he always was in a good mood; his smile did not depart from his face and he always received every person pleasantly and happily, because his soul was hewed from the source of joy and optimism. He always saw the good in a person and the splendor of creation. And if it really happened that suffering fell in his fate – he bore his suffering in silence; he restrained his sorrow and continued on his way – the way of simplicity and faith. Reuven Lev was sunk wholeheartedly in the worlds of spirit and kindness, and he said to the soul: “What is the value of an individual suffering pain? – the main thing is to restrain oneself, to lift oneself up, to yearn for something superior, noble and exalted.”

 

Reuven Lev
Born in 5603 (1890) in Sokoly
Passed away on 13 Adar II, 5719 (March 23, 1959)

 

And this view of the world came to be expressed in his literary work. Reuven Lev did not push an author's pen for nothing; he published poems and liturgical hymns about Chasidism, about the joy that filled the homes of the good and righteous. Every creation of his was automatically filled with faith in mankind and the good prevailing in the world. The man was like this in life, and he also was like this in his writing. Who recognized him and his exalted character as we did? As a close friend, one of those who came to our house, we knew to appreciate the man with this value. Everything that came out from under his pen was as if music played above it, because it came out from a soul playing music. In this man, the verse was personified “Light is sown for the righteous and joy for the straightforward.”

The man was like this – honest, just of heart – and joy. And how great was the pain to the people of his town, those who came out from his community who gathered now – and Reuven Lev is no longer with them. We are united in his pure memory and his pleasant and exciting words – we will not merit to hear any more. You gave his place – and there is no substitute for him. The voice is silenced. Who feels the greatness of this loss as we do?

“There was a man, and they saw he is no more, and the song of his life is stopped in the middle.”

The song of the life of Reuven Lev was stopped in the middle – we will carry his memory in our hearts with a feeling of honor, esteem and appreciation. May his soul be bound in the eternal life of the nation.

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From Eulogies at the Funeral of Masha Kaplansky

Sarah Nashmit, Kibbutz Lochamei HaGhettaot

So few of us remained after the massacre of our community in plundered Europe, and so few are the mothers and fathers among us.

Still so few are the years that have passed since we clutched at this land in order to build our house upon it, a place of rest for our feet, tired from walking on the paths of Europe – and already a cemetery overlooks our fields.

We were accustomed to see Mother Kaplansky among us, walking slowly on the path between her dwelling and the road, on her way to the dining room or the clothing store, and she sent a thoughtful and caressing look toward our children, who were running along the sidewalk, smiling with affection toward those who greet her.

The daughter of a deep-rooted Jewish family, she was educated in Hebrew culture, and she passed the values of the national culture to her children. It was pleasant to listen to the flowing Hebrew speech of Mother Kaplansky, the grandmother who brought her Hebrew from the exile.

The bitter fate that visited the Jews of Poland did not skip over Masha Kaplansky in the Holocaust of Bialystok, where her house was destroyed and she also lost her dear ones, but Mother Kaplansky merited to remain alive, to emigrate to the Land and to see the birth of her grandchild.

Also, after her only daughter went after her husband to build her own house – Mother Kaplansky remained among us.

Noble of soul and modest in her ways, dear to both parents and children, that is how we knew her. She would sit in her corner in the clothing store and do her work with great effort, without a complaint and without contract, though for years she was known to be ill.

We saw her bear her pain in silence, within the calm internal quiet that made her charming manners noble.

We thought that she had overcome her illness and would continue among us for many years. And now, she also is no more, and another link of dust has been added next to the fresh grave of Tuvia.

And there is nothing in our mouths, your companions in deed and in suffering, Mother Kaplansky, and your children according to age, other than a last parting blessing.

May your rest be in Eden, between clods of the earth that you chose to dwell upon!

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Our Mother, of Blessed Memory

In memory of our dear mother, Chaycha Goldberg (Pachiner), of blessed memory

By her son and her daughter

It is difficult to write about a mother who passed away, and it is the way of the world that in the words of eulogies and memorials we remember only the good deeds of the departed and ignore his other deeds. But in words of memorial for our mother, it is difficult to write of all her deeds, because there are none that should be ignored. Her entire life was a single chapter of charitable deeds; her entire life was dedicated to others, to her children, her family and the people of her town. For herself she never once was concerned, not for her clothing or her personal welfare. She saved bread from her own mouth in order to take care of us – for our education and our other needs.

 

Chaya Goldberg (of the Pachiner family)

 

We went through difficult days from an economic standpoint, and if we arrived where we did, this was only in her merit and the merit of our father, may he be blessed with a long life.

We remember the years before World War II, and how much she worried and strove for all the members of her family to emigrate to the Land. We remember the days of the Holocaust, the sadness and darkness that flickered in our house; in those terrible days, her conscience suffered because not all of the members of her family were saved and were with us.

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From our childhood, we remember our house as a committee house for everyone in the Land who came from Sokoly. Here, in the humble shack, everyone whose heart was bitter came to pour out his heart to her, and in the end, he would go out happy and compensated with her blessing and advice.

Some called her “the mother of the Sokoly people,” and there is no nickname more suitable than this; the page is too short to describe her multi-faced personality and her varied activities.

Like all the righteous ones, she died a death with a kiss. Her memory will be preserved with us and her good deeds will stand for her. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and all the members of her family, will remember her forever.

May her soul be bound in eternal life.

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Eulogy at the Grave of Reb Michael, of Blessed Memory

In memory of our dear mother, Chaycha Goldberg (Pachiner), of blessed memory

by the editor, Shmuel Kalisher

I still see before me the noble image of Reb Michael Maik, of blessed memory. Bent over a bit, he walks slowly for his enjoyment in the street and the Herut newspaper is spread before him; he is deep in most weighty matters. I greet him and he responds with a heartfelt smile. It is hard to believe and become accustomed to the situation that he is no longer with us. The view of the vicinity has changed with the clods of earth that have been lifted over the grave of Reb Michael Maik for an entire year.

At this grave stand the dear members of his family, people from his town Sokoly and we, the friends who knew him and lower our heads in sorrow and deep sadness.

With his death, the line has been impoverished of those who were his partners in fate, who also traveled the path of suffering and the valley of tears.

A mask of tragedies wraps the period of his struggle for life and existence, and the concern for the safety of his only son, Moshe, who was with him in the bunker without light and air to breathe. These were dark years, filled with the crimes and evil of his pursuers, among the souls of his oppressed and converted brothers, every day and every hour. In these inhuman conditions and in danger of death at every moment, Reb Michael sang the song of their lives and cried their cries that were strangled in their throats, on pieces of paper that he hid in his ragged clothes and in cracks of the moldy and wet bunker. He hoped, he wrote, that his pieces of paper would reach the world and would shock (sic) the fences of the human conscience, insofar as such a concept exists.

As a witness of the Holocaust, Reb Michael established a living monument in memory of the Jews of Sokoly. As a faithful representative of the public, he poured layers on pages where he brought up the lights and sounds of their lives, the suffering and deaths of the people of his town, which was filled and bustling with Jewish life and vivacity. He did his work modestly and in the depth of the soul in describing details of the Holocaust in his town and outside it, in the forests and in the teeth of lions, in the shadow of German and Polish soldiers alike. He did this with the best dedication and at the height of his ability. Reb Michael's diary is full of tragic episodes and martyrology. Every page is shocking and causes the soul's strings to tremble.

I was deeply impressed by his story, and I absorbed within myself every detail in the diary, until I felt in myself and in my flesh as if I had been there with him and with the Jews of Sokoly, Lapi, Wysokie, Mazowieckie and Tykocin.

After the liberation, Reb Michael was unable to celebrate. His eyes did not sparkle with joy. Overwhelmed and mourning, he walked between the islands of collapsed houses and the dead alleys, which only a short time ago had been called Sokoly. Ghosts hovered over the dead town, which was dipped in the hatred of the Poles, who were disappointed and sorry that a Jew remained alive and did not hesitate to set their murderous hands upon them.

Reb Michael was a cultured, well-mannered man. He grew in Torah and was nurtured on the foundations of our people's tradition. I know that he was one of the promotors of the Hebrew language and he served as a teacher of Hebrew; he was a lover of Zion with the fire of his soul. It seems to me that Reb Michael was not a talker or an outstanding activist, and he did not stand in the spotlights of the community, but his roots in the public and his nation were deep, and his feelings and love for his family and fellow man were great.

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A stormy inner life filled his heart and accompanied his deeds. He was not pampered with the joy of life, and his way was not strewn with roses, but perhaps because of this he was blessed with a sensitive heart and the talent to encircle the dimensions of breakage of the people of the town.

How good it is that he merited to shake out a bit the dark days of yesterday to a glimmer of comfort and to more clear days in the presence of family and beloved grandchildren and many friends in the State of Israel.

His grave was dug in the Land that he loved and merited to reach.

We, who suffered directly from the Holocaust, and even those who felt it from afar, are listening to the echo of the stormy life of Reb Michael Maik, and are united with it in deep meditation. The echo penetrates into our consciousness with quivering and trembling and our heart is faint.

Woe for the loss and do not forget! May his memory be blessed!

Machmoret A
Chanuka, 5729 (1968)

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People Who Came From Sokoly in Israel and in the Diaspora

We lower our heads in heartfelt sadness and deep sorrow, on the falling of children of Sokoly upon defending the homeland in the Yom Kippur War:

Major Dov Sorasky, of blessed memory, son of Chana and Moshe

Gideon Gurkowitz, of blessed memory, son of Zelda and Eliezer, of blessed memory, from Petach Tikva

May Their Memory Be Blessed!

 

Major Dov Sorasky, of blessed memory
Born on September 26, 1950, in Beer Sheva
Fell on 25 Tishrei, 5734 (October 21, 1973)

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People From Sokoly Who Passed Away in Israel

May Their Memory Be Blessed!

Ben Menachem, Rabbi Yitzchak Meir
Feinbron, Gisha
Goldberg, Chaya
Gurkowitz, Eliezer
Gurnostinsky, Chaim
Gurnostinsky, Chana
Gutman, Shammai
Gutman, Yosef
Kaplansky, Masha
Lachover, Yitzchak Meir
Lev, Reuven
Litvak, Chaim
Maik, Michael
Novak, Bubcha
Olsha, Chaim
Olsha, Dr. Fishel
Olsha, Rachel
Olsha, Shalom
Slodki, Gedalyahu
Sokolak, Moshe Chaim
Solarz, Toiba
Solarz, Yosef
Starinsky, Tsipora
Sukman, Zalman
Survitz, Yehoshua
Yachnes, Nachum
Yatom, Yehudit

 

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