Translated by Janie Respitz
There were hardly any anti Zionists among the established families in New Sventzian. Even Rabbi Kimchi openly proclaimed an affiliation to Mizrachi and participated in all the activities for the good of religious Zionism.
The main workers for the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund were simple Jews for whom Zionism was interwoven into their daily spiritual and even religious lives. Jewish mothers, after the Balfour Declaration, before candle lighting on Shabbat and holidays,
would toss more coins in the JNF box than in other charity boxes. They did this in the hope of quickening the redemption and be freed from the difficult exile.
The following was often heard: give, my husband, to the Zionist fund. Today we will forfeit our lunch. JNF boxes were full at the homes of Basia Tabakhovitch, Soreh Kruz, Khasai Pupisky, Shifra Kavarovsky, Rokhl Lipnholtz and others. All of these devoted people were not organized, but participated in all Zionist activities in town.
The organizational work was done by
the youth organizations like Shomer Hatzair and He Chalutz.
When the Polish authority began to control the activity of the Zionist organizations, they began to organize under the name General Zionists.
To achieve this goal, a meeting was called in 1931 in the home of Velvl Pupisky. A committee of three was formed: Velvl Pupisky, A. Feygl, and Yakov Tabakhovitch. It was decided to activate the fund to raise money to help people emigrate, and support the Tarbut School. In order to do this, it was decided to merge with the existing youth Zionist organizations. Thanks to the help of the members Gershon Gurvitch, Nakhman Libman, Feyge Soltaysky, Rivka Katz, YItzkhak Levinshteyn and others, funds were raised. Most households in New Sventzian contributed to the JNF. They collected more than other towns in the region.
Fund raising Bazaars and lotteries were held in the Folk Shul. All the Jews in town participated.
To raise money to help those in need emigrate, people went door to door, and staged performances. Thanks to these efforts many of the less fortunate were able to emigrate to Eretz Yisrael.
In 1934 the only chapter of He Chalutz Workers was founded in New Sventzian. They were connected to the General Zionist central office in Warsaw. Because of our great accomplishments we received two certificates. This was quite a success considering the lack of certificates.
All the events of the Zionist organization were carried out by the leadership of the in the name of the General Zionists, thanks to the stamp and signature of the chairman Velvl Pupisky and secretary Yakov Tabakhovitch.
HaShomer HaTzair Departure of Rivka Levin to Eretz Yisrael, 1935
I Lying down: ____, Kryane Gordon, Yitzkhak Shmulevitch
II Kneeling: Rivka Fleisher, Zamke Broyde, Rivka Levin, Yudke Troytze, Soreh Klotshko
III Standing: Shmuel Gevenda, Libe Zakh, Mulke Gevenda, Feyge Soltaysky, Feyve Karpas, Gershon Gurvitch, Binyomin Rabinovitch, Lipke Shmulevitch, Bayle Zakh, Zalman Rudnitsky, Soreh Elperin</font>
Translated by Janie Respitz
The year was 1929. Moniek Tenenvurtzl came to New Sventzian from Keltz to visit his brother who was a dentist. He used the opportunity to found a chapter of Ha Shomer Ha Tzair. The first meeting took place in the forest, under the open sky.
When it got to cold, they met in the home of Velvl Pupisky. His children, Tzadok, Leybl, Yosl and Rivka were among the first members of the organization. Besides them, the others who joined were: Yete Karovsky, Miriam Shutan, Dvoyre Elperin, Henia Aronovitch, Gershon Gurvitch, Dovid Katz, Eliyahu Bak and others.
Together with the older group,
Ha Shomer Ha Tzair 1930
Sitting: Leah Gurtich, Hirsh Broyde and Zamke Broyde, Mila Katz, Shloyme Itsilkovitch, Yitzkhak Shmulevitch, Zamke Rudnitsky, Ruven Abelevitch, Motl Wolfson, Soreh Klotshko
Kneeling: Mule Gavende, Moshe Kliatchko, Gedalia Katchelnik, Avrom Gubesky, Note Kimkhi, Yitzkhak Katchelnik, Dubke Shutan, Zelig _____, Hirsh Gildin, Khaim Bak, Feyge Soltaysky
In the middle: Soreh Katz, Nakhman Libman, _____, Gedalia Gurvitch, Dovid Rudnitsky
Standing: Teme Kisberg, Bluma Gurvitch, Nakhman Tzepelovitch, Tirza Shutan, Rokhl Leah Katz, Sholem Katz, Regina Ruditsky, Khaya Rudnitsky, Gershon Gurvitch, Yitzkhak Levinshteyn, Rokhl Sinderovsky, Pinkhas Singalovsky, Rivka Katz, Yose Elperin, Yakov tabakhovitch, Dovid Katz, Yakov Kliatchko, Yose pupisky, Leyb Brydo, Hirsh Mirman, Golde Ginsburg
Ha Shomer Ha Tzair The Group on Their Way
I Standing: Hirsh Portnoy, Yosef Kovarsky, ___, Rivka Pupisky, Potoshnik, Dovid Katz, Kharmatz, Yakov Kliotshko, Yitzkhak Gurvitch, Hirsh Gildin, Muleh Katz
II Sitting: Bluma Gubesky, Rivka Katz, Golde Ginsburg, ___,___, Yitzkhak Levinshteyn
III Lying: Feyge Soltaysky, Teme Kisberg, ___, Avrom Kharmatz, Rokhl Singalovsky, Yoske Pupisky
two younger groups were formed. Their members included: Hirsh Gildin, Dovid Gubesky, Yitzkhak Gurvitch, Bluma Gurvitch, Golde Ginsburg, Shmuel Katz, Yosef Lapidot, Gavriel Wolfson, Yitzkhak Levinshteyn, Teme Kisberg, Rivka Katz, Feyge Soltaysky, Pesia Kurliandchik, Moshe and Yakov Klatchko, Pesia Geller, Leyb Broydo, Henekh Kovarsky, Binyomin Ligumsky, Rokhl Leah Katz and Berl Tzinman.
The Shomer Hatzair made an effort to recruit students and graduates from the Jewish School.
As Rokhl Singalovsky, Bunie Singalovsky, Bluma Gubesky, Nokhem Tsepelovitch, Yose Elperin, Hirsh Mirman, Dovid Rudnitsky, Gedalyahu Gurvitch, Shloyme Itzkovitch, Nakhman Libman, Soreh Katz, Tirtza An Kayla Shutan, Sholem Katz, Yosef and Regina Ruditzky, Khaya Rudnitsky, Hirsh Portnoy, Khayim Bak, Dovid Rudnitsky, Yitzkhak Elperin and others.
The members were active in the Tarbut School. They helped to empty the charity boxes for JNF, and for the Worker's Fund in Eretz Yisrael, in order to help the Zionist youth emigrate. Like the other Zionist organizations, HaShomer
organized a variety of programs like plays and lotteries.
Gershon Gurvitch was the leader of Ha Shomer Ha Tzair in our town.
Soreh Kruz A devoted collector for the Jewish National Fund of Israel.
All her children and grandchildren were members of HaShomer Ha Tzair
He dedicated all his energy and his life to the organization. Besides him, others who gave a lot of themselves were: Dovod Katz, Feyge Saltaysky and Rivka Pupisky.
New Sventzian was the district. Other towns in the district were: Sventzian, Prodbrodz, Ignalina, Duksht, Lingmian, Heydutzishik, Mikhalishok, and New Dugelishik.
Lag Ba Omer Celebrations
All the towns in the district participated in the Lag Ba Omer festivities, including the younger groups and older Scouts as well as the Tarbut School with its teachers Lazar Hellerstein and Mr. and Mrs. Rufaytz.
The meeting was held at Boyershteyn's place. It was led by Gershon Gurvitch. All the groups had to give him their reports. After the meeting there was a parade led by Sventzian He Chalutz and the worker's orchestra through the following streets: Train Street, Sventzian Street, Dolg, Kaltinya. There was great joy and enthusiasm among the Jewish population.
It is important to note, the Poles who participated in the march were firefighters of which the majority were Jews.
When we talk about HaShomer HaTzair in the New Sventzian district, the great personality of the young Gershon Gurvitch shines.
HaShomer in New Sventzian October 27, 1928
Lying: Feyge Saltaysky, Mulke Katz
Sitting: Rivka Katz, Teme Kisberg, Rokhl Sinderovksy, Golde Ginsburg, Rivka Pupisky, Menevurtzel, Dovid katz, Hirsh Portnoy, Yitzkhak Levinsdhteyn, Gedalyahu Gurvitz, Moshe Kliatshko, Nakhman Tzeplovitch
Standing I: Tzadok Pupisky, Rivka Kovolsky, Khaya Rudnitsky, Yosef Gurvitch, Beynish Mirman, Pese Geller, Khaya Las, Bluma Gubesky,Dovid Rudnitsky, Yosef Lapidot, Yitzkhak Gurvitch, Yosef Ruditsky
II: Hirsh Mirman, Khana Elperin, Yerakhmiel Elperin, Kayla Shutan, Tirtza Shutan, Leah Wolfson, Frada Rabinovitch, Yakov Kliatshko, Gershon Gurvitch, Yeta Kovarsky, Khana Portnoy
III: Sholem Katz, Bayla Rudnitsky, Soreh Aranovitch, Dvoyreh Elperin, Shloime Tcharnebrodsky, Fruma Rozovsky, Avrom Ligumsky
Translated by Janie Respitz
As soon as the Poles took over our town they founded a Polish Patriotic Union (Z.B.K). It's members organized a sports club with a separate section for football (soccer).
Due to their influence, a Jewish Football team was created which competed against the Polish team as well as other Jewish teams in the region, particularly the Sventzian Maccabee team.
The first members of the New Sventzian team were: Mulieh Berman, Sasha Kisberg, Aharon Boyershteyn, Zalman Bernstein, Leyzer Gordon, Avrom Gordon, Yehoshua Katz,Moshe Elperin, Eliyeh Shaftman, Yisroel Gurvitch, Nakhman Cohen and others. In 1937/38 it was decided to revive the team to show our strength. We divided up into two separate teams, Maccabee and Ha Poel.
To accomplish this, a committee was formed consisting of: Nisn Las, Dovid Kimkhi, Leyb Fingerhoyt, Gershon Gurvitch, Yudl Gordon, Aharon Boyershteyn, and Asher Bitshunsky. The committee decided to form an apolitical sports club, which would be connected to Maccabee from Vilna. This club was divided into the following sections: Football, cycling and swimming.
The captain of the Football team was: Asher Bitshunsky.
The players were: Aharon Boyershteyn, Leyb Fingerhoyt, Yosef Zak, Yudl Elperin, Yitzkhak Levinshteyn, Chaim Rabinovitch, Itze Moshe Tzinman, Mulke and Yudke Troytze, Avrom Gubesky.
The leader of the cycling section was Chaim Rabinovitch, the sim section Bayla Katz.
Because of the fierce antiSemitism felt by the Polish youth, Maccabee had to leave their previous location which was in a Christian neighbourhood. In order to carry out normal activities, they purchased land near the mill in Finfelke, cleared the area of the small trees and played there.
Before every match we hung posters in Polish and Yiddish announcing who would be playing. The Jewish community was helpful. The beadles from the synagogue, Elyeh Meir and Yose Cohen gave us benches. Yose Tzinman, Avrom Kliatchko and Chaim Fine carried the benches back and forth. The older generation helped the youth as much as possible.
The Jewish community came out en masse to watch the Football matches. Mothers and children would enjoy the fresh air, forgetting their daily troubles and taking pride in the strength of the of the Jewish kids playing.
The matches were played against Maccabee and Ha Poel from Sventzian, and Jewish teams from Brodz and Ignalina.
When the Soviets took over the region, the Jewish sports club became a part of the Phys Culture organization. Now the Jewish teams in New Svetzian played against other Jewish teams from Soviet Lithuanian towns like Utian, Salok, Maliat and others. The fate of the athletes was the same as everyone else's. The nails of the human beasts found everyone.
May their memory be a blessing.
Translated by Janie Respitz
As these last pages of the New Sventzian memorial book were going to print, we received the sad news of the passing of one of our most devoted cultural activists and teacher in the Jewish school, Yitzkhak Gordus, may he rest in peace.
In the chapter about the teachers and fighters for the Jewish school, we spoke about the great personality, Yitzkhak Gordus, who until the Second World War fought for Jewish culture in our region. We told of his devotion and activity, and we hoped he would receive our book, the memorial of our destroyed town
where he lived, and gained so much recognition and love.
We remained in contact with him the entire time and felt his enthusiasm for our work. Each one of his letters was filled with excitement. When he heard the book was going to be printed we wrote to us: you are doing holy work. Your efforts should be strengthened and blessed as they eternalize the beauty of the Jewish life in the region of Sventzian, as well as its fateful end. The publication of this book will be a great event, one of the most important of my life.
Unfortunately he did not live to see the day that for us will be a great happening. He will not be able to read, after so many years of separation, the heartfelt tributes written by his students about their teacher, the good hearted Yitzkhak Gordus, the educator of an entire generation of Jews from New Sventzian, who saw him as a dear father.
Up until the Second World War he actively worked for the national interests of the Jewish community, either as a teacher in the Jewish school or as a representative in the magistrate, a councilman, a representative of the Jewish community, active in YEKOPO and the central Folks Bank in Vilna. Whatever he did, he gave all his energy and idealistic passion.
The Jewish community in Sventzian that existed for a few hundred years, was familiar with talented and energetic people who they called: the intelligentsia of Sventzian. The Jewish community in New Sventzian existed only 80 years, was much smaller in numbers and cultural activity, but always strove for great things. This was thanks to some outstanding workers, filled with idealism. Yitzkhak Gordus was one of them.
After the war he returned to Vilna where he could no longer carry out his work among the Moishelekhs and Shloimelekhs, (Jewish children) in his mother tongue, Yiddish, which he loved so much. He began working in the Russian school for which he earned the highest Soviet honour, the Order of Lenin. But this did not quiet his longing for his roots. He was and remained a passionate nationalist Jew until the end of his life. He died suddenly on December 15, 1963.
We will never forget him!
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