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[Col. 1855]

The Founding of the
“Association of People From Sventzian” in Israel

Heshl Gurvitch

Translated by Janie Respitz

In September 1939 when Hitler began his military march into Poland, I saw it as the beginning of a march of destruction on 3 million Jews. In 1941 after the outbreak of the German–Soviet war, it was clear to me that it was not just Polish Jewry, but Lithuanian, White Russian and Russian Jews that were facing destruction. We did not yet know exactly what was happening. Only in 1942, when the papers began to write articles about sabotage and military diversion on the train line between Podbrodz – New–Sventzian, unrest began to grow and we began to worry about our families in those towns. We understood the Hitlerites would take revenge on the rebels and make the civilian population responsible, and the first scape goat will be the Jews.

Days, weeks and months passed and we began to receive horrific news about mass graves of Jews. The Jewish press began calling for protest gatherings. In 1943 I wrote me article “And us?” where I already felt the premonition of frightful mass murder which would take place in Poligon.

Then came the joyful Soviet victory in Stalingrad. Moscow radio was reporting daily on liberated cities and towns. Our hearts beating fast we listened carefully and flinched hearing the name of a familiar town. The liberation of our region began in 1944. Every day the extent of the destruction became clearer.

*

The Polish army under General Anders came to the Land of Israel and we learned about the suffering of Polish and Lithuanian Jews who escaped to Russia. Together with my comrade Shloime Velner, we approached the chairman of the workers

[Col. 1856]

In The Land of Israel, Meylekh Noyshtat, may his memory be a blessing, and asked him to organized aid for Jews who survived in Soviet Russia. Despite the material difficulties in the country, the workers' organization in the Land of Israel succeeded in collecting useful and important things, and send packages to the addresses we had. The British mandate authorities limited the size and value of the packages, but the Jewish workers at the post office and the port turned a blind eye and helped us smuggle out large and valuable packages. The names Kandinav and Aviezer Pedro must be mentioned here for their outstanding gentleness and kindness in this work. Such transports were sent on numerous occasions and many people were saved from hunger and death.

*

After the First World War, Vilna and the surrounding area belonged to Poland. The whole region possessed a certain beauty, authentic traits that united us in Israel as well. We wanted to start an aid organization for Jews in that region that were saved from the great destruction. Having been an active worker with YEKAPO in Vilna, together with Khaim Kapeolvitch from Vilayke, the present chairman of the Vilna Farband (Labour Zionist Organization), began to organize the committee for Vilna province. With great difficulty, we were able to send out our first appeal in June 1945 for the Jews of Vilna and the surrounding region.

I succeeded in bringing Berl Yoel from Svir, chairman of the Svir Farband, and a few other Jews from Vilna province, to work with us. I was thinking of organizing the work on a broader front in order to encourage the survivors, to provide means for them to return to the equilibrium, material and spiritual, physical and psychological. But the Vilna committee showed

[Col. 1857]

Sve1857a.jpg
Hirsh Zar
 
Sve1857b.jpg
Dovid Kuritsky, of blessed memory
 
Sve1857c.jpg
Avrom Rabinovitch, of blessed memory

 

Sve1857d.jpg
Moishe Levinson, of blessed memory

 

a tendency to limit itself to elementary philanthropic aid. We made use of Reb Moishe Svirsky, of blessed memory who was a representative in the most important Jewish institutions in the country. Thanks to his efforts, packages for survivors were sent by the “Joint” through Teheran. Packages were sent this route for survivors in Sventzian, New– Sventzian, Ignalina, Svir and Kobylnik.

At this time we learned about the horrifying mass murders in Poligon and I decided we must begin broader relief work for

[Col. 1858]

the Jews in Sventzian region, whose fate was tied to the memory of their murdered relatives in the mass grave near New–Sventzian. Thanks to my dear friend Yitzkhak Broydes, of blessed memory, who was at the time secretary for the union of artisans in Tel Aviv, I received a hall to hold a meeting. A vote took place at that meeting. Those elected were: Reb Avrom Yitzkhak Rabinovitch, of blessed memory, Reb Dovid Kuritzky, of blessed memory, Reb. Moishe Levinson, of blessed memory, and long years to: Hirsh Zar, Avrom Kril, Leyb Pupisky, and the author of these lines. It was voted on and decided to carry out taxation. The money collected would go to sending packages to Jewish survivors in the Sventzian region. At the same time we widened our relief work in helping those Jews return to a normal life.

There were those who opposed sending packages as it was not sure they would arrive. I believed that even if some got lost, those that did arrive would greatly help lift the spirits of those Jews and give them the feeling they are not alone.

Soon immigrants began to arrive who told us how meaningful

 

Sve1857e.jpg
Leyb Pupisky
 
Sve1857f.jpg
Avrom Kril
 
Sve1857g.jpg
Heshl Gurvitch

[Col. 1859]

the packages were, both for material needs and morale. These packages also helped rescue a Jewish child from Christians. I would like to mention the help we received from friends and comrades in Cape Town, South Africa. I contacted them when I began the relief effort sending packages to Russia. Sventzian Jews in Africa responded to my requests with warmth.

Jewish survivors were wandering through the cities and towns of Poland, until they arrived in D.P camps in the Germany where they were supported by the “Joint”. Our job was weakened. The gates to the country were locked. The Jews fought hard to open the doors to immigrants.

Together with our hard work we decided we had to eternalize the memory of the martyrs of Poligon, those who died in the Ghettos and the heroes who fought with the partisans and on the front. Sender Kovarsky from Sventzian came to me and suggested we do something to remember the heroic battles fought by Jewish youth from our region, and were not mentioned in the Vilna books. We decided to start a separated group that would include everyone from around Sventzian. After much effort, a new association was founded whose main goal was:

To eternalize the martyrs from our region; and to create an interest free loan fund.

We had to begin to collect material for a memorial book which was to include all the Jewish towns of the Sventzian region.

We approached our friends in South Africa. We delegated Hirsh Zar to explain the importance of these goals.

In 1951 Mania Tzikinsky – Yaffa came from there to Israel. She was helpful in setting up the free loan called: The Martyrs of Poligon. Thanks to Yitzkhak and Mania Zak and Yehudit and Yakov Mikhalson who travelled to South Africa. Their visit helped to encourage donations, and the fund was started with 1,000 Israeli pounds. It was harder to convince the Sventzian committee in New York, but they too began to send aid.

My experience in communal work during the First World War taught me we should accept material help people give on the spot. We received our first large donation from the estate of our friend Sholem Berman, of blessed memory, who passed away, thanks to his cousin Yekhiel Berman, who passed up his portion of the inheritance for our free loan fund of our association. We also began to create endowment funds. Thanks to initiative of Moishe Mikhalson a yearly membership fee was proclaimed. We also held a special meeting for the fund and were pleased at the warm response to our appeal. Confidence in our organization was growing. People were leaving sums in their wills.

[Col. 1860]

Sve1860.jpg
Yakov Mikhalson of blessed memory – member of the board of directors

 

We are witnesses of deep human relationships which should be mentioned. I would like to stress the devotion of Mrs. Yehudit Mikhalson who donated large sums and encouraged others to do the same.

On her deathbed, Mrs. Rokhl Svirsky – Khankhovitch asked her husband to donated 500 Israeli pounds to the fund. Mrs. Menukha Yisraelovitch brought 500 Israeli pounds and said: “I'll give more!” Mrs. Fanny Fisher gave 500 Israeli pounds and exclaimed: “When I get compensation from my children, I'll bring you the money”. Shmuel Gurvitch – Ben – Zerach donated 500 Israeli pounds in honour of his wife. I knew his situation and tried to talk him out of it. He told me: “You must take the money!”

There were many other examples of lesser and greater sums. Everyone understood the importance of our work.

With veneration and honour I would like to mention Mr. Harry Beker from America. A Jew in his eighties, with a sick wife, he ran to the American committee of Jews from Sventzian, and donated the largest amount to our fund than any other in America. With admiration I would like to mention the heartfelt relationship with Bezalel Levinson, of blessed memory, Yisroel Soroka, of blessed memory, and may many more years be granted to: Harry Shneider, Izinsky, Mrs. Dr. Minkin, Bronia Khasid.

It was more difficult to get people to realize the importance of our work on the memorial book. We did not get discouraged and continued our efforts. Right after our association was founded, with the help of the lawyer Yisroel Gurvitch, you worked closely with the well–known historian Yakov Lechinsky, and a questionnaire was distributed. Each member of the association had to answer.

[Col. 1861]

It was hard to get people to write. Many of the people were not used to holding a pen in hand. It was hard for them to find the words to describe the pain in their hearts. Yisroel Gurvitch would not give up. He went to visit the people, invited some to come to him, spoke with them and wrote their stories.

Finally material was collected about towns. With much effort the material was reworked, but we were still lacking the professional hand to construct the book. We were lacking an editor, and more importantly, we were lacking the money needed to publish the book. When the approached the office of Yad VaShem in Tel Aviv, they wondered how we could take on such a large project without money. They told us we would never succeed in publishing such a book.

Understandably, this was not encouraging. All sides were telling us to not to cover so many towns. Our hearts were hurting: You will eternalize all these poor towns? If we would not do it, who will do this holy work? We could not forget about it and we continued step by step.

Time was flying by. The more time passes; more and more material is collected. The content is becoming richer and so are we thanks to due paid by our members and donations from guests from abroad. We finally decided to contact the editor Shimon Kantz, and the work of compiling and editing was progressing. According to his instructions,

[Col. 1862]

missing material was found and the book finally began to be published.

If the free loan fund was mainly supported by friends from abroad, the memorial book, this huge historical work, the tombstone for the murdered from the region of Sventzian, was published as a result of devotion of our friends in Israel.

I would like to thank our friend Shimon Bushkanietz for his dedication in collecting material about Sventzian; Sender Kavarsky for his enrichment of the portion on heroism, struggle and uprising.

Thank you to Avrom Kril, Yitzkhok Viduchinsky, and Ruven Muler, for helping to collect material about Ignalina and Dugelishok; Leyb Pupisky and Yisroel Gurvitch, of blessed memory, for New– Sventzian; Mikhal Patashnik, Zalman Abel, Rafael Yaffa for Haydutzishok; Zvi Zar for Lingmian.

Thanks to all our friends who wrote and collected documents and memoirs, and di everything they could to enrich our memorial book.

Let us express our gratitude to the lawyer Yisroel Gurvitch, of blessed memory, who laid the foundation for this book.

Thanks you to Dr. Henekh Drutsh for supplementing various materials. Thanks to Leyb Pupisky for his detailed map: Destruction. And for continuing for 20 years to serve our committee with council.

Special thanks go to Mr. Shakhneh Tzeplovitch – Achiasaf for helping us with his professional advice and warm relationship to our work.

Thank you to Moishe Mikhalson and Aharon Svirsky, Berl Kharmatz and Berl Zak, and Yitzkhak Gurvitch for their friendly

 

Sve1862.jpg
Board of Directors in 1959

Standing: Berl Kharmatz, Moishe Mikhlson, Aharon Svirsky, Zakman Abel, Sender Kovarsky
Seated: Shimon Bushkanietz, Mikhal Patashnik, Heshl Gurvitch, Hirsh Zar

[Col. 1863]

Sve1863.jpg
The Committee of the Organization of Jews from Sventzian in Israel 1965

 

respect they showed toward our work.

We thank our American friends: Bronia Khasid, Freda Fradkin, Guterman, Harry Beker, Beygel, Kharmatz and Rabbi Ushpol, the president Harry Shneider – for their help for this book.

Allow me to express my gratitude to my wife Nekhama for her devotion in helping me overcome all the difficulties in my many years of work on this memorial book which a look at as a tombstone over the large mass grave in Poligon.

Of course there will be those who will come with complaints and criticism of omissions and mistakes. There is no light that does not cast a shadow. But we must be aware of great difficulties we faced on the road to publishing such a large undertaking. We began with a small building that grew into a large palace. This is the satisfaction for our efforts. We thank the publishing house “Ha Merkaz” and their staff for their guarded loyal work. Elkhanan Toker and Zve Shamri, the son–in–law of Khaim Zelig Lukner from Sventzian for their friendly realtions.

Let it be noted here:

When the Jewish National Fund began its program of planting six million trees on the Judean Mountains, we, the Jews from Sventzian and vicinity joined the program and planted 1200 trees with the inscription: Sventzian and Vicinity.

 

Sve1864.jpg
Mikhal Patashnik at the erection of a memorial plaque on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem

[Col. 1865]

The trees were planted by the Israeli relatives of the martyrs.

*
In the Chamber of the Holocaust on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, together with the bloodied, torn Torah scrolls, the soap made from Jewish corpses, and the tens of other objects from that horrific time, stand memorial plaques from all the destroyed Jewish communities. We, the Jews from Sventzian and vicinity, were among the first to place such a plaque.

*

This is the work we did to eternalize the memory of the martyrs from our region, a memorial for the mass grave in Poligon.

I have been involved in this work for twenty years. I would like to personally thank all our friends in Israel, Africa, America and the whole world for the help and trust they bestowed on me. Without them, this work about life and destruction of the Sventzian region would not have come to be.

My request to you, our friends throughout the world is:

“Continue not to forget our martyrs!”

[Col. 1866]

Sve1866a.jpg
Shmuel Gurvitch – Ben– Zerach at the plaque in the Chamber of the Holocaust

 

Sve1866b.jpg
Forest of the Martyrs in the Forest of the Millions in the Judean Mountains

Standing: Greenblat Anna, Nekhama Gurvitch, Shoshana Volatzky, Shifra Yaffa, Rafael Yaffa, Leyb Pupisky, Dovid Katz, Kayla Milner, Shifra Kovarsky, Moishe Abel
Kneeling: Sender Kovarsky, Zalman Abel

 


[Col. 1867]

The Man From Sventzian in Argentina

Heshl Gurvitch

Translated by Janie Respitz

 

Sve1867.jpg
Yakov Murmis

 

When the historian Ginzburg wrote about Leon Bak from Sventzian he characteristically referred to the Jews from Sventzian as: intellectuals.

The Sventzian intellectuals are spread out throughout the world, and are clearly defined by their heartfelt Jewish folksiness and an attachment to the region they were born. One of these is Yakov Murmis, who from 1917 until today, lives in Argentina. He is one of the lucky ones who managed to bring his family there as well. Yakov Murmis brought his whole family to Argentina, his brothers: Zalman, Dovid and Yosef, his sisters: Sofia, Riva and Temeh. His mother died of old age in Buenos Aires.

Yakov Murmis arrived in Argentina young and full of hope, facing lots of opportunity. However it was not easy for him to adjust to the new way of life. He had all the lovely traits of the simple, modest Sventzian Jew, but thanks to his energy and initiative he was able to overcome the hardships and conquer material and spiritual obstacles. A source of courage for him was his dear life's partner Bazilia, who came from Russia. The joy of family life was the basis for his future endeavors.

Yakov Murmis became involved in a variety of communal organizations. He was active in the biggest and most important Jewish institutions in Argentina. He was active in the Joint from its first years, and became president. He was active in the League Against Tuberculosis, and the Russian – Yiddish library. He served as vice-president of the hundred year old institution – The Jewish Congregation, and treasurer of B'nai B'rith. There was not one Israeli organization he did not work with.

[Col. 1868]

This is the life of Yakov Murmis. Born in Jewishness, raised in honesty. This is how he raised his children. His son Oscar served as a deputy in the Argentinian parliament. His second son, Miguel is a professor at a university in Buenos Aires.

It was a great joy for me to meet him in Israel after not seeing each other for 57 years. I remembered going to school together in Sventzian. Years changed his appearance and characteristics that I remembered, but his smile remained the same. He spoke about the heartfelt warmth he absorbed from his home town, and carried with him over great distances over many years. His hair is grey, but Yakov Murmis is still running the marathon, with an inextinguishable flame in his heart, which gives us much confidence, that as chairman of the Sventzian Society in Argentina he will continue to offer solidarity and help. Help in eternalizing the memory of the martyrs from our towns.

Our representatives in Toronto, Canada are: Mary Gilinsky and Meir Blitz. In Colombia, Cali: Yitzkhak Gilinsky. In Barankville: Yakov Gantovnik.

 

Sve1868a.jpg
Meir Blitz
 
Sve1868b.jpg
Yakov Gatovnik

 


[Col. 1869]

He deserves our thanks

Aviezer Pedro

Translated by Meir Razy

Mr. Yehoshua Gurevich appeared at my workshop for some business one morning. My eyes lit up and I spontaneously embraced him. It was as if I had met with a good angel who had come from a world that was very different from this world. This very feeling often made me want to pick up a pen and try writing about the days of the Holocaust when I worked in the post office in Tel Aviv.

I remember those days when I was a clerk in the package section of the Tel Aviv post office. I noticed Mr. Gurevitz many times among the people standing in line. As with unusual patience, he would wait for his turn. All of Mr. Gurevich's packages were sent to Russia. After many days I dared to ask him if he had a business of sending packages to Russia. To my surprise I learned that he was doing all the work as a volunteer and had devoted a great deal of time searching for the remaining Jews who had fled from Lithuania to Russia. He felt as if each package would save an entire family that would come to Israel and build the country and continue the tradition of the family lost in the European Holocaust.

I remember how the humble Mr. Gurevich showing me one of the packages and saying to me: “I received this address last night from acquaintances and I believe that I am saving an entire family and that a day will come when they will build their home here”.

Translated by Janie Respitz

Sve1870.jpg
Drama club in Sventzian directed by Borukh Rozental

Standing: Yitzkhak Ogulayk, Leah Shutan, Goldman, Shmuel Vidushinsky, Freda Gurvitch
Seated: Zalman Eidelman, Mereh Kovner, Borukh Rozental, Klara Markelevitch
The child: Leyzer Levin
  This photograph is an addition to the portion entitled “Sventzian” This is a group from the Sventzian drama club, led by Borukh Rozental. He was an old school activist in the Poalei Zion, but remained non–partisan in the drama club. The main goal was to bring art, joy and elevation to the Jewish population in Sventzian. Under the leadership of Borukh Rozental the drama club pursued this goal with respect and the performances, prepared with great effort and love for Yiddish culture, were on a high level and very successful. This is thanks to the initiative, devotion and intelligence of Borukh Rozental.

[Col. 1870]

He believed that his parcels contained not only food and clothing, but also gave hope and belief that there were other Jews in the world who were making efforts to bring these recipients to Israel, to settle and thrive in the Land of Israel.

Sometimes I wonder if Mr. Gurevitz's natural modesty and humility was too restricting. If he or other institutions had published his activities, then more people might have joined forces to rescue Jews in various ways, hundreds and thousands of Jews.

Even today, when Mr. Gurevitch is busy with his work and everyday worries, he continues to provide help and does not limit his involvement and time in helping survivors.

The Institutions of the community must thank Mr. Gurevitch for all his actions and praise his work. Let us wish him that the rest of his life, for many years to come, may be healthy and that he will take pleasure in the success of all the people he helped save. He was their stronghold and source of encouragement and hope during their great tribulation.

[Col. 1871-1872]

Sve1871.jpg
A Reunion of Sventzianers in Tel–Aviv, Oct. 9, 1960

Sitting: Heshl Gurwitch, Nechama Tzinman, Rochel Levin, Dovid Levin, Raizel Umbros, Sheina Kovarski–Shpigel, Chaia Rudnitzki–Levin, Yacov Tabakhovitch, Yacov Michelson, Yehudit Michelson, Chaia Zak
Standing: Rivkah Levin, Dovid Katz, Fani Fisher, Genia Kovarski, Israel Gurwich, Nechama Gurwich, Raizel Landsman, Rochel Katz, Shifra Kovarski, Henech Kovarski, Klara Yavitch, Freida Rudnitzki, Devorah Zak, Tzila Kisberg
Standing: Sholem Katz, Shimon Gendel, Miriam Shutan, Shloime Sneider, Fruma Rozofski, Moishe Tzinman, Henech Kovarski, Ruth Katz, Mule Troitze, Vera Troitze, Levi Zak, Michel Shutan, Nisen Las, Meir Ligumski, Yehuda Ligumski, Dedalihu Zak, Berl Tzinman, Berl Zak, Yitzhak Shutan, Binjamin Ligumski, Hillel Zak, Yitzhak Gurwich, Ruben Abelavitch

 

Sve1872.jpg
A Reunion of Jews from Ignalina and Daugelishok, Tel–Aviv, Oct. 9, 1960

Sitting: Natan Shapira,––, Laizerovitch, Doba Kreitzer, Eliezer Shapira, Ruben Muler, Ela Soleiveitchik, Fani Fisher, Chana Leia Elperin, ––, Shneider
Standing: Levitan, Leib Korb, Moishe Korb, Eliezer Levitan, Shmuel Segal, Yitzhak Vidushinsky, Ester Vidushinsky, Yitzhak Segal, Gitel Brumberg, Velvel Kril, Mina Muler, Heshl Gurwitz, Elihu Gilinski, Simcha Dubinski, Shmuel Gilinski, Aharon Gilinski

[Col. 1873-1874]

 

Sve1873.jpg
Reunion in Haifa: Podbrodz, Kimelishak, Bistritz

Below: Zav Ber–Chana, Baruch Blushinski, Rivka Blushinski, Yehudit Feler, Sara–Leia (Rifkind), Ben–Zion Lapp
2nd row: Ahron Bavarski (Sharnovitch), Ben–Zion Vilian, Sara Ring, Golda Shapira, Boruch Shapira
3rd row: Devorah Feler, Miriam Shapira–Shank, Esther Flexer (Rifkind), Grunia Potashnik (Orman), Sara Kirchon (Bavarski), Basia Lapp, Elihu Gordon, Velvel Abramovitch, Chana Zilber
4th row: Zvi Mirski,––,––, Sura (Reitenberg),Shaul Lapp, Elihu Licht,––, (Fisher), Boruch Naratzki (Lofer),––,Shmuel Krol, Henia Shapira

 

Sve1874.jpg
Reunion of Sventzianer in Tel–Aviv, Oct. 9, 1960

Sitting right to left: Shalom Katz, Chaia Rudnitzki–Oenstein, Zenia Zaretzki–Gurwitch, Rochel Pres–Kovarski, Sheina Kovarski–Ulpan, Ester feigel–Kuritzki, Gershon Kuritzki, Basia Luria–Mirinov, Chana Gurwitch, Shmuel Gurwich–Ben–Zerach, Shachne Levin, Dovid Tzepelevitch, Dr. Moishe Kuritzki
2nd row: Shalom Kuritzki, Mordechai Zeidel, Ben–Zion Bak, Elihu Kovarski, Yacov Michelson, Heshl Gurwich, Yitzhak Shibavski, Chana Rabotnik–Shlanski, Rochel Cohen–Svirski, Miriam Rosenberg, Sender Kovarski
3rd row: Leia Kovarski, Yosi Bushkanetz, Golda Feigel–Bushkanetz, Moishe Ginsberg, Chia Bushkanetz–Ginsberg, Pesia Kurlandtshik–Shapira, Etel Shibovski–Vilenski, Yocheved Bushkanetz–Ben–Zirach, Libe Gurwich–Konopinski, Chana Goldberg–Kovarski, Rosenberg LaiaSvirski–Koltzman (Holtzman)
4th row: standing: Elihu Bikson, Sara Katz, Teme Michelson–Shutan, Dora Kisberg, Liba Zar, Elke Goldberg, Rivka Teitz, Teiba Ovtzinski, PesiaTeitz–Koniak, Henia Gurwitch, Leizer Levin, Shifra Leifer–Korb, Rivka Katcherginski, Basia Katcherginski–Etzmon, Ester Lukner–Tzripruni, Leia Garshein, Chaim Charmatz, Shoshana Lukner–Shmri, YehuditKuritzki–Margalit, Ber Charmatz
Standing last: Moishe Shutan, Yitzhak Rudnitzki–Arch?, Israel Pliner, Yeshahu Volfson, Rivka Kovarski,– Vaintroib, Abraham Matzkin, Ester Shutan, Yeshaihu Rutshtein, Dov Lishanski, Menachem Kotler–Haloi, Shloime Charmatz

[Col. 1875-1876]

Sve1875.jpg
20 years of the Yiddish Folk–Shul of New Sventzian in 1936

Sitting: Baler Yocheved, Dr. S. Kapelovitch, Epstein Rosa, Gordus Yitzhak, Guterman Chaia, Epstein Chaim, Levenstein Feige
Standing: Katz Lipman, Zak Lipman, Elperin Moishe, Elperin mania, Gordon Leizer, Kavarski Esther, Abelevitch Boruch, Katcherginski Isher
Standing: Boler M, Rutstein Chana, Boyarstein Aharon, Levenstein Hirsh

 

Sve1876.jpg
Date unclear 1907 or 1917
Halutz

[Col. 1877-1878]

The artists Soreh Gorshin, Rivka Volovitch – Ben – Sirah and Yehoshua Heshl Kovarsky were born in Sventzian and their works eternalized their home town in the old traditional way and its decline. The paintings of the well–known artist Heshl Kovarsky can be found in museums in America and in private collections. One of his famous paintings belongs to a member of our book committee Sh. Akhiasaf. The beauty of the life in his home town of New– Sventzian had a great influence on the artist and he eternalized it with his paint brush. He spun the motifs of life in the Svntzian region in his series of paintings entitled “World Creation”. The sculptor Soreh Garshin was born in Sventzian. She survived Hitler's death camps and sculpted the woman's head right after liberation. The motif of Jewish continuity repeats itself in many of her works. The drawings of the original artist Rivka Volovitch – Ben–Sirah, born in Kaltinian, are penetrated by the horrors of the Holocaust. Her exhibitions in Israel were widely visited and opened up hearts and provided a source of tears for the incomparable destruction that befell our region.

 

Sve1877.jpg
…after Liberation
Sara Garshein–Teitz

 

Sve1878.jpg
In times of sorrow
Rivka Volavitch–Ben–Zerach

[Col. 1879-1880]

Sve1879.jpg
Shabbos in the shtetl
Yehoushe Kovarski

[Col. 1881-1882]

Upon completion of this memorial book we received the sad news about their deaths.

 

Dr. Hanoch Drutz–Svirony z”l

Translated by Meir Razy

Dr. Hanoch Svirony, the cultural coordinator of the Histadrut (=The Workers' Union) in Ra'anana, died on Thursday at the Beilinson Hospital at the age of 56.

A native of the town of Svir in Poland, he was educated at the Hebrew Gymnasium in Vilnius (Vilna). He completed his journalism studies at the University of Berlin in 1933 and worked as a reporter for the “Die Zeit” newspaper, published in Vilna. in addition, he also wrote for Hebrew periodicals that were published in Kovno, Lithuania.

He immigrated to Eretz Israel in October 1933 and was a reporter for Yiddish newspapers published abroad. In 1938 he went to Basel, studied philosophy and history in the university and earned a PhD. Upon his return to Eretz Israel he became a teacher of literature and history in high schools until about seven years ago.

Noble and humble was Svirony and the sense of inner nobility left its mark on his entire being, on his professional and public work, for he was energetic and had a will to carry out what he had taken upon himself. He showed the same devotion in editing the memorial book of the community of Svir, his hometown. He also worked, with great skill and sensitivity, on the preparation of the memorial book of the Sventzian region.

A mortal illness suddenly overwhelmed him and most untimely terminated his life and all his educational, cultural, and public works.

 

Reb Moishe Svirsky of blessed memory

Translated by Janie Respitz

On February 3, 1965 (the first day of Adar 5725) Reb Moishe Svirsky, of blessed memory, passed away in Tel Aviv. Under the influence of the movement “Narodnaya Volya” (the People's Will), Reb Moishe Svirsky left his home in Sventzian and came to Vilna with the intention of joining the folk and working towards the idea which was later called: Socialist Revolutionaries. This is how he arrived at Zionism as the first thing one must do to free the people, as a Jew would be to free the oppressed Jewish nation. This can be how Zionism came about.

In Vilna, Svirsky joined the group “Ha Tchiya” (The Resurrection) and devoted himself to the Zionist movement. In 1924 he immigrated to the Land of Israel.

 

Yosef Brumberg, of blessed memory

Translated by Janie Respitz

Yosef Brumberg, of blessed memory died suddenly on January 2, 1965 in Philadelphia.

Yosef Brumberg returned from Russia after the First World War and settled in Sventzian where his family lived.

Yosef Brumberg was influenced by socialist thought (active in the Bund). He did not give up

[Col. 1882]

when the Poles occupied Sventzian region, and the minority rights of the Jews were secured under the Treaty of Versailles. Yosef Brumberg became involved in cultural activities in Sventzian, reinforcing the existence of the Yiddish school and one of the founders of the Yiddish language high school.

Yosef Brumberg was forced to leave Poland. With the help of Nosn Kovarsky and Dr. Klumel, he immigrated to the Land of Israel in 1926. The situation in the land was difficult due to unemployment, and lack of opportunity to earn a living. I met Yosef Brumberg leaving his work pulling up stones. He said: “Talking about workers is easier than being a labourer. Talking about workers' problems is easier than reading about them.”

He returned to Poland in 1929 and became the director of the Medem Sanatorium for children outside of Warsaw. When Hitler invaded Poland, he ran with his wife Lola and their son to Vilna. Thanks to the American Workers Committee, he left Vilna for America with his family and worked for the Workers Committee in Chicago.

His quest did not end there. He studied and explored. Yosef Brumberg was never happy, more and more culture, never satiated with culture, education and knowledge. Yosef Brumberg participated in this memorial book with an article about his cultural work in Sventzian.

 

Sve1882.jpg
Itzkhak Porus of blessed memory

 

News arrived from America: Itzkhak Parus died in a horrible accident on December 20th, 1964 in New Zealand at the thriving age of 40. At a very young age, Yitzkahk Porus joined the Partisans which was organized in 1943, by with Yitzkhak Rudnitsky, Ishikeh Gertman and others in the Naratch forest. As a partisan he fought against Hitler's beasts. After liberation, together with his girlfriend Liza, also a partisan, he left Sventzian and wandered with difficulty until they reached his relatives in New Zealand.


[Col. 1883]

God shall remember
The souls of the martyrs from VIDZ

Translated by Meir Razy

Sve1883.jpg

 

God shall remember
The souls of the martyrs from

VIDZ

In the Vilnius district
And it surrounding area, God shall avenge the blood of
Our parents, our brothers, our sisters and our children
Who were killed, were slaughtered and were burned,
And were buried alive in the fields and forests of the
Partisans by the Cursed Nazis!
Their holy memory will not be forgotten
From among us forever
The 25th of Adar 5703

The Commemorators of the Jews of Vidz
In Israel and the Diaspora

The Scroll of Extermination
The gravestone in the Holocaust Memorial Basement - Mount Zion, Jerusalem

Names of those who died over time:

Gandel Chaya Farber Batia Kocher (Kutcher) Yoseph
Gandel Beinush Kacherginsky Mordechai Kamrez Yoseph
Reiner Yaakov Kacherginsky Moshe Katz Rivka
Reiner Slawa Strobin Yoseph Katz Tzadok
Weiner Chaya Fishman Zilberman Sheina Pinchov Kalman
Farber Shmuel Fishman Israel Dubinsky Shmuel
Farber Dan Zilberman Bracha Barishnikov


[Col. 1887]

Those Remembered…

Heshl Gurvitch

Translated by Janie Respitz

It was difficult, immensely difficult to collect and collate the material about this huge tragedy, the incomparable destruction that befell the Jews of our region.

In this region Jews lived from the beginning days and like all others on that land, were deeply rooted there. They planted the seeds of bread and were nourished every day of their lives.

The land in the Sventzian region was always still, but the Jews living there were always restless, living in two spheres: the outside material world and the inner spiritual world, of a pure human intellect and an undying Godlike soul, which was the true purpose of life.

This is what we wanted to portray in this memorial book, to show the world what was annihilated in the hellish fires of the biggest satanic extermination of all time.

This was a past Jewish world of holiness and bravery, which was uplifting even in the days of the horrific destruction, and has no comparison in all of human history thereby making it really unbelievable.

Here is a list of the names of the thousands who Hitler's Lithuanian murderers threw into graves, not quite killed, still alive. Those whose blood will never stop screaming and demanding:

Revenge should be great for the innocent spilled Jewish blood!

The large cemetery of their names will as their holiness and bravery remain engraved in our memory forever!

Note: The names were collected by the representatives of the town. The editor is not responsible for misspelled or missing names.

 

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