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[Page 493]

Rabbi Isroel Lunin

By Shulamit Goloventshits

Translated by M. Porat

Edited by Eilat Gordin Levitan

Isroel Lunin arrived in Volozhin in the year 1910. He came to study at the Yeshiva Eyts Hayim. The Yeshiva was headed by Rabbi Refoel Shapiro. Isroel married the born in Volozhin Sheyne Berger, daughter of Feytshe and Tsvi-Hirsh. After the marriage he established a commerce of skins and linen in partnership with Itshe Meyer Berman and Lipe Levin. The linen was transported by railroad to Vilna. The business flourished after a short time.

R' Isroel adopted himself to the social life of Volozhin. He was elected as gabay, manager of the Klayzl Small Synagogue. He devoted much of his time to aid and assistance of the poor and the to economic development of the Kehila. He was amongst the founders of the public Bank – Yiddish Folks Bank and became its first director. The bank assisted Volozhin craftsmen and businessmen. Isroel was also among the founders of the self-defense group during the First World War and was an active participant in its activities.

R' Isroel was also concerned about the Yeshiva building, its examination and reconditioning after it was damaged during the war. He wrote letters to Volozhin descendants in the States in which he asked for their assistance. The founds arrived and the Yeshiva was reconditioned.

He worried also about dwelling conditions and economical aid for the Yeshiva students.

Reb Isroel Lunin was honored by the Volozhin inhabitants. It may be demonstrated by the following event. Volozhin had a dozen of horse-harnessed-cart drivers (Baleygoles). Their main work consisted of driving passengers from town to the rail station. All was in best order until the day when Hayim Meyer Yeshaye bought a bus to transport the passengers. The cart drivers worried for their Parnosse bread yearning, they turned to Reb Isroel for help. Isroel had a strong felling that he must assist the cart drivers immediately. He suggested to Hayim Meyer to organize cooperation with the cart drivers. Hayim Meyer adopted Reb Isroel Lunin's suggestion. The poor cart drivers Parnosse was saved.

Isroel Lunin was elected as head of the Volozhin Kehila (congregation) soon after the Polish rule was established (early 1920s). He adopted himself to the modern time spirits. He assisted in the founding of the Hebrew Tarbut School.

Lunin became an ardent Zionist. I remember Grabovski's arriving from Vilna to collect donations for Keren Hayisod. He called an assembly in the Klayzl. The response was very weak. Lunin decided to make another effort. Together with Shlomo Hayim Brudno and Yani Garber they did a lot of Zionist publicity. The effect was big. At the following visit of Mr. Grabovski a considerable amount of money and valuable objects had were collected for Keren Hayessod.

The final fate of the Volozhin Jews was also Isroel Lunin's and his family fate. They were murdered and burnt with his beloved shtetl congregation on May 1942 Volozhin.

The family of Isroel LuninThe family of Isroel LuninThe family of Isroel Lunin

We did not succed to obtain R' Isroel Lunin's picture.
We present there a picture of his family: Staying from right to left:

Alter Shimshelevitsh (Isroel's brother in law) the first victim during Volozhin holocaust, was shot immediately with the Germans arrival.

Haya Lea Shimshelevitsh – Berger, Sheyne Lunin (Isroel's spouse).

Seating: Shlomo Berger (Isroel's brother in law, deceased in Israel).

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