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Vysotsk, the Town of my Youth

First Acquaintance

I was six when I stayed in this town for the first time. Among my memories is a blurred picture of the figure of my grandfather Zalman of blessed memory standing next to the cart that took me to the railway station. The second time I stayed in the town was after the death of my grandfather. I was then eight or nine. When I got off the train I climbed up into the cart belonging to Akiva Leyb of blessed memory. This Akiva Leyb, serious and introvert, would take travellers from Udrytsk railway station to Vysotsk, a distance of about seven kilometres. A large wicker basket was tied inside the cart, in which people sat on a special seat while Akiva Leyb, humming in his soft, quiet voice, spurred his horse on.

It was at the end of summer and the family of Grandmother Lea of blessed memory were all busy gathering fruit from the orchard they rented from the local priest. The fruit would then be sold. So when I woke up on the first morning I was very surprised by the sight of large piles of beautiful apples and pears in every corner of the bedroom. And in the afternoon, when I visited the large orchard, we sat around a long table eating all the good things from the earth and the garden. Then the orchard guard, a young Christian, entertained us with all sorts of tricks, imitations of birds and animals and even the movement of a train.

In the main square of the shtetl I suddenly saw the life-size statue of the Russian tsar Nikolai, made of bronze and standing on a tall plinth (they smashed the statue after the revolution of 1917).

I was very impressed by the scene inside the large synagogue at Rosh Hashana[86]. Two nice-looking youths sat opposite the steps of the Aron Hakodes[87] on a bench they had brought from their home. Every now and then they ran up to open the Ark for the special prayers for which it was the custom to open the Ark. The impression this made on me was the reason why, ten years later and then throughout all the eleven years that I lived in Vysotsk, 'in the High Holidays' I always sat in the same place in the synagogue, opposite the steps of the Aron Hakodesh. I would open the Ark for special prayers and from there would peep from time to time to the right towards 'the cantor', Feybush of blessed memory. He was a man with a fine figure and a well-proportioned beard. In his pleasant, sweet-sounding voice he really came alive in the Karlin[88] melodies.

'Yudke' (Yehuda Shtoper) is standing in prayer to the right of Feybush. Due to the fact that he is hard of hearing Yudke stands right next to the cantor, and whenever Feybush the cantor brings a prayer to a close, with a shudder of joy and a trill of the voice, Yudke looks directly into his eyes, and his face lights up like that of an innocent child. And every so often, when the cantor comes to a passage in the prayer which the Karlin Chassidim used to sing, Yudke, obeying a secret sign, will immediately stand erect. Berl Zulir or Meir Katzman (may he live a long life) sings beautifully, to the rhythm of a marching song. And I look to my left and see the patriarchal and noble figure of Nisl Leas, whose place in the synagogue was on the bench beyond the banisters of the steps of the Aron Hakodesh. With his head covered in a prayer-shawl he is looking nearly all the time at the cantor, Reb Feybush. Next to him stands Reb Nakhman Perl (Nakhe), with his thick beard and serious demeanour.

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Behind my bench, on the bench next to the bimah[89], is Reb Ichie Berelikhes the priest, unassuming, modest and reverent, generating respect as he goes up into the priests' pulpit in the High Holidays and in the three festivals. I turn my gaze to the southern wall where Reb Isroel Nafkhan is sitting, a man of humility before the Lord and of exalted qualities. Next to him sit his sons Leybil and Gershele (where are you now, my dear ones?) and next to them, in a semi-circle, nice boys, including my best friends, are sitting on chairs brought from home. My father of blessed memory is sitting on the bench on the stage, for ownership of the seats in the large synagogue was passed down from father to son. My father had only recently arrived in the shtetl and his permanent place throughout the year was in the Karlin shtibl[90].

When I came for a third time to this shtetl on Lag Ba'Omer[91] in the year 5682 (1922) I was 19, and the shtetl was then really waking up, with buds of liberation following the war. The Polish administration ruled its citizens with a light stick, and small trade was beginning to develop (throughout the whole history of this shtetl there had never been any wholesale trade). Several cloth merchants were beginning to go as far as the capital Warsaw for their supplies. And then an ironmonger's shop opened, which also sold building materials. After that another one opened. It was also the first time this had happened in the history of the shtetl. The situation of artisans at the time was satisfactory: carpenters, builders (of wooden walls). Among them were also some who took their tools with them to work in Christian villages.


Public Life

At that time our 'public life' was at its height: 'The First Generation' of activists working in the field of national cultural activity in the spirit of the new times continued their activities with their heads held high. Zeydl Lopata of blessed memory was very prominent in this group. He was the life and soul of the group. Zeydl was gifted, with a talent for public speaking and for delivering lectures; he had energy and showed initiative in all aspects of public activity. Within the framework of Zionism and national revival he had a revolutionary view of the world.

We organised a Hebrew school, the first of its kind in this shtetl, which until then had only known the education provided by the cheyder[92]. A drama circle was also established, with the aim of performing, using local talent and sometimes bringing productions from outside. We undertook activities for Keren Kayemet[93] and Keren HaYesod[94], we founded the first Hebrew and Yiddish library in the shtetl and so on and so forth.

So the shtetl came to life not only thanks to the new, stable democratic form of government that followed the First World War but was also inspired by the national awakening that arose at that time among the Jewish masses in Poland and which symbolised a sharp turn in the renewal of public life, different in essence and form from the conservative public life of 'the older generation'.

After some years the group split up, each going their own way in life; some got married, others emigrated or made aliyah[95]. We, the 'Second Generation', 'inherited' all the public activities carried out under the continuous leadership of Zeydl Lopata.

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For objective reasons the Hebrew school did not function for several years. We then founded the Tarbut Hebrew school, which was affiliated to the education network of the Tarbut centre in Warsaw[96]. Only girls studied in the school because, in accordance with the instruction of the local rov, the parents refused to send their boys to the school. The school's struggle for survival was therefore hard and bitter. More than once at the end of the month there was no money to pay the teachers' salaries.

We organised balls, performances and all sorts of fund-raising activities in support of the Hebrew school. On winter evenings we (members of the school administration) went from door to door and came back with wood to light the heating stoves in the school. There were wearisome and protracted negotiations with the rov to allow boys to be educated in this school, but to no avail.

But what can be said today with certainty is that it was only because of the period of the Hebrew school, combined with the education given by HeKhalutz[97] and HeKhalutz HaTzair[98], plus the activities of the national funds, that we were fortunate enough to send from Vysotsk good human material, honest and humble, like their parents, loyal to the values of pioneering Zionism and devoted to its realisation in all corners of the Land, on the kibbutz, in the moshava[99] and even in the city. And if there is any solace to be had from the catastrophe that happened to us may this be a solace to each and every one of us.

The central popular cultural institution of the shtetl in 1922 was the library, founded by people of 'the first generation'. Twice a week books could be exchanged. Among the readers were young people of all ages and from all walks of life, male and female workers, including the woman who spent all day cleaning goose feathers, who came to bring some sweetness to her life with a classic novel in Yiddish: der sheyner bokher[100] and such like.

Public Library in Vysotsk, 1926
From right to left: Pinkhas Gelman, Pinkhas Bolyar, Itzhak Ryzhy, Israel Gutman, Gershon Kolodny, Reuven Khover and Moyshe Levin


For together with the new books that appeared the library also had all the sentimental novels of Shomer[101] and such like, as well as novels by Avraham Mapu[102] (Guilt of Samaria and Love of Zion) and Lilienblum[103] (Sin of Youth etc.). In addition the library had copies of 'The One who got lost in the Ways of Life' by Peretz Smolenskin[104] and 'Both Ends' by Reuven Asher Braudes[105]and so on and so forth.

It was the tradition to hold an annual general meeting concerning library matters. This is when we would elect a new management. All the progressive-

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minded people in the shtetl, of all ages and classes, would come to this meeting, because the library belonged to everybody. The meeting was preceded by elaborate preparations for the special festive occasion.



It was not many years before we also organised in our shtetl a branch of the HeKhalutz organisation, the members of which were ourselves, the people of the 'Second Generation'. This was also on the initiative of Zeydl Lopata who, by the way, participated in the drafting of our first letter to the headquarters of HeKhalutz in Warsaw, in which we reported the establishment of our organisation and so on. And I remember that festive moment at New Year in the year 5684 [1924] when the members came to the synagogue to tell me that we had received the first reply from the headquarters of HeKhalutz in Warsaw. We went at once next door into the house of our friend Beyla Bak to read the letter.

The Khalutz branch, 1924
From right to left, top row: Gershon Kolodny, Israel Gutman, Itka Nafkhan, Moyshe Levin, Rivka Petrukh, Yakov Kagan, Yehoshua Kryvoruchky, Motl Tzirkl, Kaftan, Aaron Sheynman, Shlomo Katz;
Second row from top: Betzalel Lakhmanchuk, Pivovuz, Pessach Katz, Chava Geklman, Mordekhai Ayznberg, Chava Shnayder, Rivka Borovyk;
Second row from bottom: Aaron Shtoper, Betzalel Tkach, Moyshe Ayzik Pivovuz, Etl Vaks, Mordekhai Lapinsky, Chaya Borovyk, Berl Ryzhy;
Bottom row: Sonya Gelman, Mikhael Gelman, Zeydl Lopata, Yaffa Geklman, Ita Lopatyn, Bela Bek, Pinya Bolyar


How we trembled when we read the letter, since we saw in it a kind of message heralding the pioneering reality in the Land of Israel, in which from now on we were to immerse ourselves. Through this letter I began to develop expertise in the language of Hebrew correspondence. The opening words 'with reference to your letter' also became part of our letters. From then on, as the secretary of HeKhalutz, I began to love also the letters from the headquarters because of their fluent Hebrew style, just like the love I felt for the letters from Keren Kayemet, Keren HaYesod and the headquarters of Tarbut and so on.

And how busy we were when the first visitor visited us on behalf of the headquarters of HeKhalutz, for he was none other than Comrade Dubruml from Givat

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Brenner. We saw him as an emissary from that 'planet' called 'Eretz Israel'. We were all eyes and ears, hanging on his words, eager to learn and ready for action. In the course of time we also received visits from Bandersky (Ben Dori), Batya Banderska of blessed memory, Berdichevsky and others.

Some of us also went off for training in kibbutzim[106], but the great majority remained in the branch and discharged their pioneering obligation by visiting, every evening, the HeKhalutz house(Aaron Borukh Nafkhan's house, which was also where the municipal library was, under our management) in order to read newspapers from the labour movement in Eretz Israel, especially Kuntres[107] as well as He'Atid[108], the newspaper of HeKhalutz, which came from Warsaw.

We remember the great day when we were invited to take part in a pioneers' meeting in kibbutz Klosova (quarry), where Berdichevsky and Banderska addressed us. I remember the arguments we had regarding the enormous problems that stood then at the centre of pioneer life, about the collective life taking shape in the labour movement in Eretz Israel and so on. The dances, and in particular the spontaneous dances in the intervals of the ceremony, songs from Eretz Israel, the visit during working hours quarrying stones, where we really came face to face with pioneering communal life – these all had a great influence.

A training kibbutz was also established in the Byala railway station, next to the river Horyn. This kibbutz depended on the work of a large sawmill (sawing wood into planks etc.). We would often go to visit it. (By the way, a little episode: the secretary of that kibbutz was not fluent in the Hebrew language, and one evening while we were sitting in our branch in Vysotsk a young Christian woman came in. In her hand was a letter from the above-mentioned training kibbutz in which the secretary asked us to translate protocols from Yiddish to Hebrew and to send it back via the Goya[109]).

From time to time Zeydl Lopata would lecture us (in Yiddish) on the principles of pioneer Zionism. He was particularly fond of dwelling at great length on the student aliyah from Kharkov (Kharkover studentn), whom he would hold up as a symbol of self-sacrifice to the idea of building Eretz Israel.

It was not long before a branch of HeKhalutz HaTzair was organised by the younger generation. This was already 'the Third Generation' of people in our shtetl devoted to the cause of national revival. The HeKhalutz HaTzair was propelled by an exemplary pioneering dynamic, contrary to the branch of HeKhalutz HaBoger[110], whose members were already burdened with personal cares, at the core of which was how to escape from the four walls of Vysotsk and make aliyah to Eretz Israel quickly. HeKhalutz HaTzair was a home to constant fiery arguments and lively singing, and they danced with real devotion just like their parents, the Vysotsk Chassidim.

In the years 1924-5 the first olim[111] went from our shtetl. They were: Mordekhai Lopata, Sara Lopata, Khava the daughter of Reb Nisn Lopata, Etl Vaks, Mikhael Gelman, Yehoshua Kryvoruchky, Misha Likhtnfeld, Sheyndl Geklman, Rivka Petrukh and more. We accompanied the first olim to the railway station. There was no limit to the feeling of celebration and excitement. Our friend Mikhael Gelman of blessed memory made a strong impression on us as we accompanied him - one of the first olim - to the railway station. He rode on his fine horse next to the

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wagon that carried those who were accompanying him. The crowd broke out in cheers of joy at the great event. And how profound was the silent grief when we received the news that our friend Mikhael Gelman had been killed in a road accident in Eretz Israel. I remember the grief of his mother and of the family, especially the deep sigh of his father Reb Itzhok Dovid who, following the tragic event, cried as he walked past the Ark in the large synagogue to pray Kol Nidrei[112] and ya'ale anakateynu[113]. Not long after that we were stunned again by the tragic death in Eretz Israel of our friend Chava Lopata of blessed memory. And again the profound, silent grief of the family.

On the occasion of Chava Lopata's aliyah to Eretz Israel
From right to left, top row: Chana Lopatyn, Leybl Lopata, Khanche Khayat, Feya Lykhtnfeld, Chava Lopata, Misha Lykhtenfeld, Basil Shtoper, Chaya Bigon, Roza Lykhtnfeld, Dovid Shtoper, Ita Lopata, Yakov Kagan, Israel Gutman;
Middle row: Masha Lopatyn, Pesl Lopatyn, Nakhum Lopata, Nisn Borovyk, Ronya Ayznberg, Likhtnfeld, Mendl Lopata, Gershon Kolodny, Pinkhas Boliar;
Bottom row: Nisn Shtoper, Chava Ayznberg, Etl Vaks, Rivka Borovyk, Zelig Khyzhy, Pesl (daughter of Zalman) Lopata, Dvora Lykhtnfeld, Rakhel Shtoper, Zeydl Lopata, Moyshe Levin


The National Funds

Among the other important elements that created the Land of Israel atmosphere in our shtetl were the national funds Keren Kayemet[114] and Keren HaYesod[115] - though Keren HaYesod was directed specifically to those of means, of whom there were very few in our shtetl. This fact restricted our fund-raising activities and limited the amounts we collected. In spite of that Keren Kayemet, as is well known, was the property of the many, of those in our shtetl who had hardly any money. Because of that this institution was popular among the residents of our shtetl. Although,

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relatively speaking, the annual income was not great, KKL[116] became an influential and educational factor in public life.

We made a point of following to the letter the guidance of all those returning from a visit to the headquarters of KKL in Warsaw. We never missed an occasion to collect money. On every holiday and national and family occasion (marriage, circumcision etc.) we would work for Keren Kayemet.

Particularly sacred for us was the regular act of emptying the boxes at the beginning of each month by going out in pairs to call on people in their homes. Throughout the whole of Polish Jewry there were few examples of such constancy in the field of KKL activity. I remember how one summer the shtetl was hit by a fierce storm that smashed the window-panes of most of the houses in the shtetl. There was a great deal of damage and people were very depressed, but the next morning, the 'beginning of the month', we went out in pairs, as usual, to empty the KKL boxes.

KKL activity in our shtetl was marked by a certain romanticism and was imbued with a strong national sentiment which could only be expressed through action of this sort, and we were therefore always very concerned about what we would leave behind for the dear residents of our shtetl.

How pleasant it was on the eve of New Year to bring the annual KKL calendar, with all the explanatory material it contained concerning Eretz Israel, in return for merely a symbolic contribution, or to bring fifteen types of fruit on Tu B'Shvat[117]. One year we even received from headquarters almonds from the Land. We had to pack the almonds the same evening in specially printed bags sent by headquarters - very festive indeed. (By the way, several days later dear Reb Hershl Makhles, in his own humorous way, joked about these same almonds, saying: 'You bring us some worm-eaten almonds for which we have to give you money?')

Once or twice a year representatives from the headquarters in Warsaw would come to visit us. Mostly they were emissaries from the Land who would appear in the synagogue between afternoon and evening prayers with a romantic speech regarding the duty to reclaim the land, build Eretz Israel etc.

The people in the synagogue would really lap it up. The Jews of Vysotsk were generally reverent and sound in their views, though it was not for this reason alone that there were almost no opponents of the Zionist idea – indeed many of them were supporters. The influence of the Zionist public was also particularly great. After appearing in the synagogue the emissary would generally visit the youth of all ages in HeKhalutz HaTzair, and a day like this was one big celebration for the adults and young people alike.

I remember the visit of Popovsky of blessed memory, who began his speech to the young people with these words, more or less: 'People of various nations are asked: What would you do to put out a fire in your country? And each of them would answer in his own way, but a son of the people of Israel needs to answer: Each of us will throw a handful of earth and this is how we will put out the fire.' The meaning of course was: reclaiming the land.

We - that is, all the members of the KKL committee - liked one of the visitors so much that we accompanied him, for a whole Sabbath, to nearby Dombrovitze. We were present there at all his speeches and at the mass reception. We returned home on Sunday full of impressions and moving experiences.

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The KKL committee, 1933
From right to left, standing: Yoske Lopata, Tzipora Shuster, Arie Sheynman, Dovid Shtoper, Leybl Nafkhan, Gershon Nafkhan, Yakov Lopata, Reuven Khover, Gitl Lykhtnfeld, Zeydl Vinnik, Chana Lopata, Feygl Gutman;
Sitting: Sheyndl Khover, Mindl Kolodny, Gershon Kolodny, Israel Gutman, Rakhel Shtoper …, Malka Bigon, Sheyndl Abelson


There was also a branch of 'the Zionist Organisation'[118] in our shtetl . This had already been organised by people of 'the First Generation'. However this branch was more symbolic than real. For all that, in the large synagogue at Simkhat Torah[119] the tradition of a Zionist minyan[120] had been established whereby all the income from the sale of aliyot[121], reciting 'Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know…'[122] and other honours was handed over to the Keren Kayemet. It was through this that Zionist educational principles became so influential.

There was also a circle of Tzeirei Tzion, of which Zeydl Lopata was one of the organisers and which he headed. He would distribute Bafrayung[123] and all the other campaigning material among the Zionist and pioneering youth.

Apart from all those organisations there were no other public parties in the shtetl, apart from a small cell of a few people belonging to the Bund[124], the youth group Kadima[125], which later turned into HeKhalutz HaTzair, and in the course of time also a small cell of communists. To our regret the majority of the organisers of this were people who had left HeKhalutz.

There was also a 'Committee for Orphans' led by Asher Khayat, who was respected and loved by the common people and who was always diligent in maintaining a close and constant connection with the headquarters in Brisk[126]. They

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would frequently receive money and clothes for the orphans of Vysotsk, and some of the orphans were sent to study trade in special trade schools for orphans of Brisk and surroundings.


The Drama Club

A drama club for performances had already existed in the days of the 'First Generation'. The income from the performances was earmarked for support for the Tarbut school, Keren Kayemet and such like. Particularly memorable was the summer when Dina Veynblat came from the town of Sarny and stayed to direct us in rehearsals for performances. In her forceful style, full of a concentrated energy and blessed with a sophisticated artistic sensibility, she succeeded in instilling in the drama club a serious and purposeful approach. And the performances of plays like 'Song of Songs' and Mirele-Efros[127] and so on were very successful.

The efforts of Dina Veynblat brought relief from the greyness that marked the life of the shtetl at that time. Indeed when she left the shtetl her cart was accompanied by all her friends, men and women of the older generation who had formed a genuine friendship with her. They carried many garlands of flowers in their arms.

We also performed once in the neighbouring shtetl of Horodnya on a Saturday evening, after we had been there the whole Sabbath. By the way, I remember one curious thing: when we were selling tickets a lass came with two new vase pots in her hand (from the famous pottery of this shtetl), paying for tickets in kind instead of money.

Before there was a fire station in our shtetl we arranged performances in the Polish school building and after that in the hall of the fire station for which we were charged an excessive amount by the anti-semitic local administration. We would bring large kerosene lamps and benches on loan from the synagogues.


Religious Life

As has already been said, the Jews of the 'older generation' were God-fearing and devout but without making any special external show of devotion; none of them wore shtreymlekh[128], or long side-locks, apart from the rov[129]. But most of them had long beards. They did not even wear special hats like the Jews of Galicia etc., apart from long kapotes[130], which the majority of them would wear on weekdays, and the black surdut[131] on Sabbath and holidays. The great majority were followers of Stolin-Karlin rebbes[132]. A few were followers of the rebbe of Brezne[133].

There were three synagogues in the shtetl: the large synagogue that was intended for prayer only on Sabbaths and festivals and, inside the synagogue on both sides of the long corridor, two small synagogues or prayer houses (shtiblekh). On the right was the prayer house of the Karlin Chassidim whose rov was Reb Elimelekhke Karliner, and on the left was the prayer house of the Stolin Chassidim whose rov was

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Reb Moyshele Stoliner. In the morning and evening they would always be praying there.

The large synagogue, built of wood in a special patriarchal architectural style, was very tall, in complete contrast to the small simple houses of the shtetl, the roofs of the majority of which were covered with straw. The Aron Hakodesh[134], adorned with artistic carvings, also stood high, with a splendid reading platform.

On the outside the walls of the synagogue had become black during the course of all the years but inside they were covered with oil-based green paint. Nobody could remember when they had been painted, just as nobody could remember or knew when this little ornamented 'temple' had been founded. There was a commonly believed legend that one of the Polish owners of the fort, a lover of the Jews, had built the synagogue at his own expense in the distant past.

Barely a marriage took place in the town without the ceremony taking place in the entrance to this synagogue. The most elaborate preparations took place at Rosh HaShana[135] and Yom Kippur[136], when all those praying in the two shtiblekh [small prayer-houses] down below and also most of those praying in 'the house of study' opposite would come and pray in the great hall of the large synagogue, where the beauty of holiness prevailed.

Also on the days when the admorim[137] visited the shtetl everyone would come to the large synagogue in their honour.

Later on, when the ancient wooden foundation became weak, Yakov Lopata volunteered to organise a special collection in order to replace the old wooden beams. They had indeed begun to remove the beams and started the renovation and were continuing in this work when in 1938 the building was burned in a fire. They suspected the local communists of starting the fire. 'The whole house of Israel, bewail the burning'[138] of this holy house for generations.

In the two synagogues and in the house of study 'the Sephardic version', the melody special to the Stolin Chassidim, prevailed. On the eve of Sabbath the synagogue hummed with the sound of those praying and the enthusiasm of those reciting hodu[139] 'Let the Redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy' and so on. After the noise silence prevailed in the prayer patakh eliyahu[140], the noise began again in yedid nefesh[141] and in the happy tune pittum haketoret[142]. It started again in 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts'[143] and in the ashrei[144]. There was a loud noise of voices in raza de shabbat[145] and indeed until the end of the evening prayer. In the morning Sabbath prayer the Psalm 107, 2 excitement begins with 'Blessed be He, at whose word the world existed[146], dies down with 'verses of praise[147] and rises again with 'In the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy

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hands have established[148] and with 'The breath of life in every creature shall bless You, Lord our God[149], till the end of the prayer.

A noble and patriarchal melody prevailed among the Stolinim and the Karlinim in particular on the 'High Holidays', in the 'Kingdoms, Memories and Shofars[150]. Many passages of prayer were accompanied by melodies, full of inspiration and rhythm.

The 'third meal' of Sabbath was arranged in the house of study with the participation of people from all the three synagogues. We, the 'young scholars', loved to be present for this third meal. A charm to the heart, in this meal were order, discipline and the reign of the spirit. Not a word of everyday conversation was heard apart from 'hymns'.

Mostly Berl Zulir or Meir Katzman (may he have a long life) had the honour of singing dror yikra [151] but the singing of ya ekhsof[152] was the special responsibility of Feybush, who was famous in the community for his skill as a musician. When the excitement came with the refrain [ya ekhsof] he would stand up straight, dance and sit down again, and so on repeatedly. They would bring these melodies from the rebbe, learn them by heart for a certain time until they were ready to sing them in public.

The 'house of study' was also an ancient building. All the orthodox circles in the town would pray and study there without any regard for differences of Chassidic dynasty. But the melody of prayer ('the version') was purely Stolin-Karlin. However they would not object if anybody who happened to be passing in front of the Ark on a weekday sang in a difference melody, for the Jews of Vysotsk were peaceful people.

There was a tradition of study in the shtetl: on weekdays between afternoon and evening prayers the local rov read from Eyn Yaakov[153] and on the morning of Sabbath all the Psalms were recited in public. On Sabbath afternoons a page of Gemara[154] was studied, and the ritual slaughterer Chaim, the son of Hershl Makhles, led in reading sections of the Sayings of the Fathers.

'Preachers' from the outside would also appear in the house of study. They would 'preach' to the crowd in a special melody. Their themes would be religious law and legends, but mostly they preached about the 'world to come' and the behaviour of a man of Israel in this world. At the end of the 'sermon' they would place a 'bowl' by the entrance for contributions from the crowd for the 'preacher'.

Usually this house of study served as a general meeting house for all the Jews of the shtetl. Of those who passed by in front of the Ark in this house of study the most frequent was Reb Itzkhok Shabshi. He was also a melamed[155]. By the way, among the melamdim who should be especially remembered in blessing is also the old melamed Reb Chaim Shlyapek of blessed memory, the brother of my grandmother Lea, the righteous of blessed memory.

The third synagogue in the shtetl was that of the Brezne Chassidim, whose rov at that time was Reb Itzikl. One of the old synagogue collectors was Reb Aaron Khaznchuk who was able to sing the melodies beautifully. With his singing he used to accompany every joyous family occasion involving members of his group - on the arrival of the rebbe and so on.

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In our day the rov of the shtetl was the old Gaon[156] Reb Yehuda Abelson, the righteous of blessed memory. He was an eminent scholar, an expert in the Torah and a rabbinical personality of great standing. His wife was also outstanding in her knowledge of the sources and in particular the Bible. After his son Reb Yehoshua fled from the Soviet town of Homel[157], where he had served as rov, and came to Vysotsk in 1923 Reb Yehuda transferred to nearby Plotnitze. His son Yehoshua served as rov in Vysotsk.

Like his father Reb Yehoshua also won the affection of the public. While he was still alive he achieved the 'coronation' of his first son Avram of blessed memory as a rov in the shtetl of Manyevich. Especially heart-rending was a eulogy that the rov Reb Yehoshua gave in Plotnitze on the death of his father, the Gaon, as was also the eulogy he gave on the death of his outstanding mother.

According to a report in Davar[158], at the time of the Shoah, Reb Yehoshua Abelson turned to the people of his community in the moment of death at the place of slaughter, in words of support: 'Hear oh Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord'[159] and delivered his soul to God, together with his family and the Jewish community of Vysotsk, may the Lord revenge their blood.

His son Reb Avram was also killed in the ghetto of Manyevich, murdered in the prime of his life. I remember the sermon he once gave at Passover as a young man when he came home from the yeshiva[160] this was a grand, epic performance of great pathos concerning the exodus of the people from the house of bondage and concerning the idea of freedom according to the sources, tradition, exegesis and legend.

Until the year 1923-4 there were two highly respected cantors in Vysotsk. They were Reb Isaskhar Trigon, who also had a cheyder in which he taught his pupils Talmud, Chumash[161] with Rashi[162], and Reb Yakir Shifman, may he live a long life. After the two of them moved elsewhere - Reb Isaskhar to Rokitne and Reb Yakir to nearby Dombrovitze - their posts were transferred, in accordance with a judgment of the rabbis' 'Torah-court' on the rights of holding a post etc., to Reb Chaim Sheynboym, son of Hershil Makhles, and Reb Yosef Berl, son-in-law of Reb Shleyme Levin. Both of them, still relatively young, were outstanding in honesty and righteousness and in the carrying out of important functions in the shtetl.

Every Friday Reb Eliahu-Moyshe Borovyk would wearily drag his old legs from house to house throughout the shtetl to collect contributions of Sabbath loaves for those in need. Everywhere he went he would be greeted hospitably and with the respect due to him.

On Friday afternoons Reb Yudke Shtoper would visit the synagogue in order to arrange the candles and to place white cloths on the tables and change the cover of the Ark in honour of Sabbath. On his way to the synagogue for the second time for the start of the Sabbath, close to the time for lighting the Sabbath candles, he would tap on the windowpanes of every house in order to remind the housewife that the precise hour had come to light the candles, according to the luakh[163]. He did this along the whole length of the street.

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The rebbitzin[164] Miriam Abelson
The rov Reb Yehuda Abelson
Velvl Gelman


For many years, until the end of his life, he was the collector for the Karlin shtibl (prayer house), and thanks to the great respect that people felt towards him and thanks to his honesty, integrity and humility they accepted his authority. As his house was a meeting place for his extended family and for his many friends of all ages he wasn't disturbed in the pattern of his daily life (also as a result of his being hard of hearing).

Every morning he would help his sons and his partners, Zeydl Lopata and the Khaver family, pack crates of fish in a mixture of ice in order to transport them to the capital Warsaw. This was their trade for many years. And after that public prayers, a meal and studying of the Midrash Rabbah[165] in a loud voice – as this was his hobby – to study for about two hours every evening, before going up to his rest.

Many days before the festival of Sukkot[166], with great devotion and after consultation with the rov, he took a lot of care in choosing an elegant esrog[167] and in decorating the kosher tabernacle in which he would indeed live throughout the festival, eating, drinking, sleeping and studying there.

Let us also remember Reb Shmuel Vinnik, who for many years was collector for the house of study and looked after it almost single-handedly, and Reb Nisl Meir's, who was among the most rare and dedicated beadles who did nothing in order to receive payment. Every Sabbath at dawn he would wake up the Jews of the shtetl 'for the work of the Creator', to chant psalms in the house of study. Once they were there he would single out how each of them earned their living for the week and

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this is how he would wake them up: 'Arise, such and such, son of such and such, prevail like a lion for the work of the Creator for that is what you must do'. And his voice echoed in the still of the night from one end of the shtetl to the other.

He would also make sure there were drinks and pastries for the various charity meals and he would literally cling to a group of Chassidic dancers.

Chava Lifshis, the wife of Reb Yoyne Borovyk, was the 'preacher' (Sagerin [Yiddish]) for the women of the synagogue and led the prayers on Sabbath and festivals and also in 'elegies' on Tisha Be'Av[168]. She would also look after and be in charge of the cooking for the admorim and their followers when they came to the shtetl, and she would also share among the women the leftovers which she managed to save from the hands of the Chassidim.

From 1924 onwards the admor[169] from the town of Brezne, Reb Gedaliahu Toybman ('Reb Gedalche'), would also visit. He was invited by my father despite the fact that my father was a Karlin Chassid. My father had been on friendly terms with Reb Gedalche for over twenty years, from the time he visited Dolguslya in Russia and was received in great honour. And after the area was conquered by the Soviets the admor changed his visits to a different area and also came to our shtetl. He stayed with Reb Asher Khayat and his neighbour Zalman Lopata.

In these Sabbath meals the Chassidim from all circles in the town, including the rov, would sit around the long tables. Reb Feybush and Reb Aaron Khaznchuk would play their songs, and the admor would embark on 'chanting the Torah', and after the blessing of the food the whole group would go out into the street dancing with ecstasy and devotion until the admor , his eyelids lifted upwards, would also join in. In his appearance he would really enthral all those who saw him.

The old cemetery was very ancient. Its gravestones were made of wood and the letters carved into them were almost indecipherable, apart from one marble headstone on the grave of my grandfather Reb Zalman son of Mordekhai, who passed away in the year 5669 (1909), according to what was carved on the gravestone that his son Yakov Lopata brought from Olevsk in Russia.

In about the year 1925 a new cemetery was consecrated at the end of 'the new road' of the Christians. The ceremony was carried out by the old rov Reb Yehuda Abelson, the righteous of blessed memory. In the circuits all the Jews of the shtetl from young and old took part, and at the end of the ceremony we were treated to drinking 'leChaim'[170] in generous measure.

As it was then a period of argument between the two 'sides' concerning two places for slaughtering that had become vacant, people talked a lot about the 'division'. And some people wouldn't even stop arguing about it on this special occasion. Then Reb Asher Lapinsky got angry and shouted excitedly in a loud voice: 'What? Even here in this holy place, is this an eternal house for every living being?' He dragged those who were arguing to the dining table and drank leChaim with them, his eyes sparkling with holy joy coming from the heart.

Every spring the problem of leasing pasture-land, zapolye[171], came up again. This belonged to the local Christian community. The discussion would take place on the reader's platform of the 'house of study' between afternoon and evening prayers. Every cow owner would sign for his financial obligations towards the leaseholder and they would come to an agreement regarding the hiring of the Christian (shepherd) to look after all the herd.

The only municipal institution in the shtetl was the town council, Urząd gminy Wysock (in Polish), where the Jewish community was represented by two

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delegates. They were nearly always Aaron, son of Reb Yehuda Shtoper, and Asher Khayat. The other delegates and all the officials and workers were Christians. The town never enjoyed anything from this institution: not street lighting, not pavements, not road-building etc., apart from free education which was given in the Polish elementary school purely in the Polish language.

In the last years (around 1928) the Jews of the shtetl had to improve the appearance of the shtetl by whitewashing the houses, marking the names of the roads and the numbers, making wooden pavements etc. And indeed they built these pavements solely in order to discharge their obligation, constructing some of them from thick boards and some from light wooden boxes and the like. The result was that they were of pretty poor quality.

The Jews were just taxpayers. Although all the houses of the shtetl were built of wood and the majority were also covered with straw roofs there was no firefighting organisation or equipment in the early years, apart from a single horse-drawn pump and some demolition equipment. These were kept by Nisl Ranies (Reb Nisn, son of Reb Shleyme) and were under his supervision. They had been purchased at one time with money collected from the Jewish public. Things remained like this until in 1927-8 the town council (gmina), in cooperation with a mixed council of Jews and Goys, came to the rescue and erected a large shed in the centre of the shtetl for storage of fire-fighting equipment, an adequate quantity of which was purchased. They would also hire out the large hall in the shed for performances by our drama circle and for various artistic events - by the way, for a greatly exaggerated sum, a result of the anti-semitism that the authorities of the town were plagued with.


The 'Jewish Community'

In the year 1928, with the publication of the law[172] by the Polish parliament granting the status of 'Jewish Community' even to country towns, the tiny little town of Vysotsk, which also included the nearby shtetl of Horodnya, received, as if by a miracle, the status of community. Then the pre-election activity and the wrangling started between Zionists and orthodox. But elections did take place and a few delegates were elected, among them once again Aaron son of Yehuda Shtoper and Asher Khayat, who served as secretary, plus two delegates from Horodnya. However, under pressure from the town council (gmina), where there was a marked antisemitic tendency, especially in those final years, the activity of the 'community' was restricted to the issuing of birth and death certificates and such like. It didn't do anything constructive of any significance. The 'community' made hardly any impression on the life of the Jews.



In the distant past there had been a kind of 'doctor'. A clue to this was that Asher Khayat and Zalman Lopata purchased the house that they jointly occupied from the 'doctor'(der royfe). In our days there was no doctor in the shtetl apart from the felsher[173], a Russian university lecturer who knew something of medicine and who was invited to treat urgent cases of illness. In the case of a 'dangerous illness' the

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family would bring the doctor from the nearby town of Dombrovitza for a single visit. While he was there other sick people in the town would also visit him.

In the year 1924 the chemist Mr Yakov Khomre and his family came to settle in the shtetl. He was the brother-in-law of the Jewish doctor Kupershteyn from Olevsk[174] which is in White Russia. He established a modern pharmacy in Vysotsk, and, on the initiative of the chemist Khomre, it wasn't long before a young doctor also came to Vysotsk. This was Dr Zlotnik who began to serve as the doctor of the shtetl.

Once Dr Zlotnik volunteered to give a series of lectures to the public, in particular to the young people, on the topic 'Culture and Civilisation'. He spoke in Polish, for the man only spoke Polish in spite of the fact that he was a committed Zionist. There were about thirty of us and we listened intently to the topic, as if hypnotised. He began his lectures from the earliest period of mankind, the generation of the Flood, the generation that set sail and so on and interwove into the lecture quotations in fluent Hebrew, like for example 'For we be brethren…'[175]. Amidst the constant provincial greyness of Vysotsk his lectures shone a special light for us. It wasn't long before Dr Zlotnik left the shtetl for he wasn't able to find his living there - although he was a bachelor.


A Way of Life

The appearance of the town was like the appearance of a very large village. Its houses were low, the majority covered with straw roofs. It was only because of the fires that broke out from time to time and consumed the old houses that new, larger and improved wooden houses were built in their place. From the main street, which was very wide, some alleyways branched out here and there. All this was a purely Jewish settlement. The Christian settlement was concentrated in the suburbs spread out in the four directions of the compass, from east to west and from north to south.

In the [Jewish] main street there were a few tiny shops: a grocery store, fabrics, building material, a bar etc. Trade was very sparse, except on Thursday when buying increased a little, with purchases at the grocery store for the requirements of the Sabbath. Throughout the day the movement of people was by and large barely noticeable because they were all busy working and looking after their own affairs. Towards evening a few people would appear in the square of the shtetl, some going to the synagogue and some of the young people going for a walk with their friends.

In the past there had been no post office in the shtetl. Postal items would be collected from the town's local authority office; anybody waiting for a letter would go there to enquire about the letter and collect it. At the beginning of the 20s a government 'postal agency' was established. In those days, with people from Vysotsk going to Eretz Israel, the majority of those thronging around the post office were families of olim[176] who came to collect letters from their relatives in Eretz Israel. There was a high level of expectation leading up to the moment when post could be collected. People would chat about Eretz Israel and tell each other about 'the situation' and about what was happening there etc.

At the beginning of the 20s there would burst forth in the evenings the playing of a fiddle and also records of cantorial singing, but only from the house of Meir Vinnik: 'Rahel weeping for her children'[177], 'And they shall rejoice in Your

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sovereignty'[178] Rachem na[179] by Yossele Rosenblatt[180]. Some years later there burst forth from the house of the chemist Yakov Khomre the sound of his wife Polya playing violin and piano. Later on Shleyme Shuster and Zeydl Vinnik, that lovely couple, played their violins. They would also give pleasure with their violins at the weddings of those without the means to hire the kleyzmorim[181] from nearby Dombrovitza. These kleyzmorim were Gabriel and his sons. He played the clarinet and his sons the fiddles and drum.

On the eve of Sabbath they would bring the bride and groom, accompanied by almost all the people of the shtetl and by the kleyzmorim, along the whole of the main street as far as the entrance to the large synagogue, during which time the sounds of the playing and the drum resounded far and wide. After the rov, amidst a profound hush, had conducted the 'blessing' the wedding house regained its full dignity during the playing of the traditional melodies. Gabriel and his group would remain in the wedding house. With the passing of Sabbath the dances would begin and continue until the light of morning. Then, with their farewell melodies, they would accompany the best men to their homes, and Gabriel would leave for the prayer house to consecrate himself with his creator in a morning prayer. At the time when HeKhalutz was established Zeydl Lopata would organise a special dance for weddings, a pioneer dance, humming the words 'Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord[182] until this dance became a traditional part of weddings.

When a boy was born the beadle would appear on the stage of the synagogue on Friday and after receiving the Sabbath would proclaim: 'Such and such, son of such and such 'requests' the 'world' (the congregation) to a boy'. After the eve of Sabbath meal, before the blessing of the food, people would go into the house where the boy had been born, sit around the table and be treated to peas or beans and compote, sing melodies, say the blessing of the food in public and return to their homes.

Pesya (the midwife), Volf Nafkhan and their grandson Itzhak Ryzhy


The next day, after reciting the Sabbath mussaf[183], the beadle would again proclaim: 'go in peace, it's a boy'! And again Jews would enter the birth room, bless

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the mother and the newborn infant with a shabbes sholem and wish a speedy recovery.

Also on the evening before the day of the bris-mila[184] they would visit the house where the boy had been born for vakh (watch), then study for about an hour and go home. The bris-mila would be carried out with great pomp and circumstance, and the honour [of holding the baby boy] was passed from the kvatter[185] to the sandak[186], followed by drinks and pastries, traditional Chassidic songs etc.

From right to left, standing: Chaya Vaks, Reuven Kolkovsky, Breyndl Gottlieb, Eliahu Vaks, Malka Bigon, Reuven Khover, Sheynke Abelson, Pinkhas Gelman, Sheyndl Khover, Leybl Nafkhan, Mindl Kolodny;
Sitting: Dov Bigon, a male visitor, a female visitor, Zeydl Vinnik


There was no birth clinic in Vysotsk, not even a qualified midwife, but they would invite the bobe, the traditional midwife Pesya, the wife of Volf Nafkhan, and everything went smoothly.

Whenever one of the two water pumps in the shtetl, from which they brought water home in buckets, went wrong, one of the Jewish residents would go out to collect contributions from house to house in order to repair the pump. Once when I happened to be with Hershl Makhlas (Sheynbeyn) by the pump to which the two of us had come in order to draw water I was surprised by the reaction to my sholem [hello]. 'That's too quiet. Is it not written: “With joy shall ye draw water”[187]? We must therefore be happy when we stand next to the water.' On that occasion, breathing in the spring morning, I raised my voice in the song kinderyorn[188]. 'At any rate something of my life (remains); my soul, is it not like scraps of linen?'[presumably a quotation from a popular song]. For with all the dear intimacy of this shtetl and its special romanticism, the horizon was narrow and there was a yearning for a different life, more varied, that was out there, somewhere far away…

More than once while walking home late at night I met Berl Zulir while he was 'on guard'. He would stroll along the ramshackle pavements and sing romantic songs to himself in his high voice. And years later, here in the Land [of Israel], when I

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was in the cinema watching Yankl der shmid[189] as Yankl runs around at night from street to street, singing romantic songs in a voice that echoes far and wide, in his yearning for a life somewhere else, it all came back to me.

Like him, Reb Isroel Nafkhan (I was one of those who frequented his home), who would stand on Sabbath afternoons a good hour in front of the window panes with a book in his hands and only his lips moving, had similar feelings to Beberl's. So would Hershil Makhlas. Both of them became widowers at a young age. They did not re-marry, out of self-sacrifice for their children.

I loved rummaging through the pile of old copies of HaTsfira[190] in Isroel Nafkhan's storage room . I also loved to read the sheets crowded with tiny lines belonging to Yakov-Shmuel Levin, dating from the time when he had once been in Odessa, in Tsarist Russia. These were kept in Reb Shleyme Levin's storage rooms. And so on and so forth…

When the young people went on walks it was mostly outside the town, 'over the bridges'. In the evenings we would sail in boats on the river, and on summer evenings you would hear the voices of pretty girls on the veranda of one of the houses singing in joy. But, as I've said, the horizon was very narrow, especially for the progressive generation; everyone would raise his eyes to the distance, to Eretz Israel. But there were also those who planned their life where they were or in the surrounding area.

However who could imagine such a tragic end? Alas, the Jews! Alas, righteous women! Good and loyal sons and daughters. Working for the Zionist ideal was the light of your life – even though you did not achieve it.

I loved you all, an eternal love, those I knew intimately and also those whom I loved only from afar. All of you were dear to me, old men and old women, young men and young women. And this is how I love you also, the remnants, here with us in the Land – our land. Everyone a kind of living memorial on the graves of those who were. For certain reasons it is difficult for me to name you, but you are all constantly in my mind's eye:

'Sky wrapped in greyish mist, in the air the smell of spring,
The dust of the roads dotted with light rain and you, strolling slowly -
Now I still keep and remember all that in my head turned silver,
Now also my heart will leave me suddenly and walk silently with you.

My heart walks silently in the row and does not grasp your death,
And does not know how and why your lives stopped suddenly.
I do not take in completely the idea that I shall never be able to see you again,
That all of you, the reality and essence of life, are but a shadow and a dream.

Sky wrapped in greyish mist, in the air the smell of spring,
And the dust of the roads dotted with tears and you, strolling slowly.'

(from Or Zarua [Shining Light], songs and ballads of Shimshon Meltzer [1909 –2000])

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And this is how the end came, together with the whole of the house of Israel in Europe. Our precious community of Vysotsk, where honest people, forever modest, lived and worked, among them parents, brothers, sisters, many family relatives and innocent babies, male and female comrades, and good friends, all wiped out on one day, the 27th of Elul 5702 – 9.9.1942 – by the Nazis and their Ukrainian emissaries, may they be cursed. Some of those who escaped and survived and reached Eretz Israel saw the mass grave beyond the town of Vysotsk, a grave on which there is not even any hope of prostrating ourselves.

About one hundred and fifty of the 'People of Vysotsk' are here in Israel. A large number of them come together every year for a memorial gathering and public Kadish[191]. They appear like chicks abandoned by the mother hen, they assemble and come together as one. And so, every year on the anniversary of the slaughter, they gather, people of Vysotsk, to unite with the memory of their dear ones. And a memorial stone, paid for out of money collected from our friends, was erected in the 'Vysotsk Copse' in the KKL Forest of Martyrs in Eshtaol, which is on the road leading up to Jerusalem. On the 27th of Nisan (April) the children of Vysotsk come here to be with one another, to be together and commune with the dead. I gathered the strength to record their memory with these meagre lines…

  Israel Gutman

Zionist activists in the shtetl, 1933[192]


  1. New Year return
  2. Holy Ark (containing the Sefer (book of the) Torah) return
  3. Karlin, a suburb of Pinsk, was the centre of an important northern branch of Chassidism return
  4. reader's platform in a synagogue return
  5. festival, 33 days after Passover return
  6. Yiddish: small prayer house return
  7. private school providing a traditional religion-based education return
  8. Jewish National Fund, founded in 1901 in order to buy and develop land in Palestine for Jewish settlement return
  9. United Israel Appeal, founded in 1920, the main international fund-raising organisation return
  10. emigration to Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel) return
  11. 'Culture', a network of Hebrew-language educational institutes founded in 1922 return
  12. The Pioneer movement return
  13. Young Pioneers return
  14. settlement, originally agricultural return
  15. 'The Handsome Lad' return
  16. Nokhem-Meir Sheynevisht (1846-1915) return
  17. 'Mapu, who was born in 1808 near Kovno (Kaunas) and died in 1867 in Konigsberg (Kaliningrad), wrote in Hebrew – his Ahavat Tzion (Love of Zion) is regarded as the first Hebrew novel return
  18. Moshe Leyb Lilienblum (1843-1910) wrote in both Russian and Hebrew return
  19. Peretz Smolenskin (1842-1885), Russian Hebrew writer return
  20. Hebrew writer, born 1851 in Vilnius, died 1902 in Vienna return
  21. collectives preparing young people for aliyah (emigration to the Land of Israel) and communal life once there return
  22. Kuntres (pamphlet) the weekly paper of Ahdut HaAvoda (Unity of Labour), was published between 1919 and 1929 return
  23. ‘The Future’, the newspaper of HeKhalutz, published in Warsaw return
  24. non-Jewish woman return
  25. Adult Pioneers return
  26. those making aliyah to Eretz Israel return
  27. prayer recited at the start of the Day of Atonement return
  28. 'Our groan shall rise…', from a piyut (liturgical poem) chanted on the eve of the Day of Atonement return
  29. Jewish National Fund, founded in 1901, in order to buy and develop land in Palestine for Jewish settlement return
  30. United Israel Appeal, founded in 1920, the main international fund-raising organisation return
  31. acronym for Keren Kayemet l'Israel, the full name of Keren Kayemet (see note [92]) return
  32. the 15th day of the month of Shevat (January-February) when various (presumably dried) fruits and nuts were eaten return
  33. the umbrella organisation of the Zionist movement, which later became the World Zionist organisation, was founded in 1897 at the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland return
  34. literally 'Rejoicing in the Torah', marking the completion of the annual cycle of Torah (Pentateuch) readings return
  35. quorum of ten men necessary for reciting prayers in the synagogue return
  36. literally 'ascents', the honour of being called up to the bimah (reader's platform) to chant a blessing before and after the cantor reads from the Torah return
  37. Deuteronomy chapter 4, verse 35 return
  38. Yiddish: Bafrayung Arbetersztyme (Liberation Workers' Voice), official organ of the Polish branch of Poalei Tzion (Workers of Zion), a Zionist-socialist party return
  39. Jewish socialist movement founded in 1897 to represent Jews throughout Imperial Russia. The Bund supported the 1917 February Revolution but opposed the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution. In 1921 it ceased to function in the Soviet Union but remained active in Poland (and the United States) return
  40. 'Forwards', the provisional name of the local Zionist youth movement return
  41. now Brest, Belarus (formerly Brest-Litovsk) return
  42. published in 1898 and written by the prominent Ukrainian Yiddish playwright Yakob Gordin return
  43. Yiddish: fur hats worn on the Sabbath return
  44. Chassidic religious leader return
  45. Yidd.: long coat worn by observant Jews return
  46. Polish: frock-coat return
  47. an important northern branch of Chassidism founded in Karlin, a suburb of Pinsk. Following persecution by the Vilne-based rabbinical authorities and the misnagdim (opponents of Chassidism) the 'court' moved to Stolin return
  48. now Berezne, north-east of Rivne return
  49. Holy Ark return
  50. New Year return
  51. Day of Atonement return
  52. acronym for adoneinu (our Master) moreinu (our Teacher) verabeinu (our Rabbi) return
  53. Leviticus chapter 10, verse 6 return
  54. 'O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good'(Psalm 136,1) return
  55. Elijah's Prayer Meditation, taken from the tikunei zohar (Rectifications of the Zohar (Splendour), the central book of the Kabbalah, esoteric interpretations of the Bible) return
  56. 'Beloved of the Soul', a poem by the kabbalist Rabbi Elazar Azkari (1533-1600) return
  57. Mixing the incense's return
  58. Isaiah chapter 6, verse 3 return
  59. Blessed is he…' - verses from Psalms 84, 144, 115, 141 and all of 145 return
  60. The Secret of Sabbath', from the book of Zohar (see note [130]) return
  61. Sabbath morning prayer, from the Siddur (order of service) return
  62. containing Psalms 100 and 145-150, various prayers followed by the Song at the Sea (Exodus 14/15) return
  63. Exodus chapter 15, verse 17 return
  64. Sabbath morning prayer, from the Siddur return
  65. rams' horns' return
  66. 'Freedom shall be called', the opening words of a poem by the 10th century Dunash ben Librat (or Labrat) return
  67. 'God, I yearn' - see later section on Karlin-Stolin Chassidism return
  68. a book of tales and homilies from the Talmud, popular among the masses, collected by Rabbi Yakov ben Shlomo Ibn Khaviv, probably in the early 17th century return
  69. part of the Talmud return
  70. teacher (plural: melamdim) return
  71. 'genius', a title for a rabbi indicating great respect return
  72. south-eastern Belarus return
  73. daily newspaper of the labour movement in Eretz Israel return
  74. Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 4 return
  75. college for the study of the Torah and Talmud return
  76. Pentateuch return
  77. acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Itzkhaki, who wrote famous commentaries on the Bible and Talmud return
  78. calendar indicating the precise start and end of the Sabbath, week by week return
  79. wife of the rov return
  80. collection of midrashim (exegeses and interpretations of the Bible) return
  81. 7-day Feast of Tabernacles (between late September and late October), when some Jews eat (and sometimes sleep) in temporary structures partially open to the sky, recalling the 40 years in the desert following the Exodus from Egypt return
  82. type of citrus fruit return
  83. day of mourning marking the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people return
  84. acronym for adoneynu (our Master) moreynu (our Teacher) verabeynu (our Rabbi) return
  85. Cheers! return
  86. a local word, literally 'beyond the fields' return
  87. The law of 1928 authorized the establishment of Jewish community councils in rural areas on a selffunding basis, responsible among other things for the registration of births, marriages, divorces and deaths return
  88. from Russian feldsher: medical assistant return
  89. now in Ukraine return
  90. Genesis chapter 13, verse 8 return
  91. emigrants to Eretz Israel return
  92. Jeremiah chapter 31, verse 15 return
  93. prayer from the Mussaf service (an additional service on Sabbath and festivals commemorating the additional sacrifices offered in the Temple of Jerusalem – see Numbers 28-29) return
  94. Have Mercy', the Third Grace following a meal return
  95. a leading exponent of cantorial music (lived 1882-1933) return
  96. Yiddish: musicians (singular: kleyzmer) return
  97. Psalm number 4, verse 5 return
  98. an additional service, following the morning service, on Sabbath and festivals, commemorating the additional sacrifices offered in the Temple of Jerusalem return
  99. circumcision return
  100. the 'godfather' who carries the baby to the circumcision area return
  101. the man who holds the baby during the bris return
  102. Isaiah chapter 12, verse 3 return
  103. 'Childhood years' by Mordekhai Gebirtig (1877-1942), a famous writer of popular Yiddish songs who lived in Cracow return
  104. Yankl the Smith, based on the play by David Pinsky (1872-1959) return
  105. 'The Dawn', the first Hebrew-language journal in Poland, was founded in 1862. It ceased publication in 1927 return
  106. memorial prayer for the dead return
  107. It ceased publication in 1927 return

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