** Webmaster Note: The following
is a translation from Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov
as sponsored by George Zilbergeld.
Additional clarifications are provided in parenthesis ( ).
FROM THE JOURNAL OF MEMORIES
family's connection with the town Vladimirets began in 1911.We were residents of Brisk.That year, our father passed away, and our household,
burdened with children, no longer had any chances of survival
there.The worry of
supporting the family now rested upon my big brother, Benjamin,
who was a pharmacist by profession, and he decided to find an
appropriate place to open a pharmacy in one of the provincial
travelled first to Lubomil, to our brother-in-law, who was also
a pharmacist by profession, to consult with him as to the steps
he should take in order to achieve his goal.At that meeting, they decided to take a trip together and
visit the various towns, until they would find what they were
TO A NEW
One day, as
they were sitting on a train travelling from Kobylye to Sarny,
they began a conversation with another Jew who was sitting near
them.In the course
of the conversation, they found out that the man was from the
town Vladimirets, and that his name was Baruch Kanonicz.Not only that, but it became apparent that Baruch had
known our father, who used to visit the area around Vladimirets
in connection with his business in the forest trade.Now, the conversation became one of actual familiarity,
and when Baruch found out that my brother wanted to open a
pharmacy in one of the towns, he spoke a great deal about
said that my brother should travel there and he would be
surprised at the chances available.
with Baruch, they left the train at the station in Rafalovka,
and went out on the road to Vladimirets.The distance from Rafalovka to Vladimirets was 18
kilometers, which they travelled in a vehicle belonging to the
wagoner Isaac "der Viecher."
"Arab"- the origin
of this nickname certainly was the fact that Isaac's face was
Isaac was an easy-going Jew, who took his time.He didn't hurry, and he was certain that he would not be
late for anything.
the days at the beginning of spring everywhere there was a
pleasant breeze and the joy of awakening.That day, there were many wagons travelling toward
fact also caused some comfort.The long road through the sand was not difficult to
travel now, but even so, they travelled slowly and listened to
the stories and explanations of Baruch, a native of the area.They were so absorbed in their conversation that they
didn't see how the long road ended.Suddenly, they found themselves standing in Vladimirets.
the day they came to Vladimirets was a Christian holiday and
the day of the annual fair in the town.The market square was full of crowds of villagers who had
come to buy and sell. Christians and Jews who had come from
nearby towns set up many stands and booths of merchandise.The shops were crowded with all kinds of buyers.Indeed, there was one pharmacy in the town, but when they
saw the storm of buying and selling all around, they came to the
conclusion that here there was room also for a second pharmacy.My brother and brother-in-law did not hesitate for long
and decided to try.
And so, thus we tied our fate to the town Vladimirets.After the decision was made, Benjamin began to look for a
house that was appropriate for a pharmacy.
time, Yisrael Beider, a resident of Vladimirets, built a large
mansion not far from the Christian church.My brother began to negotiate with Yisrael Beider, and
leased an apartment in this house from him along with one large
room for the pharmacy.Yisrael promised that in two months, the apartment would
be completed and we would receive the key.
Approximately two months later, it was already summer. All of
the members of our family, myself among them, travelled the same
road from Rafalovka to Vladimirets.When our family got off the train in Rafalovka to travel
from there to Vladimirets, we found our oldest brother,
Benjamin, who was waiting for us.Standing with him was a Jew holding a long whip in his
hand, and we understood that this certainly was Isaac the
wagoner, of whom we had already heard, and that he would drive
us to our destination.And indeed, it was Isaac.We didn't even have time to look around to know where we
were, and Isaac already hurried us and loaded all of the bundles
and suitcases into the wagon he did this like a professional
and there were places in the wagon for all of the members of our
family Mother and four brothers.Our fifth brother remained in Brisk for a time, until he
would complete his studies in the high school.
wagoner took care that we would feel good and comfortable during
installed seats for us in his long wagon on long boards placed
across the width of the wagon, upholstered with soft sacks
filled with straw.
On the sides, at the edges of the wagon, he attached poles and
additional boards to protect us, so we wouldn't fall down, G-d
forbid, out of the wagon, when the wagon rolled over the dirt
road.For me and my
two younger brothers, the trip in the wagon was a special
grown up in a big city, and horses hitched to a wagon, which
actually travelled, was likely to awaken pleasant thoughts in
the heart of a young lad.
was hitched to two horses:one white, and one red.A bell was attached at the head of the long shaft, which
rang all the time, I didn't know why, but this tune filled me
Sometimes, when the road was on a downward slope, the horses
would go faster and it was as if gaiety ruled over everything;
sometimes the road sloped upward and then the horses appeared to
be tired, and Isaac the wagoner would try to encourage them and
talk to them, telling them that they should understand the
situation and try a bit harder.For me, this trip was full of surprises and novelties.It was the first time that I travelled a long distance,
through fields and forests.At first, our road passed through a forest.Every sound in the forest attracted my attention.The echoes and songs of the birds of all kinds enchanted
I sat next
to Isaac, and he occasionally explained to me whatever needed an
the wagon left the forests and made its way among the fields, I
also was excited by the new view.The ground was covered with all kinds of field plants,
some tall and some short.What mainly drew my eyes were the waves of standing grain
that moved in the wind, like a wide, golden sea, among them
fields of rye and wheat, barley and oats.The time passed quickly, and with it we passed over the
road that separated Rafalovka and Vladimirets.When we drew near to the town, it seemed to me that Isaac
became more serious and grave.He took the reins in his hands as if he were preparing
for a mission that required special attention.
the crosses on the Christian churches pierced the sky, and
around them crowded many small cottages with red chimneys
pointing upward from their roofs.After a few minutes, we entered the town itself.
I have the honor to present to you:this is Vladimirets, make its acquaintance!" said Isaac,
maybe seriously and maybe humorously.
travelled down a long street, on both sides of which were houses
built of wood.
These were houses we had already seen recently, and they were
similar to each other.Now, we also saw the two Christian churches, and it was
as if they broke this unity.And here, we arrived at a house which was different from
the other houses.
This house was built of red bricks, and here we stopped.The building of the house had not yet been completed, as
Yisrael Beider's house, where we would live in the future.
Isaac began to trouble himself he now was unloading the wagon
and we stood, watching and wondering where we had been thrown.It began to rain. A
spirit of depression overcame us and the children began to claim
from Mother that we should return to Brisk, but we were too
already received his payment and wished us good-bye.And we, from that day onward, attached our futures to
that of the town Vladimirets.
that our apartment would be completed on time was not fulfilled.Until it would be ready, we were given a temporary
apartment in the house of Chana Rizhy, who was known as "Chana
de malachte" ["Chana the angel"].This was the home of very generous people, and we were
happy for their good will and the great concern they showed
myself, in the way of children, became acclimated very quickly
to the new place.
Chana's children: Litman, Gedalyahu and Yachtze, were about my
that Gedalyahu made a special impression upon me.
certainly wanted to make my acquaintance, but he didn't find a
way to do so therefore, he ran past the window of our
apartment looked in for a moment, granted me a short smile,
and fled.I called
him several times to come back, but for some reason he didn't,
and continued to enjoy his game peeping in, a smile, and
only that the sight of a 10-year-old boy, dressed in the uniform
of a public school in a big city, drew his attention, but he
didn't have the courage to approach me.
short time, I went to learn in one of the town's cheders.I was required to exchange my uniform for the ordinary
clothes of all of the children in town.I quickly found roots, and found many friends.
teacher was Chaim-Shalom Boksar.I remember that Gedalyahu Rizhy, Yaakov Kanonicz, Yehuda
Appelboim, and others learned together with me in this cheder.Chaim-Shalom's school was located in Zlata Lifatah's
one large room.The
floor was a dirt floor, sprinkled with yellow sand.Zlata was a poor woman , burdened with children, and she
rented a room in her house only because she needed the income.We were unable to continue our studies in this place
because Zlata's children made a lot of noise and disturbed us.Chaim-Shalom had no choice, and he moved the location of
our studies to his own house.This house was smaller, but it was quiet and very clean.Even we children were ordered, when we came through the
door, to bend down very well, because if we didn't, our heads
would bump the lintel.
was a homey, family feeling.We even related to that lintel with a forgiving smile.Chaim-Shalom made great efforts so that our handwriting
would be pleasing, rounded and curled.To this day, I can hear the lovely tune in which he
taught us chapters of the Bible.Not only Chaim-Shalom the father, but also his two sons,
Avraham and Hershel-Leib, took part in our education.Eventually, they travelled to Vilna, where they completed
their education in the Hebrew Seminary, and became certified
teacher was Velvel Borak, the son of Eli Baraz.Here, the regime was strict and more severe.We already were big lads and the desire to be freed of
our studies and relax was greater Velvel's strictness was
In this school, we sat together over the books for 12 hours
straight.Almost.As mentioned, we already were grown and in the winter, we
continued to learn at night.The main part of our learning now was Talmud.We were tired from the long hours of sitting, but when we
heard our teacher's voice saying that it was time to go home,
new strengths awakened in us.We made a great affair out of preparing our tin lanterns,
put on our coats and went out into the dark night with sounds of
slowly dispersed and the voices died down each boy going his
way, only the lantern with him to show the way over the marshy
we began to rule over Velvel, instead of his ruling over us.We were a class of 15 hooligans who tormented him.Against his methods of discipline and control by means of
the ruler and whip, we had our own methods sometimes we
declared a strike we would not open our books as a sign of
we ran out of the room and left the teacher alone.In situations like these, when he felt he was losing, our
teacher was not accustomed to distressing himself.For distraction, he would begin to roll a cigarette.After he scraped together the remains of tobacco that
were scattered in his two pockets and mixed with remnants that
were not exactly tobacco, and he was somewhat pacified by the
cigarette, he would ask us to show some good will and
concentrate on our studies.
fields as well, I was already integrated into this company of
youth.I had a very
close relationship with my friend Gedalya Rizhy, who was our
neighbor, and this closeness was expressed in our joint
house, there was a shop belonging to a Pole by the name of
Pole had a large grocery store and he was a serious competitor
of the Jewish stores, but that is not what encouraged me to
"take care" of him.
Rather, it was something else altogether.In Yisrael Beider's house there was a large cellar that
was rented to that same goy, the store owner.At the end of the summer, our Pole would fill the cellar
with large, beautiful apples.We would look at this fruit, which was a feast for the
eyes and delightful to the nostrils, through the cellar window.There was no possibility of buying some of this fruit,
because the Pole was keeping it for the winter, when the price
would be higher.We
lads quickly found an idea:we got a long pole, and fixed a nail at one end.We passed this "bayonet" through the window and thrust it
into the pile of apples.One apple would be trapped, of course, by the nail, and
we would bring it out to us through the window.It seems to me that to this very day my mouth remembers
the taste of those apples the fruit of our landlord's garden.
other teachers in Vladimirets such as Yisrael Manishin and
They were the teachers of the beginners, who were helped by
assistants called "bahelfers".The job of the assistants was to accompany these little
schoolchildren to their homes.They also would help the teacher in the actual lessons,
and if it happened that the Rebbi would doze off, he had someone
to rely upon his assistant would faithfully take his place.In Vladimirets, the position of assistant teacher was not
Even young men who were advanced and educated would take such a
position, and they did not regard it as being less respectable.It is true that the salary was not high a few rubles
for a "period", which was about six months.In the end, these assistants left their jobs to be
independent, whether as teachers or in other professions.Many of them became shop owners and a few became teachers
in the neighboring villages where Jewish families lived.I remember that Avraham Valichover and his brother Yaakov
did that, and so did Avraham Garmarnick, and others they lived
for a year or two in the village and with their wages they
supported their families, which branched out and whose needs
became greater over time.
Many of the
youth who didn't find a place to earn a livelihood in the town
went out to look for it in the cities of Russia.Some of them tied up their bundles and sailed across the
sea to far-off
America.Of these, I remember members of the Volok, Freidman,
Teitelbaum, Sosniak and Chizi families, and many others.First the men would travel in order to prepare the
Accompanying those who left on this long journey were their
faith and the prayer that the day would come when they would
bring the rest of the members of their families, even their
elderly parents, to them.
emigration from the town moved on two routes one to America, and the second to inner Russia.The immigrants to America, after they established
themselves in the golden land, supplied the town with material
assets dollars and packages.Those who left for Russia supplied
spiritual assets newspapers and books.But they did not have influence with these assets alone.
holidays arrived, many of the sons of Vladimirets who had left
it for the big cities gathered back in the town.Their presence and lack of means made a great impression
on those youths who remained in Vladimirets and wished to also
go out into the wide world.Nathan Tscherniak, for example, was one of those who
spent many days in the big cities.When he came back to Vladimirets, he troubled himself to
plant there the same culture that had influenced him in foreign
parts.Nathan was a
talented fellow, and when he told about the wonders of the wide
world, his mouth produced precious gems.An audience of the curious would gather around him, and
those who had never left Vladimirets even once would listen with
a feeling of inferiority to the wonders taking place in the big
cities, their eyes filled with amazement.Nathan's words were occasionally spiced with mockery and
satire, and everyone drank them thirstily.But Nathan was not satisfied with such a non-obligatory
conversation. He would call meetings, gather the youth and
awaken them to a change of values and to action he read to
them from Zionist literature, and thus he planted in them the
desire to organize themselves and dedicate their time to Zionist
and social activities.
fire that I saw in Vladimirets, a fire in a small town
generally, was in 1912.We were still newcomers to the town.One summer day, after the Shavuot holiday, we
suddenly saw flames spreading out and passing from house to
through the town.
When my mother saw that the fire was coming closer to Moshe
Melamed's house, she said that I and my little brother should go
outside and run in the direction of the fields.But I already regarded myself as being big and
responsible, and I didn't want to rescue only myself; not only
the person should be rescued, but also the possessions.I remember that I hurried home and grabbed a kettle and a
few spoons and with these possessions I ran toward the
In one hand, I held the kettle, and in the other, I held onto my
already were far from the town and here, a village woman came
toward us. She stopped us and didn't allow us to continue toward
stopped running and saw that the fire was weakening and dying
that, I decided that we would go back to the town, and when we
returned, we saw that our house remained standing and whole.
It was said
that the fire stopped miraculously because of the influence of
the Rebbe of the Chassidim, who was then in town.This was Rabbi Velvele of Trisk, who was the guest of Reb
While the fire was raging, a group of about ten frightened
Chassidim hurried to the Rebbe, calling, "Rebbe, please save the
town!" Indeed, the Rebbe then went out to the burning house with
some of his followers, and when he arrived, the miracle
happened; the wind changed directions, the fire turned toward
Katoczyna, and the homes of the Jews were out of danger.When they began to investigate and search for the cause
of the fire, it became clear that the fire broke out first at
the home of the elderly Stoliner shochet [ritual
slaughterer], Reb Asher-Yisrael.
a few shochtim in Vladimirets each congregation of
Chassidim had its own shochet, but there were no special
slaughterhouses in the town, and in general, the yard of the
shochet's house was his workplace.In the yard, they also would pluck the feathers from the
chickens and put them in crates, baskets, and bags.When a large amount of feathers had accumulated, they
sold them to traders.The sale of the feathers added somewhat to the shochet's
the day when the fire broke out, the elderly Reb Asher-Yisrael
wanted to heat his samovar and drink a cup of tea.For some reason, the samovar did not heat up enough and
the shochet's wife took it outside and put it next to the
storage shed where they kept their sacks of feathers.The wind was blowing, and the coals in the chimney of the
samovar flared up.
One spark blew toward the shed and fell among the feathers
very quickly, the house was engulfed in flames.And from there, the fire spread to Hershel Shuch's house,
until the miracle occurred and the town was saved
WORLD WAR I
declaration of war in 1914 brought confusion to Vladimirets, as
it did to other towns.Many men were drafted, and were even taken, by the Army.Life in the town changed completely.The community institutions and activities were limited
Contact with the
was suddenly stopped, which meant that the sources of support of
more than a few families were cut off.Now, they had almost no means of survival.Many shops were closed.
arrived from the front about the defeats suffered by the Czar's
beginning, this was hearsay only, but not many days later, the
rumors became visible.It was August 15, 1915.On that day, Vladimirets saw the first divisions of the
Army as they withdrew eastward, pursued by the victorious
Together with the withdrawing Army, long lines of refugees
arrived in our town. Many train cars were crowded with families
and their bundles, who were running away in fright from the
front, without knowing where to flee.The Jews of Vladimirets were seized by the same fear, and
they began to think of fleeing.Many of the refugees exploited this mood and began to
sell their vehicles and horses.It was enough for one family to buy this kind of "team"
and other families already followed in their footsteps.My brother Benjamin was among these buyers, and it is no
wonder, because Yisrael Beider, who owned our house, and Velvel
Kanonicz, set an example for him, and he saw what they did and
and wagon that my brother bought were not of the best, and it
was no wonder:what
did a pharmacist know about horses?Nevertheless, we were confident that we had done a great
thing and if, G-d forbid, the evil hour would come and we would
have to escape the ravages of the War, we would have something
on which to depend.
In my eyes, the matter was very agreeable, without any
connection to the emergency situation.A horse and wagon, to me, were something to answer to.I had already tasted the experience of travelling, when I
travelled to Vladimirets in der Viecher's wagon.Mybrother
Benjamin understood my feelings and allowed me to take care of
them and bring them to the podbor
[resting place, an inn]
was tense and expectant.The first Cossacks could already be seen, armed with long
lances and dressed in wide blue trousers with yellow stripes
down their sides, most of them wild-eyed and bearded.They began to wander down the streets of the town, their
eyes looking in every corner.There was great fear of the Cossacks, and it was not
didn't only wander through the alleyways, but they also began to
enter the houses and ask for brandy.
that a few of them entered our pharmacy and began to make
demands that liquor be given to them.They didn't only make demands, but also began to search
with their hands through all of the various medicines, and even
to take whatever they wanted.We were confused and didn't know what to do.
moment, the city tax collector, who was also appointed by the
government to oversee the work in the landlord's "gralnia"
[whiskey factory], entered our store.In this gralnia, they manufactured pure alcohol
from potatoes grown in the landlord's fields.The production was shipped, generally, to
Russia.At that time, the landlord's storerooms contained a large
quantity of alcohol.The tax collector estimated that when the armies camped
in the town found out about it, they would come to take the
alcohol, and this was likely to bring disaster upon the town,
especially upon the Jews, after the soldiers would become drunk.That day, not only soldiers were seen in the town, but
also ordinary villagers, who were not usually seen there.The conclusion was that they also had come for the
purpose of robbery
Now it was
the time for our horse and wagon.We hurried and packed some of our bundles in a few crates
and loaded them onto the wagon.I was the expert regarding harnessing the horses, because
I had been interested in this previously.Since I saw that my brother failed to do this job, I took
the task upon myself.Time was of the essence.We were very afraid of the gangs whether soldiers or
villagers and it was forbidden to linger too long.
A long line
of wagons left the town, traveling toward the narrow-gauge train
tracks.At the head
of the line travelled Chaim Kantor.He was both instructor and guide.
We were not
far from the gralnia.The sound of an enormous explosion frightened us.When we looked behind us, we saw large flames and plumes
of smoke going up from the landlord's alcohol factory.
matter became clear to us.It turned out that the noble tax collector wanted with
all his might to forestall the evil expected to befall the town,
and therefore he destroyed all of the pools of alcohol in the
part of the alcohol was indeed destroyed; part of it broke out
of the pools and flowed over the ground.Many farmers hurried to enjoy the windfall and came with
pails to rescue what they could alcohol mixed with dirt.
We in the
line of wagons continued on our way but very quickly, many of
the horses refused to go any farther and would not move.The horses stopped next to a Polish village and would not
go any further.
They certainly were hungry, and here the aroma of the fields of
autumn spelt reached their nostrils.Nearby, not far from the village Burkys, was the
brickyard that belonged to the owner of our house, Yisrael
the horses and gave them liberty to graze in the fields of
spent the night until dawn of the following day.
with the confidence that daylight inspires in the hearts of men
and after the fears of the night in the fields, the children who
were with us began to cry and ask to go home.It was decided to send out a delegation of scouts, who
would go back to the town and see what the situation was there.My brother Benjamin was chosen as part of the delegation.In the town they found many soldiers, who wandered around
past the deserted shops.Our house looked like it had gone through a riot;
everything in it was destroyed and broken.
that came to the town remained there and settled into the
the German attack was stopped.The officers of the Army requested that the Jews return
and open their stores, so as to supply everything needed by the
Army camping in the town.The Jews were promised that quiet would be preserved and
any offenders among the soldiers or the village population would
be punished with all the strictness of the law.
At the time
when this calming and promising information reached us, we were
simultaneously given other news:Chaim Kantor came running to us in the forest and told us
that the German Army had surrounded the area and that all of us
great happiness ruled over us Jews it was nothing, what was it
to be in the hands of the Germans and to be rid of the yoke of
Fonya [a derisive term for the Russian
joy was so great that many began to lose control and bless each
other with mazal-tov [congratulations].The delegation that had returned from the town found us
in high spirits, and didn't understand why.Afterwards, it became clear that some clown had cooked up
the story and confused everyone.
who had fled, returned to the town.The Jews returned to work.The shops were opened and were filled with the
merchandise that their owners had succeeded in hiding in various
large troops of soldiers arrived in the town.The soldiers bought as much as they could, of whatever
came to hand.The
earnings were great and happiness again visited our homes.The town took on a new form.Vladimirets became the center where the headquarters of
all of the Armies camping in the surrounding area was located.I remember that the headquarters was located in Gedalyahu
Vladimirets stood as a sign of great activity many of its
Jewish residents would go out, from time to time, to the large
there to buy various products needed for the soldiers.These were not only the storekeepers and traders.Ordinary Jews also found enjoyment in the situation.The Army requested that it be supplied with baked goods
black bread and white bread, and all kinds of cakes.The Army authorities brought wagons to town loaded with
flour, and they distributed the load among the various houses
whose owners had taken upon themselves the obligation to bake
for the Army.
Everyone regarded himself as a born baker.Because of the lack of livelihood, these days were a real
salvation widows, such as "Chana di malachte" [Chana,
the angel]; Golda-Leah [Teitelbaum], of blessed memory, and many
others, took the burden upon themselves.
personnel would bring a gigantic sack of flour to one of the
homes, and overnight the flour would turn into baked loaves of
was the "pripiak," the additional weight that comes to
baked bread from the water added to the flour.Indeed, no great blessing was seen in this hard work, but
there was no lack of bread to eat.Of course, among the Jews there were resourceful people
who knew how to make a profit in hidden ways.During the baking, they would add a lot of water, which
would increase the weight of the bread.But this deed showed its signs in the quality of the
bread, and the Army personnel immediately reacted.Whoever provided defective baked goods would not receive
branch of livelihood was preparing cigarettes.Jewish traders brought tobacco and papers from
Russia, and we would fill and
roll them, and sell them.I remember this work very well, because in the home of my
mother-in-law, Golda-Leah Teitelbaum, they would bake bread at
night and during the day, they would roll cigarettes.All of the children Teivel, Zelda and Zelig would sit
and fill thousands of cigarettes.The cigarettes would be given to one of the contractors
who supplied this commodity to the soldiers at the front.Many people did this work, and the profit was good.
character was recognized not only in the economic field, but
growth and progress could be seen also in community and cultural
of actors from among the Army people, as well as the
intelligentsia, came to have a strong connection with the
townspeople and left their mark plays, recitals and various
kinds of parties were now very frequent.The town had a drama club, which was assisted by actors
from among the soldiers, who were real professionals.They participated in the club's activities as producers
was temporary, not permanent.As stability increased, livelihoods decreased.Many families again lacked an income.Contact with America the
source of support and assistance was cut off.At that time, there was a big public meeting in the large
synagogue, sponsored by the youth.The chief speakers were Shlomo Goldberg and Nathan
meeting, it was decided to establish an institution in the town
called "Support for the Fallen."Pairs of youths went out to visit homes in the town,
mainly the homes of the well-established families, and each of
them promised to donate to the new institution.Chosen to be on the institution's committee were Velvel
Freidman, Shmuel Kamin, Michael Freidman, Yaakov Bas, Chava
Garmarnick, Nathan Tscherniak, Pesach Tscherniak and Zelda Bas-Teitelbaum.
donations were not sufficient to fulfill the many needs.Therefore, we turned to several residents of the town
whose economic situation was improved.These families traded on a large scale.They would bring wagons to town loaded with sugar, flour,
salt, and more.
Among these families were Leizer-Leib Rosenfeld, Peisa Fegel,
Yitzchak Grushka and others.Consequently, we imposed a fee on every wagon of goods
that arrived in the town.
evening, shifts would go out and lie in wait for the wagons
loaded with merchandise.I stood together with Shmuel Kamin for many hours, and
our work was not in vain.Here, we saw the wagons coming.The owners of the merchandise knew that they had to live
with the youths in peace.They knew this from a business point of view, and they
paid the tax that we imposed on them.
OF TENSION AND REVOLUTION
fronts were established over hundreds of kilometers.Many found their deaths in the battles, many in
diseases, in the trenches of Polesia and its swamps.And even though Vladimirets benefitted, generally, during
the War, there also were many hardships and difficulties:for example, it was forbidden to leave the town without a
special permit from the "Pristawo".I remember that at that time, my oldest brother,
Benjamin, had to travel to
to buy merchandise, and he did not succeed in obtaining a travel
travelled anyway, without the permit.The authorities found out, and as punishment, he was
ordered to leave Vladimirets, which was within the military
area.He then moved
to Kiev.Now, the burden of the household fell upon me.
One day I
travelled to Kiev to buy merchandise, and arrived at my
brother's apartment.That night, we woke up to energetic knocking on the door.When we opened the door, there were several Russian
policemen standing there.They woke up everyone in the house.I showed them my permit, but they didn't like it.They suspected that I was evading the Army.I was younger than Army age, but this time my appearance
made trouble for me I was tall and upright.They asked me and my brother to go with them, and after a
long and tiring walk, they brought us to one of the prisons in
this was a very depressing situation I was only a young lad
and suddenly I was between the walls of a prison.I didn't sleep all that night.My brother had more experience.He sat next to me and encouraged me
will let us out in the morning."
And so it
was.I was ordered
to leave Kiev
within 22 hours.
Quickly I gathered my bundles and hurried to leave the city.When I arrived in Vladimirets I found out that arrests
of this kind had occurred here also.Their reason undermining the stability of Russian
society and concern regarding revolutionary activities.
At that time, in
Vladimirets they also began to question various instructors,
Army personnel, and among them many Jews. Secret meetings were
gathered in Yehoshua Baruch Beider's house.The town's youth completely filled the large, long room,
and everyone listened with growing curiosity to the speaker's
words, in which the symbolic combination "di roite lamtarna"
["the red lantern"] was repeated over and over again.The meaning of this was that the light of freedom was
coming closer and would shine over the heavens of the world.The speaker was one of the soldiers.
audience was excited by that evening and were very impressed by
what they had heard.Very quickly, the streets of Vladimirets were filled with
groups of soldiers and all kinds of officers who had deserted
were preaching and explaining that the War had already ended:
enough, and spilled our blood," they said.
described the situation in the Army and on the front in dark
colors they told about the many actions on the battlefields in
the swamps of Polesia; about the hospitals that were filled to
bursting with the wounded and ill.At that time, there were many occurrences when soldiers
refused to fulfill their officers' orders.Many of them left the trenches and began walking back to
their families their wives and children.Many of these soldiers passed through Vladimirets,
leaving behind them all the bitterness in their hearts.Those who were unable to return to their homes streamed
into the big cities, in order to join the great stream of
discontent and revolt.
Russia, the Revolution had
already broken out, which put an end to the regime of the Czar
peace treaty had already been made with Germany.
In Vladimirets, we also
immediately felt the new mood.Now, we were exempt from the yoke of the Pristawo
and the Uryadnik [Cossack sergeant].For example, who in Vladimirets did not remember
Uryadnik Valiczka, who lived at the expense of the Jews.He knew everything that happened in the town; there were
no secrets from him.He knew what the business was of every Jew whether his
business was proper or improper, and in every instance he
received his reward it was impossible not to bribe him.
and for what, should one go to the Army?" the soldiers would
now, at the time of war, they would say, in the local jargon,
"For whom to give your head?"Young men who were found to be fit for the Army would
hide and disappear from the horizon.Valiczka didn't care if you went to the Army or not, and
therefore it was possible to reach a compromise with him.But in time of war, Valiczka was not the only one to
military police wandered through the streets of the town,
terrorizing the inhabitants.Their appearance alone froze one's breath:they were tall, broad, moustached, and their trousers
also had yellow stripes down the sides, stripes expressing
respect, they were reminders of the Cossacks.
passed the test of fear of these police, when I was walking one
Sabbath to the synagogue to pray.On the way, a policeman stopped me and surveyed me from
head to toe with his stare.He winked at me with a wily eye, enjoying himself:here, he had succeeded in grabbing a draft-dodger.Indeed, I was under military age, but I looked older than
I was.I was
arrested, and brought to the synagogue of the Stepan Chassidim,
which had been turned into a military prison at the time.
synagogue, I found other Jews from our town who had also been
hunted down in the same way.Requests or appeals were of no help.We sat in this prison for a few days.One morning, a squadron of soldiers arrived at the place.They all were armed with bayoneted rifles.The soldiers formed two rows next to the synagogue.With them were members of the military police.One policeman ordered all of us to go outside.Members of our families, who were milling about nearby,
thought that something bad was waiting for us.We were ruled by confusion and fear.The policemen said that nothing bad was going to happen
to us and that they were bringing us to Zoludzk, and from there
to Rafalovka, to the main headquarters.We were taken on foot.In Zoludzk, they put us in a cellar and, again, guarded
us as if we were criminal offenders.The elderly among us, who had more experience, were not
very upset, and they encouraged us, saying:"don't panic," which did calm my spirits.Indeed, when they brought us to the station, the ground
was already prepared for our release.At that time, the Teitelbaum family had opened a liquor
store, which was managed by Teibel and Zelda, and while I was
being brought to that place, they took all possible measures
toward our release, mainly for me, because at that time I was
already a close friend of Zelda's.
returned to town, we found that there were complaints against
the entire local regime.The waves of the Revolution and the uprising that began
on the warfronts were carried from there to the large centers of Russia and also to the small towns,
There already were no gendarmes in Vladimirets.Instead, a temporary militia of volunteers was being
organized, and a temporary city council was chosen.In all of these, our Jewish brothers had a respected
Participating in the city council, for example, were Alter Bik,
"der stalmach" [bicycle builder]; Yehudel Raban, the
barber, and other residents of the town.The Jews of Vladimirets received weapons, mainly swords
and pistols, which were easy to obtain in those days.Soldiers who had fled from the front lines willingly sold
part of their weapons.Our town was close to the front lines and was one of the
first points through which the fleeing soldiers passed.There were some among the soldiers who wanted to "amuse
themselves" with the Jewish population and tried to rob the
stores, and several groups of them succeeded in doing so.When we saw that the situation was getting worse, we
youths organized ourselves for self-defense.Among those who participated in this defense I remember
Eliyahu Garmarnick, Ben-Zion Zhuk, Aharon Kanonicz, Meir Pinchuk,
Chaim Lipaches' son, and many more.In order that the community would recognize that they
really were keepers of order, they wore a special band on their
sleeves, on which the letters "V.P.M." (abbreviation for "Vladimirets
Praviliga Militz") were written.
of deserting soldiers and other scoundrels from the villages
were not discouraged, and they tried their strength again.One evening, these gangs went out and attacked Chaim
Shmuel Resnik's store, but Chaim Shmuel objected, and he was
After that, the defense force grabbed one of the rioters and
brought him to Antonovka, where the headquarters of the
Revolutionary Army was located.The verdict was carried out immediately. This position of
the defense force took away the appetite of the scoundrels as if
with a magic wand.
Now they hesitated to endanger themselves.A similar situation existed in all of the villages until
the new regime became established, when a squadron of soldiers
was sent to our town from the
RevolutionaryCenter, which was in Lutsk.When these soldiers arrived, the Jewish self-defense team
took over the town again.In addition to all of the other troubles, a terrible
typhoid epidemic now spread through our town.Many residents of the town died because of a lack of food
brothers Leizer and Sam, the sons of Yehoshua Rizhy ("der
malach" "the angel") were taken to the hospital, where
who died were Arel Kanonicz and the tailor Shlomo Yurkes.The disease did not skip over any house.The one doctor who was then in the hospital, Markish, a
Jew, by the way, could not control the situation and he was
unable to help the multitudes of patients.
economic situation grew worse.Even though the typhoid epidemic brought with it a
prohibition of free travel, the Jews of Vladimirets travelled
regardless to the surrounding villages to find a livelihood.Everyone who went out on the road during those days took
his life in his hands.At that time, Nachum Kanonicz, Yaakov Kanonicz' son, left
Antonovka for Vladimirets.Robbers attacked him on the road, stole everything he had
with him, and murdered him.Indeed, the plague of the gangs was also widespread at
exploited the days of confusion and the between-regimes
situation of the country very well.
morning, at the hour when the townspeople were still asleep,
screams were suddenly heard out on the street.When we came to the window, we saw that armed soldiers
were standing in Yaakov-Asher's house, where there had been a
fabric store, and many prisoners were being squeezed inside.That morning, the supporters of the old regime reigned
again, and it was they who had taken over the town.Thirty-three prisoners were held in the cellar, and all
of them were brought from here to Dombrowicz, where a local
regime had already taken over the surrounding area.The judge, the moustached investigator, the Uryadnik,
the Pristawo, and their entire retinue, slowly murdered
After they cleansed that town of revolutionary elements, a
regime like the one in Dombrowicz was also established in
Klistran Kutz was appointed officer of the police.He operated according to the orders he received from the
Center in Dombrowicz, and thus he ruled over us.One day Klistran came with representatives of the new
regime and demanded a tax from the Jews of Vladimirets in the
amount of 25,000 rubles.
Jewish population gathered in the large synagogue.Everyone was confused and didn't know from where their
help would come.
There was no other way but to make a list of all of the
residents and impose a monetary tax on each one, according to
his ability. Consequently, the representatives of the Jews sat
at the table and began to make a list, but the people
immediately became agitated.Mendel Yisrael-Yossel's got up and shouted:"I will not give such an amount.Let Menachem and the boys give it."
shouting didn't stop until Klistran himself, in all his glory,
came to the synagogue.But even he was not able to change the situation and he
returned to the headquarters and reported that he had not
succeeded in getting the money from the Jews.
Sabbath, a squadron of soldiers with machine guns was sent to
the town.They were
stationed at a few points around town, in order to instill fear
in the Jews and move them to give the amount of money demanded.A time was set by the end of the Sabbath, the Jews must
gather the money, and if not, hostages would be taken.Even now, the money was not collected and the soldiers
passed among the houses and arrested their hostages.
I was among
the nine hostages, because I didn't allow my mother to go with
were the shochet for the Stolin Chassidim, Asher-Yisrael;
Pinchas Rizhy; Yaakov Asher's son Sender; Meir Lipke's Rissel;
Menachem Guz, Yaakov and Yisrael Beider, and a few others.
us up on the platform of a train car, and armed villagers
night, they brought us to the headquarters in Dombrovicz.We were accused of terrorism, because the people of our
town did not collect the requested amount of money.They threatened that the same fate that had met the 33
prisoners was waiting for us.We spoke to them and explained that the Jews of
Vladimirets would not desert their brothers and that they
certainly would pay the imposed tax tomorrow.They accepted our words, so they allowed us to go out
into the city to find a place to sleep, but we were to go not
too far from the headquarters, and return to report back to them
in the morning.We
were happy for the change in our situation.When we came back in the morning, we found out that they
weren't paying any attention to us.When we turned to them, they answered, "Meanwhile, go
away.We are busy
with more important tasks."
they were very busy that morning.Many Army troops had been concentrated in Sarny, who
planned to attack the perpetrators of the new regime.When this news reached us, we didn't wait there very
around and headed back to Vladimirets.
arrived back in Vladimirets, everyone was very happy, because
they all had been certain that we wouldn't return.
squadrons from Sarny in Vladimirets were not long in arriving,
and the entire new regime fell apart.The new Ukrainian Army now seized control of the region,
including our town.
When we received the first newspapers, we found out that a new,
democratic government had been set up in Kiev, with a Jewish
Again, hope lit the mournful faces of the Jews.There even were Hebrew letters printed on the new
government's money. Was
it nothing, a thing of no importance?
to take advantage of the atmosphere of freedom and the good
chances of continuing my studies.My goal was Kiev.Again, there were no interferences from family or the
authorities, as there had been in the past.I and my friend Reuven Beider left Vladimiretz on a
winter morning and traveled to Kiev.We were accepted by the school of pharmacy, without any
difficulties were in finding a room, and after we found one, our
troubles didn't end.We had no heating, and both of us were given over to the
tortures of frost.
Shalom Leibke's daughter who lived in Kiev, came to visit us one
day and asked us to move, to live in her apartment, because she
had to stay in the hospital with her small daughter.We accepted her offer and became the masters of the
house.There was a
small coal stove in the house, which we heated with thin sticks
of wood.With this
stove, we warmed ourselves when we needed to, and on it we even
cooked our meager meals.Everything was going along smoothly
the city of Kiev
was bombarded with heavy artillery.The shells fell on the houses and many of them went up in
flames.A shell hit
the house we were living in and caused a lot of damage.The city was under siege.It was impossible to go out of the houses.Hunger began to be more and more oppressive.We would search through the garbage cans, where we found
pieces of leftover food to quiet our hunger.One day, in one of the rooms we found a sack of millet.We cooked it and ate ravenously.I was struck with severe stomach pains from this millet.I had a very high fever, but leaving the house was
fraught with danger.Wounded and dead people were lying in the streets.Our situation was totally bad, and we didn't know how to
were still in this condition, suddenly the door opened and my
brother entered with a soldier.I recognized him as Yehoshua's son Manis.When my brother found out about the situation in
Kiev, he went out to look for me.He found me bent over in pain.My brother, who was familiar with
Kiev, went out under the protection of
the soldier to look for medicine for me.Since he was a pharmacist, somehow he was able to find a
doctor and even to obtain the necessary medicines for my
few days I felt better, and when I was fully recovered, we began
to pack our bundles and went out on the road.After many difficulties, I arrived back in Vladimirets.
distress of those days was very, very obvious in Vladimirets.People were stricken with hunger and their clothing was
deserted and damaged.The residents of the town lost their ordinary livelihoods
and began to look for new sources of income.During those days, a new profession was very notorious in
the town producing liquor.Almost every house became a factory for producing "samogon".
Whoever was occupied
with this work had the opportunity to receive the raw materials
for his production from the villagers all kinds of grains
but not everyone knew how to produce an excellent drink.
mother-in-law, for example, learned how to do this work, and she
excelled at it.
After she made a bottle or two of samogon, she would take
her production and when it got dark outside, she went to the
goy's house, where she gave him the drink in a hidden place
like the granary, so that his wife wouldn't find out, Heaven
goy saw the longed-for liquid, his heart turned over with
joy, and he paid generously not with money, but with value for
money, such as rye seeds.My mother-in-law would pour the seeds into a sack and
carry it to Yehoshua Miriam-Dvorah's flour mill, grind the seeds
into flour, and bring food to her family.Many people did so at that time.
time, people also produced good, distilled wine, secretly and in
a primitive way.It
was mainly the Volok family that was blessed with this
of Chanukah the snow covered the earth, and we, a group of
young people, wanted to go sleighing.In spite of the emergency situation, the wishes of youth
were not extinguished in us and made their demands. Our Yaakov
Eisenberg harnessed his horses to the sleigh and we Pesach
Tscherniak, Gedalyahu der malach, Michael Freidman,
Yaakov Kanonicz, and even myself and Zelda, our friendship being
already strong at that time all of us travelled to Dolgovolya,
to visit in the home of our friend the beautiful young girl
Asher-Aharon's daughter.When we came back from there, we went down to see Teibele,
Sarah Charnes daughter.
a small, but very clean house, carefully arranged.The floor was spread with golden sand.Cleanliness shone from every corner.They welcomed us warmly.You would never be able to guess that in this house, so
perfect in its order and cleanliness, many children were cared
for and that they were so poor the main livelihood of this
family was now obtained from making liquor.Teibele, the beautiful and delightful daughter, who was
always quiet and somewhat shy, changed during the days of war.Now, it was she who bore the burden of support.Teibele honored us, the guests, with a bottle of drink.The bottle was clean and shiny, and it seems to me that
to this very day I can see its sparkling light.A boiling samovar stood on the table, and even it was
clean and shining like a mirror.We sat down to enjoy ourselves, and the entire time I
wondered how this woman succeeded, in such difficult times, to
respectably support her extended family.Her husband was in
America, and now, no support
arrived from him.
was in the midst of a revolutionary struggle.The fighting units of the old regime regarded the Jews as
the cause of the change of power and they took out their anger
on us these were years of pogroms and murders in the
Ukraine.One day rumors reached us that squadrons of fighters,
named "Machnowetz" and "Balochovetz" were attacking the small
towns, murdering and robbing.The fear was great.And one day a gang of this type also arrived in
gathered in the square next to the church.Their first visit took place in our pharmacy.They said that from now on, they were in control, and
therefore they could take what they wanted on credit, and in due
time they would pay for everything in hard cash.They took medical supplies and packed them in large
moment, there were horrible screams outside.From the window, we saw how the gang members were leading
the teacher Henich Kamin and forcing him to walk, with lashes
from a whip.They
had found illegal liquor in his possession.During that time, Berl Baril was murdered on the road to
Vladimirets, and many died in the typhoid epidemic.
OF GOOD TIDINGS
the War, we also heard good news.One day we heard the news that the government of
Britain recognized the rights of the Jews
to establish a national home in the Land of Israel
the Balfour Declaration.Everyone was excited by the event, and young and old went
out to celebrate the great day, at their head the Rabbi, Rav
Children came out with blue and white flags, and the local
orchestra joined the celebration Shlomo the tailor with his
flute, Mitra with his violin and Lazer Nissel beating his drum.At the head of the procession rode Avraham-Yaakov Oler,
the sexton of the synagogue, on a horse decorated with an
embroidered tablecloth.The Christian residents of the town looked at us kindly
with great curiosity:here, the hour of the Jews to be like all the nations has
that, there also were Christians who actually joined our
day was immortalized by the town photographer, the Christian
Pashka, with many photographs.I believe that some of these photographs are in the hands
of people from Vladimirets.It was a time when light and darkness were mixed
was already in the hands of the Poles.During the first few years, the Jewish population had a
feeling of equality and freedom.In our town, as in others, cultural institutions were
organizations were formed.Delegations from Warsaw
and the large cities of the district came to Vladimirets and
made fiery public speeches about building the
and revival of the nation.Our lives began to flow in the paths of days of peace.
Zionist meeting that I remember was held in Avraham-Yosef
when remembering that family, I must tell something about the
house and its owners.Avraham-Yosef Volok was a Karlin Chassid.He was a G-d-fearing Jew, with a yellow beard, tall and
He walked quickly, because he didn't control time, and he might
be late for something, G-d forbid.He drew his livelihood, like many of the residents of the
town, from travelling among the villages.His wife helped him she would prepare a drink called "chaleibni
kvass" because it was made from bread.She also would bake cakes from white flour, which became
famous in the town.
If an unexpected guest would come, or if someone was sick and
they wanted to feed him a more delicate bread,
the people would send
for a challah bread made by Tsipora.They had two sons and three daughters.The oldest son learned in various yeshivot, but he also
acquired a general education and he was very active in public
and cultural affairs.He later became a teacher in the town, and his method of
study was very advanced; his language of instruction was Hebrew.
Many of us
remember Avraham-Yosef, how he would walk every Friday afternoon
through the town, going from house to house, collecting challahs
in a bag.He
brought the challahs to his house, and his wife Tsipora would
they were sorted,
Avraham-Yosef went out to distribute them to the poor families,
so that their tables would not be put to shame and they would
not be without challah on the Sabbath.
had three rooms.
The floor was made of wood planks.The daughters, Esther and Teibele, invested their best
energies in scrubbing and scraping the floor, until it was
Here the youth of the town would gather, upsetting the order and
cleanliness, but the daughters were not discouraged, and they
always restored order.Sender, the oldest son, was a Hebrew teacher, and there
was a cultural atmosphere in the house.Just as the father was an enthusiastic Karliner Chassid,
so were the children, but their enthusiasm was already directed
to other horizons.
At the initiative of several activists among the youth, such as
Nathan Tscherniak, Shlomo Goldberg, Sender Volok, the general
meeting of the youth organization of the town was held here, in
this house, mainly for the purpose of establishing a town
every meeting of this kind, here there were also many arguments
about methods of operation and organization.I remember that at this meeting, the famous trio of
Vladimirets participated Manya, Fanya and Tanya.Here, their images arise in my mind three dedicated
friends, closely connected to each other, even though they were
different in their temperaments and characters.
daughter of Pinchas David was short, humorous and clever.It appears to me that nothing was done without her.
daughter of Freidel Sima was tall and upright.Her hair was blond and her face was cheerful.
was my sister-in-law her face was dark-complected, a bit long
had long, dark hair; she was serious and intelligent.
meeting, it was decided to establish the library.Everyone knew that if the "trio" entered an activity,
they would do their best and it would be successful.Chava and Avraham, the children of Leib Garmarnik, also
worked hard to establish the library.Avraham Garmarnikwas the manager of the new establishment.
founders lacked money, and the task was very difficult, but the
youths began this activity with great enthusiasm.They spent many hours knocking on doors, collecting
everything they could books in Yiddish, in Russian and in
Hebrew some books were whole, and others were torn and worn.Some of the residents donated actual money to buy books.The fact is that a library was established in the town,
which became the forge of the spirit of the youth.From here they drew their cultural and national learning.
resources were thin, we were not able to rent a permanent
location for the library, and it travelled from house to house,
existing in temporary dwelling-places.Later, after the dramatic club, whose earnings were
dedicated to the library, was established, we were able to rent
a permanent hall.
Gisia's house was roomy, and there the youths would gather in
dramatic club also met here, in one of the rooms, to conduct its
club acquired a name also in the surrounding towns, and many of
us certainly remember the appearances of David Melamed, when he
read from the works of Shalom Aleichem and Peretz.These appearances were held in the "lesternia,"
where a special stage was installed.I remember that the first show was held in the large
granary that belonged to the priest on the way to the town
preparation in the town was very great.Crowds of young and old streamed into that granary to see
the plays were held in the "lesternia.""Lesternia" is a strange name, and to this day I
don't know its origin.But in our town, everyone knew what the "lesternia"
was, and when I remember the dramatic club, it is impossible not
to simultaneously bring up this name.The "lesternia" was
an enormous wooden building with a roof made of wooden shingles.It was attached to Yosef-Chaim Weinberg's large house
his was a good family with many children.Their house served as an inn for travelers, and it also
contained several shops that they rented out.These shops had a special value, because they were
located opposite the Catholic church.But they made most of their livelihood from the large,
long building called "the lesternia."This building had two doors, an entrance and an exit.Every Sunday and on the other Christian holidays,
villagers gathered in town, coming in their wagons.On those days, this building began to fulfill its
function it was a parking place for the horses and wagons.Yosef-Chaim was paid for this.Each villager would pay him for a parking place.And indeed, it was worthwhile for them to be assisted by
they had better security than just leaving the horses and wagons
in some yard, where hungry cows with appetites roamed free.These cows would put out their tongues and eat the
fragrant straw that the villager had prepared for his horses,
and there was no lack of cows with appetites in the town.Every homeowner had a cow, and sometimes two.Yosef-Chaim's big building was, therefore, in the right
time and the right place.But that is not all.The "lesternia" also fulfilled a cultural function
of the first degree in the town.When the dramatic club had completed its many rehersals
and the day of the show arrived, the "lesternia" was used
as a theatre.On
that day, Yosef-Chaim's cow, which lived there permanently, was
taken outside the "lesternia", the place was cleaned, a
stage was installed and benches were set up and it became a
And indeed, many of our good memories of those years are
connected to that stage.
It was as
if Vladimirets awoke with each show, both before the show and
there one could hear criticism, whether negative or positive,
about one or another actor.The preparations of the club were instructive and full of
the actors had his own intentions and ambitions, and the
distribution of roles was not always easy.But in the end, we succeeded in removing these obstacles
and the day of the public appearance was a general holiday.
Many of the
Jews of the town, who were scattered among the villages for the
purpose of making a living, would come into town on Thursdays.From the villages, they usually brought various products
for sale, such as potatoes, barley, pig hairs, eggs, chickens.Some of these kinds of products were sold by Pinchas
David Gorzik or Velvel Chaim Meir's.
Sabbaths were restful.Fridays were already a type of entry to the Sabbath.In the morning, we would heat up the big stove, and on
the burning coals we would bake spelt pancakes and eat them with
it was a Friday, as always, and nevertheless it was somewhat
different notices were pasted on the walls that called all of
the residents of the town to come, on the afternoon of the
Sabbath, to the synagogue, to hear the Zionist speech.That Sabbath was like all the others in the morning,
the Jews drank their chicory mixed with milk that had turned red
from its long stay in the oven; at noon, they ate cholent
and kugel according to custom in one house, it was
potato kugel; in another, noodle kugel, and in a
third, stuffed [chicken] necks [in Yiddish helzel].After their Sabbath nap, the congregation began to stream
toward the synagogue to hear the lecture, and after the Sabbath,
when the congregation was still impressed by the speech they had
heard, the activists among the youth would gather in Moshe
Schwartzberg's house and continue to discuss those horizons that
the talented speaker had set.They discussed ways of increasing the income of the
Keren Kayemet [Jewish National Fund] and Keren HaYesod
[Jewish Foundation Fund] .Afterwards, they would go from house to house to collect
donations, and everyone would give whatever he wished.
time, one of the members of the secretariat [of the Keren
Kayemet]visited Vladimirets. He came to organize
activity on behalf of the Keren Kayemet [Jewish National
the member of the secretariat, brought us the first 25 blue
collection boxes and we went from house to house to distribute
later, when we came to empty the boxes, we were excited by the
response 75 gold coins were collected.This was a very large sum in those days.The women would decorate their walls with the blue box
and set it aside in a place of honor among the other charity
became a noble and celebratory factor at different opportunities
at the time of a wedding, a circumcision, or other
Before lighting her candles [on the Sabbath or a holiday], a
housewife would put several coins into the box.But all this was not sufficient.Therefore, we consulted with the gabbaim [sextons]
of the synagogues and with the homeowners whose opinions and
influence set the standard, and we explained to them the need to
increase donations to the Keren Kayemet.We came to a general agreement that on the Sabbath, at
the time of the reading of the Torah, the men who were called up
to the Torah would contribute to our funds.They didn't agree to that in all of the synagogues, but
we overcame the difficulties.
donations were greater during the Sukkot holiday and on Simchat
Torah, days on which we organized our own quorum of prayer in
Leizer-Leib Rosenfeld's house.He gladly let us use part of his house, the part where
the yeshiva was located.
We had our
Mainly, the one who was best at this was David Rosenfeld, who
presently lives in
Brazil.Avraham Valichover read the Torah.Many came to our prayers and made their donations to
building the Land.
The habit increased on Simchat Torah.After the prayers, Nachum Millstein, the son of the
shochet for the Trisk Chassidim, would invite the members of
the congregation to his house for Kiddush, or we would go
to Nachum Tscherniak's house which in those days was the
factory of the souls of the youth.
not remember the celebration of Simchat Torah in our town?Already in the morning, you would see Yitzchak Valichover
and Pinchas der malach in the streets, decked out in
kipot and kapotes [skullcaps and coats] turned
hand, they held a lulav, and in the other, a cucumber
and so they went from house to house "to bless the etrog".A group of children followed them, enjoying their antics.In every house, they ate and drank and they would leave,
dancing with the children, their escorts
hakafot in our synagogue?They were conducted with such joy.But before they began the hakafot, the gabbaim
[sextons] of the synagogues had to make Kiddush as
required.It was a
saying in our town that the gabbai in whose house the
pirazhkes [dumplings] baked in honey were better and the
whiskey was finer, had the best chances of being chosen again as
gabbai for the coming year.
gabbaim of the Burial Society would prepare a very special
feast that cost a great deal of money.The first gabbai was Yehoshua Kushner, who was
called "der mazik."He took care that the drink would be plentiful, prepared
all kinds of good things for the feast and he already knew who
he should honor with a full cup and the best of everything.He tried with all his strength to hold onto his position
In truth, this lordly position of gabbai of the Burial
Society was regarded in our town as being of very great value.
Not only on
Simchat Torah, but also on other days of the year, we were
witness to celebrations, mainly of weddings as is customary
everywhere and also in our town, a wedding was held in the city
where the bride lived.A bride did not travel to hold a wedding somewhere else.A thin, but deep importance was hidden in that custom.The weddings, in general, were held on Tuesdays, which is
a lucky day, or on Fridays, because then the celebration was
closest to the Sabbath.But sometimes, a wedding was held on a Wednesday, for
example, if it was Rosh Chodesh [the first day of the
month] a date that gave special value to the day.And if a wedding is a parlor, there also was a vestibule
to the parlor the "Tenaim."After the "Tenaim," everyone knew that this
yeshiva student and that young woman were a bridegroom and
prepared for the day of the wedding.Many people would hold a wedding in the summer, after the
Shavuot holiday, mainly during the first two weeks of the month.
in the town provided an income to many of its inhabitants
fabric merchants, for example, were expecting to sell suits and
dresses for the bridegroom and brideand the various in-laws, and so it was with the tailors
and shoemakers everything in the town awakened in the days
before a wedding.
made an effort to have money on hand the dowry for their
Generally, no wedding took place without a dowry.I, myself, fell in love with my heart's choice when I was
16 years old.We
were married only at the age of 22, and even though my love was
strong, the members of my family did not allow me to marry as
long as the dowry was not promised Nevertheless, I wish all of
the couples, even now, that they will have a completely happy
life like we had
before the wedding, there were many preparations.It had already been arranged with the synagogue's cantor
that the bridegroom would be called up to the Torah.Many people came to the synagogue, even to the women's
section, to see how peanuts and sweets were thrown at the
watched him to see how he would go up to the Torah, and everyone
worried and prayed in their hearts that he would not fail,
Heaven forbid, because of emotion, to say the blessings
service they went home to conduct a Kiddush, and the
neighbors and friends would send gifts to the bridegroom's house
one would bring a choice drink and another, a kugel.The week of the wedding, the bride and groom were
forbidden to go outside alone.A member of the family was obligated to accompany them
during these days.
Meanwhile, the klezmer players were invited, and when the
actual day of the wedding arrived, the town was already astir.
o'clock in the afternoon, you would already see Shlomo the
tailor, who was the head of the klezmer band, with the
goy Mitra, who played the clarinet, and Leizer beating the
had already had many rehearsals, until they came to their actual
I remember one wedding in which the groom was not from our town,
but from Zoludzk, and all of his in-laws came in decorated
wagons to our town.
The wagon at the head of the line was hitched to white horses, a
color that symbolizes light and happiness.When they drew near to our town, a rider-messenger was
sent ahead to notify the Jews of Vladimirets that the groom and
his family were arriving, and when the good news was known, Rav
Shlomo and his klezmer
immediately went out, along with many of the young people, also
in decorated wagons hitched to choice horses.So that Vladimirets would not be embarrassed, Heaven
forbid, the townspeople, young and old, walked to the outskirts
of the town to welcome the visitors.The entire entourage entered the town very slowly, to the
sound of the klezmer
LONGINGS FOR REDEMPTION
The town slowly returned to normal after everything it had gone
through during the War.New winds began to blow.The Zionist movement was a recognized factor in the life
of the town:
various delegations would come frequently, calling the youth to
["The Pioneer"] called upon the youth to go for training and
prepare for aliya
[immigration to the Land of Israel].Not all of the parents accepted the matter of HaChalutz
and going for training favorably.It was more comfortable for them for their children to
find a real purpose to their lives.In their eyes, America
was better than
Palestine.But not all of the parents saw things that way, and there
were some who gave their consent to their children to go for
remember the day when the first certificate was received.The committee of local Zionists meditated over the
problem, and of all of the many who had requested to be among
the winners of a certificate, they found Rachel Reznik, the
daughter of Aharon ("der
to be the most appropriate. Rachel was from a house full of
Zionism, and the idea of aliya
was a holy one to her.She spoke about her life in the
with enthusiasm, a life of work and freedom.No expected difficulty upset her.To this day, the departure that the town held for Rachel
is engraved in my memory.That day, almost all of the residents, young and old,
were filled with a great deal of tension in advance of this
hour arrived to travel, the house and the street were filled
followed the wagon to the Sucza Woods.The young people continued to escort her even farther,
all the way to the Rafalovka train station.All of these escorts gathered in the station, tensely
waiting for the train.When the train arrived and Rachel entered the car, they
all began to sing Hatikva and call out, "see you in our
precious homeland" with great emotion.
person to make aliya also merited a great deal of
Moshe-Yudel Waldman.Many people from Vladimirets do not recognize his name,
because Waldman was not born in the town.The Waldman family a family with many children
arrived in Vladimirets from Olevsk during the War.After the War, the economic situation became
re-established, trade developed and many traders mainly forest
traders began to arrive in our town for their business.The Polish company Paldor was very well-known.Moshe-Yudel had a position as a tree inspector in this
company's office was located in Sima Nisman's house.Many of the residents of the town drew their living from
the Bas family had a benefit from this firm, which supplied them
with office supplies.The company had thousands of employees from the town and
the villages in the area.The farmers were well-paid, and it is only natural a
farmer with money in his pocket came to the town and bought a
lot in the shops.
Indeed, on all levels of the population there was plenty.
Waldman already knew how to finance matters so that the profits
would not bypass Vladimirets but would remain within it.He would pay the farmers with special scrip, that had
value only in Vladimirets, and thus the villagers were obligated
to buy in our town.
came to the town, of course, at the merit of the Polish firm and
the forest trade, but also at the merit of Waldman But the
times changed, and Moshe felt that the forest business was being
undermined, that the company's business would end and its office
would be closed.At
that time, the newspapers were filled with stories about many
anti-Semitic events in Poland.The Jews who travelled by train were already subjected to
the large cities, incidents multiplied of injury to Jews.The cry, "Jews, go to Palestine!" was frequently heard.In view of all these events, Moshe Waldman decided to
and make aliya to the
of Israel.Moshe-Yudel was beloved by everyone he was the image of
"a good Jew," a provider of benevolence, doing charitable deeds.If someone needed help, it was Moshe-Yudel to whom he
now, when the second certificate was received in Vladimirets and
Moshe Waldman joined the list of those who were interested in
receiving it, was it possible to reject him and choose another
that Moshe Waldman used to say, "Up to now, I worked and slaved
for the Polish people.From now on, I will turn toward helping Israel, and I will be certain that I
am building an eternal home for my family and for my people."
Paritza [landowner] from the village Borovoy, the place
where he worked, found out that Mr. Waldman was intending to
she invited him to her house and entered into a conversation
please, Mosheke, is it true that you are going to leave
Poland and travel to
Palestine?Did you consider carefully what you are going to do?You are travelling to a desolate country.You are travelling to a wilderness of rocks.It is unbelievable, that an intelligent Jew like you
would do such a thing!"
Waldman, who in those days was full of enthusiasm for the idea
of revival, answered her thus
lady, I well know that the Land is planted with thorns and
rocks.But this is
our Land, which is waiting for us, and we are waiting for it.We will come there; we will work the Land and we will
revive its desolation."
landowner smiled when she heard what he said, and said:
want so badly to work the land, I am willing to give you a large
parcel of land, even 100 hectares, of good, fruitful land,
Take the land, work it, you and your children, and don't travel
to Palestine "
what was told in those days in Vladimirets about the meeting
between the Paritza and Moshe Waldman.And now, when the second certificate arrived, it was
given to Moshe Waldman.He also merited an emotional parting.
spirit that visited the town commanded us to give our children a
new kind of education, a Hebrew education, in proportion with
the days of awakening and longings for revival.It was necessary to establish a Hebrew school.In other towns, such schools had already been
the school met with difficulties in our town, because it meant
cutting off the livelihoods of many teachers who earned their
bread in the cheder.But in the end, it was nevertheless decided to establish
rented a large house next to the gralnia where Winakur
lived.It was a
large, walled house.Indeed, the house was abandoned, but its rooms were
worried about the financial source for maintaining a school in
According to the old version, people were accustomed to paying
the tuition whenever the opportunity arose.The teachers would knock on the doors of the parents of
their students and receive their pay in installments, not all at
once, and not according to a set monthly date.
stood at the head of the activities on behalf of the school made
many efforts and sought sources of income.The teachers also showed their willingness to conform
themselves to the circumstances and conditions.At that time, the teachers were Chaim-Shalom Boksar,
Velvel Burak, Avraham Garmarnik and Chaim-Shalom's sons.The teacher Ziniuk, who was not one of the residents of
the town, but came to us from Rosochacz, did a lot to establish
the school was located at a distance from the town, difficulties
arose with the arrival of fall and winter the children had to
tramp through the autumn mud until they arrived at school.These, and similar difficulties, caused the project to
fall apart.Each of
the teachers took some of the children and began to teach them,
each teacher in his own home, as before.Nevertheless, there already was a change in the lessons,
since the method had been changed and the language of
instruction was Hebrew.
disintegration of the school was a strange phenomenon in the
Zionistic atmosphere of the community and in view of the
agitation of the youth, who had a pioneering spirit.Indeed, the heads of the Zionist community did not rest
and were not quiet. They
demanded from the Tarbut
that it take action in order to establish a school for us that
would endure. There were many representatives, and I remember
mainly the arrival of Rosenheck, who stayed with us for a few
days and acted, demonstrated and organized with a great deal of
time, there was a meeting of the various homeowners who were
able to help.The
living spirits in all of this activity were Nathan Tscherniak
and Yosef Kagan.At
the meeting a committee was appointed to buy a lot in the town
and to begin building a school.When the decision became known, everyone was happy.The lot that was bought was next to the poplav[the meadow],
across from Isaac "der veyatzur".The goy who owned the lot was paid in gold coin.This money was given to us by the Burial Society, which
had large sums of money in its possession.In addition to the lot, we bought wood materials for
building from a forest trader from Karchemka. He gave us a great
deal of help, in that he prepared the wood for building and even
was willing to allow us to make payments in small amounts over a
dramatic club also undertook to present plays more frequently
and to dedicate the money earned to the establishment of the
be mentioned that the rabbi of Vladimirets, Rabbi Shlomo Shlita,
of blessed memory, informed us that he was willing to enter the
activities in order to help build the school, if we would agree
that the lessons in the school would have a religious
example, the girls would have to learn separately and not
together with the boys.And indeed, the Rabbi participated in the laying of the
cornerstone for the school, as did Rabbi Shlomo Yaakov Katan.That day was a real holiday in the town.The storekeepers closed their shops; the craftsmen
stopped working; the entire town gathered on the lot.The Vladimirets band, with the elderly Shlomo the tailor,
who still conducted his band very well, also took part in the
Shlomo Shlita placed a scroll in the foundation and the band
In a short
time, the frame of the building was put up and its roof was
covered with metal shingles.The plan of the building was made according to the
suggestion and sketch made by Ben-Zion Zhuk.Hard work and good will were not lacking our dramatic
club was travelling and presenting plays also in nearby towns.
this did not help.
After a time, it became clear that the project was greater than
our actual ability to complete it.The building remained unfinished a frame with a metal
shingled roof indeed, many photographs were made of it.These photographs were sent mainly to people from our
town in America, in
order to awaken them to help and to action.But it is very doubtful whether this building made an
impression on the residents of
America, who were accustomed to
more splendid buildings.
spirit in the town became cooler.The excitement died down, and the youth became tired.Many of the young people left the town at that time and
went out to training courses, and many of the activists left the
town in a search for sources of income.I, myself, was forced to leave Vladimirets.Indeed, it was hard for me to part from the town where I
had lived the wonderful years of my youth, where I had found my
heart's choice, Zelda, the daughter of Golda-Leah Teitelbaum.We, with our two sons, left Vladimirets and went to
connections with Vladimirets were very strong.When there was a Keren Kayemet convention in
Warsaw, I was invited to come, since I
had been its approved representative in Vladimirets.At that convention, D. Ben-Gurion and Jachovitzky
participated as delegates from the Land.
that, when I went to the convention, I met Yitzchak Levin from
Vladimirets in the street.I asked him how he was.As usual, his response was he put his hand over his
heart, and from that I understood that he didn't feel so
time later, I met Yitzchak Pinchuk.He told me the bad news that Yitzchak Levin had died
suddenly while he was walking down the street to the convention
convention, the delegates from the Land claimed that intensive
actions toward building the Land should be taken in the cities
activities in the towns, including Vladimirets, grew stronger.The ground in the town began to collapse under our feet.The sources of income were closed families branched out
and became larger, and the chances of survival became limited.Many Christians opened shops, which also cut off the
chances of legal aliya were very few, and the winds of
anti-Semitism grew stronger.And that year, a large fire broke out in Vladimirets,
which provided a reason for a few families to leave
Poland for the Land of Israel.
A FIRE AND
A BLOOD LIBEL
remember the appearance of Vladimirets before the fire:its streets and houses, most of whose roofs were covered
with wooden shingles.Indeed, there were some beautiful, spacious houses, but
there also were houses whose age already ruled over them.Next to every house, there was a ledge or a special seat
places to relax on hot summer evenings.
structure and appearance of the houses of Vladimirets were not
modern, but this fact did not interfere with the will of the
youth to act and progress.The town was poor in its outward appearance, but it was
beloved and engraved in the hearts of its sons.That is how the town looked until 1934.
It was a
summer Sabbath in 1934 after the noon meal, at the hour when
some of the youth went for a walk to the Sucza Woods, some of
them went to the landlord's gardens, and others went farther, to
the forest on the hill.While our parents slept the sleep of Sabbath afternoon, a
burning sliver of wood fell next to one of the houses.On that day, the sun was very hot, and a breeze fanned
the fire, which caught onto the straw roof and was quickly
carried by the wind to other roofs.In a short time, almost the entire town was engulfed in
and black smoke were unrestrained.The crackling sound of the dry trees burning was heard.The fire was horrible, and they say it was seen from a
distance of many kilometers away.
Rafalovka, the town where I lived at that time, we also saw the
fire and smoke, and we understood that Vladimirets was burning.Beside mine, there were several other families from
Vladimirets in Rafalovka.Yehoshua Brik, Yaakov Kanonitz' son-in-law, quickly
harnessed his horses and wagon, and we hurried to Vladimirets.The town looked like fuel for a single conflagration, and
it was totally impossible to enter it.Scattered on the fields behind the town were various
possessions that the people had managed to save from the fire.The families themselves looked like they had been thrown
on the ground in the fields.Many of them enquired as to the cause of the fire, and
were unable to reveal how it had started, and the secret remains
hidden to this very day.
But, as the
proverb says, something sweet resulted.After the fire, a government insurance committee arrived
that estimated the damages and paid everyone according to the
value for which his house was insured. We also gained a profit
from the fire.For
my mother-in-law's house, which was burned down, we also
received the amount of the insurance.It was enough to build a lovely, roomy house in
Rafalovka, where we lived with her.
families from our town did not invest the insurance money that
they received in building new houses in or near Vladimirets, but
hurried to pack their bundles and leave the town.Some of them went to live in the larger cities where
their chances were better.But a few families made aliya and moved to the Land of Israel
among them were Leah Baril and her children, and the
Schwartzberg family.Other families sent their children ahead, with the
consideration that eventually, the parents would follow.
remained in Vladimirets built lovely, more modern houses of
brick, attractive on the outside and comfortable inside.
time, the winds of hatred of the Jews were already strong in
Poland.The example of Nazi Germany found enthusiastic supporters
was already burning under our feet.Tales were told of attacks and cruel treatment of Jewish
travelers travel by train involved a danger to life, and there
were cases when Jews had been thrown out of a moving train.It is so very painful that many of those who were active
with all their souls and all their might on behalf of building
the Land of Israel,
did not take advantage of the right time to uproot themselves
from that land of blood, and did not merit seeing the Land of
their longings with their own eyes.
situation in Poland
got worse, and aliya
to the Land of Israel
Mandate government reduced the quota of certificates.Now, the desire to make aliya grew by leaps
and bounds, but it was possible to do so only illegally.Many of the youth headed toward the Land by any means.The illegal immigrants knew a great deal of suffering and
deprivations until they finally reached the shores of the Land.
Yehuda, who was active all his life in the Zionist youth
movement, and whose only desire was to make aliya, was
forced by a false accusation to quickly leave
and immigrate to
And this is
what happened:In the ordinary way, a village woman came to my brother's
pharmacy to buy a headache powder.This woman was well-known in town.It was known that she occasionally had attacks of
insanity, when she would wander through the streets of
village woman's husband was from Dolgovolya, and he wanted to
somehow get rid of her.He brought her one day to the forest, murdered her there
and covered the body with dirt and forest debris.The goy was certain that his deed was "smooth,"
and that no one would ever find out.
But a few
days later, when the goy's neighbors began to ask him why
they didn't see his Dimena, he didn't stop to think and quickly
found himself an answer:
around," said the farmer, "because she killed herself with
this up, since he had seen her a few days earlier holding some
suspicious powder, and he was almost positive it was poison.She told him she had bought the powder in Bas' pharmacy.
brought the villager to the police, where he added that he was
certain that she had poisoned herself, because she had told him
that she was going to Bas' pharmacy, and when she came home, he
saw that she was holding a smallvial, and she absolutely refused to show him what was in
made-up story was enough of a basis for the Polish police to
write an indictment against a Jew.Policemen, together with Dimena's husband, came to the
pharmacy, and according to his testimony they immediately
arrested my brother and imprisoned him in the cellar of the
police station in Hershel Lerner's house.They oppressed Yehuda with lengthy interrogations, which
he answered by saying that he didn't know anything about it,
except for the fact that Dimena had come one day to the pharmacy
and bought a headache powder from him, a powder that was
permitted to be sold to anyone.
But at that
time, in those days of wild anti-Semitic incitement, a Jew could
not do a thing to prove his innocence.
also grabbed onto the pretext it had been given, and began to
fan the flames of a blood libel:a libel that the Jews are murderers.The Jews of Vladimirets and the surrounding area were
fear took control of them.Every one of us was certain that the matter was falsehood
and that we were innocent of any crime.But the anti-Semitic apparatus was already in operation,
at full steam.
Acquaintances of our family who had strong connections with the
police did not rest and were not quiet.Yaakov Eisenberg, for example, put all of the strength of
his influence into the struggle and wanted to prove to the
police how contradictory and totally unreasonable the story was,
but all this did not help.
became known that they were transferring Yehuda from Vladimirets
to Rowne [now Rivne,
Ukraine] so as
to jail him in the large prison, the town was filled with fear
It is known
that Jewish peddlers from Vladimirets would visit the villages
of our area.They
would bring various necessities to the villagers and trade them
for farm products.
These peddlers would stay all week in the village, going from
house to house, and during their negotiations, they would hear
about everything that happened in that village.One of these peddlers also came to Dolgovolya.He was Nissel Bik's son-in-law, Elka's husband.He was an intelligent, experienced man.He was not able to accept the idea that this Gabrilo,
from his village, would be so cruel to the Jews.He tried to tried to talk to him, and the suspicion arose
in his mind that the matter was not so "smooth."Calmly and carefully, he passed through the village,
which was two kilometers long, and he opened his ears to
everything people were saying.
One day, he
was in the house of one of his customers who wanted to sell him
the fur of a fox that he had hunted nearby.While they were negotiating and talking, he turned an ear
to the conversation of some village women, who were sitting and
they said, he found out that the village shepherds, going with
their flock through the forest, had come across a suspicious
mound of dirt.The
shepherds' dog began, for some reason, to scrape his feet on the
debris and dirt, and a woman's body was revealed in the mound
apparently, this was Dimena.
breath, Nissel's son-in-law ran to the municipality and told
them what he had heard.When the matter became known to Yaakov Eisenberg and
Baruch Grushka, who were very familiar with the police officer,
they hurried to tell him.Now, the policemen went to the village, questioned the
women thoroughly, and after that, they went to the shepherds.Again, they questioned them, and it became clear that the
women were not talking for nothing while they were weaving the
shepherds led the police investigators to the forest, and there,
indeed, they found the murdered Dimena.Her arms were broken and there were signs of injury on
her head.Now, they
took Gabrilo for a strict investigation, accompanied by hard
beatings and he had no choice but to admit to the murder.
Yehuda was released from prison.But the days of imprisonment taught him that it was
impossible for him to remain in Poland, and he decided to leave
did not have a possibility at that time to make aliya to
of Israel, and he
contacted our brother in America,
who immediately held out his hand with actual help to leave for America.This event took place in 1938, one year before World War
II broke out.