The Community of Swislocz,
Grodno District

(Svisloch, Belarus)

53° 02' / 24° 06'
 

Translation of
Kehilat Svislots; Pelekh Grodno
 

Edited by: H. Rabin
 

Tel Aviv, former residents of Swislocz in Israel, 1961



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Acknowledgments

Project Coordinator

William K. Rosenbloom

 

Our sincere appreciation to Toby Bird
for her excellent editing of the translated material

 

This is a translation from: Kehilat Svislots; Pelekh Grodno (The community of Swislocz, Grodno District)
ed. H. Rabin, Tel Aviv, former residents of Swislocz in Israel, 1961.


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Introduction

Our goal was to make the English version of Kehilat Svislots come alive by translating it as literally as possible.
We wanted to insure that the present and all future generations were able to hear the words in this book as they were spoken; to know the actual thoughts and words of those who remembered our families, and the place they called home.
The writers were not famous authors and wordsmiths skilled in the use of language.
Their concern was not the use of correct grammar, but rather, to preserve their memories of that time and that place.
You will certainly notice that, on occasion, certain ideas do not flow smoothly; there may be some incomplete thoughts, or some statements that just defy logic.
Certainly there is a frustration that comes with everyone's desire for words to flow like novels on the Best Seller List.
But balance that desire with the magic of hearing the words as they were spoken to us; think of Tevia, in Fiddler on the Roof, and you can almost hear some of these words and phrases coming from his mouth.
A particular favorite of ours is the description of Aaron Isaac in the “Teachers of Sislevitch” article: “a tall man, with a nice built front and starched white cuffs, a bib, a starched collar with cuff links and a black top hat. His pride was in his brown mustache and pointy beard.”
We can try to discern what the writer meant, that maybe he was handsome, muscular, fat, skinny, etc., etc.
But that would not be what was written, and in our opinion it would be sacrilege to try and interpret these words.
Please note that all comments in parentheses are that of the translator.


Dedication

We humbly dedicate the translation of this book to the memory of all those who lost their lives through the senseless tragedy of the Holocaust.
We particularly remember our family members, Kaplan, Vigonsky, Rosenbloom, Lappe, and Liss, and share the sadness of loss with all those whose family or families perished.
We also dedicate this to Mr. Joe Rozenberg, a 79 year old survivor of the Lodz Ghetto, who possesses a wonderful knowledge of Jewish history and customs and a man with a genuine understanding of English, Yiddish, German, and Polish.
Joe is a perfectionist and has donated hundreds of hours of time translating the Yiddish portion of the book, going over each article countless times to insure each one was as accurate and literal as possible.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Joe for all his help.


 

 

 

(Translator's Note: Chapters noted by (Y) are in Yiddish. All others are in Hebrew)

 

Introduction – the editors 5
Let us Remember – Ch. Sh. Rubin 7
Svisloch – Avraham Ayin 9
History of the Community of Svisloch – R Egosewicz 13
Spiritual Leaders 19
    Rabbi Meir Yona Meforash Haitur 19
    The Rabbis After Rabbi Meir Yona 22
    Rabbi Shneur Zalman Pines z”l[1] 23
    Rabbi Yosef Rozen z”l 24
    The Rabbi and Gaon Rabbi Mordechai Dov Eidelberg, may G–d avenge his blood[2] 25
    Rabbi Chaim Yaakov Miszkinski of blessed memory, the Last Rabbi of Svisloch 28
    Institutions of Torah, Education and Culture – Ch. Sh. Rubin 31
Svisloch and its Teachers – Eliahu Ayin (Y) 36
The Modern Cheder – N. Eden 45
The Hebrew School in Svisloch – Sh. Finkelstein 46
Memories and Experiences from my Studies at School – Sh. Finkelstein 50
My Town Svisloch – Yaakov Niv 52
From My Memories in One Article – Naphtali Eden [3]56
Sislevitch Enlighteners – Elijah Ein (Y) 59
Communal Life in Svisloch in our Generation – David Zilberblatt 65
The Beginning of the Young Zion (Tzeirei Tzion) Party in Svisloch – Y. D. Egosewicz 68
The History of Zionism in our Town – Feivel Zaonce z”l 69
“Before the Candle of G–d is Extinguished” – Naphtali Eden 71
The Synagogue Courtyard (Shul Hauf) – Tz. Finkelstein 74
My Grandfather Reb David Meizel of blessed memory – Sh. Finkelstein 78
Shmuel Goldberg of blessed memory – Tz. F-N 80
Sislevitch In Our Generation – Kayla Zakuta (Y) 81
My Friend Feivel Rubin may G–d avenge his blood – Ch. Sh. Rubin 88
Memories from my Father's House – Yafa Szpak Rabicki 91
Avigdor Berezanicki may G–d avenge his blood – Tz Finkelstein 94
In their Memory – Sh. Finkelstein 96
The Jewish Settlements near Svisloch – N. Eden 98
The Revenge On The Police Commissioner – Eliahu Ayin (Y)[4] 99
Oh, My Small Town! – Dvora Eden (Y) 105
The Destruction of Svisloch – A. Ayin 108
The Torture that the Svisloch Natives Endured in the Volkovisk Ghetto – the editor 112
The Testimony of Mrs. Winkelstein 115
From the Letter of Yerachmiel, a Svisloch Partisan 116
I am the Woman who Witnessed Tribulation – Gittel Slapak-Shechter 118
Svisloch – P. Liss (Y) 130
My Wanderings – Moshe Rubin 132
From a Letter – Yacov Panter (Y) 135
Avraham Ayin of blessed memory – the Editor 140
12 Year Relief Work – Avraham Ayin (Y) 141


Footnotes:
  1. The abbreviation z”l (zichrono livracha for a male, zichrona livracha for a female, zichronam livracha for the plural) means “of blessed memory”. This term is traditionally used following the name of a deceased person. Note, throughout the book, I use the full English term for this abbreviation. return
  2. The abbreviation hy”d (Hashem yikom damo for a male, Hashim yikom dama for a female, Hashem yikom damam for the plural) means “May G-d avenge his blood”. This term is traditionally used following the name of a person who has died a martyr's death  such as victims of the Holocaust. Note, throughout the book, I use the full English term for this abbreviation. return
  3. The page number is erroneously listed in the book as 57. return
  4. A Pristov is a Police Commissioner in Czarist Russia. return

 


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