web analytics
April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Reconnecting After 70 Years


Share Button

Finding a classmate has never been easier, with online tools rekindling long-lost childhood friendships. For those whose last school exams took place more than 70 years ago, only to be followed by the ravages of the Holocaust, a long-distance reunion leads to an outpouring of emotion.

My great-grandfather Hersh Vaysbukh was the principal of the Tarbut school in the Moldovan shtetl of Zguriţa. The son of a Hebrew teacher, Hersh led the small school, instilling a love of Zionism and fluency in Hebrew, preparing his students for eventual aliyah to a future Jewish state.

The potential of Zguriţa’s Jews far outweighed their economically impoverished setting. Its residents had a taste of independence in 1853, when local authorities permitted the Jews to start an agricultural colony. At the time, most Jews in tsarist Russia did not have the privilege of owning land and growing their own produce. Though this lease ended in 1878, the village remained majority Jewish until the Holocaust.

Shalom Landes was born in 1922. A mischievous lad, he entered class by climbing in through the window. In contrast, my grandfather Zakhar Vaysbukh, the principal’s son, was the bookworm, taught to see a book as his best friend. At Tarbut, they both solved mathematical problems in Hebrew, and with fascination read Vladimir Jabotinsky’s latest speeches. Moldova avoided coming under the sway of communism when Romania annexed it following the collapse of the Russian empire.

My grandfather left Zguriţa at age 14 to work in his uncle’s workshop in Bucharest, supporting his parents, three sisters and a brother. The two classmates never met again. When the fascist government of Romania invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Zakhar and Shalom fled across the Dniester River into Ukraine, signing up for the Red Army. Their parents were not as fortunate. Rounded up by the Romanians, they were herded into the ghetto village of Bershad where they slowly starved to death.

Zakhar and Shalom returned to Zguriţa after its liberation in 1944. Finding only destruction there, Zakhar moved to Chernovtsy, Ukraine, where he later met my grandmother. Shalom found his childhood sweetheart, Tuba Kaplan. Together they fled to Poland, and then Israel, where Shalom became one of the early settlers of Kibbutz Nir Am, founded by fellow landsmen on the Gaza border.

Zakhar now lives in Flushing, Queens, leading a dwindling weekly minyan of observant Jews in a largely Chinese neighborhood.

I stumbled on Shalom Landes’s name while researching my family’s history. Though Zguriţa has exactly zero Jewish residents today, young locals Vova Lyakhovich and Oleg Shved created a detailed Russian-language website on the village’s history, (http://zguritsa.my1.ru) giving much credit to its Jewish past. Lyakhovich provided a page on Landes, who wrote a book in Hebrew on the prewar village, including the two-volume Pirkei Zguritsa, with sketches on life in the prewar village.

I contacted Avi Kadosh, the head of Kibbutz Nir Am, last March. Kadosh informed me that Landes was in a hospital. My grandfather and I were heartbroken to know we were so close to reconnecting with a fellow survivor, a landsman and classmate, just as he was struggling for his life.

We poured out prayers and contacted his daughter for information on his health. A month later, a phone call came to Flushing from Kibbutz Nir Am. My grandfather and Shalom spoke with each other in Yiddish. It was a long conversation.

Though my great-grandfather did not survive the war, the Tarbut of Zguriţa still stands today, as a non-Jewish elementary school. Since my great-uncle’s death in January, my grandfather stands as the last Holocaust survivor and war veteran in my family. Every Shabbat I gain new insights into the life story of this lone survivor.

My grandfather takes great pride in knowing that while most Zguriţa Jews perished, the small remnant that made aliyah was able to regroup, build a kibbutz, and pass on his father’s Zionist values to the next generation.

Share Button

About the Author: Sergey Kadinsky is a freelance writer and political consultant residing in Queens. He previously served as assistant editor of The Jewish Star and as a reporter at the New York Post.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Reconnecting After 70 Years”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The interior of the El Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba, Tunisia, in 2009.
Tunisian Jew Stabbed in Djerba
Latest Indepth Stories
Lebovic-041814

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Benveniste-041814

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

Dann-041814

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

Perhaps worse than all the above is the acute lack of unity among Jews

At our seder we emulate the way it was celebrated in Temple times, as if the Temple still stood.

Not one world leader holds Abbas accountable for his part in the breakdown of negotiations.

The 1948 re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty was a modern day Exodus and Parting of the Sea.

Spies who caused American deaths and worked for enemy states received lighter sentences than Pollard.

Christie’s “good friend” is an Imam who supports murderers of Jews and defames Israel and Christians.

One grey night it happened, Bibi caved no more
& Poof that Foggy Bottomer, he vanished from our sight

More Articles from Sergey Kadinsky
Rabbi Manny Behar

On certain public policy issues, Orthodox opinion stands in sharp contrast to the views of most American Jews.

V-E-Day-052413-Grandpa

Nearly half a million of them fought in Red Army uniforms, under communist slogans but with a personal vengeance that was solely the result of Jewish experience. More than the “Greatest Generation,” they were the living superheroes hidden in plain sight.

Finding a classmate has never been easier, with online tools rekindling long-lost childhood friendships. For those whose last school exams took place more than 70 years ago, only to be followed by the ravages of the Holocaust, a long-distance reunion leads to an outpouring of emotion.

He founded a college that spans the world, and served as its president until his death Monday evening at his home in Forest Hills, New York.

He founded a college that spans the world, and served as its president until his death Monday evening at his home in Forest Hills, New York.

Yes, it is your father’s synagogue, and it had just observed its 70th anniversary.

It was shocking to see the writer Hillel Halkin marking the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem by calling for its division. In a May 15op-ed in the New York Sun (“Mounting Figures”), Halkin wrote about the concern of Israeli political leaders with demographics. As a solution, he extended their call for territorial concessions even beyond Judea and Samaria, applying it to the capital city of Israel.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/reconnecting-after-70-years/2010/05/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: