Wednesday December 19, 2018

Known for 1986 Nuclear disaster, Chernobyl also has a deep Jewish Legacy

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Jewish kids and teacher in Ukraine 1941. Image Source: Jewua.org
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Chernobyl’ is small city located in keiv oblast in Ukraine where lot of big things have happened in the past. Chernobyl is city where 1986s catastrophic nuclear accident happened. This nuclear accident happened due to flawed reactor design that was operated with inadequately trained personnel.

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But before all that Chernobyl was use be place Rabbinic Dynasty lived. It said that Markham Markham Twersky is the first twersky of the Dynasty. He was born around 1730 and came to Chernobyl in 1770s as preacher. Later Markham Markham became Chernobyl’s Rebbe.

“He wrote a book called ‘the light of the eyes’ is the foundation of the Hasidic ideology in those days” said Yitz Twersky, descendant of Twersky.

Markham Markham had 8 sons each then went to different Ukraine rabbinic chords there. This was the begging of the great rabbinic dynasties.

Until the middle of 20th century through the times of holocaust there was always a Twersky presence in Ukraine.

“My grandfather was the rebbe of a city in southern Ukraine. In 1941 when the german’s came in the city was bombed and everyone was gathered into a school” said Yitz Twersky

Entire jewish population was target by the Nazis including all the rebbe’s, intellectuals, doctors, lawyers, leaders. They were told that they will be moved into labour camps but instead they were massacred. Mass killing like these wiped out entire families. The twersky family in southern Ukraine also lost many members of their family.

Yitz twerksy’s father rebbe Yacob Josheph Twersky moved to the United States after surviving the second World War, the death of his parents and years in concentration camps.

“When I was in college , I was taken to rebbe’s funeral  then one led to another and I started researching who my family was , who were the people at the funeral, how we are related and that started a 30 years of introspection, learning lot of things about myself and twersky family. So I started at the New York public library where in those days they had phonebooks and I actually withdrew manually every phonebook, wrote down every twersky’s name and started making calls. And Started making family tree’s and searching other record books.” Said Yitz Twersky.

Over the last 30 years Yitz has been gathering his family history and searching for other descendants. According to Mr.Twersky’s estimate there are about 50,000 people wh belong to the twersk family.

“I have documented 25,000 people 15 years ago, I have stopped the documentation of the rabbenical  descendants. I kind of decided to marry and have five kids.” Said Yitz.

What unites all the known twersky descendant is their strong connection Chernobyl no matter how far they live.

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication and a reporter at NewsGram. Twitter handle: bhaskar_ragha

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Martin Greenfield, A Holocaust Survivor Now Dresses Celebs

While washing and scrubbing one of the Nazi’s uniforms, I ripped the collar of the shirt

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Holocaust Survivor Becomes America’s Tailor
Holocaust Survivor Becomes America’s Tailor, VOA

But Greenfield did not arrive at his career in a usual way. He didn’t dream of growing up to sew clothes, or learn the business as an apprentice. Instead, Greenfield’s first encounter with a needle and thread happened when he was a prisoner at the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. He was 15 years old.

​“While washing and scrubbing one of the Nazi’s uniforms, I ripped the collar of the shirt. The guard became angry and beat me with his baton. A nice man working in the laundry taught me how to sew a simple stitch,” says Greenfield.

The kapo having no more use for the shirt, Greenfield kept the shirt for himself.

“I eventually took the shirt and wore it all through the concentration camp, until I got to another camp (Buchenwald) and they made me take it off.”

Martin Greenfield
Martin Greenfield, VOA

For Greenfield, the shirt had much value.

“The day I first wore the shirt was the day I learned clothes possess power. Clothes don’t just ‘make the man,’ they can save the man. The kapos treated me a little better. Even some of the prisoners did the same. Wearing the shirt, the kapos didn’t mess with me and they thought I was somebody.”

Greenfield’s parents and siblings were also at the concentration camp. The family was forced by the Nazis to leave their small hometown of Pavlovo, Czechoslovakia. Once at the camp, Greenfield never saw his family again. His father, mother, sisters, brother, and grandparents were killed. His life was spared.

“My father said no matter what job they give you, you do it and you will always survive. And I did survive,” he says.

After World War II, Greenfield immigrated to the United States.

Martin Greenfield holding the suit he stitched
Martin Greenfield holding the suit he stitched, VOA

He landed a job at GGG Clothing Company as a “floor boy” – someone who ran errands and did odd jobs. But he worked his way up, and in 1977 he bought the company and give it his name: Martin Greenfield Clothiers.

Greenfield is 89 years old now. His two sons, Jay and Tod, along with more than 100 other people, work at his company. But Greenfield still comes to the shop every day and walks the floor, managing workflow production and paying close attention to detail. When asked about his success, Greenfield gives credit to the talent and hard work of his employees. He also notes the importance of a satisfied customer.

Also read: Yazidi Woman who Survived Genocide Equates the Current Situation to Jewish Holocausts

“When I deliver a suit and they put it on and say, ‘My God, this is beautiful’, they know it is the quality we produce,” he says. “We satisfy our customers so they could come back again because we have the best suits ever!”  (VOA)