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Bunim Kreel

Bunim Idel KRILL1889

Name
Bunim Idel KRILL
Given names
Bunim Idel
Surname
KRILL
Hebrew
בונים יידל קריל
Romanized
Barnet Krill

Bunim Idel KREEL

Name
Bunim Idel KREEL
Given names
Bunim Idel
Surname
KREEL
Hebrew
בונים יידל קרייל
Romanized
Barnet Kreel
Birth 1889 (5649)
Rakishok, Russia (Lithuania) - רראַקישאָק, רוסיה-ליטא

Romanized: Rokiškis [Lith], Rakishki - Ракишки [Rus], Rakishok-רראַקישאָק [Yid], Rakiszki [Pol], Rokišķi [Latv], Rokischken [Ger]
Immigration 1913 (5673) (Age 24 years)
Cape Town, South Africa - קאפ טאון, דרום אפריקה

Occupation
Yiddish Poet & Writer

Note: Bunim-Idel Kril first settled in Cape Town, SA, when he left Rokiskis and later went to Johannesburg…
Death
Johannesburg, South Africa - יוהנסבורג, דרום אפריקה


SourceGeni Website
Publication: http://www.geni.com/home
Occupation
Bunim-Idel Kril first settled in Cape Town, SA, when he left Rokiskis and later went to Johannesburg when he made a home for his family. His daughter Sadie married the well-known anti-apartheid activist Lionel Forman (originally Furmanovsky) whose family were from Kupiskis. Due to his work appearing in Yiddish, he was little known by the modern non-Yiddish speaking generation until his works in the Rokiskis Yizkor Book were translated. He was well-known for his stories which appeared in the Rokiskis Yizkor Book: "Reminiscences of a Socialist in Rakishok",and "Zalman the Soda Water Maker". He also wrote in Yiddish for other publications such as the popular 'Dorem Africa'. His poems include, 'Tselem ben' (The image of the son), 'Malkos' (Flagellations), and 'A House Without Rest'. http://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/rokiskis/Kril.htm
Note
Reminiscences of a Socialist in Rakishok by Buim Yidel Kreel Translated by Lillian Dubb and Sadie Forman Chasidic Rakishok During the first Russian Revolution of 1902 to 1905, the Jewish masses in the little towns and shtetlach became inspired with revolutionary ideals. The bad economic conditions, and the tradition-bound lives of the Jews in Tsarist Russia, were among the reasons for this to happen. In Rakishok, revolutionary groups were active, some of whom were influenced by the Jewish workers parties from Dvinsk. Dvinsk already had a big textile industry, such as the well-known factories of Natanson, Zaks, and Griliches. These factories employed hundreds of workers including workers from Rakishok. Rakishok also had small factories which employed a few thousand workers. The call to freedom and struggle was answered by the workers in the small workshops as well. A barrier to the spread of revolutionary ideas was the Chasidic groups, who were hide-bound to their traditional way of life. It is well-known that Rakishok was a stronghold of Chasidim. From North to South, we were surrounded by the spires of churches and cathedrals. In the East stood a beautiful Roman-Catholic cathedral with a spire hundreds of feet high, on the apex of which was a steel cross point which earthed lightning. On the West side, there was a Russian cathedral with many crosses. The religious attitude to the revolutionaries was negative – they were antagonistic. At that time, it was viewed as a disgrace to be a tradesman. Religious study was the acceptable life. There was also a negative attitude to Zionist movements. The following example will illustrate this: In Rakishok, there was a well-known Chasid called Zalman Yossel Rubens. He was a reader of the Torah and a respected person. He became a Zionist. The Chasidim were suspicious of him and no one spoke to him. He was barred from reading from the Torah, a formidable sanction. A short time later he died, and the Chasidim regarded his death as payment for his sin of Zionism. The Chasidim were outraged when the brothers Mendel and Label Rabkin who were members of the Enlightened Movement opened a Hebrew school where modern secular Hebrew was taught. Under the influence of the Russian revolution, a number of Zionist groups were formed by the children of Chasidim. They became friendly with the workers` groups in the town, and participated in their activities. The stormy years of the revolution broke down the hold of the Chasidim over the community and there was more interest in secular and cultural activities. The so-called cream of the Chasid community, their intelligentsia became increasingly drawn into the socio-political world. As a result, a number of different political groupings were formed, such as Zionists, Zionist-Socialists, Hapoael-Zion, Socialist Revolutionaries and the Bund. The Zionist-Socialist Party was founded by Matilda Mathieson, and by a socialist worker called Schwartzberg. Matilda Mathieson was the daughter of a Chasid who prayed in a Chasidic shtiebel. She would lecture on various ideologies in the Jewish section, such as Zionism, Socialism, Territorialism[1] and others. She also led discussion groups that developed from the lectures. These meetings were held in private houses, in special study houses and also in the surrounding woods. From these study groups, nationalist and revolutionary parties emerged. When the discussions became heated they led to quarrels and the voice of the Beadle would rise above them and he would chase them from the venue shouting, “Get out of here; these are Holy places.” The topics discussed at these gatherings were regarded with great seriousness. Apart from the philosophical, they also discussed concrete, practical matters such as how to achieve an eight-hour working day and how to organise strikes in order to achieve improved working conditions. At these meetings, the agenda would have been set previously by the Central Committee members who had experience in various strategies of the struggle. These meetings were often held in secret because Tsarist agents were sent to spy on the meetings. Because of this nothing was written down and only general books were available. For example, there were books of poetry and prose by writers such as Dovid Edelshtam, Morris Rosenveld, Morris Venshevsky, Abraham Reisen, Sorah Reisen, Emile Zola and other classical writers, such as Mendele Kliatcha. These books were read and analysed from a socialist and revolutionary perspective. At that time, revolutionary tracts were printed on wrapping paper and they would pass from hand-to-hand. On the thinnest cigarette papers were printed pleas, the history of revolutionary movements and Victor Chernov's “The Agrarian Question and Revolutionary Territorialism.” Afterwards, the members would get together and discuss the relevant problems printed on these illegal pamphlets. Stormy Days I recall an incident in those stormy days. A member of the Socialist Revolutionary Group, Shimke Dimant, became a spy. The Socialist Party discussed the problem of spies and following the policy of the Central Committee in Riga, they were ordered to eliminate Shimke. The lot fell to two people to carry out the job, one of whom was a tailor whose parents were Chasidim. The deed was to take place in the Great Synagogue on the Sabbath while the congregation was at prayer. When the two revolutionaries approached him to charge him with betraying the Party for being a spy, he drew his knife to stab the tailor, son of the Chasid, but the tailor preempted the attack by firing his revolver and merely wounded Shimke. The turmoil and chaos in the Shul was tremendous and terrifying and the entire congregation turned their passionate anger on the accusers. In no time, a posse of policemen arrived on the scene and forbade anyone to leave the shul. However the two revolutionaries escaped before the police arrived. They escaped through the priest's gate and fled to a small fenced-off wood near the shul which was close to the Rudomer Forest. As they ran, one of them fell, but the tailor did not leave his comrade behind. Lifting him up, and with the revolver in one hand he stood poised to face the police. Fortunately, the one who fell got up and with all his strength he struggled on until they reached the Jewish village in Rudomer. A poor Jewish woman recognised their danger and hid them in her attic, filled with new-mown hay. She then went away from the house, leaving her children playing peacefully in the garden. The police arrived and asked the children if they had seen two men running away. The eldest daughter kept her cool and told them that two people had run into the forest. The two men heard the police talking to the girl and decided that they would rather kill themselves than be caught by the police. The police charged into the forest like wild dogs after them and by good fortune, they were saved from death. Meanwhile, in Rakishok people were being arrested and sent to Siberia. Yoske's brother Arke and a plumber died in Siberia. Mika-Itcha Leibes and another two were freed in 1917 at the time of the February Revolution. I was also wanted by the police at that time. My aunt hid me until I made my escape to Dvinsk. A Yeshiva Bocher Dvinsk was a town well-known to me. I had studied at a Yeshiva there. There were two Yeshivas in Dvinsk. One was known as Hurwitz's Yeshiva which consisted of three sections. Reb Simcha taught the beginners Matchilim. Reb Yachel Yehuda took the older students and Reb Yomtov worked with the rabbinic students. The second Yeshiva was a Chasidic school - Wittenberg's Yeshiva, whose principal was Reb Yehoshe Arsch. In addition, my grandparents lived in Dvinsk and they were like my own beloved parents. My Zeida was a poor man. His livelihood was from his two cows and he made a living from the dairy products yielded by these two cows. At first, I studied in the beginner's Yeshiva, with Yehuda and afterwards I moved up to Wittenberg's. The principal, Reb Arsch, was an extremely strict man and exacted great diligence from his students, but I had a zest for learning. A Yiddish teacher, Soloviov, was recommended to me and we began to study Russian. He prepared me for entrance to the second level of the Russian secular school. I had a strong yearning to learn more of the outside world beyond the parochial, but without neglecting my Chasidic studies. In time, I had my own pupils among the workers. They would ask me to explain the difficult passages in the illegal booklets. Soloviov advised me to leave the Yeshiva and to enter the Dvinsk Technikon where one could receive free meals. As a student at the technical college, I soon became a member of the Student Socialist Movement. I was appointed to the group responsible for improving the standard of the food in the kitchen. Soon the students were able to have their say in the running of the kitchen. I graduated from this “Three Classics School” with honours. Dvinsk and The Bund In Dvinsk, I became a member of the Bund. There were a number of professional organisations and worker's unions in Dvinsk at that time. I really wanted to share my knowledge of the process of government deriving from the Constitution and Parliament, the voting system and how the franchise was exercised. My first practical experience in the field was to address an audience of two thousand who had to make a decision for all specialist building workers, such as the plumbers, painters, carpenters and bricklayers to unite into a large, single union. In a state of feverish anxiety, I prepared a draft document of how this should come about. My appeal had an unexpected result. The proposal for the union was unanimously accepted. This event inspired me to further revolutionary activity. I helped to distribute a highly illegal pamphlet of revolutionary songs, “The Vow” by Sh. Anski and songs such as “The Salty Sea of Human Tears,” and “How long, how long will we still be slaves,” and others. These songs were sung with resounding echoes in Natanson's button factory. Passers-by would stop in their tracks to listen to the enthusiastic singing of the workers. In the first days of Pesach in 1905, I took part in a conference of the Bund in Ponevezh. The sittings were stopped for afternoon and evening prayers. Twenty-five delegates attended and the subjects for discussion at the conference were how to conduct propaganda, how to distribute literature, how to organise strikes, and the organisation of workers' meetings. A tall, intelligent young man, one of the stewards, walked up and down and around the hall, and emphasised that we were not to write anything down. We were to remember the resolutions and the decisions made at the conference and to memorize them carefully so that we could report the conference accurately to our members in the Ponevezh region. On the third day of the Pesach week, the delegates went home peacefully. They were inspired and felt energised to commit themselves to achieving the aims of the Conference and to further their ideals. My desire to study was intense. I traveled to Vilna, but was unable to enrol at the Teachers' Seminar because I was from the Kovno Guberniya (province) and not a local from Vilna. Disappointed, I left Vilna and returned to Riga. In Riga, I found an open cultural umbrella organisation called Carmel. This was a progressive body under whose roof were a variety of groups and people. There were Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Germans of every political left-wing colour, such as Social Democrats and Bundists. Carmel was a central meeting place for all committed activists. Later, a Federation of the different parties, called the Soviet developed. I was co-opted on the Soviet as an assistant secretary. Drs. Scheinfeld and Hirschfeld were very active members of the Soviet (Not long ago, before I started writing these memories, I was grief-stricken to hear that Dr. Scheinfeld and his whole family were killed by the Latvian - Hitler regime). In the Soviet, I had the opportunity to meet interesting Socialist theorists. I also had a group of students to whom I gave classes and explained the democratic developments in our Jewish history, such as the Sanhedrin, that gathered together traditional regulations uniting Jews who were scattered over the four corners of the earth. We also discussed the Karl Marx Manifesto. I taught my students that religion in the first period of its development, as presented in the religious texts, was progressive and democratic. From that time of my teaching, I remember the Bundist, Abraham Chofetz, a student from the Kiev Polytechnic. He was a strongly committed comrade of the Party. Despite his tubercular pallor, he gave the last ounce of his strength to the Party. His learned lectures and theoretical analyses were a treasure house of knowledge and culture. Unlike Chofetz, a school friend, Julius, who doubted our sincerity, turned himself over to the secret police and blackened the names of about ten members of the Bund, including mine. One of my friends, Auerbach and I were taken to a police cell and then transported to the Riga prison, where we met our eight other comrades who had been arrested. After questioning, we were released. Earlier, I was taken for questioning to the “Centralka.” They tortured us badly. Terrible screams, groans and cries could be heard from every cell. We remained in the Riga “Centralka” and were prosecuted. We attempted to send coded messages to the other political prisoners. For six months, we were kept in the prison. People from the Socialist Party brought us food - we had butter, cheese, cigarettes and even chocolates. No private visitors were allowed to see us apart from family members. Exile to the Volog District in Siberia Begins One day, I was visited by a woman who said she told the police that she was my fiancée. She told me that the verdict of the case was that we were sentenced to the Vologda District for three years. She comforted me with the assurance that the Party would do everything they could for us. And so it was. The morning came when we were told to get ready for the journey. We marched all the way to the station under police escort and in the train we were guarded by armed soldiers. From Riga, they sent us to Petersburg. In the Petersburg jail, we were locked up with a few criminals. We were then sent to Vologda. The Vologda jail, a wooden two-storied building looked more like a shul than a prison. There was one room with large windows and strong metal grilles. On one wall was a poster with instructions for the gaolers and on the opposite wall, names of those who had been there before us. We also added our names to the list. From Vologda we were taken to Viatke. On the station at Viatke we noticed a huge van, guarded by police and soldiers with swords held in their hands. Sitting in the van were a woman and a man dressed in expensive furs. We discovered that they were the famous revolutionaries, Tcheidza and his wife. He had been released and she was taking him home. The Viatke jail was in a long dark, dirty cellar with mice and bugs. Political and criminal prisoners were put together in the same cells. After a period we were taken in convoy on a wagon drawn by four or six horses. The guards had guns and every few minutes we heard them loading their guns. We did about 40 versts[2] a day. We rested in villages along the way, in places which had been prearranged by our gaolers. There was one room for the soldiers and a long, fenced-off back room with iron bars and barbed wire was for us, the prisoners. We slept on straw on the floor. At every rest place a new convoy took over. About 100 miles from Viatke our treatment improved. They allowed us to walk because we had become stiff from the long hours of sitting. The convoy leader began to speak to us. When we got to Yarensk the soldiers allowed us to buy food from the peasants - yellow cheese, butter and herring. There was no bread, except for a type of village cake called yarushnikas. Winter, With a Guitar Winter came. We arrived at Ust-Saisiyalsk prison where we were much more comfortable. Although the prison room was not large, it was heated and the guard was friendly. For small change, he brought us food - warm prison soup. In the middle of the room, stood a long table and we could sit there. Two new comrades, a man and a woman joined us. He was a Russian from Moscow, an artist. A warder brought him a guitar and we spent a jolly evening. He imitated a man who had drunk too much vodka. We all laughed and the warders standing by the large kerosene lamps were also amused. From Ust-Saisiyalsk we travelled to Ust-Kulas which had a climate that covered the land in frost all year round. This was our destination. Here we received money from the Bund in Riga. We needed the money for warm clothes. And, we met other Bundists from Vilna – Yezierski, and Machlin who was a friendly man. Machlin's logical lectures on world problems and literature were scientific and erudite. Machlin, Auerbach and Leibchik Machlin was a tall broad-shouldered chap with a beard, and his looks reminded me of the well-known Zionist Dr. Chaim Weitzman. The comrades in his cell and the Christian neighbours, nicknamed Machlin “Your Holiness.” In that far-away place, we had a library and received illegal pamphlets. Machlin used to read us matters of interest. I also remember, Comrade Alexander, who was an interesting person. He was a Russian from Moscow where he was secretary of a cooperative. He was an expert in different social problems. He formed a group that studied the history of English industry. I shared a room with Leibchik Popliak, a comrade from Riga. My friend comrade Auerbach was with me all the time. Chaver Auerbach was released before me. His parents requested that he be freed. Chaver Leibchik received information from the Party telling him to escape. Leibchik disappeared one night, thanks to a woman who ran Kuzbazier's business that exported butter, oil, fish, sardines, furs, and dairy products, and a small river-craft for the use of the customers. The business owner's son had arranged for Leibchik to escape on the boat with a passport saying that he was a customer. So he got away. Once the police arrived and knocked on my door, but I did not open up. They forced an entry and I was then sent to East Saisiyalsk because they suspected that I was spreading socialist propaganda and illegal literature. In East Saisiyalsk, I met another deported family. One of them was comrade Kramer, a student in the medical faculty. He was a most interesting person. To this day, I can recall his intelligent face in all its particulars. Later, I was sent back to East Kulas, and given new quarters. I shared a living area with a family, Prokopievich. All my free time, I spent with my friend Machlin. We bought a small boat in partnership and in the mornings we would go down the river Kulas which had a very narrow entry. It stretched out and became very wide while at the same time the current became stronger and stronger. One day, when Machlin and I reached the middle of the river, the boat almost overturned. During this time of my exile, we received a sum of 8 roubles from the state every month. We also got a basic allowance for our winter clothing. In addition, I received money from the Riga organisation and friendly letters from Lena Popliak. Amnesty After 18 months were up, I was notified that because of the 300-year celebrations of the Romanov dynasty, we had been granted amnesty. The police guarded us until we reached Vologda, and there we were released. With happy hearts and train tickets in our pockets, we traveled to our separate homes. Pesach time in Rakishok. The melting snow, with its accompanying mud, lay heavy on our hearts, only the anticipation of Pesach lightened our spirits. On the threshold, we were met with tears of joy at our homecoming by our families. After Pesach and the Amnesty celebrations, the old system reared its ugly head once more. Freedom's short spell in Rakishok District was short-lived. I received letters from other friends in East Kulas. Many of those released comrades who had not been able to get home so quickly, were rearrested. A Short Time After My Release, I Married In a little village, Zabeshik, a few versts from my shtetl, I met my wife, Malke Levine. I was resting there after my ordeal in exile. A few weeks passed and my father arrived early on a Sunday. He was pale and frightened. With trembling lips he told me “My child you must leave here immediately. You cannot return to our shtetl. The police are looking for you. They turned our house upside-down trying to find you. They questioned me and your mother as to your whereabouts. When they didn't find anything they went to look for you in the Chasidic shtibel. They surrounded the minion and called out our family name. I managed to get out, but they told me that they were looking for Bunim Yidel and not Yankel Baruch." After this news, by the next morning I was already in Tavrik. It was December, 1912. I crossed the border into Germany. From there, I traveled to sunny South Africa and arrived in Cape Town. My wife and baby son came many months later. South African Soil and Politics I arrived on African soil having endured 18 months in Tsarist jails. From the small jail in Riga, I had journeyed to the furthest reaches of the Vologda region. Viatka, Valanda, Yorensk, East Saisiyalsk and East Kulas. It seemed that South Africa was a land of political freedom, a paradise, compared with despotic Russia. I was overjoyed to be in South Africa. I soon became interested in the political climate of South Africa, and particularly the Socialist movement. My brother Lazar, who lived in Cape Town, welcomed me with great hospitality. Thanks to him, I met my Socialist friends, Joe Pick, Goldblatt and others. It turned out, Goldblatt had lived in the same neighbourhood in Dvinsk as my grandparents and he immediately recognised me. At that time there was a Social Democratic Federation in Cape Town whose members were for the most part English. Their premises were in Shortmarket Street not far from where I worked in my uncle's business. The hall was very light and airy and could hold 100 people. Meetings were held there often and all political subjects were discussed. I remember the following people who were on the Committee of this organisation: the Chairman McManus, Harrison, Connolly, Stewart, Driberg, Lemmon and others. There were a few Jewish members in the organisation. Aside from Pick and Goldblatt there was Walt, Baskin, Jacobson, Schumann, the three Gamsu sisters and myself. The lectures and discussions were held in English and comrade Pick would translate for me into Yiddish. There was a good and friendly atmosphere at the meeting. The other members were very interested in me, and I was able to participate in the discussions in Yiddish which was translated into English. Yiddish Section of the Social Democratic Federation A short time later a few of us, including Pick, Schumann, Goldblatt and I decided to organise a Yiddish section of the Federation. Pick, an energetic initiator with ambitions to rise in the organisation, called a meeting of the Yiddish members. A Yiddish section was formed and a committee of eight was appointed. I was also elected on to the committee. Pick was elected Chairman and Walt Secretary. There were twenty members in the Yiddish Section including Turok, Slom and Rudovsky. Slom later emigrated to America to study medicine. I remember that the first cycle of lectures was held in Yiddish and the subject was the Russian Revolutionary Movement. These lectures attracted about 50 people each time they were held. After each lecture there were lively and interesting discussions. I spoke about democracy and mentioned that the Sanhedrin was based on democratic principles. The Yiddish Section grew from strength to strength. Many interesting meetings were held. Comrade Slom lectured on scientific matters as well as party dynamics. Comrade Pick spoke about Trades Unions and comrade Davidoff talked about politics. My brother Lazar discussed literature and I spoke about political economy and the growth of the working class movements. There was a great need for Yiddish books. Most of the comrades who were invited were too poor to import Yiddish books. The committee itself was too limited and too impoverished to buy books. Nevertheless we managed to collect some books from friends who lent them to us. These were books by Morris Vinshevsky, Avrom Reizin, Dovid Edelschtadt, Sholom Aleichem, Mendele as well as Y. L. Peretz, Perets, Stolensky, etc. These books also led to many discussions. A great attraction was the ad-hoc debates and all were encouraged to participate in the discussion. These evenings were full-houses. Thirst for Knowledge I had a great thirst for knowledge that I had inherited from my father. I remember once when he had spoken to me, trembling. “I myself took you to Rabbi Yachiel Yehuda's Yeshiva. After that you passed into the Wittenberg's Chasidic Yeshiva. How much sweat and tears did this cost me. I am now going to the head of the Lubavitch, and if you don't come with me and enter this Yeshiva, I will cut you off so that you will never receive anything from me - no shoes or clothes - you will have to fend for yourself in your goyisha world.” Even though these words had come from another world-view, they still encouraged me to enrich my soul with ever more education. Coming to South Africa reawakened in me a need to be educated. I had a great desire to pursue scholarship. My comrades referred me to an elderly professor, Palmer, who was at Cape Town University. I studied with him with great enthusiasm for 5 months. I read the works of Aaron Hill, Before Adam, Jack London as well as Uncle Tom's Cabin, William Morris' poetry, Ruskin's political economics and Karl Marx's Das Kapital. I was soon able to participate at the Social Democratic Federation meetings in English, and was also able to write short reports. But because of material needs I had to drag myself away from my studies with the professor. When I brought my wife and child out of the old country, I had to work much more to make a home for them. In spite of my limitations, I made the time to read and to participate in the activities of the Federation that had developed into an intense cultural-political centre. All our meetings were well attended. New members, for example Fox, Joffe, and the Bayer brothers, enrolled. Some of the Jewish members reverted to the original section as they felt that we had become too left and one of them, Stewart, exposed his anti-semitism. It's true that he was chosen from the Federation but we no longer trusted him. This was the main reason for the Yiddish section to move to other premises in Plein Street International Socialist League (ISL) In mid-1915 I met the well-known Socialist, S.P. Bunting, who was the editor of The International a journal published by the International Socialist League (ISL), of which I was a member. He gave me the opportunity to write a number of articles. This encouraged me to write for the South African Worker, where one of my articles was published. I continued to write for the Yiddish section as well. At one of the Yiddish Section meetings, we decided to open up a Yiddish Sunday school for children. The more progressive members of the Jewish community wanted such a school for their children and this became the first secular Jewish school in South Africa. The teachers at that school were Berman, Pick, Davidov and, at the beginning, I also taught there. Davidov and Berman organised a choir at the school and they often held concerts when the children performed. I particularly remember a young girl, Rosa Rudovsky, who sang a song by Rosenveld so beautifully. Johannesburg After wandering around various towns in South Africa, we finally made the family home in Johannesburg, where I became an active member of the International Socialist League and the Jewish Workers' Club. At that time, Sylvia Pankhurst, the suffragette who (unlike her mother and sister) fought in the War-on-War League against the First World War, edited 'The Workers' Dreadnought' in England. The newspaper focused on the struggle of the working class in Britain and elsewhere and was eagerly awaited and read by us regularly. I always remained firm to the ideals of socialism and, to this day, I am committed to these ideals with all my heart and soul. Territorialism was the term describing Jews in Europe and Russia who were debating the idea of having a single Jewish territory, not necessarily in Israel, but very possible in Russia after the revolution. The example of Birobijan established later in the USSR was regarded as a Jewish territory. One Verst is approximately three-quarters of one mile. Memorial Book of Rokiskis (Rokiskis, Lithuania) Translation from Yisker-bukh fun Rakishok un umgegnt (Yizkor book of Rakishok and environs) Edited by: M. Bakalczuk-Felin Published in Johannesburg, 1952 (Yiddish, 626 pages) http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/rokiskis/rok099.html#Page115