Town Life
Town Today
Near Krasnostav
Compiled by Michael Levin
Last updated 10 April
Copyright ©2016 Michael Levin

Town history
Dina Kopilov
(nee Kaplun)

Yalkut Vohlin” 10 1949
   Translated from Hebrew by Ruth Kally


     It was a small townlet in the district of Zvihil¹ on the way to Berezdov, five parasangs² from it. About thirty parasangs from Koritz on one side and the same distance from Slavuta on the other. According to tradition Krasnostav began as a village, and years later, when the growing Jewish population brought about the development of the place, it was recognized as a townlet.
    There is a river flowing near Krasnostav. According to the stories of the elders a great battle was fought over it in the days of the Polish revolt, and it filled with the blood of the dead fighters;  that's why the place's name was turned to Krasnostav (=red river)³. People of the older generations tell that there was a Jewish settlement in Korchik, a village near Krasnostav. It was ruined during earlier wars, but an ancient cemetery remained there whose relics were preserved until quite recently. They think that the survivors of this village moved to Krasnostav and settled there.

    Only 246 Jews lived in the townlet in 1847; the number increased and by1897 there were 1222 of them, and they formed some 60% of the population. When the First World War broke out in 1914, it is estimated that they numbered about 1500. Almost all were religious, of the Hassidic sect.

    What was the status of the Jews of Krasnostav? Except few families that were regarded wealthy, the majority were hard working people, artisans, petty grocers and beggars. The town's Jews were modest and their manners were simple, just as in most of the townlets in Vohlin; they earned their living and maintained themselves. Social life at the town was tranquil, almost without any fermentation, if one doesn't take into account temporary conflicts between the Gabbai and the common folk. In most cases, these conflicts were settled and forgotten. The younger generation didn't much differ, and usually followed in the footsteps of their fathers, at least until the news of freedom from the Tsar’s yoke in the spring of 1917. Young boys and girls then absorbed their spiritual influence from the nearby Shepetovka and Slavuta, and at the time of the Revolution and the political rise they devoted themselves to the national idea, and acted for the sake of the Zionist Movement.
    During the transition period between one regime and another (1918-1920), when groups of fighters and various gangs were roaming through The Ukraine, the Jews suffered severely; in a number of cases they were assaulted by shop and house robbers, and in one case four Jews were killed and thirty one wounded. Insecurity and economic decline caused some Jews to leave the place for other towns or to migrate to America. In fact, even during 1904-6 there started migration for financial profits, and a bridge was created between America and Krasnostav.

    About education: in the past children were learning in the "Heider", and at the age of 12-13 they started training crafts in the workshops for making a living, as a way of life. The most outstanding Heider was that of Rabbi Moshe Idel's, a prominent scholar, who taught only 6-7 of the best older boys in the town. Then, in about 1910, Moshe Krantsberg decided to amend the state of education, and established a "Reformed Heider" where he taught Hebrew in Hebrew. This was a revolutionary renovation, and there were those in the town who objected because they looked upon it as a sabotage against the religious education. The Reformed Heider didn't last long and was closed. Then appeared another man, Baruch Kotic, who was a scholar, well learned in religious studies, active in the field of education, and took care of funds for education in the town.

   An outstanding woman was Bracha, daughter of Henyah-Leah, the wife of Nachum Kolker from Olevsk. She participated in the local public activities, and was well respected in all circles. Other distinguished persons were Rabbi Avraham-Wolf, the melamed from Tuchin, and Rabbi Yisrael David; both had Heiders where they taught the older boys, especially The Talmud. Also Rabbi Motye Reznik of the Slaughterer's family, and his sons Feivel and Noah. Motye's brother, Yochanan, and his sons Ezra, Hana and Yossi, were all scholars, and respected in the town.
   There were two Rabbis in Krasnostav. One of them was Rabbi Simcha, whose wife had a shop; he was supported by land owners. The second one was Rabbi Moshe, a young Rabbi who was invited by the tailors, and lived in poverty all his life. Rabbi Simcha had a praying-house of his own. And there was a large synagogue and another one called "the small".

   After the civil wars in 1920, when the Vohlin district was divided between Russia and Poland, Krasnostav remained under the Soviet reign(The Ukraine), and since then life has been newly shaped in the Bolshevik form with all the arrangements of the new regime. The town was disconnected from Jewish centers for two decades, until it was conquered by the Natzi Germans who destroyed it and exterminated its Jews.

  1 - Zvihil, today Novohrad-Volyns'kyi, Zhytomyrs'ka oblast
  2 - here 1 parasangs = 1 km
  3 - the other version: "Nice pond"
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