(Kupiskis, Lithuania)


Translation of "Kupishok" chapter from Yidishe Shtet, shtetlekh un dorfishe yishuvim in Lite: biz 1918

Written by: Berl Kagan,

Published in New York, 1991  

Translated by: Chasia Segal

Contributed by  Kupiskis SIG

(with special thanks to Shirley Epstein for contributing to the cost of translation)

Our appreciation to Miriam Kagan Lieber for
permission to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

This is a translation from: Yidishe Shtet, shtetlekh un dorfishe yishuvim in Lite: biz 1918;
Jewish Cities, Towns and Villages in Lithuania until 1918: Historical-Biographical Sketches
Written by Berl Kagan, New York, 1991 (Y). Town Kupishok, pp. 453-459


In the vicinity of Ponevesch - called Slaviansk in the time of the Czar. An old Jewish settlement of about 300 years. This can be seen by the gravestones in the cemetery. Further evidence is that of its first Rabbi.

Jews there involved themselves with business, stores and handicrafts. In business, flax making took up the major portion. In 1882, the flax industry fell into Christian hands and this dealt a great blow to the local Jewish economy. In 1889, the Polish Graf opened cooperative stores thus further weakening the position of Jewish store owners.

Another blow to the Jewish economic status occurred in 1895 when two large fires struck within three weeks. Jewish emigration grew and this time they emigrated to South Africa and not to America as was the case in the 1880's.

The city was penniless. In 1898, the Kupishokers from South Africa practically supported the free hospital, the credit union and the religious school with its four teachers. They also supported the celebration of Pesach with money and goods.

There was a house of worship for Mishnagdim, a brick house of worship with a small annex for Sephardic Jews and another annex for the Chassidim who were a large portion of the Jewish population. Occasionally, there were quarrels between the Chassidim and the Mishnagdim.

In 1886, Rabbi Abba Yakov founded a Yeshiva. The supervisor was Reb Chaim Halpern. Landsleit from America helped with money, i.e., V. Epstein, Gafanowitz.

Between 1834 and 1911, there were ninety subscribers from Kupishok to the Rabbinical book. In a list of Jewish donors who contributed to the hunger-stricken of Lithuania are the collectors: Abraham-Zev Berkman, Itzhak Flensberg.

In 1847, 1,350 Jews lived here, in 1897 there were 2,661, in 1923 there were 1,444 (in the outskirts of the city, there were 27 Jews not included in the official statistics) and before the destruction - about 1,200.

Before the creation of the Lovers of Zion, Kupishoker Jews bought land in Israel. Among a group of Ponisveshers who bought land near Jaffa and went there in 1883, there was a famous medical practitioner from Kupishok (name unknown).

In a list of donors to Israel in 1896/97, the following Kupishokers were found: Heschel Gaffen, Zeinvel Davidoff, Heshel Yachilevich, Yakov Yacobson, Hirsh Jaffe, Shlomo Kaplan, Yehuda Laib Mazel, Nechemia Steinberg. In 1894, in the assembly in Odessa, Yehuda Leib Mazel represented the Jewish community.

In 1899, there were 100 members in the Lovers of Zion. The chairman in 1898 and 1899 was Getzel Hoffman. Friend Zinabar greatly inspired the activity of the group.

In a list of donors to Israel in 1909, the following Kupishokers were found: Itzhak Moro, Sh. Z. Minkin, Yehudit Shternfeld, Fayge Hoffman.

In an old cemetery in Jerusalem is found the tombstone of Ruske, the daughter of Reb Itzhak from Kupishok, dated 1828.

The "Agudah" (religious organization) was very powerful. In a list of dues paying members, the following Kupishokers people were found in 1913: Abraham Ziger, Abraham Pelovitz, Aaron Leib Cohen, Elchonan Shapiro, Eliezer Tzemach Canter, Asher Adirim (?) Ber Oshry, Ber-Tuvi Shapiro, Hertz Segal, Zalman Libman, Yedidi Yeller, Yedidi Yelovitz, Yehude Zindel, Yehuda Tzip, Yakov Geffen, Itzhak Oshry, Israel Bar Moshe Hillel Jaffe.

Pesach Cohen, Kalman Levin, Shafti Jaffe, Shlomo Brenner, Shimon Moshe Melamed, Shimshen Chiper, Broche-Baile Faivelson, Chaim Abraham Feivelson, Fayge Feivelson, Yacov Trapido, Mendel Leib Rabinovitz.

Shlomo Kaplan, Aaron Leib Cohen, Ben-Zion Cutler, Yehude Krietzik, Menachem Krietzik, Chaim Hurvitz, Yakov Ginsburg, Rabbi Reb Efrain Yosef Alperovitz, Alexander Shlevinsky, Yakov Jaffe, Moshe Elihu Alperovitz.

Moshe Block, Akiva Leib Libetz (?), Abraham Gershen Troib, Elihu Margolis, David Sachar, Toibe Jaffe, Yanah Feinberg, Itzhak Hurvitz, Leib-David Zaks, Meir Kodesh, Yehude Vine, Efraim Itzhak Gafanovitz, Shmuel Nathan Zelbovitz, Abraham Eliash, Aaron Oshry, David-Tuvi Shapiro, Yakov Zelig Levin, Itzhak Movshovitz, Leib Shusterman, Mordechai-Idel Valberg, Moshe Shapiro.

From the beginning of the 20th century until World War I, the "Bund" was an important social factor in the Jewish life of Kupishok. It's entire activity centered around, of course, the Jewish workers and the general revolutionary community. They organized May Day celebrations, secret meetings in the forests, and took park in revolutionary demonstrations with non-Jewish workers.

In 1903, they issued a manifest in the city along with Lithuanian workers. In the illegal Bundist newspapers, there appeared articles about the activities of the Kupishoker Bund.

Rabbis -

Reb Itzhak Trivash. His father, Reb Shneir, was Chief Rabbi of Frankfurt-Am-Main in the 1700's. According to the date of his family, one can figure that Reb Itzhak was born at the end of the 17th or maybe the beginning of the 18th century. His grandson, Reb David Ber Yehuda, was born in 1704 in Zagare. Later, he became the Jewish judge in Vilna where he died in 1804. Reb David Ber is the author of the "Golden Crown" and a "New Song" (Vilna). Reb Itzhak's brother Reb Shimen lived in Frankfurt-Am-Main.

Moshe Eliezer Ber Zinvil (Levi) was a resident of Kupishok which was written in his books - "House of Levite" and "Torah of the House," which were published in Shklav. He was a former resident of Shavel. He was called Reb Leiser from Kupishok.

Reb Shmuel bar Chaim, Reb of Svadotsh, Utian, and Kupishok, until his death around 1822.

Reb Meir bar Abraham Segal Epstein (called Reb Meir from Shnipishok) from 1833. From 1837 he served in Vilna where he died in 1851 at 71 years of age. He wrote the "Interpretations of the Shas" and "Midrash Konin". His son, Reb Shmuel, served in Kosoba and Kobrin.

Reb Alexander (Sender) HaCohen Kaplan, former Rabbi of Vilkomir and from 1839 until his death in 1884, he served Kupishok. He was the author of "The Vows of Sholom" (Vilna, 1841). His questions and answers appeared in a book called "The Crown of Itzhak". He served in Shavel and wrote in a book authored by Saul Shapiro, "The Admiration of Saul". His renewal of the Torah is found in "The Assembly of Itzhak" by Itzhak bar Nissan (Vilna).

Reb Abba Yakov Borochov was born in 1848 in Dershonishok. From 1886-1889, he was the leader and Rabbi in Mayshegole, and later, Rabbi in Vekshne, Polozk and Volkovisk. He was one of the first Rabbis in the Lovers of Zion in 1938 in Jerusalem where he lived and died in 1938. He wrote "The Rope of Jacob" (Vilna and Jerusalem).

Reb Yehuda-Leib Shalom Tzinabel served Kupishok from 1890-1898. Former Rabbi of Rubinishok and Ostrof.

Reb Yehuda-Leib Fein was born in 1871 in Vilkomir. Former Rabbi in Pisatchne (near Minsk). From 1900-1906, he served Kupishok, later in Oshmena and Slonim, where he was killed in 1941.

Reb Avraham Zvi bar Moshe Brodneh, born in 1850 in Dvinsk. In 1893, he was a Chassidic Rabbi with the title of Teacher and Advisor - he was not called "Rabbi" by the Mishnagdim. He was responsible for the following books: "The Blessing of Abraham" (Vilna), "The Life of Moses" (Jerusalem), "The Abbreviation of Tanya", "The Protectors of Abraham" and "The Righteous of Abraham" (all printed in Jerusalem).

Reb Eliahu-Meir Feivelson was born in 1867 in Vigova and died in 1928. Rabbi in Krakow and from 1907 in Kupishok. He was a fierce fighter for the Agudeth Israel and a fanatic anti-Zionist. A productive and orthodox preacher, he wrote explanations of the Torah, articles in publications, i.e., "The Gates of Zion", "The Greatness of the Torah", "The Announcer", "The Level", "Lebanon", "The Jews", "The Nation". He also wrote the preface in books by Asher, "The Life and Peace", "The Truth", "Peace in Internal Israel" (Warsaw), and also in "Life Saving". His son-in-law, Reb Zalman Partzovsky, was born in 1900 in Yanove and was killed in 1941.

Reb Yisrael-Noah Chatzekevitz, Chassidic Rabbi born in 1889 in Bachnut, Russia. Former Rabbi in Panemunke, Abel, and Kupishok, where he was killed.

Reb Nachman Gershon Oshry - judge at the start of the century.

M. Berzon - Chaplain of the army (1895).

I.S. Gafni - wrote the "Memory of Jacob" (Vilna) which has a link with Kupishok.


Reb Elchonan bar Yehuda-Leib Cohen born here in 1874. Rabbi in Poshviatin and from 1926 in Dvinsk where he was killed in 1941. He wrote "Answers to the Questions". Reb Aaron Saul Zelig Mayerov (Vilna) created his own discoveries and remarks. Reb Elchonan was the son-in-law of Reb Mordechai Elishberg of Boisk.

In the book "Ateret Ytzhak" by Itzhak Isaac, Rabbi of Shavel, there are found articles (questions and answers) by Aryeh Leib from Kupishok.

Reb Moise bar Shmuel Eter, born here in 1885. From 1908 until 1924, Rabbi of Tchersk and from 1925, Rabbi in Harrisburg (America). He wrote explanations of the Torah and a journal about the Torah.

Yakov-Shmuel Yaffe was born 1888. From 1907, he lived in America and in 1922, he received his doctorate in chemistry and bacteriology. During a period of ten years, he wrote popular scientific discussions and many of his articles were printed in the "Tzukunft" (New York), the "Free Workers Voice" and "The Day" (in Yiddish). In Lemberg, the Jewish farming magazine, published in Israel, published his articles as well as "The Land of Hope" (about Walter Laudermilk's book of the same name). In 1937, he became Professor of Pedology and Science concentrating on the source of the Earth. His book "Pedology" is a reference for earth science. He died in Haifa in 1963.

Reb Baruch bar Eliahu-Meir Feivelson, born 1895, ordained in Radiner Yeshiva. He died at age 38 and wrote in "Explanations of the Torah".

Reb Elihu Lutsky fro Jidik, born in 1898, died 1941.

Reb Zelig bar Shlomo Orelovitz, born 1898, last Rabbi of Rokishok.

Reb Ephraim Oshry, born 1909. He survived the Slabotke Ghetto. After the liberation, he was the Rabbi in Kovno from 1946-1948. He built and led the Yeshiva there. He authored "From the Lights of Exile" in Rome. Since 1949, he lives in New York where he is currently Rabbi of a large synagogue. He wrote "The Words of Ephaim", "From the Depths", "The Valley of Death", "The Sayings of Ephraim", "The Wealth of Pesach", "Mercies of Ephraim", and "The Annihilation of Lithuanian Jewry", all in New York.


Shlomo Yeshua Greenbloy, born 1876. Jewish journalist from 1904 in London and in 1909 in Chicago. He wrote in "The Jewish Express", "The Jewish Journal" and the "Daily World" and "Jewish Record" in Chicago. He also wrote humorous articles and stories and died in Chicago in 1938.

Shneir Jaffe, born approximately 1885. He came to America in 1906 where he wrote articles in "The Jewish Socialist". He also wrote songs an created "Episodes of My Life", printed in Boston in 1953.

Nathan Swerdlin, born 1907. He lived in Vilna where he studied law and political science in the University. In 1936, he came to New York where he received his doctorate. From 1928-36, he was a co- writer in the Vilna daily paper "The Time". In 1945, he was part-time writer for the "Tog" and the "Tog Morgen Journal" where he became arts and theater editor. He wrote about film, arts, music and about Jewish theater and also contributed to the "Theater Mirror" in Paris and the "Tzukunft". He co-authored with Zilbervieg, the "A Lexicon of Jewish Theater". He died in 1981 in New York.


The newspaper "Hamelitz" contained the following correspondents: Moshe Aaron Mitchel, Ben-Dov, Mordechai Kaplan, David Nathan Kadishevitz, Mendel Muzikant. All the correspondents used pen names for fear of being recognized.

The correspondents for the paper "Hatzfira" were: Moshe Cohen, Leib Mazel (died (1897), Kazriel Gordon, his son-in-law, Getzel Hoffman, Dr. R. Yekelson. Some of the previously mentioned correspondents also worked here. 

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