Letters and Postcards  

During the period between the two world wars, many Jewish residents of Lunna-Wola sent letters and postcards to their friends and family relatives living abroad. Some of these letters and postcards still survive. Some of them are, in many cases, the only surviving items from their senders.

A collection of letters and radiograms sent by Moshe-Yudel Arkin and his wife Chana from Lunna to their son Leon Arkin, who emigrated to the United States in 1905, is available at YIVO Institute for Jewish Studies. Pictured below are such a letter dated 15 December 1919, on Mr. M. J. Arkin's personal letterhead informing that everyone feels well, etc., and a telegram from Chana Arkin dated July 10, 1931 informing that everything was burnt to ashes (by the fire.)


Letter from Moshe-Yudel Arkin to his
son Leon (1919)
Source: The YIVO Institute for Jewish Studies



Telegram from Chana Arkin to her son
Leon Arkin (July 10, 1931)
Source: The YIVO Institute for Jewish Studies


The teacher Moshe Prozhanski used to give private lessons in History and Geography to students in Lunna. When the Hebrew School "Torah Ve'daat" was opened in 1922 he became a teacher in that school. Below are two postcards that the teacher Moshe Prozhanski gave to his students Yocheved ("Yochke") Eliashberg and Leah ("Liza") Eliashberg (Yocheved's cousin) on March 19 and on March 22, 1922. It is likely that he gave those postcards on the occasion of the opening of Torah Ve'daat Hebrew School.


Postcard with the portrait of Shalom Aleichem, famous Yiddish author and writer
Translation from Yiddish:
Laughter and Health
The doctors are laughing
Sholem Aleichem



The reverse side of the postcard of Shalom Aleichem (March 19, 1922)
Translation from Russian:
For good memories, to my student Liza [Leah] Eliashberg
M. Prozhanski




Postcard with the portrait of Abraham Reisen, Yiddish poet and short story writer
Translation from Yiddish:
Many dark nights I was writing poems
And rhymed as gold and compiled as pearls
And they glittered in the dark night
And did not light my life
Abraham Reisen



The reverse side of the postcard of Abraham Reisen (March 21, 1922)
Translation from Russian:
For good memories, to my student Yochke [Yocheved] Eliashberg
M. Prozhanski


As mentioned in the page about educational institutes under the Polish rule (1921-1939), Yaakov (Yankel) Klachkowski was the principal of The Central Yiddish School in Lunna. Below is translation of a letter sent by Y. Klachkowski to Leon (Arye-Leib) Arkin in the USA. The letter was translated by Marshall Bergen, a grandson of Leon Arkin.

Lune, January 28, 1926

Dear Leib:
I am sitting now in your parents' home. Your home evokes memories of the past -earlier years when so many came to visit your brothers and sisters. Your parents and I continue now this friendship. Your home is quiet. Their children have flown off to all corners of the world, and your parents express how lonely they are for you on those occasions when I meet them, and they talk only about you. They are not fortunate to be among the lucky ones who feel good about having children in the neighborhood. They do not have children nearby and must take comfort only from letters.
Your mother talked about your last letter, in which you wrote that you have sent 5 dollars for the articles. We have already received the money. We are sending you a receipt for it with [Aaron B. Vigidor]. In the meantime, I am [fervently] sending to you heartfelt regards.
Your friend,
Y. Klachkowski

Below are two letters that were sent from Lunna to Vaad Ha'Yeshivot (Council of the Yeshivas) in Vilna which represented all the Yeshivas in Lita and was headed by Rabbi Chaim Grodzinski from Vilna (see note 1). The first letter, dated 1st of month Eyar, 1933, was sent from Moshe Eliashberg who was an active member of that council. The second letter was sent from Lunna by Moshe Mordechai Yudelewicz, who was Rabbi Shimon Shkopp's disciple at Yeshivat "Shaar Ha'Torah" in Grodno. The letter was sent after the death of Moshe Eliashberg, who died on the 17th of month Tamuz, 1935. The two letters were translated into English by Ruth Marcus.


Letter sent by Moshe Eliashberg to Vaad Ha'Yeshivot in Vilna (Lunna, 1933)




Letter sent by Moshe Mordechai Yudelewicz to Vaad Ha'Yeshivot in Vilna (Lunna, month of Elul, 1935)


In 1937 Yitzchak Eliashberg, a former Lunna resident who emigrated in 1932 to Eretz Israel, traveled by ship to visit his mother, Batya, his two younger sisters, Chaya and Leah, and some other family relatives who remained in Lunna. From that visit he sent letters to his girl-friend Ahuva in Eretz Israel. In those letters (written in Hebrew) he described the uncertain atmosphere and his concerns as to the future of the residents of the Lunna Shtetl. Mr. Eliashberg also described the excitement he felt in seeing his closest family members once more, including his mother, two sisters, brother-in-law, and "the two flowers" - his niece and nephew that he saw for the first time. After his visit, Mr. Eliashberg returned to Eretz Israel and a year later he married Ahuva. All of his family members who remained in Lunna perished in the Holocaust. The letters were translated from Hebrew to English and are posted on the page: visits in Lunna.

Below is a letter sent by Chaya and David Alperstein from Gdynia to Yitzchak and Ahuva Eliashberg. The letter, dated June 3, 1938, includes special wishes for the wedding of Yitzchak and Ahuva, which took place in Tel Aviv on Lag Ba'Omer, 1938 (May 5).
Note: Chaya (Kosowski) Alperstein was Yitzchak's mother's sister. Chaya and David Alperstein perished in the Holocaust.


A letter sent by David and Chaya Alperstein to Yitzchak and Ahuva Eliashberg (Gdinya, 1938).


Below are more letters and postcards sent from Jewish residents of Lunna-Wola to their friends and relatives.


A postcard (written in Yiddish) from Doba Gisser ("Giser"), who was originally from the neighboring shtetl of Volpa (using her husband Yudel’s name on the return address), sent to her father c/o a Mr. Itzkowitz, in "Brooklin", New York. Date: August 22, 1939. Yudel and
Doba Gisser and all other family members who remained in Lunna and Volpa, perished in the Holocaust. From the collection of Gerszon Gisser.



Letter from Liza Arkin, Lunna, sent to her friend Libe Friedman in Eretz Israel.
Date: May 31, 1938. Liza Arkin, her parents - Meizel and Sonia,
and her brother Shalom, perished in the Holocaust.
From the collection of Libe Friedman-Ahuva Glick.

Below is a letter written by Rabbi Tuvia Rotberg, his wife, Rasha Mina, and their daughters, Frumke and Bluma. The letter was sent to Rabbi David, son of Rabbi Tuvia Rotberg, in Eretz Israel. It was sent through Minsk, sometime between September 1939 and June 1941, when the Grodno region was under Russian occupation (the exact date on the envelope is not clear). The Rotbergs in Lunna inform that they feel well and they look forward to receive letters from their family in Eretz israel.

Letter from Rotberg family in Lunna to R. David Rotberg in Eretz Israel

Several letters dated 1937 and 1938 were sent to Rabbi Tuvia Rotberg in Lunna from Rabbi Shimon Ha'Cohen Shkopp, the head of the Yeshiva Shaar Ha'Torah in Grodno. These letters are in the possession of Rabbi Tzvi, son of Rabbi David Rotberg. In one of the letters Rabbi Shimon Shkopp asked Rabbi Tuvia Rotberg to come to Grodno in order to eulogize the recently deceased the Gaon Rabbi Shraga Feivel Hindes.
Note: Rabbi Shraga Feivel Hindes was Rabbi Shimon Shkopp's son-in-law.

In an express letter sent to Rabbi Tuvia Rotberg from Moshe Mordechai Yudelewicz, the secretary of the Yeshiva Shaar Ha'Torah, Rabbi Rotberg was asked "to be at Yaakov Welbel’s residence tomorrow at 4 pm, since Moshe Yudelewicz will telephone him at that time."

Note: According to Eliezer Eisenshmidt, just a few families in Lunna had phones in their homes. The grain merchants, Yaakov Welbel, Mordechai Kosowski, and Moshe Feinzilber had telephones, which they used for their businesses in order to follow the daily changes in wheat market prices. Liza Shwetz, Yaakov Welbel's daughter, recalls that her family had a wall phone with the number "88". As the youngest daughter, Liza had to deliver messages from relatives of Jewish families in Lunna received on the Welbels' phone.

Below are two new year cards sent from Lunna to relatives in Eretz Israel.


New Year card sent by Zipora Berachowicz from Lunna (1936)





New Year card sent by Yosel Eliashberg in Lunna to his relative in Eretz Israel (1929)  


Note 1: Vaad Ha'Yeshivot in Vilna was active from circa. 1900 until the Second World War. >back

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Compiled by Ruth Marcus & Aliza Yonovsky Created May 2007
Updated by rLb, March 2020
Copyright © 2007 Ruth Marcus

All the photos are presented by courtesy of the families and are not allowed to be reproduced without their permission.

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