| Magazine Feature |

Last Ship Out

To their right was the sea, and on the left — sand, as far as the eye could see. Only in their mind’s eye could they see beyond the sand to the land in which nothing is lacking. To Eretz Yisrael.

These men and boys, scholars of the European Torah world, had come from Kletzk, Baranovitch, and Bialystok, scurrying for passage on the last ship out of Odessa before the port — the last escape route out of Russia — was sealed. From Istanbul they trekked by land, through Syria and Lebanon, south to Haifa.

It was seventy years ago, Erev Pesach 1941. The journey was finally over — the survivors on the “Rabbanim Ship” had reached the Promised Land to fulfill the promise that Torah will never be lost.

No one waited to welcome them, no photographers or reporters recorded the event, and there were no exuberant bochurim to sing “Yamim al yemei melech tosif.”

At the time, the event was almost anticlimactic. Only years later would the ship’s passengers speak of the extraordinary Providence they experienced.

Closed on All Sides

October 1939. Just two weeks after the Nazis invaded Poland from the west, the Soviets tore into the country from the east. The yeshivos of eastern Poland now found themselves under Soviet rule, and they knew that would be their end. At the time, no one imagined the horrifying scope of the mass destruction of European Jewry beginning to unfold — they were fleeing the ravages of war, not the threat of annihilation — but the rabbis and yeshivah students, many of whom had directly experienced the Soviets’ suppression of Judaism, knew their yeshivos would not survive the onslaught.

There was, however, one hope: News spread that Vilna would be annexed to independent Lithuania. And so, desperate to insure the survival of their Torah, many yeshivah students fled to Vilna.

But the days of relative quiet were short-lived. In June 1940, the Russians invaded Lithuania, and the roshei yeshivos and their students knew they would have to flee to survive. But who could obtain Palestine certificates or American visas — not to mention viable travel routes — as the war began to close in on all sides? Despite the seemingly hopeless situation, a new and unexpected rescue possibility developed.

Japanese consul Chiune Sugihara began issuing Japanese transit visas to Jews who possessed even the scantest documentation, and providentially, the Soviets agreed to issue exit permits to any Polish refugee holding a visa.

Then, once the Soviets had agreed to grant exit permits to Polish refugees with visas, those with Palestine certificates were also given a small window of time to leave. The Jewish Agency representative in Istanbul squeezed out 250 Palestine certificates from the British, and several hundred others were prepared using fake British seals, enabling the bearers of these precarious documents to travel from Vilna to Odessa via Moscow, and on to Istanbul.

Setting Sail

The last ship out of Odessa set sail with an impressive manifest, the cream of Eastern Europe’s gedolei Torah among the desperate passenger list. Rav Dovid Povarsky of Baranovich [who became Ponovezh rosh yeshivah until his passing in 1999]; Rav Shmuel Weintraub of the Navardok yeshivah in Pinsk; Rav Chizkiyahu Yosef Mishkovsky of Krinik; Rav Moshe Bernstein of Yeshivas Kamenitz and his brother-in-law Rav Yaakov Moshe Leibowitz, the son of Reb Baruch Ber; Rav Aryeh Shapiro of Bialystok; Rav Yitzchak Weinstein of Vishnevo; The Strikover Rebbe, Rav Avraham Landau; and some of their sons, gedolei Torah of the next generation.

Mishpacha heard the stories of those passengers who are still with us today — including Rav Baruch Dov Povarksy (who was then a child of nine) and Rav Chaim Shlomo Leibowitz, both roshei yeshivah in Ponovezh — and spoke with talmidim and relatives of those who are no longer here. Rav Yosef Tzvi Reinhold provided the content of a discussion he had with Ponovezh rosh yeshivah Rav David Povarsky ztz”l while chassidim of the Strikover Rebbe ztz”l related his memories.

Ponovezh rosh yeshivah Rav Baruch Dov Povarsky returned to Odessa recently to give chizuk to the growing Torah community there, setting foot on this former Communist soil for the first time in seventy years — his father, Rav David Povarsky, ordered him never to return to the Soviet Union as long as the Communists were in power. Rav Povarsky took a short detour past the port of Odessa along the Black Sea, the point from which he, as a young boy, made his final voyage to freedom.

Standing on the dock, he declared, “Baruch she’asah li neis b’makom hazeh – blessed is the One who performed a miracle for me in this place.”

Berel’s Yarmulke

Rav David Povarsky was a marbitz Torah in the yeshivah in Baranovich, alongside Rav Elchanan Wasserman, and would stand in for Rav Elchanan when he traveled abroad to raise money for the yeshivah. No one thought he would pack up and leave the town, but Rav David and his family did leave Baranovich — in just one day. Because of Berel’s yarmulke.

One day, nine-year-old Berel — today Rav Baruch Dov Povarsky — burst into the house in a state of hysteria. His head was bare.

Rosh Yeshivah Rav Baruch Dov (“Berel”) Povarsky relates: “A Russian officer came to cheder and chased the rebbi away. He took my hat and my Chumash and my Gemara, and told us ‘Go home. Tomorrow bring a pad of drawing paper.’

“My father arrived home and heard that my hat and Chumash had been taken. I told him that the next day we would be drawing in school. He said to my mother: ‘Did you hear that?! We’re leaving Baranovich today. Where to? I don’t know. But we’re leaving now.’ The radio reported that the Russians were returning Vilna to the Lithuanians. My father decided if Vilna would be Lithuanian, we would go to Vilna. We left our house and everything in it. We didn’t have suitcases, but my mother put some food and blankets into a sack. My father took a Rambam and Minchas Chinuch so he could learn on the way.

“I cried, because I had gotten a gift from Shneur Kotler, who was a bochur at the time. He had come to Baranovich to have surgery, and stayed with us. Before he left he gave me a small Tanach. I asked my father to also take my Tanach. At 2 a.m. we were on the train to Vilna.”

The rosh yeshivah, Rav Elchanan Wasserman, had been ready to do anything to keep Rav David and his family in Baranovich.

Rav Baruch Dov continues: “Rav Elchanan pleaded with him, ‘Stay here. I’ll give you the yeshivah. You’ll be the rosh yeshivah!’ But nothing helped.”

Rav David Rapaport, author of Mikdash David, himself ran to the train station after the Povarsky family.

“He pleaded with us to come back but my father refused and kept on repeating, ‘They took off Berele’s yarmulke. How can we stay?’

A Haven in Vilna

The Povarskys arrived in Vilna, exhausted and with nowhere to go.

“When we came to Vilna, someone came to the train station to meet a relative of his. He was Reb Chaim Shereshevsky, a Mirrer talmid who was an alte bochur. Suddenly he saw my father and mother with the family and nowhere to go. Chaim said, ‘Reb Yerucham Levovitz has a son-in-law in Vilna, Rav Yisrael Chaim Kaplan. Let’s go to him.’ Reb Yisrael was a friend of my father from the Mir. Chaim picked me up and carried me as we went to Reb Yisrael, who was thrilled with his new guests. ‘Reb David!’ he cried. ‘You’re staying here!’ He had a small apartment and also had three children, but we stayed there.

“Two weeks later, Reb Yisrael’s sister fled from Brisk. She came to her brother with six or seven children and my father told Reb Yisrael that we were leaving. ‘You’re not going. Where will you go?’ Reb Yisrael asked. Still, we moved.

“There was nothing to eat in Vilna. Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky arranged for our support as refugees. I remember how we received a slice of bread with water once a day. I don’t know what my father ate. He was satisfied by something else: learning with the Brisker Rav.”

For among the many refugees in Vilna was a group of yungeleit and bochurim from Brisk, along with the Brisker Rav, Rav Yitzchak Zev HaLevi Soloveitchik. Rav Povarsky participated in the Brisker Rav’s shiurim and they would speak extensively in learning. Young Berel hid under the table when Rav David and the Brisker Rav were learning together and imbibed the fire.

But Rav David had not come to Vilna to learn with the Brisker Rav. The chinuch of his children — for the sake of which he had fled Baranovich — became imperiled once again.

Rav Baruch Dov Povarsky continues: “After two months, the Russians came to Vilna and closed the chadarim and Jewish institutions. My father couldn’t just let me do nothing; I had to be learning. Among the yeshivos that had come to Vilna at the time was the yeshivah of Ostrow, headed by Reb Yosef Kossover. My father hired a bochur from the yeshivah to teach me. But what would be with Chaim and Shalom, my younger brothers? My father taught them to play chess so their minds would be at work. But that was not enough for my father; he asked Ettel Weinstein, the future wife of Reb Berel Soloveitchik [the Brisker Rav’s son] who was then a girl in Vilna, to come in the afternoons to learn a bit of math and some Hebrew with them.

“In Baranovich, my father ate the Shabbos meals quickly, and then hurried to learn. He didn’t waste time singing zmiros. In Vilna, our Shabbos table changed. He sang a lot through the seudah, and we finished very late. He explained later that he was afraid that he would have to leave us at some point in the future due to the situation, and he wanted to leave us with Yiddishe regesh. which could be attained through zmiros.

The Road to Moscow

Over the next few months it became clear to Reb David that the era of Torah in Eastern Europe was over, and that survival was far from guaranteed. His talmid, Rav Reinhold, relates what Rav David once told him: “We thought that all the doors to rescue were closed to us; we were trapped on all sides by the Germans or the Russians. Ultimately, most of the Jews perished there, as we know. When Shabbos arrived we knew we had no chance … but we were calm that Shabbos … and then that Sunday arrived, yener Suntag, and an order was issued that, for one week, we could leave. It was not rational. The Brisker Rav had already left, but I had stayed and felt trapped.”

Rav Reinhold continues. “When there were bombs in Baranovich, Rav David Povarsky said that he preferred that the bombs fall on his house and not on another house, so he could die al kiddush Hashem. As Chazal say, the curse of a scholar is fulfilled even partially, and from that time on, Rav David suffered from an ulcer. He attributed this to the fact that part of the curse he had accepted upon himself came true.”

Rav Baruch Dov Povarsky: “We received certificates from Eretz Yisrael. My grandmother, the widow of my grandfather Rav David Dov Kreiser, who had been rosh yeshivah together with Rav Aharon Kotler in Kletsk, was already in Eretz Yisrael and working hard to bring us there. It was miraculous because the British only issued these certificates in special cases.”

When Reb David Povarsky had married the daughter of Reb David Dov Kreiser, he was promised support for ten years. But after the engagement, when Rav Kreiser traveled to America to raise money for his yeshivah, he fell ill and sent a telegram back to Europe telling his children not to wait for him. His family complied and the wedding of Rav David Povarsky and Tzipporah Kreiser took place without the bride’s father.

Rav David Dov Kreizer never recovered and passed away in the US, far from his family, at the age of forty-eight. His widow moved to Eretz Yisrael with the three children not yet married. Only years later would she realize that the move saved her life and the future of her family.

Rav Povarsky continues: “On one of my grandfather’s trips, he stopped in Dublin, Ireland, where he was the guest of Rav Yitzchak Isaac HaLevi Herzog, then a young avreich. My grandfather was very impressed by him: he was proficient in Shas and had sterling middos. Several years later, when Rav Kook passed away and a rav was needed in Eretz Yisrael, there were three candidates: Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlap, the Bostoner [Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik of Boston], and Rav Herzog. It was hard for them to choose so they sent a telegram to Vilna, to Reb Chaim Ozer, who remembered the glowing report my grandfather gave about Rav Herzog. He replied that they should choose Rav Herzog.

“When my grandmother arrived in Eretz Yisrael as a widow, the winds of war were beginning to blow in Europe. Her daughter and family were in Baranovich and she wanted certificates for them. She first went to Reb Itche Meir Levin, the head of Agudah. He could not help her. Her next stop was Rav Herzog, where she introduced herself. He asked her how she expected him to obtain certificates, as he had nothing to do with the government. ‘You are the chief rabbi,’ she told him, ‘and you can do what regular people can’t.’ And then she informed him she wasn’t leaving his house without certificates. He called Moshe Shapiro [head of Mizrachi] and asked him if, as the chief rabbi, he was entitled to receive certificates. Shapiro replied that for the Rav they would give two certificates [two families]. Rav Herzog told my grandmother that one would be for Rav David Povarsky.

“At first, despite the certificates, the Russians wouldn’t let us go. Then they announced that Lithuanian citizens could emigrate. The next day my father took out Lithuanian citizenship for all of us. Then the Russians said that Lithuanians couldn’t leave, but Polish refugees could leave. My father was desperate. He literally became bedridden. Reb Avraham Levovitz, who later became my uncle, came and asked my father: ‘Do you still have the document saying you are refugees?’ My father said he did. ‘Then go and ask for an exit visa,’ Reb Avraham said. ‘They’ll catch me and send me to Siberia,’ my father said. ‘They won’t catch you so fast,’ Reb Avraham soothed him. My mother went to Kovno with the document stating that we were refugees and our exit request was granted.”

On Sunday, the Povarsky family traveled from Vilna to Moscow. There they received an attractive offer to emigrate to the United States.

“Rav Hershowitz [a cousin] sent us tickets and a visa to America,” says Rav Baruch Dov Povarsky. “On Monday my father went to the American consul to find out some more details. He was told that he was registered and he could come back Friday to pick up the visas. My father thought for a moment and said, ‘I’m not waiting even another day. We’re going to Eretz Yisrael.’

Soloveitchik? Your Father’s Waiting

Days before the famous last ship pulled out of Odessa, the Brisker Rav, together with Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel and others, made their way on the same route, from Vilna through Moscow, to an earlier ship. They had already arrived in Istanbul, Turkey, but Rav Yoshe Ber (Berel), the son of the Brisker Rav, was stuck in Moscow. Because he was over eighteen, he had not been included on his father’s certificate.

The Brisker Rav, scared for his son’s fate, sent a telegram to the Turkish ambassador in Moscow. The telegram explained his concern for his son and asked the ambassador to help him reunite the family. For some reason the letter touched the heart of the Turkish clerk and he asked every Jew who visited the Turkish consulate whether they knew “the bochur Soloveitchik.” When Reb Yoshe Ber finally arrived at the building, the clerk was thrilled.

“Soloveitchik?” he cried excitedly. “I’ve been looking for you! Your father’s waiting for you in Turkey. Here’s your travel pass.” Reb Yoshe Ber made it onto that last “Rabbanim Ship” boat before the port was sealed.

Meanwhile, the Strikover Rebbe, Rav Avraham Landau, the son of Rav Yitzchak Dov Landau of Strikov, had fled from Warsaw on his father’s instructions, to the home of his brother, Rav Tuvia Yosef Landau, the son-in-law of the Slonimer Rebbe in Baranovich. He arrived in December 1939.

The Russian authorities announced that all foreign residents living in Russia had until a certain date to decide if they wanted to accept Russian citizenship or continue holding their foreign nationalities.

Rav Avraham discussed this high-stakes question with the Biala Rebbe, Rav Yechiel Yehoshua Rabinowitz, and his brother-in-law Rav Shalom Alter Perlow, the Koidanover Rebbe Hy”d who were in Baranovich at the time. The decision was unequivocal: They would keep running.

A week after arriving in Baranovich, Rav Landau fled to Vilna.

The Strikover Rebbe, who passed away in 2001, related to his chassidim: “As we approached the train, a Nazi tried to steal my coat. He grabbed me and ordered me to stand aside and not board the train.”

Suddenly, the Rebbe found strength he never knew he had and gave the Nazi such a strong kick that he fell to the ground. By the time the Nazi got up, the Rebbe was already running to the train.

“To this day I do not know where I had the nerve to do that to him,” the Rebbe related. “Hashem was clearly watching me. The soldier could have gotten up and shot me.”

In Vilna, Rav Avraham was drawn to the Brisker Rav and the two became close. The rav and talmid were soon reunited in Istanbul (Rav Avraham was on the last ship out of Odessa while the Brisker Rav preceded him) and arrived in Eretz Yisrael together. In 1946, after his marriage to the great-granddaughter of the Chiddushei HaRim of Gur, Rav Avraham learned that his father and eight siblings had perished in the Holocaust, and only he and one sister remained alive from the entire Strikover dynasty.

The End of Kamenitz

Rav Yaakov Moshe Leibowitz, the son of Baruch Ber Leibowitz, traveled from Kamenitz to Vilna with his family, but as the war closed in on them, and visas became available, the question of where to continue hung in the air.

Reb Chaim Shlomo Leibowitz, Rav Yaakov Moshe’s son, remembers: “One option was going to America, which we considered because there were rumors that the Nazis were planning to capture Eretz Yisrael. But the ship to America only sailed the following week at the earliest. My father consulted the Brisker Rav, who said, ‘First you must flee the Communists, after that you can decide to where to settle.’ And that’s what we did. Those who ended up waiting to go to America remained behind in the valley of death. In the end the Russians didn’t allow them to leave.

“My mother was born in Lithuania and she knew the language well; she made the arrangements for all our documents. But one document was missing. The Russians wanted the town of Rassein to declare that as citizens we had displayed good behavior, and we didn’t have such a document. We had one from Moscow and from Kovno, but this was apparently a trick to enable them to evade giving us what they had promised: permission to leave.

“In the end my grandmother a”h, the wife of my grandfather Reb Baruch Ber, had to remain behind. At first my mother did not want to leave without her mother-in-law, but my father was forced to flee with me and the rest of our family.”

Saved with the Manuscripts

After the harrowing journey from Vilna to Moscow, the family of Rav Shmuel Weintraub, rosh yeshivah of Novardok in Pinsk, made their way to Odessa and were about to board the last ship to freedom. It was Friday afternoon, and the passengers gathered anxiously at the port, hoping to be able to leave Europe as soon as possible. Inevitably, there was a last-minute complication and the passengers couldn’t know if the delay would be hours or days. The Weintraub family boarded the ship to find a place where they would spend the next few days. Rav Shmuel boarded last, holding the manuscripts of his shiurim and chiddushim from Novardok.

Suddenly, at the final checkpoint before boarding, the Russians discovered that he was carrying Jewish writings. Although it was hard for them to ignore the stamps of the border officials in Kovno who had already approved the package of manuscripts, according to local law they had the right to reopen the issue and Reb Shmuel was taken away for interrogation.

Meanwhile, his family waited anxiously on board. In an hour the ship would leave, with or without their father. What if he was put on trial for anti-Communist activity and sentenced to Siberia? Or killed? But then Rav Shmuel returned, miraculously still clutching the beloved manuscripts that had almost brought about his death. In the end, the Russians had sufficed with a grueling interrogation — and didn’t even confiscate the problematic papers.

Friday night. Midnight. The ship lifted anchor and set sail. Chapter one was over.

By this time, Poland’s Jews had already been stripped of their spiritual, physical, and human assets. The death camps were not yet in operation — the first, Chelmno, began operating in late 1941, the others in 1942 — but who could fathom that?

”While waiting to leave Moscow, I stayed at the home of one of the rabbanim,” the Strikover Rebbe said. “He asked me where I was planning to go. I told him that I was going to Eretz Yisrael. He was taken aback.

‘A bochur traveling to Eretz Yisrael by himself? Stay with me until the end of the war and then you’ll be able to return to your father’s home in Poland.’ He was sincere. There was no way he could imagine how quickly Poland would become the world’s largest Jewish cemetery.”

Rebbetzin Chana Shimanowitz, widow of Rav Noach Shimanowitz of Kfar Chassidim who continued to run the yeshivah after his sudden untimely passing, traveled to Vilna with her father, Rav Chizkiyahu Mishkovsky of Krinik, making their escape from Russia on that last ocean liner.

“When we were on the ship we didn’t realize we had escaped almost certain death. We knew we had left a war zone, which, like any war zone, was dangerous. We didn’t dream someone would want to murder the entire Jewish People. Who could have imagined such a thing? We didn’t know what had happened in the countries we had left behind until we reached Eretz Yisrael.”

Rav Chaim Shlomo Leibowitz concurs: “When we left Baranovich for Vilna, and then for Eretz Yisrael, we didn’t think we were fleeing death. At the time, the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact [a non-aggression pact signed in August 1939, under which the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany each pledged to remain neutral if either nation were attacked by a third party] seemed as if it would last at least 100 years. In the end, the pact was broken just three months after we left. Still, the eastern part of the country was under Soviet control and didn’t seem to be at risk from the Nazis, and the Communists weren’t actually threatening our lives if we toed the line. But for my father, the spiritual danger surpassed the physical danger.”

Less than two days later, the ship pulled into port at Istanbul. But then the trouble began. The captain announced that he had received orders from Moscow not to allow the passengers to disembark. He did not know why or for how long, nor did he seem overly concerned by this, but would simply wait for his next set of instructions. The two possibilities were clear, either they would be given the go-ahead to make port, or they would have to turn back to Russia, back to the Communists and the Nazis.

“As far as the crew of this ship is concerned the trip is over,” the captain announced.  “No more meals.”

Rav Baruch Dov Povarsky recalls what happened next: “Rav Beinish Finkel [son of Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel who traveled together with the Brisker Rav on an earlier ship] had traveled ahead of us from Vilna to Istanbul. When our ship arrived he came out to meet us. I remember how he stood on the dock and threw oranges up to us so we would have something to eat. Each person got an entire orange, considered a lot in those times. Some people on the ship said that if the ship turned around to head back to Russia they would jump overboard. My father said the same, but for a different reason. Back in Baranovich my father had said that he preferred to die from a German bomb than to live under the Communists, who killed the soul.”

Rav Baruch Dov Povarsky: “There was a gathering of all the passengers. Some young men declared that as the ship was anchored near the port, at midnight that night they would jump ship and swim to shore. Anyone who knew how to swim should take a child. They prepared an organized list of who would take whom.

“Fortunately, this dangerous idea was never carried out. At 11:30 p.m. a miracle occurred. There was a shtadlan in Turkey who heard of our plight and he worked until the port was opened to us.”

In Turkey the passengers split into several groups. Some continued on land over Syria and Lebanon, and others, including Rav Shmuel Weintraub, stayed in Turkey until a   rickety craft used to transport animals was found for them. For a significant price, it would sail to Eretz Yisrael with a group of refugees.

Rav Chaim Shlomo Leibowitz describes what happened next: “We arrived in Mersin [a large city and a busy port on the Mediterranean coast of southern Turkey] and from there we traveled overland to Aleppo, Syria. In Aleppo, travel was by a carriage closed like a car but pulled by horses. It was Shabbos, but the Jewish Agency warned us that we must hurry to the train station because they were afraid the Turks would harm the Jews. My father and other rabbanim decided that they would go on foot despite the tremendous distance. The women and children — myself among them — traveled to the train station by this vehicle because we couldn’t walk that far. There was a vigorous halachic debate about this.

Rav Baruch Dov Povarsky: “In Mersin, there was a large Jewish community and we were told to pay a visit of respect to the Chacham. Then a woman with a chicken came and asked the Chacham to shecht the chicken for her. He entered the kitchen, took a fleishig knife, and shechted it! The Kriniker Rav [Rav Chizkiyahu Mishkovsky] began to scream that the Chacham was allowing treif meat. It blew up into a big storm.

“We had thought the Chacham would arrange food for us, but after that incident we could forget about his kindness. Walking into a store was not an option because they spoke only Turkish, so Reb Yoshe Ber and I learned a bit of Turkish and anyone who had to go to the grocery took me along.”

Olives of Lebanon

From Aleppo, the group traveled south to Beirut, where a local Arab hotel owner was honored to host them.

“The owner was excited about the group of rabbanim, as the Arabs respect religious figures. He sat us around his table and served us olives to honor us,” said Rav Povarsky. “The rabbanim had never seen this holy fruit, the second of the shivas haminim  Each took an olive and reverently made a shehecheyanu before eating the fruit, but they weren’t prepared for the bitter taste. Suddenly everyone started spitting out the olives. They were afraid the olives were spoiled, because they had no idea what an olive was supposed to taste like. They couldn’t imagine a delicacy would taste like this.

“Rav Mishkovsky was afraid the hotel owner was trying to poison us. He wanted to summon a doctor to check if the olives had been poisoned. We finally understood that that was how olives taste.”

When the group finally arrived in Haifa, they were taken to the Atlit detention camp and held there for ten days. “British intelligence had informed the officers stationed in Eretz Yisrael that a spy from Russia, named Shapiro, would be arriving. One of our group was Reb Aryeh Shapiro, and so we were sent us to Atlit where we were interrogated until askanim in Eretz Yisrael arranged our release. They thought Rav Aryeh Shapiro, who looked like an angel, was a spy,” according to Rav Povarsky.

“In Atlit there was kosher food under the supervision of the Haifa Rabbinate. They served us meat, but my father refused to eat it, and we didn’t know why. A few weeks later the newspapers reported a scandal in the Atlit refugee camp, where the signatures of the Haifa rabbinate had been forged and nonkosher meat had been brought into the camp. My father was saved from eating it. Hashem watches the steps of His chassidim. My father saved us all from a sin.”

Brothers Forever

“We knew Rav David from before the journey. My father’s father-in-law, Rav Movshovitz, was a rav in Baranovich, where Rav David lived and learned with Rav Elchanan Wasserman,” said Rav Chaim Shlomo Leibowitz. “I remember that when my father wanted to encourage me to learn Torah he would say, ‘Look at the iluy Berele Povarsky, at age twelve he already goes to Hevroner Yeshivah…

“Later, whenever Rav David Povarksy ztz”l saw me or my mother he would say, ‘Mir zenen shif’s brider – we are ship brothers.’ Then we became mechutanim, when my daughter got engaged to the daughter of Rav Berel [Baruch Dov] Povarsky. Rav Chaim Peretz Berman told me that when he came to take Rav David Povarksy [his grandfather] to the engagement, Rav David said, ‘Nu, the ship brothers have become our mechutanim.’


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 357)

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