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From the Holocaust to the Rebirth of Israel: A Tale of Two Letters –1938 & 1951

Responsa in a Moment Volume 15, Number 4, April 2021

We are now halfway between Yom Hashoah and Yom Hazikaron/Yom Ha’atzmaut. After four elections in two years and after dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic for over a year, it could very well be that many of us are tired and depressed. At times like this, it’s worth looking at our current situation from a historical perspective. This year I received or obtained two family letters which allowed me to do this.

In July 2020, I purchased at an auction in New York a Hebrew letter written in 1938 by my grandfather Rabbi Mordechai Ya’akov Golinkin z”l from Danzig — which was then a Free State between Poland and Germany — to Melbourne, Australia, in which he is searching for a refuge for his community members who wanted to flee Danzig. On the other hand, in that same month, my cousin Meyer Goldstein sent me a letter which I had not read in a long time – a letter in Yiddish which my father Rabbi Noah Golinkin z”l sent to him in honor of his first birthday in May 1951. My father informed him that on the morrow he would receive in the mail one of the first Israel Bonds issued by the State of Israel; it turned out to have been the first Bond issued by the State of Israel!

The first letter from February 1938 is written in a tone of fear and despair that the Jews have nowhere to flee; the second letter from May 1951, just 13 years later, is written in a tone of joy and jubilation that we have finally merited our own State after almost 1,900 years of exile and persecution. When one reads the two letters together, one is reminded of the Talmudic saying (Niddah 31a):  “Rabbi Elazar said: even a person involved in a miracle does not recognize his miracle”. In February 1938, when my Grandfather wrote his letter, there were millions of Jews stuck in Europe. They understood that they needed to flee, but they had nowhere to go. In May 1951, when my father wrote his letter, the young State of Israel had already absorbed 687,000 new immigrants, more than the 650,000 Jews who were already in Israel in 1948, and until today the State of Israel has absorbed some 3,230,000 immigrants. This is something without precedent in all of Jewish history. Indeed, “a person involved in a miracle does not recognize his miracle!”

I am publishing the two letters below. The first letter, written by my grandfather in Hebrew, appears with the introduction and the footnotes which I prepared for its publication in the journal Yalkut Moreshet No. 101, which will appear shortly. The second letter, written by my father in Yiddish, appears in English translation. Afterwards, I have appended the original letters in Hebrew and Yiddish, followed by the English footnotes to the two letters. The photograph which accompanies this article is a copy of the first Israel Bond in history which was bought by my father for my cousin Meyer Goldstein. May these two letters make us realize once again that the State of Israel is a miracle. Happy Yom Atzmaut! David Golinkin

* * * * *

 I. Introduction to the First Letter

“These troubles trouble me and take away my life, literally”: a letter from Rabbi Mordechai Ya’akov Golinkin in Danzig to Rabbi Yoseph Lipman Gurewicz in Melbourne, searching for a place of refuge for the members of his community in February 1938

My grandfather Rabbi Mordechai Ya’akov Golinkin z”l (1884-1974) was born in Cherson, Ukraine and studied in the yeshivot of Lomzha, Ticktin, and Lida, where he became friendly with Rabbi Yitzhak Ya’akov Reines, the founder of Mizrahi; he became an active member of Mizrahi in 1913 until the end of his life. Rabbi Golinkin served as the Chief Rabbi and Av Bet Din of Zhitomir, Ukraine beginning in 1913, where he founded the Tiferet Bahurim organization for young men and where he lobbied the authorities on behalf of the Jewish community. After the February Revolution in 1917, he founded the Ahdut organization together with Rabbis Yehudah Leib Tsirelson of Kishinev and Shlomo Aronson of Kiev. In the period of the Petliura pogroms against the Jews, Rabbi Golinkin and his wife Chaya Freida fled with their four children – including my father Noah – to Vilna, where he was very active in Mizrahi, but also a regular visitor in the house of Rabbi Hayyim Ozer Grodzinski (see below), one of the founders of Agudat Yisrael. After serving as rabbi in Dokshitz and Rhuzany, he served as the Chief Rabbi and Av Bet Din of the city of Danzig during the stormy period of 1936-1939. It is from there that he sent the letter which is being published below.

My father Noah succeeded in immigrating to the United States in 1938 as a rabbinical student at Yeshiva University, and to bring his parents out in May of 1939. It should be stressed that my grandparents did not abandon their community. The members of the Danzig community decided in an orderly fashion to leave in December 1938 as a result of Kristallnacht the month before, and the Senate of Danzig decided that they had to leave by May 1939. Indeed, most of the members of the Kehillah left by the fall of 1941 when the Nazis stopped all emigration.(1) After tremendous effort, my grandfather and father succeeded in obtaining visas for their daughters/sisters Rivka and Rachel who had remained behind in Vilna; they arrived in the U.S. on June 22, 1941, the very day on which the Nazis invaded Russia. The oldest brother Eliyahu was married and therefore could not obtain a visa to the U.S. He and his wife Miriam fled to Khazakstan where Eliyahu died of disease in May 1944 because the Soviets insisted on drafting him despite his illness.

After it was announced in November 1942 that the Nazis had already murdered 2,000,000 European Jews, my father and two of his classmates at JTS in New York founded an organization called “The European Committee” in order to try to save the remaining Jews of Europe (see more on this below).

My grandfather, for his part, continued to try to save the Jews from Nazi Europe. On October 6, 1943, three days before Yom Kippur, he demonstrated in Washington together with 400 Orthodox rabbis in order to save the Jews of Europe. This was the only demonstration in Washington in order to save the Jews of Europe during the entire Holocaust period. After the Holocaust, my grandfather served as the Av Bet Din of the Associated Synagogues of Massachusetts for over 20 years. In the years 1968-1969 that Bet Din received national press coverage after they ruled that a Jewish slum landlord who owned thousands of apartments in Boston is required by Jewish law to repair the apartments for the sake of his black tenants.(2)

Rabbi Yoseph Lipman Gurewicz (1885-1956), the recipient of the letter printed below, was a devoted disciple of Rabbi Hayyim Ozer Grodzinski mentioned above. He travelled to Melbourne, Australia in 1930 in order to raise money for the Va’ad Hayeshivot of Lithuania. The local Jewish community was impressed by him and there he remained as the rabbi of an Orthodox synagogue and the Av Bet Din until his death. He was in close contact with many of the leading rabbis of his generation. After the Holocaust, he corresponded with Rabbi Isaac Herzog, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, in order to find ways to allow Agunot to remarry.(3)

From the letter below by Rabbi Golinkin found in the papers of Rabbi Gurewicz, which I purchased at an auction in New York in July 2020, we can learn a number of important things about the Jews of Danzig and its vicinity in February 1938. It should be stressed that this letter was written after the serious pogrom which occurred in October 1937, but before the Anschluss, the Munich Agreement and Kristallnacht which took place between March and November of 1938. Rabbi Golinkin testifies to “the spirit of racial hatred which has been wreaking havoc here recently”. Later on, he calls the situation pikuah nefeshot mamash (saving Jewish lives, literally) and says that the blood of our brothers is found beneath the letters of his letter written in black ink. As a result, the Jews want to flee and therefore he is writing to Rabbi Gurewicz in order to receive exact details about immigration to Australia and the life of the Jews there. Indeed, 3,000 Jews left Danzig by 1937 and 2,000 more between the pogrom of 1937 and the summer of 1938. He also says “that the ritual slaughterers and Cantors I am asking about are not members of my congregation but rather immigrants who came here”.  In other words, he is worried not just about the members of his community but also about the Jewish emigres who had arrived in Danzig.(4)

The letter expresses depression about the situation, but there is no feeling of immediate pressure. Rabbi Golinkin still asks about the dangers of assimilation and about the Jewish institutions and newspapers in Melbourne. He still expresses a wish for good matches for his children – without imagining a World War and the horrors of the Shoah. He also does not ask about a refuge for himself and his family, something which only happened, as mentioned, in 1939.

The letter is written in a fluent Hebrew in a classic rabbinic style, which includes many Biblical and Talmudic expressions. I have noted some of his sources in the footnotes. As is customary in correspondence between rabbis, he used a large number of abbreviations, which I have translated as complete words. Finally, he frequently addresses Rabbi Gurewicz in the third person, a common practice among Orthodox rabbis until today.


Rabbiner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 הרב
M. J. Golinkin                                                                                          מרדכי יעקב גאלינקין                                                                ב”ה יום א’ לחדש אדר א’ תרצ”ח
Danzig                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             אבד דק”ק דנציג
Adebargasse 8a                                                                                                                                                                                                                             8a  אדעבארגאססע
Tel. 27291                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             טלפון 27291

Shalom and Berakhah to my good friend the Rabbi the famous Gaon whose “mouth drips pearls”, the crown of the Torah, our teacher Rabbi Yoseph Lipman Gurewicz may he live a long life, the Gaon Av Bet Din of the community of Melbourne, Australia, may God protect him, and to all who accompany him Shalom and Berakhah.

After enquiring after his health. Friend and exalted rabbi! Many days and years have passed from the day that we saw each last when his excellency was by me in Dokshitz.(5) In the course of time, his excellency was accepted as the Av Bet Din in Australia, for mazal tov and much success, and I was appointed here for mazal tov in place of Rabbi Sagalowitsch, who relocated to Brussels in Belgium.(6) And all the time that I am here I am occupied, thank God, with the matters of my community and I did not take the time to ask my acquaintances in Vilna the address of his excellency, and to send each other letters of friendship as is appropriate for loyal friends. Even though a few times “my soul yearned”(7) to enquire after him, for from the time I met him “my soul is bound up with him”(8), and I am certain that “as face answers to face in water”(9). And behold now the Gaon Rabbi Hayyim Ozer [Grodzinski], may he live long, gave me the address of his excellency, and behold I am turning to him regarding a very unpleasant matter. And this is the matter: His excellency surely knows of the spirit(10) of racial hatred which has been wreaking havoc here recently, which cannot be described. And our Jewish brothers are in trouble and distress without any place to which they can flee. And it occurred to the members of our community and they advised me that I should turn to his excellency with both a question and a request

To try to learn correctly and to inform me in detail what are the possibilities at least for individuals if not for many of our fellow Jews, to enter and support themselves in his country. For “at this time”(11), when all the gates are being locked for general emigration, one should not give up on the emigration of even one individual. — The information from HIAS [=Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] is too general and official. But we must know in detail the appropriate ways for individuals, which cannot be learned from generalities. For example, is there a possibility for young people to enter there as students of some university or seminary? And if there are stipends to support them (12) or whether there can be found there generous communities or individuals who will worry about their support until they have the opportunity to support themselves.

II. What are the possibilities available to merchants and craftsman, and is there room for Hebrew teachers and Cantors and ritual slaughterers and the like? We also need to know what are the prospects for capitalists, and what is the amount considered “capital” in your country. — The ritual slaughterers and Cantors that I am asking about are not from my community but rather immigrants who came here.

III. In general, his excellency should let me know the situation of the Jews there materially and spiritually, if it is appropriate for me to advise the people of my community to push themselves to get in there. What is the situation of assimilation there, if there is not, God forbid, a danger threatening us from assimilation? If there are in his country are all of the institutions needed for our Jewish brothers who are observant,(13) such as: mikvaot,  Hebrew schools, kosher meat — in all of the communities or just in some of them? Are there Hebrew or Yiddish newspapers at least with a national spirit or not? Are there prospects that the Jewish community will develop with a national/religious spirit? His opinion and advice.

IV. All the details and conditions of entry, to whom should we turn? And the amount of money that one should enter with? And are there public institutions in his country to which one can turn with all difficult matters? And what are their addresses?

I hope that his excellency will forgive me for bothering him with such a difficult matter, for he should understand that I do not do so out of malice, but rather the necessity of the situation of my community forces me to do this. May his excellency not think that my words written here are in black ink as it appears to the naked eye. The truth is that if the eye could see and the pen could write, he would see the blood of the souls of our fellow Jews hovering between life [and death] under the above-mentioned letters and in between the lines. Surely his excellency was here and knows how are brothers lived here in tranquility and comfort and how they helped those who came here to request their assistance. And now — millionaires and wealthy people have turned into paupers and poor people overnight.

—- I do not have the strength to write more. In his letter to me, please let me know about his life and health and private situation. How did he succeed setting himself up and the matters of his community physically and spiritually, for I would like to know this. Where are the members of his household? It seems to me that one of his sons was still in Vilna not long ago. Why? And what is the reason he did not bring him into Australia? —-

About my situation, I can inform him that my two sons finished university, and my two daughters — one finished university and the second the gymnasium.(14) And now I expect and hope that God will send them good matches. But for now, these troubles trouble me and take my life, literally. May God have mercy.

Please may he hasten to reply, for every single hour is saving Jewish lives, literally.

His friend who honors him in truth according to his lofty value and who blesses him with all good forever, together with his wife the honored Rebetzin.

Rabbi Mordechai Ya’akov Golinkin

[And in the lower right hand corner diagonally:]

Warm regards from my wife and all the members of my household.

* * * * *

II) Introduction to the second letter from Rabbi Noah Golinkin z”l to his nephew Meyer Goldstein

My father, Rabbi Noah Golinkin z”l (1913-2003) was born in Zhitomir, Ukraine and went to school in Vilna and its environs. Among other places, he studied in the Ramailes Yeshivah together with Chaim Grade, who went on to become an important Yiddish author.  After studying law in Vilna, my father obtained a visa as mentioned above to study at Yeshiva University in New York in 1938 because he understood that there is no future for the Jews in Europe.

He began to study for the rabbinate at JTS in New York in 1941. After it was announced in November 1942 that two million Jews had already been murdered by the Nazis, he and two of his friends at JTS founded “The European Committee” in order to try to save the remaining Jews of Europe. They organized a conference in February 1943 with the participation of hundreds of students from 13 theological schools in the New York area, Christian and Jewish. During the Sefirah season of spring 1943, they organized hundreds of rallies and prayer services for Jews and Christians throughout the United States in order to inform the public about what was going on in Europe and to demand from the American government to save the Jews. Finally, as a result of their pressure along with the pressure of the Bergson Group and others, President Roosevelt was forced to set up the War Refugees Board in January 1944 and that organization saved approximately 200,000 Jews, primarily in Hungary.

My father served as a congregational rabbi from 1944 to 1986 — in Arlington Virginia, Knoxville Tennessee, and Columbia Maryland — and at the same time was very active in Zionist organizations, in the struggle for civil rights for blacks, and in the struggle to free Soviet Jewry. After he retired, he devoted all of his time to teaching adults how to read the Siddur in Hebrew, together with my mother Devorah z”l. Until his death in 2003, approximately 200,000 American and Canadian Jews learned how to read the prayer book using the three textbooks he had written, and many synagogues still use the books until today.(15)

The letter below was written in Yiddish on 3 Iyar 5711, May 9, 1951, one day before the third Independence Day of the State of Israel which was observed that year on the fourth of Iyar because of Shabbat. My father was serving then as rabbi in Arlington, Virginia next to Washington D.C. Since he was very active in Zionist organizations and in close contact with the Israel Embassy in Washington, he learned that the State of Israel was about to issue the first Israel Bonds. He bought a Bond in honor of the first birthday of his nephew Meyer Goldstein and sent him a letter in Yiddish explaining the importance of the matter. As one can discern from the letter, my father knew that he had bought one of the first Bonds, but he did not know that it was the first Israel Bond; this became clear when the Bond arrived in the mail. The letter appears below in English translation followed by the two original letters in Hebrew and Yiddish, followed by the notes in English. May the memory of my father and grandfather be for a blessing!

* * * * *

Arlington Jewish Center

2920 Lee Boulevard

Arlington, Virginia

Rabbi                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Telephone 

Noah Golinkin                                                                                                                                                                                                                              CHestnut 5305 


B”H 3 Iyar 5711 [May 9, 1951]

Sweet Yisrael Meirke!

Tomorrow is your birthday.

Your shining face will shine more than always. Your pleasant little smile will fill the house with joy.

May your little soul grow and shine and bring joy to mother and father, Bubbe and Zeyde, and to your Uncle Noah and Aunt Rachel.

May your soul illuminate the Jewish world with great wisdom and with deep goodness and may you be a blessing for all, [both] great and small.

Tomorrow, you will receive in the mail a “Bond” from our long-dreamt-of State of Israel. Today is the first day when Bonds of the Jewish State will go on sale throughout the world, and you will be one of the first to receive a holy Bond from the Holy Land, which will connect your young life with the great, fulfilled dream of tens of Jewish generations.

You were born in a great time and, as you grow up, let the “Bond” serve you as one of the symbols of your connection [to Israel] and of your growth.

Your Uncle Noah

who kisses your little bones and every limb with love.

* * * * *

The original letter by Rabbi Mordechai Ya’akov Golinkin in Hebrew:

Rabbiner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 הרב
M. J. Golinkin                                                                                          מרדכי יעקב גאלינקין                                                                ב”ה יום א’ לחדש אדר א’ תרצ”ח
Danzig                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             אבד דק”ק דנציג
Adebargasse 8a                                                                                                                                                                                                                             8a  אדעבארגאססע
Tel. 27291                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             טלפון 27291    

שלום וברכה וכט’ס [וכל טוב סלה] להוד כבוד ידי’נ [ידיד נפשי] הרב הגאון המפורסם פה מפיק מרגליות שיח'[יה] כש”ת [כתר של תורה] מוהרי”ל [מורינו הרב יוסף ליפמן] גורביטש שליט”א הגאבד’ק [הגאון אב בית דין קהילת] מלבורן במדינת אוסטרלי'[ה] .יצ”ו [ישמרהו צורו ויחיהו] ולכל הנלו[ו]ים אליו שלו'[ם] וברכה.

אחדשה’ט [אחר דרישת שלומו הטוב].   ידיד ורב נעלה! ימים עברו ‏ושנים חלפו מיום שנתראינו בפעם האחרון בהיות כת’ר [כבוד תורתו] אצלי בדאקשיץ.(5) במשך העת נתקבל כת’ר [כבוד תורתו] לאב’ד [לאב בית דין] במדינת אוסטרלי'[ה], למז’ט [למזל טוב] ולהצלחה מרובה, ואני נתמניתי פה למז’ט [למזל טוב] במקומו של הרב סגלביץ שהעתיק אהלו לבריסל במדינת בלגי'[ה].(6) וכל העת שהנני נמצא פה הנני טרוד ב’ה [ברוך השם] בעניני עדתי ולא לקחתי לי מועד לבקש אצל מכירי בוילנא את כתבתו של כת’ר [כבוד תורתו], ולהחליף מכתבי ידידות עמו כראוי לידידים נאמנים. אף שכמה פעמים ערגה לה נפשי(7) לשא[ו]ל בשלומו, כי מעת הכרתיו נקשרה נפשי בו,(8) והנני בטוח ש”כמים [ה]פנים לפנים”.(9) והנה כעת המציא לי הגאון רח’ע [ר’ חיים עוזר גרודזנסקי] שליט”א ‏את [כתב]תו של כת’ר [כבוד תורתו], והנני פונה אליו בענין בלתי נעים מאוד. וזה הדבר: בטח יודע כת’ר [כבוד תורתו] מהרוח(10)  של שנאת הגזע העושה שמות בעת האחרונה פה, מה שאין להעלות על הגליון. ואחב’י [ואחינו בני ישראל] נמצאים בצרה ומצוקה בלי שום מקום מנוס לה[י]מלט. ועלה ברעיון בני עדתנו ויעצוני שאפנה לכת’ר [לכבוד תורתו] בשאלה ובקשה כאחת, להשתדל ‏ולהיו[ו]דע על נכון ולהודיעני בפרטרט [בפרוטרוט] מה המה אופני האפשרויות לכה’פ [לכל הפחות] לאחדים אם לא למרובים מאחב’י [מאחינו בני ישראל] לה[י]כנס ולכלכל את נפשותיהם במדינתו. כי לעת כזאת(11) שכל השערים ננעלים בשביל הגירה כללית, אין ל[ו]ותר אף על הגירה של שום יחיד. — הידיעות של חברת הגירה ״היאס״ [  [HIASהנן כלליות ורשמיות יותר מדאי [מדי]. ועלינו לדעת בפרטיות דברים ודרכים המתאימים ליחידים ‏שאין ללמדם מן הכלליות. למשל: אם ישנה האפשרות לה[י]כנס שמה לצעירים בתר [בתור] תלמידי איזה אוניורסיטה או סמנריום. ואם נמצאו שמה סטיפנדיום [סטיפנדיה] לכלכלתם(12) או ימצאו שמה קה[י]לות או יחידים נדיבי לב שידאגו לכלכלתם טרם יספיקו למצ[ו]א מעמד לפרנס א’ע [את עצמם].

 II. מה המה הסיכוי[י]ם הנשקפות לסוחרים ולבעלי מלאכה, ואם יש מקום למורים [ל]עברית ולחזנים ושוחטים וכדומה מהמשרתים בקודש. כן עלינו לדעת מה המה הסיכוי[י]ם לבעלי הון, ומה הסכום הנחשב במדינתו ל”הון”. —- השוחטים וחזנים שהנני שואל עליהם המה לא מעדתי אך מהגרים שבאו הנה.

III. בדרך כלל יודיעני כת’ר [כבוד תורתו] מצב היהודים שמה בחומר וברוח אם כדאי לי[י]עץ לאנשי עדתי לדחוק א’ע [את עצמם] לה[י]כנס שמה. מה הוא מצב ההתבוללות שמה, אם אין ח’ו [חס וחלילה] סכנה נשקפת לנו מההתבוללות? ואם ישנם במדינתו כל אותן  המוסדות הנצרכות לאחב’י [לאחינו בני ישראל] החרדים,(13) כמו: מקוואות, ת’ת [‏תלמודי תורה], ובשר כשר, בכל הקה[י]לות או אך באיזה מהן? ואם ישנם ע[י]תונים עברים או יהודיים [=ביידיש] עפ’י [על פי] רוח לאומי לכה’פ [לכל הפחות] ואם אין? ואם ישנם סיכוי[י]ם שהק[י]בוץ היהודי יתפתח ברוח לאומי-דתי? דעתו ועצתו.

 IV. כל פרטי אופני ותנאי הכניסה, למי יש לפנות? והסכום כסף שיש להכניס? ואם ישנן מוסדות צ[י]בוריות במדינתו שיש לפנות אליהן בכל דבר הקשה? ומה כתבותיהן?

אקווה כי כת’ר [כבוד תורתו] יסלח לי על הטריחי אותו בענין כה קשה, כי יבין כי לא מרוע לבי הנני עושה זאת, אך ההכרח של מצב בני עדתי יכריחני לזאת, ואל יחשוב כת’ר [כבוד תורתו] שדברי הנכתבים פה כתובים בדיו שחור כמו שנראים למראה עין. האמת היא שלו נתנה רשות לעין לראות ולעט לכתוב הי'[ה] רואה את דם נפשות אחב’י [אחינו בני ישראל] המפרפר בין החיים, ‏תחת האותיות הנ’ל ובין השיטין. בטח הי'[ה] כת’ר [כבוד תורתו] פה ויודע איך חיו אחינו פה בשלוה  ובריו[ו]ח ואיך החזיקו להבאים הנה לבקש מזרתם. ועתה נהפכו מליונירים ועשירים לאביונים ועניים, בין לילה.

– – – – יותר אין בי כוח לכתוב. במכתבו אלי בבקשה להודיעני על דבר חייו ובריאותו ומצבו הפרטי. איך עלתה בידו לכונן א’ע [את עצמו] ואת עניני עדתו בחומר וברוח? כי אתעני[י]ן לדעת זאת. איפה נמצאים כל ב’ב [בני ביתו]? כמדומני שאחד מבניו הי'[ה] זה לא כבר בוילנא עדיין. מדוע? ומה היא הס[י]בה שלא הכניסו עמו?  – – – –

ע’ד [על דבר] מצבי אני אוכל להודיעו כי שני בני גמרו האוניורסיטה, ושני בנותי, האחת גמרה את האוניורסיטה והשני'[ה] הגמנזיום.(14) והנני מצפה ומי[י]חל כעת שישלח ה׳ להם זווגים טובים. ולע’ע [ולעת עתה] הטרדות הנ’ל מטרידות ולוקחות את חיי ממש. ה׳ ירחם.

בבקשה להחיש בתשובתו, כי כל שעה ושעה היא פקוח נפשות ממש.

ידידו המוקירו באמת כערכו הרם ומברכו בכט’ס [בכל טוב סלה] ביחד עם רעי[י]תו הרבנית הכבודה.   הרב מרדכי יעקב גולינקין חופ’ק [חונה פה קהילתנו]

[ובפינה הימנית התחתונה באלכסון:]  ד’ש מרעיתי ומכל ב’ב [בני ביתי].


* * * * *

The original letter by Rabbi Noah Golinkin z”l in Yiddish:


Arlington Jewish Center

2920 Lee Boulevard

Arlington, Virginia

Rabbi                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Telephone 

Noah Golinkin                                                                                                                                                                                                                              CHestnut 5305 


ב”ה ג’ אייר תשי”א [9 במאי 1951]

זיסינקער ישראל מאירקע!

מארגן איז דיין געבורטסטאג.

דיין ליכטיקער פנימעל וועט לייכטן מער ווי אלעמאל. דיין ליבליכער שמייכעלע וועט אנפילן די הויז מיט פרייד.

זאל  דיין נשמה’לע וואקסן און לייכטן און בריינגען פרייד צו טאטע-מאמע, באבע-זיידע און צו דיין אנקעל נח און טאנטע רחל.

זאל עס באשיינען די יידישע וועלט מיט גרויס חכמה און מיט טיפער גוטסקייט און זאלסט]ו[ זיין א בענטשונג ביי אלעמען, גרויס און קליין.

מארגן וועסטו קריגן דורך פאסט א “באנד” פון אונזער אויסגעטרוימטער מדינה פון ישראל. היינט איז דער ערשטער טאג ווען מ’האט אין דער וועלט אנגעהויבן פארקויפן באנדס פון דער יידישער מדינה און דו וועסט זיין פון די ערשטע צו קריגן א הייליקן באנד פון הייליקן לאנד, וועלכער וועט פארבינדן דיין יונגען לעבן מיטן גרויסן פארווירקליכטן חלום פון צענדליקער יידישע דורות.

דו ביסט געבוירן געווארן אין א גרויסער צייט, און דו ווועסט אויסוואקסן א גרויסער מענטש, זאל דער “באנד” דינען דיר פאר איינעם פון די סימבאלן פון דיין פארבינדונג און דיין וואקסן.

דיין אנקעל נח

וואס קושט דיר דיין ביינדעלע און יעדן אבר מיט ליבשאפט.


  1. See Gershon Bacon, “Danzig Jewry: A Short History” in: Danzig 1939: Treasures of a Destroyed Community, Detroit, 1980, p. 34. My thanks to Prof. Bacon who sent me a copy of his important article, which is based on the literature about the history of the Jews of Danzig.
  2. Regarding Rabbi Mordechai Ya’akov Golinkin, see what I wrote in the Encyclopaedia Judaica, second edition, 2007, Vol. 7, p. 740; Rafael Medoff and David Golinkin, The Student Struggle Against the Holocaust, Jerusalem, 2010, pp. 97-102, 121-123. Regarding the efforts of Rabbi Noah Golinkin to save the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust, see Rafael Medoff in Encyclopaedia Judaica, ibid., pp. 740-741; the entire book by Medoff and Golinkin; and see below.
  3. Regarding Rabbi Yoseph Lipman Gurewicz, see Sam Lipski [and Rabbi Ronald Lubofsky], “Chalk and Cheese – Rav Gurewicz et Amicorum” in: Anna Rosner Blay, editor, Eshkolot: Essays in Memory of Rabbi Ronald Lubofsky, Melbourne, 2002, pp. 32-46. My thanks to Sam Lipski for sending me a copy of this important article. Regarding Rabbi Gurewicz’s efforts to enable Agunot to remarry after the Holocaust, see Zvi Sheiman, Hadshot Serugim, April 24, 2017; and Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog, Pesakim Uketavim, Vol. 6, Jerusalem, 1996 No. 55.
  4. See Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 7, column 348, s.v. Gdansk, and especially Bacon (above, note 1), p. 33.
  5. Rabbi Golinkin served as the rabbi of Dokshitz from the end of the 1920s until the beginning of the 1930s, and Rabbi Gurewicz immigrated to Melbourne in 1930. In other words, the two of them had not seen each other for at least eight years.
  6. Regarding the activities of Rabbi Jacob Sagalowitsch in Danzig between the years 1923-1933, see Gershon Bacon (above, note 1), pp. 31-32.
  7. This phrase is borrowed from Psalms 42, 2: “so my soul yearns for You, Oh God”.
  8. This phrase is borrowed from Genesis 44, 30: “and his soul was bound up with his soul”.
  9. The verse in Proverbs 27, 19 ends: “so does one man’s heart to another”.
  10. Perhaps it says “mei’harei’ah”, from the odor of.
  11. This phrase is borrowed from Esther 4, 14: “And who knows, perhaps for just such a time, you have attained royalty”.
  12. At the bottom of the page it says “VERTE” (?) which apparently means “verso”, turn over the page.
  13. The Hebrew original says “haredim”, which today means ultra-Orthodox Jews, but here it means religious, observant or Orthodox Jews
  14. Eliyahu, Noah and Rachel finished university; Rivka finished the gymnasium.
  15. Regarding my father, see what I wrote above in note 2, as well as the eulogy which I published about him: David Golinkin, Insight Israel: The View from Schechter, Jerusalem, 2003, pp. 157-167.

 All four volumes of Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin’s Responsa In A Moment – Halakhic Responses to Contemporary Issues as well as other books by the author are available for purchase from the Schocken-JTS Press Bookstore.

David Golinkin is President of The Schechter Institutes, Inc. and President Emeritus of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. For twenty years he served as Chair of the Va’ad Halakhah (Law Committee) of the Rabbinical Assembly which gives halakhic guidance to the Masorti Movement in Israel. He is the founder and director of the Institute of Applied Halakhah at Schechter and also directs the Center for Women in Jewish Law. Rabbi Professor Golinkin made aliyah in 1972, earning a BA in Jewish History and two teaching certificates from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He received an MA in Rabbinics and a PhD in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he was also ordained as Rabbi. For a complete bio click here.

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