Grand Rabbi Jacob Korff’s Arrest

In his book Flight From Fear, Baruch Korff told his father’s story:

“I remember the day his beard turned snow white. It was the day following his arrest, one week before my mother’s death. At thirty-three, the chief rabbi of Novograd-Volynsk, he was taken into custody by the Bolsheviks, tried and condemned to death as an ‘enemy of Marxist Russia,’ on the same day. That’s when his odyssey began.

“Yasha Gurewitch, the Jewish Commissar of the local Communists, had been provoked by my father’s refusal to welcome the Red Army with a holy scroll, bread, and salt, when they captured the city from the Poles. Gurewitch was bitter in his denunciation of my father as a foe of the state and when Petlura’s forces were at the city’s gates, and withdrawal was imminent, father was quickly arrested and adjudged guilty of treason.

“The morning he was to be shot, father appeared in the house. With tears streaming down his face and dropping on his silver beard, he kissed us and rushed out again to a waiting fiacre.

“I never learned the details of his ordeal. Word of his seemingly sealed fate had spread instantaneously through the city. I remember the house was seething with people the day he escaped. I also remember that five leading Jews and a prison guard were executed in reprisal. The next time I saw my father was in Korzec. Poland, where my brothers, sister, and I were reunited with him.”[1]

[1] Flight from Fear, pp. 31-32.