A Subversive Hebrew Newspaper Published in Czarist Russia, and a Jewish Community That Ceased to Exist

Delving into the biography of a grandfather he never met, Haaretz's editor discovered a forgotten chapter of family history. The story of a world that is no more, but whose imprint is felt over a century later

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Chaim Bomstein, the Aluf Benn’s grandfather. At age 19, he left Osipovichi in Belorussia for Vilna, where he and his cousin’s husband joined a journalistic and cultural adventure.
Chaim Bomstein, the Aluf Benn’s grandfather. At age 19, he left Osipovichi in Belorussia for Vilna, where he and his cousin’s husband joined a journalistic and cultural adventure.
Aluf Benn
Aluf Benn

In early summer five years ago, we were sitting shiva for my father, the poet Aryeh Sivan. At 3 P.M., one day midweek, the stream of visitors paying their condolences had thinned out, and my curiosity turned to my family history. I googled the name of my paternal grandfather, Chaim Bomstein, without really knowing what I expected to find. Grandpa died in 1950, long before the invention of the internet. He never even had the opportunity to see television. But who knows? The internet is packed with intriguing bits of information.

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