It’s well known that the Mir Yeshiva collectively and successfully escaped war torn Europe, being stranded first in Kobe, Japan, followed by a long exile in Shanghai, China. While mostly true, there were students who were unable for one reason or another to escape together with the yeshiva, and remained behind being martyred by the Nazis and their collaborators along with millions of their brethren. 

One of the prominent ones was Rav Yona Karpilov (Minsker). As a student of Rav Elchanan Wasserman and Rav Baruch Ber Leibowitz, he arrived in Mir in 1926 as a budding scholar, and soon emerged as one of the closest students of the Mir mashgiach Rav Yerucham Levovitz, as well as one of the yeshiva’s leaders guiding many of the younger students. He was also part of a contingent who studied in Brisk under Rav Yitzchak Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rav. Many theories have been presented as to why he didn’t succeed in obtaining one of the coveted Sugihara visas in the summer of 1940, but ultimately he was in Kovno the following summer and not in Shanghai with his friends. He was murdered by Lithuanian collaborators in 1941.


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