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[Page 191]

From Our Home

 

Like an uprooted tree

by Ida Weinshelbaum (Ita Peck)

Translated by Sara Mages

 

Roots

I envision my town Capresti from the home of Aharon the locksmith, when you come from Rogozhini, to the home of Shmuel Glicki, when you leave for the village of Prodăneşti. From the home of Yehoiakim the blacksmith - the place where the “Heder” of Yoel Mer was located, to the home of Feivel the water-drawer, the last house in the “New Street” on the road to the Rãut River.

My parents were Yosef and Sarke Peck. Our home was located at the heart of the city, under the same roof with Yankl Waysman, Leyzer Volman and Eliyahu Volman. My childhood years knew poverty, suffering, and my parents' constant worry to earn a living and raise their children. My father didn't work, but my mother - a woman of valor, carried both the burden of livelihood and the home. From time to time we opened a new shop, and it disappeared immediately as if it never existed. Not once the closing of the shop was involved in humiliation when Tzarna, the moneylender, placed a foreclosure due to non-payment of the debts and interest on time.

At the beginning of the 1930s, my parents decided to open a hostel, and since then there was an improvement in our economic situation. Even in the most difficult years our parents made a superhuman effort so that their children could study.

From the age of five we studied in a “heder.” Our brother Eliyahu studied with the teacher Polychuk. Mary and I with - Reizel Froymchuk, Duvid Derbinder (Rachmani),Yoel Mer, Leib Mer and Yosef Birshtein. In addition to that, we also studied in the Romanian school.

When we grew older, we were sent to study in the big cities. Eliyahu - to Kishinev [Chişinău] to study at the “Magen David” secondary school, Mary - to “ORT” school in Belz, and I to the “Jewish Teacher's Seminary” in Chernivtsi. The youngest daughter Dora, who was raised at the home of our uncle Mordechai Peck, studied at the secondary school in Mirculelti.

I wouldn't exaggerate if I state that our house was kind of a social center for the town's youth. Almost every day, boys and girls gathered at our home, played chess, debated and sang together while Moshale' Kleiman, the son of Chaim Hillel, accompanied them with a mandolin or an harmonica.

The pulse of the town's commercial life was felt in our house. It can be explained with the fact, that the representatives of the world of commerce stayed in our hostel since it was opened. For example: Moshe Green bought grain for well known traders from Kishinev who have conducted business with traders abroad. Moshe Mashiach bought the skins of lambs, rabbits, etc. The commercial life was conducted between the traders who stayed with us. The transactions usually took place during breakfast or lunch, and everything was agreed verbally. When a deal was finalized, no one changed his mind even if changes have occurred up or down.

I remember the long winter evenings when mother was busy in the kitchen making dumplings and frying sausage or smoked beef for 20 people or more.

[Page 192]

In such a meal, Yeshayahu-Yair (Scheior) Biranbaumþ trilled his voice in Cantorial music while Simcha Leiger - the Bernstein brothers' accountant - read excerpts from the writings of Sholem Aleichem with great success.

When the personnel of the Yiddish theater troupes arrived to Capresti, they dined with us and some of them even stayed with us. It happened that the actors couldn't pay what was due from them. In such cases, my mother was very generous and tried to help them as much as possible. I remember an incident when my mother sent me and my friend, the youngest daughter of Aharon the slaughterer, to sell tickets from home to home. The success of this task was great, and so we provided them with the travel expenses to the nearest town. Even the cantors stayed with us during their tour of the towns of Bessarabia. Among them I particularly remember the cantor Margolis and his singers.

Laschtschenko, the famous Russian singer, who appeared in a concert at the Yissachar Itskovich's Theater, lived with us. The tickets were expensive and only those with means assembled in the hall. Others filled the streets and listened to the concert through the hall's open windows. I was very proud when I was rewarded with a free ticket and was able to sit in the hall.

Different personalities, who lectured on various topics, came to the town. One of them was Yisrael Weinstein, the famous editor of the newspaper “Undzer Tsayţ” [“Our Time”] who was known by his pseudonym “Idel Melamed.” He was received with great respect and was also rewarded with a good income. However, despite everything, he published a feuilleton in his newspaper in which he mocked the town and its goats. My uncle, Mordechai Peck, who was a Gabai in the Ashkenazi Synagogue (Deutsche Shul) where all the rich men prayed, a member of the community council, and also a board member of the “Saving and Loan Fund,” sent a letter of protest to the journalist Yisrael Weinstein for his disparaging attitude and his ingratitude.

One day, a group of Revisionists appeared in our town with the intention to establish one of their chapters. As we know, this political party didn't have a foothold in our town. When the matter became known to the members of the youth movements “Gordonia,” “Dror,” and “Hashomer Hatzair,” they surrounded our house and didn't let them leave. Who knows what would have happened without my mother's assurance that the Revisionists will not appear in our town. They heard her advice, and left empty-handed.

Also rabbis were our guests for a period of about six weeks. From Rezina came the rabbi, Rabbi Motely. It was a man with an imposing figure who locked himself in his room and only came out to dine with his Hassidim and when he went to pray in the Hasidic Synagogue. Most of his followers belonged to the affluent circles. From Vad-Rashkov [Vadul-Raşcov] came Rabbi Moshe-Duvidel who prayed in the Great Synagogue. He was the rabbi of the craftsmen. The meals, which my mother prepared for Sabbath Eve and for the Havdallah on Saturday night, cannot be described. The menu was typical Jewish and included a variety of dishes. The rabbi came out for dinner only after all of his Hassidim sat around the table, and gave a sermon after the Kiddush and at the end of the meal. The sermon of Rabbi Motely was above my understanding because it was seasoned with interpretations and argumentation. On the other hand, I listened attentively to the stories of Rabbi Moshe-Duvidel about the wonders of Baal Shem Tov. The meals ended with music and Hassidic dancing.

I remember a tragic-comic event which was related to the rabbi's Kiddush. A Christian girl named Mashka worked for us. Like all the Christian domestic workers she had a good grasp of the Yiddish language.

[Page 193]

The rabbi's Gabai assumed that she was Jewish and handed her the bottle of wine, which was intended for the Kiddush, so she could put it in the cellar. Shortly before Kabbalat Shabbat, father learned that Mashka held the bottle of wine, and thus it turned into “libation wine” and disqualified for Kiddush. A great panic broke out. Immediately, they ran to Lipa the barber and took several grapes that were harvested from his vineyard. The grapes were pressed, and the rabbi used the juice for the Kabbalat Shabbat “Kiddush.”

While waiting in line to see the rabbi the women poured their heart before my mother. She listened carefully to their problems, and since her faith in the rabbi was unshakable she promised them that the rabbi, with God's help, will bring an end to their grievances.

Every once in a while, various traveling-agents arrived to the town from factories and production plants throughout Romania to receive orders from the town's shopkeepers. The agents were of different types and among them I remember one who excelled in the game of chess. Even Amnon Skeliar, Capresti's chess champion, was not able to beat him. Sometimes, a simultaneous game of several players was organized, but all of them were defeated by him. In such evenings our house was like a chess club, and became a gathering place for the best chess players in town.

We received a Zionist education from our parents since the dawn of our childhood, and when the youth movements were established in town they didn't prevent us from joining them. Eliyahu was a member of “Gordonia,” Mary a member of “HaShomer HaTzair,” but since I was too young for ideological recognition, it was important for me to spend time singing and dancing in the “hall” together with other children my age. As long as Eliyahu was at home I belonged to “Gordonia,” but after his immigration to Israel I moved to “HaShomer HaTzair.

My mother was very active in Capresti's Zionist movement. For a long period of time she was the deputy chairperson of the women's branch of “Keren ha-kayemet le-Yisra'el” [JNF]. She recruited other women, like Esphra,Chiekes, to the activities. Both of them traveled to the Jews in the nearby villages and received donations and items for “Keren ha-kayemet le-Yisra'el.” I remember the “bazaars” that took place in town. There was a nice display of various items and rich buffets, which included all kinds of cakes and food that were prepared by the women of Capresti. Even ice-cream was not missing there. Usually, the bazaar opening included Zionist speeches, sweepstakes and dancing. The first waltz was sold at auction.

When I was a young girl, my mother took me to one of the bazaars to help her. I looked at everything that was happening around me as if I looking at a world of wonders, and when one of the government's representatives bought the first waltz and invited Mrs. Schargorodska - who was known as the most beautiful woman in the town - I felt that I was participating in an event from one of the stories of Arabian Nights. All the money that was collected was donated to “Keren ha-kayemet le Yisra'el.

Over the years, my father started to earn a living as a broker of grains. He was the only person who knew how to test the composition of grain crops, and its price was set accordingly. I was proud that my father was known as an honest man who gained the trust of both the buyer and the seller. He was also considered to be an honest arbitrator, and his opinion was also received in inquiries that were held by the rabbi.


[Page 194]

The home of Eliezer and Rivka Heissiner

by Tova Filon (Heissiner)

Translated by Sara Mages

 

When I come to describe my parents' home in the little town of Capresti, it is befitting to review, in a few words, the background in which my parents were raised and educated, that is, the roots from which they have grown. My father and my mother grew up in a traditional home. My grandfathers were Torah scholars and observant.

My father, as I remember him, was of medium height, handsome, and his face was adorned with a black beard. My mother wasn't tall, and was considered to be a beautiful woman. In those days, it was customary that young couples were intended for each other, and were married only by means of a matchmaker. But Eliezer Heissiner fell in love with Rivka Klienman, and after much hesitation he plucked up courage, visited her parents and asked her hand in marriage. This event, almost a hundred years ago, caused a stir in the town and beyond it. The inscription above the photo that my mother sent to her fiancé is typical: “an offering of a memento, with eternal love to my fiancé Eliezer from your fiancée Rivka Klienman, “Leshana tova tekatevo” [May you be inscribed for a good year].

My mother was considered to be an educated woman. Many of the townspeople used to turn to her with requests to write letters to their relatives, and she always did it willingly. The letters, which she wrote me to Israel, were seasoned with expressions from the Talmud and aroused great admiration among my friends.

My father loved to raise goats in his yard, and since he was the director of the town's “Saving and Loans Bank” he earned the nickname “Capresti's bank director with the goats.” Even during the war, at the time of the mass escape, he didn't want to part from his goats and took a few of them with him.

He was affable, kind-hearted, generous, and was loved by everyone who knew him. My parents were Zionists in their heart and soul, and longed to immigrate to Israel. But I, with my many sins, prevented it from them when I saw the fate of the elderly people who couldn't adapt to life and work in Israel. I knew that they were rooted in the life of the town, and I was afraid to uproot them from their birthplace. Today, I am full with sorrow for this behavior, and mourn their bitter fate. “O for those who are gone and cannot be replaced!”


The man who was one
of the pillars of society

(Yosef Sklyar z”l)

by Zerubavel Seker (Sklyar)

Translated by Sara Mages

 

The editor said: “Could there be a book on Capresti without the figure of Yosef Sklyar?”

I answered: “Do you mean that I, as a son, should count his virtues like a peddler?”

The editor repeated: “Not necessarily, tell something. Each one of our townspeople, who will page through the book, will remember his own story about Yosef Sklyar. After all, there are many stories that his name is interwoven in them.”

Well, you want a story? A story about a young man, the only son of a real Chabad [wisdom, understanding, and knowledge] man, a scholar, a young man who one day, in the late 19th century, closed the Gemara on a certain page

[Page 195]

(he remembered the page to the day of his death). “You'll not see me anymore!” he said, and sailed to “new worlds,” to “secular studies,” and from there to “Hibbat Zion” [“Lovers of Zion”], to Ehad Ha'am [Asher Zvi Hirsch Ginsberg] and, of course, to Herzl. One day, he settled in our town Capresti, established a family and saw a blessing in his work. All his life he continued to spin his dreams of redemption and a full life in Zion. My friend, the editor, you'll find plenty of similar stories in the literature of the “Haskalah” [“enlightenment”], and in the literature that came after it, is it not so?

“Yes and no. Because, after all, for us, the townspeople, Yosef Sklyar was like that and much more than that. Our man. First of all, a man. Yes, he was a dreamer, and even so, a whole “institution” in itself. Like a combination of numerous institutions. Maybe I'll mention, my friend: when a conflict broke out in our place they immediately turned to my father for arbitration, and his ruling was honored without a question. If a person was in need, he knew that my father will help with grace, secretly and without condescension. And the humor! What a delightful humor. How we were drawn to his flowing conversation. Young and old, “simple folks” and rich man, Zionists and ultra-orthodox- all of them found a common language with Yosef Sklyar. Even the local “landowners” and the anti-Semite stood before him in awe. Is it a routine? Are you still hesitating? Well: “Keren Hayesod” [United Israel Appeal], “Keren Ha'Kayemet” [JNF], Zionist conferences, and local community business (not being one of the professional activists), and what not? Sklyar had belonged to “beautiful Capresti,” my friend, go do your thing, and without fear of exaggeration, write:

“I'll try, I said, a few flashes, and the rest each person will complete as he wishes.”

In 1925, when the Hebrew University was inaugurated on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, Yosef Sklyar organized a big party in his home in Capresti… Jews danced till dawn, until they weakened: “Jerusalem! Jerusalem!” again and again, to “our country!” and father was leading them.

Our home was a Zionist home with a meaning. Father was among the first activists of “Tzeirei Zion” ' [Young Zionist] in the vicinity. The emissaries of “Keren Hayesod,” and “Keren Ha'Kayemet,” and later the emissaries of “HeHalutz” and “Gordonia,” who came to our town - their home, of course, was the Sklyar home. When the guest arrived, the entire group gathered: the writer Mordechai Goldenberg, my beloved teacher, my uncle Lezer Heisiner - the Zionists' elder and crowned leader, “Shimon-Yankel Komissar,” meaning, Shimon Heisiner and Yakov Goldenberg the authorized agents of “Keren Ha'Kayemet,” Moshe Pripez my modest loving uncle, Chaim Leib Harsonski, the Yosizim, and more. The conversation flowed for many hours and we, the tiny children, drank the words with thirst.
The people of Israel. The redemption of the land. Things were intertwined: Judaism and Zionism.

On Sabbath nights, when father returned from the synagogue - the “Hassidic Kleizel” - which was the house of worship of HaRav Kapliwatzky - the children sat (each in his usual place!) next to the table. Mother covered her eyes and blessed the candles and father conducted the Kiddush. The Sabbath meal. At the end of the meal father sat back in his chair, which was at the head of the table, closed his eyes with serenity, pointed his finger, and started to sing softly. The song gained power and slowly slowly filled the house: Hassidic songs and the songs of Zion. The songs of Mané and his band (those published in the “Tsien's Harfe” song book) the songs of Bialik and Tchernichovsky, and pioneer songs from Eretz-Yisrael. Mother joined her husband for a duet of delicate soprano and clear baritone, and we, the children, ran towards them and the flames of the Sabbath candles quivered with us, and it seemed that the walls broke into a dance. “Kabbalat Shabbat” at the Sklyar home.

[Page 196]

There were five rooms in the house. We'll peek into two of them for a moment. Soon, you'll understand why.

We will start with the “Gustina,” which is, the living room. Velvet armchairs were placed around the elegant table which stood at the center of the room. A plush sofa leaned on the wall, and the entire wall was covered with a carpet. This carpet, which was a work of an artist, arrived to the “Gustina” thanks to … the first “Jewish Encyclopedia.” And so was the tale. A rumor reached my father's ear (maybe from the pages of “”Undzer Tsay?,” or maybe from the “World,” the world journal of the Zionist Federation) that Nachum Goldman and Yakov Klatzkin have finished a mighty enterprise in the city of Berlin, which is, the “Encyclopaedia Judaica.” A problem was created: this encyclopedia - was very expensive, therefore, father planned a “compromise”: you, my wife, will buy a carpet to beautify the living room, and I will bring the encyclopedia of “Eshkol” [publishing] to our house.

When the first volume arrived, all the intellectuals of the town gathered, leafed through the thick book, gently, gently, and their eyes sparkled. A wonderful treasure! After they left, father paused at the head of the table and his hand stroked the letters very slowly. “Encyclopaedia Judaica” is residing at his home with respect.

We go back to the living room. Pass by the extensive mirror. On the wall, to its left, hung the portraits of our Sages from all generations: the Vilna Gaon, Baal Shem Tov, the RAMBAM [Rabbi Mosheh Ben Maimon], and next to them, on a decorated table - stood the new wonder device: the telephone. The first telephone in Capresti. The MaHaRa [Moreinu ha-Rav Loew] peered at it and smile.

Another corner is left. My father's bookcase stood there. Inside it was the gift library that every boy received for his Bar Mitzvah. I remember, that behind the shiny glass was an elegant box, and in it were many books in red cover and gold letters. Here we got to know Rabbi Akivah, Bar Kokhba, the legendary Elroy and other great figures. Our dream box!

Apparently, in the same cupboard, was carefully hidden a thin booklet: “How do I tell my son,” Neumann, Tel-Aviv. The first sexual information. Each boy, when his time came, found, by chance, this booklet on his desk. Immediately, of course, he was absorbed in its pages and father was passing in the room, “by chance,” smiling: the youngster has grown and become a man…

This was the contents of that “living room”: the gallery of the representatives of ancient tradition, and under it, the representative of the new civilization - the telephone. A Hebrew library and in it - Oh no! - a booklet about sex education.

Father. It was probably not accidental. Certainly not.

And now, “as promised,” to another room, which is the “Spalenia.” Seemingly, a bedroom like all the bedrooms in the homes of rich Jews, but under the bed was a rectangular slot in the wooden floor, a sign for some kind of a small door, a door without a handle, without a use. Why a small door? And why a small door that doesn't lead anywhere? Once, father explained it to me that way: “When the Bolshevik Revolution broke out, a wave of Jewish refugees crossed the Dniester River to Bessarabia, which is now annexed to “Greater Romania.” Many of them fled for their lives and soon found themselves in a terrible trap. Stateless persons, and even worse than that, Jews from the land of the enemy! Therefore, we hid these refugees in our cellar. Among them were members of the “Third Aliyah” - the first “Halutzim” [pioneers], and our Jewish brothers. Through this small trap door, under the bed, we lowered their daily food for weeks upon weeks.”

[Page 197]

One morning, close to those days of great tribulations, father woke up and the light in one of his eyes was extinguished.

Two charity boxes operated at home: one belonged to my mother and the second - to my father. My mother's box was called “WIZO - Committee.” As I recall, she conducted most of her “business” with…R' Aharon the wonderful slaughterer. From time to time, R' Aharon came to our home, looked up to the ceiling, because it was forbidden, strictly forbidden to, God forbid, look at a woman. Together they discussed the matters of “Hakhnasat Kallah.”

The second box, father's box, was intended for two main purposes: One - for “Keren Hayesod” and other Zionist funds, and the second - for various charitable enterprises for the needy of our town. In the days between Purim to Passover Rabbi Kapliwatzky used to appear in our house in his festive clothes, and the two friends sailed, in the well known Capresti's mud, to pull “Maot Chitim” [wheat money] from the pockets of the homeowners who sighed hard: It's difficult to skimp a hand before such a pair…it was kind of an annual tradition. In contrast, they flourished in the matters of “Gemilut Chasadim” all the days of the year.

The hours of Thursday afternoon, market day in our town, were special hours. Then, the “simple folks” came, one by one, to father's “Drogaria [pharmacy] to get a loan for the Sabbath or to pay an old loan. Some came to receive a guarantee, which was signed by Yosef Sklyar, to the wholesale store - to replenish the supply for the upcoming week. I remember one, who used to come every week only to announce in a single word: “deficit,” and father used to say with a wide smile, “a chronic deficit.” What can we do?

When the Soviets invaded the area and “tables have turned,” meaning, those on the bottom were on top, the “simple folks” remembered his acts of kindness. In those days, the Zionist and “capitalists” suffered the most, and a slight hint was enough to send them “to the land of the white bears.” They didn't harm my father. On the contrary, they guarded him well.

Everything collapsed with the well known deportation to the expanses of Eastern Russia. At an old age my parents were awarded with several years of compensation in Kibbutz Nir Am. Father worked in any job, as if he wanted to fulfill an unrealized dream.

Young and old surrounded him with admiration like in the good days of the distant past. One day, one of the kibbutz members stopped me and said with great excitement: “Listen, I've just spoken with your father and he recited before me one of Bialik's poems! He didn't miss a word.” Go tell a person about Sabbath nights and the early mornings when my father opened the windows and broke into a song. He sang for the new day and to a bird that came to his window from the warm countries, go and tell a person.

Without a doubt, distress signals, material and spiritual alike, adhered to other Jewish towns like our Capresti. However, check carefully and you'll realize that these weren't conflicts between people who were strangers to the place and to each other. Of course, there was also ugliness, conflicts, jealousy and pettiness in them as in any settlement where ordinary mortals live. However, the fact is, that in Capresti, for example, a well equipped Hebrew library was active, there were “revised Heders” so that each child was able to receive an education, and a complete network of institutions,
which are defined in our updated language - “Social Welfare Institutions.”

[Page 198]

But, over there, they were mostly managed by volunteers. There were Zionist youth movements, cultural balls, and what not? Indeed, in essence, a real community with a sense of mutual responsibility. Kind of an organic living body, and in its center, a radiated center, a “core,” in the language of Buber: kind of a natural leadership which sometimes radiated its influence beyond its boundaries. These were decent people who aroused trust, appreciation and fondness. Among them were those who were endowed with “lofty idealism.”

It seems to me, that Yosef Sklyar was one of them in our community that was lost.


Our mother - Chana “the Beinushke's”

by Mordechai Rishpi (Feierman)

Translated by Sara Mages

 

- “Your mother deserves that you'll write about her in the Capresti book” - so claimed in my ears a number of townspeople who knew her well. There was also someone who promised to “sharpen his pen,” and tell in public about her deeds. Given the fact, that this member of the editorial board was busy with a different kind of writing for the book, I said in my heart: maybe I'll try to write down a little bit? After all, I knew my mother no less than the others...

I remember, that not once, when I went from door to door to fill the boxes for “Keren Ha'Kayemet” or the “community center,” there were many who opened their pockets and gave me a larger contribution than usual because I was the son of Chana “the Beinushke's.” An elderly woman, invited Yochentzy and I for a cup of tea with jam, and told us the story of the “righteous, “Chava “the Beinushke's” that her daughter, Chana, is following her footsteps. Chava, the daughter of R' Mordechai Derenboim, married Beinush Itzkovitch a goldsmith from Orhei. Beinush was barely seen in town because he was working in the villages installing gold and silver ornaments in icons. He died at the prime of his life and left Chava, the young widow, to take care of five children and an adopted girl. Although she was poor and barely made a living baking bread, she was known for her generosity and her help to the ill-fated who called her by the nickname - “Chava the Beinushke's” (Beinush's wife). Subsequently, Chava traveled to America with her children, and Chana and her adopted sister Rachel, the wife of Duvid the tinsmith, remained here.

Mother, Chana, continued my grandmother's acts of kindness and the same people, who were helped by her, transferred their admiration to her together with the nickname - “Chana Chava the Beinushke's.”

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It's worth mentioning that not once, we, the children, wondered: where's mother going at sunset on Friday with two covered baskets in her hands? The hidden secret was discovered when mother was at the last months of her pregnancy with the youngest son Yosef. She called me and my older brother Beinush and asked us to help her with something, but we had to assure her that even the “birds in the sky” wouldn't know the secret. From that day on, for a number of months, we left the house together with baskets containing challot for the Sabbath and two small pots of food. We would go out, regardless of the weather, to certain houses where we left the contents of the baskets. By mother's explicit request, we tried not to be discovered. At the hours before the entrance of the Sabbath we didn't meet a living soul in the street. There were houses to which we entered and said: “mother sent you something to taste from her dishes.” In other homes we opened the door slowly, left two challot, and left undetected. “You understand- mother used to say - it isn't enough that a person is punished and needs mercy from others, it isn't necessary for him to know who makes the act of kindness for him!”

Father didn't know any of the above. For most parts, he came home on Friday from his travels to the villages, ate something and went to the bathhouse. Later, he lay down to rest until it was time to go to the synagogue. Mother planned these acts of kindness when father was resting, so he didn't know and didn't hear. In fact, even if father knew about it, it's doubtful that he would have created a problem. He would have said that instead of resting she was working from early morning, and she was wasting her time on people who even didn't know to say thank you…

But twice I've witnessed an outburst of anger from my father on my mother's actions. The first time - because of her winter coat (I wrote about it in my article about “R' Aharon the ritual slaughterer”), and the second time - in connection with operation “Keren HaZahav” [the gold fund]. It happened after the public meeting that took place in the Great Synagogue. Rabbi Levi Shternberg from Dombrovani gave a speech at that meeting. In his fiery speech he talked about “Keren HaZahav,” the enterprise to build a university in Jerusalem, and called the women to act like women who answered the call of Aharon HaCohen in the desert and “removed their golden rings.” Mother was very influenced by the speaker's words, went home, and brought him her jewelry box, without missing a thing.

The rumor about mother's contribution has spread, and was the subject of conversation even in the nearby towns. In this way, one of our aunts learned about it and hurried to ask father if he gave her permission to do so. This was a complete surprise for father. He kept it in his heart and on the following Sabbath, when they were getting ready to go to a Bar Mitzvah, he asked mother: why don't you wear the necklace that you always wear for a party? This necklace was given to her by her mother when she came to visit us a year before the outbreak of the First World War. Mother liked this necklace, and didn't part from it during the holidays.

Mother's excuses and evasions didn't help, and since father insisted that she show him the necklace she told him about the contribution to “Keren HaZahav.” - “And there's no need to consult me? - father boiled with anger - I think that I also have a part in your jewelry.” In the end, mother managed to appease father and brought the case of a robbery that occurred, exactly the same week, in a nearby town. “It is better that this treasure will be used for the building of a Hebrew University in Jerusalem instead of falling into the hands of robbers!”

[Page 200]

Mother was only sorry about one item: the necklace, a souvenir from her mother that she had given hastily. She was especially hurt when she learned that the jewelry, which was donated by the women of Bessarabia, was sold at public auction in Kishinev - “if only I'd known about it - she claimed - I would have paid any price to redeem the necklaces that I've received as a gift from my mother.”

Mother calmed down after she received an explanation from Eliezer Haysiner. Indeed, her activities were focused on helping the “needy and the ill-fated,” but her heart and her pocket were opened to everything that was related to Eretz-Yisrael. She bequeathed us, the children, this attitude and didn't object that each one of us belonged to a different Zionist youth movement. When we sat together around the table we used to break out in debates, and the house was in “turmoil.”

So was mother, and this is how she'll be remembered. It's a shame that she wasn't able to fulfill her dream and immigrate to Israel. She perished in the Holocaust together with all the family members who remained abroad. She was killed when they encountered a German military camp during their escape.

 

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