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[Pages 132-133]

Our Theatre

Yizhak Charap, Haifa

Translated by Maya Avis, great–granddaughter

In the aftermath of the First World War, the youth began to dream about the development of a cultural life in our town. In addition to evening gatherings that included a diverse array of programs, they undertook to set up a drama club, and stage performances and the like.

Their project was successful. Droves of enthusiastic young men and women streamed to the club, chose a play and began their rehearsals. You should have seen the youth's dedication, their discipline, their precision, and their aspiration to perform the role to the best possible standard.

The theatre–hall was always full. All the town's honorable citizens, their wives and children would be there to see their “home–grown artists”.

The program included: “The Intelligent”, “The Jewish King Lear”, “Mirele Efrat”, “Hasia the Orphan”, “Der Batlan (Idler)”, and we even attempted “The Dybbuk ”.

Our Jeziernans were impressed by our theatrical accomplishments.

Our performers were:

Chaya Charap, Zisel Goldberg, Fansie Paket, Nuni Paket, Rivka Fuchs, Eti Paket, Dvora Fuchs, Dozi Czaczkes, Lotte Marder, Nusia Blaustein, Aron Charap, Yizhak Charap, Sara Marder, Sheva Fuchs, Chana Marder, Leibush Godfried, Yakov Fuchs, Yizhak Paket, Nusi Blaustein.

The directors were Fansie Blaustein and Yizhak Charap. The prompt was Dozi Czaczkes

Editor's Note:

Photographs of the Theatre Group View Images 136, 137 online http://yizkor.nypl.org/index.php?id=1289


[Pages 134-136]

Rebuilding of the Jezierna Synagogue
and Its Final Destruction

by Lippe Fisher

Translated by Pamela Russ

At the time of the First World War, it is known that many Jewish properties were destroyed by fire at the hands of Russian soldiers; among these was the large shul [synagogue].

This was a two–story high structure, built of brick, with long Gothic–style windows. The roof was covered with zinc sheeting. The entrance was through a wide gate. Inside, there was a foyer that led off to two smaller chapels on both sides; adjacent to those was the entrance to the large shul hall.

The hall was two stories high. Through the long windows, glazed with multi–colored bits of glass, light would stream in, and it was very bright. The walls were painted with pictures and verses from the Bible. In the center of the hall was a podium which one mounted via small steps, surrounded by an artistic metal railing. From the ceiling hung brass chandeliers made with elaborate artistry. The Holy Ark was filled with Torah scrolls. In the shul there were also many Gemaras [Talmuds books of rabbinic commentaries] and other holy books that rested on shelves that were built into the walls.

In 1916, when the Russian army took over the town for the second time, a great panic set in. All the Jews fled with the retreating Austrians and the Jewish homes remained empty. The shul was converted into a stable and later into a hospital where wounded Russian soldiers lay. When the Russian army once again retreated, they first did their “reckoning” with the Jewish buildings. They actually left in a great hurry, but did not forget to set fire to the large, beautiful shul.

***

When the Jews returned after their flight, the economic situation was very difficult and for a few years, the shul remained in its destroyed state. And when the times began to normalize – this was already under the Polish government – the small Jewish community undertook to rebuild the Jezierna shul that was originally built, so they said, in the 1870s.

And it was not so easy for a community of this sort to reconstruct such a building. As they tell it, the Jewish landowner Mendel Jampoler participated greatly in the construction expenditures. There were also “common” people who did not scrimp on their last pennies for the construction. The main reconstruction in the first twenty years, I personally remember well. I remember how the money transactions took place; the community was active in this. The community leader, David Blaustein, of blessed memory, one of the wealthiest Jews in the town, also contributed a lot of money, and he donated bricks from his own brickyard. The walls still actually stood, but a lot of bricks were needed to fix them. When the walls were ready, they had to cover the roof; there was no sheet–metal to cover it … so they assembled the Jewish residents and each homeowner pledged to donate some sheeting; at that time my father gave six metal sheets.

The above–mentioned David Blaustein also sponsored the podium. He gave 600 dollars towards it. It is opportune at this point to mention other Jewish businessmen who were also active in the reconstruction of the shul, such as: Avraham Pakiet (Avrumtche), Sumer (Itamar) Katz, Itzy Lechowicz, Mendel Fischer, Chaim Zottenberg, Moshe Pakiet, and others.

When the shul was completed, there was a great celebration in the town. Jews began to study Torah and to pray there anew. The shul also served as the center for meetings and other cultural events, for Zionist speeches, and so on.

***

This time the shul remained standing for only eighteen years. In 1941, when the German murderers invaded the town, they burned down the shul along with all the holy books. This time, no one rebuilt it… In 1952, when I came to Jezierna from Siberia, on the place of the shul I found a little hill of grass. I walked around it with Azriel Pollak, as if encircling a shrine. A few years later, in 1955, the grasses too were gone. Some non–Jews were standing there pulling apart the foundation... The rocks were used to pave the roads that had been very neglected.

Editor's Note:

Photograph of the new Jezierna synagogue. Image 139 View Image 139 online http://yizkor.nypl.org/index.php?id=1289


[Pages 137-142]

Poets, Writers, Intellectuals, and Performers

Collection M.D

Translated from Hebrew by Simon Godfrey

Translated from Yiddish by Ida Selavan–Schwarcz

Shmuel–Yaakov Imber: [Samuel–Jacob] 1889–1942, Yiddish poet, nephew of Naftali Hertz Imber. Published a few collections of poems, including ”Songs of the Homeland”. The historical poem ‘Esterke’ is famous. He also published critical essays. He was murdered in Warsaw during the Holocaust of Israel. Jewish Encyclopedia edited by Yaakov Pevzner, Jerusalem, 1966 page 30

(Note: During the Holocaust I met Shmuel–Yaakov Imber in Jezierna a number of times. From Jezierna he went to Zolochev where he was murdered. M.D.)

The first emigrant to Eretz Yisrael [Palestine] from Jezierna was the poet Samuel Jacob Imber, in 1912. He lived in Palestine for a while and then returned to Jezierna. He wrote about his impressions of living in Eretz Yisrael in his “Heym Lieder” [Poems of Home] published in Vienna in 1918.

While still a youth, living with his father in Jezierna, he published a small volume, “Vos ich zing un zog” [What I Sing and Say] in Lemberg [Lviv] 1909. The lengthy poem “Esterke” appeared 1911 in the publication “Bildung” [Education] of Stanislow.

In 1914 he published his book “Royznbleter” [Rose Petals], (Vilna: B.A. Kletzkin). In 1920 his book “Viktoria” was published by Neuland, Vienna.

Tsipora Yelin, Jerusalem. (sister of S.J. Imber)

And When I Die…

And when I die, my brother,
And when I die, my friend,
Gather up my merry songs
Gather up today's songs.

And publish them in the nameless book
Poems which are easy to read …
Sell my books, my flowers
To all who are yet young.

Sell my flowers, my books
And put up a simple stone
Thus it will be overgrown quickly
And my bones will rest easy.

(S.J. Imber)

***

Avraham Moshe Fuchs: Born 1890 in Galicia (Jezierna, M.D.). Yiddish story writer and newspaper reporter. In Israel from 1950. Wrote stories about the lives of simple folk in the Jewish villages. ‘Alone’, ‘On the Hill Top’, ‘Jews in the Diaspora’ and others.

(SM page 309)

About A.M. Fuchs see additional list in the book – page 63 – M.D.

Editor's Note: Photograph of the author A.M. Fuchs

View Image 142 online http://yizkor.nypl.org/index.php?id=1289

***

Shlomo Shenhod (Schonhaut): Born 1890 in Galicia (Jezierna, M.D.). Yiddish and Hebrew poet. In Israel from 1936. Initially he wrote poetry in Yiddish and later in Hebrew and published poems in various magazines. Wrote a collection of poems entitled ‘Songs of the Shining Sadness’. Translated several books from Yiddish.

(SM page 392)

“A poet whose poems overflow and he composes them in two languages, which means – this is his emotional need. His internal world is not divided by chance, but by his own order and reason.”

“A poet who witnesses these events seeks means of defense. He seeks escape in stories of other realities, of dreams, to bypass these depths. And because he sees dreams as an escape from the fear and depression of people in our times, he sees it as a rational approach”.

‘Everything vanishes from sight and disappears from vision
Only the dream persists
All our extinguished melodies are reawakened again
With things that will never return –
Exist in a dream.

And there is no permanence
And no life
And no existence
Only in lofty dreams’

(Quotation by Avraham Blatt in ‘Paths of Poets’, Menora Publications, T.A. 1967)

***

I. A. Lisky: Born in Jezierna; Yiddish poet; publisher of the weekly 'The Jewish People' in London.

_____

…thus Lisky writes poetry about Yiddishkeit [Jewishness] in Yiddish, and all his poems which delight the soul, raise it from the dust and give the reader an hour of enjoyment, of belief in a more beautiful and better tomorrow that we are marching toward, that great and peaceful day which the prophets had foretold. All the poems sparkle with love of Israel, with the Land of Israel, with a call for redemption, with freeing ourselves from exile, as well as with love of humanity, of the stranger. “And you shall love the stranger”… Lisky had a profound belief that evil will be overcome, and if we are good and pious we will merit a world of goodness, a world of Sabbath, where the righteous (“and your people are all righteous”) sit and enjoy the light of the Divine Presence, and the Land of Israel will be ours forever. “They will inherit the land forever.”

(S. Z. Shragai)

Bestow Peace

My people raises the flag to you –
Bestow peace,
I stand like a beggar at your door.
I shall not leave empty–handed –
Bestow peace,
My eyes see clearly I am not dreaming.
My people raises the flag to you –
Bestow peace,
The heroes stand at the borders as before
Let the nations hear my cry –
Bestow peace,
My hand will be free of rebuke.
I call to enumerate the people
and the heroes will come from the Diaspora –
Bestow peace,
They will walk hand in hand with their
brothers from the kvutzot
My people goes to defend its land –
Bestow peace,
Give the enemy into its hand.
My people raises the flag to you –
Bestow peace,
I stand like a beggar at your door…

(I.A. Lisky)

***

Dr. Efraim Wasicz: born in Jezierna in 1879. Amongst the founders of the organization of high school students, ‘Zionist Youth’; amongst the organizers of ‘Bar Kochba’ at the University of Vienna. From 1904–5 secretary of the regional committee of Krakow. In 1906 editor of the ‘Tagblatt’ [newspaper]. 1911–1913 editor of the ‘Dror𔃷 in Lvov. 1912–1918 leader of the Scouts. In 1918 during the riots in Lvov, he was a member of the national committee in the city.

In Israel from 1919. Fulfilled important functions as a lawyer in the life of the Yishuv (pre–state Israel). 1920–1931 in Haifa. From 1931 he lived in Jerusalem. From 1930 he became one of the leaders in the Zionist–Revisionist party in Israel.

(Dr. B. Lubotzky: Life of a Zionist Fighter, Jerusalem 1947)

(also see P. 62 about Dr. Wasicz – M.D.)

***

Dr. Reuven [Rubin] Avineri–Kellman: son of Joseph Kellman and grandson of Wolf Fischer – educated Jews. His father was the Chief of the Kasse Kredit Bank in Jezierna. Reuven studied Jewish studies and economics at the University of Berlin and received a doctorate in economics. Published a book on banking in Galicia.

Made Aliya to Palestine in 1937. Served as headmaster of the University High School in Ramat Aviv.

Editor's Note: Photograph of book cover

View Image 145 online http://yizkor.nypl.org/index.php?id=1289

***

Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Mansur, [Manson]: wrote a book ‘Israel will be Blessed Through You’.

(see page 59 in this book)

***

Shmuel Segal: the actor.

His taking up the stage was both adventurous and mischievous, as it involved a conflict with his parents (Segal's father was the first orthodox immigrant from Jezierna – M.D.) and the surroundings in which he was raised and educated. Shmuel Segal was a yeshiva [school of higher religious studies] student from a modern religious family and the grandson of a rabbi who was head of a Talmud–Torah [elementary religious school] in the town of Zloczow in Poland. At the age of 5 years he and his family made aliya to Palestine and settled in Haifa.

During the War of Independence Shmuel took an active role in organizing the Israeli army choirs and was their guiding spirit.

S. Segal traveled through Europe in 1955 and studied for a short while at the 'Central School' (of Music and Drama) in England, taking a special course in acting and voice development.

S. Segal regularly performs on ‘The Voice of Israel’ [radio station] and his performances have been recorded on many gramophone records.

(Yehoshua Yafe–Nof, “Artists in Israel”, publisher ‘Yesod’, Tel Aviv)

Yossi Segal:, the actor is a recognized performer in Israel, the son of Yaakov Segal and brother of Shmuel.


[Pages 146-148]

A Page from a Book of Memories of Jezierna

Lotta Marder–Frankel, New York

Donated by her son Ami Steven Frankel

Years passed by, the children grew up and became adults, revolutionary historical events gave rise to demographic, scientific and political changes. The entire human civilization paid the price for these changes with millions of human victims. The largest sacrifice of all was paid by us – the Jewish Nation – six million martyrs for the mere fact of being Jews.

I am filled with memories of the town where I was born – Jezierna – even though it no longer exists. Father–mother, family members, friends, all died in the Holocaust and are no more. They found their deaths in mass graves which they were forced to dig for themselves with their own hands. The small homes in which they lived, the synagogues in which they prayed – those too are no more. Nothing left.

I now live in the United States of America, among Jews, most of whom left their homes in the old world many years ago. All they know about the horrible holocaust is what they read in newspapers and books about the Holocaust, or from movies. Their social and economic life styles are much improved. To luxurious levels. When I attempt to pour my heart out and share my pain with them, to relieve myself a little – my pain increases due to their lack of comprehension of the depth and size of the disaster. When the pain and longings attack me in their presence, they try to sympathize with my sorrow, even sighing with me, but cannot reach down to the bottom of my crippled spirit. The feeling that I sit alone in my mourning makes my pain so much more difficult to bear.

I was raised and educated in a progressive – traditional Jewish home. My father was a mixture of traditions – education and progress, Judaism and humanity, Torah and general science. He was a brave fighter for justice and freedom in general and for the national home for the Jewish people in particular. In his rousing exhortations he always wanted to raise in his listeners' hearts the need to give thought to the historical lesson they must learn, that there is no chance for Jewish survival in the diaspora for generations. For thousands of years they had been chased, tortured and attacked, endured years of pogroms and being sacrificial offerings, guilt offerings for all the upheavals and changes of regimes that took place in countries not their own.

My father was an active Zionist, who served as the manager of the cooperative Jewish bank in the town. All his energy, all his free time was dedicated to activities for the national rebirth, revival and productivity of the people of Israel.

In this atmosphere we grew up, the three girls – the sisters: Sarah the eldest, myself the undersigned, and my baby sister Hanna. We were all imbued, in Abba and Imma's house, with love for the people of Israel and dedication and active service in the movement for a national revival. We all took active roles in the youth movements in town.

Sarah, a member of the drama club, was the first one to make aliyah to the Land. The first one to fulfill with her own body the ideal we preached. All her life she labored and worked in Israel (her husband too, who actually built the land as a construction worker); she raised two daughters – teachers in Israel, and also died there, before her time.

When I raise that period in my mind's eye … I see at the center of our small town a hill near–by the main road, and on top of that hill sits a small house, that was the community center called “HATIKVAH”. Here in that house was centered all of the “Zionist life” of the town, especially of the local youth. Here they organized courses to study the Hebrew language and geography of Eretz Yisrael; here they had lectures and participated in heated debates, celebrated parties; here side–by–side were the “General Zionists”, "the Noar ha'Zioni" and members of the Gordonia youth movement.

In 1930, under the initiative of Aharon Charap and Meltchi Schwager, may their memories be blessed, the Revisionist Organization was founded. Their club was situated in the home of David Fuchs. There too, there were lectures and debates. Our movement supported self–fulfillment, to physically participate in the building of a democratic, progressive Jewish state, and indeed many of us moved to Israel, myself included amongst those.

I clearly remember my friends in Gordonia: Altman, Pulwer, Bik, Lippe Fischer and others, how deep their dedication and enthusiasm was for the ideal. Where are they now? Where are the two Pulwer sisters? Where is the head director of our movement Dr. Litwak? They were all murdered by the Nazis. Could there be a greater pain than that? A deeper sorrow than that?

I remember the 20th of the month of Tammuz at our club–house. We decided to celebrate that day with the most extravagance. We wanted our club to look the best of them all and there was much excitement in the air. We decorated the place, each of us brought something special for that purpose. We hung posters, invited guests, had meetings in study halls, held lectures, recited poetry, composed and sang songs. It was a big holiday for us. The club was packed full, tens of people stayed outside, looking in through the windows for lack of more space. I remember the loud singing of Hatikva which burst out of the club and spread throughout the town. Even the non–Jews stood there in awe and listened. For a whole week later all were talking about our celebration of the 20th of Tammuz. The impression in town was great, and we were all so proud and satisfied.

Oh, our debates! So young we were and our debates were heated and exciting. And about what? What will be the appearance of the state to be established in the Land; how should it be built and what position it will hold in the advanced world? Each of us believed in his own plan and only the concept that we designed for the state would be the right and justified one, all the others have nothing to rely on, and the right one is his alone.

My father and I – we stood on opposite sides of the aisle politically speaking, with conflicting points of view. Between us there were also arguments where each tried to convince the other that he or she is right, but in the end, my father remained “Abba” and I, his daughter, kept the mitzvah of respecting father.

Not all had the chance of making it, to live in the State of Israel. Their eyes did not see the realization of their dream, for which they fought and dreamt with the fire of their youth.

I believe and am also confident, that when they were led to their death, standing in front of the mass graves, they still believed that this dream of the rebirth and survival of the people of Israel in their own land would come true, that it would rise again, and they perished with that belief. May their memory be blessed in our hearts for ever.

 

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