by Rose Shoshana
Translated by Pamela Russ
by Rose Shoshana
Translated by Pamela Russ
In the holy memory of my mother, Hinda Brawarska-Mozer, who was killed by the Hitler murderers.
My mother was a widow for many years, and did not want to marry a second time. She spent her young years, dark and alone, because she didn't want to give us her little children, a stepfather.
Only when I was a young girl and chose to marry the publisher Lazar Kahan, may his murderers' blood be avenged, did my mother marry a Gostynin resident. And so she became a Gostyniner, and that's how I became tied to Gostynin.
I fell in love with the beautiful, clean town of Gostynin. I remember until today the lovely and powerful impression the town made on me the first time that I came to Gostynin. The cleanliness of the houses and the streets, the beautifully dressed women completely different from the other provincial towns. Like a queen's daughter, a princess, is how Gostynin looked in my eyes. And as I would come there more often, I was sure that I had not been wrong, and that my first impressions had been right.
Gostynin was a lot more intelligent than other Jewish towns of the same size that time in Poland.
Maybe this was because there was a gymnasium and officer school in Gostynin. The city was full of students from the surrounding cities, and even from larger cities. Students came to Gostynin to study in the gymnasium because it was easier to get in there than in other larger cities.
Gostynin actually also earned a livelihood from these students. They were given board, food was cooked for them, and the cooks even had a chance to eat these meals as well.
|From right: Rose Shoshana, her sister Chava Bresler (who was killed), her mother Hinda Mozer from Gostynin, her grandmother Chana Jakobowicz, and her brother Philip|
I see that large gymnasium on Kutner Sreet, a building that would have been proud to stand on any street in the largest city in Poland. Kutner Street could have told many tales, because it stretched for many streets behind the city where it turned into a highway, covered on both sides by dense trees that hid the deepness of the forest in which the youth loved to stroll.
How romantic and beautiful was the Kutner highway on a Shabbos afternoon when the city's youth
would go for walks. The Gostynin forest could also have told many tales about all the discussions that took place there, and about lucky and unlucky love. We were young, young with emotion, and yet we were hunched over with the yoke of seriousness. The youth of that time, and that includes those of Gostynin, was filled with obligations and responsibilities; they were not as carefree as today's youth.
The strolls on the mountain of mountains, the long, black peat fields, the four-cornered trimmed pieces of peat (heating material with which they used to heat the ovens) that were spread out across the fields to dry, accompany me without end when I remember myself in Gostynin.
Now I see them, the temperamental youth, during discussions about the theater and about other problems.
Now I see them the religious Jews, during heated discussions about politics, as they are spread out in a wide row walking after prayers on Shabbos in the wide open market place.
Now I see her, the large, beautiful, proud shul and I see them, the proud Jews.
I see before my eyes the amateurs from Gostynin who loved the theater more than life, who sacrificed themselves for art, fanatics about Jewish theater .
Jewish theater was like air for them, like sustenance, without which one could not exist. They worked tirelessly, rehearsed, studied, and performed in the theater. And they performed well! This was the best amateur troupe from all the surrounding areas, and was there anything they did not perform? Everything was from the better literature, such as: Tchirikov's Jews, Ansky's The Dybbuk, Kobrin's Yankel Boila, Ibsen's Ghosts, Psibisewski's Snow, Sholom Asch's With the Stream, and Yakov Gordon's God, Man, and the Devil.
And if they only sensed that a professional actor was somewhere in the area, they did everything possible
to ensure that this person would come to perform with them, and he ultimately did.
Actually, once they found out that I was visiting my mother and delegations came right over saying that I had to perform with them. My answer that I was only here for a short time made no difference, and soon they put us all to work.
I see before my eyes Adam Domb, who had a photography studio in Gostynin that served more as a meeting place for the amateurs rather than a place of livelihood.
A customer enters, wants to take pictures, but Domb has no time, he first has to end his discussion with us.
When I performed Pinskin's Gabri and the Women, with the Gostynin amateur group, Domb played the male lead roles with me. Later, Adam Domb actually became a professional actor. He left the photography studio that gave him a good livelihood and joined WIKT (Warsaw Jewish Acting Theater), and then later the Vilna acting troupe.
And now I see the provocatively beautiful Pela Sarna, and Zandman and Keller and Yakov Leyb Motel and Shloime Gostinski all, all of them worked for the performance with all their soul, those on stage and those off the stage.
And Yakov Gostinski, what didn't he do for the benefit of the theater! And all the others whose names I cannot remember who always supported the goal of improving the Jewish theater in Gostynin and in the surrounding areas wherever they went.
Now I see the theater, the firemen's coach house on Gombyner Street not far from the shul, a guardhouse, very primitive, but the beloved Jews would flow there in masses to the Yiddish performances.
When I came for a second time to visit Gostynin, and at that time there was also the famous singer and performer Yakov Kelter, well, would the stubborn Gostynin amateurs miss an opportunity like that? They got both of us, and to deny them, these beloved Gostyniners, was impossible so we performed in several one-act plays (understandably without honorarium). Again, they were exceptional both in their acting and in their commitment and love for this project.
And now I see before me the beloved Chana Bagno, Shmuel Keller, and others in Mark Ornstein's The Eternal Song, and in Peretz's After the Burial that we performed at that time.
And this youth was not only busy with activities of the theater, but they were also busy with other cultural activities and projects.
I remember well the warmth of the Gostynin Jews also towards the Polish speakers. The Jews respectfully attended the speeches that were brought from Warsaw and Lodz. My husband as well, the deceased publisher Lazar Kahan, was among those who came to Gostynin with a presentation. How hungry they were for worldly knowledge, they swallowed ideas of Strindberg and his views about which my husband spoke.
Only memories remain .
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