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Chapter 1 (cont.)

[Pages 52 - 54]

Siaudine (Shaudine) - Yurburg's Neighbor

By Meir Leibush

Translated by Irene Emodi, Tel Aviv

After World War I the Baltic states, including Lithuania, gained independence.

Prior to independence, Lithuania was divided into two regions - Zemaitija and Aukstaitija. They had two different laws. While the Napoleon Codex prevailed in Aukstaitija, the Russian law prevailed in Zemaitija, up to Napoleon's time (1812).

The little town of Shaudine was situated in the Aukstaitija region, near the Neman, thelargest river in Lithuania. On the other side of the Neman was Yurburg, in the Zemaitija region. Most Shaudine residents were hardworking Jews, who worked in small trade and tilled the land. In fact, the Jews of Shaudine acted as go-between between the Shaudine farmers and the merchants fromYurburg.

About 40 Jewish families lived in Shaudine in the past, about 220 people. A few other families also lived in town, who were of German origin, and the others were Lithuanians. There was only one small plant in the town, for combing and processing sheep wool destined for the weaving of threads, to enable the farmers to knit gloves, stockings, vests etc. in the long winter nights.

When the economic and cultural situation of the Lithuanians improved, nationalism started to raise its head among the Lithuanian leadership, and this was reflected by trying to remove Jewish merchants from their economic positions, thus affecting their economic situation.

For this and for other reasons people started to leave our town - some went on alyiah to Israel in the framework of "Hehalutz" (Pioneers), others emigrated to the United States. When one family member emigrated to the U.S., he would be followed by his family and relatives. Thus it came about that many Jews from Shaudine were concentrated in one town - El Paso, Texas, Arizona (and New Mexico &endash; noted added by Joel Alpert).

Shaudine, like most other towns in Lithuania, looked very poor. The houses were built of wooden logs and most of the roofs were covered in straw. Perhaps that accounted for the Lithuanian name for our town (straw town. .. .) . The government did not invest any money in developing our little town or other towns for that matter.

The streets were not paved. In summer the sand land was swampy and each carriage that passed through the street would leave clouds of dust behind it. In fall the rain would turn the streets into mud and the carriages would drown in the mud up to their axis.

After the rainy fall came the cold winter. The snow covered everything in a white blanket. The only means of transportation out of town was the winter coach drawn by two horses. The link with the little town of Shaki, about 20 km. (15 miles) away, took half an hour to an hour in winter and in fall, during the rainy season, it took three hours. To Kovna one would travel in sledges, along the frozen Neman, and the connection with Yurburg was the easiest - one would cross the Neman in a winter carriage or on foot and be there in no time.

The Shaudine residents waited for the coming of spring for many months. Spring was the most beautiful and nicest period of the year. When the first sun's rays appeared on the horizon everyone would be glad. The snow melted and the land would change. The ice on the Neman melted too. Large blocks of ice started to move down the river. Sometimes these blocks of ice would stop somewhere, accumulate and together form a kind of huge and threatening iceberg (ice dam)… at the same time the water of the Neman would flow over the shore, inundate the town and cause serious damage to the population. After a while, sometimes after a couple of days, the ice dam would collapse and the "dam" would burst to let through the blocks of ice and the streaming water. Then life would return to normal and timber rafts would sail along the river for the German paper industry. The connection with Yurburg would be renewed. Again it would be possible to get to Yurburg by ferry. The students would now cross the Neman each day on the ferry to attend Yurburg's institutions of education.

It is noteworthy that the parents were glad to see their sons and daughters make progress in their studies at the gymnasium (in Yurburg) and that they were proud of their achievements. In spite of their poverty, the parents in Shaudine would make great efforts to send their children to the gymnasium, even when tuition fees were high and beyond their capacity. Some parents did not merely provide studies at the gymnasium, but even sent their children to institutions of higher education, such as medical studies in Italy and at other universities. My family, the Leibush family, sent my brother to study at the "Herzlia" Gymnasium in Tel Aviv when he was merely thirteen years old. My sister studied at the nurses school in Kovna. I myself and my sister studied at the gymnasium in Yurburg.

Zalman Leibush, our relative, studied at the Kovna gymnasium and at the same time took part in the drama circle of "Habima", which was guided by actors from Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), such as Michael Gur, Rafael Zvi, Miriam Bernstein-Cohen and others. When Zalman Leibush went to Israel he became a famous actor and producer.

As a matter of fact, all the youngsters in Shaudine wanted to study at the gymnasium and the university and their parents made extreme efforts to send them there, even when at home they merely ate herring, dipping bread and boiled potatoes into the salt water in the barrel. That is what many parents ate during most of the days of the week. The most important aim was that their children would study and acquire learning and intelligence. The Shaudinians were very proud of the fact that one of their sons, Shimon Volovitzky, became the mayor of Kybartai, a large town on the German border. The fact that their sons and daughters became more educated was compensation for the hard work and suffering of the parents.

(Kybartai was not a large town and Shimon Volovitzky was never the mayor of the town, he was for some years a member in the Municipality Council-J. Rosin)

We should also mention the beautiful and impressive landscape around our town - lawns, orchards, grain fields and green forests. It was a typical rural landscape, with a pastoral atmosphere, heart-warming. But the Jews of Shaudine did not have time to enjoy the scenery, for they toiled from morning till night, and if they went out into the country they used their time to gather berries, mushrooms, weeds for soup and fruit in season - in order to prepare for winter. All those who went on an outing knew that at home a few hungry mouths were waiting for them and all "ownerless" food would fill the empty stomachs. Therefore each outing had a purpose and was not merely a pleasure trip …

*

We have spoken about the Jews in our little town of Shaudine. Jews who lived there for hundreds of years with their dreams and their hopes. Jews in heart and soul, they prayed and believed. They worked hard to make a living, brought up their children and taught them religion and knowledge.

These were innocent Jews, with human values, they did not have the good fortune to enjoy the success of their offspring, and one sad day they were uprooted and were cruelly destroyed by the Nazis and their barbaric Lithuanian helpers.

Only few managed to go to Israel, before the Holocaust, and only one person remained in Shaudine after the Holocaust, who emigrated to Israel. Those born in Shaudine fondly remember the Jews of their town who are no longer.


[Pages 55 - 65]

Yurburg - Regional Trade Center

Hinda Levinberg (Beker) Translated from Yiddish (into Hebrew) and edited - Paz

Translated by Irene Emodi, Tel Aviv

Yurburg was an important regional center for trade and transport. There were close trade ties with neighboring Germany. Merchants from Yurburg exported farm products to Germany which greatly needed them, such as: linen, corn, eggs, butter, fruit, poultry, hides etc. The main export was timber used as raw material for the paper and celluloid industry. Herring was imported from Holland and Germany and coal from the mines in Silezia, iron, steel and various machinery.

Agents-commisionaries handled the foreign trade relations, trading between the merchants in Yurburg and trading companies and the industrial plants abroad. Among the trade agents in Yurburg we remember Yitzhak (Itzik) Karnovsky and Shlomo Chanas. The agents in Yurburg made a handsome profit through their trading. In the 1920s a large group of exporters operated in Yurburg, unparalleled in the other Lithuanian towns which were far away from the German border and west-European countries. The exporters bought farming products from the traders who would go to the villages and buy direct from the farmers. An entire network of small and large traders served the export carried out by exporters who were greatly respected in Yurburg. Well-known exporters were Leib (Leon) Bernstein and Efraim Haselowitz, who, by the way, were related. They both had large warehouses for processing linen, combing, refining for export. Leib (Leon) Bernstein was an expert in the linen business, a man with vision and initiative, who inspired considerable confidence abroad. In his warehouses were machines and combs with iron teeth, which would comb and improve the quality of the linen. Tens of workers prepared the shipments, mainly to Germany and Great Britain, from which linen threads were made for the weaving of cloth. After a while Bernstein expanded the scope of his linen export business called "Semilinas". In recognition for his extensive activity L. Bernstein was elected to the government trade bureau - "Handels-Kammer" in Yiddish. He traveled abroad frequently and had trade relations with many countries in western Europe.

The government granted "Semilinas" the special right to deal in export, while this right was not granted to other exporters. However, this license was limited to the Shavl region only. This went on till the revolution when the U.S.S.R. entered Lithuania. (in 1940 -J.R.)

In addition to linen, the exporters in Yurburg also dealt in linen seeds, from which oil was produced. The linen seeds were carefully measured in a sieve (large volume) in order to send them in bags abroad. Thus large shipments of produce were sent abroad, mainly to Germany.

In 1921 an exporters company was established in Yurburg, after lengthy negotiations, in order to prevent competition among the export traders - the EXPORT -HANDEL COMPANY. In addition to preventing competition, the company also aimed at expanding the scope of trade activities and improve ways and means of export.

Michael Lashatz was elected Chairman of the "Export-Handel", he was the most senior member. For efficiency sake the activities were divided into three sections, each specializing in a different field.

A. The linen and linen seeds section - headed by Yehuda Leib (Alter) Petrikansky.

Members of the section: Michael Lashatz, Yacov-Shlomo Weinberg, Hirsch Weinberg. The produce was sent for processing to Memel and from there to Manchester (Great Britain).

B. The harvest, eggs and hides section - headed by Yehuda (Yudel) Mintzer.

Members of the section: Kobelkovsky, Mordehai Levin, Menahem Levin. The farming produce was mainly sent to Hamburg (Germany); the hides of animals such as foxes, rabbits and martens were sent to Fraenkel's factory in Shavl and in part abroad.

C. The timber section -headed by Israel Levinberg.

Members of the section: David Karabelnik, Ossip Rabinowitz, Haim-Reuven Danilevitz, Zeev (Velvel) Levin. The produce was sent to Memel, Tilzit and Koenigsberg (Germany). Treasurer and Manager - Dov (Berel) Levinberg. Bookkeeper - Nahum Triberg.

The company operated and expanded economic activity in Yurburg; it allowed many small traders and merchants to make a profit.The company saw its task as a blessing. Trade was in many millions of Litas (the official currency, a sort of Sheqel or Dollar).

At the end of 1928 the activity of the "Export-Handel" company came to an end, when the Lithuanian government decided to nationalize all the import/export businesses. Traders in Lithuania in general, and in Yurburg in particular, could not cope with this anti-Semitic decree and lost a lot of money, many of them became very poor. All the alternatives to export were useless. The cruel deprivation continued till the bitter end arrived for Lithuanian Jews in 1941.

In addition to the commercial activity of "Export Handel" at the time, traders from outside the company also dealt in export, like Shmaryahu (Shmerl) Poliak,who exported geese to the U.K. The shipments were carried out on rafts. The geese shipments were called "musical transport" in Yurburg, for the geese "sang" with their throaty voices, making a lot of noise …

Other traders sent turkeys to England before the Christian holidays, at the end of the year. Fruit was packed into crates. The winter apples were wrapped separately in paper before they were put into crates which were sent to Germany. Many workers were employed in egg shipments, for each egg had to be checked separately in candle light or under electrical lighting whether it was fresh, did not have any cracks and did not have a drop of blood… The checked eggs, fit for shipment, were packed into special crates earmarked for export. Traders also dealt in pig-hair, which was combed and cleaned before being shipped abroad. Work was hard and full of dust. In the storeroom of one of the traders there were no windows and the doors were closed. The workers asked the trader to open the door a little to let the air in, but the trader refused, claiming the wind might blow away the pig hair… pig hair was much in demand abroad and was good business.

In the winter months, when export of farming produce, such as fruit etc. came to a halt, the traders dealt in wood and employed many workers. The trees had to be chopped, sent to the saw mill and prepared for spring, when the ice on the Neman melted and it was possible to send the wood on rafts abroad. There were large forests in the surroundings of Yurburg that produced the wood that was in great demand abroad for the factories where paper and celluloid were produced. Many families made a living in Yurburg from the forests and the trees. This situation continued until the crisis arrived that eliminated the livelihood of the traders in Yurburg and in Lithuania in general.

The Jews mainly made a living ( "Parnoses" in Yiddish) on trade, groceries, mediation and crafts. The Jews were mainly occupied in "trivial deals" ("Wind-Gescheften" in Yiddish) on which they made a living, some better some worse.

The question arises whether Jews in Yurburg and in general also tilled the land? The answer is no. Only a few took a small part in tilling the land. There were Jews in Yurburg who rented fruit and vegetable gardens in spring and summer, invested some work in them, sold the fruit and vegetables they produced and that was that.

A number of Jews in Yurburg should be mentioned who tilled an area of land they leased from the municipality, called Zarda ("Die Zarde" in Yiddish). This was an area of land from the shores of the Neman to the town's buildings. The land of the Zarda was fertile and suitable for growing vegetables. Families who were thus occupied enjoyed their work and made a handsome profit.

In fall the rain water was absorbed into the land of the Zarda and in winter the entire area was covered by snow. When the snow melted the water of the Neman flooded the Zarda and enriched its land with organic materials which benefited the gardens for the planting of vegetables in spring. This good earth would produce an abundance of vegetables, mainly potatoes. Thus the owners of the plots were rewarded for their hard work. Although the work was hard, those who tilled the plots and their family got attached to their land and thought of it as creation. However, they were unusual "farmers", and they were but few, unfortunately. The Jews who worked the land proved beyond any doubt that they were capable of being real farmers.

In general, Jews were not inclined to turn to farming as a source of livelihood. In addition to work on the Zarda, there were a few Jews who dealt in farming as an suppliment to their profession earnings for the upkeep of their family.We know that Jews from the east of town kept one or two cows. In the morning, in summer, the cow-herds (non-Jewish) would come and collect the cows and take them out to pasture. In winter the Jews would be assisted by herders who helped them take care of the cows in the small sheds. The cow-owners enjoyed fresh milk for their children and a little cheese and cream, but it was not possible to make a good living on this.

A small number of Jews had yards with small gardens for growing vegetables, and a small poultry-pen to provide fresh eggs. This was but a hint of farming, not more.

The Jews of Yurburg, as in all the towns of Lithuania were not close to the land and had to deal in trade and crafts - that was their destiny in the Diaspora.

"Heaven and earth" existed in all the towns of Lithuania, but in Yurburg there were both "heaven and earth" and …the river Neman. And on this river the steamships sailed. The majority of these ship owners were wealthy Jews, residents of Yurburg. Those we remember are Israel Levinberg, Rabinowitz, Feinberg, David Karabelnik and others. The steamships employed many Jews.

Yurburg without ships was unthinkable from the economic and social point of view. The Jews would get up to the sound of the whistles of the ships leaving and would go to bed with the whistles. Their entire life-style was affected by these ships. Two kinds of steamships sailed on the Neman - passenger ships (mainly) and ships transporting cargo and "towing" boats (Baidkes in Yiddish). The cargo ships would carry merchandise from Kovna to Memel, Tilzit and Koenigsberg. Yurburg was an important passageway. The cargo ships sailed day and night. On these ships the Yurburg merchants would send their wares abroad. The cargo ship owners made a good living, without being particularly noticed by the population. On the other hand, the steamships carrying passengers ("Passagieren" in Yiddish) were definitely noticed. Everyone needed the steamships. Some for business and others for cultural and social activities, to visit relatives, go on excursions etc. All the inhabitants of Yurburg were attracted to the large town of Kovna, and to Memel (Klaipeda). When the ships sailed to and from Kovna they would stop at a number of little towns on the shores of the Neman. When the ships stopped, passengers could go down and it was possible to take on new passengers.

The steamships therefore were the Yurburg residents' most important means of transport. The train station was tens of kilometers away from Yurburg, on a difficult dirt road. That is why the Jews of Yurburg and the other small towns on the shores of the Neman only used the ships, like the Christian Lithuanians, though many of these would travel in coaches.

The owners of large coaches in Yurburg would compete with the cargo ships by transporting goods to and from Kovna at an inexpensive rate. To those traveling to Memel the coachmen would offer a cheap trip to Smalinikai, in order to travel on from there in the narrow train to Memel.

Due to the fact that the Yurburg residents traveled to Kovna on ships, the authorities did not pave a road to Kovna, which was the capital in the period between the two World Wars. The trip by boat to Kovna was sometimes a little tiring - upwards stream - 6-8 hours of sailing and back to Yurburg - downwards stream - merely 5-6 hours. The passengers usually enjoyed the trip. They usually sat on the deck of the ship watching the beautiful, pastoral landscape go by. When one had to travel to Kovna, one would leave on the ship late in the evening and arrive in Kovna early in the morning in order to do one's business; in the afternoon one would again board the ship and return to Yurburg in the evening. During their trip at night most passengers would doze in their seats in the passengers lounge or on the ship's deck.

However, wealthy passengers would rent a "cabin" - a small room with a bed. The youngsters loved the boat trip. Organized groups of hundreds of youth movement members would sail from Yurburg in order to meet their friends in Kovna. (The steamships transported 500-600 passengers and more ). The Kovna youngsters would pay a return visit and enjoy Yurburg's splendor, its parks and forests. Some even say its beautiful girls…

"Maccabi" and the sports club "I.A.K." would organize parties in Yurburg and invite their friends to Kovna to have a good time. The young guests would fill Yurburg's streets with joy and fun. From the center of town the youngsters would go to the parks on excursions, and dance to the sound of music, like the "Geguzines" of the Lithuanians. The meetings of the youngsters created a lively youthful atmosphere in town, an exciting experience, fondly remembered.

All the parties took place in the Tel Aviv park, particularly the party of "Maccabi", the national sports movement. To the youngsters the park was the symbol of the link with Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel). The guests were proud and happy that the Yurburg Jews were able to keep a beautiful park and Hebrew Gymnasium, called "Herzl".

No wonder that the Yurburg residents loved the Neman and the ships. They recognized each ship from afar, knew its name - Laisve, Lietuva, Kestutis etc. The Neman and the ships were not merely a source of living but also a source of greater social and cultural life.

Jews would go out onto the pier of the port in order to meet acquaintances, or merely curious Jews to hear the news from Kovna; and as the Lithuanian radio did not mention what was happening in the Jewish world and Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), the Jews hurried to acquire a new newspaper from Kovna and take a look at its headlines in order to satisfy their curiosity. Kovna served as a bridge for the Jews of Yurburg and a cultural connection with the Jewish world. Without this cultural link Yurburg would become a provincial town, without life and vision. But to Kovna, Yurburg also served as a kind of bridge and a link to the western world next to which it was situated (Prussia was just across the Neman river from Yurburg &endash; note added by Joel Alpert) and from which it drew its economic and cultural nourishment. Yurburg and Kovna were like sisters, close to each other, linked by trade and cultural ties.

The relations between the ship owners were usually good. However, from time to time, a quarrel broke out. And then the passengers would enjoy the situation. Each ship would compete with the other and announce a drop in the price of the ticket, and moreover, would promise a bonus . . .. a glass of beer with a roll etc. In the days of the "competition" the number of passengers who traveled back and forth almost free of charge increased. The passengers enjoyed the fierce "competition", but the ship owners lost. Only after all the ship owners became exhausted and lost because of the "competition", they would return and unite, ashamed. After the lust for "competition" was defeated everything returned to normal.

*

In the winter season, days of rain and storm, snow and cold, Yurburg changes its face. The temperature drops to 20 degrees C. below zero ( -6 degrees F.) and lower. People stayed at home. The streets are empty. Yurburg is cut off from the world and becomes a kind of independent republic. The Neman freezes and is covered in a thick layer of ice. The steam ships are gathered together at the mouth of the Mituva river which serves as home port in the winter days. The only transport is the winter coach (the sled). Everyone travels in winter coaches drawn by two horses with bells ringing. People wear sheepskin coats or warm clothes and winter hats which make it difficult to distinguish their faces. At first, this seems very romantic, but only on a short ride. On a long trip it becomes tedious. The ways to Kovna -as to anywhere else - are covered in a thick layer of snow and they constitute a welcome opportunity for the coachmen to transport people and make some money. There were coachmen who traveled to Kovna along the frozen Neman, but this way too was too complicated.

What can one do? Winter comes and goes - man must get used to changing weather conditions. He has no choice.

However, there is no shadow without a light. It is in winter that the farmers often come to the market in order to sell and buy. When there is no work on the land, the farmer has more time, collects his merchandise and comes to the market. It is in winter that business is brisk - and the Jews enjoy the situation. Twice a week - Mondays and Thursdays, there are market days, full of people, a real fair in town. The Jews do good business in their shops and say happily "A Yerid in Shtettel, a mehaye ...."

Life in winter slowly becomes a routine. Export continues - how is that? - There are coachmen and winter coaches. The merchants load the merchandise earmarked for export on the winter coaches and carry it to Smalinikai, a short trip - merely 9 to 10 kms. (6 miles) From here there is no problem to transfer the merchandise from the winter coaches directly onto the railway wagons, traveling to Tilzit and Memel. This is a welcome solution both for the exporters and for the coachmen. Everyone makes a profit.

However, there are many Jews in Yurburg who are left without a way of making a living in the winter months and they have to find other sources. There is no choice, if they don't find what they want they have to make do with what there is; and thus they pass the winter, each year, until the much awaited spring arrives.

*

The winter months are very long in the minds of the people. Therefore the Jews in Yurburg try to make the best of it and increase social and cultural activity. People are more willing to read a book and the librarians have a full time job. Newspapers are being read as well as journals; some people play chess, others play cards, whatever they fancy. The winter evenings start at four o'clock in the afternoon and everyone has to find something to do in the long evening.

Some people go to the movies and others to study circles. The local drama circle is active and presents plays in Yiddish. Usually an actor or singer are invited to a cultural evening to provide entertainment for the Jews of Yurburg and its surroundings. An important event took take place when a drama group from Kovna was invited. That was a real treat for theater lovers. By the way, all these events took place in Yiddish.

In winter, when the inhabitants were cut off from Kovna, every cultural-artistic event would be welcomed in town. Many activities were devoted to social causes. Tickets were sold and the proceeds were given to local charity institutions. Sometimes a lottery was held. The parties also became active in winter, held lectures and debates - and if this was the year of the Zionist Congress - the debates were very lively. There were activities on behalf of the national funds as well. And if an emissary arrived from Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) or a Zionist leader, this was an important and popular event in Yurburg. The youth movements also increased their activities in winter at their clubs. They played snow- ball and had a good time …

On days when it was not too cold and the sun would shine through, adults, children and youngsters would go for a walk in the surroundings. They would walk in the snowy forests, climb mountains and slide down the slopes. Others would visit friends in the Lithuanian villages, and were warmly received. The youngsters would skate on the frozen rivers, fall down and get up again to the laughter of the bystanders … it was good to be young in winter, as in all the other seasons …

*

Everything comes to an end, even the long winter. It gets less cold. The sun rays become warmer and warmer. The land slowly unwraps its white "cloak" and becomes covered in green. Soon spring arrives with its colors and enchanting smells; it bursts into the yards and the homes. Life changes. Winter clothes are discarded and everyone gets ready to go about his business. Nature wakes up and so does man - towards the renewed life.

Spring is nice, very nice, but there are special "spring problems" too in Yurburg, sometimes they are very serious. As mentioned before, Yurburg has the Neman, which is usually a blessing, but in spring it sometimes becomes a curse. What happens? This is the story - when the ice on the Neman starts to melt and large blocks of ice flow along the stream they sometimes form a "traffic jam"; a kind of huge iceberg is created which blocks the giant stream of water and causes the Neman to overflow. The water floods the streets that are close to the Neman and enters the houses. The flood is expected in spring each year, but the inhabitants are sure that "this year it will not happen". However, it does happen. The flood causes tremendous damage to the people in the houses that are close to the Neman and are flooded. Imagine you wake up one morning to find yourself in a room full of water; in the yard and the storerooms there is water too; destruction is extensive and so is the damage.

Within hours people are bereft of their belongings and many families are left without anything. Although the municipality helped defray in the heavy financial costs of the inhabitants and the community committee donates its part to the assistance fund, this does not solve the complicated problems each family faces when their home is destroyed. Sometimes the people themselves would get organized and set up their own assistance fund to repair the damage. The rescue action was praiseworthy but those who were affected did not forget the tragedy for a long time.

Luckily the catastrophic flood and destruction did not recur every year.

The only people to enjoy the flood were the children who sailed on planks and wooden boards through the streets and among the houses, happy and merry. However, the "financial disaster" and the broken hearts belonged to the parents. . ..

*

After a few days of suffering the flood subsided. As suddenly as it had come it disappeared. Sun-rays brought a smile to the faces. Spring gradually healed the wounds and life returned to normal. The homes were renovated and optimism returned. Many days after the flood the Jews would still talk about it and tell grossly exaggerated tales. The flood was a popular subject among gossip tellers, chatterboxes, and fabricators, who told all sorts of stories about the flood and in general.

There was someone in Yurburg called Elia (Eliahu) Hamalagos (the fabricator) who told the following story:

"It was at the time of Sylvester (Christian New Year) when he, Elia Baruch, traveled on the winter coach drawn by two strong horses on the ice of the Neman. All of a sudden the ice started to crack and explode and the carriage started to sink in the water …

Elia started to yell at the top of his voice: "Gevald! Help! Gevald Help!"

The farmers who were harvesting on the shore of the Neman heard his cries…

The farmers hurried to the river, climbed onto the ice and with their sickles they tugged and tugged and saved Elia and the winter coach with the horses . . . "

As far as the floods in spring were concerned, which brought destruction to many families in Yurburg, many entertaining stories were told, such as the following:

"One story-teller (Malagos) said that during the flood in Yurburg he saw a house rise and float on the water and on the chimney of the house stood a hen shrieking koo -koo-ree-koo, koo-koo-ree-koo


Stories and jokes, truth and imagination, seriousness and light-mindedness, tears and laughter - mingle in our stories, reflecting the nature of our life in Yurburg, our town.


[Pages 66 - 67]

Jewish Occupations in Yurburg *

Translated by Irene Emodi, Tel Aviv

The majority of the Jews in Yurburg dealt in the trades. Others were members of the free professions, clerks, craftsmen, etc. Unfortunately, we do not have the full list of the occupations of the Jews in Yurburg and we can only provide a partial list, as follows:

Exporters - traders


Importers-traders


Traders -peddlers - suppliers to exporters


Meat traders - supply of meat to Kovna and abroad


Agriculture - small parcels of land


Business owners


Banks and their managers


Physicians


Pharmacies

* Supplementary information to Hinda Levinberg-Becker's article Return


[Pages 68 - 70]

I Remember

By Zebulon Poran

Translated by Rosi Sherman-Gordon, Mexico City

I remember my pretty little shtetl
Between the flowing clean waters
Between the marvelous and grand
From our more important dreams and our values

I remember the gardens and the fields
I see the mountains and the valleys
Where we spend our youthful years

I remember the shtetl and her streets
Illuminated and full of life
Where Jews use to live very happily

I can still see the synagogue and the Bet Hamidrash
The old Synagogue had the presence of God
And the Bet Hamidrash for prayers and to implore the Lord

I remember the old wood synagogue
The great pride of Yurburg
Our World famous synagogue with its carved wooden Holy Ark
That is my deep memory

I remember the teachings of the Torah
The High School, the elementary school and the Talmud Torah

I remember the scouts from Hashomer Hatzair
And the discussions concerning Zionism and the Sabbath walks

And who does not remember the Achshara Kibbutz
(preparatory training for kibbutz life)
And the youngest ideals from the chalutzim (pioneers)

I remember the library named Mendel
Where the readers were thirsty for knowledge
And the library named Brenner
For the young students that knew Hebrew

I remember the young people who performed in the theater
That the theater artists expressed themselves in the performances

Everyone in the shtetl was happy
Everyone dances, sang songs and were carefree

That way the Zaides and Bobes used to live the way the parents used to like
And strive to live life with happiness and joy

Until the difficult days came
Which were were not prepared for the bleeding lines
They hit us, they killed us
One child shouted in a shutter and horror

In a terrified shout, they finished off the Jews of our shtetl
The end of the world

Oh Yurburg, Oh Yurburg, you are my shtetl, my life
What happened to you, what was the cause
Wild bandits, killing like wild people
They hit, they killed, they buried them without discency

You are now an empty town
There are no Jewish homes, no Jewish beds
Only bodies dispersed around the town
Only dry broken bones!

We will always remember Yurburg with bitter tears
And with deep memories will we miss you

Cursed is the modern Hyman
Cursed is Hitler's name

 

[Page 70]

Design

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