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[Pages 292 – 303]

The Religious Life – Reflections and Memories

Shalom Klinger, Paris

Translated by Morton Lang

Foreword

During my last visit to Israel, I had the opportunity, among other things, to meet with some of my countrymen, who were also my friends in my youth. It is easy to imagine the deep emotions of these meetings with people of practically the same age and a common childhood history, replete with tragic occurrences which had filled our journeys and roads of life. They persuaded me that I too, whose origins were in the same shtetl, Chorostkow, record my past of “once” that belongs to the past and no longer has a present or a future

The literature of our last sacrifice is far from finished according to the principle: the more one repeats the story the more praiseworthy is the special memorial, especially from the perspective of the terrible years of the Shoah which will in due time become more distant from us and one will be able once again to think about and focus in a certain way the memories and events which will appear once again before our eyes and demand that they not be forgotten.

I hope that I shall be able to recreate a picture of our destroyed places of worship and all who affiliated with them and were involved all their lives in pursuing the spiritual and moral behaviour of Jewish population of Chorostkow.

Chorostkow, the town of my birth, where I absorbed the love for the Jewish people and tied myself to its traditions. Where I took my first steps as a “cheder boy”and knotted everlasting friendships with my chaverim (friends), where I developed heartfelt and respectful feelings for the inspiring personalities who left unforgettable traces on my soul.


The Town

Our town numbered approximately 2500 Jewish families: ranging from retailers, merchants, artisans to a few professionals, intelligentsia and employed. There were also the indigent, Torah students, beggars and vagrants (leidikgeiers), along with victims of the Jewish economic structure in prewar Poland.

Jewish life flourished in Chorostkow. There existed always a variety of institutions and organizations that influenced and governed the social, cultural, religious and community life.

The shtetl that was geographically close to the Russian border experienced “hot and cold” suffering from every military conflict which first and foremost affected the Jewish population. WW1, the Ukrainian “lightening war”, the Polish march on Kiev and retreat from there; WW2 with the Soviet grab of Galicia followed by the Nazi occupation, with all its hellish manifestations, buried and destroyed everything worthwhile of our Jewish shtetl, until it disappeared into ash and dust. Regrettably, there is no worthwhile memorial of our unforgettable Jewish community with its exemplary structures and institutions

According to the latest news from a young man from Tarnopol , who was there in Chorostkow ( and later related to me in Israel), the street near the Big Synagogue where my parents lived, is completely devastated. There is nothing left recognizable that someone once lived there. The large synagogue was turned into a wheat storage facility
by the Soviets. All around is a destroyed wasteland without any sign of the once bustling Jewish life in that part of town which was completely wiped out by the terrible storm winds that blew during 1941 – 1945 and tore out the roots of Chorostkow. To add a little oil to the memorial menorah that our townfolk are putting up in Israel in memory of our destroyed shtetl, I assumed the responsibility and will try to add my own writing abilities to the gravestone of the desecrated Jewish Chorostkow.

Synagogues and Chapels

The building of the Big Synagogue, which goes back to grants by Graf (Counts) Levitzky and Sieminskis, is shrouded with a legend which elders in Chorostkow related. The way they told it, the construction of the Shul was begun in the center of town, near the Christian church which the priests did not want to allow – i.e. that a Jewish Synagogue should be near a Christian house of worship. It became necessary to locate it somewhere else where it remained until the vengeful hands of the Nazi enemies of the Jews destroyed it. This synagogue was taller, even towering, over all houses in Chorostkow, which until lately had no house which was more than one storey. In addition the synagogue with its height and magnificent architectural distinction dominated all the houses. It was also noteworthy that the shul was striking in its outward and inner appearance and attracted the attention of every passer by and visitor. Almost every newcomer to our town first went to admire this beautiful building with its lavish paintings by Jewish artists who decorated the Sanctuary. They did this work as a task of honor and regarded it as a privilege.

In the inside of the Shul there was also a chapel where observant Jews prayed with their own special “nusach”((chants) and conducted services according to the ways of the “mitnagdim” (as opposed to Chasidim) . The more ordinary observant Jews had their own little House of Worship, which was known as the Tailors' Shul where there was more prayer than study, but with a 3 times daily minyan.

Friay, before nightfall, the town shamas, Shalom, had a special responsibility to stand at the highest point of the shul building and to call with a specific intonation “Come to Shul. His voice was heard in the entire Jewish quarter , according to reports, announcing the arrival of the Holy Shabbat and that it was time to light candles. Soon could be seen, behind white curtains of Jewish homes , the white little flames of the Shabbat candles, lighted by our own God fearing mothers, with covered heads and eyes and with their gentle white hands and their kosher lips whispering “L'hadlik ner shel Shabbas”. Thus one shed completely the week days and went forward to welcome the Shabbat of the Lord. With a sense of spirituality and festive mood the doorsteps of the lighted synagogues were crossed, with the Gabais in their Shabbat finery already there, their faces radiating joy and pleasure.

I can still see before my eyes the Shul Gabais, Melech Nashis z.l., the stately appearing Jew who went to Shul with pride, just as if he were going to the Temple to pray; the second Gabai, Lipe Bronshtein, the rope maker, a man of honesty and integrity who earned a living from the fruit of his labour. When Friday afternoon arrived, he stopped his daily work punctually and adorned himself in his holiday dress, put on his dress hat, shedding the weekly burden of earning a living and with determined steps went to his workers' synagogue where Jewish craftsmen assembled.

The large gorgeous synagogue structure was surrounded by an iron fence and on the lawn, all weddings were held under an open sky. The klezmer (musicians) would lead the
bride and groom with specific Jewish melodies right up to the Chupah (wedding canopy)' which children with their sweet voices would sing to rhythm and the whole town found itself affected by the occasion – and everyone, adult and child enjoyed themselves.

When someone died, the deceased was also brought to the shul, the hearse stopped at the chapel to eulogize the deceased. From there the body was taken to the cemetery.

Regrettably, nothing is left of either the old or the new cemeteries, because the residents of the area, the anti-Semitic Ukrainians removed the stone markers and made sidewalks with them after which the hateful feet of these murderous monsters walked upon them and the holy writ thereon. The graves too were desecrated so that the dead would have no peace.

I shall try to list from memory the Houses of Worship that existed in our town each of which evokes such deeply emotional recollections.

The Large House of Worship, which stood like a fortress facing the Big Synagogue did not carry the name in vain, because it was truly very large and could accommodate hundreds of worshippers. Lecturers and speakers would come there from time to time, whose objective would be to make propaganda for a variety of Jewishly related issues, e.g. Seim (Parliamentary) elections or Zionist congresses.

Near the Synagogue stood an average building which resembled an ordinary house. At the entrance was a little food store which belonged to Mrs. Chana Weisman. They called her “Chana from the Czortkower Synagogue”. Practically all the worshippers from the neighbourhood were Czortkower Chasidim who observed their prayers and traditions, bound body and soul to their Rebbe. I see before my eyes the appearance of their Gabais each of whom had a striking individual personality. Chaim Hersch Bronshtein eith his brother David; Aaron Wasser with his son “Dudi”, who was a good learner and received “smichah” (certification) for Rabbi; Gershon Epshtein, Abraham Zeiden with his sons and finally, Chaim Shimeom Milrod. None of these named Gabais remained among the living and died “al Kiddush Hashem” (Martyred in the Holy Name)

The Husiatiner Shul was on another street that was a little below the Large Synagogue and the surrounding synagogue and its members were more fanatical Chasidim who fought for “minutiae of the law”in their beliefs. Having separate traditions, they engaged for themselves a halachic judge name Schechter who devoted himself to their kashrut needs and was in fact their spiritual leader. Understandably, this judge did not live in great wealth. His support was very frugal. But he fulfilled their needs with dignity that befits a knowledgeable talmid chacham (student of Torah) and a God fearing individual.

My family lived not far from the Husiatiner synagogue and we prayed there in spite of the fact that my late father was a Kopitchinitser Chasid. This synagogue was shared by the Husiatiner and Kopitchinitser, although the differed in their observance and character. Although the former prided themselves in their ways of fundamentalism and extremism, the latter were more “European” and had understanding of more modern concepts in public observances and Chasidic customs.

Perhaps one should use this opportunity to recall the Chazanim (Cantors) and prayer leaders of the above mentioned synagogue which were built jointly by a limited number of people with shared interests and sometimes worries. It was more than a neighbourly gathering at prayers, because we were bound by long years of friendship and working together in the same place and under the same conditions as Jews, among gentiles, who are trying to guard their heritage as a people of commitment. I remember such dear Jews like Shmuel David with his beautiful white beard. He read the Torah and prayed before the Ark with such obvious skill. We had a distinct pleasure when he read the “Megillah” (Book of Esther) on Purim and the children used their graggers when he mentioned Haman and they could not be silenced for a long, long time. Sometimes they used their graggers until Mordechai caught some of it, so that they literally fulfilled the tradition that one should not be able to tell the difference between cursed Haman and blessed Mordechai. Heldzil Wechsler and his son Fishl were outstanding prayer leaders; my late father, Zvi bar Josef Chayim was also honored to lead prayers on a holyday.

When Simchat Torah arrived, the Kopitchinitser Chasidim were invited to our home where Torah Aliyot were handed out and my father z.l. was honored with Chatan Breishit ( first aliyah in the Torah). With his beautiful melodious voice he used special melodies for the “Brachot” (blessings) and after services we celebrated a festive Lord's welcome for everyone.

It is of equal interest to mention the Tailor's shul. Why it was so named, I do not know to this day because there worshipped only merchants and upstanding individuals (baal habatim), some of whom I still recall. (Please note: perhaps because it was founded by tailors including my grandfather z.l. who was a reputed tailor and my late father z.l. who was a part time tailor and merchant of dry goods and a member from childhood, as I was as a child) They were Feivish Fink, Leibush Weinrib, and Menasheh Felner, -_the religious teacher in the public school and Beadle of the shul, who also served as the“Sheliach Divrey Dinah”, the transmitter of observance rulings of the Law from our Rabbi, the well known Gaon (Scholar) Rav Mesholem Rath of blessed memory. Also the Jew who was known as “Chayim Shamas” who was much beloved for his devotion and humility towards the poor.

As mentioned previously, this synagogue was situated on a hill. So on Lag B'Omer (Arbour Day) the mothers and their children gathered there, bringing with them bagels and eggs and pretended to go from there to Mount Sinai – how the tradition evolved I don't know – but it is one of the noteworthy traditions which was transmitted from generation to generation – and disappeared together with the disappearance of Jewish Chorostkow.

Jewish – Christian Relations

Just like in other towns, the Jews were geographically separated from the gentiles, but one could observe what they are doing. The Jews lived on one side of the brook, Tania which flowed calmly in our town - and on the other side lived the Christians. It was like a border demarcation which separated one part of the population from the other. The Jews went over to the gentiles the entire week to purchase produce. Similarly, the Ukrainians on the other side of the Tania purchased from the Jews clothing, linens and other merchandise. On Saturday, Jews spent the day in synagogues, sanctuaries and their own homes on spiritual matters or at the beautifully covered tables from which emanated the melodies of “Zmirot” (Chants and songs) with a holy loftiness. How different it was with our neighbours on the other side. On Sundays or holidays they came to our part of town in order to live it up in the bar, get very drunk and then get into fistfights while at the same time harassing Jews. However strong Jewish boys were not lacking, who not once used their physical strength, not to attack anyone nor in order to quiet the hot tempers of the drunks, but because the Polish police did not know what to do with them or wanted to get involved with the aroused fighters and left them to their own fate. In the meantime blood poured from the dressed up guests who came to enjoy their day off.

The town had two schochtim (kosher slughterers): Reb Meyer Blautal and Reb Mordechai Wolf Makower. R. Meyer was the town Chazan (cantor) and servrd in the Big Synagogue. He had a superb voice and impressive bearded face. Tall, with a nice black beard adorned his ever smiling countenance. He was also the town Mohel (circumciser), a great specialist in his profession, blessed with a quick hand which brought Jewish children of Chorostkow to the Covenant of Abraham our forefather.

R. Mordechai Wolf prayed in the Czortkower shul and would start late and prayed excessively long. Once, the non-Jewish messenger from the Jewish owner Asher Baruch Klar came to slaughter chickens for his household which was not far from town. The messenger had to wait until R.Mordechai Wolf completed his prayers, but the schochet could not speak the man's language and uttered two words “Pey Herbate”meaning that he still had to drink his cup of tea and then he would slaughter the chickens. But the foreman understood that he was invited to drink tea and began to drink the tea. The schochet saw that the man took away his tea cup, began calling his wife and shouting “Tsiporah, Tsiporah the man is drinking”. From then on the town began spreading the phrase “Tsiporah, Tsiporah pey herbate” (T., T. drink tea) which depicted this comic misunderstanding.

A Solution to Making a Living

An opportunity presents itself to recall a situation that took place with a gentleman in our town, who believed if he comes to shul to pray on Monday and Thursday and is given an aliyah (called to the Torah), it helps him to earn a living and he exerted every effort to be so honored when he was in synagogue. Once he was in the Czortkower shul and the town Rabbi Rappaport was also there. When the Torah was already on the reading table the gabbai enquired if there was a “Cohen” present. This individual immediately identified himself as a candidate for the aliyah, Rav Rappaport was also a “Cohen”. After the reading of the Torah, the Rav called over the Jew and asked him:
“Hersh Mendel since when have you become a 'Cohen'?”
“Rabbi” he says “please excuse me, but this to me is a solution to make a living”.

Understandably, the Rabbi properly ruled and rendered a judgment that for one year Hersh Mendel must not receive an aliyah – as to what concerns a solution to making a living, a Jew can find other ways to do so.

Melamdim (Jewish Teachers) in Town

As soon as a child could begin uttering words, he was taken to a teacher for young children. When he grew older, he was transferred to a Gemorrah teacher. My older brother Zev and I went to the same teacher from childhood and studied together. Because of this, the whole town thought that we were twins. But truthfully that was not so, because there was a difference in age between us. I shall mention several melamdim over whom the angel of forgetfulness had no influence:

The teacher Binyamin and his daughter Chana, who was involved in looking after hi affairs and frequently mixed into his teaching. At this teacher's house chickens walked about on the table because they felt at home amidst adults and children. It was an event for the students when a chicken broke away from the cord that tied it to the chair and ran out into the street. The children started chasing the “deserter”with shouts until they caught her and triumphantly brought it back to the cheder. In the meantime there was a bit of respite from Torah study ….

When one was older and showed an inclination for learning, he went to a teacher of Gemorrah, like the Suchostaver “Rabbi” Beresh, Reibele “Rus”, Duge Freedman, Alter Weber and others. The most difficult day for the students was Thursday when they were examined by their teachers on what they had learned during the week. This was not an easy session because the examiners were Jews knowledgeable in the finer points and asked complicated questions which could not be dismissed with vague or not meaningful answers
On the Fast of Esther (Before Purim) or Tisha B'Av (the 9th of Av), the teachers taught us the appropriate Agudot (scrolls) for the day and ffor holydays explicit passages in the Gemarrah or rules in the Shulchan Aruch (Jewish Code of Law).

Religious Organizations

As in other Jewish communities in Poland of old, there existed a number of organizations and parties of social and even socialist nature, but in discussing religious life of our town, which is the theme of this article, I must first of all mention the religious Zionist movement, “Mizrachi” with their branches “Hashomer Adati”( the Guardians of the Faithful) and the “Bnai Akiva” (Sons of Akiva). Our Chief Rabbi , the Teacher of
Rav Mesholem Rath z.l. (about whom we write in another chapter) was a lifelong supporter of Mizrachi. Chayim Wohl z.l. was the living spirit of Hahomer Adati and B'Nei Akiva (later the director of the Yavneh School in Brod and then Przemysl until the outbreak of WW2). Shlomo Hirsh and Naftali Glickwere exemplary in their dedicated and blessed devotion to the National Mizrachi religious movement.

In later years “Agudat Israel came into being whose founder and guide was Shimeon Schechter, the son of a scholar. For the “Mishniyot” Brotherhod , the leadership came from R. Chuti Feinshtein; R. Leizer Nagler also belonged to the “Mfitzi Torah”in the Husiatiner shul in Chorostkow.

Our Moral and Ethical Instructors

Our Mara d'Atra and ethical guide was the outstanding scholar (Gaon) Rav Mesholem Rath who for 30 years chaired the Rabbinate in Chorostkow. After hat he was engaged as the interpreter of Law in Schatz, Romania and from there was elected to that office in Czernowitz , Bukovina. He did not show up to take over the Spiritual Leadership of Lemberg because WW2 intervened, but miraculously was saved from the Nazi beasts and survived in Israel where he lived until age 70.

(Please note: On page 302 there is a full page photocopy reproduction of a contract to sell “Chametz” before Passover drawn up in Hebrew and signed in the Rabbi's house by about 50+ residents.)

During the years that he lived in Israel he was involved in her internal and external problems. With interest he followed her setbacks and achievements of the day when Statehood was declared. When “Yom HaAtzmaut” arrived he ruled Halachically that on the 5th day of the Jewish month of Iyar, which was voted as a holiday observance for the Jewish people, should also be observed spiritually by the recitation of “ “Hallel”.
According to his belief the well established customs which confirmed that the present miracle by which we were freed from slavery into freedom by proclaiming the Independence of the State of Israel; and the second miracle of saving the State of Israel from the Arab onslaught by means of the War of Independence along with the Jews from the Diaspora. As a result of that came a third miracle of the ingathering of the dispersed. It becomes therefore a mitzvah, in remembrance of these miracles to declare “Yom HaAtzmaut” a Yom Tov (Religious Holiday) and joyful occasion and to recite a Full Hallel.

Shortly before his death, he sent a letter to the World Conference of Religious Nationalists in which he writes in his own hand: “I recall the conference and gathering of our group in which I took part from its earliest years until this day, and blessed be His Holy Name, that we have lived and survived until the present conference when we can witness with our own eyes the emergence of the Government of Israel and the ingathering of our scattered brethren. We must now arise with spirit and accomplishment to consolidate all strength into a single force – this is demanded of us…..”

Such a spiritual personality was our second from last Rabbi in Chorostkow. He was succeeded by Rav Rappaport, a son in law of the Rabbi of Podwolochysk, who was the last one in Chorostkow and breathed his last in holiness and Torah, leaving, along with the holy spirit of our town, to a higher world, experiencing the most physical suffering while carrying the flag of Jewish morality and faith in the triumph of Israel…


[Pages 304 – 307]

Chorostkow As I Remember It

Yitzchak Wiederman / Givatayim

Translated by Morton Lang

Chorostkow was a small town that boasted a City Hall. It was only in the latter years before the outbreak of WW2 that it received the distinction of “miasteczko” (small town.) All government offices were located in the nearby town of Kopyczince: the court, the taxation office, higher municipal organs and the like. A distance of 14Km separated the two towns, which was largely responsible for the difficulties in Corostkow's development.

The most important, if not the single event for the economic survival of the town, was the “Yarid” (weekly market) which took place every Monday. Additionally, when the peasants finished harvesting the fields, the market attracted a large crowd from the nearby and more distant villages. The peasants came to Chorostkow to sell their produce and to purchase the many necessary items of merchandise. At the same time there was much trade in livestock; cattle, horses, pigs, part of which was for export. From that our Jewish brethren of Chorostkow eked out their livelihood .

The town was also well known for its craftsmen, such as, carpenters (particularly for peasant tastes), ironmongers, furriers and hat makers. There was no shortage of wholesale merchants, retailers, yarid migrants and village peddlers. In town where store owners were Jews, one could buy manufactured goods and leather; shoes, haberdashery, clothes and iron goods. Mostly, there were food stores. Yet all in all, these merchants had a hard struggle to earn a living and lived in constant fear of the taxation department which often sent its controllers and investigators.

Chorostkow did not have a trade school or a high school. Only a few individuals went to larger towns to study and some even went on to University.

However, if our town was held back from development in the economic sphere, Jewish cultural and organizational life blossomed and grew to a greater extent than larger communities. We possessed a lending library which from year to year increased it number of books with the best works in the classics. To these worthy Jewish volumes were later added original works in Hebrew, Polish and German literature. All of these 4 languages had its readers among our youth, which, thanks to the library, broadened their education and knowledge.

Along with the library there existed for a period of many years “A Literary, Dramatic Section” which carried out many activities, such as: book reviews, literary critiques of books and authors, evening entertainment – and especially with their own efforts put on plays by Goldfaden, Sholom Aleichem and Sholom Ash. In many instances these plays were of a high caliber.

Understandibly, all of these cultural presentations were not only by local talent. From time to time lecturers visited our town who were informed in their topically rich repertoire of Zionist, literary and political themes, like Meyer Yari, present Knesset Deputy and Mapam representative; Abba Choshi, mayor of Haifa; the writer and dramatist Shalom Anski who described our town in his book “The Destruction of Galicia in WW1.” Here he gathered a few folklore stories and legends wjich he intertwined in his famous drama “The Dibbuk”.

Almost every Zionist group was active in town. The afore mentioned lending library that referred to itself as “Circle”, was thought of as belonging to the entire community, although the main influence in the institution belonged to the “General Zionists”. In opposition to them was the “Hitachdut” whuch regarded itself as the bastion of the local workers and labourers. But in efforts on behalf of Israel, like Keren Kayemet Lisrael (JNF), Keren Haysod, the institution “Ezra” and on behalf of Aliyah, all worked together. The partisan battles began only with book reviews and plays. Not only once did this lead to boycott. With influence and money, each tried to rent the Sokol (Polish Nationalist Sports Club) hall where a decent play could be staged, because there was no other suitable venue. Only later was it possible to buy part of the Rathaus from the Count where the community established its offices. The Circle also obtained a section where they prepared a self serving hall for assemblies and plays.

The young people had their organizations: Gordonia, Hashomer Hatzair, Hanoar Hatzioni, Betar and illegal Communist movements. As for adults, outside the parties they belonged to various organizations, such as: Yad Haruzim (Worker's Bund)' Merchant's Society, with its own “Brotherly Court”, The Gemilut ChJoasadim Bank (Free Loan Bank) and women's societies. The latter conducted philanthropic activities and from the proceeds of various projects helped needy families. And whom to help was never in short supply……

The economic situation of the Jewish population in town worsened when the Poles and Ukrainians launched their anti-Semitic slogan “Swoj do Swego” (Each to his own), buying in their own co-operatives which were founded specifically in order to drive out as many Jews as possible from trade and commerce. The possibility for emigration, just like aliyah, were minimal. Thus town Jews had not only to struggle for their material well being, but had to live in ever present fear and threat because of the hateful anti Jewish politics whether from government organs or the Polish and Ukrainian population.

In such uncertainty the town lived until September 1939, when occupied by the Soviet army. The problem of work or occupation stopped existing for the Jews and everything changed not only economically for the better because the administration of the municipality was almost entirely in Jewish hands. Even the odd policeman under the Russian regime was Jewish. However all organizations disappeared; the Circle was closed, the books scattered or taken away and once again uncertainty, anxiety, tenseness and nervousness set in until June 22, 1941 when the German hordes attacked Russia and Chorostkow was among the first locations to fall into these bestial hands. The Jews were destroyed and they wiped out the flowering political, social and cultural life of a particular small but dynamic Jewish community.


[Pages 308 – 310]

Zionist Activity

Hersh-Mendel Klein / New York

Translated by Morton Lang

When I arrived in Chorostkow as a 16 year old boy I do not recall any Zionist organization or involvement at that time. Perhaps something was being done along those lines, for example in the synagogoue where the students were taught a little Hebrew under the influence of Chayim-Leib Winter or at meetings in the home of Chayim Frish where Zionism was discussed. But regarding specific Zionist efforts I do not remember. Perhaps because I was young and a stranger in town.

Immediately following the end of WW1 when the Jewish world was overwhelmed by the Balfour Declaration, Chorostkow also woke up and took part in the redemption from the Galut (Exile)

The first Zionist group I recall was at the home of Joshuah Leib Weber where Fishl Werber assumed leadership by his active participation. This society called itself Hashomer Hatzair. Later we moved over to a room near the Large Synagogue. Here Fishel Werber shared with us the secrets of “Hitachdut” according to A.D. Gordon and Chaim Arlozoroff. He also demanded discipline from the members – with which I did not agree. Next we moved to a larger location with two rooms at Asher Baruch Klar. Here the serious work began. Practically all young people of our town were drawn into our society.

In order to legalize our activities I went to the county authorities in Kopychintze and with the help of Pinchas Lubianiker and a bribe of several Zlotys received a legalized permission for a literary – cultural society “Hitachdut”. As secretary I kept two Minute Books, one in Jewish where the true records of the activities were kept and the second in Polish where only literary-cultural matters were listed for the government.

The chaverim had their hands full with work. Above the normal organizational work, there were monthly one day efforts to collect for KKL(JNF) and mutual help”Ezra”. Local speakers discussed a variety of topics. There were passionate examinations of the works of Bialik, Achad HaAm, Chernichofsky, Breinen, Mendele, Peretz, Sholom Aleichem and the like. Diligently learned was the geography of Palestine and the words of the Prophets studied. Most of the activity was carried out thanks to the directives of the central office in Lemberg.

Another task was the preparation of the chaverim for aliyah to Israel. In 1921 the first group of Chalutzim left Chorostkow, among them: my brother Avrumke and my wife's brother Mottel Wexler who gave his legal passport to a friend who was not permitted to leave Poland and was the only one to smuggle himself across the border. They caught him and after serving his jail sentence, he left again illegally to Israel. Many dear boys, idealists and chalutzim left town at that time and went through much to reach HaAretz, like Fishel Werber, Shmuel Epstein Aaron Wiedreman z.l., Berel Hersh and others.

I, on the other hand, studied carpentry, got blisters on my hands and prepared myself for aliyah, but Fishel Werber who oversaw the candidates for aliyah in Lemberg, did not allow me for the present to leave our town.

In order to raise the cultural level and education of our chaverim and permit them to fulfill their Jewish and General studies, it was decided to found a library. But to generate meaningful funds for such an enterprise it became necessary to stage plays. Chaverim and chaverot from the drams group worked hard in rehearsals and preparation of decorations and requirements for the plays which were attended by almost the whole town. After such a play, the young people entertained themselves with dances to the tunes of an orchestra. Some of the plays were presentations like “Elishah ben Chzvuyeh”, “Mirele Efros” and other popular dramas. The income from the plays permitted to order in Warsaw shipment of books in Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish. Everyone was very happy when the first book shelf was installed. Munie Messite z.l. donated the shelving and Israel Presser the paint. Not only chaverim borrowed books from the library.

Meetings of the organization and the conduct of general assemblies were carried out in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Feivish Morgenshtern installed a large chess board in the room and bought the chess pieces. Chaverim learned this clever and pleasant game and enjoyed themselves nicely in playing chess. I and my brother Yidl, who died “al Kiddush HaShem (was martyred) became chess players.

During elections to the Polish Seim (Parliament), the movement carried out clandestine political education. Chorostkow's determined participation electing 2 deputies from Hitachdut, Heller and Schwartz. Also in municipal politics Hitachdut helped elect Asher Baruch Klar Community Chairman, because as a worshipper in the Husiatyner shull he was needed for the institution of Moreh Horeh, (Higher education) To conclude I want to mention the names of several chaverim who were active in my time: Fishel Werber, Joseph Lang (my late father z.l.) Buzie Shtern, Munie Messite, Yankel Hirsh, Aaron Wiederman, and particularly – Chayim Yisroel Weisbrodt, Berl Hirsh, Berish Guttman, Benny Feingold and others whose names I cannot recall.

It is already 38 years that I am in America and serving as secretary of the Chorostkower Society for the past 2 years. The work of Hitachdut in my home town will always remain to me dear and loving. That was voluntary labour of love. I still feel today that in a small and local manner, we lighted a fire that brightened the Jewish world and added more than one brick to the building of Eretz Israel.

In 1928 the organization prepared a Farewell Party for my wife Baltshe and I before our departure from Chorostkow. From then on we did not have the opportunity to follow up on the work of Hitachdut.


[Pages 312 – 316]

My Visit To The Town

Aharon Wiederman z.l

Translated by Morton Lang

(From a private letter, written in a humorous vein, after a visit to Chorostkow. Written to his friend Bunes Ashkenazi {“Petrulevitch”} in 1938.)

Binyamina, October,1938
.

Dear Bunes;

I am writing, but I don't know if my letter will arrive; and if yes, whether I will receive an answer. Without “fartei” (being devious), as they say in Chorostkow, I write because I feel like it and maybe because I have to – who knows?

You probably still remember who I am? Our friendship dates back to old times when you were known as Petrulevitch – and I as Aharon Tzitzil; and also during those times when you swallowed books like cold “greaven” (rendered pieces of chicken fat) and I became absorbed body and soul in Fritiof Nansen's trip to the North Pole.

You were a dreamy-eyed dedicated Bundist and I a Zionist at heart. I dreamed of Zion, the Magen David and the beautiful proud Shulamit and the valleys and mountains of Judea and Efraim (Samaria). You were more of a realist and cosmopolitan and for you Marusia also meant much.

In our friendship at that time, we did not impose our views on the various aspects of the world situation on each other and our friendship did not suffer because of that. Our divided loyalties to Marusia and Shulamit was something to be admired. This is but a glance back to old times, but no more than a glimpse when we were young before becoming aged and worn out geezers.

From then until today a “Polish Highway” pulled me from age 14, as the poets say, from the “evening” land to the “morning” land, with the blue skies and shimmering landscape; where Abraham, our father, amused himself with his servant Hagar and his wife yearned for fulfillment; where old Isaac married a youthful Rebecca and where Jacob begged Laban for his daughter. It was to this land that I came at a fortunate time 14 years ago. I spent much time looking for Shulamit. If I was on the mountain, Shulamit grazed her sheep in the valley, if I went to the valley she moved to the mountain. I almost gave up hope and wanted to find you for advice – when I did meet the long sought Shulamit. And a year later a son was born!

You may ask why am I writing to you now? – after so many years? I have often thought about you but I did not know where the spirit led you about. I heard that on occasion you appeared in Chorostkow and left again. They would say that in the “Land of the Rising Sun” you would marry the Mikado's daughter. Only I feared that you should not sometime commit Hara Kiri (Suicide Japanese style).

Two months ago I also made my way to Chorostkow from Israel. I wanted to see if the headstone of my grandfather, Isaac Sloves, did not lean over because of the heavy storms that arrive here from the forests. There I ran into your father's son Saul, a big guy. We were both very pleased. This happened near the white statue of the old town hall. He told me much about you. Also where you are now, even wrote down on a piece of paper your address. Thus I learned that you did not yet commit Hara Kiri, that you are still alive Baruch Ha Shem) and I regarded this as a great stroke of luck for me. You probably want to know what is happening there, what my eyes saw and I will proceed to tell you:

The first citizen of Chorostkow, Moshe-Leizer, the water carrier, I met at the Red Bridge. He says that times are now bad since they dug a well in the market square, because even the well to do citizens secretly pump water during the night. He does not go more than 4 times a day to the well, when at one time he used to transport 20 barrels a day. I tried to cheer him up by telling him that all water carriers in the world do not transport more than 3 barrels a day, but it did not help. His concern is even greater because there is talk of bringing central plumbing to Chorostkow. So, I ask you Bunes Petrulevitch: what are the chances for central plumbing in Chorostkow? If it should get a central water supply then it will no longer be worth while to carry the name Chorostkow (Dried Lake)! Woe to the eyes that will see this. And another thing: What about installing electric lights: out with the lamp lighters, no need for fingers, away with No.8 and 10 lamps. The people of Chorostkow are speaking a language which in our time they would have thought the speaker an intellectual speaking strange words, such as “volt” and “Watt”. And directing all this is our own well known outsider from Husyatin, the electrician of Chorostkow, that only he and no one else installed the “Eternal Light” in our dear town.

The world is going under – the hog farmer Pokatovitch died from worries and misery because of the swinish competition from Peschiah, Morgenshter, a brother of Feivush Tazer and also thanks to Meyer Gelman, today's culture chairman. Woe to our years. They are selling ham openly. We should have lived to see this! Do you recall with what kind “pekuach nefesh”(using the excuse of “saving a soul”, cure an illness) we had to resort to obtain a little ham? And today you go and buy as much as you want, while those few upright individuals are crying and complaining. Abraham Zeidin, a former power in the Czortkower shul, where even on Saturday it is difficult to assemble a “minyan” (10 worshippers), sighs. Yankele Tennenbaum is complaining, the town's crown, the official registrar of certificates; while the young big shots are not even getting married, and even if they do, they are holding off and there is no one to register. Meyer Tzapes is crabbing because no one wants snuff any more, not to mention that he cannot take out the cork from the barrel or to put it back in. He told me that they say in town that he is not older than 75.

A strange development. Mechale, the porter, is the beadle of the Husyatiner shul and successor to town beadle. They say that if the Rabbi resigns, Mechale will take his place. You don't believe this? Of today's Chorostkow you can believe anything. Meyer Leib Tchublik is a big business man in Chorostkow. To you this does not matter. It probably agrees with your world outlook, but when I greeted him “Good day Sir”, within me growled Tchublik, Tchublik (Loony,Loony). Yosl Sperling is Minister President of the so called Worker's Party, “Hitachdut”. I was present and witnessed when you received the face burning slap from Fishl Alter when, heaven preserve us, you lit a cigar on Shabbat.
Blue white ringlets braided into a chain, drawn from one end of the ceiling to the other is the decoration of the hall. David Frishman with the smiling glasses, on one side and Max Nordeau with the combed beard, on the other side. Unbelievable. An old time Zionist, who calls himself Dr. Yechiel Tchlemov , of the left leaning faction , is speaking - the great savior of the then declining Jewish Peoplehood, Dr. Theodor Herzl stands leaning over a bridge looking at people who are climbing a mountain. And there is writing in Chumash language (Biblical Hebrew) “If I forget thee O Jerusalem, may my right hand whither”. In a corner is a blackboard with this message:

“The below named chaverim and chaverot (membership) are urgently requested that their monthly fee along with the money from the last 'shekalim'collection be delivered into the hands of the respected treasurer Moshe Shiah Kumitz, no later than Sunday 8/6. Those who do not feel obligated to the above mentioned rules will be forced to accept party discipline.
By Order”

I also examined the list of party delinquents, but the names were not familiar to me. I was told that they were 100% Chorostkover, but the new generation, born at the time that I was readying to leave town.

Many changes took place in our neighbourhood, for example: Leizer Goldhirsh is a big industrialist, among other things he has a vinegar factory, a soda plant, a cold storage plant that manufactures ice and simply a dealer in the financial market place. Shaya Koenig the well known fur exporter is delivering horses hides. And how about the “big shots”, high government officials and shakers and dealers in foreign exchange. Thanks to their devotion to the Polish government, 4 Chorostkower young men spent two years in the Stanilawow penitentiary and one of them died a week before their release. They say that at the earliest community elections they have intentions to be candidates for Mayor.

For almost two months I trudged through the pleasant Chorostkower mud. The town made a great impression on me as I did on the town. But I cannot rid myself of the impression that the entire Jewish life is in decline. So it appeared to me when one evening I climbed up to the top of the tower of the old dilapidated Rathaus (Town Hall). Everything is falling apart and those who can should save themselves.

I hurried back to Israel-Palestine. Here things do not fall apart only it's very fiery everywhere. Some say that from the conflagration will emerge a strongly forged entity. I have a fine and pretty daughter and a lovely 5 year old son. Write what is new with you, only as quickly as possible. Today it is possible, especially here, that the letter will not reach the addressee. I send greetings to you and your wife. And if you do not have one, I greet your occasional women.
Your Aharon.


[Pages 317 – 321]

About Our People

Moshe Fink / Barsheva

Translated by Morton Lang


Rela and Menashe Felner

The couple, Rela and Menashe Felner were teachers in the government public school (“Powszechny”) in Chorostkow. She taught the lower grades - while he taught mathematics, physics and chemistry in the upper grades. In addition he taught religion to the Jewish children.

Both, government employees, with an assured income and prominent position in town, they nevertheless did not abandon their origins and lived a traditional Jewish life like all Jews in Chorostkow.

The older son studied engineering and the younger daughter, because of the outbreak of WW2, had to disrupt her studies. But both children, like their parents, did not distance themselves from their own people.

Every Saturday one could see Menashe Felner carrying his Talit bag in one hand and with the other hand led his little daughter to synagogue to pray. The son also, when he came home from university, went with his father to shul.

This couple always boasted of their yiddishkeit (Jewishness) and were proud of their heritage and our people. They contributed much to worthwhile Jewish causes and national funds. Menashe was also involved with one of the Zionist organizations in town.

In their profession as teachers, both Menashe and Rela saw a mission, giving much effort and devotion to lead Jewish children into a milieu of knowledge and education. Their students made progress and their parents were pleased with these outstanding teachers who received great recognition from both Jewish and gentile populations. To illustate the specific devotion of this teaching couple, I want to relate this fact:

For the weaker students (among whom I was numbered from time to time) Menashe and Rela invented all kinds of methods. Forcefully, on occasion, even with a slap, but immediately thereafter followed by a whisper into the ear to quietly convince the weaker student that he should study well. This same group of students were astounded when one of their friends in the same class, Moshe Zelzer, these same teachers yreatd entirel differently. Theu did not shout at him and to raise a hand was out of the question; just the opposite – they always coached him, helped him so as not to lert him fail examinations. Only later when we were older did we understand the true intentions of the Felners.

Moshe Zelzer came from poor parents. His father a tailor and his mother a baker, in spite of the two occupations, could not assure an income for a family of six. Their home consisted of two small rooms where they lived and the tailors workshop was housed Menashe Felner knew that he did not have the opportunity to prepare himself for the subjects like other students. That is why he and his wife helped him. Towards me they were very firm, because he and my father were very good friends, sitting next to each other in synagogue while praying and even lived as neighbours.

Rela and Menashe are deeply etched in the memories of the children of Chorostkow – and their names will always be remembered for good.

( I can only attest further to the tributes to this wonderful teaching couple because I was one of their students before I left Chorostkow and even as a child admired and respected them deeply. I can add further that Menashe Felner was a member of the same synagogue as my father z.l. and he had a seat on the Eastern wall next to a window through which he kept a close eye on us youngsters .If we stayed outside too long on a Shabbat morning, a strict look from him or a small gesture brought us all scurrying back inside to be greeted by a smile of approval from him.)


Yisroel – Avraham, the Melamed. (Jewish Teacher)

The Husyatiner chasid Yisroel – Avraham was known as an observant Jew and God fearing person. Like the Rabbi, Hebrew teachers did not have a comfortable income under Polish sovereignty. On every occasion of a circumcision, a yahrzeit (anniversary of a death), a wedding or any other joyous event he liked to take a drink, but not to get drunk, God forbid, but enough to be able to wish all he Jews around him sincere and heartfelt wishes,while at the same time strongly grasping a hand and held it for a long time. – Everything good for all of Israel, a speedy redemption for the Jewish people and gainful employment for all. As a child witnessing these blessings from a melamed, I believed that by the next day it will all come to pass because he spoke with such conviction and faith.

Yisroel – Avraham became very famous in our town on a certain Purim – tomake it short this is what happened.:

At the Purim Seudah (banquet) of the Husyatiner Chasidim and piece goods merchants in which Shlome Feingold his close and more distant relatives took part, along with friends and neighbours, Reb Yisroel – Avraham also came. Suddenly the door opens and a masked chasid enters. He sat down at the table near our melemed, drank a l'chaim (to life) and wished everything good (kol tov). The people now were interested to know who this guest was , but he absolutely re fused to take off his mask.

Only later, when Chaskel Traiger's Purim actors appeared with the fiddler who played chassidic melodies and the men formed up for a chassidic dance, the mask fell to the floor and everyone was astonished. The masked chassid who in so typical Jewish manner drank l'chaim and knew all the Jewish wishes turned out to be a Christian woman who was our house servant for 13 years and learned exceptionally well all the customs and holidays. When everyone was out of the house, she found in the attic an old shtraimel (fur trimmed hat), searched for a kapote (caftan) and with a mask on her face set out for the Purim banquet at Moshe Feingold's.

As is customary for Purim, this affair was greeted with much joy and understanding. The Chassidim were even pleased and pointed out how widespread is the knowledge of Jewish law and custom that even a Christian woman became imbued with them and enthused. It as difficult, however, to accept that such an observant and God fearing Jew like Yisroel – Avraham, the melamed ended up dancing with a female Christian.


Reb. Meyer Bluthal, the Shochet

The streets of Chorostkow did not have official names nor were the houses numbered. When someone arrived by train the droshke (horse drawn coach) driver or wagon driver knew where to bring everyone. A stranger could ask the smallest child where a relative lived and they led them to the appropriate house. The letter carrier knew everyone and remembered by heart their names and addresses.

There were, however, several streets which the people themselves named, like 10:30 Street, the Zeriliwke, the Red Bridge Street and the 8:30 Street, where our family happened to live. The street nomenclature was as if measured because from 9:30 in the evening this was the major street for strolling and the local meeting place for those who wanted to have a chat, decide on something or just gossip.

On the Half New Street lived Reb Meyer Bluthal, the shochet (kosher slaughterer), a fine clever Jew. Only from his many occupations (shochet, Chazan (cantor) and Torah reader in the Great Synagogue, mohel [circumcisor]) his income was still very low. His first action early in the morning was not to take his Talit and Tefilin and go to pray, but to worry that a needy Jew should not go hungry on that day, God forbid, and that he should have something to eat. Only when he accomplished that mitzvah (commandment), did he go to a House of Worship to participate in a late morning minyan (required minimum of 10 worshippers). It eas known in town that Reb Meyer orayed in every synagogue wuthot exception, because he always wanted to pray to God with a minyan. On Shabbat and Holidays he prayed before the Ark in the Great Synagogue.

Reb Meyer was also a great welcomer of strangers. Living himself in cramped quarters and frugally, he always wanted to perform the mitzvah of welcoming the stranger. If a guest slept in his house he sent his son Asher to sleep in our house. So my brother and I who shared a bed had a third vagabond.

Just like my brother Yecheskel and Asher were good friends, so were my father and Reb Meyer good neighbours. In addition they were also linked by the same profession, chazanut, because my father over and above his normal business, was the chazzan and Torah reader in the small synagogue.* We lived on the same street, their house being opposite ours, separated by the road and sidewalk.

*(Fink Sr. was the chazzan of our shul and I still recall, with tears in my eyes, his rendition of Kol Nidre, which to this day I regard as better than even the recordings of world famous chazanim)

Every Friday night when we all sat at the table and with much pleasure sang Zmirot (Friday evening celebratory Shabbat songs), we would hear from Reb Meyer's house thir pleasant singing just like they heard ours. Many town residents would come to listen under the windows the Zmirot along with Jewish and Hebrew songs emanating from the two chazanim's residences.

One Friday evening, when out of habit we waited for the first songs from Reb Meyers house, what came forth was a subdued “Kol Mekadeish Shvii” (all Bless the Seventh Day”) and as if chopped off. No more merriment words or singing. We conducted our own Shabbat table as usual, but my father showed restlessness and worry over what was happening at our neighbour because he did not conduct Zmirot.

Later we learned the reason for this silence: when Reb Meyer was returning home from the synagogue, he chanced to see through the window that his neighbour, the butcher Shlomo Batatitscher, was making Kiddush (blessing over wine) over bread. That means, Reb Meyer thought to himself, that Reb Shlomo did not have the wherewithal for observing the Shabbat and that he a close neighbour Knew nothing of this and allowed this to happen …..

Arriving at home everyone in the house sensed his personal anguish. His “Gut Shabos” was totally different from normal, a sad one, full of concern. For that reason he no longer felt like singing Zmirot that Friday evening.

A disrupted Shabbat, disrupted Zmirot……


(This ends the first section of the Yiddish Portion II, “Between Two World Wars” of Sefer Chorostkow, the Chorostkow Yizkor Book, describing the shtetl from Pre- WW1 days until the Holocaust)


Summation and Overview of Pre WW1 Chorostkow Until WW2

By Morton R. Lang

It is my opinion that a better understanding of shtetl life generally can be gained and appreciated by a few comments from one who was born there and departed for Canada in 1936 at the age of 13, who remembers from childhood memories what is being described and has known many of the authors of these articles.

Although a superficial reading of these articles may suggest repetitiveness , if one reads the various articles slowly and tries to absorb the various nuances that appear, even if dealing with the same topic, a much deeper understanding can be gained of the town of Chorostkow itself, along with life of its population generally, its religious, cultural, secular and business pursuits and struggle for day to day survival under wartime and peacetime conditions and subject to the whims of different National Regimes and Governmental Authority.

It is impossible for a North American resident to even begin to appreciate the drabness and overcrowding in the home, the stultifying methodology of teaching in the cheder, the virtually nonexistent recreational facilities for child and adult alike beyond those self created, the stumbling blocks constantly placed before the Jewish businessman in the form of ever changing regulations and onerous business and personal taxes. For example, the so called Candle Tax which was conceived under the “liberal” Habsburg 's of the Austria Hungarian Empire of which Galicia was apart. The purpose of this tax was twofold: governmental authorities knew that no God fearing Jewish woman would omit lighting a candle for every member of the family every Friday evening, At the same time there would be no attempt of “cheating” on that tax. At the same time the number of candles purchased provided a fairly accurate census of its Jewish population.

And what about the unwavering, unquestioned loyalty of the chassid to the head of his Rabbinic Dynasty even at the risk of his own life, as described by Sholom Ansky and the mystic faith to the point that if a chassid wanted to seek a better livelihood for himself and his family, he faced harassment and often the threat of banishment if he even dared to suggest leaving the shtetl for the Godless America. And yet the goal of every Jewish parent was an education for his children Jewish, secular, or both. Would you believe that we children were happy, perhaps even happier than the average child today, with the occasional (rare) toy, a pair of new shoes for Passover or, joy of joys, a new suit for the High Holidays? Or was it because we knew no better?

But underlying all this was the pervasive ever present fear, the current of anti-Semitism that could be kindled into a beating, an assault or a pogrom, depending on the prevailing state, sober or dunk, of your Ukrainian peasant neighbour, often ignored or actually encouraged by the Polish police.
Let me illustrate this with a personal experience, which although I was perhaps 10 or 11 years old at that time, I remember as if it were yesterday. In several of the articles, reference is made to the weekly Monday “Yarid” (Market Day) in Chorostkow. The end of the afternoon was always a potential time for trouble, usually manifested by drunkenness and fighting by the peasants among themselves. But occasionally a sortie would be attempted against Jews,, Jewish homes or business, nipped in the bud as a rule by stalwart Jewish young men (from the different Zionist Youth Groups) serving as a sort of unofficial self defense force

That particular Monday matters began to get out of hand and my mother dragged me into the house and locked the iron grated glass front door. Our house which was about 6th or 7th on a small street leading away from the Market Square, the usual center where trouble began, had a ground floor veranda which raised it above street level. As the drunken mob began to stream down from the Square a Jewish war veteran of WW1, who had a permit to carry a revolver, jumped on the balcony and fired a shot in the air. That stopped the mob and they began to retreat toward the square. At that point, our one town policeman (I still remember his name – Konopelski), who was nowhere to be seen until then, suddenly appeared on our veranda with his rifle slung over his shoulder – and you guessed it – the first thing he did was to take away the revolver from the Jew and then began to shout at the peasants to “go home”. Whether this could have evolved into an assault on Jewish homes and/or businesses or worse is anybodies guess. Nevertheless, it was too close for comfort.

This brings to mind another story which surprisingly no one mentions – the ”Plaagers”. They were the group of men who attained 21 years of age and eligibility for the compulsory military draft into the Polish army, which was a cauldron of anti-Semitism. Every Jewish boy who could by any means necessary try to avoid being drafted, attempted it. One such quasi legitimate way was to become a “Plaager” – one who stresses himself and hopefully weakens himself physically to a point of rejection from army service on health grounds. Young men of that age group began staying up all night to deprive themselves of rest every spring for about 3 or 4 months before their call up for a physical prior to induction. As a matter of fact it rarely helped, but they regarded it as a means of bonding and preparation for aliyah to Israel. They also served as the nucleus for the self defense group for the Jews of the town.

To conclude let me relate just one more “tale” which one might think comes from a romantic adventure novel, but is in fact illustrative of true to life experiences that Jews were frequently involved in, which did not always have a happy ending. This story involves my own mother and father of blessed memory:

My father was born in Chorosrkow in the latter years of the 19th Century, then located in Austria Hungary and my mother was born about 20 miles away, in Satanov in 1900, then within Imperial Russia. During WW1, my father attained the age of eligibility for military service in the Austrian army. To avoid service, he along with several other Jewish boys, fled to Satanov and stayed at my mother's sister's house. They met, fell in love and after the fighting ceased in that area got married in Chorostkow in 1921, which by then was in Poland. The border between Poland and the USSR was not yet finally demarcated and my mother's family was present at her wedding.

Several weeks later, my mother got lonesome for her family and my father made arrangements with a Ukrainian peasant farmer who owned land on both sides of the still open border to take my mother across to Satanov for a brief family visit. Within several days, the final frontier between Poland and the USSR was demarcated and the Soviets closed the frontier, not permitting exit or entry, except for the odd peasant farmer who was still allowed to harvest his hay on both sides of the border, even if he now lived officially in Poland. My mother, however, had no way of getting back to her husband, particularly since she was Soviet by birth.

As a result it took several weeks to bribe a farmer with privileges on both sides of the frontier to attempt to smuggle my mother back into Poland under a wagon load of hay. The attempt was successful, even if first the Soviet and then the Polish border guards (military, not civilian) took turns, each on their respective side of the border, to probe the load of hay with their bayonet tipped rifles. As soon as they were out of sight of the frontier guards, the farmer got my mother out from under the hay and pointed her onto the road in the direction of Chorostkow. Fortunately a Jewish merchant chanced to travel this road on the way to Chorostkow and brought my mother safely home to her husband. Not every effort of this nature was successful. Many ended up with capture and arrest and a few were shot.

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