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Hussar Skirmish

Moische Burger

Already in 1891, there was a Hussar Regiment stationed in Sadagora on the Great Meadow. Between the baron's garden and the cemetery was the training field where they practiced their dare devil riding skills and throwing lances at life size dummies.

For the young people who watched these exercises, it was an experience and whenever they had free time, they ran to the training field to see the “circus.”

An author could write entire novels about it, but here we are dealing with excerpts from a child's diary including stylistic and grammatical errors.

The children who learned in school that the Hungarians descended from the Huns couldn't grasp how it was possible that the “Herrn Offiziere” who descended from the Huns could be such nice and honorable men and were very proud of “our hussars.”

Sundays, the soldiers came into the city in their colorful uniforms, crowded the bars, drank sang and danced “czardasch.”

Some of the songs they sang contained the words “jiddo kuttya,” but since the Jews didn't understand Hungarian everything continued smoothly and the merchants had their “good times.”

At the bridge in Sadagora was the “taxi stand” for the fiacre [hackney coach] drivers, respected citizens, some of whom well actually very well-to-do. They were all members of a well organized guild. Their fiacres and horses were always clean and their customers belonged to the best circles, among them being the officers of the hussar regiment.

Often it happened that an officer had no money toward the end of the month, but after payday he would settle his bill honestly and punctually.

It also occurred frequently that an officer would ask a driver to wait for him and naturally, the waiting time was also paid for. When in such cases the waiting became boring for the fiacre owner, he would pass the time in a bar playing “derdl” or “konczenie,” that is, card games which not everyone knew. The drivers were lively good natured fellows, but they didn't tolerate any coarseness and when necessary, they could be tough. Therefore, no one dared to “fool around” with them.

One beautiful day, two officers came to the taxi stand and asked for Moische Burger to drive them to Czernowitz. Moische replied politely that he already had a customer and showed them his fiacre which was at the front of the queue.

One of the officers, upset by this reply called Burger a “Juddo kidda” (Jewish dog) and demanded that he drive him without any “back talk,”

Moische Burger who understood the insult said calmly, “Mr. Officer, in Austria there are no Jewish dogs and I will not drive you.”

Enraged over this answer, the officer drew his saber and slashed it around in the air. Quick as lightening, Burger grappled with him and took away the saber. The second officer who felt obliged to rush to his comrades help, also drew his saber and injured an “innocent bystander.” This started a brawl in which both officers were thoroughly thrashed and had to be taken to the hospital in Czernowitz.

The sabers and the story were delivered to the military and as a result, both officers were transferred to a different post.

The more the animal in man
strives to become human
the more the man in mankind becomes animal like.

Moische Burger was the hero of the day. And everyone from the guild declared that he had protected their honor. not only the drivers, but Jews in general, because the expression, “Jewish dog” would no longer be used. But, the “Roite Kässerl,” a sharp fellow who knew no fear, went around and whispered: “I have served with the Huns and I know them, sooner or later, they are going to get even with us.”

Months went by - and everyone forgot.

On an autumn Friday evening, in all the houses, the Shabbat candles burned in the candelabras and cast their golden rays into the pitch dark street. Unsuspectingly, old and young conversed at the evening meal.

Then something “unheard of” happened.

The clattering of horses' hooves became audible. Numberless torches threw an eerie light in the streets. Squadrons of hussars rode in columns through the alleys and some soldiers went by foot from house to house looking for Moische Burger.

Not a few drivers who looked like Moische Burger were dragged out of their houses and badly beaten. The crying and screaming of the women sounded terribly in the dark night, but begging and pleas were no help until they found and arrested Moische Burger.

Moische Burger was thrown on a horse and tied up and then they poured hydrochloric acid in his mouth. Burger had enough presence of mind to keep his mouth closed and play dead. Seeing this, the hussars threw him from the horse and galloped off. Almost immediately, Joil Roife appeared, gave first aid to the “half dead” Moische - and after a few weeks, his life was out of danger. The military officials investigated this incident conscientiously and ordered the regiment to pay damages to the victims and to clear out of the post within three months of the day of the judgment.

It was the best Hussar skirmish in Sadagora. Roite Kässerl was right.


Mankind carves its own gods - kneels before them
- and fears them. (Prof Minkvitz -The Tempel)

Mordche Nissen Tallesmann and the Rebbe

In the Vatican there was a festive mood. The street between the palace built in half timbered style and the Klaus (orthodox prayer house) was barred to outside traffic. The second street, which led to the railroad station was seething with all sorts of curious people. A crowd of mounted followers of the rabbi dressed as farmers and clowns waited to see the arrival of the Machetunem (parents of the bride). In a few days, the rabbi's youngest son, Schloimuniu was to marry the daughter of the millionaire Ohrenstein from Bessarabia. Since a week, an uncounted number of Chassidim from all over the world had camped out waiting impatiently for the arrival of the bride and her suite.

Although, it is only Sunday, one has to rush, because there is a superhuman amount of work to accomplish.

For the officers of the hussar regiment and their ladies, a tribune must be built to accommodate approximately 600 people. The hall for the Chassidim with a capacity of 1000 people was ready to use. And for the regimental band and the chorus, a special podium is to be built in the palace courtyard for the director. It was rumored that the famous chazzan (cantor) from Bojan, Pinale Spektor would direct the regiment music as well as the chorus.

Sadagora was boiling over with excitement and activity.

In almost every house (even in the poorest) rich Chassidim were quartered, but those who came to late were happy to camp in the open air.

Since daybreak, favored by beautiful weather, the entire population is up and about. The masses of people extend to the gate house of the rich Itzig Leib Granierer and out over the bridge to Mottie Brukenthal and won't be moved.

Mounted costumed groups ride ghostlike towards the railroad station.

Around 4 o'clock - peals of trumpets! the mounted men carrying fluttering flags and banners gallop up and announce that the Machetunem were approaching with the bride. Ear splitting cheering, yelling and shouts of joy filled the air.

Since it was Sunday, no one was working and the Christian residents also took part in the “historic” event and added to the noise with honest enthusiasm.

It cost the organizers much sweat and trouble to arrange for the four horse coach and the calashes to safely transport the bride and her suite into the palace courtyard. That was the entrance of a princes into the Vatican. The Ruziner Zadikim Dynasty Friedmann in Sadagora.

The weather was beautiful on the day of the wedding and the jockeying for places started at dawn - and toward noon, the crowding became dangerous. Even on the roof of the Klaus opposite the palace, daredevils squatted like bats on a cornice.

On the evening before the wedding day, the officer tribune flanked by a cordon of hussars was filled to the last seat and with the sounding of the regimental music the Vatican took on a majestic air.

Those who had the opportunity to see the wedding ceremony considered themselves as “blessed by God.”

At the table in the schalasch were seated Chassidim, Zadikim and the “chosen few.” Gold and silver dinnerware sparkled in the light streaming from the candelabras and the Chassidim decided to extend the celebration for an entire week. The dancing and singing seemed like it would never end.

And so the youngest prince “Schloimuniu” was married in the Vatican from Sadagora (he presently lives in Tel-Aviv).

On the second evening after the ceremony, Rabbi Sruluniu retired to his chambers and sent the shames (synagogue sexton) to Mordche Nissen Tallesmann to request that he come immediately to the Rabbi. This was an honor which was seldom granted to an Apikoires (freethinking Jew) at a time when even highly respected Chassidim were not received.

Who was this Herr Tallesmann really?

Rumors surrounded him with mysterious legends. Many asserted that he was the lord and master of old “long fingers.” Others claimed that he was the artist who had worked on the State Bank in Budapest. And the remainder claimed that he was a simple pious man who could enter paradise at any time.

In any case, he was a man who always dressed well, with fine manners and a cosmopolitan demeanor. His self confident bearing gained him respect - and not seldom, he was asked for advice when someone came into conflict with the law.

When Reb [Mr.] Nissen was told of the invitation from the Rebe (Chasidic rabbi), he smiled in a self-satisfied way, brushed his handsome blond beard and followed the shames.

With the appearance of Tallesmann in the Vatican, rumors flew through the assembled Chassidim. Hm, hm, - does Reb Nissen want to become a Baal Tschiewe? Will the Zadik see him? O, wonders and more wonders. He enters immediately and the holy Zadik offers him a seat.

Reb Nissen made himself comfortable and said to the Rebbe quietly and confidently, “Rebe leben [dear Rabbi], I wish you mazl-tov (congratulations) on Schloimuniu's wedding and please tell me briefly what has happened?

The Rebbe coughed in embarrassment - he knew that Nissen was a clever man - and said confidentially, “Reb Nissen! this is a very serious affair! The gold dinnerware of my relatives has disappeared. I don't care what it costs, help me to get it back.”

Reb Nissen closed his eyes for a few seconds, lit a cigarette and asked thoughtfully, “who at the table ate from these dishes?” “I did,” said the Rabbi. “And who sat to the right and left of you” probed Reb Nissen like a detective. The Rabbi gave him several names from the Chassidic aristocracy.

Reb Nissen arose quickly from his seat, extended his hand to the Rabbi in parting and in Chassidic “sing-song” said:

“Rebe leben! If my Chassidim stole it, it will be back in its place within 24 hours. If your Chassidim, G-d forbid stole it, that is a more difficult case and it will take me longer to find it. In any case, I will leave tomorrow and I won't come back until I have found it.

Two months later, Reb Nissen appeared before the Rabbi. After the usual greetings, the Rabbi asked, “nu” [well?]. Reb Nissen stroked his blond beard and said smiling, “Rebe, I was right, it was not stolen or taken.

Because you ate from it, it was pilfered as a holy reliquary by a millionaire and I have taken the liberty to decide:

A beautiful prayer house with parnusse (existenz-einkomen) for several Jews is more important than a useless scandal
I have already secured the money for that purpose.
And the Rebe was satisfied.
If your stupid action reaps success, you are a wise man.
If your wise action fails, you are a fool.

Ben Saar


Luzer Preiser

(resurrection)

Purim had barely started when all the doors at banker Lutzer Preiser's were opened wide. Anyone who desired, Jew or Christian, masked or unmasked could enter and take what he wanted from the table which was laden with all sorts of delicacies and drinks. Many people who didn't lack for food or drink came merely to see how generous the banker's hospitality was.

No one was turned away, even if he was an enemy of the house. On Purim, everyone was a welcome guest and so it had gone for many years without interruption.

In Sadagora, such pretentious displays were frowned upon because on Purim, when all is said and done, everyone has “enough to wash,” but for Luzer Preiser it was not “showing off” or an excess, but a solemn promise which he considered holy as long as his means allowed.

Many years in the past when he was still single, he had a heart attack and died. The doctor couldn't do anything for him and the Chewra Kadischa (burial society) did its duty. The city was in mourning, Purim was ruined and the maloczes (grave diggers) went reluctantly to their sad task. “A young tree, brought down by the storm.” The sadness was honest and deeply felt. And as he was carried to the cemetery, everyone wanted to put his shoulder under the casket, everyone wanted to have the mitsve (good deed) of doing his duty for the young man. The pall bearers tired quickly because the path ran uphill and as new men took their places, one tripped and brought the others down with him and the casket tumbled to the ground. A scream of pain from the observers because of the desecration of the corpse. But then a miracle took place. The “corpse” sat up in his broken coffin, quickly took in the situation and quickly ran home in his tachriehim (burial clothes). The news of this “resurrection” spread like a wildfire. Purim was especially joyous.

As Luser Preiser recovered from this terrible fright he made an oath: To marry the first girl that offered him her hand and to make a feast every Purim to which everyone would be invited.

Luser Preiser was exactly true to his word and when his son Mennik was over 20 years old, and the “old one” was weak, Mennik fulfilled the oath every year and Luser and his wife sat at the table and wished everyone should live another year and come again.

Those who come from Sadagora -
Know this event - by heart.

Shrul the Toiber

(the deaf one)

Simchat Torah after the davening [praying] all the children from the Baronufka [the name of a street in the barony of the Baron Mustatza] waited by the Barron Hirsch School. Arn Kügel the school servant tries to drive them away and is not successful.

These children were cut from another wood, were hard to frighten, could take and give a few punches and were not as tender as the school children from the city who already with the first “shot” run like hares. Majer Sibale, Nachman Fessale, Pine the Roiter, Herschale, Sure Dienes, Nutale, Leiser Dudies, and Eliku Frimes were leaders and knew no fear. They were not even afraid of Toloczki the anti-Semite and Kanzlist Urbanskie's fat dog. So who would they be afraid of Arn Kügel who was only a school servant?

So, the young people waited for Shrul the Toiber to come. And as he did every year, he would come today to the scholtiklech (street kids).

Like a saint, with a white apron over his clothing and a fur hat on his head, a long stick in his hand with his tangled beard he walked solemnly through the streets from the Baron Hirsch School to the fiacre owners' Schülech and sang psalms and after every psalm, he stopped and screamed to the children who all ran after him, “children - what is today?” “Simchat Torah” they all yelled in unison, “Barabules under the bed!” “Hurrah” was the answer. “A fellichl aufn drängl.” Hurrah” was the answer. “Dem Rebens Bruche soll Mekiern werin.” “Hurrah” was the answer and then he sang more psalms and the band of children following him sang and yelled - “holla drilla holischkis, joim haschischi pipikes” - after several repetitions of this sing-song he stopped again, repeated the above mentioned question, received the familiar answer and again the little people repeated in chorus; “holla drilla holischkes, joim haschischi pipekis.” Around midday, he wished the children a good year, quit for the day - and went home. This spectacle repeated itself for many years. When one year he didn't appear, the reason for Shrul the Toiben's mysterious behavior was revealed.

Shrul was deaf and his wife was mute and all the children that the woman bore were mute. Shrul went to the rabbi and asked him to say a blessing so that he would finally have a child who could speak. The rabbi had pity with the poor man and gave him this sgylle: On Simchat Torah when all the Jews rejoice, he had to go before the children and humiliate himself - and when the innocent children supported his plea to God, God would elevate him. And so it happened.

After many years of humiliation, his wife bore a son, Itzik who was neither deaf nor dumb. He spoke and as he grew up, he even spoke to much. He became a conscientious, respected craftsman in Czernowitz and gave brilliant speeches at the meetings of his union.

Still today when Sadagora landsleute [people from same town or country] meet, you can hear the incomprehensible question - now where is holladrilla holeschkes?

His grandchildren live today in America as respected and useful Jews.


[Page 38]

Zierl and the Officer

Zierl was a lovely girl. Slim like a cedar, with two long black braids which reached to her hips. The long eye lashes of the dreamy eyes made her very interesting - It was no wonder that all the girls on the Baronufka envied her.

Zierl was no ordinary child. She read newspapers, books, heavy classics and on top of that, she wrote pretty poetry. She frequently traveled to Czernowitz to concerts and lectures and often educated friends came here to visit her.

Among her friends were Toni Stroh and Schamschen Först from Czernowitz. Toni who was known in the Worker's Movement as a good speaker and an educated companion had a sharp tongue and said whatever came to her mind. And Schamschen, “the Jewish troubadour” published the newspapers “the Grager” [noisemaker used on Purim] and “Schweiss Knisch” from a nomadic office either on Zezina-Berg [Zezina Mountain] or on Schneider-Tisch [Tailor's Table]. The above named “heroes” also held a “literary evening.” In Zierl's house, there was plenty of room for such events.

In addition to the usual circle of friends, these literary evenings were attended by several young people from the neighborhood and a dashing hussar lieutenant who supposedly had an affection for German literature.

After the usual introductions, tea drinking and discussions Toni and Schamschen alternated reading and reaped copious applause.

Here is the program of the readings:


Forbidden Love

She - He - She

She teased - he teased - she teased - and so gladly looked at each other
She knew - he knew - she knew - that they were so far from each other

She asked - he asked - she asked - where should this chance lead?
She thought - he thought - she thought - and let fate do what it will

She knew - he knew - she knew that they were so far from each other
She loved - he loved - she loved - and so gladly had each other


Amor

So it is in the world - love rules
In invisible ways - Sir Love comes - and seduces
Mocks us in the end - when we are trapped in its skeins
Oh wicked love - careless scoundrel - You have also captured me.

Woman

Music by Ujvari - the poor poet

I

The air is pregnant with women - it sighs and moans so much
There by the ruined wall - an old man tells me his tale
Tells me about youth and joy - also tells of trouble and pain
Speaks also of love and sun - speaks of broken hearts
The old one wanted to solve the eternal riddle - the woman
And that was the greatest of sins - broke him in soul and body.

II

As a youth he was a singer - the happiest man in the world
With women - a heart breaker - luxuriated in youth and money
That was to soon change - he married an angle
It was like heaven on earth - a life of pure sun and dew
But she had greedy eyes - and her desires were great
She wanted the finest luxuries - until their whole fortune was gone.

III

And he gave everything to the sweet one - the money, the love -the jewelry
He laid his soul at her feet - but everything, everything - disappeared
Gone was the joy - gone the harmony
The rays of the sun became cold - but the coldest was - she!
She had forgotten the promises - she only strived heaven high
She had broken his lyre - she left him only the pain.

IV

She froze his heart to ice - and so the years flowed past
So the youngster became an old man - until finally - she - appeared again
An ugly old scarecrow - broken in soul and body
Told a penitent story - she comes now - as a loving wife
The old one shuddered - thought back on his youth
When he sang with his lyre - and on the vanished happiness.

V

Woman! Where was your pity? You were my goddess and the world
I carried you on my arm - and you smashed my soul
You broke my lyre - for singing I am now too old
You stole my youth - disappear, you miserable creature
Fly with the angels further - fly up to heaven
Now I am old and experienced - only once, was I a fool!


Several young people accompanied the song with tinkling mandolins and earned hearty applause. Only Zierl with her officer were with their thoughts in another sphere, - no wonder. The evening was a complete success, but because of Zierl's absentmindedness no further “literary evenings” were scheduled. On the way home, Toni whispered in Zierl's ear, “be careful Zierl, you will ruin yourself with this officer.”

In the hussar barracks there was a black mood. Because of the affair with Moische Burger the regiment had been ordered to leave the garrison and return to Hungary within one month. With the officers in this nasty state of mind, Zierl as she often did came to visit and remained until late in the night. That was to be fateful for her.

Because she refused to give in to their demands - she was striped naked and the hussars covered her body from head to toe with shoe polish and then they rubbed her with shoe brushes until her body shone and then she was thrown polished and naked out onto the street.

In spite of the fact that it was dark and the street was ill lit, there were plenty of curious on-lookers who drove her home with catcalls and whistling.

For weeks the women of the town had one theme - Zierl and the officer - but Zierl lay sick in bed because of the scandal and the pain that her officer didn't come to her aid.

Since that incident Zierl disappeared and was neither to be seen in Sadagora or on the Baronukfa.


The Way of Life

Foaming brooks hurry away -quickly, they swirl and hiss
And they rush through cities and villages, - threaten to wipe them all away.
But at the end of their wandering - they halt in the sea
Deafeningly foaming there - longing for their source
Better to be at the beginning of the journey - when there was still a longing desire
Gone is every feeling of hope - when one reaches the “final goal.”

The Bell Ringer

(Waaber in bod[14] arain)
[Women, into the bathhouse]

As unbelievable as it may sound, it is nevertheless true. At the end of the Schülgass [school street] stood the “Hegdisch” and the “bathhouse.” There were more than 20 houses on Schülgass because every guild and every landsmannschaft [association of people from same town] had its own school. So for example, the tailors, the shoemakers, the Kossower, the Wiznitzer [people from Kossow and Wiznitz] etc. Also located on the street was the “groisse schül” [big school] an old structure from the Middle Ages, very spacious with a large yard where the children carried out their mischief during reading on Shabbat and holidays. No one, young or old dared to walk past this building at midnight because according to legend, at night the corpses came there to pray at night and anyone who came by at midnight would be called to read the Torah and unless he went in to read the brokhe [blessing] he would die within the year. Everyone believed in this fairy tale and no one dared to walk past the “big school” at midnight.

Therefore, anyone who wanted to go to the bathhouse or the Hegdisch would use the path behind Mote Bruckenthal's house.

The Hegdisch (nursing home) consisted of four rooms on one level and the residents “living corpses” because only miserable abandoned candidates for death were sent there. When now and then good-hearted people brought “something,” it didn't help much. A death like stillness reigned there.

It was different at the bath. There bedlam reigned. Although the bath was rather roomy, it wasn't large enough to accommodate everyone who wanted to bathe. The “stone sweat” was especially beloved and to let Friday go by without sweating was a very unhappy situation. Many were so used to the “sweat” that they would get sick if they didn't have a good sweat. If the Italian poet Dante had visited this sweat bath, he certainly would have included it in his “Inferno,” because the spectacle of Hell here put Dante's Inferno in the shade.

Immediately after leaving the dressing room, one comes to the besemlech[15] ] and with a knowledgeable eye picks out a leafy one and thus armed grabs a scheffale (water scoop). The rich people are carried by Peretz. Everyone to their place on the highest bench. A ear shattering noise engulfs you as you enter the holy sweat room. Ha hu Peretz pour the water! A Riech in your father, that is my Scheffale, - a brand dir in gorgel, did you bring it for your father, the drunkard? Scha Still order the rich from the topmost bench - quiet, pour more. Ha, ha, ha good, good, a pleasure. Throw a little on the left side Hahaha, huhuhu - Peretz pours another scheffale in the oven (it gets dark from the steam). Oi it burns, already, enough. Peretz, hit harder, still harder. ha, ha, good, a pleasure. Those who had been thoroughly beaten went into the Mikvah[16] to cool off, new “sweaters” crowded in - and it begins - the capo [musical, repeat from beginning]- holy Dante! Auf dir gesagt, so a portion schwitz. But this stone sweat was good, the entire body red as a crab when you left the bath and you felt like new-born and those who were used to the harmless noise considered it completely normal and would be uneasy if it by chance it got quiet in the bath. The procedure for the women was different.

In Sadagora, family life was holy. The man was master in the house, obeyed by the woman and children, whether rich or poor. The woman was the home maker and as such was honored and treasured. Her greatest pride was to show her friends how “yellow” she had scrubbed the floor, how snow white laundry was and how the cookware and Shabbat candelabra sparkled like diamonds, how the challah succeeded like Purim Festival Cake. Also the malai (cookies made from corn meal) came out good like a cake. Come on Perale, look here, do you like the malai? Proudly, she shows Perale the malai. Perale doesn't ask much, breaks off a piece of the malai and sticks it in her mouth, and remembers while she is chewing to ask, “can I try this?” Yes, yes, you should enjoy it, nu? It has a wonderful taste is the answer. And the more capable the hostess is, the greater the pride and respect for the man who has captured such a good home maker. That a married couple would cheat on each other is incomprehensible, illegitimate children? That can only happen with Goyim, not with Jewish daughters.

A woman who has just delivered lies in bed for eight days with all the walls covered with holy papers to keep the “bad spirits out.” And the midwife took care of everything and told all sorts of stories to pass the time.

As “Diene” Schimen Elies lay in bed, the midwife told the following tale:

When I was young and began my activity as a bube [midwife], one night someone knocked on my window. “Quickly bube, get up.” I opened the door and before the house stood a coach with two black horses like stags. Two richly dressed men asked me to quickly take my instruments and go with them to a woman in labor. A look at my alarm clock told me that it was 12 at night. The haunting hour! What should I do? A bube should have no fear. And good angels go with a pious woman. I took everything I needed, read a prayer, took my prayer book and went with God.

The horses ran like possessed, far, far, very far. Finally we halted before a magically lit palace and I was lifted out of the wagon like a child and carried into a salon full of gold and silver. In a four-poster bed lay a girl with a face like a doll in the midst of delivering a child. I knew immediately that it was a devil, but a bube can not have any fear. I recited a prayer again, said Shema Yisroel [famous prayer starting “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one] three times and took a lusty little boy from her. As I said mazel tov, the gentlemen laughed heartily and gave me a handful of rendlech [a denomination of money]. I knew, however that when the devil gives rendlech, the next day it will turn into coal, so I made the excuse that I only take money in my house, not here. The people looked at each other and said, “good, good, we will mail the money to you at home,” put me in the wagon and in 10 minutes, I was home. They took me in and left a pouch on the table. I didn't touch it. On the next day, I went to the rabbi, told him all and the rabbi looked at the money. “The money is good” said the rabbi, “use it in good health. That was no fortune, it was only one delivery for a girl and they wanted to conceal it. God should protect Jewish children from such goings-on.

Diene was very excited. “Bube, that in not true, how can a girl have a baby without a man?”

And the Bube answered, “with the devil all things are possible. Superstition was wide spread and was passed from generation to generation.

When women went to the bath, men got out of their way. Thursday the bath was reserved only for women.

Already at 3 pm the bell ringer went through all the streets, ringing a giant bell in a constant beat, screaming pathetically, “waaber in bod arain! waaber in bod arain!” [women into the bath in a Yiddish dialect]. Meanwhile, he looked through the windows to see if his call was being followed and then immediately stormed into another street with his monotonous peals of the bell and his screams of pain, “wabber in bod arain!” For as long as one can remember the bell ringer did his holy duty and if he hasn't died, he still screams --- “Wabber in bod arain!”


City Councilman Hettner

How did I actually get the idea of describing the Ssiggenuren (blind beggars)? Doesn't every town have a slum area with beggars, apaches and starving people?

Really, I wanted to immortalize the honorable Municipal Councilman Herrn Aron Heitner (familiar name “Arale”) in my diary and he actually had nothing to do with this guild.

The Ssiggenuren were located way up in a side street of the Baronufka and Municipal Councilman Arale lived in the center of the city and came rarely or never to this quarter. After Herrn Parola who helped the poor, passed away, the office was vacant for a long time and only after Municipal Councilman Arale took over the office, did it again become helpful to the poor.

All the citizens of the city valued the work of this man and only the Chassidim disliked him because he didn't wear a beard, but shaved himself like all Apikorssim and dressed in modern clothes, always wearing a shirt and tie - a real German - but he discharged his duties conscientiously. In this attempt, he had much tsores [trouble] with the Ssiggenuren, against whom, one could never win. But, he was even able to manage them. When in his 76th year of life, he died, not only his wife and 5 children mourned for him, but everyone who knew him. His ashes should rest in peace.

The Ssiggenuren were artists of life, “washed with all waters.” A well organized guild - a world in itself. Many had their own little house “in the house of all that is good”- and their children studied in the Kheyder and in the school. Poverty couldn't be seen and no one had ever seen them begging in Sadagora. Was it perhaps an error that one counted them among the beggars?

Ssiggenur means “the blind” and is also used as a designation for the lame and generally for all people imprisoned for a crime, but our Siggenuren were seldom lame, blind or dumb.

In this labyrinth of secrets, a stranger would have a hard time finding his way around. Even their own children don't understand much of this high science.

Every Sunday, in God's early morning, 3 little wagons stuffed with passengers leave the Ssigenuren's Hochberg in the direction of Czernowitz and surroundings. And Thursday evening, late at night, they come home.

On Friday evening, the children are “grilled” to find out what they have learned in kheyder and school during the week and afterward, they grab a schwitz in the bath and then prepare for the Shabbat.

Friday evening it was a pleasure to look through the windows - in all the houses on the tables, bentsch (blessing) candles burned in the polished candle holders. The family enjoyed the food at a beautifully set table. And now and then one heard Sabbat songs sung - or “Hot a Jüd a Wabale,” [A Jew has a little woman] and so on. On Shabbat, a rest from the difficult work of the week was taken, pumpkin seeds eaten and the work plan for the following week discussed.

When the Ssiggenuren came to Czernowitz or to another city in the region, one had to have a “heart of stone” not to be affected by their misery.

Here comes “Hersch the blind” with his large dark glasses tapping with his big stick from door to door and crying unceasingly, “have pity with a poor blind man.”

Mendale Bosnjak supposedly lost his leg in the “Bosnian war,” a sacrifice for the fatherland. The wooden leg and the medals on his old army coat confirm the truth. Who couldn't have pity on him?

Jankel Braun lost his left arm in a conflagration where he saved the lives of two children. Now on his left shoulder, he carries a katarinka (barrel organ) and cranks with his right arm to get the pity of the onlookers.

Jente the black, hardly 18 years old, was deserted by her worthless charlatan and now she has nothing to feed the poor werml (helpless child) that she carries on her arm. It is remarkable that when she enters a house, the poor werml starts to cry and scream terribly and people gladly give her a handout to stop the noise. Outside, the child stops crying.

The lame woman, nebbish (poor thing), is carried in a specially made carrying sack on the back of her big husband, Gerschon. Her upper body towers out of the sack and she directs her poor blind husband where to go. She takes in the alms because her hands are healthy - only her feet are lamed. Who wouldn't have pity with such an unlucky married couple? One could write volumes about the other “special cases.”


Here Merely 8 Cases are Analyzed

All are healthy and the handicaps are simulated

  1. Hersch the blind and Gerschon - both see well.

  2. Mendel and Yankel pull in their missing limbs with a device - both are otherwise healthy.

  3. The black Jente, a buxom girl was never married, the werml rented and the crying is produced by pinching the child in certain spots ---- and

  4. Fradl? - can even dance a Czardasch at a wedding, at that time she didn't know that her feet were lame. But? --- Art comes after bread.
They have it right in America when they say - Every person lives from a künzl [from Yiddish, a “trick”]. Every profession is a künzl. From Kaiser to beggar, everyone does his künzl - in order to exist.

So, also the Ssigenuren have their special künzl.

To honor Municipal Councilman Herr Aron Heitner, this guild wurde gestreift [ was striped?] in order to prove how difficult his mission was, dealing kindly with such types.

Quod erat - demonstrandum! [QED - Which was to be demonstrated]


The American

Today is Purim - Tomorrow it's over
Give me a Kreutzer - and throw me out

With this sing-song rung innumerable children with masks or some kind of cloth bound around their face run from house to house and get either a kreutzer or a Hamentaschen[17] as a gift for the künzl which was practiced for days before Purim. The children didn't lack for kreutzer or Hamentaschen, because they all had more than enough at home, but the künzl with the sing-song and the opportunity to see how Purim was celebrated in other homes was the real “Casus paskudniacus.” Actually, today is “EsterTanis” and not Purim. So why the big hurry of the little people to carry out their important mission today? Every “why” has its “because.” Tomorrow one must be free in order to follow the great famous Purim plays, Ahasuerus [king of Persia in Purim story], Mechiras Jossef and most popular, the American.

The Ahasuerus players were the elite of the masquerade - they came only upon invitation to the finest houses, were paid a minimum of 5 gulden. In the Vatican, at Luser Preiser, by the mayor Dr. Runes and at the famous Burech Tallesmann's they were paid 10 gulden = 20 kronen -1 krone = 50 kreutzer = 100 heller - and a grazer = 2 heller one got a bag of pumpkin seeds from Frosie, whereas 10 gulden = 1 rendl (dukat) was a fortune. Naturally, their first performance was for the rendlich (dukaten) later at the others. Since every performance - including transportation - took an hour, quite often the last performances took place in some houses at 3 am. But it paid, since the performances of these groups were really worth seeing.

Four weeks before Purim the “try-outs” began on Schülegasse under the direction of Ire Laib melamed, a dignified Talmudist who always played Mordecai [ Esther's cousin, along with her, a hero of the Purim story]. Ahasuerus was played by melamed Schimen Schiker. Ester was played by belfer (melamed's helper) Gerschale, who with his girlish face was made for the part. Haman by the melamed Nute Stopper, in waisusu the belfer Schulem Korsch and the supporting rolls were distributed among other melamedim and belfers and everything succeeded wonderfully. Even a “gallows” of wood with rope to hang Haman was brought along and the jingle of the bells hung on the gallows gave the troupe a mysterious nimbus. When one added in the cost of the accompanying music, it was an enterprise that involved a great risk. This enhanced the admiration of the population for the effort.

The Mechieras Jossef players were also highly admired and had their own followers. These youngsters went wherever people were having a good time and Josef Hazadik received the most presents. Also this group was accompanied by music and the musicians who were not paid by the organizers, got tips from the housewives.

America was something else. A widely traveled intelligent man who had already been to America got the clever idea to obtain two wooden stilts. On these stilts wearing a red Turkish fez with a dangling black tassel, he went through the streets as - the “giant” who could look into the second story windows. Armed with a long whip he carried on to the delight of the youngsters. Walking around on the stilts for hours was rather tiring. Often, he had to rest on a window sill in some upper story which the youth applauded as being especially entertaining. The American, however, had other thoughts about that. He had a sickly wife and two children to feed and the numerous Purim gifts which he received didn't last for long. In any case, this “künzl” paid off and helped him materially to make it to Pesach [Passover]. And so it went, year by year and without the stilt walking American - Purim for the youngsters was like Shabbat without roasted sunflower seeds.

After Purim, he vanished and was seldom to be seen on the street. At home, in a house that was always clean, next to Raimis Taach [Raimis Pond] he sat at a desk and wrote. What he wrote there only he and his pale wife knew. And who in Sadagora would be interested in what he wrote?

In Summer when the children swam in Raimis Taach and made noise, he would come out in the early evening with his pale wife, sit on the prispe (stoop) and watch the children playing until it became dark and then go in again and sit at the desk and wrote.

Their children, a boy and a girl were clean and well behaved in school and always came home with the best grades and never played with the other children.

Frequently a student from Czernowitz came to visit for several days. His face had a melancholy expression and his student cap and the ribbon of his fraternity looked very chic. When he played with the American's children by the pond, he also seemed like a child. He called himself Max and when the children went to bed, he came to the American at the desk and talked and talked until late into the night. After several days, he disappeared and the American again sat alone, or sometimes with his wife at the desk and wrote and wrote.

When he had business in town one day and was signing a document the good natured mayor, Dr. Bunes noticed his style of handwriting and quite confounded asked the American how he came to such a writing style. The American laughed modestly and said several words in explanation. Visibly excited, the mayor asked the American to allow him to visit on Shabbat.

On Shabbat, the mayor came to visit, looked at the manuscripts on the desk and was amazed. The American was a philosopher in disguise, a genius from whom one could learn much. When the mayor recovered from his surprise, he asked in a subdued way how it was possible that a philosopher could clown for the children on stilts on Purim. The philosopher put the papers away and replied: “Every individual in the world, in order to exist must have a künzl. Whether a great artist or a small time “con man - it's all the same - every occupation is a künzl If you sell stocks or clean the street, it's a künzl that allows you to get by. You are a doctor and cure people - that is your künl - the thief steals from people - that is his künzl. The general commands the army, that is his künzl. The dog wags his tail - that is his künzl. And I stilt walk around on Purim to entertain the young people - that is my künzl. But everything is lies and deception, necessary künzls in order to exist.

The right question is: “From which künzl do you live?” One person is more successful, the other is less successful. You must have luck and then every künzl will succeed. Not reason, but luck rules.

If your stupidity succeeds - you are a wise man.
If your wisdom fails - you are a fool.
On the other hand, my work at this desk is not a künzl. To ride Pegasus and write iambic is not a trick but an inborn sickness, driven and hunted by the muse without reacting to rewards. For the surroundings, this sickness is neither contagious or nor harmful, In many cases, even very useful. Clever fool.

As an expression of my gratitude for your visit, take this notebook with several poems which can't do any harm.”

Quickly I wrote for our good natured mayor, a doctor and decent human being, “May this bring you happiness.”

Visibly delighted, Dr. Runes took the notebook and read:

A much greater calamity
than dying -
is being - born


Life's Wisdom

Friend - Do you want to live rationally? - Remain as you are
Make no useless worries for yourself - no intellectual conflicts.
Enjoy everything - only not to much
In any case to much vacillation - never attains a goal.
So, like the ocean bottom - that a lead line can never reach
Totally in vain - will you research in philosophy.
Take poetry, I plead - or music
It appears to your eyes - as an endless stream.
Swimming frogs in a swamp - croaking, a racket
Speak, great gems of wisdom.
It is all - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -sophistry.


Injustice

Everyone knows there is injustice - the other gets
what he wants.
With melancholy, man moans about his life -
the gods ignore him.
Is an insignificant human really for the gods - so important
and count for so much?
Love and suffer - and longing hope - is really
an eternal game.
It changes again and again - but it is the same merely
rearranged.
Some cry and some laugh - the world continues
turning.


Jackal

About the Russo-Japanese War 1904

I

On the evening of a hot battle
there sat in the cool valley
and bathed himself in triumph
an old general.

II

The moon's beams fell
on a dead man
and an ugly jackal prepared to eat.

III

What a ghastly animal! What an awful spawn
walks on the old hero
how greedily he laps human blood
the horror - of the battlefield.

IV

Yes, an abomination - you've got it
excellent - slash with sword.
just one word I want to give
to mankind.

V

If you - man - murder men,
don't fault the animals
The animal only murders, when it has hunger
is otherwise better than you.


Time Thoughts

About the Russo-Japanese War

Other times and other customs? - It always comes out
the same.
Wrestle and fight - make war against each other - was
always a temporal game - without horror.
There were never intelligent times, - always strife
quarrel or war.
If a few little men die - it is measured by the standards of
the present time.
Rather, let us drop this theme - and wait patiently for the
coming peace.
This struggling was earlier, the same now - and eternally
will sound a similar song.


Culture

Since men became intelligent - they searched and speculated
out of the unexplored spheres - to gain wonders
Take what they found - make wonder things
Finally - they destroy it themselves
Lie then - - - - - - and laugh.
You are rational - you must be, there will always
be injustice - eternally one complains.
Eternally will one cultivate - model, master - judge
Coarsely, then under a pretense - destroy the culture.
The next day he received a letter from the mayor in which he wrote, “My dear philosopher, you have to continue to pay the rent, but to your wife so she can fatten herself up and no longer appear so pale - I issue this order not as the mayor, but as a doctor.

Best regards
Dr. Isidor Runes

The agreement was faithfully executed, only one point was not followed. On Purim, the American would appear punctually and stilt walk leisurely around the streets to entertain the youth, but he would not accept gifts any more. It was a debt of honor to the youth.


The Blind Soldier

There on the main square in Petrograd,
daily sits - a blind soldier
the chest hollow - covered with decorations -
with dull eyes - he looks - heavenward.

Storm - or rain or - sunshine,
the poor guy shows up punctually.
From morning to evening, - one always sees him,
he plays on the lyre - a sad song.

Oh good people, have pity on me,
believe me, it is terrible, - to be blind.
To sit and beg, - in frost and in snow, -
give a groschen [German coin] - hunger is painful.

Ladies and gentlemen - walk there often,
and know very well - what the poor one wants.
but pity touches them not, - they pass by,
in vain plays the beggar - he doesn't get a kopek [small Russian coin].

People oh people! - Don't hurry so fast,
oh hear the beggar - why he is blind
what crime did he commit - what has he done,
who has condemned him - to eternal night?
Once, also he, - could see the sun,
his body was built like - a cedar
A man - who people everywhere - were glad to see,
the fist was like iron - and power for ten.

Then came a time - when for the Little Father, “Tsar”
the peaceful times - became to boring.
In order to divert himself - he had a war.
the heroes went into the field - and came back cripples.

And also this poor one - was once a hero
and was sent to the field - for the Tsar,
there he fought courageously - in holy rage,
and there the poor one - lost his eyes.

Therefore, after the war, - the Tsar gave him
medals - and even - this lyre.
Now he can sit - where one sees him,
and hunger - makes him sing - this song.

There on the main square - in Petrograd
daily sits - the blind soldier.
From morning to evening - he can always be seen,
he plays on the lyre - the sad song.

Parody on Moris Rosenfeld
Russo-Japanese war 1904

Ben-Saar
Rubinstein


Notes

  1. The document of course is basically in German which is the only language I claim any skill in translating. The author however employs a lot of Yiddish words and phrases, Yiddish being the language the natives of Sadagora spoke with each other. The Yiddish is not “standard,” but a Sadagora dialect. Also the author's transliteration is non-standard. I did the best I could with the Yiddish. The author also sprinkled the work with Hebrew, Romanian and Slavic words. For these words he had a table at the end of the book giving their German meaning. I eliminated the table and put the translations of these words in brackets where the words appear. Return
  2. Officers: It's just about impossible to find translations for these positions. Some I just translated literally, for example, Kontroll Kommission as “Control Commission.” Verwalter which translates as “bailiff,” I thought might be “Master-at-Arms. For Kassa, I took an educated guess at “treasurer.” Ausschuss means “commission” or “committee.” Return
  3. Sada Gora: There are several variations on the name of the town, Sadagura, Sadgora, Sadgera and Sadagora. For consistency, I will use Sadagora. Return
  4. Moldavia and Walachia: These are the two principalities which joined in 1861 to form Romania. Return
  5. Ruzyner Tzaddik Friedmann: A famous Chassidic Rabbi. Ruzyner probably refers to the town he came from, Ruzhin in Russia. His actual name was Israel Friedman. Tzaddik (plural is Tzaddikim) is Hebrew and literally means “righteous person. It is the title used for a “Rebe” or Chassidic spiritual leader. http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/Bukowinabook/buk1_085.html an essay about the Chassidic dynasties in Sadagora. Return
  6. Gabuem are managers of the affairs of a Chassidic Rabbi. Schamusim are synagogue servants. Shabbat Goyim are non-Jews hired to do work on the Shabbat that pious Jews are not allowed to do, like lighting a fire. Return
  7. Till Eulenspiegel was a legendary trickster from the Middle Ages who played his practical jokes throughout the Holy Roman Empire. Although he played his tricks mostly on craftsmen, noblemen up to and including the pope were not exempt from his tricks. Return
  8. Kheyderim: kheyder (plural kheyderim) is a traditional Hebrew school for boys. Melamed (plural melamedim) is a teacher on an elementary level of Jewish subjects. Traf is the beginning instruction in the kheyder. Chimisch are the Five Books of Moses. Rashi is Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, one of the greatest medieval Jewish scholars. Return
  9. Gemara: Commentaries on the Mishnah. The Mishnah and Gemara together are the Talmud Return
  10. A fiacre is a small hackney coach or coach for hire. A wägalech is a small wagon. Return
  11. These are the first words of Kaddish, a prayer in Aramaic praising God, commonly associated with mourning practices. Return
  12. Repetent: The whole point of this story revolves around the two meanings of the German word “repetent.” Unfortunately, I can't find it in my German dictionaries. It's possible it means “repentant,” but that doesn't make any sense out of the story. If any reader can figure this out, let me - Error processing SSI file
    . Doktorlech is diminutive of doctors. The diminutive form is normally used as a term of endearment, but in this case it is being used sarcastically. Return
  13. The joke here again is a play on Yiddish words. “A piste Chulim!” means “a pale or vapid dream.” I'm not sure what “Auf alle piste Wälder” means. Wälder means “forests” in German. Return
  14. This is an example of Yiddish dialect. Bud is bod in standard Yiddish which means “bathhouse.” The establishment is also called the “schvitz or shvitzbod. Return
  15. The besemlech is a bundle of oak twigs with the leaves. The masseur would dip the besemlech in a bucket of soapy water and use it to pound the customer and then massage the body, front and back. Return
  16. The mikvah is a bath that can be used by both men and women in purification rituals. Orthodox Jewish women immerse themselves in the mikvah following their monthly cycle or after childbirth to become ritually pure and eligible to resume their normal relationships. The mikvah is also used as part of a conversion to Judaism. Return
  17. Hamentaschen or Hamen's Pockets are triangular fruit filled pastries served or given as gifts during Purim. Hamen is the evil Persian minister in the Purim story. Return

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