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[Page 167]

Personalities and Types

 

[Page 182]

David and Avraham Silberman

by Marish-Byanov

Translated by Sara Mages

 

The cantor David Silberman was born in Capresti about 1870. He was one of the outstanding students of Zeidel Robner, in Kishinev and Ternopol. He had a dramatic tenor voice and prayed, accompanied by a choir, on the “High Holidays” and the “Three Pilgrimage Festivals” in our town's Great Synagogue. Sometimes he toured the cities of Bessarabia, and performed the prayers of “Shabbat Mevarchim” and “Shabbat Rosh Chodesh” accompanied by his choir.

During the First World War he organized, together with a group of women, an association called “Ezrat Aniiem” [help for the poor], and devoted much of his time and energy to it.

His son, Avraham Silberman, followed his father's footsteps. He excelled in his musical talent, and when he grew up he helped his father with the choir, and was its conductor. In addition, he founded a string instrument orchestra which participated in various performances for the benefit of public institutions and Zionist funds.

He was a regular participant in the drama club and organized the musical accompaniment for the plays.

He was a pharmacist in his profession, but since he was a popular cantor he occasionally traveled for performances in various cities in Bessarabia.

In 1935 he was elected to the Community Council.

During the war he wandered throughout Asia. After the war he immigrated to Canada where he passed away.


[Page 182]

Melech Hoichman

by Marish-Byanov

Translated by Sara Mages

 

One of the most magnificent fabric shops in the center of Căpreşti was undoubtedly that of Melech Hoichman. Everyone who entered this shop came up against the lovely smile of Melech, whose soft voice and warm attitude inspired an atmosphere of trust from the first glance.

Although he was a wealthy merchant with initiative and energy, he behaved with simplicity and humility when he was immersed in his businesses (also as a partner in the Ibtcher -Elkis-Skladman flour mill). He didn't devote time to public work, but his hand was always open to those who turned to him. He donated generously to various public institutions and also to Zionist funds. For that reason, he was respected and loved by everyone who knew him. It is told about him, that he refrained from meeting people in the street who owed him money for goods or for charity, in order not put them in an uncomfortable situation.

In 1940, during the first days of the Soviet regime in Căpreşti, he was arrested and exiled to Siberia. He found his death there, and his burial place is unknown.

His wife Leah and their son Moshe immigrated to Israel and passed away in their hometown - Haifa.


[Page 183]

Mordechai-Leib Yanowitz

by Marish-Byanov

Translated by Sara Mages

 

Mordechai-Leib Yanowitz was one of the well known personalities in Căpreşti, and many remember him because of his many acts of heroism. The elderly knew to tell about a case in which Mordechai-Leib was able to deal, alone, with one of the local thugs who abused the residents of the town.

On market days, when the drunken farmers rioted and caused damage to the shops, Mordechai-Leib was one of the first to rush to help. In one of these fights he was seriously wounded in his forehead and lost one of his eyes.

In 1917, during the Russian Revolution, a “self-defense group” was organized in the town and Mordechai-Leib was one of its active members.

With the entry of the Romanians to Bessarabia, Mordechai-Leib belonged to one of the country's political parties, and was elected, for one term, as the deputy of the local council leader (Vishta Primer).

In 1941, at the outbreak of the war between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, the Yanowitz family wandered throughout Central Asia. After the war they arrived to Chernivtsi where his wife Rachel passed away. He passed away several years later (in 1969) at the age of 92.


[Page 183]

Moshe and Malka Elkis

by Baruch Yanowitz

Translated by Sara Mages

 

Moshe, son of Eliyahu Elkis, was born in 1883 in the city of Yampol, Ukraine. He was descended of an extensive and distinguished family. After several years of study in a “Heder,” he was forced to stop his studies because he had to help his parents who fell on hard times.

At the age of 18 he left his family, crossed the Dniester River and settled in Căpreşti. Here, he worked as an apprentice in Michael Friberg's store, and sent the money that he had earned to his family. In Purim of 1910 he married Malka, daughter of Tanchum and Kuntzi Yanowitz. During the years of their life together she was a loyal assistant at home and in the businesses. In the course of time, they acquired a position and capital, and were among the town's wealthy residents.

When his brother-in-law, Hersh Pekelman, arrived to Căpreşti, they established an oil-press together. In the course of time, Moshe became a partner to a large flour mill together with Aharon and David Ibtcher, Yermiyah Skeladman and Melech Hoichman. This mill provided electricity to the town.

Moshe Elkis excelled in his modesty and generosity. His house was always open and the needy, who turned to him in time of trouble, received a generous assistance from him. I remember, that Michael Landau - the manager of the daily newspaper “Unzer tsay?” [Our time], and Misho Wiseman - a delegate to the Romanian parliament - stayed at the Elkis' home during their visit to Căpreşti. They greatly praised the housewife, Malka, for her wisdom and hospitality.

[Page 184]

When the Soviets entered Căpreşti most of the family's assets were nationalized. At the outbreak of the war the family managed to flee, and after years of wandering around Russia they managed to reach Israel. Here, at their old age, they were able to spend some time with their only daughter Rivka, her husband Baruch Yanowitz and their grandchildren.

It should be noted, that despite his wealth, Moshe Elkis wasn't arrogant and didn't averse from manual labor in time of need. When he arrived to Israel he didn't want to be a burden on others, and at the age of 70 he worked as an apprentice in a wholesale grocery store.

Elkis' acquaintances will remember him as a gentle and generous soul, and that a smile always hovered on his lips. The town's Zionist activists will remember him as an ardent Zionist who always responded willingly to requests, and contributed generously.


[Page 184]

To the image of Hershel Pekelman

by Ozer Bronstein

Translated by Sara Mages

 

It is impossible to talk about Hershel Pekelman without mentioning his oil-press, because you always found him there. The first shift greeted him at six o'clock in the morning. The second shift, which reported to work at six o'clock in the evening, also found him at his post. He always stood by the big ancient desk, which stood at the entrance to the factory, that its doors were wide open both summer and winter.

Unlike other oil-presses the work was conducted here without shouting, even though the same machinery for oil production was in use. The grinding mill, which operated at the southern end of the factory, contributed quite a bit to the general noise. Hersko's (as he was called by the Russian workers) upraised arm and his other agreed signals - were enough to direct the work. Faults and other complex problems were under the care of the mechanic Vladimir Savitzky, whereas I - as his assistant and tools carrier - followed him like a shadow.

During the maintenance work and all kinds of repairs, my ear caught quite a lot of gossip. Over time, after it was whispered from mouth to ear, the gossip ballooned because each person added to it from the fruit of his imagination and the thoughts of his heart. The present, of course, isn't a suitable material for stories. Therefore, all the amusing incidents took place in the past, when the factory was located in the old man's yard (meaning - Tanchum Yanowitz, Hershel's father-in-law) - so opens and tells Alexey the lame as he's smoking and spitting. After a few sentences he used to add an ending: “Indeed, this is the case. Well, it was before the drought and the famine. Sausage was very cheap then, and so was the vodka. At that time watches appeared in the stores. Surely you remember them - watches that a locomotive was painted on their dial. They were cheap but not accurate. But a watch is a watch. Indeed, this is the matter. Now, when you meet a neighbor or just a friend, you take the watch out of your pocket, you hold it next to your ear and listen to its ticking, you check the second hand, and it runs and advances like a demon. Tell me: is there anything lovelier than that? That's why we came to an agreement: we all go to Zachar (Zechariah the watchmaker), buy watches, come to work,

[Page 185]

and hang them in a row on the wall. Indeed, that's how it was! One day, Moshko (Moshe Elkis - Hershel Pekelman's partner) appeared, and even before we managed to remove the watches from the wall, he stood in front them with corncobs in his hands - ready and willing for “target shooting.” Indeed, that's how it was. It's not clear how the matter became known to Hershko who was on the upper floor. He hurried down the stairs and started to persuade Moshko with pleasant words to let go of the watches. We didn't hear their argument, but we saw Moshko waving his fists in anger while Hershko - was calm, cold as a fish, and still wining. Indeed, that's how it was. Not to mention, that Mr. Hershko saved our watches.”

I've heard another story from the mouth of Metro Jakovnko. He was kind of a team leader, who represented the workers when he spoke with the master and represented the master in his conversations with the workers. Everyone joked on his expense that his work was done with one eye while the other watched Alexey the lame, who behaved badly when he arrived to work drunk as Lot. Both worked at the roasting ovens - the most responsible job in the edible oil industry.

“Well, one day I was standing by the oven - so tells Metro Jakovnko as he passes a roasted mixture to the hands of Yaske Bambulka who worked in the press, - suddenly, a shout!” The oil tank is overflowing!” By the time someone noticed it, and until I managed to open the tap of the reserve tank, a large quantity spilled from the tank on the floor. I quickly removed a worker from each machine, organized them in a group and told them: “Hurry up, bring dry sunflower flour to absorb the oil, and clean the floor on the double!” As I was giving the orders to the guys, Hershko returned from his lunch and caught us red handed. I expected the worst, but he approached the oil puddle, looked at it, glanced at each one of us and shook his head. He motioned me to follow him, and when we were out of the guys' earshot he told me: “Metro, this oil that we produce is edible for humans! I know - I answered. If so, Metro, don't cheat and don't put this filth into the kneading machine, understood!? With that, he left me with an open mouth, turned, and went upstairs. - You're a fool - I thought in my heart - even though you're a master and you own a factory. - Why a fool? Switzki interrupted the flow of his words… - Why? - Metro said angrily - Just leave the guys with bewildered eyes and to upstairs? - Go upstairs and restrain yourself at the very moment when you want to smack someone in the teeth - here is what - Switzki interrupted him again. What's strange here, Metro goes on, this man was a soldier and even participated in a war…

These stories and others about Hershko (as the factory workers called him), and about the relationship between them, aren't few. If I was satisfied with two of them, it's only because I want to tell about Pekelman's hobby. He devoted himself to it with the same energy that he gave to his factory. I'm talking about the dance, which was also called “Bal” [ball] in Căpreşti. The organization of a successful “Bal” required expertise, and there wasn't an expert in this matter like Pekelman. On the evening, when the “Bal” was held in Căpreşti, he left his factory as early as possible to personally check if everything was in order.” If you want a successful ball you need to worry about the smallest detail” - he said - and did everything he could for its success. It didn't matter to him if the ball was organized for a charitable cause or for Purim, as long as its revenue was dedicated to “Keren ha-kayemet” [the Jewish National Fund]. It's possible, that thanks to his special relationship to “Keren ha-kayemet,” other balls also received his special care.

[Page 186]

In one of the balls, an unfortunate incident happened between Hershel and I and several of my good friends. According to the plan, we first went to see Pekelman who checked the tickets at the entrance. For some reason, we always managed to “sneak in” when he was on duty. The most important task, when we were already inside, was to fill our stomachs. Since we were well trained, and each one of us knew where to stand and what to do, we headed to the buffet to eat. It's obvious, that since the prices were very high we were only able to buy the food by “pulling”… We ate our fill, and now what, since we wouldn't participate in the dance and the program doesn't interest us? Then the genius in the group, who was full of tricks and mischief like a pomegranate, had an idea. What did he do? He stood in the doorway of one of the four dance halls, and when the light dimmed for the first waltz he started to scream: “fight.”

We, who were posted in different locations in the corridor, also helped to increase the uproar in the hall. But in his enthusiasm our genius made a fatal error. Instead of the planned rapid withdrawal, he remained where he was. It didn't take a long time before Hershel's extended hand grabbed his ear and led him out. The rest of the “Knights of the order” were also removed in a similar manner. I hid in the locker room between furs and coats. However, Pekelman wasn't the man that it was possible to get away from.

“Out, march! We'll settle the account with you at home…!”

[Page 186]

The Ibtcher Family

by Marish-Byanov

Translated by Sara Mages

 

The members of the Ibtcher family belonged to one of the extensive and influential families in the town. The elder, Yosef Ibtcher, was called “Rezesh” - land owner - by the famers. He was a strong man, who, at the age of nearly eighty, was still galloping on his horse. He was blessed with sons and a daughter, and from them we remember: David (Dudel), Aharon, Yankel, Berl, and his daughter - the wife of Leib Stein.

*

David Ibtcher - cultivated large parcels of land, his own and also those that he had leased. He was a partner to the largest four-mill in town. He immigrated to Israel and passed away at the home of his son, Cahim Ibtcher, in Hadera. From his descendants we remember:

His daughter Hinda - was a dentist. She was married to the pharmacist Bronson.

Mina Ibtcher - was the life and soul of “Tzeirei Zion” party in Căpreşti. He also excelled in his public work in various social areas. He lived in Căpreşti until 1940. When the Soviets entered Bessarabia he changed his place of residence and moved to Chişinău.

[Page 187]

With the outbreak of the war he enlisted to the Red Army, and in 1942 he was sent to a cavalry course. He was wounded in one of the battles near the Moscow front, and died on the way to the hospital.

Cahim Ibtcher - arrived to Israel at a young age. He was among the first Capresters who drained the swamps in Hadera, and his lot was the malaria which was prevalent in this area.

The youngest son, Shuka Ibtcher, served as the chairman of the community of Căpreşti a short time before the arrival of the Soviets.

Aharon Ibtcher
- was a senior partner in the largest flour-mill that also supplied electricity to the town's buildings and streets. He was a public figure and represented the wealthy merchant class in Căpreşti. He was firm in his ideas and didn't deter from battling for his opinion. When the establishment of the community was on the agenda, he strongly opposed that the “common folks” will determine the composition of the community management. He was elected to the community council, and opposed the methods of Dr. Nachum Fidelman - the elected community chairman. He returned to Chişinău after wandering and suffering in the plains of Asia and Siberia, and died there in poverty and destitution.

*

Yankel Ibtcher - was a wealthy grain merchant. Two weeks before the outbreak of the Second World War he was deported to Siberia together with his family, and perished there.



[Page 187]

Avraham (Avrahm'l) Bronstein

by Marish-Byanov

Translated by Sara Mages

 

Avrahm'l Bronstein was one of the Capresters that the public needs were close to their hearts, and he devoted his time and effort to them. As far as we knew him he didn't stick to a routine, and if there was an opportunity to organize a new interest in the town, he didn't hesitate and joined with great energy.

When the issue of the establishment of “Tarbut” High School in the town was on the agenda, he was among the first who helped in the planning and the execution of this educational enterprise.

So it was in regards to the “Folk-House.” Many doubted and ridiculed this notion, but he was among the few who submitted their help. He also gave his financial assistance to other projects.

After many wanderings in the plains of Ukraine, he managed to reach Israel sick and exhausted. In 1956 he passed away at the home of his son, Yissachar (Shunia), in Kiryat Haim.


[Page 188]

The Răut is the cruelest of all
In memory of Mina Chait z”l

by Avraham (Buma) Yutzis

Translated by Sara Mages

 

cap188.jpg

 

The Capresters remember the Răut River, which flowed near the town, with affection and nostalgia. The river was calm, calm and quiet. The landscape around it was enticing - mountains covered with greenery, rocks, and spectacular wildflowers in various colors. At that time we were like wild flowers. On Saturday evenings, young men and women walked among the rocks on the banks of the Răut River. They were cheerful, happy, and intoxicated with love and the joy of youth.

For the adults, the Răut and the landscape around it - was what we call nowadays “the quality of life.” On blazing summer days the townspeople left in droves, families and groups - on foot, in vehicles (horse drawn carts, of course), and on horseback - to the magnificent Răut, to immerse in its clear warm water and swim to their pleasure. When they came out of the river, cheerful and fresh, each family and group sat in a circle by the river bank - like a big “picnic” - sat and ate the meals that they had brought from home. Later, they lay down to rest from the toil of the day and to enjoy the glory of nature…

Quiet was the Răut and calm was its water, until that bitter and fatal summer day of 1934 when, like a thunder on a clear day, came the horrible news that shocked all of us: Mina Chait drowned in the Răut…

All the townspeople, young and old, left frightened and shocked in the direction of the Răut to try to help, to rescue and revive dear Mina. This lovely young man, who was full of life and blessed with talents, was loved by all. But all the efforts were in vain - the cruel river held its prey and didn't let go…we never saw Mina alive again.

Those who were close to Mina Chait z”l - will never forget him. He was the only son to his parents, and a loyal friend to his friends. He was one of the best students at school, and the most brilliant in the society.

Mina Chait z”l was 24 at the time of his death. His entire life was before of him, and all the opportunities to advance were open before him. The Răut, which Mina loved to swim through its length and breadth - snatched him from us forever.

Indeed, the Răut is the cruelest of all…

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