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[Pages 333-335]

A Nurse in the Red Army

By Lana Binder (Visakolsky)

Translated by Judy Grossman

I have been in many beautiful cities and towns in my life, but Dusiat of my childhood was the most beautiful of them all! I can see it in my mind's eye. I see the images of my father, Abba-Shiye, and my mother, Lotta.

 

Father Abba-Shiye Mother Lotta

 

My father was a clever and jolly man. He was always invited to weddings, because he livened things up with his singing. On Simchat Torah, my father would organize his friends, and together they would go from house to house, open the oven door, taste the food, and drink until they were tipsy. My father was an expert in the classification of linen, and worked in Memel (Klaipeda) and Ponevezh (Panevezys). He would wander far and wide, in order to make a living. He passed away from illness in the early 1930's. I was still a young girl when he became ill. Dr. Druyan would come and inject him with painkillers. When I brought the X rays to the doctor in Kovno (Kaunas), he examined them, looked at me, and said: “Dear child, it's too late…” My father preferred that I bring him his gruel – the only food he could eat. “It's especially tasty when you serve me,” he would whisper. He lost weight from day to day, and near the end, his body was haggard, just skin and bones. I couldn't bear to see his suffering, and prayed that his torment would not drag on. There was no electricity in the house, and the room was lit by candlelight. I remember, as though it were today. I saw the candle burning low and said to myself: Father's life is being extinguished like the candle…

And my mother – I can see her standing and lighting the Sabbath candles, with us around her. Father arrives home from the synagogue, and the house is filled with light, songs and stories. Our home was a traditional one, like many in the shtetl – not overly observant. It was in the home of my good friend Reinke Levin's parents in Antaliept that I recall the sacred atmosphere of the Sabbath, which was so magnificent! Her father had a long beard, and her mother was a pretty woman. When I was a guest in their home on the Sabbath, we all sat around the table, everyone sang, and the Sabbath atmosphere made a great impression on me. I remember how slowly and bashfully I ate the gefillte fish, and my hosts urging me to turn the fish over and eat more heartily…

Reinke and I were good friends. They called us “two bodies and one soul” When I came to Israel, I so yearned to see her, and I made a special trip to her kibbutz. This was after many years of separation…

I studied for four years at the Tarbut School in Dusiat, and I fondly and smilingly remember how the teachers used to pinch my red cheeks. Afterwards I graduated from the gymnasia in Rakishok (Rokiskis). I was an active member of the Hashomer Hatzair branch in our shtetl, and I went on hachshara to the Hashomer Hatzair collective in Kovno. I remember a special event at the hachshara. We were standing and frying hamburgers, when the river suddenly overflowed its banks. Its waters flowed into our house, and the hamburgers we had fried floated in the water, which is how I can see them in my imagination…

 

 
Members of Hashomer Hatzair
Members of Hashomer Hatzair from Dusiat, Antaliept, Zarasai and Utian [Utena] with the leader Yaacov Gotlieb (in the middle wearing glasses)
Top row, fourth from left: Baile Radushevsky (Utian)
Second row, extreme left: Shlomo Kushnir (Utian), and the two friends Reinke Levin (Antaliept) next to Lanka Visakolsky (Dusiat): “two bodies and one soul”…
Third row, extreme left: Zamke Barkal (Utian), (-), Rivka Shub (Dusiat), (-), Itzik Shteinman (Zarasai), seventh from right Motale Slep (Dusiat)
Front row, middle: Zlata Kushnir (Utian), extreme right: Beinish Yudelowitz (Dusiat)
{Chaim Nir-Kushnir [Kibbutz Amir] identified the members from Utian}

 

Rokiskis

 

 
Lanka Visakolsky and Slovka Segal (standing, right)

 

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