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[Page 213]

To My Girlfriends Who Did Not Merit…[1]

Rivka Shapira (Horowitz)

Translated by Allen Flusberg

I will never forget the friends that I grew up with in our town, and how we spent time together dreaming about aliya[2] to the Land of Israel. I will never forget how we girls would gather together every evening in the “Beit Yaakov” building, in the presence of Pesya Gutmorgen, our lovely, modest teacher, whom everyone in the town was fond of. How we enjoyed those meetings—whether it was a Bible class, an open discussion, or a game. And sometimes we would sit around, singing late into the night; or we would carry on, the way young girls do.

Every Sabbath we would gather before evening for “Shalosh Seudot[3]. We would sit around a table, set appropriately with an abundance of delicacies and treats. Pesya Gutmorgen sat at the head of the table, giving a talk on “Parshat Hashavua[4], while we girls lapped up her words with relish. We felt engulfed with peace and serenity. We would start singing as soon as her talk ended, and then we would finish by dancing. It was a kind of harbinger of a good week to come.

Whenever my thoughts turn to my childhood I recall these friends of mine, envisioning them before my eyes. One in particular stands out, a close friend whose image has been with me all these years since I left Dobrzyn—Chana Kadecki.

She was the daughter of wealthy parents. We were bound together in a very close, devoted friendship. When they began distributing aliya certificates to the Agudat Yisrael[5] girls, they set up hachsharot[6] for girls in Warsaw and Lodz. Chana Kadecki also wanted to go on hachshara[7], but only if we would be together. And indeed in the end we did go to Lodz together. However, when it actually came to immigrating, I wound up going to Israel by myself; it was not possible to obtain two travel visas, nor were her parents in a hurry to agree to let her go.

After that she wrote me a great deal, letters abounding with love for the Land of Israel. To prepare for aliya she went to learn needlework, wishing to find means to support herself by working. She believed that she would join me in a matter of a few months. She believed it, but did not merit it…How unhappy I was! For together the two of us had dreamed about aliya to Israel as we strolled through the streets of the town, our thoughts taking us far, far away…

I left Dobryn in 1936, on a Sunday in the month of Tammuz[8]. Very early that morning we strode towards the Golub train station, a distance of several kilometers. I was accompanied by my dear family members and by my many girlfriends, tears in their eyes. The tears were tears of joy that I was going up to the Holy Land, and tears of sadness that they were remaining in the Exile. We parted, using the word lehitraot[9] to say goodbye; it did not occur to any of us that we would not see each other ever again…

May these words constitute an everlasting testimony for my family members and for my friends:

  Family members Friends
  My father, Elyakim Meir Horowicz Altyna, Bina
  My mother, Bayla Frumit Groner, Tultza
  My brother, Yaakov Grosman, Sara
  My brother, Avraham Yosef Goldbruch, Hinda
  My sister, Hinda Goldbruch, Yente
  My brother, Baruch Mendel Kadecki, Chana[10]
  My sister, Hinda[11] Frajlich, Esther
  My aunt, Chana Rosenwaks, Gela
  My uncle, Mendel Gurfinkel Szlachter, Neche
Szlecka, Henye


Translator's Footnotes

  1. From My Town: In Memory of the Communities Dobrzyn-Gollob, edited by M. Harpaz, (published by the Dobrzyn-Golub Society, Israel, 1969), pp. 213-214. Return
  2. Aliya = immigration to Israel Return
  3. Shalosh Seudot = the festive third Sabbath meal, eaten Saturday evening, shortly before the Sabbath ends Return
  4. Parshat Hashavua = the weekly section of the Torah (read in the synagogue that Sabbath) Return
  5. Agudat Yisrael = name of ultra-Orthodox religious movement Return
  6. Hachsharot = Training camps for work in Palestine (see next footnote) Return
  7. Hachshara = Training in work to prepare for the move to Palestine Return
  8. June-July Return
  9. Lehitraot = See you again Return
  10. According to a written eyewitness account, Chana Kadecki was in the group of 35 wealthy families of Dobrzyn that were taken away by the Nazis in November, 1939, shortly before all the Jews of the town were expelled. No member of this group of families was heard from again; it is believed that they were all murdered almost immediately. Written in Warsaw in 1941, the account was preserved there in the Ringelblum archive. See the following link, which contains a copy of the original document in Yiddish with an English translation by Frank Dobia: http://home.connexus.net.au/~fdobia/TwoLetters.htm Return
  11. Here the name ”Hinda“ is apparently a typo in the original Hebrew text, since it already occurs above as that of an older sister. The actual name of the youngest sister was Sheina. Return


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