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[Page 3]

Prologue

by The Editorial Board

Translated by Boaz Nadler

… and in opening this book, with the editorial work finished and the book sent to be printed, before we “bless on our accomplishment,” it is worthwhile to pause a minute and review the way this book has come into being.

Since the first convention in Hadera (in 1951), a couple of years have gone by -- years of groping and searching, of disappointments and accomplishments. In the end, we were able to overcome the obstacles and to present to the community of Orheyev descendants the material shaped and collected into the most suitable form.

Our goal was to present the image of our beloved city in its glory and in its ruins. We wanted this book to serve as a mirror, through which the lives of our ancestors and of our brothers and sisters -- lives that follow a traditional path as in any typical Jewish village in the Diaspora -- will all become transparent.

To this end, in interviews with many people from Orheyev, we encouraged them to speak or write about as many details as possible, especially those that added detail to the description of life in the Jewish community.

We also met with the Holocaust survivors, those that made it to the shore of our homeland, from whom we know of the terrible fate that came to most Jews in Orheyev under the hands of the enemy.

It is worthwhile to note that most of the material is the product of ordinary people for whom writing is not their profession, people who do not consider themselves as “writers of the society.” Each and every one of them poured out his thoughts, as they were kept and remembered in their hearts.

The simplicity, the good will, and above all, the eternal truth -- these are the characteristic features of all those people that helped us in this task.

May all of them be blessed!

We would also like to thank all of our friends and colleagues who have responded to our challenge, and have contributed their time and money to make this book come true.

The Editorial Board:
 
Yitzchak Spivak
Mordechai Rotkov
Mordechai Frank
1958, a decade in Israel.


[Page 5]

Excerpts from the Writers

Bessarabia and its uniqueness

Translated by Boaz Nadler

Some of the most distinguished Israeli writers (S. Ben-Zion, Doctor Zvi Vasilavsky and A. Epstein) have written about the unique characteristics of the people of Jewish Bessarabia. Through their excerpts, a faithful image of the lives of our own town people is reflected, and many details about the lives of our ancestors from 50 years ago are made clear through their picturesque descriptions.

Excerpts by Abraham Epstein

Bessarabia – a plain land filled with sunlight, fields and vineyards, its land fertilized and fresh, and its people well built and powerful, all crops of the land. A lively energy is found in them; even the Jews show the signature of the place: strong and muscular, and in fact good Jews, observant ones. Their image is as those Bessarabian nuts, whose outer shell is strong, while their inside is soft and tender…

(From “Bessarabia writers”)

Doctor Zvi Vasilavsky

Small and tiny was the Jewish tribe that placed its tent, a nomadic Jewish tent, in the wide fields of Bessarabia. Poor and negligible was this tribe among the great Jewish tribes that lived in the dry lands of Vohlin, Podolia and new Russia and that were densely populated and carried an ancient history. Minute was also its part in the Jewish culture of the Diaspora of the last generations: A few sad melodies, a gypsy Moldovian-Vohlin Jewish mixture, bringing tears to your eyes and softening your heart with the sunset on a Saturday evening, and bringing a unique flavor in the prayers during the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom-Kippur – this is the only gift to the nomadic Jewish temple, that Jewish Bessarabia brought with it. Simple Jews lived there. Their food – mamaliga, and their drink – Bessarabian wine. Their food more than an egg, while their religiousness, less than an olive. Only the reflecting light of the Podilic Hasidim, is shining their light from the black land to the blue sky. Their life table is full, but their spiritual table, poor and miserable. If a Jew from Lita would come by, only lightly knowledgeable in the Bible and the Mishnah – he would be considered a scholar, a Rabbi. In contrast, many of the Jews are farmers, workers of the land, muscular and strong. In their love for the land, they were not blessed with being overly pampered, but were closer to the origins of life and the world.

Excerpts by S. Ben-Zion

“A typical town in Bessarabia of those times…. The streets – dust and trash in the hot summer days, and deep mud in the rainy days. But around the town and beyond it – large fields, green from one horizon to the other, and beyond them – mountains with vineyards and groves and herds of sheep and cattle…the town satiated with all the surrounding goods distinguishes itself from most Moldavian villages and other towns and cities…”

“The Jews from Teleneshty are simple people. A Jew that knows books and a chapter of the Mishnah (Jewish oral laws) is a rare vision. Even more scarce is a person who speaks Russian; and one who knows how to sign his name in Russian was regarded as a scholar in Israel and around the Moldavians. The “Haskala” – (Jewish enlightenment and education movement), this name was still heard there in those days… The Hasidic (pious) Jews were of the simple type. Small “Hasidic Rabbis”, wearing “Kutshmas”, which are not known or notable in Poland, would visit the town from time to time – bringing happiness and joy to Teleneshty. Most belonged to the group of the Hasidic Rabbi from Rashkobi, also a simple Jew, satisfied with prayers and reading chapters from the Mishnah. Among the Hasidim were also educated ones, from Telne, Sadgora, and also from Habad. These were “fine Jews”, and most of them were called by the names of their town of origin, which means that they were not natives of Teleneshty. The teachers in the town were mostly all from Poland….The town Jews are lovers of wine -- and the wine is poured generously -- and nuts and “Pastrusa” (dried and spicy meat) and other things; they eat and drink and enjoy themselves ….."

S. Ben Zion, one of the notable writers of the previous generation (Born in Teleneshty, and in this description gives a clear view of a typical Bessarabian town life, in the Orheyev county), gives a faithful description of his home town, Teleneshty, and its Jews, in the previous century.

[Page 7]

My Home Town

by Y. Spivak

Translated by Boaz Nadler

I wouldn't be wrong if I said that Orheyev, the name of our town, is almost never mentioned in any book, and if by chance its name is mentioned it is incidentally so, in conjunction with a different principal subject. This is not the case for the other cities and towns of the Bessarabia region. I shall not talk about Kishinev, the capital of the region, which has been mentioned in newspapers and books before, during and after the pogroms of 1903, nor about the small towns and villages whose size and population is comparable to that of Orheyev (Kalarash, Teleneshty, Soroki, Beltsy) and whose names were mentioned here and there. Rather I shall talk about Orheyev, which unfortunately, is not mentioned anywhere.

Our town did not serve as the birthplace for a known artist, nor has it left any legacy, neither in words, lyrics, nor paintings. This envy broke my heart, and I've said to myself, can we put up with the fact that in place of Orheyev there will only be left an empty void, and its name will never be mentioned again… and if we, the last generation, who saw with our own eyes the terrible destruction of our town do not fill this empty vacuum, then who will do it?

But the world will not shed a tear if Orheyev will remain without reminiscence. Thousands of communities have lost their names with no reminiscence. However, we, the last generation of Orheyev descendants, our hearts will die in pain if the memory of Orheyev, our home town, will be totally lost.

Thus, a few words of farewell in view of its ruins.

Our hometown is precious to us anytime its memories come into our hearts. In it we were born and educated, in it our own unique character was formed and through it we walked until we came to Israel. This Orheyev was not a legend but a living reality, and now it seems to us like a dark shadow.

“Gdoley Torah” did not come to live within your boundaries; known writers did not straddle your streets. The simple ordinary people, they are the ones who lived within you. And amongst these, we shall always remember the youth, the young generation whom I have had the pleasure to encounter when I stumbled upon Orheyev in the twenties. There I found outstanding youth groups, who left the comfort of their parents' homes, and lived in basements and attics, solely to be able to continue a Zionist education and achieve self-realization. These are the ones whom, with sweat and hard work, have padded the new way to their followers. These young people, whose numbers attained hundreds, whom by coming to Israel have become stronger and fortified and have taken up important positions in our community.

Every time I recall the memory of my dearest friends who have not been able to come to Israel, but rather died in the Holocaust, and recall that Orheyev has been totally destroyed and its presence deleted from the face of the earth, I say to myself: these pages will serve as a soul to our town, and a living memory for all the sacred and innocent people who were exterminated there.

My town, a general view from the Ibanus

My town, a general view from the Ibanus

 

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