A Few Memories
Yoel Schwam (Charap), Tel Aviv
Translated by Ornit Barkai
Four decades have passed since the day I left Jezierna. Quite some time!
In the meantime, the shtetl was destroyed by the Nazi enemy along with many other similar towns, and I was left only with memories of the good old days.
I remember well our life in this small town, especially the group of youths I was a part of. After World War I, new winds swept through the youth in our town, but we did not let them affect our Limudei Kodesh [Judaic studies]. These lessons took place at Rabbi Shloime'le's Bet Midrash [House of Study].
There we learned. Thanks to a bunch of young men who got together each day and studied Gemara [rabbinic commentaries]. Together with me studied Moshe Bik, Naftali Zeidman, Shimon Scheinhous and Abraham Danzer. Leading us was Itche Paket, David's son, who had just returned from his yeshiva [school for religious studies], where he had received his Rabbinic ordination. He taught us not in order to receive a reward. His teaching contributed greatly to the enrichment of our knowlege.
I also remember very well our studies with the shochet [ritual butcher] Hersch Leib Stokheimer, of blessed memory. A few youths, we used to go to his home in the evenings to learn; we were given a very friendly reception in his home. His wife Ruchama, a modest woman, was happy that her husband was performing the mitzvah [good deed] of teaching Torah to young Jewish boys.
All the while, we did not neglect other activities; we were all members of the Zionist movement. The only youth organization was the Hit'achadut, the pioneer movement. My group leader was Motl (Mordechai) Bik; he would direct the conversations toward pioneering education. It was also very interesting when members from the secretariat would come to talk to us. Sometimes Berl Stock (now known as Professor Dov Sadan) would come to talk about national liberation.
We actually, then and there, started doing physical labor tasks in preparation for implementing our pioneering aspirations.
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