by Aharon Weissman
I myself am not a Stavishter. My connection to the town derives from my father and my wife, may they rest in peace, who were born in Stavisht. But I remember the town because I was there as a young boy, visiting my grandfather, Shemulik Moshe-Leyzers [i.e. the son of Moshe Leyzer] and my grandmother Yehudit, may her memory be for a blessing. My grandfather, may he forgive me, was not much of a businessman. But my grandmother was a respected and clever merchant and had a fine general store which she managed with the help of her red-bearded and very pious younger son Avraham.
How did one travel in those days? With a wagon, of course. The distance between my birthplace, Uman, and Stavisht was 70 viorst, and it was a full day and night journey, with a stopover for the night at Sokolifke or Kanele.
I remember those journeys to this day. I especially remember the coachman. One was nicknamed Barukh She-amar [Blessed is He who said beginning of a prayer] and the other was nicknamed Olam Ha-ba [the world to come, the afterlife]. These names were derived linguistically thus: The first one's given name was Barukh, so the Stavishter jokesters added the word she-amar from the prayer book. The name of the second coachman was Aba, actually Avraham Aba, so they prefaced it with the word olam. [Translator's note: The h is not pronounced in Ukrainian Yiddish, so it would be pronounced Oylem aba.]
Once, when I was still a young boy, I saw the Stavisht wagon coming to Uman. I immediately ran out and shouted, Reb Barukh She-amar, did you bring me a letter from my grandfather? (The coachmen also served as letter-carriers in those days.)
Who are you, little boy?
I am the son of Hayim-Shemuelik-Moshe-Leyzers [i.e. Hayim the son of Shemuelik the son of Moshe Leyzer].
Not this time, little boy, perhaps another time.
I had the honor of going to Stavisht and back with Olam Ha-ba. The passage of time has dimmed my memory of how he looked, but I still remember his team of horses and the wagon. It was a big Ukrainian covered wagon which had been judaized and had been refurbished to the nth degree. The front section was padded with a bit of rag-covered straw. The important passengers sat under the cover, made of old patched sacks. Opposite them, like hens in a cage, sat the less important passengers, women, and girls. The ordinary passengers sat on the sides, with their feet on stirrups made of boards tied on with ropes. New passengers kept coming aboard and outside the town a few more people got on. Never mind, it did not reach scandalous proportions. Anyway everyone was all shook up from the trip, and the passengers
started to catch their breaths and straighten out a bit only after we were out in the fresh air. As long as it was dry outdoors we managed somehow. The poor horses gasped and quivered and shook their heads nervously.
On all sides of the wagon were hung packages, boxes, bundles, and baskets of all sizes. From Uman to Stavisht they were full of merchandise and on the trip back to Uman they were full of the local products goose fat and cracklings. Stavisht exported these products to Uman and other cities, even as far as Odessa.
I remember the boulevard in Stavisht a long passageway in front of the count's estate. Stavisht belonged to Count Branicki and the nobles who managed the estate lived there. The young people would promenade on the boulevard and the older folk would walk there to 'get a breath of fresh air.
Stavisht was also distinguished by the Zionist kloyz. The elite of the householders, the more enlightened ones, refined young sons-in-law and intelligentsia built their own synagogue. This was a great innovation in those days, because most Jews were opponents of Zionism.
I especially remember the teacher from Stavisht who taught in Uman. I studied two semesters with him, Pentateuch and Rashi [commentary on the Bible]. He had a very hoarse voice and bulging eyes. He was very good-natured. He never hit his students. It seems that he did not even own a whip. When my father, peace upon him, would come back from a visit to Stavisht, my teacher, Shimon-Ber, would come to greet him and his first question was always, Who has died in Stavisht?
This is my little bundle of memories of Stavisht, a fine little town with dear
by Batya Orland
Tel Aviv, Israel
With sap-filled green branches on the trees in the forest
Sandy roads like fine gold
White little houses with straw roofs
My little town stands lonely, at world's end.
In the early evenings the winds would blow
The carefree gentiles stroll in the streets
My lonely little town, my home and my cradle
You are my youth, you are my song
You have been destroyed, my little town
by Naftali Rubin (Rubtshanski)
I was too young to remember any incidents about myself. However, I remember the stories told by my parents, Binyamin and Sara, and my relatives.
There were stories about serving in the army:
Only one of my Uncle Shike's five sons served the Czar Nahum. The others managed, thank God, to get out of serving. I remember the story about Fayvl hiding under Aunt Mize's quilt and she lay on top of him so that he would not be seen. I still cannot understand how the policeman could not see him, he was so long.
Why didn't Jews want to serve? Jews considered themselves the Chosen People. In the army they became third or even fourth class citizens. What did they need this for?
I remember a ritual question about a slaughtered cow. In such a situation people ran to the rabbis. They researched all the sources all night long. Then they called my father and asked him how much of a loss he would endure if the cow was deemed non-kosher. My father replied, A lot of money! (I do not remember how much). They looked in the sources again and decided: Forty pounds [of meat] should be given to the poor and the rest could be sold.
I heard many stories about the pogroms, how they shot and robbed and murdered the Jews, how they shot 42 young boys and set the beards of old men on fire. How a bandit put a revolver into my mother's mouth and from that time she hiccupped all her life. How my father was locked into a cellar without food or water for three days. How my grandfather was murdered.
Once, all the Jews hid in a cellar, and my sister Rose, who was then about four months old, began to cry. They wanted to strangle her, so that her cries would not be heard, but my mother began to nurse her so she stopped crying.
Before we could come to America, we first had to escape from Russia. We had to cross the Dnieper River to Romania. We hid in a gentile home until we could rent a boat. Very often the gentiles would swindle or murder the Jews.
My sisters Hayke and Dani were always afraid to go sailing on the ocean because
they saw their girlfriend drown when her boat overturned.
by David Kohen (son of Avraham Sokanik)
Sabbath in Stavisht
The town of my birth was called Stavisht. It was quite small, but very beautiful, with two large rivers on both sides of the town. It looked like an island surrounded by water.
One river was called Sandy and the other Gedalkes [According to a number of atlases consulted, there was one river, Gniloi Tikich, Hnylyi Tikych in Ukrainian. Gedalke may be a nickname for the Russian version of the name. The atlas does not name a second river. A detailed photograph of the town shows large ponds coming off the river. One of these may be the Sandy river here mentioned.] The Sandy River was very clean. When one bathed there one could see one's reflection as if in a mirror. The men bathed on one shore and the women on the other. There were many kinds of fish in the rivers: carp, tench, and others. The fish were very tasty. People who used to come there from big cities would say that they had never eaten such good fish and they would never forget the taste.
The entrance to town was very beautiful. On one side were the houses of the nobility, with trees and fragrant flowers, too beautiful for words. On the other side of town was a large forest with many trees. There was good air to breathe from the rivers, air such as one finds in resorts. It made people feel healthy and young.
It was a Jewish town, with 600 families, five prayer houses and a big synagogue. All the artisans prayed in the big synagogue: tailors, cobblers, hatters, blacksmiths, carpenters. The Sokolifker Hasidim prayed in the Sokolifker kloyz. There were also a Talner kloyz, a Mekarever kloyz, and a Bet Hamidrash. Every holy place had its own rabbi and his followers.
No Christians lived in town. There were two villages nearby. One was called Raskashne, with 10,000 Christians, and the other was called Pshinke, with 5000 Christians. Of course I never counted the population. I am only reporting what people said.
Most people were poor but lived quiet and contented lives. Some earned a living as artisans and some as merchants. It was a town with many shops, selling textiles, groceries, sewing notions, hardware. Merchants made a good living. Some sold shoddy clothing on the street, others sold coops, kerchiefs, pins, soap. The small shopkeepers would sit next to their shops waiting for customers to pass by, then they would pull the customers, the peasants, into their little shops.
One day a week there was a fair. Many peasants would come to town from the surrounding villages bringing their produce to sell. They would earn much money, then they would purchase everything they needed from the Jews. Everyone earned a few rubles for the Sabbath from the fair.
Most Jews worked very hard to make a living. Rich people had bigger and nicer houses and poor people had small ones. But when the holy Sabbath came, every Jew enjoyed a spiritual pleasure. Every housewife baked halla for the Sabbath and prepared good fish and poultry.
The Sabbath foods filled the streets with their fragrance. A fresh layer of yellow clay had been spread over the floor of the poorer homes. There was a clean tablecloth on the table and two beautiful loaves were covered with a clean cloth. A holy atmosphere reigned in every home during the Sabbath.
As the husband came home from the synagogue, he was greeted by his wife and
children. He said, Gut Shabbes, said Shalom aleikhem
[prayer said upon returning home from the synagogue on Friday night] and made
Kiddush. His wife brought the fish and the other good foods to the table. Then
the Jew was free of care, did not think about making a living. He was quiet and
content. When people met each other in the street one would say, Gut
Shabes and the other would respond, Gut yor [good year].
People greeted each other with sincerity. Sometimes a quarrel would break out
in the synagogue over the order of the aliyot [the order in which one was
called to the Torah], but after the prayers were over they would make peace
with each other.
A Wedding Ceremony
When the parents of a bride celebrated their daughter's engagement, and wrote tenaim [engagement contract] they would deposit the dowry with a trustee. The bridegroom did not want the money to remain with the bride's father. The bride's family was responsible for making the wedding.
Two weeks before the wedding, tailors were hired to go to the bride's home to sew the clothing for the wedding. Every day was like a holiday. Friends and neighbors would come to visit and they would drink a le hayim.
The bride and the groom had to fast on their wedding day. Before the ceremony the groom would go to the bride and cover her face with her veil. The ceremony was performed [outdoors] near the synagogue.
After the ceremony the couple would return to the bride's home to eat something. Men and women would not sit together. The fish course would be served.
After the fish, two large plates and a tray would be set on the table and one of the bride's relatives would start to call out which gifts were being presented by the bride's family. People would give money, 50 kopeks, a ruble, etc. These gifts would go to the bride's father. Afterwards the groom's relatives would present gifts, which would go to the young couple.
After the ceremony and after the festive meal, the band played and the guests
danced all night long. Then the band would escort the relatives home playing
all the while. After the wedding there were seven days of sheva
berakhot [benedictions said at festival meals for the seven days after a
My Childhood Years
There were five children in our family, three sons and two daughters. My parents were considered well-to-do.
When I was three years old I was sent to study with a melamed. His name was Yosef Ginendel, after his mother. He had a bahelfer [teacher's assistant] to help with the children. There were about 20 boys. I did not want to go to heder. My mother went to the teacher to ask for advice. The teacher sent her to the bahelfer. The bahelfer said he would come to take me every day and he would bring me home in the evenings, but he wanted to be paid. He wanted to eat in our home two days a week and he wanted 25 kopeks every month. My mother agreed. Every day he came to take me to heder, but I did not go willingly and it was hard work for the bahelfer.
My parents tried to find a way to make me go to heder willingly. How would I learn to love school and study? My mother undertook the task to make me love school. I loved my mother dearly and I used to love to listen to the stories she told.
Once on a Sabbath my mother called me to her and said, My child, I want to tell you a story about something that actually happened to you. Listen carefully to every word I say. She told me that when I was a year-and-a-half old I was very sick. The doctors could not help me. There was a big doctor in town named Horekh. He was called to examine me. His answer was that he could do nothing for me. I had a boil in my throat and it was in a spot he could not reach.
My child, she said, when we saw how bad it was and that the doctors could not do anything for you, we took you to a rabbi. When we came there we began to cry and told him that the doctors said they could not help you, and we pleaded with the rabbi for a remedy.
The rabbi replied, 'Go home and God will help him. Even a bit of snuff can help. Doctors do not know everything. God is a doctor and He can help.'
We came back home and when we arrived you were 90 percent dead. We cried and wept. Then a poor man came in for a donation. He asked, 'What happened here? Why is everyone weeping and crying?' He was told that there was a sick child who was almost dead. He asked, 'Where is this sick child?' He was taken into the room where I lay. The poor man came over to me and looked at me. He took out his snuff box. My mother happened to raise her hand and accidentally knocked the snuff box out of his hand. The snuff fell all over my face. I started sneezing, and the boil opened. The doctor was called and he said it was a miracle. He had not believed that I would recover.
My mother finished telling the story, and she said to me, My child, do you know why the rabbi helped you? When he was a little boy he loved to go to heder and he loved to study and he knows how to study. God loves everyone who studies and God listens to him and helps whoever asks Him for help. So my child, if you will love to go to heder and learn, God will love you and you will also be able to help sick Jews to become well.
My mother's words made a strong impression. I began to go to heder every day willingly and became the best student. I studied there until I was 8 years old.
My second teacher was Leyzer Bogaslavski. The richer children went to him. There I stayed until I was twelve years old. Then I was sent to study with Barukh Ben Tsiyon. He was the best teacher in town. The richest children, even big youths, studied there. I was the youngest. They did not want to be my friends. The teacher asked his son Yisrolik to be my friend and study partner, and he was. However, he did not do this of his free will.
Before Purim the teacher told us that he was planning a festive meal and every student should bring 15 kopeks two days before Purim. Everyone brought in the money except for two students who were absent. The teacher did not know why they had not come. Since they lived not far from me, he asked me to go to see them and see why they had not some to heder. When I asked them why they had not come, they began to cry that their mother did not want to give them any money and that is why they could not come. I told my mother the story about these students. They did not have a father. Their mother did not want to give them the 30 kopeks, so they could not come to the festive Purim meal. My mother heard the story and asked me, My child, is it right that they should not be together with you because they cannot pay 30 kopeks? I answered, It is not right! She continued, What should we do so that they can come? My mother used to give me ten kopeks every week, so I said to her, Give me 30 kopeks and I will give the money to them and for three weeks you will not give me any money.
My mother kissed me for my reply. She gave me the 30 kopeks and told me, You should always behave like this, help everyone.
I immediately brought the 30 kopeks to the two boys and they became very happy and returned to heder. My mother told me not to tell anyone what I had done. From that time on these boys were my best friends in heder so that my childhood years were not bad.
I have lived through good times and very bad times. I have experienced pogroms and there were times I could not spend the night in the same place I had spent the day. We ran from one town to another and it was bad everywhere. I have lived on foreign soil and even in peace time Jews could not live how they wanted to. They were made to feel foreign. I want to recall an episode.
There was a gentile who worked for us. He was very loyal to us. In the time of
unrest we hid in his home. Once, while I was hiding in his house, some
neighbors came to see him. I heard them talk about the Jews and how they should
be wiped out, and robbed, because they have sucked the blood from the
Christians. My friend responded, They should be killed. When his
neighbors left, we came out of hiding. I told him what I had heard. He answered
that he loved my family, but that he hated all Jews. I did not go back to his
by Gedalyahu Tserkas
My father, the late Hayim Yekl Tserkas was a progressive person, relatively speaking for that time and place. He wanted his sons to study Hebrew and not be ignorant of the Talmud. He worked hard for the founding of a fine modern school in Stavisht. It was called a Heder Metukan [proper school] in those days. The subjects taught there were Bible, History, Grammar and also Talmud for beginners. I studied these subjects with a private teacher, Mr. Yisrael Shumski.
It was not easy to carry out the plan to start the school. Many people were opposed to the idea. The house which was to become the modern school had a large brick oven as was common in those days. When the oven was dismantled the local melamdim started a rumor that the house was haunted by evil spirits. In order to frighten the parents who had planned to enroll their children in school, they said that hen tracks had been found in the ashes of the stove. (As is known, evil spirits have chicken feet).
Once, when the sexton, old Moshe Neta, came in to clean up the house, he received a terrible blow on his head from a lectern which had been balanced over the door. The frightened sexton was convinced that this was a trick of the evil spirits and ran out and told everyone what had happened to him. There were people who claimed to have witnessed evil spirits in that house.
But my father did not give up his plan. He kept assuring everyone that these were lies, and in order to prove his point, he said he would spend a night in the house with the door locked from the outside. My father went in and many people participated in locking the door and windows from the outside.
They were sure that they would find my father dead the following morning, and
then they would have a sumptuous funeral, but he awoke hale and hardy. Instead
a festive meal was held to celebrate the victory over the evil spirits.
by Yisrael Senderovitsh (son of Pinhas Hayim Leyb Senderovski)
As long as I live, I shall not forget the day that Zelezniak's band came into town. On that day my family had its first victim, my dear brother-in-law, my sister's husband, Yitshak the Kohen Gadol [High Priest] as he was known.
This is how it happened. Shimele the tailor lived next door to us. A bandit came in and found their daughter Brakha. He was drunk. He began to chase her and she ran out the back door and ran into our house. She ran out of the other door and the bandit chased her. When he did not find her, he saw my dear brother-in-law sleeping in his bed. He took his rifle and shot him. Then he lay down in the other bed. My sister and my mother started screaming. Two bandits came in and removed the drunken bandit.
Four people were killed that day. We men stayed in the Bet Hamidrash all day long. It took a long time until we collected the money Zelezniak demanded. We finally achieved it. I was the last one to leave. He knew about the dead, and begged our forgiveness. He said that his followers were very wild, he could not restrain them. He asked which families had suffered victims. As I was one of these, Zelezniak gave me 6000 rubles for my sister.
This is how we began to live in fear of losing our lives. We did not spend the night in the place we spent the day. The bands would come in one after another.
Now I shall tell what happened to me personally:
Malkah Tsiadiak and her children, three girls and a boy, lived with us. One of
her daughters, Libe, became my bride. She died too young and I still mourn for
her. She was a seamstress and had many friends in town. Whenever a band showed
up, her Christian friends would come to take her and her family to hide them
until it was quiet again.
The night of horrors!
When Denikin and his band came into town, one of Libe's friends took us all to her house for a few days. Another friend invited us for Friday night and said she would make a party for us. We could not refuse the invitation because we were their guests. We agreed to come. Friday night, my wife and her sister Hayke and her brother Hershl Sivak and I went to the party.
We found about ten young men and women who received us very nicely. We had a good time. The house was not far from the highway. Suddenly the door opened and four bandits of Denikin's band burst in. We Jews became very frightened. The bandits stopped the dancing and asked what was going on. When they were told it was a party, they started to leave. Then they turned back and told me and Hershl Sivak to go with them. At first we thought they were kidding around because they had acted so friendly at first, but then they started talking more harshly to us. My wife and her sister started to cry and beg that they not hurt us. Nothing helped. The bandits wanted us to go with them. The Christian young men did not say a word. Two of the Christian girls came over to Libe and said, Don't cry Libke, we won't let them take them. Then the Christian youths ran over and said, Enough. Tell us what you want, or leave this house at once. If not, you will not get out alive. The bandits said to us, We do not want to see you here. We did not want to frighten you. Leave at once, because other members of the band will come and will shoot you. It is terrible in town. They left the house.
Right after they left we returned to the place we had been before. But we were afraid to stay there, so we crept up into an attic and spent the whole night there. Early in the morning we came down from the attic, shivering and shaking.
This is how we spent our youth.
When we heard the news from Kaminke, I said goodbye to my parents and left. I
never saw my father again. Five years after I left he died of sorrow.
by Berl Rubin (Divinski)
Itsi Shadkhen was the only son of Hersh-Mendl Shadkhen, who also had four daughters. At that time we rented a dwelling behind his house. One hot summer day there was a rumor that a band was coming into Stavisht. That night we saw the officers of the band in the house across the way, playing cards. Hersh-Mendl, never fainthearted, smiled and went out of the house. He invited them to play cards in his house along with him. We believed that nothing would happen to us.
In the morning two bandits came in. They searched every nook and cranny in my house and in Hersh-Mendl's. He was not at home at the time. The girls jumped out of the window and ran away. The only ones left were Itsi, his mother Haya, and my wife and I. Itsi and Haya escorted the bandits to the door, then one of the bandits took his gun and shot Itsi. The bullet went through his right leg and into his mother's abdomen. Itsi lay on the floor of the corridor. We took him into the house. Then we brought a pail of water and put cold compresses on his foot. My wife put cold compresses on Haya's abdomen but the blood kept flowing.
This lasted for about two or three hours. Then Hersh-Mendl came home and saw the disaster. He did not say a word, but ran out and came back with some people who carried out his wife and son, put them in a wagon, and brought them to the hospital. The bullet was removed from Haya's abdomen and she recovered. But Itsi had lost too much blood and he was dead by the time they arrived at the hospital.
Itsik Hersh Mendl was about eighteen or nineteen years old and was taller than his father, taller than anyone in the house. He had been away from home for about two years, studying in Elizavetgrad, and had just come home for vacation. During those two years he had developed both physically and culturally.
He was very handsome. His dark eyes caressed you when he spoke to you. His
debates with the other young men were amazing. He knew so much and could answer
every question so logically. He listened to others calmly and responded with
grace. Honor to his memory!
by Moshe Gulka
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When I left Stavisht at the end of 1906, it was a traditional Jewish town, with about 1500 Jewish inhabitants, whose constitution was the Shulhan Arukh [code of laws compiled by Joseph Caro, 1488-1575] and whose judges were the rabbis, even though they were without political, social, or economic rights under the Tsarist regime. Their only source of income was petty commerce.
The peasants of the nearby villages would come to the fairs every week to sell their agricultural products and in exchange buy clothing and household utensils as well as to repair farm implements and other necessities. There was a bakery that made bagels exclusively for the market days.
There was no industry in town, so naturally there was no proletariat. Since the town was not on the railroad, connections with other towns was made via waggoners and their coaches.
It is easy to imagine how poverty lurked in most homes in town. Nevertheless the town had two rabbis: Yaakov Yosef, the rabbi of the gentry; and Pitsie Avraham (Gaisinski) the rabbi of amkha [the simple folk]; four ritual slaughterers; a Bet Midrash; a synagogue (the cold synagogue); a Makarov, a Sokolovka, a Talnoye, and a Zionist kloyz; a Bikur holim [visiting the sick]; and a Talmud Torah for poor children. The expenses were covered, more or less, by the takse [tax on ritual slaughter used for communal purposes]. Naturally there was also a slaughter house, a bathhouse, and two cemeteries under communal supervision.
And so people struggled and lived and earned from each other. In the spiritual sense they were like one poor family which helps each other out, with some exceptions.
Everyone felt he was a child of God and that God treated him according to his worth. Others felt as if they were special, if their situation was better than that of the rest.
Geographically the town was 50 viorst [about 33 miles] from Belaya Tserkov (called in Yiddish Shvarts Timeh) and 30 viorst from Tarashcha, 15 viorst from Zhashkov, from which Moshe Dayan's father comes (as I read in the Tog-Morgen Zhurnal).
By the way, I should like to mention that a member of our committee, Galant [Moshe Galant] is, I believe, my uncle Moshe Katsebivker's step-son. My father was Nahum Katsebivker.
And now I should like to make a suggestion:
I believe that the people who lived in Stavisht in previous generations
believed in the transmigration to the Holy Land after death. All of the
tombstones have certainly been demolished by the present Communist regime and,
let us be frank, by the Ukrainian population. It would be a good idea to buy a
piece of land in Erets Yisrael and to plant trees there as a memorial to
Stavisht. It should cost about $1500 and so we will immortalize our ancestors'
memories. A book will be forgotten as time goes by. The same committee should
undertake this project.
by Y. Rubin
Shemuel Ba'al Takseh (Shmulik Avraham'tshes) was an upright man, learned and clever. He lived in his own house, near Nahman Rozenblit, the holder of special privileges from the Stavisht Town Authority. In his old age he sold the house for a Zionist synagogue and school. He dealt in lumber and wooden utensils, barrels, buckets, and so on. He knew how to read some Russian and could write addresses in English. People would come from all over town for him to write the addresses on the letters and post cards they sent to America and England.
He loved to tell stories and crack jokes and to play tricks. Shmulik often visited his neighbor, Nahman Rozenblit. Nahman had three sons and some daughters. His oldest son, Simha, left for America and came back after a few years, dressed very nicely, with a fedora, considered a luxury in those days. Only the intelligentsia and well-to-do people could afford such a hat.
Obviously a pious Jew would not wear a fedora. Smulik Avraham'tshes was a pious Jew. He prayed in the Sokolovka kloyz where Rabbi Pitsie Avraham prayed. When Simha came from America, wearing a fedora, Shmulik came to greet him. He complimented him on his nice hat. Simha said to him, Reb Shmuel, I will give you the hat if you wear it to shul today.
Shmulik agreed to the conditions. Early Saturday morning, a beautiful day, the
sun was shining, it was dry and warm when all Jews were walking to their
various synagogues. Shmulik came along with a red kerchief around his neck, his
talis visible under his coat, and the fedora on his head. He was followed by a
crowd which kept getting larger. He was escorted to the synagogue and back to
his home. This was one of the tricks he played. Of course, he kept the fedora.
|Mother of Leah Mazur
mother-in-law of Efrayim Tetievsky
[Translator's note. This is my mother's aunt Sima Tetievsky.
I recall another incident with Shmulik. In our town there was a man named Hayim Ya'akov Tsherkes (Hayim Ya'akov Leybushes) who sold wine. He had a wine cellar and every Passover eve Shmulik would come with an empty gallon bottle to buy wine for Passover. As was known, Shmulik was a very pious Jew and observed all the laws and customs of Moses and Israel. One Passover eve he came to Hayim Yaakov with two bottles to buy wine.
Hayim Yaakov knew that Shmulik's children no longer lived at home and that only he and his wife were there and wondered why he needed two bottles full. He asked him, Reb Shmuel, how come you have two bottles? Do you have guests?
He replied, I should like to have the wine in one bottle, and the water in the other, and I shall mix them according to my taste [implying that the seller watered his wine]. Shmulik used to make such jokes quite often. He knew how to get along with old and young. He was a witty man, an important Jew. He died at the time of the First World War at 80, honor his memory.
Efrayim Mazur was a learned Jew who knew not only Yiddish and Hebrew but also knew Russian very well. He was observant but not fanatic. He used to study day and night and his wife took care of business and he helped out from time to time.
People used to come and ask his advice and often appointed him mediator in
business or personal conflicts. I knew him very well, because we prayed in the same
synagogue, the Makarov kloyz. I was very young and I had a great deal of
respect for him.
wife of Efrayim Mazur (in America)
the bookkeeper of Stavisht Bank
In former years there was no bank in Stavisht. As time went by they founded a credit union where people could borrow a few hundred rubles when they needed money, for little interest, a sort of Free Loan, and Efrayim Mazur became the bookkeeper there.
This bank was under the administration of the Government and the books were kept in the Russian language. Efrayim Mazur was the manager.
Some time later an official bank was founded in Stavisht. Binyamin Faynzilber of the apothecary shop became the president and Efrayim Mazur was the bookkeeper. The bank lasted until after the First World War, until the pogroms of 1918-1920. It was impossible to keep it open during the pogroms and most of the Jews left the town.
Efrayim Mazur was a person of good understanding, logical and loyal and
upright, before God and people. You could trust him and you did not have to
bribe him. It is hard to find such honorable and fine people nowadays.
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