« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 264 - Hebrew] [Page 265 - Yiddish]

Several Moments

by Henia Gelman (Presman)/ Kiryat Haim

Translated by Esther Mann Snyder

I would also like to say some things about my town Bricheva. Despite the fact that the swamps before Pesach were deep, and later when they began to dry, there were hard clumps of mud that caused us sprained ankles – the town was very dear and precious to me. The years of my youth that I spent there were so pleasant that I cannot forget them.

I remember the studies, with my friends, in Baravoi, with all the accompanying difficulties. Every Monday, at the beginning of the school week, we had to go on foot with a large bag on our backs, filled with food for the week – this lasted until the Romanians came to Bessarabia. The course of study given in the Romanian language was very difficult for us and before every exam we had to pay our teacher, the same one from school, to prepare us. The matter angered another teacher who didn't enjoy an additional income and so he “tortured” me by asking me questions in geometry, especially about the trapezoid – until I decided to end my studies in the school in Baravoi.

I began to study photography with my brother-in-law Pini Goldenberg z”l. These were hard years of primitive living in a distant town. Despite this I remember how pleasant were the party evenings here held in the home of Genia Master. Many times we had visitors from the big city, Itzik Manger or Eliezer Shteinbarg. I remember that once Shteinbarg insisted that I give him the play “Three Seamstresses” by Peretz, and I gave it to him and also enjoyed myself.

After I moved to Lipkan and then to Tchernovitz where I worked in a photo shop, I would return to my parents home in Bricheva for the Pesach holiday. The road from Tirnova was very muddy,

[Page 266 - Hebrew] [Page 267 - Yiddish]

and when I neared Bricheva, I imagined that all the houses had sunk in the mud – and my heart was heavy. However, when I entered my dear parents' house to the clean and warm home, I felt the warmth spread out in my soul. My father would add, “When you, my daughter, return home I feel happy.”

And I remember previous years, when my father was the head of the municipal government, (Auaresco), and Moritz Schechter was the secretary. My father was not able to accept a bribe; nevertheless there was someone who would inform on him and he would have to travel to Soroka where they held court cases. Although my father was found innocent, there were troubles and I well remember them.

And another thing I remember: When I already had a young daughter and she reached kindergarten age. She didn't want to stay in kindergarten with the other children, so I had to stay with her in kindergarten for a few days. The teacher, Mrs. Notte, noticed that I knew how to occupy children, and suggested that I stay and work with her in the kindergarten. I was so happy, I would be with my daughter and also receive a salary. In the afternoons I worked in the public library which at that time was located in the home of Shmuel Gellman, across from Dudi Gulirgant. I found the work in the library to be very interesting. Among the steady readers who were so many that I don't remember their names, but the first ones to reserve new books were always the Gulirgants: Tzvi, Buma, Sima, Rahel.

Later came difficult years, hard in my private life and hard for all the people of Bricheva. But that is just one chapter which others certainly have written about.

 

bri265.jpg
In Tarbut

Standing: Rahel Notte, Henia Gelman, Zabranski
Seated: Pini Gulirgant, the principal Notte, Zev (Velvel) Shtiglik

 


[Page 268 - Hebrew] [Page 269 - Yiddish]

Helping Others -- How?

by Mordechai (Motika) Kestelman/ Ramat Gan

Translated by Esther Mann Snyder

Every Thursday evening or Friday, early in the morning, Edis Kestelman appeared, the wife of Fishel the lame one (Fishel Hadas's), carrying a basket to receive a challah or a piece of meat for the town's poor. My mother Bracha z”l would give something never asking for whom it was intended.

Without a sign and no publicity several of the women of Bricheva prepared jam in the summer for those who might fall ill and weren't able to prepare it themselves. These women did their charitable work in modesty and devotedly, and put the jams in storage until a sick person was in need of it for medical purposes. In the instances of the poor, the women went to visit the sick bringing the jam with them.

I remember that when winter was coming with cold and snow, a few women would go out, including my mother, Esther Greenberg z”l, to gather donations for buying warm clothes for those in need. With this money they bought cloth and underwear and distributed it to the needy; and, again, without knowing to whom these things were given.

Another matter. Our town excelled in the virtue called hospitality. They didn't forget the immigrants, including during the Rosh Hashana holiday of 1917, when the youth from Romania began to arrive searching for safety from the war. Their numbers grew and they quickly found appropriate places. Our youth befriended them in an honorable fashion and they were integrated into the community. The doors were opened wide for the newcomers and they found a comfortable atmosphere during their stay - right in the shadow of the war. It wasn't surprising therefore the few

[Page 270 - Hebrew] [Page 271 - Yiddish]

who lived, could not forget this kindness, charity and warmth.

They spent the whole winter in this manner. Then spring came. I remember that one evening there was a rumor that the Romanian army had entered Bessarabia; they had already reached neighboring Beidintz. Since I knew what would happen to the Jewish refugees from Romania who had found a safe haven in Bricheva, I quickly went to find them and tell the news. It was very dark outside and I hurried to the homes with the message. When they heard it, they gathered their belongings, packed suitcases and the next morning they left on the wagon of Velvel, the wagon driver, on the way to Ataki on the Dneister. Later we learned that they passed over the Dneister to Mohilev and from there to Odessa. After a few months they were able to return to Romania.

Incidently, that winter and the previous winter, that is the one that preceded the Russian Revolution and the one after it, there was a self defense unit (samoborona) in Bricheva. Since it became known that in two nearby towns the non-Jews were planning to attack the Jews, attack the town and commit robbery and murder, the youth aroused and established a “Hagana” (defense). Of course, there were only a few of them, and they didn't have many weapons at first, but in time their numbers grew and they acquired more weapons and ammunition. The refugees who had found safety in Bricheva, also helped out in the self defense unit, and one of them, Bonapart, was said to be extraordinarily daring.

When I was a child… Sometimes I awoke in the night, the nights of the month of Elul, and heard the sad melody of the sexton, Reuven, announcing that it was time to arise to say Slihot (repentance prayers), “Arise, Jews arise to pray to the Creator, to Slihot.” The street was dormant and quiet. I knew that other than Reuven only the members of the defense unit patrolled the streets, or perhaps Sonia the midwife was called to a woman about to give birth. This is Sonia as I knew her – chubby, dressed very neatly, a small bag in her hands that held the tools of her work and disinfectants. She was always smiling, always ready to help those who needed her, and she received any payment, all according to the status and ability to pay.

[Page 272]

 

bri272.jpg
In the backyard of Yisrael-Aharon Kestelman: A party including refugees from Romania, 1917

 

[Page 273]

 

bri273.jpg
Celebration after the Revolution, 1917

 


[Page 274 - Hebrew] [Page 275 - Yiddish]

One year in Bricheva

by Zev Igeret/ Tel-Aviv

Translated by Esther Mann Snyder

A.

In preparation for the school year of 1923/24 I was asked to be principal of the Tarbut school in Bricheva. I came first to meet the School Committee. The date was set for Shabbat “Shuva”. That was at the request of the Committee because if it were held on a regular day of the week the members would be busy with business matters and wouldn't come to the meeting. I came on Friday before sundown and went to the home of Yitzhak Shtiglik z׆l who was my supporter. On Shabbat evening right after the meal, people started coming: members of the parents committee, Zionists and other parents. Within a few minutes the house was filled with people. Drinks, fruit, cakes and tea were put out, and there was also singing of zemirot [Shabbat songs] and regular songs. R' Moshe Aharonzon, a learned person, was in charge of the songs and he was cheerful and musical. I sat there amazed. Why was there such a large reception? Most surprisingly the guests spoke about many things, however, the fact that I had arrived didn't seem to interest them at all.

The same thing happened the next day. After lunch until the evening the house was full of people. After havdala [prayer marking the end of Shabbat] the School Committee held a practical meeting accompanied by the heads of the Zionists in town, and a discussion began about my salary and other benefits. To my great surprise, I received all the conditions I requested while the Committee had only one – that I should sign the contract immediately. I asked to postpone the signing for a few days so that I could consult my family. But the Committee urged me to sign, the reason being that the next day everyone would be busy with their routine matters and who knows when they would meet again and meanwhile the children were idle and the school year had already started a while ago.

[Page 276 - Hebrew] [Page 277 - Yiddish]

When they saw that I was still hesitant, they tried a tactic of offering an increase of several thousand lirot above what I had asked. Another inducement they offered was a good advance on my salary if I signed then and there. Who could withstand such inducements at that time. Of course I agreed. Later I learned that if I had increased my demands they would not have refused.

In the morning of the next day I went with Itzik Shtiglik to see the school. To tell the truth I was not at all impressed with the “Tarbut hall”. It was just an apartment with three small rooms, a kitchen, and used furniture. Into this small space about 100 children would be crowded, with four classrooms in two shifts. My escort saw my reaction and quickly tried to improve it with the comment that the Committee had a large sum of money to erect a new building, and that would be done before the start of the new school year. If there is money – then everything is possible. In my innocence I believed him.

On the way I met a few of the members of the Committee. They greeted me and I didn't recognize them. Even after three meetings with them they looked like strangers because in their workday clothes they looked totally different.

I walked around the town a bit. There was good weather then at the end of summer, good clean air and the soft sun and wonderful scenery since the town was situated near the vineyards and encompassed by gardens. I said: the town and its inhabitants are attractive and thus placated I returned to Sikoran.

The whole way I had thoughts and mixed emotions, but I said: I shook hands, it shouldn't be changed.

After three days I returned to Bricheva and opened the school. I started to work. It must be noted that despite the deficiencies in the building and the equipment, I enjoyed my work. First of all, the teaching staff - the teacher Pinhas Gulirgant and also another teacher for first grade and Romanian to the other classes – were satisfactory, the pupils were high quality coming from good homes, and above all the parents committee is well remembered. Yitzhak Gulirgant was chairman, Haim Blank – secretary, Pesah Yampulski – treasurer and in addition were S.N. Cohen, Moshe Aharonzon, Y.A. Kestelman and others who became personal friends.

Quickly I began to get involved with Zionist activities in Bricheva. I organized the club of Tzirei Zion [Zionist youth], expanded the fundraising for the various funds and for the library. I started to work with the youth. Literary parties were organized to raise money for the library and other purposes.

In general, I was satisfied both with my work in the school and my public activities. However, “satan” became angry and my plans to further expand my educational and social activities were disrupted. There were elements against Zionism and a Hebrew education

[Page 278 - Hebrew] [Page 279 - Yiddish]

in the Tarbut school, and it wasn't difficult to destroy it since the Romanian authorities disapproved the development of a Hebrew school along side the government school. The supervisor from the Ministry of Education visited our school more than once and after he made his report on its activities a directive was received from higher up to close the school due to lack of appropriate physical accommodation and minimal equipment. The efforts of the Tarbut center in Kishinev didn't help. The parents absolutely did not want to give up the Hebrew education, therefore the school had to work illegally, hidden from the authorities until an appropriate building was constructed.

Clearly, I couldn't work in an illegal school and towards the new year I returned to my previous position in Sikoran.

In summary: My year's stay in Bricheva was not disappointing. I knew that in a place where there was jealously there is also admiration. And in a place where there is hatred there is also love. Indeed, the following days proved this assumption, since I was invited several times to gatherings with friends and former pupils in Bricheva. I will never forget the reception of the club of Tzirei Zion.

At any rate, I will always keep in my heart the memory of that year and my friends whom I acquired that year.

 

B.

I will conclude with a few curiosities that remained in my memory.

In Bricheva, as in most of the towns of Bessarabia, there was no Bulletin Board and this function was filled by the town crier. The crier went through the town announcing important happenings such as a lecture soon to be given, a heated bathhouse, elections for the position of gabbai (sexton) in the synagogue or a new entertainment group that was about to arrive. When the crier received two announcements, he sometimes mixed them up. Once he invited people to a lecture that would be held in the heated bathhouse and another time he mixed two different events causing humiliation and laughter.

In that year the person who fulfilled that role was Shmaya – a short Jew with a raucous voice. When he began his announcement, immediately all the doors opened and men, women and children gathered to hear the news. I was once a witness to such an announcement because I was mentioned in the news. The engineer Klimker who came to town to raise money for Keren HaYesod, agreed to give a lecture on one of the Shabbats. Obviously this had to be announced. But

[Page 280 - Hebrew] [Page 281 - Yiddish]

Shmaya would garble unaccustomed words. He found that the word “lakzia” was nicer than “lektzia”. In addition he changed the word engineer with “unzehr” which was an easier word, and Klimker was shortened to “klimp”, and with all these complications the announcement was misunderstood and caused a big commotion.

In the year that I spent in Bricheva, winter arrived late and even in December there were heavy rains. And if there is rain then there's mud and the mud in Bricheva was famous in all of Bessarabia and had these features: 1) it was deep 2) when it became thick it also became sticky. And when a foot was stuck in the mud it was not at all clear that it could be extracted safely. There was always the danger that a boot or a boot with a shoe in it would remain.

It once occurred that a representative from the Tarbut center happened to come Bricheva. When we stood to leave the house I saw that he took some string out of his pocket and began to tie his boots to his legs. I asked him why he needed it. He answered that this habit derived from experience. When he left the hotel for the first time and took a few steps, his boots became stuck in the mud and he couldn't extract them. Since then he didn't go anywhere without string.

Jokers tell that once a passerby saw a woman sitting in the mud in the middle of the street. He asked her why she was sitting there. She answered “You are wrong, I'm sitting in a wagon! …”

Indeed Bricheva had an abundance of mud, but all this was external. Inside she was clean and pure. The residents were good, honest Jews, hardworking and trustworthy, and there were those well versed in the Torah and well mannered.

[Page 282]

 

bri282.jpg
Gordonia youth before a trip
In the middle: Baruch Parnas, Meir-Hirsh Zalman, Yankel Rozenblit, Moshe Shpielberg

 

[Page 283]

 

bri283.jpg
Moshe Shpielberg and his pupils. Bricheva, 18 Elul 1926

 


[Page 284 - Hebrew] [Page 285 - Yiddish]

A Band of Musicians in Town

by Moshe Master/ Rio de Janeiro

Translated by Esther Mann Snyder

When Davidl Koifman came to Bricheva in order to make a living by giving lessons in Hebrew, he found that Shlomo and Feivel Gelman and myself played music in the evenings in the streets of our town. We especially played serenades and we would stop at the places where the girls lived. It would often happen that someone would run out of his house in his underwear and castigate us that we were bothering his sleep.

Because Davidl had been previously a soldier and played in the army band he quickly realized that we could assemble a small band. And so it was; the ensemble included Davidl – first violin, Shlomo – second violin, later Moritz Shechter, the husband of Niona Zisman, joined the violins, Mosei Veinstein – flute, Feivel Gelman and Sonia Levental – guitars, and I – at first mandolin and later the violin.

Once, we traveled to Rishkan to appear in a concert. Because we were a success, we thought that we could play at weddings, and the payment we received we would donate to the poor.

The first and last wedding was at that of Pessie Barg, the sister of Toiva Barg (the sisters of Doodi Barg and Sarah Zisman). The payment we received from the wedding in addition to the income from a theatrical play in which Berta Licht participated, we donated to buy a small house for a poor family.

One day, when we were rehearsing for another wedding, Yek'l Klizmer came in and asked a question – how could honest people leave him without a livelihood. We hadn't thought of it and really he was right. Since then we didn't play at weddings.

When Davidl Koifman emigrated to America the band broke up and its activity ceased.


[Page 286 - Hebrew] [Page 287 - Yiddish]

An Attempted Pogrom in Our Town

by Ida Gulirgant (Loewenthal)/Tel-Aviv

Translated by Esther Mann Snyder

It was in the year 1912 or 1913, on a Wednesday during the summer, on the day that the fair was held in Bricheva. In our home, we were preparing lunch. The door to the pharmacy was open. We had just sat down to eat when suddenly some boy suddenly ran into our house, going through the pharmacy, the dining room, the kitchen and ran out into the backyard and disappeared. We didn't manage to see how this came about.

As soon as he left, a group gentiles came running and shouting to us to give the boy over to them. Nothing we said helped. Father pleaded: let two or three of you come in and search. If you find him, take him with you.

I don't remember how we succeeded in locking the front door of the pharmacy. A family acquaintance, Vanya Guzun from Baravoi, was standing on the porch. Father asked him to calm down the crowd and even gave him some money, but unfortunately, he incited them to violence.

We quickly fled through the back door and planned to lock the gate but didn't succeed. The crowd broke through the gate and started to drag Father after them. We, the children, hurried after them and when we noticed blood dripping from Father, I sat on his head and with my arms and legs tried to protect him from the beating. My younger sisters, Sonia and Fania, did the same; my older sister was away in Dombrobin at that time.

Across from our house stood Libbe Lamles and her sons who shouted to us to try to reach them and they would open their door for us. So we struggled and ran until we managed to make our way to her door, and fled through the back door.

[Page 288 - Hebrew] [Page 289 - Yiddish]

It should be noted that these were gentiles to whom Father sold medicines and they knew him well yet nevertheless they acted like wild animals.

Meanwhile, two friends Shalom Shpielberg and Yankel Fishels and some others were able to reach us. They found the knives that had been set for lunch and a bread knife on our table. They used these utensils to attack the gentile hooligans who started to loot the pharmacy. Tuvia Groisman, when he learned of this rampage, quickly telephoned the tirnova to call for help. When the police arrived, they found only pieces of clothing and blood stains on the sharp-pointed fence.

What actually was the cause of the riot? The gentiles had been sitting and drinking in the tavern of Haya-Rahel Shichman. One of them, who was very drunk, refused to pay for his drinks. Brish, Haya-Rahel's son, had no choice but to forcefully demand payment; he was helped by the boy who later ran away through our home. The drunkard was so intoxicated that he fell down and then the gentiles chased after the boy - and they took out their anger on our house.

My older sister, Millie, who was at that time, as we said, in grandfather's house in Dombrobin, felt that something bad was happening at home; therefore, she and grandfather decided to travel to us, and they arrived in the early evening and found us all bleeding.

In 1944, my sister Sonia and I were in the city of Omsk, Siberia. We saw a train pass full of Bessarabians and Moldavans; among them we suddenly noticed Vanya Guzun. He looked at us with eyes like a groveling dog - in vain!


[Page 290 - Hebrew] [Page 291 - Yiddish]

Lashes

by Mendik Friedman, z”l

Translated by Esther Mann Snyder

Please, please!…

With these words, Tzalel Moshe-Haya-Rivas each evening concluded the drill exercises of the Defense Unit (Hagana) in our town before they went out for the night watch, armed with rifles of every origin, Austrian, Russian or Romanian.

It was a frightening time full of terror. Across the Dniester there were already rumors of trains that were stopped, unsafe roads, and acts of theft and robbery. The Russian soldiers had been released from the army after “directive number one” and completely discarded their discipline and deserted the front, camp by camp, thus inundating the cities and towns, all the villages and the roads. In almost every place where they passed the tattered gangs left destruction and ruination.

It was a miracle that our town was not touched by them - but it was also due to the fact that we were far from the train, but mainly because of our defense unit, the Hagana which consisted of more than one hundred strong, courageous young men.

The well to do in our town didn't worry about the expense and purchased tens of rifles and thousands of bullets. The reputation of our defense unit spread afar to the whole area, so the soldiers and the kozaks withdrew saying, “Its better not to bother this town.”

However, one time they tried to enter the town at night. The sides of the roads were lined with farmers and their carts ready to load stolen Jewish property. However, the Hagana met them with gunshots on all sides and they didn't know from where it was coming. They quickly stopped and in shame and disgrace they fled carrying three of their friends who had been wounded.

[Page 292 - Hebrew] [Page 293 - Yiddish]

After that night they were never seen again in our town, since they all felt fear and trepidation. During the day the situation was tolerable. Jews with worried faces and filthy clothes stood around in circles. The Committee (Vaad) held meetings; they talked, wondered and wrinkled their brows.

Women with hair coverings fearfully peeked out of their houses and sometimes a woman jumped quickly from her porch to her neighbor to exchange information and discuss the troubles and terrible incidents.

In the synagogue of the martef (basement) between Minha and Maariv (afternoon and evening prayers), when a mysterious dusk wrapped everything in a cover of fear and anxiety, the Jews talked about brigades, soldiers, rifles and ammunition. On the Bima (platform in the synagogue where the leader of the prayers stood) a candle for yahrzeit stood dying; Yehuda-Itzi the sexton sighs while taking care of the oven; somewhere in a back corner behind the bookcase sits and sways the shochet, the eighty year old “malayni” while studying the mishnayot. He was a small thin man with sad eyes and a deeply wrinkled forehead. In the center of the synagogue, near the pillar of R' Yossel Menahem's who sits in the row of the R'IY, that is opposite the Holy Ark, crowded in about two minyanim (approx. 20 men) of sad, worried Jews. Each one looks straight at R' Yossel and wants to hear what he will say about the clashes. Everyone knows that R' Yossel is not a fool. He speaks little but when he says something, it is level-headed and measured and he knows of what he speaks.

So, what do you say R' Yossel, what should we do now? The Russian brigade that is ready to plunder us is located 8 kilometers from us. They have ordered us to give up our weapons and join them… while the Romanians are still far away, and when will they reach us only G-d knows… and what should we do now?

R' Yossel chooses his words carefully: We must consider and try to gain time - that is my opinion! We must put off the Russian brigade by making promises “today or tomorrow” during which we send two horsemen to the Romanian division asking that they should send us a company of soldiers. That is my opinion, added R' Yossel modestly after a short pause. The people said Borechu because it was getting late.

The group slowly breaks up. Yehuda-Itzi the sexton lights the sooty oil lamp and the group quickly recites the maariv prayer.

*

Outside, doors and gates are closed, shuttered and locked. From the windows

[Page 294 - Hebrew] [Page 295 - Yiddish]

no light is seen. Children, still dressed, fall asleep in their mothers' arms and often tremble and quaver. Only in the shack of the Vaad where there is a storeroom of weapons, rifles and bullets, the tumult continues.

The group of youth takes the rifles for night guard, fill their pockets with bullets, laugh and joke, full of courage, decisiveness, full of youthful fervor. When the head of the Hagana, Tzalel Moshe-Haya-Rivas, completes taking out the weapons, every evening he must give the same speech how they should behave during the night: Listen, children! As soon as you see a group coming near - he tells them in a low, furtive voice - You must first ask them “kato?” If they answer “nashi” you shouldn't waver but start to shoot! However, if they answer “noi” put down your weapons and say: “po-o-patim” ! because these are Romanians whom we should welcome with open arms and perhaps they will save us.

While saying these things, Tzalel shows us in a strange movement spreading his arms - how the group should stretch out the word “po - pa -tim”.

Oh, R' Tzalel, if the general only knew what a Romanian patriot you are, he would award you a medal of gold on your chest - jests Yankl Shechna's… And he would appoint you an adjutant - jokes Herzl the joker. And thus the group goes out one by one to the streets.

He was a quiet, good-hearted modest man. All his life he worked as an agent at the train station or for the rich people in the area and thus earned his livelihood.

From the beginning of the war, Tzalel would wander around the quartermaster's store and supply them with hay and oats for the military units. However, after a short time he wasn't needed there and had no income for a long time.

When the Hagana was organized the Vaad decided that Tzalel be employed as the supervisor of the weapons storeroom, manage the accounts of the Vaad and act as the acquirer of weapons. They said, “Let the Jew have a job, and especially Tzalel who never quarreled or disagreed with anyone.” Indeed everyone liked him.

*

The new government came to town during the day, not at night as Tzalel anticipated.

[Page 296 - Hebrew] [Page 297 - Yiddish]

The officer with beautiful gold epaulets sat riding on a white horse and with a high hat white as snow with his head deep in the hat, which reached his black attractive eyes, rode through the town with confidence and smiled a royal smile all around.

Men, women and children hurried into the street to see the new faces with military hats and strange uniforms. Many were jealous of the family of Avraham Zusia's were the first to meet the officer, who was staying at his house and thus the officer went directly to them. A delegation headed by Pesah the Starosta and R' Yossel Menahem's served them bread and salt.

It was as if the whole population breathed easier. As if a heavy boulder was removed from their shoulders and the anxiety in their hearts diminished. They were rid of the terrorists, the constant fear of robbery and murder disappeared, and it was now possible again to live quietly under the strong arm of the new government.

After three weeks the commandant was transferred and was replaced by an old man who imposed his authority, didn't want to meet anyone and started speaking harshly. Every day he would gave out new orders, each one harsher and more humiliating than the previous one.

On one Shabbat morning, while the Jews were on their way to the synagogue, the “old man” suddenly decided to introduce modernization to the town with “ditches” and sidewalks. The soldiers went to the houses and took every man out to start digging.

The Jews reconciled to this and suffered all from love since they had been saved from the terrorists, the defectors from the Russian army. But no one imagined that Tzalel Moshe-Haya-Rivas would be the first to be “sacrificed” for the whole community.

*

It was already after Pesach. The meadow turned green and gave off a pleasant scent of grass. The land, which had recently been ploughed near the vineyards, emitted a strong odor of creation and birth. Soft lambs both black and white, on thin lean legs, played with childishness near their sheep mothers, and with innocent wide eyes looked at the world G-d had created… Somewhere, not far off, on a rock of the well, the shepherd plaited a pair of sandals for himself. His big wild dog was with him and he warmed himself with squinted eyes under the spring sun, his tail lying on his front legs stretched out before him.

[Page 298 - Hebrew] [Page 299 - Yiddish]

Suddenly, the dog raised his head and pointed his ears. A large group of men came running in frenzy from the town as soldiers goaded them with their rifles. Jews - old and young, bearded or shaven, pale and full of fear, were pushed into a large circle by the soldiers and waited - for what? No one knew…

Who knows, maybe everyone assembled here was to die? A mass grave for the whole town? Who knows? Old Jews were already saying vidui (confession before death) with lips pale and twisted from anguish… And then the Old man - the commander - appeared. With angry gloom he entered the circle on his horse and began to speak:

“I know you are standing here near the Russians and deserve that I should kill you, small and large, with bullets, so that no remnant or memory remains of you.” Here he paused for a moment and looked at the crowd to see what effect his words were having on the coerced assembly. Shivers passed over the eyebrows of the people, teeth chattered, cold sweat appeared on their foreheads, and the yellow sun was reflected in the nearby river as birds flew freely, happily and capered on the telegraph poles.

“But I will show you my generosity, the commander continued and I won't do that.”

A sharp flash of hope spread in the crowd and the hearts were relieved of pain.

“However… however, you must obediently fulfill all my orders and anyone who disobeys will receive twenty-five lashes.”

The assembly thought he had finished his speech. But the commander had not finished: “So you will know the meaning of twenty-five lashes, one of you will be lashed right here - whoever wants - I don't care who it is…”

The whole group of Jews stood frozen in a circle. The person in authority lightly wiped his mustache and with indifferent patience and blood thirsty waiting for a few minutes. But no one moved, each as if nailed to the green, fragrant grass. Cold and hot perspiration covered their suits from head to toe. But no one was courageous enough to receive the punishment for no reason.

“No one is willing?” said the commander with irony. “If so take the Rabbi” - a deathly silence filled the air.

From the circle stepped out the tall, bent figure, with a sharp beard of Tzalel Moshe-Haya-Rivas. With slow steps he approached the horse of the commander and said in a submissive, sweet whisper, while spreading his arms:

[Page 300 - Hebrew] [Page 301 - Yiddish]

“No, Mister Commander. Instead of the Rabbi lash me. Please.”

And Tzalel began taking off his clothes…

(This true story was printed in Unzer Tzeit (Our Times) in two parts on July 1 and July 3, 1931.

 

bri300.jpg
The home of the Levental Family

On the right - the sign of the dentist.
On the left - the window of the photographer;
In the center, standing - Mendik Friedman, Moisai Vainstein and two “rabbits“ from Romania

 

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Briceva, Moldova     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright ©1999-2014 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 09 Oct 2013 by JH