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[Page 272]

Yonah Gladstein

Translated by David Goldman

I shall never forget
My Lipkan, my shtetl
My mother's store
My father's kleizel [1]
And our tiny little house.
Into a room as small as a peephole,
With its broken roof,
Winter would pour in
And onto the bed the rain would flow.
In the same room we had our clothes and the kitchen.
It was so crowded that we couldn't catch our breaths.
We had in there a bench and on it was gas,
A washbasin and a sink,
A keg of watermelons and a barrel of herring.
The children played between people's feet,
And in our hearts it was dirty and loathsome.
There was a fellow name Shachne Zisel
Who used to come in,
And while standing on one foot
Wanted to know what everyone was saying.
What one someone doing under the bed,
Who was doing a circumcision and who was getting divorced.

I used to enjoy the rain in autumn
And watching the gentiles chopping and sawing wood in winter
Mother sold fish to everyone,
Father would come to the weekday table,
and on Shabbos sing songs.
Mother always worried about paying the teacher
and buying clothes for Yomtof,
as well as leather boots
And wood for winter.
For Pesach, Oy, dear G-d,
May we live to see, eggs and schmaltz.
Father milled salt,
And chopped the wood,
To save a few pennies
He would bring water from afar, in rain and snow
And lead the prayers in shul and blow the shofar.
He would harbor refugees from Ukraine.
Because they had to make a living, people served every idol
And from the Romanians constantly suffered.

Our large business was in salt, also soap and heating oil
As well as sugar, cheese and butter.
But with all that, our life wasn't sweet, just bitter.
We had some really rich relatives
Who would help us only once in a blue moon.
We didn't blame them, G-d forbid,
They treated us like used Hoshanah Rabba willow branches.
Because we made every effort
To bring home some money ourselves.
We really did live on the gold mountain.
But gold, as is known, was in very short supply.
However, grain merchants were abundant,
They dealt with Shereotz and Titskan.
People would quarrel over a gentile,
And things even went up in smoke,
Fighting each other and occasionally breaking a head.

Chantschele sold eggs,
And would quarrel with Leibush and Hirsh Ber.
Nearby was the silent cemetery,
Which seemed to warn: hey, Zelig, hey Zalman and Kalman!
Where are you running to?
To a useless trade fair?
Today it's us, but tomorrow it will be you!
We had in town, yes, on the gold mountain,
a little school named for Boyan,
It used to plead with the Jews:
“Jews! Be adult and religious,
Remember: G-d's eyes are everywhere!”

I think that in the diaspora and in Israel
there are Jews who want to listen to old stories
So I recounted my memories from my childhood –
My childhood memories of my dear shtetl,
Which was so bitterly destroyed.

 


Translator's Footnote

  1. This may be a spelling error since it isn't found in Yiddish or German dictionary. Kleizeldik in Yiddish means parochial or clannish Return



Notes on List of Deceased

The List of the Deceased on page 273 is done alphabetically by Zvi Wien and Yaakov Berger. The spelling is Yiddish.

The bottom lines on page 274 simply states that the aforementioned list does not list people by nicknames that refer to their parents' names, professions or hometowns: i.e. Srul Malka's, Shmerl Schneider (tailor); Hershel Titskaner (from Titskan), etc.

The last page (after the List of Deceased) is a sort of poem. It simply reads:

Eretz, Eretz (Land of Israel, Land of Israel)
Do not cover my blood,
Do not give my blood to you!

 

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