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[Pages 80-81]

In Remembrance of Our Town Radekhov

by Ettel Gertwagen

Translated by Shuki Ecker

I remember our town as a peaceful little shtetl, clean and civilized, surrounded by woods, in which we, the local youths, took hikes, picnicked, and in the winter took trips from there in winter wagons. In the summer, the school children along with their teachers would also take trips from there, and this was a real celebration. The children were joined by soft drink and sweets peddlers. We used to buy their goods, spend the entire day playing, rest beneath the trees and return full of new experiences.

In the town there were beautiful gardens, and in the center of town, the count's park with its sitting areas was very pleasing. There were rows of large linden trees all around, acacia trees with white and fragrant blossoms, and white and purple lilac bushes. Most of the public buildings were surrounded by gardens of seasonal, sweet-smelling bushes and flowers.

In my time, the cordiality between the Ukrainian Christian youths and the Jewish youths was fairly decent. The Jewish youths sought education and were very interested in Zionism and going to lectures for self-enrichment. Additionally, they sought to better themselves financially. The boys played chess a lot and we organized plays and dances. When we felt the need for a library, I, together with two other girls, decided to establish one. For lack of funds, we went from door to door asking for books. I remember that in every house we visited we were kindly given books and we felt that this bestowed good luck upon us in our goal. Only later were we able to purchase additional books, thanks to subscription fees and monetary donations. [This went on] until a more substantial committee was established to care for our library. This committee moved the library to a more spacious place and expanded the collection.

My grandfather, Aharon Katz, opened his house to all, and there everyone found something to his liking: from perusing a newspaper, to playing chess or finding a partner for a game, to arguing about politics or other current affairs. I remember the fair days, colorful and noisy, full of activity and clamor. During these days Jews used to come, call my grandfather aside (“seit moichel Reb Ahron[1]) and ask him for some money to be returned on market day or at the end of day for provisions for the coming Sabbath, or for a loan for the week, or for settling a bill. Then Grandfather took them to a corner so as not to shame them, took a handful of coins or notes from his pocket, and gave them out as need be without a word and always with a smile of kindness. I never saw him annoyed. I remember the nice custom we had of honoring guests (“tzum tisch[2]), especially on the Sabbath and holidays. In the morning, my grandmother as well as my mother filled a basket with Sabbath goods, covered it with a white cloth and sent it over to poor relatives or other poor people, especially those who had lost their fortunes. I recall many times when I was the emissary of these mitzvot (good deeds). Charity without publicity was the foundation of my grandfather's house.

I remember the people of our town as people of high morals, humble people, hard working, each attending to the needs of his house. One could find a newspaper in most progressive homes. The young people worked to increase the membership of the local Zionist organization and no public function ever lacked volunteers.

[42 KB]

Hebrew school in Radziechow
First row, from the right: Michael Schrage, Feige Barach, Zwia Barasch, Henia Wittlin, [Beila] Ecker, Malka Samet, Gila Friedman, Nissan Axler.
Second row: Faki Floh, Shmuel Gertwagen, Weissman Lea, Tolci Kurzer and others


Footnotes

  1. “begging your pardon Reb Ahron” [Yiddish] Return
  2. “to the table” [Yiddish] Return

 

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