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[Page 90]

Images and Memories from my Town Dubossary

by Moshe son of Yakov and Rachel-Lea Feldman (Haklay) z”l

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

In Moldavia, by the Dniester, lies my town Dubossary.

Years ago, it was called Dumbissar.
It was in old, old times,
When, from a very far country
The Turks ruled over Moldavia.
The ruins of a castle are still to be seen,
Cut into the rock on the "Calanter" Mountain.
The name was changed in the time of Empress Ekaterina.

Dubossary… my shtetl, where I was born,
You are alive and fresh in my memory.
Your magical exotic landscapes
Are hovering before my eyes;
A dream and a mirage
Are woven together.
As in a mist, you are wrapped
In an enchanted panorama;
As through a silky transparent veil
Your skies are shining, at night as in the day;
Spread over mountain and valley,
Encircled by a long chain of gardens,
Orchards and vineyards,
Watered by the Great Dniester River.
Berries of all kinds are growing there,
And fruits – grapes, apples and pears, and melons.
Around you are forests, villages and plains,
Where tall stalks of corn are rocked by the wind
And sheaves of wheat are gathered, replete with heavy seeds.

Dubossary! … It is there that I saw the world for the first time.
There my childhood passed, happy and free of worry.
I miss your long, wide streets,

[Page 91]

Your narrow, crooked alleys,
Your spacious courtyards, houses with ornate balconies,
That hovered proudly
Over the small poor houses with roofs of straw,
Surrounded by pits and muddy holes
That even in the summer did not dry out.
In the shade of the large, ramified acacia trees,
Through rows of blooming lavender
Young noblemen would ride
While the fragrance of the flowers and trees
Would fill the air with sweet aroma and magic

And on the mountain, far from the town's horizon,
Among picturesque landscapes that caught the eye
The silhouettes of winged windmills
Rose thoughtfully, standing in watch
Around the clear water from the springs.
The water carriers, bent under the load
Of heavy jugs on their backs
Would deliver water to the houses,
Filling the water containers for a few pennies.
When the town was dry and suffocating from heat,
The water would quench the thirst
Revive, refresh and invigorate the drinker.
And when the sun would burn and bake the air
The shtetl would run to the Dniester to bathe,
Or to Itzik Hertzes, the attendant of the Mikve,
To cool off in the water, to dip, to play.

The young men and the coquette young girls
Would go sailing on the Dniester in small boats,
Managing the oars and having competitions
All the way to the Bessarabia shore
Where they would visit the villages
And rest in the shade of the magic forest.

The Dniester streamed idyllic and silent,
A light wind would blow, caressing the velvety coolness.

[Page 92]

Night came, the sky darkened,
A star was shining and sparkling,
As if reminding the unconcerned youth:
Enough of frolicking – it is time to go home.

From the Dniester, the road back home
Is winding through romantic gardens.
Silent is the night, only the echo remains
Of joyous songs and melancholic longing.
A peasant woman is singing somewhere
A sad folksong about green leaves –
Just like the leaves, the longing bride will wither,
Waiting for the soldier, her fiancé.

My little town, the happy Dubossary! …
Along your beautiful, graceful boulevard
Young people, brave, golden young people
Are taking secret walks toward the Mountain
That smelled of sweet cinnamon and other spices
Reviving in their hearts sweet feelings and dreams…
The youth was captivated by the new "renaissance":
During illegal meetings
Every night in a different home,
Where Hershel the Zionist watched for the police –
They exchanged ideas, opinions
In intense and passionate discussions.

The youth of Dubossary was courageous and defiant,
Brave Jews, with bold Maccabean flame in their hearts;
They have organized self defense
To protect Dubossary and surroundings when pogrom comes.

I remember from my childhood the terrible measles epidemic:
Life was in danger in the entire town.
I remember also, in a frosty winter night
A fire broke out and brought disaster and chaos.

[Page 93]

All types of Jews in Dubossary: rich, strong, distinguished, honest,
Charitable, righteous, pious simple folk;
Also scholars, learned people, geniuses,
Some with imposing appearance, like our Patriarchs.
They would sit in the Bet Hamidrash, in the Kloiz and other synagogues,
Study Talmud and rabbinic books, or reading from the Psalms.
We had also educated people, part of the Enlightenment Movement,
Immersed in discussion or research
Reading new Russian and Hebrew newspapers, as Hatzefira.

I remember a snowy, freezing, stormy winter day,
All Dubossary was weeping in sorrow.
On that day the rabbi, the judge, the great scholar,
The Tzadik R'Yerucham the Kohen died.
All houses were locked by locks and bolts,
All, young and old, filled the streets.
Students from the Talmud Torah, group after group,
Walked with the funeral.
The sad and grief-stricken procession
Stopped at the gate of the cemetery,
Waiting for the son of the deceased to arrive from Kishinev.
Meanwhile, when they dug the grave, I fell asleep.
Late at night, long after the funeral was over,
The cold woke me and I stood up terrified.
Alone among graves and dead people,
I burst into bitter tears.
The watchman, hearing my cries,
Came running, trembling with fear,
Not knowing what had happened.
Astonished and scared he looked around,
Until he spotted me.
He brought me home, a weeping child,
Whose parents were sick with worry and suffering.
The entire town had been in havoc –
Who knows? Perhaps, God forbid, he was kidnapped by gypsies? …
Since that day, the world had gone through trouble and tribulation,
Generations passed away and new generations came,
And still the fright at R'Yerucham's funeral was remembered.

[Page 94]

I remember the night of Simchat Torah [rejoicing with the Torah]:
In the small synagogue, in the yard of Keile Chaim Mordechai's,
The members of the Chovevei-Zion movement danced.
Some respected Jews of Dubossary
Decided to "have a good time:"
Drunken, they stormed through the rich houses
Looking for the holiday delicious dishes
That the housewives had hidden, in time,
Under lock and key, in a safe, cool place.
But they broke all the locks,
And brought out dishes of fine holiday food – ducklings and cake.
In the morning, the empty pots and pans
Hung on the fences like so many crowns.

I remember the weddings, in Hershel Chaikel's Hall,
Where R'Avraham "Potato" [Kartofle], the matchmaker and community gossip,
Personally served the "wedding families" the festive meal,
And Itzik the Klezmer played his heartfelt tunes.
Young and old, hearing the music,
Would run to the place, to look, to listen,
And secretly enjoy the happy moments of their fellow Jews.

From one end of town to the meadow at the other end
All along the bank of the Dniester,
Through the New Cemetery, by the old army barracks,
The road stretches through all of Dubossary,
Past the steam-driven flour mill
Then by R'Zalman Rikles' warehouses.
Climbing a little on the hill, you'll find the legendary Old Cemetery,
Where trees grow beyond the fence – the beginning of the woods.
Ancient tombstones, hundreds of years old,
Of holy Tzadikim, which are hidden
In crooked little huts and tents.
One of the Tzadikim – so legend says –
Was the miracle-worker R'Mendel.
He was a scholar, a Cabbalist, a genius, a sharp mind,
A disciple and friend of the Baal-Shem-Tov.

[Page 95]

Miraculous stories were told about him,
And he protected Dubossary from sickness and trouble.

But… no miracle protected the town of Dubossary
When disaster and horror struck
In the dark days, not many years ago,
When the Jewish community was destroyed.

Empty and ruined are the courtyards, deserted the streets,
No more warm and affectionate people.
The remaining little houses are sunken into the ground,
Like orphans they stand, seemingly flickering
And simmering like an eternal memorial light.

Looking… here in the valley Dubossary lies in ruins,
And on the mountain, 18,500 martyrs lie in the large pits –
These are our brothers lying there in heaps
Our brothers from the destroyed community.
Silently they lie in eternal peace…

You run… and suddenly you stop and look back,
You cannot tear yourself away – one more glance…
Inside you, your heart is in a fog, cold and frozen,
As if you are yourself in the ground,
Buried together with all the martyrs.

[Page 96]

A memorial candle for my town Dubossar

by Bernardo Gorevitch

(Dov, son of Naftali Halevi Horovitz, z”l)

Translated by Sarah Faerman

Dubossar, where I was born, is located in Moldavia by the shores of the Dniester River, between Kamenietz Poldolsk and Bessarabia and forty viorst from Kishenev. Let it be remembered that following the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, some of the orphans of that massacre were brought to Argentina – a tradition that would be repeated years later following the 1918-1920 Ukrainian pogroms. Dozens of orphans were then brought over by the Jewish community and placed in the Buenos Aires Jewish orphanage.

In the olden days, Dubossar was under the Turkish regime and later under Moldavian rule.

In the 18th century, the Russian Czar annexed the land. It has been noted in various records and also on old tombstones that the Jewish community in Dubossar dates back to the 17th century.

I see Dubossar before my eyes – vibrant and alive as it was during my childhood. Calm and peaceful, she lay by the Dniester River where barges and steamboats would pass by on their journey to the Black Sea. Colourful fruit orchards and wheat fields adorned the entire area and clear and sweet water cascaded down from the adjacent mountains. A sip of water from the springs during the heat of summer was deliciously thirst quenching. In the meadows, the animals would graze; calves and lambs would cavort and leap. One could hear the warbling of birds in the trees while the Acacia trees perfumed the air with a delicate fragrance. Lovely and bright were the moonlit evenings in Dubossar. The blessings of the earth and the beauty of nature filled every heart with a desire and lust for life.

There, in that earthly paradise were our cradles. Can we then forget this? Can we believe that all this has been wiped out, destroyed? That thousands and thousands of our nearest and dearest were annihilated at the hands of murderers? And yet, it is true and the reality is much more horrifying than one could even imagine.

Being unable to eulogize the thousands of the martyrs of our town, I would like to mention some who are engraved in my mind. On the way to the second, old cemetary, going toward the meadow, lies the gravesite of the Tzadik (Pious man) Reb Mendele, a student of the Baal Shem Tov, as well as graves of other saintly men, may they rest in peace. In the new cemetary, which we all remember, I would like to mention the graves of the Dubossarer Rabbi and Reb Chaim David Dayan, z'tz”l. These two great scholars would be summoned to all the surrounding areas when there was a need to make a very difficult Torah judgement. Also at their eternal rest there were: the Rabbinic judge, the Tzadik Reb Chaim Shimon son of Menachem; Nachum Levi; Isaac Rabinovitch and his son Reb Shmuel Dayan – the father of our friend Leml Rubin, long may he live. There also lies the great scholar Reb Yerucham Dayan and the ritual slaughterers, Israel Layb Farnshul and Reb Efraim Greenblat.

I remember them from my childhood years and they actually appear before my eyes. I also would like to mention Reb Nachum Shotek (the Quiet One) – we would call him Nachum Aronke's. He was silent and he always studied. All week he would go from house to house collecting donations for Sabbath Kiddush or Havdala for the poor. And Reb Yosef, the trustee of the Talner Rabbi's synagogue, z'tz”l, the father of the famous cantor Nachum Matenka, who would, at the 'Three Sabbath Meals' dance with great devotion: “A day of rest and holiness You gave to our people.”

I also wish to name these wonderful men – Isaac Rashkavski; Yosef Filler; my grandfather Mordecai Layb Ish Horovitz, of the lineage of Isaiah Horovitz ,the holy one , h'sh'l'h (author of Shnei Luchot Habrit); his father Reb Naftali; Reb Pinchas, son of Yosef Melech Finkelshtein; David Zalmina, son of Moishe Horovitz; Motl Chazan; Eliezer Bendersky , sh'tz; Reb Motl Cohen; Israel Tzelnik; Chaim Tzvi Tzelnik; Layb Batalsky; Yechiel Tzelnik, Rabbiner (Rabbi) Layb Pitchiniuk; Moishe Bronfman; Yosef Ben Naftali Horovitz, Guteh Molavyatisky; Krasnavetz; Feldsher (medical aide) Yeshpe, Yosef Rofeh (doctor); Abraham Baruch; Isaac Vaisman; my brother Yosef Horovitz, his wife and their daughter who died of hunger; Doody Jacob, son of Mordecai Layb Gurevitch and wife Rayzl; Doody Elkana Gurevitch; Doody Abraham Jacob Piltchikov and wife Raizy; Reb David Lifshin; Chanan Kipnis, Yudl Filler, Jacob Feldman; Simcha Vaisman; Nachum Cohen; Zalman Korpirst and many more that I cannot remember.

Their blessed memory and that of the thousands of Dubossar martyrs that were killed in World War 2 will always remain before our eyes. May their names live on forever in this Yizkor book.

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