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[Page 34]

We want to know

About a Jew who wants to become old quickly because he is already bored of life.

Why does brother Newmark want that the Mohilever Society should build a shul while at the same time on Shabbos Teshuvah his real estate office remains open.

* * *

Why does brother Shapatkin never run for president of the society, and yet he is offended by brother Weksler and others who became president.

* * *

Why does a Jew like Yoshke Ranover move around freely in the world and does not get married, and he has no-one who can pester him when he comes home late from a meeting, like other Jews have?

* * *

Why does the finance secretary Rubinstein guard the constitution of the American Brotherhood so diligently and does not take care of the books and sometimes sends two bills in the same neighborhood to a member?

* * *

Why is Harry Cohen such a strong proponent of Soviet Russia, that was once private property, while he himself builds houses and collects rent.

* * *

Why does cantor Reichlin use a tuning fork when he says the prayer, “El Moleh” at a memorial meeting of the society if the dead members anyway will not protest when he sings off tune.

* * *

Why does the recording secretary Y. Karapov read the minutes of the last meeting so quietly, is he afraid someone will hear that he forgot to write an important aspect of the last meeting?

* * *

Why does the Mohilever branch 176 of the workers ring not want to pay the 250 dollars, which they pledged to pay at a mass meeting of Mohilever society, when we were collecting funds for the war victims, do those who operate the branch think that love doesn't cost money?

* * *

Why does Zalman Wexler repeat the words to questions three times, when he speaks even once about a question, a person can become sick from his talking.

* * *

Why did S. Zimmerman leave Chicago, did he find a Mohilever Society somewhere else, that is as active as the American brotherhood.

* * *

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Why when Dr. Galin comes to a meeting he sits by the door, is he afraid that Harry Cohen will wallop him if he does not agree with his opinion.

* * *

Why was Morris Levin elected last year to be president of the society when he did not even earn to become vice.

* * *

Why did brother Krull give a present to the society, making a cut from the picture of the celebration committee without money, is it maybe because the editors printed his article in the Souvenir book?

* * *

Why does Dr. Dolnick never come to a meeting of the Mohilever society, and of the Bnei Moshe. Maybe he still thinks that the members of the Mohilever Society have to go to night classes to learn manners, if so, maybe he would like to undertake to become the teacher?

* * *

Why did B. Shapiro become busy with a business that sells coals to landlords who have steam heated homes, when Zalman Wexler made a contract with the master of the world, that besides him no-one else can be in the business.

* * *

Why did brother Binner have to have his silver wedding anniversary specifically at Simchas Beis Hashoevah, when we party anyway without him.

* * *

Why does brother Glick worry so much about the situation of every brother of the society and wants to make everyone rich, first he tried to talk everyone into buying insurance policies from NY Life and now he is trying to convince everyone to buy riders.

* * *

Why should the Mohilever society, that has members who are construction contractors, not buy a place in Chicago, and make a building where there would be a nicer hall to meet in?

* * *

Why did brother Stolk not buy a ticket in shul for the last high holidays and for Rosh Hashono and Yom Kippur just roamed the streets empty and idle, is it true what the Holy Torah says (Deuteronomy 32:15) “you became fat, you became thick you became corpulent.”

* * *

Why does Sam Levin not meet with the general manager of the Amalgamated union, so that the Mohilever tailors who work in difficult situations and other situations should join the Mohilever Society, is the Mohilever society any worse than branch 176 of the workers ring, where their business agents are so industrious.

* * *

When will the Mohilever society have integrated people like everyone else and have leftist and rightist like all other organization have?

* * *

Why is Laizer Greenspan so stubborn and does not want to pay the three dollars for the banquet, does he really think that without the three dollars the Mohilever society will not have a banquet?

* * *

Why is our president Harry Levin so offended by our brother Wexler that often he will not let him say a word at any meeting, is it because Wexler calls out the president often in the butcher's street?

* * *

Why did brother Benenson bother himself to make peace between the Mohilever society

I say my opinion, I am in agreement with brother Shapatkin that we drive ourselves crazy with souvenir books since we want to have a better supper with good food just like by the “Hebrew workers,” and that will be enough.

[Page 36]


Silhouettes of the past

Avremel

There, where the Dnieper River winds
On the way are narrow areas,
There, where the Jewish poverty
Extends in tolerance,
There, where from Chassishe sins are
The tashlich swollen,
There stood a mother
In the town of Yisroel
  There, where the river washes the banks
With springs, with shafts,
There, where Tzukerman's shul resounds
A lesson with a prayer
There, where the Malbim conducted
A struggle with the community,
There I drank Torah
From wells of the community

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There, in the valley of the murdered
And holy, sacrificed,
There, where Rabbi Rotenberg Ziskind
Crowned with Rabbonus,
There, where Maranos Paklonski's
Judgement, they fasted,
There my innocence carried
From Torah the banner
There over the town hovers a long
episode of decrees
from Poland, from Czar Alexi's
Khmelnitsky's fears, of Jewish people being driven out at the time
Of lighting candles.
And stories of harm from unripe
Picked fruit.
Today in the center of the old
“Kol Yaakov” deliciousness,
The poverty whistles louder
In valley of the sick barracks,
In Tzuckerman's shul is a club for
Cossacks who are circumcised.
The spiritual aristocrats
Due to lineage and knowledge,
The old families, Rashal,
And Gurevitch, and Gissin,
They stray around like beggars
  In a valley of disconnection
They wait for help from the distance
Since the month of Adar and Nissan
In the market speculate and run
Swollen and gaping
They tear a strap from paupers
And pull it from them.
But Yankel the metal man of “komnalog”
does not want to touch them,
as their rent is worth it for him
for him to tap some livelihood.
And from the rooms in the study hall
Anew sound is heard
Not prayers, but children's fervor
From Charik's songs
Neglect in schools of the “red”
Holding children hostage
With no so good intelligence and with
“Comsomolska” desires.
We lament the goddess and freedom
On small recklessness,
That drives the father's in “east”
To dig graves
Somewhere from underground whistles out
The shofar a shevorim,
And staggering stories of events
How wealthy become poor.

and branch 176 of the Workers ring, the Mohilever guild is not a leftist organization.

* * *

Woe! What is going to be with brother B. Ratner, who is constantly smoking such fat cigars at a meeting, so much so that the person sitting next to him can suffocate.

* * *

Why does brother H. Segal not read the “forward” by principle and is only an admirer of the “courier” does he not know that that now the forward is a defender of kosher meat and family purity just as in all other Jewish newspapers because it is financially better.

* * *

Where did the brother Avrumel Thurman learn such conduct to scare a customer, who is going with him to buy a house, that behind the building is a huge dog, in order that the customer will not go there and by the way see a major problem with the building.

* * *

How many non-Jewish workers did brother Abe Entin, present to the festivities committee to make them supervisors on the floor by the banquet of the society to keep order in the room, because in his words Jews have more respect for a goy.

* * *

Why does Dr. Greenspan not appear before the Mohilever society, does he really think that we can forsake our brethren because they can survive their own world alone.

* * *

How long does brother Saks have to be inside the society like a poor person at the door (inside guard), why should he not raise himself to a higher position and become president.

Why have we never seen the brother Blacken, a member of our society, who is the vice president of “Division State Bank,” at a meeting. Nu, if you don't know Yiddish, you cannot learn?

* * *

Why did our brother Berel the Black one come down on Morris Levin, such that he does not even want to come to the banquet in order not to meet him, does he not know that the Torah writes (Leviticus 19:18), “do not take revenge, do not bare a grudge?”

* * *

Why does brother Hurwin come only to such meetings where if you don't come then you have to pay a dollar as punishment, better if he comes to other meetings and not just those.

* * *

How many mistakes will the typist make in the souvenir book and darken the face of the poor editor.

* * *

When will the Jewish communists stop screaming emergency that they want a socialist revolution in America and personally drive around in an expensive automobile?

* * *

How many praises are said in the souvenir book of the worker, who did not even dip their hands in cold water?

* * *

When already will brother Pesach Moshe Dolnick begin to say a chapter of Mishnayos between Mincha and Maariv for the members of the Mohilever society, who want to have their own shul?

* * *

When will poverty, need and impoverishment cease to exist on this world, and people will live like brothers, and not like wild animals in the forest?

* * *

[Page 38]

How does it happen that brother Wexler did not want to be part of the celebration committee, is it maybe so that later he can say, that if he would have been on the committee it would have been a nicer celebration?

* * *

When will brother Belinky let go of his anger at the society for the injustice that we once went against him, is it true that a Jew comes from a stiff-necked nation?

* * *

How big does the picture have to be of an important person in the society, in the souvenir book?

* * *

How many members of the Mohilever society send their children to a modern Jewish school where they can be raised in Jewish tradition and with Jewish spirit, do they ever think that if they do not raise a Jewish generation, who will take over their work and continue their spiritual activities after they will leave this sinful world?

* * *

Harry Cohen: we hold the land of Israel in contempt, for us Soviet Russia is more precious, we have with the Jewish bourgeois nothing to do, we have to help the workers in Soviet Russia, but nowhere else.

Where did the first president of the Society disappear to?

 

How many members will not want to pay the dollar for the mention in the souvenir book, is the Mohilever Society not worth mentioning them even if it cost a dollar?

* * *

When will Simon Gurevitch put on a small tallis and let himself wear a beard with payos and travel to the land of Israel and sell there his natural medicines to sick people, how long do we still have to wander in exile?

* * *

When will brother Shapatkin abolish the rule that when a worker comes ten minutes late to work, he loses pay for one entire hour.

* * *

When will Mohilever society introduce regular lectures at the meetings, because sometimes is feels not good hearing dry reports from the committee.

* * *

When will Moshiach come and redeem us poor folk from the bitter exile?

Emergency! When, when, when?


The man who is exploited by the government should avoid women.

* * *

You can convince a woman of anything except something that it opposite to what she thinks.

* * *

A woman can forget a lot but only forgive a little.

* * *

To die before your wife is often less heroic than to live with her.

* * *

Many women are compared to young potatoes.

* * *

The wife, this is the dessert of life. She lets the simple men love her as best as they can in shirts until the bitter end!

[Page 39]

Mohilev in the saga
of the Jewish revolutionary movement

K. Marmar

Mohilev is one of the towns and provinces that played a significant role in the life of Jews in Russia.

Mohilev and its towns and townlets; Bichov, Homel, Liadi, Lubavitch, Shklov, and many others, are names that elicit an accepted ideological bond. They remind us about personalities of light, special fictional and intellectual works, beautiful and Holy Jews from three consecutive (18th 19th and 20th) centuries.

Mohilever province reminds us about the Chabad movement and about the Jewish pioneers of Socialism. She reminds us about actual Jewish religious philosophies without the great perception of scholars and intellectuals who used to bring in the “beauty of Yefes” and the “tents of Shem.” Mohilev was inevitably impacted by the crusaders against Chassidim and fanatism and the sincere Jewish romance writers who were born in its territory, or where they developed, an entire row of modern poets, storytellers, essayists and historians in Yiddish and Hebrew, courageous revolutionaries and class struggle.

No wonder, that Mohilev and its famous vicinity play such an important place in Jewish literature, in Hebrew and Yiddish. Separately it was made popular by Peretz Smolenskin and Yaakov Dinenson. The first described the “Fledermaus” and the dark left of Mopalia (Molihev) and Kishlon (Shklov), and the young moody idealists who searched for a way to bring light and people to life. The second made tens of thousands of people cry profusely over the suffering and romantic hearts in Mohilev.

Yaakov Dinenson came to Mohilev as a twelve-year-old child, and he lived there till close to thirty years old. He went to a Mohilever cheder, visited a Mohilever Yeshivah, and learned by himself in Shmerel Tzukerman's Beis Midrash. He then became a teacher in the Talmud Torah and one of its prominent intellectuals. In Mohilev Yaakov Dinenson also began to write his romantic stories about Jewish life in Mohilev.

“The black young man,” “the plagued stone” and the less known “two letters from an author,” depicting the situation of the Jewish masses in Mohilev of the past seventy years. Dinenson also wrote a romance (his first) with the name “Be'ovon ovos” (Due to the sin of the parents), that openly depicted a Mohilever tragic incident, but the censor prohibited it to be published.

The story was as follows. A Mohilever wealthy man, a dark fanatic, chose for his daughter a coarse fanatic youth who came from important lineage. His educated daughter actually loved her cousin, a school student. But she did not have the strength to convince her father to change his mind. She also did not have the boldness to run away as some educated people suggested. So, she was forced to marry the guy that her father chose for her. She tried to make him into a decent person, but she was not successful. When she saw that her life was forfeited, she hung herself.

Dinenson wrote this episode of tragedy in Mohilev very realistically. He related the tragedy in all its details. But to Dinenson's bad luck the censor in Vilna was related to the wife of the wealthy man in Mohilev. The censor wanted to protect the honor of his relative and thus prohibited Dinenson from publishing his first romance. A year later another Mohilever writer, the socialist revolutionary Eliezer Ackerman, portrayed all the facts in the form of a diary, under the name “olam hofuch” – “upside down world.” Still, Dinenson used in other tales the motive of the fanatic

[Page 40]

father who disturbs the good fortune of his child. Just that in that book he is full of sympathy and forgiveness also to the fanatic parents. He writes that they did not know better. He also depicts the loneliness of the poor shadchan, who brings misfortune to tender young souls, not out of evilness but due to his impoverishment.

Mohilev and its environs also play an important place in the creation of other Hebrew and Yiddish poets, who grew up there, or developed in that area. It was also an important place in the revolutionary movement. In the sixties and seventies Mohilev was the most important Jewish socialist center in Russia.

The Mohilever socialist center excelled in the aspect that most of its agitators were wealthy students from Mohilever college. Workers in the modern concept were very few. Although there was no lack of poor Jewish spirited people. But the general poor Jewish crowd was very ignorant and fanatical. Thus, the wealthy socialistic students had no accessibility them. Therefore, their entire work entailed enlightening yeshiva students. They would wander around the small houses of study to entice and find those who could be enticed. They would teach them Russian gratis, and other ideologies, simultaneously smuggling in socialist revolutionary ideas. Then they made them acquainted with the illegal Russian revolutionary literature.

Most of these Mohilever students and extremists were socialistic revolutionaries or members of the general public who wanted freedom, whose ideology was to enter the Russian society. There were also girls from wealthy homes in Mohilev, who ran away from home with Christian loves and had no interest in the Jewish masses. But there also those who felt depended on the Jewish people. They organized in many towns and villages Jewish Socialistic Communist circles. All these various groups copied the Mohilever propogandists by focusing on socialist propaganda literature and spreading the socialist mentality among the Yeshiva boys and intellectuals.

Among the socialist students in Mohilev of that time are the distinct outstanding socialist revolutionaries Leventhal and later the social democratic theocratist Paul Akselrod. For the Mohilever yeshivah students who became socialists is particular the activist, the previously mentioned revolutionary Eliezer Tzukerman.

Already his previously mentioned story of Mohilever life “An upside-down world,” was published in Peretz Smolenski's Hebrew monthly journal “Hashachar,” and permeated with revolutionary socialist spirit. One can feel there a great hate of full and gorged rich people and with love and compassion for the poor masses and proletarian intelligentsia who are groupies around them.

Due to the crackdown of the Czarist government, most of the Mohilever Jewish revolutionaries ran away to Berlin. In the 70's there were many “Mohilever colonies” of Jewish socialists and communists, mainly students.

The socialistic communistic “Mohilever colonies” played the same role abroad as the Mohilever group in Russia. The Mohilever Jewish revolutionaries at that time has more influence that those from Kiev and even from Vilna. That is why Mohilev was the most important center of Jewish socialist movement in Russia and in the Mohilever colonies in Berlin – the most important Jewish socialist center abroad.

All these Mohilever Jewish socialists lived in one house and lived together communist style. A few of these Mohilever commune fellows studied medicine. Others worked in various Berlin factories as simple day workers. They did this with a designed intention. Firstly, to become acquainted with the true condition of the workers. Secondly, to become accustomed to hard labor, in order that they should be able, when they return to Russia, to visit factories and plants and mingle with the simple Russian workers.

[Pages 41-43]

By day the Mohilever volunteer horopashnikes would go around dressed in thick canvas blouses and torn shoes. They looked like neglected factory workers. But in the evening, when they returned to their commune, they returned to intelligence work. They would read socialistic and communist books and journals, write articles and letters and conduct the socialistic propaganda among Jews in Russia. They also maintained a connection with the socialist leaders of all countries, specifically with Aharon Lieberman, the father of the Jewish socialist movement. Aharon Lieberman had an international reputation and anyone who wanted to disseminate the socialist communist ideas among Jews recognized his authority. He would send from London or Vienna, where he was active at that time, written instructions to the “Mohilever colony.”

The ”Mohilever colony” in Berlin was also very involved in publishing the first organ for Jews, which was Lieberman's monthly “Ho-emes” in Vienna. The majority of the Mohilever Jewish socialist of that time were raised with Hebrew literature. Many of them were previously Yeshivah students, and maintained, just like Aharon Lieberman, that in order to spread socialism among Jews they first must make the Yeshivah students into socialist agitators.

In Vienna there was also a Mohilever radical group. The socialist revolutionary Eliezer Tzuckerman belonged to that group, also the socialist sympathizer Moshe Kamonski, Freilin Hurewitz, the daughter of Badana Hurewitz and sister of the socialist Gershon Badanas (Grigory Gurevitch), and others. Eliezer Tzukerman came to Vienna with the intention to study engineering, but the “Mohilever Colony” decided that he should discontinue being a student, become a typesetter and help Lieberman with “ho-emes.” So that is what he did.

For this Mohilever group, Eliezer Tzukerman generally who wrote in Hebrew would read aloud his revolutionary Yiddish poems. They were mainly about the life of Jewish workers. It was obvious that he was describing mainly Mohilever types. One of his poems “Mottel the cobbler” began like this: “Not a pedigree not my hero, not a landlord not a nester, just an ordinary Jew: Mottel the cobbler. Labored his entire life like an ox with a hook plow, the piece of bread to earn for his family, eight children and a feeble wife, a woven otetznitze an inheritance from his mother. He lived as a neighbor with Yudel the Shamosh, in a tiny house that was four amos, above in the attic, always full of charcoal fumes and smoke, where winter poured from the walls, and summer it singed and burned. In brief: A palace, a cargo, there from early morning till late in the night, Mottel is glued to the shoemaker's chair, sitting bent and spinning his head.

When Aharon Lieberman was arrested, it strongly effected the “Mohilever colony” in Berlin. Some of its members, Gurevitch and Aronson were also arrested. Other wealthy kids ran from Berlin. But in general, the Mohilever socialist pioneers did not become lost to the work of revolutionary movement. There were even those like Moshe Aronson, who slowly left their childhood ideologies. But there were also those like Paul Axelrod who became prominent in the general socialist movement, or in Russian colonies, in western Europe. Others again like Eliezer Tzukerman returned illegally to Russia and became active in the local underground movement. (Eliezer Tzuckerman was a typesetter for a private printing press of the “Narodnaya Volya” and for this he was sentenced to four years exile in Katorna Siberia. There he went out of his mind and committed suicide.)

The development of Socialism among Jews in Russia in the 1870's was broken up. The later Jewish workers movements no longer knew the names, even for a brief period, of the first Jewish socialist, who were active in the groups in Vilna, Kiev and Mohilev. Still, their work was not for nothing. It never gets entirely lost the influence of the spiritual abilities, which cannot be weighed or measured. And when the new Jewish workers organizations penetrated Mohilev, Homel and other areas of the Mohilev provence, they definitely received a friendly reception in those places, where the light was not entirely extinguished, after it was turned on by the first Socialists in Mohilev in the 1860's and 1870's.

 

A bucket of Nettle

Yoel Coco

Accept, my dear friends and compatriots, the bucket of nettles, that I am sending to you for your great celebration, to the twenty-fifth-year celebration of the “American brotherhood of Mohilev.”

Why specifically a bucket of nettle? You will ask, why such a prickly wild grass like nettle, we remember how we used to poke each other when we would go in the forest, with hunger we would crawl into the nettle and for weeks we would continue scratching ourselves. We remember how as children, if we did something wrong, they would threaten us that they would hit us with nettle, why specifically nettle?

Well, I will give you an answer: Nettle is the appropriate emblem for our society, for the “American brotherhood of Mohilev.”

Understand me, science found out the nettle can only grow in the best and firmest earth, on earth, that has all the necessary matter and minerals to bring out the best plants and most beautiful plums, the best trees with juicy fruits. So, my bucket will serve as sign, a symbol, a hint about our mother earth where nettle can grow and grow, beautiful plants with large aromatic flowers, strong big trees with tasty juicy fruit.

* * *

This is not small matter! twenty-five years! It is so easy to say it, but when we remember that in a year is twelve months and twenty-five years are three hundred months, and in each month two meetings. This adds up to approximately six hundred meetings. This does not include, dances, picnics, theatre benefits, and other large and small occasions.

Today figure out, at every meeting there are at least ten issues in the order of the day and for every issue everyone has to give his opinion at least twice and make five points, besides interrupting other people several times while they speak.

Twenty-five years two times a month, debating, risking, arguing, babbling, fighting over everything and nothing, about important or unimportant matters or things that do not matter, about helping the Lepelover or Sheltzer fire victims, about helping general victims, or about this, if at the banquet we should first serve soup and then meat or the other way, yes a shul not a shul, yes a cemetery not a cemetery, if we should help and with how much, rebuild the burned down bathhouse in Vietka and etc.

Twenty-five years saying no when another person says yes and yes when another person says no. Today, where is running; it is no small thing, running for president, for vice president, secretary, trustee, inside guard, running, and continue running.

The head begins to get dizzy when it thinks of how much energy, how much work, was expended for the twenty-five years, how much worry, how much anxiety people had to endure during this time.

The question asks itself, for what purpose?

What do the Jews have to be running to the meetings with all the seething and getting excited from debates and arguments. Can they give their wife from this something for Shabbos, can they give a dowry for their daughter, can they buy from this an automobile, houses or afford some other pleasures?

On the contrary, call each person out individually and ask them, they should tell you why they work so hard, why they give so much of their time for the society, what do they have from it?

Take for example Harry Levin, a man who God helped him have a wife, children, and worries about his livelihood, with worries about how to raise his children to Torah, chuppah and good deeds, I think a regular job for such a small thin refined Jew as he is, is plenty of work. So why look for more work, coming home tired from a day's work and he has no time, he eats supper quickly and runs, where are you running? There is no time, a regular meeting, special meeting, committee meeting, just a meeting, and when you see him, he is always heated, society, meeting, relief, meeting, society, that is all you hear from him. Ask what he has from it, why does he need it, what use does it bring him?

Or take Harry Cohen, think a moment, how he attaches himself, how he gets all worked up when a person says something or makes a motion that he does not like, see the types of screams, what type of shrieks he makes, ask him why he screams, what does it matter to him if the other person has a different opinion, if the motion passes or not, what is he losing here is it his great grandmother's inheritance?

Or take brother Newmark a plump Jew with a smooth content face, why does he need the society? It bothers him the few dollars for the sick benefit? Does he need the piece of land in the cemetery? I think that if you look into the window of his business, you will see, that he has enough earth to sell the entire human race. So why does he drive himself crazy coming to meetings with committees?

Or ask, I beg of you, Dr. Galin, why did he have to twist his head with making a souvenir book, with pictures, articles, editing, does he really think that after the crowd reads the book, they will not have any interest to continue eating, with the physical, and will begin to fly in the high clouds with imagination and aesthetics? No, brother Galin is not such a sucker, he knows that the crowd cannot be changed. He knows that such Jews as Shapotkin or Yoske Ragover, will not sacrifice even a small piece of kishke, or corn beef for the most exquisite books in the world.

He knows that the crowd will bring the souvenir book home and will forget about it. He knows that the crowd will look for its spiritual pleasure in a small game of pinochle or poker and the souvenir book with have the same end that all other old newspapers and old telephone books have, so why does he bother himself and others?

Or contemplate brother Lakeinen, see how he sits quietly slightly bent like a poor person at the door and smokes a cigar, but as soon as we need to raise money for “Douglas Park Nursery” or to collect “Advertisements” for the souvenir book, he is fully present and tries to collect as much money as he can, to bring in as many advertisements as possible. Do you think that he does this for a livelihood, or that he gets some material gain from it? If you think so, then you are very mistaken. Such thoughts never enter his head, but he does love a little respect. He has pleasure when someone praises him. Ask him, I beg of you, what does he need the honor for, what does he get from it?

Take Dr. Dolnick, a precious Jew, who once filled a very important function. Eleven o'clock at night, when half the members at the meeting are in a pleasant sleep and the other half are already exhausted from babbling and bickering among themselves, he would then come in and tell a few stories and jokes to awaken and refresh the brothers. And that the meeting would begin anew. True, lately we do not see him, he left us and began to spend his time with “Venice and Shulamit.” But this is for him a temporary passing weakness, a weakness, that is called the “second youth.” He will return, he will see, that with us he will have more fulfillment than with “Venice and Shulamit.”

Take Zalman Wexler, a Jew who if he was Rockefeller, then he would be wealthier than

[Page 44]

Rockefeller, you understand me, he would still have been dealing a little with coals. A Jew who knows everything, he is so sure that he knows, and he constantly makes bets with people, whether for ten dollars, or five dollars, the luck is, that no-one bets with him, if someone would, I don't know where this Jew would get so much money to constantly lose, ask him a question, why does he excite himself so, why does he have to wrangle with every person?

Or take brother Shapiro, he was finance secretary for over twenty years, calculating, writing, erasing, ran around and still runs around, held and guarded other people's money. I will tell you a secret, that should stay between us, what Shapiro is missing is for him to have a million dollars we should all own. Today why does he philander around, why does he run, why does he worry, why does he work so much?

In the same way we can ask each person individually, for example, Morris Levin, Ratner, Stolick, Segal, Riamand, Drapkin, Entin, Revzin, and all the hundreds of members, and ask them, why do they get so excited, why do they argue so much, why do they run to meetings, what do they get from it?

But it is a waste of your time and effort to ask them, it is for nothing, you will not get any answer for the questions, they themselves do not know. They don't know and cannot answer just like the plants don't know and cannot answer what they get from bringing out flowers that others have benefit from. They don't know, they cannot answer just as the trees don't know and cannot answer what they benefit from bearing fruit that others benefit from.

To produce flowers and fruit for others to enjoy and benefit from is their life and vitality. Take away the ability of flowers to bloom and from the trees to give fruit and they begin to fade, they wither, dry up and die. The more beautiful the flower the better it smells the healthier is the plant. The bigger the juicier the fruit makes the tree more whole and beautiful.

Please accept, my brothers and compatriots, my bucket of nettles and it should be for you a sign, a hint, a symbol, that for us, with grown nettles, mother earth can grow, it will continue to grow bringing out more beautiful aromatic flowers, big trees with tasty juicy fruit.

Have a good joyful festival. Eat to your hearts content, drink your fill, revel, so that immediately after the celebration you will be fresh, with more impetus, more excitement to continue running to meetings, become more heated, again arguing, discussing, babbling and fighting each other about everything and nothing, about issues of great importance, minor importance and no importance at all, continue to run, running and not running till the jubilee celebration, Amen and Amen.

[Page 45]

Moghilever Antiques

A. Litvin

Nosson Nota

Nosson Nota the “lobbyist” lived at the same time as the famous wealthy Mohilever and public activist, Yehoshua Tzeitlin, who played an important role in Jewish life for Yekaterinin and Patiamkenen. Personally, Nota the lobbyist did not belong to any affluent person. In his younger years he was even a worker, a watchmaker, a watchmaker was not considered in those times a simple worker. Usually such a job was done by a person from a comfortable family, or a learned person who had an artistic soul and felt that just being in the four walls of the Beis Midrash was dry. People considered a watchmaker to be an important person, almost like the esteem a doctor was held in, because of his profession, where his work was artistic. His comprehension of the inner structure of the whirling of the watch. Especially since Nota the lobbyist was a wealthy person, besides his workshop also had a store for clocks and watches. He considered himself an aristocrat. He was very worldly with much knowledge, he understood Russian and Polish, and in later years he was notary. He was the first Jewish notary in Russia. Aristocrats and prosperous landowners trusted him. They left their money with him to invest and did not make any move without him.

The same respect was accorded to him by Russian Nobles. He was very smart and wise. His children were educated in a European manner, they studied Russian, Polish and French. He had a large family, sons, daughters, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, who all lived around him, spaciously and graciously with all their needs, because Nota the lobbyist made a good living from the nobles and so conducted himself generously.

It is superfluous to say that Nota the lobbyist was well accepted in Jewish circles, not just in Mohilev and Mohilever province was he famous, but also in all other Jewish cities his name was mentioned with awesome respect. He played the role of a prince. In all difficult political moments, they sent him to Petersburg and he was so to speak the Jewish representative in the government due to his honorable status or maybe because he knew French, they added to his name the letter “D” and his grandchildren in Mohilev have till today the family title D Notkin.

 

Three Moshe's

It would seem to me that there is no Jewish cemetery in the pale that is not as original the one in Mohilev. It is surrounded with an entire pack of stories, true stories not legends. It is famous not so much for the dead, which is similar to other cemeteries, but more so with the personalities of the live individuals who were involved with the dead.

Before mentioning anyone else are the three Moshe's. One was Moshe Linear, an official in the “committee.” His job was to distribute bread to the poor people. The Mohilever people say that he was a hard Jew, hard as stone. His pleasure was to terrorize the impoverished, torment them and squeeze from them the last pint of blood, till they would live to see the loaf of bread and then he would not give it to them but hastily throw it on the scales in order to put pressure on the scales so that it comes outweighing more than the actual weight.

From Moshe Linear people became sick. Then they would have to go to the other Moshe, Moshe Eberlin, who was an official of visiting the sick society. He used to roast them by inflicting them with medications and remove any life they had left. Now the poor person had to come to the third Moshe, Moshe the gravedigger who used to

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make less ceremony over the dead paupers that the other two Moshe's since the paupers were candidates for being a corpse.

 

Old times bribery

In the laws of bribery there was a great specialist, the Mohilever contractor Eidelman, he never gave a bribery into someone's hand. He would arrange it with the venal and leave. As soon as he was on the other side of the door, the venal would go to the end of the table where the contractor stood and pick up a corner of the tablecloth, under that corner was always a package, that always made the corrupted person's heart happy, that the gift came to the right address. The next day they knew in the stores, because the corrupted person's wife would go around buying a lot of stuff. In this way the Jewish bribe came back into Jewish hands.

The bribe was not just given in such a manner. Eidelman knew well what was important for the venal according to the season. For instance, if it was winter and he saw that the corrupted person's fur coat was not so good, then instead of cash under the tablecloth he would send in his assistant with a skunk fur with a garnished collar, that cost a good few hundred dollars. This was also in the situations when it was not so comfortable or impossible to give cash. Another manner was when it was impossible for the person to come to the table then he would be let in not further than the kitchen door or the anteroom. A fur coat was the highest type of bribe, something that no corrupted person could refuse. A smaller bribe was when he was sent a pile of wood or a loaf of sugar which was the accepted norm for a bribe for the wife.

This type of bribe was the accepted way in the 1800's and even now it is not entirely out of style. Just that the old-time bribe was simpler and more naïve, and the main thing is that it was a lot cheaper.

Such conduct is written in the Mohilever book of records, or more correctly on the only surviving page of the records, that has a date of over one hundred years ago. A brief declaration by the community: “give to the chief manager of the Governor thirty kopkes for apples.” … signed by the trustees.

 

In Domovik's kingdom

Mohilever young adults drove me to see a ruin. It is an entire moor that has been empty for generations because no-one Jews or Christians want to move into it. The old Mohilever wives and non-Jewish women call it Domovicks kingdom. There are also some of today's youth who believe in it.

The Domovick is a household demon that many non-Jews believe in and even Jews of the old generation.

The demon is a virtual peaceful creature. It chooses a corner of the house for itself, near the oven or behind a wardrobe and lives there quietly, not disturbing anyone. On the contrary, there are people who believe that a house where the Domovick lives and people do not disturb it, has good fortune, this is what the old Mohilever women and some young ladies say. A situation occurred where there was an old wardrobe sat on one spot for many generations. It was transferred by inheritance from the old grandfathers to the great grandchildren and the place where it stood is where many generations left it and used it, never moving it from its spot.

Behind the closet, the Domovick secluded itself, and lived in his quiet inward manner. He lived with the grandfathers, the grandchildren in the best place. But as things would have it 60-90 years ago, one of the occupants decided to move the wardrobe from its place. By doing so he got into a quarrel with the “Domovick” who loved to live quietly and hidden from the eye, just as it lived with our great grandfathers and grandmothers, and just like them he also hated to change dwelling places and look for a new corner.

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The Domovick felt violated and became very angry. It began to throw bricks, stones and anything else it could find to throw.

The end was the indignant individuals who begrudged the Domovick his corner, were terrified and had to flee, not just them but all the neighbors and residents of the moor. Thus, instead of one corner that the Domovick used, now it reigns over the entire moor. It has reigned for generations and waits if anyone sticks their nose over the property line into its kingdom, immediately bricks fly into the head of the audacious person.

They say that the police inspected Domovick's kingdom several times and assured people that no-one is there. But it did not help till today, the moor remains empty with broken windows, and no-one even considers the possibility to buy a house there.

Such a type of fairy tale often develops around a house that has no owner, where the heirs fight among themselves and cannot come to an agreement, and for that reason the house remains empty for a long time. Sometimes it can be in a person's interest to create a legend around a property so that the person can later take over the property. Or it could be someone creates a tall story to get revenge. It is possible that one of these reasons created the legend around this abandoned place. It is said that the police chief who is an idealist and municipal reformer who has less belief than the Mohilever Jewish homeowners zobabanes, decided to end the silly fairy tale and gave an injunction to renovate the moor and make a new building.

If the noteworthy goy will be able to accomplish his desire with the Domovick, the same way he conducts himself with Jews, is a question. Mohilever Jews are very doubtful since the Domovick is not a nosh brat but a very difficult problem and will not let anyone initiate any new display.

 

Devorah the community caller

In other places they would normally call her the “Mayever Yaboknitze” or the woman with the book “Maaneh Loshon,” this refers to a living person whose livelihood is from the dead. In Mohilever they call her the “community caller.” The signal of the bitter end, maybe in the entire area was Devorah the community caller, the Mohilever Jews remember her very well. She was a Jewish woman a tramp. Dressed in a tunic on one sleeve, with the Maaneh Loshon or Mayeiver Yabok in one hand and a filthy red handkerchief in the other hand, with a snuff box. At the cemetery she was the master of ceremonies. With the dead she was a puny brat, who knew everyone's biography by memory, and through them she also knew the biographies of the living relatives, till the very last extremity. To the dead males she used to address politely, especially for the scholars, and she had respect for religious Jews. To the dead women she would address with familiarity and conduct herself with them unceremoniously. When a woman would come to pay a visit with a bitter heart to her mother's grave asking them to intercede for a sick child. Devorah did not have to know details: she already knew what sickness is and how to get the dead to intercede, that they should pray, she would speak in the following manner to the live or dead, with firmness.

First and foremost, she would knock on the grave three times and say: Osna get up! Don't you hear? Devorah is here! I am telling you that your daughter Chashe came! Her daughter Feigele is sick. She has something in her throat, go immediately to the master of the world and beseech for her! Then she would enumerate all the wonderful things about her grandchild Feigele, and the problems of her daughter Chashe, and would command the dead to go immediately and not delay for even a minute.

She was a great orator in using expressions of the Maaneh Lashon. It is not necessary to state that her warmth and complaints on behalf of the person were dependent on the honorarium that she received for being an intermediary. With the rich women she was very courteous, would proceed with the good, she would mention all the qualities of the living and the dead,

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while with the poor she would be brief and command more than plead.

“Devorah the caller” love to have a little liquor, just that her love for a bitter drop was expressed in a very different way.

Every time when she concluded her work being an advocate for the dead, she would go into the store on the street of the cemetery and pay two kopeks for a glass of liquor and one kopek for a piece of honey cake. She did not drink since it is not becoming for a religious Jewish woman to just drink and sip liquor, rather she dipped the honey cake in the glass and ate cake till the glass was entirely dry.

One time however, the Mohilever young men played a prank on her: they paid for her to get a glass of liquor worth four kopeks for her two kopeks. She dipped the honey cake into it till her fingers stayed with the honey cake in the glass and her feet could not move. She had to be carried home.

The well-known Jewish writer A. Litvin (Shmuel Leib Horowitz) was born in Minsk at the end of the 1870's. His parents were simple poor decent Jewish people. His father taught him in his youth and later he was able to study on his own. Learning alone he acquired a broad knowledge of the Hebrew and German languages. At the age of fifteen or sixteen he began to wander and visited Petersburg, Riga, Moscow and other cities. There he prepared himself to enter real school, and to make a living. He became a teacher and spent eight years teaching in affluent homes. There he became familiar with the literature of other nations and acquired a love for nature.

A. Litvin began to write when he was very young. The first thing that he published, was in Russian, first in “Vosbod” and later in “Rodina” – songs about when the movement of the masses began. He leaves the halls and goes into the city where he becomes involved with cultural work. He began to write songs in Hebrew, original and translated as well proses in Russian. Some of his songs were published in “Achiasaf” under the publisher A. L. Shalkovich. The Russian proses were published in various provincial newspapers. His first Yiddish songs were about the workers life and were printed in the “Yid” under the publisher of Rovnitzki and in other journals. In the “Yid” he also printed a series of articles under the name “The land of Israel and its hero's.”

In 1901 Litvin arrived in America and began to publish his worker songs in the “Forward.” At the same time, he took part in the cultural Jewish activities and was one of the first decision makers of the Zion activists circles. When the revolution began in Russia, he travelled back to Europe and wrote a series of articles in the “Forward” about his trip to Poland, Galicia and other places.

A few years ago, when the workers ring schools were founded in Chicago, Litvin was the administrator and representative of the pedagogue board for one and a half years.

A. Litvin has till now given out the following books: six volumes of “Yiddishe Neshomos” where he published the pictures of his trip, an entire row of folk legends, and baroque descriptions of Jewish folk characters. In “Chedershon Pinkas” - “Memories of Cheder Life,” a collection of songs “In Arbeit un noit” – “At work and hardships.”

Between the years of 1908 -1912 he edited a monthly journal in Vilna, “Leben un Visenschaft” – “Life and Science.” Serious articles written by him and others.

In general, Litvin belongs to a small group of Jewish writers who stand out with their artistic folk stimulating writing through their seriousness and simplicity.

The last few years Litvin has been living in a village in New Jersey, near New York.

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Regards from the Old Home

In the name of Hashem, day three (Tuesday) to the order of (the week, Exodus 34:6, Key Sisa) “Verav chesed” – much kindness, on the 17th of Sivan. “Live in wealth, joy and goodness forever.” 5688

To the honorable and precious community that is known as the Brotherhood, founded in the city of Chicago by people from the province of Mohilev. Whose purpose is to help and support their brethren who live far away, may Hashem support them forever!

For the day that you are celebrating twenty-five years of your Holy work. With this we the Rabbis of the city of Mohilev present in your honor our gift of blessing and much thanks for the all the good work that you do, and the great kindness that you show for your brothers who are impoverished and in dire straits, for the last twenty-five years. You have done incredible work and with tremendous effect supported the lives of many of your brothers who are in a bitter situation, and especially lately that God's punishment has come down on our brothers who are here. You stretched out your hand to help in a most generous manner to support and assist according to your best abilities. This good and kind way that you have chosen and our hope is strong that you will continue to act in this way in the coming times with more action and strength; be strong and strengthen others, and may your hearts be powerful in donating and loving kindness and seeking the good of your brothers who are in dire straits, and may the example of your kindness be for you an honor and beauty as the verse states (Proverbs 14:34) “Charity raises a nation,” (referring to the Jewish people). And may we merit to give you our blessing and thanks when you will celebrate fifty years of Holy work with the help of Hashem.

As a sign of honor and thanks we are sending in your honor our images that are photos as a memory of love, and to beautify your festivity and joy that is a joy and celebration of a mitzvah, as the verse states (Nehemiah 8:10) “The joy of Hashem is your strength.”

In the merit of your righteousness and kindness, may Hashem raise you in honor, wealth and richness in your homes, (Isaiah 32:17) “peace and tranquility, quietness and security in your tents,” and should be fulfilled the verse (Isaiah 1:27) “Zion will be redeemed with judgement and its captives with charity.” Signed with blessings by those who respect you.

With feelings of honor and thankfulness,
Chaim Yaakov Shulman
Shlomo Galavnatzitz
Chanan Dardik

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Rabbis of the city of Mohilev on the river Dnieper

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Rabbi Shlomo Galavnatzitz
 
Rabbi Chanan Dardik
 
Rabbi Chaim Yaakov Shulman

* * *

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H. Segal, one of the first organizers
 
Louie Dolnick, trustee
 
S. Revzin, Trustee

 

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