The Village Crochmaz
by Yosef Koren
Translated by Yocheved Klausner
The village Crochmaz was situated at a distance of 35 km. from Akkerman, on the shore of the Dniester, which at that point was 150 meters wide.
Most of the village residents were Jews and Moldavians; they kept good neighborly relations and lived peacefully with each other. The Jews made their livelihood from commerce, crafts and farming. They owned plots of hundreds of Dunams and grew wheat, barley and other grains, and had also fruit orchards and vineyards. Every Jewish family in the village had riding horses and a wagon which they used to connect between the neighboring villages and the town Akkerman. Almost all Jews in the village kept the Jewish tradition and the synagogue served as the religious center, but only on Shabat and Holidays public prayers were held. All tried to preserve the Jewish spark as much as possible, and hired special teachers from the city to teach their children Hebrew and Yiddish; only when the children grew up they were sent to study in a real school in Akkerman.
About 7 Km. from Crochmaz the village Olineşti was situated. Once a week a fair was held in the village, and merchants and farmers flocked into the place from the vicinity. The Crochmaz people had good commercial relations with Olineşti and at the day of the fair they brought fruits, vegetables and cattle for sale, and bought for themselves the necessary groceries, textiles etc. The connection between the villagers and the Akkerman Jews were strong; Akkerman served them as a commercial as well as a spiritualcultural center.
In 1910, my parents relocated from the village to Akkerman, but they continued working on their farm and vineyard in the village, selling the produce in Akkerman. The relocation to the town enabled them to give the children a Hebrew education in the Tarbut school.
My father worked with one of the export companies, which was connected with the Moldova Bank that had branches in Akkerman and Galatz. He managed the export sector. During summers we would move back to Crochmaz and stay there until the end of the harvest.
At the outbreak of WWII, my parents fled from Russia and wandered all the way to Almahata in Kazakhstan. With their own hands they built clay shacks near one of the mountains and lived there until the end of the war. When they returned to Crochmaz at the end of the war, they found that their land was given to the Kolkhoz.
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