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Culture and Education

New Breezes

The spirit of progress and tolerance slowly penetrated into our region as well, and brought about a change in traditional education. When the walls of the ghetto collapsed, it became apparent that Jews were capable of attaining the heights of European education.

Khone Rays, a Jew from Khotyn, was a true personality, who fought successfully for education and progressive thought. Without entering into a conflict with the opponents of modern education, he founded two cultural institutions in order to stimulate the younger generation: “The Club”, and the Talmud–Toyre. The adherents of traditional education feared that modern education would estrange the young folks from Jewish tradition and lead to assimilation. However, Khone Rays was not fearful, because he himself was rooted and anchored in Jewish tradition. He worked to weave together, in a original fashion, traditional Jewishness and the new reality. He tried to show that modern education and Torah could live under the same roof, and one would not disturb the other, regardless of the great differences between them. During his trips to faraway places he saw the changes that had occurred, changes that were another cause of the decline in Jewish values.

Khone Rays devoted his energies to the young, and saw to it that poor children would also gain an education. He brought in good teachers, and organized a choir in the “Club” as well as an orchestra, so that young people could learn music. He was also concerned with physical education, and bought equipment for gymnastics. He instituted uniforms for the athletes so that there should be no difference between rich and poor. A library was set up in the school, to which young and old alike came.

It can be said that the doubters feared in vain; there was no estrangement or alienation from traditional and national Jewishness.


The Tarbut School

The Zionists originally opened the Tarbut school in Yehoshua Vaynshtok's old building.[1] The first teachers were Zalman Malamud, Vaynshtok, Leyb–Dovid Stoliar, Lam, Nisim Krivoy, who were later joined by Khave Zaydler. At first, it was a kheyder–metukan.[2] In 1922–1923 the school moved to the center of town, and that same year it was officially recognized by the Romanian authorities. The permit needed to be renewed annually. The school was supervised by the Kishinev central bureau and the commission appointed by the Romanian Ministry of Education.[3] The Tarbut school was almost the only one that required tuition payment. The school also

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received donations, thanks to various evening events that were organized, as well as from the Jewish community. The members of the school committee were Y. Apelboym (President). M. Axelrod, A. Berg, Berl Vaysodler, A. Zaltzman, Mordechai Telemus, I. M. Tisenboym, and Hirsch Feferman. Hebrew was the dominant language in the school. Jewish history and national consciousness were the core of the curriculum. On the other hand, care was taken to follow the government curriculum. Khave Zaydler was the official director as far as the authorities were concerned, and she was responsible for all the general studies. Zalmen Malamud was the actual director of the school and was responsible for all the Jewish studies.

Tarbut schools were opened in most Bessarabian towns. The central bureau was in Kishinev, headed by Attorney Shmuel Rozenhaupt. Representatives of the central bureau visited from time to time and showed interest in the progress of Jewish studies. The central bureau was also in charge of obtaining the proper permit from Bucharest.


The Tarbut school

The Tarbut school building also housed the synagogue attended by the Zionists as well as a school, a library, and a hall for conferences and meetings. The building was owned by the Tutelman brothers, and they received the rent. In 1935–1936, the brothers decided to sell the building, but the Zionists were reluctant to buy it. First, they did not have the money needed; second, there were already rumors that Bessarabia would soon be annexed to the U.S.S.R., and that the whole project was not worthwhile. Actually, some argued that even if it was taken over by the Russians, the building could be turned into a folk cultural center for the entire city.

The Russians arrived in 1940, and turned the Tarbut school building into a military command center. A fence was erected around the building and the former owners did not even dare to approach. The biblical curse “You shall build a house and not live in it” came true…[4]


Sholem Shrayer

Sholem Shrayer was known in Khotyn as a teacher in the “Club” Talmud–Toyre that was established by Khone Rays. Sholem had a special gift for music and was active in the school orchestra. His wife, Esther, was renowned as a teacher in the girls' school. She wrote her own songs for theschool holiday celebrations. Sholem Shrayer was involved in starting the self–defense organization, where he was one of the instructors. He taught the children languages, music, and gymnastics. For years, he was the manager of the bes–medresh in the courtyard of the great synagogue.


Dovid–Leyb Kuperman

Dovid–Leyb, son of Yankev–Fishl the ritual slaughterer, was born in 1899 and was killed in Ukraine by Nazi bombs in 1941. He was a gentle soul, a scholar, and an educator with broad horizons in worldly matters. He was constantly studying and doing research. He edited a Mishna for beginners, with explanations of difficult words, and compiled study books for beginners. Unfortunately, he did not have the money to print these books. Kuperman held an honored position among the teachers of the town. He himself taught Hebrew in the “Club” school and raised a generation of Hebrew speakers and readers. Kuperman was a lifelong Zionist, but never held official positions. He was constantly concerned with educating children in the spirit of Torah, social responsibility, and aliyah.


melameds and kheyders

The melameds were usually not prepared to be teachers, and teaching was not their profession. It was usually a solution for people who could not make a living and could no longer be supported by their fathers–in–law.[5] They opened a kheyder in order to support their families. A small number of melameds understood how to make contact with the children and thus could fulfil their role as teachers. An unprepared melamed had an adverse effect on the childrens' education and on everything concerning Torah and Jewish tradition.

Let us mention a few of the melameds in Khotyn.

Hillelke (Reb Shloyme Tsemakh) taught the youngest children. His kheyder was in a large room in his home; his wife cooked and ran the household in the same room.

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Shmelke, the son of Aaron the mohel, was a devoted follower of the Czortkow hasidic group. He was known in Khotyn as a teacher, scholar, who knew the sacred and secret texts. He had previously been a trustee of the Rays family's forests. However, as he had small children to take care of, he became a melamed; this increased his income.

Yankev–Yosef melamed was a Husyatin hasid. He was quite a figure, and was loved by many. He was careful to assemble students of similar intellectual capacity in the same class. He would also organize study competitions between classes. The writer Ya'akov Fichman was one of his students.[6] Reb Yisroel Lerner, who was called Yisroelke Rov. He was the son–in–law of the rabbi, Reb Khayim Roizman. He came from Podolia, and was considered one of the best teachers, who prepared students for ordination as rabbis; he also wrote a number of articles.

Avrom, the son of Shmuel–Layb Shrayer, opened, along with Note Michnik, a small yeshiva for Talmud study. Among his students were the sons of the Hasidic leader Rabbi Twersky; some of his students were later accepted into the yeshiva of Lublin.[7] En route to Transnistria, a non–Jew pushed him out of the railway car.[8] When he ran after the car to save his tallis and tefillin , a soldier shot him; he remained lying in the road and was never even buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Reb Nissele Posek prepared students for rabbinical ordination. He had few students, and was very strict about their everyday habits. He educated three generations of students.


Teachers and Educators

Khotyn had several teachers who participated in the modern education that was introduced. Each had his own distinct way of teaching, as there was still no generally accepted method. Each, however, considered his profession to be a mission for improving society and not just a means of earning a living. Among the teachers were writers and social activists.

D. Fradkin came from Lithuania. He was an active member of the Mizrachi movement, who knew Hebrew and Russian perfectly and was a poet.[9]

Khayim–Hersh Vaynshteyn (the Shotov melamed) taught using the new method known as “Hebrew–in–Hebrew.” In the course of one year his students became able to use the language in everyday life. On Shabbes they would visit him at home, and discuss books. Each student would give a report, in Hebrew, on a book that he had just read; this enriched the entire group in both general knowledge and language proficiency. Vaynshteyn had to flee from Khotyn in 1910, as he was wanted by the police.

Other teachers were Shabtai Lerner, who taught Russian and Hebrew; Tsila


A class in the Talmud–Toyre school (“Club”)

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Lerner, director of a special school for refugee children who had been driven out of the villages in 1914; Itta Geller, the daughter of Zalmen Shoychet; Aaron Vaysberg, who left for Iasi in 1919 with the help of Mikhoel Landau, and served for a long time as leader of the Maccabi sports organization of Romania; Gedalya Shrayber (Lipiner), who opened a library in the school; Yoel Prokuror, a Yiddish teacher; Azri'el Yanover, a Yiddish teacher in the school for refugees (Bzhenski school), who was also a poet; Sonya Barag; Sonya Laybman.


The Talmud–Toyre school


There were also two government middle schools (gymnaziyas ) in town, one for boys and one for girls. Students had to attend the government school on Shabbes as well. There was only one Jewish teacher in the government schools, though Jews constituted one–third of the population.

Reb Yechiel Kretshmer

Naturally, time cloaks memories in a special light and causes faults to be forgotten. However, there were figures that were enveloped in a special light even when Khotyn was still a Jewish town. One of these was certainly Reb Yechiel Kretshmer, teacher and rabbi, and an honest man. He also worked in the town offices. Reb Yechiel had had a difficult childhood, as he was born into a poor family. He achieved everything under his own power. Even when his vision suddenly weakened, he did not stop teaching, thanks to his memory. Even when blind, he distributed his spiritual treasures. His love strengthened thanks to the Torah, which safeguarded and supported him. Reb Yechiel restored to Jewish tradition those young people who were enticed into alien ideologies. But even those who strayed from Jewish practice certainly remembered, in moments of despair, the sweet phrases they had heard from Reb Yechiel, phrases about the Jewish spirit. Those memories were sure to console them.

Yoel Prokuror

Yoel Shnayderzon, known in Khotyn by the nickname “Yoel Prokuror” was only a private tutor. He attained the status of teacher in a school only later, in Czernowitz. Yoel melamed barely made a living, but he and his wife were generous toward all. They especially loved young people; young folks visited Yoel's house day and night. Non–Jewish youngsters would also come and sing Yiddish songs along with our young folks. One of these, Shilin, was an attorney who later became a prefect in Khotyn. Because of these youth gatherings, law enforcement kept an eye on Yoel's house, and the police actually came more than once to sniff around and search.

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The young folks did not only talk and sing, but also ate and drank everything that was available in the house–naturally, at Yoel's expense. And when Hirsh–Ber Ayzenberg needed to be released from prison, Yoel Prokuror pawned his polecat fur coat and freed the young man.

Sometime in the 1930s, Yoel left for Czernowitz, where his luck changed for the better. Not only did he make a good living as a teacher in a real school; he was also called “Professor.” Actually, he never really felt at home in Czernowitz. He was lonely, and the title of Professor did not warm his heart. When he longed for some familiar warmth, he would drop in in Khotyn and spend time with his old friends.

Yisroel Goikhberg–Teacher and Poet

Yisroel Goikhberg was a remarkable teacher, who always turned the school into a temple, even when he had to teach in a cellar. Circumstances almost always set him in poor localities. He was a teacher for many years in Brownsville and Williamsburg. However, anyone who came into his class felt that he was entering a place of holiness. Yisroel Goikhberg was blessed with talent: he wrote poetry, sang well, painted, and was a theater director. Goikhberg considered teaching a kind of national mission, an act of worship. Thanks to his educational gifts, he had great influence over young people, as well as on adults. Students loved him, because they could sense his directness and intelligence. Thanks to his teaching method, the students became used to speaking and reading Yiddish. He would personally choose reading materials for them, based on each student's experience. Whenever he organized a celebration in the school, he made sure that the occasion found expression in art, written work, and in the atmosphere as a whole.

Goikhberg was a poet with a profound musical sense, probably because he came from a family of cantors. He wrote didactic poetry, typical of a teacher who knows exactly what he wants to say and expresses it clearly, without hints or symbols. His poems need no explication. He wrote for children and young people, However, he didn't want to be considered a writer only for the young –and he was right. Yisroel Goikhberg left behind a rich spiritual legacy: Songs of Our Generation – poems about the great American city of Boston, where he settled after coming to the U.S. in 1913. Boston was also where he started to work as a teacher. Let us also mention the childrens' poems Good Morning and the verse narrative Kamtza and Bar–Kamtza; the poetry volumes Verticals and Nemirov–A Chronicle in Verse. Goikhberg's last two books, With All My Might and With a Smile were published in Tel Aviv by Peretz Farlag in 1963.

Yisroel Goikhberg had a thorough Jewish and general education. At first he studied in Khotyn's kheyder metukan, and later graduated from a middle school


The Bzhenski school

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in Kamenetz–Podolsk. In 1917–1921 he studied in Iowa and became an engineer. His late book With All My Might actually includes many poems of intimate familial character, but their poetic content is meaningful to every reader. Some of his poems were turned into folk–songs, with the author of the lyrics unknown. Goikhberg recounted how, on a visit to Israel, he visited a school during a singing class. The children sang Goikhberg's poem “Three Boys,” but the teacher did not know who had written the lyrics. He was astonished to hear that the writer was Goikhberg himself. Many composers wrote music to Goikhberg's words. Many of his childrens' poems were influenced and inspired by his own children. He used simple words to make the poems accessible to children. His poems were included in all school readers. In 1948 a volume of childrens' poems appeared, titled The Golden Peacock; the book, which included texts and music, was edited by Yisroel Goikhberg. The first poem in the book is dedicated to the pioneers of Palestine; it was recited in all the schools and was also included in modern Passover haggadas.

For over 45 years, Yisroel Goikhberg was President of the Pedagogy Committee of the Sholem–Aleichem schools, where he developed curricula, edited childrens' magazines, and was a gifted teacher. Goikhberg died at age 76.

Leyb–Dovid, son of Reb Nachman Stolyar

People called him Leybele Stolyar, because everyone who knew him – family, friends, and acquaintances – loved him for his good qualities.[10] He was a both a scholar and a fine, kind–hearted person. He was born in Zwanice, Podolia, where there was strong interest in the ideals of a return to Zion and the revival of Hebrew. The younger generation grew up in this atmosphere, Leybele Stolyar among them. He was influenced by an ardent Zionist, the teacher Sholem Altman, may his memory be for a blessing.[11] After Leybele finished school, his pious father sent him to the yeshiva of Kamenetz–Podolsk. There, he learned – besides Talmud – modern Hebrew and grammar, as well as modern Hebrew literature.

In 1914 he settled with his family in Khotyn. Leyb became a teacher in the Tarbut school, and gained the affection of the children as well as of their parents. He married Nesia Shuster, and moved to Dondushen, where he continued to work as a teacher.[12] In 1934, he moved to Colombia with his wife, where he worked hard to make a living. On the other hand, he took on groups of adults and taught them Hebrew free of charge. He later moved to Israel, but became ill shortly afterwards and died on May 27, 1965.


Khotyn Men of Letters

It is worth mentioning the following men of letters in Khotyn, who produced poetry and prose as well as religious literature.

Rabbi Shoulikl wrote a commentary on the Talmudic tractates Bava Metsia and Bava Kama, and an unfinished commentary on Bava Batra.

Shloyme Shkolnik was a teacher in the Talmud–Toyre who wrote a commentary on Psalms. He came from a family of cantors and wrote his own cantorial compositions.

Sholem Shrayer published a book in Khotyn titled Different Aspects of the Intersession (1893). He describes the difficulties of melameds seeking new students.[13]

Shabtai Lerner (1879–1913) spent his childhood in Balti.[14] He taught Hebrew and Russian and also wrote folksongs, to which he composed music. He wrote plays and was an actor himself. In addition, he translated poems from German and from Russian. Let us mention his works “In a Foreign Place” and “The Jewish Knapsack.” He died of tuberculosis.

Azriel Yanover (1875–1938) came to Khotyn in 1895 as a teacher. He wrote a play (“The Thwarted Love–Affair”) that was produced in Khotyn, and worked in the Undzer Tsayt newspaper.

Simcha Malamud of Khotyn published a book titled Poems and Tales in 1923. He was a member of the American Workmens' Circle.[15]

Heynekh Akerman was born in 1901 in Malenice, near Khotyn.[16] His first poem was published in Der Morgn, which was published in Kishinev.

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He left for America in 1920, where he printed his poems in many Yiddish publications. He also published articles under the pseudonym “A Man from Malenice.” Together with Moyshe Shtarkman and Zelig Dorfman, he published the collection Reflections in April 1932.

Eliyohu Lipiner was born in Khotyn, lived in Brazil for many years, and later settled in Israel. His work encompassed two areas: Jewish history during the Spanish Inquisition, based on previously unknown documents that he found in the Inquisition's archives; and the history of the Jewish alphabet. Among his works are the books By the Waters of Portugal (YIVO 1949); The Ideology of the Jewish Alphabet (YIVO 1967); essays in Portuguese periodicals and in Di Goldene Keyt; Between Marranism and Apostasy (Peretz Farlag 1973).

Gershon Kirszhner was born in Khotyn in 1894 and stayed in the U.S.S.R. In 1935, he published a volume of poetry titled Today and Tomorrow, in Czernowitz.

Moyshe Gitsis was born in Khotyn in 1894 and went to the U.S. in 1909. He later returned, and served in the military in World War One. He went to the U.S. again in 1922. He was a writer, actor, and theatrical director. His works are: “Bells” (drama), 1926; Stories (1932); The Sun in the East (1936);


The Orchestra

As it happened, luck was on Khotyn's side during the difficult years of 1904–1905. At that time, a number of young physicians, attorneys, and chemists returned from the U.S., and contributed to the social revival of the town. They also attracted other people to their cultural activity. Mendel Rays, one of the richest men in town, had several sons, who almost all became bankers like their father, except for one, Khone Rays. He was not suited to banking or to commerce. Khone divorced his wife and


The orchestra
The children with Khone Rays, Shloyme Shkolnik, Khayim Vaserman,
Sholem Shrayer, and Friedman, the music teacher

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devoted himself completely to community work. He would go to Germany and Austria every year and return with new plans for the Club that he had created in Khotyn.

Khone Rays established a wind orchestra that attracted everyone, just like the bes–medresh of old. The orchestra was established in 1904, and reorganized in 1910. Its 45 members played voluntarily.

Khone Rays brought instruments from Leipzig, and a conductor from Kiev who was a talented musician. The orchestra became famous; when the Tsar came to Kamenetz–Podolsk in 1915 the Khotyn musicians were sent to perform for him.

The orchestra gave concerts four times a week and attracted many young people. It could be considered one of the best orchestras in Bessarabia. Its professional level may be attested in the remarks of General Drexler, the Director of the Saratov Conservatory, who was then the President of the Russian Red Cross. He was in Khotyn during World War One, and was greatly impressed by the orchestra. The general promised that the Club musicians would receive scholarships to the Saratov Conservatory; however, conditions prevented these promises from being carried out. After the war, he left Russia and worked as a waiter in Berlin.

Many Jews survived World War One thanks to this orchestra. A general came to Khotyn and demanded a list of all the musicians in town in order to mobilize them for his division. A list was made of as many young people as possible, in order to save them from battle. Among them were some who had never held an instrument. The general took them all, and they returned home safe and sound two years later.


Theater in Khotyn

In 1909–1910, Khotyn was fortunate enough to have an amateur theater, directed by Binyomin Khalfon, Yosl Geyman, and A. Babitsh from Zwanice. Over two consecutive years they mounted several performances, with success. Among the productions were two of Avrom Goldfaden's operettas, “Shulamis” and “Bar–Kochba.” The major roles were played by Sonya Gitsis, the wife of Yisroel Kharif. In spite of its great success, the ensemble existed for no more than two years. After a long hiatus, a young people's amateur theater troupe was created; Moyshe Gitsis and Avner Barak maintained it until 1930. They put on productions of work by Yaakov Gordin, Peretz Hirshbein, Sholem Aleichem (“Dispersed and Scattered”), and others. Avner Barak and Manya Zeldman were especially noteworthy actors. The income was dedicated to the Jewish Library. Occasionally, the “rebels” tried to produce shows that suited their ideas; however, they succeeded only once.[17]

Long before World War Two, the left–wing Kultur–Lige started a theatrical group; the ensemble of about 20–30 actors was directed by Yankl Barak. The authorities constantly suspected the actors of being communists and persecuted them ceaselessly. This was why they were unable to develop a regular program.


The dramatic society of Khotyn, “Art and Life,” honors our member, Miriam Zeldman, as a serious and devoted actor on the Yiddish stage, who has for almost five years ceaselessly worked for the society, and even more – for the poor, the sick, schools, etc.

The members of “Art and Life” request Miriam Zeldman to accept this worthless present, and swear that the image of our dear and beloved Miriam will always remain deep in our hearts.

[the signatures at the bottom of the image are illegible]

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The frequent arrests of actors caused interruptions and upsets. The actors included Sonya Grinberg, Esterke Grinberg, and Roza Gitsis. Reb Yisroel Kharif, the father of Roza Gitsis, was very displeased with his daughter's friends. He ordered her to cease the activity.

Yisroel Gitsis, whom people called Reb Yisroel Kharif, wholeheartedly supported theatrical activity in Khotyn. He had inherited a grand house, which was always open to Jews and Christians alike. Lumber merchants, officials, and good friends would visit. The Rebbe of Czortkow would stay with him when visiting Khotyn. Yisroel Gitsis himself was the manager of the great synagogue. His wife, Sonya, was also renowned for her acting in the dramatic club as a prima donna in Goldfaden's operettas. Their son, Moyshe Gitsis, wrote plays, and organized and directed performances. The daughter, Roza Gitsis, was linked with the Kultur–Lige, where she distinguished herself by her singing, acting, and dancing.

In those years Khotyn started to look outward to the world and to follow events. High–school and college students organized clubs and set up literary evenings, recitations, singing and dramatic performances. The initiative was that of Moyshe Gitsis and his friend Itsik Getiya. They ran the recitations and prepared performances in Russian. These events were very successful. World War One interrupted this activity, but after a while we grew closer to the dramatic clubs that performed in Yiddish. There we became acquainted with the very talented Avner Barak and with Yisroel Barak, our regular prompter. We should also mention the wonderful actress Rivke Tikelman Kudrinietzky.

The Yiddish performances were very successful in summer theaters. The Khotyn audience was always extremely interested in our programs and hurried to buy theater tickets. This continued until 1920, when I left Khotyn, and the stage. This was the end of my connection with the Khotyn theater. But my experience in Khotyn was a good education for later years, when I began acting in Chicago.

The Zionist organizations also had their dramatic clubs. Some of the members worthy of mention were Engineer Yoysef Zeltzer, Berl Visodler, Leyzer Vayzer, Fishl Gitelman, Hirsh Vaysman, Yente Kriszhner, and the actor and director Nahumovitch. The income served to help the poor.


The “Shnayderman” hall

The old “Shnayderman” hall, known for a long time as the hall of Yoyne Zilberman, was the cultural and artistic center of Khotyn. Its stage was the scene of the performances of the greatest actors of the Jewish –and non–Jewish–theater. It was also the place where Zionist leaders held lectures. Political meetings took place there as well as literary evenings, symposiums, and Khanike and Purim celebrations. It was used as a the Khotyn summer theater until late in autumn. The hall was in the middle of town, surrounded by a beautiful garden and trees. The Jews of Khotyn would fill the hall at every chance. They loved theater, loved to hear a good speaker, and would come to Zionist meetings (which, by the way, often ended in blows). When the rains began, the hall was no longer comfortable: it was cold and wet, and the entrance was slippery. Nevertheless, we liked the hall. It was ours, our theater. People waited impatiently to hear Poyme Treger announce the evening's program on the street. Boys would wait until nightfall and hide in the trees around the hall, where they trembled and waited. When the performance was about to start, the gang would jump over the tall fence and sneak into the hall. However, this was not so simple. The plan did not always work; the adventure often ended in torn pants and a scratched face. But it was worth it in order to go to the theater without buying a ticket. Other theater–lovers waited at the entrance until just before the beginning. They would then start negotiating with the theater owners for cheaper tickets. Here and there someone would grab a broken chair, just as if he were “a member of the troupe.”

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We were proud of the Shnayderman hall, with its muddy floor and all its drawbacks. That was the scene of our cultural life during the period between the world wars. We were then cut off from the Russian world and had not yet connected with the Romanian regime that had begun to rule Bessarabia. Anti–Semitism, however, came at us from both sides: from the local Ukrainians and the Romanian newcomers.


The Khone Rays Library

A library named for its initiator, the cultural activist Khone Rays, was opened in the bank building. Rays's private library was a good foundation for the library, due to the great number of worthwhile books it contained. This legacy from Khone Rays developed into a proper library, which included a reading room. Clerks from the bank worked as volunteers in the library. The library committee was headed by Miron Derzhy; the librarian was Etka Shitnovitzer (Shmidt). Eventually another librarian, Milya Barak (an attorney) joined in. Young people and students were very helpful to the library's everyday operation. The library had 500 regular readers; about 120 readers came daily to exchange books. The library attracted many young readers thanks to its large collection of classic literature, especially in Russian. The library contained books in Yiddish, Hebrew, Romanian, and Russian. The many Christian readers also found everything they wanted. Books would be ordered from Warsaw, Riga, and other locations. The reading room was always full, as people read all the newspapers and periodicals. The library was a cultural center, a meeting place for intellectuals and young people. This was the case until the Soviets took over Bessarabia.


Yehuda–Khone Axelrod

Yehuda–Khone Axelrod was one of the finest young men of his time. He did not want to make a living by teaching Torah, and worked as a bookkeeper for various factories. He made sure that the workers would be paid on time and would not be wronged. This endeared him to all. He usually interceded wherever there was a conflict, and made peace. Everyone knew him and considered him an unusual person who loved justice. He was never able to earn a living that was sufficient for his household and eight children, but he was always satisfied with his lot and took everything in good spirits. His children inherited all these positive traits. Yehuda–Khone was one of the founders of the Tarbut school, which was the pride of the Jews in Khotyn and brought great benefits to the Jewish population.


Zalmen Malamud

He was certainly one of the outstanding figures in the cultural and educational field in Khotyn. He did much for the Tarbut school, where he introduced modern Hebrew. In addition, he organized Hebrew classes – in the morning as well as the afternoon – for the Jewish students in the government schools. He had a pedagogical approach to the children and took each one's personality into account. Even when he was not the director of the Tarbut school, the town considered him the school's spiritual leader. He understood how to mesh study of the sacred texts with everyday subjects by removing the artificial separation between them. He himself was pious and often led the community prayers and read the Torah for the community. He was active for the Jewish National Fund, and the secretary of the local branch of Mizrachi.

He had a deep longing for the Land of Israel, but did not have the chance to settle there. He died in 1941 in the Sekiryany camp, alone and abandoned. No one accompanied him on his last road.


Khayim Vaserman

Khayim, the son of Yaakov Vaserman, was born in Khotyn in 1877 and was well known as a teacher and the director of the Club school. He made a living by tutoring. He opened an elementary school and later a teacher–training college in the town. Khayim Vaserman worked as a teacher for over 40 years, until the Nazis and their helpers killed him during the Khotyn massacre of July 9, 1941; he was 64 years old.

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Gedalyahu Lipiner

He was born on August 9, 1876 and died in Khotyn on May 11, 1933; he was a teacher in Khotyn's kheyders and schools, as well as a tutor. He wrote mainly childrens' stories, poems and fables which were apparently never published. All his manuscripts were lost after his death during World War Two, when his family's rundown hut – like all the other houses with their balconies in the Jewish Grivice street – was burned down by Romanian bombs. Only one notebook had been saved earlier, and we offer some examples from it. The figure of the writer is clear from between the lines: a fine intellectual who longs for beauty and knowledge, for justice and for bread.



Gedalyahu Lipiner

A Star

I look through the window and see a star–
A beautiful sky–prince,
My heart wants to tell him
How we live here:

A plot of muddy soil, cold souls,
Hearts of flint and steel,
Go find a person of light –
You won't succeed.

Truth and honesty
Lie buried deep in the ground,
If you have money and a sword
You will rule here!

Wisdom and education
Are trampled–
If you're smart and educated
You'll be a beggar.

The star understands my thought
And shudders:
I know, I know, o miserable child,
How black and bitter everything is for you!

If you could colonize me
You'd get a new name:
“Happy” would be your name,
You'd walk on gold and flowers.

You'd stuff yourself
with streams of honey and oil,
and grow fat
on the sky's sweet bounty.

Your mind would be free to think,
And your mouth – to speak;
Here, no one cares–
A peaceful Paradise!

Stay well, o miserable child,
I must leave you now–
The beautiful purple day–princess
Is starting to appear.

Stay comforted, oh, stay comforted
In your dark little world–
Someday you'll find rest
In the tent of eternity…[18]

[Page 158]

Gedalyahu Lipiner

Three Fables

The Fable and the Writer

“You, my fable, go around the world
Wherever evil order reigns,”
(the writer once instructed the fable)
“Perhaps you will, after all, convince
People to become a bit nicer and better,
That is my will!”

“You send me, writer, on a fool's errand,”
(answered the fable)
“Because the world is crippled
From head to toe.
Who hears me? Who sees me? Who wants to talk with me?
They say that I am only out to slander them,
Criticize, bite and stab them all,
Tear out their tongues, break their teeth.
People have no desire
To be allied with truth and decency
And through the fable realize that they are fools.
Yet I shall undertake my mission
Of my own will–
If only you could convince people
As fast as you convinced me!”


The Atonement and the Sinner

It's ancient Jewish custom, the day before Yom Kippur,
to buy kapores––[19]
Well, Reb Gronem also bought himself a kapore,
And as he hurries along with the fowl
The bound rooster asks him sadly,
“Why do you need me, Reb Gronem?”
Answers he, “For kapores!”[20]
The rooster begs, “How have I sinned,
That I should have to hop around here
For no good reason?
If you have sinned,
Why should I be sentenced to death?
It's such a small thing for people––
It's beyond my chicken brain!”
“You may be right,”
Says Reb Gronem, blinking,
“But what can we do if
This is the way of the world?…”


The Dog and the Pig

Once a dog attacked a pig
And bit his ears meanly.
“Why do you bite my ears?”
Squeals the pig.
“To convince you
Not to be a pig!”

“You dog, I will stop being a pig,”
The pig whines bitterly,
“But not yet, only when
You stop being a dog!”

[Page 159]

Mendele Nerman

He was a tall, elegant guy, a bit stooped, not because of hard work but out of kindness, modesty, and his own lyrical soul. Everyone in the lower part of Khotyn knew Mendel… a pomegranate full of secret stories.[21] And not only in secret, but out loud as well: he would sit in the evening on the stairs of the square, near Gershn's shop, and tell stories until late into the night… The wee hours of the night would wait for him to stop recounting… People wondered where this orphan found so many stories. He worked for Dodl Farber, a kind soul… Dodl Farber appreciated Mendele not so much for his work as for his storytelling talent and his readings of his own heartfelt poems in three stanzas, which were like the magical outpourings of a soul. Several of these poems appeared in Undzer Tsayt.

Mendele fell as a hero fighting Fascism… Mendele Norman a soldier? Yes…he, too, had the brave historic heart of Jews who can become gigantic in time of need…


Mendl Nerman

Poems of Sunset and Autumn


The day shuts its tired eyes
And wanders somewhere bemused.
Some people's sunset is lucky
And mine is the blind night.

The goblet touches someone's lips,
He drinks thirstily and laughs,
The day is someone's escort
And mine is the blind night.

Life is a guest to some,
And someone saw his delight,
My day shuts its weary eyes
And mine is the night alone…


I sought out a land
That has no king,
Only a yellow life–
No poet, no poem.

The sun set over there
And disappeared in the twilight–
Then a black dove flew out
Over the land.

The land has no king,
No charming queen,
No roses, no grass,
Only a black dove.

And in that dead land
A temple stands in a field –
Someone set down a chair
Of black gold.

The morning sun rises there
And sets in twilight,
A dying dove falls
Over sunrise and sunset.


The day lies, half–dead, on the bier
And the night sews it clothes with black fingers–
A spring of sunset light flows in the soul
Licking away my day with stabbing tongues.

Autumn roams the forest along with the sunset
And both curse the tree that weaves gold into the green strands–
A ruined temple stands in the heart, as in a barren field;
Bony fingers hide the poem from its bells.

Dirt roads lie red in the twilight, with bloody sand
And someone walks there, thinking he will never arrive–
So is my heart, a road with blood–red sand
Because the way from sunset to sunrise is a long walk…

[Page 160]

Eliyohu Lipiner

Born in Khotyn on February 23, 1916, he studied in kheyders, the Tarbut school and the town gymnaziya, and mainly with his father Reb Gedalyahu Lipiner. He left for Brazil in 1935, where he studied law. He published poems, stories, essays, and scholarly articles in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Portuguese, in well–known periodicals in Brazil, Argentina, the U.S., and Israel. In 1949, the Argentina YIVO published his book By the Waters of Portugal (a Yiddish translation, with commentary, of Shmuel Ushki's Portuguese book A Consolation for the Sufferings of Israel), and in 1967–his work The Ideology of the Hebrew Alphabet. Publishers in Brazil also printed two of his books in Portuguese. He practiced law in Brazil and in Israel. Below, we reprint the literary critic Meir Kuchinsky's study of The Ideology of the Hebrew Alphabet (Parizer Heftn, No. 2, 1968).


Meir Kuchinsky

The Philosophy of the Hebrew Alphabet

The Ideology of the Hebrew Alphabet by Elyohu Lipiner, YIVO Argentina, Buenos Aires 1967. 600 pp.

The encyclopedic work The Ideology of the Hebrew Alphabet, is Eliyohu Lipiner's third book. The first, Letters Recount, was published about 25 years ago. The second, By the Waters of Portugal, which received the Lamed Award, also published by the Argentina YIVO, appeared eighteen years ago. In the years between books, Lipiner published very important and original essays on historical themes, in the most highly regarded Yiddish and Portuguese periodicals. Artistically, these articles were truly fine belles–lettres based on chronicles that Lipiner discovered and put in context. In other words, materials that would have remained dry chronicles in the hands of other historians were turned by Lipiner into sparkling descriptions of life, with all the dramatic, painful, and often romantic developments. However, they were always true to historical facts.

A few years ago, he succeeded in gaining access to the Inquisition archives in Lisbon. This diligent scholar, so well–versed in ancient Portuguese as well as being a jurist, is familiar with the clever and twisted manipulations of that evil tribunal, brought back an enormous amount of material. Since then, his scholarly research has concentrated on the Spanish–Portuguese period of Jewish martyrology and the martyrdom of the Spanish exiles, the Marranos, and the Inquisition (which was translocated to new centers in the Americas), He was able to decipher a number of personal tragedies resulting from numerous Inquisition trials; only now, 400 years after this national drama, are they being recognized in Yiddish literature, thanks to Eliyohu Lipiner.

Approaching The Ideology of the Hebrew Alphabet, we apologize at the outset, as a proper analysis of this ramified, broad, and profoundly challenging work is better suited to an expert linguist, or rather a historian on religion, or an expert on Kabbala. Although the title seems to imply a limited subject – the alphabet – the book is extremely rich.

In another language, for a different people, a title such as this is unimaginable. An alphabet has no ideology. Indeed, what could letters desire? After all, they are no more than graphic tools that embody sounds. There is a long–standing argument whether a language is only a technical instrument or something more: a reflection of the soul of a people. But the letters have never had ascribed to them anything more than their technical function. We're afraid that Lipiner's title would be completely unintelligible to a non–Jew. How differently a Jew views it!

We, too, cannot simply agree with the title. On the contrary, we would have formulated it even more grandly: “The Philosophy of the Hebrew Alphabet.” We believe that the content of this multifaceted, comprehensive work deserves nothing less than a comprehensive, metaphysical title. In any case, the title indicates that the letters of our language are not ordinary tools but bear a mission, or that mystical forces, emanations, move them to a mission. In Kabbalistic terms, which were later

[Page 161]

transferred to Hasidism, these are referred to as coming from the World of Creation.

Lipiner's work is based on Kabbala literature, that phenomenon of Jewish faith which was opposed by both halachic scholars and scholars of the Enlightenment, although for centuries Kabbala accompanied official rabbinic literature, and some renowned halachic authorities were also scholars of Kabbala, such as the codifier Joseph Karo, author of the Shulchan Arukh.[22] Kabbala was not only sealed to the general community because of its Aramaic language and its complicated “secret” speculations on the significance of letters, words, and verses; it was also warned against and forbidden. Kabbala literature was surrounded by great mysteries. Its students always mentioned it in whispers, with some fear, and secret trembling. People were afraid to touch a book of Kabbala, and it was outlawed from some bookshelves, as if it emitted witchcraft and was therefore dangerous to ordinary people. Kabbala books, such as The Book of Creation and the Zohar itself, were therefore kept hidden away and circumscribed by legends about their origins and authors.[23] The Zohar was translated into Yiddish by Zvi Hirsh Katz, but was sealedbulous for the same reasons and never gained the same popularity as the Tsene–Rene, though it was written with the same rationale.[24]

Through his Ideology of the Hebrew Alphabet, Eliyohu Lipiner has opened the locked gates of this mysterious world and has given us a flash of a fabulous beauty, a dazzle like that of the secret light of hidden worlds. We are astonished as to why various rationalists could oppose Kabbala for no reason, without penetrating into its world. They considered it a kind of dark hallucination, superstitious witchcraft; and did not notice that it is actually the eternal impulse of the lost individual towards the infinite universe.

This fantastical quality is woven and integrated into our alphabet. Lipiner was able to elicit admiration, even among critical and rationalistic readers, for the poetic quality that shines out artlessly from the Kabbalists, and for their tragic struggle to suppress and strangle the devil within them while desperately clinging to the Creator and his creation.

Our alphabet was primeval, an outgrowth of cosmic creation. In philosophical thought it is a nuance, a variation of the thought that acknowledges the priority of the divine; on further reflection, it is a transition to the Spinozist principle that God and nature are one and the same, as are spirit and form. Is it possible that the genius of Amsterdam studied Kabbala during his ascetic nights?…

The author investigates all of Kabbala literature, which interprets every letter, every vowel, every small mark and intonation. In Kabbala, they are all emanations of the world of Creation, even predating the Creation… This is certainly an objective, rational study by a twentieth–century scholar, and no idle rumination. In his devotion to the subject, to the poetic impetus and the cosmic exaggeration of the masters of secrets, as he terms them, and their complex and challenging manipulations and speculations on the meanings of letter combinations, numerical values, and the fantastical spheres, he transforms scientific objectivity into a kind of “poetic objectivity”… It is not the beauty of truth but rather the truth of beauty…

This leads, in our view, to the mysterious power of the book; that is, to Eliyohu Lipiner's writerly strength, with which he has constructed such a compact and complicated architectural structure. We believe that the Ideology of the Hebrew Alphabet will serve as a studio for Jewish researchers, both because of the pioneering terminology for a wealth of Kabbala concepts and the transmission of minimal texts, as well as because of the fantastic nature of the language, which in Lipiner's hands seems to have been reborn with no superfluities. In the magical sea of the Kabbala, which consists largely of the Aramaic that the writer has fully mastered, a Yiddish translation of the Aramaic translation has been born.[25] We will not attempt here to compare it with the Yehoash translation, which includes the entire Bible, but show only that, while Yehoash had at his disposal an entire scholarly tradition, Lipiner had only his own aesthetic intuition and created his own language and style.[26]

It really is a work that deserves a special blessing. Such a book is unique, in scope, thoroughness, and exhaustiveness. It is one of the greatest achievements of Yiddish literature and the Yiddish language. Lipiner has bridged all the historical periods, discovered the connection of the Kabbala with the alphabet that connects, through the channels of anonymous folklore, to the idealization and love on the part of our generation. This love, which is rooted in us all, was defined and studied by Lipiner.

[Page 162]

We doubt whether this volume could have been written in, or about, another language. For several reasons, The Ideology of the Hebrew Alphabet was destined to fulfil its mission in Yiddish. However, this is only a fleeting impression. Essentially and ideologically, Lipiner's book is not linked with any definite period. On the contrary, all the 600 pages yield the pleasing thought that our square letters were, and are, partners in Creation, and are woven into its foundations. Our 22 letters will continue to exist as long as the world exists.


Gershon Kirszhner


Cemetery town, my Khotyn,
The dead keep watch here,
Not long parted,
They say life once sparkled here,
I can't believe it.

Separated like life from death
And forgotten by the whole world,
You lie, town of Khotyn,
Like a cemetery.

You sleep for a long winter
In your loneliness,
In your need,
All roads, all paths
Covered with snow.

Forgive me, Khotyn,
For waking you with my poem.

Turkish fortress,
Remnant of
Inscribed in blood,
The Dniester has many tales to tell!
In its depths it bears
So many hidden secrets,
Audible from afar
In its quiet murmurs. (Haynt–Morgn, 1935)

[Page 163]

Azriel Yanover

Azriel Yanover was born in 1876 in Chemerivtsi, Podolia. He became a teacher in the elementary school and later settled in Khotyn. He taught Yiddish in the girls' school (“Biezhenski”), which was supervised by Khone Rays. Later, just before World War Two, the Romanian government prohibited the teaching of Yiddish. Yanover was socially active in the town, mainly in the aid organizations such as OSE, which was set up by Dr. Khoresh.[27] He was also active in Po'alei Tziyon and the Borochov Youth Movement. He wrote Yiddish poems that were published in Czernowitz Bleter, Oyfgang, and other publications. His play “Thwarted Love” was performed in Khotyn several times. Yanover was a friend of the great fable–writer Eliezer Shteynbarg and of Dovid Pinchevsky. The poet Itzik Manger stayed with Yanover while serving in the Romanian army in Khotyn. Yanover died in 1938, aged 62.


Life is Hard

Life is hard, life is hard
In this dreadful world,
Where people hate each other
And are as lonely as stones.

Where one must always be on guard
And always be afraid
That someone will snatch everything
And not enough is left for you.

Life is hard, life is hard,
With constant quarrels,
When you know your enemy is always hunting
And aiming from everywhere.

Its fingernails sharp
And the teeth ready to bite you,
And he's ready to attack you
And tear you to pieces.

Life is hard, life is hard
In the world of lies, cheating,
Where the worst things are done
To pleasure the family.

Where life is divided:
“yours” and “mine,” “alien” and “our own,”
And people want ever more
Without a drop for someone else.

Life is hard, life is hard,
Watching the mean folks
As they exhaust themselves
When strangling the weak.

Oh, it's hard, it's hard to live
In this world, so dreadful,
Where people fight for scraps of pleasure
Like the butcher's dog for bones–


Autumn Night

Gloomy clouds float high
Darkening life
Somewhere deep in the night
A black devil laughs

The angry wind roars, cold,
Sounding like a wild beast,
Wailing, terrifying
As though the world had ended.

Between the earth and sky
Night yawns lazily,
A flash of lightning appears.
The devil is joking…

[Page 164]

I Confess

Well, I give up now,
I confess: I lost!
My arrow–words
Missed their mark…

I toiled in vain
And stood ashamed.
And the bad, the unjust
Was just the same…

No longer whole was my heart,
No longer whole was my lung.[28]
Now, like a black shadow,
A long tongue lolls out…

And it asks: where is your dream,
This beautiful, sweet world
You fought for,
as if you were the greatest hero?

I confess: I've already lost.
I make peace with the enemy
And burn all the weapons
Completely today.

I will hear, see, and shut up.
I'll nod at everyone,
Say “True” where lies occur,
Say “Refined” where ugliness and coarseness lie.

The world will love me
Like a diamond, a treasure…
I switch my old role…
From now on I'm a clown.


Efroyim Roitman

Born in Khotyn on November 12, 1910, he studied in the kheyders of Leyb–Dovid, Yankev–Yoysi, and Nissele Fuks. He graduated from the Tarbut school and the town gymnaziya in 1933, and studied in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Czernowitz. His first book of poetry, Fingers and Light, appeared in 1937. While under Soviet rule, he published poems and essays in Shriftn and Folksshtime (Poland), Yidishe Kultur (New York), and Sovetish Heymland (Moscow). His poems were published in Horizontn, an anthology of Soviet Yiddish Poets. In 1972 he emigrated to Israel, where he now lives, and works with local publishers.


By the Dniester

For Feyge Roitman, my mother, and others murdered by the German killers.

The rushing Dniester is loud,
Slapping against stones down the hillside.
I am still a child – I'm in a hurry,
Everything I see – beautiful, beautiful!
My rosy body jumps and yells
To the river that flows constantly!

Grandpa comes down at twilight,
His goatee is gray.
He bathes, checks the time
And tells me, “Look it's almost nighttime,
Nine o'clock! Can you imagine?
Time to go home!”
His beard laughs
As though he too would like to stay here.

I put on my shirt, and angrily
Say, “I'm going! For God's sake, going already!”
I envy the rock
That stays on the bank… I'm going, I know!
Grandpa says, “That's good! What
A hot day!” and wipes away the fresh drops
Like sweat. “Going means going!”

Zigzagging down the hill.
The cool river bubbles, slapping the bank.
My back pulls up
Air from the river, like blue crepe.
I look back and yell, and wake up
Grandpa's smile for the road,
But as he struggles downhill
His smile weeps…


[Page 165]

Late Summer in Khotyn

For Mendl Roytman, my father, and others murdered by the Russian Fascists

The heavens here seem to be locked.
Your eyes keep searching and there is nothing there!
The Dniester rocks lazily between hill and fort.
Opposite, balcony by balcony,
A street winds.
Weary eyes, weary footsteps,
Around a fiery sun…

And the children in the evening alleys
Play, run to the western edge, laughing.
At evening the road opens up–
All the sleeping eyes are roused!
But the eyes of the girls are tightly closed,
As though cuddling up to evening together in a shirt.

Night… eyes float away from balconies…
Landing impudently in the road.
Young guys shuffle in the late night
Rascals, as though they didn't live here.

The road suddenly widens and lengthens,
Sits on the balcony roof,
And the sky grows heavy with depth.
It speaks, opening up…

Until a door creaks open and drives away
The “empty babblers.”



In the kheyder

I still hear the rebbe's voice
Walking between the benches.
But the barmaid's voice is louder
Pouring into the tavern.

I hear it still, the rebbe's voice,
I sit in a tree,
Slinging dudes in a row
And a plum slithers down.[29]

I know what's in store,
When my father sees
the rebbe scratch his beard–
“He didn't come to kheyder.”

Dad will give me
Ten whacks… he's good!
Grandma will keep a fake count:
“Well, enough, enough… that's ten!”

But tomorrow I'll clearly hear
Only the rebbe's voice;
The dude tree will bloom
In the page of Talmud…

The rebbe will slap
The pupil next to me–
I'll climb down
And run to the door…

[Page 166]

Helen Gitelman

A person's destiny is their own unique force, unexplainable. Fate transported a woman born in our town, daughter of the Khotyn merchant Gitelman, to Belgium. There, Helen became a poet, not in mame–loshn but in French, the language of her new home. Three collections of her poetry have so far been published. One of the books includes a poem titled “Ode to My Town,” in which she celebrates Khotyn in nostalgic verses. The forewords to her books are written by well–known literary personages, members of Belgian and French academia.




Emanuel Rays

Emanuel Rays is a professor of Russian literature and philosophy at the University of Paris, a member of the French National Center for Scientific Research, and an outstanding expert on Russian poetry and poetry in general. He was born in Khotyn (Bessarabia) in 1909, and studied in Bucharest, Vienna, and Paris. In 1947 he published an anthology of Russian poetry in French translation, and is now preparing a new anthology in Russian. Rays has published hundreds of articles in French and Russian literary journals, and written forewords to western European publications of Russian poetry. Together with D. Yasin, he translated ten poems by M. L. Halpern into French; they were published in Edition des Poetes in 1955, with woodcuts by Pinches Sher. Emanuel Rays is a friend of Yiddish and Yiddish literature.

(Di Goldene Keyt)


Translator's footnotes:

  1. Tarbut was a network of Hebrew–language educational institutions established in newly independent Poland during the period between the world wars; these schools became widespread in Europe. Return
  2. This was an improved, modernized version of the traditional kheyder in which modern Hebrew was taught as well as other subjects not in the traditional curriculum. Return
  3. Kishinev, now known as Chisinau, is the capital of Moldova. Return
  4. Deut. 28; 30. Return
  5. Room and board for newlyweds at the expense of the bride's father, so that the groom could continue his religious studies, was a common stipulation in a marriage contract. Return
  6. Ya'akov Fichman was an acclaimed Hebrew poet, essayist and literary critic. Return
  7. Rabbis of the Twersky family led the important hasidic Chernobyl dynasty. The Lublin yeshiva, founded in Poland in 1930, was a major center for Jewish religious study. Return
  8. Transnistria is a region in the western Ukraine, across the Dniestr River from Romania, that Hitler handed over to Romania. Transnistria became a concentration ground for the Jews of Bessarabia, Bukovina, and northern Moldavia. The deportations began on September 15, 1941, and continued on–and–off until the autumn of 1942. Return
  9. The Mizrachi was a religious–Zionist movement. Return
  10. “Leybele” is a diminutive of “Leyb”; diminutives were often used to denote affection. Return
  11. There seems to be a line missing here; my reconstruction is based on the context. Return
  12. I could not identify this town. Return
  13. As the melamed was not salaried, he had to locate new students every session. Return
  14. The Romanian diacritical marks were not available to me. The town was known in Yiddish as Belz. Return
  15. An American Jewish nonprofit organization that promotes social and economic justice. Return
  16. I could not identify this location. Return
  17. I could find no other reference to these “rebels.” Return
  18. I have not tried to reproduce the rhymes in this and the other poems. Return
  19. The Yiddish pronunciation of the Hebrew kapparot, an atonement ritual widely practiced on the eve of Yom Kippur. The chicken is waved over a person's head as atonement for that person's sins and the chicken is then slaughtered in accordance with halachic rules. Return
  20. Use of this Yiddish phrase oyf kapores here may be wordplay on its idiomatic meaning, “worthless.” Return
  21. The pomegranate is a traditional Jewish symbol of abundance. Return
  22. The Jewish Enlightenment was an intellectual movement among the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe that began in the 1770s, and ended around 1881. Karo (1488–1575) wrote Shulchan Aruch, the last great codification of Jewish law, which is still authoritative for the majority of Jews. Return
  23. The Book of Creation is the earliest extant book on Jewish esotericism; its date is unknown. The Zohar (“Splendor”) is the foundational work of the Kabbala; it first appeared in Spain in the 13th century. Return
  24. Rabbi Zvi Katz was a 17th–century European rabbi. The Tsene–Rene, which first appeared in the early 17tth century, is a Yiddish adaptation of the Torah composed by Rabbi Jacob Ashkenazi. Return
  25. A traditional Hebrew term for Aramaic is “translation–language” (targum), referring to the ancient Aramaic translation of the Torah. Return
  26. The poet and scholar Solomon Bloomgarden (1872–1927, known by the pseudonym Yehoash) translated the entire Bible into Yiddish. Return
  27. OSE was a French Jewish humanitarian organization that assisted mainly Jewish children. I was unable to identify Dr. Khoresh. Return
  28. In Yiddish, “lung” is a synonym for “heart.” Return
  29. I could not find a translation for dude or for dude tree, mentioned below. Return


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