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[Page 201]

Malka the Radovicher[1]

by Z. Weinper (New York)

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Donated by Rebeca Gilad

Much more than all the small villages in the entire area
They spoke about the small village of Radoviche[2]) with love
And this love was spread by the old Malka[3]).
Even gentiles crossed themselves and murmured: “A pity,”
When Malka closed her good eyes for eternity.
Peasants with their scythes and [female] peasants knitting
Talked among themselves for a long time with regret
Whoever spoke, among the Jewish dorfsgeyer [village peddlers],
There is no end to their sadness even today.
Malka is not here and who can take Malka's place?

And the great landowner of the small village of Radoviche
Who because of the rhyme I call Mister Liadoviche –
This landowner, like all landowners of his class,
Ran his “city” from somewhere in a distant land;
The small village here he left in Bunem's hands.
And here, Reb Bunem was known everywhere
As the Jew with the long, angry eyebrows,
Who could not even shame a fly.
A Jew, simple, quiet. Reb Bunen, Malka's husband
[It was only he] who contended with the Ivans and Mechalkes.

And Radoviche itself – a small village in Volyn,
Like all small villages, white in winter and green in summer.
A church that appears higher than all of the cottages.
White peasant cottages with straw roofs,
Still higher than the large house of Reb Bunem,
Still higher than the poles near the wells,
Where peasants with pails come to draw water
For themselves, for their horses, for cows and for lambs,
Gardens and orchards and an old, grey cross
That is crumbling, one might as well go ahead and peel it.

Reb Bunem in the fields with the peasants near the haystacks
And Malka at the threshold of the house looks out
At a visitor – a Jew, a gentile – what is the difference?
The house has doors as with our father Abraham
And she? If God had ordained and she has to live
She needs to crown God's name here
With what she can, with whatever she possesses in her house.
Her Bunen is still very busy day and night in the field.
But thank God, he brings and she has something to give [to people].
Let us hope that her life will not be any worse.

[Page 202]

Not in vain were visitors were drawn to her threshold.
The quiet one, the old arendar [lessee], Reb Bunem
Meddled very little in his house.
Why? The “busybody” always interfered
At the oven, at the pot of warm soup.
And a person who has just arrived with a groan
Was heard by Malka immediately.
And whatever God had lavished in the pot
Was immediately in bowls for the guests
And Malka asked: Perhaps a little more?

Welcoming a guest was the main thing for her.
What more did she need? Even for the inebriated,
The old, homeless and barefoot Mechalke
The old, good Malka always had
A place [for him] to sleep near the oven.
“Probably, that is what was wanted from above,
That Mechalke should be a gentile, an inebriated one,”
Malka would always say
And, at the same time, would raise her hands, as if giving a blessing
“Alas, who are we to judge a person!”

And now she is not here – so let this story
About her remain as the story of the goat, the white one,
About whom we so loved to sing and hear.
Oy, perhaps people will reflect and ponder
And become better, more loving to one another.
This life is short and passes quickly,
The end is dust, even for the most beautiful rose.
I stand now and look through my window in thought.
The large city suffocates during the clear day,
But there are no Malkas here at the threshold.

 
Footnotes

  1. Reprinted from Z. Weinper's book, Geklibene Lider [Collected Poems]. Return
  2. Radoviche – a village on the road between Trusk and Kovel. Return
  3. Malka the Radovicher's grandchild, Rayle Baczkowska lives in Argentina now and a second grandchild, Leibl Perel, is now in Mexico. Return


[Pages 204-205]

R'Bunem and Malka Radowiczer
(My grandparents)

by Mordche Eliezer Perel

Transliterated by Silvia Bialik Perel

Reb Bonim lived in Radowicze, a town ten kilometers from Trisk, where he was in charge of collecting the rent of the properties for the landlord. The town is located where roads to different towns and cities meet. In these types of roads there are many travelers. Reb Bonim and his wife Malka would often see how some of the travelers would be suffering from the cold winters or get extremely warm from the summer heat.

In order to help them they built in their house two kitchens: one for dairy and one for meat, and also a special place for travelers to sleep. Then, travelers started to stop in Radowicze. There they would pray, drink a glass of “chicoria”, eat something, and continue on the road. Those traveling at night would get dinner and a place to spend the night.

Reb Bunem and his wife Malka would take care of the guests themselves: they would feed them, they would prepare the beds. Malka would bring to each guest a pail of water to have available in the morning to wash up when waking up, and would make sure each bed was soft enough so that the guests would sleep comfortably.

My mother, z”l, told me that she and my father, z”l went to visit Radowicze immediately after they got married. And as it happened that exactly that night they had many guests stopping over. They didn't have enough pillows for everyone. So my grandmother Malka knocked on their bedroom door, said she was sorry to disturb them, and asked them for two of their pillows so she could give them to the guests to take on the road.

Reb Yehoshua Stiszik, owner of an oil factory in Trisk called me to his table on a Friday at the small Synagogue, where he was sitting studying, and said:

Mordje, come here, I'm going to tell you something about your grandmother Malka, and maybe you too will follow her ways:

I used to travel often through Radowicze transporting my grain, and I used to, like the other travelers, stop there to drink something hot and to eat something. It happened one time that I was passing through Radowicze in the winter, in the middle of the night. There was a bad freeze. I had my sled filled with my merchandise of oil, and I was really frozen, so I really wanted to stop, as always. But I knew that if I would put the sled in the stable, it would later be impossible to take it out from there. To leave the sled by itself on the street, I didn't want either because I was afraid someone would steal the merchandise.

I didn't have a choice, so I continued on my way home. Suddenly I heard a voice shouting: “mister Jew”, “mister Jew”! I stopped my horse, turned around and I see Malka running after me.

She stands by the sled and shouts: “Oy, Yehoshua, here you are! What, are you angry with us? Are you staying away from our home?”

– “Of course not! I answered, “why would I be angry with you? God forbid!” so I told her what my problem was.

– “If that's the case”, your grandmother said, “here is the solution: I will send one of my workers to come out here to look after your sled and you go in to my house. I can see you are frozen”.

I liked her idea and went into her house; I prayed, drank a few glasses hot “chicoria”, ate a few bites and went back to get my sled.

I stood there astonished when I saw, that instead of a worker, Malka herself is standing there without a leather to cover her.

– “Malka, what are you doing here?”– I asked her

– “I am taking care of your merchandise”– she answered

– “How is that possible? You said you would ask one of your workers to take care of this..”

– “I also have to look after my workers, so they won't take some of your merchandise” – she answered.

– “If this is the case, I regret I listened to you and went into your house”, I said saddened.

– “And I definitely don't regret”, she responded with a kind smile, and wished me well saying “travel in good health”, and went back home.

That's what your “bobbe” Malka was like, said Yehoshua Tchizik, and went back to his studies.

 

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