by Akiva Glikstein
I was born in this city in the year 1881. When I was 20, that is, in 1901, after I had completed my service in the Russian army, as a volunteer in a foot battalion in my city, I went up to the land of Israel. Just once, when I was in Europe in the year 1921, I visited in it. I found almost none of my friends, for most of them had migrated to the United States, and a few of them had moved to live in larger cities. With a depressed spirit, I left my city after just one day. I stayed for another two days in adjacent Suwalki. Since then I feel no longing for the city of my birth, despite the memories that are tied to it from the days of my childhood.
My parents, who had gone up to the land in 1904 and found their eternal rest in the cemetery of Zikhron Yaakov, were not born in Augustów; they settled in it in the year 1863 for special reasons. In the year 1842, when my father was about 18 years old, he married a girl two years younger than himself. The young couple settled in the Polish town of Czarnovo, which is adjacent to Augustów. My father lacked a profession. He learned in cheder and knew a little Talmud. With the help of his father, who lived in a small town in the same area, he opened a small shop in the village, with a public house, a trade that was at that time an acceptable occupation for Jews. The village was small and poor. Making a living as difficult as the splitting of the Reed Sea. Decades after that, when my father was one of the wealthy householders in Augustów, he used to say that in the village it was more difficult to earn two zlotys a week to support the small family than afterwards, hundreds of rubles to support the family that had grown in the meantime. In the year 1863, the Polish revolt broke out against the Tsarist régime. This was the second revolt. The first failed about 30 years before it. My father was the only Jew in the village and the only one who knew how to read and write in Polish. Every night, after midnight, the local commanders of the revolt, who did not know even the shape of a letter, came to his house. My father would close the doors and shutters, sit down with them next to
a table, light a small kerosene lamp, and read them the orders that they had received from the higher command. My father knew well that mortal danger hung over this deed of his. Once, when he was in Augustów, he read a government order from the Tsar in Polish and Russian, in which it said that all regional governors had permission to hang, without trial, anyone suspected of supporting the revolt. On the other hand, the Poles also established mobile military tribunals, which would move in the night from place to place and ordering the hanging of anyone who was thought to oppose the revolt. It went without saying that as always the Jews were the goats to Azazel. Father related that once such a tribunal arrived in the village and decided to hang a Jew a carpenter (shtelmakh) who prepared planks of wood for wagons. The Polish elders of the village begged them not to hang the Jew, because there was no one to replace him in repairing the wagons. In place of him, they suggested hanging one of the two blacksmiths in town. And indeed, the judges acquiesced to them. For a few months, my father read the revolutionaries' orders, until the information reached the opposing side. One dark night, two armed Cossacks, mounted on horses, came to my father's house, carrying in their hands an order, according to which it was incumbent on Leib Glikstein to present himself immediately to the general in Vilna. My father was certain that he would be taken out to be killed. While the tired Cossacks and their horses ate and rested, my father wrapped himself in tallit and tefillin, prayed and said the Vidui. Afterwards he parted from his young wife and the two babies, and went with the Cossacks. The journey took three days and at night, they slept in villages. The Cossacks, who were armed from head to toe from fear of the Poles, would tie my father to themselves with a rope. When they arrived at Vilna, they took him immediately to the general, who turned to him with these words: So, Yid they tell me that every night you sit there in Czarnovo reading to the Polish traitors the lousy orders they get from their commanders. Do you know that I am obligated to hang you for that? My father prostrated himself at his feet and said: Yes, your Excellency! But what could I do? I was between the hammer and the anvil. They knew that I know Polish and if I refuse they will hang me as they did to many Jews. Do with me as you will. The general, who happened to be in a good mood, ordered my father: Get up Yid. You must leave the village immediately and move to the adjacent Augustów. Two Cossacks will accompany you, in their hands I will send instructions from me to the governor of the Augustów region, that he supply you with wagons and laborers to transport your family and possessions to Augustów, and that he should also see to a place to live. March! My father got to his feet. It seemed to him as if he had returned from the world of truth. Thus, he came to settle in Augustów. There arose the question of making a living. It was known to him that they were about to bring a regiment of mounted cavalry, Cossacks from the Don, and that the authorities were encountering difficulties in housing them; he hastened to suggest that the government grant him a suitable plot of its land in the area surrounding the town, and that he would erect all the necessary buildings: barracks, stables for the horses, a hospital, workshops, a prison, etc. After intensive effort, accompanied by a bribe, of course, the work was given to him. He didn't have sufficient money, but the Augustów people knew him as an honest man, and enterprising, and provided him with the means at a monthly interest of 2%. The rate was indeed a reduced one, but the rents he received for his property was so high that he had enough to return the loans and manage a house at a high standard of living. The old people of Augustów remember Leib Glikstein of the Long Street and the barracks. Of all this, not a memory remains.
The city was not large and most of the residents were Jewish, and a few Polish and government clerks, and Russian army officers who lived in Jewish houses. The city was noted for the canal that went through it, which was called by the name of the Augustow Canal. Around the city, rivers and lakes full of various kinds of fish. The Jewish population made their living from exporting the fish. Among the fish there was one kind by the name of shlibes, a tasty fish,
and very expensive. In Warsaw, I saw a placard in a fancy shop for delicacies with the name of this fish and the name of my city.
In between the rivers and lakes that spread over tens of square kilometers were huge pine forests.
There were a few factories in the city for processing hides, whose owners and workers were Jewish, and one brewery. By the way, the jokers of that generation used to say that it was permitted to drink the beer on Pesach, because the beer was made up of two ingredients, which were not chametz it was composed of just water and excise (taxes to the government). Nice they protested against them it was possible that one of the workers who mixed the two ingredients would put a slice of bread into them! A thing like this was not possible! Answered the jokers: the owner of the brewery has no bread in this factory, from where would the worker have it!?
A most important economic factor was the military, especially the Cossack regiment. It was a one-of-a-kind army. The Tsar's government relationship to the residents of the Don was respect him and suspect him. Because most of the revolutionaries in the Tsar's regime were Cossacks (Pugachev, Stenker Razin and others), the government tried to bribe them, and granted them rights that other Russian residents did not have: freedom from taxes, the right to wear uniforms for life, the right to keep riding horses, cold weapons, etc. The Cossack would bring with him all the equipment, except for hot weapons, which he would receive from his regiment. Contrary to what was customary in the army, he would not receive clothing and boots from the army. Instead, he received a fixed monthly sum (ramonet funds). All the Jewish tailors and shoemakers in town worked for them. It is worth noting that the Cossack, who got his money by robbing and stealing, used to pay his debts to the craftsmen. I knew the Cossacks well, and I must say that I had many friends among them. At the age of 3-4, I spoke juicy Russian with the accent of the quiet Don. I also knew how to curse like them, with the famous 3-story or more curse, in which the Holy Mother is mentioned, precisely not with respect. They always had in their hands the nagaika (the Cossacks' whip), which was able to kill a person with one blow. Our big house stood adjacent to the barracks, and there was not a day that Cossacks didn't come in to see my father. Mother would say to the maid: Watch him very carefully he is a lakchan (an expression in Yiddish for a thief). Yet for all that, something almost always went missing. One time, my father forgot the tefillin on the table in the kitchen. A Cossack came in and in the blink of an eye the tefillin were in his pocket. When he realized that the leather of the straps was not strong enough to make a bit for his horse, he went to the market to sell them. A Jewish man met him, who as it is known had to redeem the holy article from the hands of a Christian, and asked him: Where did you get these? The Cossack answered: I'm a shoemaker by profession and I made them. The Jew paid him a few kopeks and brought the tefillin to my father. My mother prepared tens of fowls for kapparot, and when she came on the eve of the Yom Kippur, she did not find in the coop even one of the birds alive. Scattered on the floor were the heads and intestines. She realized that the hand of the Cossack was in the matter. When my father met the battalion commander, he told him about the event, in the hope that he would punish those who were guilty. The colonel asked him: When did it happen? My father answered, In the autumn, before our Great Fast. Ah, said the colonel, Yes that's possible, the Cossacks love poultry meat in the autumn. When the officer punished a Cossack who he caught stealing, he would add: I'm punishing you not because you stole but because you got caught.
At the age of 8 I learned to ride a horse like them. Once a year, the regiment would leave the city and moved to adjacent villages in order to feed the horses on green grass. My father would
take advantage of this period to repair the barracks. For me and my friends these were holidays. We would roam about the barracks and the stables collecting finds: metal buttons, live bullets, wallets, etc. One time a Cossack asked me if I wanted to learn to ride a horse like Cossacks ride at my age. Certainly I want to, was my reply. I already knew how to ride a workhorse without a saddle, because we had 3 or 4 teams of horses for hauling building materials, but I had never ridden a Cossack horse with a saddle. The Cossack brought his horse out of the stable, put the wooden, chair-shaped saddle on it, tied some cushions filled with pigs' hair to it, took off from his belly a long soft woolen belt, sat me on the saddle, tied my legs together under the horse's belly with the woolen belt, and pulled the saddle straps tight so that I, the saddle, and the horse were like one body. He put the bit in the horse's mouth, placed the reins in my hands, and said a few words of encouragement to me: Don't be afraid, don't fall, be a man! He stroked the horse's neck and called him by name: Vasra, don't misbehave! When he left the reins in my hands, the horse felt that the rider was not a Cossack. He shook his head vigorously and the reins fell from my hands. The horse reared up on his hind legs and shook his rear quarters to send me flying. When he didn't succeed, he stood on his forelegs…the Cossack watched but did not move. He wanted me to overcome the situation with my own strength. A great fear fell on me when the horse suddenly began to run as fast as the wind. I didn't shout because I was embarrassed. When the horse had gone some distance the Cossack put two fingers in his mouth, whistled, and the horse immediately returned, tired and quiet. The Cossack freed me from the saddle, kissed me on the forehead and said: You are brave; you'll grow up and become a fearless Cossack.
Generally speaking, the relationship between the Cossacks and the Jews was all right. At the beginning of each year, young Cossacks came from the Don who had never in their lives seen Jews, and then it was happy in the city. The Cossacks would stroll around town distributing to our lads (girls were too shy to talk to the Cossacks) dried cherries, small hard crackers, and water-melon seeds.
In our city there were, as is known, two public gardens: an old one, where the citizens, mostly Jewish, strolled the gentiles didn't have time for strolls, and there was another garden, a new one, that had been planted on the occasion of an important event. Tsar Alexander III travelled by train, and the revolutionaries had laid a bomb under the tracks. To the sorrow of the Russian people (and also, of course, to the sorrow of the Jews), the train passed peacefully. The garden was planted in memory of the event.
They told at that time that the Jews were sitting in the synagogue talking about the event and regretting that the Tsar, who hated the Jews, had not been killed. There was among them one who shouted: These revolutionaries, may their names be erased, all the troubles come only because of them; they have to be extracted by the roots. They asked him: Reb Nachum, were you really sorry that this dog wasn't killed? Of course not! Nachum fumed. I'm just saying that if you're doing something then do it properly; one should not scrimp on explosive materials!
by Tz. Z. Weinberg
I wandered around all the days in the streets of the town (Ostrow Mazowiecka) to search after matter and deed and I returned almost always with disappointment, despairing and annoyed. My wife hinted to me about the little one, Sonia, whose entire creation sang with the abundance of forces, as if saying this to banish my sorrow and diminish my bitterness. I bent over her out of pleasure and joy, and immediately there jumped on me her anger of livelihood, and from the girl's whispering eyes, as if she protested the many times more responsibility: You are a father! You are obligated to worry for us, for me and for Momma, and to produce our sustenance!
On one of these gloomy days one of my friends appeared like a rescuing angel, Aharon Tzukerman, who had moved around years before for his trade to one of the towns in Lithuania and he had been very successful. He spoke to my heart to transfer my dwelling place from Ostrow Mazowiecka, and to move to the place where he was living and try my luck there.
At the beginning of the fall season, I went out to my new place. I spent a full day in the loathsome and filthy train car, and the annoying leak, that babbled all day and all night onto the windowpanes, tainted my mood, and muddied the remnant of hope that sparkled in the hidden places of my soul.
However, the town of Augustow welcomed me warmly. It was entirely washed with the brightness of the sun of an awakening fall day. The town danced before me the whole way, from the station to its small white houses that were engulfed in the green of the fields and the shading trees, and opened before me a gate to a new period of life. It was as if all the suffering and hardship of yesterday's rains, which had always been beside me, were removed, and from now on new skies would shine on my head, and a new land would stretch out under my feet.
I was transformed overnight into a veteran teacher, experienced and comfortable. My friend, a man engaged with those around him, offered me private Hebrew and Talmud lessons, and advertised for me in the city. Quickly I acquired a reputation among my male and female students, and the work hours were filled more than enough. My livelihood was established, my mood also improved. I found satisfaction in my work, and in teaching my students I myself learned. I also tried in my free hours to complete my education in general studies. The residents of the town of Augustow were far from excessive chassidim, and the young people and the Maskilim of the city found something in my friendship.
The little comfort in my life opened before new horizons. From the field of the book, study, and the abstract, I passed to the real and the concrete, which feeds a person's senses. Constricted adolescence, which was restrained as if in a splint, left its bounds, as if it had completed now at one stroke what had been lacking for it for a long time. I became devoted to swimming in the river, sailing in a boat, trips and tours in the near and far surroundings, to gymnastic exercises, and all kinds of sport, to happy parties of man and woman, as if I had been instructed
in all of these from the dawn of my childhood. From now I became a witness to all echo of play, chasing after every hint of companionship, joining the youth as if I were one of them, as a brother to every laugh, mischief and wild behavior.
Accompanied by my new friends and acquaintances, we would go boating from time to time, especially on Shabbat days and school vacation days, to the surrounding area of the town, a place of forests and shady groves, streams and lakes, which gurgled from beneath the land and filling the landscape with a wonderful mysterious cooing.
We were equipped with food and drink and wandered around all the day all over the place. The members of the convoy were given to conversations during the journeys, of which my ears did not catch almost anything at all. They, in the area and in the place, were distracted by the beauty of the landscape and the lovely sights, and found a desire to converse, in these hidden places, about their concerns, about the revealed and the hidden things, that accumulated for them during the ordinary days, and sought their solutions. And I, thirsty for what my eyes could see, shaking with all my senses to the wonders of the surroundings, did not turn at first to their conversations and deliberations.
On the winter journeys, on a surface of a covering of snow and frost, when the members of the company, wrapped in their cloaks, deepened their conversation mostly with new travelers, I escaped from the group by myself, and took myself far away, clearing myself a path, entirely given over to the brilliance of the sparkling snow, and imitating with pleasure the sound of the kra of the crow, that jumped from branch to branch, shaking the snowflakes to the ground.
Only once, at the beginning of the spring, when I joined the company on one of the trips, and we sat down
among the trees for a shared meal, and the girls spread a white tablecloth
out on the grassy surface, and set out the food and the drinks, and set a place for each one of us to sit, a setting of place that had in it, as it were, a special intention, and I found myself sitting next to one guest, who I saw from time to time in our group, but only now did I understand him and his nature, and I leaned over so that I would not miss a word of all that was spoken, and all that served the depiction of the debate, at the time of the meal and afterwards, the content of the conversations and deliberations during all of the journeys of the fall and winter seasons became clear to me at one stroke, which, while they were happening, I had unintentionally ignored, and I had not dwelt on them at all.
At once the matter became clear to me … the conditions, the unconsciousness of the masses, the regime of the brute… the speaker, who sat next to me, revealed human suffering with pure and clear language, and piercing logic, and came to an explicit conclusion, understood by all the assembled, that there was nothing for us but to travel with the line of courageous fighters blazing a trail for human emancipation.
Now I knew exactly who my companions were and to where they were heading, and for what these long journeys were intended, and what the meaning of the secrets and the whispers and the concealed hints were, that were woven around me all the time, in which I did not participate at all. It was as if the cataract had been removed from my eye, and a new light shone on me through the passageway of the heavens and the green of the trees and the grasses. My confusion was transformed, as they began to break through in Russia, piercing with their first rays of light also into this distant corner.
One of the active members of the revolutionary underground, Bluma Sapir, clung to me as a special guide, penetrated into my house and befriended my wife, and taught us a chapter of the law of national economics, and the ruling regime.
I taught Hebrew to her younger sister, and I was a frequent visitor in her parents' house. This was a destroyed family. Her father, an important merchant, and stout, lived separately from his wife, in one of the isolated rooms in his big house. He always quarreled with his older daughters, who stood on the side of their quiet and delicate mother, whose hair had gone prematurely white from great sorrow and disgrace, and her posture was stooped over as if from old age. The father would also bring prostitutes to his room, and then the argument would erupt all the more forcefully. The woman would flee from the house to members of her family, and the adult daughters would attack their father with insults and cursing. He would listen to his daughters' reproaches in disobedient silence, and with ridicule, protest their opposition with one fell swoop: Momma, Momma… always Momma…and I need a woman and not a Momma…
He was a heartless person, both in his house and in his business. But just as people discerned that he was bad, so they increased their lauding of the members of his household, and spoke in praise of his daughters, goodhearted and broad-minded, on whom true nobility was poured. They especially praised Bluma, his youngest daughter.
Excess affection was known to Bluma by her revolutionary friends. With a warm temperament, animated, quick, she was the living spirit in all the meetings and interviews that met on behalf of the center of the movement. She was also occupied with the goings on at home, in matters of the movement and her father's business, for with her, her father would
conduct himself pleasantly, and give through her the support of the house. With all this, she also contributed several hours to my wife and me, for frequent visits, for prolonged propaganda for her sacred idea. We got used to her as to a member of the household. My wife travelled with our daughter for a week to Ostrow Mazowiecka, to visit her father and the members of her family, and Bluma did not stop coming to my house, to prepare my bread for me, and to see to all that I was missing. On one of the evenings she brought a small group into my house, among them one of the emissaries that had come for a special task. The emissary was an angry man, gloomy, one of the downtrodden people of the nation. He negotiated with Bluma in a whisper, on an issue that was on the agenda, and at last joined into the general conversation on the matter of the status of the workers and the worldview of the proletarian person.
And as for me asserted Bluma the matter does not depend on the status and not on the condition of the status. I am a daughter of a bourgeois against my will, but my psychology is one of a complete proletarian…
There is still something to be suspicious of in the matter… the emissary grumbled with his eyes lowered.
Father is a bourgeois Bluma apologized however I am also formally on the side of the working person, an abused handmaiden in the house, a subjugated servant to Father in his business!
That's what I said her friend Batya supported her and if I am busy an entire day in Father's warehouse, and sell wine and spirits to customers, am I not a proletarian?
In her eyes the flash of victory sparkled; her friends were secretly chuckling.
The emissary's head was down to the ground, and a look of scorn came over his face.
The conversation stopped, and the friends began to scatter. Bluma remained alone with me.
The hour is late… I said.
And what of it? she protested, and remained in the house, and began to make order in the rooms and to prepare what was needed for the next day.
I sprawled on the bench, for I was very tired, and I waited for Bluma to finish the organizing, so I could lock the door behind her. I waited a long time in vain. My eyes stayed closed. I dozed off for a while. Suddenly I awoke to the touch of a soft body.
She was pressed up against me, and was moaning a quiet moan, resembling an extended snore from between her teeth.
For a moment, I clung to her with hugs, and an abundance of kisses, but within a minute a bitter thought like a sharp skewer was stuck in my brain, my heart was quieted, and all of my limbs trembled from passing cold. The picture of my wife and daughter stood before me.
I forcefully shook myself off, jumped off the bench. I turned up the light of the dimmed lamp. I approached her without pause and I said:
Bluma! Go home! Go in a hurry!
She arose, rubbed her eyes, pulled herself together, glanced at me and said, slapping me on my shoulder:
Brother you, you are a revolutionary, pretending to belong to the revolutionaries, but you are nothing but a rabbit, a worthless rabbit….
She wrapped herself in her coat, patiently put on her hat, and went out.
I stood silently in place for a few moments. My blood came to a boil again, licked my body and burned
my flesh. My blood was pounding in my temples, as if reproaching me: idiot, complete idiot… Only when I stretched out on the bench and lowered my head on the pillow, did feelings of resolution begin to caress the fabric of my scorched skin, and a sweet calming wrapped its arms around me: good, good this way, good this way, good…
On the next day, in the afternoon, my students came from the Sapir house and told me in the name of its father that from that day on they would not learn Hebrew from me.
Bluma too agreed added the student there is no need for Hebrew. Hebrew was only an extra burden, extraneous learning. And he glanced at my face with chutzpah. I groaned silently inside of myself, and I turned the back of my neck to him, until he left the room.
That same evening, it became known to me that Bluma went out with the emissary from the movement, in order to not return again.
My wife gave birth to the second child almost unintentionally, when we were sitting at a house party, in the company of our many acquaintances. The joy in the house became almost endless. The women took care of the birthing mother, and the tender one who had been born, according to watches that they organized amongst themselves, and I hurried to the post office to announce the good news to Mother.
The post office hummed with its visitors: Jews assembled at the small window of the office and stood in line. Even next to the telegraph window many stood and waited for their turn to come, and exchanged conversation between them. I stood in the middle of the long line, looking at those who were standing and those who were walking around on the side, who were humming with an extended hum, like a swarm of bees, each one carrying within themselves some matter that gladdened them or pained them, and hiding it from the others, and I am one among them who is holding back the joy of my heart, and my warm feelings that are bubbling within me like new wine. And here, at the time of this standing, almost without moving, a group of Cossacks, some of the local soldiers, forced its way into the office, and took their place next to the windows in a parallel line, as was customary for army men. The people's conversation immediately stopped, as if terror had entered the hall; and the Cossacks, as if they were not paying attention to the many people in the office, continued their conversation about the hunt for maidens and their skirmishes in the area, how they taught a lesson to this Jew and that shopkeeper, who tried to trick them and take advantage of them, and how they cleaned the noses and the faces of the Moshes and the Itziks until they bled. The Jews stood silent, trembling in their places, putting on faces as if they were not listening to their exchange of words, and began, as if out of a defensive feeling, to cover the fear with conversation on an unrelated topic. And the Cossacks, as if offended by the chutzpah of the Jews, hurled curses towards the lines, as distractions amongst themselves: these cursed Zhids, always with their screaming, their shrieks, even in the post office, a government office… And one short Cossack, solid and sturdy, with a black mustache and aggressive eyes, whose prominent forelock and single nose-ring rustled, as if with arrogance, who stood across from me the whole time and did not take part in his friends' conversation, suddenly sent a predatory look at me, and sweetened his strange laugh towards me, which danced on his mustache and his jaws, and was hidden in his eye sockets.
And I, I… finally, he hid his expression from his friends, but the laugh did not leave his lips.
I would like to crush the face of this naïve Yehuduni, for his face, and his trace of a beard, and his virgin eyes…
And who's stopping you? The second one patted him on his shoulder with a wry smile.
Certainly! The Cossack took courage, with all his body dancing with evil intent, I really slashed a Yehuduni like this with my sword at the times of the riots in Minsk, and like squashed porridge he was thrown, soaked in his blood, into one of the sewers…
It's worth it! It's worth it! his friends urged him, erupting in laughter.
Of course it's worth it! The Cossack was enthusiastic. Yehudunis like these, innocent faces like these, they, they are the ones who are carrying within themselves the seed of the Karmola…
I did not hear his last words. Those standing in the line and outside surrounded me in a heap, and secretly pushed me from the hall. Outside, the Hebrew-Russian teacher Feldsher accompanied me, and hurriedly drew me to one side of the yard and took me to his house by a shortcut.
It's good that we took him out of there he told his wife, one should not discount the words of a Cossack after the Minsk slaughter. And apparently, this Cossack participated in the slaughter, and the truth was in his mouth.
His wife Rivka glanced at me with compassion, and diminished the chill that attacked my body, and removed the nervousness and the tremor in my limbs.
I stayed in Feldsher's house for a long time, until my spirit returned to me. From the great fear and panic that arose around me, my blood froze in my veins, and like one turned to stone, I was brought by my escort, this Feldsher, by way of the alleys and shortcuts to my house.
Feldsher expressed his resentment of the fires that burn in the common people, which are like a stumbling block to all development and advancement, and he continued to attach logical reasons to the course of history and the mysterious path of the Russian storm that was suddenly approaching.
How many more days of horror are prepared for the righteous fighters on this sorrowful soil, which transforms the children of the nation, actually pillars of revolution, into malicious people and predators?!
The unrest in this small village was great. Almost every evening Cossacks burst with whips and drawn swords into groups of young people who were walking in the streets, and drove them off the sidewalks and paths, while waving their whips and swords at them, and chasing after them with laughter and terrible cursing. Only the elderly and the sons of the wealthy they did not touch for evil. Things continued this way for some time, and the streets in the evenings were emptied of strolling young men and women, and the Cossacks returned in the end with empty hands. Then they began rounding up and attacking the sons of the wealthy also, and then very slowly they moved on to old men and women. Only then did the community leaders become agitated, and they turned to the authorities. And when their complaints were ineffective, they grasped onto their fathers' deeds, and bribed the Cossack officers and their commander for the full price, and the attacks in the evenings stopped.
The quiet returned as before. The Cossacks were mostly confined to the barracks, and the only ones permitted to go out
were the ones who were known for their good manners, and even these only in the afternoon, but not in darkness. Their officers found interest in the Jews' cowardice, and extracted from them security taxes, and became regular visitors in the houses of the notables, and ate their bread and fish, and drank their wine. Since the quiet of the atmosphere from outside and in trade broke out as in the beginning, and the Jews enjoyed their cunning which stood them in good stead to trap the Cossack in a sack, so the destroyers argued and stormed in secret, and the tapestry of the revolution was woven in the dead of night, and the erosion of Tsarism continued incessantly and indefatigably, also in the hiding places of the small town.
Every day I walked a long way to my lessons in instruction, to a suburb of the city, a large neighborhood of houses of workers and clerks that sprawled around a broad field between the water mill and a lumber mill that stood next to the canal.
In the area of this place, from the side that was next to the forest, stood the headquarters' hut of the Cossacks. From there nothing bad was expected to happen to the by-passer. Even in the days of the disturbance, when danger was expected for the one who passed by the Cossack barracks, a person could walk carefree and safe in this place, for nothing bad would happen to him. The officers of the soldiers, who worked in the headquarters, would encounter each person with courtesy, and would sometimes pleasantly offer a blessing of peace. Even I was used to taking a moderate walk, tarrying and looking at the huts and the yards that were next to the officers' houses. And behold one day, when I passed by, minding my own business, in front of one of the huts, I noticed one Cossack standing in the yard, holding a dagger in his hand, sharpening it with his sharpener. He sees me pass by, throws a glance my way, and immediately he is shooting glance after glance at me, like white-hot skewers, which pass entirely through me. I recognize in him with an internal sensation, almost without seeing, the same dwarf Cossack that was in the post office, the one preying on my life, the same barbed mustache, and the same aggressive eyes. I begin suddenly to take rough strides, as all my limbs are trembling and freezing within me, when I suddenly bump into an acquaintance of mine who is coming towards me, and I stop him and hint to him, almost without language and without turning my head, that he should turn on his heel and accompany me. He lifts up his eyes, and immediately he turns and begins to run with all his might, and me after him, and the Cossack is chasing us with his sword unsheathed, and his voice erupting and exerting himself on the backs of our necks: You spoke ill of the King, of God! Karmolniks! Destroyer of the Tsar! Infidels! Traitors! - - - And as long as there is breath in me I am following behind my acquaintance, and while the breath of life is in our nostrils we burst through the gate of the mill, fleeing towards the first man that we meet on our way: Save us!! Hide us!! Within the mill a few firefighters are working, who saw the performance through the window, and with the speed of lightening they bring us into the mill, hide us in one of the holes, and the Cossack meanwhile bursts into the yard, and in full voice screams: Where are the Karmolniks? Where are they? They came in here!! And the clerks are calming him down, and claiming: Indeed they fled by way of the yard, but they went out through the second open gate. But the Cossack does not believe it, searches in the yard, checks in the office, bursts into the mill, goes upstairs and downstairs, and returns angry and cursing, walks and approaches the second gate, peers at the empty road, and turns on his heel, walking and grumbling, one minute furious, and the next minute quiet: Karmolniks, Karmolniks. - - - -
I was taken out of the hiding place while my spirit was still in me. Workers brought me home in a wagon, and I fell into my bed for many days. Residents of the city, from the elders to the youth, came to visit me. This event took place a few days before May 1st. The order was given by the head of the Cossacks that no Cossack should dare to touch any person, unless if he explicitly hears the name of the Tsar or God damned by his mouth, therefore the Cossack shouted while chasing
after us, in his fury You spoke ill of the King, of God!... The Jews saw an ominous sign in this. They came and atoned before the Head with a gift, noses to the ground, and the first day in May passed peacefully. The Cossacks did not step outside the entrance of the barracks. The small demonstration that the daring young people organized, to fulfill the obligation of the day, went by easily, with no effort by the town police. They too, with their clubs and swords, learned the work of the Cossacks inside and out, and decreed on the right and the left, and obtained their rewards. The District Governor expressed to them afterwards deep thanks, in the name of the Tsar and the homeland.
The unrest of the fear that was in the town aroused the residents to supervise their sons and daughters extremely well. And the yeshiva students, who caught on to the revolution openly or secretly, needed accompanying protection from their faithful wives, who guarded their steps and confined them only when spirits were excited. The gendarme police that were in the town also became alert and sensitive to any changes in the air, and once they had a taste of this, and the unsheathed dagger, they made these their constant entertainment, and at convenient and inconvenient times they entertained themselves with these precious things on the heads of the young men and women, to the pleasure of the isolated Cossacks who left the barracks, who stood on the side and delivered encouraging voices: It is fitting and proper!
My wife was the only one who was not worried about meetings of young people in her house, and did not oppose it if I joined them for one of the forbidden meetings. She only required one thing from me, that I should not go to the suburb of the city by way of the mill and the barracks, and that I not accompany the suspects more than to the top of the street. I obeyed and I didn't obey my wife's instructions. And when at first there hung in the air of the city the matter of the planned pogroms, which the hand of the black forces in the city was preparing with a secret agreement between the police and the secret police, I was swept up among the first to the defense company, and I taught my hands to grasp hot and cold weapons, to the delight of my friends, who always looked at me with scorn.
In this season, I made a request to the authority for an instruction permit to teach in one of the cheders that were in the town. I was invited to the police in order to fill out a questionnaire. A gendarme came and to visit me in my house. The visit was known to me ahead of time. Both the police officer and the gendarme were bribed ahead of time by one of the intermediaries for that same matter. However, my wife bore no grudge the whole time, and offered the gendarme the honor of a drink of brandy, and pastries. The gendarme assailed me with his questions, and I trembled with every question that came out of his mouth. When he had conducted and arranged everything, and drank a mouthful of what was prepared for him, he softened and intimated offhandedly in hinting language:
Indeed, even a young man like you isn't entirely within the bounds of legitimacy… there are also those who are talking about you…but for the present time there is still no suspicion about you…
In parting from my wife, he whispered to her with a voice of honey.
Watch out for him, watch out for him very carefully… he is young. His eyes twinkle too much… and you have tender children…watch out for him…
A sly fox was this gendarme, an old rake whose teeth had fallen out, and who knew how to walk around among people and buy their hearts. My wife was agitated to the core, his words penetrated deep into her heart, and the abyss of life had been revealed to her, as if all at once. She began to ask insistently that I should leave Augustow for a while, in order to remove any suspicion from myself. I went out to the adjacent village, to rest there a little, as it were, for the sake of the repair of
my health. And when I returned I found the town in turmoil. The most suspected youths were imprisoned. The rest of the members were scattered in every direction, some of them fled, and some of them were hidden in their holes and did not step outside the doors of their houses. My wife's face shone with joy, since by means of a real miracle she had saved me from all evil, as if she had foreseen with the spirit of prophecy what would occur. And when once we met that gendarme, on one of our trips, he bowed his head with respect towards my wife, and his lips smiled in her direction, as if saying: My advice was useful, isn't it so? This time my advice was useful…
I reached army age. The days of summer passed over me with worry and fear. Mother's many letters, which were equipped with hints and crammed full of advice, confused me and disrupted my spirit. She travelled a few times to the district city Vengrov, the place where I was registered on the list of those summoned to the army, to consult with the rabbi of the city, one of the members of our family, and to find through him a way to the members of the military council.
Uncle Elimelech accompanied Mother on her trips, and together with the agent that was in the place she prepared the plan for how to bribe the members of the council and how to conduct the entire matter from beginning to end, so that no mishap would occur, God forbid, from the side of the informers and the few members of the council that did not take bribes.
I was called to Warsaw for the purpose of being advised on this serious matter by the experts in this area. They advised me to mutilate my body; they advised me to starve myself until my body became gaunt, but this too was not accepted by my heart. Uncle Elimelech objected scornfully, distorting his face in anger: Foolish and obstinate! And Mother looked at me with restrained compassion. Her inflamed face and the passion that was in her eyes testified to the great war that was taking place inside her, since she did not know how to take counsel in her soul, how to save her son from this approaching danger, and how to support him in the presence of these violent men: Uncle Elimelech and the various experts.
I travelled back to Augustow with a broken heart. The strange advice with which I was stuffed in Warsaw was a resentment to me. In Warsaw I now saw the poor position of Mother in the house of Uncle Elimelech and Aunt Gittele, and I couldn't help. I advised Mother to leave Warsaw and Gittele's house, and move immediately with me to my house in Augustow, but she did not agree in any way. At this difficult time, she said, at the time when I need to stand guard, to save you, my place is here…there is no relying on anyone, and behold I need to gather money, lots of money, for this purpose…
I accepted additional work, and I saved every penny, to come to Mother's aid, who had loaded onto herself a load too heavy to carry. I knew also what was expected for me, if I was not freed from the yoke of the army sooner or later: forced labor over the course of continuous years, without any benefit or enjoyment, and to leave for this a wife and children for years with no means of livelihood. For what? And why?
The time of the army was growing nearer. The fall was already on the land. The heart was crushed: What will be? What will be?... I am waiting for news from Mother. And suddenly my brother Shmuel appears as an emissary from Mother and Uncle Elimelech. He grew, matured, from the matter with intelligence and good sense, and it seemed that he disagreed with all of the plans of Uncle Elimelech and the experts, that, had it not been so, they would not have relied on him with this honored mission. Their explicit decision was: to defer the day that I presented myself before the military council, to the second or third season, since then it would be possible to free me easily. It was necessary to obtain here, in Augustow, a Certificate of Disease, and to deliver it to the required place.
My friend arranged this matter with great ability and secrecy. I moved to his house, which was surrounded by a broad yard,
full of piles of wood and building equipment, since he traded in them. The house stood at the end of the yard, on the side, isolated and set apart. The day was set in which the health council would visit me, the doctor accompanied by the head of the city and his secretary. The doctor and the secretary of the town had been bribed. I lay in bed all day in the narrow back room, pretending to be ill, waiting impatiently for the members of the council to come, until I got sick of it, and I went out to the adjoining rooms, to spend a little time at a party of the household, who sat at the table and played cards. The day went by. Darkness wrapped the house in a gloomy fall covering. Outside, an endless dripping. The lamp was lit. Tea and biscuits were served. The mistress of the house, Biederman's wife, and her sisters were betting fiercely on the card game, to banish my sorrow a little. Suddenly, Shmuel, who had gone intermittently to watch for Biederman's arrival, burst into the room, and announced in panic that the members of the council had already entered the yard.
I ran hastily to the bed. From an abundance of haste and confusion, I did not have time to properly undress again, and I thrust myself into the bed with my shoes and my pants and I covered myself with the blanket. The faint light of a small night lantern was lit. On the night table that was next to the bed bottles of medicines were displayed, on the nearby chair lay bandaging material. On my head an icebag was placed, filled with lukewarm water. I lay motionless for a few minutes, my heart pounding… the members of the council entered the adjacent room, and the head of the city exchanged a few words with the lady of the house. Afterwards they came into me one by one after the lady, who went at the head. The doctor approached the bed, studied the bottles, and attempted to speak to me: You are still sick, you have still not returned to your strength? I did not reply. I groaned in a weak voice. He approached near me, felt my head, opened my robe, bent over my chest, listened to the sound of my heartbeat, intended to remove the blanket from upon me, and to check the rest of the parts of my body, but I grabbed his hand from under the blanket and did not allow him to turn it over. He understood my intention, dropped his hand under the blanket, touched my pants and immediately took his hand out, bent himself over my chest a second time, removed his hand and turned to the head of the city: There is no need for additional examination. The situation is clear. He is burning with fire. He is unconscious, it seems, he requires rest… And to Biederman and his wife he said in a commanding voice: You must periodically replace the ice bag. And if something should occur, knock on the door of my house even at night… And he turned to go out, and his friends went out after him. The sounds of the room accompanied him in silence. Their whispering voices quickly disappeared. And only Shmuel and Biederman returned from accompanying those who were leaving to the gate. The card game continued in the adjacent room, and I got off my bed pale-faced and with stumbling limbs. After I drank a cup of wine to dispel the remainder of the fear and the shuddering that still shook in my body, I joined the group.
After two months, I went out to Vengrov to present myself to the military council. A hard and angry winter prevailed in full force. I arrived at the place a week in advance. I was a guest at the rabbi's house. Mother and Shmuel also came there. Everything was prepared ahead of time. Only the head of the council the District Governor and the Agricultural Commissar, who was respected among the members of the council, only they did not take bribes, and they did not know all that was developing around them. The District Governor, a simple man and not overly bright, was like clay in the hands of his sly secretary, who knew how to spin him with lies. The Agricultural Commissar was a powerful man, and as hard as iron, and hated any extraneous commotion for any Jewish recruit
who came with pain in hand. Towards a Jew he was frequently stubborn, and disqualified any injury that he had as doubtful. He will work in the army and get healthy! These Yehudunis are lazy! Lazy! No one dared to oppose him except in obvious cases that were visible to the eye, and he also decided negatively, for they were afraid of him lest he submit a complaint about them in a high place.
Mother demanded insistently that I reduce what I was eating, and that I should drink a lot of coffee, a folk remedy for weakening the heart and losing weight. The rabbi read a chapter of Psalms with me and sections from Mussar books every day, as a shield against calamity. The members of the household looked at me with pitying eyes, as one judged for the gallows. Even Mother sometimes hid her look, and her eyes welled up with tears.
Shabbat morning was appointed by the council for checking the disabled recruits from the whole district. By the light of that day, that is Friday in the evening, the rabbi read with me songs from the Psalms, after the Shabbat meal, and indicated to me that I should get into my bed with thoughts of repentance. Towards morning the rabbi woke me, placed me in his judgement room, and began to read with me verses of Psalms, verse after verse, in study, with intention and great devotion, until I forgot the bitterness of my situation, and a relieved spirit came over me. Mother also, in the adjacent room, read the verses of the Psalms in a whisper after us.
That same hour there was a terrible ice storm. The windows whistled and rattled and wailed, as if devils and demons from Sheol arose to destroy the world and to swallow it up together with our pleasant recitation. Dawn broke. From hymns of Psalms we went on to the prayers upon arising, and the study of a chapter of Mishnah, from the matters of the day, which the rabbi chose, as if the entire outside world did not exist before him, or all his family below. When we finished, Mother served me a mug of hot tea that had been kept for me, and the rabbi and the members of his household blessed me for the journey, and I went out on my way, accompanied by Mother and Shmuel.
The strong wind and the cold and the blowing snowflakes struck our faces and froze our limbs. With difficulty we reached the place. Mother entered the hallway while there was till breath in her nostrils. In the waiting room, in the army office, we, ten young men, waited a long time for the members of the council to arrive. The bad weather had prevented them from coming on time. Only the Agricultural Commissar was missing, who did not come since he had a cold, and due to the difficulty of the day. And again, the council's consultation went on for about a full hour, whether to begin the meeting in the Commissar's absence, or to defer it. Mother retreated to a secluded corner and stood in prayer. Finally, it became known that the meeting would not be deferred. We took off our clothes, and went in two by two. Before me entered a few who had been summoned, Christians and Jews. All of them were judged fit for the army. I entered accompanied by one Christian, gaunt as a dried fig, with a face as pale as lime, who had risen, injured in his heart, from a hard illness of pox. They examined him quickly and released him. My examination began. The secretary of the council measured my height and my width, weighed me, and indicated for me to pass naked before the members of the council. They all fixed their glances on me. The District Governor looked at me through his glasses with a neutral gaze, and moaned to himself: A pleasant lad, a proper lad! And immediately the doctors approached, the Russian Army doctor, and the district doctor, a Pole, to examine my body. The Polish doctor, an old man, with a wrinkled, sickly, face, checked me for some time in my heart, in my lungs, in all my limbs, shrugged his shoulders, said something that was half in Russian and half in Latin, and turned me over to his colleague the Russian doctor, a young man with a thick face, and clumsy, who emitted the smell of brandy and nicotine from his nostrils, and he did as his fellow had done, and he too shrugged his shoulders, and nodded his head as if in agreement with the words of the Polish doctor. The members of the council sat meanwhile and had a general conversation. Only when the Polish doctor approached and told the District Governor,
the head of the Council, the results of the examination, he recoiled, shook his head and asked a second and third time: to such an extent? He got up and approached me, struck me, and on my chest, lifted his doubtful gaze, returned to his place and groaned to himself: Behold it is so, behold it is so. He listened for some time to the words of the doctors, as if to learn from them and their wisdom, until he delivered to their hands the registry to list the results of their examination, and bowed himself afterwards to confirm the protocol with his signature. Now I felt the cold that melted in my bones, and my spirit returned to me. I looked at the white head and frightened eyes of the Polish doctor, downcast, to the side of the head, completely serious. A person stands on the threshold of the grave, and because of lucre he taught his tongue to speak deception with this extensive deviousness. I glanced at the rest of the members of the council, who seemed to be innocently talking amongst themselves, and at the sly secretary who had buried his head in the papers that were spread out before him, and immediately the drunken eyes of the Russian doctor rose to me, and pierced me like needles. Completely released! the Governor announced, and I was pushed into the other room to dress. I came out of there hastily, half dressed, and fell into Mother's arms, who wet the hairs of my head and my face with tears of joy and with sighs of relief.
We spent three days at the nearby station, me and Mother and Shmuel, at a filthy, dirty inn, suffering from cold and hardship, but we could not continue on our journey. The snowstorm that took place with powerful force on the day of my journey, created destruction in the area and covered all the roads and pathways and the train, with no exit, until finally the workers came and returned the train to service, and we left the place with a feeling of those redeemed from captivity. At the crossroads, I parted from Mother and Shmuel. They returned to Warsaw, and I to Augustow. In my house, they welcomed me with great joy. My wife and her acquaintances prepared pastries and sweets for a party. From every side, they blessed me On my salvation from the hands of the goyim.
At the party, at the beginning of the celebration, I felt a shuddering in all my limbs. I held back the weakness and participated in the party. However, after a short while, my head became very heavy and a strong dizziness attacked me. The implements of the room and its furniture began dancing, with me in the middle, and in the middle of the dance I saw my wife going out in a dance arm in arm with the District Governor, and the Polish doctor, bald head, white beard, and eyes in a jealous rage, dancing towards them with the chubby, tipsy, Russian doctor. He's secretly pulling on my wife's sleeve, at the end of her dress, to get her away from the Governor; and I am dancing wildly across from him, and whispering in his ear, out of a desire for revenge: Ai, disobedient old man! Does it burn well enough for you? See, really see, my wife is telling all your doings to the Governor…! I woke up in the middle of the night in my bed. My senses had returned to me. My wife and her friends stood next to my bed. An ice bag lay heavy on my head, and I was entirely burning up with fever. In the second room burned a dim oil lamp on the table, which was set with every good thing, which almost no hand had touched. I searched for the guests with my exhausted eyes….
Where are they all? I mumbled.
Lay down, lay down and rest… my wife warned me.
Thank God. She let out, sighing softly to her friends.
What happened? I tried again to ask.
Lay down, lay down and rest… my wife calmed me a mild illness - the doctor was here. You have a little fever.
I stopped asking further. Again a cloud of fatigue enveloped me. With my confusion, the dawn awakened me. My wife lay slumped on her bed in her clothing. In the second room, next to the children's cribs, her friend also lay in her clothes, stretched out on the bench, snoring by herself, in a deep sleep now after a sleepless night. My mind became clear. I felt the ice bag that was falling off my head to the side of the pillow. I cast an eye through the window. The weak light of the day pricked my eyes. I turned my face towards the room. Medicine bottles that were on the nearby chair silently waved to me. I lifted the thermometer that was out, placed on the chair, and my eyes fastened on it in amazement: more than 41 degrees? Now all became clear to me. I felt my forehead, my pulse. My flesh burned on me, my pulse beat rapidly with great haste. - - -
After a few days, it became clear to the doctor what the nature of the illness had been. On my skin, reddish spots had broken out, and after a few days all of my skin was covered, from the top of my head to the soles of my feet, blossoms of pox blisters, and the disease spread on my body with all its strength and heat. The disease came over me, it seems, from my neighbor in the examination on the day of army. From now there was placed on my house a full quarantine. For my wife and my children blisters again formed. The windows of my room were covered with a black fabric so that the light would not penetrate into it. Food and drink necessities were served to my household to the threshold of the corridor, and my wife was left alone, with her two children and her sick husband. Only from time to time did the doctor visit me, wrapping over his clothing a white cloak and a white headscarf wrapped like a turban on his head, and his hands covered with white gloves. When he came, he brought with him the medical necessities that were required, spoke a few words with my wife, and left. Also, one old woman who dwelt in the suburb, who lived apart from any person and was supported by tzedakah, came each day from the Linat HaTzedek to help my wife with the housework and watching the children, and brought with her a little of the news of the day, and brought a little comfort into the house.
On one of the hard days of the illness my weakness reached the end of its limits. I had managed to whisper to my wife: the doctor… and I sunk down into a foggy sleep. When I opened my eyes a little, I noticed the doctor, who had delayed his departure, by the door of the other room. I saw him stand and hold out his palms, and my wife was standing next to him and crying. The echo of a hoarse, dry voice pounded on my ears: The disease is severe. Her help is in God… The door swung on its hinges. My wife dropped onto the sofa, leaned her head on the children's crib, and silently sobbed. I tried to call out to her, but the speech was lost from my mouth. My eyes closed, my lips stuck together, and from somewhere a whisper welled up from deep inside me, that spilled out and touched my lips, one of the verses of Psalms, that I sang by the morning light on that same Shabbat, on the day of deliverance, with the rabbi from Vengrov: A prayer of the lowly man when he is faint and pours forth his plea before YHVH, and again I sunk down into a deep, prolonged, sleep, free of pain, as if an invisible hand was sent to me and brought healing for me.
When I regained my strength, my wife told me the events of a mother in the days of the illness: the irritation and the constant anxiety, and her many responsibilities, in which she became entangled again on the occasion of my redemption from the army, shook her strength. When she heard the news about my deadly disease, she fell to the bed as if with a stroke, and the doctors could not figure out the nature of her illness. Now her health had improved a little, and she was intermittently walking around the house and returning to bed. There was no cure for it.
Mother's letters and my wife's words whispered to me in mute language some of the pain of her soul: I have one request of God, that he return your health to you, and guard you from all evil, you and Shmuel here and my Yoel in a foreign land…
Shmuel, who came at Mother's direction to visit me, later filled in my wife's words, and I expressed to them my idea to move Mother to my house without delay. They both thanked me.
We moved Mother from Warsaw to Augustow. She was stooped and sorrowful when we got her into her bed, which my wife had prepared for her ahead of time. Her hair had turned white, her face had yellowed, her bones were worn, and her eyes burned with the fire of a fever. She rested peacefully, without complaint, as if at peace with her fate. Light emanated from her face, and a smile slipped onto her lips every time her grandchildren approached. Her thin hands were smooth, and a tear of contentment ran down her cheeks.
Shmuel stayed with us for a number of weeks, taking counsel with us alternately on the matter of his desire to leave the country, awaiting a propitious time, so that he would be able to speak with Mother and part from her with a blessing.
Travel in peace… Mother hugged Shmuel in parting from him I do not want to interfere with your path in life. Don't worry about me it's good for me this way, good…
I was doing exhausting work, in order to restore the position of my household, which had become impoverished, and to support my sick Mother. Besides this, there had developed in the past a full series of debts, in addition to debts from my illness and army debts. I did not know what was right. My wife was helping me in silence and with a cheerful face. Mother was being checked each time by the local doctor, who would shrug his shoulders and go out in the same way that he came. Most of the day she had fun with the children, who were hanging around her bed, and sometimes she would get up, take care of them at their cradle with strained efforts, and return to her bed. Yoel and Shmuel would rush their letters to her, and she would wrap them up in a special wrapper and hide them in the pillow at her head. Yoel began to send a monthly gift to Mother. The contribution made it easier for me, and lifted Mother's spirits. At free moments, my wife and I would sit at her bed, talking with her and enjoying her alertness, her wit, and the vitality that flowed in her words. It was difficult then to find any similarity between her fluent, lively, speech, and the collapse of her destroyed body.
I am making Mother's bed when I find, wrapped up alone, one letter from Yoel, in which he informs that He cannot travel to Father in America, since his new wife has born him a daughter, he is unable to depart to his house… I return the letter to its place and ponder from time to time how Mother unties this binding, studies the letter, and wraps it up again. My heart aches inside of me at this sight. One visitor from America, a passer-by, who enjoys himself and his words, brings greetings from Father in America and from Yoel in London. He sits next to Mother's bed and tells about Father's lifestyle, and about his visit to Yoel.
I told Jozef (Yoel) this: Why is he spending time in London, and doesn't set out for America, to his father? And his father is wealthy and capable, and his situation is strong… and Jozef says at once: No! No! Nonsense, really!
I pull on the guest's sleeve, stop him from his verbose speech, and step aside with him to the corner. He tells me additional details about Yoel, and is amazed to hear about the amounts of money that he sends to Mother: From where? He lives a life of poverty, he wears rags, he sells oranges and bananas in the street, and from what he sends it seems it must be more than half of his earnings…
Mother's illness is getting worse. She sleeps for days at a time without moving or speaking. The doctor finds in her a change for the worse. The American chatterbox has caused this. I persuade Mother with words, and finally succeed in putting a smile on her lips. Slowly, slowly, her speech and her laughter and her interest in the children return to her. I am happy. However, her strength is leaving her. Again she is unable to stand on her feet. I am happy to serve her, to make things easier for her and fulfill her desire. In the day, during work hours, she is entirely loaded onto my wife. Only in the evenings, during free time, I don't move from her bed, and I don't allow my wife to be troubled with her. At night, I get up from time to time to help with the bed, and one prayer is in my mouth to the God of heaven: let this please continue all the days of my life, provided that she remain alive. And my wife jumps from her bed, returns me to my bed, and says: You are a working man, you toil for a piece of bread, it is forbidden for you to disturb your sleep, and it will not hurt me. And I peek into my wife's face, and see the charming maternal spark, which erupts from the slits of her eyes, and I accede to her. I now feel our shared fate, that harnessed us together to one yoke, the human fate, that emerged from the path of youth and entered onto the long and difficult road of life….
Tz. Z. Weinberg was born on 6 Sivan 5644, May 30, 1884, in Praga, a suburb of Warsaw. Fate did not spoil him. His childhood days were exceedingly difficult. Hunger, cold, illness and mental anguish, were his fate. Also, the days of his youth, as well as the days that came after them, did not improve for him. In the year 1902 he took to wife the daughter of the Head of the yeshiva in Ostrov. From Ostrov he moved to Augustow. He lived there for three years (1903-1906); when the situation of his livelihood worsened, he moved to the adjacent Suwalk. While living there he completed, with the help of friends, the pedagogic courses in Grodno.
In the year 1920 he went up to the land and directed the school in Zikhron Yaakov. He founded the Association of Writers and Hebrew Journalists in Poland, and served as Head of the association. In the year 5694, 1934, he returned to the land with the members of his family, and was accepted as a teacher in the school at Tel Mond.
His first story was published in 1905, while he was living in Augustow, in HaZman, which came out in Vilna. In the years 1913-1914 (5673-5674), two collections of his were published: Sippurim v'Tziyurim. In the year 1932 there appeared Bayit v'Rechov. In the year 5702  his book Bidrachim Aveilut was published; in 5703  Mechitzot; in 5711  Asher Avar Volumes 1 and 2; in 5714  a collection of his stories Sham u'foh; in 5716  a collection of his stories, Asher Avar Volume 3 and a collection of his articles Adam be'Ohalo Volume 4. In the year 5717  a collection of his stories and his notes on the slain of the settlement bloc of Tel Mond Haym Halchu; in 5725  his last book, Echad Mi-hem was published. Now, when he is 82 years old, but young
in spirit, he is working on publishing his writings, since he is supported by a council that was established at the initiative of the President of the State, Zalman Shazar.
Tz. Z. Weinberg is an honored member of the settlement of Tel Mond.
In the meeting that was held this week in the framework of the decade celebration of the local council of Tel Mond, honorary citizenship was granted to the veteran writer and teacher Tz. Z. Weinberg, on his reaching the age of strength, and to mark the occasion of the publication of his book, Echad Mi-hem.
Present at the ceremony were representatives of the Writers' Association and the Teachers' Union. Among the guests were Professor Tz. Sharfstein from the United States and Professor R. Mahler.
The parchment certificate was presented to the guest of honor by the Head of the Council N. Din, who pointed out on his remarks Weinberg's diligence in the work of instruction, over the course of the 30 years that he lived in the settlement. Osnat Levi read the scroll that expresses In respect for his many practical deeds and his devotion in the fields of education, literature, and public activism. The Head of the Local Council A. Avrech, Rabbi A. Zemel, A. Margalit, D. Gilboa, A. Astrin, G. Kaduri, B. Freiber, and the Professors Sharfstein and Mahler, blessed the guest of honor. Blessings in writing were received from the Minister of the Treasury, the Head of the Writers' Association, and the Secretary of the Writers' Association.
The double celebration of the veteran writer and teacher, Tz. Z. Weinberg, at his reaching the age of 80 and the appearance of his new book Echad Mi-hem, was celebrated with great audience by the residents of the Tel Mond bloc (Hadar HaSharon). Writers and public personalities came to the party, which was held in his honor in the house named for Rivka Ziv in Tel Mond.
The party, which was held on behalf of the Regional Council Hadar HaSharon, was opened by the Head of the Council A. Avrech, who blessed the author, who succeeded in elevating in his new book the epic of one of the settlement blocs, one of whose buildings served as the backdrop for a book that is a song of praise for a son of the land and a son of the settlement.
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