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[Page 313]

We Acted In The Theatre?

by Shmaria Hrushtesh

During WWI, the Russian Revolution, and the Romanian occupation, the young Jews of Bendery, in addition to their political and social activities, also aspired to cultural fulfilment in general and the theatre in particular.

It is understood that the theatre began in a basement. Sometimes the location used was a lumber warehouse. The actual performances always took place on Shabbat or a Holy Day. This was the time when everyone was free from school and work. The actors as well as the spectators.

It was not so easy to organize an ensemble of actors, directors, prompters, costume makers, make–up specialists, scenery builders, singers and reciters. Everything had to be put together – preparing notices and programs as well as obtaining permission from the authorities.

Our troupe began its existence in the courtyard of Itale, the Rabbi's daughter. We then moved to the attic of Rabbi Arke, the son of the Dayan. It was very close to the house of Itale, the Rabbi's daughter. One Shabbat, Rabbi Arke, the son of the Dayan himself, caught us and chased us out with screams. We left house in shame and we had to do our rehearsals and presentations in the lumber warehouse – in a courtyard across from the Government Bank.

The work was divided among the first active group members: Yoske Gold and Shmerl Hrushtesh were the directors; Motel, the Dayan's son, was the decorator. We borrowed religious garments, head coverings, etc. from the homes of the clergy. The tailor used to lend us costumes and top hats in exchange for tickets for him, his wife and many children, as well as his mother–in–law. For make–up, we used water colors, and we had wigs from observant women. We also used flax and oakum in our hair.

In addition to the scandal when Arke, the Dayan's son chased us out with screams and shouts, there were other situations: for example, when Rabbi Betzalel Steiner (Tsalel the Cantor), z”l, was searching for his Shabbat head covering which had suddenly disappeared. He was a dear, shining Jew with an angelic face. His daughter (the well–known kindergarten teacher in the Schwartzman Hebrew High School), used to supply all religious garments: among them was this head covering.

There were other difficulties. For example, an actor refused to play a role that was repugnant to him, such as a figure as a caricature or a witch. G_d took care of us and a famous actor and singer –Haim Fanitch – agreed to undertake the part of the witch. He even placed a cushion on his stomach. Another one was student David Bendersky, known for his long nose, who played the part of G_d.

All income from the presentations was donated to social assistance – the poor Jews of Ezrat Holim (help for the sick), Malbish Arumim (clothes for the needy), and other organizations.

Our theatrical group was started with the arrival of the Jewish “Wonder.” He used to seek capable youngsters for small parts.

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One time, the troupe from Kompenietz was performing in Bendery, and several actors from our group played a large part with them. Some of us even accompanied the troupe to Vilna. Doctor Hain, the editor of the Bendery Jewish newspaper (in Russian) – Yuzhnie Krai – used to praise our troupe. He wrote reviews of our plays. He signed these reviews with the name “Ados.” At the same time, the poet and author Zvi Holodenko also wrote his reviews in the Odessa newspapers.

One of our first presentations was Der Talmid Huhem (The Scholar). It was performed in the auditorium opposite the jailhouse. We were once caught there by observant Jews for selling tickets on Shabbat. We also performed in the Music Theatre and the summer theatre – Belanov.

We once invited a special director – a great, though impoverished drunk. He suffered when it was cold in Bendery in the winters. When he ran out of fuel and wood for heating, each one of us brought from home left–over wood, bottles of fuel. If he did not have any food, we brought him some.

There were some visiting “stars” of all kinds. The posters had information on the parts played by them, such as “troublemaker for the parents,” or “convert.” The latter was written about a beloved actor from Odessa – Alec Stein. In real life, he was the son of a women's tailor from Bendery called Berel Stein. He was also known as Berel Weiss. Names would be changed often – the “helmet” – D. Dorino and the reciters – I. Gold, G. Tilis, F. Potelis and Haim Fanitch. They were famous for their poems and songs – “Mazel Tov,” “Oh, little Jew.” Pepi Littman's song was “We will rejoice in your reign.” In order to please the audience, there were familiar encores – “Leader of the World” or “What a Young Girl Knows.” The prima donna was the well–known F. Kaniverlatski – it was a secret that she was the daughter of Moshe Beker from Bendery. The main role in Goldfaden's Shulamit was played by the beloved soprano from Bendery – Zina Fistrov. She eventually became well–known as a significant opera singer. The director and conductor of the choir of all performances, including operettas, was Volodya (Velvel) Krasiltchik.

*

When Romania occupied Bessarabia and the economic and political situations worsened, the youth began to leave Bendery.

I, myself, sneaked over the border and swam across the Dniester to Tiraspol. From there, I traveled to Odessa, and in 1920 I went on the ship Ruslan to Istanbul. In Istanbul, I met several pioneers from Bendery in the Jewish colony Messilah Hadasha (New Path). Eventually I arrived in Eretz Israel.


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The Writer Rivka Davidit, z”l

by David Carmel (New York)

The writer and playwright, Rivka Davidit, was the sister of the famous Israeli General Aaron Davidi. He was the commander of the parachutists who freed old Jerusalem in June 1967. They opened the road to the Western Wall.

Rivka Davidit was born in Bendery and came to Eretz Israel at the age of 12. She spoke only Russian at the time. It did not take her long to master the Hebrew language. She stood out with her outstanding style. For many years she was the theater critic at “Davaar” and an active member of the Histadrut [Israel's national trade union centre] offshoots, Am Oved (Working People), Tarbut Vekhinukh (Culture and Education), Hakibbutz Hameukhad (United Kibbutz). She also wrote plays and was very popular as an author of children's literature. Her stories were beloved by the children and they were published in additional printings.

Rivka also translated into Hebrew great Russian classics: Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov and Maxim Gorky. Her translations were natural and it was difficult to believe that they were originally in another language.

The writer Rivka Davidit is remembered in Israel with much respect and attention.


Now It Happens*

by I.Manik (Lederman) z”l

Now it happens that I close my eyes,
I see the old, beloved likeness.
I am familiar with every movement.
His step was not loud
He did not aspire to be famous across the land.
He quietly walked along the path of the world
Like a stranger.
With every heartbeat, his soul and body were united.
It was enough for him to sustain his body
This is how a life passed with prayer to G_d
Even at night when he lay on his pillow
Even when sitting at a holiday table.
On Shabbat night he sang even louder,
During Havdalah, he would find his shadow in the wine cup.
Only once one evening did his happiness elevate him
He did not find his shadow in the wine cup.


*From the series “Shining Ways,” dedicated to the blessed memory of his father,
Shlomo Manik, in his book of poems, “Steps at Dawn.”


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Hazamir

by Yosef Schwartzman z”l (New York)

Hazamir in Bendery was created by a group of actors. The first performance was “The Witch.” Haim Panitch's moustache was hidden and he was dressed as an old woman. He was the Witch. He had a tin of tobacco which he would smell and chew. We used to wish him the following: “May you be well, dear grandma. We hope for your redemption.” Our laughter was sky high because we really knew it was Haim Panitch.

I – Yosef Schwartzman – played the part of a Bar Mitzvah boy, and Krasiltchik also had a role. Zina Fistrov sang a few nice numbers. Then Yoske Gold came to Bendery and he played in “Yeshiva Student,” “The Witch,” “The Jew,” “God, Man and the Devil.” Freydell Goldstein (daughter of Motel the baker) – Kaniverlatski took major parts and became a famous actress. Performances were held in Bulanovs' theater.

To this day I do not know what became of Yoske Goldstein or Freydell Goldstein–Kaniverlatski.

I remember the songs we sang in Hazamir: “On the rivers of Babylon, we sat and cried,” and “Let us be strong.” Rehearsals were held at the home of the teacher, Israel Lifshitz. There was a large room near the entrance. However, someone had to stand outside at the door to watch for the police. The government had forbidden us our activities.

The director of Hazamir was Pinie Pertchuk, assisted by Velvel Krasiltchik. Zina Fistrov was the lead soprano. She later became an important opera singer. I was the main alto soloist and Krasiltchik – main bass soloist. In general, the members of Hazamir came from many parts of society – high school students, university students, socialists, revolutionaries, Bundists and other intellectuals.

A few years earlier, before Avraham Hayat, our alto, there was Motele Balaban, z”l. He sang with Pinie the cantor in the Sadigura Shul and stood out with his rendition of “God is Just in All His Ways.” Pinie, the cantor, then tried to have me join. He used to come to our house and gave me the notes to this solo. I still remember to this day.

At the same time, maybe a few years earlier, there was another good alto – Yoske Gold. As he grew older, he became a tenor. He became an actor in Kishinev and Odessa.

The entire choir traveled to Tiraspol by boat, and we rehearsed on deck. Our voices could be heard far away. Anyone who is still alive today will remember this for the rest of his life. No one can forget our concerts which we performed in Bendery and surrounding villages. We were successful and had a great following. Unfortunately, Hazamir did not exist a long time.

How did I join Hazamir? Pinie Pertchuk was the director in the New Shul and he brought all the altos from his choir. I, Kh. A. Sternson and a few other boys joined Hazamir. We sang “Dear God We Sing Songs,” written by the poet Shimon Frug.

*

When it comes to the Rabbis of Bendery, I recall the old Tzadik, Rabbi Itzikel z”l (Yitzhak Wertheim), Rabbi Yossel z”l (Rabbi Yosef, son of Sh. Sh. Wertheim),

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Rabbi Ahrale (Rabbi Aaron, son of Yosef, Wertheim), Rabbi Motel Yatom, z”l. Prior to WWII, there was Rabbi Yosele's son–in–law, Rabbi Shimon Efrati and after the war – Rabbi Israel Bronfman.

As far as the assistants to the rabbis, the Dayanim, I remember Rabbi Avraham Dayan, z”l, Rabbi Pinhas Dayan, z”l, Rabbi Avremel's son – Haim, and Yeshayahu, son of Rabbi Pinhas, Rabbi Azriel Schreibman's son, Meir. They went to school with me and our teacher was Rabbi Israel Talmazer.

I also remember the ritual slaughterers – Rabbi Leib Brodsky, Rabbi Eliahu Chaplik and Rabbi Moishele Sverdlik.


The Founding and the Activities of Maccabi

by Yaakov Fein (New York)

In 1919 a family arrived in Bendery from Tiraspol – Yitzhak Bitinsky. Their son Zania and his friend, Mussia Granovsky, came with them. They were both members of Maccabi in Tiraspol. They were about 16 to 17 years old. They met some young people, and the sport organization, Maccabi, was founded in Bendery.

We, the founding members of Maccabi, decided to form a football team. We began to play football in the field near the fortress. The youth of Bendery would come to watch us play. Many of them decided to establish a high school league. We went to the principal of the Hebrew High School, G. I. Schwartzman and asked him to allow us to use the school gymnasium for practices. He gave us permission and two teams were organized – one for ages 7–10 and the other for those 17–18. Soon more students came to enrol. The gymnasium now became too small and we moved to the hall owned by Itzel Goldfarb. It was normally used for weddings. Zania Bitinsky, z”l, and Granovsky were the instructors. They maintained iron discipline. The teams were disciplined and it made life easier for future instructors. Bitinsky, who organized Maccabi, soon became ill and died. Granovsky remained, but sometime later left Bendery.

A committee was established under the leadership of dentist Yaroslavsky, with A. Zigberman as secretary. There was also a group of instructors, headed by Moshe Fustan (I believe). The instructors were Sony Etlis, Benny Shaposhnik and Yasha Fein. Each instructor was in charge of a team.

In time, there were a few hundred participants in Maccabi, with some girls among them. A few years later, the President of Maccabi, Dr. Gurfinkel, became the Vice Mayor of Bendery. Maccabi became the most popular organization in town. It had its own orchestra under the direction of Liova Schwartzman. When Schwartzman left Bendery, Vida Tserliuk replaced him. He, in turn, was replaced by Yakir Kleitman.

The football team had uniforms of blue and white. From time to time we used Goldfarb's hall. Once a year we held a ball in the State Auditorium. We also traveled out of town to Kaushany, Chimeshilie, etc. We were well received everywhere. The annual Lag B'Omer celebrations of Maccabi were traditional. The entire membership went to the Borisov forest where they spent the day.

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Hundreds of people used to anticipate the Maccabistan when the members paraded into town in their uniforms. There was perfect marching order. When Maccabi of Kishinev brought in a gymnastics instructor from Czechoslovakia, our instructors went there to learn from him. The gymnastics instructor was invited to Bendery, and he trained all groups in preparation for an interesting program. Many people from Kishinev came for that special evening. They were headed by their instructor, Manny Feldman and joined by their orchestra.

When Jagodzinski came in 1925 to Bendery, Maccabi organized a large reception for him. He came to Maccabi for a demonstration of gymnastics. He praised the organization and greeted his listeners.

In the last years, the leader of Maccabi was lawyer Rubashevsky. Maccabi moved to a hall owned by Khatzkelevich where there was a movie theater – “Science and Life.” Names to be mentioned are Mrs. Manus, Shalom Hayat, Misha Fustan. They helped Maccabi tremendously. Cultural events were led by A. Zigberman and Hersh Kogan.

In addition to the physical benefits for the youth there was also a fostering of national spirit. Many Bendery youth were part of the nationalistic movement. It is thanks to Maccabi that many Bendery youth made Aliyah.

There were more special friends, members of Maccabi of Bendery. Whether they are mentioned here or not they contributed a great deal to the success of Maccabi in Bendery.

To all these old friends I send our traditional Maccabi salute: Hazak Ve'Ematz! (Get strong!)


[Page 319]

The Poet Yehoshua Manik (Lederman)

by Yekhezkel Bronstein (Jerusalem)

 

ben319.jpg
Yehoshua Manik (Lederman) z”l.
He died in September 1973 in Bat Yam (State of Israel)

 

Yehoshua Manik (Lederman) was born in 1909 in Bendery (Bessarabia). He studied in cheder, but soon he became immersed in world studies, especially Russian literature.

He went to America as a young man. There he went to work and soon began to study in the University of Chicago.

In New York he published his first poem in the “Free Workers' Voice.” In 1925, he made Aliya as a pioneer. He tried many pioneering jobs.

Y. Manik was active as a Yiddish poet all the time. He shared his creations everywhere, here in Israel and outside it – wherever there was a Yiddish audience. He wrote poems, fables and children's stories. His works were also translated into Hebrew and English.

Y. Manik also occupied himself with philology. He was also a correspondent for “Great Dictionary of the Yiddish Language.”

His book “Wherever One Wanders” is his fourth collection of poetry.

***

The poems in “Wherever One Wanders” are full of original content. There are many rich ideas and the language is truly beautiful with additional slants and daring. There is a new genre in his poetry.

The new genre that Y. Manik uses is quite complicated and difficult to understand due to its unusual content. Even his language, in the style of cosmic poems, e.g. “Scenery of the Stars” and “Poems for my Earth Planet” is special. In the poems, the poet hopes to live in “a far away space.” Soon the poet turns around and veers to the natural clarity of his poem, “It is my home and my shield and my weapon.”

An outstanding illustration of his home, shield and weapon is the series of poems “Ashes and Dust.” It is full of the pathos of his suffering and its connection to our worst destruction.

His first poem “Autumn” is full of laments of a mourner who is agonizing over the fate of his Bessarabian village. There are

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“No more synagogues nor the old house of learning
Where there were once Jews
(Reciting Psalms)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I do not know how day can be day
And night be night without any Jews.”

He brings down the creator from his mystic and lofty perch, after the firestorm, with his power of a poet in mourning. He directs the creator over the destroyed villages and instructs him to look there where dead bodies lie in the fields…

“And God, desperate, will wring his hands,
He will ask a haphazard question,
For whom did I create? Who will now call my name?
I have lost my people.”

Here appears the sorrow, the bitterness, the pain and some irony – in the second poem:

“God will tear his clothes in mourning
He will cover is head with a sack of ashes,
He will sit Shiva in his palace,
But he will be informed by those buried,
That this time we forgive you, we forgive you!”

In “Day of Victory,” slaughtered children come to him in a dream and ask:

“Why did all this happen?
Where did we sin?
Why?”

He, himself, notices, like a poet, an orphan, who: “Instead of singing joyous, sparkling
And radiant ballads,
I, forever, will only recite Kaddish.”

The beauty of art, as is the beauty of life in general, always grows in the game of contrasts. It is like the playing of light and shadow. Anger is the contrast with the colorful life of the world and man. For that reason, it is worth reflecting on the lighter moments of Y. Manik's series of poems, e.g., “Green Miracle.” In it, our pioneer–poet identifies himself with the dynamics of our new State of Israel. Right after the second discussion of our destruction, on a basis of mystic–symbolic pictures, there is anger and order in Safed. E.g.,

“Sorrow mixed with a Psalm
Psalm is recited by itself.”

Haifa seems like a shining temple. In general, his wonder at the land of our fathers make him more decisive.

“I accept the position…
Of judge and prayer leader.”

The idea of becoming a judge and prayer leader came to the Yiddish poet, Y. Manik, from his father. The latter said: “I carry on my countenance.” Tel Aviv seems like a symphony to him. This is characteristic of his pioneering spirit which always guides him. It is like a pillar of fire that illuminates his way in the orchard of Yiddish poetry. This is how our poet treads in the dark alleys of our present–day Israel. He is overwhelmed by what the future will bring:

“I worked hard all day
Spent hours in the field
I will sleep well.”

He is thrilled with his own poem –

“What have the city and the villages put in order
And road after road, built and paved,
And produce brought for those who require it
On hill and valley, it was planted and tended.”

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“Songs” reads like a mystic scroll of love of the sounds of life. It struggles between being and non–being. It is a cosmic love that

“Stands guard over me
And caresses me,
Even when you are no longer here.”

Songs” is:

Earth
Its forests and wind
Man, and his walking.
This is the song
That once was sung by “Songs” …

The poem “From Father's Chalice,” serves as a key to Y. Malik's psychic biography. It was rooted in the tunes of his father who sang:

“Leading the prayers with
Beautiful ballads, I
Was cleansed for the fast.”

All this, while –

“Father believes
That with a tune
As with wisdom,
As with thought,
Man reaches
Every minute
From rung
To rung.”

We can see from this that as his father came to the prayer stand, the son–poet Y. Manik – reached, in our present–day – holy Yiddish. He demonstrates this in his volume of poetry “In the Footsteps of Our Wandering.” It is, without doubt, an addition to the treasure of our literature. Each step was a price he paid for it to be his home, his shield and his weapon. He operates like an experienced, well–traveled and complete poet. Even his boldness and daring literary language and his using less words show his ability. He allows himself to retreat from the usual method. Our philologists will have to explain the son's development and character.

(News of the Organization of Former Residents of Bessarabia in Israel–August 1965).


Ben Zion Shochat

by I.Manik (Lederman) z”l

It is good when the moment comes: from the dust of the grave
The long–forgotten figures stand!
Ben Zion Shochat was a Jew – a quiet man,
He kept himself far away
From daily tumult.

A shining soul with a loving heart,
Always searching to help,
Seeking to do good.
There was no lack of needy people
He was a devoted person – even
To a distant relative.

He even helped a once wealthy person
Now starving.
Ben Zion gave help to all people.
Quietly and carefully.
So as not to shame or insult them.

Where did he spend his days and nights?
Where did hunger catch up to him?
Where was he dishonored
When Hitler's bats spread their brown wings
On many lands?


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Father Sings a Folk Tune

by I.Manik (Lederman) z”l

When father
Sings a folk tune,
You may think that
An angel is singing.

He lifts his head
Towards heaven,
And with closed eyes.

He does not pay attention
To the table,
As he is deeply immersed
In his tune.

Every wrinkle,
His cleanliness –
Until he evokes
The beauty.

He is extremely
Charming.
It seems as if
Nations are sobbing.

Lonely tears
Remind us of dreams
And endless suffering
Caused by the Romans…

Father believes
That with music,
With wisdom,
With intelligence,

Man climbs
Every minute
From rung to rung

To higher
Stages
That the righteous
Will earn…

When father
Sings a folk tune,
You think, that
An angel is singing.


Thoughts For the Fifteenth of Shvat

by Israel Rabinovitch

“My people will be like the lifetime of a tree” (Isaiah, 65:22)

There is no other nation on earth that has cared for its memoirs, its past, like the Jewish people.

The Jewish nation had to abandon, in its exile, the Hebrew language. However, it only did so for everyday affairs and it kept the holy language for prayers and sanctified subjects.

When the Jews, for several reasons, changed their clothing for daily living, they still did not forget to dress up for Shabbat and holidays. It was kept for Jewish religious occasions.

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There were also several reasons for changing names, but they used their Jewish names when called to the Torah and other religious occasions. Our ancestors always kept their Jewish names, language and clothing. This is why they have survived.

It is one thousand eight hundred and sixty years since the Jewish people were exiled from their land, but they have not forgotten it. Even in the diaspora we pray for rain in our land. It happens during winter when there is a lot of snow and the trees are dressed in white. Everyone feels very cold, but that day we still remember our Jewish past. We celebrate the holiday of trees – fifteenth day of Shvat. In Israel, it is the beginning of spring and the trees are beginning to bloom. Winter is gone and spring is coming in Eretz Israel. Everyone remembers the past when Jews sat under their fig trees and vines. We remember the fruit of the land and special prayers are recited. We even recite “Shehecheyanu” in our happiness for the arrival of spring. The Jew is like a tree because “my people will be like the lifetime of a tree,” as spoken by the prophet Isaiah, son of Amotz. He found the tree and the people of Israel.

The tree suffers many changes, afflictions, and windstorms. These try to uproot him. The small creatures that grew on the tree, the worms and other living beings which were nourished by it – they all now devour the tree. It is almost destroyed. The tree is under fire, but it holds firm in place and manages to overcome all the evil difficulties that want to destroy it.

The Jewish people are like this tree. Even when it is pulled out, it still grows again in a different place. The seeds and branches come out and the tree is reborn. On the fifteenth day of Shvat, the holiday of the trees, when every Jew eats the fruit of Eretz Israel, we remember the old, sweet times of the tree and we bless it. In it we see our hope to return to the homeland, the land of our ancestors, soon, in our time, Amen.


Mother

by Abraham Hayat (Holon)

On the eve of Sukkot, a hill was formed
In a field in Riga.
Mutely, without a headstone,
I placed a marker on the fresh mound.
I etched your beloved name on it
With deep pain in my heart –
Under it lies my mother
She was the best in the world.
Holy angels will sing for you
They will float recalling your dedication,
Your deep love,
The warm tears you shed
When blessing the New Moon,
When lighting candles,
When praying “Unetaneh Tokef”
With deep faith…
When you begged for your children to be blessed
With good health and luck.
Your eldest is sad –
Your children were left alone at a young age.
Your prayers were not answered.
Your children only have a memory of you.
Although the steps to your grave are
Overgrown with grass,
I cleared the last step on your mound
It remained in my heart.

May Her Soul be Bound in the Bundle of Life


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Rabbi Moshe Sever

by I.Manik (Lederman) z”l

In my younger years, pioneering days, I came once at harvest time to Zichron Yaakov. As I was walking the streets of the village early in the morning, on my way to the vineyard, I see a familiar figure…

“This is, I believe, Rabbi Moshe Sverdlik. How do you come to be here? Is it a mistake?”

He looks at me and my not so–nice “Good Morning” and replies with a smile. It is a sign that he recognized me.

On the last day I spent in Zichron, I visited my dignified countryman. I had the honor of being received by him and his wife.

I only found out about his famous “Collection of Sayings” much later.

It is not rare in our literature that someone would publish a work that would be the basis for an institute. We can recall Dr. Zinberg and his “Story of Literature Among the Jews,” Yehoash and his translation of the Bible into Yiddish, Dr. Simcha Petrushka and his translation into Yiddish of the Mishna, Nahum Stutchkov and his “Treasury of the Yiddish Language.” Also, more recently the translation into Yiddish of the Baba Metzia and the Baba Batra by the Rabbi Shmuel Hibner. There were also many translations into Hebrew.

Rabbi Moshe Sever collected in a space of fifty years one hundred thousand items! Every saying is more than a word that the lexicographer amasses for his dictionary. There is cataloguing, separating, finding the correct expression. In addition, the huge task of editing looms. Thanks to his outstanding devotion, his amazing memory, and his deep knowledge, Rabbi Moshe Sever accomplished a volume others needed a larger staff to complete, as stated above.

His name is a jewel in the crown of the intellectual face of the Jews of Bessarabia.

 

Literary Prize Given to Rabbi Sever

“It is with a feeling of great enthusiasm that I share with you the decision of the Presidium of the World Association of Bessarabian Jews to award the Literary Prize for the year 1962, to the outstanding Rabbi Moshe Sever from Zichron Yaakov. A Jew from Bessarabia, he wrote an important volume “A Collection of Sayings.” It was published by the Harav Kook Institute.” These words were spoken by MK Yitzhak Korn as he opened the festivities at the impressive meeting. The elderly Rabbi Moshe Sever of Zichron Yaakov, received the Literary Prize for the year 1962 on Sunday, 26.11.1961 in Beit Sokolov in Tel Aviv.

The prize was modest – 500 Il, but it honored the great dedication of over 40 years to collect the best pearls of Jewish wisdom and that it was finally published.

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“One person,” says Korn – “collected in a classic work 100,000 Jewish sayings. They were scattered in hundreds of religious texts, Midrash and Halacha. Rabbi Sever was imbued with Zionist spirit from his youth and he made Aliyah in 1923. He settled in Zichron Yaakov where he worked as a ritual slaughterer and spent his free time in studying and collecting sayings. He was influenced by Rabbi Aaron Hyman, z”l, who had also done some collecting of these sayings. Rabbi Sever's work has a forceful scope and it has no equal in Rabbinic literature. At the end of his speech, to thunderous applause, Korn presents the prize to Rabbi Sever.

David Zakai, editor of Davaar, announces, in his speech, that “this is a special meeting in honor of man who deserves the respect of many.” Zakai says that he had seen the tiny narrow room of Rabbi Sever, his desk piled with books, and he was surprised. He saw that the work being done there was unequalled. The book does not only contain sayings of our sages, but it is divided according to topic: Shabbat, Torah, redemption, death, life, etc. Such a book has never been done so far. It is difficult to believe that one person could accomplish such a philological project.

Zakai discusses the exemplary order and the way in which the sayings are analyzed and are surrounded by a treasury of the wisdom of many generations, Torah, love of Israel and the Land of Israel, all brief and yet detailed.

MK Yitzhak Raphael, Assistant Minister of Health, welcome Rabbi Sever in the name of Rabbi I.L. Maimon from the Harav Kook Institute. He speaks about the uniqueness of the book, its qualities and the special significance it has for those who will use it.

The author, says MK Raphael, analyzed and broke into sections every saying. The parts are mirrored in the work, not only as sayings, but, also the use of dialects is stressed.

The author was also greeted by Yaakov Levy, president of the executive committee of the town of Zichron Yaakov and by Pinhas Bendersky, also from Bendery.

Rabbi Sever replies in a short speech. He thanks everyone for the honor bestowed on him. The meeting was arranged in my honor and my book “Collection of Sayings.” It is really an honor to the Torah which our sages studied and taught from generation to generation. I was only the organizer and there were many before me. I collected the sayings – pearls of wisdom of our sages – and I assembled them for the Jews in the world to know.

The elderly Rabbi was visibly moved and showed his happiness that he achieved a blessing in his old age. His book was beautifully printed by the Harav Kook Institute. He recited the “Shehecheyanu” blessing.

Rabbi Sever ended his speech by recalling the destruction of the holy Jewish communities in general and Bessarabia in particular. He emphasised that he was very fortunate to have made Aliyah with his family, 40 years ago. He saw, with his own eyes, the “beginning of the Redemption.”

Rabbi Sever thanked the World Association of Former Jewish Residents of Bessarabia for the beautiful ceremony in his honor, Rabbi Maimon and MK Yitzhak Raphael for their help in publishing the book, and the presidium and managing committee of the Harav Kook Institute, the editor, A. Darom, print setter Greenberg – who helped to publish the book. He also thanked his wife, Rachel, for creating the appropriate atmosphere to allow him to do his work. Also, everyone who came to the meeting was given blessings to continue celebrating cultural works.

[Page 326]

The atmosphere was hearty and elevated and Korn adjourned the meeting. Many of our friends went closer to Rabbi Sever to congratulate him and to shake the skinny, weak hand of a genius…

(News of Bessarabian Jews)


Hear, Brother, Hear…

by Mordechai Sever (Tel Aviv)

Hear,
My brother, hear…
Voices from Bendery pursue us –
Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters,
Near the fortress on the Dniester,
The last shouts of desire –
Homesick for this place…
Hear…

Hear,
My brother, hear…
Our town Bendery is gone and exiled –
There is nothing left…
Now, Bendery
Is transformed into tears…
Hear…

Hear,
My brother, hear…
A new Bendery has risen – – –
Like flames in a barn
It is gone up in fire and smoke
Jewish Bendery,
Jewish Bendery,
Hear…


[Page 327]

Two Generations in Public Life

 

ben327a.jpg
A group of businessmen

 

ben327b.jpg
“Hechalutz Hatsair” youths leave for preparatory kibbutz

 

ben327c.jpg
Young people are taught by “Hechalutz Hatsair” to do productive work

 

[Page 328]

ben328.jpg
Front page and one side from the book “Kitzur Divrei Hayamim”
(A Shortened History) by Rabbi Eliyahu Chaplik, published in Odessa, 1912.

 

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