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[Page 669]

Twelfth Chapter:



Nicknames for Bobruisk

by Y. Gorelik


The towns and villages of old had nicknames with a background, folkloric as well as comic. For example, my birth village, Shchedrin, had a nickname, “Shchedriner potato” because it was a poor town and we would eat a lot of potatoes, just as in the folk-song: “Sunday—potatoes, Monday—potatoes, Tuesday—potatoes,” and so forth. The neighboring town, a bit richer, “Paritch” was called “Paritcher blini” because aside from potatoes they would eat blintzes. Bobruisk had a nickname: “Bobruisker rolls.” There people would eat rolls [challah]. Minsk—“Minsker tell another,” a hint about some rich people from Minsk who didn't give enough charity, about their options. The town Pabielov [possibly Pabolovo, about 12 miles northwest of Shchedrin] in the Shchedrin area had a nickname “Pabielover moon” because of this story. A Pabielover woman came to Shchedrin as a guest. When she went out at night for a little walk and saw the moon, she called out: “You call that a moon!” My town Pabielov has a nicer moon!” and since then the town of Pabielov got the nickname “Pabielover moon.”

Yakov Gorelik

[Page 669]

It Smelled Here of Bobruisk

by Y. Rubenstein


What do you say to Russians—huh? It smells here of Bobruisk.

Here all are still our brothers, sons of Israel—

All Jews!

Y. Rubenstein
(New York 1960, Issue 58)

[Page 677]

The Bobruisk Turnpike

by Y. Gorelick


People came to Bobruisk, the commercial and administrative center, from the nearby towns and villages. At the entrance to the Shosi-Rogachev, there was a toll station. Every passerby had to pay a toll—20 kopikes [kopeks]. From the tolls, they paid the expenses of building the Shosi. When the expenses were covered, the government cancelled the toll and one could come into Bobruisk freely.

A clever farmer thought—why shouldn't they pay for the privilege of riding on the Shosi? The government has cancelled the toll, but it's a good business. People will pay and he'll pocket the money. He put up a toll station, demanded 25 kopikes, until…a rich landowner came to Bobruisk and the farmer stopped his carriage and asked for 25 kopikes. The landowner knew that that was illegal and he let the farmer have it. Since then, there is no toll station. Whoever wants comes in free, no toll, to Bobruisk.

[Page 678]


by Yisrol Rozenberg

Oh Bobruisk—my dear shtetl,
I find it hard to forget you
Oh Bobruisk—my dear shtetl,
I want to see you again


Muddy streets and yet beautiful
They led us straight to the cheder
Green fields and the Shosi
There we played, there we romanced!

All -

(refrain) Oh Bobruisk—my dear shtetl…


We gathered in the forests
In a union that first time
Chased by Cossacks
Arrested many times.

All -

(refrain) Oh Bobruisk—my dear shtetl…


We didn't lack courage
Strong as a lion, swift as a hare
Right under the policeman's nose…

All -

(refrain) Oh Bobruisk—my dear shtetl…


Here Father is studying Mishna on Shabbos
What a pleasant memory
Mother and neighbors are chatting
They are singing songs in our wood.

All -

(refrain) Oh Bobruisk—my dear shtetl…
I find it hard to forget you
Oh Bobruisk—my dear shtetl,
I want to see you again


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