According to the accompanying family tree, the surname Freud is derived from Freide. This was the name of an important woman and the family adopted her name.
In 1812 an Austrian government official arrived in Buchach in order to fulfill a law requiring that all inhabitants have official surnames. Thus was born the surname Freud.
The accompanying family tree was prepared in 1914 on the basis of the gravestone inscriptions in the Buchach cemetery and other documents. Its preparation took several years and the genealogy was approved by the Freud family.
Translator’s (NP) note. The above account contains numerous errors:
Sigmund Freud was actually the oldest of Jacob and Amalia’s children. He was born May 6, 1856.
Freide was the name of Schlomo Freud’s great-grandmother, a resident of Buchach.
Sigmund Freud's family tree
I gave one of the lectures to the humanist association “Vienna”. It dealt with the controversial drama “Yohanan” by Zoderman. This drama deals with the negative attributes of orthodox Jews from the viewpoint of their religious practices rather than with the antagonistic political attitudes towards them, which were already widespread at the time. In my lecture I criticized the position of modern Jews who tolerated such criticism, the negative attitudes that they displayed towards the Orthodox, and their indifference to the harassment of orthodox Jews.
Following my lecture we all sat down to a friendly meal. Freud acted as the host of this gathering. He expressed various thoughts about the subject of my talk and made several jokes related to religion. He suggested that many Jews resembled Yohanan the Convert: shaggy coats, unkempt hair, mysterious face. Freud preferred the man in the elegant tuxedo to the one dressed like a prophet. I thought to myself: how far has this man drifted from Jewish life that he can’t accept the oriental trappings of his ancestors? I was not surprised, however, as it was known that in these circles, in which Freud was the leader, rabbis were not welcome at lectures. This organization did not want to appear to be too religious in order to be able to participate in the activities of the more liberal circles of the land. However, we cannot think of them as being truly anti-religious. Thus, Freud undoubtedly had an encounter with the Rabbi of Vienna, although it was only on paper in the form of a cartoon that appeared in the most important humorous newspaper in Vienna. In this cartoon Freud appeared in the guise of Rabbi Gidman out on his daily walk. The legend below said “Guy de Monpassant” and this statement certainly did not convey an impression of “preaching in the desert”. I thanked Freud and gave him the greetings from Hamburg.
After working for several years in Vienna I once again attended a lecture to the above group. Freud was the lecturer and his topic was “Hamurabi, the ancient codifier”. Now I could understand why Freud was so successful in academic life. He did not issue pronouncements and spoke not dryly but in an interesting manner that really struck home. The audience at this lecture was small although Freud’s voice was best suited to this rather intimate setting. I had been told that Freud’s lectures in North America were not very successful because he spoke in a low voice. Most of the audience could not hear him and there were those who attributed this problem to an illness. I was happy to note that all these tales were not true.
Freud utilized a type of trick in the above lecture that was widely used at that time. He said: “I have just remembered that I forgot to bring from home the pictures of the Hamurabi tablets that I wanted to show you.” After the lecture I told him in a jocular manner: “You used the evidence of our Torah.” I didn’t find his approach to be reasonable. It was historically inaccurate as it elevated Hamurabi at the expense of Moses. On top of that, I said,“you forgot the pictures at home!”
Freud was at this time at the peak of his fame. He received many honors in America. “What do you know about Freud?” was the first question New York reporters asked visitors from Vienna. His theory was considered to be the most important discovery of the time, or at least the most important one made in Vienna. Nonetheless, the number of his American patients decreased substantially owing to the poor social conditions that developed first there and then in the rest of the world. Jokingly, but not happily, Freud spoke of the American millionaires who were coming to Vienna to shake his hand.
Some more time passed and I once again gave a lecture to the “Vienna” group, this time about the history of Jewish education. An interesting discussion took place at the reception which followed the lecture. Freud argued insistently that Jews had not made any significant contribution to knowledge. While stating that in medicine one certainly recognizes “the well known Mendelsohn, the friend of Lesing” he indicated that this was neither here nor there. The well known dermatologist, Prof. Shlema Arman, a colleague of Freud at the University, then took advantage of the deadly silence that followed Freud’s attack on Judaism to reply. I was not surprised by Freud’s attack since in certain circles in Vienna “Jews without any respect for their ancestors” amused themselves in self-destructive activities. Arman stated that while we Jews perhaps did not invent the generator or the auto, we did give to the world the “Tanach” and with it God. In my final summary I stated that I would go even further than Prof. Arman: I promised to gather proof that we Jews also invented the generator and the auto.
I kept my word and presented a carefully researched proof in a lecture entitled “Jews as inventors and discoverers”, which was partially published in the newspapers “Ost und West” and Algemeine Zeitung das Judentum”. In my lecture I spoke of Poper-Linkaus, inventor of the electric carriage, and of Sigfrid Marks, inventor of the first gasoline powered auto.
After several years Freud sent me his family tree and history and the preparation of this manuscript confirms the thoughts expressed here. I had no further contact with Freud until I visited Judge Julian Mak in New York. Mak’s family members were friends of Freud.
While Freud’s position on Judaism seemed pretty clear to me, I was surprised by the indications of his support of Zionism. I was further surprised when I learned that Freud was an honorary member of the Vilna organization for the preservation of Yiddish.
Freud's father moved to Vienna from the Galician town of Buchach. From Vienna he moved to Freishtad in Moravia. In Vienna, Freud’s father was a commission agent, that is, he traveled to make purchases on behalf of Viennese merchants. His famous son, who was well aware of his exalted status, joined in his old age an organization that supported the language of his native land.
Dr. M. Grinwald
(Based on an article published in Haaretz on September 21, 1941.)
However, in time the numbers of listeners grew and a movement arose that led eastern Galicia to a spiritual awakening. In her deepest recesses there was a longing for some sort of change. The air was still suffused by the spirit of the R'nk (Rabbi Nachman Krochmal), Shy'r (Shlomo Yehuda Rappaport), Yosef Perl, Shimshon Bloch, Yitzchak Arter, Latris and others.
Their books were found in attics, and they were read clandestinely. In the library of the old beis medrash [house of Torah study], in Buczacz, these people's research books stood in one row, and on the same shelves, as the books written by the pious and the followers of musar [moralists].
The R'nk was not held in higher regard than the Rambam, nor were 'Duties of the Heart' and 'The Akeda' given more recognition than 'The Eternal Paths.' The crown which had been removed from the head of Galicia decades earlier, still sparkled in a remote corner and awaited the hand that would return it to its former glory. The confidence in self which had faded, began to come to light and to reveal itself.
Indeed, the revival came about through physical and spiritual labour, because decades of inaction, the conservative way of life, and the strong attachment to tradition did their damage. Opposition to everything new, and to any attempt at innovation, was very great.
A war between fathers and sons was spreading. Religion struggled with knowledge, 'light' with 'darkness,' enlightenment with conservatism.
All these events, that were common at the time in the whole Jewish world, occurring on a large, or smaller, scale in different locales, were charged with dramatic tension in Galicia as well. Yet, as a result of these struggles there arose cells of revival, and corners of renewal, and leaders of an awakening, who unleashed a torrent of innovation in the frozen life of the Galician people of Israel.
Yitzchak (Itzi) Fernhof lived in these twilight years, when the creative powers of Galicia were awakened, and the light of YLG and Mendele and Achad HaAm began to appear from afar.
He was not a high priest in the temple of creativity, but rather a Levite. He accompanied the great ones, and carried their musical instruments. But while accompanying them he also used to play his own music. His melody was unique, and at times even pleasant to the ear. There are times when he surprises with an original theme, and with sparks of true creativity. And he also had a measure of humility.
He spreads his wings and tries to fly, and more than once we even hear the wings flutter, but he cannot stay too long in that sublime air. He is drawn to the soil, to the earthly ambiance, which he captures in a realistic manner. And his Hebrew language is fresh, with striking expressions and innovations, even if here and there traces of the florid style of the haskala language remain.
An example of his linguistic talent can be noted in his article, Two Imaginations, which appeared in the second volume of the Book of Delights, in 1896. In that article we find several expressions that demonstrate Fernhof's original, and profound linguistic perceptiveness.
Describing how moved he was by Herzl's Judenstaat, and the dreams which reading this book gave rise to, he presents us with a vision of a kind of minor utopia. In this vision the names and the language used reflect a unique prescience. The word 'Judenstaat' is translated by him several times as 'the state of Israel,' whereas all the translators to this day have called the book The State of the Jews.
When he imagines the state of Israel rebuilt on its original site, he says, among other things: And my eyes will behold rabbis elected to the assembly houses, ministers of the interior, and ministers of foreign affairs, and ministers of the treasury. Ministers in the state of Israel are called by him: 'Sarim' [just as they are currently called in Israel translator].
Surely, this linguistic
intuition is not incidental for Fernhof. He dreamt a great deal about the
state of Israel, and that dream is clothed in an original, prescient, Hebrew
He gave private Hebrew lessons in Buczacz [*]. Afterwards, when he was hired as a teacher at the Baron Hirsch school, in Zlochov (thanks to the recommendation of the linguistic scholar, David Zvi Heinrich Miller), he achieved part of his goal.
However, his success was short-lived. The Baron Hirsch schools, whose aims were admirable, were not welcomed by the Jews of eastern Galicia. Only a few of 'the enlightened', were happy to welcome them. The majority looked at them with disfavor. In their eyes the teachers, the students, and the parents, were regarded as 'destroyers of the covenant,' as instigators and agitators.
This kind of school was regarded as tantamount to a nest of heretics, a schoolhouse for the 'sinners of Israel.' Fernhof, who worked so hard to be accepted as a teacher at that school, where he hoped to broaden his activity and influence, was bitterly disappointed. He did, however, enter into the town's enlightened society, the society of maskilim, but he remained a pariah in the eyes of the pious, the zealous, and their followers. His plans became less ambitious. His dream evaporated.
A better fate was reserved for his second love, Hebrew literature. He loved the Hebrew writers, those from far and near, and cultivated an ambition in his heart to summon them all to one gathering place. He wanted with all his being to establish a place of honor for Galicia in the Hebrew literature that was undergoing a revival. He knew that the center of literary creativity was not in Galicia, but he wished to transform Galicia into an auxiliary center of literary creativity.
With this plan in mind he did two things: He himself wrote as much as was possible, and published his writing in different publications. In this way he acquired fame for himself and for his region. However, because he possessed a large measure of self criticism, he understood that his contribution, and that of others, were not sufficient to achieve his goal. He therefore established a journal in Buczacz by the name, 'The Books of Delights.'
This was supposed to attract the writers from other major Jewish centers and to publicize the special character of Galicia, since the stars of Galicia would shine alongside the bright lights of Russia Indeed, this was a minor platform that resembles somewhat the 'penny books' of Ben-Avigdor. But despite everything it was an independent platform.
This minor platform succeeded so well that its few issues featured a concentration of famous writers, and those who were to become famous. Tchernichovksy published there one of his first poems, 'Let us go out, let us dwell in serenity;' Berdichevsky published a piece about the four leaders of the world of the chasidim, which enraged Galicia for a short time; Breinin contributed his sketch, 'My Grandfather;' Klausner offered an article on 'Original Literature' and on the quality of translations.
Even Sh. Ben Zion figured among the contributors. Needless to say the writers of Galicia brought their own spirit to this forum. With all the flaws that plagued these thin journals, they also represented the promise of a new era.
The new generation was
influenced by them, and their simplicity was in a sense a novelty for the
yeshiva students. However, these little journals ceased publication, and then
re-emerged in Zlochov. But even there only two issues appeared. At this
juncture Fernhof experimented with his friends by establishing new (literary)
forums like 'The Jordan,' and 'The Young Hebrew.' He had a great desire to
create, edit, and to include himself, as well as the writers of Galicia, in the
new Hebrew literary life.
All his life he reflected on his abilities and his talent. He experienced doubt, meditated and then wrote. It is especially these struggles, this self-searching, that touch the heart and make him an interesting subject. Today, about 30 or so years after his death, we know that there was a good and healthy kernel (of talent) in him, but it was wrapped in many shells. He was a writer with a soul and with insight, who used to tell it straight and simple. Of course, not all his stories are good, and the good ones are not all of equal value.
His first published book, 'From the Legends of Life,' was not well received by the critics. Brenner, Berdichevsky and others subjected him to severe criticism. Perhaps they were right, for in this work the lines were blurred between adaptation, translation and the original source. His style here showed negligence, and his ultimate purpose was unclear.
However, there is no doubt that the harsh critique was also influenced by the traditional bias toward the writers of Galicia, that was a type of convention in those days. This criticism hurt him very much, for it came from writers whom he admired a great deal, and whom he held in such high esteem. But this criticism also had a positive impact, and led him toward greater creative efforts, and toward better results.
Henceforth we see him in another light. In the series of stories that he wished to publish in a special volume, titled 'Mitnagdim' [**], we sense a greater self assurance and a more mature power of expression. Here his soul as a writer found some comfort, and he was able to appropriate for himself an honorable and original place in our literature.
Chasidism and the chasidim were fortunate in having writers who depicted them either in their poems and prose, or in a serious, or amusing, story. There were many important figures who honored the chasidim with songs and praises, and there were others who poured their anger and their mockery on them. They were a worthy target for all.
This was not true for the mitnagdim, the brothers and opponents of the chasidim. The mitnagdim remained in the shadows. They were neither studied nor investigated. They were usually described as being of secondary importance, as dull, as obscure, as adversaries, whose purpose was to serve as a foil for the chasidim. They were incidental types, fleeting images, who do not live and exist in the story in their own right.
Then Fernhof came along and wrote a whole book by the name 'Mitnagdim.' Only two or three stories from this book were published in his lifetime. Most of them were found among his papers and are being published here for the first time. And here is what constitutes the book's innovation. In this book the mitnagdim and their movement are the focus of the stories. Here the chasidim serve only as background props. And this is not surprising.
In Buczacz, where the fundamental impressions of Fernhof's life were carved out, chasidism did not strike deep roots. In Buczacz he observed the mitnagdim on the street, in the study hall, during their conversations, during their Talmud study, during their quarrels, and during their peace making.
He grasped their world vision and understood their spirit and temperament. By delving into their soul, and analyzing their speech, he revealed a wonderful secret: Nothing separates the mitnagdim and the chasidim except their belief in the 'tzadik' [righteous leader, or rabbi, head of the chasidim translator].
In essence, they resemble each other in their nature, and in the depths of their souls. The mitnagdim are opposed to the chasidim with a passion that is chasidic. They negate the teachings of the chasidic rebbe with the same fanaticism with which the chasidim absorb these teachings. Moreover, they are ready to punish the members of the 'cult', in the same manner that the 'cult' members are ready to punish their opponents.
In his description of these opposing images Fernhof rises many a time to the level of an artist, who sees into the hearts of his heroes and paints them with a skillful brush. For this purpose he has at his disposal various talents and abilities: A sharp vision, a fine style, mockery, humor, caricature, restraint and involvement in the lives of his heroes. These, and similar, means make the description simple, straightforward and exciting.
We feel that the mitnagdim also need 'tikkun' ['spiritual improvement' translator], and Fernhof provided them with it. These characters are carved from the reality that existed in his day, and are not figments of his imagination. In the margins of the manuscript are listed names of people, residents of Buczacz, who served as prototypes for the characters in the stories.
It is evident that he did not invent 'acting figures' from his imagination, but took them from his own surroundings. First he studied the people whom he encountered, followed their movements and learned their traits, and only after he learned to know them very well, did he begin to shape and create them in the framework of his stories.
However, for all their realism, Fernhof was able to pour into these characters his own spirit, and to create them according to his own vision. Rabbi Moshe Baruch Hindes, the pedantic Rabbi Shlomo Zeev, Kalman Berish, and many others, are interesting types, whom Fernhof captured in both a realistic manner and through allusive references.
For him the subject of the mitnagdim became a type of citadel, the central focus of his creative ambition. After a period of struggling with writing, creating and publishing, it was as if he finally had found his literary path.
He wrote these stories with a passionate soul, for he saw his destiny in them. This was not another capricious undertaking, or a light diversion, but a mission.
In one of the drafts there is a short preface to this book. The preface is signed: 'Fernhof, Stanislav, winter of 5671' [1911 translator] and here is what it says: 'Many have written, even in the last years, about the chasidim and the tsadikim, and have forgotten the typical mitnagdim who are fast becoming extinct. In the future our writers will be held accountable for the neglect and abandon of these figures.
The author of this book on the mitnagdim was raised at the feet of the mitnagdim and knows their nature, character, inner world, obstinacy, persistence in defending their existence and their disdain and scorn toward the tsadikim and chasidim and that which he knows, he will attempt to convey.'
Here we see that it is not by chance that he wrote the stories about the mitnagdim, for he felt a need, and the ability, to write about those, whom Hebrew literature had disenfranchised and left to their solitude. He wished to remove the slander which had been attached to the mitnagdim, the allegation that they were dry, and limited to the study of Talmud and the performance of mitzvot.
In Fernhof's stories the mitnagdim are revealed as persons of understanding, who have a lyric vitality about them. Their exterior may be dry, but their inner self is the opposite. Try to deepen your contact with them, he wrote, and at once you will encounter vital Jews, with a rich spiritual life, marked by contradictions and an abundance of energy.
The mitnagdim are, as he noted in the margins of his draft, chasidim who do not believe in 'tsadikim.' Only this one point divides them.
Fernhof identified with them. His spirit clung to theirs, and it shaped their images from the inside, with a measure of loving kindness and grandeur.
Fernhof was not the founding father, but he was one of the builders (of the new) Hebrew literature. In several periods of our literary creativity, and in several chapters of its history his contributions are firmly established, as an editor, an intermediary, or narrator.
He left his imprint on the process of renewal of literary Hebrew creativity in Galicia and elsewhere. He included in his journals Hebrew writers from other countries. Among them were those from Galicia, who became later the support columns of Hebrew literature - Agnon, Barash, Rabbi Binyamin, Lifshitz and others.
Even if they belong to a higher sphere, and to another generation, they had, in their early years, basically absorbed the literary atmosphere created by Fernhof, Gershon Bader, Graber and others like them.
They took leave of him and moved on to greater depth and greater height, but they read Fernhof's work, collaborated with him, and absorbed the good that he transmitted to them as an intermediary and writer.
|*||S. Y. Agnon recalled for me a witty, and fitting, expression that he heard from Fernhof, in which there is a word play on opposites. When guests came to visit him, and he was in the midst of a private lesson, he would say to them [in Yiddish translator]: Wait a minute, I just have to give a (one hour) lesson Return|
|**||This book was published in 5712 (1952) by the Writers Association at 'Dvir.' Return|
Father was in the habit of speaking to us as he would to equals. He would share with us his impressions of things, his ambitions in life, and that which his eyes observed. He shared with us the beauty of nature, taught us how to enjoy life in its fullness, and how to endure life's difficult moments.
I shall never forget the hikes, during our summer vacations, on which father took us through the pine forests of the Carpathian mountains. He taught us how to climb the mountain cliffs, encouraged us to reach the peaks, and to observe the beautiful landscapes which unfolded before us. Father used to enthrall us with his poetic language, and therefore, it is no wonder that we, the children, were in the habit of expressing our feelings in a poetic, childish language before we even learned to write. Father enjoyed very much recording our rhymes on paper. He saved them, and even showed them to us when we grew up.
Only my big brother (Moomi) was to continue writing, while the rest of us were to become submerged in the practical world. Father was the embodiment of goodness; he never punished any one of us. However, the very fact that he was angry with us, or that his mind was not at ease, was in itself a great punishment for us.
With the help of my elderly mother, who survived the Nazi slaughter and lives with me, and with the help of a few of my father's friends, who are still living, among them Gershon Bader, Dr. Shimon Bernshtein, and Dr. Louie Launer, I am attempting to write a biographical sketch, that would be combined with my own memories of my father.
My father's birth date is the subject of controversy. According to the marriage certificate he was born in l866. However, in his death certificate the date given is l867, while according to the file card of the New York Public Library, which lists all of my father's books in its holdings, his birth date is l866. This date seems acceptable to my mother, who wishes with all her heart to be regarded as a little younger than my father, at least on paper.
He was the son of Israel Fernhof, and Chaya, whose maiden name was Fliegler. They lived in Buczacz, Galicia.
Father lost his mother when he was seven years old. She was soon replaced by a stepmother. However, luckily, he was taken to the home of his uncle Fliegler, who actively supervised his studies. There he acquired a thorough mastery of the six books of the Mishnah, and its commentaries. He excelled in these studies, and also acquired a very good knowledge of the Hebrew language. Secretly he used to read anything he could lay his hands on, in Hebrew and in Yiddish. He studied German literature in the same clandestine manner. Before long he became an expert in the classic literature of Goethe, Schiller and Heine. His knowledge of written and spoken German was very good, even though he had to conceal this from his teachers and educators, lest he be caught in the act of pursuing these forbidden studies.
Even in the later years he was a controversial figure in the community, since he dared to publish in his "Sifrei Sha'ashu'im" (Books of Delights) a chassidic sketch by Micha Yosef Berdichevsky, who was still a young man at that time. Soon the young intellectuals of Galicia gathered around this brilliant autodidact. He became the head of a literary circle and began to write. His articles and poems were printed in the Hebrew periodicals which were appearing in Europe at the time. With these writings he became one of the founders of the new Hebrew literature in Galicia.
I should like to bring here a short biographical sketch, which had been printed on a postcard, with my father's photograph. This postcard, along with postcards of other well-known Hebrew writers of the day, was distributed by the publishing house of Abraham Robinson in Stanislav. The text of the postcard reads as follows:
"Yitzhak Fernhof was born in Buczacz (Galicia) in the year l865. A man of diverse talents. In his childhood he recited many poems, and in the end he began to write stories, and sketches, which are characterized by their sharp observations and gentle humor. He was the first to lay the foundation of Hebrew literature in Galicia.
He skillfully edited the "Sifrei Sha'ashu'im", which helped greatly to spread the Hebrew language in Galicia, and to attract to it the young men whose learning had centered around the 'klois' (small synagogue and house of study). He was also the editor of "Ha-Yarden" (The Jordan), and "Ha-Tsair" (The Young Person). Several years ago his stories and sketches appeared in a collection called "Me-Aggadot Ha-Chaim" (From the Legends of Life). At present his book, "Ha-Mitnagdim" (The Opponents of Chassidim), has been submitted for publication. It is unique in its new approach, and is highly regarded by those who have read the manuscript.
As far as I can recall the original version of the book, "Ha-Mitnagdim," was submitted to "Ha-Olam" (The World), which was edited by Mr. Moshe Kleinman (may he rest in peace) in Moscow. However, during World War I this book, already in print, was lost during the chaos that reigned in Russia in those days, and its traces were never found. Fortunately, a damaged and imperfect copy of the original manuscript was found by my brother in the wreckage of our old home in Stanislav, and it was sent to me before the Nazi invasion, which reduced this city to rubble. Thirty five years later I see it as a debt of honor to assist with its publication in the state of Israel.
I also know that this would have been the fondest of father's dreams, who was one of the earliest pioneers of Zionism, a contemporary of Theodor Herzl. No matter where my father lived he was the head of the Zionists and Hebraists, and he filled our hearts, the hearts of children, with a love of Zion. Were it not for the wars we would have made aliyah to Israel as chalutzim, or pioneers.
His work in literature did not provide sufficient income to support my father and his family. There was the constant pressure of worrying about earning a livelihood for the family. My father thus became a flour merchant, and managed his father-in-law's flour mill, and the enterprises connected with his warehouse. However, in the meantime he acquired a reputation as someone proficient in Hebrew and German, and as an expert in the literature of the humanities. That is when the foundation established by Baron Hirsch invited him to join the teaching faculty of its schools, first in Zlochov, and ultimately in Stanislav.
After my second brother, Shmuel, was born, in l894, and after I was born, in l897, my father's financial situation became difficult, and he was forced to give private lessons, in order to support us, and in order to provide the best education for us. It was an education that he himself had never been given; he was obliged to acquire it through his own efforts, and under enormously difficult conditions subjected to terror and fear lest his teachers catch him, for they regarded any time spent on secular studies as heresy.
How I admired my father when I'd see him tired from his teaching day at the school, and yet still playing with us and telling us wonderful legends, which he himself had created for us. Or he would read to us his own poems and sketches.
I also remember that father invited to our home people such as Sholom Aleichem, Reuven Brainin and others, who would be visiting our town as public lecturers. He would describe to us the greatness of those people, and it would leave a strong impression on us. Incidentally, he always used to serve as chairman at these public lectures. He would introduce them to the public in a beautiful and polished Hebrew, which was envied by many. Our home was always a meeting place for the leading figures among the Hebraists, for my father's pupils, and for his followers.
It was a great event in my father's life when he purchased his own home in the beautiful section of Stanislav, on Lipova Street 88, close to the magnificent gardens of the Elizabeth promenade. In this house he set up his library, of which he was so proud, and for which he was envied by all the book collectors.
All this was destroyed and demolished by the invasion of Petlyura's bands during the upheavals that followed World War I.
When that war broke out we, like many others, left our home in Stanislav, with our little sister, Klara, who was only a few years old. She was father's joy, and he saw in her the personification of beauty and charm. We fled from our town in a wagon, and on foot, through the Carpathian mountains to Hungary, and we were subjected to all the trials of the war. We wandered from town to town, and after many hardships arrived in Vienna.
Worries about making a living drained father's strength. He gave private lessons, worked for the Joint as a researcher, and did not shirk from any work, as long as he could feed his family. During that long war all his sons were drafted into the Austrian army and even he himself wore a uniform, despite the fact that he was already over 50 years old.
After the war he was again unemployed. He was promised the position of librarian at Vienna's Jewish community library. However, as on many previous occasions, he was now also obliged to face one disappointment after another. The Baron Hirsch foundation, which paid a low salary, warned father that they would cut off that salary if he did not agree to return to Stanislav to begin teaching at the school. It would be under the conditions of chaos and destruction which prevailed after the war. Since he always worried first about his family's welfare, he left his wife and his children to enjoy the comforts of life in Vienna, while he himself returned to the region of ruins that was now Stanislav.
All the communication lines to that city were broken, and only by chance did we learn about his death, six months after he had passed away. His death occurred on February 23. He died from a typhoid infection, in an isolated cubicle of the Stanislav hospital, far from his family, in his effort to spare us his painful suffering and loneliness. On his dying lips he uttered the name of his beloved daughter. At his grave site all his students and friends were present, but not one member of his family was there. Before me lies a copy of the Juedische Volkszeitung, of February 28, l9l9 which contains an obituary for my father. I bring it here just as it appeared: "The new Hebrew literature, and Yiddish literature in general, have suffered an irretrievable loss. Yitzhak Fernhof is no more!
He was about 51 at his death. He was buried with his people, far from his family, a martyr of the great art of teaching, a martyr of his passionate love for his family, and his people. He labored some thirty years without a break, as a pedagogue and Hebrew-Yiddish writer. As a teacher at the local school, established by Baron Hirsch, he was one of its first founders and leaders, and he was the guiding light of the local society, "Safah Berurah" (Pure Language).
From l896 to l898 he published the periodical "Sefer Sha'ashuim." Among the first participants in this literary undertaking were such great writers as Shaul Tchernikhovsky, Mikhah Yosef Berdichevsky and Reuven Brainin. In l906 he published here, in Stanislav, the Hebrew periodical "Ha 'Yarden". One also has to mention his book, "Me'aggadot Ha'chaim." His last big book contains stories, some of which had already been printed, about the lives of the mitnagdim. He composed several excellent textbooks for the teaching of Hebrew. He also contributed to various Hebrew periodicals.
Being that he did not have the means to bring his family from Vienna to Stanislav, after four years of wanderings, he ended up here living a lonely, isolated life from the end of August of the previous year.
Loved and honored by all the different classes of the Jewish public in Stanislav, he stood firmly by his duties until his last breath.
In the hearts of the young, who were undergoing a renaissance, and who felt gratitude toward him, he built for himself an eternal monument. May he rest in peace!"
Beneath this obituary appeared a poem, by the editor, Herbert Sfondson, which expressed the love of all my father's students and friends, in German. The Hebrew translation is given below:
on the death of the teacher and unforgettable friend
On the day he was lowered into his grave
A clear and pleasant day in early spring,
the light of sunshine softened the earth
but a striking thunderbolt from the great heavens
stunned the hearts of all your students.
We rushed in shock to the graveyard
to the source of our friendship, the creator.
We followed you to the cemetery in tears
To a grave site narrow and dark.
The man who awoke our spirit is gone
His words stirred our hearts.
In the black dust, oh our teacher, you shall rest
You were the crowning glory of our soul
May your sleep be sweet! As in the past, so at present
We shall honor everything you have commanded us,
In the heart of the youth, whom you have taught,
An eternal monument you have built for yourself.
About 20 days before his death, on January 3, l9l9, the same paper printed the following announcement:
"On Saturday, December 28, l9l8, there was held at the local "Pure Language" society, a public examination of the 50 students in the first course that had been capably directed by the renowned Hebrew writer Yitzhak Fernhof. From the midst of the parents group, which was on this occasion moved to the point of tears, one father presented Mr. Fernhof with a silver cup, made by a craftsman, as a token of appreciation and thanks."
My brother, Dr. Moshe Fernhof, a writer and poet and known especially to the Yiddish writers of his time, has written a moving poem, in which he asks father's forgiveness. "Forgive us, father" that we were not able to stand by your bedside during your last days. The poem was published in a German newspaper in Vienna.
In his last letter to my sister, who was still a little girl and was making her first efforts at letter writing, father begged her to write him long letters. "What a beautiful thing it is when a father and his daughter understand each other well, and they discuss everything by means of letters, at a time when a person to person conversation, to my regret, is not possible."
Most of the things that father wrote in his youth were signed with the name Itzi, until professor Yosef Klausner convinced him to change his name to Yitzhak.
In the spring of l938 I visited my father's grave at the old Jewish cemetery in Stanislav. It was an attractive stone structure, designed and built by a mason. This was a short time before Hitler's invasion, and my heart told me that this was the last time that I was going to have the privilege of visiting that site. Now, after the horrendous tragedy that fell upon the Jewish communities of Europe, when all the sacred sites of Judaism were destroyed, there is no more hope of seeing that grave.
This book, which contains the best of my father's writings, will serve as a monument to his memory. His words they are his memorial.
Woodridge, New York, l949.
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