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In the Lithuanian School (cont.)



As an eternal memento!!!
To my friend Rivka Levitt

* * *

The lily of the valley
Wilts quickly.
Iron will also break quickly.
Only friendship lasts forever
And will never begin to diminish.

* * *

For the time of the roundel
The sixth form in Ponevezh [Panevezys]
December 31, 1926

Israel Visakolsky in student uniform
On the back, a rhymed dedication in Hebrew


Berl Zilber's student card, Dusetos 1926 Lithuanian University in Kaunas Faculty of Theology-Philosophy   Yitzchak Shteinman son of Sara-Leah


[Page 132-133]

Pupils from Other Shtetls

Translated by Judy Grossman

Gitale Yavneh: Batya Roznikowitz and I both came from Ezerenai (Zarasai) to study at the school in Dusiat.

Batya Duchan: And I came there from Antaliept.

Gitale Yavneh: We became tied to the life of the shtetl, to the children of Dusiat, and we share their memories. I was the only daughter of my parents Shmuel and Bela (née Horowitz). I had completed three grades in Zarasai, but I didn't know Hebrew yet. Hillel Schwartz, the principal of the Tarbut School in Dusiat, was my cousin – his mother Teibe was my mother's sister – and he frequently visited our home. One time he came and proposed to my mother that I transfer to the school in Dusiat. At that time I was living alone with my mother, and it was an emotional experience for me to go to a new place.

In Dusiat I lived with the Schwartz family, but I didn't get any special treatment from Hillel. Just the opposite, Hillel was a strict teacher and he would be angry with me when he didn't find me busy doing homework. His pressure was a burden to me; it was hard for me to concentrate, but there is no doubt that if he hadn't dealt with me firmly, I wouldn't have studied at all…

Batya Grebler: Gitale and I were very mischievous, and we were nicknamed “Ezerene tziegen”, which in Yiddish means the “kids (young goats) from Ezerenai.”

I came to Dusiat through the influence of Yitzchak Poritz, as his mother and mine – both called Rochel-Leah – were cousins. Our families were friends and visited each other. I remember that my mother would visit the cemetery in Dusiat, but I don't know who's grave…

Batya Duchan: We were all related. My mother Liba was Gitale's father's sister.

Gitale Yavneh: During the vacation I would go to Antaliept, to the Levin family. There were many children there, and it was fun!

Batya Grebler: I lived in the home of Rochel-Leah Poritz. There was no electricity and I remember Rochel-Leah lifting her glasses off her nose, drawing the “Sefer Hatehinot” (The Book of Mercies) close to her eyes, and reading by the dim light of the lantern.

Gitale Yavneh: I just remembered Hillel's sister, Chaya-Dvora Shapira, who immigrated to America and once came on a visit to Dusiat. We were impressed by her special appearance, in matching hat and shoes, and she lifted up her dress and revealed podikes – colored garters with a flower on one end…

Batya Grebler: I remember my time at school in Dusiat with great fondness. There I learned the Hebrew language. There was a Jewish school in Zarasai too, but they didn't speak Hebrew there.

Gitale Yavneh: I was immediately put into the third grade. The school was then in the old synagogue.

Batya Duchan: My first Hebrew teacher was Rivka Levitt.

Batya Grebler: Dusiat was really an “Eretz Yisraeli” shtetl. The teachers were Zionists, and they were the ones who directed us towards Zionism. Everyone who graduated from school in Dusiat knew Hebrew, and in general, the school gave a great deal to the children, and to the entire shtetl. The teacher there was “someone”. He had a special status.

Gitale Yavneh: I remember members of the Education Ministry coming to visit the school, and showing great esteem for Hillel. He ran the school with a firm hand, and introduced strict discipline.

Interestingly, I just remembered that Hillel kept a pistol hidden under his pillow, and I didn't understand why…

Before making aliya to Eretz Yisrael, I received monogrammed silverware from Hillel, which had been engraved by Dov (Berke) Levitt. I keep it as a precious treasure, still wrapped in tissue paper.

My aunt Etel – my mother's sister – and her husband Zalman Soloveitchik were already in Eretz Yisrael. They said that his father was one of the first to leave the walls of the Old City [Jerusalem]. My uncle Zalman worked for the “National Council of Jews in Palestine”, and he sent the invitation for my mother and me.

My mother and I arrived in Eretz Yisrael on March 20, 1934. We disembarked in Haifa port, loaded our packages onto a wagon, and via the coastal road reached the home of Avraham Slep in Kiryat Chaim – whose sister Ella was married to Hillel – and there we spent our first night in Eretz Yisrael

A letter of congratulation from the teacher Yehuda Slep to his students Gita Musilewitz and Batya Levin, on the occasion of their marriages.

(The letter to Gita is in Hebrew, and the addition for her mother, in Yiddish.)


To the girls of valor

I was happy to receive the pleasing news of Gita's wedding. Even before the impression had a chance to start fading, I met Reina, with similar news. She told me about her sister Batya's wedding. We were very happy and also laughed. We recalled Gita, a “white kid” sitting at her school desk. Gita was very mischievous, but a good and joyful girl.

And Batya – standing beside the parapet of her house in Antaliept, with a happy and kind face, discussing the virtues of Avraham Avinu. And I have yet to see a hero refuse her invitation to lunch.

I remember all those days, summer days, when Batya stood and enjoyed the garden in its full bloom, and the beautiful flowers.

I send you many, many good wishes, because I have more than one blessing (unlike Isaac, the father of Jacob and Esau).

Many heartfelt best wishes to you, wishes for much happiness.

May I hear only good news, only good news from you!


A few words to your mother:

On this occasion, it is my great pleasure to wish Aunt Beila (as Hanoch calls her) a Mazeltov! I always said that Gita is an “eshet hayil” (woman of valor), and you see that she really is a girl of valor.

I wish you always to have naches(satisfaction and joy) from her, and that she will always be happy.


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