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[Pages 193-197]

Jidauka, You Have Nothing To Do Here!”

By Batya Aviel (Levitt)

Translated by Judy Grossman

Sara Weiss (Slep): I saw Batya in her sister Rivka's kitchen in Haifa. Rivka was already in the hospital. On the table was a box containing sugar cubes. “You see? Rivka makes these by herself.” There was also homemade jam. Batya began to tell me how to make these foods, and the conversation returned to the past, to the old home…

“Rivka tells me that I'm from Galicia and not from Dusiat because I don't remember anything. And truly, I left home at the age of sixteen, so how can I remember?” – Batya justified herself. Nevertheless, she told her story, going on for four hours. Suddenly Yehuda Charit came into the house. Batya didn't even say hello to him, and immediately asked him: “Yudke, tell me how you say lodovna in Hebrew [In Russian, hole filled with ice to preserve food].” Yudke looked at her in astonishment, and Batya, walking around as though in a daze, explained to him: “Look, I am now in Dusiat. Here are the forest, the berries, the winter – ice! Nu, how do I explain to her what lodovna is?” …

When Batya was hospitalized and I brought her the collection of stories by people from Dusiat, she read them word for word and more than once burst into laughter in my presence, while inserting her memories into the story.

When I saw her again she said to me: “You know Sarale, I became absorbed in reading the stories and altogether forgot that I was in the hospital…”


Chasya-Leah at her home with her children

Standing: Dov-Berke (right) and Shaul
Seated: Rivka (right) and Dvora-Dora
Pictures on the table: Issar (front) and Shmuel
Pictures on the wall: Reb Moshe Levitt (left) and Dov-Berke's portrait of his beloved Lanka Visakolsky (right), who left him behind in the shtetl and moved to study practical nursing in Kovno [Kaunas]…


Issar Levitt

Shmuel Levitt: There was always a bicycle in our workshop in Dusiat, and my father used to rent one for fifty cents an hour.


I Was Erased from the List of Children

Here, directly across from our shop of manufactured goods, I see the shop of Riva-Leah, Yankale Charit's mother. There they sold nails for a few kopeks and other building materials, and there in that shop Avrema'le Slep is standing and selling…

That is how I see him, as though it were today, standing there, and I approach him and ask him: “Avrema'le, compose a letter for me to Hechalutz.” Avraham composed my letter requesting to join Hechalutz for me, and I left for hachshara in 1924. When I informed my family that I was leaving for hachshara, my father [Reb. Moshe Levitt] erased my name from the list of his children! I no longer existed for him! Why? Because for him to be on hachshara meant working on the holidays, eating non-kosher food, and so forth. His reaction affected me. Do you understand what it means to be erased from the list of children?

I only returned home before my aliya to Eretz Yisrael. When I came home I learned that my father had passed away. Ten months had gone by since his passing away, and I didn't know! I asked my mother why she hadn't informed me of his death, and she answered me: “A son needs to know and not a daughter.” I was furious and couldn't forgive her. Perhaps I had gone dancing right at the time of the funeral!



What drew me to Eretz Yisrael? I was drawn there because of anti-Semitism, from which I suffered many times. I was a girl of eight. They registered me in the Lithuanian school, and when I came there – they shut the door in my face! The shikses and the shkotzim [Yiddish for non-Jewish girls and boys] stood and shouted to me: “Jidauka [Jewess] – you have nothing to do here!” With that sentence they turned me into a Zionist.

What else did they do to me? They used to smear lard on my desk at school! I came from a religious home; would I touch lard?

And also: on the Sabbath, as a Jew I didn't go to school, and I had to get my homework from the shkotzim. They gave it to me, not from kindness but rather from hatred! Those Gentiles forced me to give them something as recompense. They always had something bad to say to the Jews.

I remember that on the day they shut the school door in my face I returned home crying and asked: ”Why don't we have a country of our own…?”


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