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The Destruction of Dynow (cont.)

Chapter 7

You should not kill the father and his son on the same day

The killing site at the Zarawiecz forest was terrible and gruesome after the Germans left it. Just remembering the event turns one's stomach and the blood boils, hundreds of dead bodies are scattered throughout the area. Some of the bodies lie in pools of blood others are full of bullets. Old men and their sons, old gray haired Jews with bloodied faces staring in bewilderment, embracing their grandsons who sought protection from the enemy in these terrible moments. Wild birds fly over the area full of dead bodies, the sons of the Jewish people. The people that presented to the world the concept of monotheism, and the idea that it is wrong to kill the father and the son in the same day. The bodies remained exactly where they fell and nobody bothered to bury them. Only one youngster managed to survive the slaughter and will tell the story. He was Leibtche Roth who received a bullet wound in the arm; another bullet creased his ear. But his father saved him from death by lurching the last minute in front of his son and serving as a shield for the bullets. Leibtche fainted and fell to the ground. He awakened but decided to remain silent for fear of

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attracting attention. Only at night when there was absolute silence did he permit himself to move about. He heard the river San flow and the chirping of a nightingale in a nearby wood, apparently symbolically reciting the kadish for the dead bodies. He raised his head and his eyes caught sight of the terrible site. Bodies all over the place. Next to him was his dead father in a pool of blood. Then, tens of bodies that were familiar to him, namely: Hersh Paritz, Israel Jaare, Hersh Itche Tzeiger, Eisik Grinbaum, Pinhas Schechter, Meilech Glazer and Leibele Shamoush. A distance further there was a mass of dead bodies that he could not identify since their heads were smashed by dum dum bullets. Slowly he moved about on all fours between the bodies and the pools of blood. It seemed to him that the dead bodies would not let him move. Finally he managed to detach himself from the gruesome area and headed towards the river. Here he began to wash away the spots of congealed blood on his clothing and body. He felt terrible pain in the left hand where the bullet had remained embedded. The cold fresh water brought him back to his senses and he began to run in the direction of the hamlet. Soon he froze in his tracks when he saw what was happening in his Dynow. It seemed that the entire hamlet was en fire. He also heard the last rounds of the machine guns that were finishing off the Jewish victims at the Libner Mountain.

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The minutes, the fear, the panic regained control of him for a second time. Last night events returned presently but in more vivid colors. Such events could brake down any normal person and turn a cheerful youngster into an old man. His situation was similar to the one where a person has saved himself from a sinking ship and swam ashore on a plank only to find the shores of the island infested with crocodiles and deadly snakes. In the distance he saw primitive cannibals stage orgies around a bonfire while tossing people into the fire. Momentarily, he was at a loss of direction, he did not know where to turn. Then he realized that he stood on dangerous ground namely the local highway where patrols were going and coming. He quickly left the road and headed through the fields to the riverbank that led him to the immediate vicinity of the hamlet. He observed the burning synagogue. He was afraid to enter the house of a Pole in order to sleep the night for he remembered the happy faces of the people that stood on the sidewalks while they were marched out of the hamlet. He decided to spent the night in the fields with the rabbits and observe the burning synagogue. From time to time, he heard shots being fired and terrifying screams of the injured and their families, especially those that were tossed alive into the fire. During the night, he lost his sense of security, his belief in humanity, justice and civilization. He saw mankind regress to the early

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stage of primitive nakedness, a regression of thousands of years. Men standing around bonfires and roasting people while singing hymns of praise to Germany. It pained him the fact that Germany, the heartland of cultural Europe was the homeland of the cannibals. The land of philosophers, thinkers, and humanitarian teachers turned to barbarism. A country that produced the most beautiful literature, the most famous scientists, a country in which thousands of Jews saw hope and salvation turned overnight into a cruel monster. Everything of value was sacrificed for the warlord. Even those that hid their Jewish origin were chased out in shame from their positions. The rationalizations that not all Germans are murderers worked for a while but was soon debunked. He remembered modern German history, the birth of Neo-anti-Semitism, the venomous anti-Semitism of Chancellor Bismarck, the silent but cruel anti-Semitism of the ruling elements in Germany with the Kaiser Wilhelm at their helm. On German soil blossomed the ideology of Hitler.

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Nine million people voted for the bloodthirsty murderer who with the help of others converted Germany into a Sodom and Gomorrah. If the Germans had an ounce of decency, the event of Hitlerism would have never developed. Sheep do not raise snakes. Only a snake can give birth to a snake. The venom must be in the milk of the mother which the child receives and then affects everybody. Hitler arrived at the conclusion that Germany was a murder nest, ready to rob and slaughter people. The filthiest book in history “Mein Kampf” is in fact the constitution of present day Germany. They have no religion or fear of God, or people, or history. All the literary men, the philosophers and thinkers merely represent a facial veneer for the real German. The latter lives for war and the ability to rob. He respects the rifle and the sword that he bears proudly and rolls up his sleeves like a butcher for any bloody job. He seriously believes that you can only live by the sword. That night, Leibtche conducted a trial of the world. He placed all the nations on the bench of the accused. They all helped to spread the idea of Hitlerism in the world. They played

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dumb when he began to gobble up his neighbors. The world has no conscience for it should have reacted to the first pogroms on Jews in Germany. Furthermore, they should have stopped the Petlura bands of killers years ago. Europe is but a rotten apple that helped the spread of Hitlerism. At this moment he wished that all of it could be washed away by a tidal wave as in the biblical story of Noah. Now he realized the importance of Palestine, a home for the Jew. The return to Zion became a reality for him, there was no place for the Jew in Europe. Everybody agreed that the Jew must go.

In the early morning hours when the fire extinguished itself and it was still dark, he could not see the terrible destruction. He fell asleep and dreamt that he was in the destroyed synagogue, standing in the area where the bima or torah reading stand was located stood an old man. He was wrapped in the prayer shawl and on his head there were ashes, on his gartel or belt hung a bag that contained glued sections of parchment and burned bones of bodies. He held in one hand a wandering stick and in the other a scroll of parchment that contained the story of Job. He read the story: the dear children of Zion that were more precious than jewelry and pure gold were killed. With a trembling hand he took some of the ashes from the bodies and torahs and called out “I avenged them but not enough”. The ashes he returned to his bag that contained the ashes of the burned bodies of Jews. He then headed with a bowed head along the wandering road.

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He awakened with the bright day light. The hamlet was covered with a white cloud as a remainder of the terrible fire that destroyed the city and the synagogue. He rubbed his eyes and looked in every direction not knowing exactly where he was. The dream remained him of a scene from the destruction of Jerusalem as described by the prophet Jeremiah that he read and intended to use as an inspiration for a large painting. He remembered everything that took place yesterday and he trembled with fear. Bewildered, he started to run in the direction of the hamlet by way of the synagogue. He reached the synagogue and was stunned by the sight. He was incapable of facing the scene in spite of the fact that he witnessed the events at night. From the beautiful synagogue where he used to sing with the cantor only yesterday, stood a burned out building with the remnants of a bonfire that contained parts of bodies from the wild orgy. On the northern wall one could still see the blackened letters of the sad psalm:” Oh! Dear God, barbarian nations came and defiled your sanctuary, they threw your followers to the beasts and birds of

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prey, their blood flows like water, and nobody there to bury them.

Pour your anger at the nations that devoured Jacob and destroyed his residence. The place appeared like a destroyed tombstone at the old cemetery with plenty of unearthed skeletons. Yaakow Rein, a son of Shlomo Rein, assembled the burned bones of his father and the other victims and placed them on a wheelbarrow used by bricklayers. He wheeled the remains by himself to the cemetery for burial. He did not believe what he saw, perhaps this was an archeological dig at an ancient place that existed before thousands of years. Perhaps it was mere imagination, his brain worked overtime and he was unsteady on his legs. Tears steadily streamed down his swollen face. Terrible curses burst forth aimed at the mothers that gave birth and raised such killers. A heavenly fire should destroy their cities like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. None of these killers that carry the swastika should ever return home. Their impure blood should fertilize the battlefields and all the places were they soldiers set foot. Their bodies should never have rest. Half crazed, he ran home to his mother to bring her the sad news about the father and some of the other victims. The news spread like wildfire in the hamlet. Soon another survivor arrived, namely Yaakow Hershel Gutman. He was the

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sole survivor of the mass executions that took place at the Libne Mountain. By a miracle he survived and went berserk. He run around and shouted that somebody should call Warsaw to send the police to arrest the bandits. Only in the morning, did a Jew take him home. The morning presented a terrible sight. It seemed like cannibals attacked the hamlet. Dead bodies were everywhere, burned skeletons between the destroyed places. From windows and doors, one heard the weeping and sighing of women and children that the killers converted overnight into widows and orphans. Those that witnessed the scene were affected by it for the rest of their life.

Chapter 8


A day before the eve of the holiday of Sukkoth of 1939, the order was given to expulse the Jews of the hamlet. The chief of police announced in the market place at high noon that all Jews must leave by order of the German command. They were given one hour to pack their belongings. Anyone found at home after the hour will be shot. One hour later, all the surviving Jews were already assembled in the market ready to start their wanderings. With this step, the last tragic Jewish chapter was written in Dynow.

Eighty-two dead Jews of Dynow were buried in several mass

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graves as well as 220 Jews who had the misfortune of being in the hamlet at the wrong instant. The synagogue and the holy books were burned, as was the synagogue register of the Jewish population. There was no further need of such a record, Jewish Dynow ceased to exist as of this moment. The hamlet that was dominated by torah study and piety, fairness and humanism, many famous rabbis and Hassidim, was no longer. In spite of the dominance of Hassidism, there was also a circle of enlightened Jews that produced a famous lawyer, Leib Landau, who was a native of Dynow. The community was deeply attached to the Hovvei Zionist movement even before World War I. Dozens of religious, Hassidic, poor and rich young men left the hamlet and their parents for Palestine to help build a new homeland. From now on the history of Jewish Dynow consists of wandering without a place, without a roof and without a destination. Depressed and bowing to every whim they walked with the wandering stick in hand. They headed through the swampy road to the river San. The train of people consisted of old and young, women with children and toddlers carrying small bags in their hands. For they had no time to pack since the German murderers with their rifles and rubber truncheons rushed them. Within this long train of refugees was also Leibtche Roth with his mother and siblings. He lost a great deal of weight the last few days. His face was moody and the

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eyes red and frozen from the experiences he witnessed. He gave the impression that he aged quite a bit. His young heart was suddenly filled with sadness. For the last time he threw a sad parting glance at the old hamlet as a bird looks on at the destroyed nest that presently contains a snake. Parting forever was difficult for him that was so attached to his native hamlet. The place where he was born, grew up, and where he matured intellectually so that he was capable of understanding and appreciating art and culture. All this vanished as a puff of smoke. The hamlet was a cemetery where all his dreams and youthful fantasies were buried. He became a homeless beggar, with a wounded heart. He felt a reawakening attachment to the old cemetery with the big trees near the source where he spent so many hours reading, observing nature and writing poems. Soon they passed the Zarawiecz forest and the terrible scenes returned to him. This is where his father is buried with the other Jews. He that inscribed the tombstones for everybody is buried without a stone. He is not even buried at the cemetery, Panic struck him as he was seeing fresh graves everywhere although they were actually potato heaps that were just harvested. The sky appeared to him covered by black clouds that contained a high degree of moisture that penetrated the body and made it feel uncomfortable. Even the trees and shrubs

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along the river seemed to him now uninviting as opposed to the earlier days when they were so inspiring. They all looked old and their heads were bowed like old people. The red leaves on the ground seemed to represent blood stained items that were also victims of the bloody massacre.

The mountains around the river San were completely shrouded in smoke that looked like clouds created by many burning bonfires. The present exile march remained him of the old age Babylonian exile in biblical times. A repetition of an event that took place two thousand years ago. History always races forward but sometimes reverts back to the original place as does the earth. Nothing changed since then. The only things that changed were the names of the instruments of death. The same barbarians, the same bullies that show no respect for old people or small toddlers, destroyed the temple, burned the holy books, murdered the best sons of Israel and the remainder of the Jewish people are being chased across the rivers between the unfriendly bushes. Soon we will climb the cloudy mountains that the prophet described in sorrow and pain while calling on the people of Israel to repent. Examine yourself and repent before your feet will be injured in climbing the dark mountains. The call to rebuild the Holy Land was this not part of the prophecy to end the exile before it became a forgotten dream. Unfortunately, this call as the previous call

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were not terribly successful. The fleshpots of the exile were too strong for the people to let go. Only a few youngsters rejected the exile and left to build the old homeland. Most of the Jews considered them naive and foolhardy, abandoning homes and parents in order to build roads and dry malaria infested swamps. Some of these youngsters broke down and returned home to Poland to march in the present train march along the cloudy mountains. This is the way that Jews live in exile, for three hundred years Jews lived here and build houses and estates that they had to abandon instantly in order to save themselves from the murderers. They left with a few items in their hands. Similarly to the bees that build the honey stockpile and man comes along and smokes them out and removes the honey. The men had to cross the river on foot and the murderers stood on the banks ready to shoot anybody that did not obey he order. A large crowd of Poles and Ukrainians enjoyed the show as the Jews forded the cold river fully clothed. In the hamlet of Dynow remained five Jewish families. Hama Yaare and her daughter, Fertche Rosenberg, Rachel Goldschmidt, Lemel Rein, the only tinsmith that was permitted to stay, Mordechai Schechter, a bed ridden person, and Eli Zilberman, an old Jew that wanted to be buried at the cemetery of the hamlet. The German murderers fulfilled his wish and killed him at the Jewish

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cemetery. The last man to cross the river was Yossel Scheps, an eighty-year-old man that lately suffered from a head cold. As he crossed the river, a group of Poles headed by Michla Dronkewicz, a plasterer that worked at Jewish homes and even at the synagogue, played happy tunes on his harmonica to the delight of the audience. In the evening, the Germans caught a wandering Jewish woman, the mother of Meilech Glaser. She has been out of touch with reality for the last year. The Germans shot her along the river.

On the other side of the River San, (translator: the Germans left that section of Poland for the Russian troops that will shortly occupy the area) the Jews separated and headed to various villages and hamlets in order to rest a bit. They then spraed out throughout Western Ukraine.

Chapter 9

Lemberg at the end of 1939

A freezing evening, the frozen widows sparkle like crystals, the snow resounds under the feet like sand, the streets are empty, everybody is at home. From time to time, one hears the rumbling of a tramway in the cold deserted streets, the train screeches along the cold rails. As soon as they reach the station, they disappear through the curved streets. Only along the Legion Street is there some activity, merchants ignore the cold and peddle the merchandise that is in demand.

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Near the big stores stood long queues of people for hours in order to get in and buy some items. Most of these people were poor people or beggars with ample time on their hands and the refugees that recently arrived empty handed. They stood for hours until they entered the store and bought some products or item of clothing at the regular price in order to resell it later at a higher price. Leibtche Roth stood in one of these lines. He has been standing for three hours in the bitter cold weather. The cold had penetrated every part of his body that was dressed in summer clothing. This is what he managed to grab before he left Dynow. The coat was a summer coat and hardly appropriate for the harsh local winter. One could see the heels from the summer shoes and the torn socks. The face was swollen red as a beet. His ears were bandaged to hide the blisters that had already developed from the freezing weather. His eyes indicated a restless hungry beast that was constantly looking to the store door. He even left his line a few times in order to stroll for a few feet to get the circulation going in his legs because it was so cold. Finally, he heard the door opening, he was squeezed by the mob as it pushed its way into the store. Tears began to roll down his checks as he realized that he made it. Furthermore, it was warm and he was busy buying some products. Happily he ran home with the belongings to his place at Sloneczna Street that he shared with two other friends. The room was small and dark and gave the appearance of a dump fit for beggars. The furniture consisted of three iron beds loaded with cockroaches and old worn blankets. The room also had a rusty closed and a small table. On the hot stove were the frozen shoes and leggings. The possessions of the tenants consisted of three small suitcases that contained rags. The place however had lots of books, on the table, closet and under the bed. One could say that the room belonged to intellectuals, and what they lacked in food they made up by reading books. One of the residents was a young Warsaw student, he had just finished high school when Hitler's armies send him packing to Lemberg, to Sloneczna street. His name was Zigo Goldstein, he was a large boned fellow, had the complexion of a gypsy, sharp eyebrows, bushy moustache similar to one worn by Caucasians, his eyes were deep and penetrating as though he was a scientist that wanted to know everything and understand it. Soon the sharpness of the eyesight became cloudy as it reflected the sad state of affairs. The eyes seemed frozen like mall boats in the late fall. They were sad and homesick, he seemed to be lost like a child, his lips curled as though he was about to cry. He gave the feeling of being an orphan and having to face the

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world himself. Sometimes, the eyes indicated desperation as reflected by serious sick people that have already decided to give up hope and do not expect to receive helPage They have made peace with themselves. Seated in the dark room on his metal bed with a book in hand, his mind wandered to the near and distant events. He faced a beautiful villa in the suburbs of Warsaw surrounded with acacia and chestnut trees. The entrances covered with copper sheets, the stairs and walls covered with marble, the rooms furnished with the most precious furniture and paintings on the wall. Finally he sees his bachelor room, everything is perfectly matched, the sheets and pillow cases, the floor covered with rugs, the hand curved mirror, the closet full of first edition books, he himself seated on a coach reading a passionate novel. The door opens quietly, and his mother with a kind expression on her face enters the room. She has a tray of cookies and hot chocolate for her son. He has no appetite since he ate lunch a while ago. He had a fine meal and then smoked a cigarette. He resumed reading, his mother entered again worried that her son has not touched the snack. He has no appetite, she puts her hand on his forehead to check if he has fever. He replied that everything was fine, and he was not

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hungry. She was satisfied with the answer and went to the kitchen to prepare something special for supper. Presently, he is seated in the reception room and plays his favorite instrument, the violin. He is accompanied on the piano by his future fiancée Ruge. Her blond curls emit rays like the sun, her delicate fingers dance about on the piano keyboard. She turns slightly her rose blushing face indicating that she was pleased with the musical accord reached by them. Her red carmine lips part slightly as if to smile while her deep sapphire blue eyes shine with enthusiasm, he feels happily drunk. His heart is full of joy and song as a spring insect around a rose, his feet begin to dance. A Sunday afternoon, the air is full of the scent of freshly blossomed roses, fresh hay, quietly flows the Wisla in its regular waterbed as though it was resting its afternoon rest. He is sailing with Ruge on the calm river. He looks dreamily ahead to the distant sky and spins sweet dreams about his future life with Ruge after he will finish his medical studies. He dreams of a honeymoon in Italy, a gondola ride in Venice, visits to the old antiquities in Rome, Mount Vesuvius in Pompeii. Soon all the sweet dreams will disappear with the first bomb explosion that wrecked their house and killed his mother. He and his fiancee let Warsaw but a German plane killed

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her along the road as it was strafing the fleeing civilian population. The German robbed him of the most precious possession, namely his fiancee. Everything occurred in front of him, the moment of her death, her last scream, they remained chiseled in his wounded heart. Her burning face as a result of fever and pain resembled the setting sun. Her pale lips uttered some incomprehensible words. She passed away in his hands. The people along the road barely separated him from her body and buried her in the forest. He sat and cried on her grave the entire night. He tried to hang himself on the tree next to the grave but the ever-marching crowd stopped him and dragged him with them to the city of Lemberg. In this city he drank the rest of his bitter prescription. Needy, penniless and hungry were his daily companions that escorted him every step of the way. He was incapable of conducting business deals. So he doted all his energies to the study of medicine. Before, the study was something of a hobby, a way to live in happiness with his sweetheart. Presently, it became a center of his life. For his mother was dead, his house destroyed, his happiness vanished and life became meaningless. The only thing

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left to do was to study medicine to which he devoted himself completely and hoped to understand the functioning of the human being. He attempted to understand the various medicines as they applied to his pains. This helped him to ease his physical and spiritual burdens. Frequently he felt far apart from the world madness that was all around and considered the combatants as sorts of microbes that fight each other, things that he observed through his microscope. Deep into the night he sat and studied his medical texts and journals in order to escape reality. He hardly stood on line for products, lunch he ate in the student cafeteria and subsisted on a small scholastic scholarshiPage He would on occasion stand in the bread line but most often his friends would help him even with this chore.

He spent hours on his metal bed daydreaming, his eyes wet from tears as he stared at the ceiling. He spoke to no one and heard on one. His soul wandered about the destroyed cemetery where his mother was buried or around the lonely grave of his sweetheart in the forest. He then thought that the entire world was but a cemetery that is full of human shadows that sway about without purpose or direction, no time limitation, no luck, no happiness, only death and destruction and destruction and death.

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Chapter 10

Leibish Roth's mother resided in Zloczew with distant relatives. He himself resided in Lemberg and hoped to fulfill his old dream of studying in an art school. He had a difficult time organizing his life and seemed forever lost. The chaos and anarchy resembled shifting sands along the shores. He did not know where to turn, or what to hold on to, this was not the Lemberg that he remembered. from his previous visit to the town before the war. He always dreamt about the city and hoped to study and live there. The beautiful streets, the attractive window displays and the electrified ads above the entrances to the stores, the well-dressed people promenading about along the clean swept sidewalks and boulevards. Everything seemed like a never-ending holiday. Presently, everything changed beyond recognition, the large stores were empty and the large display windows were boarded. The electric ads have ceased to shine. The people have undergone a transformation and their faces indicated fear and insecurity. Hunger was now the dominant theme. The search for money, merchandise and foreign currency became paramount. Hidden in books were the ideas of ethics, justice etc.. This is a deluge

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that knows no limit. The law of brute force was revived, strong arms dominated life and the queue. Connections with the new directors and managers of stores were of great importance. He that knew how to manipulate, sell and buy lived well and bought treasures. People that worked honestly were hungry and cold.. Cold and hungry people do not need paintings. The latter are being sold at the old markets for pennies amongst rags and worn pots, while the painters were starving. The same held true for other artists and scholars. In great demand were manufacturers of food and leather. Of great value were also experts in gold and foreign currency. The artist was lonely and a stranger everywhere in this chaotic period. Strange were also the schools, the teachers, and the students. The teachers told him that he has great potential. But he mistrusted everybody and everything since the slaughter in Dynow. Frequently, the school seemed to him like a wake for the death, but lacking self-involvement and then he heard in his mind the cantor Dawid Frishman start to pray. Sometimes he attended the theater or saw a movie but the sorrow and bitterness remained within his heart. The entire world seemed to him a theater stage, the people play their tragic role and vanish from the arena. The generations represent a chain of pain, suffering, luck and ill-luck, joy and distress all rolled into one long chain that is well mixed like hot cereal in the boiling pot and that is called life.

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He felt much better in the evenings at home reading the great psychological works of the great thinkers that explored men, the depth of his soul, the large accumulation of sadness and pain, the daily struggle of men with his beastly instincts. Philosophical and scientific works on nature and the world preoccupied him and gave him rest. His entire being was involved in these readings. Here he found peace and light as opposed to the darkness outside. Presently he also began to read the Yiddish literature, the tragedy of the Jewish people, the sorrow and tears of the Jewish soul. These elements were so close to him now that he felt they were written only for him. Frequently, his student friend in moment of sorrow would take his violin and play popular tunes that remained him of his dear mother and how he played with his fiancee for her. All this seemed presently like a legend of thousand in one night. The violin shed tears and so did his soul for the loss of his mother, for the lonely tombstone of his fiancee and for the short and tragic life that ends so abruptly. The violin also affected Leibtche Roth and memories started to reawaken. The various forgotten experiences of the past, namely when he sung solo in the synagogue near the holy arch. The entire community passed before his eyes presently as though it was a movie screening.

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Small wooden homes in narrow small passages where every small pebble meant something to him and where the entire population was but a family. Beautiful like a magical garden was the area around the river San in the spring. The recent blossomed fields looked like green carpets and with childish enthusiasm he meandered around the area carefully observing the trembling leaves and blades of grass still covered with the morning dew or pearls of water. The blue satin and flaming red roses hypnotized him like living blue eyes and flaming red lips. Flocks of birds circled and chirped above. He thought for a moment that all of nature; birds, tress, and the grass were singing with many voices an unknown tune. Then his heart joined the tune and he thought that he was part of living nature. The summer flew by very rapidly and the month of Elul was already here, he could hear the blowing of the shofar and the mystical feeling of the approaching high holidays in the small town. The feeling of the approaching judgment day and the whole atmosphere of praying for forgiveness brought the man to the realization that he was but a small part in the universe. This feeling spread through the Jewish quarter plus the fact that the weather too started to change, the trees were already naked and the fields were already partially harvested. Tall sunflowers, fully blossomed, that looked like flirting girls with their blond loose hair were still in evidence. The cloudy mornings began and the rusty colored sun awakened the Jews to Slichot or penance prayers. He then spent half days at the home of Yatcha Hazan or cantor with his friends studying the tunes of the High Holiday prayers. His brain was full of fantasies about

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his future in the world at large. Today, he realizes that the small town from which he was chased out was paradise. From there two people was expulsed way back in history. So was he brutally expulsed from his hamlet by forces of evil. Then he started to sing the song I want to go back to my shtetl. I do not want to be here where there is no friendshiPage Zigo provided the musical background. It was very touching and sad to see two young people acting as grandfathers reminiscing about their youth, the spring days of their youth, the beautiful age of their childhood that passed along time ago and is already covered with a blanket called time. Between them there was friendship although they came from different backgrounds, educational systems, and environments. They were united through their tragic destinies and their disappointments in men that they fervently believed in. For hours they discussed literature, art, and science. One had the feeling of being in an intellectual atmosphere in the small room. The third resident of the place was a young man from a small hamlet near Rzeszow (or Reishe in Yiddish). He was named Chaim Stein. He was completely different from the other two, he was pale, dreamy eyes, and hunched a bit that gave the impression that he just left the study center. He seemed to have closed the Talmudic book for a moment and will reopen the Pages any moment and continue to spin his dreams of the heavenly world. For years he led an ascetic life that separated him from the materialistic world and all it's vices

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and pleasures. He locked himself in the world of Halacha or Talmudic study between the walls of the study center. In the small dark Bayoner synagogue in Rzeszow he spent many years. From early morning to late in the evening, winter and summer he sat and studied the Talmud with the traditional study tune. He was not interested in the outside world or in its various temptations. In the small synagogue, he had his own small world that contained many spheres: the religious, the spiritual, the ethical that were more than a match for the outside world. He saw the light in his world. He was very familiar with the Talmud and also studied Kabbala that opened for him the mystical world, namely the noble world, the world of ideas, the world of thought, the creative world, the world of creation and the world of souls. Wherever he turned he saw the secrets of the heavenly world and the reincarnation of souls. He saw divine sparks that lie hidden or travel from place to place, from one level of life to another level, from vegetating to life, from life to desert, from stone to blossom, from blossom to life, from life to man. Every step tries to reach to the highest level of perfection that is man. At this stage man must return to the original stage of his being and that

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can only be accomplished through good deeds, prayers and pious thoughts. Man consists of sinful materials but he is the best heavenly creation. Within him function the heavenly, earthly and spiritual forces that can best be described in terms of two ideas: the forces of evil and goodness. Both forces struggle within man for absolute power from his birth to his death. It is the function of man to resist the earthly urges in order to reach higher levels of existence.

The road that seemed initially difficult and beyond reach, namely deprivations, denials, withdrawals, refusals to partake in daily festivities, financial manipulations, ascetic life style, sanctity and cleanliness, became part of his life and he felt comfortable with them. He felt that his life style was at a higher plane than most other people that worried about their daily chores. He delved into the mysteries of creations and began to understand some heavenly mysteries. He sympathized with the poor sinful people that chased meaningless items and compared it to children playing silly games while they miss the opportunity to acquire diamonds and jewels through study. He also read other books that came his way, the “Faith and Opinions”, the “Kozari”, the “Guide to the Perplexed”, “Akrim and the book of the union”, the “Sacrifice of Itzhak”, a religious philosophical book that reinforced his religious beliefs in good deeds.

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His mentor and guide since his youth was the famous Rabbi Yossef Reich, religious judge and head of the Reishe Yeshiva. He was famous in the entire area with his piety and exemplary conduct. He detested greed, refused to accept payment for religious adjudications, refused to accept money for circumcisions claiming that he does not want to be paid for good deeds. He fasted every Monday and Thursday. Never ate before midday, studied many a night Talmudic and Kabbala texts. In addition he was an excellent torah reader and leader of prayers at the synagogue. It was a great pleasure to talk to him and discuss with him matters while walking alongside him. He spent a great deal of time discussing Hassidism, Kabbala matters and the writings of Rabbi Yosef Karo. He shared with his young student some of his feelings that he did not reveal to the outside. He saw that his student felt the same way about things as the teacher. He was simply impressed the way the student listened to the stories that he told about the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hassidism, or about the famous Rabbi of Lublin. The nicest moment in his life occurred on Shabbat of Lag B'Omer (33 days in the Omer) when the Rabbi invited him to go along with him to a nearby village where he would perform a circumcision. The two spent many hours in discussions and interpretations that continued in to the late hours of the night.

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All around was quiet, the only sound came from nature namely the swaying of the trees. In the small room, the Shabbat candle was flickering and the Rabbi and his student were involved in serious discussions pertaining to the holiness of the day. They used various Kabalistic references and innuendoes while the entire village was sound asleePage They said that whoever is deemed worthwhile can see and hear the holiness of the Sabbath from every corner of the earth as well as from every tree or even wall. There is even a line that states “every stone in the wall could scream and every wooden handle could sing”. Of course, all the wicked people in Hell have a restful day on the Sabbath due to the fact that it is a prelude to entering paradise. Both continued their mystical discussions of the heavenly world. They then studied the “Atra Kadisha” and read the book of Zohar (A Kabbala book) where the death of Yohanan bar Yohai is widely and colorfully described. He then fell asleep and had wonderful and sweet dreams. Following lunch, the two continued their discussions along the river. They noticed the deep blue sky and stated that this was the purpose of the commandment to wear blue in order to remember the sky. The delicate grass and flowers trembled in the wind while the birds chirped. They saw heavenly signs everywhere, sparks, clues, indications. Everything was part of God's creation

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and everything was praying to him. Another deed, another heavenly explanation, or listening to another blessing, hearing a prayer, understanding the intention, these were their elements as opposed to the rest of the world that was preoccupied with earthly things.

The great Hitler hurricane whisked him away from is paradise, destroyed his hothouse with the glass surrounding the roses and dragged his entire milieu away from home to strange Lemberg. He was distantly related to Leibish Roth who took him in as a resident. The sweet dreams suddenly disappeared and the high hopes vanished when confronted with daily reality. He spent entire days in the queues to earn a living. Only in the evening did he study a small text that he took from some small synagogue. The text reminded him of his lost world and his rabbi that told him to run and save himself from the Germans. Who knows how his rabbi suffers there at the hands of the Germans. He remembered that the rabbi pointed out a few years ago that terrible things are in store for the Jews. But this generation was not ready for the revelation that appears in the book a student of the Baal Shem Tov wrote entitled “Toldot Yaakow Yossef”. The author hints that in the section of the torah reading of the week entitled “Ki Tissa” there is a reference to the year “Tesha” or 1941. The period of deliverance will begin, when the elements of matter and mind will unite. Then anti Jewish policies and edicts will begin. Slowly everything is beginning to materialize. He missed the Bayonner synagogue more than he missed home.

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Chapter 11

In the unsympathetic crowded dark little room, it is very quiet, a night like calmness from every corner. Through the frozen windows penetrate rays of a distant street light. Somewhere in a distance, a radio is blaring dance music, a choir singing New Year songs and people are celebrating and ushering in the New Year. Zigo is unhappily stretched out on his metal bed, smokes constantly cigarettes. He can not fall asleep as the cockroaches are irritating him. He is full of remorse and self-pity. Even the student ball and his large consumption of liquor did not help matters. He remembered how it was last year at this time. He ushered in the New Year at home with his mother and fiancee and then went to the student ball. Pitiful and hopeless seemed to him the present situation in comparison with the past. A sunny morning as opposed to a drizzling autumn evening. Does it pay to continue with this life and sufferings, will he ever reach a happy state. For him everything was dead. There was no more happiness for him in this world. Life was but a heavy load for him.

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Perhaps he should free himself of the burden. He would be very happy if he continued to sleep forever, this way he would be rid of everything and everybody. And perhaps it pays to take cyanide or industrial salt but his heart resented the idea. As a medical student he saw what happens to people that took these items namely terrible throat and stomach wounds. So silly to think of suicide and simultaneously think of the consequences. Just like a person decides to drown himself and then backs off because the water is cold. Deep in his heart he knew that all these plans were but foolish fantasies. The instinct of life in him was very strong. He talked to Leibish Roth who was also awake. He asked him what is life and tried to answer himself the question. Life is a beautiful appearance in nature. An artistic spin of contrasts, a mix of chemical, physiological and psychological processes that crisscross constantly within man and orders him about mechanically. Life is every minute, a blind force that drives through the fields and forests at great speeds and uproots weak plants. It seems that it is invincible but suddenly it disappears and no trace of it is left. Man is also a sort of storm that runs, flies, tries to reach the sky and when he fails he destroys everything in his way.

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What is his road, where is he going what is his goal, of what consists his driving force, no one will provide a clear answer to the question. Everybody is ruled by blind fate that has no aim, no beginning and no end. Silly notions, flying fata morganna pictures that melt very quickly and disappear in the empty desert dominate all. Man is like a small sand particle with all his creations and achievements as opposed to death that swallow him. Childish, naive and undefined are his ideas of happiness and luck. It is merely instant opium that relieves the sick when they are being amputated. In awakening they see the tragedy namely the missing limb and realize that it will be forever. Right was the Persian philosopher who described man as being born, suffering and dying. Leibish Roth agreed with the pessimistic ideas. You have it right said his friend. The world is a strong endless ocean storm in which man sails about with his small sailboat. He is tossed from side to side by the powerful waves until he is swallowed by the sea and covered by the water, forgotten by everybody. There are moments when I stand and respect the genius called man. I am amazed at his creations, his art that reaches to the depth of the earth and sea as well as to the high skies. At such moments I feel sorry about his tragic destiny that results in death. When I however begin to analyze his deeds and his behavior, he begins to appear in a different light.

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I am faced by a terrifying two legged animal that is far worse than a four legged beast. He destroys all holy creations with his filthy boots and steel fist. His is thirstier than a tiger. It seems to me that the world is but a jungle, a sort of Brazilian forest. The many different and colorful birds and the aromatic scents of the roses hypnotize man. He begins to think that he has reached paradise. Swiftly however he begins to see deadly snakes in every corner and behind every bush, bloodthirsty mosquitoes and flies around every rose bush waiting for some unlucky victim. Man also stays in his pen covered with a veneer called culture and civilization and one thinks we reached paradise on earth, then at a moment's notice, man begins to act like a wild bull on the loose. He destroys everything that the genius of man created for thousands of years. Yesterday's exploited man becomes today's tyrant. The world is full of murderers, thieves and robbers and it seems the only solution is the fact that man eventually dies.

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Chaim Stein awakened from a sweet dream of his youth where he studied at the yeshiva of the study center surrounded by youngsters of various ages. Some have curled peyot, others wear round shaped Polish hats, at the head of the table was Rabbi Yossef Reich. He leaned towards the table, his hat pushed back and he looked angry. You could see his intelligent forehead. The nearsighted glasses reflected from a distance. His face and the imposing red beard revealed contentment. He looked like a saintly figure. Chaim awakened and continued to recite by heart in the accepted tune the Page of Talmud that he saw in the dream. This reminded him of the Bayonner synagogue where he sat in the corner next to the big hot stove. Before him spread out the book entitled “Hovat Halvavot Shar Ahava” where it is written that man must love his God. Next to the Holy Arch stood Kalman Kinstler, an old man with a snow white beard and his glasses on his forehead, concentrating on his psalms, especially the line, “ Oh God let me know how many days I have left to live”. He recited the line with a special tune as though it was meant for him. Each word was expressed with such intensity and purpose that it attracted the listeners. Everything disappeared like in a desert mirage and he is far away from home with strange friends that share his tragic fate. The blaring radio made him more nervous. The found the sentence very appropriate “kill oxen and slaughter sheep for tomorrow we will

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be dead anyway”. He heard the dialogue between the two friends and decided to add his comments. For years I was isolated and concentrated in the study of holy texts and other books in order to understand the meaning of life and death. The purpose of man's short but frequently stormy existence is to know where he must reach and what is his goal in life. I experienced my happenings in my lifetime. I sometimes thought that the world is but a big cemetery. Time represents the gravedigger who buries everybody, single people and groups, generations after generations, nation after nation is swallowed up in the deep earth. Wherever I looked I saw but tombstones, statues and old dusty inscriptions. Even the homes, palaces, cities and villages seemed to me like monumental traces of previous generations. The people like spineless creatures. Ants, flies, bees that fly and buzz in preparation for the spring, the honey will be ready in the fall, suddenly everything disappears into the ground and leave everything behind. Thus is the cycle of the world, a generation blossoms and another disappears, then comes another and another. There is no luck for man since he carries within the seed of his demise, similar to the bark of the tree. In his youth, man runs after his luck that seems a bit ahead but he can never reach it since the distance remains

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always the same. Similar to the rear tires of the car that can never reach the front tires. Man only perceives this concept in his old age but he sees it in other people all the time. The Talmud brings us the following example regarding the tombstone of Moses. Those that stand below the mountain saw him standing on the top of the mountain while those that stood at the top of the mountain saw it at the bottom. Man sees it in his wife and vice-versa. Both see it in the future generation and so...The concept of luck does not exist what exists is the pursuit of it. It drives people crazy but they never reach it, man is never satisfied, he always needs more. No matter how much he drinks, whether sea water or well water, he needs more for he is always thirsty. Gradually he sinks in the swamp of his needs and can not pull out. His heart has been converted to the need and he must provide it regardless of costs. He eventually becomes a wild beast that devours everything to satisfy the need. No pleading will stop the beast, not even the appeals of mother and their children. To the beast all people look like beasts and therefore can suck the blood of the young motherly heart and kill the young child that he

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will bring as food to the cubs. The latter will get used to the smell of blood and taste of meat. Nations and people sink into this sewer and cover it with all kinds of glorified titles such as holiness and nationalism. Supposedly these names grant the barbaric behavior of killing and slaughtering some sanctity and rational justification. Instead of being happy with the results of the plunder, the reverse usually occurs namely that they are cursed with the curse of Kane of having killed his brother Abel. This is the way that the non Jewish world functions throughout history, there is no religion or religiosity, everything is a veneer, even the corpses are wrapped in this type of veneer in order to protect them from the rotten core namely the fist and the sword. The killer princes and slave dealers belonged to the upper crust of society amongst the Moslems who adored the sword and called for a holy war and among the Christians that supposedly preached to be kind to the enemies and to present the other cheek to the attacker. In reality the situation was very different, with filthy hands from the slave trade and bloody hands from robbing and thieving they came to church to beg forgiveness from wooden and stone statues. The priests received them with open arms and smiles as though they were merchants after their money. The latter bowed and kissed the statues and were promised forgiveness in this world and paradise in the hereafter. For the slave there was also a message namely be obedient and listen to the orders of the killer rulers. There was never a prophet of the statue of a Yeshayahu in Christianity that would say to the leaders that their hands are full of blood and plunder. From the widows and orphans that were robbed and killed or that their hands are deeply involved in the slave trade where they sell their own brothers

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like cattle at the market. The priests themselves are also involved and participate in these evil deeds. They indeed represent the line written by the prophet Yashayau” to slaughter people and kiss heifers”. The wooden and stone statues represent their father and God. Then and now, the Polish and Ukrainian priests were the teachers and educators of the “Endeka” (Polish right wing anti-Semitic and extreme Nationalistic group ) pogrom bands and the “ Unda “(Ukrainian right wing anti-Semitic and extreme Nationalistic group) bandits and ruffians. All these elements wait for the day when they can kill the Jews. Thousands of German priests pray in their churches for the German victory. The modern Jew is also to blame for he tries to sit on both sides of the fence. He talks in the name of ethics and justice and on the other hand insists that there is no divine reward and punishment. Therefore one can enjoy all the pleasures in life without fear of punishment. Foolish is the one that does not take advantage of these vices. Thus, the people are practically driven to enjoy and partake in all kinds of pleasures, for they are promised that there will be no payment to be made. All of these people forget that a young heart is mean, this fact is explicitly stated in the torah and nobody has so far been able to deny it. No human law can ever regulate the life of the individual and certainly can not deracinate the brutality that is buried deeply in the heart and waits for an opportunity to let loose. Then it feels free to do as it pleases, regardless of religious injunctions or conscience. He can even terrorize his father if he

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will be in his way or will not be able to work. He will bury his friend with his tongue or pen or hand if he knows that no punishment awaits him. He will trip a blind man and steal the last bite of food from people. He will be gruesome to those condemned that wait for his mercy. As the prophet Daniel describes the cruelty of the judicial system of the rule of Nebuchadnezer who never freed prisoners. His legal system consisted only of death clauses, he merely wanted to bury all those arrested. He never heard of the commandments of the torah: “Cursed be the one that beats his friend in secret. Cursed be the one that trips the blind. Cursed be the one that steals from his friend, that takes bribes to beat an innocent person, that gives incorrect testimony relating to widows and orphans. Curse be the one that curses his father and mother and does not obey the commandments of the torah”. The non-believer does not have these compulsions. He will merely face a bottomless pit into which he eventually sinks whether he does good or bad deeds. Man, if you seek the honest and just way of humanism, if you seek a purpose in life, or salvation of body and soul. You must each day

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set aside two hours from the tumultuous life and sit down in the old synagogue near the eternal light and respectfully concentrate on the inscription that is written: “ God is always before me”. Open the old historical holy books namely the old torah and familiarize yourself with the noble legal laws. The basis of these laws are of course the ten commandments. I am your God, do not serve graven images, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not seek your friend's house, and listen to the preachings of the prophets that call you to witness their warnings. The earth and the heavens are also witnesses to these proclamations. Deepen your study of the Talmud and the moral preachings of the scholars. Then a new eternal world will open before your eyes over which death has no control and luck does not figure. You will see yourself as a small world into yourself with one soul. Then you will not fear or be terrified of things in life. Even death will not terrify you. You will comprehend the meaning of going from one stage of life to another stage. The soul frees itself from the materialistic environment and enters a sphere of spirituality. Then you will see a beautiful life in every corner and on every blade of grass and leaf. You will hear

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the wonderful song of nature. Your heart and soul will accept even things that you do not understand. Your face will always show contentment and satisfaction. You will be happy to fulfill every good deeds that comes your way. Quiet and peaceful without fear will be your days.

They continued to discuss various subjects. The religious views expressed by Chaim amazed Zigo and Leibish. They were surprised and a bit jealous. For Chaim believed in absolute terms regardless of the situation and stood on solid ground in defending his beliefs in spite of the appearance of a broken down human being. In his heart was the strong religious belief that will enable him to face many difficult situation but he will navigate them with success. He seemed happier that they were, he was not influenced by red lips that wither with time nor mesmerized by blue eyes and wavy gold hair that shine but a few minutes and then loose their luster, turn pale, grey, full of tears and eventually forgotten. This is all nonsense in contrast to the eternal light that burns in his heart from his youth. Perhaps it pays to familiarize oneself with the bible and the religious philosophical works.

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