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English Section

 

Mariampole, Lithuania

 

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The Sheshupe – painting by Eli Kaplan

 

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Corner of Basanavicius Square
Drawing by M. Rozentalis

 

Editor: Avraham Tory–Golub

Associate Editors:
Zahava Arieli–Pilvinski, Israel
Chanoch Wietenberg
Jehuda Kaplan, New York, USA

Graphics: Ezra Ezra


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Mariampole on the river Sheshupe (Lithuania)

 

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The Mayor of Mariampole publicly deplores Anti–Jewish riots – 16.12.1926

 

Published by a Committee of survivors from Marijampole in Israel

Dr. Baruch Ben Yehuda–Leibovitz, President
Adv. Avraham Tory–Golub, Chairman
Zahava Arieli–Pilvinski, Vice Chairman
avraham Dembner, Secretary
Itzhak Geva–Garbarovitz, Treasurer

Members of the Committee:
Shalom and Julia Grodzenski; Bella Halperin; Shoshana Jacobson; Shevach Levin
Painter Leib Mergoshilski; Chaya Meklenburg; Painter Moshe Rozentalis; Chanoch Wietenberg, Shabtai Garbarovitz

Honorary President: Julius (Jehuda) Kushner, New York, USA

Printer: Shmuel Segal, Tel–Aviv, 1983

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

In appreciation of his Leadership, devotion and
invaluable contribution for the
publication of this book
We recognize our beloved
JULIUS KUSHNER,
President of the Mariampoler Aid Society in New York
President of the Mariampoler Aid Society in New York
for over half a century as
HONORARY PRESIDENT
of this Book Committee.

In recognition of our Fellow Mariampoler
JULUIS CAPLAN, New York
for his fraternal cooperation and valuable stories
on Mariampol and Mariampoler in the United States
for publication in this book–
HONORARY MEMBER OF THE EDITORIAL STAFF OF THIS BOOK.

In fond Remembrance of our Fellow Mariampoler
the later HIRSCH SUDARSKI, N.Y.
In recognition of his gracious contribution, left in
his Last Will for the publication of this book.

Avraham Tory – Golub
The Editor

Zahava Pilvinski–Arieli Chairman Book Committee

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FRATERNAL GREETINGS
TO THE DISTINGUISHED LEADERS AND
DEVOTED MEMBERS OF

The Mariampoler Aid Society
of Chicago, Illinois

ON THEIR 75TH ANNIVERSARY

In recognition and appreciation of their untiring
efforts through the years for the needy among our
Mariampoler Landsleit everywhere

We are pleased and greatly honored to

DEDICATE THIS ENGLISH SECTION OF THIS BOOK

May the eternal values of Judaism and the heritage of
love, devotion and mutual sense of belonging,
brought along from Mariampol – guide us all in our
common goal – for many, many years to come.

Tel–Aviv, Israel – 1983
Avraham Golub–Tory
Editor
Zahava Pilvinski–Arieli
Chairman Book Committee

 

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Editor's Note

A full generation after its destruction we submit, with awe and reverence, this book describing the story of the Jewish community of Mariampole (Lithuania), from its inception until its tragic end.

The publication of this book is an observance of a debt of honor to perpetuate the blessed memory of the Leaders, Educators, Scholars and members of the Jewish community of Mariampole, known as “AMCHO” people who are no more with us, and to whom we are tied with deep roots of common heritage, brother hood, and affection.

A considerable part of this book focusses on the Holocaust and its aftermath, describing how a total community systematically exposed to oppression and panic, hermetically cut off from the outside world was deceived into believing they were being “resettled” for work elsewhere, when in fact they were being taken to outdoor execution pits – the Marzinkes” – in the outskirts of Mariampole.

It has been a harrowing ordeal preparing for print the stories of eye–witnesses of unimaginable atrocities who were now persuaded to recollect what they had been trying to forget for more than forty years.

Under the constant threat of death, collective resistance was virtually impossible because by the time community leaders and members of the Ghettos grasped the reality that they were doomed to be killed no matter what they did, they were completely barred by evil forces and abandoned by all. Nevertheless individuals and even groups resisted disregarding all perils. they have done it in many ways with more physical resistance than is generally known, and under conditions that are scarcely credible. Even marching to the mass grave in the outskirts of Mariampole, many Jews wrapped in “Taleisim” (prayer shawls) chanted psalms, sanctifying God (“Kiddush Hashem”) while some others proudly sand the “Hatikva”.

In the early seventies a booklet appeared in England entitled “Did Six Million Really Die? – The Truth at Last”, which denied the Holocaust. this and other Neo–Nazi publications have since proliferated throughout the world, discrediting the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

The trend to negate the inhumanity of the Nazi crimes should worry not only Jews, but all decent–minded people, and must be strongly denounced and rejected from the very beginning. If Jewish World Leaders and Heads of democratic countries had paid more attention to the Nazi movement in its initial stage – the tragedy of the extermination of millions of Jews might have been avoided.

This book is a modest contribution in refuting the malicious attempts to deny the worst historical crime ever committed and to remind us of the tragic sin of omission of not fighting the Neo–Nazi movement in its initial stage.

With very limited sources, working with only a few survivors from the once flourishing Jewish community of Mariampole, we have tried to penetrate their inferno and to record the scope of their suffering and physical ordeal in trying to fathom, and then to resist, the Nazi tyranny.

The Editor takes responsibility and apologizes for any omissions, errors or inaccuracies that may be found in this book.

Avraham Golub–Tory
Editor
Tel–Aviv, 1983

 

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Vytauto Street, Mariampole

 


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The M.A.S. Bulletin

Published Monthly by the MARIAMPOLER AID SOCIETY, CHICAGO
Staff:
Albert Margowsky, Sonia Kurs, Bernard Lewis
Louis Lieberman
Chicago, Illinois, Special Edition, March, 1949

A Portrait of Mariampole

“Mariampole”. One corner of the Market place began with Dovid Berkson's house. An extensive junk business, flax and hog bristles business was carried on from there. Nearby was the firehouse with its fire fighting equipment and alarm bell. A water pump was near the firehouse. Rosenthal's Drug Store was opposite the “Shpritsarnie” firehouse. The “Folk's Bank” occupied the second floor of this building in the later years. Iwashkovsky's “Galanterei” store was also in this building. Lichtenberg's Grocery, Nachimowsky's Bakery, Friedberg's woolen goods store were next. London's Grocery, Yehudah Abbe Levinsohn's woolen goods store, Leiser Rosenthal's and his son Abba Yitchok's hardware, Moishe Dovid Heyman's leather goods store bring us to Warshaver Gaas. A narrow street leads to the Sheshupe River. A pump with “Good Water” is at this point. Nearing another corner of the Market Place, we come to the “Evropeisky Gostinitse” hotel. Abelson's yard goods business, and a non–Jewish cooperative store in the near of which lived Lipmanovits “Der Feldsher”, Chaim Shimen “Der Limonadnik” (soda water manufacturer), Chane Golde Goldstein, Altschuler, Bandalin, Moshiach, the tailor, and the public bath house. Further down lived Reb Shlome “Der Dian” and Izaak Achron. A narrow street divides this point and upon turning to Bartling's drug store near Vilkovisker Gaas, “Kovner Gaas” lies straight ahead, and Perets Bloch and his son Mendel's tobacco store. Garbarsky's beer house and restaurant are next, then Ruttenberg Shmeril's hardware, Ribitski's food store, and the Beth Hamedrash Shul Heiff.

Modern engineers wouldn't call the heating system of old Mariampole very efficient. Wood and turf were the medium for obtaining heat. Ovens were of brick or of tiles (Kachlies). The soot which accumulated in the chimneys often caused fires. Carbon monoxide fumes caused by the turf gave headaches and were sometimes fatal. Remember???

Winter in Mariampole also had its joyous moments. It was a treat for the young to “catch” a ride on a sleigh. The jingling of sleigh bells gave a merry feeling to old Mariampole. Happy was the boy or girl who had a relative who possessed a sled or knew of a farmer with a sled. The young would pile in the sleighs, cheeks glowed with youth and joy as the old horse pulled the sleds over the frozen streets and roads. Remember???

It happened in the pioneering days when two Mariampoles settled in a small country town. They were junk peddlers. Each morning they would drive out into the country, buying up waste materials. Their travels often took them to nearby towns where they peddled all day, and at night would board their horse and themselves in a livery stable. It so happened that once our junkmen stayed out late in town and when coming back to the livery found the office locked and the hay mow bare. “Where can we lie down?”, they asked the attendant. “Down yonder is a wagon where you may sleep,” he answered. They crawled in, to their surprise they even found some blankets inside. They covered up and slept peacefully. The morning came, stretching themselves, they looked upon last night's lodgings. To their amazement they saw it was, believe it or not, a hearse.

Remember the thrill when you finally acquired American citizenship? After months of studying the “answers” which might be asked, you are in the Federal court with your witnesses. you appear before the Naturalization Judge ready and loaded to answer the judge's questions, but feel disappointed when the questions and examination fail to materialize. Old Glory stands in front of you; you look at it with love thinking “Soon this Flag will be my Flag”. You take the oath of citizenship, you pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. You are now an American citizen. The greatest prize anyone could wish for. Remember???

Occasionally, there came to Mariampole, a circus with trick horse riders, clowns, animals, etc. but what intrigued Mariampole children was an American Negro wrestler who came with a circus. The children couldn't believe that his black color was natural, so they gave it several tests. One of these tests was to spit on the man's hands and try to rub off the black. The colored man was good natured and seemed to get fun out of this procedure.

The Hebrew Gymnasia which was inaugurated in 1918 in Mariampole once performed “William Tell” near the Samanke barracks. Who would have thought that 25 years later our loved ones would be murdered there?

Remember the “Mizrach” pictures on walls of

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Jewish home in Old Mariampole? It was an ornately decorated picture with inscriptions such as “If I forget Thee Oh Jerusalem” or such other sayings from the Bible. Some of these “Mizrach” pictures were real treasures of Jewish art.

“Ein gildein Uhm shlieshie” …Tswei gildeins uhm Mafteer”..Remember the auctions in the synagogues of Old Mariampole? Bertchik Der Shames, the Hachnosas Ohrchiem Klaus, and reb Itchik Leib in the “Shul” had their special melody for the selling of “Mitzvohs.” Ya–amed Reb.” Remember???

Koenigsberg in Eastern Prussia was known for its famous doctors and was often visited by Mariampoler sick. Remember the case of a Mariampoler mother whose child died while in Koenigsberg? The poor mother wanted her child buried in Mariampole, so without telling anyone about her great sorrow, she carried her child all the way on the train and “Karetke” (carriage) and brought it home.

When the horses of the “9th Dragun” regiment of Old Mariampole got old, they were sold at Public Auction. The buyers were carriage – “Karetke” drivers and farmers. These drill horses didn't like their new assignment and it took much “breaking” their sporty Cavalry habits. the methods used in “training” them were indeed cruel, making them pull heavy laden vehicles, whipping them liberally.

“Mariampole”. In the center of the market place stood a long building which held many stores, call the “Mark Kromen”, a small world by themselves. Zymansy, Sudarsky, Dafker, Outster, Feive and Akiva Endelman, Leiserovits, Epstein, Krisniansky, Fishelewitz, Kricevich, and many others had their stores there. the merchandise in these stores were such as hardware, yard goods, tobacco, cigarettes, bread, herring and salt, boots, leather, iron and structural steel, kerosene, spices, etc. booths selling soda water and sweets were on either side of the “Mark Kromen”. Additional stands filled the market place on Wednesdays and Fridays. On the regular market days, displaying bric–a–brac, cheap jewelry, large loaves of white bread, fruits, cheese, farm products such as butter, eggs, shavei (spinach) in season, earthen pots, wheat, etc. Back of the booths were stands for wagons for hauling sand, cement and other building materials, and nearby were the stations for carriages (Karetkes), later, auto bus stands.

Do you know that the famous composer and violinist Joseph Achron was Mariampoler?

Bartling's drug store of Old Mariampole could have been a model even for America. Its cleanliness, highly polished floors, the rows of ultra shining porcelain medicine jars, the super professional atmosphere called a customer's respect to the place. With hats off people gave their order to a business–like clerk. Prescriptions were packed in boxes or bottles to which a long slip was attached with a copy of the prescription and the doctor's and patient's name.

Perets Bloch, the tobacco man had a son Mendel who was a type by himself. Although friendly, learned and respected, he hardly had close friends. One of his friends was Motke Levinson. Mendel could be seen at any late hour in the night walking in “Spatsier Gorten” (park). He seldom wore a hat. Although he love to discuss high politics, he looked down on political parties and never joined any. Each Saturday he would show up late for services at Synagogues.

Planning for sonny boy's career began when he quit “Cheder” (school). As the final goal for most boys was America, relatives were consulted. Parents wanted for their son an “Eidele Mlocho”, a refined trade. With industrial possibilities being limited, the desired “Refined” trades were watch repairing, printing or photography. A contract was then made between the boy's father and the Boss craftsman, whereby the apprentice would serve a number of years free, often paying while learning the trade. One of the duties of the apprentice was collecting of bills. Russian officers in Old Mariampole were usually the biggest debtors. The 20th of each month was their pay day, a date for which the creditors waited. Buchalter, the photographer, often sent “His Boys” to collect bills from Russian officers. Once an apprentice was sent to collect an officer's past due bill. “Budiet Streliat”, he will shoot, warned the soldier servant of the officer when told the purpose of his visit. Not heeding the good advice, our collector walked bravely in, bill in hand, to the room where the officer was. Soon he discovered that a wild drinking party was going on in the room. The table was full of vodka bottles and on the couch lay guns and swords. “Don't shoot him”, pleaded someone to the officer who approached the frightened boy with a gun in his hand. A pain in the back, a shove, a kick and a wave of fresh cool air brought the would–be collector back to his senses as he found himself stretched out in the yard.

“Mariampole”. All roads and lanes leading to Mariampole were alive with activities on Wednesdays and Fridays. Produce laden wagons

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brought their wares to market. The market place was a busy trading center on these days. The bargaining between buyer and seller, the hand clasp when a deal was finally agreed upon. The noises of the cattle, chickens, geese and hogs, the trotting of horses, the rolling of wagon wheels over the stone cobbled place, the laughter of farm women, commands of the police as they ordered the wagons about, all created a symphony of noises. Brisk trading went on till late in the afternoon. The wagons now empty of produce but full with merchandise which the farmers bought in town would begin to roll towards home and farm.

There were percales and ginghams for women's dresses; there was hardware, lumber, boots, leather, harness, suits and dishes in the wagons. Some farmers didn't use their hard earned money so wisely. they stayed in beer houses until they got drunk and then would start a “Battle Royal”, and the police had to use their sabers to quell the fight. Jewish storekeepers were anxious to wind up their business as early as possible on Friday afternoon in order to be ready for Shabbas. A nod of the fine head of Reb Shlomo Der Dian as he walked by the stores on Friday was the command for the storekeeper to close his doors, for the workman to lay down his tools, for the driver to put his horse in the barn, for everyone to get washed and dressed for Shabbas. Soon Sabbath candles were gleaming from Jewish windows. Jews in the Shabbas best, hair and beards still wet from a hurried wash, shoes shining, would be heading for the Beth Hamidrash, Synagogue and “Klaus”. The busy market place was now quiet, a lazy rest was over the city, the spirit of Shabbas even influenced non–Jewish stores and they too closed. Houses of prayer were well lit now, the hanging candle holders “Hang Leichter” were filled with burning candles. “L'Cho Doudee” “Come my bride” sand the congregation greeting the welcome Shabbas. If there happened to be a mourner in the congregation he was comforted by other worshipers as they turned towards him when the Sexton announced his presence. The Cantor chanted the “Kiddush” blessing over the wine. Bidding each other “Good Shabbas”, the audience started for home, but not before making sure that the “Orcheem” poor travelers who stood by the door were provided with a place to eat.

Mr. Sam Gittelman had this amusing story to tell. “It was c lose to Passover and I was collecting “Moes Chitim”, money to help poor families out on Pesach. Everyone approached gave freely, all but one rich man who always avoided giving. “Moes Chitim”, I said to the others with me, must be obeyed by each and every Jew. There is no way out of it. One either gives the cause or if he is not able to give, he must take. Let's fix this miser.” So we got to work and made up a heaping basket with”Pesachdige” food. Matzos, wine, chicken, fruit and all the other trimmings, even “Charoses” and sent the same over to the man's home. It wasn't long after that the miserly man came running in our “Shul”. “What's the meaning of sending me the basket. I can afford to pay for my own,” he said. “If you can afford, brother, then why did you refuse to contribute to the “Moes Chitim Matzo Fund?” I said. And believe it or not, the miser came across nicely. It cost him a nice penny before we agreed to take the basket back,” said Mr. Gittelman.

Faithful to tradition, Mariampolers liked their herring. There was no limit to the variety of dishes which the lowly herring provided. There was chopped, cooked, pickled, stewed, baked and roasted herring and of course plain good Schmaltz herring with or without potatoes. For the poor man a herring was a blessing. Just kill a herring and the family had its meal. Even the “Liok” (brine) of the herring was good; just boil potatoes, dip them in “Liok” and you had a dish fit for a king. The best herring in town was to be had at the Leizer Yirmiouh Segal store. Their herrings were thick bellied, fat backs – “a M'Chaie.” Ginsburg, the richest Jew in the town would buy his herring there. He liked to dig deep in the barrels and fished around until he got what he wanted. A generous portion of “Liok” as “Magaritch” (free gift) went with the purchase of herring.

The “Minyan” at Mendel Dem Schneiders was filled on Purim night. The men were in the main room awaiting the reading of the “Megilah,” the “Book of Esther” and the women in the anteroom. boys were practicing their “Klappers” and “Driers” which are to be brought to action when the name of the hated Haman was to be mentioned by the Reader. The odor of fresh baked “Homentashen” was in the house. Finally the reader chants the beautiful story of Mordechai, Esther, King Achashverous, Queen Vashti, Haman and his wicked ten sons. How they plotted to kill the Jews of Shushan in Persia and how, by the will of God, Haman himself was hanged on the high scaffold which he prepared for the Jews. The skirts of the women were wrapped around the chairs and on the floors and resembled the drapings of a piece of multicolored cloth. An invitation to a certain young girl to get busy to sew women's dresses together. When the Megilah reading was over, and the women picked themselves up to go, they found themselves very much in one piece. It took much string pulling, cutting of threads and angry expressions

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until they were untangled. The guilty prankster??? Elka Margowsky, known to some as Mrs. Ella Passman.

Deep in the heart of us, there is a hidden wish to do good. The Mariampoler Aid Society is a real agent to carry out this wish. Whatever work we put into our organization, we get paid for it a thousand fold, knowing that someone is being helped through us.

Unhurried with steps as if counted was the homeward walk of people leaving the synagogue on Friday nights. Ceremonial and dignified was father's Shabbas greetng as he entered the house, “Peace be with you”, “Good Shabbas”, “Welcome Angels of Peace”, were his greetings. Chanting praises to his wife. “Eishes Chaeel.” “The woman of Valor” and the Kiddush, the Friday night repast was begun. Eating of the meal was unhurried with “Zemiroth” family singing in between. When the meal was over, the family went outside for a “Bit of fresh air.” Older folks sitting on the doorstep or benches talked about the “Shul”, the “Chazan” (Cantor), about city politics or gossiped about others. The younger ones took a walk on “Warsaver Gaas” in the “Shpatsier Gorten”, on the streets leading to Kovno, as far as the Post office, or on the highway, on “Prenner Gaas” leading to Tubun, and on “Kalvarier Pliant”. Their talks consisted of dreams of adventure, of faraway lands where they hoped to be some day, of youthful plans and of romance. Their lusty voices could be heard during the night as they sang Jewish, Hebrew and Russian songs. The singing often intermingled with the “Vartoveek” watchman's signals, as he called out “All's Well”. Mariampole was deep in the charms of “Oneg Shabbas”, the pleasures of the Sabbath, a sweetness that held on until sundown of Saturday when the magic disappeared and the Prince of Saturday was again turned into the slave of the week, with all the worries about “Chiune” of earning the mere daily bread, etc.

There were some people in old Mariampole who didn't believe in doctors. They had methods of their own for a “sure cure” – some went to the cemetery and prayed to the dead to intercede for them. They measured the graves of their dead relatives and donated candles to the synagogue, in proportion to the size of the string with which the grave measured.

“A Sadovnik” was a man who contracted orchards for the fruits which they will produce. Soon after the trees would bloom, the “Sadovnik” began watching over “his” trees like a baby. When the pears, apples, or cherries started to mature, the “Sadovnik” moved into the orchard, watching the crop against mischievous boys and fruit thieves. His entire family helped in picking the fruit and bringing it to market where it was sold to the “Tishel Sitzenins” women who had fruit stands on the market place. Remember???

The approach of “Purim” caused many activities in Mariampoler homes. Mead had to be brewed “Mead Breien” it was called. “Rossel Shtelen” was another of mother's worries. Mrs. Sadie Liberman giver her mother's recipe for “Buriky Stellen”. First we selected choice “Burikes” (beets). After they were cleaned, they were peeled and cut in small pieces. They were then put in a large earthen pot, onions, a little garlic and other spices were also added. Water was then put into the pot to cover the beets. Then a wooden cover and a heavy stone weight was placed on top. It was then let stay for period of about six weeks. When all was done, the “Burikes” (beets) and “Rossel” (beet juice) were ready to serve in various dishes. “Burik Tsimmes”, “Rossel with meat. Beets were also used for that delicious confections “Burik Eingemachts” (beet preserves).

There was one “profession” in Old Mariampole which was seasonal. It was the occupation of a “Shalach Mones Tregger”. The person who delivered Purim gifts on Purim and Shushan Purim. The gifts consisted mainly of oranges, boiled beans, “Boore Arbes” Homentashen, and other such delicacies. The “Shalach Mones” was laid on a plate and covered with a white napkin or cloth. The “Tregger” would receive a money tip, or a Hometash for his services. “Purim sayings”, A gants yohr shiker and Purim nichter”. “Purim, Purim nieku nie tureem.” (Drunk during the year but sober on Purim. – It's Purim, but we still have nothing.) It is customary for amateur players “Purim Shpieler” to visit homes on Purim night. Dressed as King Achashverous, Queen Esther and Mordechai, they would act their performances, receiving coins which went towards the Matzoh fund for the poor.

With the approach of Pesach, Mariampole took on a new face. Ice has finally melted and the water is flowing merrily toward the “Yevonke” creek, and the “Sheshupe” river. The “Shpatsier Gorten” awakened from its winter slumber, its paths clean, trees budding, the military band entertaining. The Matzo bakeries are finishing their orders. The long awaited “Pesach” (Passover) has finally arrived. The “Seders” were observed by all. Each man was a King and the hard working wife a Queen at the family “seder” table. The first days of Passover were

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observed joyously. Boys and girls played games with “Pesachdige Nees.” Hazelnuts, walnuts. Families visited, tasting each other's “Burike” eingemachts and “ingberlach” (beet preserves and ginger candies). Children proudly showing off their new “Garniters” (suits of clothes). Father humming a tune for the “Haggadah”. It was hard to believe that it was the same father who was so “fardriget” (worried) before Pesach not knowing where the money for the Pesach needs would come from. The house is clean, furniture scrubbed and “Kashered” with hot water and heated stones. Walls and ceilings white washed. The “Chasan” (Cantor) in the “Shul” and his choir are chanting new melodious spring prayers. Pesach is here and everyone is happy. Remember???

The city looked deserted on Saturday mornings; stores were closed; no wagons were to be seen anywhere. However, there was plenty of activities and life in the Houses of Worship on Saturday morning in Old Mariampole. From early morning, men, women and children were going to Shul. Children often got tired from the long Sabbath Service and Moishe

 

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An “Amcho” man – painting Moshe Rozentalis

 

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the “Unter Shamas” had his hands full to keep the boys from mischief. However, as soon as Reb Leibtschick “Der Shamas” (Sexton) began his auction of the honors to be called up for recitation of the blessing over the open Torah, the children would slip out for play, returning when the prayers were almost over and receiving a mean look from father for that willful absence.

Shabbas Hagodel, the Saturday before Passover was the last call to Passover. The supply of Matzohs was already in its corner covered with white clothes and mother guarding it, less some unforeseen piece of bread or other “Chomets” would fall in there. It was customary for everyone in the household to recite a portion of the “Haggadah”, the story of the “Exodus from Egypt” on Shabbas Hagodel. In the Beth Hamidrash a large congregation listened to the Rabbi's “Shabbas Hagodel” “Drosho”, the sermon was usually a deep argument about some subject in the Talmud. “Pilpul” which was understood only by those who studied “Gemoro” (Talmud), but “Amcho” the plain folks nodded their heads as if they too understood the Rov's (Rabbi's) “Pilpul” (Talmudic arguments). “Shabbas Hagodel” and Shabbas Teshuvah”, the Saturday before Yom Kippur when the Rov (Rabbi) would preach in Old Mariampole.

“Mageedem” traveling preachers, furnished the spiritual relaxation to our parents during the rest of the year. Shabbas Hagodel…Remember???

The “Bal M'loches (workmen) of Old Mariampole had their own “Minyan” (Prayer circle) in the “Klaus” of the “Beth Hamidrash”. This group was known as the “Chevrah Poaleem.” The Workmen's Association. The services there were pious, but less ceremonious and therefore ended sooner than in “Beth Hamidrash”. Here in their own “Klaus” working people felt much at home; there they were treated to “Alious” for a “Brocho” (blessing recitations over the holy scroll and other such honors which at the Beth Hamidrash were reserved for the so–called upper class. Coming home after services father recited the “Kiddush” a blessing over wine or bread. After that came the “Forshpeis”, appetizers of gefilte fish, herring, etc. While waiting for the “Tsholent”, the main Shabbas meal, the family sang “Zemireth” (Sabbath) songs. The “Tsholent” which was put away in the neighborhood bakery on Friday afternoon is finally brought home and enjoyed by all. It often happened that when the Tsheropke”, the earthen pots which contained the “Tsholent” were uncovered, that the food was found burned or undercooked, or got mixed with someone else's “Tsholent” and the baker owner had to do much explaining to the “Baalebostes” (housewives).

May first was an exciting day in Mariampole in 1905. The Russians have just lost the war with Japan. Revolution and dissatisfaction were in the air and its echo was also felt in our home town. Homes were searched by “Zandarms” (secret police). “Strazniks” (policemen) looked suspiciously at each young man and women, especially those who wore long red “Rubashkes” (blouses) and men who let their hair grow long, a la Revolutionaries. That morning found Mariampole flooded with revolutionary proclamations calling to throw off the “Samoderzave” sole ruling Czarist government; it also called for an “8 hour work day and for a Democratic Republic. It ended with the clarion call “Doloi Samo Dershave”. Down with the Czar. But in spite of the police, groups of workmen and students gathered on “Warshaver” street and paraded and somehow the police did not interfere but the next day or two saw many arrests of young ones. Remember???

Saturday afternoon's nap was an established tradition in homes in Mariampole. It was a pleasure one never allowed himself on week days. The length of the Shabbas nap depended much on how tasty was the “Tsholent”. After the nap, Shabbas tea was served, another Shabbas institution. Fire not being permitted on Saturdays, the tea was kept warm in the “Kachile”, a special small chamber which was built in the oven or in the community bake shop where the tea was left on the preceding Friday. There were some families in “Old Mariampole” where the women folk were the bread winners while their men kept busy studying the Talmud. A woman's job in the household was never done. Besides doing her customary household duties, they also had to take care, usually, of a large family. Such women ran stores or peddled various goods for a livelihood.

You have to attend a meeting and listen to the many letters from recipients of our help to appreciate the good work which our Society is doing for those who are in needs. Most of these communications are from people in D.P. Camps of Italy and Germany, also from landslite residing in Belgium and France. Now and then there is a letter from someone in need in this country. Your correspondent is proud to tell you that all requests, whether it be for money, food or clothing, are being fulfilled by our Society and furthermore each letter is being answered by our kind Mrs. Sonia Kurs. Is it a wonder that the M.A.S. is receiving such grand support from all of our landslite and is the hope of many unfortunates?

[Page 13]

An “Eirev” was a construction of poles and wires which were strung over a given area of streets or yards, thus permitting the pious Jew to carry with him on Saturdays various necessary articles which would have been prohibited to carry around on Shabbas, lest he violate the religious Shabbas law. Rov Shlomo “Der Dian” saw that “Eirefs” constructed were in line with Jewish laws. During World War One some Jews in Old Mariampole got in trouble on account of the “Eirevs”. The military arrested a number of Jews on the suspicion that the wires were some kind of an instrument to transmit information to the enemy, and took plenty of explaining by Reb Shlomo “Der Dian” and other leading Jews to convince the military that it was only part of a Jewish religious custom. The last meal of the Sabbath day was “Sholesh–Schudous” ( three meals). As on the two previous meals the family ate together singing “Zemiros”. The sholesh Schudous menu varied with the seasons – in the summertime it was “tstshavey” (spinach), “borsht”, gefilte fish, stewed fruits siuch as “bloe yagdes” (blueberries), apples, pears. During the winter a plate of “petcha”, “fiesnogge” (jellied chilled cow's feet) was enjoyed.

No sooner did the sound of the Shofar announce the end of the Yom Kippur Fast than father began planning for the coming of the “Sukkas Holiday”. The first thing that pious Jews of Old Mariampole did was to drive a stake in the ground where the “Sukka” was to be built. From then on it was a family council as to how it should be constructed. Of course, father was the head of the council. He and his sons sawed the boards, drove the nails, brought the “Schach”, branches of evergreen trees for the roof covering. Mother loaned out her “Lokshen Bret” (bread board) to be put in the Sukka. When the Sukka was finally completed, Mother “Bentcht Licht” (kindles her candles) in the Sukka. Father and sons and neighbors are seated at meal times in the Sukka. Stars and the open sky are visible through the branch covering. Remember???

Sunday, the non–Jewish Sabbath came on the heels of “Shabbas”. By its character, Sunday was quite different from the Jewish rest day. Roads and by–ways leading to Mariampole were full of activity. Horse riders and wagon loads of farmers all were heading for Mariampole. The farmer fold were dressed in their Sunday best, in “Sermiegos”, grey coats made from homespun wool or in city garb. women wore bright flowery dresses, beads of amber, religious medals and other trinkets around their necks. Some had bright shawls on their heads. Streets leading to the churches soon were full of people. Leather bound prayer books and flowers in their hands, they were heading for the church. The Catholic Church in Old Mariampole had two high steeples and was the tallest building in town, even taller than the “Russian Tserkvo” and the Lutheran “Kirche” (church). Stores were closed on Sunday till after the services. With the end of the worship all business establishments reopened. Beer houses and roadhouses got filled with drinking crowds, occasionally fights would break out when the “guests” became drunk, and some would seek extra “Fun and Sport” by playing havoc in a Jewish shop and police had to quell such disturbances. Late afternoons the farmers would begin hitching their horses and start for home and farm.

 

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The Post Office

 

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Complete Protection of life and freedom without distinction of creed religion or belief…

 

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