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[Page 274]


H. D. Nomberg – The Child Prodigy of Radomsk

by M. N.


In the middle of the market in Radomsk stood a house, which belonged to Reb Mordekhai Szpira. This house possessed a peculiar emblem on the front wall – a head of a chimneysweep, with beads on the throat. This was bricked in the middle of the house, very near the roof.

A verse went around that the emblem was a conspiratorial sign for the Polish rebels of 1863. That the rebels' room is located in the house and there the conspirators' conferences were held.

Mordekhai Szpira was a Jew, a rich man, a Gerer Hasid, a man burdened with thirteen children. He and his wife Hana had a spice shop in the house and later an iron store.


H. D. Nomberg


When the children had grown little by little, Reb Mordekhai began to look for a husband for his oldest daughter Mashele, who was then sixteen years old. He traveled, as was his habit, twice a year on yom-tov to Ger to the rebbes. Sitting by the rebbes in Ger, Reb Mordekhai asked for a young man as a husband for his oldest daughter. He was ready to take the son-in-law “oif kest” (Translator's note: provide room and board) instead of giving a dowry. After three years, after deliberation, the rebbe gave his advice: in as much as there is a yeshiva in Radomsk proper, he should turn to the head of the yeshiva in his name and he would, according to his opinion, make an effort to find an appropriate young man among his students.

Coming home after the holiday, with a document from the rebbe attesting to his lineage in his pocket, Reb Mordekhai turned to the Radomsker head of the yeshiva, Reb Mendel, with a plea that he choose a young man for him from a good family, chiefly a Talmudic student. The yeshiva head promised to give an answer in about a week. A week later the head of the yeshiva proposed a candidate for son-in-law to Reb Mordekhai – the child prodigy Hersh-Dovid Nomberg, a young man, an orphan (Translator's note: in Yiddish, a child whose father had died is considered an orphan), who came from Amszinow (Mszczonow in Polish).

Reb Mordekhai did not oppose the choice, but he asked the head of the yeshiva to send the young man on the nearest Shabbos, after noon, to an “audition.” At the appointed hour, the young man accompanied by Reb Mendel came to Reb Mordekhai's room. [Reb Mordekhai] had invited to the “audition” every Gerer Hasid with whom he was acquainted. The twenty pages of Gemera, which the young man had learned by heart, made a colossal impression. The “audition'” ended with the general wisdom that the young man has an “open head'” and is, indeed, the prodigy of the yeshiva.

Reb Mordekhai agreed to the choice and proposed to Reb Mendel that he should inform the mother of the young man and discuss the terms of the tanaim (engagement contract), although the groom and the bride did not know each other. Later it was announced and the tanaim was written and the wedding was set for about three months hence.

All of the Gerer Hasidim of the city were invited to the wedding along with the head of the yeshiva and all of the students and many acquaintances and guests. Before the khupe, the bride's mother showed her daughter Mashele her groom and Hersh-Dovid looked at his bride for the first time. The wedding celebration lasted for eight days as was then the custom and took place with great pageantry. After the wedding, Hersh-Dovid returned to studying and spent time together with his friends in the Beis Hamidrish until late into the night.

The three promised years of kest quickly ended. Reb Mordekhai began to think about a business for the young pair, who at that time already had two sons – Moishe and Eliezer. He rented a store for them, together with an apartment – a food store. Hersh-Dovid had to interrupt his studies and remain at home, in order to help his wife serve the customers. For almost a whole day, no one was seen in the store. When a customer did appear, Reb Hersh-Dovid would interrupt his studies and serve the customer with a melody from the Gemera… Very often it happened that Hersh-Dovid would confuse things. Instead of giving what was asked for, he gave another product.

Hersh-Dovid began little by little to abandon his studies and from time to time, began inviting his friends Sz. Y. Epsztajn (Kakeske ) and Abraham-Yakob Tiberg for “sixty-six” (a card game). Guarding himself from his contentious wife, he began to read various “not-permitted” books in the Hebrew and Yiddish language. When Reb Mordekhai learned about Hersh-Dovid's behavior he began to howl: “It denotes – such a heretic!” The moralizing and curses did not help. It was decided to close the store.

Hersh-Dovid traveled to Warsaw and, in order to support himself there, gave lessons in the Hebrew language. The income from this was negligible and Hersh-Dovid had to return to Radomsk. He was already then totally different, not the Hersh-Dovid of before.


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He started to study languages by himself and mastered them in a very short time. Gradually, he started to write songs, short stories and random stories, which he sent to the editors of Hebrew newspapers in Warsaw. (Hazman [“The Time”], Haboker [“The Morning”], and later Hatzfirah [“The Siren”]). All of the material he sent was recognized by the editors as artistic creations and were published without revisions.

After a conflict with Reb Mordekhai, who had demanded a get (religious divorce) for his daughter from Hersh-Dovid, he [Hersh-Dovid] decided to leave Radomsk and travel to Warsaw to seek success for the second time. This time he was satisfied, because his songs and short stories were published in the Warsaw newspapers. He turned, as was then the custom of the young Jewish writers, to Y. L. Peretz, of blessed memory, who took him on with open arms and fought with him for beginning to write in Yiddish.

After speaking with Y. L. Peretz, Hersh-Dovid Nomberg was taken in as a permanent contributor to the daily newspaper “Heint” (Today).

In 1909, the editor of “Heint ” delegated H. D. Nomberg to go to America. Before departing, he suddenly came to Radomsk to see Mashele and the children. He boarded in the furnished rooms of Mr. Winter and in the morning sent a messenger to Mashele to inform her that he had come from Warsaw and wanted to meet with her and the children. The meeting took place in Shlomele Epsztajn's home in the presence of the oldest son Moishe. All three sat and were silent. Suddenly, Hersh-Dovid stood up from his place, came to Mashele and proposed to her that she travel with him to America and there get married again. The three children would have to be left temporarily in Radomsk, until he would be settled [in America]. Mashele listened to the proposal and asked to postpone her answer until the next morning.

The next evening, during the second meeting, Mashele rejected the proposal, [giving as] the reason that her father, Reb Mordekhai would not agree to keep the children with him and he would certainly renounce his daughter, if she would travel with the “heretic'” Hersh-Dovid to America.

At his departure, Hersh-Dovid asked that she agree to take a photograph together with the children. She agreed that the photograph would be taken without her, only he with the children. Such a photograph was taken, in Wajnberg's studio* (in the market).

After that encounter, Hersh-Dovid never again visited Radomsk. Reb Mordekhai Szpira took his daughter and her children into his house and took pains to raise them as frume (religious) Jews, in his spirit. When the children had grown up, one by one they left Radomsk and settled down with the assistance of their father in Warsaw.

*Printed in this book on page 65.

During the outbreak of the Second World War, Mashele lived in Radomsk. When the Germans erected the ghetto on Shul Street, Mashele was driven to the ghetto with the large Szpira family.

Later she wound her way out from the ghetto and traveled to Dombrowa-Gurnicza, where her son, Kalman Wohlhendler, from her second husband (He was a ritual slaughterer) lived. She arrived safely, but during the liquidation of this ghetto (1943) she and all of the Jews from Dombrowa-Gurnicza perished.

Of all three sons of H. D. Nomberg, only the oldest Moishe survived. He is now with his family in Israel.



Two Songs

H. D. Nomberg


Oy-Vey and Eh, Eh, Eh, Oy, Oy


a.
A hurt in the person's life,
Oy yes! It is so.
He chases good fortune and finds it nearby
And chases and falls, oy, oy!
Eh, eh he chases and runs!
Oy-vey, good fortune runs away!
The time
Passes!
Alone
Remains standing
The man and sees: the head is gray
He asks first: “What is the purpose?”
And laughs with malice: “The end of playing!”
Oy-vey


b.
The world is foolish and corrupt,
Oy yes! It is so.
She had acquired many belongings
And needs – still more, oy, oy!
Eh, eh! The money succeeds!
Oy-vey! The need crushes!
And curses
The world
With blows
And bundles
And thinks hereby we quiet thus:
And we hit the world in the head and turn.
Remains a calm heart! They clearly understand!
Oy-vey and eh, eh, eh, oy, oy!


c.
My daughter is a song of songs.
Oy yes! It is so.



[Page 276]

Good luck.
She kisses
Refreshes,
Her gentleness is morning dew,
Then she plays now on another's lap!
They are calm, heart, and scoff at you!


A Travel Song

Black clouds run, chase,
The wind whistles and roars,
Your father sends from Siberia
To you a greeting my child!

Only the wind.
He brings us greetings
From the cold land!

There it stands, a spade
He holds it in the hand.
And he digs everything deeper, deeper,
Throws the earth out –
Do not worry then!
For a falsehood
He digs out graves.

Not the first, not the last
He falls on the field!
Do not worry my child, gave birth to you
Did a great hero.

And a hero you will grow to be,
Sleep, sleep now:
Gather strength for the future.
Gather strength for the future,
Gather, only child!



David Kalay (Gold)

by Zeeva & Dvora

Translated by Hadas Eyal and Sara Mages


On the first yahrzeit of Radomsker David Kalay, a compilation of texts was put together by Tversky Publications in his memory. This is the forward by Avraham Levinson.

During the 29 years he lived in Israel, David Kalay never stopped writing. His many articles on various aspects of life society, economy, settlement, culture, etc. – were published in each and every labor press outlet. Many but not all are gathered in this collection. This 400-page book has eight sections of texts written about him, by him, and to him, as well as a 200-item bibliography of his books, translations and articles.

From the collection, we bring you here the words of his daughter Zeeva and sister Dvora.
  The Editorial Staff


David Kalay (Gold)
1898 - 1948



[Page 277]


Father


Father was born in the southern Polish town of Szczekociny to a religious orthodox family. His family moved and settled in Radomsk where he lived most of his childhood and adolescence and it is where he began his public service work.

David adored and admired his older brother who was a rebel known for reading prohibited secular books. Under his influence, David learned to read many languages and would secretly visit general libraries. At age 13 he found his way to Mendel Frenkel. In a letter David writes: “At Frenkel's house when I was 13 years old I devoured the book 'Each Generation and its Scholars' [Dor-dor ve dorshav by Isaac Hirsch Weiss] but by then I already had scores of books from the world of new literature”.

That year father was accepted into the high class at the Yeshiva of the Gur Rabbi and left to study there. He is welcomed into the rich libraries of the Rabbi and the Rabbi's brother where he is soon appointed librarian. This is also when he begins to write. His articles on yeshiva life and youth are published in the Charedi newspaper “HaPeles” and the daily newspaper “DerMament” and he becomes an activist in the local youth literature and cultural association. When he published a column criticizing the yeshiva – a considerable sin – he is dispelled.

Father returns to Radomsk feeling the need to advance his secular general knowledge. He studied on his own for a year and passed five exams at the Russian-Polish secondary school. During that time, he also began translating stories by Gorki to Hebrew and Yiddish.

He took his first steps in cultural-educational work alongside his older brother Nachman. At age 17 he was the “Cultura” society librarian, lecturer and activist. At 18 he was among the founding members of the Radomsk Zionist Association as well as its secretary and librarian while also a founding member and senior councilor of the movement “Agudat haShomer”.


Agudat haShomer, 1917


In 1918 father moved to Warsaw. He attends psychology and sociology classes at the Society of Science Courses (Towarzystwo Kursów Naukowych) – a free university of prominent Polish scholars who refused to take part in the official university of the German conqueror. In Warsaw father finds his place in the circles of Jewish society and the Zionist Youth, helping establish the Polish Tseirei-Zion movement and its weekly journal Liberation. Fulfilling a childhood dream he worked for 6 months on the editorial board of the Zfira newspaper where his brother used to work years before. He even trained as a printer and considered it as his future livelihood.

At the beginning of the 3rd Aliya in 1920, father joins his close friends and they arrive in Eretz Israel. He often told me how sorry he was that his fate did not make him a simple farmer, worker, manual laborer or printer. From a young age the fields he plowed were those of cultural community work. Cultural cultivation is what he continued to do in Israel. Immediately after arriving he began working on the editorial board of the Contras. Not the manual labor in the gravel of roads as the majority of the members of the 3rd Halutz Aliya but directly to the editorial board where he writes articles and for a time manages the book publication company of Achdut-HaAvoda.

In 1921 the labor community begins to form the General Organization of Workers in Israel [haHistadrut haKlalit shel haOvdim beIsrael]. Father – one of the “newbies” – was an organizer and activist. Although not an elected delegate he was nonetheless among the Organization's founders. In his journal he wrote: “I have only been in Israel for six months. I have gotten to know many locals and many who came here from various diasporas. I have only been to Tel-Aviv-Jaffa, Jerusalem, Petach Tikva and Haifa so far. I found people with heart and soul. Throughout my busy public work, I have seen only willingness from others, Israel is undoubtedly a necessary place and has the best earth for developing the spirit of our young people” (1921).

Also in his journals from that year:” Wandering through Nes-Ziona, Beer-Yaakov, Tsrifin, Rehovot, Yavne and Rishon-LeTsion. It is wonderful. Walking towards horizons of sky and land one feels the Shechina [divine spirit]; everything shines, warms, encourages, excites, lifts” (1921).

Father felt strongly from the start that in order to become socially educated and broaden their horizons – the workers required educational material. This realization was the center of everything he did in Israel from then on. He always said: foundations, sources and traditions are the most important”. From this viewpoint, he set out to translate the Communist Manifesto. Despite his concern that it was beyond his abilities, the necessity drove him forward and the project was completed. He was 24 years old.


[Page 278]


A more sophisticated translation of the Communist Manifesto was published 27 years later by the Kibbutz HaMeuchad but father has and will always have this first right credit for his translation when labor literature was virtually scarce and printing options were miniscule. His green booklet did its job during those years. Thousands of workers and youth used it to form a solid base of socialist ideological consciousness.

In 1921 construction of first workers' neighborhood 'Borochov' began near Tel-Aviv and father was of the first founders and a member of its statute draft team. He happily wrote his brother about his first night in the temporary shed on his land. He remained in the neighborhood to his last day, directly active as chair of the general assemblies or behind the scenes with practical suggestions on all aspects. In difficult times when the neighborhood digressed from its initial Halutz ideology father did his best to fend against these threats. Borochov veterans know what Kalay was for the neighborhood and what it was to him.

In the years 1923-1929 father was the director of the central library of the General Organization of Workers and managed the book publications of its cultural committee. From 1925 he edited and published a social studies library named after Zeev Barzilay. Here as well, he stuck with his guiding principle: instilling the basics through introductory learning materials – source material. For this library he translates Ferdinand Lascelles's “A Program for Workers”; writes “The First of May”; and translates the large five-part book by Max Beer “The General History of Socialism and Social Struggle”.

As a member of the central culture committee of the General Organization of Workers and during that time father drafted the first statute its employees who at that time included kindergarten and school teachers (later renamed the education center).

His writing, editing and publishing work continued with social science books including “England” by Wilhelm Dibelius written in 1930 and “Capitalism & Socialism After the World War” by Otto Bauer. Working on the translation of these books, father created many new Hebrew words that were not available in those days for terms (especially economic expressions) to avoid using too many foreign expressions.

Some of these words were not adopted into spoken Hebrew, for some better adaptations were created over time, but many of his inventions did blend into the Hebrew language. Examples are Hebrew words for production (יצור); displaced and disinherited people (עקורים ומנושלים); agitator (תעמלן); economist (כלכלן); supplier (ספק); transport (תחבורה) and many more.

In 1927 father began formulating a bold dream to translate the iconic book “Das Capital” by Karl Marx into Hebrew. Many questions had to be taken into account. Who should it be translated for? Who will publish it? Who will pay for the expenses? If he would have successfully found answers to these questions, “Das Capital” would have been published by 1929. But by then father had a family to support and he was well aware that without a contract with a serious publication company he would not be able to take on responsibility for such a project. Unfortunately, negotiations with “Sifriat Hapoalim” [“Workers Library”] fell through and the book was translated by others. Despite his great sadness, he was truly happy once the book was published. We at home felt his mixed feelings well.


David Kalay High School in the city of Givataim

In 1930, the cultural committee was disbanded and father moved to a new field of work. Until now he was active in the fields of the General Organization of Workers, and now he moved to work as the executive editor of “Shtibel Publishing” in Tel-Aviv. He worked at this publishing house for four years.

In 1931, he was given the opportunity to realize one of his dreams: to publish a general Hebrew encyclopedia. It was a pairing of “Masada Publishing” with one of father's ambitions and his ability - and he started to work as an editing coordinator, and in fact - the editor of the “General Encyclopedia, Masada.” In my father's private archive are kept the prints of the speeches given at various parties in honor of the publication of the volumes of the General Encyclopedia and the Youth Encyclopedia. In one of them, in the speech of the writer Yakobowitz, who worked with him all the time, it was written:

Mr. D. Kalay doesn't call himself “editing coordinator,” a term he invented in Hebrew, but I can tell you a secret from the room that Kalay



[Page 279]


is the real editor of the General Encyclopedia and also of the Youth Encyclopedia. And I use this opportunity to reprimand him in public for his special humility that made him not to call himself by his true title - - - his greatest virtue as an editor is the feeling of deep responsibility for what he does. This feeling is also what often brings him to depression. There is not a day that a disaster does not happen to him, a tragedy, or a real catastrophe. Every article that didn't arrive on time, every photo that didn't come out properly, every minor or serious mistake - all these are real personal disasters - days, weeks and months, pass in such disasters, and in the end, a new volume is published - a volume of the General or the Youth Encyclopedia.

Father was full of new plans for an encyclopedia for children before the completion of the sixth volume of the General Encyclopedia. At first the idea was about translation only, but later, as the idea developed - he saw the need for special things for the Israeli children. And so an original plan was created. Indeed - translated sections. Indeed - a lot of learning from the experience of foreign encyclopedias for youth, but mainly - originality. And Father was struggling hard with the problem. He sat and studied, studied everything. It was not possible that an article on anatomy, for example, will not be checked for accuracy of every detail. And he acquired information in areas that were almost foreign to him - all for the purpose of editing the “Youth” encyclopedia. And indeed, the six “Youth” volumes were published and captured their place.

In 1945 father returned to work for the General Organization of Workers. After the passing of Y. Sandbank - he started working again at the cultural center.

Two years later, with the renewal of the labor movement's archive, the management of the institution was handed to my father. Here he found a wide range of activities.

In the last year all his thoughts were given to the issue of Cyprus. Father knew, and saw, that a vast collection of material of great quantity and quality for the history of the movement and the aaliyah was stored there. Material brought by the illegal immigrants from their countries of origin, and material that was created in the island. He saw his role in gathering this material and bringing it to the archive. Its place is only here, in the archives of the Labor Movement. He traveled to Cyprus twice for this purpose only. A special “emissary": not for a kibbutz movement, not for a political party, not for the Irgun, an emissary for an institution, an emissary almost for himself - for a matter that was not always understood and not always received properly. His travels were not easy - in several respects. But there was a lot of talk about the imminent liquidation of the Cyprus exile -and father feared that all the precious material would be lost - and he traveled, spoke and inspired, acted and was active, and collected a lot of material. Twice, in two journeys, he brought with him boxes full and overflowing with newspapers, letters, photos, works in wood, stone, metal and cloth, certificates, pieces of paper, oral testimonies, historical and nationalist material of great archival value.

He traveled to collect material - and there, while working, he wanted to perpetuate the Cyprus affair, to write a book that will reflect and give a name for all this period, since the deportation of the first ships until the liberation of the last prisoners in Cyprus. He elaborated a plan and began to concentrate the material, and even began to deal with obtaining financial sources (the main inhibiting factor for any big and important plan). He was full of hope that this matter would find many supporters.

* * *

Rosh Hashanah 5709 (1948), father and mother came to celebrate with us in Beit HaShita. On this holiday we had the opportunity to reach Kibbutz Maoz Haim. Father was very happy for this opportunity. “I have been immersed in work for the past few years and I cannot go out and travel - I am not at all familiar with the new settlement areas...” We visited Maoz Haim, saw, and received explanations about the kibbutz and the area. Father, in his usual manner, asked and was interested in everything, investigated every detail and listened to answers and explanations.

On our way back- we both walked, father and I, on foot, for about three hours to Beit HaShita. Three hours of a conversation with father! There were days, while I was still at home, that on every Saturday afternoon we kept on sitting by the table and extended the conversation. On matters of the movement, political explanations, literature and stories about his plans …. We said then: “Sabbath - a conversation on the Sabbath is a pleasure.” In the last two years, after I left my home, I have been missing these conversations on the Sabbath. And here again, I had the opportunity to spend three precious hours on the road between Maoz Haim to Beit HaShita.

In that long conversation he also told me about his plans for Cyprus - it was close to his return from there, full of impressions, full of energy and a desire to do something huge for the commemoration of such an event in our history.

We talked a lot about the division in the Labor Movement. This matter bothered him a lot. He always believed in full unification in the near future. He was practically out of all party action, but lived things and suffered them.

Three precious hours of a slow and pleasant walk, and a long conversation - and I did not know that they were my last together with my father.

- - - I traveled over the year. When we arrived in Eilat, and there were many impressions, I thought: to whom I would tell now? To whom I would write now about my trip? Who will read and ask questions about every detail about my trips? - As father asked and was interested?

- - - with the liquidation of the camps in Cyprus - how father waited for the day! How he dreamed of traveling, to see and commemorate - but was not able to do so.

- - - the elections to the Knesset and the opening of the Knesset, in the same conversation on the road, we talked a lot about the first elections in the State of Israel, about our first “parliament,” how it would be, what it would be. He expressed speculations and hopes, waited for this day, living these words in his soul.

* * *

I go through the huge materials found in cupboards, in bags. Unlimited plans upon plans. Plans for books, for collections, outlines and lists. He had a dream: after both of us, the girls, become independent and no longer need him financially - he will find a way to ensure a modest income for him and our mother, and then - he will retire from his job and devote himself to writing.

During all the years, especially in the last years, during his work in the archive, he collected and recorded, researched and demanded details, and accumulated a lot of material. All the written sections, all the small pieces of paper - everything was the material for the great work he saw before him.

Here is a book, partially written - but not finished: the Histadrut book.

Here are cards, cards arranged alphabetically in boxes. It was supposed be a lexicon of the Labor Movement. Thousands of entries, of them many are written, many - marked with titles and references - ready for work, for continuation.

Here are chapters of history, chapters that need to be used as a foundation for the great history book of the Labor Movement in Israel in all its parts.

Here is a thick notebook - the last work he started. And during this work, right while writing' death found him: “The anthology of the Third Aliyah in five volumes.” In the notebook hundreds of source scores arranged by subjects - the first work.


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Those - and many more, are just plans. All - works in progress waiting for the desired day when father would stop working outside and finish his work, and that day did not come.

Zeeva
[David Kalay's daughter]





[Page 280]


His Youth


With a broken aching heart, I will tell you about my brother David Kalay and the house we grew up in. Our father, Yaacov Mordechai Gold was considered a torah prodigy. He received his rabbinical certification from the Genius Rabbi of Metow when he was 17. He studied languages, literature, and was a devout follower of the Gur Chasidut and the 'Sfat Emet' book by Gur leader Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Leib Alter.

This was the atmosphere in which the sweet wonderful boy David grew up. At age 5 he was already knowledgeable on the Chumash. I remember well how my mother, a noble woman, would get the young boy out of bed each morning at 5am and dress him. She held his hand and a tea kettle for the Melamed Rabbi in her other hand. David, shiny-eyed, always took the wood torch he made himself, lit the candle in it, took his mother's hand and left the house singing a merry Jewish folk song on his way to the Cheder.

By the time he was 12 there was no qualified Rabbi in Radomsk who could teach him because David knew more than anyone in town. He was therefore sent to the Gur Yeshiva without disclosing his young age because students were only accepted after their bar-mitzvah. He amazed the Yeshiva managers and within a few months he was moved to the highest class. David's idyllic education at Gur lasted approximately two years until our family was informed by telegram that he escaped the Yeshiva and headed to Warsaw.

My father and older brother quickly travelled to Warsaw to look for him. When found, he told them that a published satirical newspaper article that he wrote ridiculing the Gur Yeshiva was found in his suitcase during a search. Fearing the disgrace of severe punishment, he fled to Warsaw. Thus, at age 14, began David's writing career, his calling and passion for many decades until bitter fate wrenched the pen out of his hand far too early.

David did not return to Gur, of course. He stayed at our parents' house and took up general studies and public activism. He organized a scouts' youth movement, established libraries, and was one of the founders of the Radomsk Tseirei-Zion.

At the end of WWI, David moved to Warsaw during its struggle for its freedom. In 1920 he found a window of opportunity and made Aliya to Israel.

Dvora Carmelit (Gold)
[David Kalay's sister]




Khanina-Yosef Koshitski

by Shlomo Tanai

Translated by Hadas Eyal


1887-1942


About Father z”l

Khanina-Yosef Koshitzki was born in the Polish city Novi-Radomsk in 1887 to a family of scholars and lovers of the Torah. His grandfather, Haim Yechiel, was a Torah scribe commissioned for his craft by the Rothchilds in Frankfurt. It is told that he was dismissed from this position because the Baron caught a letter Haim Yechiel wrote with a secular date at the top. The Baron and his sons lived on the German-Polish border at the time but did not assimilate among the goyim, remaining devoted to the Torah and tradition.

Khanina-Yosef was the first of the extended family to actually be exposed western culture. During his youth he studied in the city of Katowice in Upper Silesian. He married Esther-Pearl Buchner when he was 19. As an adult he became an enthusiastic Zionist activist, ensuring his sons receive a Hebrew and Zionist education. He loved music and literature and passed his passion on to his children. It was told that when he met mother he bought her classic German books, one of the reasons the family “banished” him. He also took violin lessons.


[Page 281]


The house was always open to guests and welcomed Zionists and Chalutsim. In November 1929, just after the pogroms and shortly after his eldest son made Aliya, Khanina-Yosef sold his businesses in Poland and moved the entire family to Israel – five boys and three girls (one of them was already married). After an initial adjustment period the family put down roots and changed their family name to Tanai.

Father travelled to Poland every so often. WWII irrupted during his last visit in 1939. The family maintained contact and attempted to arrange an escape but when Italy entered the war in 1941 it became clear they would not be able to save him. When the war was over we were notified that father perished in the great Shoah.

People who met him before his last journey told us that he refused an option of escape for two reasons. The first was that he was no longer young and he worried that if he dies on the way he would not be brought to Jewish burial. Secondly, his help was needed and he did not want to abandon the community during the difficult days.

We received a Chai prayer in his handwriting along with various documents through a survivor who received them from father before his last journey.

May his soul be bound in the bundle of life.

Editor's note: The entry above by Shlomo Tanai (Koshitzki) and the lines of the Chai prayer to follow by his father Khanina-Yosef Koshitzki are from a booklet printed by Shlomo Tanai and published in Tel-Aviv in 1950. The booklet also includes a prayer Khanina-Yosef Koshitzki wrote in memory of his father; a last blessing to his mother; an earlier Chay prayer, in rhyme, each initial letter in the sentence forming the names of all members of the family: Khanina-Yosef, Esther-Pearl, Elimelech, Tamar, Ohad, Rani, Avraham, Mary, Shendel, Isaschar-Dov, Ruth, Eliezer, Malka, Rachel, Shlomit, Moshe-Nechemya, Mordechai, Bertha, Danishek, Ashrel, Chaim-Yechiel, and Shlomo-Lifa; and lastly, the second Chai prayer included here in which every paragraph begins in order of the Hebrew alphabet.




Chai Prayer


Master of the Universe. As you know, all the prayers of Israel are directed towards the rescue of your people and country.

I too come to pray and ask for mercy upon my home, my people and my country.

You merciful and compassionate G-d will hear from the heavens and help and protect from all evil my home, my people, and my country, Amen, so be it. And they will be granted peace and life!

*

Our G-d and G-d of our forefathers.

Father of mercy in the universe [Av harahamin shokhen meromim], the only ruler of the heavens, I pray before you for my home, my people and my country.

Pleas of mercy for the people you chose over all others. Please do not deliver them to the hands of brutal thugs, because you are forever our father and we your sons. Therefore, have mercy and save your people and Holy land!

*

The house of our life is in great trouble and grave danger, the land you demand from beginning for the year to its end. Therefore, our Father in Heaven, give your people and country rescue, success and protection – for you are eternal etc.

*

Glorified and sanctified be G-d's name in your worlds, there is no G-d but you, may all people of the world revere you and never come again to destroy and destruct your temple – for you are eternal etc.

*

Your word is truth and will always exist, you are first and last forever, have mercy on your special people who trusted you endlessly, and you alone will rule upon us for infinitely – for you are eternal etc.





[Page 282]



*

Lift the light of Israel your people and never allow additional Goyim to defile and desecrate your estate; do, merciful father, for those killed in the name of your holiness who for generations sanctified your name – for you are eternal etc.

*

Remember your oath to us and our forefathers to save us from our enemies, therefore hurry and be quick because we are in big trouble – for you are eternal etc.

*

Show compassion and spare our sons and daughters who are fighting to save our people, save our babies and infants, for it is only to you that our eyes are always raised – for you are eternal etc.

*

Before I call – you will hear, and hurry and say enough tragedy for Israel, and you will pity the living of one sacred nation that says Shema twice every day – for you are eternal etc.

*

Your profit Ezekiel foresaw the arrival of Gog upon our land (Israel) so my request and prayer to our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers to cancel the decree of the arrival of all types of Gogs to us and to our country! – for you are eternal etc.

*

Raise your flag upon us, you are our father, you are our king, you are our savior, do not continue to exile us for we have suffered enough for our sins – for you are eternal etc.

*

For you and for the rights of our mothers and fathers to whom you promised will proliferate as the stars in the sky to tens of thousands and now we are few and burdened with many tragedies, therefore materialize before us so we can do good and multiply! – for you are eternal etc.

*

Swiftly resurrect the kingdoms of David and Shlomo and may there be one eternal shepherd, united as one, on that day may there be one G-d and one name! – for you are eternal etc.

*

Please rebuild the fallen sukkah of David and open the door to the return of your people to Zion through which we will be given back our stolen county and our sons will return to its borders from the diaspora – for you are eternal etc.

*

Forgive and pardon the transgressions of your sons, may they become the pure and holy of your camp. Hasten to feel for your sacred communities and we will come in song and happiness through your gates – for you are eternal etc.

*

Give us a sign of good faith, fulfill your promise of “forthcoming salvation” save our sons fighting the holy war in despair, may they be blessed with long and wide healthy lives!

For you are our eternal father and we are your sons, therefore have mercy upon us and save your people and your holy land!





[Page 283]


Prof. Isak Zaks

by M. H-R

Translated by Hadas Eyal






Prof. Isak Zaks received a traditional education in childhood – as expected of the son of acclaimed Radomski cantor Shlomo Zaks. From childhood, young Isak Zaks showed exceptional talent for music and singing. He conducted a choir in the Radomsk synagogue and opened music, singing and drama classes that performed small operettas together under the stage name “The Music Division”. His group held shows and concerts to raise funds for various charities. Prof. Zaks was also a music teacher at the Jewish high school.

From Radomsk he moved to Częstochowa where he was the manager of the Great Synagogue choir and a high school teacher.

From Częstochowa he moved to Łódź. He conducted over the Philharmonic and was active in the cultural life of the Jewish community. In Łódź he composed operettas for which he earned top level international recognition. Among others, Prof. Zaks composed a cantata for the poem “Mul HaYeshimon” by A. Schlonsky which was performed by the Philharmonic on October 28, 1935. Among the soloists were the famous cantor Moshe Kosvitsky and the singer A. Halman. The cantata included a choir, a tenor, a baritone and a symphony orchestra.


The Cantata of Yitzkhak Zaks to the Poem,
“Mul Hayeshimoon” of Abraham Szlonski


During WWII Zaks fled to Białystok. There he became the manager of the city radio station. After performing in a musical festival in Moscow he returned to his wife (the daughter of Haim-David Zandberg from Radomsk) and children in Nazi-held Warsaw.

Even in wartime Warsaw he was active in the cultural scene. His name is mentioned and praised in the “Ringelblum Archive” for his musical projects during the bitter days of the ghetto Jews. Along with the Warsaw Jews he was sent to Treblinka where he perished.






A. Szlonski, one of the most original young “Palestinian” poets, gives an impressionistic contrast between old and new Eretz-Yisroel in his poem. We see clearly how the backward and neglected land receives fresh strength and a fervent upbuilding tempo carries itself over the whole area. A musical setting for the poem was created in the form of a cantata by the well-known composer Y. Zaks.

The cantata begins in the middle with an introduction by the orchestra, in an adagio tempo. The introduction reflects life in the country. The mood is monotonous and hopeless. Somewhere the lament of the jackals resounds, but the slowly striding caravans in the desert echo. Monotonous Eastern melodies are heard.

Suddenly the mood is disturbed by new, completely unfamiliar motifs. Ships with pioneers arrive; from the ships a happy “ehe-ehe-leile” is carried from the renewers of the old land.

The description is presented by the tenor in recitative form, and later through the men's and women's chorus. The melody gives way to the march of the camel caravan in the country.

The bass gives the announcement: "The dispersed jackals left for the mountain and the king of the animals gave the order, 'Into the desert!'” The whole land is seized by the new flowering life. A hymn resounds. The chorus sings in moderato tempo, then transforms itself into happy folk singing. Clanging is heard, “dli fe, dli fe,” like the work of building, and, at the end again, the pioneers' song “ehe-ehe-leile.” The finale of the hymn is the recitative: “Thus did the hands knead the mixture of cement and sand.”

The mixed chorus and then the women's chorus of three voices and the bass and tenor sing “Al Breva” and “Allegro.” Dissonance is heard, chaos; a three-quarter fugue resounds, a hurricane… A flood…

The tenor brings calm with his recitative. The work again has the upper hand.

The last number from the cantata illustrates the triumph of the work. A chorus of eight voices and soloists sing in a march tempo the hymn of work and repose.




As we have already announced, this year's concert season of Hazamir is beginning, with the cantata of Y. Zaks' “Mul Hayeshimoon” to a text by A. Szlonski. This work will take place under the direction of the composer, Monday, the 28th in the Philharmonia Room.

Taking part in the concert: The mixed Hazamir chorus, Lodz Philharmonia Orchestra and the soloists Aziber Kantor, M. Kusewitski, artist from the Warsaw Opera, A. Helman, H. Fefer and others.

(”Neier Folksblat” No. 246, Lodz,
October 5, 1935)


[Page 284]


The Art Circle of Prof. Yitzhak Zaks

by Moishe Zandberg


Yitzhak Zaks was the son of the Radomsker city cantor Reb Solomon Zaks who was a very talented musician and author of many religious musical productions. Yitzhak inherited the musical talent from his father and achieved a high level of musical erudition.

Already in his youth, he distinguished himself in his father's choir, which accompanied the davening in the shul, under the leadership of the director Mr. Gershon Groisberg.

Striving to increase his musical achievements, young Zaks pushed himself to become acquainted with more musical instruments. At the same time, he made an effort to draw in youthful strength in his musical circle, particularly the young, very capable Natan Ofman, who had studied in the Warsaw Conservatory. Together with a great deal of energy, they created a musical circle of young people, who had an inclination toward music, under the name Kultura.


The composer-conductor Yitzhak Zaks (first on the left) and his closet friends

(from the right): Abraham Bugajski, Dovid Fajerman, Berl Bruner, Zisman Epsztajn


The young Yitzhak Zaks organized a chorus, too, which in a short time, carried out significant musical productions in public concerts in the city theater. The young conductor satisfied himself, but not with this. At the end of the First World War, he already had a dream of creating a Jewish orchestra in Radomsk. As the Austrian occupation of Radomsk had collapsed, he succeeded in buying up almost the whole wind-orchestra of the 16th Mountain Troops.

This was not only literally a treasure of first class musical instruments, which made it possible for our musical circle to practice and study, but gave great possibilities to the young gifted musician Mr. Zaks to take advantage of his high qualifications in instrumental music.

After a short education, the orchestra – under the leadership of Mr. Zaks – was already able to give public musical concerts. At the same time, a drama section was created under the leadership of Mr. Adash Horowicz and some times, both cultural institutions appeared together at public events in the city theater, which always were a great spiritual and material success.

In 1919, when the Radomsker Jews could already freely celebrate the Balfour Declaration, the young decided to arrange a public garden entertainment. A large exercise square belonging to the local firemen was located near the city theater, which was also used for public “amusements,” in other words entertainments. After great difficulties, we succeeded in obtaining the square, which was as due decorated. Some blue and white kiosks were set up and at the entrance near the Polish flag, fluttered two blue and white flags, which I myself hung up. The entertainment made a great impression on the local Jewish population, as well as on the Jews from the surrounding towns and shtetlekh, which had sent delegations to the celebration. The friends Natan Ofman and Yitzhak Zaks had furnished sheet music for Yiddish folksongs and other Jewish creations, according to which the firemen's orchestra played during the celebration. For a long time, Jewish Radomsk remembered the beautiful Zionist garden entertainment.

Our musical and drama sections developed more fully and new members joined from the local youth. Public concerts were regularly given, which gave us – Radomsker youth – spirited pleasure. However our happiness did not last long. The Polish population could not accept that the Jews had their own wind orchestra. They requisitioned the instruments from us, with the argument that they belonged to the Austrian army and, therefore, it is war property. Regardless of our interventions, our instruments were never returned to us. Thus, we lost our wind orchestra and its sheet music together with our beautiful young dream.

Mr. Zaks became the conductor of the Czestochowa Synagogue and, later, conductor in the Lodz Synagogue and of Hazamir.

Some of our former members are found in Israel, particularly Mr. Natan Ofman, who sometimes come together in order to remember our Jewish youth in Radomsk.

Let these words be in memory of all of the young friends, some of whom were the co-founders of the musical and drama sections.



[Page 285]


The Painter Natan Szpigel

by Issachar Ben-Abraham


In my house (in Haifa) is kept a picture by the painter Natan Szpigel, who lived for a long time in Radomsk. The picture is 57 by 79 centimeters, painted on linen and shows a fragment of the old shul in Kus'mir, which was destroyed by the Nazi-Germans. In the picture one sees a hand lamp with four candles, several lecterns and a shelf near the wall.

Natan Szpigel painted many interesting images, but two of his paintings made the greatest impression. One image depicted a pair of worn out, burst leather men's shoes. The shoes were painted in such a way that it appeared as one sees the weary feet of an old man, who went around in them for many years to houses collecting donations. The second picture presented a table with tefillin – a shel-yad (phylacteries for the arm) and a shel-rosh (phylacteries for the forehead). When one studied the tefillin, it appeared as if someone had davened with them and soon someone would again come to the table, take the tefillin and put them on the head and on the left arm to daven.

Natan Szpigel belonged to the Realists. He had exhibitions of his pictures in different art galleries in Poland (in Warsaw, Lemberg) and England (London). In our city, he was the first who had a painting exhibition. The exhibition took place in Zhilinske's Polish gymnazie, on Czenstochower Street. There were landscapes, portraits, still-lifes and all of the paintings made a great impression on the visitors, whether Jewish or Christian.

Little by little, Natan Szpigel was drawn into the communal life of the city, often held lectures about art and associated with the young people. He married the eye doctor [in Radomsk], Hana Fort, who was from Galicia. They lived on Strzalkow Street in the villa of the Jewish pharmacist Mientkewicz and had two children – a boy and a girl.

When the Germans entered the city, Natan Szpigel and his wife decided to stay in Radomsk (He had said: “In a war, no one knows when one will die”). A doctor, a Nazi, came to the city and in a few days, Natan Szpigel received an order from city hall – to immediately free the villa for the German doctor. With a heavy heart, Natan Szpigel's family left the villa and moved into the ghetto in Blumsztajn's house, on Strzalkow Street, which was later the Jewish Hospital.

Natan Szpigel worked for a short time in the special commission of the ghetto at the Judenrat. Later, when he saw the growing and hopeless Jewish need, he quietly left the special commission (“My heart,” he said, “becomes sick and hurts seeing how the Jews come requesting help and one cannot help them”).


The painter Natan Szpigel during his picture exhibition in Radomsk


In spite of this, he would often gather the young in the ghetto, talk and sing Yiddish and Hebrew songs, so that they would not be so sad.

When the Nazis began to prepare the deportations of the Jews, Natan Szpigel left his son in the Polish hospital on Strzalkow Street and hoped that there the child would be protected. However, on the 9th of October 1942, when the Germans chased the Jews from the ghetto onto the deportation platz, two Polish nurses from the hospital came with the boy and left him on the platz.


The surviving picture by Natan Szpigel


A Nazi noticed this. He went over to the boy and roared, “Loifen, du Yude”. The boy began to run from fear; the German shot after him with his gun and the boy fell down dead. The Nazi laughed, when he saw the child's blood on the ground.

After the liberation, when I came by foot from Czenstochow to Radomsk, I met Mrs. Keselman in the market. A few days later, I visited her in her home and there saw two pictures by Natan Szpigel. Mrs. Keselman told me that after the liberation when she came back to her home, she noticed on the wall two portraits of German soldiers. She took them down, studied them from the other side and saw it was splattered with blood. She ran [her fingers] over the pictures. She scratched off the portraits and then the real pictures were revealed-- the two images by Natan Szpigel.

Several days later, when Mrs. Keselman's daughter was by chance standing near the pictures, Polish rowdies shot through the window of the residence and the daughter was murdered. One of these pictures, splattered, subsequently [traveled with me] until I came to Israel.

Natan Szpigel, his wife and the second child were deported from the Radomsker ghetto and did not come back. One of his images, however, came to Israel, the land of his young dreams.


[Page 286]


Yakov (Yakub) Cytrinowicz

by Josef Sandel


Yakov Cytrinowicz was born in Radomsk in 1893, into the family of a poor shoemaker. From his youngest years on, he was inspired by the beauty of nature, but he did not reveal that deep in him there burned a talent for plastic arts.

During the First World War, he was forced to work in a coal mine in Germany, where he took part in the revolution. After many years, he returned to Poland and studied art with Professor Szimanski in Warsaw. There the world-renowned sculptor and “social worker” Nakhum Aronson, of blessed memory, saw Jakov Cytrinowicz's sculptures and praised them. Later Jakov Cytrinowicz came to Paris and at first Bakhum Aronson helped him with “counsel and deed.” In Paris he worked and created many interesting sculptures.

In 1936, the eminent Ukrainian painter Aram Turin wrote about Yakov Cytrinowicz, in “Gszegland Artisticzni ”: “Cytrinowicz goes after simplicity, too. He wins in the fine sculpture 'A Woman in a Long Dress,' but he loses in 'Head of a Girl,' and it a great loss, because in print the head is a very pretty one. The same impression of poverty is felt in the 'Female Body,' with all its virtues and defects of this sculpture, in sum Cytrinowicz is interesting.'

During the Second World War, Yakov Cytrinowicz lived in Paris under Nazi-German occupation. France was divided into two zones: an occupied and an unoccupied. In the summer of 1941, he tried to run away from Paris to the unoccupied zone. Crossing the border he was caught by the Germans; they arrested him and then sent him to a concentration camp from Ban La Roland, there he was spared with a thousand more Jews for almost a year. In June 1942, he was deported to Oswiecim (Auschwitz) to the concentration camp. A month later (July 1942) he died there in the gas chamber.

Honor his memory.
(From Josef Sandel's Collection about Yakov Cytrinowicz, in the book “Murdered Jewish Artists in Poland” [Volume two], Warsaw, 1957)



A. B. Cerata – Intimate Portrait

by Melekh Rawicz

Born in Radomsk, Poland; 1900-1918 – Vienna; 1937 – Paris; 1961– Settled in Land of Israel (Safet); died the 4th of March 1963.


There are in every cultural environment artistic people who are, because of a technical accident of nature, themselves not creative. They are filled with literature, live their lives with literature. Some write themselves, but in general not, or scarcely anything. They are full of paintings, dream about paintings, live their lives with paintings. They understand often better than the artists themselves, but they do not paint. They are friends of poets, painters, artists in general – and artists befriend them, dying to hear a good word from them about their writing, about their painting. They are the connection between the creator and the beneficiary of all kinds of art from the nine daughters of Zeus. They are the shadows of the artists, but not a large shadow – they are colorful, clanging shadows, living shadows who can love.

And A. B. Cerata was one of these.


[Page 287]


A. B. Cerata


I knew him in Vienna – when he was only an assistant typesetter in a Jewish printing shop, right after the First World War, and later we met many times in Paris. Of average height, with sharp facial lines, Semitic? No – rather Hindu-Aryan looking. His face always smiled, sometimes with love, sometimes ironically, sometimes with anger. Often he could be quiet, often observe endlessly waiting until it was his turn to speak, to approach a painter face to face, or writer, whom he liked. And he chose his likes according to his taste.

He was a simple worker, a linotypist, a typesetter. Often he worked at night, but he always had time to visit his artist friend. He did everything for others. However, he was not servile; he did not serve. He did things in the manner of a friend. He helped.

In Paris in 1950, later 1956. In a small hotel, I have a plan today to visit the Louvre.


An invitation to the opening of the A. B. Cerata art gallery in Bet-Yam


I leave the room, begin to ask how to go to the Museum. Suddenly, a smiling face appears near me, wearing a French beret on the side of the head – Cerata.

– Come Rawicz, come Ruchel, I will take you. But how did your suddenly appear here?

– I heard yesterday by chance that you want to go to the Louvre.

– And so almost every day, these wonderful shadows have some kind of secret power to multiply your time; perhaps that is why they do not connect with families. The artists are their brothers and sisters and children.

In the difficult first Hitler years in Vienna, when it was necessary to save several Yiddish writers from there, Cerata was already in Paris and did everything to save them. And he actually saved them. No one asked him to do this. Letters in my archive pay witness to Cerata's activities.

In order to do something substantial – Cerata, both in Vienna and in Paris, published a line of Yiddish books. The edition was animated with artistic taste by graphic prints. However, Cerata's life's ideal was to create a graphic print museum, mainly Jewish graphics, and to build it in the Land of Israel. And he achieved the building of this museum in Safet – where the first books by Jews were printed by Jews hundreds of years ago.

Cerata had a peculiar handwriting: long straight letters written with the patience of a bee. His letters looked like lines with miniature picket fences. He would describe an event in detail in his letters (8 to 12 sides). They were small short stories in the first person. In these letters lived Cerata's longing to be a writer himself. Through these letters he transformed his beloved writer in an ingenious way into a reader…

Cerata's last letter lays on my table now; in the letter, he writes an awesome story about a miracle with a little goat, who did not want to let himself be slaughtered. Cerata heard the story in Meron, where he spent Lag b'Omer 5722 (1960-61). The whole story is gold with silver from cabala folklore and marvelously illustrated, the little goat with a sky blue skin…

*

A. B. Cerata was buried in a cemetery in the cabalist city, Safet. Where then should such the colorful shadows of many Jewish artists and poets find] eternal rest? Lived as an artist and died as an artist. I am sure that even in death A. B. Cerata's face has not lost the loving and ironic smile. I am sure that with this smile he will appear before G-d and before his beloved painters and poets, who will wait for him in the eternal arts club…


[Page 288]


Old-fashioned Singing

by H. Leiwik


H. Leiwik, the great Yiddish poet, gave this poem as a gift to the Nowo-Radomsker landsleit in America. When the poet ran away from Siberia, as a persecuted political [prisoner], he came to Nowo-Radomsk and found hospitality with contemporary comrades, A. Alibarde and Zakun Szreiber, who guarded and protected him and smuggled him over the border on his way to America. This song was published in the 'Almanac' of the Radomskers in America.

The old-fashioned of the world:
Murder,
Captivity,
Treachery,
Discharge.
Treachery from the closest,
Discharge from the most beloved,
With the back turned away,
With bile on the lips –
Stands the yesterday brother.

Thus as it was,
Thus as if nothing had happened
From eternal.

And the strongest is after all the person in power,
And the person in power is after all a wicked person,
And the truth is after all with the betrayed,
And not with the betrayer.
And justice is after all the tortured
And not the torturer
Thus as it was,
Thus as if nothing had happened
From eternal.
A dry land on the shoulders
Dirt roads bogged down – through Fifth Avenue,
Frozen lane – between the banks of the Hudson,
Tortured Irkutsk-- through East Broadway,
Shaded yurts – in the snow of Harlem
Through all dirt roads – to the furthest way
Back.
From all truculence to the snow of misery
Back.
All, all, all are driven back.

The stronger is after all the person in power,
And the person in power is after all the villain,
And the truth is after all with the beaten,
And not with the beater,
And justice is only with he who is under
Lock,
And not with the guard who bangs with the
Keys.


H. Leiwik in the middle (with his parents), on the way from Siberia to America


Thus as it was,
Thus as if nothing had happened
From eternal.

Old-fashioned talk,
Old-fashioned singing, –
Disgrace, shame
To open the eyes on the streets of New York
And see oneself under the watch of sentries
Being led to the old, to the cold
Old-fashioned, eternal land Siberia,
Eternal land of snow.
March.
March.
March.
Gone bright window panes,
Gone warm bed, –
Le no one accompany,
Let no one console,
And the hand of the most loved
Should lower and fall
And not come opposite.
March.
March.
In heavy linen – the body,
In iron blocks – the feet.


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