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[Page 358]

Assistant Rabbis, Preachers

Khiam Zaydes

Translated by Tamara Selden

Better to have a judgment by Rabbi Moses Issereles

In Slutsk there was a rabbi, R'Abraham, who was also a great judge but he often turned over the more difficult cases to his assistant.

One time, before Pesach an animal became unkosher. The town was without meat and the poor town's butchers suffered a great loss.

R'Abraham was forced to find permissibility to kosher the ox.

He found a leniency from a liberal person of the law to gather five persons on the court and together to make the ox kosher.

The assistant rabbi agreed that this could be done even against the authority of R'Moses Issereles who openly said such a case was not permitted.

Regarding this R'Abraham Sharfzinik stated:

I believe that it can be made kosher even against R'Moses. When we come to the other world to the heavenly court, the ox will call us to a lawsuit in a rabbinical court. Why we prohibit his meat over which Jews wanted to make a blessing: The butchers will complain that they had damage and a great loss. It is already more reasonable to go to a rabbinical court with RM”A than with an ox and butchers. With RM'A we would sooner be able to come to terms.

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In Slutsk there were a lot of scribes who wrote Torah scrolls and Mezuzahs. The Rav of the city had his own scribe, R'Mordechy Jacob, who was an expert in writing divorces and was a true G-d fearing person. The day came that R'Mordechy was sick, so they brought a Jew who was a scribe with the name Velvel. He was not a scribe that made a living from it. So, he also became a baker.

When it came to write a divorce decree, the Slutsker Rav did not want the scribe to do it.

__Why rabbi? __ they asked him. __He is a good scribe!

The Rav answered: For a divorce paper there must be two witnesses. If one says in the daytime “written by me” and one says in the evening “written by me, the divorce decree is invalid. By day he is a scribe but at night he is a baker and that invalidates the divorce decree.


One time an overdressed merchant came to the Slutsker preacher, The Rav R'Layv Nymark, and wanted to get some advice from him about buying a wooded area. He said that with his business spin, which is not any direct thievery, he could make a big business deal.

The Rav R'Nymark who was a clever man simply told him the verse of the Torah quoting the Ten Commandments.

What does this have to do with my issue, asked the merchant?

It has a great bearing on the issue replied the Rabbi.__” Thou shall not steal; can be understood in two ways. It remains the same transgression. Whether straightforward or with tricks. and spinning.,,


They wanted to enlarge the City Talmud Torah, and R'Layv Nymark encouraged the people with his sermon. Then, when it came to money, the people became uncomfortable. So R'Layv recited the weekly Torah portion which always perplexed him. First it says, “ all the Jews left , and then it says “All the Jews left and brought back what their hearts desired.

Now the issue has become clear to me. Everyone came to the sermon, only when it dealt with money, the numbers of people diminished.


In Slutsk there was a very rich man, a cheapskate, a wildly stingy man, who did not want to give any money for charity Often he bragged about his lineage and claimed to be descended from the “Protector of Abraham.”

A Slutsker emissary came to him asking for a donation, and as usual he told the Jew, with great pride that he derives his lineage from Abraham.

The emissary strongly resented this story. Being a clever Jew he said to the rich man :

R'Jew I have great doubt in your lineage, because whoever wants to learn the laws of The Protector of Abraham must first read the commentary, which is an explanation of the Protector of Abraham. Unfortunately, I see you have not read or studied it.

He collects money for a widow with orphans.

In Slutsk there was a rich man, R'Moshe Shusterman was his name. However, he called himself Moshe Idbar after Masliansky Idbar the preacher and orator in New York. Moshe Idbar and Masliansky Idbar were both from Slutsk.

Jews liked the sermons of R'Moshe Idbar and in the synagogue there was an announcement that R'Moshe Idbar would preach a sermon. All the Jews ran to hear his sermon which was as if Pearls fell from his mouth. The people cried and laughed together. He captured the audience with his moving stories. .

Although he was so very good his wife never attended. In the morning she went out into the world and left him with two orphans.

In addition to this problem, the Bolsheviks took over the government after World War One and R'Moshe Idbar no longer could make a living. The Reds did not allow him to give sermons and moralize the people. He became very bitter. And then he married a second time and had a few more children. There was no bread and they went hungry.

A short time passed by and R'Moshe Idbar left Slutsk. He went to Poland and traveled to big and little cities and gave sermons,. And in order for the people to give him money he told in all his sermons a story of a wretched widow, who with the orphans traveled in order to get money. In this way he drew a picture of their house and how the orphans come to the to the widow to ask for bread, but she had none to give them.

And here comes one orphan and cries, he needs shoes. And his sister cries that she needs a dress like her friends have. But the widow has only one answer for everything__tears, what should she do? Other children have a father. He buys his children things.

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Everywhere R'Moshe's sermons so moved the people that they gave him money. They gave what they could and sometimes even more.

So this was good. Once in a small shtetl, after R'Moshe had given his sermon, a trustee of the synagogue asked him:

“R'Moshe, who is this widow? Maybe you could tell us where she lives?.”

R'Moshe stood very still, as if they accused him of something. Quickly he recovered and answered:

“You want to know? Good, I will tell you. - she is my wife.”

“Your wife!” The trustee looked at him and asked “how can this be, you are still alive, so how can she be a widow?”

“ Well, do you mind if I am alive?” asked R'Moshe Idbar. “If I had died would it have been better?”

“ You” And Not “I”

R'Moshe Idbar, the well known preacher and publisher of books once came to a town to give a sermon. He was a Jew, stocky, heavy and with a countenance!

A well known prankster and impudent man came to him and called out: ___Rebbi, I barely believe that you implemented the idea of [you should eat bread and salt, and drink water, with a measure, and sleep on the hard ground, and a live a torturous life). It does not appear so on your face.

R'Moshe Idbar, who was a clever man, immediately, sharply answered the prankster:

____It does not state that I should eat bread with salt, etc. The language is thus, “you should implement all these things , “you” not “I”.


R'Moshe was a Jew with lots of troubles, had a good looking face, dressed nicely and looked like a rabbi.

Once he was riding on a train that was packed with Jews. There was not even enough room to stand. As he entered, the Jews began to murmur....a rabbi, a rabbi.

The crowds pressed together in order to make a path for him.

One who sat, got up and wanted to give him his seat. :

“Sit rabbi”.

The preacher sat down.

People begin to talk to him:

“Where are you going rabbi?”

“Where you from?”

“Where do you stand on the Rabbinate?

“I am not a rabbi”__replied Moshe, “I am a Slutsker preacher, “As he spoke, the Jew who given him his seat went to him and said.

“ R'Jew that seat is taken. The preacher got up and stood on his feet all the way.

The Common People

In Slutsk there was a householder, who gave interest free loans. a Khasdim'nik, R'Isr'l was his name. Whenever anyone needed an interest free loan, they went to him. You could have the loan for many months. He did not charge any percent of interest. G-d forbid, he took nothing.

And in his time, in the town, there was an old butcher R'Izik Tumanik.

He was not a rich man. There were times when he was old that he needed to get an interest free loan in order to buy meat for Shabbat or the Holidays. And if the officials said the animals were Kosher, the butcher immediately, before blessing the candles, ran and returned the interest free loan. In his house it was very cheerful. He and his family had a good Sabbath. However, if the animal, G-d forbid became unkosher, it was a bitter moment.

It happened that R'Izik brought meat to the slaughter house and it became unkosher. The butcher rushed around all mixed up. He could not pay any debts and could not get a new loan.

R'Isik ran to R'Isr'l in the spice store and and wanted to ask R'Isr'l to wait for the interest free loan that he owed him until the holy one will help him.

As R'Isr'l saw the butcher coming, he went inside and hid behind the oil cask. He was afraid that he would transgress one of the laws of the Torah, which says you must not be, to someone that you loan money, a percentnik.

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In the meantime a Jewish woman came in and asked for a quart of kerosene.

The store owner went to the barrel and saw that her husband hid behind the barrel. She became frightened and thinks that G-D forbid something has happened to him. The store owner told him to come out.

“No”, he said to his wife. Only I saw the butcher coming and he does not know from where he will get the money for the interest free loan.

Once again an animal has become non kosher with him, and I do not want to transgress the the rules of Torah. That we should not be to a left side as a percentnik.

In the meantime the butcher came in and head what R'Isr'l is saying: He said:

G-D forbid, R'Isr. I purposely came to you to ask you to wait another week.”

“Certainly” answered R'Isr'l. When I gave you the interest free loan, it certainly was my intention not to give you the money for only one week but for several weeks. Do not worry R'Isaac said. The Holy One will help and when you are ready to pay me back you will return the loan”.

R'Meyer Rozovski used to say: Water and Fire are at war with each other and until the day they make peace. Unfortunately it becomes very black.


Dalhunike used to shock people at the cemetery with her monolog and complained to the dead. They should understand her suffering.

The first question was to the searcher of the graveside. “With tears or without tears ?”


A cemetery man went up to his daughter: “God will give me a corpse and I will give you a “groom.

Slutsker wives cursed in the meat stand when buying meat.

One said “May my enemies all have stomach aches. A second person calls out, why exactly a stomach ache? The first one answered, because life (yud”– 18) is to life..

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Two letters from Slutsk

Shin. Lamed. Beker

Translated by Tamara Selden

Aaron Boruch Becker, who worked in the Slutsker Zionist Hall came to Israel in the year 1904. The first time he worked for the committee of Rishon le-Tsiyon and afterwards worked in a technical school called Hador-Ha-Karmel in Haifa.

He died in 1932 in Tel Aviv .

The fragments of the parents letters from Slutsk to Israel to their son Aaron Boruch are interesting. He is named for his grandfather the well known Slutsker He was the head of the Yeshive, where Mendele Moker Seforim studied.

In them are reflected the father's interest in Zionism. His language was half Yiddish and Hebrew.

Slutsk 1914

We sang all the songs, ate a good meal and asked G-D who brought us all that is good. We finished with tea. Khile and Sarah are in the store, and Shaeah Lazer went into the street asking the merchants (those who are traveling to buy old clothes.) I remained in the house with the weaker mother. She begs me to write you a letter.

Dear son Aaron Boruch, in the shul are plastered clippings from usishkin (the leader of Hovevey Tsiyon). He asks that we send donations to buy land in Israel. Also plastered on the wall is a request from R'Abraham Cook, the Jaffa rabbi with higher holier words. He points out that Jews have begun to have one thought for the holy land of Israel with the Yiddish settlement. I read in the paper about the old patriot Rothchild, who gave millions for the settlement, while he traveled and shed tears.

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People's Character

by Khyam Zeydes, New York

Translated by Tamara Selden

A (Alef)

During the first world war there were many merchants in Slutsk who in their youth studied in Valashni [Volozhin]. In addition to running large businesses they were well-versed in Torah. Each day they went to the synagogue and studied a page of Gemora. And a merchant like Yeshaya Mendel, a large wholesaler, would study a page of Gemora with his son after praying, and then he would go to his store to attend to business.

Yeshaya Mendel Deretsin was well known in the Minsk community. His home was a place of trade and charity, Thirty Yeshiva boys ate there every Tuesday. Yeshaya was active and generous in all charity organizations. A certain Jew whose name was Zelig the comb maker, was dedicated to collecting money for widows and orphans and others for studying Torah. He very often passed Yeshaya Mendel's house and saw thirty Yeshiva boys eating each Tuesday. He said to Yeshaya Mendel, “Very nice of you that you feed thirty Yeshiva boys one day a week. However, you know that the week has seven days and many other Yeshiva boys need to have eating days...What can you do for them?”

Yeshaya answered him, “Come to me at night and tell me the amount of charity money you collected in the course of a day, and I will give you my share.”

This gave Zelig great courage and he tried to collect even more because he knew that Yeshaya would give a large matching portion. He told this to his wife Khil Rifke and she said to her husband, “Today I had a good day in the butcher shop, so I am giving you five rubles and you will have an impressive amount.”

Late at night Rav Zelig brought the money to Yeshaya Mendel and counted it before him. Yeshaya Mendel kept his word and matched the amount. Rav Zelig, who made combs, left Yeshaya Mendel in a very happy state. He wished that there would be individuals like Yeshaya Mendel in the thousands,

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Summer in the heat, winter in the cold and snowstorms, Khyam Dor did his work conscientiously. Many times it happened that because he always wanted to offer a Sabbath meal that he would eat Friday night at midnight. He was elderly, but ran like a young soldier from shul to shul organizing for every Yeshiva student a place to eat on Shabbat.

Not one time did anyone remain without a place, but if he did, he invited them as his guest.

B (Bet)

The school was not far from the Mark. There were over one hundred children who studied. Khyam Beryl Alshansky, the Cohan, Laybe Yokh the blacksmith, and Zelig the comb maker built a nice park on the place where the old bath had stood. The best teachers who taught from ABC to a page of the Gemorrah were there.

In Slutsk there was a hospice for the poor, who took care of the sick people, with a doctor and medicine. And every night two people came to care for the sick as nurses would.

All types of utensils that the sick were in need of were given by the hospice to the poor for free, and sometimes they did give money to the sick to get the patient on his or her feet. The Slutsker charities were under the leadership of D”r Shildkraut and other doctors. They worked each day for free and did not ask once to be paid. The hospice was also for the Jews from around the area of Slutsk.

The old age home which bordered the hospice was also for the Jews in the entire Slutsker area. In the Yeshive which was the largest in all of Russia, most of the students were concerned with “days” for eating. and a place to sleep. Even every poor Jew had to have several charity boxes. Every week the money was collected by people from the land of Israel and other places.

It was in Slutsk that a woman with the name Leah from Kharke, a woman with little education, only with a good heart, had a Yeshive student each day to eat. Many times she brought food to the Yeshive for the students. She complained: maybe poor students were ashamed of this system, but they did not want to ignore learning the Torah. So she brought them food at the Yeshive. She

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asked who needed food or to have their clothes washed? She said she would do this for free. She did not G-d forbid want to humiliate anyone. With different excuses she gave charity to fallen people. They should not be ashamed. For example, I remember that she alone brought wood in the wintertime to the poor families. and said to them that she had too much wood but next year they could bring some for her. Many a time she brought a pound of farfel. She was a very clever and active person. and a great house manager, and her words were: You know my Khyam”ke only wants luchshen not farfel. So take a sack of farfel and next year you will bring me some. luchshen. This was her manner of charity, giving quietly. She gave every poor person charity with cordiality. She would tell him to wash and then eat whatever she had available. She did not have a machine to make sacks. but with four poles she made all sorts of sacks for Yeshive students and brides especially for Shavuoth. She had a mother in law Fesele who had a reputation in town. She had a loud mouth but Leah did things quietly, did not look for honor, only begged G-D that she should have children that study Torah and were G-D fearing.

She often gave her own food to a poor man. She did not have esteem for her health, only of others. If someone asked her__: Doesn't the world say you come first? Her answer was with a smile: I am satisfied and pleased when I make the hungry full and give them clothes.

G (Gimmel)

In the year 1899, after the great fire, many were left with only the shirt of their back.

A certain R'Mordechy Yonah, rebuilt his house and let it be known that he would only takes one room for himself and the rest of the house he gave away for a town hospice. He made regulations, that every guest has the right to eat two meals and sleep there one night. All the poor Talmud Torah children ate there
two days a week and two days a week the Yeshiva boys who studied in Slutsker Yeshives ate there.

The Rabbi's wife, Hinde Bayla, the wife of H'Goan Meltser called on the hospice committee every day. Shakhna the beadle of the shul, was the collector for the committee and Mendel, a Nikalaievsker soldier was the watchman over the building.

It was the custom in Slutsk, after shul, to take a guest home for the Sabbath to eat and have a place to sleep.

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D (Daled)

Leybe Yokh was a blacksmith. He stood in the forge and banged with his hammer and blew with the bellows. The blacksmith, with so much work to do, was also concerned with the poor people, even the poor yeshive boys Before Passover he began to worry whether the poor people in town had matzohs, potatoes or other necessary things for the great holiday.

For himself he required very little. He was not a particularly fastidious person with his attire. He wore an old worn-out fur coat the entire winter; a pair of torn boots and a hat, which was at least ten years old, and maybe more. The kaftan was patched and greasy. In such clothing he searched out all the rich men for money.Everyone knew him and it was very difficult to refuse to give him charity money. Everyone knew that Leybe the blacksmith does not take one grushen from the charity donations. He gives it all away to the poor people.

When someone did not want to give a proper amount of charity, Leybe Yokh usually accepted this. He could never even shame a very rich man, with the largest amount of silver.

However, in a certain year the income of the Jews in Slutsk was scarce. An entire winter the storekeepers sat and waited for customers, and workers sat without a bit of work. There was great concern because Passover would soon be there.

But Leybe had courage and chanted: G-d is a father. He will help me to aid his children. Going with his torn boots in the muddy streets from house to house, he did not collect as much as he asked for because things had been so bad. Then it happened that one rich man from Zaretze Street only gave him a small donation for buying matzoh for the poor; not one more coin. Leybe said to him.: “You are a dog's dog.: He explained what he meant:” When a dog gets a bone he keeps it for himself. You are the same with your money.”

After saying this to the rich man, he left the house, and there was anger between Leybe and the rich man. However when Rosh Hashanah came, Leybe wanted to make up with him The rich man did not want to forgive him. Leybe was aggravated. He went to R'Layveh Nymark the assistant rabbi and told him his problem. R'Nymark who was a wise man calmed him down and said. “You did not insult him for your sake, but for the sake of collecting charity. If he will not forgive you, he is in the wrong.

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But Leybe the blacksmith felt he was to blame for calling a Jew a dog. He had to ask his forgiveness, so he waited for an opportunity.

Leybe, as poor as he was,wanted to observe all Jewish good deeds. When Purim came he sent every one Purim presents and even the rich man, that he called a dog, received a Purim present. When the rich man saw the lovely present he was softened in his attitude to Leybe and he felt remorse that he had given very little for charity when things were so bad in town. The rich man took the Purim gift from the saucer and placed five ruble with a note which said the following: “R'Leyve here is five ruble and you can do what you want with it. ...I am very sorry that I did not want to be forgiving. When you want a charity donation, come to me. I will never refuse. I wish you well”,

H (Hey)

The Wedding Dress

Shimon the porter, although he had a house with girls , he was a satisfied person. Most girls at that time worked for a rich man and each and every one of them had a nice dowry , Jonah the matchmaker was the mediator for all the Jewish daughters in Slutsk and vicinity.

Shimon's daughter Rachel, was a pretty girl with a nice figure. The groom was a very handy boy from the town of Krivits, not far from Starabin. The dowry was written in the engagement contract for two hundred ruble.

The wedding was supposed to be a week after Shavuoth. Rachel did not have a mother. Her stepmother was good to her. The wardrobe was made by the best tailor, Yusel Ayrkhe , from Ayrenser Street. When Yusel brought her wedding dress, Rachel washed her hands with soap, not to soil the ribbons on the dress.
and when she tried on the dress her step mother said: “See Rachel your good fortune should shine the way you shine in your wedding dress.”

All her friends were impressed with the beautiful material and fine workmanship of Yusel the tailor.

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Leybe the Blacksmith

Rabbi Moyshe Goldberg

Translated by Hershl Hartman

Leybe the blacksmith was still alive during my childhood years. I would often see him walking through the streets of town at a heavy but joyful pace. And when I would hear in the distance the pounding of iron “podkoves[1] on the cobbled pavement, I would understand that Leybe the blacksmith was coming. It was his habit to drag along only on the cobbles rather than on the sidewalk with all the other people.

His imposing appearance, you may believe me on my solemn word, was not that of a smith. His thick white beard was more suitable to someone of the clergy, or to a well-to-do proprietor. But as he had it, it remained his and was put to good use at times, because a Jew with a white beard merits different respect though he is a smith…

When Leybe gave up working at the forge and began to earn a place in the World to Come, he acquired the nickname leybe bal-mitsve'nik [Leybe, masterof- the-commandments]. People could not believe that such an ordinary smith who struggles three times a day over reading the prayers and who is, thanks be to God, sound of all limbs, should suddenly, out of nowhere, give up working and devote himself to the commandments and to doing good deeds. But Leybe paid little attention to what people said of him. As a smith who was used to everything, he welcomed his nickname lovingly, though he was well aware that it was meant in jest.

So he went his way: in his right hand he would hold a red kerchief, one corner of which always hung down. He would collect money for various causes in the red kerchief and use the hanging corner to wipe his nose…thus he would proceed through the whole town several times a week.

When his energetic work was noted, people began to respect him somewhat. The poor would regard him as a goodhearted father; his home became like a charitable institution. Any poor widow, a forlorn orphan, a penniless bride or a Jew who could not provide for shabes [sabbath], any person in need—turned to Leybe, And Leybe, who empathized and sympathized with his clients, went out like the honored head of a community with his red shawl in hand to collect a few coins.

But just as Leybe was the provider for the poor folk, he was seen as an avaricious worm in the eyes of the rich. He gave the rich no lick of honey…He was a hard man, not affected by cursing and most of all, may no woman be so afflicted, he had a clever mouth and a smooth tongue and knew the craft of blackmail…

When he would meet with a stubborn rich man with whom it was difficult to come to an agreement, he would say: “You can't send Leybe away with empty hands. You want to be rid of me, so hand something over. If not—I'll remain here in your house. You hear? You will have to give me food and a place to sleep, d'you hear?” The rich man, hearing such talk, had to, sadly, open his purse and contribute whatever Leybe demanded. The rich man had no other alternative. Could he throw him out? In the first place, how does one dare to throw out a Jew with a white beard? And secondly, if he tried to do so, he would antagonize the other smiths…who would come to defend Leybe's honor.

It happened once that Leybe entered a rich man's home wearing muddy boots. When he found no one in the kitchen, he went into the dining room, from there to the bedroom and from there to the salon where the rich man's wife sat on a soft sofa, reading a book. As soon as the woman saw Leybe's mud-covered boots she intoned “vaytsaku” [and they screamed]: “Get out of here, beggar! You've made a pigsty out of all my floors with your muddy boots!” Leybe replied calmly: “Hush, be still, don't get excited, lady of mine; we will both lie one day under the same “perene” [featherbed] at the cemetery.”

Words were exchanged and when the rich man's wife saw that Leybe's tongue worked better and faster than hers, she gave him alms sadly and thanked God that the outcome wasn't any worse…From that point on she knew that she had to treat Leybe as a “gentleman.”

At the time of the “priziv” [forced military draft] he knew of all the draftees and asked them for alms in exchange for blessings that the virtue of their charity would free them. He would visit the inns where the small-town draftees would stay [awaiting induction]. He would take small change from them, as well, and bless them for freedom. When a draftee was freed from military service, Leybe would go off to him and say: “You see, little brother, my blessing came to pass. Now give me more alms and God will help you.”

Most of all, Leybe was used for deeply confidential charity. If the rabbi needed a certain amount of money for an upstanding poor man, he would send for Leybe and say: “R' Leyb, I am in need today of a twenty-fiver [25 ruble note].” Leybe would then reply: “Rabbi, I will contribute a fiver.” The rabbi would then urge him to give more. Leybe would reply that he needed the money for others in need. So they would bargain until striking a deal.

Leybe attended every wedding and every bris with his red kerchief. It is interesting that he would not wet his lips. People would beg him: “R' Leyb, makht lekhayim [make a toast] in honor of the celebrant,” but to no avail. He did want to cause suspicion that his main motivation for coming was to partake of the alcohol and cake, and besides, he did not want to enjoy himself, lest it be thought that he was benefiting in this life from his good deeds.


  1. Lit., horseshoes. Used here humorously to describe the blacksmith's iron-clad boot heels. Return

Memories of the Old Home

Ikhorit Simval

Translated by Tamara Selden

Our Slutsker relatives, friends, neighbors near and far in America and Israel and all over the world , who will look into the corner, will look back many years.

It will remind them of many things of sadness and joy and of the many years in our beloved birth town Slutsk.

It is fifty years already since we left Slutsk, but Slutsk is not forgotten. Above all, the honesty and goodness of everyone who was poor and often hungry.

Slutsker holidays, Slutsker foods, Slutsker weddings, brisn; oh how I long for my mother's butter cookies. Thursday mama used to bake Challah, cookies all night for her husband and nine children. The smell filled the entire house. For each girl there was a roll. For the boys a small Challah. For lunch on Friday each child received a small roll with a bowl of barley soup Everything had a holiday smell. Before Passover we aired and cleaned the house. On Friday each child received a roll and a plate of soup. Everything had a holiday smell. Each child had their own goblet, one green, one blue, one white. The largest goblet was for Elijah the prophet. And for each child a new pair of shoes.

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Now I will tell you about a well known character:

Itser Barker

Itser Barker with his wife Tsira were our neighbors. They were bread bakers. Itser was a tall handsome Jew with a long white beard. His wife Tsira was short and both were quiet good people. They did not have any children. so they adopted an orphan who was a relative. Her name was Rayzele, brought her up, made her wedding and took in their son in law Nathan, the scribe, into their home for kest (room and board so he could study). They gave them the best room and they slept in a dark room behind the oven. In the kitchen there was a table with a long bench where they laid out the bread straight from the oven.( In their house there was a large white cat with black specks. This was not just a cat that ran around looking for mice. Her work was to walk among the warm loaves of bread, lick and smell, and slap with her tail and from time to time lay down between the warm loaves of bread. )

The customers G-d forbid never complained about this. If Itser's cat has to do this then that is probably the way it was supposed to be.

Khava the Bean Carrier

Khava the crushed pea carrier. Who was she? Whether she had a husband and children I do not know. But, I do remember her very well. She was a tall and heavy Jewish woman with a nice happy face. All week she carried yellow chick peas around, well cooked and mashed and covered. It should G-d forbid get cold. The smell and the flavor permeated all limbs..She carried her wares in a big pot. Her measure was a heated cup which she sold for a grushen (penny, small coin).

To this day I do not understand how she was able to carry such a burden on her stomach. Friday, in honor of the Sabbath she would sell warm beans, She was proclaimed by all the tailors, shoemakers,and other tradesmen who bought with pleasure of their soul for a penny,

Hooray Khava, Hooray Khava ! The taste of the dark large beans with the warm yellow chick peas today still remains in my memory.

My grandfather Elyeh Flayshtsik

He was a Jew who liked to do good deeds. He was a “musician” and like a “musician” in those times earned very little. For Passover he would work in a matzoh factory. However this was not enough to provide for his large family. So grandmother Hashke baked biscuits at night and early in the morning sold them to the taverns and stores They worked hard and from their income were neither very rich or very poor, yet it did not obstruct them from raising someone else's children. It sometimes happened that someone had to get free of a illegitimate child. They would sometimes drown it in a tub or abandon it in the shul. However they knew that my grandfather would usually take it: Bring it home and grandmother Khashke , a naturally good person, would raise it like her own child. I recall three such children. With one grandfather had a problem. When they grew older they would then go to learn a trade, but the problem one was very intelligent and fell in love with one of his daughters. He was a nice boy and she wanted to marry him. Grandfather did not approve and made the boy leave. Grandfather's word was holy.

My aunt Sara-Rayzel

My Aunt Sara-Rayzel was my grandfather's oldest daughter. She was a widow with two small children. She used to take two large baskets and would go to the market to do some business. She lived on America street in a small town. She would stay up half the night and baked potatoes, cooked a huge pot of barley soup for herself and the children. By nature she was a good woman, but the hard life made her nervous and she would curse and scream at every opportunity. Aunt Sara-Rayzel picked feathers for the daughter to fill two large cushions, a small one, an even smaller one, another tiny one. No one was allowed to sleep on the cushions.


From left to right(the second): Shimon Layb Flayshtsik the musician.

[Page 369]

Her husband was a musician and like a musician at that time earned little money. At night he lay down on a cot and in the morning when he awoke he saw
a crook had snuck in and stolen the cushions. The aunt's sorrow and pain was indescribable.


Elye Fyfyel- Playshtsik

My aunt Khana Hinde

My aunt Khana Hinde was one of grandfather's daughters. The sad thing was that she was a young widow with two small children. Her husband Velvel went to the Golden Land America searching for a good living. Many Slutsker Jews at that time did that. In a short time, he and a friend suffocated in their sleep forgetting to shut the gas off. Grandfather's family came together and decided to open a small store for the widow. Those who had more and those who had less donated what they could and bought merchandise for her. In this way my aunt became a storekeeper. A Jewish woman came to buy a pint of cereal ___My aunt would always add a cup to the amount ordered and said: You should be well. What will you do with a pint of cereal for an entire family? When children came with their mothers to the store she would give the children sugar cookies. In the evening everyone would gather at Khana Hinde's store and she would honor everyone with various things and eventually gave away all that she had earned. So, little by little the shelves emptied. My aunt's family once again gathered and bought her a store that sold material. However the same story repeated itself and the shelves were soon left empty. The third conference of the family decided that she must get married. Good people looked for a Jew from Uretshe. She took the daughter with her. The boy stayed with the grandfather. When grandfather died, the orphan was taken in by my father. And he grew up with us, every Jewish child should be so lucky. Today he is called Abraham Gafnee from Khfar Ganyim..


Khashke Flayshtik

My father Shimon Layv Flayshtik

My father took after my grandfather. He was also a musician. He had nine children. He liked to do favors for people, just like grandfather Elyeh Fyfil.--They called him Fyfil because he played on a flute. What didn't my mother do to make the children well provided for. She dealt with orchard keepers, with and gardeners, had hens, rendered chicken fat and sold it to the tradesmen from a large city.

She had cows and sold milk, churned butter and made cheese, and kept yeshive students for kest. When the children grew up she said that she did not wish her children to spread themselves all over the world, which was then the custom in Slutsk. The children did not want to struggle like their parents, so they ran away from them into the big world. Most went to America. My mother thought they should go to Israel if anywhere. They should buy land and work it and live together. She did not live to see this. She died of a lung infection in 1910.

[Page 370]

We arrived in the Land of Israel without our mother in 1912. My father died on Passover in the year 1940 at 79 years old.

My mother's wish was that all her children should live in one place and it did indeed happen. All of us came together to Israel.

Going to Israel

We traveled on a old dirty ship called the Kirilaf. On the ship we carried many arabs The heat was strong. We came out onto the streets of Jaffa. We then traveled on a stage coach from Gaff to Ayin Ganim where uncle Morcechy prepared an apartment for us: A room with a small terrace, a small kitchen in a wooden house. The vacant walls of the room with vacant fields surrounding the house made an awful impression. It cast a terrible sadness in the house and surroundings. The furniture consisted of two beds, a large one and a small one. The items in the packed boxes earned us a table and chairs. The several hundred rubles that father received for his house in Slutsk enabled us to buy bathtubs a closet in which to hang clothes and large and small benches, which today are with my brother under a tree at his house. We all worked very hard , There was a lot of illness and daily visits of doctors with medicine, but few hospitals. There were steady accidents at work.

My father's house was open for every Slutsker arrival. and their first stop was at our house. We children used to work and father was in charge. When guests came the barley soup was a little thicker. We gave our beds with an easy heart to the guests and we slept on the floor. During World War 1 of 1914 between the Turks and the English our home was destroyed. Later we built a new house.


A large goup of people, men, women, childen.

Underneath the picture.

In the middle Shimon Layv(the klezmer) with his family
in honor of his 75th year celebration in Ptakh -Takvah

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